You have probably seen pictures of Mount Everest. But not like this. This is amazing. The detail when you zoom is stunning. You can pick out climbers on Mt. Everest. Kudos to Dave Breashears and for a good cause to boot. 2 billion pixels. Billion. 2,000,000,000. From the Washington Post.
Check it. Three friends spent the summer establishing new big wall routes in Karavshin in Kyrgyzstan. All three are awesome and their trip report is equal parts inspiring and hilarious. And if you are a UKC’er give them lots of votes. If not, sign up, and give them lots of votes. They are awesome. Good use of Irvine Fund money. Well done OUMC boys.
Both pics copy right of Ian Faulkner and posted on UKC.
(me absailing The Fiamma)
So, havn’t had tons of climbing adventures of late. This is mainly a product of time/money/weather, or rather their effect on my priorities and/or psych. Hopefully I will get a long weekend in the Carolinas later this summer, but who knows. Where I will not be going, sadly, is either the Alps, the Lakes, Snowdonia, Cornwall, Pembroke, or the Peak. Given I will not be back climbing on that side of the pond for who knows how long, I decided to do a round up of longer posts about my climbing ‘over there’
Ah…Arco. Would be nice to be there this summer, but slowly accepting that I will not go to the mountains this year. Alas. I think I like this b/c it captures why the Alps are great: climbing+weather+food/drink (note the terraced vineyard). Ruppe Secca Sud isn’t even a great crag, much less a mountain, but nevertheless, it’s the alps.
A brilliant write up from UKClimbing.com of an all-time classic: The Nordkante! So glad I ticked it this summer. You can read about my experiance here. Btw, it’s barely 5.7 (VDiff-ish) but its a full 1km or 3k feet long! Hawt dizamn that’s a lot of rock!
The leap between Adam and Eve atop Tryfan in North Wales is a long standing tradition. After completeing Pinnacle Rib, Jamie and I roused our courage for the leap. This is also the last time I saw the sun in North Wales. That was Feburary of 2007.
Ah, summer in the Alps. Top of the last pitch of Punta d’Albigna. I have now done all three major routes on the Punta and can safely say it that Mueli is the best, followed by Modern Times and finally Steiger and that all three should be topped off with the NW Ridge. Moreover it is a great first mountain as the routes are well protected and easy, the descent is not hard, and there is a midway bail between below the NW ridge if the weather is souring.
This is part of the promised climbing series. I will try, if possible, to always put beta links at the end.
The Spazzacalderia from the hut, Mosiaco runs straight up the trianglular face in the middle, culminating in a point
In fairness, I may have misled Peter a bit. I told him it would be no problem to get from Canazei to Bregaglia in a day. Theoretically it was not a problem, but hey, theoretically it was not a problem to get from Bolzano to Canazei in an afternoon, and theoretically one could do the Dolomites sans automobile, and no trad gear. We traveled by bus to Trento, from there via rail to Milan, and sprinted to the furthest possible platform to catch a train to Colico. We caught the last train, and pulled into sleepy Chiavenna just in time to see the last bus up Val Bregagalia to St. Moritz pull away, on time. Damn Swiss. My plan counted on Italian bus drivers. No matter, our campsite, the ‘climbers’ campsite was only 3km up the valley. Fourty-five sweaty minutes later we rolled into Camping Acquafraggia completely beat. Undeterred by the ‘full’ sign we saddled up to office to beg for a site. We explained that we didn’t need a car site, as we didn’t have a car, to which our host replied: ‘I can tell.’ The plan for the next week-ten days was simple. Go up to the more friendly crags above Lake Albigna to warm up to granite, then snatch a few rest days in valley before heading up to the Bondasca valley to attempt the big ones: the Badile, Cengalo, and others.
The sun woke me first the next morning, after a morning bread run and recon mission, I caught a weather report: two OK days followed by quite dire predictions. Rousing Peter I somehow convinced him that a) we were heading to Albigna now and b) we were staying in the hut incase the rain came early. Leaving in a huff we decided not to visit the ATM or purchase petrol for the stove before leaving Chiavenna. Bad call. We reached the Albigna cable car, our ‘approach’ to the valley, right as it closed for lunch, and realized that there was neither a cash point nor a petrol station anywhere near. Thankfully Peter’s mish mash of German, French, and Italian landed him a seat in a car pointed towards the valley. Making full use of his public school boy charm, he returned an hour later with petrol and cash. Shortly thereafter we caught the first cable car up the valley, just as the clouds began to swirl.
Conditions at the start
The large group of Italian climbers laughed as I stumbled over a large block lying in the path from the cablecar to the Spazzacadera. When we finally arrived we were anxious to get on the rock and spotting the classic of the crag, Mosiaco 6b, open we rushed over and while scoping the first pitch I failed to notice the large block in the path, much to the locals amusement. The amusement turned to surprise as we set up Via Felici, the 4 pitch first half of Mosiaco, undeterred by the fog. Despite the initially unfamiliar movement demanded by the granite slabs I quickly warmed to the impressive friction and bolted but still bold style I cut my teeth on in North Carolina. Pete made quick work of the second arrived at the belay ledge grinning and lead straight through onto the 6a crux pitch. Lost in the fog, I could tell he was making rapid progress by the speed he needed rope. At this point the bemusement of our continental counterparts had turned to surprise as it was apparent we were set to lap the first 100m of their classic in under a half hour. All those misty Lakeland and Welsh pitches paid dividends there on the Swiss border.
Following Pete through the mist was truly the treat. The angle steepened as the route transitioned from exquisitely balancy moves to delectable flakes. Each move appeared out of the swirling mist as I moved upwards forcing me to enjoy each little move for itself rather than trying to run to the belay as fast as possible. Pete wanted the next pitch as it continued the flakes he was already engaged with, and as pitch 4 was reputed to be a positively classic jamming crack I gladly obliged. Forty-five delightful meters later I joined him at the third belay and caught a glimpse of the laser cut crack I was to enjoy.
Enjoying our quick pace I dove into the crack relishing each jam and the perfect edges for the feet just when I needed a rest. Pulling a small overhang a double bolt belay surprised me 5m earlier than the large ledge I expected to belay on. But, as he insisted on Stabler tower four days earlier, we climb to the top. After bring Pete up, all smiles after 160m of near perfect climbing, we eyed up the weather and the next section of the route, 2nd Pillar 6a/b. Deciding that A) the mist was a ‘white’ mist with sun on its back rather than a rain bearing dark mist as our Welsh and Lakeland training had turned us into true mist conissours and B) the next two pitches looked as good as the last four and boyed with the confidence of walking Via Felici in 1 ¼ hours Pete lead through up a amazing diagonal crack splitting a head wall to a trick pull up through a bulge gaining a lovely slab to the belay. I finished up the route with 30m of pleasant easy angled crack climbing. One absail into a gully and a bit of scrambling down we arrived back at the base not much more than 2 ½ hours after setting out. As we pulled into the Albigna Hut that night, grinning with joy and brimming with confidence in ourselves, if not our somewhat dubious internet beta. When we told the hut gaurdian we would be cooking for ourselves, he kindly put us next to the winter room and gave us free use of it. This was perfect, we had warm beds and a private kitchen. After a nice meal, a bottle of wine, and a pint, we turned in, eager to try a long link up on Punta a’Albigna the next day.
Summitpost beta for Via Felici (first half of Mosaico)
(if you can climb 5.9 you can climb this)
As my climbing related posts seem the most popular, and Tumblr is positively jammed with unrealistic ideas about real rock climbing, I think I will gradually post reports of various adventures. It should be noted that I am not a good climber. Statistically I may not even be an average climber. Certainly not by continental sport climbing standards (8a is the 6a, right?). Happily, though, this means my stories and pictures will consist of real people doing real routes making silly mistakes. Before I am accused of false humility, my current lead grade are as such:
Trad: 5.8- or VS 4b
Sport: 5.9+/.10a or 5c/6a
All time red point
Boulder: V4 (was VERY height dependent and I am a lanky ass b***h)
Trad: 5.8+ (was a ghetto chimney thrash in which I was quite literally too big to fall out)
Sport: 5.11a i.e. 6b+ (90 feet of 5.10a with one radically height dependent .11 move that felt .9+ to me)
See, I am not a rock star. Anyhow, I have been lucky enough to climb all over the the place and have good partners rope-gun (or as they say Zach-haul) me up routes. I pay them back via me unique ability to memorize an entire guidebook, collate and memorize online beta, and procure such information on command. I also take good FB profile pix. Anyhow, I have noticed several beginning climbers following me, and noticed their complaints about progress, snobby pro climbers, etc., and I hope these posts encourage them that climbing can be a fun, rewarding activity even if you can’t flash 5.12, i.e. warm up at Rifle or the Lode.
The last ridge (by zach.stone)
I know I have posted this before, but it is one my all-time favs, at least of photos I have taken. It’s from the halfway ridge on Punta d’Albigna, about 1000m above the lake and fully 500m of climbing above the ground. And 300m of climbing left…guess was thinking about the alps. Since I got to play Alps yesterday.
Top of the Punta (by zach.stone)
The third time is a charm. This summer I completed the rather unimpressive ‘Tour de Punta Albigna.’ There are three main routes on the Punta all leading to the base of the final summit ridge. The three lower routes are 350-500m long and the summit ridge adds another 200. Last year Peter and I climbed Via Steiger (5c+) to the summit. This year I climbed Modern Times (5a) with Caspar but we called it a day at the shoulder. Later on the same trip Rob and I climbed Meuli (4c) and the summit ridge. Three climbs, three partners, three experiances. Peter and I hit the Punta flush with confidence and in iffy weather. We pushed passed most of the parties ahead of us and summited in white out fog laughing all the way. When I climbed Modern Times with Caspar I needed a boost of confidence and got what I was looking for, and more. Pitch 7 of Modern Times, a hand traverse out a massive corner is about as spectacular as it comes for 5.5 climbing. After our descent, Caspar and I amused our selves by watching a German team manage to get rescued with out getting hurt or facing bad weather. Punters. Rob and I made good time on Meuli, the best- if easiest- of the routes but then got clogged in a massive alpine traffic jam on the ridge. A group of 16+2 guides! Oh well, turned out to be good practice for the Badile. But that is another story.
Anonymous asked: You are the reason people have fantasies about librarians while spending inordinate amounts of time in the stacks.
If a person is stuck in the stacks fantasizing about librarians, I’m assuming it’s because they can’t find their book and need help real...
It takes an ocean not to break.
“Poetry must resemble prose, and both must accept the vocabulary of their time.”— William Butler Yeats on modern poetry in a rare 1936 BBC recording.