SKAGIT ALPINISM

Colfax Peak and the Heart of Darkness

April 7th, 2015

I’m breaking with chronological order for once – publishing these reports from winter climbing in the Cascades while I still finish writing up a juggernaut of a blog post about my Patagonia season. Colfax Peak Upon getting home from Patagonia on March 1st, I spent a few days jetlagged in Seattle, dealing with the various life chores that accumulate when you’ve left the continent for four months. Normally skiing would’ve been my top priority, since missing […]

John Scurlock's beautiful photo of the northeast side of Slesse. I don't think it's necessary to draw in the route line!

Hunger Games at Cerro San Lorenzo

December 10th, 2014

After years of climbing exclusively in the Chalten Massif, I have finally exposed myself to another location in the Patagonian Andes. I spent most of November underneath Cerro San Lorenzo, Patagonia’s second-highest peak, with my longtime friend Rob Smith. While El Chalten becomes a bit more like Chamonix every year, the rest of the Patagonian Andes maintain a similar climbing experience as twenty years ago, except that now one can get weather information via satellite […]

Aguja Antipasto on the left, showing the line of "Romance Explosion," with the big, unclimbed tower on the right.

Minivan Alpinism in Canada

October 21st, 2014

Despite my best intentions to dedicate myself to becoming a better rock climber, I somehow keep getting distracted by the call of high mountains… This past summer I tried to rock climb in Squamish a fair amount, but found myself returning a few times to the interior ranges of BC – The Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains. For a North American alpine climber, the Canadian Rockies are a great resource, and I think the […]

Colin climbing one last bit of mixed chimney on the northwest face. Photo by Ian Welsted.

Mt. Sir Donald

June 27th, 2014

In July 2012 my friend Dylan Johnson and I made an 11-day road-trip through interior BC, and although we climbed several fun things, the highlight for me was the Northwest Arête of Mt. Sir Donald. Although I had driven through Rogers Pass many times, I had never climbed there previously, and I knew so little about the area that we found route information only from Google searches the afternoon beforehand. The Northwest Arête is technically […]

The line of "Sashimi Don." The left-hand ridge is the Northeast Buttress, the right-hand ridge is the Northwest Arête, and the original Beckey-Chouinard north face route is in between Sashimi Don and the Northwest Arête. This awesome photo of Sir Donald's north face was taken several years ago by Felix Parham.

Springtime in Cham (and a bit elsewhere)!

June 24th, 2014

A couple weeks ago I returned to North America after spending almost all of the spring in Chamonix. I had missed the two previous spring seasons in Cham, so it was exciting to be back in the ultimate alpine playground. People often ask me what my “goals” are when I go to Cham, and to be honest I usually don’t have any. I go to Chamonix mostly to simply have fun, and also to get […]

Colin climbing easy ice on the Tournier Spur, with the Aiguille Verte behind.

Cerro Pier Giorgio, First Complete Ascent

January 31st, 2014

Last week the weather forecast showed one of the most promising windows of the 2013-2014 Chalten climbing season (which doesn’t say much this year), and Rolo and I hiked into Niponino on the 22nd with ambitious plans. When we went to sleep it was snowing heavily, but we felt confident it would stop soon. When are alarm went off at 2:30am it was still snowing heavily, and we reset the alarm for 4:00. At 4:00 […]

Rolo descending the upper east face at last light, with Cerro Chalten behind.

Cerro Madsen, Aguja de l’S and Cerro Domo Blanco

January 15th, 2014

The 2013-2014 season in El Chalten continues to be a cold and stormy one. Since my arrival in mid November there hasn’t been a single weather window that I would call “a good one,” and the gnarliest summits, Cerro Torre and Torre Egger, have both yet to see a single ascent this season. However, at least small, mediocre windows have been relatively frequent for those motivated to climb smaller objectives in icy conditions. On New […]

Colin climbing an awkward, icy flare near the summit of Aguja de l'S. I think we went the wrong way... Photo by Sarah Hart.

Cerro Marconi Central – La SuperWhillans

December 22nd, 2013

Another semi-good weather window arrived in the Chalten Massif this past week. The forecast showed decent weather for the 18th and 19th, so Rolo and I hiked into the mountains on the 17th. This season continues so far to be the “Old Patagonia,” with plenty of wind, plenty of precip, and not-so-warm temperatures (which, in some ways is a refreshing change from the past couple summers of “Patagonia Tropical”). The recent snow and rime accumulations, […]

The east face of Cerro Marconi Central, showing the line of "La SuperWhillans."

Techado Negro and Aguja Volonqui

December 8th, 2013

The last couple weeks in El Chalten the weather has been neither particularly good nor bad. There hasn’t been a lot of truly burly storms, but there haven’t been any periods of weather forecast good enough to feel confident about trying big, hard routes. There have been a handful of decent days, however, and Sarah and I used a couple of them to tag summits that we’ve never been to before. On November 30th we […]

The east side of Aguja Volonqui, viewed from near the top of Domo Blanco. The Comesaña-Fonrouge is marked with red dots, and "El Lobito" in green dots.

Farewell Magnus

December 2nd, 2013

Shortly before leaving Seattle for Patagonia, it happened again – a phone call during the middle of the night brought news of another friend who had died in the mountains. While ski mountaineering with Andreas Fransson on New Zealand’s Mt. Cook, Swedish evil-genius/warm-hearted-mad-man, Magnus Kastengren had fallen from a high ridge to his death. I hadn’t done nearly as much climbing and skiing with Magnus as others, and there are many people who were much […]