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Cochamo Update

We just got an e-mail and photos from Chris Kalman who's down in Cochamo, Chile right now where he just finished putting up a big new route with Austin Siadak and Florian Haenel:

Highlights of the route include a true knife edge bolted arete for two pitches that was wild to bolt on lead, a traversing pitch to a dirty dihedral which I led onsight with a 50 foot runout to a  5.9 friction stance where I handdrilled half a bolt hole just to clip a sling to a hanger to stand up in and lunge for the trees!  Florian also had a pretty epic lead with a 5.11 runout over some pretty marginal gear.  By and large, the majority of the route has gone up at 5.8X or 5.9X.  However, as is the Cochamo way, it is not so much about how you first establish the line, but what you leave to future generations.  Thus, we will be spending another couple days working on the route, bolting on fixed lines or lead where necessary to make the route safe for future climbers.

Interestingly enough, though this will be technically the easiest route I have ever established in Cochamo, it will be probably be the most difficult to put up.  As is often the case, easier means lower angle means more cleaning and more bolting....  I have always wanted to establish an easier line, since I have had many experiences with more novice climbers coming to Cochamo and not having a nice line to climb.  This will be the longest route under 5.11 to reach the spectacular summit of Cerro Laguna, and probably very popular for that reason.

Photo courtesy of Austin Siadak

Photo courtesy of Austin Siadak

Portland Sample Sale Part 2

So the small sample sale we did at Basecamp Brewing the other week was great, but lucky for you we've still got a pretty healthy pile of samples that need good homes! That means that this coming Saturday the 7th of December, we're teaming up with CiloGear for the ultimate made in Oregon alpine climbing gear sample sale over at CiloGear world headquarters in North Portland. The sale will run from 1pm-6pm. 

Details: Date: December 7th, 2013 Time: 1pm-6pm Location: 6635N. Baltimore Suite #235



Sample Sale in Portland

So tomorrow is the final American Alpine Club Oregon Section pub club. It also just so happens that NW Alpine has a number of samples and seconds we need to sell. We've got Eyebrights, Fast/Light Pants, Hoodys, all sorts of awesome stuff, most for over 50% off retail. In honor of the AAC, we will also be donating ten percent of proceeds from the samples sold tomorrow night to the AAC. It's an awesome way to celebrate another great year, support the club, and get some rad gear at a really discounted price. Sample sales are first come first serve, so get there early. Also, rumor has it that esteemed Portland alpine climbing pack manufacturer CiloGear will also be on hand with some samples to unload.

Date: Thursday November 21st

Time: 7:00 pm

Place: Basecamp Brewing, 930 SE Oak Street

Marcus Donaldson on early season Montana ice

I had erased the Lowe Direct from my tick list a long time ago.  Sphinx Mountain lies in the Madison Range of western Montana, 750 miles from my doorstep - not as far or remote as many places I've visited - but far enough to require a real effort to reach the ice routes snaking up it's northern flanks.  After two previous attempts had ended with poor weather and unstable snow, I'd written off the Sphinx finally, told myself that it was "too small, too far" to be worth that effort. 

Unfortunately, I kept bumping into the Sphinx. Speeding along I-90 to access the dense concentration of water ice up the road in Hyalite Canyon each winter, I was often reminded of that looming absence waiting just beyond the horizon.

Photo: John Frieh

But secrets are never safe in the age of social media: images came trickling in this fall tagged #sphinx, #montanaice, #lowedirect.  Tasty pics of long blue ice and reports of once-a-decade conditions.  An October storm was on it's way in, so we piled gear in the rig and sped off Montana-bound, knowing that in just a few days the face could be loaded up and off-limits once again.  

Photo: John Frieh

Photo: Kevin Oberholser

The climb itself went off just as planned:  gorgeous open trails led to pitch after pitch of enjoyable ice and a sunny topout under windless skies.  We'd been on enough trips gone awry in the past to appreciate just what we were missing on this one.  We savored every swing of the tool and the crunch of snow beneath our feet.  Things have to line up just right to nab even the most ordinary ascent: partners, schedules, weather and conditions all have to come together.  When it does happen and the stars all align, one might be tempted to think,"Well that was pretty easy!"  But back down at the trailhead, ditching the pack and psyching up for many hours of long road that still lie between us and home, we are reminded that even on the best of days in the mountains, easy is never easy. 


Photo: Kevin Oberholser