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Spokane Mountaineers take another group higher

CLIMBING — More than 50 students and instructors followed the steps of tradition to the top of Stevens Peak last weekend during the annual Spokane Mountaineers Mountain School overnight snow practice near Lookout Pass. 

The on-snow practice gave them a chance to learn some of the finer points of climbing and camping in snow, roped team travel and avalanche awareness.  

Volunteer instructor Steve Reynolds snapped the photo above on Sunday morning as the group ascended the peak, with a primer on cornices along the way. Kevin Davis of the Idaho  Panhandle Avalanche Center had given the group a seminar on evaluating avalanche conditions the previous day.

The Spokane Mountaineers climbing program has produced some of the world's top mountaineers, including John Roskelley and Chris Kopczynski, both of whom took the course as teens in the 1960s.

 

North Cascades Highway clearing starts today

PARKS – Crews are scheduled to begin clearing snow from the North Cascades Highway today, March 31, Washington Transportation Department officials say. The mountainous stretch of Highway 20 could reopen by early May.

The highway closed for the winter on Dec. 3.

Avalanche control and maintenance workers took a tracked vehicle from Mazama to Washington Pass two weeks ago. They found snow at Washington Pass 10 feet deep and the snow in the avalanche chutes below Liberty Bell 35 feet deep. 

Roskelley receives Golden Ice Axe Award in France

CORRECTION: In 1962, John Harlin was the first American to climb the North Face of the Eiger, along with a German climber.  in 1974, Roskelley and Kopczynski were the first U.S. team to make the ascent.  That point was wrong in my initial post.

CLIMBING — John Roskelley has climbed to very elite international status today as he accepted the Golden Ice Axe Award in presentations at Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy. The mountain towns are connected by a tunnel through the base of Mont Blanc.

Roskelley, 65, is the first American and sixth recipient of the Golden Ice Axe. He built his climbing reputation with first ascents in the Canadian Rockies before heading farther afield to achieve first ascents and notable ascents of 7,000 and 8,000 meter peaks in Nepal, India and Pakistan.

Attending the events, Chris Kopczynski of Spokane said Roskelley received a standing ovation and lots of press.  Kop and Roskelley launched celebrated climbing careers onto the international stage in their mid-20s when they became the first all American team to climb the North Face of the Eiger.

He’s also an author and former Spokane County commissioner. He was named to the Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He got his start as a climber as a teenager in the Spokane Mountaineers club

Seven Summits climber speaks Friday at REI

CLIMBING — Looking for a diversion from basketball?  Check this out:

Friday (March 21): John Mauro, the 65th American to climb the highest peak on all seven continents, will recount his expeditions, including his 2013 ascent of Everest, 7 p.m., at REI,1125 N. Monroe.

He requests a $5 donation for the Climbing for Kids charity. 

Jess Roskelley climbs chilling ice route near Banff

CLIMBING — Jess Roskelley of Spokane has been taking advantage of the recent cold weather to scale some difficult ice falls in the Banff, Alberta, area. His latest adventure was on the Rainbow Serpent.

Video: Idaho man leads expedition to Myanmar peak

Myanmar Bridges to Change from Fisher Creative on Vimeo.

MOUNTAINEERING — An Idaho man is at the forefront of this soon-to-be released video (see just-posted trailer above) about the American-Burmese mountaineering expedition to summit what the group is calling the highest peak in Southeast Asia — remote Myanmar’s Mount Gamlang Razi .

The footage appears to be extraordinary, including a 175-mile jungle approach trek that offers a rare glimpse of a culture generally hidden from public view.

Read on for the media release and all the currently available details.  The film will be released in June. 

Outdoor industry applauds Inslee’s initiative

OUTDOOR RECREATION — The Outdoor Industry Association has high praise for Gov. Jay Inslee's recent executive order creating a blue-ribbon task force to support outdoor recreation in Washington state.  

Inslee’s task force demonstrates the state’s commitment to supporting and expanding the outdoor recreation and tourism industries, says the group based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C.

Inslee announced this new effort last week with the Big Tent Outdoor Coalition, which includes Kent-based REI and other organizations representing the outdoor recreation community.

“Outdoor recreation is an untapped economic opportunity that can benefit every state in the nation,” said Kirk Bailey, Vice President of Government Affairs for OIA. “This task force will develop recommendations to strengthen and grow outdoor recreation and tourism, as well as examine opportunities in funding sources for recreation lands. OIA will be excited to see their report due out in the fall of 2014.”

The nation’s network of public lands and waters are the foundation of the $646 billion outdoor recreation industry, the group says, noting that in Washington, outdoor recreation generates $22.5 billion in spending, 227,000 jobs and produces $1.6 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Former Rainier climbing ranger dies in Patagonia

MOUNTAINEERING — A former Mount Rainier climbing ranger believed to be the first person to climb Washington's highest peak in fewer than five hours, died Friday in a mountaineering accident in Patagonia, according to a report in the Tacoma-News Tribune.

Chad Kellogg, 42 of Seattle, reportedly was killed by a rock that was dislodged by his rope as he rappeled on Fitz Roy, a popular spire in the region of South America that spans both southern Argentina and Chile.

Additional information is posted at climbing.com.

Roskelley first American to receive Golden Ice Axe award

CLIMBING — Spokane alpinist John Roskelley, 65 — one of the world's premier mountaineers in the 60s, 70s and 80s — will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Piolet d’Or in Chamonix, France, in late March 2014. The honor is given to those “whose spirit inspired subsequent generations.”

Roskelley is the first American and sixth recipient of the Golden Ice Axe. He built his climbing reputation with first ascents in the Canadian Rockies before heading farther afield to achieve first ascents and notable ascents of 7,000 and 8,000 meter peaks in Nepal, India and Pakistan.

He's also an author and former Spokane County commissioner. He was named to the Northwest Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He got his start as a climber as a teenager in the Spokane Mountaineers club.

Roskelley is best known for climbs such as Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi, Trango Tower, Gaurishankar, K2, Uli Biaho, Cholatse and Tawache, all without supplemental oxygen.

His character is depicted in the movie Storm and Sorrow in the High Pamirs, a tragic 1974 international climb in which he narrowly escaped death in an avalanche that killed companions.

Also in 1974, on an impulse, he joined Spokane climber Chris Kopczynski to become the first Americans to climb the Eiger.

In 2003 and the twilight of his major climbing accomplishments, Roskelley scaled Mount Everest with his son, Jess, 20, who was the youngest American to summit the world's highest peak at the time.

Perhaps his most remarkable climb was in 1980, when Roskelley joined three other Spokane climbers — Kopczynski, Jim States and Kim Momb for a four-man alpine ascent of Makalu, the world's third highest peak. Roskelley was the only member of the group to summit as he became the first American to reach the goal.

The technical difficulties of the route “were of a level never before attained in Himalayan climbing,” Roskelley wrote in the American Alpine Journal

Roskelley told Rock and Ice magazine that the lifetime achievement award is “a surprise to me, given the hundreds of exceptional climbers throughout the world. I will be accepting it on behalf of all of my teammates through the years who made this possible. After all, I couldn’t have reached the summits of so many classics without them.”

The mountaineering awards have been given by the French magazine Montagnes and The Groupe de Haute Montagne since 1991.

In 2009, the first Lifetime Achievement Award was given to famed Italian climber Walter Bonatti. The award went to  Reinhold Messner in 2010, Doug Scott in 2011, Robert Paragot in 2012 and Kurt Diemberger in 2013.

Revenge for outdoor prank has no time limit

OUTDOOR COMPANIONS — In 1980 I stuffed a few rocks into Gary Cassel's backpack in the darkness before our group of Spokane Mountaineers began climbing Mount Hood. He carried 10 pounds of rocks up AND down before he found them back at camp. What a man!

Thirty-three years later, he's hiring impressionable young hit-women to carry out his revenge. I'm finding rocks in the strangest places.

“I don't get mad,” he told me back then at the base of Hood with a car-salesman grin on his face. “I get even.”

Aron Ralston, `127 Hours’ figure, arrested on assault charges

UPDATED 2:20 P.M. — Ralston reportedly off the hook.

ADVENTURERS — Aron Ralston, the Colorado adventurer whose self-amputation ordeal was made into the movie “127 Hours,” was arrested in Denver on allegations of domestic violence after police say he and his girlfriend got into an altercation, according to the Associated Press.

However, TMZ has reported that charges against Ralston were dismissed while his girlfriend remained in jail.

Ralston and Vita Shannon were both booked Sunday on charges of assault and “wrongs to minors.”

Police said the second charge is used when children are present during an incident but not necessarily hurt. Police documents say their 8-week-old child was present at the time of the altercation.

Ralston cut off his forearm to free himself from a dislodged boulder in a Utah canyon in 2003.

He was “canyoneering” — making his way down a narrow canyon — at the time. After five days with little food and water, he broke his arm and then amputated it with a dull knife to escape.

He detailed his struggles in a book, “Between a Rock and Hard Place,” which was adapted into the Oscar-nominated “127 Hours.”

Ralston became a celebrity, making inspirational speeches and championing environmental causes.

He also continued his adventurous life using prosthetics he helped develop. He completed a nine-year project to scale the highest point in all 50 states and became the first person to solo climb all 59 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in winter. 

Read on for more details about the arrest and charges.

Snow closes North Cascades Highway for season

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — After finding a 12-foot deep avalanche along a 150-foot stretch of highway below Liberty Bell Mountain this morning, the state Department of Transportation has decided to keep the North Cascades Highway closed for the winter, according to the Associated Press.

The state temporarily closed the mountain pass between Mazama and Newhalem on Sunday afternoon due to heavy snow and high winds. Road crews went back to assess whether the road could be safely reopened today, and determined it could not, said DOT spokesman Jeff Adamson.

He said other avalanche chutes along the highway were filled with snow and unstable.

The highway closes every winter due to avalanche danger. Most years, the highway closes sometime in November, although it remained open into early December several years in its 40-year history. Last year, it closed for the season on Nov. 19.

This year the highway — a gateway to North Cascades National Park — reopened April 16, weeks earlier than last year because of a thinner snow pack. 

Film lineup announced for Banff Film Fest World Tour in Spokane

ADVENTURE — The lineup of films for the three-day run of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Spokane has been decided — just hours before the first films will be shown tonight starting at 7 p.m. at The Bing Crosby Theater.

Friday and Saturday night snows are sold out.  Only a few tickets remained for Sunday at last check.

See the always exciting World Tour trailer above.

Note: The new owners of The Bing introduced a bar for beer and wine just before last year's festival showing, and this year they're offering a wine bar up a spiral staircase near the balcony level.  Also, this year's film screenings will be presented with the new state of the art projector and larger screen that debuted last year, plus the enhanced sound system that was installed since then. 

World Tour host — better known as the World Tour road warrior — Michelle de Camp met with Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear met this afternoon at Soulful Soups to work through the options.  Several films Bridgers wanted to show after attening the festival in Bann two weeks ago still were not licensed.

But they came up with a good lineup of shows for each night with everything from High Tension and the Grand Prize winning North of the Sun to NAKED SKIING in the Valhalla's of British Columbia! 

De Camp will log 60 hours of driving and 4,000 kilometers of travel from from today through mid December to show the World tour around the region. Then the tour will continue around the world in 2014.

Read on for the lineup in Spokane:

Spokane Mountaineers more than a climbing club

OUTDOOR GROUPS — The Spokane Mountaineers, an outdoors club that's been exploring the region's mountains, waters and trails for nearly a century, will describe their activities in the annual Meet the Mountaineers presentation, Monday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. at the Spokane REI store, 1125 N. Monroe St. 

Members plan to offer a visual tour of club schools, programs and outings, including bicyling, climbing, conservation, hiking, paddling, and skiing.

Info: 509-270-8867

 

2013 Reel Rock films at Mountain Gear Sept. 27

CLIMBING – Spokane is one of the first stops for the 2013 Reel Rock 8 Film Tour, a gripping collection of climbing films that will show Friday (Sept. 27) starting at  7 p.m. at Mountain Gear’s retail store, 2002 N. Division St.

The films, which debuted in a Boulder, Colo., festival on Sept. 19, include “High Tension: Ueli Steck and the Clash on Everest.”

All proceeds go to the Access Fund, a national advocacy organization founded in 1991 to conserve and keep U.S. climbing areas open.

 Buy tickets online.

North Cascades Highway reopening today

OUTDOORS ACCESS — The Washington Department of Transportation says the North Cascades Highway is reopening at 10 a.m. this morning.

It was closed last week by severe mudslides near Rainy Pass.

Several businesses along the scenic route winding its way through the North Cascades National Park reported slower business as a result of the closure last week. Road workers using heavy equipment worked last week to remove about 30,000 cubic feet of rocks and trees in the roadway moved by mountain slides caused by heavy rain.

During the height of tourist season, generally falling in August and September, roughly 2,000 vehicles travel along the highway daily. 

Roskelley offers sage advice to parent of climber

PARENTING — I have continued to hear many comments from parents regarding my column of reflections on parenting children with an adventurous spirit for the outdoors.

Tom Mosher of Spokane recalled this advice from John Roskelley, Spokane's world-class mountaineer who passed on his passion to his son, Jess.

When my son started serious climbing, I asked Roskelley what he advised, since Mary and I were a little overcome with anxiety. 

His response was a grin and, “Buy him the best helmet on the market.”  We did that.

North Cascades makes list of least discovered parks

NATIONAL PARKS — While more than 30 million visitors flock to America’s 10 most popular national parks, Country magazine took the road less traveled to visit the “Hidden Gems” for a special photo section in the June-July issue on what the editors call “the 10 most beautiful, least crowded parks in the national park system.

North Cascades National Park in northcentral Washington is on the list.

Despite the breathtaking alpine terrain, Washington’s North Cascades National Park remains virtually deserted compared with America’s marquee national parks. Why?

Location plays a part. The park’s most famous feature, Mount Shuksan, isn’t its most impressive peak; it’s just the most impressive peak visible from Mount Baker Highway. Countless mountains of equal caliber remain unknown except among hikers and climbers willing to blaze their own trails.

Precipitation matters, too. Heavy snow mantles the higher elevations in radiant white, while rains nourish the dense forest that cloaks the lower slopes, making them impenetrable to the hesitant hiker.

Other parks on the list include:

Rainier climbing rangers lax on safety in rescues, report shows

MOUNTAINEERING — The National Park Service says a climbing ranger who fell to his death during a rescue operation at Mount Rainier National Park last year was not roped for safety or equipped with an ice ax at the time of the accident.

Nick Hall, 33, was a four-year climbing ranger at the park. He fell roughly 2,400 feet while helping to rescue four injured climbers from Texas on June 21, 2012.

A review into the accident reported by the Associated Press today found a pervasive pattern of rangers being comfortable being unroped on the mountain and that they had become desensitized to the risks.

Park Superintendent Randy King says the park is establishing more stringent protocols for those who work on the mountain and improving training for its rangers.

Record: Mexican climber scales Everest twice — in two weeks

MOUNTAINEERING — David Liaño Gonzales, 33, from Mexico, became the first mountaineer to double summit on Mount Everest in the same season. He summited from the South Col route on May 11, got a good break in the weather and a helicopter ride to Katmandu where the traveled to the Tibetan side and scaled the peak with a Sherpa via the North Col on May 19.

Dawes Eddy of Spokane snapped this photo of Gonzales as he celebrated with a chocolate cake at advanced base camp.  

I'm writing Dawes' story for Sunday Outdoors.  

By the way,  Dawes is 70.

Spokane climbers challenge Mount Everest

MOUNTAINEERING — Two climbers with Spokane connections had their moment on Mount Everest, elev. 29,035 feet, last weekend with mixed results.

Dawes Eddy, 70, who climbed the world's highest peak in 2009, made his way to around 24,000 feet on Sunday (May 19) before turning back for unspecified reasons.  

Did you note — Dawes is 70!

“He did say 'everything is good'  and hopes I can get him a flight out of Kathmandu on the 22nd which would put him back in Spokane around the 24th,” said his wife, Mary Kay.  

Aaron Mainer,32, a graduate of Mead High School, was one of two guides with International Mountain Guides leading the U.S. Air Force Seven Summits Team to the top of the world's highest peak on Saturday (May 18).

Mainer, who lives in Enumclaw and regularly guides on Mount Rainier, is one of five IMG guides with 25 clients on this year's Everest expedition. The Seven Summits quest (tallest peak on each continent) also has taken him to the top of Aconcagua in Chile, Denali in Alaska, and Vinson Massif in Antarctica.
 
He is the son of Stacey and Mike Mainer of Spokane.
 
Here's a post about Aaron from the IMG website:
As a native of Washington State, Aaron was introduced to the outdoors at an early age by his parents, who often took him and his younger sister skiing, backpacking, and boating. He attended the University of Puget Sound, where he graduated with a degree in International Political Economy. Since he started working with IMG in 2006, he has guided well over 100 trips on Mount Rainier and along the way done several trips to Alaska, Antarctica and South America. His passion is for ski mountaineering and he has numerous first and second descents in Washington and Alaska. One of his favorite things to do is ski on Mount Rainier, where he has skied over a dozen different routes from the summit, including most recently a first descent of Cryogenesis. (Check out the video.) Aaron is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and Ski Mountaineering Guide. He lives in Enumclaw, WA, but does not like horses

BLM may close popular climbing area to protect artifacts

PUBLIC LANDS — The federal Bureau of Land Management may permanently close a popular climbing site in southeastern Idaho, over opposition from local rock climbers who argue the plan is too restrictive and was pushed through without stakeholder input.

The Associated Press resports the 400-acre area known as Castle Rocks has been closed off and on to climbers since 2003, and may close permanently sometime this summer. Agency officials say they hope make a decision this month, depending how much feedback they receive from the public.

Mike Courtney, BLM field manager in Burley, said both the Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute tribes consider the land sacred and are worried cultural resources could be destroyed if climbing continues. BLM surveys have determined the region contains important archaeological resources and artifacts, including spearheads dating back thousands of years.

Read on for more details.

Climbers abandon Everest after attack by Sherpas

MOUNTAINEERING — An American female climber who's climbed Mount Everest four times is getting a big share of the credit for saving three British climbers confronted on Everest by an angry mob.

British climber-photographer Jon Griffith told The Guardian he had to flee with two companions fearing the “mob” would stone them to death as “years of frustration” boiled over in what he calls a misunderstanding over use of routes prepared by the Sherpa guides.

Speaking from Lukla, the town that acts as gateway to the Everest region, Jon Griffith told the Guardian of the moment when a group of up to 100 Sherpas confronted them about an argument higher up the mountain. “It was obvious there would be no talking or negotiation,” he said. “They crested the ridge of moraine above our tent. They had pulled their scarves over their faces and instantly bent down to pick up rocks.”

Griffith said that without the bravery of half a dozen other climbers at Camp 2, he and his two partners – the Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck and the Italian Simone Moro – would have been killed in the incident on Saturday. He praised the American climber Melissa Arnot, the only woman to have climbed Everest four times, who warned them an attack was imminent.

He said: “Melissa was a real heroine. She saved Ueli's life. Without her, he'd be dead. She explained to us in our tent that there was a big mob out looking for us. She said something terrible must have happened. We explained that words had been exchanged but that was it. She stepped out of the tent for a moment and then shouted: 'They're coming, get out of here.'”

Steck, the renowned Swiss climber who's set records for climbing the Eiger and other peaks, said his “trust is broken” and he'll “never return to Everest,” in this interview with SwissInfo.com.

Outside magazine's site makes the point that early reports about incidents on Mount Everest “are often murky or incorrect when first filed.”  However, Steck's interview is riveting.

The Nepali Times calls it “the highest brawl in world history,” as well as evidence of a culture clash.

The AFP says a meeting between some of the climbers and the Nepalese guides may have cleared the air Monday.

ABC News is airing this TV report and interview with Arnot tonight.

National Public Radio is airing this interview with Griffith today.

Climber’s photos document shrinking Cascades glaciers

CLIMBING — Northwest climber/photographer Alan Kearney has an ongoing project to photograph Cascades glaciers from the same spot he photographed them on climbing trips decades ago.

As you might expect, having read anything about climate change in the past few decades, the glaciers show considerable shrinkage. See one of his stories and photo comparisons here

Also check out his blog for other stories and photos.

Energy bar truly puts a hop in your step

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“It's about time.”
Florence Vaccarello Dunkel, associate professor of entomology at Montana State University, about a Utah company that is marketing an energy bar made with ground up crickets.
- Salt Lake Tribune

Plan to attend program on spur of the moment climbing

CLIMBING — Jess Roskelley of Spokane said Alaska climber John Frieh opened his eyes with his method of “Smash and Grab” climbing efforts (see the Sunday Outdoors story).

They'll be explaining it in a free mult-media program starting at 7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 28) at the Mountain Gear retail store, 2002 N. Division St. 

Erbesfield offspring is another climbing legend — at age 11

CLIMBING — When I watched Robyn Erbesfield's chiseled body defy gravity at Wild Walls for a profile story I wrote in 1996, I should have assumed that any children she might eventually produce would have the genetics to become a good climber.

I underestimated her.

Brooke Raboutou, 11, born to climbing world champions Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, is setting records adults couldn't reach in their dreams.

Her mom says rock climbing walls have been part of their homes just like the oven and dish washer.

Brooke began her training around the time she could walk, according to her profile at Team ABC Boulder.

The video above show this little person is nothing short of amazing.

Washington outdoor recreation plan needs public input

OUTDOOR REC — If you enjoy the outdoors, you owe it to yourselff to participate in the online Washington State Outdoor Recreation Survey.

So far, about 800 comments have been filed on the easy to navigate Town Hall website

In addition to the survey, which can help channel planning and funding in the future, the site is asking the publicv to post their stories and photos showing how outdoor recreation impacts you and your family.  The information will be used in the final report.

  • In the last statewide survey conducted in in 2005-2006, WALKING was rated the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Washington.

The state’s outdoor recreation strategic plan, called the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), needs to be updated every 5 years to maintain the state's ability to receive federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.  The funding is used for grants to local communities to build parks and trails, and conserve wildlife habitat.