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Diversify!

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips by Jediah PorterLeave a Comment

We are not parents, we’re mountain guides. Well, some of us are parents, but that’s not the point. Point is, we’re not your parents. Because we’re not parents, we can choose favorites. It’s true; we have our favorite guests. Our favorite guests don’t have any certain level of skill. Nor do they have any particular personality attribute. Nor do they come out with us any certain amount of time. The thing that unites our list of favorite guests is the …

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Preparing for a Season of Decision Making

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips by Howie Schwartz5 Comments

It was exactly a year ago that I stood ski guiding on a 45 degree virgin slope on the Antarctic Peninsula in a decision making quandary. Doug Stoup of Ice Axe Expeditions had put together another one of his outrageous cruise ship assisted Antarctic ski mountaineering expeditions together and invited me to bring guests along. There were 20 of us guides, including some of the most accomplished, most experienced, and most well known ski guides in the country and internationally, …

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Featured Alpine Route: The Southeast Ridge of Mount Russell

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips, High Sierra Alpine Report, Trip Reports by Howie Schwartz1 Comment

The Southeast Ridge of Mount Russell (III, 5.9) is a classic alpine gem of a route that gets relatively little traffic or mention by guidebook authors. There are 7 different guidebooks for climbing on Mount Russell in my library and the route is listed in 3 of them. There are surprisingly very few details about this route that I could discover in these books, or from internet searches, so I figure this might be useful for someone.   A conversation …

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A Letter to Dustin

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

August 9th, 2014 Dustin Boylin Lake Gregory Regional Park, Member Dear Dustin, On a beautiful trip to the Williamson Bowl in the High Sierra this week, we set up camp near one of the pristine alpine lakes at around 12,200 feet. Soon after setting up our tent, we discovered, in a rock hollow, your cache. At first we thought perhaps this camp area had already been claimed by someone, but then we noticed it was just a small hydration pack …

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New Routes in Sequoia National Park

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips, Trip Reports by Howie Schwartz5 Comments

Over the last two summers Sierra Mountain Guides has visited Lone Pine Canyon in Sequoia National Park on 2 separate guided explorations. The soon-to-be-Sierra-classic climb and ridge traverse that has come to be known as Sabre Ridge and the adjacent formation known as the Prism were climbed by Brandon Thau, et al and reported in the American Alpine Journal. The first known ascent of the Sabre Ridge was by a trail crew member in 2008 and the Prism has seen …

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The Hidden Value of a Mountain Guide – from Middle Palisade & Mount Russell

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips, Trip Reports by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Tom and Andy are a couple of very intelligent and engineers from the Eastern US. They work for the Department of Defense to help keep all of us Americans safe. They are also experienced mountaineers. Why then have they had so much trouble summiting mountains in the Sierra together over the past decade? Altitude is probably blamed by many as the number one reason for aborting High Sierra climbs. It’s usually not conditions, as so many of the peaks are …

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Demystifying the Ball Nut!

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Gear Reviews, Guide Tips by Howie Schwartz2 Comments

Ball Nuts? For those that have heard of them but have never tried them, they are thought of as a piece of aid climbing pro or a relic from a bygone climbing era. But for those that have used them for free climbing, especially on less traveled granite, and in the alpine, they tend to become an invaluable addition to the rack for many climbs. For those who have never heard of them at all, this may just sound like …

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Mount Whitney: East Face vs. East Buttress. Which is better?

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips by Howie SchwartzLeave a Comment

Which route is better, the East Face or the East Buttress? The classic question we get regarding technical routes on Mount Whitney. Well, do you like chocolate or vanilla? Very different flavors, both immensely pleasurable. Let’s break it down. The Line One of the major considerations when evaluating the aesthetics of a climbing route is the line. Does it appear natural, allowing for consistent and continuous climbing progress? Does the climbing finish on an obvious high point like a summit? …

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Packing for a Multi-day Ridge Traverse

In From the Range of Light & Fast, Guide Tips by Jediah PorterLeave a Comment

reposted from January 2014 By IFMGA Mountain Guide, Jed Porter So, something about a multi-day ridge traverse has captured your attention. Maybe it’s a 2-day itinerary on Lone Pine Peak, the 4 day version of the Palisade Traverse, or something bigger and further out there. In any case, you want to cover some ground and be ready for technical climbing. You will spend cool nights at altitude, burn lots of calories, and carry all of your gear the entire time. …