Well the big news is that I no longer reside in the Pacific Northwest. A desire to expand my creative, vertical, and outdoor life has brought me to friends in Boulder, Colorado to rediscover my climbing, my writing, and my love for the mountains. After a turbulent past few months, I’m finding old friends, connecting with new people, training and finding my fitness again, and making big plans for the rest of the year.
Last year, I turned my attention to glaciers, mountaineering, steep climbs, and lots of snow. While Rainier and Hood were the apex of my climbing thus far, I realized that I wasn’t ready to make glacial travel the focus of my career. In July 2014, we went to the North Cascades and we climbed a pinnacle above the Boston Basin known as Sharkfin Tower. Although it was a ‘Plan B’ for a abandoned attempt on Forbidden Peak, the result of a misplaced ice axe, I realized that I loved rock climbing in alpine environments. I wanted those long glacial approaches on ice, but what I really wanted more was to put ropes on vertical, grab hold of big granite walls, and work my way on long, thin, steep exposed routes. I purely wanted to climb alpine style: fast, light, and steep.
With this experience, and now having minimal experience both in ice, mixed, and aid climbing, I’m turning my focus to higher, more remote multi-pitch objectives. I’ve found Colorado, with its towers, technical 14ers, and proximity to both desert and icy climbs, to be the top proving ground for alpinism, and so I’m ready to discuss some of the big plans that I’m working on for the coming year.
The first big objective is a full traverse of the Maroon Bells, two mountains about 14,000 feet located 12-miles outside of Aspen. It’s a daunting one-day ascent which includes high 4th-class, low 5th-class climbing, scrambling, and long ridge-hiking. This is to be the first of several Colorado 14ers that I’m planning ascents for in the coming year. While I haven’t defined specific names yet, I plan to hit as many as I can before the year is out.
The next plan for later in the summer is a peak that I’ve thought about for a long time: The Grand Teton. I started sounding out the idea around Christmas and instead of doing the standard route, we’re looking at options to put in a variation, which includes either a traverse, an alternate face, or doing a link-up with another nearby peak.
I’m still not finished with objectives in the Pacific Northwest. I’m sounding out for trips both in Washington and Alaska for this year or early in the next. The goal is to become more proficient both in trad, exploratory climbing (long distances, remote locations, little-climbed ranges) and build my focus not on particularly difficult climbs technically, but focus on exposure, distance, and altitude. I’m well on my ways to taking back the reins as an alpinist and as a writer.