Monday, October 20, 2008

Back in Seattle

Tomorrow evening will be the first time I've been home for more than 48 hours during the past 4 months! In mid June I left Seattle to spend 6 weeks in redneck, Southwest Montana, taking a 6-week geology field course that is the capstone of my geology BS. It was painful to spend 6 days a week in school, from 8am to 5pm, but I must admit that I learned some stuff.

After Montana I flew down to Salt Lake City for a few days for a Black Diamond meeting, and left almost immediately afterwards for Pakistan. This summmer I went to the Choktoi Glacier with Maxime Turgeon, Josh Wharton and Whit Magro - Max and I to attempt the Southeast Buttress of the Ogre, and Josh and Whit to attempt the north aspect of Latok I. In the end, none of us were able to make an honest attempt on our routes due to the weather. Early in the trip we had two 3-day windows, but they weren't quite long enough for Latok or the Ogre, and we weren't yet adequately acclimatized. Later we had a 6-day period of mediocre weather when, in hindsight, we should have made an attempt, but it's unlikely it would have been good enough for a decent summit chance. At the very last hour of the trip we thought a good window had finally come and set out for our routes, but Max and I had to turn around because our two cached ropes were hopelessly lost under about 3 meters of new snow (seriously), and Josh and Whit bailed because it was so cold (I have since concluded that the last week of September is getting a bit late for 7,000m peaks in the Karakorum, especially north-facing objectives).

Although absolutely insignificant compared to our main objectives, we did all get to do some satisfying climbing while acclimatizing. Josh and Whit climbed a 5,700m peak by a new route, and believe it was the first ascent of the peak. Max and I climbed a 5,900m peak by its aesthetic south ridge, and we are about 85% sure it was the first ascent of the peak, but we need to do more research to be sure. We are tentatively naming it "Baintha Kabata," which in Urdu means "Ogre's Son."

Basecamp below the spectacular north side of Latok I:

Max carrying gear up to the col at the base of the Southeast Buttress of the Ogre:

Setting V-threads while rapping down from the 5,500m col in a storm:

Max leading a rock pitch on the morning of the second day on Baintha Kabata:

Max following a slabby pitch a bit higher:

Max following a traverse across an icefield near the summit:

Back on the glacier. After a cold bivy at 5,700m, a full day of climbing and a night of V-threading down the west ridge, we were very tired:

On the way home from Pakistan I decided to stop in Oslo for a week. I had a wonderful time climbing and skiing further north in Norway a couple years ago, but had never checked out Oslo before. There are several crags and bouldering areas in Oslo that are accessible by the subway!

Camilla bouldering at a couple different subway-accessed areas:

I had about 20 hours at home after Norway before flying down to Ventura for a Patagonia design meeting, and then about 15 hours at home before flying to Anchorage for a slideshow at the Bearstooth Theatre. I had two days to play in Anchorage after the slideshow, and spent them mixed climbing up on Ptarmigan Peak in Chugach State Park. On Friday Scotty and I climbed a steep 4-pitch route called "Three-Headed Bitch," and I Saturday Clint and I climbed a longer, more moderate route called "Ski Tracks Gully." Scotty describes Ptarmigan well as "urban alpinism."

Clint following a pitch in Ski Tracks Gully:

Clint right below the summit of Ptarmigan, with saltwater behind:

Now I'm doing massive amounts of laundry, and catching up on all sorts of small tasks and errands. I swear I'll be home for at least 10 days...