The Weekly Stoke: Sherpas killed on Everest, Ueli Steck’s ascent questioned, marathon tips and the country’s least outdoorsy cities

Mount Everest. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Mount Everest. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

So sorry for missing last week, but sometimes life happens and you have to step away. But we’re back with the Weekly Stoke, and trust me, there’s plenty to talk about! So let’s get to it.

First off, the biggest news in the outdoors world, and it’s not good. An avalanche killed at least 12 Sherpas near Camp 1 on Mount Everest, and the search is on for more guides who are still missing. The tragedy makes it the deadliest single day in the history of climbing that mountain.

Staying in the Himalayas, there is some controversy concerning Ueli Steck’s solo ascent of Annapurna.

Thinking about relocating to a new city? If you are into outdoorsy activities in your city, there are some places that don’t cut it, according to this list.

Here is a list of tips for people running their first marathon.

And speaking of that, this blogger has some tips on how to properly carb load pre-race.

Do you have a list of excuses keeping you from getting out there, or how well you “perform?” This writer wants to have a word with you.

And finally, here’s a Q&A from a guy who is walking across the country.

The Weekly Stoke: Ueli Steck on Annapurna, Les Stroud, survival stories, NYC and Marine Corps Marathon news, and caves under Mount Hood

Annapurna. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Annapurna. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Took the week off last week, but we’re right back to it with some good links on this edition of the Weekly Stoke! Check these out:

Congratulations to Ueli Steck for his successful ascent of Annapurna. Steck had twice been denied this mountain’s summit, but this time did it in style, climbing its south face solo. That’s a feat that has never been done before, and just months after his harrowing brawl incident on Everest.

Les Stroud talks about what survivalism is really all about, and has some critiques for others who take their chances just for the TV cameras.

Here are some tips for summiting Pikes Peak.

From The Adventure Journal, a list of the 9 most intense bivvies.

Here’s a first-hand account of what it’s like dealing with a rescue situation in the backcountry, also from The Adventure Journal.

Some victims of the Boston Marathon bombing are learning to run again.

Organizers of the Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon are banning hydration packs from being used during those races.

Finally, check out this cool video of exploring caves under Oregon’s Mount Hood.

The Weekly Stoke: Ueli Steck to tackle Annapurna, non-competitive racing, extreme selfies and kayaking flooded Boulder Creek

Annapurna. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Annapurna. (Wikipedia Commons photo)

Ah, home sweet home after a week in Colorado. Plenty to talk about, but before going any further on that, let’s get into the news of the day. Time for the Weekly Stoke!

Ueli Steck’s last trip to the Himalaya didn’t go so well, with a near brawl on Everest. But he’s back, and this time planning to tackle the range’s deadliest peak: Annapurna.

Car camping is one thing. Living out of your car is another. But how about rehabbing an entire bus? This guy is road living in style and spent maybe 5 percent of what it costs to buy a new RV.

Are running road races becoming less competitive? This writer says races are becoming less “race” and more “parade.”

Social media is filled with annoying, duck-lipped selfies, but this link has some extreme versions that are kind of cool.

Finally, this group of kayakers decided to make the best of a bad situation, riding the currents of a flooded Boulder Creek last week.

Mountaineering pioneer Maurice Herzog, 93, dies


They say there are old mountaineers and there are bold mountaineers, but no old and bold mountaineers.

But there was an exception with French climber Maurice Herzog, who along with fellow mountaineer Louis Lachenal and their team were the first to climb an 8,000-meter peak, Annapurna, in 1950.

Herzog died Friday. He was 93.

At that time of his Annapurna ascent, many attempts had been made to climb Everest, K2, and other Himalayan giants, but Herzog led the group that did it first.

This is a huge feat. While Annapurna ranks No. 10 among the world’s highest mountains, it has proven to be the most dangerous. In its history, an average of one in three people who summit Annapurna end up dead, higher than K2 (about one in four) and certainly higher than Everest. Herzog and his team not only dared these odds, but accomplished their goal without supplemental oxygen.

Annapurna is known for its difficult approaches and is prone to huge avalanches. American mountaineer Ed Viesturs, the first from the U.S. to climb all of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks, was turned back by Annapurna multiple times before finally reaching its summit.

Herzog’s book, “Annapurna,” became the most popular climbing book of all-time, according to this post from Outside Magazine, and indeed was an inspiration for Viesturs.

Herzog’s successful Annapurna summit came with a price. A rough descent left him severely frostbitten, and he lost all of his fingers and some toes.

What Herzog represents to mountaineering: He is among the first to finally break through the 8,000-meter summit barrier. We lost a pioneer who helped show the rest of the world that the daunting task of climbing the highest peaks in the Himalayas was indeed possible.

A final thought: Mountaineering was different back then. It was about exploration and national pride, and it’s fitting that a French team made the big breakthrough — climbing and mountaineering owes much to the French, who pioneered so much of modern mountaineering in the Alps (climbing/mountaineering lingo is filled with French terms). Most of the routes people climb now were established long ago by guys like Herzog.

Pause for a second to reflect what Herzog, his teammates and their predecessors did for the rest of us who are seekers of altitude.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

Books: ‘The Will to Climb’ by Ed Viesturs

If you’ve followed the mountaineering career of Ed Viesturs at all, you’d know a couple of things: He’s been as successful in the Himalayas as just about anyone else alive, and he has achieved his reputation with a purist style and utmost regard for safety.

So for Viesturs to come back to Annapurna a third time after being turned back twice by the world’s deadliest mountain, you know that he is also a very driven man.

That’s’ the conflict posed in Viesturs’ third book, “The Will to Climb,” which examines his two failed attempts to summit Annapurna as well as his third and ultimately triumphant climb that made him the first American to bag all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks.

True to form from his previous books, Viesturs mixes his own experiences on the mountain with those from mountaineering’s past. The lessons learned from Annapurna echo from its history right through to his own observations while being on the slopes of this massive and incredibly dangerous peak.

Annapurna is not the highest, nor is it considered the technically most difficult of the Himalayan peaks, but it has a track record of being prone to avalanches and bad weather that take the lives of climbers at higher rates than even K2: One out of every three climbers who summit Annapurna die.

Viesturs does a great job looking through archival accounts of early ascents of the mountain — unbelievably, this peak was the first of the 8,000ers to be successfully climbed — while also taking a look at other climbs that were sometimes triumphant while other times tragic. He also dives into the personalities of those who dared to challenge the mountain, be they his friends and teammates or the more storied figures of Himalayan mountaineering royalty.

Like his book on K2, it’s more history than personal. But with “The Will to Climb,” Viesturs finds his voice a little better, and the storytelling is a little richer. I think part of that might have something to do with the fact that his love of mountaineering was born by reading the book “Annapurna,” which describes the harrowing tale of the French team that first climbed it. It also was the mountain that caused him the greatest trouble, planted the most doubt and scared him the most. By summiting it in 2005, he put a major stamp on his career and personal life.

The one common theme with all of his books, however, goes back to his mantra: Getting to the top is optional, getting back down is mandatory. The caution he describes in his adventures has often led to him turning back within sight of several summits, but he always came home safe, ready to return for another crack at the mountain.

And therein lies his key message of mountaineering, that of measuring risk and tackling a challenge while being as safe as possible. If only all climbers would heed this, there would be far fewer accidents and deaths not only in the Himalaya, but on mountains everywhere.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088