Mountaineering

Insomnia Inducing Campsites

For 15 years of my life, I had a horrendous case of insomnia. Sleeping in the comforts of my own bed (which was during my high school years was a water bed), a restful night of sleep regularly eluded me. I memorized the Presidents backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I memorized the Roman Emperors backwards and forwards. Didn’t work. I used to sit up reading Greek Mythology in the hopes that I’d be bored to sleep. Didn’t work. Turns out, I just needed to eat less carbs and start watching Sex in the City with my then girlfriend. I’ve slept like a baby ever since.

So, as I’ve become an adventurer, and especially as a mountain climber, I’ve found that there are places that are you are required to lay your head that are less than ideal for stretching out and getting some quality shut eye. Here are my two favorite insomnia inducing camp sites:

Camp 2 – Ama Dablam (20k ft): the Southwest Ridge on this 22,525ft/6,812m is technical, but the best route to the top.  It is a clean ridge free of avalanche and rock fall danger.  For a mountaineer, this is an epic trip.  However, knife edge ridges often form wonderful pinnacles that are fun to climb, but can be uncooperative when it comes to nice flat, clean places to pitch a tent.  In this case, it is the only place to camp between the relatively benign Camp 1 and the much higher Camp 3 in the snow.  The 45-degree slope with thousands of feet of cliff on all sides requires one to be roped in at night.

Camp 2 Ama Dablam

Camp 2 Ama Dablam

Ledge Camping on El Capitan: not all of us have the skills to be as good as Alex Hanold to bound up El Cap ropeless in 2 1/2 hours.  On the classic Nose Route, the rest of us require around 31 pitches to get to the summit, which can take 2 – 5 days.  That requires hauling up and anchoring a ledge to sleep in.

What are some of your craziest campsite experiences?

PATHWRANGLER NAMED HONOREE AS PART OF OUTSIDE’S ACTIVE TRAVEL AWARDS

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA | MARCH 12, 2013 PATHWRANGLER has been selected by Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, as a recipient of its second annual Active Travel Awards.  PathWrangler was honored as an Honoree. The full list of award winners will be published in the April issue of Outside magazine, available on newsstands March 12, 2013, and at Outside Online.

To select this year’s awards, Outside tapped our global network of correspondents, who spent months on the road traveling from the Philippines to Switzerland to Namibia and then some, to report a definitive roundup of the best new adventures, secret paradises, mountain epics, stunning beaches, airline deals, gorgeous islands, and more. The result is 42 fresh trips that we guarantee will change your life, plus smart travel strategies, the best travel gear, and five exciting new frontiers.

PathWrangler is proud to be awarded honoree of Outside Strategies to “Plug-In.”  With all these beautiful destinations and incredible activities to do, PathWrangler is the tool that brings it all together and makes these dream trips a reality. 

Outside magazine has long been one of the world’s most trusted advisors for active and adventurous travelers,” says Outside Editor Christopher Keyes. “In addition to truly award-worthy destinations and travel providers, this year we unearthed a handful of amazing new frontiers in active travel. Our annual edit franchise honors the year’s best trips, hotels, lodges, luggage, islands, and new destinations that will be an invaluable travel resource for years to come.”

Simply put, PathWrangler makes creating experiences and telling those stories easier than ever before.  Planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. It is maddening to get everyone and everything prepared. Our web app brings the conversation together in an interactive place designed specifically for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts to dream and organize their trip together, and then share their stories after.  Over 100 Tour Operators, Outdoor Clubs and Outdoor Wilderness Programs and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts are using PathWrangler to run better trips and share them with their friends.

In celebration of the Outside Active Travel Awards, PathWrangler is offering its award-winning product for free in preparation for a new premium rollout in the upcoming months.  That means unlimited trips and users for any individuals or business that sign-up now.  Please sign-up here to take advantage of this offer.  Please contact us at info@pathwrangler.com if you’d like any help in getting you or your organization started.

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About Outside

Outside is America’s leading active lifestyle brand. For more than 35 years, Outside has covered travel, sports, adventure, health, and fitness, as well as the personalities, the environment, and the style and culture of the world Outside. The Outside family includes Outside magazine, the only magazine to win three consecutive National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, The Outside Buyer’s Guides, Outside Online, Outside Television, Outside Events, Outside+ tablet edition, and Outside Books. Visit us on www.outsideonline.com and www.facebook.com/outsidemagazine.

Contact PathWrangler

For further press inquiries or other requests, please contact CEO Doug Heinz at doug@pathwrangler.com and 415-309-2242.  Please visit us online at www.pathwrangler.com, www.facebook.com/pathwrangler and @pathwrangler.

Share Your Adventure with the World

A year ago, we created the first way to build your own adventures and organize them with your friends, clients and associates in one, central, integrated place on a map.  Six months ago, we built a way for everyone to tell their own stories and share photos with each other.  After doing this, we made all kinds of enhancements to the product that made doing all of these things easier and better.

Today, we’re pleased to announce that you can now publish your trips, as well as your individual stories with the public.  We’ve integrated with Facebook so you can easily publish them to your friends and family.

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 10.01.37 AM Your PathWrangler Story on Facebook

Benefits to You

PathWrangler is now almost seamless.  We can’t create the ideas for you, but once you get an adventurous idea, you can build it, invite others, organize together, share your experiences as they happen and then share them with the world.

For the Traveler: it is the best way to organize and journal your trip.  We make it easier to store your memories.

For Trip Organizers: not only is the the best way to organize the many trips that you run, but it helps you to get business.  As your clients/members share their trips with their friends, it is a way to get those crucial testimonials and word of mouth referrals naturally.

Share Your Trips Today

Start building and sharing your trips on PathWrangler today!  Please contact us if you have any questions.

We’ll be sending out more details around these exciting new features from some of trips and users that we find particularly inspiring.  If you want to submit a trip, contact and share it with us and we’ll put it up on our blog!

Ueli Steck Climbs and Paraglides Three Eiger Region Peaks in One Day

Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck had a simple one-day itinerary for a warm summer day last month in the Eiger Region of the Bernese Alps of Switzerland.  His idea was to paraglide to his starting point and climb Jungfrau (13,642 ft.).   From the summit he would proceed to paraglide to the base of Mönch (13,481 ft.) and climb it.  From that summit, he would pull his paraglider out again and fly over to his next landing and his third climb of the day: the Eiger (13,025 ft.).  From there it was all down wind paragliding to the spot where he would pick up his ride home.

Eiger – Mönch – Jungfrau

Amazing!

To fly means something completely new to me.  You need a lot of patience if you want to have good conditions to be able to fly and climb at the same time.  I had this idea of flying and climbing for a long time.  I am happy that it worked.

Thanks to Adventure Blog for sharing this story.  Although I can’t imagine what it must take to scale three mountains in one day I have done some paragliding and to me that seemed to add a quite a bit of extra thrill to this ambitious endeavor.

New TARPA Initiative: Real Adventures

One of the elements of travel that we keep hearing from clients and travelers is the need for authenticity.  At PathWrangler, we try to get you as immersed as we possibly can.  However, to be a true adventurer, we not only want to put you into the shoes of the indigenous cultures, we want to put you into the shoes of the pioneers of adventure and exploration.  What did it feel like to be Ernest Shackleton, Marco Polo, Dr Livingstone, Ferdinand Magellan, or Sacagawae?

Head researcher, Mikey Clarke reveals how we can bring your trip to the next level:

On your next adventure, there is an option to take our vitamin anti-pills for an extra bout of authenticity – these anti-pills helpfully leach nutrients from your body to let you experience the pleasures of scurvy, just like the old-time adventurers!  This is for the adventurer who will have none of this plasticky, tourist-trap crap.

Another example of how TARPA is leading the travel industry in research.

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Stay tuned for the big PathWrangler announcement (which is certainly NOT a TARPA program).

PathWrangler and Cat Juggling

Just got off the phone with a client who is running some amazing rafting trips.  I learned that path to enlightenment with PathWrangler is the following:

  • Phase 1: Cats wandering aimlessly; mewing, scratching, breaking things, ripping up carpet and, in some cases, hanging from drapes.
    • Get PathWrangler Account.
  • Phase 2: Herd Cats…herd happier cats.
    • Herding Cats becomes too easy and effortless.  New inspiration is needed.
  • Phase 3: Cat Juggling: xnectf_cat-juggling-from-the-jerk-1979_shortfilms

Tired of cats running rampant?  We make it all better.  Check us out!  I only hope Nathan Johnson doesn’t get to us first!

Three Peaks Challenge – a stereotypical reaction to (encroaching) middle age

To the rugged outdoorsy types who frequent this blog, this entry will seem remarkably tame.  But all things must be seen in context.  When you live in London and have a demanding job, daily endurance challenges are generally restricted to squeezing into a Northern Line tube at rush hour or forcing yourself to climb the third escalator in a row (I’ll admit to occasional smugness, especially if I’ve got a heavy briefcase).

This year saw me and a number of school friends hit 40 so when one of them suggested that a group of us take on the Three Peaks Challenge for charity, he knew he was pushing at a psychological open door.  It helped that we were in the pub at the time, with a reduced resistance to stupid ideas.

The Three Peaks Challenge is simple – you have to climb the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours.  The peaks are Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in Northern England, and Snowdon in North Wales.  You can do it as part of an organised and guided group (there are charities taking groups on this trip most weekends) but you can also just do it yourselves, which was the option we went for.  You just need to find a willing driver – the lack of sleep for the walkers makes it potentially dangerous for them to do the driving as well.  Luckily my partner’s father was up for the challenge; as a long-distance truck driver, he’s used to driving through the night and bedding down in small spaces.

We chose a schedule that, due to the lighter summer evenings, would mean we weren’t climbing any of the peaks in the dark – starting Ben Nevis at 4pm and finishing around 10pm, driving to Scafell Pike and climbing between 4.30am and 8.30am, then finally Snowdon between 12pm and 4pm.

As the highest of the three peaks, it was no surprise that Ben Nevis was the toughest climb.  The path is pretty clear all the way up, and the number of people climbing on the weekends means it’s difficult to take a wrong turn – in fact you spend most of your time dodging people coming the other way.  However, the paths are steep and for much of the second half of the ascent, you’re climbing on loose rock, so for idiots like me who had done little training, it was a painful lesson.  The weather worsened before too long, and when we finally made the summit after 3 hours, the visibility was virtually zero, with driving rain and cold wind; so if you landed here by Googling “Ben Nevis summit views”, sorry to disappoint, we got no photos of the views.  We did however get photos in front of the snow field, to boost our adventurer credentials.

After a long descent which made me glad of my walking poles, we devoured some of the cold pasta dishes we’d packed and headed for Cumbria.  Rather optimistically, I donned my ear plugs and eye mask and reclined the seat.  But a Ford Galaxy is not Club World, and 4 hours of travel and about 15 minutes of sleep later, our bleary eyes were met by a beautiful dawn breaking over the hills as we drove along the shore road at Wastwater Lake, dodging petulant sheep on the approach to the start of the trail.

Scafell Pike is pretty steep from the word go, so with already tired legs and a lack of sleep, it was a daunting start, but after 45 minutes I found a comfortable pace, my confidence undoubtedly boosted by the glorious early morning sunshine.  There is a fair amount of scree scrambling on the way up Scafell Pike too, particularly the final third, but with the clear day and improved energy levels (must have timed my food intake better after Ben Nevis), summiting Scafell Pike seemed less of a chore.  That said, two hours later, we returned to the car as staggering drunks, our legs unwilling to expend valuable energy correcting the constant stumbles.

One more to go.  After another long and sleepless drive, we strapped on the boots for the final time.  In theory, Snowdon is the easiest of the three, and we reckoned we could complete it on adrenaline alone, especially as it was in our own backyard, having all grown up in North Wales.  It starts pretty gently, but after an hour or so, there are some incredibly steep sections, and by this time the cloud had descended and the rain had begun, so it was impossible to tell how much further we had to climb.  Climbing next to the tracks of the Snowdonia Mountain Railway can also be fairly dispiriting, as you occasionally see or hear the tourist train taking more sensible folk up to the summit in comfort, whilst you battle to find the reserves of energy to scramble up the last slopes.

While some day trippers gathered round the trig point at the summit for pictures, I barged into their shots, slammed my hand on it with a growl, and headed for the summit café.  Yes, there’s a café.  Not exactly Sherpa Tensing territory I realise, but I never said I was hard core, and I don’t think I’ll ever taste a better cup of tea.

After a quick photo opp and some mumbled congratulations, we started the descent and a couple of hours later, arrived back at “base camp” (OK, another café) as broken, but proud, men, having raised over £3000 for a North Wales cancer unit.

Top tips? Take walking poles, take more food than you think you’ll need and take spare socks.  Also, even if you’re reasonably fit, do at least some training if you want to enjoy it before it’s over.  Best tip of all: if you’re down the pub with friends, and one suggests the Three Peaks Challenge, fake a stomach bug and take refuge in the toilet until they’re safely back on film trivia.

Why I Climb

It was about two or three A.M. and I was violently shivering at Interim Camp in what was supposed to be a 20-below North Face sleeping bag, but instead was a synthetic cover stuffed with newspapers.  The gear shop in Kathmandu rented me the equivalent of one of those “Rolax” watches you can pick up in Hong Kong on the street.  The “Rolax” might make you late for a meeting, but a faux sleeping bag at 19,000 feet will turn you into a popsicle.  I mumbled and chattered audible obscenities while trying to find ways to stay warm; top and bottom thermals, a down jacket, down pants and two pairs of wool socks in my bag weren’t enough.  I looked ridiculous and it was the first time in my life I really felt claustrophobic.

No matter what I tried, I could not keep my feet warm and eventually had to take off the second pair of socks because they were cutting off my circulation.  So, every 1/2 hour or so, I’d have to rub my feet for ten-minutes, stomp up and down displaying the tap-dancing skills of an awkward octopus to keep the blood flowing.  My bones were cold.   As I was doing my tap dancing, I wrote a song called Eff You Sleeping Bag Man that went a little somethin’ like this:

Eff you sleeping bag man
Eff you sleeping bag man!
Eff you sleeping bag man!!
EFF YOU SLEEPING BAG MAN!!!!!!! (repeat)

The sweet harmonies produced by this song kept my heart warm, but not my body.  The night dragged on into infinity and kept getting colder and colder until the sun finally broke over the crest of the mountains.  As the sun crept over ridge and filled the valley floor, I knew I would be able to keep all my toes.  A very inauspicious start to the most important day on my Mount Everest trek: the push to Advanced Base Camp (6,400 meters).

After a few bites to eat, Chandra (our Sherpa) and I set off with our spirits high and our Camelbaks (and bodies) frozen solid. Walking through the seracs in the vein between Interim Camp and the moraine leading to ABC was a welcomed change in scenery.  The route from Base Camp to Interim Camp puts you behind Changtse and a host of other lesser peaks, which ultimately block your view of Mount Everest, so, by this point, we hadn’t seen Her for three days.  In fact, about the only thing we saw during this period were rocks, dirt, an army of Tibetan yak men looking for free food and tea, the yaks themselves and the respective pies they would bake and deliver with regularity.  I saw so much yak shit, that when I did sleep, I would dream of yak shit zombies chasing me all around the Himalayas causing me to wake up gasping for air (the zombies were gone, but the smell wasn’t).

We switched-back up to the top of the moraine while trying to find a rhythm.  Typically, in the high altitude, the worst part of an ascent is the beginning when you haven’t found your rhythm; you are out of breath within minutes and questioning how you could possibly sustain another ten hours of this movement.  For me to get my rhythm, I would look down, start singing a song in my head and watch my feet taking deliberate and conscious steps forward.  It only takes me about five-to-ten minutes to find my rhythm: each body part moving in perfect harmony with all the others; my breathe following and eventually settling in at a rate just slightly above resting.

I had just hit this stride when I looked up and immediately lost my breath again when I saw this:

 

North Face of Mount Everest – just outside Interim Camp

Then I looked left and saw this:

An apartment building-sized, shark-fin serac on the way up to ABC

Have you ever been in an old church or basilica that was just so impressive you knew that you were in the presence of something Greater?   Well, I haven’t.  As incredible and amazing as the Sistine Chapel is, in the end it is always something that was built by men (albeit extremely talented men) as an expression of their devotion to something or someone bigger than themselves.   Through observation, man can collectively learn and understand “how” this world works, but the “why” is the Big Mystery.  Looking up at the most massive and brooding mountain in the world made my place in it feel beyond insignificant in the grand scheme of things…and it was absolutely terrifying.

The shark-fin pinnacle you see above is fairly unique to Mount Everest.  Due to the warm, day-time temperatures caused by the air in the high Tibetan desert, these apartment-sized seracs melt during the day before the sun drops.  Amazingly, even though these seracs are traveling downhill and would normally point that way, these seracs are all pointed uphill, towards Mount Everest.  The mountain’s mass is so large that it actually pulls some of the objects around it towards itself.  Walking up the moraine, you are passing through tens of thousands of seracs that are all bowing towards Her in reverence.

 

Almost-frozen toes, yak pies and the uncooked chicken at the tea house were all small prices to pay to stand where I was standing at that moment.  All the suffering, the doubts and the discomfort converted to a deep-burn in my soul fuel a euphoria that cannot be matched by anything.

After regaining our composure, Chandra and I began the long slog up to Advanced Base Camp.

Guide Promotion: Free Setup and Best Practices Training ($300 value) – Until July 31st Only!

Guides are the engines that run the adventure travel and outdoor industry.  Being able to share your passion with willing customers and enthusiasts make guiding incredibly rewarding, but it also brings business and professional challenges with it.

PathWrangler is an industry-first web application that empowers guides interact with the clients and run their business better than ever before.  The trips you run can now look like this:

Why Guides Love PathWrangler

Let’s let one of our clients, guide and owner of Inner Passage, Matt Walker, talk about how PathWrangler is making a difference for his company:

“When a guest registers for an Inner Passage adventure we begin an exchange of emails containing word docs, pdfs, and logistical details. I have always wanted to support our guests with a centralized place that they can refer to the necessary information, purchase equipment needed for their trip, and interact directly with Inner Passage staff for support. I am thrilled that PathWrangler will be an aspect of all of our programs from March 2012 forward – it will be a central point of interaction between Inner Passage and our guests following their enrollment in an adventure….not only do they share our vision for bringing adventure into the forefront of our lives, but their product integrates a seamless design that decreases some of the barriers that we all encounter while planning and putting together an adventure. I can think of no better solution!”

Here is what PathWrangler empowers guides to:

  • Save time with preconfigured trip templates for simple trip creation
  • Improve service to clients with intuitive & interactive collaboration tools
  • Maximize efficiency through unified & single point communication
  • Increase customization & tailored trips capability
  • Retain & Attract new customers/members
  • Competitive Advantage vs competitors who run trips using flat files & generic project management tools
  • Expand capacity with less time spent in the office, more time with your clients/members on trips

It can work for you whether you are an independent guide with your own business or if you are employed by a larger company.

This month, PathWrangler is offering guides free setup along with best practices training ($300 value) with any paid account subscription.  Contact us at support@pathwrangler.com to get started today.

New Release! Tell Your Story…

New Release! Tell Your Story…

Earlier this year, PathWrangler brought you and industry first: a web-based platform that empowers you to easily create adventure trips and then collaborate with others on them.  Since then, we’ve also added Google Maps and photo sharing to your locations so you can visualize your planned trips.  We’ve not only made trip planning easier, we’ve made it much more fun and insightful.

Seeing our users build amazing trips, we’ve now created a way for you to share your individual stories with each other after your trip is over.  PathWrangler now takes you beyond trip planning and into memorializing your trips, so your personal experiences are enhanced beyond your wildest imagination.  Not only do we help you to build memories, we give you a way to tell them better.

Here are a couple of highlights on how we’ve made telling your story beneficial to you:

  • Individual Stories within Elements: tell your stories when and where they happened.  Your Itinerary isn’t just a guide for managing your trip, it is the common story for the group.  Using the Itinerary, you can now tell your individual stories and view the stories of those you traveled wiith in one place.
  • Photosharing: part of your story isn’t just the words, but the visuals.  You can upload your pictures when and where they occurred.  You can view the photos shared by others there, too.
  • Privacy Settings: you decide who can see your stories.  Some of your stories will be very personal, so you can write private stories only visable to you.  You can make others visable to just to those who you traveled with.  Trip Organizers have a way to collect information about how the trip was run just with each other.

Your story, when and where it happened.

See stories from those on the trip with your’s.

Load your photos when and where they happened and share with your fellow travelers. 

Who is Find This Useful

  • Travelers & Outdoor Enthusiasts love this because they now have a way to store their personal experiences in a way that is not only easy, but in a way that simple travel journals can never capture.  They can share these moments with those they traveled with or others.
  • Tour Operators, Guides, Outdoor Clubs and Expedition Leaders – love this as a way to collect and share information about how a trip went, as well as getting testimonials from those they organized the trip for.  This helps to run better trips in the future and keep their clients and members to stay connected and engaged intimately with them after the trip is over.

Start Telling Your Stories (Getting Started)

  • If you have an existing trip that has already been completed, simply head over, memorialize the trip and start writing your stories and sharing your pictures.
  • You can also create trips you’ve done in past by building a trip from scratch, memorializing it and then tell your stories.  Don’t forget to invite those who went on the trip with you!

Head on over and start tell your stories today.  If you’d like to know more about getting started with PathWrangler, but would like to speak with someone first, please contact us directly at info@pathwrangler.com.  We’d love to help you to build and share your memories easier and better than ever before!