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Everything posted by W

  1. Wehrly, nice! Lots of swooshing in there. And I forgot you guys got the Zorro, glad you solved that one so no one else has to...thanks for the vid, great stuff! Mtep, that's an excellent hardman tour of the stone, very inspiring. Awesome pics! Where is the second to last photo? Keep them coming, all...
  2. Around it. It's an easy walk past it apart from some crevasses.
  3. I love the Boss, but at first I couldn't really make a connection from his music to alpine climbing. Then I started realizing there are parallels between Alpinism, and spending all day Working on the Highway laying down blacktop, then heading to the bar to tell war stories about the Glory Days, while trying in vain to pick up girls.
  4. Looks like a great season, Blake, great routes and lots of variety. Oh, and Blake, we're sharing here. It's only bragging when it's done by people we don't like. Parallel example: my uncle and his friends used to say, "an alcoholic is someone who drinks as much as we do that we don't like" Sharing... Let's see some more sharing. Blake reminded me to get back to the Bugaboos.
  5. Trip: Denali - Isis Face Date: 5/18/2008 Trip Report: BACKGROUND: In 1996, Joe Puryear and I made what was probably the most recent (as of 2013) ascent of Denali's 1954 South Buttress (Thayer) route. At the time we were inexperienced on technical terrain, and engaging it in Alaska at that time still seemed to be just a distant dream. On this climb, we hauled enormous sleds and packs from the Mountain House in the Sheldon Amphitheater all the way up the west fork of the Ruth, across the colossal south buttress, down into and across the mysterious Thayer Basin on Denali's east side, and then up the Thayer Ridge to where it arcs into the northeast ridge, which we followed to the summit on May 6th, our 28th day after leaving the Mountain House. We spent the next three days carrying all of our still heavy kit up and over Denali Pass and down the west buttress, arriving at basecamp on our 31st day on the mountain. We saw nobody for 26 days at one point! Joe Puryear on the south buttress, April, 1996: Early in the trip, while in the west fork, we stopped to take a lunch break as we passed by the Isis Face, looming above us. Isis takes the central rib: The Isis is located on the southeast face of the south buttress of Denali and rises over 7000 vertical feet above the glacier. It is imposing, and the line of ascent, first completed by Jack Tackle and Dave Stutzman in 1982, is the only reasonably safe line on an otherwise savage wall rimmed by menacing hanging seracs. I vividly recall sitting on my sled eating my lunch and silently wondering how something like that could be climbed. Tackle had made two attempts on the face prior to his successful ascent. The first ended when his partner took a 240 foot leader fall and fractured his femur, resulting in Tackle having to ski out alone for help. Help returned to the scene in the persons of Tackle, Mugs Stump, and Jim Logan, who lowered Tackle's partner to the glacier and who was then evacuated by air. Tackle's second attempt didn't make it far due to illness and poor conditions, but the third time was the charm. Even then, they did not continue on from the intersection with the 1954 route atop the buttress crest due to Stutzman having contracted a staph infection from gashing his wrist with his crampons. As it has been with a number of routes I've done in Alaska, it was this story of persistence and determination which captured my imagination, and, even as a wide-eyed novice sitting in the shadow of the route, motivated me to be up there someday. Six years and many routes later, Joe and I skied to the base of the route, knowing full well that we would not be climbing it, as the June warmth had turned the snow to mush. Nonetheless, the foray added a layer of knowledge and also strengthened the aura of intrigue and mystery. In 2005, I returned with Marcus Donaldson and Chris Donharl. This time, we were armed for combat and loaded for an ascent. Unfortunately the invaders were armed with slingshots, to quote an old phrase, and as we approached, less than an hour from the foot of the wall, a serac at mid height which I judged a bit questionable suddenly discharged a massive amount of debris right down the line of ascent. Had we been 1-2 hours earlier it would have been the end. The crew wisely mutinied and we ran away to do something else. The next two seasons Eamonn Walsh and I had loose plans for an attempt but other routes and better conditions in other parts of the range kept us away. In May of 2008, Eamonn and I made the route our top priority, and the snow conditions in the range fortuitiously aligned with our intentions. In cold conditions, we acclimatized by ascending the lower south buttress starting from Kahiltna Basecamp, following terrain I'd been over before. This ridge (aka Pt. 12,200' and Pt. 12,240') is absolutely breathtaking as it takes you to "Margaret Pass" between the Kahiltna's east fork and the Ruth's west fork and an intersection with the 1954 route. I had descended this ridge in the blind on a failed attempt on the south buttress in 1995 and it remains one of my favorite spots in the Alaska Range, commanding panoramic views all at once of Hunter, Foraker, Denali, and Huntington...a real seat amongst the action. In frigid weather and utilizing snow caves for comfort, we ascended to 15,400'. Along the way we passed the "Lotsa Face" a 1000 foot, 50 degree face of Alaskan blue boilerplate. In 1996, with our 90 pound packs and embarrassing lack of experience on ice, this face took us the entire day to climb...each of the two times we climbed it. On this day, 12 years later, it took all of one hour. We left a cache of food and fuel atop the Isis Face, for use in either continuing on to the summit after our ascent, or for dealing with getting down were we to top out in a storm. The route only had two ascents- the second was in 2003 by four French climbers- and neither ascent had continued beyond the crest of the buttress. After returning to basecamp, we waited about a week before a stable stretch of weather arrived. We were flown to the west fork of the Ruth by Talkeetna Air Taxi. Late in the afternoon we started up the route and we topped out on the face 47 hours later. The Japanese "Giri Giri Boys' had climbed the route about a week earlier for the route's third ascent. Snow in the meantime had obscured all trace of their passage save for a dropped ice screw we found high on the route. Atop the route, we learned by radio that Jumbo, Sato, and Ichi had continued from here by descending the dangerous Ramp Route into the East Fork of the Kahiltna...from here they made the fourth ascent of the Slovak Direct on Denali's 2700 meter south face, rising directly across from us...one of the most impressive achievements in modern Alaskan climbing. Their linkup relieved us of any 'ego burden' of doing the route's first linkup to the top of Denali. Our own comparatively diminutive plan of continuing up the much tamer southeast spur, including a lot of terrain I had been on before, now seemed more like an enormous hypoxic slog. So despite the continuing good weather, Eamonn and I were content with having made the fourth ascent of the face. The ascent had been as smooth as we could ever have hoped for, the technical difficulties were high quality and easier than we had expected, and the scenery on route had been spectacular beyond belief. For once we did the right thing and quit while we were ahead. We retrieved our cache and made a casual descent of the lower south buttress and arrived back at basecamp the following afternoon. A few days later we made the first ascent of "Bacon and Eggs", a fun ice and mixed route on a small tower next to the Mini Moonflower on Hunter's northeast ridge. It capped another great trip in the mountains I love the most. PICTURES, VIDEO- In HD quality, here's the visual story: https://vimeo.com/75055591
  6. Nice, keenwesh! Hmmm...I see a Matthes Crest...I'm going to guess #5 is somewhere in the Cathedral Spires in Yosemite...and #3 looks like El Cap(?),...but I'm stumped on the others. Where's the first photo from?
  7. One thing I've always enjoyed on this site is reading about people's year-in-review highlights. Would love to see/read about others' adventures...post them up in here! Haven't seen the topic yet this season, so I'll start: 2013 was another good one for me. Less about standout events or ascents-although a few come to mind along with visiting a couple new places- mainly it was just a lot of quality time in the outdoors with my wife, some great friends, and my awesome coworkers. I only wish I had taken more pictures, something I tend not to do so much while rock climbing. But I took enough to tell some of the story. I didn't annotate the locations or routes here, for now just see if you can spot some of your favorite places and routes, along with maybe a few familiar faces. Go to the Vimeo site and watch in HD. Enjoy, and good safe adventures to all in 2014! http://vimeo.com/81777359 Some extra photo goodness in the above vid comes courtesy of David Gottlieb, Ross Peritore (TeleRoss), and Uwe Ehret.
  8. Don't feel bad. I think the authors of that equation simply over complicated things. In reality, what they meant was that talk is equal to zero. But the way they frame it, it implies, apparently, that talk, if accompanied by action, may actually assume some value. I will work on determining this value and report back soon. I expect the solution will involve a natural log function, so be ready.
  9. I think Twight is gonna be pissed with your superior logic. I, on the other hand, think you've mathematically proven the magic of the internet. Maybe. Algebra used to piss me off back in the day.
  10. What's the matter Pete, don't you like math?
  11. Bob, as an engineer, I've been thinking about this. If Talk - Action is equal to zero...if we solve for Talk, adding action to both sides of the equation, it would follow that : T=A that is, Talk=Action What do you think?
  12. 1985 by Peter Croft, not Pat Timson You're right...but I am certain that Pat did do a lighter version of this which for sure included Prusik and Snow Creek Wall but also with several things up in the main Stuart Range peaks, because I talked to both Pat and Gordy about it a long time ago. Croft's was definitely the masterpiece noted above--
  13. Back in the 1990's, I remember Pat Timson did some very big solo linkup- my recollection was something like NR Stuart, then traversing Sherpa, Argonaut, Colchuck and Dragontail, then south face of Prusik, then Snow Creek Wall on the way out. Don't remember the time but it was in a day. I know Pat and my friend Gordy Smith also climbed the north ridge of Stuart in about 11 hours car to car around 1992. Even after a hip replacement a few years ago, Pat is still a machine-he's the man.
  14. Fixed the above paragraph; ironically the conspiracy paradigm you highlight is the standard conservative talking point regarding climate and pollution.
  15. W


    My wife and I watched Blackfish last night. Indeed- powerful and compelling. The intelligence and perception abilities of these animals are remarkable. Seaworld's program is nothing short of outrageous abuse. Moreover, the apparent disregard for the safety of their staff by extension is criminal. Ravens...ha. I love them. I once watched in dismay from two pitches up Weeping Wall in Canada as two of them attacked my backpack at the base- I'd forgotten and left an energy bar in the top lid. When I got down later, I expected to find my new pack shredded; instead I realized what I'd seen was one raven holding the end of the zipper, while the other bird pinched the zipper pull in his beak and unzipped the lid. They had then carefully removed my touque (this was Canada, eh?) and some spare gloves and set them aside then made off with my bar.
  16. Probably more like the 1920's or thirties. Definitely by the late forties and early fifties with people like Georege Senner and the Molenaars, there was a system of climbing rangers. Yeah, that's true, Bill Butler and Charlie Brown also did many rescues. I guess I have always considered the first iteration of the modern program to have began in the 1970's when the environmental impact component began getting more heavily integrated into the duties of the upper mountain rangers. John Dalle-Molle (who initiated a park-wide backcountry impact study), Jim Springer, Bundy Phillips, and others are the ones I'm thinking of. But you are correct that it has been an evolving process from way back. Oh, I agree completely; this discussion was just a sidebar.
  17. Gene, I didn't take your comments that way, I just want it to be clear that the Rainier program was formed out of many issues. There were climbing rangers on the mountain all the way back to the 70's. By the mid 90's the program was in disarray- training was scarce, the gear was destroyed, and the park was asking young rangers to go do dangerous rescues using poor equipment and their own gear for marginal pay. It took a double employee fatality to bring this neglect to the attention of the higher-ups. To me it is very regrettable that programs like these don't have the non-climbing public support to fund them through the general park budget and thus avoid these "special use fees". Climbing and mountaineering is a historic use of our lands. It's "special" to me and you but not in the same way the fee term is used. I'm not yet sure what to think of the USFS Leavenworth program. My sense is that while it is not really needed, if it is going to proceed anyway, we should as a community try to work with them and also, given USFS history, continue to be vigilant to program creep and more fees and access restrictions.
  18. I do too but I also remember having to step very carefully when walking through Emmons Flats and actually seeing climbers using their ice axes to scrape human waste off their crampons. I also remember when two of my friends were killed after being dispatched to do a night rescue on the Emmons. One was an unpaid volunteer, the other was working for $8.85 an hour. While both were fit, they were both young and had little to no formal training in SAR. The initiation of the accident was believed to be the volunteer using broken crampons from the Schurman SAR cache which he had duct taped to his boots. The entire sar cache at that time was a collection of veritable junk: broken 20-30 year old gear. I saw all this gear personally, it was a complete disgrace. Ranger salaries were one thing, but it also paid for a modernization of the SAR cache (see above) and equipment for SAR personnel to use, the construction of the toilets, training hours for the rangers with helicopters and high angle rigging seminars, and also, of great significance, the yearly (high) cost of flying dozens of 55 gallon drums full of human waste off the mountain, as well as thousands of blue bags. The latter was and continues to be a big part of the cost recovery. This is implemented for a mountain with 10-12K of climbers per season, most of the use on two routes. I admit that the scope and size of this or any program are very much debatable entities, but as far as I know this is where the money goes. The permit fee stays in the park.
  19. W


    I agree with everything you say here, but I think it's important to understand both sides. I suspect that most (not all) of the feelings you describe are the same emotions many private-sector employees and business owners feel when something like Obamacare is imposed on them. There are, in fact, a lot of private sector wage-earners who have or will lose benefits, hours, or even their livelihoods over this legislation. Food for thought. No intent to disrespect you here. In fact, the work you do is exactly the reason I pay my taxes. I hope this nonsense is over with soon. Thanks. Just to be clear, my post was speaking only to that particular moment and situation and wasn't intended to be a commentary on my personal feelings about the ACA. Having been on the receiving end of misdirected anger, it struck a personal note for me. Even setting that aside, this Randy Neugebauer is the one who should be ashamed. I do indeed recognize that the ACA is going to benefit some, while it hurts others. Lawmakers should have been, and should in the future, be focused on efforts to improve it. Strong-arm leveraging and threats which result in what we have now- direct and deliberate harm to ordinary citizens and businesses, as well as damage to the general health of our economy, is the wrong tactic and the wrong venue for this... on which I believe we agree.
  20. W


    I noticed that Fox News quickly proclaimed it wasn't a "shutdown", but rather, a "Slimdown", and continues referring to it as such. The clever implication is that putting 800,000 lazy, overpaid civilian employees out of work is a positive step towards "fiscal responsibility", although of course, it could easily go further with government being so large.
  21. W


    Irony Fail to do your job, then berate someone for doing theirs, making sure to get it all on camera; not only that, tell this person who is being forced to work an obviously unpleasant assignment WITHOUT PAY that they should be ashamed of themselves? Next, jab your finger into the face of a citizen who has been put out of work by the shutdown and who tries to defend the worker. What a completely classless disgrace.
  22. Tvashtarkatena makes an extremely relevant point when he states that the regulations the local rangers will enforce now or in the future will be crafted by people thousands of miles away. We are right to be skeptical and watchful of the agenda here, but continuing to present our community as disorganized and hostile will not gain any sympathy or legitimacy for us as a user group in Washington DC. Rather, engaging land managers as the LMA is attempting to do, with organized and mature requests for services and fulfillment of our needs be they continuing roads access, new and maintained facilities (trails, toilets, etc.) while simultaneously educating them on and demonstrating the historic legitimacy as a backcountry user group will in my opinion go much further in limiting or evading any future regulation, or worse, the implementation of more fees. In addition to solidifying our group in the eyes of managers, we need to keep pressure on Congress to fund our parks properly instead of the long standing trend of starving them out and leaving land managers trying to extract funding through fee demo programs and privatization. Write your reps and senators!
  23. I have no idea what grade and term (seasonal/permanent, etc) the two new rangers are, but if they are the ones out in the field, it's more likely about $14-17 an hour, and if seasonal, no benefits. 150-200K is more than what an NPS park superintendent makes. Not to say I wouldn't also like to see more USFS funds directed at improvements and upkeep for roads, trails, and toilets.
  24. I've redesigned my photo website with a new look to emphasize the best photos in my collection. www.markwestmanimages.com The site's new structure divides the site into two primary categories: First is "Fine Art Images", consisting of Landscape Images and Selected Climbing Photography. These are my personally selected 'best of' photos. I created this section for users looking for prints and digital licensing who want to quickly find my best images. The other section is the "Climbing Photography Database". This is a much more comprehensive collection of climbing images and I created this section for climbers looking for beta photos and/or who just want to browse the more extensive version of my collection. All of the climbing images from the Selected Climbing Photography category in Fine Art Images are also found here, along with many more images. As before, there is a heavy emphasis on climbing in Patagonia and the Alaska Range. Note that I have also reduced the prices on most print options which include ready-to-hang prints in canvas, thin-wrap, and float mounted metal prints. Not only that, I've gone completely cliché and my website now has its own facebook page. So if you like, please like: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Westman-Images/155557451310635 Thanks for looking.
  25. W

    Denali Prep

    The winter ascent/attempt of Rainier and a winter mountaineering seminar will teach you as much or more than everything else you list. Quite frankly if your vacation time is limited each year, climbing Whitney will be of little value towards Denali prep. Go to cold and snowy places. Go take an Alaska Range seminar, IN the Alaska Range, in the early spring with one of the concessioned services, and get some experience with the climate and vastness of the Denali area and Alaskan glaciers, before you go up high, and before you drop a lot of money on a Denali climb. What you need are winter camping and survival skills, and mileage on crevassed glaciers so that you will feel comfortable and in your element once on the mountain doing the real deal. Since you are going with a guide service, who will make the routefinding decisions and logistical and judgment calls, your focus should be on two things: fitness, and becoming supremely competent and comfortable with day to day existence and camping in cold, harsh, uncomfortable environments, in big mountains. Lack of the above are the two most common reasons I see guided clients fail on Denali. I'd focus less on a list of specific peaks and ascents and think more about the quality of the outing as it relates to your goal. And I second the above rec to try to find a partner with the same goal to train and learn with, and eventually be your tent mate on Denali. Good luck-
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