Expedition Tales

  • Cerro San Lorenzo Expedition Report

    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

    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.

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  • Mountain Training Tips Part Two

    Mount Rainier

    Have you started training for that mountain yet? It has been two weeks since our last post, and it is already March!

    Below are a few more tips to keep in mind as you try to get your body and mind ready to climb.

    As before, be sure to consult with your physician before beginning any new activity. These posts are not a comprehensive training program, and don't forget to learn and practice the necessary technical skills as well!
    Words and photographs by Claire Giordano.

    1. Simulate the climb with back-to-back training days

    Will your climb be one day, two days, or three or more? Most of the volcanoes in Washington are two day climbs (unless you are a trail runner or doing a longer trip with multiple objectives and skill building lessons). This means our bodies must perform a few days in a row, and the best way to prepare for this is to do back-to-back training days or overnight backpacks.

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  • Big Mountain Goals? Time to Start Training

    Do you have some big mountain goals for 2017? If so, it’s already the middle of February and summer mountaineering season (in the states) will be here before you know it. Time to begin training.

    Here are a few tips to think about as you start getting out there.

    Mount Adams Climbers

    As always, be sure to consult with your physician before beginning any new training program. This post is not a comprehensive training program, but hopefully gives you some ideas. Don't forget to learn and practice the necessary technical skills as well!
    Words and photographs by Claire Giordano.

    1. Start early, and ramp up slowly.

    Climbing a mountain (such as Rainier) takes not only strength, but also excellent endurance. One of the most common routes, Disappointment Cleaver, requires you to carry a heavy pack (usually around 40 pounds if guided, more if your group is self supported) all way way to basecamp at 10,000 feet. Then, that night or the next, you drop the weight at camp and go even higher in your attempt to reach the summit. The combination of elevation and exertion for hours causes a lot of stress on the body.

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  • Rock to Ice: Pro Tips to Smooth your Transition to the Frozen Vertical

    IFMGA Certified Guide Jediah Porter shares some of his pro tips on making the shift from rock climbing to ice climbing. 

    All pictures and words by Jediah Porter. All pictures and words by Jediah Porter.

    Ice climbing is oh so strange. It’s all the fun and challenge of rock climbing, plus… Plus cold, plus hazards you likely haven’t even thought of, plus an ephemeral surface, plus special equipment… On one level, it seems similar to rock climbing. It is often a natural progression to get competent on rock and then try transitioning to ice climbing. This transition isn’t real clear to rock climbers.

    Here are my tips for smoothing that transition.

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  • Ominous: An Expedition to the Rolwaling Himal, Nepal

    Rolwaling Valley new route "Mixed Emotions"

    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.

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