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Expedition Idaho survivors headed for finish at Silver Mountain

ADVENTURE RACING — The end is in sight, at least figuratively for competitors in Expedition Idaho, the 6-day adventure race — 528 miles, 137,000 vertical feet – night and day through North Idaho.

“After an unbelievable week, where at times, we never thought we could pull everyone back together, the race has come together perfectly,” said organizer David Adlard of Athol. “And it looks like our grand scheme for the Blues and Brews finish (which many told me wouldn’t work/you’re crazy) is going to work perfectly, despite the forest fire near the Silver Mountain Resort which almost got to the gondola!”

Read on for Adlards just posted in-the-field report.

Record-setting helicopter rescue saves Canadian climbers

MOUNTAINEERING — Two climbers were plucked from the summit of South Goodsir Tower in Yoho National Park on Sunday in the highest helicopter rescue on record for the Banf, Yoho or Kootenay national parks.

Parks Canada spokesman Omar McDadi said two climbers who used a SPOT satellite beacon to call for help from the top, were heli-slung down off the mountain's 3,600 meter summit: that's 11,810 feet.

“The elevation doesn’t reflect the difficulty of the rescue, it’s just that the higher you go the less performance you get out of a helicopter,” he said to the Calgary Herald.

Expedition Idaho teams near Hiawatha Trail

ADVENTURE RACING — I can't report where the coed teams are going in Expedition Idaho, the North Idaho adventure race that started Sunday — that's a secret that even the racer's don't know until they find their next clue on whether to hike, bike, climb, paddle or slog.

But I can tell you that a couple of lagging teams currently are near the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Those teams are being directed to the “short course,” since they can't meet cutoff times for certain segments of the six-day, 500-mile route.

They may not complain.  It might give them a chance to catch a nap before the race ends this weekend at the the Blues and Brews event at Silver Mountain.

Expedition Idaho adventure race underway: 5 days, 400 miles to go

ADVENTURE RACING — Starting from Silver Mountain, the Expedition Idaho adventure race is off and  running/biking/paddling for 500 miles around a mostly uncharted course in North Idaho.

Two of the 13 registered teams are less than 50 minutes apart heading into segment three partway through the first 24 hours, according to this morning's report from race organizer David Adlard of Athol.

The first day found them traveling in the dark toward Lookout Pass and rapelling off cliffs at Stevens Lakes (map above).  The racers go day and night, resting for maybe two hours a day during the six-day event. They'll end at the Silver Mountain Brews and Blues fest.
 
“We are still looking for some volunteers later in the week for 'Survival Quest,' so please call to help!” Adlard said, noting that the racers go to some incredible remote terrain.

 Check out the Expedition Idaho website for live leaderboard, stories, videos, photos and more. 
  

From the Boy on Top of the World

   It takes some getting used to when your children grow up and leave home. After years of living according to their schedules, from 2 a.m. feedings to a 2 a.m. curfew, even when they’ve been on their own for a while, it still feels odd on occasion to realize days have gone by and you haven’t heard from them.


    I have four children and two are out of the nest and settled into their own lives and homes. The third is only home when she’s not in school and the “baby” is edging closer to the door. I think of each of my children every day. Something - a song, the sound of the back door, the sight of outgrown boots on a shelf in the garage or a glance at the photos hanging on the wall - will bring them to mind. Other times, the best times, are when they reach out to me.


    I heard the chime indicating a text message on my phone the other day and I picked it up expecting to see a note from my husband to pick up cat food on the way home, or a message from the dentist reminding me of an appointment.
    Instead, in the palm of my hand, was the image of my son on top of the world. He was standing in the snow on the summit of Oregon's Mt. Hood at daybreak and the sun was just rising, tinting the sky. A friend had snapped a photo capturing the moment.


    I gazed at it for a long time, trying to reconcile the tall slender man in the photo with the memory of the sturdy toddler I carried on my hip. The boy with a headful of curls and the habit of wrinkling his nose and tipping back his head whenever he laughed.  Where have the years gone?


    Looking at the photo on my phone, imagining him standing at that elevation, exhilarated after the before-dawn climb, I could hear the familiar sound of his voice. I could see the energy in his stance, the pride in his smile. He was there, I am here, but he’d found a way to bridge the distance and include me in his happiness.


    Too often we complain about the way our phones and computers enslave us. They interrupt our thoughts and fracture our ability to concentrate. But there are times the tools that torment us turn about. They soothe and comfort us. They bring us closer to the ones we love.


    I send my son photos of home. He takes me to the top of the mountain. And love, unspoken, travels on invisible waves between the two.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is the editor of Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Countdown to North Idaho adventure race; volunteers needed

ADVENTURE RACING — Only 10 days remain before the start of Expedition Idaho, the 400-mile uncharted adventure race teams from all over the world will be trying to cover in six days.

The photo above shows a course official sampling portion of “the trail.”

North Idaho organizer David Adlard said more volunteers are needed to help in remote locations on the course that will be covered by food, raft, kayak, mountain bike and through roped rappels.  Call 208-664-0135 or email funnflip@msn.com

Meantime, read on for interesting details from Adlard and experts who've been helping him set up waypoints for the cross-country route.  You'll be amazed.

Classic climb: Catherine Destivelle solos sandstone in Mali

CLIMBING — Take time out to enjoy this 1987 film that set a standard for climbing pictures.  Not only is the climber a beauty with bulletproof shoulders, the film is as masterpiece of staging and arrangement.  Very cool.

French climber Catherine Destivelle was 28 at the time she was featured here in Africa soloing a sandstone cliff in the Mali desert. 

One of the top climbers in the world at the time, she performed for the camera as well as for the local people, the Dogons of Sanga, scaling unroped to their ancient cliff dwellings and the skulls and skeletons in their ancient graveyard caves.

Late snow blocks climber’s 10 peaks in six days attempt

MOUNTAINEERING — Near the top of Eastern Oregon's nearly 10,000-foot Sacajawea Peak, Steve Kominsky of Medford found himself staring at an all-too familiar barrier between himself and Oregon mountaineering history.

A 25-foot snow cliff, slickened under the mid-summer sun, shouldn't be there in July. But there it was, the last impediment to reaching the top.

OregonOutdoors on Facebook

To see two short videos shot by Steve Kominsky, on Steen Mountain and South Sister, go to the Oregon Outdoors Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Oregon-Outdoors/162141490490326

One slip and he'd tumble 1,300 feet or more. He thought of his pregnant wife, Heather, his 15-month-old son, Dawson.

“It was one of those moments of, 'What do I really need to do here?' ” Kominsky, 28, told Mark Freeman, outdoors writer for the Medford Mail. “No summit is worth that risk.”

Indeed, the elements, not his mettle, have kept Kominsky from reaching his goal of climbing Oregon's 10 tallest peaks in six consecutive days.

His personal “Oregon 10-in-6 Challenge” ended Friday atop Mount Hood as something of a bust, with the uber-athlete able to reach the summit at only four of his high-altitude quests.

Gnarly, way-above-average snowpacks have forced him to turn back at six others, even when he stood as close as 300 feet from the top of Middle Sister on Wednesday, Freeman reported.

“It's honestly disappointing,” Kominsky said Wednesday as he climbed down South Sister after reaching its summit. “There's no doubt in my mind that the 10-in-6 is completely doable.

“Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about the conditions,” he says.

See a his short video from the summit of South Sister near Bend, Ore.

UClimb: learn to have a life on the rocks

ROCK CLIMBING – A fun-oriented, low-key weekend event to introduce people to the sport of rock climbing is set for July 23-24 at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.

The annual UClimb  (www.uclimb.org) sponsored by Mountain Gear recruits professional climbers who teach and encourage beginners to scale vertical rock cliffs in safe rope-supported stations.

The group will camp out at the park picnic shelter, where Saturday’s barbecue dinner will be served followed by Sunday’s pancake breakfast.

“It’s a friendly setting where people can learn a lot and become comfortable with the sport,” said Phil Bridgers, Mountain Gear spokesman, noting that UClimb events also are scheduled in Western Washington, Nevada and Kentucky.

Cost for the full weekend:

  • $199 if you have your climbing gear.
  • $329 for the weekend package ($179 for youths) that lets you keep nearly $300 worth of gear, including shoes, harness, belay device, helmet, locking carabiner & chalk bag.

Local info: (509) 340-1165. Preregister online.

Climber’s body found on Mount Baker

MOUNTAINEERING — Searchers have found the body of a woman who fell and was missing Saturday while climbing on Mount Baker on northwestern Washington.

The Whatcom County sheriff’s office says 34-year-old Sheryl Costello, of Golden, Colo., had reached the summit of the 10,781-foot mountain on Saturday with her boyfriend. They were on their way down when he lost sight of her near Heliotrope Ridge. 

Bellingham and Skagit mountain rescue teams spotted the body Sunday in a hole that develops in the snow just west of the ridge, the Bellingham Herald reports today.

Deputy Mark Jilk says they were unable to reach the body because of extreme snow conditions. The Herald said conditions will have to improve before the body can be removed from the mountain.
  

Fathers Day treat: Dad-daughter highlight on Mount Whitney

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OUTDOOR FAMILIES — A few years ago, as he sensed the inevitable changes ahead, Edwyn Hill of Spokane planned a challenging outdoor adventure with his oldest daughter, Whitney.

He wanted to end the teenage chapter in her upbringing with an exclamation point before she moved on to college.

I had the pleasure of tagging along with them to California as the Hills climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states.  The trek was a high point in Wyn's and Whitney's relationship.

Turn up the sound on your computer and check out the video slide show as I document how the Great Outdoors prepared Wyn for an even bigger transition that transpired five years later.

Experienced Olympia climber assumed dead after fall on Rainier

MOUNTAINEERING — A search for an ailing climber left high on Washington’s Mount Rainier was suspended late Tuesday due to strong winds and evidence that he likely fell 2,000 feet, the Associated Press reports. 

National Park spokeswoman Lisa Lombard told The News Tribune of Tacoma that Rob Plankers, 50, of Olympia, would not have been able to survive such a fall.

An aerial search showed a 2,000-foot slide path leading down a steep ice-and-snow-covered slope from the point where Plankers was last seen, park spokeswoman Patti Wold said. The aerial search found no sign of the man, although ground searchers found some of his equipment where his companions left him, at 13,600 feet on the 14,411-foot mountain. 

The operation “is now considered a body recovery,” Wold said in a statement. 

Read on for details.

Richland man summits Mount Everest 15th time

MOUNTAINEERING —  Ang Dorjee Sherpa reached the 29,036-foot summit at 4 a.m. May 13, marking the 15th time he has completed the feat.

“This year wasn’t that great, until May 1,” Ang Dorjee said Tuesday after returning to his home in Richland, Wash. “It was very windy and snowy.”

Ang Dorjee, a world-renown mountaineering guide, was the second of three teams from the New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants to reach the summit.

The first team summited May 11, Ang Dorjee helped guide three climbers in his team to the summit Friday the 13th, and the last team reached the top May 19.

Read on for more details from a Tri-City Herald story.

Tetons search and rescue costs soar

NATIONAL PARKS — Search and rescue operations are costing Grand Teton National Park millions of dollars topped by last month's $115,000 search for missing backcountry skiers.

In 2009, the last year figures were available, the National Park Service spent about $5 million performing search and rescue operations. The recent search for Walker Kuhl of Utah and Gregory Seftick of Montana, who went missing on a backcountry ski trip, cost the park $115,000, nearly double of any previous search and rescue operation.

The debate over who should pay for such operations increases along with the costs, according to this story on Wyofile.com.


  

Readers comment on death of 82-year-old Everest climber

MOUNTAINEERING — After reporting last week's death of an 82-year-old Nepalese man attempting to become the oldest to climb Mount Everest, my post read: “I could go either way on this: What the hell was he doing up there? - OR - What a great way to go!”

Readers were less likely to straddle the divide:

“Beats lying in a hospital bed dying of nothing!” said George, with apologies to Redd Fox.

“I think people should consider the risks to the rescuers, porters, and fellow team members,” said Eric. “They suffer a harsh burden when tragedies like this occur…. The choice affected the lives of others.”

“Keep reaching for the stars,” said Von.

“A very sad story,” said Tracy. ” Not only did he lose his life, but the loss of his life negates the goal he was after, “to raise awareness about the capabilities of elderly people by scaling Everest”. At 82, and in good enough health to attempt the climb, he had a lot of life in him that he can no longer experience or share.”

“There are many, many exciting and stimulating wilderness sport activities that challenge me and make me feel alive without risking death,” said Alison.

Two Everest record setters: one celebrates, one dead

MOUNTAINEERING — Two records were set on Mount Everest this week:

On Wednesday, Nepalese veteran mountaineer Apa Sherpa broke his own record for most climbs of Mount Everest by scaling the world's tallest peak for the 21st time.

The Nepalese sherpa, who lives in Utah, is leading an environmental expedition that plans to carry down tons of garbage left behind by past climbers. He took advantage of good weather to reach the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit with a group of other climbers, said Tilak Pandey, a government mountaineering official stationed at the base camp.

On Monday, 82-year-old former Nepalese Foreign Minister Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay, collapsed and died on the slopes of Mount Everest while attempting to become the oldest person to climb the world's highest mountain. 

Instead, he became the oldest Everest summit seeker to die on the mountain.

REI Adventures offers big trips or local weekenders

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — REI Adventures has a good reputation for leading outdoor vacations to exceptional outdoor destinations in many countries.

But the Seattle-based group also offers a long list of Weekend Getaways, shorter adventures within an easy drive of Spokane. For example:

  • North Cascades Climbing (3 days) - Known for its dramatic jagged peaks, towering waterfalls and deep river valleys, North Cascades National Park is adorned by more glaciers than any other park outside of Alaska.  Climbing adventurers will learn and practice basic climbing techniques before attempting the group’s remote summit ascent. 
  • Whistler Backpacking (4 days) – Whistler Mountain in western British Columbia offers a scenic venue for adventure trekking along the alpine trails that overlook the valley below.  Backpackers will cross the rolling Musical Bumps and alpine ridgelines en route to Russet Lake where they will be immersed in the area’s cultural history and learn about the natural forces that shaped the landscape.      

REI Weekend Getaways allow travelers to experience the great outdoors, polish their skills (or learn some new ones) and meet other fun outdoor enthusiasts — all without taking a lot of time off or breaking the bank account.  visit:

Climber, 82, dies attempting to be oldest on Everest

MOUNTAINEERING — In a quest to become the oldest man to scale Mount Everest, 82-year-old Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay instead became the oldest man to die climbing the world's highest peak.

According to the Associated Press, the retired Nepalese foreign minister collapsed and died on the slopes of Mount Everest while returning to base camp Monday evening.

High-altitude sickness, a common cause of death among mountain climbers, is thought to be a factor, Nepalese authorities said.

Upadhyay had said he wanted to raise awareness about the capabilities of elderly people by scaling Everest. The Himalayan peak has claimed the lives of hundreds of more youthful mountaineers, including last week's death of a 55-year-old California man seeking to complete the last of his “seven summits” quest.

If he had succeeded, Upadhyay would have become the oldest person to reach the top of Everest, beating current record holder Min Bahadur Sherchan, who scaled the mountain at the age of 76 three years ago.

About 3,000 people have climbed Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to conquer the 29,035-foot  peak in 1953.

May is considered the optimum time for climbing in the Nepal Himalayas and about half a dozen people, most of them Nepalese, have reached the top so far this year.

Hundreds more are on the mountain waiting for the right conditions to launch their attempt on the summit.

Youths invited to join whitewater trips and other adventures

YOUTH OUTDOORSPeak 7 Adventures, a faith-based youth outdoor adventure group with a focus on underprivileged kids is already launching raft groups on the Spokane River, taking advantage of the spring whitewater.

The group schedules challenging events throughout spring  and summer, including climbing, kayaking, backpacking and team-building skill activities.

Youths and adults interested in participating or mentoring are invited to a rafting season open house with free pizza and a low-key used outdoor apparel sale on Wednesday, 6 p.m., at the new Peak 7 headquarters, 1409 W. White Rd.

Info: (509) 467-5550.

Learn the ropes at free climbing sessions

INDOOR CLIMBING – REI is offering three free ways for co-op members to get a feel for rock climbing this month at the Spokane store’s indoor climbing wall:

  • Saturday climbing – Each Saturday in March, an REI staffer will be at the wall from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. to help individuals and families don harnesses and shoes and rope up to try the easy to moderate routes on the climbing wall.
  • Women’s climbing – On Monday, March 7, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., gear will be provided and the wall will be open to women-only to explore climbing in an encouraging environment.
  • Rock Climbing intro class – On Thursday, March 10, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. staffers will offer for an in-store class in rock climbing basics. Pre-register for this free event.

Lowe looks for aid to document unmatched Eiger climb

CLIMBING — Jeff Lowe is an icon familiar to anyone who paid attention to climbing from the 70s into the 90s until MS began ravaging his body.

The first ice climb of Bridal Veil Falls and his problem solving to conquer the route known a Octopussy put him on the covers of Sports Illustrated as well as the major climbing mags.

But his nine-day ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1991 stands alone.  His Metanoia route has never been successfully followed.

This video gives a glimpse of a documentary, narrated by Jon Krakauer, that already has a good start at chronicling this landmark climb by the man who introduced mixed climbing to the world.

But the project is short of funds.

Check it out regardless of whether you can or cannot contribute. 

Solo climber made wise choice ditching winter ascent of McKinley

MOUNTAINEERING — Records aren't often set by being safe and rational, but a Mount McKinley climber can bask in the glory of being alive.

After 22 days of climbing last month, Minnesota mountaineer Lonnie Dupre turned back from his attempt to make the first January solo ascent of the 20,320-foot (6193-meter) peak. Also known as Denali, McKinley is the highest mountain in North America.

Dupre, 49, of Grand Marais, had ascended to 17,200 feet and was poised to make a bid for the summit, but continuous high winds, gusting around 100 mph along with -50 degree temperatures pinned him in a snow trench where he hunkered for seven days and slowly lost strength.

When the winds abated enough to allow Dupre to escape the trench, he descended to the relative safety at 14,200 feet in eight hours.

The mountain is so cold, its winds so ferocious and the daylight so skimpy in January, the odds of success are small. Only nine expeditions totaling 16 people have reached the summit of Denali in winter. Six people have died on winter attempts.

Only one team has reached the mountain’s summit in January: Two Russians in a three-person party reached the peak on Jan. 16, 1998.

From 14,000 feet, Dupre made a two-day trudge back into 7,200-foot Base Camp on Kahiltna Glacier, where he was picked up by a Talkeetna air taxi and flown back to civilization.

The snowfield landing area was lonely when the plane arrived, a ghost town at the site that will be bustling with expeditions starting in May when the normal climbing season begins.

Program to steady minds of rock climbers

CLIMBING —  Arno Ilgner author of The Rock Warrior's Way will be in Spokane Tueday to present a free slide snow on mental fitness for athletes heading out to hang on the edge.

The free program will beging at 7 p.m. at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division.

Ilgner speializes in teaching climbers how to take appropriate risks, prepare their minds and overcome limitations.

Read on for more details on the program and Ilgner's books.

Video is tribute to ice climber

ICE CLIMBING — A year ago this month, the world of ice climbing lost one of its premier figures near Bozeman, Mont.,to an avalanche that had nothing to do with the skills he plied on vertical walls of frozen water.

Carve out 16 minutes to check out this video tribute to Guy Lascelle, dead at the age of 54.

 

 

 

 

Climbers feeling the squeeze

CLIMBING — Rock climbers are feeling the pinch and the need to get involved in agency decisions.

  • Smith Rocks State Park, a prized rock climbing area near Portland, Ore., is closing camping at the area during winter. Climbers are trying to work with officials for a solution.
  • At Castle Rocks Recreation Area in southern Idaho, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has closed 400-acres including a popular rock climbing area, making it off-limits to climbers and campers. The closure is set to last two years as the agency plans how to cope with the impacts climbers have on the land.

Fred Beckey still on the rocks

CLIMBING — Northwest climbing legend Fred Beckey might be close to 80 — no one seems to know, including Fred — but he’s still globetrotting to climbing venues.

Is the pioneer of first ascents in the Cascades and Canada keeping up with the trend toward free climbing?  Maybe, maybe not.

Look closely at the publicity photo from Yosemite he released in advance of his presentations  next week in Western Washington.  Look’s like an poor amateur job of Photoshopping out the security running up along his left forearm.

Hey, you’re Fred Beckey!  You don’t have to be somebody you’re not.