Kids of the Khumbu Part II

We have collected 150+ lbs (and counting with more on the way) of donated clothing, school supplies, and medical/dental supplies for the kids of the Khumbu Valley (with still more to come in and get packed up).  It looks like we’ll have at least three of the largest available duffel bags full of donated items.  A huge thank you to all that donated and made this possible.  These items will go a long, long way in supporting the kids in the Khumbu Valley — one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest countries in Asia (only Afghanistan has a lower per capita GDP), where per capita annual income is ~$1,200.  Good karma coming your way for sure!

Chutes & Ladders – 3.7.2012

I headed up to Bob’s place in Fourmile Canyon, above Boulder (a.k.a. The Hinters) for some time in the mountains and to get in a little practice time on the ladders prior to heading into the Khumbu Icefall and we’re playing for keeps.  Fortunately, our basic rigging system worked great and it was a lot easier walking across the rungs while wearing crampons, even as the ladders bowed and swayed, than I anticipated.  At this point, I’ve done all I can to prep for the trip, so it must be time to just go do it!  Soon enough…

We also did a quick trip up Bald Mountain, which is literally Bob’s backyard, with his buddy Cam and the dogs (Wilson and Bridger) in tow.  It was a quick day out and only ~1,500′ of vertical, but we had some deep snow to plow through at times and terrific views from the top.  More pictures available of our quick outing by clicking on the picture above.

I did another round of the Boulder Trifectra climbs the other day with Bob and we’ll be heading up to attempt 13,000′ Mt. Bancroft on Sunday.  That will likely be my last big training day in the mountains prior to departure next Friday, 3/16.  The trip is getting extraordinarily close.  Pretty amazing it’s here already.  Lots to do between now and then, but I feel very physically strong and ready to take on this challenge!

Boulder Trifecta – 3.1.2012

A quick thank you to those of you that generously donated items for us to take to Nepal.  Your generosity is very much appreciated.  We’ll be sure to bring back some good karma for you.

I spent today in the high country above Boulder and completed what is sometimes referred to as the Boulder Trifecta, which entails summiting Bear Peak (8,461′), South Boulder Peak (8,549′) and Green Mountain (8,144′).  They’re all straightforward ascents with good elevation gain, so I threw 40+ lbs in my pack to increase the training benefits and headed uphill.  It was a bit blustery and snowy throughout the day, but nice and quiet as I had the hills almost exclusively to myself.  It was a good 6-hour push, covering 10 miles and ~4,500′ of vertical gain.

I’ve been trying to hit the hills frequently as of late, although the CO high-country remains really unstable with lots of new snow and high risk of avalanche, so I’ve been sticking to these lower elevation climbs in the Boulder area.  Carla and I did Green Mountain last weekend (pictures available by clicking the above photo) and I’ll be doing the same Boulder Trifecta this coming Sunday with my buddy, Bob.

Kids of the Khumbu

Recognizing what an extraordinary opportunity and experience the next several months will be, I wanted to do more than simply donate money and gear to the local population upon my trip’s completion as I normally do.  Fortunately, I have Carla to help me transform these good intentions into action.

She has been coordinating with Ang Jangbu, who will be the Sirdar (head Sherpa) of my expedition, in Nepal, to whom we will be donating school supplies (crayons, pencils, notebooks), clothing and medical supplies for the children in the villages of the Khumbu Valley.  These are the villages that I will visit on the way to Everest base camp and also where many of the Sherpas that will be assisting on the climb reside, so we wanted to show our respect, admiration and appreciation in advance.

Carla’s hospital is donating medical supplies and many of her co-workers are donating school supplies and/or cold weather kids clothing, and we are excited about what we have already gathered.  It is getting close to departure time (March 16th — only 2 1/2 weeks away), but I wanted to let you know of our intentions so if anyone is interested in donating anything we will happily deliver your contributions upon our arrival in Kathmandu.

Please let me know if you are interested and I will coordinate a time with you to pick-up your donation if you are in the Denver area.  For those of you that do not live in the Denver area but would like to participate, please contact me and we will try to find a way to make that happen.  Thank you, in advance, for any donations and also for your continued interest in the trip.

Green Mountain – 2.19.2012

Due to continued extreme avalanche danger in CO these days, I stayed close to home and at lower, more stable elevations.  I did a quick training hike with great friend, Ben Focht, this past weekend.  Ben will join me for the trek into Everest base camp and will also climb the 20,161′ Lobuche Peak with me and the team, prior his returning home, as part of our acclimatization program in Nepal in preparation for the big hill.

It was a quick and easy hike to the summit of Green Mountain (8,144′) above Boulder, CO, requiring only 3 hours for the entire outing, which includes roughly 2,500′ of elevation gain and then descent over a total of six miles for the entire round trip.  Therefore, we made it more interesting by loading 40-50lbs in our packs to add to the challenge/work-out, and I climbed much of the way wearing the same model mask as the oxygen regulators we’ll use on the upper slopes of Everest (seen above).  It definitely made it more difficult to breathe.  It was a bit like running underwater or breathing with a plastic bag over your head.  Good practice though, as it’s a lot like breathing through a diving regulator, so it trains you to breath deeply, steadily and prepares your diaphragm to pull hard in anticipation of what’s to come a few months from now when the stakes will be a bit higher.

The best part of the outing was when Ben announced to a passing hiker that I was wearing the mask because I had SARS.  The poor guy nearly fell over trying to get away from me as quickly as possible and likely needed a fresh pair of underwear at the bottom of the hill.  His female companion seemed to enjoy the joke a bit more than he did… our apologies, sir.  A few more pictures of the outing available by clicking the picture above.

Skiing Breckenridge – 2.11.2012

Training continues, although recently training has consisted of strength training and cardio work-outs at the gym as I work through gear and logistical details for the upcoming trip.  As such, I haven’t spent as much time as I’ve wanted in the actual mountains, mostly due to an unstable snow pack and high avalanche danger, but I hope to get in more actual climbing in the weeks ahead.

Carla and I depart for India for phase I of the trip on March 16th, which is rapidly approaching (only 4 weeks away), so getting everything dialed-in now is paramount.  I meet the rest of the Everest expedition team in Kathmandu on 3/29 to begin phase II of the trip — the climb itself…

Carla and I went home to visit my parents the weekend of 2/2/2012 and also celebrated the one-year anniversary of our first date, which was a major milestone for this perpetual bachelor.  We had a really nice time with my folks and enjoyed weather in the 70s and even a few strolls on the beach, which provided quite the contrast to what lies ahead.

This past weekend, my best friend growing-up, Joey Suttle, came to visit.  We went to Widespread’s farewell (for now) acoustic “Wood Tour” on Friday and then skied at Breckenridge on Saturday.  It was a short weekend, but it’s always great to catch-up with close friends, especially prior to a big trip like this.  It seems to help me keep things in perspective, while also serving as a reminder of what a major undertaking this particular trip is going to be.  Thanks for coming out, Joe.

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…

Ice Climbing at Hidden Falls – 12.18.2011

Click for slideshowI went ice climbing with a group of people at Hidden Falls in southern-most Rocky Mountain National Park.  We had a group of seven that included good friends and regular climbing partners Bob and Laurie.  Laurie’s boyfriend, Steve, and his daughter, Hudson and Charles joined us as well.  We had several first or second time ice climbers in our group, so it was fun to get them some exposure and experience.

Hidden Falls was as crowded as I have ever seen it.  It must be due to the late forming La Niña and the poor snow/skiing conditions in the mountains, as there were several other parties there enjoying the ice.  So, we simply shared ropes and worked our way in where we could and got in a few good climbs each.  Above, and in the slideshow that the picture above links to, I’m having a little fun on a small mixed section of overhung rock below the primary ice flow.  It was a fun, relaxed day overall.  As we turn the page to 2012 though, the real training begins and you’ll see my adventures ramp up a bit as the departure to Nepal draws increasingly nearer.