Quandary Peak – 1.28.2012

Craig Hanneman and David Markwell flew to CO from the west coast for a weekend of training in the Rockies as we prep for our imminent departure to Everest.  I fly out in only 6 1/2 weeks, so it was great to attempt a winter ascent of a 14-er with a couple of my climbing partners allowing us to further test our gear, gain some fitness, and compare notes on logistics, preparations, gear, etc.  We were going to attempt Longs Peak, but due to a storm that came through on Thursday/Friday, we adjusted our plans on the fly.

We headed to Breckenridge on Friday and got in a full afternoon of skiing in blustery conditions but on fresh snow, which was really sweet.  The next morning we attempted a winter ascent of Quandary Peak’s east ridge, which was one of the only routes on a CO 14-er without significant avalanche risk due to last week’s storms and the rotten base layers of snow due to our early winter drought.  We made good progress on a blustery day and pushed all the way to 13,500′ before being turned around by 60+ mph winds on the upper slopes.  It wasn’t worth pushing things, so we called it a day at that point and headed down.  We accomplished what we wanted to though and feel all the more dialed-in for our upcoming Himalayan adventure.  A few pictures of our fun day in the wind are available by clicking on the picture in this posting above.

We skied Breckenridge again on Sunday and enjoyed one of the best ski days of the year for me thus far, so it ended up being a terrific weekend of fun and training.

Space suit – 1.20.2012

I am officially no longer employed and will dedicate the next couple of months to training, which is exciting in and of itself.  To top things off and to mark the occasion (in addition to a great Wilco show this past Thursday night in Denver), my North Face down suit just arrived to serve as a reminder that departure for Kathmandu is imminent!

I tried it on, along with some goggles and the 3M mask that is the same design as the oxygen regulators that we’ll use high on Everest, so apparently this is what I’ll look like for much of summit day.  Pretty crazy.

As training continues to ramp, I’ve started running the stairs at Red Rocks with my buddy Ben, who will be going to base camp and climbing Lobuche with us before having to return home, as well as heading into the CO hills along with lots of interval training intermixed here in Denver (starting to do two-a-day work-outs now).  Not having to worry about Monday-Friday work responsibilities will help a lot with getting the legs and lungs in top condition prior to departure.  The next excursion will be a winter attempt of Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park next weekend (1/27-29) with Craig and Dave (and possibly Bob) who are all attempting Everest as well this spring.  That should be a good outing.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Jackson Hole – 12.30.2011-1.3.2012

I flew to Jackson, WY, in search of snow over the long New Year’s weekend.  The west has had a miserable snow season thus far, but it looks like the late-forming La Niña may finally be here, so let’s hope conditions improve dramatically.  I met climbing partner and good friend Bob Berger and his lovely wife, Di, there after putting the final touches on my last fiscal year at IXI.  Fortunately, the snow arrived just before I did and we enjoyed several great days of powder skiing.  Those 4,000′ Hoback runs remind you who’s boss in a heartbeat though.  Phew.  Good times, great snow, and a nice break after another hectic year of work.

Upon my return to Denver on 1/4/2012, I officially resigned from IXI after a great seven-year run.  They were extremely gracious and supportive of my decision and the great challenge that lies ahead.  My last day is this Wednesday, 1/18, which is exciting, invigorating and a little intimidating all at once.  I haven’t been unemployed since I graduated college, but the timing is absolutely right for new and meaningful challenges.  I’ll spend the next couple of months training hard and getting everything ready for the expedition.  My departure to India with Carla is only a little over eight weeks away, so time is of the essence…