Showing posts with label Kel Rossiter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kel Rossiter. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2018

Guides for Glaciers: Mountain Guides and Mountain Enthusiasts on the Front Lines of Climate Change

Located in the most popular alpine arena in the North Cascades--Boston Basin--the Quien Sabe Glacier is rapidly diminishing.
National Geographic writes that "Guides are portals to the outdoor world."  Mountain guides are portals to the glacial world and today they are on the front lines of climate change, threatened both economically and physically by changes in the mountain environment.  Through their daily connection to glaciers and their interactions with client-climbers, guides are uniquely positioned to communicate about climate change in mountain environments and to take a lead in creating a healthy future for both mountain guides and all mountain enthusiasts.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Reflections in the Ice

Gazing into the lens of past ice seasons and considering what is in store.
Photo credit: Alysse Anton
Last year was likely the best season of my ice life. I enjoyed such a stellar season, both in terms of guiding and in terms of personal climbing that it prompts me to lean back, shake out, and ponder why—after all, it's much less the climbing that I seek in the ice, than the lens on life that this translucent and ephemeral substance provides me. So, taking my tools out of the closet and strapping on crampons for this season's ice, it'd be wise to reflect upon why. After all, the mind is a muscle—as vital to effective ice climbing as calves and triceps. So, as the leaves wither and we await first ice, as I do my lock-offs, calf raises, and tricep extensions to prepare my body for another season of ice, it's also wise to pay heed to the brain that this body carries around. Reflecting on last season, here's a couple of concepts that highlight the learning that stretched my brain muscle last season:

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Essential Glacier & Crevasse Terrain Travel Strategies

It's the beauty of glaciers that bring us there--but we need strategies for doing so safely.
(Mt. Rainier)
Glacier Travel and Crevasse Terrain
Glaciers are a magical part of the alpine landscape—their massive icy hulks, laid down over the eons, are reminders of power of persistence and their diminishing modern state serves as a reminder of our precarious position as stewards of the Earth. Traveling over glaciers, experiencing the crevassing, tumbling, tumultuous, patterns is to experience the passage of time directly. But it is precisely because of this crevassing, tumbling, and tumult that your glacier travels skills need to be sharp before integrating glaciers into your alpine climbing quiver. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keeping the Learning Edges Sharp

Scenes from the San Juan Mountains, site of the AMGA Ski Guide Course.
Heading to Ouray without ice tools in my bag stung like sharp shards coming off a misplaced swing on a bulletproof day. The wealth of ice climbing opportunities that this area of Colorado's North San Juan Mountain Range offers is well-known. Less well known—and as I would soon discover—is that the ski mountaineering options offered in the North San Juans is on par with the ice. I was headed out to explore those options, by way of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Ski Guide Course (SGC). Having completed both the Alpine and Rock Guide certification programs a few years ago, I was interested in exploring the Ski Guide program with a eye toward International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) certification (you must complete all three tracks for IFMGA certification), but approached it with a keener focus on keeping my learning edges sharp.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

50 Miles of Wilderness for 50 Years of Wilderness

There are things that humans can't improve.

Wilderness has always been a contested term. The word offers an expanse of subjectivity in which to insert interpretation and to project meaning. In 1964, wilderness was given an official political definition with the passage of the Wilderness Act. Congressional acts aren't often noted for their eloquence, so The Wilderness Act of 1964 is all the more exceptional in its lyrical designation of wilderness as:

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

With that act, Congress settled itself upon a term for what wilderness was and set about designating certain areas of federal lands—national parks, forests, and otherwise—as “Wilderness Areas.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What is Above Knows What is Below--A Reflection on the Rainier Season

Climbers on Rainier's crater rim.
This season on Rainier has been like the line of an EKG—valleys and summits, sadness and elation, life and death, reminding me of what it means to be here—to be doing what I'm called to do.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Packing Gear and Equipment List for the North Ridge of Mount Baker

Climbing the North Ridge of Mount Baker is a unique summertime alpine objective: with the exception of a few ice couloirs in Sierras, it's pretty hard to find true blue ice climbing smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer—but the North Ridge offers just that. Depending on how you handle the pitching out of your climbing, the time of year, and the particular route conditions, there are typically 3-4 pitches of enjoyable ice in the W12-WI3 range (and head further to climbers' right if you want to bump it into WI4), and a seemingly endless series of low-angle calf burner pitches to boot.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Testing Out the Mammut Sphere Sleeping Bag and Light Pump Mat on Rainier's Wilder Side

It seems that the "blue bubble" may have finally arrived in Washington.  After a largely damp and gray May and June, we hit a blue streak last week.  Under clear skies I headed out with a team to explore "Rainier's Wilder Side"--the Emmons Route.  By the numbers, about 70% of Rainier aspirants climb via the Muir/DC Route, 20% climb via the Emmons Route, and 10% climb via other routes. So Rainier's Emmons Route tends to be a quieter, wilder way up the mountain.  

At ~13,800', nearing the summit via the Emmons Route.

A few of the reasons that the Emmons Route is quieter than the Muir/DC Route are:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Mount Rainier Summer Summit Season Begins (Sort Of!)

After a springtime of climbing and guiding in Alaska/Denali and an enjoyable stint back in Mammut & my home-base state of Vermont, I arrived back in the Pacific Northwest this past week for a series of Rainier climbs with Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated (RMI). As chance would have it, my climb was slotted to be the first climb of the summer season—apparently though, nobody had shouted to the sky that it was about to be summer. Or, if they had, the sky wasn't listening.
Practicing self-arrests during the training.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Packing the Heron Pro for Alaska/Denali-McKinley

Got out my Heron Pro and put together my pack for Denali today: 3 ropes, 2 full racks, 8 liters of water, and ankle weights. Sound to you like a savvy packing list for heading out onto the Kahiltna Glacier for a month? Me neither. But of course, packing for Denali begins long before the climb, with plenty of training and prep beforehand. This season I'll be guiding both Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated's (RMI) first-ever AlaskanAlpine Seminar and a Denali/McKinley Climb, so I'll have both heavy and light packs on for over a month on the cliffs, couloirs, and glaciers around this proud mountain. And while the ice season with Adventure Spirit Rock+Ice+Alpine provided plenty of training for those steep couloirs, I do need to stretch the legs, fill the lungs, and condition the back a bit for Denali's notoriously beastly loads.

Having recently joined the Mammut team, I'm looking forward to testing and reporting back on how the Heron Pro goes at carrying those beastly loads.  Even in the training phase, as I try to fill it up with everything, the kitchen sink, and the stove, I'm impressed by its seemingly insatiable maw. I'm also liking the rotational carriage system on the waist-belt, tempering sheer brawn with some degree of elegance in movement. I'll be out on the glacier until early June, but I'm looking forward to delivering a full report when I'm back down. In the meantime, wishing everyone a strong start to the climbing season!
Hauling the Heron Pro in Vermont's Green Mountains