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mvs's Achievements


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  1. I waited until I moved away from Washington to take up b/c skiing. Still not great at it and snowshoeing always has a place in my heart. But I got lightweight Dynafit gear and "survivial skied" down peaks, plenty of falling and kick-turning and such. It's been great...I really do cover more ground more quickly. That initial outlay for the gear in 2006 cost about 1000 euros (jezus...) but it's been going strong, modulo a ski swap with Silas Wild one winter, and now, 2 weeks ago, sniff, a broken ski thx to South Tyrol avalanche debries. It's really good to have this option to travel. But alas, maybe because of an inner Calvinism, the endless movies and photos and songs and such about powder powder powder don't mean anything to me. I'm just happy to travel faster. Enjoy it! But don't get rid of your snowshoes .
  2. Hi Dan! I think it is, but the release schedule is mysterious and subject to changes!
  3. Right on, thanks, just wonderin'!
  4. oh yeah, ivan, DU HAST RECHT! . Lisa, thanks so much, that is really cool to hear!
  5. I don't get this Harvey Manning thing at all. Seems like I read him waxing on about how wonderful it is to spend a couple of days hiking up a road to reach the front of the backcountry. Who has time for that? You need to be able to get into impressive country within a half day otherwise the average family will say to hell with it. And that doesn't make them lazy or undeserving either. I'm all for inculcating the feeling that the wilderness is a kind of church, but a locked church has no worshippers. It'll be torn down.
  6. Trip: The Dolomites - Three fun climbs with Steph Date: 8/3/2013 Trip Report: TLDR; Me and Steph Abegg climb the Comici on the Salamiturm (5.9, 14 pitches), the South Face Dimai/Eoetvoes on Tofana (5.6, 20 pitches) and the "Mariakante" on Piz Pordoi (5.6, 10 pitches) in three good days. * * * Here are the things Steph can't do: She can't drive a stick shift, a real bummer in Europe, where the prejudice against automatic transmission is sneering and palpable. She can't bring herself to eat a meal in a restaurant, since the prices are scandalous. In Italy, where things are done a certain way, I had some real awkward moments ordering food while the woman with me skulked away outside to heat her meal up herself. Oh man, I got some withering looks! Finally, and most damningly, she can't be counted on to press the snooze button for one or two extra "z"s in the pitch dark before dawn. She'll just chirp Reaganesque platitudes: "Welp, at least it'll be cool for the hike in!" or "Yep, we'll beat the crowds!" But despite all that, she is kind of a superstar. So I dithered about for weeks, bugging my wife and kids about what routes I should climb with this visiting dignitary of the Northwest. Too common, too obscure, too crowded, trying too hard? Non-committal responses. Sigh. Route and peak obsession seems to begin and end with me around here. In truth, obsession has been harder to come by than it used to be. So happily I remember those rainy November nights, curled up with the Green Bible and some string cheese, thinking about the Napeequa or the dripping slabs of Darrington. I'd get to meet Steph and visit a previous version of myself too. The kind of kid you want to have, Steph had just finished hiking the Haute Route with her parents, a 10 day trip from Chamonix to Zermatt. She arrived in Munich, and we set off for Groednertal, the valley below the Langkofel and the Sella Towers. I'd picked the route on the cover of my guidebook to the area, which was the Comici Route on the Salamiturm, roughly 5.9 and 14 pitches. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3699/9547960247_851ee8d1bc.jpg[/img] Our route is along the line of shade and light on the yellow tower in the center. We hiked to the base of a long gully to find a couple guys worried about hard snow. Let us Nor'westerners lead the way! Picking up sharp rocks to carve steps, we bashed up in our tennis shoes with the others following. Then a long rocky scramble in slabs and gullies followed. Suddenly, the locals were everywhere, descending on the start of the route from odd directions. There are other gullies? I'd just been lecturing Steph on how truly uncrowded the place is, but mid-lecture I had to alter things by allowing that it's Saturday, and I guess this route is probably a major classic or something. We were third in line, and once we dealt with some awkward traversing on the first pitch we kept our place with dignity among the locals. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3689/9550676788_743832a164.jpg[/img] A small crowd, aggressive to start. A protectionless 5.7 traverse followed, only because I overlooked all the pitons. Steph followed the route most of the day, which also meant she carried the heavier pack. I looked around, smiling queasily. Whats up with a big-boned man like me essentially carrying a fanny-pack while this wisp of a girl lost in her down jacket carries all the gear? Heh. But I was way too scared to shoulder my load, now there was a 5.8 overhanging crack. Aw, fun! [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3815/9550679516_dbf5b029f1.jpg[/img] A view back after the 5.7 traverse. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5501/9550693364_fda6639c99.jpg[/img] Steph coming up the 5th pitch. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5523/9547898083_a75e8813e5.jpg[/img] At a belay. A few more pitches led to the crux, a long vertical pitch leading to an overhang. We could see a couple guys atop the overhang, their ropes hanging casually down into space. Steph took pictures of everything, cataloguing the whole thing in a unique way. Only later as I scrolled through pictures would I notice how many textbook flower photos she managed to take on these "forbidding" walls. I never noticed the flowers at all, but apparently I'm romping through a botanists wonderland. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3753/9550717158_c1c40f34e3.jpg[/img] If I can't sling it, I can't see it . Somehow her down-jacketed appearance was comforting, so I broke the crux pitch up into two sections to reduce my own mewling. The overhang was nice, kind of like the crux on Sleese with the traverse by the piton, only it was longer and there were more pitons. I chortled at the aid slings people had attached in the roof then nearly handed my ass to myself in a slippery frankenstein lieback. Whew, that was close. Steph found the crux underwhelming, thus ruining my evening plans to constantly re-enact the sweaty final moves. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2822/9550695456_5d0921a416.jpg[/img] Below the crux. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5451/9547910143_4bf2be5251.jpg[/img] Approaching the overhang. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3720/9547914975_8090e7406c.jpg[/img] The view from here. Another steep crack, then a zone of awkward traversing, followed by a pitch of "cottage cheese" rock, acceptable only because it paved the way to easier ground. Finally we came into the sun and Steph could put her huge jacket away. Steph led the last pitches to the summit, gradually getting used to the rock. The thing is, the Dolomites are not difficult at all, it's just that you can't protect all that often, and the rock is steeper than what you expect for "easy" ground. It was gorgeous on top, we were on one tower of dozens, some higher, some lower. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3786/9550720724_a7d951816e.jpg[/img] Steph is taking a picture at this exact moment to sync the timing of our cameras. Steph led some alpine rappels with weird traversing and bad anchors to a notch, then we scrambled and skied down two thousand feet of scree to reach the hut in the cirque of the Langkofel towers. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5334/9550728130_a228eef223.jpg[/img] Finally on a trail. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2894/9547945439_0d3389db00.jpg[/img] Whee! Take that, shoes. Steph will indulge in one thing, and that's coffee. But she never figured out the difference between an Americano, a regular coffee, a cappuccino and a Milchkaffee. We had a bunch of theories about it, involving number of "shots" and other things, but gee, it was hard, and thinking isn't what *I* like to do on vacation. All the people around here order combination drinks anyway. Like, never order a Coke, but a Spetzi, it's half-half Fanta and Coke. Never order a beer, get a Radler (part beer part limonade i shit you not it's delicious). I think I had a Radler which allowed me to kind of float down on the combination beer and sugar high. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2876/9547951505_106642f4cc.jpg[/img] Drinks are helpful. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7343/9550744464_c5bb796d57.jpg[/img] The hut warden brought us this book to sign. We got back to the car to find a 41 euro ticket for parking in the wrong place, just when I'd been explaining how great it is that we don't have "pay to play" around here like the corporate fueled US of A. Just keep that in mind. We expat-types love to talk up where we live, and hell we do love it. But there is bullshit over here too. However the healthcare system rocks. (runs away). We drove to the Falzarego Pass above Cortina, me making Steph just a little carsick with the 7000 180-degree switchbacks. After a picnic dinner (greasy pizza for me, healthy sandwiches for Steph), we geared up to climb the 20 pitch South Face of Tofana di Rozes, the peak that dominates the skyline above the Cinque Torre cragging area. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7311/9550755326_b1f7b4d21a.jpg[/img] The route, long, easy, but requires routefinding savvy. I'd been on the route before under less than ideal conditions and was happy to come back. Hilariously, in the morning below the base, I couldn't remember which gully to take. The face dissolved into 4 or 5 different candidates. Steph found it, a vaguely obscene traverse above a really frightening moat that I briefly tried to climb directly. You know that thing where you are on snow, and are contemplating a step across to slabs with wet shoes, and the edge of the snow harrows down into darkness? Yeah, I hate that. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5459/9550764922_e698eee635.jpg[/img] In case you climb it, just remember the baby. So the traverse avoided the moat, AND, as a bonus, Steph found 2 shirts and a locking carabiner! She didn't have room for these items in her pack, so she attached them all on the outside in a kind of window-display style. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7360/9550770398_a62380a30b.jpg[/img] The Alpine Peddler. We wouldn't see anyone else on this route. Steph led all the way up the lower buttress into the Great Amphitheater. We got some water and she kept going up to and beyond the traverse into the Second Amphitheater. This is a strange, atmospheric place. When I was here before, there was a rope hanging down from the overhanging walls, which was somehow frightening. That was gone now, but you got the impression of flakes creakily attached, a sort of pregnant pause before the deluge. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2810/9550795252_dc26f89db3.jpg[/img] In the unsettling Second Amphitheater. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5336/9548023739_863e56bb64.jpg[/img] Escaping to the chimneys. Steph led out on what I thought of as a crux pitch, traversing right into a wall, then back left on an overhanging flake. But she was like, no way, too dangerous. She came back and espied the "direct variation," which I'd forgotten about, a pitch of grade V+ (5.8) climbing a crack that avoids the loose-flake traverse. She did the first half, then felt weird, and I tried it. A couple of committing moves on decent cams allowed me to pull the lip and find some jugs. We were happy to be done with this strange area! A steep chimney and some easier ground led to the stellar traverse pitches, way above the valley floor and completely exposed. The traverse is easy and well protected, but it's still fantastic. We signed a little route book hidden in a cave, then made our way to the exit pitches. Steph led the final pitch, a 5.6 devious face and chimney where you climb behind a big chockstone, then get above it with stemming. Oh yeah, time for tennis shoes! Actually, Steph switched to her approach shoes halfway up the route but I was way too scared to do that. Now we scrambled up a ridge for almost an hour, doing a few climbing moves halfway, and eventually scree-plodding to the summit, marked by a huge cross. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7412/9548028337_21e5a4deb5.jpg[/img] Traversing. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3681/9550819052_789d66a89e.jpg[/img] More traversing. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2853/9548034257_caca150130.jpg[/img] Gulp. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2807/9548041111_5ee34d31c0.jpg[/img] Okay, your lead, Steph. On the hike down it started to rain. Then to rain really hard. Then the hail started, and oh man it got bad! We had everything on and plodded down miserably, descending little ledges that were now streaming with water and ice chunks. We saw boulders rolling down in torrents. My helmet protected my head from the sharp pellets of ice, but sometimes I'd get one right in the ear which made me shriek like Flanders. At least we weren't alone, there were about a dozen other miserable people somewhere in the area, having climbed up different ways. Finally, when every pocket and gully was full of graupel it stopped. 30 minutes later it was like nothing had happened at all. We couldn't stop remarking on what it would have been like to be in the route with a storm like that. Half of the route would have become a waterfall. On the positive side, there were a fare number of cave-like overhangs, and we would have probably muddled our way through to one of those. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7453/9548056469_ce6dd5810c.jpg[/img] Ow, my frickin' ears! [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2815/9550846974_f64c6618c2.jpg[/img] Everything is fine now. [img:center]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2833/9548071511_cd2fdef505.jpg[/img] Old people are happy inside buildings. I felt like a really old guy back at the car, stiff, sore, sunburned. I had to have some hot food, but Steph was happy to munch on leftovers. Pathetically, I sat inside wolfing down soup and bits of chicken like the Steward of Gondor while she heated up some mashed potatoes on a stove outside. Thinking about it, I'd say it's that kind of persistence and sticking to her guns that has made Steph great at the things she does. We returned to a secret spot to sleep. It had a roof, which we were so happy about because now it rained harder than I'd ever heard it rain anywhere. An angry "Old God" with a firehouse was painting his fury on the country with short, savage strokes. Aside from a few more mice and spiders than usual, we were undisturbed and I slept like the dead. For our last day we chose something easy. We'd do the famous "Mariakante" on the Piz Pordoi, at 5.6 and 10 pitches, with the chance to take a lift down to the car. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3754/9550868074_4db1bba93d.jpg[/img] The view to the Marmolada from the Mariakante. I was pretty beat, especially when the first pitch required me to visibly man up and pep talk myself past some slabby, polished cruxes. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3778/9548081997_22b6c392c4.jpg[/img] Me tired. Me sore and weak! Steph got the actual crux on this route, a wet vertical step onto sloping ledges. Higher, she got to experience the full galaxy of runout hilarity the Dolomites can provide, by following the obvious (and protectionless) dihedral above our belay. Apparently you should know better and beetle off to indistinct ramps well to the side. Pleasant enough climbing followed, but the main joy of this route is the novelty of the lift going by full of aghast people wondering when you'll fall or "do something crazy." But here we see why climbing will never make it as an x-treme sport. If you look at us long enough, everything we do appears entirely reasonable. And we just move too slowly, darn it. I'd call our game Disappointingly Rational. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7294/9550880140_caec29a079.jpg[/img] We think the little girl in blue is a ghost. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3729/9548096033_d555eb7b02.jpg[/img] A short scramble to the lift station. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7430/9548101743_63f08685d5.jpg[/img] Cognitive dissonance. After the awesome novelty of giving Steph a hip belay braced by the steel girders of the lift station, we were ready for coffee, cake and lift tickets. On the drive home Steph bought an ice cream sandwich with a cartoon on it. I think she even bought another one to see if it had a new panel, and it did. [img:center]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3733/9550900110_c2245fa674.jpg[/img] The cartoon-laced ice cream sandwich. Amazingly, Steph completed a whole serious of diagrams and route overlays on the way back to Munich, tapping away at her computer, filling in spreadsheets with german/english climbing terms and names of plant species discovered. All she had to do was get the Breath of Life (wifi) at our place, and her report was uploaded. It was really, really neat to host Steph over here and do some climbs with her. She made me work harder than I'm used to…the European way got to me more than I thought it would! We were super lucky with the weather too. Thanks Steph . Steph's TR is here. My photo gallery from the trip is here (includes my photos and Stephs photos, which are marked). Gear Notes: Lots of slings, medium cams, draws. We mostly used a single 50 m rope. Approach Notes: If it takes more than an hour you're doing it rong.
  7. I don't know how you guys are still alive because you've just proved your intuition is TERRIBLE. If there was ever a time to listen to the still, small voice that said: "just wait right now," it was that day. Christ Almighty.
  8. It was a cool video about the Achievement Award. But the URL seems to indicate something about the Dolomites. Was it about the Dolomites earlier?
  9. yep, yellow alien. over and over, it's beyond cliche.
  10. Thanks Trese, I didn't really realize how prevalent such monsters were. I did another > 20 pitch one two years ago, called "Via Aqua" in the Wilder Kaiser (UIAA VII-). Looking forward to getting slayed by "Ende Nie" one day!
  11. Har! I guess the idyllic valley rang with the sound of a drill. But to haul the batteries up 1000 meters? Jeez. I don't know if it's a very recent thing, but I think it's been in the last 5 years that these 30+ pitch routes have been established. They usually demand an "alpine head," with sparse protection on easy pitches, but then they relent and bolt like crazy when the climbing is say 5.10b and above. If I get some time I'll try to make a list. I know I really enjoy the long climbs so for me this stuff is amazing. BTW, I was reminded of Washington on pitch 12 or so...I had to climb through the remains of a goat, ugh, maybe he fell in the spring. I remembered the sad-eyed goats near Prusik Peak and Snow Creek Wall with their bald patches. Sniff. I'd give an eyetooth (whatever that is) for a good day on ol' Outer Space!
  12. Trip: Karwendel Mountains, Austria - Herzschlag der Leidenschaft (Heartbeat of Passion) Date: 6/16/2012 Trip Report: Hi all, some of youse may remember me from the old days! I try to come around when I know of something interesting for yall, and I think I have something. If not this particular climb then recognize that there are a dozen like it. "Herzschlag der Leidenschaft" is a massive "sport alpine" climb, rated at 5.12a if you do it all free. For mortals like me, it goes at solid 5.10 with A0. The coolest thing is the length: 32 bitchin' pitches! The vertical gain is 1200 meters, and the climbing length is 1700 meters, thanks to some long traverses mid-height. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7098/7393528814_c264553444.jpg[/img] I was thinking of it as a bigger cousin to Mt. Garfield's big sport climb. The lower 16 pitches are "approach," and the real hairy stuff is in the upper half. Fitted out like lycra-clad sport climbers, we weren't ready for the truly hairy moat to start things off. Here I am carving pitiful steps with rocks, weeping about the 60 foot drop into blackness just right of my tender tennis-shoed feet: [img:center]http://farm9.static.flickr.com/8141/7389345156_cfd6bd01b0.jpg[/img] But finally we started. I'm old, and barely skilled, so I got the loose crappy block. But there were 3-4 excellent pitches and some always satisfying simul-climbing in coils like you see in old films. [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5340/7389351990_6f500b5677.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://farm9.static.flickr.com/8019/7389355238_7c90d23b89.jpg[/img] But for young turks, the fun begins with a 5.10c rightward traverse: [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7084/7389358028_74dd123611.jpg[/img] then a 4 pitch leftward traverse! Barely gaining elevation! Check out the ominous "bivouac holes" above my buddy Georg's head. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7239/7389363846_805cf8f8a0.jpg[/img] Oh yeah. We're in Austria...here is what the countryside looks like from mid-height: [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5343/7389367588_1a3de855aa.jpg[/img] Here the climbing is so exposed and very good: [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7095/7389392354_89bb204e10.jpg[/img] We go straight up beyond Georg: [img:center]http://farm9.static.flickr.com/8020/7389388968_265436acc4.jpg[/img] Yeah, I'm in A0 land for a while! [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5337/7389395908_ec424fcace.jpg[/img] I redeem myself with some scrappy 5.8 pitches, where the bolts ran out and I used all our cams in the chimney above my head. Higher, you can see an amazing lieback crack (5.11a/b) that we don't have pictures of. [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7225/7389398840_d3e77d6f77.jpg[/img] A bit more short roping, to reach the upper headwall and the last 3 pitches: [img:center]http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7092/7389413658_d358af427b.jpg[/img] On the way down we can see the wall, moving like a ghost ship through the green sea: [img:center]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5159/7389436840_493cbe556b.jpg[/img] We walked right into a restaurant below the wall. Characteristically American, I order the fries: [img:center]http://farm9.static.flickr.com/8152/7389447276_f03b10d040.jpg[/img] Anyway, there do seem to be at least 10 routes like this with more than 30 pitches in the area. One of them, "Ende Nie" (Never-ending) is 38 pitches, rated 5.10b. Sure, there is some loose stuff along the way, but the ratios are pretty good. For this one, I added up 630 meters of 3rd/4th class, 600 meters of mid-5th, and 470 meters of 5.10a and above. Mebbe you guys want to come out this way. Austria seems to be completely ignored as a climbing destination. I never saw an American over here! Something to do for Oktoberfest anyway. So that is the news from here. Take care and have a great summer cc.com! Gear Notes: Double 60 meter ropes, 12 quickdraws, 4-5 cams and 6 nuts. Approach Notes: Literally 5 minutes from the car. The descent is a hiking trail down (about two hours)
  13. Just wanted to pop in and say I loved the TR and pics, brought back memories of an awesome climb too. That mountain and route "had me at hello," it was the first thing I saw in the North Cascades, on a trip to climb Eldorado. The whole notion that it was formerly feared then fell into obscurity was icing on the cake. Juan, maybe you are the first of the "internet age" resurgence of interest in the climb? Even in 2003 when I went there was hardly anything online about it. That sense of mystery is really cool too. Who will reopen the chossy steep routes above the glacier to the left?
  14. I loved that video, used to watch it on boring cardio machines. Mine mysteriously disappeared 5+ years ago...
  15. mvs

    trip advice

    I think your plan is good hbrogers. You already did two things to make it more likely to succeed: 1) moving to July, 2) ditching the more seriously crevassed Baker for Eldorado and Adams. Best of luck! I learned a ton of what I know from Alex and Dan here. Alex took me on my first multipitch climb, letting me lead the third pitch (my first gear lead!). Later, he soloed beside me on my first ice lead...kind of hilarious in retrospect, but his calm advice about when to place a screw and when to run it out will always echo in my head to good effect. Neither of those guys treated me like a baby. The assumption was that I knew I could get killed doing what I was doing. I think they are assuming that you know that too, hbrogers. Sounds like KirkW wants this site to be an extension of the North Cascades National Park Office, where if you ask about climbing Mt. Triumph you'll get a big lecture and be encouraged to take a guide, and asked funny trick questions about water and stoves, the whole idea being to shame you into recognizing you should just go home, or (even less likely) embark on a multi-year accredited apprenticeship program checking all the dots on a piece of paper. Very few adults have time for that stuff.
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