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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.

 

 

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Inspecting the Gabion Cages in Phortse with Passang, Kumar and Lakpha.

Clouds calm and peaceful in Phortse.

Timex in Kathmandu. Cool stuff!

Dick Bass of Snowbird was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ascent of Everest.

The Maoist Party had a Big Party on the 1st of May.

Young idealists.

After May Day ion Kathmandu I went to the mountains. The Zorral (mountain goat) is protected animal in Sagamartha National Park.

This is a detail of Alex’s memorial rock. Always to stop by and make tribute. This I do….

Damien & Willi Benegas, Cory Richards and radish @ Everest Base Camp. At 17,500 feet air is thin.

Dave Hahn and I climbed Everest in 99. He summited # 12 this season. Way to go Dave!

Russell Brice & Passang Tenjing Sherpa at Base Camp. Russell is the moving force behind HimEx, an Everest guiding concern and Passang is my friend from the Khumbu Climbing Center who helped with the Extreme Ice Survey.

Passang, Adam LeWinter, Cory Richards and me set up time lapse cameras to monitor glaciers in the Mount Everest region. We also compared images from 50 years ago. Guess what? The glaciers are melting.

A self portrait with the south face of Ama Dablam in the background.

The edge of the Nare Glacier near Mingbo Pass. Looking at the glacier polish of recently exposed rock was awesome. Smooth as a mirror.

Passang Tenjing, hi mom and grandmother! Passang’s dad climbed Everest in 1971. passang has climbed it 9 times. His grandmother is 85 and is a beacon of good energy.

Thanks for visiting and see you soon!

This is the trailer for “The Wildest Dream”, the bio pic about the life of George Mallory.

It debuts on the 6th of August in cinema near you.

Enjoy!

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 : )

Ice climbing and surfing are both water sports. There is probably an 80 degree Fahrenheit difference between the two disciplines. Which is pretty vast. What they do share is that they are both conditions dependent. The ephemeral nature of surfing is that one needs the right wind that creates the swell, atmospheric pressure and perhaps alignment of the stars. For ice climbing it is probably the same except that in there is no swell. Periodically surfing is given a huge season. The surfers go nuts and the legend grows.

So it is with ice. Hyalite Canyon in SW Montana we are totally happy to be in the first month of what promises to be an epic season. To start off the Mummy climbs received an ascent on the second weekend of October. Then in November the seldom seen climbs started filling in. The Big Sleep, Black Magic and Winter Dance all were climbed before the 1st of December. The standard climbs formed in well.

So what brings on a good season for Hyalite Canyon? First of the geologic layup of the canyon favors ice climbing. The canyon is on the east side (read cold) of the divide and drains north. The peaks sit atop a layer of volcanic mudflow and andesite – both a bit more impermeable to water than the country rock above. Combine this with a very wet summer, a cold October and a heavy Sierra grade layer of snow the second week of November and everything lines up! Ice grows fastest (albeit brittle) when the temps are cold.

Just for the record – I am a totally novice surfer. I aspire to get better, but until then I’ll have to be happy with dicey run outs, falling ice and the occasional smile at the top of a pitch.

The family at the 3rd annual Huffing for Stuffing 5 & 10 K Fun Run on Thanksgiving Day. Our community raised 20 K $ for the food bank. Good karma.

Sunday 13 December somewhere on Interstate 15 near the town of Monida, a tiny village straddling the border of Montana and Idaho. I’m 15 hours in to an epic bus ride across the basin and range of Nevada, up on to the Snake River Plain and into Montana. This past weekend on the 12th of Decemebr Isaac participated in the United States Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country running meet. Over 1200 young runners descended on Reno, Nevada. Saturday’s meet was chacterized by blowing snow, packed snow, light snow , wet snow, icy snow, slushy snow, sugary snow and even more snow. Lucky for the Montana contingent this kind of weather is de riguer in the latter part of the season. Our one week to race run was a five miler in ten degree weather.

Isaac, Colter & Theo!

Some of the runners were from climes a bit warmer. A young lady and her mom from South Texas were completely challenged. Mom was in training shoes, not water proof and the runner was tip toeing about in racing spikes. Which have about as much insulation as a pair of dragon fly wings. The family was super psyched to be part of the event – the snow was a real treat.

Blowing snow could be considered a homefield advantage for the kids from Helena, Great Falls, Butte and Bozeman. Which it was. Eight runners made “all American” (top 25) and the Girls Youth Team took second in team points, edging out the powerhouse Bowerman Team from Portland Oregon.

Cross country running is the perfect mix between pure athleticism and trail running. The courses are generally set on rolling hills with a few obstacles – sharp turns and other runners that fall over for good measure. My haunch is that kid runners will follow through with the sport for the rest of their lives. I did.

Not all is cream and peaches. This past Thursday the climbing community lost one of it’s guiding lights. Guy Lacelle of Canada fell to his death in Hyalite Canyon. A small pocket avalanche caught Guy as he was transitioning from moderate to low angle terrain. Guy will be dearly missed by the international climbing community. He was a tree planter in BC because he loved to care for nature. He was an ice climber because he loved nature in its most rare and ephemeral state.

Miss you Guy……. thanks for the 17 years of friendship. The day we caught Happy Days in nick is one of my most memorable moments.

Peace.

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 Goldberg Variations, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) is my favorite piano piece. The Goldberg Variations are welcome at any time. The 30 variations were initially composed as keyboard practice. And practice one must if one is to play the variations. Not being a pianist I delight in listening to the variations. The 20th century Canadian pianist Glenn Gould is perhaps best known for his recording of Bach’s masterpiece.

This past week was spring break for the Montana schools. Sam our, middle son, was off to Vienna, Salzburg and Prague on a Mozart tour with his high school orchestra. From the notes we received it seems that he has had a great time. Jenni. Isaac and I went to Tucson, AZ to visit Paul, Jenni’s dad. He turned 88 (a lucky year) while we were with him. At the Pima Air Museum we had a chance to see several of the aircraft he flew during WW II. Standing next to the F4 Corsair with Isaac was remarkable. A chance to share a bit of history.

On the 11th of march we held a fundraiser in Bozeman for our local Parks and recreation Department. We built the first boulder in 2005 and due to the success we figured we would build a second one.kidsonclimbingrock_lowres The first boulder, pictured here, is a total hit with kids and grown ups alike. Regardless of one’s ability there are ways to challenge yourself. The next boulder will be twice the size. Our plan is to construct a total of four in Bozeman and hopefully one on the Montana State University campus.

In between all this I’m still getting out and climbing. One of the local trade routes is “Come and Get It”, established by the late Alex Lowe in 1997. It is a unique climb – starting out with ice, transitioning to a gently overhanging mid section and finishing on a steep pillar. By using my WS 4 I was able dial in my training. The first lap (on lead) took forty five minutes and on the forth go (on top rope) I had whittled the 35 meter lead down to 13 minutes. Silly climbers, eh?come-n-get-it-12-mar-o9

I’m still soaking inthe expereince of being in Japan. Pachinko, a pinball game played on vertical machines, is a national past time. I didn’t play while in Tokyo, but I did get a kick out of this one outfit’s marketing angle. Perhaps by covering President Obama’s eyes they don’t have to get his permission. pachinko_obama What ever it takes…. 😉

Spring is officially here – it snowed six inches in town last night. We’ll get out and play in the spring snow soon enough.

be good be kind & be happy ~ c

A month on from last entry in the public diary of the 21st century, the blog has me wondering where the time went. Looking at my calendar I count the days with my family, the days at work and the days on the road. In this I look for balance.
On the 16th of February our family joined the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center for a fund raising event at Bridger Bowl, the local ski hill. The challenge is to hike the last 400 vertical feet to the top of ridge to raise money from pledges for avalanche education.

Isaac hiking...

Isaac hiking...

We’d hike up the boot pack, click in our skis, slide down Sluice Box (a ski run) and repeat the process. We had a ton of fun as we would catch up to each other on the way up or way down, encouraging each of us to try harder. By the end of the day, drenched in sweat and smiling, we joined other families at the base lodge for a cup of hot chocolate.

The following weekend I attended the annual meeting for the American Alpine Club in Golden, Colorado. It was my last board meeting after six years. The club celebrated Layton Kor, one of our pioneering climbers from the 50s and 60s. Tall and lanky, Layton is it the epitome of a “hard man” climber. He had the vision for clean lines and climbed them in style. Layton is my hero.

This last week I was in Japan for the “Ice Candy Climbing Competition” in the Yatsugatake Mountains of central Japan. The ice comp is on an ice encased scaffold tower.

The comp wall

The comp wall

From the novice to the expert over 40 climbers joined the fun. Many of the same competitors from the Japan Cup in 2007 (where I set the course) attended. It was nice to see the same climbers two years later.
After the weekend spent in the wonderful mountains I traveled to Tokyo for the release of the Timex WS 4 altimeter watch to the Japanese market. The wide screen visibility was a huge hit with the Japanese.
Back here in Montana winter has set in with a vengeance after six dry weeks. Our yard has a foot of snow, the temperatures are in the single digits and I am called by the ice climbs of Hyalite Canyon for a last dance with gravity before the waterfalls turn into our municipal water. Which I’ll go do as on the first of April I’m off to Borneo and Mount Kinabalu to visit the cloud forest and do a little climbing.
Till the next bat dispatch… grab the hold and don’t let go!

What is up with the night train to Zurich?

p10009161

In a sense it is a mini version of the past two weeks. From the Keene Valley Ice festival I was home for a day then headed south to Salt Lake City and the Outdoor Retailer trade show. The attendees and exhibitors were quite excited about the new administration and the prospect of greater care and awareness of the wild places we hold so dear. The Conservation Alliance, on which I serve on the board, hosted a wonderful breakfast meeting with Steve Kazlowski, a photographer who has been documenting polar bears and the landscape change in the far north. The climate is changing in the higher latitudes and high mountain ranges faster than in temperate and tropical climates. If you live in an artificial climate with air conditioning, heated buildings and irrigated landscape the chances of a warmer climate might not be as noticeable. If you are a polar bear… it is changing very fast. Except polar bears can’t “wrap their head” around the fact that the ice is moving out to sea, forming thinner and providing fewer opportunities to hunt. Check out Steve’s website: http://www.lefteyepro.com for more information.

Timex launched the WS4 wrist instrument. The WS is wide screen, like in TV sets and movie theaters, providing more information readily available at a glance. The 4 is for the four functions, altimeter, barometer, compass and thermometer. In addition to all the goodies for adventure it tells time and has a stout alarm. Wakes even the most tired alpinist at three AM.

The next leg was back home for four nights and then back to Salt Lake and a flight to Munich for the Ispo trade show. I met up with my good friend, Bob Palais, a math professor at the University of Utah. As I had to hop on a flight in the morning and we had little time we decided to climb “Stairway to heaven” in Provo Canyon from 11 PM until 4 AM. I was a ton of fun and an interesting experience for both of us. I do this stuff kinda regular, but for Bob a math genius (he even has a theorem named after him) it was something new. Getting cold in the dark is something that might even unlock another mathematical mystery. Who knows?tired

I made the flight, which was full. Nothing worse than an empty airplane. Given the impact jets have on our climate full jets are nice. The Ispo trade show is the European coiunterpart to the US trade show. Except it is not limited to outdoor stuff. Table tennis, floor hockey, snow boarding, slack lining and were all bunched together.

Hari Berger, a friend, was killed two years ago in a climbing accident. He left behind Kristen and Zoe, his significant other and their daughter. I had never met Zoe, the spry child she is. The meeting was filled with sorrow and joy. Climbing is dangerous.
p1000885

Once we wrapped up the WS4 launch at Ispo I caught the night train to Zurich to meet up with Tim, my friend studying biology at the Technical University of Zurich. We met after a night of riding the train and a four hour bivy in the Stuttgart train station. It was well worth it as we were able to share two fine days in Kandersteg, Switzerland ice climbing. The ice was in fantastic form. The January cold snap has frozen a stack of waterfalls into place for us to play on.p1000903

OK… see you soon and remember to get some fresh air 😀

This past weekend I was at the 14th annual Ouray Ice Festival. The small town host an annual ice meet – check out last year’s post – to which I attend. The goal is to have fun and share the stoke with fellow crazies.

The Friday was a huge snow day. One inch was predicted and it snowed non stop until 10 pm. This didn’t stop the climbers. Just go climbing. Feel the pull of gravity.ouray

On Friday I hosted a clinic. Two of my students, JJ and Darrel, are deaf. Karen, a friend of theirs came along as a translator. They were excited about ice climbing. My limited sign language increased by a few words. I asked if they can “hear” the ice, something that climbers need to do when testing placements. The vibration of the pick swing was their indication of a good stick.  Our biggest challenge was getting the “heads up” warning regarding loose and flying ice. The safest was to have a wide berth at the base. Avoid standing in the drop zone.

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Darrell & JJ at the fire station.   Cool guys.

Off to Keene this weekend.

Have fun, be good and do the right thing.   ~c