Shelley and I have been getting questions about our climbing plans for this year so I thought I’d take a few minutes to share our trips for this year.
Last summer, after our return from Europe, we started talking about our long term plans for climbing. For years our goal was focused on getting ourselves ready for Denali. With that achieved we started looking at what, if any, we wanted to work towards next. Both of us would love to be able to go to the Himalayas or Karakoram. I would certainly love to go on an expedition to a 8,000m peak. Alas, the cost and amount of time off needed put these two ideas on a back burner. We thought a more achievable goal would be to start climbing as independents instead of on guided climbs. At least climbing as independents on smaller mountains around the northwest like Mt Rainier. Both of us think that is achievable with a bit more development of our skills. Our biggest concern with climbing as independents is the ability to take care of ourselves if we climb as a 2-person team. We must have the skills to rescue each other and, more importantly, the skills to avoid those dangers that lead to having to rescue each other.
Initially our goal for 2013 was to take a private, winter mountaineering course specifically designed and focused on 2-person climbing, rescue techniques and route finding. This has been put on the back burner till 2014 because of another opportunity that came up about a month ago.
There is a private climb that RMI conducts twice a year on Mt Rainier (14,411 feet) that is guided by Ed Viesturs and Pete Whittaker. Maybe a private climb is not a great description as there will be other clients with us on the team. It’s private in the sense it’s not offered openly on their website and the waiting list is long. We were called by RMI back in December and offered the chance to join this climb. We had been on a waiting list for about a year. Since we weren’t sure we were going to be offered the climb, we had begun plans for the private, winter course I mentioned above. Needless to say, a private climb with Ed Viesturs and Pete Whittaker isn’t cheap. Thus we have to postpone our winter course and our first independent attempt on Mt Rainier for another year. But that’s okay.
The climb with Viesturs and Whittaker is a five day, four night trip on Mt Rainier. Usually it only takes three days for the route we are taking (Camp Muir and the Ingraham Glacier), but this trip affords participants the opportunity to spend more time with these two mountaineers. We are hoping to get some tips for climbing Mt Rainier as independents as well as tips for rescuing and route finding. So, although it won’t be a training climb like what we had been planning, we are hoping to learn some things about these topics from some of America and the world’s most premier mountaineers.
Climbers above the Ingraham Glacier with Little Tahoma Peak
We have certainly been very fortunate the last few years in our climbs. We have been able to climb Denali with Vern Tejas and I was able to climb with Vern again in Russia last summer. Now this year we’ll get the opportunity to climb with two more premier mountaineers. We learned a lot on Denali from Vern about expedition climbing, camp selection and preparation as well as many technical aspects of climbing. We hope to learn from some of the best again this summer too.
But we won’t be done with our trips after this climb of Mt Rainier.
In late August we will be going back to the Alps. We spent last summer hiking the valleys around Zermatt and the Bernese Oberland. This summer we will spend a few weeks climbing those peaks we looked up at last summer.
First, we are heading to Chamonix for an attempt on Mont Blanc (15,771 feet) followed by another few days of climbing in the Bernese Oberland with attempts on The Monch (13,474 feet), The Jungfrau (13,642 feet) and The Eiger (13,025 feet). We’ll be attempting the Eiger from the south ridge. The Mont Blanc climb includes an acclimation climb of Gran Paradiso (13,323 feet) in Italy. This is the highest peak in Italy. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe. We really, really gave some consideration for a great trifecta of mountaineering (at least for us) by adding an attempt up the Matterhorn during this trip. However, some issues arose for this. The most important was our own skill level for the Matterhorn. We are concerned we simply lack the rock climbing skills for the top of the Matterhorn and how this would impact our safety. To top this off the additional cost as well as additional time it would add to the trip. In the end, it simply wasn’t worth the risk to us or our pocket book.
The European trip will take just under 2 weeks. We will get a few rest days in Chamonix between Mont Blanc and The Eiger and then we’ll get a few days rest in Annecy France after we are all finished.
Old Town area of Annecy France
As we get closer to the trip I will post a more detailed itinerary of the trip including dates and specific huts we will be using. It should be a pretty fun trip and we are both really looking forward to climbing Mt Rainier this summer and climbing in the Alps.