May 28th, 2010
We are about to launch our first Peru trip of the year, with a climb of Alpamayo’s French Direct. Joining us this year will be Erik Weihenmeyer, who is a veteran of Artesonraju from a few years ago, and Eric Alexander. Their guide will be Rodrigo Callupe, who has guided for Southwest Adventure Guides for the past 8 years. We will post updates when we receive them and as the group works their way up towards the mountain.
The French Direct has been the route of choice on Alpamayo for the past few years, given that the Ferrari Route has been closed due to objective hazard in the form of a large overhanging cornice on the summit ridge.
Alpamayo's classic SE Face.
May 28th, 2010
This year we have joined forces again with International Mountain Guides (IMG) to offer the Mt. Bona Expedition in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. The guide for the trip are Mark Allen and Ben Kiessel, both of whom work for SWAG and IMG.
Basecamp construction on Mt. Bona
After flying into the Klutlan Glacier and establishing basecamp on May 24th, the team has been enjoying some great weather and is currently dug in at Camp 1, snacking on some quesadillas in preparation for their carry to Camp 2 later in the evening. Camp 2 on Mt. Bona lies at the plateau between the summit of both Mt. Bona and it’s sister peak Mt. Churchill.
Camp 1 on Mt. Bona
We will keep you posted regarding the progress of the team, but things are looking great right now!
May 27th, 2010
Recently, Southwest Adventure Guide achieved American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Accreditation. What does AMGA Accreditation mean? Taken from the AMGA website is the following statment:
“Accreditation provides a consistent and meaningful standard by which to judge the reliability and professionalism of a climbing program. It informs the general public and land managers that a program conducts business in an ethical manner, is in compliance with state and federal regulations, and utilizes guides who are certified and that all guides in the program have received formal training appropriate to the terrain they guide.”
At Southwest Adventure Guides, we understand that our clients have many options when choosing to hire a guide service to help them achieve their climbing, mountaineering, or skiing goals, be it on a course, private trip, or expedition. In addition to the fact that the majority of our guides are certified in either the rock, ski, or alpine disciplines, our commitment as a company goes beyond that with regard to how we actually conduct business with our clients and present ourselves to the general public. The accreditation process was directly related to this commitment.
We’re excited to become one of the select few guide services to have subjected themselves to the rigorous process of becoming an AMGA Accredited Company. Many, many thanks goes out to all the individuals who helped to make this happen, most especially Senior Guide Andrew Klotz, who spent countless hours meticulously organizing all the information that needed to be compiled during the process!!
Click on the following link to read more about the AMGA Accreditation process.
AMGA Certified Rock & Alpine Guide
May 13th, 2010
Chris @ Wall Street
A great weekend of fun in the sun as Chris, a frequent of the winter programs, met us in Moab Utah to warm up a bit. Chris was aiming to refine his rock skills in both face and crack climbing and put those skills together by starting his tower count. Towers, by the way, are freestanding pinnacles of rock -some people (Ben Kiessel) have climbed more than a hundred! the first day started off at Wall Street. A climbing area right off of the road where 600 foot cliffs rise over the Colorado river!… Beautiful.
Wonder why they call it Wall Street?
Chris getting after it on "Nervoius In Suberbia 5.10-."
After lunch we headed for an evening at the Ice Cream Parlor.
The Ice Cream Parlor
That night was spent under stars, with a good camp fire, better food, and some guitar by Chris before bed. As always, not much can beat a night in the desert with good friends.
Day two was the tower day with an ascent of the desert classics Ancient Art’s Stolen Chimney and Lizard Rock.
At four pitches of chimneys, faces, catwalks, and a summit the size of a microwave, Ancient Art is the perfect first tower for anyone looking for a wild and fun day out.
Ben starting off on the third pitch
The Cat Walk on Ancient Art
Climbing the back of the lizard's head.
Finally after crushing it on Ancient Art we hiked back to the parking lot, ate some food and capped the day off with an ascent of Lizard Rock. A fun finish to an awesome couple of days. Well almost finish… we did go back to the pool at Chris’s hotel and relaxed before a celebratory dinner at the Moab Brewery.
Fron left: Bill, Chris, and Ben (aka: baby)
Aka: Daddy (… an inside joke)
May 10th, 2010
Chris is signed up for an expedition to climb Denali in July this summer with Mountain Trip. So he brought his family of seasoned mountaineers along with him to take a Denali Prep. Course. Chris, Dorris, Matthew and Isabelle, plus Bill and myself headed out from the Southwest office on Friday morning. The hike in was under stellar weather, and went by smoothly considering we were pulling a sled through some thick trees. We built a pretty plush camp with walls for wind block and a kitchen with benches, tables and shelves.
Before we left Durango to head into the mountains the weather report was not looking so good. It called for 70% chance of snow for three of the four days. So we were pleasantly surprised to wake up to a cloudless sky the first morning. We got up and went over Avalanche Awareness, did some beacon searches, talked about search techniques, and digging techniques. We split into two teams and had a timed beacon search competition with a Snickers bar as the prize. Matthew and Isabelle won with a time of 4 min. 45 seconds! After some food we went over snow anchors and built and tested them. Then it was on to Crevasse Rescue, and some team arresting. It was a lot of information to retain but everyone did great!
The next morning we again woke to clear skies decided to try for the summit of Snowdon. It had snowed a little the night before so we decided to climb the West Buttress instead of the Naked Lady Couloir. The West Buttress is a little more technical but more conservative in respect to avalanches. Everyone did great under some challenging conditions(Matthew lost the sole of his shoe and the Buttress was covered with a few inches of snow making finding holds difficult).
On the final day we went over some fixed rope travel and packed up camp to hike out.
I was really impressed with how well everyone did during the 4 days we were out. It is easy to get ornery when stressed physically and mentally, but everyone was pleasant throughout the course.
May 1st, 2010
Southwest Colorado’s combined cold spring and overall great snowpack during the 09/2010 winter have created long-lasting winter conditions in the high country. John flew in from Malaysia for a couple peak climbs during the end of April. On the 25th, Nate took him up Engineer and John admitted to being wide-eyed most of the day with constant winds and temps he has never experienced. The 26th allowed for a half rest day, half hike into camp at 11,500 feet on the western flank of Snowdon Peak. The trail was packed snow all the way from HW 550 to camp. Luckily the weather was much warmer, 40 degrees, than the previous day and the wind had died down. We arrived at camp around 3 PM and after a cat nap, we went over some basic avalanche pit analysis and tips and tricks on how to stay warm in the winter.. The low that night was 20 degrees and the warm water bottles kept John toasty all night.
The West buttress of Snowdon proved to be still holding a decent amount of snow and ice which made the climb mixed and exciting. We summited under warm blue skied at 10 AM and ate and rested on top for a leisurly 45 minutes. Once at the top of the NW coulouir we took to our bottoms and glissaded down 600 feet in a matter of minutes. Afterward, John told me he doesn’t get to do much sledding in Malayisa and he really enjoyed it.
Once back in camp we packed up our tent and sleeping bags and began hiking out. Looking forward to a warmer and softer night’s sleep, John set a quick pace for the car and we made it out in an hour and 15 minutes. From here we toured Silverton, CO so John could photograph the booming metropolis and then returned to Southwest Adventure Guides basecamp back in Durango, CO.
Snow in May, 20 degree nights with 40 degree days, 13,000 ft summits, 200 ft/ min glissading descents; sign up today for your story of a life time!. Excellent work John and way to keep a smile alive!
Leaving the trailhead and solid footing behind.
A frozen Andrew's Lake, the Naked Lady Couloir and the West Buttress on Snowdon Peak
John very much excited about the blue bird day and lack of wind
Summit Shot. 13,077 feet above Kuala Lumpur