Trip Reports

  • Illimani, Ascendant: A Photographer's Journey to the Highest Peaks in Bolivia

    This summer, photographer and Feathered Friends ambassador Christian Murillo traveled to Bolivia to attempt several of its tallest mountains and photograph its glaciated peaks. This trip report tells the story of his adventures there. Words and images by Christian Murillo. 

    "Crush." At Huayna Potosi. "Crush." Huayna Potosi.

    As our plane touched down at Bolivia’s El Alto International Airport, I felt my skin tingle. At the time, I wasn’t sure if this was caused by altitude or the strikingly beautiful views of the Cordillera Real mountain range.

    After spending a couple weeks in La Paz and taking some short backpacking trips in the mountains, my lungs began to acclimate. Finally, it was time to take on Huayna Potosi, one of the most iconic and popular peaks in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real. Huayna Potosi is nearly 20,000 feet tall and has relatively easy access from the city. Although it is not the most technical peak in the range, the altitude is no joke, and the danger of taking on a mountain of this nature is always in the back of your mind. The week I got to Bolivia, a 45-year old German died on the exposed ridge just below the summit after losing his balance and falling 3,000 feet. Hearing this news just before setting out on the climb was a huge reality check and a stark reminder that the mountain is always in control.

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  • "And That's Just the Way She Goes": An Alaskan Trip Report

    Alec Bergoef and Colten Moore set out on a trip to the Ruth Gorge in Alaska this past April/May 2018. Read about their challenges and overcoming adversity in the trip report below. Words and images by Alec Bergoef.

    The steep snow of the Japanese Couloir on Mt Barrill. @coltenintheoutdoors is low in the shot with the mighty Moose's Tooth massif in the background The steep snow of the Japanese Couloir on Mt Barrill. @coltenintheoutdoors is low in the shot with the mighty Moose's Tooth massif in the background

    We’ve been sitting in Talkeetna for a couple days now, waiting for the weather to break so we can fly into the mountains. Just when we are about to give up hope of getting a flight into the gorge that day, Colten’s phone rings. We have been waiting for two days. I am pushing the longboard back up the hill to where his van is parked and he is yelling for me to hurry. I hop in the passenger's seat and we rush down the road to grab our bags from the bunkhouse and pick up the pizza we had on hold at the pizzeria. Hastily, we grab our personal belongings from the hostel and rush over to the restaurant. When we arrive, our pizzas are ready and we head to the airstrip. We park and I stride happily over to the plane with two piping-hot pizzas to bring to the glacier with us. There are four others waiting, along with a pilot and Jim, the grounds manager for the air taxi service. We make small talk while we wait for our luggage to be loaded on to the plane.

    Then it is time for us to board. I’m eager, so I go ahead and take the front seat next to the pilot. The pizzas sit on my lap. Everyone else gets in and buckled and we take off! It’s exhilarating to fly in such a small plane, not far from the ground. We can see the mountains in the distance but most of the land around us is generally flat with many lakes in the expansive forest. There are some low hanging clouds and we get pushed around by gusts now and then. As we enter the mountains, the landscape becomes more dramatic.

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  • Loneliness, Warmth, and Finding Home in South Dakota’s Black Hills

    Guest post by Korrin L. Bishop. 

    korrin-bishop-feathered-friends-sleeping-bag Photo: Stephanie Rockwood

    A -10 degree night is the kind of cold that settles deep into your bones and finds a way to creep into your heart. A chill in the heart serves to over-activate the brain, and left unchecked, can spiral into loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Luckily, the antidote is fairly simple—warmth.

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  • Summer on the Divide: A Thru-Hiker's Notes on the Continental Divide Trail

    Our own Tessa McGee reflects on her time hiking the Continental Divide Trail. Words and images by Tessa McGee.

    IMG_5988-e1518016539344-edited

    I'm not sure how to tell this story. I'm not much of a storyteller and there are a lot of ways to sum something like this up. A recap feels a bit like trying to tie a little bow around some unruly pile of junk. I find it hard to talk about thru-hiking without making too much out of too little, or too little out of too much. It’s not for anybody else, so sharing it feels a bit uncomfortable. But here it goes - in the spirit of reflection in the start of a New Year - I'll try to strike a balance!

    It was 136 days with 21 zeros (days off). June 28th - November 10th, 2017. Canada to Mexico through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. My hike was a little over 2700 miles.

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  • Fit for a King: Expedition Report from Mount Logan's King's Trench

    Earlier this year, five climbers summit Canada's highest mountain, Mount Logan, towering at 19,551 feet (5959m). While painting vivid moments of terror and gratification, Chris Rowat shares his experience climbing one of North America's toughest peaks. Words and images supplied by Chris Rowat.

    Chris Rowat on top of Canada. Mount Saint Elias in the distance. Chris Rowat on top of Canada. Mount Saint Elias in the distance.

    The alarm goes off. It’s 5 a.m. Time to finish what we started almost two weeks ago. It’s time to summit. It’s really cold. Probably –30°F. My two tent mates are still asleep. I roll over and a rude dusting of ice crystals settles on my face from the inside of the tent. In fact, the whole inside is covered with frosty rime from our breath. Did I really volunteer to be up first and get the stove going? This is the worst part of the day: getting out of my cozy sleeping bag to begin the countless tasks of “getting going.” When it’s this cold, and the air so thin, every task is a struggle.

    Our group of five is going for the summit of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain. At 19,551 feet (5959m) it is also famous for having the world’s largest base circumference of any non-volcanic mountain and is surrounded by the world’s largest non-polar icefield. Mount Logan comes second in height only to Denali, in Alaska, which is the highest mountain in North America at 20,310 feet. It is about 400 miles away to the northwest.

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