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Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Attempt on the Cristo Couloir- Mt Quandary

Brian and I left for our next adventure the goal for this trip: THE CRISTO COULOIR!

We got as close to the blue lakes trail head as we could. There was a chain blocking the road about .6 miles from the dam. We arrived late, about 8PM. We started hiking about 8:30 pm, our goal to get the the basin below the west ridge route at 12,300 feet.

Due to our late start, we were hiking with head lamps. I mounted my cycling light to my climbing helmet, giving me tons of light to see my way through the talus and snow fields. We finally got close to our objective around 10:15 pm. We were about 200 meters elevation from the top of the plateau. We decided we couldn't hike any more.
We did our best to find a flat spot on the tundra to camp. Our goal for this climb was to be on the summit for sunrise. We figured it would take us about 4 hours to ascend the 1 mile and 2600 feet elevation gain.

Since we weren't planning to sleep all night, I made the executive decision to forgo setting up my tent and sleep only in our water resistant sleeping bags. Brian and I got the stove out and got the water going for a delicious dehydrated fettucini alfredo w/ chicken. Next I packed all my stuff back into my pack to keep my stuff dry, including my boots. I was sleeping great... until cold wet snow decided to blanket us...without a TENT.

My sleeping bag in the morning after the snow melted. (See all the water on the bag)

Self pic inside sleeping bag

Brian's sleeping bag pics

We woke up multiple times, waiting for the weather to clear and give us the opportunity for our summit attempt up the coulior. As you can see below, the weather never cleared.

Finished packing camp, ready to head back. Taking time to enjoy the beautiful basin, with large ridges on both sides.

Us looking hard core on the snow!

The fun part, the glissade!

The WILD LIFE shots

Mountain Goats


The After party!

Even though we didn't achieve either of our goals (sunrise, summit; Cristo Couloir), we had a great trip. Definitely a first camping above 12,000 feet without a tent, in a snow storm. Our Mountain Hardwear bags performed above expectation.

Until next trip...

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

My First snow climb - The Angel of Shavano

Greetings to all my imaginary blog readers. After reading many mountaineering books, whose authors are always writing in climbing journals, I have decided to dust off the old blog!

Just to get started a few pics of recent purchases to get ready...

Now with the necessary equipment its time to find a snow field.

Brian and I decided on the Angel of Shavano route, an easy snow climb with the snow steepness not exceeding 30 degrees. Here we are at the trail head off of the Colorado trail. We left denver on June 3, 2011.

We decided to backpack into a camp site along the trail with hopes of gaining the summit via the snow route in the morning. I spent hours fiddling with the computer at home prior to the trip, trying to get my GPS to work with my computer. After all sorts of nerdy stuff (partitioning, software updating) I was finally able to get trail way points from to upload onto my GPS! And to think I have only had the GPS for 5 years... We finally got our camp site at waypoint 68, about 1.8 miles from the trail head, 11,200 feet. Camp was great, small streams on both sides of our perfectly flat tent platform.

After pitching the tent, we had our usual fabulous dinner consisting of couscous, snow peas and sausage, with cashews.

We got to into the tent finishing dinner and the usual post meal beverage of hot chocolate at an unusually early time for us of 10 pm. I set the alarm for 4:15, to get an early start up the snow field, to ensure good hard snow. I awoke at 2am and had to get up and relieve myself from all my pre-summit hydration prep. I went outside in the dark, without the following; clothes (only boxers), headlamp, shoes. My third step outside the tent, I got blown off balance and stepped on one of the aluminum tent stakes with my bare feet. Once I got back inside my tent, I found the head lamp and confirmed that I cut the bottom of my foot pretty good. Content that the cut was not bleeding too badly, I went back to sleep. I finally got out of bed about 5:15-5:30 am, deciding that getting up prior to sunrise was not an option since brian forgot his warm coat. After much deliberation on my part with mending my foot, I decided that I would continue the climb regardless of my sore foot. After morning coffee, we were off towards the snow about 7 AM.

We arrived here near the base of the snow climb in about an hour. You can make out our route just to the left of the trees, in the middle of the photo.

Brian pondering the snow line just ahead of us

To the left, self pic right before putting on my crampons

To the right, looking up the snow field where I put on the crampons for their first use!

Brian climbing behind me in my foot steps. It was right about here that the slope of the climb started to increase. Prior to this spot, brian had no difficulty with his footing(without crampons). I had no difficulty with crampons just walking up slope. Right after this picture was taken. Brian asked with urgency in his voice, for me to kick my steps flatter into the slope. This helped keep brain from sliding back down with each step.

My self portrait on the summit. Weather was good, pics are hazy from the forest fire in Arizona. I took the opportunity to recalibrate my GPS on the summit.

Looking back at the slope we climbed up and glissaded down. If you look closely, you can see the track left by the butts of climbers on the way down, going right down the middle of the field. We glissaded the angel's head and body. The glissade was great fun, except for brian getting his foot stuck in the snow in the middle of the route for 20 minutes or so, requiring us both to dig his foot out.

Overall, we had a great climb. total millage about 8 miles, 4500 feet elevation. Total climbing time on summit day was 9 hours, including taking camp apart after the summit. This experience has made me crave more snow climbs in the future.

Stay tuned for the next adventure installment...

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Living in a land that never get dark

Hello again,
I knew the sun would be up for a long time while I was here, since we are pretty far north, but I had no idea what it would be like. I want someone to guess what time this picture below was taken

I'm sorry for the lack of captions once again, but it is aproaching midnight once again, and I didn't pay 1400 dollars to sleep in and sightsee the back of my eyelids, so its up early again tomorrow, although not as bad as today. Today was the one day that we had to go to the dog show, and we were up at 5 am. Taz the greyhound got 4th place out of 50 something, so mother was happy. We are off to take a steamship ride through the archipelago tomorrow morining, and the forcast calls for rain. it will be interesting. More captions and pics to come tomorrow. I hope everyone had some fourth of July fun for me, because I didn't see a single firework or stars and stripes. Good night from the land where the sun never sleeps, it only naps for an hour or two.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Trying to figure out Stockholm

This is the building where our apartment is, but alas we don't have a balcony. We are on the fourth floor on the other side of this building. Any guesses at to what time this picture was taken? 22:30, or 10:30 pm for you who don't jive with military time. The apartment is a one room flat, probably 10 x 15 feet, with quite possibly the smallest kitchen I have ever seen, along with a bathroom to follow suit. It has been nice not staying a hotel though.

The whole of "old town" was paved with cobbles, and since I know the majority of my readers are cyclists, you can understand why I took these pictures

For the few readers who may not enjoy the self inflicted torment of that cycling has to offer, there are races in europe that are conducted almost excluesively on the flat and even surface that these wonderful stones have to offer

This is a square in old town with lots of neat looking buildings. After I took this picture, I saw lots of postcards with this exact image on them. I knew I had an eye for the photograhic genious.

Notice the tiny streets with lots of people miling around eating ice cream and sifting through loads of tourist crap.

This is inside the royal palace, what the locals call "the castle". Through the arched door is the state hall, which is still used for royal functions. Inside they had placed paintings of all of the monarchs that have rulled over the years. (aparently this is not their usual home, but due to construction had been placed here temporarily. At the far end of the hall was a solid silver throne made for one of the queens in the early 1700's, I tried on more than on occasion to sneak a picture of the throne, but just when I would think the coast was clear to steal a photo, an employee would surface and give me the evil eye. They didn't allow photos anywhere in the palace, those bastards!

This was the palace cathedrial which sat just oppostie the picture above, with just an impressive an archway to its entrance. This was the one place that people didn't seem to mind people taking pictures. Pretty impressive alter

This is looking back towards the entrance to the church, and that has to be one of the most impressive organs I have ever seen!

Paintings on the ceiling and the tops of the walls, sweet sauce

Notice the ornate work above the windows

God forbid (pun intended) I leave without the required self portrit

This was taken deep underneath the palace, in the armory, where they had a meeker selection of armor and weapons, and lots of clothing from the 16 and 17 century. The carriges were truely impressive. Pictures weren't allowed here either, but there were not employees around down here, leaving me free to steal as many photos as I could muster, without the flash of course.

This photo is of the central train station connecting Sweden to the rest of Europe, it is only a few hundred meters from our apartment.
This trip has been interesting so far, the people are very nice and speak english very well. Getting around has not been that difficult, although figuring out the metro system was strangly difficult. The weather has been great, mid 70's during the day and 60's at night. Good bye for now.