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BrandonClimbs last won the day on March 18 2019

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  1. Im looking to give Denali a try in 2020. After being in the Himalayas this year I was debating between going back or going to Alaska. Ultimately if I can get a strong team together I would rather try Denali. Even though we are more than a year away from such a trip I would like to assemble the team early and possibly do a climb together in the cascades just to get familiar with each other and know how we would work as a team. I have climbed in the cascades, colorado, himalayas and will be climbing in Argentina this year as well. Ive taken crevasse rescue course and have done plenty of glacier travel and some ice climbing. I have a lot of group gear that we can use including a 3 person Mountain hardware EV tent, rope, stove. Let me know if your interested. Brandon.
  2. Just a heads up, the kautz chute will be completely snow covered in may. If you really want to experience climbing the few pitches of ice the chute has to offer you would have to go more towards mid to late summer when the ice is exposed. Still a very scenic and secluded route regardless of the time of year and I totally recommend it.
  3. Looking for a partner(s) to join me on a liberty ridge climb on rainier. Ive climbed via the kautz previously and will be taking a buddy up DC June 5th but would like to try Liberty ridge some time this year. I have tent, rope, small stove, all personal climbing gear and have previously taken a crevasse rescue course on Rainier. Some of the other climbs I've done are Shasta Casaval Ridge, Whitney Mountaineers route, Torreys peak via Kelso Ridge in the winter and recently attempted Island peak in the himalayas (bad weather turned us around).Experience in ice climbing, crevasse rescue and glacier travel are a must. PM me if interested!
  4. Gear Review - Osprey Aether 85 Intro: When it comes to packs, you want something comfortable. It needs to be well made, rugged and have useful features. I’ve owned the Osprey Aether 85 for some time now and wouldn’t change it for anything else. Here is my break down review of the pack: Comfort: - I find it to be extremely comfortable even when its full to the brim tipping 60lbs. At 40lb I can hardly tell I have it on, it does an extremely good job of distributing the weight on my hips and shoulders. At the end of a long day I don’t get that soreness on my shoulders that I’ve gotten with other packs. It has plenty of adjustments to make sure you get the perfect fit. Quality: - The quality of the pack is great. Overall the stitching on the seams is good and the zippers function flawlessly even when the pack is stuffed, it is easy to open and close. Where you can really tell the quality is on the shoulder straps, waist straps and back padding. The straps are well padded and thick as to not dig into your skin while carrying heavy loads. Also the back padding has webbing and allows for great breathability so you’re not building up a ton of sweat in your back. Features: - Mountaineering packs shouldn’t have too many pockets or compartments but it should have the right ones. The Osprey Aether, has very convenient features that make for a very practical pack. (1) The zippered pockets on the waist straps allow for storing any thing from lip balm to sunscreen or a Go Pro camera. It allows for quick reach of items that you may need frequently with out having to take of the pack. (2) It also has secure loops on each side of the pack to store 2 ice axes or tools in a safe way where it wont poke you or anyone around you. (3) The straps at the bottom of the pack let you strap in your sleeping pad nice and tight. (4) It has a water bottle holder on each side for quick access. (5) The top is a removable 15L summit pack, once you remove it from the main body it has two straps that allow you to throw it over your shoulder or even wear it like a fanny pack! (6) Lastly the front of the pack has a mesh layer that can be used to store anything you wouldn’t want to get mixed in with the rest of your gear…like…poop bags. (There are more features to the pack but for me these are the most important.) Ruggedness: - If this pack lacks in anything, its in the fact that its not waterproof. If you are typically climbing in snow, you have to be careful how you lay it down or your gear will end up damp. Other than that, it is build like a tank in every other aspect. Mines has been thrown on rocks, dirt, gravel, snow and glacier and its still good as new. No rips or tears anywhere. Final thoughts: - This pack earns 5 stars in my book. I consider its built very solid and useful for anything from back packing to mountaineering. Its large enough to hold enough gear for multiday expeditions and very compactable for short trips. Its adjustability makes it suitable for heavy loads and comfort that last for hours on end. Whether its scrambling up rocks or slogging up a snow field this pack will perform great. Its worth every penny! You can't read more articles on my blog www.brandonclimbs.com
  5. Im heading to the himalayas for the first time next year to climb island peak and wanted to know what kind of weather and temps I can expect in late feb. Ive done some research but would like to hear the opinions of others that have been there. Thanks!
  6. Thats one hell of a way to spend a honey moon! Epic!
  7. Amazing pictures! Im looking to plan a trip to Denali some time soon, Its pretty high on my to do list. Congrats on the summit!
  8. www.Brandonclimbs.com Most people don’t go out and chase their dreams. That’s a sad fact. In today’s world once you get caught up in the “rat race” you usually sacrifice what you’ve always wanted for what every one expects you to do. Life then gets more and more complicated as you get older and your window of opportunities to do certain things, starts closing. There is nothing wrong with having a family and a great career, the issue begins when it comes at the expense of your dreams, goals and aspirations. I am a firm believer that you can do it all, as long as you have the correct balance of work, family and adventure. My passion is climbing mountains. I live in Miami FL, as far as possible from anything worth climbing. That means anytime I want to go out and do a climb I have to get on a plane and go away at least a week, I do this a few times a year. In order for me to do this there are a few things that need to be in order, to make the trip as enjoyable as possible: 1. The business has to be running smoothly 2. My wife has to understand what I am doing and the risk associated with it 3. I had to have sufficient training to make the trip worth while The business (work): I am fortunate enough to have my own business, this gives me certain monetary and attendance flexibilities. But it also comes with great responsibilities, tons of stress and usually insane amount of hours dedicated to growing the business and making sure everything is always running smooth. I choose this over having a traditional job just because it gives me the control to work when I want and be able to take days off as I see fit in order to go out and climb as often as possible. Having a business also gives me a platform where I can build and structure a work force that would allow me to reap monetary benefits, that makes a lot of these trips more accessible. In the case where you don’t own a business, I recommend speaking to the owner or your boss and let them know your priorities. In the long run it will pay off. It will be a lot worse if 20 years go by and you left an opportunity of a lifetime to go to Everest or climb Denali on the table just because you didn’t want your boss to be upset. As a business owner and adventurer my self, I listen to my employees and more often than not give them the “go ahead” on extended trips. I believe most people are understanding and if possible, let you take the time off. When I was younger I worked full time as a manager for a catering company, usually 80 – 90hrs a week. I was a pretty integral part of the operations. But I always made it clear I had ambitions to travel and have a life outside of work. In one 6-month period I took 5 trips to Argentina, most of them between 5-14 days (one was for 20 days) and I always had my job when I came back. What I always made sure to do was to be the hardest worker when I was present, to be proactive and do more than what was required from me and to always have good communication with my superiors. In other words, make my self irreplaceable. This always made the conversation to ask for time off much easier. I’ve also always been a forward thinker. I’m not the kind of guy to put all my money into one trip or expedition to then come back and figure out how I’m going to pay for food. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I like to set my self up for success not just for the present moment but also for what’s to come. As ambitious as I am in my adventures, I always make it a priority to plan for what’s to happen when I come back, how can I position my self for financial freedom and how I will fund my next trip. My Wife (family): For me this has always been the toughest part of my journey. Since the moment I met my wife, she knew I was a hardcore dude. But she never imagined I would become a mountaineer, leaving for weeks at a time, putting my self in situations where I’m risking my life and doing it as often as I do. It also meant taking less vacations together and a rigorous training schedule. At first it took a toll on our relationship but over time I have spoken to her and she has been able to understand what drive’s me and why its so important to me. I am now a firm believer that communication cures all. Before I used to spend hours by myself planning my trips and organizing my goals, now I make it a team effort and have her join me in my planning. It gets her excited to be a part of it as well. Even though she wont go and climb herself, she knows what I am doing, where, with who and for how long. On the flip side I also encourage her to pursue her passions with a vengeance! I support her and make sure she’s going after her dreams. I push this message with all my family. My goal is to inspire those around me to go out and chase their dreams regardless of their age. I took my 73 year old grandmother to NYC recently so she can get to know the big city before she gets too old and I convinced my mom to make her dream trip to Bali and explore beyond her comfort zone. The best part is that once you get your family and friends to go after what they love, they will undoubtedly understand why you do what you do. For me it makes me sleep better at night to know that those I care about support what I do. My mom and sister in Bali With my grandmother in NYC Training: This where the balancing act really comes into play. Run a business, keep my wife happy (happy wife, happy life) and train hard enough to enjoy my time in the mountains. This is just as important as the other two, if you’re not in shape you will suffer like hell on the mountains and you might ruin the trip for those climbing with you. That being said one needs to be very disciplined in their training. Somewhere between the time you work and the time you spend with your family, you have to squeeze in your training, even if it means giving up the hour you usually spent sitting in front of the TV. 1-2 hours a day is the minimum amount of training you should be doing. I prefer to train right after I leave my office. It segments my day and I know once I get home, its family time for the rest of the night. It also gives me a break mentally from the problems at work. The important thing here is creating habits, make it clock work. During the week I usually do Crossfit, this means all I have to do is show up. I don’t have to come up with a fancy work out plan because the coach already does it for you and they make sure you leave drenched in sweat and trying to catch your breath (you can read my Crossfit article for more on this). I usually then get home and go for a run with my wife and my dog. Afterthoughts: To summarize, you can do the things you love while building a life for yourself. For me its all about efficiency and communication. When I’m at work, I’m 100% focused on getting the important things done and being productive, during my training I make sure my crossfit coach understands that I need to get my ass kicked every time I step inside the gym and when I get home I make sure to be present and give my wife the attention she deserves. The old saying goes “ its about the quality not the quantity” and I believe this to be true in every aspect of life. Its better to spend 2 hours with your spouse having great, solid interaction and communication than to spend 6 hours sitting on the couch watching TV while she is in the other side of the house scrap booking. The same goes for training, if you are a notorious gym talker (goes to the gym to work out with a buddy and ends up talking more than exercising) then ditch your friend and get your self a trainer that is going to be in charge of getting you in shape. There is nothing more satisfying than having a balanced life. Learn to immerse yourself 100% when you tackle each part of your life, you’ll realize you have more time than you had ever imagined. I’m also a big proponent of personal development, you need to have time to make your self better. This can take 10 – 30 min a day. Whether it is reading a book or meditating. There’s enough time in the day to do more than you can imagine. It all starts with stripping away the things that aren’t important, prioritizing what matters and what’s going to take you to where you want to be in life. Learn to say no to the things that aren’t productive to you, build self discipline because the life you want is waiting for you on the other side. You can read more of my articles at www.brandonclimbs.com
  9. You are right! Writing these articles late into the night is starting get the best of me!
  10. Intermittent Fasting www.BrandonClimbs.com I am a "Self-Experimenter", that means I try all sorts of remedies, diets, sleep patterns etc. in the search for the most optimal and efficient solutions to every aspect of my life. Through out my experimentation, I have found that a lot of stuff is BS, other are near impossible to sustain for extended periods of time and that very few actually work and do provide benefits over traditional habits we might be used to. One of those is intermittent fasting. I’m not saying this is for everyone, this is solely my experience and my findings after sticking with this particular eating schedule over a period of 3 months. I have always been a relatively fit individual having exercised daily for the last 10 years. That being said, I’ve never struggled much with staying in shape. Obviously when the holidays come around I’m usually a few pounds heavier but I quickly shed any excess fat in the following months. None the less I’ve always been a clean eater. I’ve never been on an actual diet but I have avoided sweets, processed sugars, refined carbs and processed foods. The only issue is I usually eat A LOT of the foods I consider “healthy”. In an attempt to stay leaner through out the year I stumbled upon the new craze of intermittent fasting. To my surprise it has been surprisingly easy to keep up and my body as adapted quite well. I wake up with more energy than usual and I have gotten very lean without sacrificing muscle mass. At first I thought it was insane to starve yourself. Especially someone like me that’s always hungry, I couldn’t fathom having to restrain my self for a large portion of the day without eating and still maintain a healthy weight. But the more I researched the topic, the more sense it made to me. Most people are out there trying to eat this super clean diet that is practically unsustainable, after having spent the last 20 years of their life eating fast food and ice cream. The problem is, we live in a day and age where the media is constantly bombarding us with irresistible commercials of Dominoes’ new cheese stuffed crust, extra cheesy pizza with cheese on top. So when you are on your eleventh hour and you’ve spent the day eating a hand full of almonds, a dry rubber chicken breast and an apple, it becomes nearly impossible to to not give into the temptation of devouring that delicious and greasy pizza. So it makes total sense why most people can’t stick to a diet and why we are amongst the most obese countries in the world. I’m not saying intermittent fasting is the solution to all of this, but in my experience it’s a great tool to have and given the right circumstance can prove to be very beneficial for many individuals. So what is Intermittent fasting? Well it’s not a diet and its not starving yourself. Its basically limiting your eating to a specific time window... The average American eating schedule goes something like this: 7:00am Breakfast & Coffee 12:00pm Lunch 8:00pm Diner An intermittent fasting schedule looks something like this: 11:00am Lunch 3:00pm Snack 7:00pm Dinner The difference is that the normal schedule has you eating 13-14 hours of the day while the intermittent fasting schedule limits you to some certain hours a day (4-10). This on its own is big game changer. By just limiting the amount of hours you have to eat food in the day, you will automatically reduce the amount of calories you consume. Even if you stuff your face with food during an 8 hour eating window, studies have shown you will eat less than if you had your typical 3 meals of the day. This is important not only for weight loss but for for a variety of reason. Everything from low insulin levels in the blood to raised GH levels during your fast. How does it work? Step 1. You fast Step 2. Your insulin levels drop Step 3. Your body turns to burn stored energy in the form of first glucose then fat Simply put, when we eat we consume more energy than what we can use immediately. There fore our insulin levels rise while we eat which allow the liver to store glycogen but when the liver is topped off it will convert the extra glucose into stored fat. If we are eating through out the day our insulin levels are constantly high and our stores are constantly being topped off, giving no time for the body to burn the stored fat. By fasting we are allowing the body more time in the day to burn stored fat. What is the right way to do intermittent fasting? There is no right answer to this, since there are a variety of ways to fast. Its all about what works for you. Some of the most popular are: -16hr Fast / 8hr eating window (I follow this particular schedule) -14hr Fast / 10hr eating window -5/2 Eat normal 5 days of the week and fast (500-600 calories) for the other two days -6/1 Eat normal for 6 days and do one full 24hr fast a week -1/1 Fast 24hrs / Eat normal for 24hr Choosing what works for you is based on what is easier for you to sustain over a long period of time. Remember the reason most diets fail is because people can’t keep up with the demands and find it too hard to sustain. The goal with intermittent fasting is not to limit your self so much on the foods you eat but instead on the duration of time you eat in the day. My experience with intermittent fasting I’m a very active individual. I do Crossfit 5 days and I run 5-7 miles 3x/week. This means that I need a lot of calories and energy to get me through the week. When I first started adapting my self to this eating schedule I found it a bit difficult the first 2 days but by the third day my body was fully adapted and I was cruising through my 16 hour fast with out a hiccup. Not only was I adapted but in the mornings when I’m usually groggy, now I was full of energy. By the time lunch came around at 11am, I was excited to eat and would devour a big lunch. Around 5pm id go to Crossfit and kick ass. To my surprise I didn’t have the least bit of weakness I thought id experience. Finally, when I got home I would have my final meal of the day, usually a big plate full of a lean protein, potatoes and avocado. In those 3 months of following a time restricted eating schedule I’ve lost considerable body fat (not that I had much to begin with but now I’m very lean) and kept or even added a bit of muscle mass, I’ve gotten stronger with my lifts and I feel my endurance on long runs is much better. I’m not sure how much of this can be accredited to intermittent fasting, but I can tell you that I have felt overall better, lighter and with more energy since I started. I also indulge in more “cheat meals” than ever before with out any sense of guilt. This in itself is enough for me to make it part of my life style. As a climber I do have to modify the eating schedule as I approach a trip since a typical 2 or 3-day climb does require you to feed yourself every few hours to try and not fall into a calorie deficit. But for my day to day life, intermittent fasting has proved to be more efficient and convenient for me and will be something I will maintain going forward. You can read more of my articles at www.brandonclimbs.com
  11. Great TR! I would love to give this a shot some time in the near future. Great job!
  12. Keenwesh I appreciate your input. I would love to be able to hike out on the hills for training and trail run but I live in Miami fl which limits my training. Basically I'm using crossfit as my day to day training along with 60min - 90min runs 3 times a week and taking as many trips as possible to places like colorado and hiking up back to back 14ers for extra training. Just trying to find the right balance. You are right I'm totally psyched! Ever since I first step foot on Rainier for my first climb I haven't looked back and I'm climbing as often as possible! (my wife is not a fan)
  13. CrossFit training The words “Crossfit” can have a bad connotation in some circles and to be completely honest, for a long time I blew it off as a way for people to get injured doing work outs they have no business doing. For many years my good friend Carlos tried enticing me into joining and a few a times I did consider it but would eventually back out and stick to my old gym routine. I had been doing the same workouts for the past 10 years and managed to stay relatively fit. But once I started my mountaineering journey, my fitness goals changed drastically. Bench pressing 250lb wasn’t going to get me up to the top of the mountain so that meant I had to re invent my fitness routines. This was followed by lots of trial and error. Every climb I took a different approach to my preparation and work outs. Eventually I gave in to Carlos’s cry to join him in the cross fit club. Ever since I joined my fitness has never been better. Now before I start going off on the pros and cons, I’d like to start by saying that I am not here to promote or defame crossfit. The sole purpose of this article is to give my honest opinion and experience. As with everything, cross fit is not perfect by any means but for those who are limited on time, have a good base fitness and are looking to take their athletic abilities to the next level, I believe this is a great choice. It has sure as hell helped me in a lot of aspects. This with the addition of intermittent fasting (More on this in my IM Article) has brought me to my leanest shape yet. I am more athletic; with the most mobility I have ever had. Here are my pros and cons to consider for adding cross fit to your training regimen. PRO’S: - Very time efficient - Well Balanced - Pre planned - Sense of competition - High Energy Atmosphere CON’S: - Prone to injury - Lack of endurance work - Technical Movements - Should require solid fitness foundation Time efficient: As a full time business owner, I usually work 12-14hrs a day and the other 12hrs I’m thinking and planning for my business. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to map out my weekly work out routine or to even be focused working out on my own at 6pm in a crowded gym. Due to the time constraints I seek efficiency where ever possible and cross fit provides me just that. Not everyone might have the time constraints I do but for the ones that do, having the flexibility to know that every hour on the hour there is a class taking place makes it very convenient. The classes usually run from morning to night in most outfits which hardly gives you an excuse ever to miss your work out. Each WOD last 45 min to an hour and wont require a minute more of your time. This includes warm ups, stretches and the actual movements of the day. Well Balanced: After working out on my own for so many years at a traditional gym, my primary focus became staying in shape and getting stronger. This worked for a while until I decided to try out mountaineering. I realized my strength played a very little role in getting me to the summit, whereas my flexibility, endurance and mobility played a much larger role and to my surprise that’s where I was lacking the most. Crossfit wont turn you into an “endurance monster” but it will help become more versatile. Most WODs are constructed in a way where it will target many aspects of fitness. A lot of the WODs require tons of mobility and flexibility in order to perform them correctly. You are basically forced to fix any flexibility or mobility issues if you want to have any chance at performing the movements correctly. This has over all made me a much better athlete in where my strength and endurance have become much more versatile as well as training auxiliary muscles that you wouldn’t normally train within a traditional gym. All this combined makes for a fairly well balanced work out where you wont be lacking in any areas (except endurance). Pre planned: Given enough time all routines can become boring and consequentially you become robotic in doing them. Same goes with gym routines. I’ve found that I train much harder in a cross fit WOD than on my own. Everyday the work out is pre planned and different than every other day. Rarely do you repeat an exact work out. This makes it fun and exciting to see how well you do on any given day but more importantly keeps you refreshed and always looking forward for the next WOD thats going to kick your ass. Sense of competition: Most crossfits are in a warehouse with a bunch of funky equipment you typically wouldn’t work out with. It has a large open space where all the members perform the WOD together. For me it makes for a competitive environment that always keeps you on your toes. Ten, fifteen, twenty or more people all performing the WOD at the same time. It pushes me to become better because other wise I know the guy next to me will beat me. Given my competitive nature, that’s a no-go. So I make sure to give every work out everything I have which in turn makes me better, faster and stronger. High Energy Atmosphere: This might be one of my favorite aspects of Crossfit. The music blasting, the weights bouncing off the floor, the grunts from the near by crossfitter giving it all he has on that final rep of the front squats. Its like a shot of adrenaline every time I start the work out. What ever my mood was before I got there regardless of how my day was, get thrown out the window the moment I step foot inside the warehouse. My focus turns to the WOD at hand and I instantly get a boost of energy that carries me through the whole routine. Prone to injury: Given the nature of crossfit, the high intensity and the technical movements, it is very injury prone. If you don’t listen to your body and don’t take the time to learn the techniques and movements correctly, you will definitely see your self sitting out on the sidelines while you recover from an injury. Another issue becomes the repetitions of very technical lifts while in a state of exhaustion. Performing 5 dead lifts then running 400 meters for 5 sets for time, will leave you exhausted and using very poor form near the end. If not very self aware, you can end up hurt. Also the sense of competition can lead to lifting more weight than you should while using improper form just to beat your buddy next to you. While a lot of this is preventable, the nature of the sport can bait you in to these situations. Lack of endurance work: Crossfit isn’t sport specific. But It will make you very fit, proficient in many movements, agile and fast. The issue for me is that it lack in the endurance department. Given the time constraints of 1 hour per WOD, you will mostly run 200-400 meters per class. In the case where you are training for an endurance sport such as mountaineering, you will end up having to do your runs on your free time. Most of the work outs are high intensity using intervals Technical movements: This is where I suffered the most when I first got started. It took me a long time to be able to correctly perform many of the movements used in cross fit. Till this day, there are still some movements where I need some tweaking. Crossfit uses a lot of Olympic lifts that require a high level of technicality and flexibility to perform correctly. If you are just a little bit off on most of these movements, you are surely risking injury. Starting off this can be frustrating, wanting to lift more weight but being constraint by the technicalities. It sure got the best of me in the beginning and it felt like I was making little to no progress. Solid Fitness Foundation: Some may argue with me on this one, but I don’t think crossfit is for everyone. I believe you should have a solid fitness foundation before you begin. I had been training for 10 years and relatively fit before I started and I struggled with many aspects of cross fit. The intensity is high and the work outs are tough. A lot of people haven’t had a single work out or put on running shoes in years, suddenly starting in crossfit could lead to injury. Final Thoughts That’s my take on crossfit. I personally enjoy it even though I do recognize the draw backs, I believe with only an hour a day it will make you a well balanced athlete and leave you enough time in the day to focus on supplementing in the areas you might feel your lacking. For me its running. My goals are high altitude mountaineering which require a very high level of endurance. This is only achieved through long and boring runs or real life hiking or climbing. I will continue to use cross fit as a training tool as I believe it has made me more fit than ever before. For more mountaineering training be sure to check my blog www.brandonclimbs.com
  14. Trip: mt whitney - mountaineers route Trip Date: 06/14/2018 Trip Report: Whitney Via Mountaineers Route Tallest Peak in the Lower 48 Being the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney was a must-do in my list. I was looking for somewhere to go climb in the beginning of summer and after a quick search it became obvious the 14,505’er was to become my next objective. I sent a text with the idea for the trip to the two guys I knew would join me, Yen and Carlos. Within a week we where booked and ready to go. Id done plenty of hiking and camping with Carlos but he had never been on an actual climbing trip. He is very well versed in all things survival but lacks the technical knowledge that goes along with climbing. On the other hand, Yen had been with me to Shasta but has done far less hiking and camping. Needless to say we where a match made in heaven ready to have a blast on a week long adventure that would take us through Death Valley, climbing on Whitney, not showering for days on end only to finish the trip in a 5-star hotel in Las Vegas. We where in for a true adventure. Its June 11, I had spent the last 2 months training my ass of and growing my mountain mustache. My training had changed a bit going into this trip. Carlos and I had spent countless hours in our local climbing gym, working on our holds and making our way to 5.11’s(we had nice blisters and calluses to show for it). This along with our stair master of death challenges (more on this at the end of the article) was to be our arsenal to conquer Whitney. Pre Climb At about 11am I had gotten home from the office, finishing up some paper work that had to get done before I left. My wife was waiting for me with all the gear and bags stuffed in the trunk of the car. We picked up Carlos, then Yen and we made a last minute stop at Bass Pro Shops to buy some missing items before being dropped off at the air port. It was a long and uncomfortable flight in a budget airline to Las Vegas Nevada. We arrived at 11pm with neck Kinks and headaches but there was no time to waste, we where on a tight schedule. We picked up our rental car, stopped at Sonics for some refueling before hitting the road to death valley…The road seemed never ending with nothing in sight but the head lights of the car and the sky littered with stars as far as the eyes could see. The further we got away from the Vegas lights, the brighter the stars got till at one point I asked Yen to stop the car only to step outside and see the Milky Way towering over us. It was like something out of a National Geographic’s Magazine. After a few minutes of star gazing we hopped back in, windows down, music blasting and kept rolling through the Valley all through the night. About 3 hours in we all hit a wall. Not sleeping for the last 24hrs caught up to us and just as we are entering the national park we decided to pull over by the big “welcome to death valley” sign to try and catch some Z’s before the sun came up. It didn’t take long before the heat of the dessert woke us. We where sleeping all contorted in a car, 3 men full of camping gear in a small Toyota Rav 4. We looked like we’d been hit by a truck with bags under our eyes, hungry and smelly. We decided to drive and pull up to the first eating spot we could find. After a nice meal, and some freshly brushed teeth we continued our drive to where our climbing journey would begin. Our plan from the start was to arrive at Lone Pine and find a place 9,000’+ where we can camp and acclimate before starting the climb. We poked around and talked to the locals until we where directed to Horseshoe Meadows (approx. 10,000’). We drove up the winding roads and arrived at this beautiful camp site. Carlos and I set up our hammocks (Yen would sleep comfortably in the car) where we would sleep. We spent the day hiking and hanging out with the fluffy little marmots. After staying up till the night fall to do some star gazing, it was time to hit the the hammocks. When it was time to get in It took me about 10 min before I thought I was settled only to spin around and flop right onto the ground. By this time, it was dark and cold and I was just craving a good nights sleep after having spent the previous night in the car. A few moments after I was able to get tucked in, I head a loud “ Thump!”. You guessed it, that was Carlos getting a good feel for the ground after loosing his balance on the hammock as well. I had a good laugh knowing I wasn’t the only one. Quickly after that I was out cold, or so I thought. Carlos ended waking up a good 10 times to urinate limiting my sleep to 30 min spans.The next morning, we packed up all our gear and headed down into town for the day. We stayed at a bunk house that night where we could shower and have a nice warm meal. We also went ahead and planed our nutrition for the climb. It consisted of nothing more that three 12” subway BLT’s which we would have for lunch and dinner for the next 3 days. At the moment it seemed like a better alternative to freeze dried mountain food. The following day we met with what would be our team on the mountain as well as the guides. Quickly went through everyone’s gear, checked food and reviewed poop bag instructions. Gear was packed in the cars and we set off to the trail head. Upon arrival, we rushed to the scale where we would compete amongst each other and see who packed the lightest. I won by a pound but that came by sacrificing layering in order to stay light and move quickly. Day 1 of Climb It was 7 of us at the start, we began moving quickly through the Whitney trail before arriving at the fork where we would break off to Lone Pine Creek. This trail would take us through a series of creeks where keeping your balance on the slippery rocks was critical if you wanted to keep your feet dry. We would then get to the base of the valley where we would climb some steep ledges which offered amazing views of Lone Pine and the monstrous granite walls. The ledges have some exposure and if your afraid of heights it will prove a difficult crossing. From here we hiked through some beautiful meadows and while walking up a steep granite slab, Terry one of our team members slipped. A nearby stream had been spilling water on to the slab making it extremely slippery. Terry hit the ground hard and pulled his hamstring badly. Luckily we where only a couple hundred feet from the where we would spend the night. We spread some of his heavier climbing gear amongst each other and Matt would throw Terry’s pack over his own, carrying the lions share of the weight. With a slow and steady pace, we all made it to upper boy scout lake. This would be our camp for the next two nights. Upon arrival we where all instantly mesmerized with the amazing views of the jagged peaks that surrounded us and the incredibly crystal clear lake full of fish. Of all the campsites I’ve ever been too, this one stands above all the rest. After exploring a bit and getting a quick bite, we broke off into our tent groups and began to settle in in our spots. The next day was to be the summit push so in an effort to be as rested as possible we went to sleep early. Summit Day It was 4am, and unusually warm for an early summer summit push. Our packs where practically empty except for some food, water and our crampons. We began the approach to the chute scrambling up the rocks at a hurried pace in order to maximize our opportunity of making the summit. There was not the slightest breeze and the sunrise created an alpenglow on Whitney, it really was a sight to be seen. Up until now everything was according to plan and the summit seemed almost guaranteed…When we made it to the chute and it was time to slap on our crampons, there was an over sight by the guides and they assumed Carlos’s boots would be fine even if they where not proper mountaineering boots. They where not rigid and would flex under minimal pressure. Even though the crampons fit, the fact that the boots where not the least bit stiff rendered them practically useless. Regardless we decided we would push on and Carlos would try his best. Then we ran into our second problem, given the warm temps the snow was very soft and slushy. This meant that for every 3 steps forward you where sliding one down and for Carlos it meant he would be sliding onto all fours and having to pick himself every time. As the hours went by, the chute that seemed like it would be a walk in the park proved to be a greater challenge than anticipated. We where making very little progress with the sloppy snow. We eventually reached the notch but our summit window was closing and we still had another steep section of the chute to climb. Carlos was beyond exhausted due to his less than ideal boot set up and the snow was getting sloppier by the hour. We ultimately made the decision to turn around, it was a tough choice to make because the weather conditions where perfect and I still had a lot of energy left in my tank but given the circumstance it was the right choice. We then took advantage of the sloppy snow and glissaded a good portion of the chute before reaching a very rocky section near the bottom. All in all, we where in good spirits and we quickly made it back to camp safely. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area and organizing our gear for the hike out the next morning. After a nice dinner with the group we shared some stories by the “kitchen” and then called it a day. The Descent 7am we where all out of the tents packing our gear and breaking down camp. It was a pleasant hike down, I spent most of the time talking to the guides picking their brains for climbing tips and tricks. We loaded up all the gear back into the cars and drove back into town. We all cracked a few beers open before saying our good byes and heading our separate ways. For Yen, Carlos and I, that meant the final phase of our get away. We ate our last meal in lone pine and in the same clothing from the past 3 days on the mountain, we hopped in the car and started our drive back to Vegas. The whole road trip was spent talking about the great time we had on the mountain, regardless if we didn’t summit and before we knew it we where pulling up to the bright lights of “Sin City”. Not showered in three days and still dressed in mountain ware we pulled up to the Aria, a 5 star resort. To say we got some funny looks would be an understatement. We where hungry and tired from the long day, went to the first restaurant we can find to have a meal and then went straight to the room for a nice hot shower. From spending the last few days on the mountain sleeping in a tent, to staying in a suite on a 5 star resort was a hell of a transition. We planned to take a quick nap, get dressed and check out the night life. Turns out there was no gas left in the tank, as soon as our heads touched the pillows we where out for the night. The next day we explored the city, went to the casinos and took the day to just rest. After Thoughts: Looking back, it was damn good time. I would have liked to summit, and I figured the weather conditions where perfect but certain situations made it difficult. I had trained my ass off as usual and it was the first climb I did where I was already partnered with the HERO Foundation. But the good thing is that the mountain will still be there and I can always go back and give it another shot. Suggestions: Make sure you have the proper gear, especially boots. They can make or break your climb as you can see on this trip. Its not that hard of a mountain to climb but it is beautiful and definitely worth the trip. Gear list: Lower Body- - La Sportiva Trango Cube Boots - Point 6 Light weight socks - Mountain Hardware Chockstone Pants - Black Diamond Crampons Upper body- - Bight Gear Solstice Hoody Men's (base layer) - Men's Alpha Ascender Hoody (soft shell) - Marmot Wind stopper Glove Climbing Gear- - Julbo Tamang Glacier Glasses - Black Diamond Climbing Helmet - Black Diamond Couloir Harness - Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe - Osprey 85 Pack - Mountain Hardware 3 degrees Sleeping bag Logistics: The closest airport to fly into is Las Vegas AirPort. You rent a car and drive through Death Valley for 4 1/2 hours before getting to Lone Pine. In town there are plenty of store where you can purchase last minute gear. The bunk house is a great place to stay before and after the climb. Cost Break Down: - SWS Guide Service- $950.00 (+tip for guides) - Food (we ate subway)- $32.00 - Bunk house- $35.00 - Misc.- $100.00 Total: Approx. $1,117.00 Notes: * Stair Master of Death - this is where me and Carlos would go head to head on a stair master, carrying a 25lb plate to see who can climb the most steps in 15 minutes. By the time your done you are either noxious or your legs feel like jelly. * Mountain food - its not a good idea to eat the something for three days in a row on a mountain like I did. Its hard enough to eat at altitude. Best advice is to take lots of snacks the you personally enjoy and eat the nutrient rich food provided by the guides or in the case of climbing without a guide, research a proper climbing diet to make sure you are consuming the appropriate amounts of fats, carbs and protein. Read more articles in my blog: www.brandonclimbs.com Gear Notes: In article Approach Notes: in article
  15. What would be a good 3 season tent that I can use for the cascades? Im not a super tight budget but I'm not looking to spend a fortune either. Id mostly be using this tent on rainier, adams shasta and hood. Thanks!
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