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Rungofarka: An Alpine Style First Peak Ascent

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In the autumn of 2017, Alan Rousseau and Tino Villanueva climbed the North Ridge of Rungofarka (6495 meters) for the peak's first ascent.  I (Tino) made this movie about that expedition to Northern India's Jammu and Kashmir region.  I am a mountain guide by profession, pseudo-pro climber, enthusiast cameraman and amateur cinematographer/editor.  In the making of this movie, I fulfilled most all of those roles.  Click in for the video:

Rungofarka Teaser

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From September 30-October 4, 2017, Alan Rousseau and I made the first ascent of Rungofarka, a 6495m peak in Jammu and Kashmir, India. Click into the article for short video from that expedition.

A Climb and Ski of the Tusk, Chugach AK

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In 2013, Ryan Murray and I climbed and skied the Tusk, one of a handful of the biggest ski lines in the Chugach known as the "Big 5."  Freeskier magazine wrote an article about these trophy lines but, unfortunately, the photo links are currently broken.  Here is a link to the archived article.

That year the Chugach had experienced a particularly vicious wind event and most of the skiing was in rough condition.  We had been puttering around Valdez, wondering what we could do.  One day we tried to ride our sleds into the Valley of the Tusk - it turned out to be pretty easy and the snow in the valley was really great powder.  We hatched a plan to return the next day to climb and ski the Tusk.

As it goes, the next day our ride in was not so easy.  Both Ryan and I rolled our sleds and crashed them into brush; it was not going smoothly.  To make matters worse, clouds were supposed to arrive that day and were threatening flat light conditions - not ideal for skiing a very steep mo…

The Prize

After snow machining to the base of this line, and eyeing it for years while guiding with Points North Heli Adventures, I finally managed to make skiing this dream a reality. While guiding the film crew for Warren Miller Entertainment's: Here, There & Everywhere, Ryland Bell and I got to shred this gem. Click the link to watch the video.

Rolwaling 2014 Video Part 3/3: Tengi Ragi Tau

After a month of waiting for a weather window to climb 6938m Tengi Ragi Tau without raging winds, a possible window opened.  Climbing 5000 ft up the 6000 ft face led us to a second bivy.  Unfortunately, with debris constantly falling down the still wind hammered face, the poor bivy was deemed unsafe to spend the night.  Alan was then immediately hit by ice as we began the descent.




Rolwaling 2014 Video Part 2/3: Camp Life

During the fall of 2014 Alan and I climbed 9000 ft of previously unclimbed technical terrain over 6600m, summiting one peak and getting very high on the other, in the Rolwaling Himalaya of Nepal.  Playing the waiting game is part of alpine climbing - that doesn't mean we are good at it:




Rolwaling 2014 Video Part 1/3: Rejected

During the fall of 2014 Alan and I climbed 9000 ft of previously unclimbed technical terrain over 6600m, summiting one peak and getting very high on the other, in the Rolwaling Himalaya of Nepal.  Here is an early attempt on Tengi Ragi Tau (6943m):




Layering for Mountain Travel

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Much has been said and written about the importance of clothing in outdoor pursuits.There is an old Scandinavian saying that goes, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”And while I have been in some truly shit weather and don't quite agree with the statement, I believe the sentiment rings true.Traveling the world extensively over the years, both as a climber and a mountain guide, I have seen how clothing selection can make or break a trip in remote, inhospitable environs.

Snow Leopard

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The Snow Leopard Award
The snow leopard is an elusive animal from which the name of a coveted mountaineering award was adopted.  The Snow Leopard Award originated as a Soviet Mountaineering Award, which was given to alpinists who summited the five Snow Leopard peaks.  These are some BIG mountains contained in a few countries of which you may not even know their exact geographic location.  Tian Shan, Pamir, the Snow Leopard peaks are in these mountain ranges, amongst the highest and wildest on Earth.  If you are into climbing mountains and big adventure, these mountains are probably for you.

Success on Lenin in 2015

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I had the opportunity to lead a Mountain Madness expedition last August, as we staged our second trip to Pik Lenin, in the Pamir Range of Kyrgyzstan.  Where exactly is that, you ask?  Well, that's the first thing you will notice when going to a place like Kyrgyzstan; nobody knows where it is.  Heck, I didn't know exactly where it was before doing the research prior to my first trip over there.  Kyrgyzstan is situated in a mountain rich zone with the Pamir Mountains, known as "the Roof of the World," forming a junction between the Himalaya and Karakoram with the Tian Shan.  Sharing borders with Tajikistan, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Xinjiang (China), Kyrgyzstan is truly an untamed land and tends not to be a very popular place to visit - especially given it's location in the "-stans." Pakistan and Afghanistan are only one country away and I think many people assume it is a dangerous place to travel.  However, I have always found Kyrgyzstan safe, yet wild …

Rolwaling Himalaya, Nepal 2014

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During the fall of 2014 Alan and I climbed 9000 ft of previously unclimbed technical terrain over 6600m, summiting one peak and getting very high on the other, in the Rolwaling Himalaya of Nepal.  Here is a little taste of the experience:

Dispatches from the Rolwaling: High on Tengi Ragi Tau

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Alan and I have returned from an attempt on 6938m Tengi Ragi Tau. High winds had delayed our efforts and we were not without wind on this climb. Spending two nights on the 1600m West Face, we were stopped 400m short of the summit due to a lack of safe bivy options and increasingly insecure conditions. However, for Alan and I, we believe this was some of the proudest alpine climbing we have done: 5000 feet of previously unexplored terrain, steep, sustained and difficult climbing at altitude.

Dispatches from the Rolwaling: The Waiting Game

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Since our first send on Pachermo, Alan and I have been scoping 6938m Tengi Ragi Tau's West Face. We have done a couple of recon climbs around the base and found overall favorable climbing conditions.  The problem has been the wind.  As happens in the Nepali Himalaya this time of year, the jetstream begins to descend on the mountains and the winds rip.  The clock starts ticking and eventually the winds are here to stay.



Dispatches from the Rolwaling: Ascent of Pachermo via the West Face

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After two weeks of flights, jeeps and trekking, Alan and I have established ourselves in a base camp at the head of the Rolwaling Valley on the Drolambao Glacier at nearly 18,000 ft.  Above our camp we are surrounded by iconic peaks, many of which have only been climbed once, if ever: Takargo, Langmoche Ri (which Alan and I made the first peak ascent of in 2012) and of course, Tengi Ragi Tau.

To start the expedition off right, we decided to attempt the West Face of Pachermo (~20,590 ft), an enticing wall of rock, ice and snow rising 3,000 ft directly above camp. Pachermo is a classified as a trekking peak and many groups traveling from the Rolwaling to the Khumbu climb it's North Ridge. We knew little about the West Face or whether it had been climbed, only that it looked cool.



Nepal 2014: The Head of the Rolwaling Valley, Tengi Ragi Tau and Exploratory Alpinism

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Two years after our first trip to the Himalaya, Alan and I have returned for another round of testing ourselves against the world's biggest mountains and soaking up the amazing culture that comes with climbing in Nepal.  We busily made our final preparations in Kathmandu and, as of the time you are reading this, are well into our six week off-the-grid expedition.


Pik Lenin: Exploring a Country with a Window into the Past (Part 2)

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Driving away from Osh, it was clear that we were far from home. A constant line of trucks carting coal for power and heat passed us going the opposite direction, bound for the city. Occasionally, a truck would have a slaughtered animal, bleeding and tied to the roof, in addition to it's other cargo.


Pik Lenin: Exploring a Country with a Window into the Past (Part 1)

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In the Fall of 2013, Mountain Madness was coming up on it's 30 anniversary.  We wanted to do something symbolic of the company's legacy and tradition.  We wanted to do a unique expedition on a big mountain in a remote location.  A true adventure.


First glimpse of the mountains from Osh

A New Mountain Education

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As a mountain guide and alpinist, I pride myself on being able to travel through the mountains on all different types of terrain. The mountains demand a versatile wayfarer, one who is skilled in moving over rock, snow, ice, whatever obstacle presents itself. Enter the snowmobile...click the link for the full story.



Reflections on Adventures Past

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As I look forward to a big year of traveling all over the globe, I have been sorting through journals and photos of past journeys.  I have had the good fortune to travel many places over the years, and though sometimes I feel detached from home, family and friends, I am always amazed at the hospitality of the people I encounter and grateful for the friendships strengthened by the crucible of alpine climbing and the brotherhood of the rope.  There are few things in this world that I value more than sharing time in the mountains.


Skiing the Mighty Pontoon: A Short Movie

In the Spring of 2012, Ryan Murray, Pete Lowney and myself climbed and skied the coveted Pontoon Peak in the Chugach of Alaska. Unbeknownst to us, we were the first to climb the peak before skiing it; all other descents having started from a helicopter. Ryan and I met Pete on a glacier while snow-machining into the Deserted Glacier.  Pete offered to show us the way and we ended up following him to the best ski run of our lives:


Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Climbing Award 2014: Back to Nepal

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Alan and I have received news we have been chosen as one of the teams awarded the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Climbing Award for 2014.  It is an honor.  Read more...





















Approaching Tengi Ragi Tau and Langmoche Ri in 2012


Chugach, AK 2013: Skiing the Tusk and Woodworth

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In 2013 Ryan Murray and I returned to Alaska, driving over 2000 miles with snow machines in tow.  The drive did not go smoothly - at one point the wheels literally flew off the trailer (well, one wheel anyway).

Though we had paid the price of entrance in vehicle karma, this Alaska season was not coming together.  Each storm cycle would blanket the mountains in beautiful powder and, immediately following, outflow wind would blow it all away.  Regardless, we managed to explore the Chugach further than I had ever seen in a helicopter, via snowmobile.  Along the way we climbed and skied the Tusk (our second of the Chugach Big 5) and a potential first descent on a tall peak at the head of the Woodworth Glacier.





First Ascents in Rolwaling Valley, Nepal

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In October 2012, Alan Rousseau, Matt Barela and I departed for an expedition to the Rolwaling region of Nepal. 

During our 45 days in country, we accomplished the first ascent of Langmoche Ri (6611m), climbed 1000 ft. of new terrain on Peak 5766, and established 5 multi-pitch waterfall ice routes in the Rolwaling and Yalung Valleys at grades up to WI5+ M6.  We sent.

Special thanks to Helly Hansen for outfitting our trip.  My favorite item: the Odin Hooded Belay Jacket.  Check out my gear review.

Drop in for a short photo essay on our trip.




First Ski Mountaineering Ascent/Descent of Pontoon Peak

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In April 2012, Ryan Murray, "Alaska Pete" Lowney and myself were the first to climb and ski the highly sought Pontoon Peak.After warming up in a zone know as "The Books," which contains more ramps than a grandmother's retirement home, Ryan and I met Pete on a glacier during the snow machine ride into the Deserted Glacier.Pete offered his local knowledge to lead us through the labyrinth of glaciers to Alaskan ecstasy.

After a 35-mile sled ride, from which not all of the sleds would return unscathed, we set up camp below Pontoon.A climb that we thought would take 8 hours, 10 if we were going really slow, dragged on to 12 hours of swimming and fighting up though 70 degree snow. What followed was the best ski descent of my life.Take a look...




First Ascent on Half Moon Spire, Washington Pass

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During the summer of 2012, before heading to Nepal, Alan Rousseau and I got together for a little training mission.  We had decided that before going to attempt new routes in another country, at high altitudes, on the biggest mountains on earth, we should try some new routing closer to home.  Many people, myself included, have a sense that the Cascades are largely climbed out.  However, on this day I discovered the truth is quite the opposite.


Half Moon Spire from the Washington Pass Hairpin.  Number 1 marks our route.