Category Archives: Mountaineering

Rescue on Quandary Peak

It’s Christmas day and I’m in Colorado living in my car. I’m out here on my own accord. I want adventure, I crave adventure, so I came out to these sub zero temps to climb some mountains, do some snowboarding, and actually have a white Christmas instead of the warm drizzle back on the East coast. But I’m in Starbucks in Breckenridge now and I miss my family and miss my home.

This morning I began an ascent of Quandary Peak just south of Breckenridge. It’s one of the 52 Colorado 14ers and is decidedly the easiest winter route. With a long gradual, broad east ridge it allows the hiker to stay out of avalanche terrain for the duration of the climb with no pitches greater than maybe 30 percent. Continue reading Rescue on Quandary Peak

Euphoria: Thru-hiking the John Muir Trail

I’m lying in the bed of a pickup truck. I’m lying on my neoair, or as my hiking partner, Scott, called it while acknowledging its limitations, a yellow balloon. He had popped his while laying on granite shards at the base of one of yosemite’s large cliffs. And it is of such a strikingly un-outdoorsy shade of yellow that I claimed the Thermarest fabric supplier must have had a sale. When his sleeping pad had popped a week earlier, he wasn’t even mad. It had been a long day and it was almost expected that something else might happen. The worst face of Murphy’s law. Continue reading Euphoria: Thru-hiking the John Muir Trail

Alone on a glacier, Joffre Lakes

I shoved my ice axe down, trying to establish a self belay, essentially the lifeline for my travel on this alpine glacier. If I fall I would quickly grab the axe and hopefully it is well planted enough to hold my weight. The axe penetrated just a few inches in. Before it had been going deep into the snow. It happens though, there are occasional patches of ice. I pushed through again. Didn’t budge.

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Continue reading Alone on a glacier, Joffre Lakes

The story I wanted to tell: climbing Longs Peak

His name is Alex, a recent immigrant to Boulder, Colorado. But to someone from another coast, another world, his move from Seattle to another high mountain range seems altogether mundane. And in truth it was. He was working now at a small start up technology firm vying it out with giants like Sonos and those robot vacuum cleaners. A fascinating enterprise which he had studied for his masters in Seattle. He is one of those economical academics who worked in the PhD program, secured funding and a generous stipend, then abandoned with his masters, a genius loophole to obtain a masters with no debt, and one which the universities have yet to close or don’t have enough concern to care. Continue reading The story I wanted to tell: climbing Longs Peak

Acute mountain sickness, hell on earth

I wanted to believe it wasn’t happening again. I lied to myself, I lied to her, lifting my face up from the mud “just some mild altitude sickness” as I lay on the trail. I held my hand up with my thumb and index finger just an inch apart to emphasize “mild”. She rightly didn’t seem convinced and set her pack down. She was waiting for her husband and decided some ibuprofen may help me. I returned my face to the ground and lay curled up just off the side of the trail. Just before she had arrived I had drank several liters straight from a creek launching down from the alpine snowfields. Liter after liter I guzzled the snowmelt like my life depended on it. In reality, my life did depend on it, but more so it depended on my body’s ability to accept it. Continue reading Acute mountain sickness, hell on earth