Climbing Memories Week 4

As I climb the world to end Alzheimer’s, healing I have taken thousands of photographs. I am posting many on Facebook over the next few months and will do a weekly summary post here on my site. I hope you enjoy them.

Karakoram Porters

Previously I posted a series of pictures of the porters in the Khumbu in Nepal so I though today I would add a few for the porters in the Karakoram.

Trekking to K2 Base camp is like taking a page out of a national expedition a century ago – hundreds of porters, walking a straight line along well worn trails only seen to them.

I noted my trek to summit K2 in 2014 this way:

“Yesterday, check I felt good and found myself in a swift pace and soon was separated from the team. A recent collapse of an ice wall on the Baltoro had forced a new route so instead of the normal six hours, we were looking at eight or more to reach Urdukas.

I approached the terminal moraine of the Baltoro and once again was impressed by the immense size of the rock wall and debris. Making steady progress higher, I soon was traversing the moraine proper following a faint trail of rocks and dirt, looking for anything not in nature’s random order.

I forced a steady pace with my mind switching between the trance that comes with trekking and the focus required not to twist an ankle on the loose rocks.

I followed an ever-present group of porters ferrying our team’s and other’s gear to the base camps of four of the 14 highest peaks on earth. They moved swiftly, with grace, not seeming to look for loose rocks, it was almost as if they floated.

Soon I found myself moving along with them, at their pace. In one short segment, I stopped looking at the rocks and focused on the moment. I was second behind a porter with a wooden frame holding a large blue plastic barrel, probably carrying food.

Behind me were four more porters. We moved in unison, almost touching; a fluid motion that was even, steady, poetic. Skipping from boulder to trail, from dirt to ice it was if we were one moving together, in one another’s footprint.

I was lost in the moment, not thinking about my pace, my breathing, my steps anything other than moving forward. I too was floating.

Then the lead porter suddenly stopped. He sat heavily on a large rock, resting his load against the stone. The others followed suit. I returned to reality and kept moving albeit at my own pace, once again looking at the trail, minding my steps. I was no longer floating.

As I navigated the Baltoro, I found myself alone, a bit lost in the rocky ruble, looking for signs, a hint, of which way to go. Then I would hear a whistle, a clear “Hello.” Looking around, a porter would point towards my interim milestone. I raised my hand in simple gratitude.

For 8 hours, this continued. I never felt alone, I always felt safe and every smile was retuned with a larger one.”

You can read more about my K2 climb at this link:

Porters in the Karakoram. Carrying gear to K2 Base Camp.


Porters in the Karakoram. Carrying gear to K2 Base Camp. Porters in the Karakoram. Carrying gear to K2 Base Camp. Porters in the Karakoram. Carrying gear to K2 Base Camp.










For a mountain I had no strong interest in, I’ve summited Aconcagua three times on three attempts.

Of all the climbs I’ve completed, the Stone Sentential is, umm, a big rock. One climb I never touched snow.

AND I have never been colder on any mountain than on Aconcagua. Colder than Antartica, Denali, Everest or K2. The winds near the summit are ferocious – strong, brutal and bone chilling – locally known as the viente blanco.

Perhaps the part of an Aconcagua climb is visiting Mendoza. A vibrant city alive with culture, food and wine.

At 22,837’/6960m it’s the highest peak outside the Himalaya. Paraphrasing that trite line, “It’s the altitude, stupid!” ? The trek in is straightforward and as you go higher the views become amazing.

I climbed it once out of boredom but twice as prep for Everest. Nothing prepares you for climbing like climbing.

You can read more about my Aconcagua climb at this link:

Aconcagua Climber


The third highest peak in North America, after Denali and Logan, Orizaba is a great test for anyone wanting to see how they perform at almost 19,000 feet. I climbed it in 2008 with good friends and noted it this way:

“After three hours on the Jampa Glacier and five since we left High Camp, we reached the crater edge. Just in time to see the sun peek above the eastern horizon. It was a spectacular site! We took some pictures and enjoyed watching the shadow of Orizaba develop on the western plains of the Mexican plains. Also an amazing site!

The true summit was just a few minutes higher so we made the short trek higher only to be belted by high winds. The summit metal cross had been crushed by the winds and was in a heap. The caldera of the volcano was one for the most impressive site I have ever seen on a mountain summit.

It was deep with tall jagged walls. There was a small emerald lake on the floor. With the soft light of the morning light, it was an inspirational sight.”

For anyone looking for an inexpensive climb at medium altitude, Orizaba is a great choice.

You can read more about my Orizaba climb at this link:

Dawn shadow of Orizaba at 18,880/5754'


The summit volcano crater of Orizaba at 18,880/5754' Nearing the summit of Orizaba at 18,880/5754' The summit volcano crater of Orizaba at 18,880/5754'








Ida Arnette

This post is a bit different from the ones over the past three weeks, It is the reason behind my climbs – Ida Arnette:

The taxi from the airport stopped in front of the house where I grew up. I felt strange, uncomfortable arriving home this way. Last Christmas, Mom and Dad picked me up at the airport.

As I walked across the front yard, Mom opened the door. “Hello! Come on in.” She said with her Memphis accent in full bloom. She looked tired to me, and her hair was not perfect.

I put my bag down in the hallway and immediately went into the family room – you know, the one with comfortable chairs, couch, TV. Mom sat in ‘her’ chair, I sat on the couch. The air conditioning running at full speed this August evening.

Dad, her husband of over 50 years, my father, was a few miles away in the critical care unit of the hospital. His 88 year-old body was finally failing.

“So, what’s new?” Mom asked in a chipper voice. “Oh, you know, the usual, work, travel, work.” I answered, looking at her carefully.

“Mom, did you talk to Dad today?” I asked. “Well, no I don’t think so. Where is he anyway?”

At that moment, my heart stopped. My mind raced to understand what I was hearing, what I was seeing.

In the blink of an eye, my world had changed. My mother was gone and I would never get her back.






Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, is an extremely popular trek/climb. It sees over 25,000 people each year. Most of the routes are straight-forward but with the summit at 19,340’/5896m, the altitude is what creates the largest challenge.

Made famous in Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, seeing the summit glaciers is a real .

In 2002, climatologist predicted that the summit glaciers would completely disappear between 2015 and 2020, thanks to climate change. To ward off that tourism disaster, in 2006, Tanzania imposed a total ban on tree harvesting and did a massive tree planting program in Kilimanjaro region.

The trees absorb moisture from the low clouds hovering near the peak, and in turn nourish the plants plus help the glaciers maintain their volume. Today, climatologist are more hopeful abut the life of the glaciers.

Personally, I’m glad I saw them in 2011 and wish them a long life!

You can read more about my Kilimanjaro climb at this link:





I have so many great pictures of my 2014 summit of K2 that it’s hard to choose. But I selected this one, taken by Garrett Madison who is currently on the summit push of a first ascent in Nepal.

This is Kami Rita Sherpa and I climbing below Camp 2, around 22,000′.

I never had so much fun on an 8000 meter peak!

You can read more about my Kilimanjaro climb at this link:



Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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3 thoughts on “Climbing Memories Week 4

  1. That’s a lovely picture of your Mom. Did you grow up in Memphis? I live nearby, and can’t help wondering how a flatlander came to be a mountain climber.

    1. I have to thank my parents for taking my brother and I on summer vacations and one time to Estes Park Colorado where I studied at Longs Peak for hours on end. And to my time as a Boy Scout where I loved camping. Finally to a few years living in Geneva Switzerland where I finally understood it is work AND life and climbed Mont Blanc.

      My trek to Everest Base Camp in 1997 set my climbing passion in motion and I never looked back

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