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powdherb's Achievements


Gumby (1/14)



  1. Holy Shite that looks like a lot of fun. Climbing tuff? .12b, dayum.
  2. Thanks for the positive comments guys. Jim, I'm shooting with a Sony Nex-5n, which I just got. It's an amazing compact camera with a slr-size sensor and interchangeable lenses.
  3. Trip: Aiguille du Midi / Aiguille Verte - Contamine, Arête du Moine Date: 9/10/2012 Trip Report: In order to maximize my remaining leisure time, I've been spending long weekends in Cham with my lawyer and personal trainier, Mr. Grant, who has recently become a father. Our warm-up day started with a fun afternoon romp on the Voie Contamine, a fantastic 6-pitcher up the S. Face of the Aiguille du Midi. The line is accessed by rapping down from the summit of the telecabine and contains splitter finger cracks of golden alpine granite. Voie contamine Tom coming up a nice corner. The next day we scrapped our plans to go up the Grands Montets ridge and down the Moine ridge on the Aiguille Verte and opted for a simple up-down the Moine ridge. This ridge is accessed from a nice stroll up the Mer de Glace and several hours of laddering around. Anticipating long and arduous conditions due to recent snowfall, we spent the night at the Courvecle hut which was the destination of some previous winter exploits. Our residence for two nights. The N. Face of the Grandes Jorasses from the refuge. The Talefre basin has undergone rapid change in the last few decades. You can tell from the these two comparative photos. The basin is SW facing and has been completely transformed from increasing temperatures. Talefre basin the 30s Old courvecle hut, where we spent a few days skiing last winter. We got a 3 am wake-up call after spending the night in the crowded refuge where I was (for a change) trampled upon and nearly urinated on. Starting up the ridge. The route follows the ridge on the left. The descent was made by the famous Whymper couloir, the prominent couloir that descends right of the summit. After we decided reversing the route would be time consuming and horrendously tiring, 17 rappels got us to the glacier floor. Thankfully, cool temps prevented any rockfall down the couloir, which we started down around noon. The route was never really hard, but long, complicated, and loose. Here's Tom on some snowy slabs a few hundred meters below the top. The finish involved some easy mixed climbing and a silly squeeze chimney. The summit of the Verte is an amazing place. I'm glad I can now call myself a vrai alpiniste.
  4. Not sure what all this negative response is... I could only dream of doing this traverse in as good of style as you guys. Solid work, your trips are inspiring. Haters need to go back to their musty dens in the mountaineers cabins.
  5. Just in time for me to get my rattly fist all up in it.... I had to. I heard somewhere that this was one of the first .11s in the cirque and was originally rated .10 and moved to .11a. Still didn't really feel like .11a (so long and strenous), but I could imagine it.
  6. Yeah, I would like to note that the miuras suck for off width climbing. The metal buckles on the outer straps are placed in such a way that any jammed foot results in excruciating pain. At least they're cheap.
  7. Trip: Warbonnet Peak, Wind River Range, WY - Black Elk Date: 7/27/2012 Trip Report: Ever since the first time I went to the Wind River Range with Drew back in the 80s, I have been inspired and compelled by the Wind's seemingly endless supply of alpine beauty. After doing several trips to the area near the Cirque of the Towers, Warbonnnet Peak, guarding Jackass Pass on the way to the such classics as Pingora and Wolf's Head, always glimmered at me like a throbbing obelisk of stunning splitter. For some reason, I thought the Wind River Range was on the way on my cross-country jaunt from Park City, UT, to Seattle, WA. Just for future reference: it is not. As for the climb, it was put up in the 80s (I think) by badasses Charlie Fowler and Jeff Lowe. This route is characterized by nearly immaculate, steep-to-overhanging, splitter. 8/9 pitches were at least 45 meters long... strenuous enduro-fest style pitches typically comprised of a perfect crack running the same size for most of the pitch's length. Think Indian Creek in granite 700 feet off the deck. Most of the gear was large. An ideal rack for this climb would be singles up to #1, 3x #2, 4x #3, 4x #4. I know that sounds unreasonable, but when you're climbing rattly hands and fists at .11 on a 180 foot pitch, it makes sense real quick. I often found myself afraid to go higher because I had used my two #4s on the first 80 feet and there was still 80 more feet of off-width treachery above. The crux pitch, like all the other pitches, was long, sustained, and slightly overhanging. I think I lost about 1/3 of my bodyweight on it. Warbonnnet, from near Big Sandy Lake. The line follows right center of the main face, following the ramp and white vein to the giant chockstone. Liz starting up the 1st pitch. If you're scared here, you're doing it wrong. Traverse far right, looking for a broken 5.8 looking pitch. You can traverse from a higher ramp where it looks like some people tried to go straight up and epic'd on hard slab. Do not do this. Liz leading the 3rd pitch. A sustained and long .10 corner. Very high-quality hands. Us on the belay, getting scared. An 11 am thunderstorm squall hits us as we prepare for the crux pitch. Gusty winds and dark skies with the occasional snow flurry made us huddle and contemplate life for a minute. Me hopping onto the crux pitch. This lower part was fun 10+ moves over roofs to the insanely strenuous loose fists crux (.11) above (out of sight). Do not underestimate this pitch. It will throttle your ass. For the last pitch, we belayed above a slab to the right side of the giant cockstone. This was a nice .10 150-foot 4.5 offwidth. Solid ass-whooping finish. Above the chockstone slab, you have two options (well three if you count chockstone-left that we didn't even look at because it sounded sub-par). You can either continue up the corner (right), or go up left up a featured hand crack. I started up the hand crack and it seemed very licheny and unclimbed. I later read somewhere it was rated 5.8. The off-width corner I climbed was hard and somewhat dirty as we were quite whooped at this point. The scramble begins at the end of this (9th) pitch and nearly 800 feet of climbing. I was ready for a pastrami sandwich, foot massage, and a diet coke at this point. The Cirque from the summit with Wolf's Head et al. The scramble is about 200 feet and quite fun. We summited at about 7pm and made it back to camp via a small notchy choss gully leading back to the start of the climb. We made it back to camp at dark and woke up the next day just in time to drive 17 hours back to Seattle. Some other notes about the beta in the Guide (Kelsey) and Mountain Project: the pitch lengths are all wrong on mountain project. Maybe it's because ropes are measured in meters and estimating pitches in feet is a useless and absurd endeavor. All the pitches are shorter than Mountain Project. That's not to say that aren't super long. Bring big stuff, leave the little stuff in the car. I can't tell you much I would have loved to have some more camalot 3s and 4s. Bring two ropes as there is almost no in-situ gear for an escape and very few horns to sling. If rain had forced a retreat, we would have been less than ecstatic. As for linking the pitches, unless you have a stupidly huge rack and balls the size of the Texas, this is pointless and probably won't save you time. We had a 60m rope and I was well out of gear on the pitches that I felt I had ran it out. We had a standard double rack. Other than that, it was probably the best granite I've ever climbed in the mountains.
  8. Trip: Pointe Lachanal / Ski of N. Face Mont Blanc du Tac - Many Date: 6/5/2012 Trip Report: Hey guys, another crosspost from my recent adventures in Cham this spring from skisickness. Had a mixture of both skiing and climbing, so I decided to put it here as well. Enjoy. I have a few weeks off before I seal myself in my sterile white cement chamber for exam preparation. I'm stoked I paid the extra 190 euros to get the Chamonix summer pass the year. It's quite fantastic being able to go up to 3800 meters and just do whatever is lookin' good. Saturday I went up with my English friend Dave, with whom I was in the Envers in my last TR, on a mission to seek the finest splitter with minimal approach. Pointe Lachanel is approached by a 5 minute ski from the Aiguille du Midi (~3800m) or a roughly 30 minute walk across the flat glacier. It is situated on a rock spur with front row seats to the Gervasutti/Mt. Blanc du Tacul show. The splitter here is so good it's stupid. We left our gear at the top and rapped down to the selected pitches. Team Daves™ On the rappels. After rapping in from the top (2x50m), we were at the choice pitches on this 250m column of red granite. There are several classic routes on this thing, all the pitches of each route are unique and high-quality. We opted to do the crux pitch of Harold and Maud as a warm up. Dave leading the Contamine crux, note the climber to the left, he's on the first pitch we climbed, Harold and Maude. It's a nice wide 6b (10c) crack that starts off as splitter hands and then goes into a slightly overhanging wider section that got me sucking air as a first lead in the morning. I left my crack gloves and tape in a puddle of blood and tears at the bottom of "All along the watchtower" at the Dylan Wall in the San Raphael Swell. I paid dearly for this. After this stout warm-up, Dave took the lead on a meandering finger crack on the Contamine Route (6b) that was so good and positive that it felt honestly like 5.8. After that, we climbed the finishing several pitches to the Contamine Route which are all easy but fun granite cracks on an amazing and exposed arête. Aret-arded A few days later, a small disturbance arrived to the Alps, bringing about 30cm of fresh pow with minimal wind. My Swedish friend Olov and I headed up to get some quality skiing sans conneries on the N. face of Mt. Blanc du Tacul, the first peak on the standard route up Mt. Blanc via the Aiguille du Midi cable car. A leisurely 10 am lift up got us hiking around 11am. Temps were cool, probably in the upper 20s most of the day. This 'schrund proved somewhat problematic for me with one axe. It involved a heel-hook. Olov nearing the summit ridge. Summit (4248m) with the Mont White in the background and the Peuterey ridge. It's no fourteener, that's for sure (13 937 feet 3⁄32 inches). Looking down the Gervasutti couloir from the summit. You can see Pointe Lachanal. It's the prominent greyish arête with a nipple. Le Mont White. Icy turns in the Gervasutti. We couldn't track down the skiers. From the col du Midi, it's about 800m vertical of good skiing with some objective hazard (seracs, falling brits). After a small scramble to the summit, we skied down in smooth, stable pow. It was a refreshing change. Olov ripping the buttery pow. Some steep skiing practice zones. Then, a short glacier skip and a 15 minute hike back to the Aig. du Midi lift. The evening was topped off by a fantastic sunset beach party in Lausanne, where I unfortunately lost a sandle to a demon-wolf German Shepard named Umlaut, or ¨ Full-circle these summer days are. Gear Notes: Double set of cams for point lachanal. Skins nice for the N. Face of Tacul. Anti-demonwolf. Approach Notes: Mont Blanc Unlimited Annual Pass
  9. Trip: L'envers des Aiguilles de Chamonix - Le Piège: TD 250m 6b, Tout va Mal: ED- 500m 6c+ Date: 5/26/2012 Trip Report: Hey guys, this is another crosspost from my thread on skisickness This spring has been much of a prolonged winter in the Western alps. Frequent northerly storm tracks and constant precipitation have brought the mountains around Chamonix into a death-slurpee cycle reminiscent of a May in the Cascades. There are the lucky few who who continue to get the rare high-quality snow followed by thousands of vertical meters of collapsing seracs, massive death runnels, isothermal mank traps, and general fuckery. I am not one of them. I personally chose to pick up my climbing rack and hit some of the fabled splitter on the backside of Chamonix's Aiguilles, the characteristic needles that compose the Chamonix skyline. The 'envers' as they're called, are a series of rock pinnacles ranging in height from a few hundred to several thousand feet high. Typically comprised of fissured granite, this zone is a paradise for those who seek all that is splitter. A panorama of The Zone. After taking a cog railway up to the terminus of the rapidly vanishing mer de glace, we clambered down a 150-meter high ladder system to reach the ice. About 2 hours later, we were at the Refuge de l'envers. My buddy Dave and I were the only two climbers before the official opening, so we got to enjoy solitude and huge stockpile of wood. The via ferrata. Scenery on the approach. The Leschaux basin with the Grandes Jorasses poking out on the left. This refuge is perfectly situated, a nice ten minute glacier stroll to some of the finest splitter around. The refuge on the right. Impeccable location. The first day we warmed up on Le piege, or 'the trap' on the tour verte. Six pitches of fine splitter with a nice thin-hands to off-width 6b start. Cracks are over-graded here, that's for sure. Slabs, as we will later learn, are not. Approaching the Tour Verte. Me starting up the aforementioned crack. Higher up, you can see how close the access is. The next day we had our eye on the Aiguille de Roc. We wanted to climb the classic 17-pitch route Tout va mal. After heading up a series of slightly wet runout slaps and spicy, sustained climbing, we were already worked about halfway up. Then like clockwork, evening thunder showers reinforced our decision to turn around at pitch 10. Dave seconding on some 'Piola' slab (sandbag and runout). Our lunch ledge and turn-around point. About 1000 feet off the deck. Amazing granite flakes. The upper headwall is slightly overhanging and sustained in difficulty. I am now sitting in my room suffering from granite withdrawal. I must return. Gear Notes: Go light. Everything you need is at the hut. Approach Notes: Snowy, but not icy.
  10. When we skied Black last May, right after we saw you, I took a look down the NW face. While potentially skiable, I thought, it was improbable. It's a proud face; really steep, sustained, committing, and by the looks of it technical. Good work. This is a significant line.
  11. Hell yeah. Glad you ended up getting some good rock in the Dolomites. Shortly after you left things went south for some climbers in Chamonix, I don't know if you heard. Sometimes I also get sick before climbing with Tom . Anyway, let's get on some rock back in WA sometime.
  12. Trip: La Dent Blanche, Valais, CH - Arête Sud Date: 10/2/2011 Trip Report: Here is my crosspost from the Skisickness Sanitarium: With the inevitable 'grisaille' coming, the familiar grey skies and abundant precipitation of fall, I wanted to get out into the higher peaks of Valais before the shitstorm struck. We decided on the Dent Blanche, or white tooth, the east-most 4000 meter peak with a French name. This peak is 4356 m and is not accessed by telepherique like the nearby peaks or other 4000ers. It is known for some reason as the Queen of the Alps because of each of its aretes faces a cardinal direction. I don't get it. Anyway, getting on this peak means insane views of the Matterhorn and the rest of the filthy stupidness of the high alps. We decided to stay in the French speaking part of Valais in order to avoid the over-abundance of alpensheiße nearby. The trek starts at 1800m near the hamlet of évolene, about 1h45 min from my layer, in a less travelled corner of the alps. We spent the afternoon sat. trekking up the rotten moraines of the once expansive glacier de ferpecle. The huge valley glaciers around here are rapidly evaporating making the long 12 km trek to the refugue at 3500m a sufferfest. We spent saturday night at the hut, where we slept poorly due to the vieux guides having a fondue party until midnight. Warm temps until sunset allowed for an outdoor dinner on our S. facing balcony, even at 3500m. We prepared a mexican feast with a dessert of diamox. The view from the refuge is quite fantastic. Another recent attempt at night photography. I forgot you're supposed to leave out the moon. After climbing above the hut a little ways, we were presented with the Matterhorn and the Dent d'Herens. Yes thanks. Le Cervin. West towards the Mont White. The arete included two sections of snow/ice. Yay we get to climb with crampons and boots and axe. Once on the rock, we climbed mostly-shortroped. Most of the climbing was probably in the 5.5-5.8 range. We opted to climb the grand gendarme, which probably was around 5.8 and pitched at three pitches. The route is about 650 meters of rock, almost 2000 feet. Jean-Charles on an easier section. Jean Charles following up a part of the climb that veers onto the West Face. On the summit. The descent is more difficult that the ascent because you backtrack almost 500 meters of technical climbing. It was good practice. Jean-Charles downclimbing a nice section of gneiss. To avoid the Grand Gendarme on the way down, you wrap your rope around these metal horns called tiges. They are designed to hold multiple parties. I've never seen anything like it. The route follows skyline right. After the climb we had a nice 2000 meter descent to the car among les moutons noirs. The Valais provides. Gear Notes: Several quick draws, small rack. 40m rope. Approach Notes: Long.
  13. Trip: Grand Muveran, Valais, Switzerland - Arete de Saille Date: 9/25/2011 Trip Report: This time back in Switzerland I promised myself I would try and investigate some the promising areas of adventure outside of the Chamonix/Mont-Blanc Massif in order to avoid the dreaded London tongue disease. They stop at nothing. I haven't really done much alpine limestone climbing, and yesterday, the Grand Muveran, served as my introduction. This massive limestone peak tops out at just over 3000 meters and is the point culminant of the non-Bernese alps. This area is known for its bizarre geology and striking formations. Coming to this area was a good choice. It's only about an hour and a half from Lausanne, and is one of the highest peaks visible from our balcony. We didn't have to get up dog-shit early; we left the house by about 6:15 and were back in time for Seinfeld and pork rinds. The approach is about 1000 vertical m of hiking up a nice soft green valley. We had intermittent clearings and sprinkles all day. We saw a few of the wild giraffes that occupy the surrounding savanna. The first part of the ridge involved some easy but exposed scrambling before we set up a belay for the first pitch. The first pitches were awesome textured steep limestone (5a-5c). The exposure was in your face, with every move a stepover into the void. JC follows the crux pitches (6a). Saille in French means something that protrudes or juts out. They shit you not. A dropped carabiner would land in Lake Geneva. Jean-Charles leads the awesome overhanging ressaut. Jean-Charles with another team (the only other two seen that day) behind. Rain made our summit ridge scramble more interesting. I found the last parts of ridge to be the most tiring not because of their difficulty but because of the constant looseness. I didn't drink enough coffee. Looking back down the ridge we came up from the summit. And now.. a 5000 foot descent. There's something nice about being able to hop out of your car and hike a few hours to a 10+ pitch alpine summit route in a day without paying any money (besides gases of course) except the 5 franc/dollar coca-colas we had the at the restaurant/refuge on the way down. Fack. Gear Notes: Some quickdraws, #1 camalot.
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