Leif and Jim Whittaker on the trail to Mount Everest Base Camp.
Photos and story by Leif Whittaker
The view from the barren promontory above Namche Bazaar in Nepal looked out on a windswept hunk of the Himalaya where the sunrise struck, bathing the world’s highest mountain in flattering gold light. Dad and Mom stood next to me, their breath white in the frigid morning. The alpine air was redolent with juniper. We talked about climbing, a favorite subject of the guides, Sherpa, and photographers who clustered around us. I listened intently to Dad’s stories about his ascent of Mount Everest in 1963 and Mom’s stories about the 1978 K2 expedition. Though they spoke of daring, superhuman feats—like descending from 29,035 feet half blind and without bottled oxygen—I heard a conspicuous tone of humility in their voices, as if they acknowledged how lucky they had been. It was a tone that is far too rare in today’s extreme vernacular, one that declared a genuine reverence for the landscape and a visceral understanding of the fact that climbing has almost nothing to do with conquering mountains. Read More →
A brotherhood of devotion. Sinuously dangling in the breeze, it is the last connection and the vehicle of strength from one friend to another. Out of respect for the thin line of life, I cherish it — take care of it, for I know that it will guard against more than an unexpected meeting with the stone cold ground. The words of Royal Robbins run through my head: “Climbing is a great game — great not in spite of the demands it makes, but because of them. Great because it will not let us give half of ourselves — it demands all of us. It demands our best.” Not only is the team physically bound together by the rope; it is the mental, emotional, and almost spiritual connection to one another that can be a saving grace. The steadfast presence when mother nature wants you all to herself, and an unfailingly reliable extension of the will to be alive. The façade of life in a mediocre world is ripped away and what is left other than the climbers? The stark black and white reality of life and death, the last real, slim connection to it and the reminder of how wonderful and fragile it is on the edge. It is a sobering reminder that we must return to earthly confinement, and a hopeful thought that we can return to this place where time no longer exists, only breaths. Only clinging to the idea that with this companion we can make it back to this altered, genuinely human, state of being.
Keenan Murray works as MSR’s Dealer Rep for the Pacific Rim and International territories. His love of alpine climbing was sparked by a NOLS course to Canada’s Waddington Range in 2011. Two instructional courses with the American Alpine Institute in the summer of 2012 opened his eyes to Washington’s potential. Shortly after, he escaped the dangerously hot summers and disastrously cold winters of Oklahoma for climbing and ultra running in Washington State.
Jim Meyers seeking some inspiration for writing in Hyalite Canyon, MT. (photo by Molly Ravits)
By Ryan Hayter
The Lunch Room (TLR): You don’t hear of too many brands having dedicated in-house copywriters. What exactly do you do?
JM: We now have three full-time copywriters and basically, if it’s got words on it, one of us wrote it.
Up front, a considerable amount of time goes into planning and strategy. We work with the division directors and marketing team to determine where products fit into the line and ensure we develop messages that convey what the engineers had in mind when they created the product. We even sit-in on line-planning sessions, talking about products that are still just a glimmer in an engineer’s eye. We’re all “users” too, so we can all offer feedback that helps shape the products we create.
On the other end of the spectrum, we crank-out a lot of web copy, instructions, packaging, etc. Being in-house, you get really familiar with a brand and you can do things intuitively that an outside writer might take two or three tries to nail, so there’s efficiency there. Read More →
Mount Waddington is almost a nightmare in its grim inaccessibility, draped with plumes of huge, crumbling ice-feathers. -Don Munday
Don and Phyllis Munday first set their eyes on the 13,186 ft. peak in 1925 from Mount Arrowsmith, on Vancouver Island. Dubbed as “Mystery Mountain,” Mt. Waddington’s very existence was questioned before it was initially explored by the couple that same year. Though they made several attempts to climb the mountain and reached its lower northwest summit in 1928, the first ascent was made over ten years later by Fritz Wiessner and Bill House via the South Face in 1936.
The climb to the summit and back to base camp took over 23 hours. Grateful for good climbing conditions, the team followed a left branch of the couloir and reached a snow patch in the middle of the face. The final 1,000 feet of the South face were “sheer forbidding-looking rocks” according to Wiessner. It took the team 13 hours to reach the summit. Foregoing their original plan to descend via the North Face, Wiessner and House descended their original line, making it back to basecamp at two in the morning.
The first ascent had already been claimed, but the Beckey brothers climbed Mt. Waddington all the way from the ocean, an estimated 20 miles up the glaciers to even reach the base of the peak. The duo gained 7,000 vertical feet to complete the second ascent of the South Face in 1942.
Mount Waddington is a remote and highly sought after objective. Check back soon for recent ascents on this challenging mountain.
The climbing road trip has become a defining part of being an American climber. The freedom of packing up a vehicle and travelling to dreamy crags across this Great Land is part of our climbing culture. Last year marked a chance to fulfill a dream of taking some serious time explore some of the best climbing this country has to offer.
The High Sierra
Galen Rowell’s amazing photography opened up my world to the High Sierra. These amazing mountains with its excellent rock boasts some of American’s finest alpine routes!
“The best alpine wall in the country.” – Peter Croft, about the Incredible Hulk
Tyrolean traverse on Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag:
Chad Kellogg shares the details of his oxygen-less attempt on Everest. We are proud of Chad and his efforts. Read the details of his summit attempt here:
“At 2:45 pm with all hands ready to see me off, I paid my traditional respects for safe travel. Offering incense, water, rice and making three circumnavigations of the team stuppa. When all was in order, I posed with my friends for some photos and reminded myself that this was going to be fun and to enjoy every step.
On May 22nd 2013 Chad will attempt to set the speed record for an ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen. Chad spent years training and planning for this event, here he explains what is involved, his strategy and what this record means to him. Here’s his plan:
“At 3 pm May 22nd I will start up from Base Camp, 17,350 ft.
At 6:30 pm I plan to arrive to Camp 2, 21,450 ft.
15 minute changeover in Camp 2 getting water, carbo and electrolyte powder mix, gloves, balaclava and down suit.
At 7:45 pm arrive to the base of the Lhotse Face. Change into 8,000 meter boots and crampons.
Arrive 9 pm to Camp 3, 23,300 ft.
15 minutes to refill 2 liters of water and mix more powdered fuel and a couple of bars
Arrive 3 am to South Col and Camp 4, 26,000 ft.
15 minutes to mix 2 more liters of powdered fuel, pick up a 1 liter thermos and a few bars. Radio to Base Camp that all is well and move up with Fuchettar, my summit Sherpa.
Arrive to Summit between 12 and 1 pm at 29,035 ft., after 9-10 hours above South Col.
Total elapsed time estimated between 21-22 hours.
Time to beat: 22:29 hours set by Marc Batard in October of 1990
Then it is time to get down as fast as possible safely. I anticipate running into some down traffic on the way up, but as of now there are an estimated 65 people going for the summit on May 23rd so this should not slow me down very much, I hope.
For those of you who want to follow my progress real time, I will be wearing a Spot GPS tracking device. My progress will overlay on a Google Earth map and you will be able to check on my progress as often as you would like. My Nepal start time will translate into Wednesday 2:15 am PST May 22nd, projected summit time will be between Wednesday 11:15 pm and Thursday 12:15 am PST and projected finish time around Thursday 9:15 am PST May 23rd.”
To prepare for his speed ascent on Everest, Chad spent months training himself to be the mental and physical solution to the challenge. Learn how Chad used basic weight training, long-distance trail running, and stair intervals to prepare for his climb.
Randy the MSR Stove Czar explains the technology behind the Reactor stove system. What makes the Reactor practically windproof? Why is it so fuel efficient? What allows the Reactor to perform so much better at altitude and in cold weather? Randy explains it all right here. You’ll see.
MSR began in 1969 as a newsletter committed to improving mountaineering safety. Our founder, Larry Penberthy, was an engineer, professional inventor and lifelong mountaineer who dedicated himself to making the backcountry safer.
At first Penberthy set out to meet this challenge under a committee of The Mountaineers. He spent more than eighteen months testing stove fuels, the elongation of ropes, the holding power of pitons, the strength of ice axes and a whole list of other important but generally neglected issues. As time went on, the scope of the project stretched far beyond what the organization, and Penberthy, could afford.
“After six months, it became apparent that the outlay was more than I could manage alone, and so I formed Mountain Safety Research, Inc. as a vehicle to make and sell safety equipment as a means of supporting the equipment and methods research and the safety education program.” Read More →