June 30th, 2009
Last week, Garry from Florida came to Durango on his vacation out west to climb his first peak. Garry had some multi-pitch climbing experience so the objective was the beautiful Wham Ridge on Vestal Peak. We took the Durango Narrow Gauge Train to Elk Park and then hiked up to Vestal Basin to camp. The next day was spent learning new skills (snow travel, climbing in crampons, knot tying, anchor building, introduction to self rescue to name a few), playing cribbage, and preparing for summit day. Summit day was a little wetter then planned but everything went smoothly on the climb and the weather eventually cleared and gave us a nice afternoon. The weather for the hike down was beautiful and before we knew it we were waiting for the train to take us back to Durango while playing another game of cribbage.
Garry saying goodbye to the train at Elk Park.
Wham Ridge on Vestal Peak.
Garry climbing into the meat of Wham Ridge.
Garry putting his new found skills to use on the descent of Wham.
June 23rd, 2009
The other trip I guided on Mt. Rainier, along with fellow SWAG guide Gary Falk, was a climb of the ultra classic Liberty Ridge. This is certainly one of the most sought after routes on the mountain, and is well deserving of it’s classic status. An approach from the White River Campground leads to lower Curtis Ridge and the Carbon Glacier, one of the first hurdles that teams must overcome. The next camp is at Thumb Rock, and is reached via a series of 45 – 55 degree snow/ice slopes. Then it’s 3800 vertical feet to the summit with slope angles up to 60 degrees and plenty of ice pitches. The final hurdle involves surmounting a bergschrund, which sports a 25 – 30 foot section of vertical ice climbing. We experienced fairly warm temperatures prior to and during our climb, and we experienced a good deal of rock fall below thumb rock. Above Thumb Rock the route was in great condition and John, Jeff, and Curtis all reached the summit in superb style.
View of Liberty Ridge from lower Curtis.
Climbing just above the Black Pyramid.
Above the bergschrund.
Looking back at our tracks off Liberty Cap.
June 22nd, 2009
I just completed a short stint of guiding on Mt. Rainier for Rainier Mountaineering Inc. (RMI). The first trip I led, along with fellow SWAG guide Gary Falk was a Kautz Glacier Expedtion Skills Seminar. In total, the seminar includes 6 days of instruction and climbing on the less popular, though classic, Kautz Route. The route is characterized by a mix of snow/glacier travel up to 40 degrees, with 2 short ice pitches to keep things interesting. We experienced generally good weather throughout the seminar, climbing above the clouds most of the way. Congratulations to Geron, Amy, Jeff, Chris, Urs, Barry, Mike, and Patrick, who all made the summit in great style.
Snow school near Paradise.
Approaching access to the Nisqually Glacier.
Above the Nisqually approaching camp.
Above the Kautz ice chute.
Group on the summit. 100% success!
June 3rd, 2009
We recently hosted a Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer’s Course here in Durango. Kate and Tracy, the LNT traveling trainers stopped by for the 2 day course to help make sure that Southwest Adventure Guides is current on the most recent information regarding leave no trace backcountry protocols. It was a great course and is highly recommended for all backcountry users. For more information about LNT or taking a course, visit their website at www.lnt.org.
Guides on LNT Course
Hiking on the Colorado Trail
Cat Hole Olympics