Showing posts with label Doug Shepherd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doug Shepherd. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New routes, ice festivals, and the search for winter!

Home on the range in the South Fork Valley
©Doug Shepherd
It was a crazy winter this year, from work to a weeks of 60-70F weather in Colorado.  The search for ice required some early mornings, driving, and crazy ideas - but that's what makes it fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Three's company in the mountains?

Approaching the North Buttress of Begguya (Mt. Hunter)
 ©Doug Shepherd
Climbing with three has it's appeals.  Splitting the work with an extra person, more warmth while cuddling, and general camaraderie. That said, I've been known to repeatedly say "I hate climbing in the mountains with three" and turn down climbing trips, especially on technical alpine routes.  My reasoning for this comes from many failed climbs with three people, due to general slowness, stuck ropes, difficult communication, and even a lack of stoke!

However, I've recently had a break-through, efficiently climbing large routes with a team of three.  Part of this is finding the right partners and part of it is due to finally figuring out the right gear and tactics for efficient movement with three people.  Keep reading for my take on making it work in the mountains with three.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Elk Mountain Grand Re-verse 2014

Racers lined up for the midnight start at Mt. Crested Butte
Photo ©Doug Shepherd
Sometimes, circumstances in the mountains are beyond your control.  Injuries, weather, and sickness are just a few things that can derail months of preparation.  When it's obvious a climb, a race, or a trip isn't going to go your way, what do you do?  Burn out and give up?  Enjoy the experience for what it is?  All of these issues become even more complicated when you are working with a partner, who is fighting his or her own battles.  My strongest relationships are with those partners whom I've gone with into the mountains and tried our best, independent of success or failure.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Changing seasons in the Rockies

Running from Crested Butte to Aspen, CO on a late summer day
Photo © Doug Shepherd
It's been a hectic late summer and fall season so far.  First off, my wife and I moved from Los Alamos, NM to Denver, CO in August and I have been trying to take advantage of living at the base of the Colorado Rockies as much as possible.  The weekend after moving, I joined good friends for a 40ish mile run from Crested Butte to Aspen, CO.  We passed through some beautiful scenery and paid way too much for pizza and beer at the end of the day in Aspen.  The next week, my friend Phil Wortmann talked me into "running" Kiener's Route on Longs Peak, a classic mountaineering route that traces up the edge of the Diamond face.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Putting the MTR collection to the test

Running a ridge in the Southern Sangre de Cristo mountains
Mammut introduced a new line of trail running kit this year, the Mammut MTR series.  One of my favorite activities in the summer is long runs in the mountains, so I was excited to put the new MTR kit to use.  We had a nice start to running season this spring in northern New Mexico, with lots of runs in the Jemez Mountains, including the 8th annual Jemez Mountain Trail Races on May 25th.  However, the summer season has been slow to get going because of a few fires that closed all of the forest down until just recently.

Before we get to my thoughts on the new MTR gear, I just want to shout out The Enormocast.  I sat down with Chris Kalous at The Enormocast during the summer OR show and talked about mountain running, alpine climbing, risk, and the role of community in mentorship.  Check it out here-> Episode 40: Doug Shepherd - Too smart to be stupid.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Emperor Face

"Everything is training and nothing is training" - Josh Wharton

The Emperor Face, Mt Robson
©Doug Shepherd
Many peaks hold a mystical quality to me, steeped in climbing history, in stories of joy and sorrow.  My friends and I have been extremely lucky to add our own stories to a few peaks around the world from Alaska to Patagonia, becoming part of the rich tapestry of climbing lore.  Success or failure, while important to our egos, did not define our experiences in tracing out both the known and unknown.  It is this idea that draws me to alpine climbing, knowing that our own particular experiences are both a unique exploration into our abilities as climbers and part of a larger narrative of both those that have come before and those that are yet to come.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A weekend attempt on Mt. Huntington

Travel pig sizes up Mt. Huntington
©Doug Shepherd
Life has been hectic since getting back from Patagonia, between traveling to Europe for work and the enjoying the changing seasons in Northern New Mexico.  We had very little snow this year, so our rock climbing and trail running seasons started early.  Despite all that, I've been itching for a bit more winter after acting as the "weather guy" for a few different friends climbing throughout Alaska. Finally, I'd had enough and the weather last weekend was too good to pass up.  I recruited my friend Aaron Mulkey to head to the Alaska Range and try a route on Mt. Huntington in a push.  I left Los Alamos on Friday afternoon, met up with Aaron in Anchorage early Saturday morning, and arrived in Talkeetna by 4AM on Saturday.

Our junk show in the Talkeetna Air Taxi parking lot after flying and driving all night to get there
©Doug Shepherd

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Paradox Ice 2013

The Paradox Ice 2013 crew
In early March every year, a rowdy group descends on the Ouray Ice Park to celebrate the sport of ice climbing and hold a huge party.  The majority of climbers in this group have some sort of physical disability, ranging from stumpy fingers to missing limbs to partial paralysis.  For the past two years I've helped in any way I can to make this weekend a success and both times I've found myself barely keeping up with this amazing group of people.  Working with Paradox Sports is easily my favorite event of the year and I wanted to share some photos from the amazing event this past weekend.

The "stumpy" crew at the Ouray Brewery on the first night
Working on climbing without tools and trusting your feet
Sometimes standing in the snow is harder than the actual climbing
When you can't use your legs, you have to find new ways to move upwards.  Three tools (each with a rope tether and gri-gri) provide stability and upward motion here.
It also means you can recruit friends to rapidly transport you around the canyon
 Working out the kinks on the first time ice climbing with a new prosthetic leg that has a bicycle shock and a rubber "tendon" to draw the foot back
Testing out Mark Miller's swing-able ice axe prosthetic prototype
The guiding/rigging crew at the beginning of the second day
Catching a ride into the Ouray Ice Park at the start of the second day
Myself setting up the rappel and lowering lines into the Ouray Ice Park on the second day.  The alpine smart made my job of safely and smoothly getting everyone in and out of the canyon much easier.
Myself explaining the silliness that is mixed climbing
All smiles after her first mixed climb ever
A well loved and still kicking Mammut Neon Light pack
Andres Marin helping to perfect technique
Claudia Camila Lopez, one of the hardest working photographers out there
Another huge smile, this time after topping out his first ever ice lead

Doug Shepherd
Los Alamos, NM

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beginner's luck in Patagonia - part I

I've had always thought of Patagonia as a far-away magical place that I would never get to visit because of the long travel time and terrible weather.  This past December I rolled the dice and planned a quick two week trip around Christmas and New Years, hoping for the best.  Thankfully my good friend Jared Vilhauer was able to join me on the trip and we had a blast.  He's graciously allowed me to use some of his photos here, thanks for the awesome trip my friend!

Brad Pitt watching over my airport bivy
Fueling up in El Chalten with empanadas and local beer
Jared staying fueled up with delicious dulce de leche cookies
I arrived in El Chalten two days late thanks to some airline hijinks, but rallied the next morning to approach the Torre Valley with Jared.  Powered by leftover empanadas, we spent a night in Niponino, then moved over to the Circo de los Altares. Luckily for us, we were a day off everyone else's schedule and missed the crowds on the Ragni route. 

My first view of the Torre group
Climbing towards Col Standhardt
Our bivy site in the Circo de los Altares
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Panorama of the Circo de los Altares from our bivy site on the Patagonia Icecap
We climbed from the Icecap to the summit of Cerro Torre via Rangi route on December 26th, having the peak all to ourselves on one of the best days I have ever had in the mountains. We descended that same day, spending the darkest hours in a snow cave during a raging rime storm. The next morning we finished the descent to our tent, slept all day, and ate almost all our remaining food. 

Jared leading us towards the Col de la Esperanza
Jared looking down at me while simul-climbing above the Col de la Esperanza
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Standing on top of El Elmo
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Myself leading the headwall pitch
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Jared pulling over the headwall into the sun
Jared leading the final summit mushroom
Myself and Jared on top of Cerro Torre!
Jared on top of Cerro Torre looking out at the Patagonia Icecap
Descending the headwall in a rime storm
Photo ©Jared Vilhauer
Very happy to be hiding in a snow cave from the raging rime storm outside

Packing up to walk the approximately 20 miles to the road
Almost there...
One more early rally got us out of the tent and 10.5 hours of walking saw us at the road, having traversed part of the Icecap to Paso Marconi, passing through glaciers, moraines, and finally a crazy lush forest. We ran into two of the awesome Giri-Giri boys, Jumbo and Mas, at the road. They had just finished a crazy trip in the Pollone group, doing a massive traverse in horrible conditions. After hitch-hiking back to town, Jared and I arrived 5 days after leaving and had climbed Cerro Torre within a week of leaving home. What a place!!!

Doug Shepherd
Los Alamos, NM

Monday, January 21, 2013

Widow's Tears

First off, I need to introduce myself.  I'm Doug Shepherd, a new addition to the Mammut team.  I live in northern New Mexico, where I was born, and am now working as a scientist.  On any given weekend I might be playing in our local mountains or attempting big, cold, icy climbs in some remote mountain range.  My friends occasionally stage interventions on my behalf, particularly when it's rock climbing weather and I'm packing for yet another try on some frozen/mixed horror show on a remote peak instead of enjoying the perfect basalt climbing right by my house.

Recently, I've been attempting these climbs on short trips (less than a week) from home because of my family and work responsibilities.  Some people have termed this kind of climbing "smash and grab", but I prefer "ninja alpinism" and have a great story to share from this past weekend that definitely qualifies as a sneak ascent...

Widow's Tears, ~1200 ft of continuous ice, in Yosemite National Park
I was in southern California for work when my friend Greg Loniewski let me know he had climbed Widow's Tears, a rarely forming 1200 ft ice climb in Yosemite National Park, on January 3rd.  It had seen three other ascents after his and was holding up decently.  This route has been a dream route for me since I started climbing, one of those climbs that is more rumor than truth and many people had attempted but never succeeded on.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in meetings until Thursday, January 18th, and the temperatures were warming up.  Florian Dörfler, a climbing partner of mine who lives in Santa Barbara, was game for a crazy mission.  He picked me up around 10PM on Thursday night and we drove straight to Yosemite, stopping at a massive 24-hour grocery store in Fresno for supplies and at Greg's house to pick up ice screws and a hand-drawn map of the approach and descent.  This climb would not have happened without Greg's map, which gave us just enough information to find the route and the descent, leaving the spirit of adventure alive on the route itself.

Just a small part of WinCo, the largest grocery store I've ever been in.  We lost time on the drive just because we wandered around forever looking at all the different food!
One of our better finds at WinCo, fresh cinnamon rolls at 1AM
We arrived at the parking lot around 4:30AM on Friday and quickly repacked, pounding as many cinnamon rolls that our stomachs could take.  We were soon off, following Greg's map that laid out the general direction to go.  Despite his excellent directions, we still managed to get lost in our sleep deprived state, eventually making it to the base of the climb as it started to get light.

Florian starting the approach after no sleep and driving all night
Florian soloing up the approach ice and snow before Widow's Tears
The first two pitches had started to delaminate in the heat, but we managed to find just enough gear and bonded ice to make them go.  From the third pitch on, the ice quality continually improved until we were climbing hero ice at the top.  As I started up the third pitch, we both remarked that it didn't seem that far to the rim.  How wrong we were, as we were at least 200m from the top.  We kept a good pace, feasting on the variety of snacks we had bought in Fresno and marveling at the position and quality of the climb.  At one point we simul-climbed a long pitch hoping to reach the top, only to be stopped 50m short because I ran out of gear and had to bring Florian up.  This is a huge route!

Myself leading our 3rd pitch, where the ice quality dramatically improved

We thought we could reach the rim on our 5th pitch, but had to stop and belay for one last pitch after simul-climbing for a bit
Florian finishing our 5th pitch, thankful for the protection of his Tripod 2 helmet!
Looking down at Florian on my way to the top of the climb
The view of El Capitan across the valley when we topped out
Florian starting the descent through the woods
The route took us about 6.5 hours from the base to the top and we lounged in the sun for a bit because we had gotten soaked on the last few pitches from the water pouring down the sun-lit ice and snow above the climb.  We knew the descent was roughly four miles through the trees, crossing a few ridges and then finally picking up the trail leading down to the Wawona tunnel parking lot.  Thankfully, a few teams had already been that way, providing us with a foot track to follow through the woods.  Both Florian and I were starting to slow down at this point, the effects of not sleeping the night before catching up with us.  We slowly stumbled our way back to the car, arriving shortly after the sun had set.  We drove back to Greg's house to drop off his gear, where he surprised us with cold beer, fresh pasta, and a place to crash.  The next morning, after sleeping in and eating a huge breakfast, we rallied over to Reed's Pinnacle and climbed classic granite cracks in the warm sun.  A huge ice route one day and perfect rock the next day made the long drives totally worth it!  Huge thanks goes out to Greg for his hospitality and sharing his hard-won beta.

Florian about to receive a Yosemite education in hand-stacking
Stayed tuned for stories from a quick two week trip to Patagonia, including an ascent of Cerro Torre!  I'm really excited to be part of the team and honored to share this space with so many friends and awesome athletes.