Category: News

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles – Earth Day

Leave No Trace Principles

I don’t want you to go out into the wilderness in Colorado, or any other state, and leave it in worse condition than you found it. The sad fact is that for so many years those that have gone before us on the trails figured that the wilderness was a giant black hole and anything you dumped into it would blow away or decompose fast enough that no one would ever notice.

When I was on Carstensz Pyramid there was a huge dump at base camp. The stuff there was a mix of stuff, but a lot of it wouldn’t have been practical to haul up the 6 day trek in a porter’s bag. There was a jeep road nearby but to drive on it would be trespassing on private land. Very sad state of affairs in one of the most wild and scenic parts of the whole world.

Please don’t contribute to the destruction of our wild lands. As a Boy Scout Leader I’ve had the opportunity to teach my young campers the Leave No Trace Seven Principles, as outlined in this chapter. I highly recommend that you visit their website and read the materials there to help you make wise decisions in how you can help to prevent further damage to our valuable wild areas.

The Colorado 14ers are one of the most visited hiking destinations in the state and there are a lot of people there who have no idea about the potential damage they are doing to our mountains. Don’t be one of them.

Aside from the common sense of pack it in, pack it out, seriously consider the impact of human waste on the environment. Find the website for the government agency in charge of the area in which you’ll be hiking and read up on the rules for human waste management. On Mount Rainier, as an example, above certain camps, you are required to use plastic bags, available at the ranger stations, and dispose of the full bags in appointed bins at a few choice locations.

Garbage Dump at Lake Camp on Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia
Garbage Dump at Lake Camp on Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles.

  1. – Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. – Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. – Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. – Leave What You Find
  5. – Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. – Respect Wildlife
  7. – Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

I do have a few thoughts about these that I’d like to share. I mentioned before that you should find out what rules apply to the trail you’d like to hike on. Some trails have rules about fire and water and human waste, but there are also rules about dogs including dog waste removal and leash requirements. I’ve been tripped many times by dogs on too long a leash for them to be under control as well as dogs wandering around free and loose in places where they are not allowed. Dog waste is common all along the trails I run on, and it’s an unsightly mess that smells pretty bad and attracts insects and other pests. Please be a responsible pet owner. In the big scheme of things this is to help you to keep the trails open for other dog owners. It might take only one serious incident to get the trails closed permanently.

There is way too much garbage along the trails as well. I see lots of candy bar and granola bar wrappers, as well as plastic disposable bottles. Please manage your trash. It only takes a few seconds and an ounce or two to keep your trash on you until you get to a proper place to dispose of it. Even the pull tabs from goo packets are too common along the trails. The little foil bottle seals, juice box straw wrappers, toothpick wrappers, and lots of other tiny little stuff litters the trail, and all it takes is a glint of shiny sunlight from the right angle to reveal it all. Don’t leave it for others, or Mother Nature who might be able to dissolve it to dust in a thousand years or so.

I normally keep all my snacks in a larger zipper seal bag. When I’m done with my snack wrappers I fold them neatly and place them back inside. I fold the goo packets with the opening and tear strip in the center to keep the bag from becoming sticky from the residue. You could try this system at first and see what works best for you.

Too many people are souvenir collectors. Take pictures, not a summit rock or plant. In some areas it can be a federal offense to collect a trophy. Don’t even snag a stick from along the trail to use as a walking stick or cane in accordance with some 19th century tradition of the jolly good stroll with the boys. In the same vein, it’s disruptive when a group of kids runs down the sides of the trail waving sticks and throwing rocks at each other and screaming in some misplaced game. That’s what soccer fields are for.

Many times I’ve been up Quandary, a popular Colorado 14er and seen mountain goats and pika along the trail. I cut them a lot of slack. They live there. I don’t. I’ve seen kids chasing the pika and marmots and chipmunks. I’ve seen dozens of people trying to get within touching distance of the goats. As used to humans as they seem to be, they are still wild creatures and can be unpredictable at best. Leave them alone please. Take some distant photos and enjoy them with your friends and family.

As far as consideration of others, I’ve seen several groups splayed out along the trail preventing anyone from possibly making uphill or downhill progress without tripping over them. It’s even worse when it’s at a steep and rough section. It might look like a great place to rest, but if you can hang on for a few more minutes or twenty, there will be a great wide flat spot just made for taking a break. The people doing it generally seem ignorant that anyone would want to go around them and that they are in the way. They get all mad at you and even say rude comments when someone interrupts their rest. Don’t be those people.

Hopefully these few ideas and suggestions won’t offend you. It’s best though if you don’t represent any of the examples. Go for peace and harmony on the trail with your fellow hikers all of whom are in their own zone and have their own reasons for being on the mountain. Some will be trail runners working on setting a PR for their ascent or car-to-car times. Some will be wearing huge boots and 50 lb. packs training for Everest or Denali. Some will have sweet camera gear and trying for that perfect photo. Some will be hanging out for a day of adventure with friends. Some want to be just left alone. Some want to talk to everyone they pass. I’ve both met and been several of those people over the years. They can be pretty cool if you let them, much of the time.

Enjoy it all and try to help out the future generations by making as little negative impact as possible. If you have the energy and drive then maybe you can even add in some of your own positive energy. Take a garbage sack with you and gather up everything. Take two, one for trash and one for recycling. Wear disposable gloves and carry hand sanitizer. Wear a white Nomex suit and give everyone a scare if that appeals to you. Whatever you do though, please, make a difference, one way or another.

Article extracted from Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging BUY KINDLE EDITION

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Last year I took my sons to a Boy Scout Eagle Project to clean up the shore of Lake Dillon in Summit County Colorado. We took out several black trash bags, one completely full of fishing line. Please don’t be an irresponsible fisherman. Please haul out all your line and try your best to retrieve snags whenever possible. There are now Fishing Line Recycling Containers at many popular parking areas due to this project. Do your part all year round, and not just on Earth Day.

Boy Scout Eagle Project - Lake Dillon shoreline cleanup
Boy Scout Eagle Project – Lake Dillon shoreline cleanup
Discarded fishing line along Lake Dillon shoreline, cleaned up during Boy Scout Eagle Project
Discarded fishing line along Lake Dillon shoreline, cleaned up during Boy Scout Eagle Project


Aconcagua Higher Now

According to a cooperative research project report, Aconcagua is now 6966.4 meters tall, about 2.4 meters more than the 6964 meters measured in 1989. Further research is planned to determine if this is due to plate tectonics or more accurate modern equipment.

Aconcagua 6964 meters or 6966 meters - 2 meters higher
Aconcagua from near the Horcones Trailhead

“We know it is moving, but it is millimetres per year, not two metres,” said Maria Cristina Pacino, a member of the engineering faculty at Rosario National University.
South African Times Live

While I don’t have access to the original Spanish, and it could be a translation error, but this appears to state that Aconcagua is growing by 2 meters per year? 2.4 divided by 24 (approximate years since the 1989 measurement) equals .1 meters – we’re looking at .1 meters per year here, or 100 millimeters. Anyway, ripping on either the math, logic, or translation aside, how long will it be before it’s a 7000 meter peak in our own Western Hemisphere? Are you looking forward to it?

However tall it is, it’s currently on my Winter 2012/2013 list.

Denali Avalanche – Four Presumed Dead

A Japanese group, Miyagi Workers Alpine Federation Expedition, was apparently swept down Motorcycle Hill by an avalanche leaving one survivor who scrambled out of the crevasse he was deposited into and made his way down to Kahiltna Base alone to report the accident.

“One team member survived the event. Hitoshi Ogi, age 69 of Miyagi Prefecture, was swept into a crevasse and subsequently climbed out with minor injuries,” she said in a release. “Ogi was unable to locate his teammates in the avalanche debris. Throughout the day, Ogi descended solo to the Kahiltna Basecamp at 7,200 feet, where he reported the accident shortly after 4 p.m.” — National Parks Traveler

Motorcycle Hill above Kahiltna Pass - path of Denali Avalanche
Motorcycle Hill above Kahiltna Pass

High winds and snowfall have prevented many from hitting the summit in recent weeks, and probably contributed to this incident. McKinley is a very large and dangerous mountain, and careful consideration of the risks involved and the skills necessary to increase your survival is paramount. My heartfelt condolences are extended to the survivors, and I hope the rescue workers are safe in their endeavor to recover the bodies.

Goal Zero Portable Solar Power Open House

Goal Zero Solar had an open house at their new facility South of Salt Lake City in Bluffdale Utah, and I attended with my family. Good friends Ryan and Jennifer Hamilton were there as well with their daughters. The kids had a ton of fun on the little climbing wall and slide in the entry, and Jennifer and I met with Matt Larsen to discuss some business matters (we’re both Elite Team Athletes for Goal Zero) and Matt spent a few minutes showing me the most exciting thing there – the new Sherpa 50. Very small, very powerful, and very useful.

I really look forward to taking one with me to Aconcagua in December, since I will be there for a couple weeks, and will most likely be needing a lot of power while there. I’ve been using the Guide 10 Adventure Kit quite a bit the past several months and have become rather fond of it and dependent upon it. I think the Sherpa 50 will be just as useful, if not more so, on my quest for the Seven Summits.

Oklahoma City Couple Detained at Carstensz Indonesia Peak

If you’re at all interested in the Seven Summits Quest, you’ve undoubtedly done some homework, and kind of figured that the keystone of the Messner List, Carstensz Pyramid, highest point of the hypothetical continent of Oceania, would be the riskiest, most dangerous of the lot.

Among the obvious and known dangers are cannibal tribesman, porters who are barely any different, the frequent violent insurrections at the mine, random terrorist attacks on Australians, irregular and often impossible transportation issues, local retribution against foreign guides and their clients, having to actually jug a couple thousand feet on ancient unmaintained fixed lines including the elusive and rare Tyrolean Traverse, and a very wet miserable muddy two weeks slogging through a primitive rain forest.

It’s amazing to me anyway that anyone anywhere in this modern information age would not know that. Seriously. Alas …

Yet with so much strife in the area, the Dillards say they knew nothing of the danger that awaited them. – News OK (Oklahoman)

Oklahoma City businessman Mike Dillard and his wife were subjected to just about all of the above in their Carstensz adventure. They had previously summitted Kili and Aconcagua, and to be fair, neither has anything near these types of dangers or risks, though if you do Kili during a weeklong drizzle like I did, the trail and camping can be pretty miserable.

Anyway, just read the article and see if anything stands out to give you some ideas about your own potential trip on Carstensz.

Olympic Medal Heads to Everest Summit

Kenton Cool, who has climbed Everest a record (for a British mountaineer) 9 times will be carrying a special package to the top of Everest this season.

he will have honoured a pledge by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Lisle Strutt, deputy leader of the pioneering 1922 expedition, made to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who awarded the climbers medals at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix. Strutt promised to return to Everest and take a medal to the summit, something he never managed. — The Guardian

Kenton fell in 1996, shattering his heels and ankles, resulting in a year away from climbing, and still has metal in his legs that causes him to run with an awkward gait. In spite of that, he’ll be running a leg of the 2012 London Olympics Torch Relay on July 23. Having been a guide and taking clients to the top of Everest in the past, this year Kenton will be climbing with only the medal and a cameraman.

The Olympics are an excellent time to review our past and our future and look for the links between and connecting them. I hope this works out for the best and achieves all the goals surrounding it. I love the Olympic Park in Park City Utah where some of the events of the 2002 Winter Olympics were held, such as the various ski jumping and bobsled, luge and skeleton competitions. I would love to visit the upcoming venues in London someday. Good luck Kenton.

2002 Winter Olympic Park
2002 Winter Olympic Park in Park City Utah

World Water Day 2012

Today is World Water Day 2012. According to this report:

There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today … each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres –

Elbrus water source needs to be boiled
Water Pipe above blue building below Elbrus summits. Use at own risk.

And naturally, there’s a solution available for all of us:

Coping with population growth and ensuring access to nutritious food to everyone call for a series of actions we can all help with:
· follow a healthier, sustainable diet
· consume less water-intensive products
· reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten…
· produce more food, of better quality, with less water.

Having been in regions with serious major clean water issues, and having suffered the debilitating effects myself, I have to offer my own opinion on this. On Kilimanjaro, the highest point of Africa, one of the Seven Summits, as well as one of the Seven Volcanic Summits, the cooks supposedly treated the abundant surface water by boiling, but it became apparent quite quickly that they did not want to waste porters on carrying stove fuel, so they actually didn’t treat it. As a result, I ended up with diarrhea on summit day and my tentmate ended up puking in the tent all night on the eve of summit day. We both managed to summit.

On Elbrus (the highest point of Europe and also a Seven Summits and Seven Volcanic Summits) in the Spring, they had to melt snow for water, so it was fairly safe, but in the Summer they got their water from a pipe tapped into the water runoff from the glacier. A lazy cook with very poor English skills who wasn’t really all that considerate of the long-term effects just gave me some water right out of the pipe. I ended up with serious diarrhea that lasted for four days and I barely finished the qualifier with one pit stop in the rocks, but was so wasted that I contracted AMS and could not complete the Elbrus Race 2010.

Water is abundant on Kilimanjaro
Abundant water along the trail for drinking on Kilimanjaro

On Aconcagua, another Seven Summits peak, highest point of South America, water came off the glacier in a large pipe that forked all over the camp to each of the outfitters. My outfitter let it collect in a barrel so the sediment could settle out, and we were each on our own for treating it. I used a SteriPEN Classic on mine, and that worked well enough.

Aconcagua Base Camp water supply
Water tubing and tanks at Aconcagua Plaza de Mulas Basecamp

I’ve suffered from the effects of unclean water, so I know it exists. For myself, I will carry the Steripen with me wherever I go, but worldwide, I’m not quite certain how to fix this problem, aside from a treatment plant on both Elbrus and Kili, or maybe education, if it will stick, or somehow making the guides and porters and cooks really care one way or the other, which probably has less chance of sticking. That would have the longest-lasting effects, IMHO – getting people to even care.

Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay on Elbrus and in Space?

Advance speculation shows that this will be the most spectacular Olympic Torch Relay ever, intended to be four times longer than the Turin relay, covering all 83 Russian entities, allowing 90% of the population to enjoy the spectacle.

It has also been confirmed that the torch will be taken to Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake with a depth of 1,600 metres, in the south of Russia near Irkutsk, and also travel to Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe at a height of 5,642m.
“We promise a spectacular event,” [Sochi 2014 President Dmitry] Chernyshenko told insidethegames.

From the bottom of Lake Baikal to the top of Elbrus, highest mountain of Europe, one of the Seven Summits, and one of my favorite mountains. That alone is a feat of amazing proportions.

According to Chernyshenko, this relay will be the longest in history, both in terms of time – 123 days – and in distance – covering more than 40,000 kilometers which is the length of the Earth’s equator.
“I don’t think anyone will be able to replicate this record – Sochi 2014 will be in a league of their own” Chernyshenko said.

Even more amazingly, they’re going to send it to space, something that only Russia can do.

“Russia was the first country to send a man into space some 50 years ago. So, we are proud that now we have the opportunity to be the first nation to send the Olympic torch into space.”
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov – Washington Post

Why I bring this all up now, is that this could be a great time to plan your trip to the Elbrus region for one of your Seven Summits, assuming of course they don’t close the entire area, like an infamous Olympics mountain top torch run in a previous year.

Elbrus World Race – Premier August 2012

New this year is the Elbrus World Race which is primarily a trail race in the vicinity of Elbrus, highest point of Europe, a volcano, and one of the Seven Summits.

EWR creation was driven by love and a dream. Two founders of EWR – Sergey and Ivan spent many days on Elbrus and Elbrus area since childhood and dreamed to make big event on Elbrus. Inspiration came from big events around the world like a race around Mont Blanc and also from desire to do something own, something special.
Elbrus World Race 2012 – Planet Ultramarathon

Angie at Barrels Huts on Elbrus
Angie at Barrels Huts below Elbrus Summits

It sounds really interesting to me, since I already qualified for the Elbrus Race 2010, a different semi-annual event with a history from the early 90’s. The qualifying race I ran was from the Barrels Huts (about 12,000′) to a point somewhat above Pastukhov Rocks (about 15,500′). I managed to make the cutoff despite serious water-borne illness resulting in pretty severe diarrhea and cramps. I even stopped along the course near the shelter of some rocks on the way down. The event organizers put up a youtube video showing my odd duck-like waddle during the qualifier (from the rear about 1:35 – I also helped with the fluff piece at about 1:04 and 1:12 – bib #24).

The main event was a run to the summit from either Azau (about 8,000′) or the Barrels to the summit (about 18,400′). As a result of recovering from the diarrhea, and the resulting malnutrition and dehydration, I had a horrible night the night before, having to sit up most of the night with sleep apnea and AMS. The team doctor gave me some Russian medicine and pulled me from the race.

The Elbrus World Race is a totally different race, with only one event, the Traverse, actually on the mountain. The other events are on a circuitous course in the foothills surrounding Elbrus. Sadly the Traverse is a team event, or I would be more interested.

EWR consists of:
Elbrus Ultra Trail – mountain ultra-marathon; 81 km over 7 mountain passes with individual participation.
Elbrus Traverse – mountaineering contest, for twos or threes, traverse over the summit of Elbrus.
Elbrus Adventure Race – Adventure Race in the foothills of Mount Elbrus.
Elbrus Trail – a running contest 28 km with individual participation.
Elbrus World Race Website

Also, it’s going to be the first week of August, and the Elbrus Race 2012 is tentatively scheduled for the last week of August, and if it happens (it was cancelled in 2011 for the anti-terrorism programs in the area) I would like to go. I could of course get a multi-entry visa and spend the rest of August in Chamonix …

Myself at Elbrus Race 2010 - number 24
Bib number 24 at Elbrus Race 2010

Where is Everest Again?

How can Everest suddenly appear in the UK? According to a recent poll, roughly 20% of the British population is “clueless” about several important features of their geography. Stonehenge, Everest, Ayers Rock, London and Balmoral Castle all fell prey to mass relocation in the poll. Many think that Everest is in Britain.

Source: via Charles on Pinterest

The poll of 2,000 was carried out by tour firm Journeys of Distinction. Managing Director Karen Gee said: “We were astounded.”
The firm said the internet may be partly to blame …
Who’s in UK? One in five Brits clueless – The Sun

Dang internet …