Thursday, February 19, 2015

Everest climbing route reverts to a safer path across the Khumbu Icefall

New and old routes. Source: National Geographic

The BBC reported today that, in an effort to improve safety on one of the deadliest parts of the climb, the Nepali government is changing the route to a more central path across the Khumbu Icefall.

The report touched on several important points as reasons for the change:
  • The new route is far less exposed to avalanches, yet more difficult
  • 2014 has seen the deadliest single loss of life in mountain's history, when 16 sherpas were caught in an avalanche in this very spot
  • The alternative of using a helicopter to carry supplies to Camp 1 is not possible due to environmental concerns
Personally, I hope this decision will stick, as this was one of the riskier parts of the climb.

Read the full report at the BBC.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Enchantments

This place is considered by many to be the best backcountry destination in Washington state. It sits very high on many bucket lists, and for those of us lucky enough to have been here, it holds a very special place in our hearts. It is the perfect combination of lakes, streams, alpine meadows, dramatic rocky peaks with mythological names, high trails, remote camps and yes, goats! Lots of goats!

The catch is that you need luck to get past the lottery gods, because you can't go in there without a permit. And in spring, when they're issued, thousand of applicants "fight" fiercely for that piece of paper (not actually, but it feels like).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Climbing Mt Baker

This is the story of our climb to Mt Baker's summit, and back down. On this three day trip we got to experience deep glacier valleys up close, saw lots of crevasses - some from just several feet away, experienced outstanding views and shared some great meals with extraordinary people. We also got sweaty, smelly, cold, hot, exhausted and felt the effects of high altitude, among other things. But no matter how many obstacles were in our way, I never seem to remember the bad or the ugly. I mostly remember the good parts, and I will, for sure, have those burned into my memory for a long long time.

At 10781 ft high, Baker is the third highest mountain in Washington state, and an active volcano. Compared with his taller brothers, Rainier and Adams, I can attest without any doubt that it is the smelliest of them all. More on that, and lots of photos, down below.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kaulitz Rocks, thwarted by whiteout conditions

This last Sunday we attempted to reach Kaulitz Rocks for a scramble with nice views. However, the weather was less than ideal at Mount Rainier. It was not to be, and we were turned around by whiteout conditions as soon as we left the trail above Golden Gate.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vesper Peak, a favorite destination with outstanding views

When I mentioned the name Vesper to several of my outdoorsy friends, I got the same response back from every one of them. "Oh, that's my favorite peak." And indeed, it did not disappoint, not even the slightest.

Vesper is a peak along the Mountain Loop Highway in the North Cascades Range, Washington State. It's not hard to get there and the reward for trying is world class views, all around you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mt Angeles: experiencing 360 degree views of the inside of a cloud

Mt Angeles is supposed to be a signature experience of the Hurricane Ridge area of the Olympic National Park. Easy to get to, not a hard scramble, and 360 views of the majestic Olympic mountains. But we saw a different side of it; we experienced the ugliest, wettest, windiest, and most miserable weather that mountain could throw at us! Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it was close.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Zombies Hang Out at Mount Pilchuck

This photo is proof that zombies exist, and they like to hang out at the Mt Pilchuck lookout tower.

Now, seriously, this is one hike that one must do at least once, because the views are just breathtaking and watch towers are always a must see. But if you get there and, like us, you get this ugly, ugly weather, just see if you can take a zombie shot!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Anvil Rock, a secret detour hiding in plain sight on your way to Camp Muir

What can be better than a high altitude hike on the slopes of majestic Mt Rainier, one where you reach the iconic Camp Muir and you encounter views that stretch for hundreds of miles from east to west? Hundreds of people climb it every day, throughout the year, but most stick to the beaten path. Why? Because, by the time they reach this little detour, they're all tired; all they can think about is getting there, getting there, getting there, and miss it altogether.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why Everest, and why not us?

It's such a great feeling to accomplish what you set out to do, and to do it in a way that you remember it for the rest of your life. Everyday experiences count too, but it's the big and bold ones, those that almost scare you just thinking about them, that sometimes give you the most memorable moments of your life, if seen through.

For us, the challenge of climbing Mt. Rainier was not only scary, but it took every bit of determination we could find. It was almost like a second job at times, but I'm not lying when I say that once we stepped on that summit and returned home, we saw the whole experience as one of the most gratifying six months of our lives. Something that's hard to put into words.

Timea and I on the summit of Mt. Rainier - July, 2011

That's why we want to do it again, and I can enumerate many other places that would make great such targets. Of all, Everest looks like the ultimate one, and why not?

In a previous post, I quoted Ed Viesturs when he says that "with anything in life, if you have the patience, desire and passion, you can do whatever you set your mind to". On top of that I would add that: you get a heck of a reward for doing it.

This website

This website, while originally intended to be an exclusive Everest journal, has already become more than that. It's now also a place where we write about our escapes into the outdoors, and other exciting experiences that are worth sharing. All through the lens of our camera.

As time goes by, and our preparation becomes more focused, the website will shift too. But I can't predict the future so I won't speculate about it.

Like always, stick around for the ride and thanks for visiting!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Old Mount Si Trail, A Better Way To Hike The Most Popular Seattle Peak

Mount Si is considered by many to be the most popular hiking destination around Seattle. That's because it is relatively close to the city, it's not too long, not too steep, and the hiker is rewarded with great views when reaching the top (scroll down for photos). Also, it is one of the trails that can be easily hiked year round, and a standard training route for bigger mountains like Mt. Rainier, Denali and even the Himalayas. Hike it in under 2 hours with a 45lb pack and you're in good shape, according to common wisdom.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hiking and Backpacking Gear List

It really sucks when I go out hiking and realize that I forgot to bring something. Having a gear list is not always the best answer, but sometimes it helps me sleep better the night before, knowing that I had packed everything that I needed. 

Very early morning on a June hike to Camp Muir - above Panorama Point at Mt. Rainier National Park.

I don't know what folks carry with them on Everest (haven't got to prepare for that yet), but here's what we usually take with us while hiking the mountains of Washington State:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Backpacking the Olympic National Park's High Divide Loop

I had to go though some hoops to get more time off from work in order to join Andrew, John and Timea on this trip. But I managed to take Thursday/Friday off to make a 4 day long weekend and make use of the 4th spot left on the permit to hike this popular trail.
Researching online I kept seeing references about goats and bears, and claims that this may be the most beautiful area of the inland Olympic peninsula. Well, I was about to find out if any of those were true.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Enchantments - Eightmile/Caroline Lakes Backpacking

The Enchantments is one of the most beautiful places to see out there. It's the holy grail of backpacking in the Northwestern United States. But it's not easy to get to, because you need a permit to camp there. Permits are awarded in a lottery and are becoming harder and harder to get.

The lottery lasts for a month (usually held in late winter), and only a few lucky folks get one. We failed for the second year in a row, but a colleague of mine got one that she could not use, so I immediately offered to help her get rid of it, and so I got it.

It was not a Core Enchantments permit but rather one for a satellite zone called the Eigthmile/Caroline Zone, also part of the Enchantments, but not at the very heart of it. Still, I was not disappointed, and came back home with some great shots.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Death Valley: The Top 10 Most Breathtaking Sites To See

Okay, that was a catchy title. The truth is, the park in its entirety is arguably the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. We were blown away not only by the monstrous heat but also by the desert, the mountains, the geologic layers, fauna and vegetation. The color palette is out of this world!

We visited during the warmest period of the year, right after our backpacking trip to Yosemite, and the heat
was intolerable mid day. It forced us to go out mostly during the golden hours and witness sunrises and sunsets like nowhere else, sights and colors that will forever remain imprinted in our memory. But enough with that, let's get to some photos.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yosemite - Seven Wonderful Days in the Sierra High Country

There's no photographer in the world (well, maybe one) that can express what Yosemite looks like, and no review or recommendation can prepare you for what it feels to be there, deep into the mountains and valleys of Yosemite National Park. 

Here's the story of what we saw and what we experienced each and every day of the trip.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Washington Coast Backpacking: Third Beach to Toleak Point to Oil City (part 2)

First day was a full day, driving 5 hours from Seattle, picking up permits, dropping up one car at the southern trail head and returning to the northern start point, the amazing beach hike with its inland detours, the sunset and camp fire. All illustrated in Part 1.

Part 2 is next.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Washington Coast Backpacking: Third Beach to Toleak Point to Oil City (part 1)

We have our fair share of tall mountains, deep forests, and turquoise lakes here in Washington State. But hiding far away from the big city, lies another jewel: the Olympic National Park. And under the park's protection, farthest to the west is arguably the most ruggedly beautiful section of the Pacific Ocean coast.

A 17 mile stretch of this wild beach was our destination for the long 4th of July weekend. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Camp Muir - The Rainier Base Camp Above The Clouds

Every once in a while, we like to go back to Camp Muir. It's the views and the challenge that 10 miles round trip over 4600 ft of elevation gain represents; especially that last hour before you reach the 10080 ft high camp.

But it's worth it! Not much else can beat spending 12+ hours in such beautiful surroundings.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Silver Peak, We'll Be Back

We hiked a lot of Mount Si, Mailbox Peak and other popular trails in the past. This week though, we thought about trying something different, where we've never been before. And Silver Peak looked like a great hike.

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Big and Bold Goal

Timea: enjoying the view from Poo-Poo Point on Tiger Mountain near Issaquah, WA.
With a small seed planted when Timea and I climbed Mt Rainier in July 2011, Everest comes back in our conversations in one way or another, every once in a while, but its challenge - too great to even dream of.

Just a few hours ago, I went ahead and reserved this domain name for us to use as a scratchpad towards what could be the greatest adventure of our lives.

Here it begins with a quote from a great mountaineer and author:
"I believe that, with anything in life, if you have the patience, desire and passion, you can do whatever you set your mind to." - Ed Viesturs