North Early Winter Spire, Early Winter Couloir

A week beforehand, a bunch of mixed alpine route beta from WA Pass started spraying on Instagram, and we wanted to partake in the fun. We arrived to the iconic hairpin turn on the highway. The weather was colder than the warm forecast, and we were feeling good after a few glugs of Yerba Matte. It was fairly clear where we were going even in the pitch dark, and after about an hour of following some boot pack and crossing over some shitty tree wells, we found ourselves at what seemed to be at the bottom of the route. [..]

Mt. Hood, Cathedral Ridge

There are really 2 ways to climb the Cathedral Ridge. Either approached by Lolo Pass, all the way from the far northwest flank of the mountain. While scenic and pure, it requires climbers to somehow get back to their car when descending to Timberline.  Alternatively, it can be approached from the good ole south side. It begins with crossing over the Illumination Saddle, then the Reid Glacier, then the Yocum Ridge, then the Sandy Glacier, and then finally make the way onto the Cathedral Ridge. This effectively circumnavigates half the mountain. [...]

Mt. Hood, Devil’s Kitchen Headwall

Bad luck or poor planning, whatever it was, Jessica and I set our eyes on this climb a couple years back but never managed to send it. Whether it was bailing in very dry conditions or forgetting our boots at home, we ended the 2019 season shot down by this “fairly straightforward” Mt Hood south side techy classic. And as 2020 came and left, we managed to keep ourselves busy with plenty of other climbs. But this spring, spotting a splitter sunny but cold weather window, we snuck out to Oregon to finally (hopefully) bang this one out together. [...]

Ecuador 2021, Escaping the Pandemic

Just like most people in the world, the Pandemic had been weighing on us. We had gotten a lot of climbing in this past year, but our international plans had all been canceled. And with Jessica's green card application in the USA moving forward, we knew there would be a long period ahead where travel on her end would be 100% restricted. The weather in the PNW had been particularly bad this winter, and it only looked like it was getting worse. After a number of failed climbing attempts due to conditions, we made the call to go south for a bit. [...]

Cotopaxi

My 3rd time in Ecuador. My 6th week. Around my 40th day in the country. And I had still not ever stepped foot on the famous Cotopaxi. I swore that this trip, I would change that, I wouldn't leave before giving it a shot. I say “a shot” because our luck with the weather and conditions has been fairly poor so far. A few years ago, coming to Ecuador looking to climb more technically challenging routes, Cotopaxi seemed to not have any on the list. The perfect conical shape left no nooks and crannies for “imperfections” like ridges or faces. [...]

Illiniza Sur

Illiniza Sur, Illiniza Norte’s far less popular yet much more difficult sibling, was our main objective.  Up until 2009, there were two routes up Illiniza Sur, with the most popular route being La Rampa.  As of 2017, La Rampa is pretty much just a melted out rock shooting gallery, so we would be using the other route.  Funnily enough, nobody really seems to remember what the current route used to be called back when there were two routes.[...]

El Altar: Subpeak Dreams and Avalanche Hell

Nacho and my expedition to El Altar was planned for 8 days, much longer than we spent last time here in 2017 when we climbed the main summit, El Obispo. We would hike in supported by horses to the Italian Camp, and setup (and likely tear down) a base camp. Then the plan would be to do an alpine style smash and grab of Monja Grande, and 2 further peaks (to remain unnamed for now), inaccesssble from the base camp. [...]

Carihuairazo

Spelling the name of this peak seems to be just as challenging as pronouncing the name. I practiced in my head, but when I'd open my mouth, unstrung syllables just gobbled out. The indigenous people's story goes as such. Carihuairazo and El Altar entered an epic battle against Chimborazo over the love of Tungurahua. Carihuairazo and El Altar were left battered and destroyed, only remaining as the calderas that they are today. This peak had been on my radar for a few years now, but it was more of a question mark than anything else. [...]

Eldorado Peak, North Ridge

I mentioned to Will that Jess and I were looking at climbing the NE Face of Eldorado. His AMGA Alpine exam happened to take him pretty close to our objective, the relatively untouched North Ridge of Eldorado. Kind of a coincidence because I had just been looking at the N Ridge topo wondering if it would be a viable ascent. Turns out it was, and Will was ready to get back on it! [...]