“Some people love flowers; others love clouds; I love dihedral.” Farewell Korra

It’s been several weeks now since Korra Pesce died while descending Cerro Torre. The circumstances of his death were brutal and it makes me sad to dwell on them for too long. Much has already been said about the accident, and the fantastic ascent that preceded it, so I won’t … Continue reading “Some people love flowers; others love clouds; I love dihedral.” Farewell Korra

NUGGET #1 – the Petzl PUR’LINE

NUGGET: NERDY, UNSOLICITED, GREAT GEAR ENDORSEMENT / TIP This is the first iteration of something I’ve been thinking of starting for a while. The purpose of these “NUGGET” posts will be to share some bits of climbing/mountaineering equipment that I feel are exceptionally good/functional/useful, with some explanation of why I … Continue reading NUGGET #1 – the Petzl PUR’LINE

Kale Borroka

After a couple weeks of ice climbing around Chamonix, Alisa and I returned to Siurana again one month ago. This time I came with plans of trying a specific route, and today those plans were realized when I did my first ever 5.14, a redpoint of “Kale Borroka” (8b+ / … Continue reading Kale Borroka

Alex nearing the north summit of Piergiorgio.

Chaltén 2020

It hasn’t been long since I departed El Chaltén, but sitting in quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it already feels like a long time ago. I spent the entirety of January and February in El Chaltén (Argentine Patagonia), teamed up for the month of January with Fabian Buhl, and … Continue reading Chaltén 2020

Rob and Giselle descending the lower slopes of Tocllaraju.

Not Sending the Gnar in Peru

I’m currently traveling from Peru to Chamonix, reflecting on a totally unsuccessful three and a half weeks in the Cordillera Blanca. At the end of May I traveled with my special lady friend, Alisa, to Huaraz, the major city in Peru’s Ancash region, situated adjacent to the Cordillera Blanca. Unfortunately, … Continue reading Not Sending the Gnar in Peru

Nikita on the slopes of "Chapayev Shoulder," part of Khan Tengri's northern normal route.

A Taste of Khan Tengri

Khan Tengri is one of a bunch of mountains that often get called “one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.” I think those statements are pretty silly, since beauty is so extremely subjective, but I do personally think that Khan Tengri is a particularly beautiful mountain. I’ve felt … Continue reading A Taste of Khan Tengri

Heading towards the dihedral up and left - A route-finding error that would involve the most difficult terrain on the entire ascent. Photo by Nicholas Gantz.

Cassin Ridge Speed Solo

BACKGROUND I have recently returned to civilization from my eighth expedition to Denali [edit: Not recently anymore! This blog post is finally making it online 3 months after the fact…], the highest mountain in North America. Although the summit of Denali is only 6,155 meters, I think the altitude on … Continue reading Cassin Ridge Speed Solo

Chalten 2017-2018 Photo Essay

On the Argentine side of the Patagonian Andes, the Chaltén Massif is a dense range of extremely steep mountains, famous for Cerro Torre and Chaltén itself (the native name for the peak also known as Fitz Roy). I have been coming to this mountain range on an annual basis since … Continue reading Chalten 2017-2018 Photo Essay

Tony nearing the end of the couloir portion of the Supercanaleta.

Patagonia 2016 – A Dud

[Editor’s note: This was now written more than three weeks ago, on Dec. 31] I’m beginning to write this blog post on an airplane from El Calafate to Buenos Aires, on my way back to the northern hemisphere, after three weeks in the Chaltén Massif of Patagonia. I had planned … Continue reading Patagonia 2016 – A Dud

Rob climbing up the side of the "Ice Rib."

Infinite Spur Laps

This blog post is dedicated to my good friend and longtime climbing partner, Mark Westman. I first met Mark in 2001 at Seattle’s Vertical World (the country’s first climbing gym), during Dale Remsberg’s birthday party. I was just a sixteen-year-old highschool kid, but already completely obsessed with alpine climbing, and … Continue reading Infinite Spur Laps

Alone on top of Torre Egger, for the first solo ascent.

Chalten 2015-2016

Because this blog post is so long, I’ve divided it into chapters: 1. INTRODUCTION 2. CALIFORNIA ROUTE SOLO 3. SUPERCANALETA CAR-TO-CAR 4. CERRO SOLO, “EL DRAGON” 5. CERRO HUEMUL 6. TORRE EGGER AND PUNTA HERRON, SOLO 7. CERRO HUEMUL, “END OF FAITH” 8. TORRE TRAVERSE IN A DAY 9. WAVE … Continue reading Chalten 2015-2016

Hélias crossing a little bergschrund at about 6,100m.

Thwarted on Nuptse

I’ve just recently returned to the US from my second trip to the Nepalese Himalaya. In late September I met up with Ueli Steck in Kathmandu, and the next day we flew to the Khumbu region. Our plan was an alpine-style attempt on the southeast buttress of Nuptse East, the … Continue reading Thwarted on Nuptse

Colin starting up the first pitch of Kimchi Suicide Volcano, with a short section of unprotected M5.

Colfax Peak, Kimchi Suicide Volcano

This past winter/spring I had a little obsession with Colfax Peak, the prominent sub-summit on the western side of Kulshan.  Ever since simul-soloing the Cosely-Houston route with Roger Strong back in 2007 (a couple nice photos from that climb here) , I knew that Colfax Peak held some of the highest-quality … Continue reading Colfax Peak, Kimchi Suicide Volcano

Colin starting up the third pitch of Venas Azules.

Chalten 2014-2015

2014-2015 Chalten Season Because this blog post is so long, I’ve broken it up into chapters: 1) Introduction 2) Torre de la Medialuna and Rescues 3) Tomahawk and Aguja Cuatro Dedos 4) Piergiorgio Attempt 5) La Travesía del Oso Buda 6) Cerro Torre Southeast Ridge Attempt 7) Directa de la … Continue reading Chalten 2014-2015

Aguja Antipasto on the left, showing the line of "Romance Explosion," with the big, unclimbed tower on the right.

Hunger Games at Cerro San Lorenzo

After years of climbing exclusively in the Chalten Massif, I have finally exposed myself to another location in the Patagonian Andes. I spent most of November underneath Cerro San Lorenzo, Patagonia’s second-highest peak, with my longtime friend Rob Smith. While El Chalten becomes a bit more like Chamonix every year, … Continue reading Hunger Games at Cerro San Lorenzo

Colin climbing one last bit of mixed chimney on the northwest face. Photo by Ian Welsted.

Minivan Alpinism in Canada

Despite my best intentions to dedicate myself to becoming a better rock climber, I somehow keep getting distracted by the call of high mountains… This past summer I tried to rock climb in Squamish a fair amount, but found myself returning a few times to the interior ranges of BC … Continue reading Minivan Alpinism in Canada

The line of "Sashimi Don." The left-hand ridge is the Northeast Buttress, the right-hand ridge is the Northwest Arête, and the original Beckey-Chouinard north face route is in between Sashimi Don and the Northwest Arête. This awesome photo of Sir Donald's north face was taken several years ago by Felix Parham.

Mt. Sir Donald

In July 2012 my friend Dylan Johnson and I made an 11-day road-trip through interior BC, and although we climbed several fun things, the highlight for me was the Northwest Arête of Mt. Sir Donald. Although I had driven through Rogers Pass many times, I had never climbed there previously, … Continue reading Mt. Sir Donald

Farewell Magnus

Shortly before leaving Seattle for Patagonia, it happened again – a phone call during the middle of the night brought news of another friend who had died in the mountains. While ski mountaineering with Andreas Fransson on New Zealand’s Mt. Cook, Swedish evil-genius/warm-hearted-mad-man, Magnus Kastengren had fallen from a high … Continue reading Farewell Magnus

Guillaumet x2

Sarah and I have been in El Chalten for a week now, and just got back to town from our second foray into the mountains. On the 20th, during a nice but very brief break in the weather, we tried to make a day-trip to Aguja Val Biois via Paso … Continue reading Guillaumet x2

Thar she blows!

Domo Blanco and Cerro Electrico

I had a bit of climate shock a couple weeks ago, traveling from the Squamish summer of shirtless sport climbing, down to a snowy, icy El Chalten in mid-winter. I arrived in El Chalten on August 23, and supposedly proper winter had arrived only a few days beforehand. People around … Continue reading Domo Blanco and Cerro Electrico

On top of Cerro Adela Norte - my third summit of the day, and I believe the third ascent of this summit

Adela Traverse

I have been back home in Seattle for the past week, and while I often feel that life in Chalten is very busy, life in Seattle is busier yet. After missing all of the Northern Hemisphere winter I have been out skiing almost every day – the thing I miss … Continue reading Adela Traverse

The rock quality improved as we got higher on El Mocho

El Mocho

Last week there was yet another good weather window in the Chalten Massif. However, the window was unfortunately immediately proceeded by a torrential storm, and wet conditions thwarted many climber’s attempts. Sarah and I hiked into the Torre Valley with our sights set on some lower summits, that fortunately accumulated … Continue reading El Mocho

Sarah at the start of the knife-edge traverse towards the main summit tower, with the Torre Valley behind, and the south face of Aguja de l'S on the right

Mojon Rojo – El Zorro

Sarah is back in El Chalten with me again, and after a few days of bouldering and sport climbing, we were back up in the mountains with yet more good weather. On Wednesday the 20th we hiked into the Torre Valley with our sights set on the enigmatic west face … Continue reading Mojon Rojo – El Zorro

Dylan on the summit of Aguja Mermoz

Red Pillar of Mermoz

With the clock ticking on Dylan’s two-week Patagonia sojourn, we have continued to try to make use of every bit of decent weather. Last Wednesday we hiked into the Torre Valley and up to the Niponino bivouac, with plans to try something on the Torres on Thursday. When our 2am … Continue reading Red Pillar of Mermoz

Dylan at a spectacular belay near the top of the Supercanaleta

La Via Funhogs

My good friend Dylan Johnson has managed to briefly escape his responsibilities as a new father and self-employed architect to come down to El Chalten for some alpine adventure. Since he is only here for a whopping two weeks, and since he arrived exactly at the end of the enormous, … Continue reading La Via Funhogs

Chad traversing across the hanging icefield on the upper south face

The Corkscrew

After Sarah and I had rested from Fitz Roy, we unfortunately squandered several more days of good weather. However, this weather window turned out to be longest I have ever seen here in El Chalten, and I had yet another chance to go climbing. Sarah headed to Bariloche to start … Continue reading The Corkscrew

Sarah coming up slushy ice near the top of Fitz Roy

Mate, Porro, y Todo con mi Dama

My girlfriend, Sarah Hart, is joining me for some of this season in Chalten, and arrived on the same day that Jon took off. We had a week of bouldering in relatively stormy weather, and then yet another weather window descended upon Chalten – this time an extended one. Although … Continue reading Mate, Porro, y Todo con mi Dama

Jon on the fifth pitch, which, despite not being particularly difficult, I thought was the best pitch on the route

Festerville

For Jon’s last window this season in Patagonia, we hiked back up to Niponino on the last day of 2012, both with lingering colds. On the first day of 2013 we left Niponino early and headed to the Standhardt Col to try “Festerville,” the north ridge of Cerro Standhardt, first … Continue reading Festerville

Jon coming up the fourth pitch of Venas Azules

Ragnivenas Attempt

Papa Noel brought a few days of calm but humid weather to the Chalten massif over Christmas, with poor conditions for rock climbing, but good conditions for crampon climbing. Jon and I hiked into the Torre Valley on the 23rd, and on the 24th we passed through the Standhardt Col … Continue reading Ragnivenas Attempt

The line of Tobogan (photo from a few years ago)

Tobogan

Last week some calm weather blew into the Chalten massif, but with cold and snowy conditions. Jon and I hiked into Niponino with some loose plans to scratch around on something while wearing crampons. After hemming and hawing for a while on the Torre Glacier at first light on the … Continue reading Tobogan

Manu leading the classic traverse pitch on the Comesaña-Fonrouge

Guillaumet Laps

For the past couple weeks in El Chalten my climbing has been mostly limited to sport climbing at El Calamar, Chalten’s best crag. However, I have gotten a couple day-trips in to climb Aguja Guillaumet. When the weather forecast is marginal, and a day of approaching and camping in storm … Continue reading Guillaumet Laps

Andrea leading The Helmet

Cerro Solo and Cerro Torre

I have once again escaped to the Austral summer in Argentine Patagonia, returning as usual to the town of El Chalten. The nature of Patagonian alpinism continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The availability of reliable weather forecasts and route information (in particular, the publication of the massif’s first … Continue reading Cerro Solo and Cerro Torre

A Week in the Rockies

My girlfriend, Sarah Hart, and I just spent a week climbing out in the Rockies, enjoying perfect late-summer weather. Mostly we climbed at the Back of the Lake, which is I think one of the highest-quality crags I’ve ever climbed at (right up there with the Lower Town Wall at … Continue reading A Week in the Rockies

Forbidden Peak and Mt. Dione

In the past couple weeks I’ve been mostly just rock climbing, but made a couple quick trips into local mountains. First, my dad, brother and I made a reunion climb of the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak – a climb that we did all together fifteen years ago, and was … Continue reading Forbidden Peak and Mt. Dione

Farewell Bjørn-Eivind

A week and a half ago I woke up to see a missed call from a Norwegian telephone number that I didn’t recognize. Somehow I felt that there had been an accident. I went to my computer, and sure enough, my friend Nils Nielsen had sent me an e-mail when … Continue reading Farewell Bjørn-Eivind

Temporada de Locura

This summer season in El Chalten has been exceptional in many ways, and the past few weeks in particular have been the craziest I’ve ever experienced in Patagonia. Immediately after Jorge and I climbed Torre Egger, my girlfriend, Sarah Hart, came down for a visit of a couple weeks. She … Continue reading Temporada de Locura

Torre Egger, east pillar

For Christmas Papa Noel brought yet another weather window to El Chalten, and on Dec. 24th Jorge Ackermann and I hiked into the Torre valley again, intent on trying the east pillar of Torre Egger, which we had previously attempted a few weeks earlier. We spent Christmas Eve at the … Continue reading Torre Egger, east pillar

Cerro Standhardt, El Caracol

On November 30th, I hiked into the Torre Valley with my friend Jorge Ackerman, who is from Bariloche, but has been living in Squamish for the past year. We hoped to climb Torre Egger via the O’Neil-Martin route, so continued past Niponino to the Norwegos bivouac. On December 1st we … Continue reading Cerro Standhardt, El Caracol

Cerro Pollone Attempt

I have returned to El Chalten, in Argentine Patagonia, for hopefully some more great climbing in the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massifs. As seems to be my un-breakable curse, I arrived just a bit too late to take full advantage of a weather window. Fortunately, at least this year … Continue reading Cerro Pollone Attempt

Sarah on the summit of Mt. Slesse

Slesse Climbs

During the past few weeks I have spent most of my time in Squamish, trying to progress my rock free-climbing skills. I have also been teaching myself how to rope solo, and after practicing on some smaller routes I soloed the Grand Wall and University Wall. I have made a … Continue reading Slesse Climbs

Nils getting hit with some spindrift just above the crux of the Swiss Route

Verte-Courtes-Doites-Eiger

The last couple weeks have been very busy for me here in Chamonix, catching first bin at the Midi or Grands Montets most days. During a week of on and off snowfall I went mostly lift-served skiing – most of it mediocre, but with some nice snow in the Capucin … Continue reading Verte-Courtes-Doites-Eiger

Our first day out was a nice tour up to the Passage d'Argentiere. In the background are the north faces of Les Courtes, Les Doites and Aiguille Verte. Photo by Nils

The Alpine Playground

I’ve returned for a few weeks to the ultimate alpine playground, Chamonix, to do some enjoyable skiing and climbing on the fantastic peaks here, and hopefully gain some fitness for the Alaska climbing season. Chamonix has experienced a really lean snow year, but there are always good things to do … Continue reading The Alpine Playground

Viking Alpinism

In May 2006 I spent a magical week in the Lofoten Islands of northern Norway. Situated above the arctic circle (aka, outside of the “moral circle”), and jutting out into the North Atlantic, the Lofoten Islands have an enchanting scenery of craggy peaks coming straight out of the rough ocean. … Continue reading Viking Alpinism

Cerro Torre Attempts

My last two forays into the mountains of the Fitz Roy massif were to attempt a natural line on the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre. Zack Smith and I made an attempt that was thwarted by iffy weather, and a week later I made another attempt with Rolando Garibotti and … Continue reading Cerro Torre Attempts

Tommy leading an excellent hands-to-fists pitch on the Brenner Ridge.

Jardines Japoneses

The last several weeks delivered mostly all bad weather to the Chalten region. On one of a few slightly better days, Tommy Caldwell and I headed out to climb the Brenner Ridge on Aguja Guillaumet. Guillaumet is one of the smallest, most accessible of the spires here, but nonetheless it … Continue reading Jardines Japoneses

Exocet Solo

For the third year in a row, I arrived in Patagonia just at the end of an excellent and long weather window. I immediately hiked up to the Torre Glacier, but alas, I was too late and it closed down. C’est la vie. Fortunately, a two-day window of good weather … Continue reading Exocet Solo

Joe leading the last pitch of Murchison Falls, Feb. 2003

Yosemite, Skiing and Joe Puryear

With the exception of Devil’s Thumb, I’ve had generally bad luck with the weather during the past year. September, which is normally a wonderful month in the Cascades, was horrible. I went down to Yosemite for most of October, and the weather was actually better back home in the Cascades! … Continue reading Yosemite, Skiing and Joe Puryear

Although known as the "crux" pitch of the route, the steep pitch felt much easier than the Gervasutti Pillar start or the first, mixed pitch of the gullies, and I felt comfortable free-soloing here

Supercouloir Solo

Last Wednesday afternoon I took a late cabin up the Aiguille du Midi telepherique for an attempt on Supercouloir the following day (April 27). Supercouloir is an 800 meter ice gully route on the east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The direct start to Supercouloir was not formed, so … Continue reading Supercouloir Solo

Almost at the summit of Les Courtes, Colin getting very tired due to poor acclimatization on the second summit of the day. We then down-climbed the Northeast Face of Les Courtes to return to our skis in the Argentiere Basin and ski down to the valley floor. Photo by Nils.

Back in Chamonix

After Patagonia I was home in the Cascades for a whopping ten days, and then took off for my vernal pilgrimage to Chamonix, France. Just as Yosemite is the ultimate playground for rock climbing, Chamonix is the ultimate playground for alpine climbing and ski mountaineering. And just as Yosemite is … Continue reading Back in Chamonix

Classic sub-alpinism

Shuksan North Face Descent

Last Friday my brother, Booth, and I went and skied the North Face of Mt. Shuksan after skinning up the White Salmon Glacier. Conditions were great, with plenty of well-bonded powder and only a few small windslabs right over the lee side of ridges. The snowpack this winter in The … Continue reading Shuksan North Face Descent

Guillaumet Solo

Much of my time in Patagonia is spent waiting for a large weather window to try a difficult objective, and I often let pass many mediocre but nonetheless climbable days, which are suitable only for smaller objectives. However, after festering for a while, and with no properly good weather in … Continue reading Guillaumet Solo

Poincenot Solo

I arrived in El Chalten, Patagonia at the start of a several-day good weather window. Unfortunately, the cold that I had caught right before leaving Seattle had not been cured by four days of stressful travel, and I was forced to pass two good weather days in town. Since I … Continue reading Poincenot Solo

Mt. Hunter!

I have just returned to Seattle from a three-week trip to the Central Alaska Range with Norwegian climber Bjørn-Eivind Årtun. The weather this May was significantly better than average – Apart from a few days of snow showers and a wind storm that lasted for a few days, the weather … Continue reading Mt. Hunter!

Col du Diable, Macho Couloir

I headed out for some more steep skiing today, with Italian snowboarder Luca Pandolfi. From below the east face of Mont Blanc du Tacul we climbed up the Capucin Couloir, which is between the Petit Capucin and the Grand Capucin. That brought us to the Breche du Carabinier, and from … Continue reading Col du Diable, Macho Couloir

Midi North Face Ski Descents

New snow finally came to the Chamonix valley, so I’ve switched back to ski mode for the past few days. I had the pleasure to ski a couple lines on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi with Swedish ski badass, Andreas Fransson. After checking out the snowpack with … Continue reading Midi North Face Ski Descents

Midi North Face Climb

I had planned to attempt a solo today of the Supercouloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul, but arriving at the top of the Aiguille du Midi in the midst of strong wind and clouds, I decided it would be imprudent. So I took the telepherique back down to the Plan … Continue reading Midi North Face Climb

Aiguille d’Argentiere

Yesterday I joined Maxime Turgeon and another Quebecois friend of his, Nick, for a ski tour off the Aiguille d’Argentiere. We skinned and climbed up the Glacier du Milieu, and skied down the Barbey Couloir to the Saleina Glacier, and eventually through the Fenetre du Tour to get back down … Continue reading Aiguille d’Argentiere

Les Doites, Le Ginat Solo

The predicted storm front keeps getting pushed back in the weather forecast, so today was another nice day with good climbing conditions. I headed back up the North Face of Les Doites, for a solo of the Ginat route. When I spent a winter in Chamonix three years ago I … Continue reading Les Doites, Le Ginat Solo

Torres Traverse Slideshow

If you happen to be in Chamonix, and have an interest in Patagonian climbing…I’ll be showing a slideshow of the first ascent of the Torres Traverse, Friday at 8pm, at the Patagonia store in Chamonix Centre.

Les Doites, Colton-Brooks

On Saturday I teamed up with Aymeric Clouet, a French climber whom I met in Patagonia this winter and last. We caught the third bin up the Grands Montets telepherique and headed to the North Face of Les Doites to climb the Colton-Brooks route. Conditions were not amazing but were … Continue reading Les Doites, Colton-Brooks

Skiing and Les Courtes Solo

After Les Grandes Jorasses some more storms rolled in, and conditions changed in favor of skiing. I had a couple great days at Le Tour, skiing powder down Posettes to the Vallorcine (Suisse) side. On Sunday Jonna Jacobs, Martin Jern and I had a couple great laps down the Glacier … Continue reading Skiing and Les Courtes Solo

Les Grandes Jorasses

With the remainder of the high-pressure system, and fairly consolidated snow conditions, Maxime Turgeon, Adam George and I headed toward the Leschaux hut Saturday afternoon, for a crack at the famed north face of Les Grandes Jorasses. We left the hut yesterday morning at 3am, and a couple hours later … Continue reading Les Grandes Jorasses

Bienvenue a Chamonix

I arrived in Chamonix on Sunday night, and as the weather has since been excellent I have been busy every day. High winds were forecast for today, so I am resting for the good weather that is predicted to follow, running errands, and posting some photos here… On Monday I … Continue reading Bienvenue a Chamonix

La Fin de Mes Etudes

The weather this winter in the Cascades has been rather bipolar. For a long time there was an atypically dry spell, which was a boon for climbing, but made for mediocre skiing. A few weeks ago the weather finally shifted to the normal Cascades winter: non-stop dumps of lots of … Continue reading La Fin de Mes Etudes

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