Winter in the Himalaya is difficult for many reasons. Temperatures at base camp can plummet to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and much lower farther up. Because of the cold, climbing at night is virtually impossible, and the days are short. The winds are much stronger and more persistent because of the jet stream, which blows almost constantly from December through the end of March. Tents are constantly being destroyed or blown away. The wind also strips away the snow, exposing rock and hard ice, making easier slopes more technical and time-consuming. Lower barometric pressure leads to less oxygen in the air. The combination of these factors makes for an exhausting, and generally miserable experience.
Recently, we at Alpinist picked the brains of the speediest climbers to learn more about speed climbing and how it fits into our grade-crazy community. "I think it is nice to be able to climb a peak in several hours instead of several days. You don't have to suffer so much."
In the early 1990's Lowe struggled through a divorce, a failed business and deep remorse for neglecting his two-year-old daughter. Needing an escape from this emotional crisis, he made a solo pilgrimage to the Eiger's Nordwand. When one of the world's greatest climbers makes a solo winter attempt on the most legendary north face in the world, an extraordinary story is inevitable.
Recently, we at Alpinist picked the brains of the speediest climbers to learn more about speed climbing and how it fits into our grade-crazy community. "We're always filled with the knowledge that if we fall, it's a minimum 100-footer and probably way more. You're going to kill your friend and probably mutilate or kill yourself."
Irwin began writing when his father made him keep a journal on family vacations. As he grew older, writing became an increasingly important part of his life. He coupled this passion with a love of the outdoors, and it has taken him across North America and beyond. His travels are always under the banner of climbing, skiing, fly-fishing and, of course, writing.
The small minority of climbers seeking a difficult alpine experience on America's highest peak will end up paying a steep fee along with the many climbers trudging up the West Buttress, an unfortunate side effect of the mountain's prominence and popularity.
In 2010, the Mugs Stump Award recipients attempted an array of bold objectives, from first ascents on obscure peaks in Tibet and Greenland; to new routes on well-known faces in the Central Alaska Range. Whether teams ultimately reached success or failure, each enterprise was undertaken with the same style and audacity as the award's namesake.
The Banff Mountain Festival offered a week jam-packed with films, presentations, special speakers, workshops, trade shows, book fairs and panel discussions. A few events were worth highlighting, however, and Alpinist brings you those in the form of "Top 5 Bests" from the Banff Mountain Festival.