- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katrina Bloemsma
- Katie Bono
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Cody Doolan
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Thomas Greene
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Tim Hardin
- Mike Haugen
- Bryan Hendrick
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Robert Montague
- Erik Nelson
- Chase Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Logan Randolph
- Tyler Reid
- Dave Reynolds
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mike Tomlinson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Maile Wade
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Posts from 07/2012
Hello fellow mountaineers! A picture speaks a thousand words and a video speaks millions! So please enjoy our team’s video from today.
We covered a lot of ground and our team soaked up the sights, sounds and even smells of Moscow. Our city guide was the famous Nina who bombarded us with all the interesting facts and history of this famous area.
Red square, Kremlin, theaters, KGB, Lenins Tomb and heck…even Sbarro pizza! There is so much to see you simply have to see it for yourself.
Our team had a fantastic dinner tonight and “Mo”, one of our climbers was adventurous enough to see the Swan Lake Ballet. I forgot my tutu so instead, I am writing this dispatch.
The highlight for me was the changing of the guards of the unknown soldier. It is featured in the video. If our team marches as well as the guards, we will summit for sure!
We will touch base tomorrow from our tiny little mountain town at the base of Mt. Elbrus.
RMI Guide Seth Waterfall radioed in at 7:44 this morning reporting that both Four Day Summit Climb teams were on the summit of Mt. Rainier. Seth reported high cirrus clouds, low valley fog, 35 mph SW winds, and good climbing conditions. The teams spent around a bit of time on the summit before leaving the crater rim just after 8:00am.
They will descend to Camp Muir and then continue their descent to Paradise later this afternoon.
Congratulations to today’s summit climb teams!
Hello from Moscow!
It is official, our Elbrus expedition has officially started. Well…not quite. However, everyone has arrived gear and all minus one late comer who will meet us tomorrow for dinner.
We spent the evening discussing our itinerary but more importantly we just kicked back and got to know one another. Some of the team have climbed together while others are meeting for the first time.
Tomorrow we will spend the day touring the city of Moscow and arguing about which fantastic restaurant we will have dinner. Tonight’s choice was Italian and it did not disappoint.
It’s a rough life getting started on Mount Elbrus but we are somehow managing. Dessert cappuccinos are in their way…gotta go!
Please check back tomorrow for an in depth look at some of the magnificent sites we explore…
RMI Guide JJ Justman
Our Four Day Summit Climb teams led by Mike Walter and Elias de Andres Martos reached the summit of Mt. Rainier at about 8 o’clock this morning. The teams had clear skies with a cloud deck at about 8,000’ and moderate winds. They got to spend some time on the summit and are now making their way back to Camp Muir.
Congratulations to today’s teams!
Also, Nana says “hi” to Nora.
The Four Day Summit Climb Teams led by RMI Guides Win Whittaker and Pete Van Deventer were unable to make their summit attempt due to lightening strikes and rain throughout the night. The teams stayed safely tucked in at Camp Muir. They will begin their descent to Paradise later this morning.
As we descended the path leading to the Moni tribal village Ugimba, two men - wearing only traditional kotekas (penis gourds) and tribal markings and wielding large bow and arrow sets - stepped out of the bush and onto the path, raising their weapons toward us as they did so. Our hearts stopped, but just for a breath. A moment later two pairs of young women also stepped into our path. Equally modestly dressed in grass skirts and colorful jog bras – I guess that’s what I should call their tops – also with a variety of facial paintings and tribal markings, the women began a series of repetitive calls that sounded very much like an old style emergency alert siren. The sound that issued from them rang amazingly loud and clear and others, further toward the village, responded in kind, setting up a sort of path of sonic bread crumbs for us to follow. We were being treated to an entirely genuine and traditional village welcome ceremony, complete with dance and song.
The welcome committee, now growing rapidly as additional warriors, women and children joined in, guided us patiently toward Ugimba. Running ahead about fifty feet, then stopping to dance as we caught up, and all the while calling out, the six of us were soon engulfed in a small sea of Moni tribes-peoples. In the distance, even from entirely across the valley and opening meadows, we could see all eyes on us.
I asked Sara, one of the two teens on our trip - and a stalwart kid at that! - if she would like to lead. I was afraid that perhaps she was not able to see some of the traditional welcome ceremony as I was walking in front and blocking her view. I wanted for her to experience this as fully as possible since this was by far a most unexpected and exceptional experience. She responded, a bit reservedly, “Oh, I’m experiencing this!” And we were.
What a fantastic climax to our day of trekking through the heat, humidity and wetness of the jungle. We knew we had a lot to look forward to on this trip as we were engaged on an excellent adventure via a route that has seen few western travelers, with a two-fold goal: first, safely reach and return from the summit of Carstensz Pyramid and second, build relationships with indigenous people which would respectfully balance our visit with their way of life. This excursion represented our inaugural effort and we were full of hope that we might attain our goals.
The village of Ugimba lies in the heart of Moni land in Papua, deep in the jungles of New Guinea. It is the deepest of the tribal villages; only immensely dense jungle and the high marshes and limestone plateau’s of the Sudirman mountain range lie further afield. We would travel this road less traveled en route to Carstensz Pyramid, the jutting high point of the Australasian continental mass (or the high point of Oceania as some call it.)
Six days of arduous trekking eventually led us to our Carstensz Base Camp at 13,900 feet alongside a pair of sky blue alpine lakes known as the Peacock Pools. Rising all around and above camp, amazing rock ridges and towers fought for our attention. If this were the U.S. Rockies or Cascades, the place would be inundated with routes. Here, however, only the most significant line of weakness on the highest peak – the original route – remained the solitary choice for climbers. (Sadly, we knew others had travelled here as plenty of garbage had been left strewn about Base Camp. We have since begun an initiative to help clean this beautiful area, and look forward to working cooperatively with locals and visiting climbers in the future.)
The climbing of Carstensz Pyramid is rather spectacular, with rock that just won’t let you go, even when it runs with rain water (and it rains every day.) The route initially climbs a series of 4th and low 5th class rock gullies before traversing along the narrow summit ridge and over several small notches, toward the summit. The climbing involves mostly scrambling, with dramatic exposure and a few short sections of mid 5th class climbing. Fixed lines and a Tyrolean traverse bypass many of the difficulties. Even with rain, fog and a bit of snowfall, and the altitude, it remains an imminently do-able adventure.
After a long day of effort, two of us - including 17-year old Sara - reached the summit, and all of us returned tired but unscathed. Still some distance from the summit, with the lateness of hour and deteriorating weather on our shoulders, Tuck and I, as guides, made the choice to split the team: Sara and I headed for the summit, with the expectation that we would catch the remainder of the team just before the Tyrolean, and rejoin to complete the descent. Even with more than two hundred high altitude peaks between the two of us, guiding thousands of climbers on hundreds and hundreds of climbs, decisions like this remind us that professional mountain guiding is a most serious profession.
Sara’s dad, Bill (who climbed phenomenally well), and I plan to return to Ugimba in the following six months to help the Ugimba Moni explore options for healthy community development. Bill and I were both strongly and positively impacted by the Ugimba people who helped make this adventure a reality for our team. As we continue to support the development of local enterprise and promote the rights of indigenous peoples both to develop tourism and maintain their traditional lifestyles and customs, we invite you to follow us. I will be posting monthly at http://climbcarstensz.wordpress.com.
RMI Guide Alex Van Steen
The last guided climb of the Denali 2012 season is done and down. Safe. But, without a summit, which happens sometimes. We got together in Talkeetna way back at the end of June—eight climbers and four guides—and we talked strategy and packed gear and we were issued permits. And, since the weather was a little sloppy, we didn’t fly immediately. Instead, we ate some more and drank some more and talked a bit more strategy. But on the 29th of June, we did get to fly into the Alaska Range and of course it was worth the wait.
As is always the case in late season, we’d been concerned as to how well put-together the lower glacier might be, but a few minutes flight over the Kahiltna in a de Havilland Otter convinced us it had been a good year for snow. Once on the ground (7,200 feet on the Southest Fork of the Kahiltna) we reviewed glacier travel techniques and waited for the middle of the night so as to allow the glacier surface to freeze solid. It did just that and we moved out early the next morning. We made pretty decent progress those first days… camp at 7,800 feet, move to 9,500 feet, migrate on up to 11,000 feet. As always, we started doing “carries” at 11,000 feet… climbing high and sleeping low so as to let our bodies catch up to the altitude. The gang was healthy and doing great and the weather was workable… if not stable. It was snowy and cloudy somewhere each and every day… just not exactly on top of us, and so we were able to make good use of the days.
The mountain got a lot more interesting as we left the valleys and ventured up onto the ridges on our move to Genet Basin at 14,200 feet. We “caught up” to about a dozen guide parties from other companies there and everybody was still optimistic about climbing high and making the top. We’d been on the mountain for a week at that point. But it started snowing. And then it seriously started snowing. Teams began to run out of food and fuel and quit the mountain. Then it snowed about two feet in 24 hours and we had an avalanche problem. The problem was that we believed there was instability on the steep slopes we needed to climb up in order to make any progress and there was no solution but to wait for stability. Which didn’t come.
We needed hot, sunny days to settle the problem and instead we got day after day of a little more cloud, snow and wind. Teams quit and descended… one after another. Finally, we teamed up with the last two guided parties on the hill to bust trail and evaluate hazard and perhaps find a way to the “fixed ropes” leading to the crest of the West Buttress. The mission took all day and required some dicey belays across “whumping” snow, but it resulted in a workable and safe track to the ropes… we were back in business. Until it snowed that night and the next morning.
Back at square one with a new hazard and no track. The other guided teams quit the mountain that day and we stayed another two days in a last attempt at getting some sort of good luck. But that didn’t come, just more snow and more clouds and more predictions for snow and clouds. We spent about 12 days at 14,200 feet and then we turned our backs on the summit and started busting trail down through the powder. Things got easier as we got lower on the mountain and we were at the SE Fork again by morning of our 19th day on the hill. And the weather cleared magnificently then… allowing a view of the summit we hadn’t reached, but also making the flight off possible.
Showers and dinners and drinks and beds in Talkeetna were pretty good, even without a summit. We’ll get it next time.
The Four Day Summit Climbs for July 16 - 19 reached the summit today. RMI Guides Brent Okita and Gabriel Barral reported clear skies and moderate winds on the summit this morning.
RMI Guide Billy Nugent led the Expedition Skills Seminar - Kautz to the summit also. The team will descend back to their high camp for a final night on the mountain.
In the North Cascades, RMI Guide Eric Frank and team reached the summit of Forbidden Peak yesterday. The team is making their final descending today and returning to the trail head. Near by, RMI Guide Jake Beren and team reached the summit of Mt. Shuksan via the SE Ridge.
Congratulations to today’s summit teams!
I’d intended to wake the climbing team at 2 AM for their final day on Denali, but folks were snoring so hard at that hour that it seemed kinder to wait until three. Besides, our camp at 7,800’ on the Kahiltna Glacier was blanketed with cloud and I didn’t figure the snow surface had frozen up. But at three, the clouds began to flee and the snow got crusty, making sled-pulling and crevasse-crossing vastly easier and safer. We ate a hot breakfast, knocked down the tents and hit the trail at 5:15. There actually was a trail since a West Rib team had gone out the evening before, plowing an easy-to-follow groove in what had then been soft snow. After weeks of telling the team how tricky it could be to get through the lower glacier in mid-July, I was almost embarrassed that our task had become so simple. As we cruised along in the early morning shadows it was something of a surprise to realize that we were finding better bridges and fewer open crevasses than on our way in. The constant snowstorms that kept us from climbing high had greatly improved conditions down low. We made it to the Southeast Fork in just a couple of hours and began a slow walk up “Heartbreak Hill”. The last of the clouds seemed to evaporate, leaving us in bright sunshine and giving us excellent views of Mount Hunter and Mount Foraker. By 9:30 AM we were unclipping our carabiners and shaking hands at the “upper strip”. Since it was the first clear day over the Alaska Range in some time and there was a lot of flying to be done, we had to wait our turn for a pickup. But waiting was pretty easy in such wonderful conditions… we rolled out sleeping pads and napped, threw snowballs, and nibbled at the last delicacies in what -until then- had been our carefully rationed lunch food. K2 Aviation landed two beautiful DeHaviland Otters at precisely 4 PM. Fifteen minutes later we slid down the runway and off the mountain that had been our home for 19 days.
The flight out in perfect summer weather -our first of the trip- was spectacular. A million shades of green dazzled our eyes as we left the mountains and neared Talkeetna. Then it was a few frenzied hours of drying and sorting gear in the hot sunshine. With the chores done, we got to the pleasant and easy hours of celebrating over a fine dinner at the West Rib Pub. And finally there was the obligatory visit to The Fairview where open mike night was already in progress. Our Norwegian teammate, Frode, took the stage and had the big stuffed animal heads rocking off the walls with his thundering rendition of Hootchie Cootchie Man. And that was how our Denali climb ended… Without a summit, but with a lot of laughter and twelve new friends.
RMI Guide Dave Hahn
On The Map
The American Lung Association’s Climb for Clean Air team had a beautiful day in the snow above Paradise. They learned some important skills to help them reach their goal of reaching the Mt. Rainier summit and also had a lot of fun.
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