The Colonization of Mount Everest

Photo by Kalle Kortelainen on Unsplash

There was a viral photo last week, showing what appeared to be hundreds of people waiting in line on the summit ridge of Mount Everest.

I won’t share that photo here, as I haven’t paid for it. A quick Google search will turn it up if you haven’t seen it yet.

The man that took that photo was Nirmal Purja, a.k.a. Nims. Nims is a Nepalese climber who served in the British Gurkhas, and has been awarded the Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for his accomplishments in high altitude mountaineering.

You may have seen his picture. But you don’t know Nims’ name.

That’s because Nims is Nepalese.

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What’s it like to climb Mount Everest?

It’s April, which means for climbers (and the world’s ultra-wealthy), it’s Everest season!

Throughout April and May, while the hordes descend (or rather ascend) on Everest, there are bound to be an endless number of news stories about successful summits, tragedies, and plenty of puff pieces about the logistics of the whole thing.

Want to learn a bit more authentically about what goes on up there?

You should watch this Joe Rogan podcast with Jeff Evans and Bud Brutsman, two guys who discuss their experiences climbing Mount Everest and managing rescue operations on the mountain in super-fascinating levels of detail. It’s two hours long, but compelling all the way through.

Check it out beyond the jump.

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Un viaje al Ouray Ice Park (Parque Hielo de Ouray)

(English Here / Ingles aqui)

La aldea de Ouray, Colorado tiene un grandísimo sitio artificial para escalar hielo: El Ouray Ice Park (Parque Hielo de Ouray). Creo que es la más grande en todo el mundo — pero no estoy seguro de este hecho. Sin embargo, Ouray es una lugar muy especial y única. El parque es increíblemente impresionante, y un destino para las alpinistas y escaladores de todos lados y países.

No hay muchas lugares así en todo el mundo. Permitime a explicarlo a vos porque.

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Joshua Tree on Film

I bought a disposable camera before my trip to Joshua Tree in January.

This turned out to be a pretty good decision, as the cold of the California high desert killed my phone battery. So, while my climbing partner Jose had a high-end DSLR to take as many photos as he wanted (and they are great), I was limited to shooting on film.

I had only 24 exposures for more than three weeks on the road. That meant I didn’t take a lot of them, but every photo I do have is sincere. In addition to the prints, they gave me digital copies of all my photos, too.

Check them out, below the jump.

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The Hitchhiker

Las Vegas, Nevada.

It was the final day of our climbing trip. Three weeks of uninterrupted time together: me y mi hermano Jose.

I had introduced Jose to bigger, more complex forms of climbing, while he had mentored me in Spanish, my second language. We had shared a soggy tent, shivered through a few cold January nights, spent half our budget on alcohol, eaten like dirtbags. Laughing, learning. We had made a strong memory.

But it was just about over.

We planned to end our trip with an exclamation point: climbing Birdland (5.7+) in Red Rock Canyon, a five-pitch route that would take us higher than anything we’d climbed previous. The route had been recommended to us by a free-solo climber we met in Joshua Tree.

Jose had been sad to trade Joshua Tree, where we passed almost three weeks, for Las Vegas.

I had pushed for Vegas. I wanted Jose to get a taste of real multipitch climbing. I wanted to get high — something you can’t really do in Joshua Tree.

In the end, I’d won. We drove to Vegas for a few days.

Our final day, we slept late and headed in to climb Birdland around noon. We stopped at the First Pullout in the Red Rock Loop Road, to look at some of the beautiful rock formations, and see if we could glimpse some of the sport climbing crags — shorter, bolted cliffs.

The rock at the Calico Hills in Red Rock Canyon is filled with swerving  lines: undulating waves of red, white, and shades in between. Without hurry, Jose and I walked the trails off the pullout, breathing in cool, fresh air. Despite being so close to Las Vegas, a major city with plenty of pollution, Red Rock feels crisp.

Short video feature on Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Walking back to la camioneta (our truck), three people around a small folding table waved us over. “Free food?!” they yelled. Dead broke after three weeks of too many cervezas, we swerved right over.

Two of the group were ambassadors for Climbstuff.com. The third, a guy in his late twenties or early thirties, was looking for people to climb with. We chatted for a bit while we ate bananas and tortillas.

“Well,” I say, “we were going to go climb Birdland, if you want to tag along. Multipitch.”

His face lights up, he thinks about it for a sec, and he says: “Yeah, that would be great! You guys got wheels? Just let me grab my stuff.”

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