Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cameras for Expeditions Part 1


Many people ask me what camera to use on expeditions, for the last 5 years I have been shooting with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2, and it was really perfect. Batteries lasted well, very wide lens for a point and shoot and easy to use. Many of my climbing partners are very happy with the Canon G10 or 11, but I have never used them. Finally I decided to upgrade this year to what I think is best described as a mini DSLR, the Sony NEX-5. There are a few competitors in the mini DSLR market, the Olympus version being the other best I think. I opted for the currently available package deal of the body with both fixed 16mm and 18-55mm lens (there is another lens up to 200mm but the price is too high and the wait too long - dare to dream), I bought via B&H Photo in NYC and as always was grateful for the best prices and service - I must say I had some trouble with other buying options, that are still not resolved.

The Sony NEX-5 is a massive upgrade with variable lenses and full HD video capabilities it can do everything I used to be able to do with the lumix - including a wider lens and what I only dreamed of being able to do with a DSLR (dreamed because I didn't have one). It is taking a bit of getting used to, hard to teach old mountain climbers new tricks I guess, but I am happy with what I have shot so far.

The top shot with the red clouds is from Ama Dablam BC this November, it is the last photo I took with the Lumix, it still takes great photos, the other (below) is the Palac Kultury i Nauki (Science and Culture Palace) in Warsaw, and is the first photo I took with the Sony NEX-5. Both were hand held, in low light - obviously one in lower light - but for just a quick attempt to capture an image they both did well. I am very happy, more samples to come.

RMNP Rando Ski

video
Europe is cold, and then warm, I shall be in the mountains in a few days in Austria, but I wanted to post a bit of video shot in RMNP when I was out skiing with my friend Brian. I had just returned from Nepal, and was still jet lagged (or perhaps these days I am just constantly jet lagged) and wanted badly to get out skiing. We had been out in some fun winds the previous days, but on this day we finally made some turns. In the video I talk a bit about some new clothes from Marmot, specifically the Trient and Varient Jacket and Protour Pant. More video to come from Europe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Plastic and Feathers!"

"Plastic and feathers, it is only plastic and feathers, there is no
difference anymore between products and companies!" a very
enthusiastic shop owner I visited last week decried. I stood there and
nodded my head, what else could I do, he was giving me a great deal on
some product. I left the shop wondering is it all just plastic and
feathers? As soon as I pulled up to the door at the 'home for wayward
climbers' where UPS drops off samples and prototypes from the
companies I test for I was shocked to see what was definitely not just
feathers and plastic. At one of the trade shows last year, Marmot sat
a good number of the athlete team down for a chat to see what products
we would really like to use and have. While some of us were a bit
skeptical that any product would appear from the meeting, I had
supreme confidence (read I was the head of skeptics), and there a few
months later, on the floor, lay several huge boxes full of products.
Plastic and feathers? Yes, but plastic and feathers with alot of
thought, engineering and honestly feedback from the team. Amazing I
thought, they are listening.
Delayed and cancelled flights have given me the time to sit and relax
- if you find sitting at the airport for 12 hours before they tell you
that you cannot fly to your destination for another 4 days relaxing -
and meet some very interesting people. Only in the Denver airport can
you meet a Polish diplomat, an IT person for a badminton company,
professional free-skiers and their camera crew, another guy from
boulder who skis and climbs and an irate Hindu holding British
Airlines responsible for the phenomenal snowfall and airport closures
across Europe.

I will be skiing, climbing, guiding, rando-racing and recovering from
a long himalayan year for the next couple of months, many photos,
videos and blogs to come!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cholatse Spring 2011 Expedition


Join me on Cholatse (6440m) in Nepal this coming spring! This commercial expedition in the heart of the Khumbu region in Nepal is 30 days long, from March 15 to April 13. The route - the right hand skyline in the photo - combines glacier travel, rock, snow and ice. Cholatse has been called the quiet Ama Dablam, and offers perhaps even more spectacular views from the summit. For more information please see ganeshadventures.com/cholatse-6440m/ and for any questions please email info@ganeshadventures.com.
I look forward to climbing with you this spring!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cosmic

Ski season is in full swing here in Colorado, while I have been rando skiing (ski touring) alot in RMNP many people have been getting after what seems to be the most fun you can have in the mountains - the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup. I had lunch with the promoter yesterday, Pete Swenson, who got me really psyched for some of the races - who also gave me a great deal with some Dynafit Skis (dynafit.us) and Bindings( with the help of Ian, Drew, Sarah and Chris at the office). I am really psyched as I am now running a pair of the Dynafit World Cup Carbon Race Skis with Low Tech Lite Binding, and a pair of Broad Peaks with TLT Vertical ST (I like these as i have a range of boots from light racing to high altitude guiding that I can use with them), combined with my Scarpa F1 Race (www.scarpa.com) boots and all of the race specific gloves, helmet, and backpack from CAMP (camp-usa.com) - yikes, it seems my only excuse is not enough training. Oh well, I have been saying alot lately that rando skiing is the most fun you can have in the mountains, hands down - saying it ALOT. To see photos from the race this past weekend and to see a bunch of tech tips on rando and racing check out http://www.ussma.org/cosmic/.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More Ama Dablam and Island Peak Photos

Our group was very strong and motivated, luckily we managed to pick very good summit days for both Ama Dablam and Island Peak. Top: Michael and Roger lead the team on the way to Island Peak Summit. Second: Ruud just below the summit ridge of Island Peak. Third: View over the khumbu at sunrise at 6100m, with the shadow of Everest cast over the horizon. Bottom: Sunset over the Khumbu.

Summit Morning on Island Peak

video

Matching crowns: Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam









It is very interesting to note the two crowns, top Cho Oyu, bottom Ama Dablam - both at almost the same altitudes (6400m) - at almost the same time of year, at the same aspects, same height - 1 meter. The shapes are beautiful, but the consequences can be deadly.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ama Dablam and Island Peak Summits!








The photos are from this November in the Khumbu Valley. I had a really great group for both Island Peak and Ama Dablam. We were very lucky I was able to call upon some personal contacts for a great forecast that let us sneak up and down with relatively low (30K) winds. The days on either side of the 26th - our Ama Dablam summit day - were very windy; they were far from ideal. I will post some pictures of the crowns from Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam in the coming days, they look amazingly similar. Panda Power!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ama Dablam

Hello from Ama Dablam! Well actually Pangboche - I ran down to town as there is fast internet in a lodge there.
 We made it to base camp in great condition, everyone is feeling fit in the group. Today was a much deserved rest day, and a bit of packing, as tomorrow we head off to Island peak for a few days to acclimatize before climbing Ama Dablam.
Many teams have been topping out the past few days and base camp is clearing out nicely, when we return from Island Peak there should only be a couple of teams remaining. There is talk of a bit of bad weather coming in but it should not derail any of our plans.
I will report back shortly, thanks for following along.







Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ama Dablam Helicopter Crash Update

The latest news is the helicopter crashed on the north side of the mountain attempting to rescue climbers on that side of the mountain. News is still sketchy, and very much third hand, but wanted to put people at ease who new people on the Normal (SW Ridge) route.


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Helicopter Crash Ama Dablam

Hello from Namche Bazaar. All of the group are doing great, infact they are some of the fastest members I have ever had. We have been sitting around at the bakery eating yummy baked delights when we hear that a helicopter crashed at Ama Dablam. I know no details at this point, but we are all fine. I know many people who are at base camp right now, I hope that they are all ok.
More uptates to come.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu Recap: Ama Here I come

I am sorry that there has not been much updating here on the blog during the year, I had arranged - well I thought anyway - for someone to do it for me. To see individual trip reports please visit www.fieldtouring.com and as always www.explorersweb.com somehow managed to keep up to date on what was going on.

I am in Europe enjoying a much needed two week holiday, then I fly back to Nepal to guide Ama Dablam.

Big plans are cooking for next year already! I am excited.

2010 Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu Photo Gallery 4

Yes, it is true, it was my idea. The CTMA had done a great job dealing with the rope fixing and I suggested to them that in order to end the season on a high note - as there were only a few summits - they throw a party for all at ABC. They did and it was great!



Tibetan hands. I took this photo in a house in Old Tingri. Luis and I had gone on a stroll and an elderly woman invited us into her house for tea. Neither of us drank any, but it was a rare treat to see a traditional Tibetan home.



Kinga and Patricia enjoy a bit of bacon in K2 base camp. I had to endure alot of laughter from our cook. Yummy though.





Me and Alix Von Melle, Makalu, May at 6800m. Alix is a member of the Marmot Team - Europe. I saw her again on Cho Oyu this September - she was not lucky enough for the summit on Makalu this spring, but tough enough for the summit on Cho Oyu - one of the few!



Gerlinde at 7800m just cresting onto the shoulder. I was breaking trail at this point, it was hard going in the crusty conditions.

2010 Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu Photo Gallery 3

The dividing line. This photo shows where the snow cut loose on Cho Oyu this september. As you can see, there were many shifting layers. Scary. And yes I really am that close to it while taking the picture, and yes it really is a meter high.



Makalu puja. These are festive ceremonies, the bottle of whiskey is mandatory.





Luis, leaving C1 6400m, on Cho Oyu this September. Many, many tents. Our Marmot Thor 3 is just below is in the sun.





Gerlinde and Ralf, in K2 base camp, July. We have a ritual, every summit push I eat breakfast with them the morning we set off from base camp. It has gone on for a few years now. It is fun and takes some of the pressure off. They are without a doubt some of my favorite people in the world. She has 13 8000m peaks (only K2 remaining), he has all 14. Ralf and I were in Queen Maud Land together ten years ago.

2010 Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu Photo Gallery 2

Tibet's best meat market. What is the meat? Great question. However we did buy one of them. This is main street Tingri, the last town before going into CBC. Cho Oyu




Our Puja before heading up Makalu. The Lama (seated) was very efficient, our expedition first and then two more that morning. They can only be help on auspicious days, and it is a few days walk for him to base camp, so makes sense.



Luis, a client on Cho Oyu this September, enjoying a beautiful day, and setting a personal altitude record every step higher!










Gerlinde and Kinga, the two best female altitude climbers. Notice the symmetry in footwork. We are all enjoying the sun during the second summit push, the first one involved 50km/h winds. I took this photo half way to C1, we all took a lazy pace this day in August.

2010 Makalu, Broad Peak, K2 and Cho Oyu Photo Gallery 1

Image from 7100m in August of Darek's suprise birthday celebration. Inside the blue box is a cake, we had alot of problems with lighting the candles!





Conga line heading to the serac on Cho Oyu this September. As you can see it is far from a wilderness or solo experience. It is still a beautiful mountain however, and I think this season proves there is no such thing as an easy or safe 8000m peak.




Stuart, one of my clients on Makalu this May, on O2 at camp 3, 7000m. Looks very much a spaceman.










Brian "BMoney" Block, heading into the higher camp 2, 6400m, on Broad peak in July.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Broad Peak/K2 Double Header 2010: Flight Delays

There are luckily very few climbers heading to Skardu this season, if there were more nobody would ever arrive. The Road has proved problematic and flights have been cancelled significantly over the past couple of weeks meaning priority is given to delayed passengers. Regardless of our longstanding reservations with PIA and the very large efforts of Imran and the whole ATP staff we have started to trickle in slowly.
Today 5 members flew to Gilgit and are now driving over to join us, a few are scheduled to fly tomorrow, Chris and a couple of guides in training are coming by road from Islamabad, and should be here tomorrow night. Fortunately it means we should only be one day off the back departing for Askoli, no big deal.
Skardu remains overcast and not as hot as usual, and means that the 5 members here with me will continue a bit of sightseeing and alot more tea drinking in the garden of the Concordia Hotel with views of the river - terribly civilized really.
High school graduation pranks and future desert crossing expeditions keep us occupied during meals- I was told the shocking news that Brangelina broke up last year as well - perhaps too much time in base camps and not enough time glued to TMZ.
I will keep you posted on our departure for Askoli and base camp.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Broad Peak/K2 2010: Karakoram is quiet!

I arrived in Islamabad two days ago to the news from Essar and Naiknam at ATP that the Karakoram will be very quiet this season. According to them there are only 25 permits sold to the entire range - including 6, 7 & 8000m peaks! Neither could remember such a slow year. Last year we thought was slow with around 70 permits sold - perhaps the economy, the events in Lahore and the Attabad (Hunza) flood and lake formation have really put second thoughts in peoples minds about coming. The KKH is supposedly in bad shape and the lack of people will be good for the always difficult to get seats on the flight to Skardu.

We are very fortunate to have a full Broad Peak and K2 trip! I must admit that I am looking forward to not so many teams in both base camps, alot of hard work lies ahead but it will make everything much more harmonious, less overcrowding at the camps and the possibility for all teams to come together for parties during the down time.

There are some old friends returning this summer and I cant wait to see them. I head to Skardu tomorrow to finalize all of the organization, luckily leaving the duty of getting the permits to Chris, my co leader at Field Touring Alpine this summer, when he arrives with the members in a couple of days - as our liason officer has not reported for duty yet.

Another Karakoram season is underway! I am psyched, 10 days rest between Makalu base camp and Skardu is enough time off mountains it turns out. It was great to spend long dinners and lunches with friends in Thamel. It was especially nice to see some people after they had been helicoptered off Makalu and see the frostbite was not as bad as originally suspected, celebrate with Tunc (congratulations again!) and friends from other mountains. luckily I will get a couple of weeks rest between the Karakoram and the Autumn season on Cho Oyu (finilize your bookings with Stu soon)!

I will be updating frequently from Broad Peak and K2 as we have figured out the email glitch with the PDA, so check back frequently and wish us luck!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Makalu Summit Bid Under Way!

Our summit bid got under way this morning and we have already reached C2 at
6700m! We are all feeling strong and excited about our chances in the days
ahead. Tomorrow we will move up to C3 at 7400m with hopes for great summit
weather on the 22nd or 23rd of May.

Wish us well!

Follow the daily updates at:
www.fieldtouring.blogspot.com

Monday, May 17, 2010

Makalu 2010 Update - April 17

Our team is back in BC after a good run up to 6700m to
acclimatize more and work on the tents at C2. The winds
have been very strong on the mountain and we have had to
be very patient. It looks like finally our summit window
will come next weekend with low winds predicted to begin
on the 21st and to last at least the 3 days we'll need!!

Wish us luck!

Catch up on all of the trip dispatches at:
www.fieldtouring.blogspot.com

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Makalu Update - 7400m reached!

From Makalu BC
May 9, 2010

Our expedition is going very well with our team having
spent a total of 3 nights in C2 at 6700m and reaching
a high point of 7400m on the 7th of May. We are down at
BC safe and sound while the winds rage above our heads.

We will hope the weather in the week ahead allows us to
make a push above 7400m. Wish us luck!

You can find more written and audio dispatches at:
www.fieldtouring.blogspot.com

Still a few spots on my trips to Broad Peak & K2 for
this summer and for Cho Oyu, Alpine Training and Ama
Dablam for this autumn! If you are interested just drop
a note to "stu@fieldtouring.com".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Makalu 2010 Update - 28 April

From Makalu BC

Over the last few weeks we have travelled from Kathmandu to the Makalu BC
(5900m) and begun our work on the mountain. Since arriving we have spent 2
nights at C1 (6350m), installed Camp 2 (6700m) and are now enjoying a few
days of well-earned rest in BC!

Everyone on our team is climbing strongly, feeling well and excited about
the challenge ahead. We hope you will follow us as we attempt to summit the
5th highest peak in the world!

See all the dispatches and updates from the trip:
www.fieldtouring.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Makalu 2010

I am on my way to Kathmandu, I will be updating by email here as well as by voice messaging on fieldtouring.blogspot.com
Wish us luck!

Friday, March 19, 2010

2010/11/12 Expeditions with Fabrizio

Join me on an expedition in 2010/11/12!
Please email stu@fieldtouring.com for booking and logistics questions. I look forward to climbing with you!

2010
Makalu: April 10 - May 30
K2/Broad Peak Doubleheader: June 10 - Aug 14
Cho Oyu or Pumori: Sept 05 - Oct 15
Khumbu Expedition Training: Oct 15 - Nov 03
Ama Dablam: Nov 04 - Dec 04

2011
Aconcagua: January
Cho Oyu: April 10- May 30

2012
Everest: Spring Expedition