On A Recce: Exploring New Terrain in the Waddington Range

Story and Photos By Ben Kunz rec·ce: (noun) a slang word for reconnaissance, reconnoitre Climbing the McNerthney Pillar was the primary objective for our trip to the Waddington Range, but when we returned down the Bravo Glacier route to Sunny Knob, the ensuing days continued to bring excellent weather. During our one and only rest day, we took turns man-handling the guidebook and staring at the walls, piecing together known climbs and potentially unclimbed crack systems on the incredible west faces of the spires of the Stilletto Group. We didn’t settle on any particular formation or climb, we just knew we were psyched to get up there and explore, and if the stars aligned, go for a first ascent. And what better way to seize the opportunity than to head out…

Read More

Plane camping on the Kenai

Story and photos by Holly Walker “There’s a lot of air up here!”, I exclaimed, the seemingly endless Capps Glacier and everything beyond it making me as excited as a little schoolgirl. The Anchorage mountaineers stared at me as I sat in their kitchen tent and I realized how silly I must have sounded. I was comparing Alaska to the Lower 48 and was enjoying the lack of cars, busy roads and crammed airspace. My pilot friend Jake Soplando and I had just landed on the Capps Glacier in the Tordrillo Range in his personal Piper Super Cub airplane. Moments ago we were soaring above the snow as it sparkled in the alpenglow, watching the enormous peaks and hundreds of crevasses light up with a soft pink hue. “Jake, what are…

Read More

Pained and Pampered in Chamonix

Story And Photos By Chris Garren In Colorado, I wake every day to a scenic mountain panorama. Still, my jaw dropped when I first saw the Alps in Chamonix. Endless peaks shot up from crevassed glaciers and sunny hills. Mont Blanc was a commanding presence above the valley. A climber’s dreamscape! Drinking questionable amounts of coffee to get the better of my jet lag, I gazed at routes I’d been reading about for years. I was in the heart of the alpine climbing world; the stage for legendary first ascents and home to the best long, moderate routes anywhere. Once a pursuit strictly for the elegantly clad upper class, climbing is now written into the DNA of Chamonix. Gear shops, huts, cable cars — a vast infrastructure supports vertical endeavors….

Read More

Second Ascents: The McNerthney Pillar

Photos and Story by Ben Kunz On July 20th, 2013, Tim Halder, Joe Sambataro and I completed the second ascent of the McNerthney Pillar on the north face of Mount Waddington in British Columbia’s Coast Range. This prodigious rock pillar was climbed by the Northwest’s own McNerthney brothers, Pat and Dan McNerthney, back in 1986. Despite the appeal of this beautiful rock pillar and “providing far and away the most powerful climbing line of this face of Waddington”, it had yet to see a repeat ascent. Climbing a big, steep route like the McNerthney Pillar was a huge undertaking for the three of us. Despite forays into the other Great Ranges (Peru, Alaska, Alps, Himalaya), none of us had climbed such a technical, once-touched line on such a colossal mountain…

Read More

Deep water Soloing & Standup Paddling In Texas

By Dave Costello A border patrol agent in army fatigues is riffling through my drybag, awkwardly straddling the three 12’ 6” rental standup paddleboards (SUPs) hanging out the back of our short-bed pickup. The nearest water is at the U.S.-Mexico border 30 miles away on Lake Amistad. A five-year drought has left the reservoir on the Rio Grande nearly bone-dry. The nearest surfable waves are 300 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t blame him for thinking that three dudes with boards in the middle of the desert look a little suspicious. We do. But we’re not after waves. We’re looking for rock. I’d been tipped off that the climbing in the Lower Pecos River Canyon was first rate, and mostly untouched, since it could only be accessed…

Read More

Climbing Mystery Mountain: Mt. Waddington

  Mount Waddington is almost a nightmare in its grim inaccessibility, draped with plumes of huge, crumbling ice-feathers. -Don Munday Don and Phyllis Munday first set their eyes on the 13,186 ft. peak in 1925 from Mount Arrowsmith, on Vancouver Island. Dubbed as “Mystery Mountain,” Mt. Waddington’s very existence was questioned before it was initially explored by the couple that same year. Though they made several attempts to climb the mountain and reached its lower northwest summit in 1928, the first ascent was made over ten years later by Fritz Wiessner and Bill House via the South Face in 1936. The climb to the summit and back to base camp took over 23 hours. Grateful for good climbing conditions, the team followed a left branch of the couloir and reached a snow patch…

Read More

The ultimate Road Trip: Life with Katrin and Lars Schneider

Katrin and Lars Schneider are living a life most of us envy—for more than ten years, they have been traveling, exploring and working together all around the world. Their photography and writing showcases a great variety of outdoor pursuits from backpacking, kayaking, freeriding, ski touring and snowshoeing, to mountain biking, yoga, trail running and bike touring. Take a look at their blog, and get inspired to take your own journey. Lars and Katrin gave us an inside look on what life is really like on the ultimate road trip:          

Read More

Riding our Thumbs into the North Cascades

Photos and Story By Ben Kunz Well you’ve probably never heard of the Toyota MasterAce. It is the original name of the Toyota van distributed worldwide from 1982-1989. These vans have a bit of a cult following , much like Volkswagen vans.  And they are equally infamous for breaking down. Recently, on a climbing trip to Washington Pass, the North Cascades granite playground, it was my partner’s turn to drive. We planned to take his beloved Tawny, a 1986 Toyota van that has its quirks. So I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise when we broke down near Rockport, WA. Without cell phone service it took considerable effort to find a phone and get AAA involved. While we waited I reflected on how comfortable our lives are compared to our…

Read More

American Road Tripping

Photos and Story By Ben Kunz The climbing road trip has become a defining part of being an American climber.  The freedom of packing up a vehicle and travelling to dreamy crags across this Great Land is part of our climbing culture.  Last year marked a chance to fulfill a dream of taking some serious time explore some of the best climbing this country has to offer. The High Sierra Galen Rowell’s amazing photography opened up my world to the High Sierra.  These amazing mountains with its excellent rock boasts some of American’s finest alpine routes! “The best alpine wall in the country.” – Peter Croft, about the Incredible Hulk Tyrolean traverse on Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag:

Read More