mountaineering

Winter mountaineering: A new hobby for the list

Call it hiking, hill walking, or trekking, almost anyone can do it with a bit of fitness and

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On top of Stob Dearg in Glencoe, Scotland

some simple gear (hiking boots, gaiters, trekking poles, water proofs, layers, and a backpack). Depending on where you are hiking, you can do it on your own by following a clear trail, hire a guide, or use your navigation skills to get from one place to another. I’ve been doing it for several years now. I’ve done lots of hill walking in the UK, I’ve climbed the mountains of Sinai in Egypt, hiked in America’s Smoky Mountains, climbed and summited Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, walked the full distance of the Inca Trail and did the Santa Cruz trek in Peru, walked between the seaside villages of the Cinque Terre in Italy, and attempted (but failed) to summit Mont Blanc in France and Aconcagua in Argentina.

It was on that last trip that my tent buddy Victoria mentioned an amazing Scottish winter mountaineering course she had taken a few months earlier. I had taken a short course in using crampons several years ago before I climbed Mont Blanc. But I felt maybe it was time to refresh those skills and to get some of the technical skills needed to climb in the UK in winters; something I’ve mostly avoided when there has been snow and ice.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to know if winter mountaineering was for me.

Let’s just say it was EPIC.  (more…)

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Mont Blanc: Mission Aborted

Mountains are forces to be reckoned with. I somehow knew this but came to fully realize it this past week.

After successfully summiting Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest summit at 5895 meters, I felt that the world was at my feet. As soon as I had recuperated from the strenuous climb I started to plan for my next adventure. Eventually I decided to climb Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak at 4810 meters.

The one week adventure started with a three day course on Alpine climbing. Ten strangers came together from all over the world and were led by three guides through the

One of the most challenging snowy inclines during the Alpine course

Mont Blanc mountain range. The climbs involved strenuous inclines on rock and snow, crossing glaciers, skirting crevasses, and scrambling up rocks with 3500 meter sheer drops. For the first time I used crampons (sharp undersoles that are clamped onto the bottom of one’s mountaineering boots to help hold onto the snow) and was harnessed and connected to other team members by ropes in case one of us fell through a crevasse.

(more…)