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, January 24, 2012

Ouray Ice Trip

I recently got to spend four days climbing with Keegan from MN. Keegan and I climbed Denali together this past spring. This fall he told me he wanted to dial in his ice skills so he came to Ouray to do it. In the process, Keegan and I got to climb some of the San Juan classics, the routes that make this place special.

The first day we hung out in the ice park working on ice technique, efficiency and we discussed some key concepts to multi-pitch climbing. Next, we took advantage of the end of a weather window to climb Silverton's Whorehouse Hoses. The next day we managed to sneak in Horsetail falls before the weather got really bad.  It snowed over night and we enjoyed snowy climbing and patchy skies on Dexter Slabs.

The incredible access here in Ouray to a wide variety of terrain makes it so there is something for everyone regardless of the weather. Thanks for a great few days Keegan!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guide's Day Out

People often ask me if I climb in the Ice Park on my days off. Of course! While I love the steep ice lines in the park It is the mixed lines that really hold my attention. These routes are pumpy and often tenuous affairs that push you to climb with maximum efficiency.

People don't often think of projecting and winter climbing in the same vein but projecting mixed climbs can be a really fun activity for day or two in the park. while I prefer to lead bolted rock climbs, but with all the sharp things around mixed climbing I prefer to learn the moves on top rope.

I like to lead the routes once I feel like I can climb the route in control the whole time even if I do hang on a draw or whip. Because the routes are steep the falls are usually clean. I like to lead the routes with as few tries as possible but every route is different technically as well as mentally and it is hard to compare them. I was super excited to send Chinese Water Torture, M9 in the Scottish Gullies at the Ice Park. This is a great route, check it out!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bird Brain Boulevard

Low on the route
 I heard it was terrifyingly run out. I heard the rock was loose and rotten. I heard I would grovel up the chimneys. I also heard it was a classic San Juan mixed climb. It didn't really make sense so I figured I should try and climb Bird Brain Boulevard. It was everything I had heard, especially the classic part.

Bird Brain is among the top few routes in the San Juans. It is right up there with the Ames Ice Hose and Bridal Veil Falls. Bird Brain is a serious route with big run outs, loose rock, and crux moves well above your gear which perhaps explains why it gets a bit less attention than other hard routes in the area. The route is, however an awesome adventure.

May this be my worst climbing injury...
The eight pitches take you high above the Camp Bird climbing area, up a frozen water course through volcanic San Juan rock. It is a bit like vertical canyoneering as you negotiate interesting ice and mixed climbing cruxes. Chimneys, turf climbing, and ice pillars lead to a top out high above the valley over looking Ouray. The descent down to the Ribbon and rappelling that route made for a convenient exit. The route is committing and requires a cool head, which only enhances the experience.
About halfway

Monday, January 9, 2012

Toledo, OH to Ouray, CO

It seems like a long way to go to climb frozen waterfalls, but judging by the grins on these guys faces, it was well worth it. I got to spend 2 days climbing with Brian and Walt from Toledo.  Both of them had done some ice climbing before and Brian recently climbed Everest and completed his seventh summit. Both wanted to improve their climbing skills and came to Ouray to do it.

We spent the first day in the Ice Park working on their technique in the Scottish Gullies and South Park and the School Room. Both improved their foot work enormously and climbed some steep lines! The second day we enjoyed the backcountry gem Dexter Creek Slabs. At the base we sampled the delicious smoked cheddar cheese and sausage that Walt shared with the team.

Thanks for a great day gentlemen! I hope to see you back for other classic like Whorehouse Hoses, Stairway, or 2nd Gulley.