Trip Report: Climbing in Pakistan’s Karakoram Range

Travel Chaos Our Pakistan expedition started out with high stress levels, to say the least. Our bags were painstakingly packed—gear organized, packed, organized again, double-checked, and repacked. As we celebrated our last night in the US with some friends in Denver, Colorado before catching our morning flight, Allen received a terrible email—our flight was canceled! When we had started planning our expeditions to Pakistan’s Karakoram range, we figured it’d be a long shot in light of ever-changing COVID restrictions and complications. We kept a hawk-eye on climbers that we saw were getting into Pakistan and bombarded them with questions. Countless hours were spent trying to communicate with officials in Pakistan and researching any info we could find online. Months prior we had booked our flights and now tickets were thousands…

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Cycling Around the World: Lessons from Living a Nomad Life

Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to be a grocer, or a general, or a politician, or a judge, you will invariably become it; that is your punishment.” Long before living a nomad life, I had wanted to be a software engineer. But when I became one, it felt like a punishment. It is not to say that a Ph.D. in computer science and a software development career in Germany were not dreams that came true. But those dreams were no longer mine. Now, I have no career, permanent address, fixed phone number, bank balance, spouse or kids. Everything I own fits inside my bicycle panniers. Every day is a new adventure. Despite all the uncertainties and difficulties I face on the road, I find a new home, a new…

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Exploring the Wilderness Areas of Scotland

When considering the wild areas of the UK, my mind quickly pans straight to Scotland which houses some of the remotest places in the country, vast planes of uninhabited wilderness and towering mountains. Each region of Scotland has its own unique feel, from the valleys of Glencoe and the planes of Glen Shiel to the wild sandstone landscapes of Torridon. Traveling through these areas gives a sense of a very different Scotland depending on the area that you are in. This summer, I decided to head out for a week to get a couple of routes ticked off and to spend some time in the outdoors, a welcome break from the 9-5 office job. The plan was to visit some old favourites and a couple of new spots along the…

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The Carretera Austral by Bicycle: A Wild Ride through Chilean Patagonia

In Chile, they have a saying: Only those who hurry through Patagonia waste time. For any enthusiast of the great outdoors, it is one of the world’s truly great wildernesses—and somewhere to explore at a slow pace. The very word “Patagonia” stirs up images of grand mountains, thick forests, shimmering lakes and icy glaciers interspersed with a sparse population and lonely roads. The Carretera Austral is the iconic road running through Chilean Patagonia and has earned something of a lofty reputation for road-trippers of all means of transport. National Geographic Traveller dubbed it “the perfect road trip” with similar praise coming from Conde Nest Traveller. In the two-volume account of his around-the-world cycle, British adventurer Alistair Humphreys dubbed the Carretera Austral as “the most beautiful road I have cycled”. There’s…

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Exploratory Mountaineering – The Tien Shan Mountains

16 Days and 8 First Ascents in China’s Tien Shan Mountains The Tien Shan range in China is ideal for exploratory mountaineering expeditions. There are hundreds of valleys, each with handfuls of unclimbed peaks and each mountain with plenty of route options. A lot of the routes can be simple mountaineering, but you can choose a line more demanding and direct. Although a lot of these peaks can be easily climbed it’s important not to underestimate the experience needed to safely climb in the mountains, as well as having the correct mountain equipment. I had never experienced exploratory mountaineering before—it had always been daunting. I wanted to make sure I had enough experience to make the most of any unclimbed mountains before an opportunity arose. It had taken me years…

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Mountain Running in the Sierra Nevada

One of the best parts of mountain running is when you get to walk. I’m not calling mountain running a gentle stroll, but generally, you’re not full-on, maxed-out sprinting hour after hour up an enormous rock pile. The running part is great, but the main draw is that rock pile and the ones around it. Just being, and moving, in the mountains. Starting from the smell of sage and climbing into solitude with the sounds of rushing water, birdsong, and your own feet finding rhythms on the ground. Often, if you are walking, you are someplace spectacular: a steep forest trail,  a technical ridge, or on the way to a lonely summit where the air is thin. As a mountain runner coming from the Alps, I’ve been adapting to the…

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Paring it Down to the Essentials: A Guide’s Gear for a Three-Day Mountaineering Trip

As a guide with the American Alpine Institute on Mt. Baker, I often end up working with clients who try to bring all the appropriate gear but end up bringing just a tad more than necessary. In this post, I will talk about the gear I bring with me on a 3-Day Baker Skills and Climb trip and how I pared it down to its current amount. I hope this will help you on your fast-and-light adventures! 58 Mountaineering Essentials To start out, here’s a standard list of what I bring on a Baker 3-Day… Climbing gear: Crampons Harness Ice axe 1 ice screw 4 locking carabiners 6 non-locking carabiners 20-foot cordelette 2 double-length slings 2 pickets 1 rope Waist and foot prusiks Helmet Clothes: 1 pair soft shell pants…

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From Sea to Source: Misadventures & Camping on the Hudson River

In August of 2019, my friend Kirk and I fulfilled a childhood dream, paddling the Hudson River from source to sea. Growing up, my friends and I would explore my small hometown and go as far as we could get before making it home for dinner. We would go paddling, swimming, cliff jumping, hiking and occasionally jump trains when they were moving slow enough. Setting off to wander our town each day was an exploration, even if we had been there before. As kids, my friends and I were too naïve to even realize that our exploits rarely took us more than a mile or two from home, yet they still had a sense of adventure that built the kind of lasting friendships that are only forged in the outdoors….

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