Ouray Ice Fest 2012 Overview Recap

Had a great time attending the Ouray Ice Fest 2012. I had originally planned on not attending, but Angie convinced me otherwise, and I was able to get a day off work (Friday). I checked online and found two clinics open that met my ability level well enough – Intermediate Ice with First Ascent Athlete Chad Peele (bio here) and Moderate Mixed from The North Face, instructor TBD. I also managed to get a very reasonably priced room at the Best Western, much to my surprise.

I very quickly packed my bag Wednesday night, not having any idea what I would be doing there aside from the two clinics. Thursday was a heavy duty day at work, and I managed to get away about 90 minutes later than I would have liked to. From previous trips, I knew the front desk closed promptly at 9:30 (having had an issue with them before at 10:05 PM), and I rolled into town at 9:15 to find they were closed, but it all worked out anyway 😉

They were having the free Icebreaker opening party at the Ouray Brewery from 9:30 to 12:00 with SWAG, so I wandered on down about 10:00 – and I guess they ran out. They did have some free appetizers and lots of beer left (ironic, since I don’t drink). I didn’t see anyone I knew well enough to say hi, though I did recognize some faces here and there. The bouncer loved my Columbia Omni-Heat hoodie, said it was “fly”. Awesome. So I went to the room to sleep.

On Friday I went up to find my clinic with Chad Peele, Intermediate Ice, supposedly on Schoolroom 4/5 at 9:00 AM. No one there. I was told by the ice park staff to go down to the First Ascent tent in the expo area at the lower bridge. Only there is no First Ascent tent this year, so I was told to go meet them at the Schoolroom. Where I was told to go to the San Juan tent if there is no sponsor tent. There I was told they’d already left for the Schoolroom, and to fill out a waver, and head back up. WHEW! Minor glitch and now I know the system after a heck of a workout.

Guide Chad Peele

Ice Clinic with Chad Peele

So finally I met up with them at the bottom of the creek, hooked up with Chad, who said I looked familiar, so we discussed Rainier, Peter, and TEVA, and a few other ways of intersecting, and got our climbing on. Chad worked us on structure and pattern, two things I’d worked on with Dawn Glanc last year, with San Juan Mountain Guides. He said I was looking good and getting a good handle on it, gave me some tips, and I tried those out. Great learning session.

While down there we hooked up with some guys from Voormi, a new company with a line of outdoor clothing coming out this fall. My very good friend and fellow Liberty Ridge Survivor Anne recommended them to me on Facebook, so I yelled “any of you know Anne?” and Dustin said he did, so we chatted for a bit.

Dustin of Voormi clothing

Dustin, Anne's friend from Voormi

I hung out in the expo tents for a while, then went down to take a shower and put on my street clothes. I went to the charity dinner, show and auction, where the Ouray Firefighters served up spaghetti and the outdoor vendors displayed their goodies. Got to handle some awesome Grivel tools, the new BD Lynx crampon, and a few other fun things. I met with Jim Davidson, author of The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier and we talked about writing for a bit. Great guy with lots of enthusiasm. Infectious.

Support the Ouray Firefighters

Ouray Firefighters serving up spaghetti

I spent some time with Mark Allen of IMG who is also a fellow Rainier Liberty Ridge survivor, and he introduced me to his better half, who thanked me profusely for not dying with Mark on either of the two epics we’ve endured together so far. I took my Silent Auction winnings back to the room and then returned for the Mark Westman Alaska slideshow. Very awesome and beautiful photography. I’d bumped into Shingo Ohkawa a few times over the day, and we chatted a bit before the show about mixed vs. ice climbing among other things. Another great guy.

The next morning at The North Face tent I got together with our group led by pro Heidi Wirtz. We were supposed to have Emily Harrington as the instructor, but she was busy winning the comp at the moment, and would be down later.

TNF pro Heidi Wirtz

Moderate Mixed with pro Heidi Wirtz

We headed down the ramp (wish we could have rapp’ed it) to the foot of Tic Tac and the one left of it (?). Heidi gave us some tips and techniques, and set us loose on the ropes. It was tons of fun. I ran up the snow at the foot of the rock climb, rested for a few minutes, then set my tools and started pulling. I made it to about 8′ shy of the ice in the upper corner, which was where a few others had fallen – that move was tough. I fell good, then came down to rest for a minute or two.

climbing Tic Tac M7

First move on Tic Tac - M7

We were climbing M7, which might not seem “moderate” until you recall that 5.10 is considered moderate in rock climbing, and back in the day 5.10 was considered the upper limit for what was climbable. Emily Harrington dropped in after her comp run, and we talked for a few minutes. Previously we had chatted at a couple gym comps when Angie used to work in charge of the women’s program for Momentum in Sandy.

2012 Comp winner Emily Harrington

Emily Harrington, winner of the 2012 Comp

I moved over around the corner to a short M4 I think they called “Little Sausage” – very fun tool placements with sloping feet. Did some good falling here too, with one cool Steinpull. We ran out of time way too soon, and I was pretty tired. I had planned on hanging around for a couple more hours, but it was getting windy, cloudy and I felt cold, so I just packed up the car and headed home.

I totally loved it and plan to return next year I hope …

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Book Review: Die Trying

Die Trying: One Man’s Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits

By Bo Parfet with Richard Buskin

Bo Parfet “retired” as an investment banker at a pretty young age, and managing his savings carefully by taking shortcuts and going somewhat around the system, managed to complete the 7 summits (actually 8, hedging his bets on the Messner vs. Bass list) in a mere 4 years.

He began as an out-of-shape wanna-be mountaineer, and it’s fun to read about his growth as a human being, and the miserable failures he achieves along the way. His adventures are great reading, from his tryst with a Russian official to being smuggled into Carstenz past a blockade, one thing leads to another, and while at first I didn’t really like him, or his style, I eventually began rooting for him.

I highly recommend anyone interested in doing the 7 summits first read this, just to make sure. Especially if you’re doing the Messner list (includes Carstenz which until the recent activity near Elbrus was considered the least stable political environment for a 7 summit peak). The misadventures and mistakes alone are worth getting this book, if only to be sure that you don’t fall into the same traps.

by Charles Miske – Google+

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Aconcagua 2012 – for a cause

After the great success of my wife Angie in her group program at Skate for Hope in Columbus Ohio in June 2011 (she was among the top fundraisers), and my little brush with prostate cancer in the past 18 months, I finally decided to take the plunge and help do my part to help her fight.

Angie Skate for Hope 2011 Fundraiser Award

Angie in Fundraiser Award Line at Skate for Hope 2011 Columbus OH

I decided to learn to skate with her, which is awesome leg cross training for the various stabilizers and other muscles I didn’t know I had until I started. Apolo Anton Ohno has awesome legs, right? So I will participate in the group program in 2012. For my fundraising, I will donate proceeds from donations to my climb of Aconcagua this February 2012. Click the yellow “Donate” button to the right if you’d like to help support my efforts to help this great cause. If you leave your name, or name of the loved one you want to donate for, I will make sure to mention it here, and take their names with me to the summit of Aconcagua, one of the Seven Summits of the world.

Angie and I learning to pairs skate

Angie and I learning to pairs skate

I also have a fundraising site within Skate for Hope that you can donate to directly if you’d like to assist there instead CLICK HERE

Angie with the Hughes sisters, Emily and Sarah

Angie with the Hughes sisters, Emily and Sarah

Either way, it’s a great cause, with great support from pro and Olympic skaters from around the world. I will post video of my training on another blog that I’ll mention later, since this isn’t really a skating blog 😉


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Aconcagua 2012 Teaser – 1

I previously attempted Aconcagua the last week of February 2010. I had timed it to the low permit season, February 21 to March 15. I had a series of misfortunes one right after the other that I was not prepared to deal with at the time.

In Hut at Confluencia Camp

Hut in Confluencia Camp - night of Chile Earthquake

One amazing event was the Chile Earthquake of February 27th, 2010, which happened while I was in the hut at Confluencia Camp along the Horcones Trail. The large rockslide from the cliffs above camp had everyone running around screaming in the dark in their undies. After my near-death experience on Liberty Ridge of Mount Rainier the previous June, all I could think was “not again…”

Rock Slide behind Confluencia

Rock Slide path to left, near outhouses at Confluencia

The rock slide from that night came down right to the edge of camp, near the outhouses (picture above). The debris from the numerous other slides blocked the trail in places, making for odd route finding along the way to Plaza de Mulas, and I got lost several times and arrived without water, having shared my last drops with another lost hiker.

Snowy Aconcagua Summit

Snow Squall over Aconcagua

After waiting a couple days for the Ranger Physical Exam to verify my fitness level, and waiting out the almost daily snow squalls I ended up being zapped by static from a lightning bolt at 16,300′ on the normal route, and in my panic, ran over a pile of rocks and badly twisted my ankle. I hobbled around for a few days trying to decide if I could continue or not, and found that I could go up without too much difficulty, but down was horrible. I might summit, but coming down was probably too much of a risk for a solo mountaineer.

My outfitter, Lanko was most helpful in getting me back to Mendoza and helping me arrange lodging and transportation. I was able to get to a local office for LAN Airlines in the Plaza Independencia district of Mendoza. BTW: if you go off the beaten path at night, expect some interesting adventures there 😉

I flew home by a very circuitous route, since Santiago Airport in Chile was at about 20% capacity while recovering from the 8.8 earthquake just the week before. Since then I’ve been training a lot (in addition to other adventures I’ll post about later), and now I’m feeling much better up to the challenge.

I’ve been doing some research and thought I’d share a few links:

Haven’t settled on the exact dates yet, but for sure earlier than last time to hope for better weather. I also have some friends who are planning on the first three weeks of February that I’d like to hook up with.

More later …

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Discussion with my daughter

My daughter just turned 5 not that long ago, and I was driving her home from our day at the office, and suddenly she turned to me:

“Dad, has anyone climbed to the top of Everest?”

“Yes, lots of people.”

“I want to do that when I’m like 6 or 8.”

“I think  you should wait till you’re older and stronger. Like 18.”

“I’m pretty tough now.”

Daughter on Squaw Peak in Utah

4 yr-old Daughter nearing summit of Squaw Peak in Utah

I must have raised her right. Or wrong?

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