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  1. 7 points
    No matter where one stands on the issue of risk, this thread is an important and necessary conversation for climbers of all ages and skills. Like many climbers, I believe, my relationship and outlook on risk versus reward in climbing has been complicated from the very beginning. That relationship spans 26 years, more than half of my life. My view of risk has had many faces through the years, and it continues to be complex and fraught with contradictions. Which it should, if we are being honest with ourselves and continuing to play the game for the longhaul. Perhaps the most consistent element of it for me is that even in my younger age when I thought myself more 'bulletproof', I've always gone into every serious alpine climb with a very clear-eyed attitude as to the danger I was willingly embracing. "I could die on this trip", is something I silently recited to myself, as the plane lifted off in Talkeetna, or I stepped off the pavement in El Chalten, or I began traipsing up some Rockies drainage towards my objective. While just verbalizing these words didn't change the objective risks I would be facing, it allowed me to proceed with commitment and decisiveness into that zone, and to fully accept the potential consequences. It also served as a reminder of the responsibilities I had at home, the responsibility I had to get back home, which means that aforementioned commitment was not without conditions or limits. I don't regret any of the adventures I've undertaken over the years, nor my lifelong commitment to climbing. Yet in some respect, today I have an increasingly difficult time reconciling my desire to celebrate these memories, with a nagging question of why I have survived, when so many others I knew have not. My wife and I never had children, but I know that if we had, I would have done much less than I have. My wife is a saint for having tolerated so much time away, so much of our money spent, and so much worry that I have subjected her to, in what has been inarguably a selfish pursuit. We have been able to navigate it successfully out of a mutual recognition that a passion for something is what makes a person who they are. I think she has been simultaneously admiring of and appalled by my dedication. I became friends with Marc Leclerc a few years ago in Patagonia, where we shared a number of dinners and trips to Domo Blanco together. He seemed an astonishing soul to me, and someone who was extremely kind, humble and unassuming, especially considering the wavelength on which he was operating in his climbs. When I have observed some of the achievements and risks that he and others like him have taken, I am certainly impressed by the athleticism and the mind control they exhibit. And I've also just shaken my head in a manner that represents neither condemnation nor unbridled approval, but rather, an honest acknowledgement that these sorts of achievements are so far outside of my own abilities and comfort zones that I simply don't understand what they are. It is almost as though I'm watching an entirely different sport. It's tempting to frown on extreme risks, and yet as I myself have taken more than my own share, I'm not in a strong position to judge. In fact, I think we must recognize that their propensity and ability to take such risks is an intrinsic part of their character, the very thing for which we love those of this group that we know personally. And so if Bob's concern about applauding high risk has any merit- and I think that it does- I think it's that the community needs to be brutally honest with themselves about what we are witnessing, even if we choose to admire it. The brutal and honest truth for me is that I have ceased to even feel shock, much less surprise, by each one of these successive tragedies. Ryan, in fact was a good friend. Last fall as we unsuccessfully tried to synch up for some rock climbing in the Cascades, he glowingly told me how he didn't want to be away from his 2 year old son for very long, and that he no longer needed climbing to fill a void in his life. So heartbreaking to think back on this exchange now. But I fear that I've become so accustomed to these accidents as to be desensitized, out of a simple need to protect myself from a total meltdown. I have a photo from my own wedding, in 2006. In it, Lisa and I are surrounded by 7 of my closest friends. Three of them have since died in the mountains. A photo from one of the happiest days of my life now causes pain. Amidst the deaths of numerous casual friends through the years, the loss of Lara Kellogg, Joe Puryear, and Chad Kellogg, leaves a hole in my heart that can't ever be repaired. The widespread wreckage left behind from incidents like these can't be understated. A friend of mine here in Alaska who used to do some cutting edge stuff likes to remind me of why he scaled back the big alpine. "My wife says, you won't care when you’re gone, but I will". The losses that have touched me, my work commitments, being well over 40, and most recently, having a serious illness have all conspired to blunt the sharp edge of my formerly insatiable motivation for the mountains and big adventures. And yet I still do it, and I still hold ambitions on which I plan to execute in the near future. Amidst the flood of mixed emotions and out of a cloud of darkness, certain things have become clear. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with the ultra rare and very lethal adrenal cortical cancer. At the time, I thought that if I somehow survived it, getting a second chance on life, I could never justify taking serious risks for recreation anymore. Two years, two major surgeries, and a month of radiation treatments later, I'm somehow not only still here but cancer free, and throughout much of this time, I've been able to climb at full speed. I have so far gotten off easy. But I've deep dived into the world of this disease and what I've seen is neither pretty nor dignified. And I'm not out of the woods by a longshot. I know who I am and what has taken me to this point in my life. I've wrestled over and over again with how sustainable this activity is. I've simultaneously envied those like Marc who at a young age had the vision and heart to become committed in every fiber of his being to climbing mountains, and also had the talent to be one of the very best; but also guys like Simon McCartney, who at age 24, with Jack Roberts, established the hardest route ever done on Denali at the time, the massive southwest face. It was the zenith of what had been a meteoric few years of serious and groundbreaking alpine ascents for him. But high on this climb, Simon nearly succumbed to altitude illness in a harrowing ordeal, and afterwards, quit climbing cold turkey, moved to Australia, got married and started a successful business. Simon told me: "I knew what I needed from climbing at the time, each climb had to be harder and more audacious than the next. I could see exactly how that was going to end. I didn't want to die, not at that age". Simon is now 62 and has had a happy life. I've come to realize that as long as I have a chance of dying of cancer, and that if I could choose the manner of my death between that or climbing, I'll take the mountains. Ultimately, between the all or nothing of the above examples, I hope to walk a fine line right down the middle on my way out of this life, whenever and however that happens. Onward, and upward-
  2. 7 points
    My name was mentioned above (I think). It seemed in reference to my ability to stay alive and climb in the mountains. Just to be clear: I’m alive because I’ve been lucky. No more, no less. Sure, I try to mitigate risk as much as possible, but when you are going for it in the mountains on a regular basis, the odds of an accident increase. Climbing is a dangerous sport. It always has been. Life is dangerous too. I know that for me, climbing and skiing in the mountains is absolutely worth it. That said, the pain is crushing when someone is lost. Absolutely crushing. I still don’t know how to make sense of it, but I’ve accepted that there are many things I’ll never wrap my head around in this lifetime.
  3. 5 points
    Really sounding like a grumpy old man here, dude. When someone loses a friend or loved one do you tell them to not feel sad? I don’t know how you feel all the time, and it’s none of my business. The feelings police don’t have any solid ground to stand on. Empathy. Only good that can come from this type of thing. If you feel sad, that’s fine, if you’re surprised, concerned, heartbroken, totally okay. If posting on the internet helps you, go right ahead. No one can judge the appropriate level of grief for another person. All that you have to give is compassion and love. I dont feel feel very good right now, and I feel like many others are feeling the same way. Take care everyone, and I love all of you that make up this community.
  4. 3 points
    Trip: Snoqualmie Mountain - New York Gully Trip Date: 03/16/2018 Trip Report: Jacob and I scratched our way up New York Gully yesterday. With visions of grandeur, i carried a full aid rack and bivy gear up there to try the upper head wall. With no prior knowledge of the rock type, this seemed totally reasonable. In reality, it was not! No wonder there's a beautiful unclimbed wall less than two miles from a 12 month parking lot. Anyway, the route is one of my favorites I've done in the range. We even placed an ice screw! Gear Notes: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. A run of cams, a few pins and a screw would have been plenty. Approach Notes: Armpit deep
  5. 3 points
    In an ideal world this would have been posted on the sites anniversary, Oct. 2, which would have been 17 years in existence. Also ideally this would have been posted three plus years prior when I first started working on the migration. We actually started talking about it much further back. Something I’ve learned is things don’t always work out like you planned, you just have to keep moving forward and learn from you past mistakes. I’d like to thank those who are still around, some of you who have been here from the beginning. I’m sorry to those of you who have given so much to this site in the form of great discussion and trip reports, to the moderators that dealt with so much of the not so great moments, and that I let you down in not keeping this place working better and in a more modern state. We'll make it up to you. Porter, thanks for helping keeping the stoke alive with me and being such an amazing friend. Trip Report Tool v1 I’ve got the new trip report search working. In some ways is a few steps back from the old search in that you can’t facet by month or forum. It’s a step forward in that it works and works well on mobile. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/tripreport This only works if you are logged in at the moment. This wasn’t by design just what happened as I added this on the work of the developer I hired who did the TR submission work. We’ll get that sorted out. What we have on deck will be polishing up some of the trip reports and probably adding better geographical data for being able to search trips on a map. We certainly view trip reports on this site as our crown jewel, we are just shy of 9000, and we’d like to make sure they are easy to find and easy to add. I think we’ve nailed the later with the forum upgrade and I’m confident we can come up with better search. The Future Like I said we have now been in existence for 17 years. Not many things on the internet can claim that. But the upgrade of the forum and the work we are doing now is the beginning and not the end. I was 24 when I started this site and really didn’t know a whole lot. I was trained as a biologist and had no experience or really knowledge of web communities. My (still) good friend Timmy and I just decided to create something. I’ll never forget an email I sent to a pretty notable local climber when we first started. I actually don’t remember what I asked him, but I remember his response “Good luck getting traffic, that will be hard”. He seemed pretty pessimistic, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Getting the traffic ended up being easy, managing it was the hard part. There were certainly some real wild west early days with cc.com and it was difficult to know how to handle them, especially our spare time for what was a hobby. We’ve made mistakes. We can acknowledge that. And we have learned from them. There are people and behaviors that will no longer be welcome here. What is sad is many of those people just took their dump and left. I realize we have a bad rep with many people and that’s unfortunate. I also think it is what you make it, and maybe it’s time to give it second chance and be part of the solution. We’ve solicited a lot of feedback, we’ve read feedback posted on Facebook. We’ve taken a lot of it to heart. I understand Facebook is easier to use, they are a multi-billion dollar company with scientists who’s sole purpose is to get you hooked. I get that Mountain Project is a nice tool, I have nothing negative to say about them, but again they are owned by REI now and have huge coffers of money. It was also incredible to read how people met their climbing partners here, or even their partners in life. Yes there has been some bullshit, but there has also been a lot of good. Cascadeclimbers is a unique and local product: an opportunity to interact online as a community rather than as the product. We are not here harvesting you and your information. This is still a hobby for us. We turn down offers every year to sell this site as we know it’s not in it’s best interest, we know what will happen if a corporation take it over. We have turned down advertisers because we have stayed true to our commitment to supporting retailers. We run the site, we own the site, but the content belongs to the community. We will be better stewards of this place and we hope people will give it a second chance. To those sitting on the sidelines, sometimes reading, but not participating. I get that you don’t want deal with the spray, and I assure you things will be different forward. But I also challenge you because the only way to make something better is to make those positive contributions. If everyone just steps away because they don’t like certain things then all you are left with is what people don’t like. This is a community driven site and only works with contributions from the community. We will be better listeners and stewards; please be better contributors. Why we allow anonymity. This is actually pretty simple; we have no way to prove someone’s identity. Facebook doesn’t either. We also made this decision pretty early on because we felt this would make it a safer place for women to contribute, without a bunch of guys stalking them. Again keep in mind these decisions were made 17 years ago, but I still think it’s a valid point. We recently added JasonG to the moderator staff. You probably already know Jason from his Trip Reports and amazing photography. We are always on the lookout for trusted and committed people to help the site grow, so let us know if you are interested. We may have more roles in the future that need filling. And of course a huge thanks to all the existing moderators that have stuck with us through thick and thin. Our current path forward is pretty simple: We expect people to leave things better than you found it. If you can do that simple things you can be a part of this. If you can’t you will not be welcome here. We want the site to grow, in people, in posts, in trip reports, and new personal connections. Thanks for reading. Onward.
  6. 3 points
    It's a good discussion. Very good. I'm not at all suggesting otherwise. Just that it's very damn easy to armchair judge the risk choices of others without all the information and/or from the perspective on one's own abilities. And I'm not immune from it- sure seems like maybe Dean Potter and Dan Osman had adrenaline habits that led to increasingly risky behavior with narrower and narrower margins for error. If someone can go solo Astroman, which I couldn't aid up, all the power to them. It would be insane and too risky for me, and entirely within their abilities and risk margin. And in terms of the 'not being in a hurry to get out' thing you mentioned, I think it's helpful to evaluate one's motivations. If this kind of behavior becomes "need" and "have to" it's a pointer to an addiction that can easily overrule/cloud other aspects of risk evaluation.
  7. 3 points
    You are the person who has judged, I guess. It might be more accurate to say "Too much objective hazard for me". I would much rather be dependent on my speed and skills to get through that threatened slab section on Jberg than be stuck under a clusterfuck of bumblers knocking shit (and themselves) down on me on the Cleaver or below the Pearly Gates. Similarly, I fret less climbing up the Haystack Gully in thin, difficult ice conditions in winter than I do in summer when the hordes are sketching about above me. Only two people fully understand the risk on the Jberg route. Both measured it against their abilities and chose to proceed. To this day anyone else passing judgement on it is doing so with incomplete info. It's no different than big-mouth Krakauer writing a book about the 96 Everest disaster from the perspective of someone at sea level- the frame of metrics is just wrong. I've been in situations where I needed something from the lid of my pack and, as Beck Weathers said about his gloves, it might as well have been on the moon. "He should have just stopped and put on gloves" might make 100% sense at sea level, but at 28,000 feet or, as was my case, in 100+ MPH wind, it's nonsense. Thousands of people a year spend about the same amount of time under the Ingraham Icefall, where Peter Whitaker and team nearly got the chop, as we spent on those slabs. There is a trench-path below the icefall and with it comes a false sense of security. That said, Jens' (Klubberud, not Holsten) description in the TR he posted is more dramatic than I recall and than what I wrote for my TR and the AAJ article. My Dad came home from work in April of 2000, went for a run like he did almost every day, and then fell over dead at the kitchen sink from a heart attack. He didn't even have time to turn off the water or call out to my Mom, who was asleep one room away. Another friend had both his parents killed and his wife and newborn kid severely injured by a drunk driver as they stood at a crosswalk in Seattle. The only guarantee in life is death. In the mean time, I try to make conscious, reasoned, internally-referenced choices and refrain from judging the risks other take.
  8. 3 points
    Bill, I think events have made it very clear to Jens that luck plays a huge role. We live in a state of denial around that because it helps us to function, but sometimes events strip that illusion away. Sure, training, prep, and all that ala Messner makes a difference, but it's a fallacy that we're in control and if we just make the right choices everything will work out fine and predictably. For me, I think it was Craig Leubben's death in the relatlively mundane location of Torment's moat. a place many of us have been, that underlined the amount of random risk that defies preparation and planning.
  9. 3 points
    How To Climb ice in Oregon in March Step 1) Drive to the Tilly Jane trailhead Step 2) Hike / skin to 8,000 feet on the Eliot Glacier Step 3) Look to your left Step 4) Climb it
  10. 3 points
    Agreed. I think the general statistical pattern falls pretty neatly into a pattern where technical difficulty * objective hazards * repetition = increasing mortality, but there are enough noteworthy exceptions to the pattern to preclude any of us knowing how our particular coin-flips are going to turn out, much less that dialing our risk back to a particular level is going to guarantee that we die peacefully in our beds at an advanced age. Renotto Cassaratto (sp?) falling into a crevasse within view of basecamp after descending K2, Daryl Hatten falling out of a tree, Mugs Stump, Goran Kropp, are just the first few and I'm sure there are plenty more. My Dad wasn't a risk-taker, and action-sports had zero appeal to him. He did, however, have principles that he was determined to live by despite the fact that doing so entailed certain risks. He loved to jog, and it brought him a profound sense of peace and fulfillment. He also had atrial fibrilation and a pacemaker, and knew that physical activity above and beyond a particular threshold would elevate the risk of heart attack, etc. He also knew that an arrythmia or coagulopathy, or some combination of the two, could potentially strike him down while watching TV. So he kept jogging, and about 18 months ago he sustained some kind of a cardiac arrest while jogging on the Sound To Narrows, fell and broke his skull on the concrete and sustained a massive TBI. He spent the next several months hovering between a coma and a vegetative state where he could open his eyes and that was about it. Ultimately, his body was beginning to deteriorate so terribly that my Mother finally agreed that it was time to let him go. His accident happened three weeks before our youngest daughter and his final grandchild was born. Our oldest was four at the time and loved her Papa as much as anyone can love anything in the universe. He had an awful lot to live for, and it's possible that if he'd been able to accept a life where he'd never exert himself out of fear of overtaxing his heart that he could have lived many more years. But he couldn't. Our family suffered terribly as a result of his accident. Watching someone persist in limbo between death and consciousness for months is many orders of magnitude worse than someone simply dying. I was never sure if he understood the risks that I took, which despite being completely prosaic in the world of outdoor sports, always seemed completely bewildering to my parents. On some level, I think they both understood, and never held it against me. When he refused to stop being active - I understood, and I never held it against him. Even though I would never take the risks that folks pushing the boundaries take on, on some level - I understand their choices. You can do that, and mourn their passing even when you are at the epicenter of the grief their death causes.
  11. 2 points
    FWIW, I don't have any metrics on my personal web site and I don't have any ads. Never have. Primarily for two reasons: To resist the temptation to make it about popularity and to keep my motivations more grounded (i.e. not about money). I've been asked to write for money and declined, for the same reasons. I've seen Ed Viesturs talk. I walked out thinking, "That was boring". And compared to someone like Twight, what Ed has to say decidedly lacks drama. If shit looked or felt bad, he went home. And you're right: That crew tends to live longer in more obscurity. Is there a right or wrong option? Not in my opinion. Just choices with consequences. Jberg and Willis Wall. I'd looked up at both for a long, long time. Started dreaming of Willis when I read about the "Traverse of Angels" in Beckey. It sounded like a place I wanted to be. The Jberg route...to spend that much time moving across terrain entirely untraveled by other humans. After just three of them, I can so easily see why Fred became obsessed with FAs; it's as different an experience for me as gym vs. alpine climbing. No guide book, no topo, no route description, no looking for tat or cairns or rap stations or anything. An entire category of distraction from just being in the place in the moment falls away. My ego did revel in the sharing of what we'd done, yes. And, I don't recall ever thinking "I can't wait to get back and tell people about this" when on-route. "Spraying" wasn't a motivation that I recall. Before JBerg I told exactly one other climber what we were trying, in case we went overdue. Same with WW. And, whether it's a Grade V alpine FA, or an off-trail Alpine Lakes traverse, or a day of off-trail scrambling/canyoneering in the Valley of Fire (all of which I've done with thorough enjoyment), there is just something, for me, more pure and magical about being in a much-less peopled place; finding my own way, and making it up as we go with a fantastic partner.
  12. 2 points
    I heard the way he drove his wheelchair was very risky.
  13. 2 points
    Marc in front of Slesse 2009 after a Nav Wall attempt. I added some words to the image.
  14. 2 points
    But are any of you going to stop alpine climbing because of some back of the envelope calculation? I won't at least. The estimates of risk for any outing/route on any given day are wild SWAGs, at best, and quite unconvincing for me to give up something that has provided so much color to my life. Too many variables, too little data. For sure I've dialed back the "risk" or whatever over the years, but I think I'm mostly just deluding myself. Watching my old relatives linger and die over the years convinces me that no end is great, so I may as well enjoy it. My family wouldn't be that surprised, including my kids. I've had enough partners die and been involved in mountain rescue long enough that death isn't an uncommon topic in our house. I think the bigger issue is whether or not you believe this life is all there is. The spiritual dimension is much more compelling than statistics, at least to me. When it is your time, it is your time. Death is coming for us all.
  15. 2 points
    Trip: Sedona - Mars Attacks! Trip Date: 11/20/2017 Trip Report: Having an adventure that pushes you beyond your comfort zone is great....unless it's your daughter, a friend's child, and your wife on the other end of the rope when things go sideways. When my wife and I started dating we made a deal: I’d learn snowboarding, which she loves, and she’d learn climbing, my passion. We shared some good times on the rock many years ago, but in recent years we haven’t climbed together except in the gym. My daughter, now 12, started climbing early, but she’s only been outdoors a few times, on top rope or following single rope pitch bolted climbs. Dan, a close family friend, has really enjoyed the few times he’s climbed and was eager to do more. A quick trip to Arizona, a few hours from his family, provided an opportunity. I figured we’d just climb on some short, easy routes in the sunshine. I’d walk to the top, set up an anchor, toss down the rope, and belay. But then on our hike to Devil’s Bridge we saw climbers on a sun-drenched buttress across the valley. Gaping from flatland, I realized I was now the tourist gazing up at climbers instead of the climber looking down on tourists. I’m not ready to make that transition. So I did some research and looked up the route…. The climb we did is the prominent buttress in the upper center of this shot. It was Mars Attacks. Four pitches of 5.8. Each one holds a different mental and physical challenge. 400 feet of climbing with a traverse and two double-rope rappels to get off the top. I might be pushing too many envelopes at once by bringing three inexperienced climbers up the route, but I was confident I could get us safely up and down (green dots mark the belay stances at the top of a pitch.) … The approach started on the familiar trail to Devil's Bridge before heading North to a wash and a faint climber's trail around a cliff to the base of the wall. Somewhere in there we got off route and had to dodge some ankle-biting cacti, but we found our way... The trail contoured above a small cliff with great views back across the canyon... At the base of the wall, we got our gear together: two ropes, harnesses, and a variety of climbing gear. My daughter sticks to the wall even without her climbing shoes. The crux of the opening pitch is a holdless low-angled slab where you must trust your feet and the rubber in your shoes, balance on the balls of your feet with no handholds at all, and BELIEVE in order to climb. I lead the first pitch, scampering up moderate climbing to a high first bolt. 20 feet later I hit the crux slab. I puzzled for a bit, but hundreds of ascents in recent years have worn off the tiny features on the rock, which is now smooth and blank. I tried one sequence and started sliding, so I grabbed the protection to stop. We didn’t have all day, so I pulled on the quickdraw and stood on a bolt to get past the crux. I climbed the rest of the pitch clean and made it to the belay, an airy stance below a giant hueco. The others came up behind me, with a bit of tension on the rope to help them through the crux. They all did great on the rest of the pitch. At the belay there was a giant hueco worn into the rock by thousands of years of desert winds. It was a comfy spot for some to take off their shoes and take in the view. The second pitch is a horizontal traverse along a limestone dike in the middle of the red sandstone cliff. There are good holds most of the way, but the exposure is incredible. The limestone band protrudes from the cliff because the softer sandstone below it eroded away, leaving you staring down between your toes to the ground about a 100 feet below. If you fall, you will dangle in open space and might be unable to re-gain the limestone. I had a hard time sleeping the night before the climb, going over in my mind how we could all safely climb this pitch without risking a pendulum fall into space. First, I lead across. A came next, clipped to both ropes via slings but not tied into either one. Via ferrata style. She had to unclip one sling at a time to get around each bolt. If she fell she'd still be attached to both ropes and could easily get back on the wall. Here she is moving past one of the seven protection bolts that were placed by the first ascent party in 2000. Resting in a thin section. The Devil's Bridge trail is visible behind her. It was impossible to communicate on the second and third pitches, but we had just enough cell signal for texting. Here's a snapshot of our communication. We had a clear plan, and I knew Beth had enough climbing experience to belay me and make sure A and Dan could set off safely. Arriving at the end of the limestone band. Dan coming across second. He was tied into the end of the yellow rope and had one leash clipped to the blue rope, which would keep him from dangling in space if he fell. He didn't. Beth came last, tied into the end of the blue rope. She unclipped our gear from the bolts. She was totally solid and didn't fall. Two pitches down. Two to go. But we were moving slowly. I was having to check everything and do all of the work to keep the ropes and protection organized and untangled. We were always very safe, but we were slow. And it would catch up to us... The third pitch is a dark red vertical chasm, a slot, like an open book. The steep sandstone on one side of the corner has been worn by wind into crazy pockets called huecos. Some are tiny, others are large enough to climb into, and you’ll find every size in between. Then there is the crack, which varies between the width of a finger and a slot several feet wide. To ascend you must use a wide range of crack climbing techniques that are not very intuitive to the uninitiated, including hand and foot jamming, palming smooth walls to move your feet up in a stem, using your palm and upper arm in opposition while your arm is bent like a chicken wing in a wide crack, lie backing on a sloping rail, and more. I placed cams at wide intervals for efficiency and because I didn't have a lot of gear. Fortunately, the climbing wasn't too hard and the tough bits were well protected. Sometimes an accidental shot can yield an interesting image. This is looking back down from high on the third pitch. Lead climbing brings the mind into sharp focus. The world's deluge of distractions is swept away in the face of the immediate situation. The views from high on the wall were stunning, the air was still. At one point, a raven swirled on rising currents and circled our group curiously, wondering what these noisy, vulgar beasts, whose brethren provide such rich garbage down below, were doing up here in the land of wind and stone. The fourth pitch combines some awkward crack with slab and face moves and ends with a long, unprotected section of low angled rock where a fall by the leader is unlikely but would be bad. Dan climbed the final section of the final pitch... just as the sun was just about to head down below the horizon. Night would soon be upon us, and we still had to get down. Here we are about to make the first rappel, which runs down a clean face on the far side of the buttress. You can see the trail far down below us. I rigged everyone's rappels and then headed down first to look for the next bolt station just as the sky glowed orange and red in a beautiful sunset. But we didn't have any headlamps, a cardinal sin I acknowledged before we left the car in the morning. I've rappelled in the dark, but never without a headlamp, and I've never had inexperienced climbers rappel in the dark without a light. Good thing they're all strong of mind. I rappelled down the vertical face in gathering darkness, looking for a three bolt anchor mentioned in the guide. We'd never seen this part of the wall as it's on the other side of the buttress we climbed. And here's where I pushed things a bit farther than I'd intended, because I never found the bolts. I looked left and right between 45 meters to 55 meters down our 60 meter ropes. Nothing. Swinging back and forth across a blank cliff in near darkness without a light was a bit unnerving even for me. Our ropes wouldn't reach the ground, and although I could have ascended back up to our anchor above, it would have been very slow and difficult. We could have rappelled back down pitches 4 and 3 and then to the ground from there, but I'd read multiple stories of people getting their ropes stuck in the cracks we'd climbed, so that was surely a last resort. Instead, I swung over to the crack shown here and built an anchor using a few cams I just happened to still have on my harness. Truth be told. I'd put most of the rack in the pack my wife was carrying. Fortunately, I had the pieces I needed. Luck was with us. I clipped myself into this unplanned, makeshift belay spot and yelled off rappel so the others could come down to me. I held the rope ends as first A, then Dan, then Beth rappelled down in the dark to join me in this corner crack 150 feet off the ground. I pulled them each over to me from the blank face out right. We were safe, and I kept reminding them of this. The stars came out on a brilliant night. I was able to tuck my phone into my pants by my belly and shine light on our belay as we rigged to descend. This time I would just lower them one at a time to the ground. Thankfully, the rope reached. I lowered Beth into the darkness first, explaining that she'd need to climb up to the large ledge below us if the ropes didn't reach the ground. But she made it. We were safe, but well beyond our intended plans. Then again, that's where adventure begins. We made it down and used the light of my phone to hike out on the trail. The evening was calm and still and the Milky Way guided us back to the car. I ended up leaving two cams behind. Over the years I've gathered gear from the misadventures of other climbers. This time they can benefit from ours. No worries. An adventure to remember! Gear Notes: Headlamp would've been nice Approach Notes: Follow the trail
  16. 2 points
    Oly, the new tool looks and works great! This is exactly what I've been looking forward to. I know I've been one of the people pestering you about this site, so thank you so much for all of the hard work you put into it!
  17. 2 points
    do you need help geolocating trip reports? If there's a list and there is some way to associate it with a spot on a map.. I would volunteer to help with that, 9000 is a big number but it can be done..
  18. 2 points
    First off. No offense taken Bill!! All good man, all good. Thx for pulling me in here I know my answer is kinda simplistic, but for me, this viewpoint helps me understand my decisions about pursuing climbing. I don’t want any illusions. For me, they are a disservice. I really think it’s important to recognize my fragile mortality everyday. I think it’s important to be grateful everyday for health, love, and happiness. Step three is to get out there and do what you love while trying to stay as safe as possible. But like I said above, there are things I don’t understand. I don’t think any of us would ever want our climbing friends to not follow their dreams (maybe I’m wrong?), but the pain is nearly unbearable when a friend is lost. Sometimes our actions in the wake of an accident may seem desperate and that’s ok. We are only human. When a close friend dies your heart may shatter into a million pieces. I’ve come to believe it’s about gathering the pieces that were scattered and putting yourself together again. The pieces won’t fit together quite the same way and that’s ok. Give yourself time (lots of time!) and keep inching forward. Reach out to the people who love you and let them support you. This is all I got after losing friends to both sickness and mountain accidents. I watched my mother die of cancer and Chad died by my side in a horrific accident on Fitz Roy. Both deaths were very traumatic for me and understanding how I can continue living and loving has been the theme of my life the past 10 years. It’s been beyond hard, but I’m as happy as I’ve ever been. I love myself and I’m learning to own my story. It is a wild journey. Sorry to take this thread a different direction. For me, I’ve been concerned about the boys in AK and I’ve applauded their climbing over the years too. As a lifelong climber still dedicated to the game, this seems totally natural to me. Just my take on it!
  19. 2 points
    These guys got plenty of grief for the risk inherent in their FA on Johannesberg. Yes, yes we did. And for the Willis Wall climb as well. I guess my position is that it's important to evaluate one's motivations for taking risks and, externally, to refrain from passing judgement on the severity of risks others take based on my abilities. Jens and I soloed a lot of unprotectable low-5th on those J-berg slabs. It was well within our abilities at the time and we'd done a lot of similar climbing together for years. At that point we didn't much need to talk to one another on-route, we just knew what the other would do. So while the consequence of an error was high and there was unavoidable objective danger (indeed, the slabs were swept by ice shortly after we got off them), we were able to move quickly and confidently through that section. As far as motivation goes, it comes down to internal or external. My sense is that people taking increasingly high risks in order to get press, "spray" (to drag out an old term from this site), appease sponsors, get Instagram "likes", etc. are in a higher risk category, as are those who have become addicted to adrenaline. For me, over 25 years, the most helpful question has become, "Can I stop doing this?". If the answer is "no", then it's no less a risk that a drinking, drug, gambling, etc. problem. If the answer is "yes", then it is (for me, at least) important to do so occasionally. There was a period when I thought of myself as "Loren the climber". The first time I lost my climbing motivation for an extended period I had a bit of an identity crisis. The result was a reorientation of my self-concept; I am who I am regardless of what I do..."Loren. A person who climbs." This connects to the idiotic and profoundly damaging "You complete me" movie idea. No one completes anyone, no one needs another *anything* to be complete. We are all entirely complete all the time. Start from a genuine embrace of that self-definition and the world is a brighter, more beautiful, less heavy place, where one can go have fun climbing and go have fun not climbing.
  20. 2 points
    If I ever thought that luck played only a minimal role in surviving years of alpine climbing at a higher than average level of risk, this feeling was nothing that couldn't be altered by the compounding effects of a collection of personal close calls, and a long list of dead friends.
  21. 2 points
    It doesn't need to be either or. We can grieve the loss of an inspiring climber AND shake our heads at the risks they took. Dean Potter is a case in point. I, for one, am not past the grieving stage for Marc, even though I never met him. His loss tears a big hole in the fabric of our local climbing community.
  22. 1 point
    This is one of the better threads I've seen on this site, thanks to everyone for their thoughtful words, esp. @W whose whole narrative rings true to myself (no cancer in my case, but a series of minor accident/injuries have recently reminded me of my mortality). My contribution is that while climbing is undeniably useless for society at large (other than some advertising photos for teamwork or life insurance etc.) it can be a core pillar of psychological support for most of us addicts. I don't know what I would have done without it in my 20s. It gave me my tribe and best friends for life, kept me in shape, and provided a spiritual experience after I lost my Christian faith. I still feel closer to the essence of the universe in nature, but more so during and after a long and intense alpine climb (even one with very low risk). But after 50+ years in the game I look back on those I've lost, and my own close calls, knowing that I've been damn lucky. Like others have said, life is dangerous, none of us get out alive. All of us who participate in challenging sports long enough will get injured, and I'm afraid some will die in the pursuit, but it is so deeply woven into who we are and how we find fulfillment that we can't quit cold turkey. I didn't know Marc or Ryan personally, but have followed Marc through his early posts here and his awe inspiring recent climbs. I must admit that when I heard about his Cerro Torre solo I grouped it with Alex on El Cap, "Please back off now and let this stand as a testimony to the human spirit and potential, not fuel for those who see such exploits as suicidal insanity." But I know how hard it would be to not keep at it with those skills. Then the boys die on a standard descent where any regular joe climber could have been. Wrong place wrong time. S@!# happens. RIP young bucks, and condolences to families and friends left behind.
  23. 1 point
    I have a 1991 Civic. And I bike to work on a rural, two lane, 50mph road. I suppose climbing/skiing are the least of my worries.
  24. 1 point
    One of the things for me personally that has been difficult in Marc leaving us is that he started posting here as a kid and not only did we witness him become a world class climber but also just grow up. I've been looking through some of his old TRs. A particular funny exchange between Marc (posting as cheamclimber) and @G-spotter: I won't lie something that really drove me the other night to get the TR search finished was just so people could find Marc's various trip reports. You can search for them under @cheamclimber and @marc_leclerc. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/tripreport Here is Marc's first trip report that was his own: Contrast that with the last TR he posted here..... We have 15 trip reports under cheamclimber and 40 under marc_leclerc. In addition Marc did some writing for us which we compensated him for: http://cascadeclimbers.com/mt-slesse-descent-update-by-marc-andre-leclerc/ http://cascadeclimbers.com/lower-body-maintenance-for-climbers-marc-andre-leclerc/ http://cascadeclimbers.com/faster-is-lighter-tips-for-increasing-your-speed-in-the-alpine/ Finally Marc's blog: http://marcleclerc.blogspot.com/ Feel free to share stories here about Marc, your favorite TRs, etc. I hope his family and friends will stumble upon this and find comfort in how he had such an incredible impact on all of us and left such a legacy behind.
  25. 1 point
    My experience is that the avalanche reports aren't all that accurate. I've been surprised several times when I shouldn't have been, if you had believed the report. Therein lies the problem. The data you're trying to use to come up with your risk calculation isn't at all precise, but you're treating it like a point value. I'm not talking about either extreme of the scale, which is often pretty accurate, but the middle ground where several avalanche professionals die each year. It's not a simple math equation you can stake your life on.
  26. 1 point
    The basic idea is that for avalanche risk, you have a hazard rating (H = 1-5 = Low-Extreme). That rating sets a base line hazard for the day. Then you can take steps to reduce your exposure to that hazard (lower angle slopes, avoiding N aspects / problem aspects, controlling group size and travel habits). The steps are given a corresponding reduction factor RF. The equation is risk R=2^H/(product(RF)). At R=1, you get to the 1/100,000 likelihood of dying on that tour. At R=2, 1/50,000, and so on. The table in your link does a good job of distilling those daily odds into lifetime likelihood based on ski days / year. So, if you like the idea of having a 99/100 chance of not dying in an avalanche in your life, and you ski 20 days a year, and you plan to ski for 50 years, you need to average R=1. If you think you have a 99/100 chance of not dying in an avalanche, but you run some quick calcs and see that you are averaging say R=3, it might be time to revisit your basic big picture behaviors. I like the simplicity of the tool for pointing out how a rather trivial decision can quantitatively affect the risk you expose your self to. For example, how much more dangerous is it to always ski 37 deg terrain vs 33 deg terrain - turns out its a factor of 2. What does group size do to risk? I don't calculate a munter risk for every tour, but I do think a lot about how it is the accumulation of risky behavior that catches up with us, not a single risky decision. I try to be honest about the risk I expose myself to, and I try to honestly assess what risk I am willing to accept. In skiing, most of the time you will get away with bad decisions, so having a statistical framework around decision making, rather than waiting on bad consequences from your bad decisions can be helpful. I think rock climbing is quite a bit different. For R/X trad or free solo we generally go into it with a strong sense of technical ability and likelihood of success based on well protected climbs performed in the past. For example, what's the likelihood I'll fail on a 5.4, 5.6, 5.8, etc. Am I comfortable soloing or running it out given what I think those odds are? What if I'm off by a factor of 10, is that still acceptable risk to me? In contrast, if I tried to solo 5.14, there would be a 100 % risk of failure. Alpine climbing gets more complicated. There is no simple avy report for alpine climbing. And as I complained above, there isn't really great data that breaks down the risk factors (beyond say 8000 m peaks vs not). So instead, you get the gut feelings about risk exposure described above.
  27. 1 point
    Ropes don't degrade with age. See this article from BD... http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/experience-story?cid=qc-lab-old-vs-new-gear-testing
  28. 1 point
    I met Marc on the NE Buttress of Slesse several years ago. Our team caught up with him and his partners on our second day on the route. He was climbing with an elderly Austrian man and a guy from WA who, as I remember, was a CC blind date. Marc was still in high school then, but I was already familiar with him as that goofy, brash kid from BC who posted funny stuff on CC. My friend Grahm, who was along on that climb, told us that we would be hearing about "that kid" in the future. Grahm has become quite an accomplished alpinist himself since then. I guess it takes one to know one.
  29. 1 point
    we could all just stop the judgement yeah? Marc had the fire back in 2009 when we attempted Slesse’s Nav Wall. Incidents happen has this thread notes in every activity. But, tie in as an emotional being and concern and care rises no matter the incident or result of the incident. Not sure why I decided look at CC.com but I did. Oh well. But here is a photo of Marc in front of Slesse 2009 with a few words I put as an overlay.
  30. 1 point
    Hey guys, thanks for the good discussion. I've posted on and off here for a few years though I wouldn't call myself a regular the way some people are. I avoided reading this thread until after I knew the outcome of Marc and Ryan... burying my head in the sand I fully admit. I recently had an accident myself; I was returning to the car at Smith Rock and in my haste I chose to solo/scramble a short chimney through the basalt rimrock. Long story short I did not notice that it had one or more detached blocks at the top which caught my pack and then came down on top of me. I took a 30+ footer and managed to self-arrest on a small ledge. Luckily I had friends in the vicinity who were able to get to me quickly and keep me stable while we waited for 3.5 hrs for SAR to extract me. I'm super lucky to be alive and with intact head/spine. My knees took most of it and I will be several months repairing and rehabbing the various broken bones and torn ligaments but should be fully functional again. While I will never be close to what MA Leclerc did, I have engaged in my fair share of solo outings and dicey alpine shenanigans. I'm sure some of you have read my TRs on here about a few of those. For a long time I justified this bullshit by thinking that the variables in the mountains are rational and predictable things that I could assess logically and therefore avoid danger. I used to quip that driving my car to a climbing location was more dangerous than anything I did climbing. The loss of Marc and Ryan on top of my recent accident has really made me reassess what I can (and what I'm willing to) get away with. I realize that while mountain variables are predictable to a degree they are not always predictable. Also, as much as I would like to consider myself rational and focused, I am a fallible human and if I put myself in these positions enough I will screw up. One of my climbing partners and I discussed risk a lot over this years ice trip to MT/WY and he gave me this article which while focused on avalanche avoidance is also applicable to most of the hazards we face while alpine climbing: http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2012-501-505.pdf With that article we've discussed a lot about how low probability but high risk outcomes are still bad, and asked how often do you have to take that risk before you actually have a high risk of that bad outcome happening one time and really screwing you. There is also some research to suggest that when we put ourselves in a risky situation and get away unscathed that can incorrectly reinforce the idea that such a risk is actually safe. This lets people get too comfortable and drop their guard as well as allowing them to make similar risks in the future without really understanding the probability of f#$%ing up. I would say my accident was in this last category. Anyway, this all got me thinking that maybe it would be good to try get some actual numbers. It would be good for people to be able to say, well I got away with this 3 times, but statistically if I do it ten times I'll die on one of those occasions so I probably should stop doing that. Or, I know someone who f%^ked up and got hurt doing that once, but statistically that's a 1 in 100,000 accident and so I should be cautious but can do that carefully on several climbs in my life and feel good about my risk tolerance. I have started making a Google Form survey that I'm thinking of sharing here and on other forums and want to know... What QUESTIONS should I include? Thanks, Sam
  31. 1 point
    In an era of carefully crafted images Mark was entirely refreshing in his no-apologies attitude as just another dork from the PNW who loved climbing. Though his vision and abilities surpassed mine by many, many magnitudes, he always felt like one of us and I am sad for his passing. That said the only surprise here is that he died while climbing with a partner. However strong his technical skills may have been, it was readily apparent that caution was thrown far, far to the wind a long time ago. There's only so much loose rubble and thin ice you can speed solo, only so many bad anchors you can belay and rappel off of, before something gives. To wit in the obituaries I've read there are descriptions of collapsing ledges while he onsite-solos 5.11 rockies limestone and rappelling and jumaring off a single nut on Mt Chephren. There's no way that sort of attitude was going to end well. Yet the climbing community as a whole considers this an admirable quality! I think the point Bob tries to make is that the climbing industry has come to glorify excessive risk taking, primarily soloing. In the language ("scrambling", "cordless") in the advertisements, articles and feature length films. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe Alex Honnold was just really photogenic, or it's a reaction to the sterility and ubiquitous of gym climbing. Maybe it's that 12 year-olds can climb 5.15. What ever the reason there's undoubtedly a positive feedback loop of approval and achievement. I'm getting old, and I climb less and worry about my kids more. It's not hard to look at this culture and see something twisted in it's hierarchies and myths a sort of polarity that values either extreme difficulty or extreme risk but nothing in between. I don't have any direct exposure to paragliding culture but my impression is if you came down and said "I just thermaled to 30,000' in that thunder cloud!" you'd be taken to task. But when the climber comes down from the solo adulation increases with the risk and seriousness of consequences. So, yes grieve and grieve hard for the loss of a great friend. But as community maybe it's worth stepping back and reconsidering what we value and what kind of outcomes it leads too.
  32. 1 point
    BOOM! @jon AND @olyclimber BRING BACK THE GOLD! Long live the mighty Cascade Climbers!
  33. 1 point
    i highly recommend the book "the drunkard's walk" for reasons that are both immediately obvious and not a history of the science of statistics and therefore generally a work on the subject of randomness in the universe, one of it's key observations is: humans are complete shit at figuring odds risk management of course is not much more than measuring one's odds wisely and making decisions based on them if the author is right then, we're doomed as a species to make dangerous decisions and suffer as a result when the drunkards walk puts us in front of a speeding mac-truck truly, an enjoyable read, even when the math passed well above my head - dude teaches theoritical physics AND writes star trek episodes... https://www.amazon.com/Drunkards-Walk-Randomness-Rules-Lives/dp/0307275175
  34. 1 point
    Actually, I don't believe that's true. Time spent in areas of high objective danger is a key metric. I've soloed the North Face of Chair in less than 20 minutes and seen people take many hours on it. I accept one form of risk- that a technical error on my part will lead to a large fall, to reduce another form: Objective. Relative to Jberg, Jens and I free soloed the slabs in about 20 minutes. Roping up and pitching them out would have taken hours. As it turned out, that time difference would have been very critical. We had to skills to safely solo and the time we saved doing so likely saved us. More recently, a slow guided group, including a friend of mine, on Liberty Ridge was forced to make camp on the ridge. They were all wiped out by avalanche during the night. More skilled climbers simul or free-soloing would have made Liberty Cap that day and not been on the ridge when the avalanche happened. That isn't to say that the going fast in one place couldn't put you in the wrong place at the wrong time later. If you've been up the DC you've climbed under active seracs. As mentioned, there's a people-trench there and most folks assume incorrectly that lots of people going somewhere means it's safe. I have always felt uncomfortable under that icefall and rest before entering the shooting gallery on the way up and routinely jog past it on the way down. Ignoring objective danger is a recipe for trouble. Making considered choices about it, even if they are contrary to what other people would do, is my preference.
  35. 1 point
    you also usually don't hear of climbing being classified as text book addiction though. the whole "died doing what they love" thing...well that i think depends on your outlook on life and death. as has been pointed out several times in this thread already, life is fatal. we all go, and most of us don't get to choose when or why. "died doing what they love" is something not something that dead people say...its what the survivors say when they are trying to cope with the loss of a friend or a loved one. it just sounds better than the alternative. it does seem a bit silly, but people cope how they can. What will you do when the Risk Gestapo show up to take away your paragliding equipment because someone else deemed it too dangerous a sport?
  36. 1 point
    Another thing I've often wondered about is how people approach the question of what approach to take with their kids when it comes to high-risk outdoor activities. I'm definitely trying to expose them to the natural world as much as possible, and there's a certain amount of risk involved in that, but there are a handful of activities that I've engaged in that I'll continue to participate in at some level, but not only won't encourage, but will quietly hope they never develop an interest in. Alpine climbing and WW kayaking are at the top of the list. There are only so many "there but for the grace of God go I," moments you can experience before the universe's serene indifference to your existence, and the capacity for low-probability/high-mortality events to negate any level of skill, experience, or preparation make you question the wisdom of encouraging your kids to head down the same path that you've taken, no matter how much you've enjoyed it. Once they reach a certain age, if it becomes clear that they're hell bent on one or both no matter what I say I imagine I'll relent and do everything in my power to make sure they understand the risks they're taking and how to mitigate them, but I'll be quite content if it turns out they never develop an interest in either.
  37. 1 point
    I was just thinking that I was amazed no one had said this yet in this thread, but of course... A tip of the cap to you guv'nor.
  38. 1 point
    RIP to Marc. Too young. Reading what he said reflecting on his Mt. Robson climb, I am reminded of a quote I read from the hermit of north pond, in Maine, a man who lived alone outdoorsfor 27 years, stealing from vacation cabins around a lake nearby to sustain himself. The below quote, you've got a man telling the reporter the secret of being, in a beautifully poetic way, and the interviewer wouldn't know it if he was getting smacked in the face with a cast iron skillet. Anyways, what Marc said about filling the void and existing as an actor to be perceived instead of just being seemed to hit the exact same mark of profundity. Leclerc: And it didn't take him 27 years cut off from society to recognize this same truth of nature
  39. 1 point
    I've been having good conversations with friends and partners this winter about the difference between risk tolerance and risk awareness. Some people I know recognize the risks and hazards accurately and are ok putting themselves into situations that I would not be ok with. Other people I know will go into the same situations never even knowing they are at risk. My conversations have been in the context of avalanche hazard while backcountry skiing but it applies to alpine climbing/mountaineering as well and the conversations have been positive. I'd rather have a partner with a high risk tolerance and enough experience to recognize the risk than a partner that will charge into less risky situations thinking it's just as dangerous as walking down the sidewalk. It's easier to have conversation about mutual risk acceptance with someone who can see the hazard even if they are willing to tolerate higher risk.
  40. 1 point
    I apologize and mean no disrespect. It's tough, as we all know, nothing I say will change any of that. There are a lot of nuances which we miss in making bold declarative statements, it's harder to type it than say it. I'll bow out now with that final note.
  41. 1 point
    wise sir do not grieve it is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning for every one of us living in this world means waiting for our end let he who can achieve glory before death when a warrior is gone that will be his best and only bulwark
  42. 1 point
    This is my experience as well @Off_White. I've lost rock solid partners to situations where it just as easily could have been me. Thanks for those words @JensHolsten, I agree that there are some things we just won't understand this side of veil.
  43. 1 point
    OK, that was me that toss you in there. LUCK you say? LUCK? Pfft. Jens it looks like I'll have to take your name off and sub in Reinhold Messner......(kidding). Not all luck. I will note that Messner noted that if you drill the correct procedures into your own head so many times that when you are exhausted and out of it and the shit has hit the fan (my summation), you still do the correct thing on autopilot that will still get you out alive. That is what luck can be for some and that luck pulled his fat out of the fire many many times. That said, I know luck played a big role in Messners life, as the well known story of Reinhold Messner and his late brother Gunner will attest to. The pain of losing Gunner was crushing for him no question. I think we all choose where we want our own risk level to be. It certainly changes over time, but for some, it is much higher, and those of us still on the ground cradling our children watching others fly to new heights are shocked, impressed, astounded, upset, and a whole bunch of other things as well. It is about choices. No doubt. In this instance, I suspect that they chose to go light and fast. If so, they were out of fuel and thus water days ago and a happy ending isn't to be I'm sorry to say. I hope I wrong and if that were my kid I'd be all over that area trying to get rescue personal in there...... Now, what was Bob saying again? Oh, Polish folks. Amazing. Slovakians and Russians at times as well. Here's something worth reading as well https://marcleclerc.blogspot.com/ I got to cook some rice up for dinner now. Take care all, and may they both found before the rice finishes.
  44. 1 point
    -I think that there's just something hard wired-in us to be impressed by, and applaud, accomplishments that transcend the limits of what most humans are capable of. That's particularly true when you have the first-hand knowledge necessary to appreciate the level of skill, talent, etc required for a particular achievement. That's true of many domains in particular, but alpine climbing at a high level requires so many capacities that people admire - skill, athleticism, determination, resourcefulness, mastery of fear, etc, etc, etc - that a certain amount of attention and praise is inevitable whenever someone starts putting up routes beyond a particular threshold. I also think climbing falls into a sort of grey zone where it isn't always easy to distinguish between and undertaking that's foolhardy and suicidal versus something where skill, experience, etc can largely mitigate the risk of death. At least that's why it seems to me that people tend to respond differently to the news that someone perished base-jumping or proximity-wingsuit-flying versus taking on an alpine route that's at the limits of what people are capable of. -When I read Bob's comments I can't help but wonder if part of what we're seeing is some Eastern Block psychology on display. I've often detected an air of resignation and fatalism from folks hailing from Eastern Europe with regards to death, risk, suffering, etc. More than one Russian I've chatted with has commented on what seems like a sort of naive, childlike optimism about risk amongst Americans in particular. "Life is hard, suffering is certain, and an early death is a predictable outcome of tempting fate. No sense in pretending otherwise." Not terribly surprising when you contemplate the history of that region over the past few centuries, but it certainly stands in stark contrast to the default settings that our culture imbues in most Americans. Might also be the reason why Eastern Block folks in general, and Poles in particular seem to have a virtual monopoly on Alpine routes that require immense amounts of risk and suffering. If the universe is geared to guarantee suffering and pain, why not gt your helping in the Himalaya? How many non EB folks were in on first winter ascents of 8,000 foot peaks? IIRC it was almost exclusively Poles, no?
  45. 1 point
    Having lost many friends in the mountains only one really surprised me. That was Alex Lowe, not because he died in the mountains but because it was an exploratory walkabout with a big ass avalanche. Not what I would have expected. Others been been more of wrong place wrong time - rock or ice fall. While others have been because of a lapse in judgment. Those are the hardest. Everyone pushes their own envelope and regardless of the size of the envelope shit can and will happen.
  46. 1 point
    I haven't seen surprise -- but why not act concerned? Should we not be concerned?
  47. 1 point
    reckon marc woulda been doing what he was doing regardless of public applause - in the big picture, celebrating daring climbers isn't nearly as impactful as celebrating, say, football players...
  48. 1 point
    From LeClerc's blog on his Emperor Face ascent on Mt Robson: "It was now my fourth day alone in the mountains and my thoughts had reached a depth and clarity that I had never before experienced. The magic was real. I thought to myself that the essence of alpinism lies in true adventure. I was deeply content that I had not carried a watch with me to keep time, as the obsession with time and speed is in fact one of the greatest detractors from the alpine experience. I was happy that my entire experience had been onsight, on my first visit to the mountain, and that the route had been in completely virgin condition. One of the greatest challenges of mountaineering is in dealing with the natural obstacles the mountain provides. So often in modern alpinism, routes will be fearsomely difficult for the first party of the season, and then once the obstacles have been cleared, a track established or the ‘tunnels’ dug it becomes easy for those who follow. Climbing routes that have been cleared, with an established track,simply in order to attain the summit, or keeping time in order to set records is in fact reducing the adventure of alpinism more to that of a sport climb, and strips the route of its full challenge making it more of a ‘playing field’ of a team sports athlete or like a barbell at an indoor gym where a jock tries to lift his personal best. As a young climber it is undeniable that I have been manipulated by the media and popular culture and that some of my own climbs have been subconsciously shaped through what the world perceives to be important in terms of sport. Through time spent in the mountains, away from the crowds, away from the stopwatch and the grades and all the lists of records I’ve been slowly able to pick apart what is important to me and discard things that are not. Of course the journey of learning never ends but I’ve come to believe that the natural world is the greatest teacher of all, and that listening in silence to the universe around you is perhaps the most productive ways of learning. Perhaps it is not much of a surprise, but so often people are afraid of their own thoughts, resorting to drowning them out with constant noise and distraction. Is it a fear of leaning who we actually are that causes this? Perhaps so many of us are afraid to confront our own personalities that we go on living in a world of falseness, filling the void of true contentment by being actors striving to be perceived by the world around us as something that we ‘supposed to be’ rather than living as who we are."
  49. 1 point
    Pyramid is a mellow walk up the south side after you wrap around from the climber's path. Quite a grunt in a day, but doable. Don't overlook Sourdough. It's a great outing that doesn't have anyone on it in the snowy time of year. A steep snowy hike pretty much. Also, Davis Peak can be done without rope. There is a steep step that you may not like, depending on your comfort level. All of the above have avalanche issues in the winter/spring so be careful!
  50. 1 point
    I believe it failed because his climbing partner had to pick up the kids from Grandma's house at a certain time.