Himalayas

  • Climbing at the Edge of Nowhere

    This post is one of a series highlighting the outdoors experience of Feathered Friends employees. Written by Mandy Godwin. 

    DSC_0103-2 Mike Burns with photo slides.

    The first I learn about his Aconcagua trip, Mike Burns is standing behind the desk at the Feathered Friends flagship Seattle store and holding a sheet of photo slides up to the light. He passes me the loupe, and holding the lens to the page, I see with incredible lucidity an image of him twenty years younger, wearing bright primary colors at high altitude in South America.

    Those who meet Mike in the store could be forgiven for not immediately guessing his mountaineering background. Despite his extensive climbing resume, Mike isn’t the type to hold forth on the gravity of his accomplishments, and is much more likely to be found mid-deadpan, his quick grin hinting at a tendency to treat life as one long-running private joke just waiting to be shared.

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  • In Deep: A Brief Expedition Recap

    With a last minute change of plans, alpinists Nick Aiello-Popeo and Justin Guarino embarked last year on an expedition to climb a remote 20,653 foot peak in the Himalaya called Baihali Jot. Words and images by Nick Aiello-Popeo.

    Tent Views from high camp

    Shortly before Justin Guarino and I departed the United States for our first Himalayan expedition, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) informed us that, due to recent border disputes, we would not be receiving a permit for the mountain we’d studied for almost a year. Justin and I scrambled to find a replacement peak that lay further from the volatile borders of Pakistan and Tibet and – after scouring the American Alpine Journal and Google Earth – settled on a mountain named Baihali Jot (20,653′, 6,295M). To the best of our knowledge, the northern peak of this mountain had been climbed only once, and the southern summit was unclimbed. The lack of information about the peak was extremely alluring.

    On September 14, we heaped two hundred pounds of climbing equipment onto the scales at Boston Logan Airport and settled in for the long flight to New Delhi. To keep costs low, we stayed in the basic accommodations of the IMF's dormitory in New Delhi. While not the luxury option, this gave us the chance to chat with several Indian mountaineers who were also boarding there. Forgoing the trappings of “adventure tourism” in favor of local food, lodging, and companionship would become an unexpected and enriching theme on the trip. However, the intense smog, heat, and humidity of Delhi was overpowering as we dragged our jet-lagged bodies to a briefing with the head of the IMF. This is where we met our extremely friendly IMF Liaison Officer, Sanjeev.

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  • Pumori, the Dream: Expedition Report

    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.

    1.-just-below-the-bergschrund-about-to-start-skiing-back-to-advanced-camp-photo-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.

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