I’m happy to say that I finally had a successful summit after a year of bad luck! I reached the top of Uganda which I consider to be Africa’s most difficult peak after only 72 hours. The pages are still under construction but I completed a short video showing some highlights of my trek through rainforest, mosslands, and eventually the glaciers of the Mountains of the Moon. So now that it’s early March I’m only a month away from my return to Mt. Everest. It’s really hard to believe, but minus airfare I’m all set. This time I will be climbing from Tibet so it will be a completely different experience from 2016.
Now that 2017 has arrived I have very little time to wait to officially approve my return to Mt. Everest. I’m going to push it hard this week since I don’t have much of a choice, and hopefully I’ll get an answer within a week or two. Of course I’ve been planning recently as if I’m going and have some things already set up. About two weeks ago I did a 30 mile trek again to the top of Spruce Knob. Spruce Knob is West Virginia’s high point, and it got me thinking. Maybe I should do all 50 state high points! I did the hardest one already so the rest will be enjoyable. I’m using this new goal as an excuse to revisit all 50 states and also keep my fitness up. I’m going to go to Vermont for some ice climbing next weekend and do Mt. Mansfield. With the exception of Denali, since that took nearly a month, I’m planning to redo all other high points, so Vermont’s will be #1! For more serious preparations I’m going to try to go to Uganda and do Stanley Peak in February. It’s a good challenge and lasts over a week and puts me up over 5,000 meters. It’s perfect training and one of those things I can’t simulate doing that at home after work each day. I consider that essential to my trip, so if I get my return to Everst approved I’ll almost definitely be going to Uganda.
Everyone always says this but it truly amazes me how fast time is flying. I would have thought my last post was weeks ago but has seriously been over three months! With that said by the time December rolls around in about 10 days from now I’ll have only four months back to my potential Everest climb. I still don’t have the green light from my job and it’s becoming dangerously close. Most people plan these things out years in advance. With that said I have to continue to assume I’m going which means lots of hiking and training. The photo above is a shot I took while hiking out in Shenandoah earlier this month.
Because I won’t be going to a new country next year, since I’ll be returning to Nepal and China, this puts a major loss for my visit every country goal. Since I have no vacation time, I’m going to squeeze in El Salvador next week during the Thanksgiving holidays. This way I can add a new country to my list and also do some important hiking up volcanoes for training purposes. Doing two things at once! I just found out it’s supposed to rain nearly everyday I’m there, and that really isn’t cool. I can’t do much about it but hope that the forecast will change by the time I get there. My goals in El Salvador are to see the capital, visit the beach to see turtles hatching, some Mayan ruins, and most importantly hike up one or two volcanoes!
I’ve certainly not had good luck with mountains the past year! While until the Matterhorn, I’ve never had to turn back on a mountain in my life except for a small one in Canada, I found myself constantly encountering bad weather on just about every trip in 2015. For Granite Peak, I hiked out with my friends who decided to turn back for different reasons. This left me alone, and I continued to the mountain to at least see it. Summiting alone was a slight possibility, but when I get up close and personal I found 50+mph (80 kph) winds! I added my adventure to the Beartooth Wilderness already and definitely plan to return!
Time definitely seems to be going by faster and faster. The idea of returning to Everest a year later seemed to be a lifetime away. I’ve confirmed a trip to Granite Peak Montana, where I will attempt to climb the state’s highest peak. I’ll be doing that in mid September and by the time I return I’ll have just six months until my potential return to Everest! Granite Peak is a very serious challenge and it’s going to be my first mountain since my return from Nepal to get me back into the spirit of climbing. The mountain is only 12,799 feet tall (3,901 meters), but involves navigating across some challenging terrain to base camp. Summit day involves scrambling up routes that vary from class three to class five. Of the 50 state high points in the US, it’s the only mountain that requires vertical climbing, so I get to bring a rope and set up protection and rappel down on the way home. I’m bringing three of my best friends with me, and we are all excited about this adventure coming up. Likely the mountain will suck up all my time in Montana, but if we have an extra day we could potentially spend it in Yellowstone!
After a life time of dreaming I was finally able to get a chance to climb Mt. Everest. After a disaster on the final day I decided to turn around at the South Summit which is only 500′ or about 150 meters from the very top! Several people lost their lives that day, and nothing seemed right, so all in all I’m sure it was the right decision. I’ll post details about what happened on my site, but it certainty was not a good day for anyone and no one from my team made it. The worst part is I’m 100% sure I can climb Everest now, but have to do it all over again! I think next time I’d try from the Tibet side. For now, I’m back in Kathmandu as of today and will need some time to catch up my blog and write up what happened.
This is just a short and sweet entry to confirm that I’m going to Kathmandu this weekend to finally attempt Mt. Everest! I can’t even believe I’m writing this! As far as my hip injury I’m very confident that it won’t be an issue while I’m on the mountain. Otherwise I’m very worried about my own fitness since I couldn’t train the way I wanted to the past few months. It’s certainly not the mountain to have this concern, but otherwise these work outs seemed to have worked for others. I just hate having had to deviate from the way I trained for all my trips in the past which were successful. So I’ll be arriving to Nepal on Monday and spend the next few days getting over jet lag, double checking gear, meeting with my expedition, and of course exploring Kathmandu!
Alright then, for the first time I think I’m finally ready to admit that this is seriously going to happen! We Sure I negotiated the time off from last year and I paid in full for the expedition long ago, but it still never really sunk in. Just yesterday I purchased my flight to Kathmandu and all seems to be in order.
Now about this photo and my attempt at the Presidential Traverse in February which didn’t work out so well; I took a friend along and we encountered without exaggeration temperatures of 35 degrees below zero, see my White Mountains page for more detail. This was expected and I was able to handle the cold but the hurricane force winds were another issue. I got to the ridge and the winds were so powerful it was too hard to stand. With that said it was still a success in my mind since I did everything I could and I was able to camp out in the extreme cold which will be similar to what I’ll see on Everest. This coming weekend I’ll do a much easier and warmer hike to the top of West Virginia’s highest point, Spruce Knob. I’ve actually done this twice already the past few months but this time I intend to record it since there should finally be some snow and beuatiful scenery on top. It’s actually a 30 mile round trip over two days with some really good elevation gains, so it’s great training for me!
Lastly my hip injury contains to annoy me. It was pretty bad right before the Presidential Traverse weekend, then seemed to be much after after that for whatever reason, and at the moment it’s back to slight pain. I feel like I’m not able to train exactly the way I want to and I’m actually terrified that as I step it up this last month I’ll push it too hard and re-injure myself to a point I can’t attempt the mountain in April. Of course I’m also terrified that I’m not going to be in the proper fitness since I’ve been limiting myself in certain areas. As of now I’ve been pushing it pretty hard though and doing the workouts that I want to at the intensity that I want to. For the month of March, I’m planning to do them nearly daily and as long as my hip can hold up I’ll be all set for an early April departure to Kathmandu! Only a month left!
Well now. I’m back from my trip to Ecuador, and out of all my outdoor adventures, this one was probably the only one that really didn’t go as I expected! I suppose it’s my fault, because I moved so fast up in altitude. Not because I wanted to, but I have no vacation for high altitude trips before this April and this was the best I could do. After six hours in Ecuador I hiked to 13,000 feet (4,000 meters). No problems! The next day I did a solo hike to the top of a 15,000 foot mountain, (4,700 meters), also no problems! Things were looking good. Not only did I reach above 15,000 feet in 48 hours but I had done it in half the time it usually takes. So on day three I climb Illiniza Sur posted below, and once I get above 17,000 feet (5,000 meters), I’m feeling the effects of the altitude. I make it to the planned east summit and return to sea level. I didn’t feel like a million bucks but I was happy I made it. I figured the next two days I’d continue to acclimatize and then I could attempt Chimborazo at 20,000 feet (6,000 meters). So many problems with that mountain. First off, I never felt 100% great before starting, secondly, we had to begin the climb from 15,000 feet, (4,500 Meters) which mean I seriously had to climb a mile in altitude, or a kilometer and a half. When we got to 19,000 feet (5,800 meters) instead of snow we encountered a giant ice wall. My guide has been climbing here for decades and had never seen this before. We crossed it, but it was incredibly dangerous and slippery. Higher above it was just going to get worse. Blame it on global warming or bad luck, but it was 2am on Christmas and here we were trying to cross these ice walls where a serious slip would result in death. To top it all off, I was definitely getting hammered by the effects of the altitude at this point although I didn’t realize it yet. For safety reasons we decided to descend, and I felt a bit defeated. Fitness I was fine, and sure the altitude took a hit on me but instead of getting to 6,000 meters in five days on Everest you get about a month, so I should be fine with that I’d hope. Either way, my goal was to climb two major mountains and return home feeling extra confident but it didn’t exactly work out that way. Regardless I was most certainly in the mountains and experience a little bit of everything which was the main point. High altitude, cold, stress, technical climbing, and more! With that said, I don’t have any more vacation time to do any major adventures until the actual trip in April. The next 90 days I need to perfect my training, diet, and do as much hiking as possible. I do plan to take advantage of some long weekends and do some training in New England and hopefully Colorado as well!
My trip to Ecuador is now confirmed, and I’ll be flying out on the 18th of this month to try to climb two major peaks. The main one will be Chimborazo, which is the highest peak in Ecuador and sits at 20,564 feet (6,276 meters). This will be the second highest I’ve ever climbed in my life, because it barely tops Denali. Even though this is a 6,000 meter peak, it’s only going to take about two days and is a relatively easy climb. Unlike Denali, I won’t have 40 degrees below zero, a month of food on a sled, and don’t have to worry about building ice walls and all the other extremely demanding parts of the climb. The second peak is Illiniza Sur, which is 17,267 feet (5,263 meters) and is much more technical and demanding than Chimborazo. I’ll be doing Illiniza Sur first, in order to acclimatize since it’s lower in altitude. This will be my most technical climb to date, surpassing the Matterhorn and Carstensz Pyramid. The steep climb will require, ice screws, technical ice axes, and other gear. I expect this mountain to be twice as hard as Chimborazo. If I can bag both of these and not have any hip or other annoying issues, that will put me only 90 days away to my trip to Everest!
For better news though, I’ve been doing a lot of hiking including one with a large pack without any issues. I’m really excited about a coming up trip to Zion National Park this November where I’ll do some more hiking and of course take in the views. Aside from that I just requested the time off for Ecuador to do some 6,000 meter peaks for further Everest training. Otherwise I just want to continue doing as much hiking and climbing as I can this winter in the east coast.
Assuming that Everest 2016 will work, my next international trip will likely be an outdoor related one, maybe a backpacking trip in South America, or even some climbing somewhere. This probably won’t take place closer to 2016 when I know for sure that I’ll be going and am well into my training program. In the mean time I plan to enjoy summer, and maybe I’ll even find the time to get my two most recent trips posted from Africa and Europe!
Last week I returned from my month long trip to Europe. Over all the trip was absolutely amazing although there was some disappointment from the weather. The Northern Lights had been my main motivation to go into the Arctic during the winter time, and the unusually warm weather created lots of overcast that blocked the breathtaking light shows I was supposed to see. I did see the Northern Lights but not as well as I’d like to!
Moving forward into 2014, I already have my ideas lined up. My goals for this year is to do a trip probably in early summer late spring, I’m thinking something like Central Asia this time! I may or may not do another trip afterwards at the end of the year. Now normally I do at least three major trips this year, so why the slow down? I’m planning to do everything I can to raise money for an expedition at the end of 2014 to Vinson Massif or early 2015 or Mt. Everest, which ever comes first! I will be posting more details on this.