Cosley & Houston, Alpine Guides
Latham descending towards the French Ridge hut, New Zealand
Greetings from Bishop. We are actually home right
now, and will be for another whopping 48 hours! A couple of which we wanted
to devote to staying in touch with you all. We hope you've had a great
winter and spring since we last wrote, and that you don't get this newsletter
right away because you're off having fun in the mountains this summer,
Thanks to all of you who helped make the last 7 months
rewarding, adventurous and fun for us and for our fellow travelers. Here's
what we've been up to lately:
Sheldon, Jennifer Wolfe and, Rosanne Engelhardt on Juncal, Chile.
Nevado Juncal, Central Andes of
In December Kathy went back to Nevado Juncal
in Chile, with 2 of last year's trio - Jane Sheldon and Jennifer
Wolfe, plus a new third, Rosanne Engelhardt, an artist from the
Bay area. This time we were successful, with plenty of time to spend,
much better snow conditions (fewer and smaller penitentes), and
great weather. Our biggest adventures involved wild river crossings,
in exploratory forays after our climb!
We also met a lot more people on the mountain
this year, though this was probably a fluke. There were a pair of
glaciologists in base camp, doing research for the University of
Edinburgh - on the formation of penitentes, of all things! They
had some pretty high tech machinery staked out on the glacier, and
took advantage of their incredible location to do some climbing
too. If you want to see their research you can find it at: www.geo.ed.ac.uk/~jgc/Research.html
Also on the mountain were a group of 15 youngsters
from the Universidad Católica in Santiago. This university
has a very active climbing club, whom we've come across in Patagonia
from time to time. They all summitted and were coming down by the
time we were heading up high on the mountain.
for Christmas & California Ice
After Christmas get-togethers with our families, we
had most of January to just play around here. Ed Pezalla joined us for
a weekend of ice climbing in Lee Vining and June Lake. As some of you
may have heard, the roadside ice at June Lake has been officially off
limits since the Southern California Edison company which owns the land,
discovered it had some liability issues to settle. Local climbers and
guideswho by the way have been improving the ice by means of hoses
and suchand the Access Fund are currently working on a plan that
will be acceptable to all parties. We hope it will be settled before the
next ice season.
Near the end of the month, Mark flew off to France
for his language course. He learned a lot and had a great time, doing
a lot of skiing in his spare time with fellow guide and also student on
the course, Ramsay Thomas.
with Picks" Ouray, Colorado
Meanwhile, in the first week of February Kathy was
off to Ouray for the second annual Chicks With Picks ice climbing seminar
put on by San Juan Mountain Guides guide Kim Reynolds and her friend Kellie
Day. This year was just as much fun and even more successful than last,
with two clinics: a 4 day seminar (18 participants total) and a 2 day
sampler (about 15). These clinics fill up early, so if you think you might
be interested, keep an eye on their website, www.chickswithpicks.net,
for the 2002 dates as soon as they become official.
Winter Storms & Waterfalls
Back in the Sierra Kathy was joined by Alan Bellinoff
of Virginia for an interesting exercise in "Sierra Winter Storm Survival"
(in lieu of a Mount Whitney Trail Winter Ascent, as originally planned).
The timing was perfect for an eye-of-the-storm experience, and they took
full advantage of it. The trip included a lesson in the limits of snowshoe
buoyancy in fresh powder, waist-deep wading training (a lot like underwater
jogging, from what I've heard of it), and also a test of the response
capabilities of the Amateur Radio enthusiasts of Bishop, who eagerly called
a county snow plow to extricate Kathy's car from a 3 foot burial in the
snow. If the definition of "adventure" means plenty of unexpected
events, this definitely qualified.
Kathy had time to spend a weekend ice climbing with
Chris Kulp, working on leading skills in Lee Vining and June Lake (much
less eventful, and we mean that in a nice way, Chris).
Latham on the summit of Mount Aspiring, New Zealand
Latham on Mount Bevan, Mount Aspiring behind, New Zealand.
New Zealand's Southern Alps
Then she headed off to New Zealand with Andy
Latham. Some of you might remember they had been over there together
last year as well, where they had to sit out a dreary rainy week
enlivened only by the world famous partying skills of Australians,
a group of whom shared their hut. They were back this time with
a specific goal in mind: 3025 meter (9922 foot) Mount Aspiring.
After a windy no-fly day spent waiting and sampling the local sport
crag (pretty good!), they helicoptered in to Bevan Col and after
a short walk across the Bonar glacier were settled in the Colin
Todd hut at the foot of the long Northwest Ridge of Aspiring. The
very next morning they climbed in perfect weather, following the
ridge along its rocky crest to summit in a decent six and a half
hours (the descent took almost exactly as long).
The following days were mostly mixed to good
weather too (making up for the rain Andy saw last year!), so they
went on to do some other really fun climbs in the area: Rolling
Pin, Mt. Bevan, and Avalanche Peak. They did have one day of lashing
rain, just enough for a rest and relaxation day in the hut. It's
hard to believe so much water can be flung out of the sky in such
a short time! A long, scenic walk out from the hut brought them
back to civilization in Queenstown, where Andy overcame Kathy's
better judgment and talked her into a bungy jump. Kathy admits that
Andy's style and aplomb were more than she herself could muster
up, and she settled for a craven slump headfirst into the void.
A driving tour and sight seeing boat cruise on Milford Sound finished
up the trip (and convinced Kathy there's lots more climbing to be
done in the Darran Mountains).
Kulp climbing Louise Falls, Banff Canada
Meanwhile, back in Chamonix....
Meanwhile, Mark had a bit of guiding work between
classes. David Ewing and Derek Porter joined him for an ascent of
the Cosmiques Arête on the Aiguille du Midi and a bit of waterfall
climbing at La Crémerie, a local area near Argentière.
Mark also worked with our friends and colleagues at the North American
Ski Training Center (NASTC) guiding the off-piste sections of the
their annual "Chamonix Ski Week".
Back at home, in the last week of March Kathy
joined Marian Marbury of Adventures in Good Company, for the second
year in a row to teach a 7-day rock climbing course for women. Andy's
wife Jan was along for the ride, as was two-year veteran Chick (without
her pick for this one) Kirsten Rosvall. You can find out more about
this very cool yearly Joshua Tree event by going to www.goodadventure.com.
While Kathy was basking in the sun of Southern
California, Chris Kulp and Mark were enjoying the cold of winter,
up in Canada again for the annual pilgrimage to Banff. As usual
they had a mix of weather but did manage some good ascents. Probably
the best of these was the Coire Dubh Intégrale, a long mixed
climb with a bit of everything. Also memorable was the classic steep
climbing on Weeping Wall Right.
Kelner and Dave Landman on the Haute Route.
Kathy and Dave on the Col du Mont Brulé.
Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route,
In April Mark and Kathy were together for another
Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route ski tour. We were joined by 7 skiers,
Rick Luskin and Lori Stevenson from Los Angeles; Paul Farrelle from
the Bay area; Martha Hilken from Santa Barbara; Clark Fox from Denver;
and an old High School classmate! Christine Burnell and her daughter
Ariel, who by the way, was learning French in the same program as
Mark. The world is full of these tangled webs, it seems.
climbs up toward the Plateau du Couloir on the Haute Route.
While we had what are beginning to seem like
the usual challenges with weather, our group was not only game and
almost too much fun (if there can be such a thing!), but also very
skilled skiers, and we managed to do most of the tour. We had an
extra day in Zermatt at the end, and it being the first truly fine
day we'd had, we took advantage of it to end the trip on an exhilarating
note by descending the Schwarztor in perfect powder conditions.
This tour is similar to the Vallée Blanche in Chamonix, a
long glacier descent in a spectacular high mountain setting, and
accessible by cable car. It's steeper and more demanding of skiing
skills than the Vallée Blanche however, and the exit from
the glacier snout at the end involves not only labyrinthine obstacle
course type skiing through the ice formations, but also some pretty
interesting use of fixed ropes, wooden pallets and burlap bags!!!
This tour was followed by a cold snap, and a
bout with "The Swedish Plague", as we dubbed a vicious
flu bug that swept through the young, alcohol weakened Swedish population
of the French language school, and to which we both succumbed. We
were back on our skis however in time to repeat the Haute Route,
this time with Dave Landman and Stowe Kelner, both Americans living
in London. I'm pleased to report that for the first time ever, we
actually completed the entire tour from start to finish with no
deviations! The bad weather was not as bad this time, being mostly
cold and windy. This actually worked to our advantage by discouraging
others, and we had several huts entirely to ourselves! Also to ourselves
were several deliriously untouched powder runs, most notably that
from the Trient Hut down the Arpette Valley to Champex, where the
bus to Orsières pulled up just as we were taking off our
skiing down the slopes of the Finsteraarhorn, Berner Oberland, Switzerland.
Kathy & Mark's skiing vacation
After saying good-bye to Dave and Stowe, we took a
few days to ourselves to explore the Plateau du Couloir variation (the
route of the first successful crossing in 1911). We were impressed with
the quality of the skiing and the more remote feel to this tour, as well
as the lovely town of Bourg-St. Pierre where we stayed in a beautiful
little mountain hostel.
We also found some time to explore more of the huts,
peaks and descents of the Berner Oberland. From Grindelwald we took the
train to the Jungfraujoch, and toured in poor visibility to the Konkordia
Hut. The following day was much better, and we skied over the Grünhornlücke
to the Finsteraarhorn Hut for our second night. From there we climbed
(most of) the Finsteraarhorn, and had a fantastic ski descent back to
the hut. We continued east and finished that day at the Oberaarjoch Hut,
again the only ones there. The following day was beautiful weather. We
had perhaps the longest and most enjoyable descent of our entire season
on this day: from the summit of the Vorder Galmihorn (fantastic views
of a vast portion of the Swiss Alps) we skied 6000 feet of perfect corn-
OK it got a little slushy at the end - to just above the town of Reckingen,
a little village on the train line back to the upper Rhone valley.
For more information about these areas, or to check
out some new photos and ski tour options, please visit our updated ski
tours pages, www.cosleyhouston.com/alps-ski-programs.htm.
Training and Exams
The rest of May was very hectic for Mark: once we
got home he hit the ground running - first for Red Rocks in Nevada where
he conducted a Rock Guides Exam for the American Mountain Guides Association,
and then for the Cascades where, for the second, year he helped conduct
the yearly guides training for Mountain Madness.
Cooper, Ken Browne, Lynn Hirschkind and Paul Scanlon at the Moraine
Camp on Alpamayo.
Alpamayo & Huascarán,
Kathy mostly twiddled her thumbs and packed
up for Peru, where in June we were together again for an expedition
to Alpamayo. This time we were joined by Ken Cooper of the Boston
area; Ken Browne from New Hampshire; Paul Scanlon from Seattle,
and Lynn Hirschkind from Cuenca, Ecuador. This was a great, strong
group and we all managed to summit, though not all on the same day.
Again the weather was less than perfect, and again this worked in
our favor, being good enough to do the climb, but bad enough to
discourage others with whom we would have had to jostle for position
in the lead. We saw a very significant increase in the numbers of
climbers from 2 years ago.
Mark then headed back to climb in Canada with
Chris Kulp, while Lynn and Ken Cooper stayed on with Kathy to sprint
on up Huascarán. It's great to be so acclimated going into
this climb, and to be able to move relatively quickly. We had very
cold, but calm and sunny weather for our summit day. Some pretty
interesting snow and ice formations had to be climbed, and Ken got
to see the inside of a crevasse, and Kathy had a pretty tough day
not feeling 100%, but despite these challenges we managed to get
our sorry butts up and back down without permanent harm.
Kulp high on Ha Ling Peak, NE Face route. Banff, Canada
Chris and Mark had a great time in Canada meanwhile.
As is so common in the Canadian Rockies early season (or any season,
for that matter) the weather was mixed. When they first arrived
the forecast looked perfect. But recent and very heavy snow made
for some sloppy going up high. First on the list was Mount Victoria,
and the pair headed straight away up to the Abbot Pass Hut. A warm
and overcast night prevented the snow from freezing and the already
unstable snowpack was just too steep above the hut to gamble with.
They retreated, defeated but healthy.
Thinking that rock ascents might be a better
choice, at least until the nights should cool off and the snow stabilize
a bit, they chose Mount Louis. This is a great climb, and one they
both thoroughly enjoyed. The fact that Conrad Kain climbed this
peak in 1916 is an inspiration for all of us. A couple days later
they were on the summit of Athabasca, having just climbed its North
Face, one of the classic ice faces in the Columbia Icefields area.
And finally, after being chased of Castle Mountain by threatening
weather, they squeezed in a final climb of Ha Ling Peak via the
NE Face, a very fun alpine rock route.
FOR 2001 and 2002?
Click the trips below for more information.
Kulp on the North Face of Athabasca, Canada
July and August
So now after catching our breath we're heading
back to the Alps again, for a couple of months climbing with several
of you, gentle readers. We are already booked up for this year,
and I would imagine you have made plans for this summer as well.
October Cho Oyu Expedition
From Europe, we'll
head almost directly to Cho Oyu. I imagine we'll have some stories
to relate after that. We return home in mid-October, but dash straight
away to Boulder, Colorado for the annual meetings of the American
Mountain Guides Association. We should finally resurface again sometime
December to March, 2002
"Our Big Writing Project"
Our schedule for next year is a bit up in the
air. We hope to be involved with a major writing project for the
winter months, so we have tentatively planned no trips from December
Early February, 2002
"Chicks With Picks"
Kathy Again will be teaching and having fun
at the "Chicks With Picks" ice extravaganza in early February
and May, 2002 Haute Route
and other Alps Ski Tours
In April we plan to head back to the Alps for
more ski touring. We are offering 3 trips, one Chamonix to Zermatt
Haute Route with the Verbier start, one Haute Route which includes
the classic route via the Plateau du Couloir, and a great tour of
the Berner Oberland. We have also blocked out about 10 days for
a private ski tour for you or your group of friends. This slot is
still available, but our guess is that it will go soon. If you are
interested please let us know.
June and part of July,
2002 Mountaineering in Peru
One thing we would very much like to do in June
of 2002 is to explore more options for climbing in the Cordillera
Blanca. There is a lot more to do besides the increasingly crowded
Alpamayo and Huascarán. The Ishinca Valley is particularly
interesting, being very quick and easy of access from Huaraz, and
having both easier acclimatization peaks, and harder projects like
Toccllaraju. The base camp is roomy and convenient to all the peaks,
or there is the option to stay in the new hut funded by Italian
monks from the Salesian Order and built by Peruvian volunteers.
We would like to explore a three valleys traverse from the Cojup
valley to the south, over a glaciated col and into the Ishinca valley,
and on into the Quebrada Aquilpo to the north, climbing peaks along
the way. A visit to an Inca ruin could wrap up this 10 - 12 day
We will also be returning to Alpamayo. And for
those that want to take good advantage of their hard won acclimatization,
we will do an 8 day "add-on expedition to Huascarán.
July to September, 2002
Again, we will return to the Alps next year.
This year our Alps season was completely booked up about 8 months
in advance. Next year might be even more busy. If you think you
would like to join us there, we need to get you on the schedule
soongive us a call (or perhaps an email might have a better
chance of catching us) to talk about dates.
So that's as far as we've gotten with plans for this coming
year. We hope to see some of you in our travels, and wish you all
a great year with plenty of time to commune with the nature gods
whether in the mountains or some other landscape.
For more information about any and all of the above destinations
or expeditions, please feel free to contact us by phone, mail or
email, and also to visit our website at www.cosleyhouston.com.
We sincerely hope you'll be able to join us somewhere in the mountains
this year, it's always a pleasure to climb and ski with you all.
Enjoy your Summer!
Kathy & Mark
1627 Dunbar Lane
Bishop, CA 93514
Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM / IFMGA Internationally Certified Mountain Guides
Rock, Alpine, & Ski Mountaineering Guides
All images, layout and text ©2001 Cosley &
Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved