Solitude and Stars
The dance of light, from sunrise to sunset, continually paints the rock canvas of the high
mountains with the skill of a master painter, yet it is ever changing. Minute by minute the tableau unfolds from predawn silhouettes of ridges and sky, to luminescent walls bathed in the first
morning sun. As the hours pass, the contrasts of line, form and color provide unlimited
fascination to those patient enough to sit and observe the constantly changing moods light gives to these ancient monoliths. Continue reading ->
A Deadly Season in the Alps
Orage – French for thunderstorm. Just one of the new words I’ve learned as the summer monsoon season in the Alps continues to drop new layers of snow with each day that passes.
Historically, late July is the most stable time to climb in the Alps, but this year, as the snow line continues to lower and the precipitation accumulates, so do my French meteorological language skills: la grêle (hail), vents forts (strong winds), la foudre (lightening) – all becoming part of my everyday vocabulary. Continue reading ->
Aiguille du Chardonnet
In 2009 my friend Yves and I set our sites on Aiguille du Chardonnet and its Forbes Arête rising abruptly from the glacier du Tour whose spiny backbone delineates the border between France and Switzerland. From the safe confines of the Albert Premier Hut, the route looked like a climber’s fantasy, traversing the entire mountain from east to west along an impressively narrow arête full of airy ridges and immense granite gendarmes.
This particular route is graded AD, Assez Difficile, which translates to fairly difficult, or rather
difficult, which is French for you’re gonna love front pointing up 50˚ icy slopes, rock climbing all day in crampons, traversing so much exposed ground you get used to it, and only crying for your mother once! Continue reading ->
Difficult Conditions: The Matterhorn
We had traveled thousands of miles to be at this very spot. Atop the Riffelhorn, high above the Gorner Glacier, our gazes fixed upon the peaks and snowy ridges of the high mountains. For many, these spiny backs and snow clad pinnacles merely mark the border of Italy and
Switzerland. But for us, this wild landscape spread before us was the beginning of an adventure.
To our left was the immense Monte Rosa massif, the tallest in Switzerland, robed in snowy grandeur. Continue reading ->
Route Shopping: The Matterhorn
Iconic peaks seem to stir something within our souls. They stand in resolute isolation, their
towering heights and sheer faces impervious from the valley floor. They exude power, majesty and enslave any alpinist who dare stare too long, tracing its ridges and routes to the summit.
I must confess the Matterhorn has cast its spell on me. This summer I, along with friend and guide Jonathon Spitzer, plan to stand atop the Matterhorn’s 14,492-foot summit. I first met Jonathon in 2005 when he was an instructor for the American Alpine Institute’s 19-day Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership course. Continue reading ->
Gearing Up: The Matterhorn
4,000 feet of sustained, exposed climbing on unstable rock at high altitudes, leads to the summit of one of the most iconic peaks on the planet; a goal that barely 60% that try it actually achieve. The Matterhorn still claims 12 deaths annually, and up to 1,200 are rescued in the area every season.Inexperience, altitude sickness, poor conditioning, rock fall, crowded routes and weather are just some of the obstacles the avid climber will encounter on its flanks. Continue reading ->
Here We Come: The Matterhorn
The week before any major climb my mind is full of questions, concerns, doubts. Did I train hard enough? Will the weather be good? What will the climbing conditions be like? Should I have had one or two less slices of foie gras? – All, important questions, but ultimately unanswerable until I begin putting one foot in front of the other.
Living in the great mountaineering state of Florida you can imagine how little time I spend in my crampons holding an ice ax. Continue reading ->