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2015 Guiding Year In Review

2015 Guiding Year In Review

North Victoria Land, Antarctica. I've now gotten to spend four of the last five years in Antarctica, and 9 seasons total since 1996. For the 2014-2015 season I assisted a geology team as they looked for evidence of the last glacial maximum 15,000 years ago. I also got to ski a few first descents on the Daniell Peninsula, go bouldering, and discover the best espresso and gelato in Antarctica. Its found at Italy's Mario Zucchelli Station in Terra Nova Bay. Of course it is.

2015, I realized on my third draft of this entry, was about priorities. Specifically, about doing a bit of resetting. Re-establishing some boundaries, re-affirming what makes me feel good and alive and whole. And beginning to take actions that really reflect those priorities.

It shows in the Year In Review (which was inspired, I have to admit, by Dan & Janine Patitucci: LINK). I didn't climb anything wicked hard. I didn't ski anything steep. But I discovered new terrain at home, nearby, and abroad, and I got wicked inspired to push myself for 2016. I have some big goals.

And I got out there. I climbed some long routes, experienced some big days back to back to back. Skied some awesome lines, toured 26 out of 30 days. I got to see the lightbulb moment in a lot of faces this year, that look that said in a thousand words, "I'm tired I'm sore but the view the air this is the most !@#$ing wonderful moment I've every had." Click.

That's what I'm in this for. The feel of the rock under my fingers, the snow under my feet, and that smile - that grin - on mine and my partners' faces. To everyone I shared a rope or a skin track with, thank you - let's do it again in 2016!


Zermatt, Switzerland. I spent an incredible April skiing the Classic Haute Route (twice), a week-long tour in the Bernese Oberland, and the Tour du Ciel. Made life-long friends with British and Swiss guides. Dealt with a week of storms that renamed the Haute Route to the Hotel Route. Witnessed a crevasse fall and a 500m slide-for-life. Whoa! Wrapped it all up with a week traveling through the Valais to Geneva.

Mt Rainier, Washington. Climbed the classic Disappointment Cleaver route for the 55th time in less than classic conditions was a great experience, because I got to take my family up for his first summit. Nice work Joe!

Cortina, Italy. Two indescribable weeks rock climbing and exploring the history of the First World War in the Italian Alps. We climbed lines that Kaiserjaeger assault forces attempted; explored via ferratas that were patrol routes for Alpini recon teams. Climbed even bigger routes that were pioneered by veterans from both sides, looking down at a battlefield that changed little for three years despite constant artillery shelling and desperate attacks that were beaten back by desperate defenders. On the last day of the trip Josh, Brian (not pictured) and I climbed the 1946 classic Constantini-Gheradina (TD VI 650m, or IV 5.10a 14 pitches).

Tofana di Rozes, Italy. Italy may have been the highlight of the year - I felt compelled to add a second photo. Yes, there is a route up each sweeping buttress, and each incredible face. The Constantini-Ghedina route climbs the sweeping Pilastro di Rozes or Second Pillar in the center of the photo. An equally classic line climbs the First Pillar to the right and the Third Pillar to the left.

Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. Back home I took advantage of the poor winter snowpack to explore the alpine rock climbing in Snoqualmie Pass. Repeated the classics - the Improbable Traverse on Guye Peak; the NE Buttress on Chair Peak; and the South Face of The Tooth. But I also discovered three more lines, that link up into the best three alpine days a climber could have in Snoqualmie Pass: the East Face of Chair Peak; the North Ridge of Kaleetan Peak; and the Bryant - Tooth Traverse. Here's Jacob on The Tooth's airy North Ridge, finishing the third day.

Inspiration High Route, North Cascades National Park. Another piece of pioneering I accomplished was a traverse I'm calling the Inspiration High Route. I knew this alpine tour had been done countless times yet there was still very little public information. The five-day traverse from Cascade River Road to Diablo Dam crosses six glaciers (the Eldorado, Inspiration, McAllister, Klawatti,North Klawatti, and Boreas) and summits five peaks (Eldorado, Klawatti, Austera, and Primus). From our camp on the last night, the effects of climate change couldn't be clearer - this lake doesn't exist on the 1968 topographical map!

North Ridge, Mt Baker, Washington. I climbed this route three times this summer! First as a standard three-day tour; then a "Baker Bullet", a one-day car-to-car ascent; then finally as the second climb of the North Cascades Trilogy (pictured). The Trilogy is the three most classic routes of the North Cascades, climbed back-to-back in 8-11 days: The North Face of Mt Shuksan, the North Ridge of Mt Baker, and the Torment-Forbidden Traverse. Peter and I were on track for a two-day ascent of Mt Baker when we were caught by a thunderstorm just 60m below the summit, forcing us to bivy an extra night and loosing our chances to finish the Trilogy in the time Peter had left.

Otway and Roberts Massifs, Antarctica. I ended 2015 as I started it - in Antarctica. This trip was with a geology team searching for evidence of how much ice was locked up on Antarctica during the Pliocene, 3.5 million years ago. That was the last time we had this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. El Nino was felt even here - it has been the stormiest season in recent memory, and the first time that I've faced a Condition One storm mid-summer. At the height of this storm we had winds in excess of 50mph, temperatures below -40F, and visibility of about 15 feet. That's me at 7am, resetting the flag and hand-lines between the sleep and kitchen tents that I had originally set up at 3am.

If you liked these photos, and want to keep seeing more, you're invited to go to my instagram page and start following! @chrissimmonsguiding



Happy Yule and New Year!