So I got another great e-mail from a reader who saw last Sunday’s story about the snow climb up Colorado’s Mount Shavano. (link here: http://newsok.com/pair-scales-new-heights-in-colorado/article/3387961?custom_click=lead_story_title ) Again, we had some back-and forth, and he sent e-mails on what looked to be an unforgettable day in the Rockies. Have a read, check out the photos and join me in giving out a hearty congrats for a heck of an accomplishment. Here’s his narrative:
I enjoyed your article from Sunday, July 26th on Mt. Shavano. In a moment of exceptional coincidence, my brother in law and I summited Mt. Shavano the same day your article came out. I was talking with my mother, who subscribes to The Oklahoman, following our hike Sunday and she said that an article had been written on “some mountain in Colorado.” She read the article to me over the phone and I informed her excitedly that Jeff (brother in law) and I had just come off the same mountain.
Our summiting experience was not as dramatic as we did not have to contend with snow. The trail was clear for us all the way to the top, although rain drenched us a good chunk of the day. There were only a handful of people on the mountain that day. The weather turned several groups back so I can tell you with almost certainty that Jeff and I were the only two Oklahomans on the summit Sunday adding to the irony for us. On Monday we summited Mt. Antero, our eighth Colorado “fourteener.” We are trying to summit as many as we can before calling it a life. Thanks for the article! It made the day even more special.
I later e-mailed him back, and he gave me this response concerning the weather conditions he and his brother-in-law faced:
We stayed on the mountain way too long. Another guy that was with us took the saddleback/sawtooth to Tabeguache and we waited for him to make it back up Shavano. The clouds really started to build near Monarch Ski Resort, so we knew they were coming, but did not want to leave a man behind. We all left the summit after noon and hauled butt back to treeline. Jeff and I hiked the last hour in a pouring rain with lightning flashing and thunder splitting our ear drums.
Been there in conditions like that. The general rule is to summit before noon and leave shortly thereafter. But as you can see in Kevin’s account, sometimes the weather has a mind of its own. So glad everyone got down OK, and had a great story to tell when it was over! Also, major props for waiting on their buddy who had gone on to summit Tabeguache Peak. Always good to stay with, or at least in touch, with your group.
I love hearing these stories, so keep ‘em coming. Doesn’t matter if you’re out hiking in Oklahoma County or if you’re climbing Denali. We’re all a little richer hearing folks’ tales from the outdoors.
More news for the runners, courtesy of the folks down in Lawton and Comanche County:
On Oct. 2, join chief running officer of “Runner’s World Magazine“, Bart Yasso, for “Lunch With a Legend”. Yasso has been a senior executive with the company for more than 30 years and has been dubbed “The Mayor of Running”. He has run marathons on ALL seven (7) continents and will host a motivational luncheon at the Best Western Hotel in Lawton. The cost of admission to attend “Never Limit Where Running Can Take You” is $25.
The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma (Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Lawton, Duncan Regional Hospital, Duncan, and Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Altus) are pleased to announce the new and improved Fourth Annual Spirit of Survival Marathon will be located on Fort Sill at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA). The event features five USA Track and Field (USATF) certified races. The SOS is the only marathon to run through one of the nation’s 547 Wildlife Refuges, offering the opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural environment. Three of the five following certified races run almost entirely through the 60,000-acre Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
- 26.2 mile Mountain Marathon (Boston Marathon qualifier)
- 13.1 mile Holy Half Marathon
- Deer Creek Canyon 10K
- Lake Elmer Thomas 5K
- Mount Scott 5K – Run up Mount Scott, a paved road to the third highest elevation in Oklahoma with a scenic overlook of one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth
All races USATF sanctioned certified with ChampionChip timing.
The event also provides two additional non-competitive events for the family, as well as those who wish to experience the beautiful untouched scenery of southwest Oklahoma at a slower pace:
- 5K Spirit Walk and Family Fun Run
- Super Kid’s Marathon (26.2 miles total, 1.2 miles on race day)
Last year’s SOS hosted nearly 10,000 visitors from 25 different states. In just three years, the event has raised nearly $100,000 which has helped in the construction of brand new cancer centers in Altus and Duncan which opened in Fall 2008 and are currently completing the $10 million, 23,000 square foot facility in Lawton.
Now in its fourth year, the SOS has attracted the attention of the running world and this year’s event will feature none other than Runner’s Worlds’ own, Bart Yasso. Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World, has been a senior executive with the company for more than 30 years and has been dubbed the “Mayor of Running.” Yasso has traveled the world, running marathons on all seven continents and made a living doing what he loves.
For registration information, or to see race maps and elevations, go to www.spiritofsurvival.com
Here’s some news, courtesy of the state Tourism Department, about a northeast Oklahoma 5K race, for those of you who can’t resist the urge to run:
CLEVELAND — Registration is underway for the 5k CimTel Classic in Cleveland on Aug. 22, according to Diana Tilley-Esparza, Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.
“This is the 7th year for this popular family event that raises money for area schools,” she said. Cleveland is hosting the classic, a USATF sanctioned event which is being coordinated by Glen’s Racing Service. Other sponsors include Cim-Tel Cable and The Cleveland American.
The schools participating are Cleveland, Mannford, Keystone, Prue, Jennings, and Fairfax. “They will receive a portion of the entry fee from every runner who chooses their school,” Tilley-Esparza said. Booths are available to school organizations such as SADD, band boosters, cheerleaders, and others, she said.
The younger set will have a chance to stretch their legs too at the CimTel Class Fun Run. This non-competitive, family friendly event is the perfect experience for students and parents alike who are not competing in the 5k run.
The Fun Run starts at 8:05 a.m., just following the start of the 5k.
The 5k Run beings and ends at Cleveland High School, 600 N Gilbert, in Cleveland. It starts at 8 a.m. Entry fee is $25. At 6:30 a.m. runners who have not already done so can register and collect their race packets. After the race, an award ceremony and medal presentation takes place at the Cleveland Event Center.
For pre-registration and more information: www.cimtel.net or 918.865.3311.
Green Country Marketing Assn. is one of 11 multi-county organizations working with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, the Oklahoma Travel Industry Assn. and the other 10 multi-county associations to promote state tourism, a $5 billion industry. The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce is a member of Green Country.
Check out this video and interview with a new world-record holder for the biggest drop ever taken in a kayak.
Awhile back, I posted something about a team of Afghan climbers trying to tackle that country’s highest peak, the 24,580-foot Noshaq, as a way to boost national pride. You can see that post here:
Well, looks like that team succeeded! (thanks for the tip goes to Out There reader Trent Riley). Here’s an exerpt of the story from mounteverest.net:
“After a long and difficult ascent Malang and Amrudin finally reached the top of the highest peak in Afghanistan (Noshaq) on July 19th, at 2.30 pm,” team members reported. “ By planting their national flag on Noshaq’s summit, they fulfilled their fellow citicens’ expectations.”
“This is a great message of hope for Afghanistan, conveyed by these two young Wakhis (natives from Wakhan region) who consider themselves Afghans in the first place, above the ethnical and regional differences dividing their country,” Afghans to the Top team told ExplorersWeb.
“We are now back in the valley, where we have been welcomed in a truly exceptional manner by the local population and authorities – we will soon be leaving to Kabul with Malang and Amrudin for further celebrations in the capital city.”
So a hearty congrats to the “Tigers of Wakhan” for their accomplishment and best wishes for their hopes in promoting peace and development in Afghanistan.
For more, go to this link: http://www.noshaq.com/noshaq-news_gb.php
I got this e-mail from a reader regarding Sunday’s story about the Mount Shavano snow climb (http://newsok.com/pair-scales-new-heights-in-colorado/article/3387961?custom_click=lead_story_title )in Colorado:
I enjoyed your story on climbing Mount Shavno. I have the same passion. I am the head football coach at SNU and every summer I take my upcoming senior class to Colorado to climb a 14er (a 14,000-foot mountain). The groups have ranged from 18 to 8. It is a great team building experience. I also have a leadership curriculum that I take them through while we are on the mountain. The past 2 years we have climbed Mount Antero (just next to Shavano). The 5 years before that I took them to Pikes Peak via the Craggs Trail or the Barr Trail. This year we plan to summit either Mount Princeton or Shavano. We depart on August 3rd. Any advice on Shavano? Again, just wanted you to know I enjoyed your story.
The man who wrote this is Mike Cochran, the head football coach at Southern Nazarene University. I gave him a few of my thoughts on the mountain. I also thought his team-building concept was pretty cool, using the outdoors as a way to help build unity and leadership. So an exchange of e-mails turned this into a bit of a Q&A between us. Here’s how the conversation went:
Q: Describe how the trip usually goes and what you all do.
A: I usually camp at treeline. It makes day two much easier. I plan to start at the trailhead about 8 a.m. on day one and set up camp that afternoon. Day two we will leave base camp about 5:30 a.m. and try to summit no later than 10 a.m. I never know how fast we will move, the 300 pounders move slower than the rest. That is one of the things that makes it such a great team building exercise, they all have to help each other get to the top. After we summit we camp one more night before heading down. The down time at camp is when we set goals for the season and cover the leadership curriculum.
Prior to backpacking we always whitewater raft the day before. The best part about the experience is taking a group of guys to do something that they have never done before. Getting them out of their comfort zone really opens their eyes and helps them grow. Every group I have taken says it is the hardest and the most rewarding thing they have ever done.
Q: How many peaks have you climbed?
A: I have hiked to the summit of Pikes Peak five times and Mount Antero two times for a total of seven on two different peaks. I have reached the summit of about a half dozen 13ers through the years. I am ready to add another peak. However, it is really about what works for the group. The group is smaller this year so that opens up more possibilities.
Q: What about the rafting?
A: The last two I have used Noah’s Ark. They are a rafting/outfitting company located outside of Buena Vista, Colo. It has been nice to have someone else provide the food and gear. It has allowed me to interact more with the players and worry less about logistics. When I did it by myself, the larger groups were really a strain on me.
Sounds like this coach would be a great guy to team up with for a mountain adventure, and his players are lucky enough to be a part of that on an annual basis.
Here’s hoping for a fun time on the river as well as a successful summit bid in the Rockies for SNU football seniors.
Seems like Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong didn’t get along too well.
So the National Geographic Channel has gotten into the adventure TV thing. Seriously, it’s about time! Photos and essays from National Geographic have long stoked my imagination for adventure. So their late entry is puzzling yet welcome.
Anyway, I checked out what might be described as a teaser show that aired Saturday called “Alone in the Wild.” The show is pretty much what you get if you were to cross “Survivorman” with “The Alaska Experiment.”
The host and sole cast member of the show is filmmaker/adventurer Ed Wardle. He has some outdoor chops: He’s summited Mount Everest twice (once as producer for “Everest Beyond the Limit”) and has diving, mountaineering and ice climbing expertise. The show’s producers, however, are quick to point out that he’s not a survival expert.
So that makes the premise of the show pretty interesting. Ed’s goal is to fly into the backcountry of the Canadian Yukon (just east of Alaska) and survive there for three months. He’s got the basic stuff you’d have if you were backpacking, including a gun and fishing gear. But for food, he’s going to have to hunt, fish or gather it wherever he can. And he’ll have to be careful not to tangle with bears and moose that are common in the Yukon Territory. All the while, he’ll be filming the entire adventure by himself. No cameramen, no support crew, no one else around him. His only rescue will come if he fails to check in twice a day.
Saturday’s episode was a preview of sorts. It chronicles him making a “test run” in the Yukon. His initial foray was six days long, and gratefully, he made it out OK and learned a few things about hunting and trapping. He also later got some good advice on what wild plants he could and could not eat.
This sets up the series, which is to air in September. And the most interesting thing about it now is that he’s filming as we speak. That’s right, Ed Wardle is in the Yukon now (has been since July 3) and will be there for a couple more months. Nat Geo has a Web site up that allows people to track his progress, read blog posts and otherwise see how he’s doing.
The not-so-subtle implication is that there’s no guarantee he’ll finish the task or even survive.
As for this weekend’s ep: Pretty interesting. I just figured it was another rip-off of “Survivorman” or “Man vs. Wild.” But it is different, and I like the fact that he is truly by himself. It’s cool that viewers can keep up with him online as his stay in Canada progresses. I just hope this turns out well and doesn’t end up in some sort of tragedy. During the program, he struggles with the things you’d expect — finding food, dealing with the elements, worrying about bears. But there’s an interesting human component that arises as the isolation, fear and stress of being marooned in the wilderness sets in. And it sets in fast.
I’ll be watching the show when it comes out this fall. If you want to follow Ed or learn more about the show, go to this link here: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/alone-in-the-wild
Pacific Northwest Trail to become a reality
Interesting story in this link here:
Two concepts intrigue me. First, that there may one day be a contiguous trail system that traverses the entire continental U.S. Second, the fact that this trail will go through some of the most scenic and isolated country in America. Talk about an adventure!
Read on and start dreaming of Rocky Mountain vistas…
Coming in Sunday’s Oklahoman
More on mountaineering! Another look at climbing mountains in snow, complete with some tips and color from June’s Mount Shavano summit bid. Good pics, cool info and a chance to read about an adventure for outdoor enthusiasts which is definitely worth trying. Be sure to pick up a copy uf Sunday’s Oklahoman, turn to the Sports section and go to the Outdoors page!
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed what I unofficially dubbed Rocky Mountain Week. We’re blessed to be pretty close to North America’s great mountain range and all of the activities that can be had up there during the friendly summer months. I picked Mount Bierstadt and Quandary Peak because I just did them and figured they would be great introductory peaks for people to try if they are new to peak bagging. And then I threw in Wheeler Peak, an oldie but a goodie, just because it offers some really neat backpacking and camping opportunities with some solitude thrown in the mix.
One thing not in the trip reports: some tips on the basics of peak bagging. So here’s some info I got that will help you get the to top, courtesy of Jessica Evett of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, and a few extra tips of my own:
A first-aid kit and proper attire is a must. Moisture-wicking clothes, decent rain gear and solid footwear are advised. Pack the sunscreen and sunglasses and leave cotton clothes at home.
Watch the weather. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence, and late summer/early fall snows aren’t uncommon. No summit experience is worth being hit by lightning or getting caught in a freak high-altitude snowstorm.
Be sure to let people know where you’re going and when you plan to be back. Even on the “beginner peaks,” bad things can happen. Stuff happens in the high country. If you rolled an ankle, how would you get down? Who would know where you were if someone needed to come get you?
Being prepared is about minimizing risk. If you call out on your cell phone, it’s not like someone is going to be right there to pick you up.
Take care of the peak
The ecosystems of high country are fragile. The higher you go, the more delicate they become.
Pack out any trash. If you don’t need a camp fire, don’t make one. Don’t pick flowers, especially in high altitude areas, where any environmental damage can take decades to repair. And stay on the trail.
Be careful with dogs. If you bring your dog, keep it on a leash. Dogs love to chase wildlife. But animals living in the mountains use the summer to fatten up for the harsh winter months. Exerting the energy needed to escape your playful pup could be the difference between life and death for a marmot or mountain goat in the months that follow. And for the dog’s safety, be sure it is fit enough for the journey and that the terrain is not too challenging. I’ve now seen a couple of instances where people were actually carrying their dogs to the summit when the trail disappeared into a pile of huge boulders. This is nonsense.
Do your homework
Doing a little research on the mountain you plan to conquer is a smart thing. If you’ve never climbed, look for one of the many “walk-up” peaks that don’t require climbing skills. There are numerous resources that have trail maps, gear lists and safety tips.
One last word, this one coming from veteran mountaineer Bill Middlebrook via his Web site, 14ers.com:
”Mountaineering in Colorado can be very dangerous,” he says. “Many people have died on the 14ers. Weather, terrain and other people can put you in a situation where your knowledge and experience will be vital.
”Just because a crowd of people can march to the summit of Quandary Peak on a summer Saturday, it doesn’t mean that they are all safe. Altitude sickness, dehydration and fast-building storms are the most common problems. Get in shape and start early for each trip. I can’t tell you how many times I have been half way down a 14er and passed hikers that were determined to get to the summit — even with huge thunderclouds brewing above.”
Sage words. Be safe and have fun out there, folks.