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.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

That's all (For the Disappointment Cleaver) Folks!

A couple days ago wrapped up my final trip on Mount Rainier for the season. The conditions on the Disappointment Cleaver were very exciting indeed! The usual climbers trail that forms up the Cleaver was blown over with snow and the rock trail was filled in as well. Our team fought gusts up to 45mph as we cramponed up the steep untrammeled slopes of the Cleaver. As we worked our way up we were concerned about the possibility of small avalanches on our descent of the Cleaver from pockets of snow collected by the rocks. We continued to the top of the Cleaver to continue to assess conditions on the upper mountain.

From the top of the Cleaver, the traverse out onto the Emmons Glacier was steep firm, and heavily loaded with snow. We feared as the day warmed up the avalanche conditions would become increasingly 'spicy' as well. The potential for avalanches, in addition to the steep, difficult climbing lead us to turn the climb around at the top of the cleaver.

I love to summit but the trail-less Cleaver presents some of my favorite guiding conditions. It requires good rope technique and constant reassessment of the snow, the climbers, and the route, all very exciting! On this particular trip I had the pleasure of climbing with some really fun folks. The team was comprised of two couples from Burlington, VT, three long time friends from Milwaukee, and a local. While we did not get to summit everyone was in great spirits having pushed beyond their comfort zones and having enjoyed one of the best sunrises I have seen all summer as we descended to the Ingraham Flats. Congratulations everyone on a safe and fun climb!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Love on Rainier and Dissapointment Cleaver Conditions

First of all, congratulations everyone on summiting Mount Rainier! Two climbs in a row with everyone to the top, not bad. This summit was truly a memorable one. When Brian and Millie reached the summit of Mount Rainier and Brian proposed to Millie who was exhausted but said yes. Congratulations you two! That is the first time I have ever seen someone propose on Mount Rainier.

On the way down fellow guide Dave and I peeled off from the group to search for a safer route across the Emmons glacier to the Emmons Shoulder. Dave and I fixed a line that bypasses a sketchy ladder crossing. We also marked a route from the Cleaver to the Emmons traverse so climbers no longer need to make an exposed traverse on a hanging snow fin. With the coming colder weather, the route should be in great shape through the end of the season.

Hopefully when Brian and Millie look to revisit where he proposed we will see them back at Alpine Ascents to head up to the summit once again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mount Rainier: Everyone to the Summit!

Early yesterday morning our team of 6 guests and 4 guides crested the summit Crater on Mount Rainier. After a break for food and water we made our way to Columbia Crest, the highest point in Washington to watch the sunrise. The climbers, some of whom previously had no idea what they were getting into, were all exhausted smiles on the summit.

It was an exciting climb. The Disappointment Cleaver route goes way out to the Emmons shoulder this time of year. There is always a tricky crevasse and ladder crossing there which, if we don't get any snow in the next few weeks will become a problem. There is another ladder over the bergschrund (the highest crevasse on a glacier) which leads to gentler terrain above.

Even though we have had so much snow (and so little melting) this year September glacier travel is still a full on crevasse filled experience. As our climbers will tell you it is no problem if you stay on the trail but less then a foot from the trail and there are some giant, people eating holes hundreds of feet deep. Nice job on your summit guys I can't wait to climb together again!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Disappointment Cleaver

Climbers yesterday were not disappointed standing on Mount Rainier's summit at 14,411' we enjoyed stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding ranges. The stuart range to the east, the Olympics to the west, and the Cascade volcanos Mounts Baker, Adams and St. Helens and Glacier peak.

It was in many ways a perfect summit day. Congratulations everyone on a terrific summit day!