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Hard to gather in, this blustery wet last day of May of Eleven. It began with a bang, the Seal Team night ops – (thanks guys) and is now a bit closer The day before I ran in snow ampongst the pines of Baldy Peak and in five days I’ll be on the Kahiltna Glacier, the heart of the Alaska Range for an ascent of one of North America’s most fabled peaks, Denali. At 20,320 feet it is the apex of North America, thrust up by the convergence of the eastern and western pacific plates. The granite that composes the majority of Denali is exceptionally durable. Glaciers, being water and on a quest for the oceans, have carved out the south side of the mountain into an incredible maze of cirques, spires and valleys.

Cliff Hudson and Zero X. One sharp pilot and his honed 185. 40 # lighter with out the paint......

 

…. Jump forward five days….

 

leaving Anchorage this morning for the drive to Talkeetna. A busy day purchasing food and dialing in equipment for our intrepid group of eleven. The locals have been commenting on how dry the region has been and the increased likelyhood of summer wildfires. The mountain is drying, resulting in more exposed “blue ice”. When a mountain melts out and / or is not replenished at a sustanable level, the ancient old dense ice exposes itself. From an earth sciences perspective it is part of the dynamic environment of the mountains. From an alpinist and skier’s POV the blue ice is extra dangerous. We need to aware of the conditions especially above 14 camp.

Wet in the Rockies and dry in the Alaska Range. Being in the wilds of Alaska is always enriching. Looking forward to our 14 days on Denali. A fine adventure.

 

 

My dream mountain.

My reality (just joking with a ton of love!)

~c

Well now that I have your attention… with either fast and furious music or yummy bits of vegetable adorning rice I’ll take a minute to catch up from our last chat.

Thanks to those of you that are dedicated readers. Your notes are super meaningful. My friends over at Timex prompted me to write and the result after a couple of years has been a most wonderful.

Since the last post – Ouray and the likes – I have been over to Nepal to conduct the seventh session of the Khumbu Climbing Center. Jenni joined me for the last part of the journey, which was very nice. Sam and Isaac managed the house just fine – it didn’t burn down and I don’t think they spent too much time on the X Box. The dogs must have loved being under the care of the boys. Think gravity feeder. Happy is now holding the title of “bacon back”. Not that he knows what it means. Just gotta get him out running and ice climbing.

Ross and I departed Montana for Nepal on the 14th of January, routing through the Tom Bradley International Terminal @ LAX. With the cultural melting pot and gate to Asia this hub seems to be the 21st century’s equivelent of Ellis Island. To an extent. The flight takes 15 hours direct to BKK, with a two hour transition before flight 319 to KTM.

“Mishandled baggage complaining desk.” One certainly appreciates the honesty.

As we flew in the Himalaya defined the northern horizon. Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Everest standing above the adjacent mountains. Somewhere below Everest on Tawoche Renan Ozturk and Cory Richards (Nan & Roti) were steps away from the summit after establishing a new route on the south buttress. They had a great time – running out of water, climbing loose rock and hard ice. Like, what is the point of you don’t suffer, eh?

Check out their cool ascent here: http://vimeo.com/rockmonkeyart/videos

After a two day stint in Kathmandu we flew to Lukla for the beginning of the trek. Steve Swenson, president of the American Alpine Club, David Weber NPS, Steve Gipe MD, Ross and me trekked to Monjo the first night. While in Monjo we met David, an engineer from MIT who was ice climbing with his wife and friend. He likened our meeting to a Bilbo Baggins gathering in the Shire. With his full beard and twinkling eyes he might just have been a Hobbit.

The range is dry this year, which could equate to a lack of ice. Fortunalty it was very cold and the water that was flowing formed very nicely. Once we took care of the opening ceremony we began climbing and learning the ropes.

This year we moved a bit closer to having the program run by our Nepali friends. The lead instructors were all Sherpa, we filed the Nepal articles of non profit incorporation, changed the name from Khumbu Climbing School to Khumbu Climbing Center (Nepal is very strict in that school may only be used in the traditional educational sense) and began work on the physical building.

Students climbed with great enthusiasm and learned to be safer climbers. All in all we were very happy.

Lila Bishop taught English, which is great as it is the shared language for people who trek and climb in the Himalaya. Thanks Lila!

Climbing on the steep ice of Lapharma. The Sherpas led the pitches, which are WI 5 .

That is Everest in the background. Jenni is awesome!

Taking notes below Ama Dablam, a mountain I climbed twenty years ago. The swell watch is the new analog EAltimeter. It is super cool.

See you : )

somnambulism :: noun :: sleepwalking
ORIGIN late 18th cent.: from French somnambulisme, from Latin somnus ‘sleep’ + ambulare ‘to walk.’

I am not a sleepwalker, an afflicition that must be a bear to tackle. It is a fairly accurate description of what my body goes through when I travel continent to continent. Mid day I feel like I am asleep so I am a sleep talker. In the middle of the night i wake up and not one for the telly I walk around. Walking when I should be sleeping.

The flight across the Atlantic Ocean never ceases to amaze me. Just 100 year ago the concept of 8 hours in the air at 32,000 feet would never have entered into the minds of humans. When my mother came over post world war II it was in a steel ship with a trunk full of possessions. Not in a jet that flies at an altitude no life exists. We temporarily leave the tender world of blue and green below us and sail in a modern way on the jet streams of existence.

I’m here in London to introduce the WS 4 to the UK market. Cotswold’s, the retailer is hosting two slide shows, – one in Preston and the other in Covent Garden. Compared to the bucolic landscape of SW Montana London is a busy busy place. The weather has been warm and unseasonably different than what most people recall. The nce hotel I’m in is 100 years old – big massive thick wall, old school windows and no central AC. Which I like as I windows are a fine way to adjust the temperatures. Except that it is so warm it is as if I am sleeping in the tropics. Just lay out on the bed and sweat all night.

Here are some images from the El Cap climb ~ El Corazon.

alex driving

I climbed with Alex Honnold. He is 23 and way strong. Sends 13 like easy street.

albatross climbers

These guys were on Flight of the Albatross. Friends from the tribe of climbers.

el cap

Looking down the crag! This is soo much fun!

alex sending

Strong Youth!

looking down

Cool Perspective….

rad ledge

Happy Camper…..

rain avoidance

It was clear most of the way up. It started raining on the last afternoon. We were very wet by the time we made it to the summit.

jenni garden

Speaking of rain… this is Jenni in her garden. The plants love the rain…. as does Jenni.

Hope all is well……

The morning Jenni, Sam & Isaac drove me to Gallatin Field in Bozeman was a cold brisk day by Montana standards. Yet 8-inch snowfalls, temperatures below freezing are part of life above the 45th parallel. The late winter / early spring is my favorite time of year in Bozeman. The skiing is filled in, the weak layers in the snow pack from December have healed themselves, when the sun is out one can rock climb and the garden is coaxing life out of each incremental increase in sunlight. The birds sing and the kids get out the bikes and long boards. Jenni and I find time to get out after breakfast for hike, be it around the block or to one of our favorite spots.

Yet to the airport I had to go. The three weeks I will be in Malaysia climbing on Kinabalu Peak, the highest point on the island of Borneo. At 4095 M it is pretty lofty. The proximity to the equator 5-degrees north means it will be humid, with a close to 12 hour split between night and day. Our team consists of Mark Synnott, our motivated leader, Kevin Thaw as nutritionist, Jimmy Chin as the bachelor, Renan Ozturk as artist in residence, Alex Honnold as our secret weapon for all things overhanging and myself as portaledge engineer. The North Face supports the journey, and our mission is to find granite crags, cliffs and walls to climb. The motto of The North Face is to “Never Stop Exploring”, which entails finding unclimbed vertical landscapes and climbing them. Be they frozen or covered with vines thick enough for Tarzan to swing off of we’ll get after it.

The motto for our climbing team is “Strength through Unity”, which is the national saying of Malaysia, our host country. So when in Kota Kinabalu do as the Kota Kinabaluans do … be strong by being unified. Malaysia is a country of 27 million people rich in a variety of resources from tin to rubber to palm products with a strong recreation industry. This is my first visit to this wild place. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of friendly people, experiencing flora & fauna that is very different from what I am familiar with and having an adventure of the first order.

http://tnf.typepad.com/borneo/