Skip to Content

Summer in the USA

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition

Guiding outside of the USA seems to be my standard work, and over the past 6 years, I’ve spent anywhere from 5-9 months of each year outside of the States. With so little time here, it has been easy to forget how incredible the diverse climbing and mountaineering terrain here in America actually is. Well, since returning from our season in Peru, I’ve had an excellent reminder. A variety of Alpenglow climbers and friends (Kim, Joe, Larry, Aaron, Zac and others) have accompanied me over the past month, and we have had a fantastic time. Here are a few highlights and photos.

After 48 hours at home from Peru (just enough time tom do laundry!) we made a whirlwind trip to the Tetons to scout a route on the Grand Teton. Despite low clouds and lots of wind we summited, and even spent a few hours on the way down helping out with a rescue of an injured climber. From there, I met Kim for a week of climbing on the Front Range. We began by climbing at Lumpy Ridge, stellar granite domes with routes of up to 8 pitches. We then headed into the famed Cathedral Spires, and successfully summited the South Face of the Petit Grepon. This route is deservedly one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America, and ends on a tiny summit affectionately named the “flying carpet” (it is only 8 feet by 20 feet in size). After saying goodbye to Kim I headed to the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. While the excuse was meeting with, and representing, Alpenglow sponsors – CAMP, Edelrid, Kaenon, and Himaya – a couple of good friends made sure I got lots of pitches in as well (thanks AZ and Zac!). The highlight had to be the granite walls of Lone Peak, 5,000 brutal feet above Salt Lake and in a completely different world. Then, it was back to the Front Range to attempt the Diamond on Long’s Peak. The Diamond is Colorado’s biggest alpine wall, and it lived up to its reputation. A huge storm had us celebrating Aaron’s birthday under a boulder as our down bags soaked through and we wondered whether lighting “splash” could reach us in the back of our cave. And we didn’t even realize until 3 am that we were the lucky ones. A team had spent the night stranded on a ledge a few pitches up the wall itself. So instead of climbing our planned line, we spent the morning climbing through a raging waterfall and over snow-covered ledges to reach the team and bring them back down to the ground and into the hands of the park’s helpful rangers. Finally it was back to the Tetons, to meet up with east coast climbers Joe and Larry. We actually began our week with a couple of days in the City of Rocks, Idaho. This place definitely ranks as one of my top 3 cragging areas in the USA, and it did not disappoint. We had perfect temps on the stellar granite domes, and finished each day exhausted but satisfied. We then made our push on the Grand Teton, and, in warm temperatures and calm winds, climbed the Complete Exum Ridge. This route begins with 7 pitches of 5.7 climbing on perfect rock, and then climbs another 1,000 feet up the South Ridge on easier terrain (up to 5.4) directly to the true summit of the Grand. With over 7,000 feet of ascent over two days, it is a proud achievement and a must for any American mountaineer!

So next year, help me and some of the other Alpenglow guides stay home in the USA a bit more! Join us for some climbing in one of our fantastic home crags – the Tetons, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Adirondacks, Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, City of Rocks, Colorado 14’ers, or another area you have been dreaming of! With enough advance planning time, we are able to work with our friends and colleagues to arrange permits and logistics to guide in most US climbing destinations!

See you out there.
-Adrian Ballinger

PS- Just to make sure Adrian does not get too used to brewpubs, Starbucks, and living out of his truck, he left again yesterday for Bolivia. Adrian will be joined by a strong climber, Dan, and hopes to climb some of the Cordillera Real’s challenging ice and mixed routes. Check back soon for photos and updates.