International Man of Mystery...

My photo
I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Skills for Summits

I came to Alpine Ascents because I like to teach. I enjoy teaching the skills that enable people to make stand on their own feet in the mountains and make good decisions. Mother nature is often a useful assistant. If she brings nice weather, I can teach people how to get the summit. When she brings her fury people learn how to deal with some of the worst weather they have ever experienced. Though often this kind of weather does not come with the satisfaction of standing on a summit. It always teaches valuable lessons about being prepared about surviving, thriving, and, of course, humility. At the end of a trip like this I am left with a vastly greater for all the little things in life.

AAI Shuksan 6-Day

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Skiing Mount Rainier

In backcountry skiing the learning curve isn't the only thing that is steep. Hannah, who has climbed Rainier almost forty times by 19 different routes suggested we climb the Nisqually Cleaver, a thousand foot band of rock that separates the Nisqually Ice Cliff from the Nisqually Icefall.

Routes near the Nisqually Ice Cliff seemed dubious, but on a recent ski trip I noticed a system of steep snow ramps that connected a fairly direct line to the top of the cleaver and on to the summit. In a month or so the route may not exist any more.
We skinned over to the base of the route moving quickly through the debris from the looming Nisqually Ice Cliff. When we were high on the route, as the sun came over the ridge behind us, the sound of massive seracs peeling off the nearby ice cliff thundered below us.

After a few thousand feet of horrendous trail breaking to the summit, Columbia Crest (the highest point on the crater rim at 14,410 ft.) we peeled our skins off our skis and skied the Ingraham Direct, the early season guiding route. Though the snow was terrible (except for the lucky orthopedic surgeon a skier might visit afterwards) almost the whole way to Paradise at 5420 ft, I was thrilled to have climbed an exciting route and to have skied my first Cascade Volcano.
See the full slide show below:
Climbing and Skiing Rainier

Sunday, May 9, 2010

3 Days 15,200 ft of Skiing

Friday: After spending 3 days at Camp Muir setting up the Alpine Ascents facilities for the summer we skied down the skier's left side of the Muir Snow Field on incredible snow. On this descent I learned how rapid one's acceleration can become with a 5o lb. pack!

Saturday: We skinned to Camp Muir (4600 feet over roughly 5 miles) in 2 hours 30 mins. We skied the Cowlitz glacier to the Paradise glacier back to the car.

Sunday: due to a poor forecast for St. Helens we skinned up the turtle snowfield on Rainier to 11,200 feet and skied down.

My legs feel good but tired. Time for a rest day. Hopefully I can get some pictures up soon.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Climbing Rainier? Try this...

There are a million things to tell someone setting out to climb Mount Rainier. Often the basics of what to bring, how to dress, not to mention the physical challenge over whelm people. Details that make climbing Mount Rainier or any mountaineering more enjoyable are often learned through experience. Below are a few suggestions, details to make your trip more fun.

Food: Bring food you like. Anything over a night or two of freeze-dried food will be unpleasant. Indian meals in foil pouches are easily heatable and taste decent (tastybites brand or Trader Joes version) if you are a big eater mix this with cous cous. Macaroni and cheese is often a good idea. Consider bringing perishable food to eat the first night or two.

Coffee: If, like me you are a committed coffee drinker don’t settle for instant. A French press mug can work well. Starbucks Via instant coffee is actually decent but quite spendy. The best option I have tried is the MSR reusable coffee filter. It is light simple and easy to clean.

Snacks: Bring snacks you like. A few energy gels can be helpful but bring candy and salty snacks you will enjoy eating. Some candies are better than others. For example, Swedish Fish are hard to eat when they are cold, gummy bears are much easier. Often chocolate melts, M&Ms will be less messy when it is hot out. Salt is as important as sugar since sodium keeps you hydrated. If you don’t like to drink water, try some drink mix to keep you hydrated.