Tuesday, May 27, 2014

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program

As an AMGA Instructor since 1999, I've been fortunate to work with hundreds of climbing guides over the last 15 years and in this role we are also continually re-training ourselves to be alert, have high situational awareness, weigh our options and make decisions based on judgment and not rules.  I'm always impressed by the candidates I train with due to their hard work and willingness to enter into a learning environment which will challenge their assumptions and potentially change the way they manage their risk in both personal and professional applications. 

Although I've enjoyed the challenges and rewards of training other guides in the multi-pitch rock and more extreme alpine environments, I'm choosing to minimize my risk exposure by staying on the local crags and training others in the Single Pitch Instructor environment where we offer both courses and assessments from April through November in Golden, Boulder and Estes Park, Colorado

Enjoy the photos from recent courses this past fall and spring and we've got a full schedule of AMGA Courses through the end of this year if you're interested in taking advantage of this unique learning environment with one of the country's most experienced climbing instructors and guides.

Check-out our SPI schedule on our website here or contact me at eli@climbinglife.com to enroll in this exciting learning opportunity in the canyons of the Colorado Rockies.

Will Buckman rescuing Eli at Happy Hour Crag
Eli enjoying another day at the crags.
Paul Haraf and Lee Rittenmeyer staying warm on a Nov. 2013 SPI
Will Buckman and Ryan Silsby practicing their plucks.
Albert enjoying some granite crack climbing at Happy Hour Crag.
Trad leading at Dome Rock, Boulder Canyon, CO.
Albert Alvarez lowering off an anchor with a munter hitch.

Good times climbing at Happy Hour Crag, Boulder Canyon.
Practicing belayed rappels in Estes Park.
Mike Kupfer giving Jeff Dobronyi a haul at the Golden Cliffs.
Counter-balance rappel at the Golden cliffs.

Tom Causley working off a top anchor at the Golden Cliffs.
The crew from Climbing PR (Puerto Rico) Bryant, Juan, Luis, and Jorge along with Ryan Bogus and Mike Kupfer at Nip and Tuck Crag in Boulder Canyon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bolivia Condoriri Valley 2013

Bolivia Condoriri Valley Expedition 

w/ Steve K, Alejo L, and Eli H.

October 2013

Basecamp in the Condoriri was one of the nicest we've used in South America with minimal garbage or impact, well built bathrooms with water, and herds of Llama's visiting on their daily commute to higher pastures.

Although the Cabeza del Condor (head of the condor) was not on our itinerary for this trip, we'll be returning in 2014 for an attempt on this interesting climb as well as Pequeno Alpamayo which was our focus for this year's trip.

The topography in this tight valley is very steep with 2-3k of elevation gain directly above camp and gorgeous peaks with cascading glaciers on all sides.

 Our basecamp sits between these two lakes tucked into the boulder fields that provided some good wind protection.

A few views of the lower Tarija Glacier which is the approach to Pequeno Alpamayo.

 Morainal debris below Condoriri.

Eli enjoying cheeseburgers and fresh potato fries at basecamp.

Temperatures fluctuated between high altitude hot and relatively cold with a moist breeze blowing over the peaks from the naerby Amazon Basin to the east.

 Alejo nearing the summit of Tarija Peak.

Eli testing out the new Rab Xenon X Hoodie layered over a single long sleeve sun shirt on he and Alejo's prep climb of Tarija and Pequeno.  What a great jacket that breathes enough to wear all day yet very comfortable in colder alpine conditions and it was the layer i wore every day on this trip.

Clouds in front of Peak "Austria".

One of the rapidly retreating glaciers in the tropics.

Our high camp on the Tarija Glacier at approx. 17,000'.  We received a 25cm dump of new snow in the afternoon and evening before this sunrise shot.  The new snow combined with rapid heating created avalanche conditions that caused us to abort our attempt on the Pequeno Alpamayo.  There's always next year!

Close-up of one of the sub-summits of Tarija Peak.

    A herd of llamas heads up valley for some alpine grazing. They are raised here for both meat (mostly dried as jerkey) and of course their hair which is highly valued for weaving clothes and blankets.

Wyoming Peak is a 5440m peak with 550m of steep terrain on its west face that contains attractive snow and ice runnels and so great mixed terrain on this imposing face.

Returning to the trailhead with the Condoriri massif dominating the eastern skyline.

Departing shot of the two summits on Condoriri with the large partly-hanging glacier below.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trekking into the Valle de las Animas

We returned to La Paz last week and with Steve coming from his nearly sea level home in Philadelphia we have planned a gradual acclimatization schedule to ensure the best health and success in our planned ascents in the nearby Cordillera Real.  

Today was our biggest walk since arriving and it turned out to be a perfect loop that took us through some truly amazing terrain at a perfect pace and with great weather and partners, who can complain?

The ridge crest of the Animas Canyon with La Paz in the near distance.

Views towards La Paz and the Valle de la Luna which lays behind the black rock spur of the Devil's Tooth.

 Creek bed close-up above the Valle de las Animas.

 A traverse of the upper Animas Canyon provided a nice sustained loop above 14k with views of the nearby high peaks.

 Mudstone fins and the foothills of the Cordillera Real, nearby the popular peak of Huayna Potosi.  These fluted ridges above the famous Valle de las Animas cover much of the terrain between 12-14k on the southern flanks of the Calacoto Valley just south of downtown La Paz.

 Illimani mountain begins to shed the cloud cover that was blowing towards the close Amazon basin to the east of this peak.  A bit of lunch and a nap in the warm sun at 14k was the halfway point of this 7hr. trek.  Extensive grazing of sheep, cows, and llamas has kept the vegetation short and well fertilized.

 The best view we gained of the west face of Mt. Mururata (19,262').  The regular route gains this glacier from nearby the visible toe and follows the same glacier up and right to the summit.

 Alejo remembering a 2005 ascent of Mururata via the steep south face with a descent down the visible west face route.

 Illimani showing us a bit more of her west face as we descended into the Animas Canyon.

 Beginning the descent into the upper Animas Canyon.  The rest of today's photos are from our descent through the entire canyon where there was minimal sign of human impact and we saw no one else on our entire trek.

We managed hot showers back at the hotel where Alejo enjoyed the sauna and after a tasty dinner at the nearby "Charlie Papas" restaurant, our full day in the high altitude sun took its toll as sleep comes easy in the soft beds of the Casa Grande.