I get plenty of questions about my blog and climbing in general, and this page is for the most common ones. Feel free to get in contact and ask me anything!
Q: “What do you do to train while you aren’t climbing?”
I am lucky enough to live in Seattle with great access to the Cascade range, but between bad weather and work, I need to spend a good amount of time training outside the mountains.
I originally went with the obvious stuff- running stairs and the rock gym. This works, but was a little more mechanical than I felt like a real mountain environment presents. My ice climbing instructor in Canmore directed me to hot power yoga a few years ago, which I never stopped doing since. I like to supplement that with running. (I am by all means not a fantastic runner.)
I am not at all a hiker, and I especially do not enjoy hiking with weight for training. It’s nice in concept, but I find that hot power yoga and running do a better job keeping me in shape for the climbing season. Once the season does kick off, I spend a fair amount of time climbing. I aim for about 20 substantial climbs per season.
Q: “Should I take Diamox?”
Here’s a little secret- Tons of people are taking Diamox, most just won’t tell you.
If you are uncertain about your acclimatization schedule, then Diamox can certainly be used preemptively to help you acclimatize rapidly. I also take a handful of supplements such as iron and ginkgo biloba that may (or may not) support acclimatization.
If you are uncertain about your physical performance, the answer is an astounding no, do not take Diamox. As a diuretic, Diamox tends to slow down the body’s physical performance. Also, being a diuretic, it should also be considered that you will need to drink/carry more water.
To bottom line is that you can absolutely take Diamox to aid your rapid acclimatization, but also be certain to arrive physically fit because you will most likely take a hit in your physical performance.
Q: “I’ve climbed Mount Rainier and I like gym climbing. How do I go from here to a technical 6000M peak?”
I like to think of this as a 3 path process. Focus on each path individually and begin merging them as you become more comfortable in them.
The first path is building up the “classic mountaineering” skills, where you can eventually feel comfortable on a big multi-day glaciated route.
The second path is building up your technical alpine skills. That would be skills like ice climbing, rock climbing, multi-pitch and rope skills, etc.
The third path is understanding your body at high altitudes. I found that I only really started understanding my body at high altitude on my 3rd high altitude expedition. After that, I could begin pushing myself to faster and faster acclimatization scehdules.
Q: “What camera(s) are you using?”
I have always been a fan of Leica cameras. Pretty much every photo you will see on this site (aside from a couple snapped off my iPhone) are shot on one of two cameras, the Leica Q or the Leica D-Lux 109.
The Leica Q is the most featured camera on this blog. One of my favorite articles that shows off its amazing performance is Mt. Rainier, Furher Finger + overnight Crater Camp.
The Leica D-Lux 109 used to have ultralight duty, but I’ve found myself reaching for the Q more and more. For an article that demonstrates its performance, check out Mt. Baker, The Coleman Headwall.
Q: “Do I need a guide in Ecuador? And what guide service do you recommend?”
In Ecuador, it is required to climb with a guide above 5000M. You probably won’t get stopped sneaking past a hut in the middle of your alpine start, but logistically the place is pretty tough without a guide. The closest you will get to climbing sans guide is hiring a low cost guide out of a tour agency in Quito and trailing them along.
There are plenty of low-cost low-motivation guides in Ecuador, which I find a little uninspiring. I believe the best option is to hire a good private guide, such as my friend Nacho, and climb with them like a partner. In my opinion, there is always something to learn.
I am also very hesitant to recommend any western guiding services in Ecuador. Most of them just hand you over to a couple solid local guides or local guiding company, such as Andian Face, which is a good guiding company in its own right. Basically, you are paying the western companies to choose your local operators.
Q: “What guide/logistics service do you recommend for the Cordillera Blanca?”
For the Cordillera Blanca, I hands down recommend Skyline Adventure School. They are by far the most professional outfitter in the region. The owners are two fantastic individuals, they are well connected for logistics, the guides are some of the best in all of South America, and they don’t have “gringo pricing”. Whether or not you want to go guided, these folks will set you up with a great plan.
Q: “What guide service do you recommend for the Cascades?”
For the most part, the guides themselves out here are particularly good and are really passionate about what they do. The guides tend to float between companies a bit as well. The guide service companies in the region tend to be more hits than misses, but here are the folks who I think are really outstanding:
International Mountain Guides – On Rainier, there just aren’t too many options. Like their guides, IMG has fantastic folks in the office and generally run a more flexible operation than the other big competitors. They also offer more challenging climbs on rainier such as the Furher Finger and Liberty Ridge.
Northwest Mountain School & Pro Guiding Service – Both these companies are smaller operations that tend to have some of the best folks in the guiding business. They pick up the phone and respond to emails promptly. I’ve never hesitated recommending either of them.