It started out as a simple and straightforward thing to do. Lou took off, leading our group of British mountain bikers back to camp. Just seconds after beginning the ride, he rounded a corner and rode up on a four-foot Rattlesnake stretched out across the trail. Instinctively, he hit his brakes extra hard, which caused him to crash. When the dust settled, he was lying on the side of the trail, penned between a cactus and the rattler. The Brits had quickly stopped and looked on in horror as their guide and the viper were suddenly face to face, and only a couple of feet apart.
The sixteen empty soda bottles sat on the counter in the Cerro Colorado store for two days, before the shopkeeper finally stuck them down with the others. They were a good conversation piece while sitting out there in the open. But when he found a spider in one, and since he needed to move them anyway, he put them into some empty slots in the Fanta case down on the floor. After he tidied things up, he thought about dragging the whole box of empties out from behind the Sabritas rack, so that they would still be visible. That way, they would continue to be the talk of the town, but he realized that if he did so, they would just be in the way and would make things look disorganized. And so he just stuck the case in the back room.
The countryside opened up as the Silver Trail left the Valley of the Churches. Our group of seven had passed a young Tarahumara man (the indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon) earlier in the day. And I’d asked about Nacho Kino, an old Tarahumara whom I’d met while mapping the Silver Trail a few years before.
I could tell the story from my first Alps trip about the Swiss barmaid 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. It was made up of people of varying ages, including teenagers, a doctor who was even older than me, and my non-alpinism-experienced wife, Lori.
I’ll leave the details of those two events up to the reader’s imagination and, instead, tell the one about Lori, Doctor Bob, and Big Chris crossing a glacier.
We topped the ridge on the dirt road and began dropping quickly into the valley on our mountain bikes. We all knew that it’d continue to get warmer and greener as we descended from the Bolivian highlands, but our thoughts were mostly focused on what awaited us at the end of the ride. The anticipated post-ride rewards were different for each person- a warm bath, 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.
Climbing on the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, 1985.
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 a mostly non-technical undertaking, although 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.
Lightning was striking everywhere, and each time it did, there was a bright flash that was immediately followed by an almost deafening crash of thunder. When it had first started, I figured that it was time to do something about it, although I didn’t. But once the bolts started lighting up individual trees, I sprang into action.
Resbaloso, which is a Spanish word meaning slippery in English, is “that” word and also the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel.
Just seeing the word Resbaloso, much less speaking or hearing it, gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s a Spanish word that translates to “slippery” in English and is the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel, Mexico.
A race of sorts via mountain bike to the top of Batopilas Canyon in Copper Canyon, Mexico.
I set off from Batopilas, at the bottom of Copper Canyon, intent on riding my mountain bike up the 40 or so mile gravel road ascent to the intersection with the paved highway, as fast as I could. The unofficial record for doing it was 4 hours, and my goal was to beat that. Whether or not my quest was realistic, will forever remain to be seen.