Friday, June 02, 2006
Just thought I'd give a brief Denali story. We got back from the mountain on Tuesday after pulling an all-nighter crossing the Kahiltna coming down from 14,200' camp. It was a great trip! Had pretty much great weather for most of the time and met some really fun people. Things changed when we moved up to 17 however, we were sadly reduced to 3 when Steve decided to go down. We arrived at high camp on what we thought was a week of high pressure, so we were in no rush to make a summit bid. Then things got windy, reallll windy. We spent a few days in battlemode, then made a summit attempt on Friday (?) making it to the Football field at 19,300 or so before havingto turn around. I was worked after spending so much time at high camp and the difficulties that comewith it, then it turned to a nasty white out and that was that. The following day was the windiest by far and we built massive walls for the tent while getting tossed like rag dolls in the 80-100mph gusts. Made for a genuine Denali experience! Nice to come back to summer! Hope to see you all soon.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
He was back at the 14,000' camp after being stuck at the high camp waiting for the weather to clear for a week. Apparently, the winds were really high and storms were constant, keeping them hunkered down in their tents at the high camp. They did make it to within a few hundred feet of the summit. They felt themselves getting weaker from the altitude and finally had to go back to a lower elevation. Looks like they are on their way out now. Stay tuned! :-) Laura
Friday, May 26, 2006
I got a postcard yesterday from Eric..marked 5/19/06 from Eric on Denali. He wrote it at 14,000' and a climber coming off the glacier mailed it for him. On the postcard he wrote they were headed up to the 17,000' camp. He said all is going great, it's cold up there! From the higher camps they do the summit push. By now it's likely they have already reached the summit and are on their way down. Looking at the webcam pics and the weather in that area it has been perfect and clear the past 3 days. I hope they are all doing well. It must be so breathtaking up there at the top of the world!
It's pretty cool to think they are the tallest people in the USA right now.
More as soon as I get it!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I only made out a few words. He said " All is well here"
"weather is good" "we're going for the summit in the next weeks" and "I love you" thats all I got because we got cut off, so hard to hear him but I got to say I love you and he heard me! Thank god. Our family has been thinking about him and praying constantly for his safety. The cut off call made me break down in tears because I miss my brother and wish I was with him. The statistics are bad for Denaili, and 1 in 8 climbers die each years from what I read, scares the crap out of us, but we know he is doing what he loves. There is a huge base camp there and a support operation.
He sounded good from what I could tell all was well!
I found a link for a webcam that faces Denali. http://www.talkeetnaair.com/webcam/index.html (webcam image)
Hard to tell what the weather is like on the mountain because storms come in so fast up at 20,320 feet!
Please hold good thoughts for the safe return of all the climbers this season!
Thank you, Love,
Friday, May 05, 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
Last email official of this "trip"
Lazy morning at Eric's (Seattle) then hit the airport and managed to squeak on standby two flights earlier than the one I was ticketed on. Had to run my ass off! arrived 45 min before the flight left, but that put me home 2+ hrs earlier :)Great to be back and see some snow.
(Pictures to follow, lots of them I'm sure :-) Laura
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Last afternoon in Bolivia!
I´m feeling pretty run down at this point. Taking some nice naps and the like. Trying to fortify my immune system for the 4 days of airports ahead.Wish me luck.. 3 seperate airlines! I leave Quito Wednesday morning, then leave Miami thursday morning, staying with Eric in Seattle then back to ALaska on Friday. Talk to you from one of those places
Monday, April 03, 2006
My time here is coming to a close but I thought I´d give a little update on recent happenings.Here, in Bolivia, the land of hundreds of revolutions over the centuries, I felt I needed to forment one of my own! For many, many years the Ayrama and Quechwa people of the Altiplano have opressed and mistreated several species of Andean Camelid. The llamas and Alpackas in question have had their wool sheared, been slaughtered for their meat, and even buried in building foundations as sarcifice to Pachamama and other Andean deities. Well thats all starting to change!
I have founded the Camelid Liberation Front (CLF) in an effort to end to opression and allow the llamas to just wander and eat grass all day without fear of Death! Initially the animals were quite timid and ocasionally spat at me at my attempts to rally them,However after several weeks many llamas and alpackas alike have taken their hoofs up in arms agains their subsistance oppressers resulting in several brutal skirmishes. In my last few days in this country I will be looking for a replacement to lead the CLF inmy absence. I´m doubtful of the future however, I dont know of many people who can communicate to the furry camelids like I can. what to you expect? I´ve been biking across remote deserts and vast expanses of salt flat with nobody to talk too.. ! ha ha
Back in town soon
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Back in Uyuni, where I started off from 3 weeks ago heading south. This time however ,I arrived from the north! After changing plans 3x, I started biking from the same place I did earlier to Chile, but heading south. Was traveling on VERY seldom used tracks (not roads) through the scrub. Linking together very small villages, 2 river crossings, tiny villages with friendly and increadibly tough Ayrama indians. It was incredible and the highlight of my entire trip here. I crossed the salar de Coipasa from north to south, then another day put me on the remote western edge ofthe salar de Uyuni. Holy shit. It was intimidating, like an ocean of salt, 110 miles to cross in a straight line.
Set off from the village of Llica with 18 liters of water and a few butterflies in my stomach. The first day (yesterday) I had about 30miles of pretty bumpy riding across the salt polygons covered in 2+ inches of water, dosent get more crazy, horizon dissapears in the water and you are basically biking in the clouds, Navigating by compass. Got to Isla del Pescado and from there I could see the next island out in the marage. Camped for the very last time last night on the back side of that island. Today things were quite a bit faster and drier.
Yesterday I was totally alone out there, today´s route was more on the 4x4 tour route and they would pass occasionally like ships in the distance. Made it to the salt hotel where I had been before and knew it was in the bag. Pulled into Uyuni everything coated with salt crystals. Made it!! That crossing was pretty much my goal for this entire trip. It's why I didnt leave my bike behind 2 months ago. Now I can just be content and count the minutes until my flight leaves! Probably heading to Potosi to have a look at the mines tomorrow, then back to La Paz to pack the bike up.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
I pulled into San pedro (Chile) after dark today. The ride from Uyuni through the high remote south west corner was nothing short of completly epic! It was the hardest tour ride I´ve ever done. Got good practiced dodging lightning, acting like a windsock and carrying enough water for days. The 4x4 tracks I was following were so rough I could only go 4-5 mph the whole time. Usually between 14,000 and 16,000´´ 30 miles was a full day. So much to tell, it was amazing and amazingly hard. Knees held up for the most part!
To finish yesterday I pulled into Laguna Verde and pushed up to this old track and camped at 15,000´below Volcan Llicanbur, got up at 3am this morning(jeeze its been a long day!) was very cold starting out, nights in the teens & 20´s and I had a hard time keeping my feet warm in running shoes, but once the sun came out it was all better, I made it all the way up. 19,500´ in trail runners! big rocky scrambling slog. Made it back down by noon, and was back in my tent resting a bit, when the craving for real food after a week out kicked in and I decided to head to san pedro.
Mistake! I thouht it was all downhill, but leaving L. Verde I had 3 hrs of climbing and a hellacous headwind back up to 16,000´ I was spent and my legs were toast after a week of hard riding AND the peak! finally made it to Chile and a nice paved road which dropped 7,000´in 25 miles into the desert. Again had hell cross winds on this never ending flat section coming into san pedro. Cant believe I´m still awake...Ok, will write more tomorrow. I´m so happy I pulled this section off, its what I had been thinking off ever since I wanted to come here years ago. time for more food.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Back from a 5 day trip to the Chilean coast. Started by bussing to Sajama national park near the border. Incredible area. Spent two nights in awe of the place and avoiding thunderstorms & hail storms in my tent! The next two days I crossed into Chile with a nice 15,200´pass with incredible views and lots of Vicunas, small and rare species of camalid, llama..and flamingos in the shallow lakes, they are tough even though they are pink...After getting nice and sopping wet again I stopped a bit early on Friday as there is simply no good way to stay warm biking in sleet & rain above 14,000! So yesterday was the real deal. Went on a mission and rode 110 miles out of the mountains through the pre-cordillera and quickly into the desert.
Although its is one of the biggest descents in the world there was still 3000´of climbing mixed in there, and I could'nt believe my altimiter when the cumulative function said I had descended over 16,500 ft! The whole time I had about 15 extra pounds of water withme in case I needed to camp, makes the bike even more of a tank! Dropping into the desert was amazing, just huge barren everything and some increadible sandboarding potential. The last 20 miles I had offshore headwinds from hell and I was so wasted anyway I entered the beloved altered state... pulled into Aricaat 7pm and immediately hit the meat and ice cream...this morning I managed a quick swim in the pacific before almost missing my 8hr bus trip back to La Paz.
Off to Uyuni Tomorrow by buss.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Here are some photos of the rides on the jungle side of the cordillera real. The Corioco Road aka ¨the worlds most dangerous road¨ (for good reason) and the¨Jungle rail trail¨ the rail trail was an adventure ride full of landslides, waterfalls, slippery bamboo, strange thorny bushes and various other Perils, After two hours we came aross this Impassible hole with a death drop, we decided to turn around..Off to the Atacama.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Still in La Paz. Had a great time last week I biked ¨the most dangerous road¨ To Coroico, which is on the other side of the mountains on the fringe of the jungle. Absolutely beautiful area. The first time I took the wrong road, long story but ended up descending 13,500´ ! to the river and had to make my way back up. But the next day got a lift back up to the intersection I missed and did the ¨right¨ road! Today was awesome, I met up with the owner and guides of Gravity Assisted Mtn biking. and had a day of full on Downhill riding, I was using one of their bikes, a Kona stab Deluxe, a $3000 bike with over 7 ¨of front and rear suspension.
So basically I did stuff today that I´ve never even come close to doing before. BIG jumps and drop offs. Pretty much riding off cliffs and rediculously steep terrain. it was awesome! I caught on pretty quick to how to handle the bike, since it feels more like a motorcycle. There were about 10 of us, and we did three shuttle runs at an area south of the city, then a few of us did an urban assualt run from the top of El Alto back down to the city. That bike is incredible, I could just launch off a big drop and let the suspension do its job. Very addicting! similar feeling to going really steep and fast on my snowboard but different too. ANyway I´ll probably be here another day or two before heading south. This area is awesome, its the biggest city I´ve been too where there is so much cool stuff to do within an hour drive.
Monday, February 20, 2006
I just arrived in the city of La Paz about two hours ago. It was an AMAZING entrance! La PAZ is in a high valley and you descend from 13,000´ to 11,700´into the city on this highway. It was awesome. I spent the last two days biking from Copacabana. Yesterday had some climbs and pretty wet cold weather and hail, but the views around Lake Titicaca were amazing. I took a barge across a gap where there is no bridge yesterday which was fun. Last night I ended up in a fishing village Huatajata. Its a really special area because a while ago I read Thor Heyerdahl´s book on his Ra expeditions using reed boats to cross the Atlantic. Anyway, this area is pretty much the focal point of Ayraman indian knowledge on the art of reed boat building.
The Hostal I stayed at was the house of one of the Catari brothers who has helped build some incredible boats for many expeditions. amazing man, he showed me his museum of reed boats, miniatures about 2-3 ft in size of all the actual boats that have done big trips. It was really cool, I bought a tiny 1.5¨ boat from him for under a dollar (my first sivouiner!) so now I have a piece from a master...anyway the ride today was good, leaving the lakes behind and riding along the Altiplano with good views,and headwinds. My knee felt pretty darn good, so we´ll see what comes next. after about 40 miles, the signs of urban sprawl could be seen as I entered the trashy parts of El Alto, then ended up on this brige and started the descent to the city on the highway, it was awesome!
So I´ve hooked up with the people that run Gravity Assisted Biking, they run downhill mtb bike trips here and are the best mtb bike tour company in bolivia, super cool bunch. I met one of their new guides for the summer in copacabana, then their manager dude onthe barge. Their season is just starting. So i´m hoping to go on a ride or two with them (using real bikes..)all for now, not sure what my plans are next. Thinking of doing a ride to Arica on the Chilean coast then bussing back to La Paz. would probably take a week or so.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I just got back to Copacabana after an excellent trip to Isla del sol. Its a strange cloudy day here, perfect to relax and rest. I ended up biking 12 miles out to this village at the end of the peninsula closest to the island. From there I hired an old man (78 !) with a row boat to paddle me across to the island, I stored my bike with his son. Isla del sol is one of those very special places, its surreal. The first afternoon I hiked along the ridge of the island to its northern part and camped nice and high to an amazing sunset with views of the Cordillera real the other way. Then at 9:30 I woke up because it was so bright from the almost full moon! unreal...
I spent the next day wondering around the northern part of the island, visited a small village and finally ended up finding my own little secluded beach where I baked in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. Yesterday put in alot of walking! hiked over to the west side and followed the ridge allthe way to the little light house on the end.. I was sitting there devouring a late lunch, when this old man rowing a small sail boat against the wind comes around the corner, we chat a bit and he offers me a ride to the opposide side where I needed to camp to get my boat back this morning. Anyway, for some strange reason still unknown to me I declined his offer and instantly regretted it! He rowed a little more, then put up his little sail and covered the distance in 20 minutes that took me the next 3 hours to hike! doo..!
My old friend picked me up this morning and in the waves I managed to put a hole in my hand on a rusty nail while diving into his boat in the waves.Got my first good use of the bandages I´ve been carrying around for the past 3 months. On my way to La paz tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
I wrapped up my obligations in Cuzco and got the heck out of there, I was having enough of ¨mi amigo, ..buy this..¨everytime I walked anywhere. The night bus was ok, very bumpy road even though it was paved. Had a really hard time sleeping and am still in la la land despite a solid two hour nap just now. But I´m really excited to be in Bolivia! Lake Titicaca is huge and beautiful. Going to spend a night getting my head screwed back on then do a trip over to isla del sol camping for a night or two.ok
Monday, February 13, 2006
I´ll elaborate more later maybe but I just got back in Cuzco. The bus trip that took 3:15 on the way out took almost double coming back just now! Its a shitty road pretty much constantly switch backing up or down, and we had a ton of rain which made the rocks fly all over the road, also the police decided to give to bus drivers a hard time so that killed an hour, then more bus problems, then we ran out of gas 500´below a 13,000´pass before Cuzco. Phew!! I got off and practically started running back to the central part of town in frustration! The trip went well overall. It was a real eye opener.I have no idea how the EWB (Engineers without Borders) folks found this village, its a little spot on the side of the hill with 250 people growing corn and fattening up pigs and sheep. Hard living conditions, mud and crap everywhere.
I arrived yesterday after a relly early bus, and wasmet by Maria, who has the community phone at her shack. (fed off a satelite dish and solar panels).I met with the maintanace crew of the water system, it basically consists of a long underground aqueduct from another ravine, then leading into the new Sand filter, then into a concrete building which is the storage tank. Overall the Language barrier was really hard, Spanish is their second language and only the young people in town speak it other wise its Qwechwa, which is a world apart. I felt like I just had a much harder time communicating with them than any other spanish speaking people.
I got the key to the school grounds and camped in the yard, which thankfully was really the only clean grass in the whole village!, or simply just grass! It poured rain all afternoon, all night and until about 11 this morning. I took my water samples with Daniel, one of the most trained water guys. It was good and just as I wanted, it gave me the context of what getting involved in these projects are all about. Anyway, time to cook some dinner.