Himalaya climbing season is just around the corner and we are busy shipping down suits and jackets around the world. As those climbers prepare for their journeys, we wanted to share a trip report by Feathered Friends ambassador Erin Smart about her first trip to the Himalaya and attempted ski descent of Pumori last fall. Words by Erin Smart. Photographs by Erin and Benjamin Ribeyre.
With my crampons secure on the 55 degree slope, and my axes sunk in above me, I looked up to Benj a few meters above as he asked me “what do you think?” I knew what he was asking. I looked down at the steep icy slope below us, and at the bergschrund that was above a 100 meter ice cliff, and then I looked above us at the 1000m of steep snow above. I spent a minute gaging the “maybe” in my head, and thought of my brothers words from the previous days satellite phone call, “Only do it for you. Remember that no one cares.”
Paul had tried to climb Pumori before in 2011, but due to bad weather, his team didn't get much farther than base camp. He recruited Benj in the spring, and I received my invitation to join shortly thereafter. Benj and I had been in the mountains a lot before, but we only had one mountain prep trip with the whole team before we left for Nepal. We climbed and skied the Tour Ronde in the Chamonix valley in October and the team got along great. The adventure was off to a great start.
Expedition report from prolific climber and alpinist, Jay Smith. Jay has been climbing for "longer than he cares to admit," and put up nearly 2,000 new routes across the world. His climbing partner, Jim Donini, is another prolific man of the mountains who was president of the American Alpine Club from 2006 to 2009 and is known for his routes in Patagonia and Alaska. Words and images by Jay Smith.
Not all expeditions go as planned. Read on to see how these two experienced alpinists responded to adverse conditions and tough decisions.
Cerro San Lorenzo is the second highest peak in Patagonia. It lies at 47º south latitude, in-between the northern and southern Patagonia ice caps, the only ice caps (an ice mass covering less than 50,000 square kilometers) outside of the poles. At 12,170’ it is not particularly high, but do to it’s location, less than 50 linear miles from the Pacific, on the Chilean/Argentine border, it experiences some of the worst weather on the planet. Indeed, it’s 6 mile summit plateau, which is almost completely adorned with overhanging seracs and cornices, presents formidable obstacles which defend it’s 3 summits. Just to find safe passage between these is a challenge. That, coupled with atrocious winds that can easily exceed 100 mph sweeping the summit, makes it a very difficult mountain to attain by any route. Other than the normal route, a walk-up via glacier travel, there are only 2 other climbs on the mountain that have been completed, though many have been attempted.
Earlier this fall, Feathered Friends Ambassadors Mark Pugliese and Nik Mirhashemi journeyed to the remote Rolwaling Valley in the Himalayas in pursuit of big mountains and new routes. Words by Mark Pugliese. Pictures by Nik Mirhashemi and Mark Pugliese.
I shook violently with cold. My hands felt like pieces of wood. My body was attempting to pump what felt like molasses though my veins. I was standing under a rock outcropping at 6,100 meters on the West Face of Chugimago in the Rolwaling Valley of Nepal. As I swung my hands side to side to get the blood flow going, I watched the alpenglow of the setting Himalayan sun engulf the 7,000 meter peaks around me and burst into brilliant orange and red flames. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. I knew the light would be gone soon, and I would be left with only the dull glow of my headlamp. I thought my partner had reached the ridge, but I wasn't sure. I drew within myself in that lonely space beneath the rock, accepted and embraced my fear, and prepared to move upwards. Time to harden up.
A trip report from AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide Jediah Porter.
Human adventures are like caribou antlers; born soft and fuzzy with hope. Really, both start as just an idea, deep in one’s DNA. As they take shape, before they even take action, they are gentle and virtually unnoticeable. The promise of their power and prominence is there, but the scratched, hormonal, prideful reality is yet to be revealed.
For us, the climb and ski of Alaska’s Mount Sanford started as just a tiny, incubating idea in a teenager’s soul. In Wildsnow, the definitive tome on North American ski mountaineering, guru (and now mentor) Lou Dawson mentions the Sheep Glacier route on Mount Sanford as perhaps the ultimate mid-difficulty ski run on a giant peak. I stumbled across that literally 20 years ago, and the idea has simmered since then.
My wife Meagan and I booked some guiding work in Alaska in the spring of 2016, and looked to tack on a personal adventure. The time was right, the team was right, Mount Sanford was the call.
After two weeks of amazing submissions, the results are in for our #NPS100 and #FeatheredFriendsGear Instagram photo contest. Enjoy the pictures below, and check out the rest of their instagram galleries which are full of adventure inspiration. Thank you to everyone who submitted their pictures and memories!
First Place: @mountphillip (Phillip Rodriguez). Continue reading