Nacho Kino

Missing a Tutuburi

Copper Canyon Kino Springs campsite
Camping at Kino Springs

The countryside opened up as the trail left the Valley of the Iglesias. Our group of seven had passed a young Tarahumara (the indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon) earlier in the day and I’d asked about Nacho Kino, an old Tarahumara man that I’d met while mapping the Silver Trail a few years before.

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Frolicking in the Alps

 

Rope Team 2
A Rope Team

 

I could tell the story from the trip about the Swiss barmaid that was hovering around outside my tent late one night asking for my tentmate, Matt. Or the one about Matt and I racing our Swiss guides back down from the top of the Argentine Miroir (a famous rock climb) to a nearby café where our group was waiting. Both occurred in the midst of an adventure trip that the two of us were leading and which included a wide variety of people of varying ages including teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me and my non alpinism-experienced wife. As one of the leaders, I was making every effort to look out for the well-being of the group, but nonetheless, those sorts of “things” kept happening.

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The Ride Down to Sorata

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Mountain biking

We topped the ridge on the dirt road and began dropping quickly on our mountain bikes into the valley. We all knew that it’d continue to get warmer and greener as we descended from the Bolivian highlands, but our thoughts at that moment were mostly focused on what awaited us at the end of the ride. For each person, those anticipated rewards were different- a warm bath, a cold beer, hot coffee, a dry room. And so, we thought of those things and little else as the town of Sorata came increasingly into view.

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Aconcagua- The Polish Climbers

Aconcagua
Aconcagua with the Polish Glacier

At an elevation of 22,841 feet, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. As South America’s tallest peak, it’s also one of the Seven Summits (highest point on each continent). Via most of the routes normally undertaken, it’s not considered to be a particularly technical undertaking, but it is big.  It’s sheer size, location, accessibility and the persistent presence of a cold, wet, snowy wind known as the Viento Blanco have led to a variety of medical problems for climbers throughout the years. This particular expedition occurred in February, 1985.

This is the story of that climb, in 3 parts—The Climb, The Crampons, and The Polish Climbers.

Part 3- The Polish Climbers

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Aconcagua- The Crampons

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Gearing up for an alpine climb

At an elevation of 22,841 feet, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. As South America’s tallest peak, it’s also one of the Seven Summits (highest point on each continent). Via most of the routes normally undertaken, it’s not considered to be a particularly technical undertaking, but it is big.  It’s sheer size, location, accessibility and the persistent presence of a cold, wet, snowy wind known as the Viento Blanco have led to a variety of medical problems for climbers throughout the years. This particular expedition occurred in February, 1985.

This is the story of that climb, in 3 parts—The Climb, The Crampons, and The Polish Climbers.

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Aconcagua- The Climb

Climbing on the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, 1985.

Summit Ridege- Huayna Potosi
Rope team ascending a big peak

At an elevation of 22,841 feet, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. As South America’s tallest peak, it’s also one of the Seven Summits (highest point on each continent). Via most of the routes normally undertaken, it’s not considered to be a particularly technical undertaking, but it is big.  It’s sheer size, location, accessibility and the persistent presence of a cold, wet, snowy wind known as the Viento Blanco have led to a variety of medical problems for climbers throughout the years. This particular expedition occurred in February, 1985.

This is the story of that climb, in 3 parts—The Climb, The Crampons, and The Polish Climbers.

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The Beer Truck

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Tarahumara house in Copper Canyon, Mexico

I was down in Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a small group of adventure travelers, or “Chavochi’s” (non indigenous Tarahumara/devil people as some of us Gringo’s are fondly known among the Tarahumara), in the early 2000’s and some things happened while we were down there in Batopilas Canyon and the town of Batopilas, itself, which may or may not be related to each other. I think they are.

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Place Names

The names of places……

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Valley of the Monks, Copper Canyon

The various names that are attached to places are intriguing. Some that are acquired are obvious, since they either reflect some sort of location characteristic or simply commemorate an individual who was important to the place. But, others not quite so. Regardless of how or why, the names all tell a story in a few short words—some less straight-forward than others, but each worthy of knowing. Here’s a few such stories that I’ve heard. Listen, and maybe you will, too………………..

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The Mine in Potosi’

Exploring the Cerro Rico mine.

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A Bridge to Somewhere

For whatever reason, we ended up in Potosi’, Bolivia on that particular part of our vacation and were looking for interesting things to do and ended up selecting the “mine tour” option. The city is “quite a ways” south of La Paz, sits at around 13,400 feet (making it one of the highest cities in the world) and is completely dominated by the mountain, Cerro Potosi’, which has been mined regularly for silver, since back in the days of the Spanish heyday.

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Lost and Found

“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”

Mountain biking the Silver Trail
Getting directions on the Silver Trail

At that point, we were probably some 20 miles from the last little outpost of a town we’d been through, but were theoretically about to come to another. Jerry had the best maps of the area available loaded onto his gps, but it only told us where we were in relation to the relatively paltry data it was loaded with. The realization that we might actually be the first people ever out in that part of Copper Canyon trying to figure out and quantify where the hell things went, among other things, left me with the feeling of simply being overwhelmed. The old adage of, “garbage in, garbage out” came to mind and was soon followed by the vision of a web page that simply said “no data available”. I was momentarily despondent as I looked at the convergence of three trails, all of which seemed to head up toward the top of a wrong ridge. Just as we were each desperately searching for any sort of clues about it all, I was saved, once again, by the quote- “you’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are”.

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