Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nuptse west face history: Humar and Jeglic

I thought I would post a bit of information about the route on Nuptse which I attempted in early November.
  • As illustrated here, the route basically weaves a line up the middle of the West face.

    It was the visionary alpinists Tomaž Humar in Janez Jeglič who made the first ascent (and still, to this day, the only ascent ) in 1997. They climbed in alpine style, simul soloing all of it minus the labyrinth of an ice fall at the bottom of the route. With three bivies on the face they managed to find a way to the ridge. Tomaz graded the route at 2500m 90° IV-V (50-70°, V).

    Tragically Jeglič was blown off the summit by very strong winds, forcing Humar to descend alone. It is one thing to attempt the wall – or any climb - alone; It is entirely another to have experienced such an intense climb with a partner, experience such tragedy at the summit and and have to find a way down without them, entirely alone.

    Janez Jeglic:

    Delving briefly into climbing history book of achievements in Patagonia and Slovenia you will quickly come to understand just what an amazing alpinist Jeglič was. He managed to author some of the greatest routes there. Here is a selected Biography from his wikipedia page:

    1983 : Fitz Roy '83 - / The Devil's Dihedral (VI +, A2, 850 m) column at SV

    1985 : Jalung Kang '85 - to m

    1986 : Torre Egger '86 - southeastern wall (VII +, A3, 90 st., 950 m)

    1986: Cerro Torre '86 - primarily through the east wall (

    1988 : Cerro Torre '88 - with Silvom Karom diretisima Clockwork / The Hell's Direttissima (VIII + / VII-, A3-4, 70-95 st., 1200 m) through the south wall

    1990 : Bagirati III '90 -

    1990: the international Alps-Adriatic '90 Everest Expedition

    1993 : USA '93 - the Jolly Roger Yosemite

    1994 : Cerro Torre 94 - (VIII-, A4, 90 st., 800 m) in the South wall of the Cerro Torre

    1996 : USA '96 - repeat Sea of Dreams (VI, 5.9, A5) El Cap

    Tomaz Humar:

    Tomaž was an international star and much has been written about his tremendous achievements and contribution to mountaineering. Sadly, he died while soloing Langtang Lirang in November of 2009. More information can be found about him on www.humar.comThe Slovenians have of course led the way in terms of what Himalayan alpinism (perhaps global) should be like while the Polish took the prize for who could suffer the most.

    My absolute greatest hero remains Slavkom Svetičičem another Slovenian. He was really the first one to take the idea of fast and light and solo to the biggest walls in the world. He unfortunately died with soloing the west face of Gasherbrum IV in 1995. For more information about him please see http://www.slavko-sveticic.com/

    Ok Enough history for now....time to start training and looking forward to planning some additional guiding projects, skiing, ice and mixed climbing this winter..!

    Topo photo is By Fabrizio Zangrilli

    Jeglic photo is from hi wikipedia page

    Humar photo is form his website

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kathmandu: post guiding and Nuptse

Sorry it has been a while since I have updated here, it seems to be easier to update my Facebook athlete page (fabrizio zangrilli climbing) while away in the mountains.

Guiding for the month of October was great, it was a trip based on alpine skills and while conditions were really not great after the two major snow events (first in mid Sept and then again early Oct) we managed to be flexible and found better conditions on a mountain we had not planned on climbing originally. My goal was to teach skills that would create an alpinist - for sure a solid start.
November gave me an opportunity to try something that I have been looking at for 15 years. I knew going into it that conditions were less than ideal, but it was worth giving it a go anyway. I learned a lot about the wall, a lot - and cant believe how big everything was, the adventure, the seracs, the avis, how much sugar snow can cling to steepish blue ice - everything. There are more photos here on my Facebook athlete page (there are a few hard earned secrets I will not be sharing about the first crux though) . More photos to come.....

First photo is Nuptse's west face with Everest behind, Second is my bivy/base camp - clearly not a well funded nor big expedition. I am eating everything in sight, and trying my best to get out of here which is harder than I would like so might be here for a while.

Thanks so much to Marmot, CAMP, SCARPA, Ames Adventure Outfitters and CHUCS Dive and Mountain Shop for the continued support!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Khumbu Alpinist Course: Lukla

Landed in Lukla and all of our bags made it as well! So happy to start
trekking to Monjo today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Khumbu Alpinist Course: Kathmandu Prep

There is a famous saying about both ends of the economic spectrum having a leisure class, unfortunately I seem to not fall into either group anymore. Yesterday was all about work, I went through all 12 barrels of equipment in storage; sorted food; finalized governmental paperwork, and dropped off a few things for repair. Had the delightful please of a chat with Miss Hawley - this time via phone as she is still recovering from a broken hip and I didn't have time to drop into her office at Dilli Bazaar. Then went to have dinner with an old friend, we didn't connect but instead had dinner with Tsedam who is an older friend. He owns International Mountain Equipment and Zamling Hotel in Namche. It was great fun to see him and relax a bit, came back to my new home away from home (away from home) - the offices of Cho Oyu Trekking and passed out by 9pm! Up at 4:30 am, time to start a bit more packing and hopefully soon find some coffee!   

To learn more about Khumbu Alpinist courses please check out my website and/or like my facebook athlete page.
My website

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Khumbu Alpinist Course: Kathmandu!

Kathmandu! The airport was crazy, many many people! It is the start of a major festival here, it is also very monsoon like, hot in the morning and then raining at night Beni from Cho Oyu Trekking tells me. Great to be back in the office! Lots to do, pack all climbing equipment, buy more food - already brought alot from Europe.
Beni has already booked and bought plane tickets, booked porters, lodges, permits and everything else that needs to be done.

I hear that Fire and Ice is open again too, everything is going great!

Khumbu Alpinist Course: Kyazo Ri and Pharilapcha and more...

I am off to Nepal!
The past month has been fantastic, but I am happy to be heading back to Nepal for some nice technical climbing. I am teaching an intermediate Khumbu Alpinist Course, lots of moderate technical climbing and even more skills training. I enjoy these trips, I get to do some fun climbing but more importantly get to introduce people to some real world helpful tactics for alpine climbing.

Kyazo Ri and Pharilapcha are in the Gokyo area of the Khumbu, beautiful trekking to get there and then views from the summits of all the things you would want to see up close in the Khumbu.

Might have something fun to report on at the end of October as well....I will keep posting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Explorersweb.com interview, reading lists and off to Nepal this week!


Check out an interview with me on Exweb...
Off to Nepal this week, very excited!!!
Packing again, it never stops.

Interesting reading list for this trip through:
Norman Davies, Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present
John Irving, Last night in twisted river
Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War
I hope to get a copy of Bernadette McDonald's Freedom Climbers and Murakami's IQ84

Yes, it is alot to read, but that is what I like to do on rest days and evenings in lodges when trekking to Kyazo Ri and Pharilapcha base camp. I am guiding for October, then will have some fun personal climbing to talk about, more on that later.....

I love this Khumbu Alpinist course, we do some very fun, challenging and seldom visited ridges with amazing views. I get to teach skills and pass along tips on alpine efficiency. The climbing is fun for me as well.

OK, back to packing.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

K2 Summit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They did it, fingers crossed for a safe trip down!!!!!!! They are AMAZING!

"time 16:35
Gerlinde has reached the summit ridge together with Vassiliy. Maxut and Darek come afterwards."
This was on Gerlinde's website, they are doing it!!!!!! Not long now I am sure Amazing, I wish them the safest return to base camp as possible!!!!!!!
Congratulations congratulations!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

North Side going for it tonight?

Update 22/08/11: From Gerlinde's website it says they want to fix some rope today above C4, then try on Tuesday for the summit....good luck to them up there, I hope they find good conditions!!! They are strong as anything!!!!!!!

Well, I am not sure, I dont have direct contact with them, but Explorersweb.com and National Geographic's websites say that Max, Vasily, Darek and Gerlinde are all in camp 4 at 8000 meters on the north side of K2 as of this afternoon, so they just might be up and cooking as I write this - it is just about midnight Kathmandu time, (they are about an hour behind). I really hope they get the conditions and are up to the summit tomorrow, and back down safely. I want it so much for them.

Funny to be sitting here reading about it all and not be up there. Now I know how all my friends feel, time and time again each year.

Good luck up there, I wish you all the best!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


So nice to be back in Kathmandu - pizza, beer, ice cream and rain! The rain is good too because it is not so hot. Off to see my very good friends at Cho Oyu Trekking to discuss plans for the next season of guiding as well as Everest for next spring with clients....more on this later.

I have spent so much time in Kathmandu over the past 15 years that it does feel like a relief to be back here. Karachi was too hectic and hot, Islamabad was at least a great dinner at Kabul Restaurant - with a ton of grilled meat, but overall it is nice to be back here. Having said all of that, I hope to be able to spend some time in Europe or North America in the coming weeks before things kick off at the end of September for me in the Khumbu.

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote nice emails and messages via my athlete page on facebook during the K2 expedition. I was sad to read on exweb about the guys on the north side having trouble with snow and avalanches the past few days, I really hope they can go to the top and down safely!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

K2 2011: Off the Baltoro

Out from the Baltoro and infact in Islamabad already. I took a trip up to camp2 and conditions had really gone south with the heat the few days after the summit attempt, hard ice and unconsolidated snow with a bit of rockfall to spice it all up. The conditions on the Basque route reminded me of the descent from the second summit push last year, very dangerous. Upon comparing metoexploration.com and Dr. Karl Gabl's forecast it looked best to just call it quits. I am happy to be off the glacier.

We trekked out in 3 days, then one internetless night in Skardu and a cancelled flight later we started the 2 day drive to ISB. Flights tonight get us out of the country very very quickly!!! On the other side of the mountain it is reported that our friends are heading up again. I wish them all the best and hope they are able to summit!!!!!!!

Thanks so much to my partner Kinga, Mr. Ali and Suckawhat - our base camp staff and Ghulam from Blue Sky Treks and Tours who really put on a first class show for us!!!!!!! In the end we are healthy and happy because of them.

Photos form the trip to follow.......

Now it is time to answer emails from clients about guiding the Autumn in Nepal and Everest guiding next spring....oh yeah and plan next year's return!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Post summit attempt wrap up

August 08, 2011 – Update from base camp
We made it down to base camp late on the 6th – around 8pm, directly
from the shoulder. Another trip to the shoulder, many for me now. I
cannot say I did not see it coming. We really should have tried for
the summit on the 4th, both Kinga and Christian's forecast – both from
Meteoexploration.com which has been very very accurate this season
suggested it as the best summit day, a bit of rough seas at c2 and c3
the previous days, but would have been worth it as winds below 10km at
the summit here are hard to find. There was alot of discussion the
last days of July and the teams climbing with oxygen were just not
ready for the 4th, and thought that 30km winds were acceptable. We did
not take a bold enough step and leave with the intention of the 4th.
August 02 say all 14 people leave for C2, we loligaged a bit on the
way up as it was decided I had broken enough trail and should take it
easy. We arrived in sunny conditions and all was well.
August 03 others set off first again and finially we caught up with
the main group at the edge of the snowfield above the towers, and then
I sped up to pick up 200m of rope deposited last trip just below low
C3, to fix into C3, arriving just before 2:30pm in the real C3. I
again took another 200m rope, which another member carried from just
below low C3, and fixed another 100m of rope across the 100 meters of
steep ground above C3 while everyone else nestled into their sleeping
bags, returning to camp at 6:30pm. Enough work for one day for one
person – especially given we were now 14 people moving up.
August 04 Again others took off first and immediately after the steep
ground I had fixed the day before found very deep snow. In an amazing
display of tenacity and strength Luis Stizsinger – with skis on his
back and TLT5s on his feet – led a long traverse in very deep snow to
put us onto a better course. At this point we reached old rope fixed
last year by a Russian member of the Polish team. A quick rotation
started and Kinga and I deemed it too slow going – regardless of how
hard everyone was trying and trust me everyone was trying. Reaching
the shoulder after 6pm, with 30km winds forecasted seemed a bad idea
to us. A bit of radio time with some attemps to convince some to
return to C3 and continue the next day to C4 yielded nothing so we
descended. Some made it to the Shoulder, but just after 6pm. Others
slept at an very creative bivy 200m below and others at the low C4 –
75 m below the Shoulder.
August 05 We rebroke 75% of the trail to the shoulder, arriving at
6:05pm. Luckily those that had arrived on the shoulder had found our
tent from last year in a deposit, and very very very kindly set it up
for us. The winds had picked up considerably around 4:30pm, so we just
ducked into the tent. A bit of radio comms again and we decided to
start at 2:30am for the Bottleneck. At 1:30am we heard no talk, just
wind, wait another hour. At 3am people started talking about the wind.
Luis and I decided it was too windy, wait til 5am, at 5am it was just
too windy. Everybody went to sleep, By 7am people were leaving the
Shoulder for lower camps or BC. Around 8am – after depositing stuff
for another attempt we said Have Fun to Luis who put on his skis and
started to make turns. Amazingly he skied to close to C3 and then the
Lower half of the Kukuczka route – super effort and great fun to watch
someone who is a master at their sport! We arrived into BC around 9pm,
to the best chips and a most warm welcome from our two cooks MR. Ali
and Sukawat!
August 6th we slept, and slept and slept. In the afternoon Chris,
Sammi, Luis and Alix came over for coffee and cakes and we all chatted
away in a our dining tent while outside it snowed. It was nice to be
with close friends and warm and safe.
August 7th FTA and Christian and Bruno depart BC, sad to see friends
go, only one other team left in BC, they leave tomorrow. First in last
out. We will give it another go if the weather will give us a chance
in the next 10 days. K2 is a tough nut to crack.
Sorry for not updating more, hope you are having a great summer and
thanks for following along!!!!!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Summit push starts tonight!!!!!

I have worked hard this season,and am very proud of the fact that I
have opened the route from the bottom to the start of the snowfield
below camp 3. The 400 meters of trailbreaking from the bottom of the
snowfield to C3 was done by 3 others. I again fixed the last two
hundred meters of rope to C3. The division of labor has been set for
the rest of the route during our push – I will fix the first 300
meters above C3 through the steep ground and then onto the right path
that leads to the Shoulder. I am slated to lead the Bottle Neck and
Traverse as well. Kinga and I would like to say thanks to Christian,
Gerfried and Bruno for the support and work on the last push carrying
rope and trailbreaking on the snowslope below C3.

Tonight, 2am K2 BC time we will all start for the summit from base
camp, hoping to summit on Friday – what will you do this week while we
work up and up on K2?. I have been through this night many times
before, I love the feeling of starting a summit push!

We will be a total of about 15 starting tonight that have joined in
the last few days.Wish us all luck, in the end all that matters is we
all come down safe and sound, but let's hope for a summit this time,
the snow might be too deep, but we will give it our best try.....stay

Fabrizio from base camp

Saturday, July 02, 2011

K2 2011: Snowing in Base camp

July 02 2011
A super fast trip to base camp (5 days from Askoli) has led to not much activity. Strong winds, clouds and snow has meant a lot of reading and not much else. We did wake up this morning at 4 am to try and go up to camp 1 or 2, but returned to bed as clouds and snow were obviously on their way.
The mountains look very dry, rock fall is my biggest concern for this season. A stroll along the glacier towards the base of the Basque Spur (often incorrectly called the Cesen Spur) a day or two ago was a somber reminder of all the incidents over the years here. Much detritus was to be found; some relocated off the safest route to the start of the spur.
The weather paterns seem to be following exactly what 15 years of elapsed weather journals state. We wait for the expected change of weather. Luckily we are staffed by the best cook and assistant I have had in many years, so yummy food and some fun conversation about the state of Pakistan help pass the time. Please enjoy the photos, and have a happy 4th of July if you are following along in the US!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

K2 2011: Trek

Off to Askoli!
22/6 Jeep to Askoli
23/6 Trek to Jola
24/6 Trek to Paiju
25/6 Trek to Urdukus
26/6 Trek to Goro 2
27/6 Trek to K2 Base Camp

I love this trek, we will be in touch along the way!

2011 K2: KKH and Skardu

The drive up the Karakoram Highway was really good when it was done. In all honesty it is not as bad as I make it out to be, just a bit hot and bumpy. We stayed in Besham with the guys heading into the Charakusa Valley, and had a super dinner of fried chicken, chips, subzi ( vegetable curry) and lentils and roti. Way too much food, we slept 3 hours and then finished off the last 18 hours of driving. We stopped many times for cool drinks and it is business as usual, everybody is friendly and nice, not one problem so far here. I have heard a few very interesting theories about US military actions of late, but that has been said with a smile and with no bad intentions.

I went to the briefing today - which has finally been changed from Islamabad to Skardu, which is a small godsend as we now dont have to waste two days in Islamabad. I am the leader of the 2011 Georgian K2 Expedition. Funny when you think that there are no Georgians on the permit - visa troubles kept them from coming. We, Blue Sky Trek and Tours, split the permit with Jasmine tours, so it was fun to sit in the office with Ghulam and Asghar today as they are good friends, and old friends of mine. The level of cooperation between some companies here is great as times are tough. Nice to see.

Being in Skardu is great, like Kathmandu a few weeks ago, seeing old friends and catching up.
There are so few people heading into the mountains that for people who come regularly it is nice, last night we had a great dinner in Ghulam's house and it all makes me think about less commercial times. I do hope that things pick up for next year, for my personal guiding and for all the agents sake.

For those that stay in the Concordia hotel regularly, Sher Ali has given up playing volleyball, said it was too much work. I know, for those of you who dont know him, WTF - big news here in Skardu.

Ok, time for more fried chicken and chips!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

K2 2011: Monsoon

So the monsoon officially arrived last night (yes there is such a thing) and honestly it was monsoonal. amazing storm, planes were diverted to Lahore and lightning was everywhere and the roads in Islamabad were almost instantly flooded. It was amazing. What is not amazing about this news is that flights to Skardu have not gone for two days and so we (all of the Blue Sky Tours clients heading into the mountains) will board a bus and drive the Karakoram Highway. Fun. Just kidding. This is something like my 20th time on the road in one direction or another, and what they say about doing it once is correct. ONCE, ok, perhaps twice to make sure you liked it, but 20 is bordering on a joke.
I love climbing and guiding in Pakistan because you earn your views here ( much like skiing and turns, they are better earned - however turns are way more fun!). Everybody at PIA, then Immigration, the taxi drivers waiting at the airport and the hotel staff have been as friendly and nice as ever, but if you read the editorial pages and the news about the resentment here it is a tad bit concerning.
Ok, time to go, oh yeah, did I mention the bus ride takes 30 hours, tonight to Besham and then tomorrow night Skardu!!!!
More to follow.
Please remember you can also follow along on my Facebook page

Thursday, June 16, 2011

K2 2011: A quiet season ahead

I am flying from Kathmandu to Islamabad today for what seems like a very quiet season in the Karakoram. Nice. From what I gather from the team listings on Explorersweb it might only be a handful of teams total in the Karakoram and those that are heading to K2 might be a little bit behind us as they are heading to either Broad Peak or the Gasherbrums first. Christian and Alex are on the SW face and will have a base camp a little closer to BP BC I think than where traditional bc is.
Dealing with a bunch of excess baggage from Kathmandu on PIA today, oh the joys of travel.

I went up to Annapurna BC on the south side last weekend, it was amazing and great to be out of the city - which was driving me crazy - just the honking of horns anywhere in Kathmandu is enough to drive one crazy. It was the start of the monsoon, and I experienced some really strong storms that lasted an hour or two, or all night. It was amazing to see the nice lodges and to be honest the lodge owners were very relaxed as the season was over and during the 5 days I spent on the trek I saw a total of 50 people max.The stairs into the Sanctuary were great training as well.

Time to finish packing and head to the airport.
Updates to follow as usual.....
Photo is mine from 2009 of my home away from home

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Makalu 2011: End of Expedition and accurate reporting from Exweb

I am back in Kathmandu, it is good to eat yummy food and see some friends from other expeditions. I received a few emails to clarify the last few days on Makalu.
The most accurate reporting I have found is from www.explorersweb.com dated May 25th 2011:
(Newsdesk) Asian Trekking reports to ExplorersWeb that a Swiss 33-year old female member of the Makalu Spring Expedition 2011 was found dead after summit inside her tent at Camp 3 on May 22.

"The news seems confirmed by Fabrizio Zangrilli in a broken voice dispatch over satellite. On his website today, Martin Ramos issued a statement along with Jorge Egocheaga saying that Joëlle Brupbacher died on Makalu La at 7,400 m on May 22 at 11.30 pm.

Slovak Peter Hamor, Romanian Horia Colibasanu and the two Spaniards Jorge Egocheaga and Martin Ramos summited Makalu on Saturday, May 21, at 1 pm.

The climbers shared permit with Joëlle Brupbacher, Oscar Fernández, Peter Hámor, Gia Totladze, Kinga Baranowska, Oxana Morneva and Fabrizio Zangrilli.

In place were also a number of Slovenian climbers, American Steve House, and commercial expeditions Jagged Globe (and Kobler according to ExWeb's list of expeditions).

Martin Ramos says that after their summit he and Jorge met Joelle in the French corridor at 8,200 meters around 2.30 pm and advised her to turn around due to the late hour. She pushed on with her Sherpa Pasang and the climbers met up again in C4 about 10.30 pm that night.

Checking with Pasang that Joelle was OK, Martin and Jorge continued descent to BC the next morning. Joelle became unable to move in camp 3. Pasang was with her, along with Peter and Horia, radioing down the mountain for help.

Unacclimatized and unfamiliar with the route, Jorge's and Martin's cook Migma (a close friend to Jorge) climbed up with the bottle and left it between C2 and C3 (at about 7,200) until asked at 10 pm by Jorge to turn back .

Jorge then turned to Fabrizio, Steve House and Marco (Prezelj) who left for C3 after midnight and reached 7,100 meters at 6 am. Unfortunately, the climbers descended with Horia and Peter, after Joëlle had died of exhaustion in camp 3 at 11.30 pm. "

After this I rested one day, then Kinga and I started up for a summit push. It was equally a beautiful and horrific experience. Beautiful as we had the whole mountain to ourselves, as we headed up from base camp our friends departed base camp, we were alone. Makalu is a big mountain and we felt the energy of it. It was beautiful. It was horrific as I had agreed to bury Joelle in the camp 3 area. It was very sad for me as we had been on Makalu together the year before. It never get easy. Kinga and I continued onwards and upwards the next day to Camp 4 and awoke to a perfect night and headed towards the summit. After 350 meters I was too tired to continue. The winds had blown away all previous tracks and mid calf deep snow the rest of the way to the summit - over 450m vertical away - was just not safe for me anymore. We tried. Now it is time to think to the future.....more to come.

My thoughts are with Joelle's family and close friends.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Makalu 2011 Lukla with Air Zermatt Pilots

We arrived to Lukla, luckily it was a bit overcast and not so hot today on the way down from Namche. We arrived to the lodge and a few of the Air Zermatt crew were here, jokingly we asked them to fly us to Makalu tomorrow and they said they heard about our flight and wanted to do it. Fingers crossed they will be able to. The pilot, Danny, who is here was the psycho that got the Spanish off of Annapurna at 7000 meters last spring, totally crazy. These guys really know what they are doing, today they took a casual ride over to Manaslu ABC from Kathmandu with a couple of Koreans, and headed up to Lukla. It would be awesome if they flew us in!!!!!!!
More to come........

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Makalu 2011 Acclimatization in Khumbu photos

We finished our acclimatization in the Khumbu very successfully. We climbed Island Peak with our friend Justin and had a fun time all around. Luckily we got to spend an evening with another friend Brian who is headed to Everest, and met a few other very nice people. The most interesting group has been a school group from New Zealand, visiting nurseries and schools all part of the Hillary Trust - some of which like the Khumjung School celebrates its 50th anniversary this May. Impressive. The kids are all between the ages of 15 and 19 and seem to be very amazed by the huge differences between their home lives and that of rural Nepal (however rich the Khumbu is by comparison to the rest of the country).

All lodge owners and perhaps the guy who has the most accurate finger on the pulse of the number of tourists in the Khumbu, Santosh from Namche Cyber Cafe is reporting the number of tourist is very low. It begs the question that when Nepal launches a Year of Tourism again does it scare tourists due to expected big crowds, or better yet, what is the incentive for coming? Do peak fees drop? Will they wave the visa fee for return visitors? There should be something, not just saying it is the year to visit Nepal - which kinda happens every couple of years. We will start posting from Makalu very soon. Oh yeah, happy Easter!

Here are a few photos from the trip so far: Photo at top is of a monk at Pangboche monastery.
Even the horses are hungry at the bottom of the hill in Phunky Tenga.

The Pre Island Peak Beer Justin bought, thanks!

Mani Stones line the path to Everest.

Kinga and Justin nearing the top of the face on Island Peak. It is steeper than most expect.

Me at the Kukuczka Memorial Chorten halfway between Dingboche and Chuckung, Kinga is a representative of his Foundation, we filmed there for a bit.

Yak bells, Made in Premana? No, few know that CAMP has for over 100 years produced the cow bells heard across the Alps.

Rice and other ceremonial items at the Pangboche Monastery.

Yaks in Dingboche during an afternoon snow storm.

Santosh, the Man at Namche Cyber Cafe.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Makalu 2011: Puja

Kinga and I had our Makalu Puja in Khumjung, it was great, 15 monks playing horns, drums and chanting. If you have never been to a puja in a historic monastery then you are missing out. It is honestly a very grounding experience. The whole puja lasted about half an hour, but it does serve as a great way to focus on the task at hand, regardless of your religious beliefs.

Makalu 2011: Very quick entry to Khumbu

Amazingly everything went to plan with the Citroen group, we managed to fly into Lukla and transfer immediately to a Pilates Porter to fly to Syangboche. Even with 50 of us it worked out flawlessly. all of the shuttling of people went without a hitch. Even more amazingly everybody felt great and we managed to walk to the Everest View Hotel, check in and then take a tour of Khumjung, and the Hillary school where we made a donation with all of the school kids watching. they were excited.
The weather is perfect right now, the Khumbu seems very quiet, everybody I speak to says the same.
We are very sad to see the group go, they were great fun!!
More to follow.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Makalu 2011: Not my usual Kathmandu - but way better!

As the title of the blog goes, this is not my usual start to an expedition. After 2 nights without much legroom, an the usual fun of getting a visa on arrival here, thanks to Citroen Motors Kinga Baranowska - my climbing parnter for Makalu ( www.kingabaranowska.com) and I stayed at the Dwarika - the best hotel in town, with all antique woodwork collected over 50 years from derelict buildings, it has so much charm. We have been busy running around getting all of our cargo for Makalu packed up and Cho Oyu Trekking has done an amazing job helping us with everything! We had a presentation for the president of both Citroen Motors and the president of Citroen Bank - along with a few of the best dealers. They are here to fly into the Khumbu with us and spend a night, then continue on to the Maldives for a bit of relaxation. What a contrast to us. What would I rather be doing, sitting on a beautiful beach letting the water lap onto my feet as I run sand through my fingers or don a pair of heavy boots and walk up hill? It is close, but the boots win every time.
I will be phone casting very regularly from the Makalu expedition, please follow along here!

Dwarika's 8 course welcome dinner, we ate with Sangita who is the owner, and her son and really enjoyed ourselves. We traded stories of one very famous mountaineer who regularly stays here for a good portion of the night.

The usual fun of getting your visa on arrival in Kathmandu airpoprt.

Our presentation at the Garden of Dreams, a little oasis in Thamel. A beautiful dinner for 50 was organized, amazing food and some fun as well.

I went to see Miss Hawley, she asked me to come back to work and help her with the rounding up of climbers at the end of the season again, I helped her out last October and really enjoyed it. Miss Hawley was as sharp as ever, I love to sit in her office and listen to stories from the golden age of Himalayan climbing.

Handing over our life savings, in my case this is not a joke.

The Reception area of the Dwarika in Kathmandu.

Statue in the Dwarika Garden.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Makalu 2011 Expedition: Flying:here we come: first flip flop ascent?

It should all be easy once you have checked in, kick back, relax, read, watch a few movies and sleep your way around the world. But sometimes it is not so easy, nobody is sure why, but I cannot check my bags all the way through to Kathmandu, if I get to Singapore and have to pay excess baggage charges again then I will be leaving most of the bags in Singapore and will be making the first ascent of Makalu in a pair of Scarpa Blitz, jeans, Vars Hoody and a Centaur 38 liter pack. Light is right? Well I don't want to be that light.

The past few days have been hectic, I spent alot of time with the Crew at Ripstop adjusting some stuff for filming, Jesse and Glen at CAMP/Cassin figuring out ways to lighten up my bags or hardware - which we did very successfully! - Chris spent some time with me molding boot liners at SCARPA in the 65 degree heat in Boulder on Friday, the Fed Ex man and I got to know each other quite well as he repeatedly showed up with the latest and greatest from Andy at Marmot. Both locations (Estes and Boulder) of the House for Wayward climbers were as good to me as usual as my bags repeatedly exploded for repacking sessions late into the night.

Spring skiing is amazing in Colorado right now, I was very sad to say goodbye to my new fat skis, luckily the snow will be around for a long time and again next season.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chamonix - Zermatt, new record, think you are fit?

Think you are fit? I thought I was as well, then I started hanging out with Rando Race People. RRP are the most amazing endurance athletes on the planet hands down. So these three French guys thought that gaining 8350 meters and skiing 7750 meters - yes those were meters - over 110 km in just under 19 hours was a good day of fun while skiing the Haute route from Chamonix to Zermatt. For those out for a cruise it usually takes a week.

I learned so much from RRP this past winter regarding breathing, pacing, and pushing hard. I wonder how much faster this will go? Skimo or Rando is without a doubt the best endurance training, races are popping up all around North America, check some out here: http://www.ussma.org/cosmic/

For more on the story check out:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Makalu: the return, how time flies

It seems like such a short time ago when last year at this time I was packing up for a trip to Makalu - not much passed in the last year just trips to Broad Peak, K2, Cho Oyu, Island Peak, Ama Dablam, Poland, UK, Germany, ISPO, Italy, Austria and a ton of skiing in RMNP (slightly sarcastic that not much happened) and again I am leaving.
I am actually looking forward to the cold and the big loads again, I will post more Makalu details soon, but found some images of last year that are going to be all to real for me soon enough.

That time of year again: Final adjustments for Makalu (Ripstop shout out)

Jim and the shop

It is that time of year again, I have packed everything up - and I mean everything this time, Marmot Lair 8 person tents, enough solar to charge for a big film project, over 25 kilos of camera equipment, a few heavy bags of the lightest climbing hardware available, and some modified gear. I am going to be spending alot of time filming this year and I needed a couple of special features put into my suit, Ripstop Repairs have always done an amazing job for me. I show up with crazy ideas for new products, ways to modify stuff for one off projects - they laugh at me sometimes, but they always do a great job! Bring beer and wine for speedy service - coffee is also appreciated! While you are there stop in and say high to the guys next door at Rock and Resole! Check them out at: http://www.ripstoprepairs.com/

Tools of the trade

Kyle "enjoying" working on a product with 900 fill.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Piolet d'Or Nominations: SE Face Logan

The Piolet d'Or nominations are in for 2011, and I really hope that the amazing Japanese team of Yasushi Okada and Katsutaka Yokoyama win for their ascent of the SE Face of Mount Logan (5959m) in Canada. Jack, Jay and I were there a few years ago. It was the greatest trip of my life, spending time with two of the best alpinists around and some of the best people also. We flew to the Canada border from Alaska, skied in (me with pony keg in tow - no joke) and gave it our best shot. This is a compilation of some video that I shot from the trip. Time flies, I always said I would go back, but never did. Jack gave them alot of beta and they named the route after the connection of people, they did a great job climbing the wall in 4 bivies. Congratulations!!!!!!

Check out the video here:

All photos by Fabrizio Zangrilli, all rights reserved.

Low pressure systems everywhere, a long wait in Haynes to fly to the border.

Packing it into two 185 flights was not easy.

The start of the long ski to the SE Face of Logan.

Our BC with nobody around.

Jay getting it done.


Friday, March 25, 2011

RMNP Conditions: Ice, Ski, Photo and Video

I have been out every day this past week either ice climbing or skiing, conditions are great right now. Dragontail has been skied a bunch the past couple of days, the fresh snow on the 23rd made all of the skiing in the area great, everyday we seem to be getting a light dusting that has made everything fun. Was up at Tyndal Glacier on the 24th, very wind blown at the top, but the ski down to Emerald lake was great.

Ice climbing at Hidden Falls today, Bryan and I had it all alone until we packed up at 3:30 when two motivated nice guys showed up. The bolted mixed (now dry) climb just to the right of the falls is stellar, very techy on the face. Alot of photo and video shooting has made the 7 days on tolerable. With no end in sight, as the forecast predicts a bit of snow and colder temps the next few days, I hope to have a good video representation of why RMNP is such great and varied place to climb and ski!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

CAMP R&D Visit: Photos and Story

Last month I was very fortunate to make a visit to the R&D department at CAMP/Cassin in Premana Italy. I have long been interested in the development of climbing equipment and so was very lucky to spend time in 120 years of climbing history. My amazing hosts and the food made it even more memorable. Thanks very much for having me!

Arriving at the Lecco train station I was immediately reminded of the history and importance of alpinism in the area. We all know about the Lecco Spiders, but the tradition of very strong climbers lives on today.

Along with playing, tinkering and developing new toys, I was very pleased to get a full factory tour, seeing where and how some of the best and lightest gear is made. Ever wonder exactly how a crampon is made?

The history in the old part of the building is amazing and in the very modern and newly built R&D facility the future is even more amazing. I, for some reason, thought carbon fiber tools were modern and not 25 years old.

There is a wall of history leading to the main R&D facility, which every designer walks past daily. Along with pieces of climbing history that line the walls, photos of the current and recent best athletes that have worked with CAMP are on display. The news of Simone, Denis and Cory's success on Gasherbrum II had just been heard so everyone was happy! Cassin's pitons and crampons reminded me how incredible he was, to have done so much with the available technology.

The contrast between the factory and the R&D Dept is startling. Down stairs a constant pounding of machines, metal being bent, shaped and cut. Upstairs we sat at futuristic looking testing equipment, drop testing dummies - no, not me - and testing the hardness of metals. Computer programs that helped develop crampons confounded me. Everything was frankly so cool. One thing to note, everybody who worked on product was an athlete, some like Ottavio had put up numerous very hard sport routes, to Mateo who "is not a good rock climber at just 8a, won a mixed comp or two and climbed new A4 routes out of hellish caves...." OK. Important I think when gear needs to work well and keep you alive.

The fourth generation of the Codega family is taking CAMP/Cassin to new places, (yes you read that right, from great great grandfather to the current generation, it has stayed in the same family) far from what the founders could have imagined.

The problem with seeing toys that are not available is wanting them. For many reasons, in the past few years I have tried to live the Buddhist philosophy of not wanting, but that was all destroyed in a quick visit to Premana. Now I cannot wait until next winter when product ships.
Still, I am amazed that one building has created axes for the Italian military in 1920 and the curent generation of mixed climbers.