The Categorical Ten

Another peak experience by Martha Perantoni

I read with dismay another rescue of another ill-prepared hiker on another 14er last week. A party of hikers headed up Quandary, beginning at 11 AM, and while the majority of the party decided not to continue beyond a certain point, one young man went on ahead to the summit. Descending into nighttime, his headlamp ran out of battery power. When he didn’t make a timely trailhead return to meet his friends, they dialed 911 and a rescue was called out.

Okay, what glaring mistake did this fellow make that would have prevented the need for a night rescue?

a) Forgot the marshmallows to roast over the campfire
b) Didn’t chill the PBR long enough
c) Neglected to bring spare batteries
d) Left his campfire songbook back at the truck

Anyone answer anything other than C? D’oh! Do you think this fellow was carrying his Ten Essentials? Not likely.

The Ten Essentials are part of the hiker’s bible. They provide safety gear suggestions from the experienced to the inexperienced and are meant to be taken seriously, particularly here in our Colorado extremes. There are as many compilations of the Ten Essentials as there are compilers. In my experience as a year-round solo backcountry enthusiast, I’ve come up with the following categories to flesh out the list’s intentions and I call them the Categorical Ten in order to expand the list. Trust me: it’ll take the worry out of human-powered travel.

1. Map & compass
Bring a GPS if you want but never leave home without a quad and Suunto.
2. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and hat
Avoid snow blindness, a Rudolph red nose, and keep all the heat from escaping out of the top of your head. Hats also keep you cooler in the blazing alpine sun.
3. Extra food and water and a water purification system
Focus on lightweight carbs and those packable gooey maltodextrin squeeze jobs. Ask Mark Twight – one of those an hour will keep your energy level going. Dehydration is a huge factor in alpine hiking and a little filter, SteriPEN, or Potable Aqua iodine tablets could keep you fleshed out.
4. Extra clothes and a bivy sack
We’re not talking Texas Gore-Tex, here – at least one extra wicking base layer, a waterproof shell if you’re not already wearing one, extra dry socks, gloves, and hat. Toss in a space blanket or pick up one of Adventure Medical Kit’s drawstring bivy’s. Extremities are the first to succumb to frostbite – keep your feet warm and at least you’re able to walk yourself out.
5. Headlamp and EXTRA BATTERIES!
Get a lamp with strobe capabilities and it’ll help rescuers locate you more easily. Toss in an extra bulb or two as well. Leave the handheld flashlight at home. If you’re in a position where you need both hands and one of them is engaged hanging on to a flashlight, that’s not stacking the odds in your favor.
6. First aid kit
You decide how elaborate it needs to be. Mine is pared down to assorted bandages and gauze pads, alcohol swabs, an ace bandage, surgical tape, NSAIDs, a multi-tool, insect repellant, blister packs and a tube of Body Rub. I can use one of my trekking poles if I need a splint. If an injury needs more than this or I can’t crawl my way of a situation I’m probably going to need a rescue anyway.
7. Fire starter
Make it a stove. I carry an Esbit solid fuel stove – lightweight, compact, and it’ll melt water as effortlessly as any of the small canister stoves. Once that’s lit it will also help light a wood fire. Might not roast the rabbit as well…
8. Matches and lighter
Bring both. In fact, bring two lighters and a bunch of matches in a waterproof container. Lighters don’t always work at altitude and in sub-zero conditions.
9. Signaling device
No, your cell phone isn’t always going to get a signal – besides, that’s cheating. Bring several options – a whistle, a mirror, and a flare.
10. Toilet paper and trowel and Ziploc bag
This has been left off the Ten Essentials for too long and backcountry waste management has become a huge problem. Dig your poo deep, don’t do anything within 100 feet of a water source, and if you need the TP to start a fire, you’ve got it handy in your Ziploc. That nauseates you? Try building a campsite on someone else’s toilet. Ladies, you know those signs in public bathrooms about not flushing your personals? Why would you leave them in the backcountry?

And I have a personal #11 that’s a must – that thing between your ears?

Don’t leave home without it.


Love Your Mother

Another peak experience by Martha Perantoni

Painting "The Earth is My Mother" by Bev Doolittle

Right before the mid-term election, the Denver Post ran a straw poll on their online daily front page. The question posed was “how important to you feel environmental issues are in the upcoming election?”

The majority of respondents said “not important at all.”

I was shocked at the response. We live in one of the most beautiful states in North America, yet apparently residents either take it for granted, or don’t take it at all.

I know the economy, unemployment, foreclosures, health care issues run at the forefront of everyone’s mind. I understand – it affects me the same as every other working stiff out there. But without clean air, clean water, proper toxic waste disposal, reduce/reuse/recycle sustainability, and just a beautiful place to clear our brains and souls, all those other issues will be moot. We won’t be around to complain.

The Colorado Environmental Film Festival, running today, November 4th, through November 6th, is a great source of inspiration for viewers and environmentalists. Featuring Play Again, a film about the consequences of a childhood removed from nature, and joined by more than 40 other green-driven films, the Festival brings to our doorstep the saddening truths of the current environmental malaise and issues at hand.

In addition enjoy celebrations, networking, openings, après-film, workshops, and the juried photography show at the American Mountaineering Center and environs. And on Saturday, clean out all those old electronics to enjoy mostly free recycling Saturday from 11 AM – 2 PM in the parking lot behind the AMC.

It all starts tonight with an opening party at the American Mountaineering Museum from 5-6 PM and the first films showing in the Foss beginning at 7 PM. Friday screenings run from 11AM – 11 PM and Saturday from 11 AM – 9 PM.

Love your mother – live and play wisely. It all starts right here, right now, with you.


Christmas is Come Early This Year

Another peak experience by Martha Perantoni

I’d heard the fall color in Grand County had exploded last weekend, so I grabbed a friend and her son and his fiancé and we headed up to Tabernash and on to Junco Lake Trailhead, intent on reaching Columbine Lake.

True, the aspen trees were luminous yellow and some were even tipped with an unusual bittersweet orange. True, there were significant colorful groves that warranted making the journey from the Front Range.

True, also, the pine beetle has ravaged the remainder of the forests, each tree a sad addition to the brown citadel. At least that which remains – clear-cutting has left the rolling hills looking like a bald man’s hair on a bad day.

We grew silent as we turned onto Meadow Creek Road and found ourselves in an alleyway of devastation. We couldn’t hit the trail soon enough and began to wind our way closer and closer to timberline.

Something looked strange along the trail, though. In spite of the towering dead trees, there were countless young pine, some only a foot or two high, some over six feet, that were green, healthy, and pushing their way up through the quietus. Closer in by the waterfall and before heading up the moraine, the branch tips on the trees revealed the bluish-green of new growth. Every tree had it, looking as if to explode with enthusiasm.

Instead, I felt to explode with arbor ardor. Here I’ve been bemoaning the death of Colorado’s forests when all this time, underneath the canopy, they’ve been silently restoring and repairing themselves. I had no idea.

I paused in front of one particularly beautiful young pine. My friend saw my face and stopped. “Christmas Tree?” she asked. I smiled and shook my head “yes. Not to cut, but to celebrate.”

It’s comforting to know that the forests will abide – they’ll repair, regrow, have their literal rebirth. I’m hopeful that this turnabout will be permanent, that the new trees will be a strain resistant to the pine beetle, and that our forests will rejuvenate to the lush, wind-in-the-pines life they had less than a decade ago.

So, before the snow flies, revel in our new growth. Go celebrate Christmas.


Il Neige!

Another peak experience by Martha Perantoni

A couple of nights ago I was driving west on 72 as it approaches 93. The clouds were louring and it rained sporadically from Westminster on down. Then something changed – the sounds on the windshield turned to a patter and, as I looked more closely, it was clear I was watching snow fall. Not much, no accumulation, but it was definitely snow.

The precipitation was confirmed next morning when I awoke to see a fairy dusting of the stuff on the Continental Divide. Further spelunking through Dick Gilbert’s webcams proved it.

It snowed in them thar hills.

For people like me who prefer their water frozen, this is the news we wait for all season long. Time to start getting ready – wax the skis and skins, sharpen the crampons and axes, put fresh Lithium batteries in the beacon.

And time to share the love. The annual Bent Gate Ski Season Kickoff Party 2010 is prepared to do just that on Thursday, September 30th starting at 6 PM at the American Mountaineering Museum. Silent auction, raffle, backcountry clinics, vendor booths, fashion show, and world premier of The Freeheel Life 2 are all included in admission price.

Okay, so the movie is a production of Telemark Skier Magazine and features the tele timeline but Randonée enthusiasts, like me, are invited, too. Hey, it’s still freeheelin’.

Proceeds from the event benefit the American Mountaineering Museum, Friends of Berthoud Pass, and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Rack up your backcountry karma points before heading out, eh?

Bien alors, faire le neige!



Another peak experience by Martha Perantoni

By now you’re aware there’s a crispness in the evening air, the sun sets earlier and earlier, and the aspen are beginning to change color in the high country. The elk are bugling wildly and bear fattening up for a long winter sleep. This is one of my favorite times of year because it’s a chance to introspect, hibernate, and dream...forward.

As a kid growing up in Vermont, the autumn season was glorious. We viewed every hue of maple from yellow to bittersweet to Mars red and when the leaves began to fall, we diligently raked them into huge piles on the front lawn just so we could jump in them.

It may seem the impending winter is a time to shut down when, in fact, it’s always been a superb opportunity for learning. There’s little better than snuggling down in the rocking chair with a good book, a fuzzy lap throw and cat, and glass of chewy Shiraz, or listening to the crisp creak of snow underfoot heading for an inspiring presentation.

In preparation for this seasonal glory, the American Mountaineering Museum and AAC Library are setting a wonderful tone. September 21st, Jean Mollicone, first woman to summit Mt. Vinson, Antarctica, will recount her historic summit with Mugs Stump, one of the most beloved of American mountaineers. September 30th, get ready for ski season with Bent Gate’s Ski Season Kick-Off Party through a silent auction, fashion show, raffle, The Freeheel Life film in the Foss, avy and beacon clinics and camaraderie all to benefit CAIC, Friends of Berthoud Pass, and the AMM. October 6th Gyatso will help us understand Tibetan lifestyle, culture and environment and the Westernization changes it faces. And on October 28th, continue to challenge the theory that the Yeti don’t exist with Yeti night at the Museum – prizes for best costume and Yeti crafts for the kids.

Not your style? Consider a good book. The American Alpine Club Library is full of them. Historic, factual, inspirational, or just durned good reading. Check ‘em out, grab the cat, pour the wine, and revel in the possibility next summer will offer you.

PS Like this photo? Fred Hanselmann has the best eye for Colorado color and composition of anyone I’ve ever known. His photos are available for purchase in Base Camp Adventure Store. What better way to preserve the memories!



When Thomas Montgomerie triangulated two new peaks in the Karakoram, he had no idea he’d discovered not only the second highest peak on earth, but also the second most dangerous. And while Karakorum 1 was known locally as Masherbrum, no one seemed to know of a local name for K2. As Fosco Maraini quipped “...just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss…it makes no attempt to sound human… it is atoms and stars…has the nakedness of the world before the first man - or of the cindered planet after the last…” so calling the mountain K2 seemed more than appropriate and it stuck.

Superseded only by Annapurna as the most dangerous 8000m peak to climb, 25% of those who attempt the savage mountain perish. Not only is it technically one of the most challenging and committing, its extreme weather patterns can cause deadly delays. Only 302 have successfully summited and at least 77 others have died trying.

The challenges of the mountain make for great story-telling as well. Fatal attempts in 1939 and 1953, a troublesome first summit by the Italians in 1954, and finally the 13 deaths in 1986 and 11 more within hours of each other in 2008 give real-time chronicles of the epics these mountaineers face.

Enter Freddie Wilkinson whose alpinist wisdom and media savvy combined with knowledge of Sherpa culture brings to light what happened during the most recent multiple-fatality day. None of the surviving Western climbers could explain what happened, their memories fogged by hypoxia, exhaustion, and hallucinations. The truth of what transpired lies with four Sherpa guides who were largely ignored by the mainstream media in the aftermath of the tragedy and whose heroic efforts saved the lives of at least four climbers.

Wilkinson’s narrative voice is biting and witty and, while trying not to be too critical of the media’s push for speed over accuracy, he manages to pull the truth of what really occured when a collapsing serac over the Bottleneck severed fixed lines and dragged more than a dozen alpinists down the mountainside.

We’re excited to have the author present these findings in person on Monday, September 13th, beginning at 6 PM in the Foss Auditorium at the AMC in Golden. Reviews are non-stop positive and there’s much buzz not just about Freddie, but about his ability to weave a compelling tale. As one reviewer stated, a lot of climbers write (and not very well) but not a lot of writers climb.


Leave No Trace has Entered the Building

The Exit Strategies has come and gone but the message is beginning to rebound and the subsequent concentric ripples are rolling through a larger and larger realm.

This blogger won’t go through the details and reports from the conference. There are plenty of those on the AAC website.

This blogger also acknowledges that the problem isn’t restricted to alpine environments. And it’s not limited to simply hikers. It is a much bigger global problem than one conference of 140 conservationists and scientists can address.

I hiked out to Chicago Lakes from Echo Lake a few days ago. While I’ve snowshoed in during winter months, I’d not had the simple luxury of a summer hike and made it my choice for a perfect Rocky Mountain day. To those unfamiliar with the hike, the first mile drops from Echo Lake into Chicago Creek canyon. Four more miles up past the Idaho Springs Reservoir and you’re atop the moraine enjoying a spectacular Mt Evans cirque view.

On a summer Sunday, Echo Lake becomes a water park for Front Range folk escaping the heat and the trail to the Chicago Creek crossing busy as a fish peddler during Lent. It’s a favorite spot for families with small children and pets and, as we know, neither can control their personal functions very well.

As I hiked back across the Creek, a family with four small children was preparing to leave the area. I heard the father ask if anyone needed to go to the bathroom. On reflex I shouted to them “not in the creek you don’t!” I stepped back and quickly explained to my startled company the ramifications of urinating in a stream that flowed into a city water supply and the 100-foot rule of backcountry waterways.

Hiking back around the north side of the Lake, I sidled up to a woman whose dog had “assumed the position” and was leaving its trace in the lake. She was as stunned as the previous party when I pointed out the children dangling their feet in the water alongside the parties fishing for trout to toss in the fry pan.

These were seven people out of the hundreds at Echo Lake Park on one Sunday. It’s a miniscule start but I’ve added to my wish list that concentric ripples of wisdom, ownership and Leave No Trace turn tsunami.

All it takes is a little nudge from each of us.


Exit, Stage One

There’s a fair bit of buzz about what this blogger refers to as The Poop Group. Not to be irreverent, but it’s a little more to the point than calling this weekend’s international conference at the American Alpine Club Exit Strategies.

I’ve lifted the following description from the AAC website: included are top land managers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and wilderness participants from around the globe to discuss and formulate strategies for managing human waste in remote areas. The Exit Strategies conference will include general/plenary sessions, poster presentations, field-proven techniques and opportunities for focused problem solving.

There’s nothing new in this conversation. Those of us who regularly hike global trails continue to see the effects of poop, wandering off-trail, erosion, selfishness, you name it. It’s disconcerting at best, given how finite this natural resource is in the face of an exploding population and interest level.

Let me be direct and maybe a little preachy. How do YOU manage your waste? Do you urinate on wildflowers thinking it’ll hydrate them? Do you leave toilet paper on the ground convinced it will biodegrade? And what about the dog? Just this weekend I was hiking on South Boulder Creek trail to find that someone had dutifully scooped the pooch’s poop in a red plastic bag – then left it tied to a tree branch overhanging the trail. BLECH!

It’s not so tough to clean up after ourselves. Pee on a rock instead of wildflowers and the mountain goats will lick the urine off the rock instead of destroying the plant. Bring a plastic container with a tablespoon of baking soda, a shovel and scoop your poop and TP into it for the trip out. Notice I didn’t say Ziploc bag – they’re not biodegradable and the chance you’ll empty the bag and clean it is a big goose egg. A container works just as well and d’oh! it’s reusable, just like a pee bottle! No need to buy those fancy expensive kits – K.I.S.S.! Leave no trace is not a big deal, either – pack it in, pack it out, done deal. It ain’t feces science and it’ll still be lighter out than on the inbound trip.

Before climbing down off my soap box, I admonish you to take a stand or, rather, a squat with Your Mother in mind. Do some research and some reading and do your part. And keep an ear to the ground for the results of the Poop Group convention. Just think how icky it would be if the ground was covered in something…oh, never mind.


Der Letzte Mensch oder Übermensch?

The Last Man. In his philosophical novel, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche saw that nothing great was possible for the Last Man. It was Nietzsche's contention that Western civilization would continue to move in the direction of The Last Man, an apathetic creature, who had no great passion or commitment, who was unable to dream, who merely earned his living and kept warm.

Not so the last man on the mountain. In 1939, Boston aristocrat Dudley Wolfe set out to become the first person to summit K2. Inexperienced at high altitude, overweight, middle-aged, and unfulfilled in a life of leisure, Wolfe traveled thousands of miles to try and impress his ex-wife, only to be abandoned by his German-American expedition mates at 7000 meters. After almost two weeks languishing in his tent in the Death Zone he perished from acute AMS. A huge international scandal subsequently developed: it was Wolfe’s friend and expedition leader, alpinist Fritz Wiessner, and his deputy Jack Durrance who came under close scrutiny for inviting him solely on the strength of his bank account. His body remained in the clutches of the savage summit for 63 years.

Until Wolfe reappeared after K2’s unusually high snowmelt in 2002 exposed the remains to author and film-maker Jennifer Jordan. Walking along a remote stretch of the Godwin-Austin glacier near Base Camp, pieces of human bone, canvas tent, cook pots, and finally an old mitten with “Wolfe” written near the cuff appeared strewn about the glacier as if waiting for Jordan’s keen eye to discover them. And so the story began.

The Last Man or Superman? You decide after hearing Jennifer Jordan’s presentation at the American Mountaineering Museum on August 11th. Her novel, The Last Man on the Mountain, is fresh off the press and she’s touring the country helping unravel the mystery that’s prevailed around this controversial expedition. Whether Wolfe had aspirations driven by spiritual apathy or rampant ego, Jennifer will offer well-researched and compelling facts with photos and discussion beginning at 7 PM.

K2 is Übermensch territory, more foreboding than almost any other 8000 meter peak. It bears the second highest fatality rate among the eight-thousanders. Italian climber Fosco Maraini concluded that K2 was “all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man - or of the cindered planet after the last."

I’m sure Dudley Wolfe would agree.


The Vigorous Volunteer

Volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons that could be considered self-serving.

Now there’s a mouthful. And a mindful.

Let's get right to the pitch - the best part about volunteering for the American Mountaineering Museum or the Colorado Mountain Club or the American Alpine Club Library is that ALL of the elements above are inclusive. On top of accumulating extra good Karma points (maybe even scrubbing your Karma if it needs it), it’s fun, educational, social, and a superb way to network. Note: that’s how this blogger got The Job, so it DOES work.

This is still a scratch-each-other’s-back economy and for non-profits it’s the way of the future. You help me, I help you. Donate some time and skill to the 501(c)3s you most cherish (hint, hint) to keep them viable and I’ll get you in to programs and events, maybe get you a little shwag, some discounts, heck perhaps even a membership here or there.

It’s a win-win dealio. And incredibly easy to join in the fun. Contact Martha Perantoni, CMC Volunteer Manager and all-around kewl gal, at marthaperantoni@mountaineeringmuseum.org or at 303-996-2755 and you’ll end up having more fun than you can shake a hickory hiking stick at.

Or something like that.


Johnny Appleseed and the Real Hidden Gems

Last night nearing the home turf, this blogger was treated to one of those rare glimpses of the natural order many only read about – crossing the road in front of me were two elk and their three spotted calves. I sat and soaked in the image thankful I’d been in the right place at the right time.

It’s a moment similar to those Johnny Chapman might have seen time and time again on his wanderings throughout the Ohio Valley.

Johnny Appleseed was less legendary and more authentic in his deeds of generosity and conservation. He planted nurseries, built fences around them, arranged for their care and returned them to the locals for profit-sharing. Conservationist to the core, he paid to rescue animals meant for slaughter, wore no shoes (to save leather), ate no meat, and would accept a floor and meal at a stranger’s home in exchange for the chance to share stories about his meanderings. And a humanitarian to the core he never missed an opportunity to help someone in need.

By today’s standards, Chapman would be profiled a vagabond, a hobo, homeless. By today’s standards, we romanticize his life rather than recognizing that something as simple as walking in nature is not only possible but necessary for ourselves and for the greater good.

So we come to the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign. Appleseed would likely be one of its biggest proponents. John Muir, too – walking quietly along paths untrammeled by wheels, hooves, motorized sounds. No voices shouting “to your left” (if you’re lucky), no side-stepping things moving faster than you to avoid being run over, no vroom of two-stroke engines to scare wildlife and bury the sounds of birds, the wind, the cold crackle of boots on snow.

The difference now is that we needn’t romanticize it – the Hidden Gems Campaign sits at our fingertips ready to preserve more of the last-remaining pristine wilderness in Colorado. It’s not a lot of land but sensible in how it manages and connects other already protected areas. Surely there are ample opportunities for mountain bikers (and this blogger is one), dirt-bikers, equestrians, and snowmobilers to enjoy their sport that supporting these gems isn’t going to break the Trail Bank.

Who knows – this might be the year to rediscover your own two-footed human-powered adventure. With or without apple trees. And a couple of elk calves for the photo album.


Kongeriket Norge (The Kingdom of Norway)

Many years ago this blogger, on one of her various Europe trips, found herself in the middle of a Norwegian fjord crossing from a large ferry to a small boat via a shaky gangplank. Our group was intent on reaching a remote town at the back of a fjord to celebrate Sankthansaften, or Midsummer’s Eve, as only the locals were able. We reached our diminutive destination, threw wood on the big bonfire invoking Baldr to remain, drank local brew and polka’d through the long twilit night. I chuckle even now as I recount the memories – and I never told anyone I couldn’t swim.

Norway is one of those countries that often goes unnoticed in European trip planning. It’s most recent claim to fame was the 1994 Winter Olympics held in Lillehammer. Yet it’s one of the most strikingly beautiful countries in northern Europe from mountainous fjordlands down to the genetic makeup of a very handsome race of Scandinavians. We can thank Norway for Edward Grieg, Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, Leif Ericson, stave churches, lutefisk, Telemark skiing, and thousands of untouched waterfall ice climbs.

We may not be able to invoke Baldr yet, but we are invoking you to join the Mountaineering Museum for the next sPEAKer series event, Hiking in Norway. On Wednesday, June 2nd, Lori Russell plans to offer a visual feast of slides designed to tempt hikers of all ages and abilities. Granitic mountains rise sometimes almost a mile from North Atlantic shores, and Noregr hospitality and traditions are as strong as ever.

As usual, the program begins at 7 PM in the Foss Auditorium. Admission to the Museum is included in the ticket price and will be open from 5:30. CMC/AAC members pay $3, non-members $5, and it’s all free to members of the Museum or the AAC Library.

Glad Stier!


The Flattery of Imitation

In the weeks since Bradford the Cat made his way into the Museum family, we’ve been constantly delighted by his antics. He’s doing everything kittens are supposed to do, including chewing hands and fingers, puffing up and prancing like the tuff guy he is, and chowing down as toddlers in growth mode do. Every day brings out a new development in his personality and skills. He now leaps onto chairs and tables, hurls himself at his toys with great alacrity, and purrs with a volume more consistent with an animal much larger than he.

At home, Bradford has two older half-siblings. Diablo, the female, doesn’t like anyone so there’s no expectation she’ll ever do anything but growl at the tyke. Mr. Bill, though, is increasingly curious and is modifying his hisses down to nose touches and random reaches from behind the scratching post. Billy Boy is a big brown polydactyl tabby, all 16 lean pounds of him, and a friend refers to him as The Throw Rug.

When the two boys are in proximity Little B becomes still, almost reverential, as he watches Big B. It’s as if he’s studying the elder cat’s movements and style and unconsciously letting Alpha male mentor him. When he does become too rambunctious, Mr. Bill delivers a quick hiss and a swat to remind his little ward his manners. It is Feline Flattery at its best.

In April we inducted four giants of mountaineering into the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence. We are surrounded in this mountaineering family by such modern greats and are constantly reminded of the skills, motivation, and philosophies that make people like Edurne Pasaban, Arlene Blum, Oh Eun-Sun, Conrad Anker, Ed Viesturs, and Reinhold Messner great. And while we may feel our accomplishments miniscule by comparison, we maintain the vision of possibility in our own minds by imitating the best qualities of those we admire.

It’s good to have someone good to look up to, in this the Year of Making Dreams Come True, someone who inspires us not only with their mountaineering accomplishments but their sensibility. If we do something careless we imagine an appropriate smack-down. On the contrary, if we make a smart choice or exceed our personal best, we can revel in the mentoring we are humble enough to accept and the behaviors we wisely copy.

It is apparently so, that imitation is the sincerest form of cattery.


Golden Bike Shop Rocks!

Huge thank you to the Golden Bike Shop for their fundraiser last night benefiting the Co Mountain Bike Association, Co Trail Foundation and the Mountaineering Museum. They packed the house with great gear, bikes, frames and an awesome crowd! UpSlope Beer provided some great brew along with New Belgium! After the expo in the museum we all went up to Foss Auditorium for giveaways and to watch Ant Hill Film's FOLLOW ME. An action packed film showing great mountain biking and terrain. Here are some pictures from last night!


20th Anniversary of 1990 Everest-Lhotse Expedition

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the American Everest-Lhotse expedition led by Glenn Porzak. This was Glenn’s 3rd attempt at summiting having been shut down by weather in 1981 and 1989. Glenn and members from the team assembled at the American Mountaineering Museum last night to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this expedition. Team members include Glenn Porzak, Dana Coffield, Brent Manning, Wally Berg, Scott Fischer, Michael Browning, Peter Athens, Andrew Lapkass, Ron Crotzer, Dr. Charles Jones, Ang Jangbu Sherpa, Nima Tashi Sherpa and Dawa Nuru Sherpa. Berg and Fischer successfully summited Lhotse on May 13th being the first Americans to summit and securing the team as the first to climb two 8,000 peaks in the same expedition. Below is an interview with Glenn Porzak recounting his summit day on Everest.


Sistuhs, Gal Pals, and the Whole Gender Thing

The mountains are an equal opportunity environment. They don’t care if you’re chocolate or vanilla, travel on foot or with wheels, have an innie or an outie.

Sometimes, though, the mountaineering community needs a little nudge of a reminder. Not so long ago women were refused a place on expeditions and even denied endorsements simply because they were women. Then there were those who thought a woman’s place was in the sleeping bag of every male expeditioner…

There were and are heroic women out there who blazed through all the challenges and defined a prominent place and equal opportunity for the gentler sex. Wanda Rutkiewicz, Ines Papert, Anna Dickinson, Junko Tabei, Arlene Blum…the list is growing every day.

Given the American Mountaineering Museum is also an equal opportunity environment, we’ve declared May Women’s Month at the Museum and Base Camp Store. So, sistuhs, grab a gal-pal and head to 710 10th St to enjoy two-fer prices on Museum admission and events. The entire month of May is a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of female mountaineers, past, present, and future.

One of this blogger’s personal heroines is Arlene Blum. In 1978 Arlene gathered the first all-woman’s expedition not only to successfully summit Annapurna, but also the first American expedition to do so. To cover expedition costs, her designer came up with the t-shirt that rocked the establishment. A Woman’s Place is on Top sold 15,000 tops and raised $80,000. Arlene, being the gracious woman she is, has allowed Base Camp store the unique opportunity to sell her t-shirt. In turn, we are donating a portion of the proceeds back to Arlene’s Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, CA. When you’re done in the Museum, help Arlene continue her research to protect our kids and our health.

And while we’re on the subject of accomplishments, Mother’s Day is just around the bend. Moms of the World, the Museum admission is free to you on May 9th. We celebrate your summits of a different kind and certainly no less significant.

Finally, we want to thank Outdoor Divas for their support and encouragement of our thematic month. They’re about the finest bunch of gals to promote women’s outdoor activities: Teal Tini May 4th in support of ovarian cancer awareness, B-Fit Vitality workout May 12th, Women’s Road Ride clinic May 26th, Women’s Rock-out events…it’s all there.

Boys, you’re still welcome at the Museum and events throughout May. But please, no cussin’ or spittin’. Remember, you’ll be outnumbered.


Travels with Bradford

Life has a funny way of shaking up agendas. There’s nothing like something fuzzy and warm to set priorities straight.

Sarah Wood, my boss and Museum Operations Guru Manager, found a little feline fuzzball stumbling around the front of the American Mountain Center yesterday morning. Knowing I’m the Mother Teresa of the animal kingdom, she brought him in to Base Camp and said…”I hate to do this to you….”

Requests like this should be so imposing! This little brown tabby, weighing just a pound, is the little adventurer. He hand feeds formula voraciously, pees a lot, sleeps in a sling close to his new mama, and plays with leonine courage.

But mostly he sleeps. Kittens do that. At three weeks old he’s entitled.

All-day searches yielded no evidence of a litter or family or owner. And so we introduce a new character into this museum family – Bradford.

We’ll keep you posted of Bradford’s development alongside the Museum’s. There’s something wonderful about watching things grow from infancy to maturity. And I have a feeling Bradford’s development is going to be inspirational.


The Best Things in Life ARE Free!

The party’s over. It’s time to call it a day. The First Annual Hall of Mountaineering Excellence is run, cleaned up, and put to bed. (And this blogger now remembers why she doesn’t wear heels.)

It was an amazing success. All the months of planning, researching, negotiating, promoting, structuring, and evaluating paid off. Bates, Chouinard, Craig and Houston now have their names etched permanently in our mountaineering history. They will always be our heroes.

My personal heroes, though, are the folks who volunteered their time to do the grunt work last night. You know, pouring drinks, serving food, providing information and (my favorite thing) cleaning up. As the production schedule and needs were mounted, we drew in more and more bodies to help in advance of the event. Not having met many of them, either, lent a bit of worry prior to the start of the night.

Employers should have such a diligent, responsible, hard-working crew as we had for the Gala. Each one assumed assigned tasks like a pro, assisting one another, communicating needs to the coordinator, keeping a close eye on guest needs, staying upbeat as the evening wore on, going above and beyond what someone earning wages for the same work would even do.

So, helmets off to you, Dan, Bob, Larke, Sparky, Steve, Camille, Ian, Micah, Aaron, Dave, George, and Lee. My apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone, but I’m still trying to figure out what possessed me to wear heels.

Oh, and I still owe you all pizza.


The Family of Mountaineering Excellence

A call came through to the Museum yesterday from a woman whom I’ll call Lana (to protect her privacy) asking if so-and-so would be presenting at the April 10th Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Gala and accepting the award for one of the inductees already in Valhalla. As it turns out, yes.

As it really turns out, Lana had been on an expedition to Mt. Robson in August of 1951 with five fellows and our presenter was one of them. She was invited to proceed to the top of the glacier then was politely asked to descend while the boys continued on to the summit. Interestingly enough, Mother Nature had her usual way and the summit team was stuck mountainside through several days of winter storms, so no one topped out that trip.

Lana went on to marry one of her expedition mates. Almost 50 years later and her husband now deceased she called to see if she might reconnect with so-and-so since they are the only two surviving members of that August, 1951 expedition.

Come on. How cool is that?!

It is such a privilege to be at the hub of stories, reunions, and history. The mountains are our common ground and they draw us together. And even though the Gala on April 10th is devoted to the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence, we’re really celebrating a unique and wonderful family bonded by the excellence we find in our mountain experiences. Maybe we can call it Six Peaks of Separation since we’re all so obviously connected.

It’ll be interesting to see what transpires with Lana and if she has the chance to reunite with her mountaineering partner. In the meantime, we’ll keep on keepin’ on with the Gala (ticket sales will be cut off on Monday) and with the family that gets closer, bigger and more interesting with each passing day. All because of the Little Museum that Could.


The Not-So-Shameless Plug

You’re probably aware that some big changes have been avalanching down the couloir at both the Museum and the Base Camp Museum Store. Nothing like change to freshen things up. And if you’re not aware of the huge leaps made these past few months then time to jump on the yak cart and come in from Outer Mongolia.

Base Camp Museum Store has been carefully chronicling feedback from guests and customers. It’s clear we’ve been offering some great merchandise, but our little space is just that – a little space – and it’s been challenging to display it all effectively. Kinda reminds us of having 85 liters of stuff and only a 40 liter pack. We’ve all been there….

As much as we’d like to hang on to some of this great merchandise, it’s essential to offer what the space can hold and display it attractively. So we’re trimming down the inventory and having a huge sale. A “we’re on FIRE!” sale as it’s been quipped. Books, CMC and AMM logo clothing, great gift items for birthdays and Mother’s Days, global crafts and local crafts to boot, lots of items up to 60% off.

Even better than just offering a sale, it starts this Thursday, March 18th, at 4 PM right before Thirsty 3rd Thursday so you can shop, see the museum, and join in the happy hour beginning at 5:30. Nothing like a ‘brew-and-do’ to make the shopping more fun and we’ll keep it going ‘til the Yeti come home. Not to be outdone, the sale continues Saturday, March 20th, beginning at 10 AM and through the entire Mountainfest celebration at the Mountaineering Center. Shoot, if you happen to wander in on Friday, we’re not going to say “no” to a sale.

And since we’re all conservationists we’ve made it easy on everyone by combining events to save time, cut down on mileage and carbon footprints and save everyone a good chunk of change. We won’t quote the “Shop! Shop! Till you Drop!” parody of the Def Leppard song but hold that thought.


The Goose Poop Two-Step

We’re conservationists at the American Mountaineering Center – All Creatures Great and Small types. If we don’t own pets, we support animal rescue leagues and endangered species protection. We’re also very fond of the flock of Canadian geese that call Parfet Park across the way their home.

Now Canada may have us in Men’s Ice Hockey, but I’ll dare say the little hamlet of Golden, British Columbia has nothing on Golden, Colorado regarding number of Canadian Geese per square foot. They can take away our Gold, but not our geese.

These Branta canadensis waddle and squawk and eat. A lot. They’re docile and occasionally need a crossing guard as they travel from the Park across 10th Street to the front lawn of the AMC. Then they waddle and squawk and eat (a lot) on our grassy slopes. And we know the end result of gooses and ganders that eat. A lot.

Then we, being All Creatures Great and Small types, take the humane road to, uh, cleaning up after them. Our facilities staff dutifully hoses down the entryway then sprays it with a non-toxic liquid that, between rain and snow storms, works to keep these fine feathered friends off the cement and their organic by-product from underfoot.

So now that it’s almost Spring and the goslings will be appearing in the next few weeks, we invite you to stop by and Zen out with our Own Private Gaggle. Come by before Thirsty 3rd Thursday on the 18th or during Mountainfest on Saturday the 20th. Or anytime you’d like to pop in and see the Museum or even renew your CMC membership. But, as the blog title suggests, you might have to dodge a poo or two. It’s worth every two-step.


It's All in Your Head

I’ll bet you didn’t know this, but March 15 – 21 is Brain Awareness Week. It’s a global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. This is the 15th anniversary of the campaign that involves universities, hospitals, schools, research centers, and museum exhibits. That’s where we come in.

I’m reminded of Defending Your Life, the 1991 Albert Brooks film, in which Rip Torn portrays Bob Diamond, the Purgatorial Prosecutor. Touting he’s able to use 48% of his brain, he reminds Brooks that the “little brains” (as we humans are called behind our backs) use only 3%. While that’s a little low by current standards of research, it’s now suggested that humans use 10% of their cranial potential.

There’s obviously a lot we don’t know about the brain and its complexities, particularly when it comes to hypoxia and its long-term effects on the old gray matter. Dr. Robert Roach, Senior Scientist at the Altitude Research Center in Denver, has made this study his life. His list of publications includes an impressive array of subject matter. And that’s why the American Mountaineering Museum is hosting the next sPEAKer series event on this very subject and led by Dr. Roach. Beginning at 7 PM in the Foss Auditorium, Roach will share his studies combining slide presentations, lecture, and discussion.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine met at the Mountaineering Center last weekend. It led to some interesting conversations, one with a physician who, through personal experience, doesn’t doubt the correlation between sustained high altitude hypoxia and reduced brain function. His instruction? “Take good care of your brain.” Wherever you are, whatever you do, that’s sound advice.

Stop by, then, tomorrow night after work to hear Roach’s timely take on the subject. Remember, the Museum will be open and free to attendees after 5:30 PM. It’ll be a great chance to see the current “Thin Air – an exhibit on altitude and oxygen” before it closes in a few weeks.

Now, what was it I was supposed to remember? ;->


Leading with Your Heart

Now, don’t grip. I’m not going to quote lyrics from Barbara Streisand’s song.

There’s something about the quality of leadership that, when the leader moves the journey from head to heart, we respond in a deeper, more soulful way. The legacy of a culture is remembered with more significance when compassion and altruism are motivating forces rather than sheer accomplishment. The way the world behaves sometimes you’d think it a hard thing to do when, in fact, we live with examples in and around our lives that prove its existence.

No surprise, then, that the first and upcoming Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Awards inductees took everything they did to heart. It may seem a little odd to be bringing matters of the ole pumper into the well-organized and sometimes ego-driven world of mountaineering but those unfamiliar with the philosophies, accomplishments, and sacrifices of these honorees will do well to sit up and take notice.

Charles Houston, Bob Bates, and Bob Craig came to terms with the Brotherhood of the Rope back in 1953 when, during an unsuccessful summit attempt on K2, they found themselves with a critically ill expedition member in need of a rescue descent. They might well simply have left him behind but the challenges of the ascent to that point heightened the team’s cohesiveness. During the down climb a misstep caused an almost catastrophic series of falls and entanglements – and on instinct led most certainly by the need to protect the lives of his friends, Pete Schoening jammed his ice axe behind a boulder and hung on for the dear life. All but one survived and the attention each paid to the others during the remaining descent confirms the depth of their friendship.

Houston went on to become the leading authority in altitude sickness, hypoxia, and acclimatization, and Craig founded both the Aspen Institute, a non-profit dedicated to fostering values-based leadership and open-minded dialogue, and the Keystone Group, another non-profit aimed at settling environmental issues among quarreling groups before landing in court.

Bob Bates, member of the Harvard 5 mountaineering group along with Houston and Bradford Washburn, found himself alongside Washburn after they’d been forcibly abandoned in the Yukon. A successful first ascent of Mount Lucania notched on their ice axes but thereafter they survived 32 days and 156 miles in an epic struggle for survival. I doubt there was ever any question that they’d work together to complete their journey to safety.

Bates followed up that expedition by working with the Army to develop improved clothing and equipment for US mountain divisions, and in turn benefitted our daily backcountry lives and well-being. His autobiography, The Love of Mountains is Best, says it all.

And then there’s Yosemite. What’s the first name that comes to mind? Well, besides John Muir.

I’ll give you a hint. It begins with Yvon and ends with Chouinard. In addition to reinventing climbing gear from aid to ice, he rattled the cage of the piton-hammerers, ostensibly destroying the very product that started his business, and advocated a new style – what he called clean climbing – to avoid scarring the rock. From that philosophy was born not only passive pro but a business model in both Patagonia and Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd. that fosters ethics, environmentalism, and the opportunity to care for each other as well as the earth. Not a bad legacy to leave, eh?

Come walk with these giants, then, when they are honored April 10th at the American Mountaineering Museum. It’s a heartfelt chance to thank them with the same graciousness and altruism they so freely shared with us.


The Checklist Manifesto

In addition to being an exquisite book by Atul Gawande, it’s the to-do list for the next few events with the Museum and Library:

Thursday, February 18: Jake Norton: On Three Great Expeditions
Held at Vital Outdoors, 1224 Washington, Golden
5:30PM – 7:30PM.


Friday, February 19: American Mountaineering Museum 2nd Anniversary
Held at the Museum, 710 10th, Golden
5:30ish till 8:00ish
Beer and a little nosh.
Unveiling of the Donors Plaque.
Mingle with the Stars: George Mallory, Albert Ellingwood, Arlene Blum, and a Son of a Gun.


Saturday, February 20: AAC Library Book Sale
Held at the Inverness Hotel, 200 Inverness Drive West, Englewood (Tech Center)
Open to the public 2PM – 4PM
No beer.
Attendee events for the AAC's 3rd Annual Benefit and Awards dinner: (hint: Royal Robbins will be signing his book, To Be Brave, after 4PM)


Wednesday, March 3: sPEAKer series, Dr. Robert Roach, Senior Scientist at the Altitude Research Center in Denver
Held at the Museum, 710 10th, Golden
5:30ish refreshments, 7ish Program
No beer.


Thursday, March 4th, and Friday, March 5th: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Held at the Paramount Theater, 1621 Glenarm, Denver
Screenings begin at 7ish PM
Beer if you mortgage your soul to pay for it.


Saturday, April 10: Hall of Mountaineering Excellence Gala
Held at the Museum, 710 10th, Golden
Time TBA
Fine dining (yes, and beer), entertainment, program honoring four outstanding mountaineers
Tickets on sale now.

Check, Mate!


A Woman's Place is on Top...

...or so quipped Arlene Blum in preparation for her all-women’s Annapurna expedition in 1978. And so they proved it true in spite of adversity and loss. That’s not all Arlene is known for, though, and a life as rich and fulfilling as that needs to be shared. So be it, at the 2nd Anniversary celebration of the American Mountaineering Museum. Would the real Arlene please stand up? Wellllll, how about a proxy, along with three other mountaineering history buffs portraying George Mallory, Albert Ellingwood, and one of our 10th Mountain Division soldiers. These are folks who continue to bring our museum alive through their dreams and dedication as do our myriad volunteers.

The celebration begins at 5:30 PM on Friday, February 19th. We’ll also celebrate the behind-the-scenes benefactors who helped bring the museum to life two years ago. The grand unveiling of a donor plaque will cap the evening of food, $2 fer brewski, music, and all-around ribaldry. Where else can you get this kind of entertainment nearly free?

Since the usual Thirsty 3rd Thursday date is open on February 18th, instead stop by Vital Outdoors in downtown Golden to hear our favorite mountaineer, Jake Norton, present photos and stories about his three favorite expeditions. Tickets are $3, all proceeds go to the Museum, and you’ll just have to be there to hear which of Jake’s myriad adventures he can whittle down to his favorites.

While we’re on the subject of expeditions, if you haven’t checked out the Wenger Patagonia Expedition Race, tighten up your kayak skirts before you do. Fourteen four-person teams from around the world, including team Eddie Bauer (that’s my team!) have 8 days to complete a 600 km South American race that includes ocean kayaking, mountain biking, trekking, climbing, and backcountry navigation. They started the ocean kayaking off Tierra del Fuego in seas so rough supply ship drops were cancelled...I think in Spanish that’s referred to as cojones.


You Forgot to do What?

A little gentle elbow in the ribs, here…to those who missed a great presentation at last night’s sPEAKer series. Jeff Blumenfeld gave an enthusiastic and well-organized talk on how to get the trip you want sponsored and funded.

Not so fast, there, cowpoke. There are a few questions to ask and thoughts to ponder once the supreme question “You Want To Go Where?” has an answer.

So what? Seriously. What’s so great about That Dream Trip? Has it been done before? Are you adding a unique twist to it? Will anyone sit up and take notice? Who is it going to benefit?

The dream part is easy. Choose the destination. Make the process unique, a record-setter, a first-time crack at it. Be certain someone/something larger than you benefits, be it education opportunities in China, health and human rights for a native culture, or an environmental cause.

And then….well, you need to read the book for the rest of it. A few copies remain at the Base Camp Gift Shop. Give us a shout at 303-996-2755 and we'll get a copy in the mail. C’mon, you didn’t think we’d give away ALL the secrets?

March 3rd’s sPEAKer will be Dr. Robert Roach, senior scientist at the Altitude Research Center in Denver. We’d say “hold your breath in anticipation of a knock-out presentation,” but that’d just make you hypoxic. :-)


The Adventurous Life

First thanks to the many movie buffs who enjoyed the screening of North Face: the Movie at the American Mountaineering Center last night. I think we’d all agree that, while the trailer was very exciting, it didn’t come close to revealing the scope of the film. As mountaineers we understand the drive and the dangers of undertaking the Nordwand, and the film’s absolute accuracy of everything from the hardware to the rock to the brotherhood of the rope brought the tragedy that much closer to our own experiences. The tension in the auditorium was palpable, and everyone from this blogger to the last viewer exiting the auditorium left with a somber and respectful demeanor. This is a film not to be missed by anyone, particularly those who seek a film about alpinism that finally does it justice. Enough with Sylvester Stallone’s poor climbing technique and space age bolt gun.

That being said, if you have your own dream to fulfill, join the Museum staff Wednesday, February 3rd, at 7 PM for a presentation by Jeff Blumenfeld based on his book You Want to Go Where? Jeff is the Go-to Guy for adventure marketing ideas and will offer success stories of previous adrenaline junkies on top of proven means by which to find sponsorship and grant monies for your own Nordwand. Stop by after 5:30 and enjoy the museum as part of the admission price ($3 for members, $5 for non-members, free to Friends of the Museum and AAC Library). Books will be available for purchase at the event.

It’s time also to get that book read for the next AAC Library Book Club Fight Club salon, Tuesday, February 9, at 6 PM. James Tabor’s Forever on the Mountain chronicles the doomed 1967 attempt to summit Denali. Only 5 of the 12 man team survived and, as with many expeditions, tempers and winter conditions flared leading to disastrous consequences. As host for PBS’s Great Outdoors, Tabor’s ability to blend investigative journalism with out-and-out good storytelling makes this book hard to put down. Copies of his book are still available in the Base Camp Adventure Store.

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. St. Augustine 354-430 AD.

The adventurous life is an endless one. The beauty of it lies, for many, not in the attainment of it but the process of discovering ourselves through adversity and challenge and who we are when we return home. We seek wisdom through others’ narratives and thus better understand the magic of our own waking hours.

And every one of them is an adventure.


You Want to Go WHERE?

Ever wonder how some folks just seem to have all the luck? They get to go anywhere in the world, do incredibly inspiring and daredevil things, don’t pay a cent for it, then get speaking engagements around the world?

Repeat after me. Adventure Marketing. And the guru of said PR style, Jeff Blumenfeld, will reveal the simple secrets of success. YOUR success. Right here at the American Mountaineering Museum.

Considering extreme ironing while strapped to the wing of a 747 at 35,000 feet? Maybe not so much. But is there a first-of-something out there that you’ve been trying to make work? A feat that, if successful, sets an example to other dreamers, armchair and active alike? Tests your skills, stretches your limits and proves that It Can Be Done?

Then Jeff B. is your man. Based on his book of the above title, you’ll get a line-item description of how to plan, fund, and execute your own trip and do it with grants and scholarships.

Sound sweet? Remember, 2010 is the Year to Do It All. Get the scoop with Jeff and followers at the American Mountaineering Museum Wednesday, February 3rd. Noms at 5:30 in the lobby of the AMM, presentation begins at 7 PM in the Foss Auditorium. It’s $5 for non-members, $3 for members, and free to friends of both the Museum and the AAC Library. And if you haven’t seen the Museum yet, admission is included with the ticket price from 5:30 PM on.

Come on. What’s holding you back?


(Not So) Terrible Twos

We’ve started the year with a bang, that’s for certain. And it’s exciting to note that the museum’s second anniversary is coming up in less than a month! Like a child all of a sudden growing up, we’re wondering where the time went but doubly excited at the growth we’re going to see in 2010.

And there’s no time like the present to celebrate. Thirsty 3rd Thursday will become Thirsty 3rd FRIDAY on February 19th and we’re pulling out all the stops. Beginning at 5:30 PM we’ll offer the usual Thursday fare: $2 brews, snacks, acoustic music and lots of giveaways. Museum admission, as always, is free and at this event come and meet some of the distinguished mountaineers highlighted in our exhibits. We’ve a group of dedicated volunteers busily studying folks like Albert Ellingwood, George Mallory, Jim Whitaker, and Pete Schoening in order to become knowledgeable interactive performers, and I know who’s playing Arlene Blum….

We’ll also be honoring all those very generous supporters who helped make the museum possible from it’s conception. Join us for this very special evening of celebrating the (Not So) Terrible Twos at the American Mountaineering Museum.

While we’re mentioning Thirsty 3rd Thursday if you haven’t already made plans tonight join us for the usual Thursday fare starting at 5:30 PM. NOAA says the weather is holding off until tomorrow so it’s a good night to be out and about!

Next week is another big one for the Museum. The Avalanche Awareness clinic cancelled January 6th due to inclement conditions is rescheduled for Wednesday, January 27th, at 7 PM. The Museum will open after 5:30 PM and admission is included with the event price.

Hang on to your gris-gris for the free screening of North face: the Movie Friday, January 29th at 6 PM. It’s opening night across the US and there’s already Eigerwand-sized excitement about it. Recommend arriving early to claim a seat in the Foss as we think this is going to be a big one.

Wait, there’s more. Wednesday, February 3rd, Jeff Blumenfeld will be here as part of the sPEAKer series presenting his favorite topic You Want to go WHERE? If you have a dream project with a purpose and need to heed the calling, Jeff will help explain how to garner funding and support. Remember, in 2010 anything’s possible! Slide show and discussion begins at 7 PM preceded by a Museum reception at 5:30 PM.

We hope you’re as breathless about the next few weeks at the AMM as we are with planning and preparations. The little Mountaineering Museum in Golden is growing up and fast.


North Face Comes to Golden!

Film Trailers by Filmtrailer.com

The buzz is out about a film that’s premiered in Europe and is finally landing in the US. North Face: the Movie is receiving rave reviews for its realism in story-telling and action. For a mountaineering film to get those accolades from real mountaineers, not actors playing it up, is something to sit up and take notice.

The Eiger is no stranger to either filmmakers or alpinists. In July of 1936 Nazi Germany, as propaganda for the Summer Olympics, organized a European competition for any mountaineer to be the first to climb the Eiger North Face. Known as the Murder Wall, top German climbers Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser set out with the Austrian team of Willy Angerer and Edi Rainier hot on their heels.

Based on a true story, director Philipp Stölzl propels the viewer out of the Hollywood comfort zone and onto the cliff face. From setting the first piton to the now named Hinterstoisser Traverse to the encroaching weather and its dangers, the story is told with an unflinching eye tuned to the realities of the vertical world and its challenges.

Not to be missed. Premiering across the US on January 29th, the American Mountaineering Museum cohosts with the American Alpine Club to offer a FREE screening of the film at the American Mountaineering Center Friday, January 29th. The film begins at 6 PM in the Foss Auditorium with a Museum reception at 5 PM.

Again, not to be missed! While it’s in German with English subtitles once the climbing begins you won’t be too concerned with reading.

More information on the film is found at North Face: the Movie


The First Rule of Fight Club...

…is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

Really? Then how will we let you know that tonight, January 12, at 6 PM is the monthly meeting of the AAC Book Club Fight Club? Guess we shouldn’t tell you that it’s a verbal joust with author Mark Obmascik in attendance. Or that it’s squaring off on his book, Halfway to Heaven – my White-Knuckled – and Knuckle-Headed – Quest for the Rocky Mountain High. It is, after all, about a middle-aged guy who takes on the challenge of summiting all of CO’s 14ers and discovers a lot about himself and his man-dates along the way.

Sounds like a meet? Tonight, 6 PM. Check in with the Alpine Club Library folks for location. The Base Camp Museum Store has a couple copies of the book available, in case you want your own autographed copy.

Remember - after the AAC Book Club Fight Club, everything else in your life has the volume turned down. You could deal with anything.


If you don't like the weather in Colorado...

…just wait half an hour! Unfortunately because it took a little longer to clear things out last night the sPEAKer series event on avalanche awareness was cancelled. We sure do appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm for the event and, as the weather and conditions last night and today prove, it’s still a very necessary topic. The event WILL be rescheduled so stay tuned and the date and time will be posted.

Be that as it may, next Tuesday, January 12th, the ongoing American Alpine Club Book Club Fight Club will meet for its monthly salon. This month’s book is Halfway to Heaven, by Denver resident and author Mark Obmascik. Subtitled My White-knuckled – and Knuckle-headed – Quest for the Rocky Mountain High, well, that should tell you it’s going to be a lively read with more than a few chuckles. The Book Club meets starting at 6 PM – check in with the library for this month’s location.

If you need a copy and can’t find one, there are copies available for purchase in the Base Camp Museum Store. Give us a shout at 303-996-2755 or come by the store and we’ll take care of you.

There’s nothing quite like bluebird skies and sun glinting off fresh-fallen snow. Take a picture, make a snow-angel, enjoy the crunch of snow underfoot. It’s a great day to be in Colorado.


Are You Allergic to Vanilla?

No doubt if you’re reading this, you are. Plain vanilla is good for ice cream. But adventure?

Maybe not so much.

That’s why the next sPEAKer series event scheduled for Wednesday, January 6th (that’s tomorrow) at 7 PM is focused on avalanche awareness and aimed at the adventurer in all of you. No doubt you’ve heard about today’s avalanche fatalities in Canada and Switzerland after these latest storms. You may be traveling there, you may be staying home, but a little knowledge is a powerful thing for these unstable conditions.

The CMC members leading this information session are all American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) approved and trained. They know their stuff from their 300+ days in the field. Your time will be well spent learning about types of avalanches, terrain, snowpack and weather on top of trip planning and travel techniques. It’s not a Level I certification class and there’ll be no training in beacon use or search and rescue/recovery. But it’ll open your eyes to the risks and, more importantly, the basic safety measures that enable good backcountry decision-making.

So the snow may look plain vanilla while it’s anything but. Save the ice cream for your bowl at home and your wits and wisdom for the bowls above treeline.

$3 CMC/AAC Members, $5 Non-Members - FREE to Friends of the Museum and Friends of the AAC Library. Museum admission is included in the ticket price and will be open from 5:30 – 6:30; light noms provided. Base Camp Adventure store will also be open for purchases.