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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.