The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Archive for the month “May, 2009”

hiking in Point Reyes seashore

Well, I am out in CA taking a bit of a break. I’ve been hiking in the Point Reyes National Seashore-great place to hike. I was fearing the crowds this weekend but the trails were very mellow, and the weather was perfect. Hiked up to Mt Wittenberg (ca 1400 feet) yesterday, the highest point in the park. It is a good climb up and I  walked at a really good pace to get a workout in. It was great, well worth it, except that the guidebooks describe a great view from the top :-(. But all I got was the USGS datum point, below, and zero views!! Looks like some new trees have been placed at the summit, blocking all views to the shoreline. Ah well 🙂 Got a good walk in, and had a nice lunch at Point Reyes Station which, these days, has been yuppified some. Some very nice cafes there. Tomorrow I am going on a coastal ride, from Palo Alto out over the Santa Cruz mountains to the coast and back.

Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes Station

My Wittenberg summit!

Mt Wittenberg summit!


The Himalayan season

This season in the Himalaya seems to be remarkable in so many ways. ExWeb is reporting today that Korean mountaineer Park Yeoung-Seouk has successfully completed a difficult and technical new route up the SW face of Everest. On Kangchenjunga, Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban whom I mentioned in a prior post has successfully summited but had to be airlifted out of basecamp suffering from severe frostbite. Wishing her very speedy recovery. A Kazakh climber, Denis Urubko, has completed the 14 8000 ers; English adventurer Ranulph Fiennes, the man who once ran 7 marathons in 7 days on all 7 continents (are you kidding me?)  made the Everest summit successfully at 65, Apa Sherpa has now climbed Everest 19 times (!) and lots more stories. I am out of breath just thinking of the activity. There’ve been some tragedies too, all well chronicled over at ExWeb. Dave Hahn of the FirstAscent team has a lovely post on his lonely climb through the Khumbu Icefall-poetry. The range of reasons and motivations for climbing big mountains seems to span the entire range of human emotions and frailties. One reason why this sport is amazing to me. And making me feel lazy-got to go do some climbing……

Ed Viesturs talks about using o’s on the ascent

There have lots of comments on seeing Ed Viesturs with an oxygen mask on while he summited. He is of course famous for climbing all 14 8000er’s without supplemental oxygen. You can see photos, great ones, over on the Firstacsent blog. But he is also famous for being cautious and a thinking man’s mountaineer. Ed explains why he decided to use O’s on his way up from the south summit in the latest Firstascent video. Sure makes good sense, given the cold and the crowds, although I doubt anyone would even question it.

The view from the top of the world

I guess the Firstascent team had technical problems yesterday with posting video. I notice several new ones; here’s the latest. Very nice.

They have also posted some great photos of the summit, a great one approaching the Hillary step shows how crowded the mountain was. More of the Firstascent team on their way up now as Ed Viesturs and Co. make their way down.

The Giro update

Meanwhile there is a pretty good bike race happening in Italy. The leader, Danilo di Luca took stage 10  today, an epic 262 km with three categorized mountain climbs! Eddy Merckx, winner of 5 Giros (the man still amazes me) is favoring Levi Leipheimer, currently @1:40, for the overall victory. Lance is hangin’ tough in 18th.

Nice update at Velonews.

Ed Viesturs reports on arrival back to camp 4

And also notes the crowded mountain on the ascent and descent.

Listen here at

Summit !

Looks like most of the first wave of the FirstAscent team has now summited. Very nice! For Ed Viesturs, that’s number 7!  It’s not easy to compare this athletic feat with other kinds of performance, other than to say this is phenomenal and a major accomplishment. The overused word awesome applies here. And apparently (this according to great reporting from Alan Arnette) these guys went up and down in superb time. So impressive, especially when you consider the crowds reported. (See next post). Congratulations to all-something over 30 already on top, and more to come in the next day or two.

…and now above the Hillary step and near the top

Sorry, I was meaning to go to bed, but I am glued to the news. FirstAscent very near, and I guess a whole lot of other people too. Lots of folks summiting this morning as I write this.

These climbers deserve a bit more press; they are making it seem easy, but there are great athletes at work here

Ed Viesturs explains the last bit of the climb; a piece of cake 😉

You can see how daunting the ridge is to the Hillary step on the Firstascent blog.

First Ascent at the south summit

Most of the first team at the south summit at 6:30 AM local time; Ed Viesturs a bit behind. A bit crowded up there; hopeful for some more shots coming

“A good night to go for a walk to the top of the world”

Now that’s a good quote. Not sure if that was Peter Whittaker or someone else from the team. But it was good. First ascent team departs….11 PM local time. This just posted. is reporting that the Kanagawa University team from Japan has summited two climbers today: Yasunori Tanaka, age 57 and Kenta Miyamori, 28 at 10:45 AM local time. Congratulations!

Head on over to Alan Arnette’s 2009 Everest site for continual updates from here on in. The thought of putting 100 people on top of Everest in a day is astounding, to me anyway.

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