George Dunn's Year 2000 Expeditions
The year 2000 truly was momentous as I pause to reflect on it. I had the chance to participate in some fabulous climbs with old friends and the opportunity to forge many new friendships in the mountains. It doesn't get any better than that! It is especially gratifying to see the programs I have been working on for over 25 years continue to grow and increase in popularity.
Highlights from the year 2000 include ushering the new millennium in from high on Mt. Rainier; returning to Ouray, Colorado for my annual winter ice climbing seminars; a successful spring on Mt. Whitney; revisiting Mt. Everest after a break of 10 years; and spending some quality time with friends on Mt. Rainier doing challenging alpine routes.
I couldn't attempt to list each of the small, private trips I organized and led in 2000, nor the great times we enjoyed. However, following are some of the areas I visited and the events that transpired.
Ouray, Colorado Ice Climbing Seminars
My ice climbing seminars in Ouray, Colorado have been popular from the very beginning. The Ouray Ice Park provides the most dependable high quality ice climbing in the lower 48 states. It doesn't hurt that it is about a 5-minute walk from the door of our hotel as well. The weather is usually clear and sunny and the temperature is not too cold. What more do you want for an exciting winter getaway? In addition, I am one of the few permit holders for specific areas in the neighboring Forest Service land that hold additional climbing opportunities. On most of our programs we tune up in the Ice Park and then visit some of the nearby areas for one or more days of the program. These programs are tailored to all ability levels from first time climbers to repeat veterans. I can no longer lead every one of the seminars myself, but I go on several each year. Luckily, I have the best possible staff of veteran guides available. My Ouray guides include Jeff Ward, Jake Norton, Chris Booher, John Race and Mark Cionek.
Many thanks to all of the participants of the Ouray courses in 2000:
Jeff Barefoot, Doug Peterman, Clif Cassidy, Tim Crippen, Keith Cummiskey, Dan Cummiskey, Paul Later, Len Shulman, Iqbal Garcha, Perry Julien, Pat Luke, Michael McBee, Guy Orangio, Steve Bomar, Alan Dale, Gregory Fowler, Bruce Gierszal, Jeff Johnson, Gordon Reiter, Monica Rimai, Bill Gibson, Tim Barber, Suman Malempati, Melanie De Silva, Richard Hinkel, Justin Quigley, Rod Jessen, Cole Hanley, Marvin Beck and Craig Silverton.
George Dunn and IMG guide in specific areas surrounding the town of Ouray located on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.
Mt. Whitney, California
What started out as a one-time visit to Mt. Whitney in 1996 has turned into a multi-climb visit in the spring of each year. I love to do Whitney as a snow climb via the Mountaineer's Route on the east face. This route provides a little bit of everything: a two day snowshoe approach, a reasonable summit day from high camp at 12,000 feet; some practice on steeper snow slopes of 30 to 40 degrees; and a final summit headwall with an introduction to using mechanical ascenders on a fixed rope. This is a fun way to climb the mountain at an uncrowded time of year, and great training for bigger climbs like Denali.
I contract this program with friend and fellow RMI guide Kurt Wedberg who guides on Whitney under permit with the Inyo National Forest. Unfortunately, I had to miss Whitney this year due to my participation in the Everest Trek, but Kurt and our regular team of guides including Chris Booher and Brenda Walsh did a super job. For the first time ever, one of our climbs failed to summit this year due to a snowstorm, but our record remains outstanding. I am looking forward to returning in 2001.
Many thanks to all of the participants:
- March 31-April 3
Mary Miller, Mike Gibson, Chris Fragakis, Joseph Murphy, Greg Moe, Dave Morely Jr., Johnathan Morely, Peter Ruman and Martin Teague.
- April 5-8, 2000 Jeff Rollins, Bruce Penn, Brian Gilmore, Christopher Lane and Ralph Quade
- April 10-13, 2000
Jeff Church, John Richey, Gary Bensen, Joe Thrash, Scott Morgan, David Thompson and Michael DuPriest
- April 15-18, 2000
Michael Golay, John Branstetter, David (Tim) Barber, Jay Long, Bill Maat, Suman Malempati, Scott Stout and Tom Wilcox.
Eric talks about the Everest programs in his part of the newsletter, so I won't elaborate. However, I have to mention that I had the best time hiking into Everest Base Camp with the summit team. My four previous expeditions to Everest had all been to the North Side via Tibet so this was my first time to Base Camp from the South Side. We had a superb time and the Sherpa staff was the finest imaginable.
I definitely had mixed emotions about leaving the summit team at Base Camp, but the group I took to Island Peak was lots of fun and we had a most enjoyable climb. I always said this would be a one-time visit to the South side of Everest, but I am already entertaining thoughts of a return. Maybe next time with my family. I can definitely recommend the trek into Everest without reservation! Eric puts together a first rate program.
First Ascent Expedition, Wrangell/St. Elias National Park
I missed climbing in the Wrangells for the first time since about 1987 due to the Everest Trek. Luckily I had some great guides to fill in for me. John Race led a two person private trip to the heart of the range for a first ascent of one of the smaller peaks. Jeff Ward led the regular trip originally slated to climb Mt. Sanford. Due to route conditions and last minute team changes he opted for a climb of neighboring Mt. Drum. Although he didn't summit, he reported high quality climbing and excellent weather.
I am eagerly anticipating a return to the area in 2001. I will be leading an ascent of Mt. Blackburn, the last 16,000 foot peak in the park that I have left to summit. This is a climb similar in difficulty to Liberty Ridge on Rainier, just a little higher and longer. I am also planning on adding a second climb in the area, probably to Mt. Bona. This will be an equal challenge, but the climbing will be more glacier travel and not as technically difficult.
Thanks to the 2000 participants:
- April 25 - March 5 private trip:
Lee Jenkins and Steve Lains
- April 19-30 Mt. Drum:
Monica Rimai and David Whitney
I was in Nepal in the spring and had arranged for a friend of mine from New Zealand, Shaun Norman to lead the Logan expedition this year. Unfortunately, Shaun was involved in a nasty crevasse fall on Mt. Cook and severely broke his leg. We were forced to cancel the climb. The Canadian authorities require that an internationally certified UIAGM guide lead all climbs of the mountain. This year I have arranged for a Swiss/American guide to lead the Logan expedition along with a long time friend of mine, Chas Day. Chas participated in two previous attempts on Logan with me and has been to the East Ridge as well on his own. The climb of Logan is every bit as much as climbing Denali, without the crowds and the mess. This is a great climb for Denali Veterans to aspire to.
Italy and the Dolomites
There is no better place in the world to visit during the months of July and August than the Dolomites of Italy. Beautiful scenery, excellent food and exhilarating climbing opportunities are the norm. This is a perfect trip to bring a spouse along. There are opportunities to hike, sightsee, learn the fundamentals of rock climbing and climb a couple of the classic "Via Ferratta" routes in the Dolomites. No previous technical skill is required, just a sound constitution and a good sense of adventure. Veteran guide Brent Okita leads this trip for IMG. He spent his early childhood in France and Italy and returns each year to lead programs for IMG.
Congratulations to the 2000 Dolomites team:
Cathy Carroll, Jana Hoyer and Julie Pierce
This is absolutely my favorite summer trip. I can no longer afford to lead this program every summer, so I now alternate years with lead guide Brent Okita. Paul Maier and Dave Hahn, make up the complement of highly trained guides for these programs. Brent, Paul and Dave are simply the very best guides you will ever meet.
The summer of 2000 was a cloudy, stormy year in the Alps, but Brent Okita made the best of it and managed to pull off almost all of the regular climbs on the Classic Climbs in the Alps program. The group managed to climb the Jungfrau, the Monch, Mont Blanc and only fell just short of the summit of Monte Rosa.
Rick Burns, Cindy Burns and Ron Houle.
Paul Maier led the Advanced Alps program this year. By mid-August the local guides were still not summiting the Matterhorn, but Paul gave it a valiant effort. The best part of climbing out of Zermatt is the endless opportunities for climbing even in less than optimal weather. Unfortunately, the Matterhorn itself requires good weather and dry conditions for a normal ascent and that was not the case this year.
James Goodman and Richard Terek for a job well done.
I will look forward to my own return to the Alps in 2001. Come join me!
Mt. Rainier in Winter & Spring
I continue to wear several hats as a guide. One of my roles is Director of Winter Programs for Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. I love Mt. Rainier in winter and the superb opportunity for high altitude, cold weather expedition training it provides. The six-day Winter Expedition Seminar is the very best training to be had for Denali, Aconcagua and other high altitude expeditions. We have the chance to study avalanche hazard evaluation, we use avalanche beacons, and work on all of the skills necessary to participate in a major expedition. Sometimes we even get to summit Rainier in the winter, which is a special treat and a real mountaineering adventure. We almost always get high on the mountain, and even when we don't summit, the knowledge gained along the way is invaluable for future climbs.
In early June I always like to take a crack at one or more challenging climbs on Rainier. My all time favorite is Liberty Ridge. This last year we made a successful ascent of the route in excellent conditions. My congratulations to Sean Gallop, Ken Jern, Dan Backer, Tim Ulrich and guide Mark Tucker for a job well done. I plan to attempt Liberty Ridge again June 1-4, 2001. Contact Rainier Mountaineering Inc. for more details.