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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Building a Route

The Disappointment Cleaver on Mount Rainier would not be your average glacier climb if it were not for route work. As a matter of fact the route might not even connect to the summit if guides did not scout ahead and fix ladders and ropes across the larger crevasses and skeleton snow bridges.

If it were not for guides making the route go no o
ne would climb the Cleaver. This kind of work, however, is standard in the greater ranges. a couple days ago I had the honor of climbing with the legendary Lakpa Gelu Sherpa holder of the Everest speed record and highly experienced fixing ladders through the Khumbu Ice Fall low down on Mount Everest. To him fixing the Glaciers on Rainier is child's play.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Journey

It may sound trite but mountaineering is about the journey. Don't get me wrong, summiting is fun but the dramatic views are often on the way there. We try to get as many people to the top of mountains like Rainier as we can but sometimes, as one of my colleagues likes to say "it isn't your day."

A climber needs to have a certain amount of reserve energy to get themselves down to the parking lot or to draw on incase of an emergency. For this reason many people decide to turn around before the top. Those people often have just as incredible an experience in the mountains such as watching the sunrise from the top of the Disappointment Clever as those who make it to the top.

The summit is great but it is about the journey.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mount Baker's North Ridge

I’m not sure if ice climbing and skiing in August is cool or a little desperate. In most years it wouldn’t be possible in most places. However, due to crazy amount of spring snow we got in “Juneuary” many glaciated climbs and skis have stayed in good shape much later than usual.

The North Ridge of Mount Baker is an incredible route. It is a classic American alpine climb. So much so that it is the site of the AMGA’s alpine guide exam. With steep snow and ice, broken glacier crossings, and many possible ski descents, it has all the ingredients for a great adventure.

My usual partner in alpine adventures and badass skier Hannah and I simul-soloed the North Ridge and skied the popular Colman-Deming Glacier route back down to the heliotrope ridge. The Deming headwall was terrific corn that bought us down to slightly softer snow. For August, the skiing could not be better!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rainier Double Header

Every now and then, at Alpine Ascents, we stay up at Camp Muir for two trips in a row. It is nice to stay up at camp and meet the incoming crew with hot and cold water to quench the thirst that inevitably develops.

On this particular stint up at Camp Muir I had the privilege to spend some time with the legendary Lakpa Gelu Sherpa. Lakpa is one of the few Sherpas in the world who actually guides climbers rather than carrying loads and setting up camps. Lakpa's fame however, stems not form his incredible skills as a guide but from obtaining the speed records on Everest and Aconcagua.

There are many talented guides and athletes at Alpine Ascents. Lakpa is one of the worlds top high altitude athletes and guides. I love working with him and sharing the delicious chai tea he always brings. Luckily Lakpa is always happy to help me practice speaking Nepali!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fight Cancer

We steadily plod up into the rarified air on Mount Rainier. The snow is clean, the air is pure, and the cause is noble. This climb is not about the summit. It is about fighting the tragedy thathas touched all out lives. It is about fighting cancer. I have lost all my grandparents to cancer. I stood by my father as he fought and beat prostate cancer. In my work on an ambulance I brought cancer patients to and from treatments that did as much harm as good. This climb was important.

The climbers raised a great deal of money to fund the battle against cancer as participants in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Climb to Fight Breast Caner. Each one of our 8 climbers raised at least $5,000 and many raised more in order to participate in the climb.

For these climbers the challenge of Mount Rainier and the persistence needed to climb it were experiences not only for their own sake. They were symbolic of the challenge of the fight against cancer and the persistence necessary to win that fight.

Congratulations to you all!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Something Different

"I left a lot of baggage on the summit", "that was the hardest thing I have ever done", "you find out what a person is truly made of"

The folks on on this most recent trip were mostly from Alabama, a place not exactly known for its mountainous terrain. It was a pleasure to share the challenges and triumphs of a mountain like Rainier with them.

While I think some participants were a little surprised by just how challenging Rainier could be. Everyone, it seemed, walked away in awe of the mountains and amazed by what they could accomplish as individuals with a bit of encouragement to dig deep.

For me, their are few things more gratifying than helping someone push themselves a little further than ever before and come away with a new appreciation for what they are capable of when they put their mind to it. In my experience almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough.