I am teetering on my seat, ready for the next bounce, holding on as our small Russian van is catapulting forwards through the vast emptiness of the Eurasian steppe. It is mind boggling that this morning we were in a sleek modern city full of people and now we are in this extreme emptiness.
I rest my head on a boulder and struggle to catch my breath. We are about half way up the relatively short approach to base camp and I am feeling weak and debilitated by the high attitude. How are we going to make it up a 2,500ft big wall if I can’t even hike 10 minutes without stopping to rest? After about a month climbing in the Cordillera Blanca, or the Peruvian Andes just outside of Huaraz, Peru, I have become accustomed to the roller coaster ride that is climbing at altitude
I just keep staring at the calendar, as if it’s going to make the days go by faster. I always longed for winter. My days were filled with snowboarding and nights ice climbing. It was my life. Year after year I couldn’t wait until it started to snow in the mountains. Now my life seems to be consumed by rock climbing and my attitude towards snow has taken a complete 180.
It started with a deer. Or more accurately, it started with the deer sprinting out into my lane, then trampolining off the hood in series of slow motion loops en route to the ditch. And when the body shop messed up the the timing for parts, the plan to drive out to Washington went up like the steam from the smashed radiator.
Last week, my partner and I made an attempt on the Grand Central Couloir on the North Face of Mt. Kitchener. It would be our first attempt at climbing ANYTHING in the Canadian Rockies. Among many other things, I find going to a new region to be daunting because each seems to have its own climate that requires adapting to. The Rockies are a colder and drier range than the Cascades, Patagonia, or other places I have climbed. We did what I am sure many end up doing – debating our layering and sleeping systems for a good half hour.
Summer has abruptly ended, the chill has set in and the leaves are starting to turn. It was a good one, despite being away for work I snuck in a variety of climbs, ranging from alpine rock to glaciers and ice. Some long multi day trips with grueling approaches, the kind were no matter what pack you use it rubs and pulls and makes it feel like you are carrying the world on your shoulders. Not this summer!