Business As Usual In The Himalayas

simon richardson photoSpring 2010 saw me on another ascent of Nepal's highest trekking peak (Mera Peak 6,476m) working for KE Adventure Travel. After the disappointingly deep snow of last autumn when it wasn't possible to get John Bradley to the top it was surprisingly snow free on the mountain but icy low down. On the summit day this year however one of my clients collapsed with HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) and we had to carry him off. The alternative was death!

My second trip this year, again for KE, was to the rarely explored Kangshung Face side of Everest in Tibet. It was only trekking but involved crossing some high passes and exploring the route of the first Mallory trip to Everest. This trip inspired deep respect for Steven Venables who climbed a route on this face in 1988 - stunning.

When not away guiding Tom Richardson works in the Outside Boot Room in Hathersage

Team Photo

TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010

Climbing Around The Four Corners

There's only one place in the USA where the boundaries of four states meet at one point: The Four Corners. It's Mid Western America, like you saw it in the movies. It's desert canyons, towers, plains, straight roads, cowboys, cattle and rock - lots of rock. Within a few hundred miles of The Four Corners, heading into Arizona, Utah, New Mexico or Colorado there's a lifetimes worth of climbing. In three weeks I tried to get my hands on most of it (plus some rock in Nevada).

Castleton tower panorama

Spot Castleton Tower. © Henry Tyce

Dave had been in Utah for two months. His eyes were falling further afield by the time I showed up. Moab and desert towers only lasted two days. Castleton Tower and the Priest got ticked the first day, the second we failed on Moses Tower. So it goes. We headed out into the desert to Vegas and Red Rocks to freeze and get buffeted by the winds. The same day that Alex Hannold free soloed Rainbow Walls Original Route (5.12b, 300m) and Prince of Darkness (5.10c, 215m) and then down soloed Dream of Wild Turkeys (5.10a, 215m) me and Dave climbed three pitches of Risky Business (5.10c R) before we got turned round by the wind. After that we climbed on Rock Warrior (5.10b R), this time to be turned around by the hail. True victory only came with Epinephrine (5.9, 520m). We got to summit, we got to look out on the plain with Vegas sat squat bang in the middle. Then the forecast turned good for our intended destination and we left. Spot the Hail.

Our first night at The Black Canyon we were the only ones in the campsite. It snowed. We'd driven 600 miles. There were signs warning about bears. It felt like we'd made a mistake. The next day dawned clear, fresh, windless, sunny - no mistake! We climbed three days in a row, finished with the Scenic Cruise (5.10d, 550m) on the third day and rested, broken. Our return two days later, was lax. We felt it. The last good day before the weather was predicted to swing back had to be big. Colorado Welcome Party (5.11 R, 4 pitches) did not disappoint. On it all day, the next our good weather left us. We headed South.

climbers in the hailNew Mexico is not famous for it's climbing, but we got a tip and went for The Enchanted Tower. Overhanging sports climbing on huge pockets of welded tuff. Different to The Black. Plain and simple fun, whippers and no worries, casual and un commitingly beautiful. We finished there, no more climbing left in us.We drove to Santa Fe, caught a bus to Denver, a plane back to The Island, dodged the ash and then, The End.

Henry is the Web Editor for Outside.co.uk

TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010
By Henry Tyce
Web Editor

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Henry Tyce
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