All this talk about MET5s and Sandy Pittman, got me wondering what happened to her after the Everest disaster. Well, a bit of Google journalism turned this up from a source I read regularly, the New York Social Diary:
[After Everest], now officially Sandy Hill, she decided to move to London, leading many to believe that she was looking to make a new life, away from noisome detractors who were plaguing her good name. There she met another American, also, a rich and handsome man — some say an even richer man than Bob Pittman, named Tom Ditmer.
In October of 2000, Aileen Mehle writing as Suzy in W reported that the couple were seen at a dinner given by the Prince of Wales in London, where “Sandy was one of the most attractive women in the room, swathed in white satin with her long dark hair falling in a fringe. Who doesn't know that's bangs to us Americans?”
In 2001, the couple married and moved to a ranch in the Santa Ynez mountains behind Montecito/Santa Barbara where they have lots of animals, and friends visiting. Some friends from New York, visiting Los Angeles, wanted to see the ranch. Sandy sent a plane for them. Later one of them remarked to her on how “nice it is” that she had a plane she could transport her friends in. “I have two,” Sandy Hill Ditmer corrected with that bright California smile.
Fun, Hill's greatest luxury, is on glittering display in the great room. The house, a Modernist affair designed by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Jacqueline Onassis's architect on Martha's Vineyard, is packed with the sort of animals that Hill might have killed herself: stuffed coyotes and bobcats, giant tortoise shells, Mongolian yak, fruit bats in vitrines. (Hill, herself, hunts doves at her home in the Sierra Madre region of Mexico.)
''Everybody, shhh -- moment!'' Hill whispers. ''We need to have a moment for this dessert.'' She closes her eyes and spreads out her arms, then slaps the table. ''Is anybody in America eating like this right now?''
A few minutes later, Wyatt drags his spurs across the carpet and presents Babaloo to a fawning audience. When someone laments that there's no truffle sorbet left for the little fellow, the accessories designer Kendall Conrad pipes up: ''Sandy, I've thought of a great idea for you: California truffle farming.''
Just nauseating. Obviously Everest was no humbling experience. Probably just a character builder. Why I even blogged this I don't know? I think it was in memory of Anatoli Boukreev, who saved her ass only to die a year later in an avalanche on Annapurna. Saved her ass so she could sip her fine wine and ride her horses and enjoy "Fun, Hill's greatest luxury." She should be waking up every day and lighting a candle for Boukereev. Respect. The other reason I'm blogging this is Pittman epitomizes for me the ignoble decline of Everest into what it is now - a meaningless symbol of what money can buy you in this world.
Three sherpa were killed Friday in an ice fall at Khumbu:
"At some time close to 7 AM on Friday, April 21, 2006, a major collapse occurred in the upper Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest. Three Sherpa climbers were lost amid substantial ice debris. An extensive search was conducted in the hours following the accident. At approximately 9:30 AM the search was ended and the conclusion reached that no hope of recovery existed. Ang Phinjo Sherpa, aged 50, of Khunjung VDC ward # 9 Phortse, Solu Khumbu Nepal, Lhakkpa Tseri Sherpa of Mende, Dawa Temba Sherpa of Thamo are presumed dead."
Luis Benitez reported more detail:
"On a section known as 'the Popcorn', two gigantic towers collapsed, smashing against another wall of ice, and raining literally tons of debris down onto the helpless victims below."
Eric Simonson of IMG reports on one of those killed:
“Phinjo was our oldest Sherpa (50) and one of our very best Sherpa friends. He went on his first 8000 meter peak in 1973 — this was his 49th 8000 meter expedition.”
For the weight watchers out there, consider a top bag for your next gear acquisition. Top bags eliminate the bottom 1/3 of your sleeping bag's fill, since it's compressed under your weight and basically useless anyway. Can save up to 1/3 of the sleeping bag's weight and allow you to have a cold weather bag with the weight of a warm weather bag. It took two tries, but Andy at Psychovertical finally liked it. Try the Big Agnes Zirkel or Macpac Neve stateside or the Rab Quantum if you're in Europe.
Steve House, the 2006 winner, along with Vince Anderson, of the prestigious Golden Piton from Climbing and the lesser-known Piolet d’ Or for their alpine-style ascent of the Rupal Face on Nanaga Parbat, seriously injured his left index finger in late March at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon, specifically on the area’s notoriously drilled sport climb, Churning In The Wake (5.13a).
“It was a rookie mistake,” House said. “I wasn’t warmed up and there wasn’t any sport climbers around to tell me what I was doing was wrong.”
Has it come to this? Do we now treat the climbing community's finest as celebrities whose every move needs to be reported and documented for their adoring fans? Did House actually give a quote for this? Is he becoming the Lindsay Lohan of the outdoors? Should we expect Climbing.com to roll out something similar to Gawker's Stalker Maps, where we can follow the every move of our favorite outdoor celebrity? Hey, look, Beth Rodden was climbing down at Mission Cliffs in a tight little sports bra yesterday. Pssst, did you see Caldwell sipping coffee and Starbucks? Wow, Ed Viesturs at Scores. Who would have thought? Inquiring minds want to know. Dougald? Climbing? More of the same? Let me know so I can start rolling out the Outdoor Stalker Maps.
Climb_Ca Outdoor Celebrity Stalker Maps
NOTE: Before people get all carried away, this was obviously an April fools thing on Climbing's part. As is my Stalker Map. Though I kinda like the idea and might launch it soon. Funny thing is there no timestamp on the Climbing post, so I'm sure a lot of people are worried. Perhaps a Fix Steve's Finger Fund?
Kind of an old story, but new to us. And it begs the question why gear companies are messing around trying to design a better backpack, when the ultimate gear hauler has been around for centuries: the doko or oversized baskets sherpas use to hump gear. A study published in last summer's Science magazine found that Nepalise porters using the doko, could carry weights 100% to 200% their bodyweight. Consider them the anti-go-lite movement:
A typical Nepalese porter carries a load nearly as heavy as he is. When he does, the porter burns less energy per pound than a backpacker would need to shoulder about half the same weight, Heglund and his colleagues found.
A porter's gear is simple but effective: The load goes into an oversized basket, or doko, which rests against the back. A strap runs underneath the doko and over the crown of the head, which bears most of the weight. Each porter also carries a T-shaped walking stick called a tokma.
When on the move, porters sometimes pause more than they walk. "On a steep incline," Heglund said, "they'll walk for as little as 15 seconds and rest for 45." At each stop, they use their tokma to support their load, which allows a standing rest.
Humorous piece in this weekend's San Francisco Chronicle describing one man's experience using the latrine on Mount Elbrus, dubbed by Outside Magazine as the "World's Nastiest Outhouse." Though it could be dubbed, "Outhouse With The Greatest View" in our opinion. Reminds us of the old toilet at Helen Lake on Shasta before the kitty litter (like Rainier's blue bags) poop bag was introduced. Anybody have a pic of a toilet with a better view? An excerpt:
The outhouse is anchored to a big rock and perched out over an icy abyss. It's on the Web site of a group called -- again, I'm not making this up -- Hikers Against Doo-Doo, which once tried to raise money to replace it with a more environmentally friendly facility. For some reason the campaign failed to capture the public's imagination.
The outhouse looks reasonable enough in the photo, but when I was there, the ladder leading up to it was frozen beneath a thick wall of ice. It resembled the inside of my old Frigidaire when it needed defrosting. I stood there for quite some time, knees pressed together, searching without success for a way up.
Eventually I padded back through the snow to the hut and retrieved my ice ax and crampons. Reaching the privy required 10 feet or so of technical ice climbing that was far more difficult than the ascent of the mountain itself. One woman on my team got most of the way up, fell off and broke her thumb, nixing her chance for the summit the next day.
OK, he really didn't say wack. But if he knew the term, I'm sure he'd have used it. And when the two time Piolet d’Or winner speaks, people listen. His exact quote:
“The Alpine-style mania has gone so far as to be ridiculous. Sometimes descending after a climb in the Alps people shout: ‘We ascended in Alpine style!’ I get speechless.”
His point? Less talking, more climbing. The Russians and other Eastern Europeans have been climbing Alpine style forever. So they claim. They couldn't afford anything else he argues. Read the whole review on MountEverest.net.
UPDATE: I was reminded that I neglected to mention that certain Russians, ahem, have a reputation for bolting and fixing the crap out of routes seige style. And Valeri is no stranger to controversy for doing just that on his Jannu ascent, for which he won the Piolet d'Or. As Steve House wrote:
The Piolet d’Or pretends to award ascents that represent the “evolution” of alpinism. I maintain that the Russian’s ascent of the north face of Jannu is irrelevant to modern alpinism. It is a big disappointment to me that the Piolet committee elected to glorify an ascent done in such horrible style.
I was astounded that they used such words as “impossible” and “extreme” when the comforts of their basecamp were never more than a few rappels down their many fixed ropes. I was also struck by the fact that they left those 77 ropes fixed on the mountain. I was appalled that they abandoned their camps and their equipment on the wall. (The team left base camp four days [30 May] after the Alexander Ruchkin and Dmitri Pavlenko summited.) I was amazed by how different their vision for alpinism is from mine.
You can read Valeri's explanation of his climbing style, in this case Nuptse, here.
Jon Walsh over at the Alpinist Blog reports the MSR Wind 2 took a licking and kept on ticking. Or standing. An excerpt:
The name of this tent suggested to me that it was the one to have for this season's climbing session in Patagonia's notoriously windy Fitzroy region. During my first outing, the gusty winds and generally stormy conditions were enough to force my partner and I to descend from three quarters of the way up Cerro Torre's Compressor Route. Upon returning to camp on the Torre Glacier's "Sandy Wash," we were stoked to find the MSR Wind 2, standing as we left it, holding its own against the catabatic's ripping down from the Hielo Sur (the Southern Ice cap).
A week or so later, we returned for more action, with weather even more marginal than before. Despite pitching the tent tightly between two large boulders for maximum protection, we experienced the windiest conditions we've ever encountered. Through the night, ferocious gusts constantly hammered the Wind 2 with us inside. Four out of the six 3 millimeter tie-down cords were shredded from abrasion against the rocks they were tied to. Sand and sleet constantly peppered the fly, boots, food bags, and any other items that were in the corners or side storage pockets were getting flung from one side to the other.
Read the complete review here. Other reviews after the jump.
As climb_ca mentioned before, I was in Saas Fee for a weekend of boarding. Yes, I am an international man of leisure, whether climbing, boarding, or modeling for Christian Dior, I am Outside Magazine in the flesh, only with better abs. Anyway, enough of that self-promoting crap, I'm not Will Gadd. Saas Fee is the forgotten red-headed step-child, more so because it's in the valley over from the Matterhorn, Zermatt, and Cervinia, so not as high profile. Saas Fee is not wholly unknown as it's the home turf for former World Cup skiing legend Pirmin Zurbriggen, the man who dominated skiing in the 90s. Getting there is fairly easy, flying into Geneva, take a train to Visp, then a Post bus will take you to Saas Fee via Saas Grund. The whole trip takes around 3.5 hours from Geneva. Saas Fee doesn't allow cars (except those extremely annoying electric carts) so you will be letoff at the end of town, but the village is small and easily navigable. Hotel options are plentiful, the Sasserhof, the Garni Freehof, and where I stayed at the Hotel Imseng are all good, solid choices. So with all that crap out of the way, the mountain. Saas Fee is divided into two parts because of a cascading glacier running down the middle. Runs are long and plentiful, and solid. There are lots of mountaineers as there are several haute routes, so you will see some poor sap skinning up the mountain as you're on the chair. It just works that way. One caveat, I know Switzerland very well, having gone to ... ahem school there. Swiss are just strange people, the mullet population (including women) is bewildering and the number of old doods wearing earrings in their left ears is astounding. Unfortunately the mountainous terrain doesn't allow for owning a Camaro or IROC. Sigh* But there is no better place for outdoor adventure, make it there.