Layers, rain, renovations, life changes and work have kept me from getting out too much but the light is finally starting to return and with it my motivation for longer days. So on sunday Jake and I headed out to climb 3 Ring Circus. The ice was in terrible shape (mongo dinner plates with every swing) but temps in the mid-20s and light until 5pm made for a good long day. We climbed 800' in 5 pitches and then bailed off manky alder anchors to reach the ground just as it got dark. A good long day and a beautiful hike out Eagle River in the dark.
There is nothing like an east coast fall. ( Read more... )
You don't ski during an ice year. ( Read more... )
I remember the first time I climbed at Seneca; Thanksgiving break 1992. Three of us skipped out from Thanksgiving family duties and drove 2 hours north from Charlottesville Virginia. Paul, Dave and myself. Paul and I had gone to the same high school and had been climbing together for a couple years. Dave was new to us. ( Read more... )
Beautiful weather and a day on Jewel Mountain. ( Read more... )
Between weather, work and planning for our July trip I did not get out much this past spring. The few times I did get out it was for a quick jaunt up something in the Frontrange... more specifically - for yet another quick hike up Flattop, Peak 2, Peak 3, Peak 4 - or all of the above. At least I made an effort to carry my big camera along the way and focus on taking pictures of our backyard. Click through for more photos. ( Read more... )
Scouring the guidebook for routes. Of the 3 straightforward routes, the Gouter route (which is considered the normal route) has you ascend the Grand Couloir; a 1500' wall of choss that shreds rocks and kills people on a regular basis. The Tres Monts route is touted by one guidebook as having the lowest objective danger... But last week 9 people were killed in an avalanche on the route.
That leaves the North Ridge; low objective danger and an elegant ridge to almost 14,000'. The only problem is the approach; 1 hour below the Midi (high risk of rockfall), 20 minutes below seracs and a crevasse field called La Jonction, which is so bad the guidebook actually says "call the hut warden about conditions". ( Read more... )
We spent all of July in France. Three weeks in Chamonix and one week in Saint Gervais with friends. I have hundreds of photos and pages of journal entries to sort through so this is nothing more than a brief roundup of our time spent and climbs done. ( Read more... )
The wind was howling, snow was swirling and visibility had been reduced to about 10 feet. A pure whiteout. The kind where you can't tell up from down and left from right. Stop skiing and look down at your skis and it feels like the ground is moving underneath you. Vertigo takes control and the only way to keep it in check is to turn and look through the thick fog at your partner who appears to be floating on skis in a sea of white.
I was roped up to Mr. 20ish-Grade-VI and I was sidestepping up the glacier, my ski pole probing the ground in front of me out of fear that there was a lip somewhere. Minutes before Brad and I had been skiing around unroped in search of cached gear when he let out a yell and dove backyards away from a gaping drop off. We were both disoriented from the fog so we dismissed the drop off as a combination of vertigo and perhaps a wind lip. We were wrong. Way wrong.
"Go left," Mr. Older-Canadian-Dude yelled, staring at his gps. I was way off to the right and I really didn't want to go left. Better to err on the south/right side of the glacier instead of pushing left. Somewhere to our left was a drop off. We all knew that but we thought it was way left, like 1/4 mile left. But Older-Canadian-Dude insisted once again. "The gps says go left. Go left." Brad, in the lead on rope with Older-Canadian-Dude and Mr. 20ish-Ski-Patrol, consented and changed his course, veering left, up and over the rock band and across the glacier.
"I think we should stay right," I said half- heartedly. But by now I was tired of arguing with the gps guy, so I stood and watched them push left. Brad skied ahead, gliding across the snow and into the fog. One minute he was there, floating in the fog. Then he was gone and 20ish-Ski-Patrol was on his side, skis digging into the glacier, the rope pulled tight and digging into the snow.
I took off running towards where Brad had dropped. A wind lip? Crevasse? No one knew. I approached slowly to where he had disappeared and saw a gaping hole.
Brad had fallen off a cornice and he was down there somewhere, hanging. ( Read more... )
It is the winter that never left. ( Read more... )