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Hi Folks,
Welcome to the mini page! After a hiatus of several weeks (or more! yikes) I’ll share a few notes and thoughts.

First off – facebook had me change from a friend type of thing to a fan page. All this because I had over 5000 friends. If I may impart my two cents worth – don’t go there. Not nearly the community that I had built in the three years on fb and a kinda one sided conversation. I’m keen on the fluid communication of the old set up. A bit more equal. Chatting with climbers from Mumbai – kinda fun. Anyhow… no sour grapes. Just made me realize how superficial and non essential fb is. Yeah I’m glad you had a nice weekend but do you really need to know what I had on the grill? What is it?

Too much information.

Here is Scott, training partner and ace ecologist at Frog Rock in Montana. The route, John Coltrane is a pun on the 125 wagon coal trains that trundle down our valley several times a day. Off to Seattle to power X Boxes and hairdryers. We get it back a bit later in the form of mercury in our lakes. Well – no big deal – fishing is about catch and release – not catch and feast. So what’s a little pollution? Quite a bit in my book. Subsidies to the extractos is business as usual. Subsidies to the wind and solar guys (China is growing their business with massive government subsidies) is government meddling.

Here is a snapshot of Daniel Woods crushing the final route at the Summer Trade show comp. Max Lowe took this picture. Max’s images are spot on. Daniel is one fierce boulderer. Dedicated he is.

On the harsh reality end of things, got news today that Kurt Albert, German rock and alpine climber passed away. He fell a distance of 18 metres. Kurt was a wonderful man, dedicated to the sport of climbing and will forever be remembered for “red point” ascents. Routes that were climbed free in the Frankenjura were given a red dot, hence the climbing parlance of a red point ascent. Rest in peace my friend.

This is Juan Martinez on the descent from the Grand Teton. This was his first climbing experience. He sent the peak and endured a blizzard on the descent. Juan is from South Central LA. You the man, Juan. I’m coming to visit you and your family.

This is the type of stuff that I like. A durable, analog Expedition watch from Timex. Easy to read dial (bi focals not needed), the date (so you don’t look like a slacker when writing a check at the supermarket – uh … What day is it?), the Indiglo night dial for checking time when drunk frat boys stumble down the alley and pound on my wife’s horse trailer at 2 AM (and covert ops – fully morse code compatible) and the type of classic style that is right there. Always there. Cool and timeless. Functional and timely.

OK . Bye for now.

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This past week containment crews working with BP on the Deepwater Horizon oil explosion were able to cap the runaway leak. For the millions of our fellow citizens that call the Gulf home this is a welcome relief. With time, diligence and advanced technology the effects of the spill will be mitigated.

The effects of the oil spill are far reaching. Oxygen starved oceans, soiled beaches, lost oil and disrupted communities are the obvious negative effects. Yet from every disaster there is potential for a silver lining. The engineers that design offshore drilling rigs will be able to address the weaknesses that caused the blow out. It takes failure to learn about mistakes and how to prevent similar catastrophes. As our need for oil is far too great to forego offshore reserves, oil companies will be able to work safer and with greater awareness for the environment.

A second silver lining can touch the lives of citizens across the nation. Offshore oil reserves belong to the citizens of the United States. Oil companies lease regions with the greatest potential and in turn for this privilege pay a royalty to the federal government. Last year, the federal government collected over $5 billion in off shore leasing revenues. In 1965 Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to receive $900 million annually from the Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leases. The funds from the LWCF have been shared with all 50 states and have connected with American citizens.

The parks, river ways and open space that we enjoy in landlocked Montana are in part funded by the LWCF. Here in southwest Montana, LWCF has protected Yellowstone River headwaters near Cooke City, critical elk passage up the Taylor Fork drainage, a popular climbing area in Bozeman Pass, and Madison Valley fishing access and ranch lands, to name a few. The program has also provided grants to hundreds of state and local parks across Montana including our own Peet’s Hill and the new Rose Park for Frisbee golf enthusiasts.

The challenge is that the full funding for the LWCF has fallen short every year but one since 1965, with most of the $900 million diverted to other purposes. Of the $5 billion in revenue from 2009 only 180 million was set-aside for the LWCF. This is 3% of the total of the total tax revenue from off shore oil and gas leases. To set this in economic context, the profits of BP in the quarter leading up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster were $4.7 billion. In 2008 Exxon Mobil posted record annual profits of $45.22 billion. And these figures are after paying royalties to the federal government of offshore leases. Given the catastrophe in the Gulf, the annual loss of open space to development, the importance of wetlands to water quality and the benefit of recreation to our population it is only fair to ask for full funding of the revenue be set aside for our nation’s natural heritage.

The LWCF is set to expire in 2015, 50 years after it’s signing. As a way to keep this part of our heritage, Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, S.2747, on November 6, 2009, and Senator Jon Tester joined to co-sponsor the bill. This legislation is simple and straightforward: it would permanently reauthorize the fund and make $900 million available annually to LWCF as dedicated funding. As the Congress considers ‘oil spill’ legislation in the coming weeks, full funding of LWCF should be a part of the solution.

Americans strongly support this initiative. In a May 2010 national public opinion survey 77 % support funding at the $900 million annual level. The revenue is from the oil we consume (and we all consume oil) and is shared by all. As a way of ensuring the land, water and recreation heritage we depend upon as part of our children’s lives, full funding of the LWCF is the right thing to do.

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!

With each passing day I have this sense that each day is a little shorter. I never quite get everything done, the rote stuff seems to take more of my time and those truly special moments, the ones to cherish, never seem to last. This is in contrast to Sam, our senior in high school, who in two brief months will cross the thresh-hold of education to enter as an adult in our society. For Sam? These two months seem like an eternity. The clock is constant for both of us; it is our perception relative to our experience in life. Having experienced three decades more than Sam time is very precious and moves faster.

Art Mortvedt, pilot extraordinaire, came to visit Bozeman and Montana to share his quest to fly the Polar Pumpkin from pole to pole. The Cessna 180 is a fine durable single engine plane that has cris-crossed the planet. I had the good fortune to fly with Art while working in Antarctica more than a decade ago. One of our most memorable flights was a low elevation flight over the Minnesota Glacier in Antarctica filming for the Nova special (TK). The crevasses were a rope length below us, the epitome of inhospitable land. Art and his wife run a small lodge north of Fairbanks, the Peace of Shelby. Aside from walking and dog sledding flying is how you get to their magnificent place. Art is a top drawer fellow – he is a man of the land. Art is adept at keeping things in good repair and keeping a level head about it all. Yep, visiting Art in Alaska is on my big “to do” list.

My training friend Scott Creel and I enjoyed 24 hours of Hyalite on the 6th of March. We started climbing at 5 PM, went through the night and finished the following day. Lots of fun. Got to climb lots of ice!

Start!

Palisade!

Night Climbing.

Nice mixed climb.

Happy Campers!

Every year for the past four years my friend Boone Speed comes and visits us in March. Boone and I go back to the mid eighties in Salt Lake City. Boone was one of the key motivators in the development of American Fork, the limestone area south of the Salt Lake valley. At the time I couldn’t keep up with Boone and his fingers of steel. He still pulls down. We meet up to capture images of ice climbs.

This year Sam Elias, a young climber who took second at the 2010 Ouray Ice Festival came along. Being 20 years younger than I am and very strong Sam got on an open project in the Bingo World cave in Hyalite Canyon. After two days of working the route he sent it on his fifth go – pretty darn hard, a tour de force of mixed climbing. It was very inspiring to see Sam pull multiple figure fours out the roof.

Max was home from university and joined our small group up at the base of the Andesite cliff amongst the pine trees. As an aspiring photographer it was inspiring to see Boone share his skills with Max. The ball of knowledge. Learn from it, add to it and pass it on.

Last week Jenni, Sam and Isaac and I visited Sayulita, Mexico for spring break. In the past we would go camping in the deserts of Utah. Which is very nice. Except when it snowed. Beating snow off a tent in the predawn is my idea of a good time. Then I would here a bit of grousing that this isn’t a “vacation”.

Same Bat Channel – more to come!

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 : )

January 12th, 2010. Typing the date is a reminder that time flies.

We had a wonderful Christmas break with Max home from Seville, Spain and his junior year abroad, Sam happy not have to brave the congested halls of Bozeman High School and Isaac glad to have earned time on his X-Box. (During school the toy disappears, hmmm?)
Jenni was able to get out for a few afternoons with Chippy her horse and we all enjoyed a few days up on the ski hill.

Last weekend the climbing tribe converged on Ouray for the 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival. The gathering was welcomed by good weather, nice ice and the usual truck full of New Belgium beer. Vince Anderson set the comp route, which was the best yet. With a sit down start, an epic chimney and the cliche headwall, the route was engaging, challenging and a testament to Vince’s route setting skills. People fell off at different moves and the winner, Josh Wharton, won by climbing the route faster than Sam Elias, the only other climber to complete the route.

While on the stand I looked at the ice and began to think about the impact the millions of gallons of water frozen for the winter has on the local water and bio-zone. Glaciers are nature’s reservoirs – holding water in the frozen state and letting it trickle back when temperatures warm up. The water that is used for the Ouray Ice Park is allocated and would continue down stream for agriculture use. Being winter and all there is not as much need for water. So…. the ice park stores the water, cools the local surrounding and then releases the water slowly for the coming spring and summer.

Perhaps the practice of farming ice is good for the environment. Saving water for future use and cooling the area at the same time.

Hats off to Will Gadd, of Canada, who in a 24 hour period climbed 193 laps on “Pick of the Vic”, a 145 water fall. Just about 28,000 feet of climbing! Amazing. The climb was a fundriser for the dZi foundation, a group working to improve the quality of life and education in Nepal.

I’m off to Nepal and the Khumbu Climbing School for year seven. Looking forward to a top notch group of student and three weeks of arduous hiking around the high reaches of Nepal.

All the best,

~conrad

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.

“Knowledge drives innovation; innovation drives productivity; productivity drives our economic growth. That’s all there is to it.”
William R. Brody, U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge, Testimony to the House Committee on Science, July 21, 2005.

Knowledge is information, skill, education and experience relating to a specific subject. Each generation adds to the collective and passes it on to the next generation. Innovation, the act of creating something new, is based on knowledge. The fields of medical science, engineering, agriculture, computing and energy have led to a higher standard of living for humans. Technological improvements are founded in knowledge and innovation.
How is knowledge and education beneficial to our regional economy? Education is the foundation for knowledge. Knowledge drives innovation, which in turn drives productivity. Productivity drives our economic growth. Although the connection might not be as self-evident as potatoes come from seeds, the Apollo program is an example of the education multiplier. The national drive to put man on the moon, led to the scientific innovation that has touched every aspect of our life.
We are fortunate to have Montana State University (MSU) as the cornerstone to our southwest Montana community. From the graduating class of each spring to the Bobcat football games most everyone in our community has a connection on some level. The future of MSU is secure, yet the opportunity exists to excel in the field of energy production, energy conservation and related technologies. These three areas have an unlimited potential for growth. As the United States increases in population and the existing global population strives to live at the standard of we enjoy there will be an ever-increasing amount of need for energy and energy efficiency.
For MSU to become a regional and national powerhouse in energy we need to focus on the students of tomorrow. The fifth grade children of today will be university juniors in a decade. By getting them excited in energy – be it coal, natural gas, oil, conservation, efficiency, thermal, wind or biomass we have the opportunity to start today. What motivates people, young or old? Incentive.
If MSU were to create an “Energy Scholarship” aimed at high school juniors and seniors we could be assured of attracting the best and brightest minds. Hear me out: each year MSU will award two full-ride undergraduate scholarships based on merit. The students will participate in a science project that is based quite simply on energy. Faculty and industry experts would judge students from our region on projects that they have invented. Be it a low cost solar water heater, efficiency designs for lawn mowers, insulation techniques for housing, outreach programs; any concept that targets energy and has the promise of innovation would be rewarded. These budding inventors would be students at MSU. Their ideas would lead to innovation and the sharing of knowledge. Within a ten-year time frame the students in this program will be nationally recognized for their contributions. Our goal of energy independent and becoming experts in the field of energy would be one step closer.
Imagine 400 hundred of our state’s brightest young students competing on a project that will benefit our nation and in turn our planet. This program, albeit ambitious, would be a tremendous benefit to our regional economy. We would be known throughout the world as the hotbed for energy innovation.
For the United States to continue its lead in the field of science we need to support education throughout the academic spectrum. From preschool to the post doctorate education is a sound investment in our economic wellbeing. It is possible and it’s at our fingertips.

Not that I’m a warrior in the combat type of sense, more of the sticking to it type of action.

First off – huge props to all the men and women who serve our country on this day. Veterans Day. You are huge in my book and I can not express the gratitude I have for your commitment and sacrifice. You are purveyors of peace and this is good. Thanks!

Since the 1st of October I have been to: SLC, UT; Boston, MA; Bozeman, MT; Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; Cleveland, OH; Big Oak Flat, CA; Bozeman; Jackson, WY; Fort Collins, CO; Boulder, CO; Breckenridge, CO; Austin, TX; Santa Fe, NM; Denver; CO, Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Banff, AB; Boston, MA; and tonight back in Seattle.

Lots of shows with The North Face speaker series, work with Nat Geo and the Young Explorer Grant program, Banff Mtn Film with Timex, Conservation Alliance work, met with the glaiciologists at the U of Washington and getting “The Wildest Dream” off to a good start. Great fun – but I do miss home! Jenni, the boys, the dogs, the birds, the fishies, the bunnies and the tarantula. I’ll be home on Friday night and look forward to a day inthe woods with the family. And special Sat night treat:

We’re gonna rent “Master and Commander” and clap on the halyards for good fun.

1991_may_03_1

Wooo Hooo!