The Wrong Mountain

Backpacking

“You’re not lost if you don’t care where you are,” or something to that effect is a famous quote. I repeated it several times to myself as we kept walking into the thick fog, headed toward the summit of Chiefs Head, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. I was bringing up the rear of a group of ten, mostly teenage backpackers. Usually, I was confident about wherever Mike was leading us. But in this instance, one of his Colorado Mountain School guides, Dennis, was at the back of the line with me and kept muttering about how we were going up the wrong mountain.

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Adventure Climbing- Wind River Range (part 2)

The second part of an adventure climb in the Wind River Range

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Rock climbing

From down at the bottom of the climb, we’d envisioned what the scramble up to the rope-up spot and to a lesser extent the first pitch would be like and were mentally prepared for both. But things above that point were fuzzy, although we were confident that it would all become more apparent once we got up there. Better not to confuse the issue with too much of a plan, we’d determined.

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Adventure Climbing- Wind River Range

Climbing an unnamed buttress in the Winds…..

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Lead Climbing

 

In Two Parts………..

Part 1

There’s a place deep in the heart of the Wind River Range that we called Golden Lake. There are no marked trails that go there, and if you look on a map of the area, there’s nothing with that name. There actually is a lake there, although it has another name. It sits in a glacial cirque, or basin, along with two others at the top of an obscure drainage leading down to the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. The main lake of the three is full of Golden Trout. Thus, the name.

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Rock Climbing

rock climbing
A thin face climb

 

There had to be a solution, she kept thinking, but it wasn’t jumping out at her. Nothing about the situation made any sense. The only part of it that she was certain about was that a logical person just wouldn’t act like that. Her mind was working hard to come up with an answer, even if there wasn’t one. Maybe, she continued…….. and then her train of thought was instantly broken as she stepped across and put her weight up onto her left foot, which she’d perched solidly up on the top little platform edge of a half inch thick flake of granite. She reached over to the slab, pinched a small nubbin’ of a crystal between her right thumb and index finger and then pulled herself completely up and off of the cheat boulder and onto the almost vertical 60 foot tall rock that stood apart from the others. She was then, fully committed to the climb. In that instant, she’d gone from being a psychologist to a rock climber.

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Frolicking in the Alps

 

Rope Team 2
A Rope Team

I could tell the story from my first Alps trip about the Swiss barmaid who was hovering around outside of 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 amid an adventure trip that the two of us were leading made up of people of varying ages including, teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me, and my non-alpinism-experienced wife, Lori. As one of the leaders, I was making every effort to look out for the well-being of the group, but even so, interesting sorts of “things” kept happening.
I’m going to leave the details of those two events mentioned above up to the reader’s imagination and tell the one about Lori, Doctor Bob, and Big Chris crossing a glacier.

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Beeting 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 followed it’s not considered to be a particularly technical undertaking, but it is big. It’s sheer size, location, and the persistent presence of a cold, wet, and 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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Beeting 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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Beeting 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 followed it’s not considered to be a particularly technical undertaking, but it is big. It’s sheer size, location, and the persistent presence of a cold, wet, and 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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Candy Bars on Mt. Hunter

Indigestion on Alaska’s Mt Hunter.

Climbers out on the Kahiltna Glacier near Mt. Hunter
The Kahiltna Glacier near Mt. Hunter

I now concede the fact that it was undoubtedly the five candy bars I ate in celebration of successfully getting across the avalanche debris field that caused the distress. I should’ve known better, but for a variety of reasons, it’d seemed like a good thing to do at the time. At least, I reasoned once back at home, the whole thing had taught me a good lesson.

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