The Real Meaning of Success (It’s all about having fun)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador and well-known ice and alpine climber Angela VanWiemeersch recently visited the Hayes Range, Alaska, in order to put up a couple new lines. (i.e. alpine climbing routes). During a trip to the area in 2014, she spied the two formations. “I was blown away by their beauty and steepness—blue ice drooling from the magnificent faces.” She decided then that she’d have to come back for these peaks. She and Anna Pfaff spent a month there, but got denied by snow and bad weather. But, as she says, a failed expedition is just another learning experience. We recently chatted with her about what she learned from her third big adventure up north.

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Multisport Adventure DIY (Tip #1: handmake & then burn your skis)

3 Explorers Embark on a DIY Multisport Adventure to Alaska’s Mountains using Packrafts, Skis & Their Feet.

Alaska multisport adventure

Not everyone can handle spending three weeks camped out on an Alaskan Glacier putting up first ascents of rock, ice and snow routes on unclimbed spires and peaks. Even fewer can then handle skiing out on handmade skis with 100-pound loads, over high mountain passes and across unknown terminal moraines to a river of unknown difficulty. But the trio of Craig Muderlak, Drew Thayer and David Fay did. Supported by the American Alpine Club through the Copp-Dash Inspire Award and various sponsors, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear, they climbed, skied, hiked and packrafted on the adventure of a lifetime. We recently chatted with Muderlak about their wild, multi-sport adventure and the reasons for their success.

What did you do exactly?
In the second week of May we flew into the North Fork of the Pitchfork Glacier in the Neacola subrange of the Aleutian Range in southwestern Alaska. We established a base camp and explored climbing routes on neighboring peaks, including two attempts on the NW Ridge of Citadel Peak, two new rock routes and an additional attempted route on Dogtooth Spire on Peak 7235, a new route up an unclimbed mountain adjacent to Peak 8909 that we call ‘Spearhead’ at the head of the North Fork of the Pitchfork, and a new route to the summit of a rock spire we call ‘The Wing’ on the W side of the Neacola Glacier across from Triangle Peak.

Craig Muderlak

After spending 21 days climbing, we made a human-powered return to Cook Inlet via ski, foot, and pack-raft over six days. This part of the expedition proved to be very arduous and fraught with uncertainty. We descended the Pitchfork glacier with 100-pound loads on skis and reached the terminal moraine the second day, which we crossed by shuttling loads. The next day we descended the Glacier Fork of the Tlikakila River on pack-rafts; this eight-mile river was flowing strong with Class II and III whitewater and we ran all but one rapid. Read the rest of the article.

What It Takes To Be A Pioneer: A New Route on Fitz Roy

Learn how Ambassador Quinn Brett and partners put up a 1st ascent in Patagonia

Quinn-Fitz-1It’s day three of our adventure, and we’re close to finishing a new rock climbing route straight up the 550m headwall in between two existing routes on the South Face of Cerro Fitz Roy, Patagonia. The sun shines, as Quinn Brett and I munch on Snickers Bars and dried mango. We gaze down at the endless glaciers, towering granite spires, our last camp at Paso Superior and the snow cornices hanging off of Aguja de La Silla. The town of Chalten where we are based looks small in the distance, 20 miles and 7000 feet down in elevation. All of a sudden, we hear, POP, and Mike is airborne. I grab at Quinn as she launches up into the belay; we need to avoid putting any upward stress on our anchor. And then it’s over. Quinn’s bicep is bruised, and Mike is upside down after falling 35+ feet. Shaken, he builds a belay, brings us up and passes the lead to Quinn.

First ascents of rock walls and mountains connect an old pioneer mentality with more tangible discoveries that can still be attained even in our heavily mapped and travelled world. But what does it take to go where others have never gone before? The frequency of opportunity appears very small and can be discouraging, and the dangers are real. Mike could have broken an arm, a leg or worse when he fell. And though relatively well-traveled,  a rescue thousands of feet off the ground and miles from the nearest town would still be difficult.

Most new routes are done in very remote, difficult to reach regions of the world, where the logistical difficulties of approaching keep all but the very committed and persistent away. In a sense, people who go to those wild places are some of the last pioneers. But, any aspiring climber can relate to the feeling of gazing over a rock face with naïve eyes, connecting existing features with one’s imagination, and ultimately tracing a desired path up a wall. Much like the artist’s paint stroke, establishing a new route is a climber’s way of leaving their impression, a demonstration of their style, and often times, insight into their very character. I wanted to trace my line up Fitz Roy, one of the most storied rock walls in the world. Read the rest of the article.

Spanish Explorer Ceci Buil Becomes Ambassador, Presents in Portland Feb 2

Ceci Buil Slide & Video Presentation on Ice & Big Wall Climbing @ the Salt Pump Climbing Gym, Scarborough, Maine, Tuesday, Feb. 2

Ceci-ice-climbing
It’s a cold winter morning in the Cajon del Maipo Valley, and Cecilia Buil and her partner, Anna Toretta, are on their way to do what will be the first ascent of the ice climb, La Gioconda. The sun rises, the sky turns from orange to blue, and the only noise they hear is the sliding of their skis over the snow. Buil remembers this moment perfectly. It, and others like it, drive her to put up new routes on rock, snow and ice in the wildest high places in the world, and they inspire her to always give everything she’s got. “If I go climbing, the summit is not the only thing that makes me feel good; it’s the entire experience, to have made an effort and to given it my all,” she says. “The same applies to the rest of my life—to be in the moment and to live everything deeply.”

Hyperlite Mountain Gear recently invited well-known Spanish explorer Cecilia Buil to join its ambassador team. A world-renowned big wall and ice climber, Buil has put up first ascents (sometimes by herself!) of walls in Pakistan, Mexico and Greenland that are thousands of feet high, along with ice climbs from South America to Europe. Buil will be visiting the Northeast for three weeks to guide for Hyperlite Mountain Gear at the 2016 Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest from February 5-7. She will also be giving a slide & video presentation at the Salt Pump Climbing Company on February 2nd at 7:30p.m. Buil will show various videos, including one of her ascent of La Gioconda, a 500-foot route on Cerro Marmolego (20,039′) that she tried five times before accomplishing it with Italian climber, Anna Toretta. You can read more about the ascent here, or come to her show on February 2!

 

Quinn Brett: First Ascents in the Rockies + Expedition to the Garwhal

Quinn Brett leading the climb up "Geronimo."
Quinn Brett leading the climb up “Geronimo.” Photo by Max Barlerin.

With an unquenchable thirst for adventure, it is no surprise that Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Quinn Brett is now embarking on yet another expedition to the Garhwal Himalayan region in Northern India, thanks to GORE-TEX®’s Shipton-Tilman Grant. She will be meeting up with partners Crystal Davis-Robbins and Whitney Clark to explore the Obra Valley and/or the Bhilangna Valley. We wish her luck and hope that she stays safe and has fun. Brett also recently put up a first ascent on a popular peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, where she works as a climbing ranger. This post is a brief account of that ascent.

The day started early for Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Quinn Brett and her boyfriend Maximillian Barlerin, a 4a.m. wakeup for a truck-ride to the trailhead in preparation for what would end up being a first ascent up the North East face of Chiefs Head Peak, the third highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Brett had worked a rescue until 10p.m. the night before; with less than six hours of sleep going, simply standing up was a challenge.  Read More

Kurt Ross: The French Route, Mount Hunter

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J.D. Merritt and Kurt Ross tagged the summit of Mt. Hunter after ~52 hours from base camp. “The clouds suddenly cleared, allowing us to descend the West Ridge instead of retracing our steps to rappel the North Buttress.” -Kurt Ross. Photo by J.D. Merritt.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross recently returned from a mega-successful climbing adventure to the Kahiltna Glacier, Denali National Park, Alaska. Please see Part I to read an overview of the five routes he climbed. Below is his personal report of climbing The French Route on Mount Hunter.

I rappelled to the end of our ropes, slammed in a couple of screws, and yelled, “I’m off!” to my climbing partner, J.D. Merritt. While I threaded our next rappel, the rope didn’t move. I screamed a few more times, pulled aggressively on the lines, then gave up. I slumped onto the slings attaching me to the face and dozed off, as I had done at every other moment where my wakefulness couldn’t help our progress. I was happy for the opportunity to take weight off my feet. Keeping them sealed in soggy boots for the past few days waterlogged my skin, making them feel blistered all over. After an indeterminate amount of time, J.D. buzzed down the rope and we continued.

Somehow, after three full days on the go with only a couple hours of rest, we didn’t feel out of control. Of course we were extremely tired, but we could still think clearly enough to problem solve our way through the terrain. It’s scary to think about how we would have dealt with a bad storm or messy fall, but pushing ourselves this far didn’t feel reckless in the situation as it was.

We were descending the West Ridge of Mt. Hunter after climbing the Garison-Tedeschi (A.K.A. French Route) on the North Buttress of the mountain, a route Mark Westman calls, “the proudest and most intimidating line on the wall.” We decided to try The French Route instead of any other one because we figured it might be more intact than any other line on the face after the long spell of warm temperatures that we’d had on the Kahiltna. The hard-man Slovenians, Luka Lindic and Ales Cesen, also encouraged us; they had climbed the route to the top of the buttress a couple weeks prior. The only real beta we had on route was the finger-point directions that duo had sprayed at us in base camp. Read the rest of the article!

Killing it on the Kahiltna Glacier: Kurt Ross’ Climbing Report

"We watched another sunset on Mt. Hunter while nearing the top via some beautiful ridge climbing between the cornice bivi and the summit plateau." -Kurt Ross  Photo by J.D. Merritt.
“We watched another sunset on Mt. Hunter while nearing the top via some beautiful ridge climbing between the cornice bivi and the summit plateau.” -Kurt Ross Photo by J.D. Merritt.

This past May Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Kurt Ross climbed the Southwest Ridge of Mount Francis, the West Face of Kahiltna Queen, an unreported route on the South Face of Peak 12,200, Bacon & Eggs on the Micro-Moonflower, and the French Route on Mount Hunter with various partners. Accustomed to climbing steep technical terrain, Ross says he learned to move efficiently on the “moderate” low angle ice, cracked glaciers, snow ridges presented on all these routes.

“People have only been asking me about the North Buttress of Hunter, but I doubt I would have felt ready to attempt it if I hadn’t bailed off of it twice and climbed those other moderate routes earlier in the trip,” Ross explains. In an 80-hour push, he and J.D. Merritt tagged the summit of Hunter

“The French Route was by far the biggest, most wild and most memorable route that I’ve ever tried,” Ross says. “It was a huge step up for both J.D. and I, requiring every bit of experience and skill that we’ve gained by climbing less committing objectives.” Read the rest of Part I of Kurt Ross’ Alaska Adventure here!

Seth Timpano & The Cotter-Bebie Route

By Seth Timpano, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador

The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash.
The Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Leavenworth, Wash.

The weather in most of the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Intermountain Regions had been atypical this past winter and late spring. For many skiers and ice climbers the warm temperatures made for less than ideal conditions most of the season, but for some of us this abnormal weather patterns made incredible alpine climbing conditions. In March, several climbing partners along with myself were fortunate enough to establish three quality melt freeze mixed climbs in the remote backcountry of Montana and Wyoming. Not wanting to hang up my tools just yet for the season; I was fortunate to get a call from my friend Lee who lives in Bellingham, Wash. The alpine climbing conditions in the Cascades were shaping up nicely and the weather looked promising. We decided on the Cotter-Bebie route on the North Face of Dragontail Peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness outside of Leavenworth, Wash. The route is 2000 feet of beautiful alpine ice and mixed runnels through stellar granite rock.

The peak had seen quite a bit of action throughout the winter and early spring, but we found the north face empty the days we spent in the wilderness. We setup a quick camp on the frozen Colchuck Lake and tucked in early for the night, intending on pre-dawn start. Read the rest of the article!

Ambassador Spotlight: Bayard Russell

Bayard Russell, Mugs Stump winner to climb Mt. Deborah, Hayes Range, AlaskaPhoto by Anne Skidmore Russell

New Hampshire’s mountains may be small compared to Western ranges, but they offer some ferocious terrain and hearty individuals. We recently chatted with hunter, climber and adventurer Bayard Russell. As we write this, he’s on his way to the Hayes Range, Alaska with partners Elliot Gaddy and Michael Wejchert to make their second attempt on the unclimbed south face of Mt. Deborah (12,540′). The threesome won the prestigious Mugs Stump Award.

Their plan: to climb a giant (i.e. 4500-foot) face, traverse a 1.5-mile ridge “across a classic, horrifying, double-corniced traverse,” to the summit of the mountain, and then descend to the other side of the mountain, and climb a pass and hike “six to ten miles” to get back to basecamp.

“It’s a big new age wall objective with an old-school Alaska mountaineering objective,” Russell explained. “The guys selectively provided me with information to get me psyched,” he added with a laugh. Read the rest of the article!

72 Hrs: Angela VanWiemeersch Climbs Mount Hayes

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Mount Hayes is the highest mountain in the eastern Alaska Range and one of the largest peaks in the United States in terms of its rise. The Northeast Face rises 8,000 feet in approximately two miles.  The mountain was first ascended in 1941, but it’s infrequently climbed due to its remoteness and the resulting difficulty of accessing the mountain.  Check out Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Angela VanWiemeersch’s report on her team’s 72-hour ascent of their first ascent. Read the rest of the article!

Skiing the Grand

funhogging_in_the_tetonsPhotos & text by Beau Fredlund

This week things aligned for some exceptionally good ski mountaineering in the Tetons.  A nice spring storm had come in warm, bonding well to the old snow surfaces, and finishing cold and dry.  Perfect for skiing and avalanche stability.  Our week included some excellent adventures with bicycle access in Grand Teton National Park (on a road closed to auto traffic), and was punctuated by a ski descent of the highly coveted Grand Teton.  Possibly the most iconic mountain in the lower 48, and a challenging ski mountaineering objective by any route.

Read the rest of the article!

Hyperlite Mountain Gear: off to Everest!

We’re proud to share the news that cameramen and adventure videographers John Griber and Ed Wardle will be carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s ultralight packs when they climb Mt. Everest to film Joby Ogwyn’s historic wing suit jump off the summit.

NBC hired Griber to be a cameraman this spring for an event called Everest Jump Live.  He and Wardle will be following Ogwyn up the mountain filming his climb and running jump off Earth’s highest point.  No human has ever attempted this feat before, and the Discovery Channel will be airing the 11,000 foot drop and five mile descent back to Base Camp during a two hour live broadcast in May.

Joby Ogwyn 3

Read the rest of the article!

New Athlete! Angela VanWiemeersch

Angela VanStein

Hyperlite Mountain Gear would like to welcome our newest ambassador.  Bad Ass for sure!

“Basically I’m in love with wide open places, and I strive to explore those places to the fullest. Climbing gets me exactly where I want to be. Every time I’m climbing I think its the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”- Angela VanWiemeersch

Angela (or VanStein known for her epic stein pulls), lives for the mountains. From the peaks of Alaska to her home crags of Zion, where she works a climbing guide, Angela is constantly seeking to push herself to higher limits.  As an accomplished climber on rock, ice and mixed terrain Angela views her self as an explorer at heart.  In 2010 she completed a 1400 mile solo unsupported bike tour from Detroit, Michigan to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The lure of the unknown and the vast beauty of untouched landscapes then continued to drive her North.

Read the rest of the article!

Putting up a new route in Alaska with Ambassador Seth Timpano

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Seth Timpano is a world class mountaineer and guide.  He has led him on climbing trips throughout the globe including: Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Alaska, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Thailand, Nepal and New Zealand.  We recently found out that Seth took a pretty bad fall into a crevasse, 55 feet, but luckily walked away with it with minor injuries and a mild concussion.  Seth told us the Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack he was wearing might have helped pad his fall — we’re not sure about that, but we psyched that Seth is fully recovered and planning some exciting new expeditions for this coming year.  Read on for Seth’s report on a new route he, Jared Vilhauer and Jens Holsten  put up this summer on Reality Peak, a 13,100 foot satellite peak of Alaska’s iconic Denali.  Awesome photos by Jared Vilhauer.

Seth Timpano on Reality Peak Summit.  Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
Seth Timpano on Reality Peak Summit. Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
In late May I left Seattle early in the morning and flew to Anchorage, Alaska. From there I hopped a shuttle van and was on ski-equipped plane by late afternoon. The flight into the Alaska Range was as memorable as the previous dozen, and my excitement for alpine climbing was high. Paul Roderick with Talkeetna Air Taxi flew by the impressive Mount Hunter and Mount Huntington and spiraled down into the West Fork of the Ruth Glacier, one of the three large glaciers pouring from the south aspect of Denali. There I met my friends Jared Vilhauer and Jens Holsten. They had been skiing around for a few days scoping out different lines and route conditions and that evening we all agreed to attempt an unclimbed route on the east face of Reality Peak.
Seth Timpano climbing face of Reality Peak.  Photo by Seth Timpano on Reality Peak Summit.  Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
Seth Timpano climbing face of Reality Peak. Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
The next day we skied to the base of the route and started climbing. We climbed about 2000 feet of steep snow and easy ice before entering into the heart of the route, a narrow winding passage of steep granite and ice. We found 1500 feet of perfect steep alpine ice conditions. Once through this crux section we found more moderate snow and ice to the where our line joined the previously established Reality Ridge. We setup a bivy, ate, re-hydrated and slept. Poor weather kept us tent bound for nearly 24 hours but this also gave us a chance to rest before attempting to summit Peak 13,100 (Reality Peak). The ridge to the summit was typical Alaskan climbing; bigger, harder and scarier than expected.
The face of Reality Peak.  Photo by Seth Timpano climbing face of Reality Peak.  Photo by Seth Timpano on Reality Peak Summit.  Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
The face of Reality Peak. Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
Difficult snow and ice conditions put us on the top in about 8 hours from our high bivy. The three of us were all very excited to have succeeded on this difficult climb, but we also realized we had a lot of work ahead of us. We tediously down climbed the ridge back to our camp, tired and exhausted. Nevertheless, we all knew we had to keep heading down before the intense sun hit our route, which would create a dangerous situation with rock and ice fall. We rappelled through the night, chasing the sun with each 200 feet decent. 27 double rope rappels found us at the base of our route. A few hundred feet of easy down climbing and we were safely back at our skis. We skied, tired but satisfied, back to camp, 4 days after we had left. Later that afternoon we were on a plane flying out of the Alaska Range and back to civilization.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs are without a doubt the best alpine climbing pack on the market. Durable, light, waterproof and made with climbing in mind, I continue to be impressed by my Porter Pack w/ Ice Feature. I look forward to using Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs on my expeditions to Patagonia and India next year.
HMG Ambassador descending Reality Peak.  Photo by The face of Reality Peak.  Photo by Seth Timpano climbing face of Reality Peak.  Photo by Seth Timpano on Reality Peak Summit.  Photo by Jared Vilhauer.
HMG Ambassador descending Reality Peak. Photo by Jared Vilhauer.

 

Seth Timpano
Alaska
Fall 2013

Quinn Brett: Canada Alpine Climbing Tour

Quinn Brett joined our team of Ambassadors, Spring 2013.  Since then she’s been putting our backpacks and shelters through their paces in some of the world’s great outdoor playgrounds.  In July, Hyperlite Mountain Gear sponsored Quinn (along with Lizzy Scully, Prairie Kearney and John Dickey) as “Team Glitterbomb” on an expedition to climb unclaimed big walls in Greenland. Team Glitterbomb did three new routes in Greenland. “Plenty for Everyone” (5.10+/11-, 1800ft) on The Barnes Wall; “Morning Luxury” (5.11a/b, 1400ft) on The Breakfast Spire; and “Four Quickies” (5.9, 500ft ) on The Submarine Wall.  

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Quinn and her Windrider pack negotiating the slippery stuff.

“When you type in your Google search bar “genuine, good-spirited, ego-less hard mutherF#^&ing crankers,” I am positive the search will mention or show photos of a Canadian rock climber.  For years I have fallen for their niceness. This trip sealed the deal. I basically had the raddest three week tour in the Bugaboos, Lake Louis and Canmore.

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For a trip into the Bugaboos, a large and waterproof pack is needed.  The hike isn’t too long, but the 4000 feet in elevation gain is a butt buster.  You can do it a few ways: carry a giant load first go saving yourself multiple trips, even the loads and hike it twice, or take the bare essentials to get you through the first few days then hike down for more food later.  I chose option 1–but I was lucky that my climbing partner had much of the gear already up at base camp. 

The 3400 Windrider from Hyperlite Mountain Gear proved to be the perfect pack for this destination.  Its roomy, comfortable, waterproof, durable and I enjoy how it can be a HUGE pack or fold down into a medium sized pack. 

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Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider at our spectacular basecamp.

I left the pack up at base camp for five days as I toured other locations in Canada, stuffed with my climbing shoes and other gear.  Upon return I found my gear dry as a bone, despite huge rainstorms–and thankfully critters were not drawn to nibble the straps!!

After our first day’s first ascent, local hard man Chris Brazeau proceeded to shuffle me around the best new free lines in the Bugaboos.  Many of these climbs were old aid lines that Chris and his buddies, Jon Walsh, Jon Simms, Simon Meis, Cody Lank and others opened up with much effort over the last six or seven years.

Sendero Norte was the tour opener.  This 13-pitch route is stacked with pitch after pitch of 5.11 and 5.12 climbing.  For topos and a photo of the route line check out  Jon Walsh’s blog.

Both Chris and I fell on the lower thin seam crux pitch and both had a fall or two on the upper roof crux pitch.  The rest of the route we both climbed clean.  Rappelling down I kept saying, “this was my favorite pitch, no wait THIS was…” 

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Sendero is one of the highest quality routes I have climbed! 
 
I was lucky to spend almost three weeks in Canada.  I can’t believe I haven’t visited this amazing climbing locations before–next summer I hope to spend a bit more time!”

Quinn Brett, September 2013

Climbing in Greenland – Nameless Creek

Earlier this summer Hyperlite Mountain Gear sponsored an expedition by Team Glitterbomb (that’s Lizzy Scully, Quinn Brett, Prairie Kearney and John Dickey) to climb unclaimed big walls in Greenland.   Hyperlite Mountain Gear is amazed at what the team accomplished and proud that our ultralight backpacks and shelters helped them along the way.

Glitterbomb PostcardRead on for a post from Lizzy Scully on the expedition and Nameless Creek, the rushing waterway that featured prominently in their time in Greenland.

Every morning this July (2013), I wake up to the sound of a nameless, raging glacier-fed creek just 20 yards down the hill from my tent. Looking out my “window”, I see it splash against big, white-spotted gray boulders and churn in small, clear holes. I call her Nameless Creek. I love how she tumbles and froths.

Nameless Creek alternately calms and scares me. She is difficult to cross, except in a few choice, semi-trecherous spots where we jump from wet, mossy boulders to steep, angular ones that we slide down despite our sticky rubber-covered shoes. Sometimes a foot or whole leg ends up submerged in frigid water, and sometimes it’s best to just take the approach shoes off and cross in the shallower, flatter gravelly bars with quickly frozen, bare feet.

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On the days we hike below the bases of the many unclimbed, sometimes strangely-named rocky peaks we aspire to summit, we walk alongside Nameless Creek. We hop the boulders that line her shores, and we wander into the florescent green vegetation through which she runs. Our feet sometimes sink fully into her marshy surroundings. We have taken two trips up and down Nameless so far to climb three first ascents, the two biggest of which I have happily been a part of. The first week, our team of four ascended a stunning 8-pitch 5.11- ridge line that we called “Morning Luxury,” on a spire that some Brits identified as Breakfast Spire (though they never summited); the three ladies also climbed a manky wet, but interesting 10-pitch 5.10+/11-, which we called “Plenty for Everyone” on the Barnes Wall (we named it that in honor of a friend who died a few days later); and finally, John, Prairie, and Quinn climbed another 4-pitch route to the ridge of the Submarine Wall on a sunny, warm afternoon that I spent meditating, resting, and slapping mosquitoes; they called it “Four Quickies” (5.9).

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We are fairly certain our two summits have not been reached by other humans, especially the summit of Breakfast Spire, a very narrow, slanted square platform, blanketed with black, potato chip-crunchy, rose-like blooms of lichen. We are the sole proprietors of the Wedgies and biners that were left, without which it would be impossible to descend. Of course, we aren’t 100% positive. A handful of climbers in the past assembled a haphazard array of trip reports and topos, one of which shows an unfinished line up our Spire. But there’s nothing definitive about this area. Hopefully there never will be.

Nameless Creek originates just where we established our advanced base camp, amidst glaciers and a gnarly boulder field the size of 10 football fields, all nestled within a giant cirque of granite walls. It is also nameless–The Cirque–at least as far as I know. Melting streams of snow and ice from other, smaller valleys also feed Nameless, but most of her raging frothiness comes from the sky blue-tinted glacier that stretches across the basin of The Cirque.

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The glacier. It’s lovely, with its swaths of pinkish sections, collapsed sink holes, and deep aqua green mini-lakes that sparkle with the shiny, silicate mineral called mica. We hear dozens of streams of varying sizes flowing underneath areas of the glacier as well, which we carefully avoid, and also beneath the boulder field.

While we climb and rappel on our longest, 18-hour day, up our favorite route “Morning Luxury”, I realize also that water from hundreds of snowy patches in the shadowy chimneys and corners of 1600-foot Breakfast Spire also feed Nameless Creek. Evidence is everywhere. It drip, drip, drips off incipient seams and plops into small pools of cold, clear water in various granite nooks. It saturates every patch of sponge-like green and orange moss on the Spire’s ledges and clusters of boulder. And it flows down dirt and grass-filled cracks until it fans out, painting the Spire’s lower slabs with big grey vertical streaks.

And at times the wetness gets very personal. I feel it as I ease my way up the smooth, slime-covered walls of a 200-foot chimney. I hope my damp hands don’t suddenly slip; there is no protection. We find the worst, unprotected, crumbling, waterlogged rock any of us has ever touched in places, and we feel the ooze of mud through our fingers while digging into cracks with nut tools in an attempt to find elusive gear placements for rappel anchors.

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Each day in Greenland, we touch and feel the water that eventually turns into Nameless Creek. Right now as I speak this story, rain that feeds her patters on the thin walls of my tent. Droplets form, a rivulet of water weaves its way down the waterproof fabric, into the grass and shrubs, through the earth, and then into Nameless. Less than 20 yards away, she drops off suddenly, falling from the flat meadow that is our base camp onto a steep talus slope. There, she falls faster and faster until she finally becomes a roaring waterfall crashing into the Torsukatak Fjord, thousands of feet below. HMG21

It is July, 2013, and every night I fall asleep to the sound of water crashing down the hillside 20 yards from my tent. I call the flow of her Nameless Creek. I love how she rumbles and churns.

Lizzy Scully, Summer 2013, Greenland.

 

Seth Timpano – Another First Ascent in Antarctica

I recently returned home from a three month stint in Antarctica where I was working as a mountain
guide. We typically guide guests up Mount Vinson, the highest peak on the continent, in addition to
some of the other peaks in the Ellsworth Range. At one point in early December, three of us were able
to take the day off to attempt an unclimbed route on Mount Dolence.

Seth Timpano approaching Dolence in Antarctica with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack

Mount Dolence is a very attractive peak that is seen from our main camp at Union Glacier; and has no easy passage to the summit. Its first and only successful summit was by a Swiss team up the west ridge in early 2011.
Tom Nonis, Jeff Previte and myself had hopes of establishing a new route on this impressive peak. I
had noticed a very direct line up to the East Summit of Dolence a few years previous and we all agreed
this would be our line of ascension. Contrary to popular belief, the weather in Antarctica in the austral
summer can be quite pleasant. However, the day of our climb was not. We left Union Glacier camp in
below zero temps, 30 knot winds and overcast skies. Not ideal for alpine climbing but we were
psyched given it was our day off. We took a very civilized approach via a heated vehicle and got
dropped off at the edge of the moraine and arranged a pickup 10 hours later. Ninety minutes of boulder
hoping got us to the top of the moraine and there we got a great view of our proposed route. We
dropped down a few hundred meters and suited up for a day of alpine climbing. We climbed up 2000
feet of 50 degree snow and ice before encountering our first challenge; two pitches of mixed rock and
ice.

Seth and the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Ice Pack at work

Jeff led us through these quickly and soon we climbed up to a col on the east ridge of Dolence; a
few hundred feet below the East Summit of Dolence. After some route finding discussions, I led up
through more rock and mixed terrain for a rope length and we soon found ourselves on top of a virgin
summit in Antarctica! We contemplated calling it a day and heading back down, but the day was still
young and the intriguing East Ridge stretched out in front of us all the way to the main summit. The
allure was too much; we had to keep climbing! At this point, the three of us went into business mode
as we knew we had much work ahead of us. One thing was for sure, it was quite windy and cold and
we had a lot of complex terrain to negotiate. We started by rapping from the summit. However, we
quickly realized the complete ascent of the East Ridge would have to wait for another day; one when
we could rock climb in reasonably warm weather. The terrain was incredibly complex as the ridge was
riddled with rock gendarmes, or towers. These were difficult to overcome and our progress slower than
we had hoped given we were forced to climb with bulky gloves and boots and crampons. We would
climb several pitches and then rappel and climb several more; only to find more rappelling would be
necessary. Given our time constraint and the frigid temps we decided to that our new route on the East
Peak of Dolence was more than we had hoped for in the day and was a fabulous adventure in itself. We
rappelled and down climbed the West Face in a just over two hours.

Rapping a Gendarme on Dolence with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Ice Pack

Once back on terra firma we relaxed, ate and drank, and hiked back to our pick up spot; running late by only a few minutes. It felt great to hop in a warm van and drive back to camp while looking up at our impressive first ascent. I
used the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Ice Pack on this climb and found it to be a stellar alpine climbing pack. It was too cold to go bare handed and the pack is very usable with big gloves or even mitts. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack had nice beefy gear loops to rack cams; ice screws and draws as well. But ultimately, it is the comfort and lightweight nature of this pack that makes it a superior alpine climbing backpack. Often times lightweight gear tends to be fairly disposable, and cannot withstand continued abuse. However, after three months of constant use, my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Ice Pack is remarkably showing little to now wear! I am super stoked on these packs and look forward to using it on my next big alpine adventure.
Seth Timpano