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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Advice on Early Season Ice Climbing

The internet is buzzing with questions about ice conditions. Blogs, forums and other internet resources are great ways for people tocheck the ice conditions early season when they can be uncertain. I don't know about the rest of Colorado but the ice in the San Juans is definitely IN.

Call me an old traditionalist but my favorite way to check the conditions is to load my pack with ice and rock gear and go see what looks good for myself. One handy trick for this sort of early season climbing is not to sharpen your tools or crampons yet. Excited ice climbers often sharpen their gear to get ready for their first day out. unfortunately thin ice and little snow cover means you are likely to swing or kick your nice sharp point into a rock. You will do less damage and extend the life of your gear if you wait to sharpen it until the ice is fat.

I really enjoy early season ice. The thin candled ice is a bit more interesting to climb than the fat sheets of blue verticality. While the ice is thin, with a few stubby ice screws protection is ample. The ice is are getting fat though, and there is lots of snow in the mountains. as a matter of fact I saw the biggest avalanche of my life that showered us with dust at Ouray's Camp bird road. Needless to say, I have a new respect for the power of tons of sliding snow! I managed to get a photo of us in the dust cloud.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Early Ice!!!!

It seems like just yesterday I was rock climbing...Well I suppose it was a few days ago. Anyway, the important thing is that IT IS ON!!! Hannah and I celebrated the Coming ice climbing season by enjoying a pleasant romp up a frozen stream bed near Silverton. The route, the Direct North Face was my first climb last season too. It is a great early season choice because it gets literally no sun. Brrrrr. This made the transition from rock climbing in the sun a bit jarring. Last season I did the climb much later in the month. This time the ice was thinner and steeper which made for an exciting start to the season.

Hannah led her second pitch of ice ever. Congrats Hannah! To put this in perspective, this summer, Hannah and I climbed Rainier's Liberty Ridge and Baker's North Ridge, both alpine ice climbs, ropeless. Soon after our ascent of liberty she soloed Rainier's Ptarmigan Ridge one of the hardest routes on Rainier. That is to say Hannah is no stranger to bold climbing, it is just a change of pace for her to actually have to stop and place some gear. Way to go Hannah!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall in the Creek

Hannah and I managed to get a couple days of rock climbing in pleasant temps before the weather got a bit cold for our tastes. the climbing was wonderful in Indian Creek as always but the real adventure was on the way back when we tried to take a forest service road home. New snow made the road way to muddy and after sliding sideways down a couple of hills and barely making it up some others, we turned around and drove back to the paved road. While I like to imagine my car is a truck, in fact, it is not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Back in Ouray, CO

Its hard to say I'm home. Where 'home' is is very much up in the air. In Colorado I am from Washington. In Washington I am from Colorado. Either way Ispent yesterday getting settled in a lovely apartment about a mile from the Ouray Ice Park. From the six point buck that sleeps in the yard to the freshly snow capped peaks in every direction I am excited to call this home for now. All we need now is some ice and then hopefully i'll see you here too. Until then I look forward to checking out the forbidding Black Canyon near Gunnison and perhaps take a one last trip to rock climb in Indian Creek. First however, I have to get settled here, at home.