Almost Winter

I talked to an old friend from university the other night on the videophone. “You haven’t really been blogging much,” he said. “In fact, you haven’t done anything creative of late. It seems like all that energy has just gone into climbing.”

It was an insightful comment and made me think a lot.

Anyways, here’s some photos from the first day out ice climbing this season.

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The climb will not be televised!

I bought a GoPro last summer for a specific project. It has been rarely used since. Nothing against the GoPro – it’s a tremendous camera – but using it changes the context of things.

Climbing is one of a vanishing number of modern situations where you can feel free of cameras and expectations. Your buddy might bust out the phone for a quick photo at the belay, but in general the nature of the activity prevents obsessive documentation. All the really great climbing photos are taken by a third party, usually planned well in advance.

We brought the GoPro out on a recent outing in RMNP thinking we might capture some really badass mountaineering footage.

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2020 in Climbs

Normally I write a “year in places” post, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent much of this year at home, in Colorado and other states of the American West (WY, UT, CA). A look back on the year thus involves a bit less horizontal distance, and a lot more vertical!

Most of these climbs involve 5-10 miles of hiking in addition to the technical climbing. This isn’t Europe, and you can’t ride the telepherique to your objective. Here, you gotta walk.

These are the major climbs of the year.

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Self-Portrait Atop a Mountain in a Lightning Storm

This photo was taken above 4,000 meters on Long’s Peak, after a climb of the Notch Couloir, June 2020. My partner and I had dawdled on the way up, and we got caught up high in a light afternoon thunderstorm. Deciding our best option was to wait the storm out, my partner and I stashed our ice axes, crampons and other metal gear fifty yards uphill, and took refuge in some small talus “caves.”

In reality, my boulder was barely large enough to provide shelter. My legs, pulled up into my chest, were still getting wet. My partner, a few yards away in a better cave, described themselves as on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

I shot this photo on my 35mm film camera. The storm soon passed. We summited an hour later.