Saturday, June 9, 2018

The #1 Bestseller that came from this blog!

If you enjoyed this blog you should check out the book it inspired. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Link to my Carstensz Pyramid Blog

Hey Reader-types,
I am headed to New Guinea June 30, 2012 to climb Carstensz Pyramid. Follow along if you like at my Blog

Take care.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Link to my Vinson Massif Blog

Family, Friends, and Readers from far-flung lands; Hello again. I hope you have been well. I hope you eat all of your greens. And I hope you choose to join me in my adventure to Antarctica. Worry not, you may do so from the comfort of your world-wide web portal. Yes indeed, I will be Blogging my thoughts, experiences, and random musings as I prepare for, and during the doing of, my attempt to climb the high summit of Antarctica, Vinson Massif December 1-17, 2010. (Cue the bold symphonic soundtrack!)
You may follow along at
Many thanks!
Dave Mauro

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Richard rides again.

You may have read my Elbrus blog at and followed the account of Richard's summit day difficulties. He has just left for an attempt on Denali, North Americas highest summit. You can follow along at the above address. See you there! -Dave

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coming home

Ty and I never got to say "Goodbye." We became separated while claiming our gear at the Dallas US Customs terminal. I looked for him but soon realized our flight from Santiago had arrived late and I would have to scramble to make my connection to Seattle. I felt a profound sense of sadness as my jet left the ground. We had been through so much together. It didn't seem right to be done without proper closure. I had wanted to thank Ty for being my partner in this adventure. I wanted tell him he was right when he said "some day we are going to be a couple of old guys sitting around telling stories, and this is one of the stories we will tell." I wanted to call him "Brother."

I stepped out onto the tarmac in Bellingham after 29 hours of travel. The timeless catatonia of international flight cleared from my head as the fresh cool air settled on me. I knew Lin would be waiting in baggage claim and the anticipation that had been building slowly over several days suddenly swelled. I found myself jogging.

Lin met me at Seatac when I returned from climbing Kilimanjaro. She was dressed in a leopard print body suit with fuzzy cat ears in her hair. When I returned from Russia's Mt Elbrus she greeted me in the shawled garb of a Babushka. Now, with a red rose clinched in her teeth, Lin struck a dramatic Tango Dancers pose in a room full of confused travelers. The voluptuous black and red dress she wore had been concealed until the appointed moment by a trench coat thusly cast down at her feet. We embraced.

I spent most of the next day sleeping. It was good to be in my own bed and move about in my home, personal space so stark in comparison to the last month that it was at once comfortable and disquieting. Over the preceding weeks my sense of time and perspective had shifted. An hour felt like a day. What use to be a big deal no longer was. I milled about aimlessly for an afternoon before deciding to call my Father in Anacortes, Washington. "Hey, when are you leaving on that mountain climb," he asked. My Father loves me, and would gladly lay down his life for mine. But he is so easily confused that by the time he got around to it he would in fact be sacrificing himself for the next guy in line.
"I just got back," I told him. "Hey, that's a pretty good deal," I added in an attempt to spin positive,"it all worked out and you didn't have to go through the worry." "Yeah," he agreed tentatively. And that was good enough. We talked a bit about the climb, a bit about the dogs he is taking care of for various neighbors. I invited him for Sunday supper.

It would be a full week before I felt my rhythm return, a month before I went back to the gym. The people around me knew what I had been through and expected very little from my day to day performance. "Dave made the coffee?! Hey, well done Dave!" Several times I met up with someone who had read the Blog and seemed interested in talking about my experience. This I welcomed, hoping clarity might come in the telling, the big message of this experience left floating in the bowl before me. But most of the time I just found myself parroting journal entries, feeling it had all been said.

Yet I feel there is something more. In the fullness of time I have come to recognize powerful meaning in each of the prior climbs. It took two years for me to really understand what my experience on Denali was all about. I was mowing the lawn when it came to me out of nowhere. There is a great line in the film Searching for the wrong-eyed Jesus that speaks to this; "Sometimes you got to look away from a problem to see the answer." So, in the mean time, I will wait without waiting, contemplate the indifferent, and busy myself with the pedestrian yard-work that makes up a good and useful life.

I thank you for following along and being a part of this adventure. It is my greatest wish that you found the ride worth taking. There will be another mountain, and I will post the address to that Blog here when I figure out what mountain that is. Until then, be well.

Dave Mauro

Friday, March 12, 2010


Lin would not have to wait until that evening to find out we were alright. Later that same day Sonia sent Lin a text with the news we were then descending from Base Camp.

But Ty and I would wait two restless days in Mendoza before learning the fate of the AAI Team. During that time I thought often about Brian. I recalled a conversation he and I had the night before leaving for the summit of Kilimanjaro.

Brian had shared with me the crooked course of his life, how he had gotten sideways with the law, spending time in prison. After that he had learned some painful lessons about debt and fallen into hard times. The right woman came into his life and together they charted his course to redemption as Brian worked three jobs, including newspaper delivery, and eventually was completely debt free. But the powerful momentum of that success then tempted him to dare for a dream he had held close for a lifetime; to climb Kilimanjaro. Brian told me how they had decided to go back into debt so he could live his dream, then he wondered aloud if it had been the right thing to do. "There ain't nothin' in this world that can't be lost or taken away from you somewhere down the road," I said, "but to know you stood on top of all of Africa... THAT is something you will have the rest of your life!"
Brian smiled timidly. "Yeah, I guess you're right," he agreed, and the look in his eyes suggested such a moment was playing out, as it no doubt had many times before, in his mind. He rolled over and drifted into a noisy slumber.

We were staying at the Mendoza Hyatt, the hotel typically used by Aconcagua expeditions. I kept thinking, hoping, we would see the AAI Team schlump into the lobby with a mountain of filthy gear. Tired and torn down, they would have summitted or not, but in any case be safely down the hill. Two days came and went with no sign of them. On the third day I checked the American Alpine Institute website and found a short dispatch entered late the night before.

Aidan called at 2:28pm Pacific Time (7:28pm Argentine time) with this dispatch:

"Hey — I've got to talk quick before we lose reception, but I just wanted to tell you that today at 2:10pm Tony, Brian, Scott, and I reached the summit of Aconcagua. The weather was beautiful — if anything, it was a little too warm. We rested at the summit enjoying the great views, and then began our descent at 2:30. We arrived back at high camp around 5:00 in a light snow squall. Everyone is feeling great. Tomorrow we'll descend to Plaza de Mulas, and the next day we should be heading out to Penitente. Okay — gotta run. Talk to you soon."

They had done it. I raced from the hotel business center up to our room to share the news with Ty. He was reclined in bed watching the Australian Open in Spanish. Roger Federer was making quick work of an opponent and though Ty had been up watching tennis since 3 a.m. no fatigue could dampen the glow that came from seeing his hero dismantle what would otherwise be worthy talent. I waited for a break in the action then told Ty the AAI Team had summitted. He was thrilled. I was thrilled. We were both relieved.

We spent the next few days touring wineries, laying by the pool, and taking in the late night carnival-like scene in the park across the street. Then, as we stood in the long line to check in for our flight to Santiago, I noticed familiar faces ahead of us. Brian looked as though he had lost about 30 pounds in course of the climb. The other team members had likewise leaned out, but all seemed well and in very high spirits. There was much exchanging of congratulations, handshakes, and slaps on the back. We were and would always be a Fraternity of sorts, a Brotherhood of the Ozone.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

About that Guide

We woke the next morning and set about sorting our gear in one of the dining tents. Lite day packs were readied with our lunches and a layer of waterproof clothing. The remainder of our things were bundled and tagged for the Muleteers to pack out.

Kevin and Steve were drinking hot tea in their dining tent, swaddled in heavy coats, waiting for the warmth of breakfast and the day's first touch of direct sunlight. Ty and I joined them as a member of the kitchen staff was bringing in cold cereal and milk, which we regarded unenthusiastically. "Pancakes are comin'" Kevin reassured us. I emptied a Starbucks instant coffee pack into a cup of hot water, then adding a half pack of cocoa. It was a mountain mocha, a taste so decadent it could make a Bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window.

I was rested and, for the first time since leaving for the summit, had enough energy to feel good. Where the knowledge of our having summitted had been little more than a numb fact, I now thought of it and felt an immense smile growing. We had done it. I thought of the months of training, the doubts expressed by some, the still more plentiful belief offered by others. There had been sacrifices made by us, and our loved ones. It had been expensive in terms of both money and time. Viewed like this in its entirety, the cost seemed wholly outsized for a chance to stand atop a mountain most people have never heard of. But having now done so, I felt it had somehow been worth it.

Ty and I cruised around Plaza de Mulas for awhile after breakfast. A much larger basecamp than Plaza de Argentina, there were tents set up as business enterprises. One was a makeshift restaurant. Another sold supplies, including cans of Coke for $6, or a beer for $8. There was even an Art Gallery with green AstroTurf, fake palm trees, and chaise lounge chairs in front. A sign encouraged passersby to stand before a webcam so family back home could see them.

I called Sonia back at my office on the satellite phone. We spoke for a few minutes about the descent and how Ty and I would be trekking the 16 miles out that day. She shared the sad news of a dear Client who had passed. I asked her to order flowers. As Sonia could only post updates to the Blog from her home computer, news of our status would not be known to others until later that evening. As we had not checked in the prior day, concern was already growing as to whether we had made it down from High Camp. Later that afternoon Lin would be called to the office at the Elementary School she works at. Apprehensive about the reason, she would arrive very near to tears. A bouquet of flowers had been delivered for her, flowers I had ordered before leaving on the climb. It was January 26th. Having calculated our likely summit day to be the 27th, the card read "My Dear, I am very close now. The road back to you leads over this mountain, but I can already feel you by my side." Like the glassy silence of the last two days, this too just didn't fit. Somehow it invited her worse fears. Something had gone wrong. We were missing. Lin sobbed as she carried the flowers down the hall to her classroom, a room full of special needs students. "Why is she crying," a little girl with Asbergers asked. "She got flowers," an Aid explained, "and sometimes when you get flowers it makes you so happy you cry."

I loaned the sat phone to Kevin so he could call his Girl Friend. Then we said goodbye to he and Steve, and set out down the Horcones Valley on foot. We listened to our I-pods, stopped to snack, and played several more rounds of "Knife Fight." "Hey Ty. Norah Jones vs Elton John in a knife fight. Who do you like," I would question.
Occasionally we would be overrun from behind by trotting mules, their dust consuming us as they dodged wide-eyed and skittish like chickens in a fog. A few miles outside one of the camps we came upon two men and woman walking the trail. She was dressed in runners clothing. They asked about the conditions on the mountain and if we had summitted. They said the woman intended to "run up to the summit." I said I had seen both sides of the mountain and had not seen a run-able trail on either. They mulled this notion for a moment, then explained that it was all part of a fundraiser for some kind of charity back home. I wanted to tell them they had gravely underestimated this mountain, that if she was lucky the cold would turn her back before the altitude got ahold of her. I had seen a professional Guide turned into a dirt dart, and a properly equipped Climber collapse so suddenly in the thin air that he didn't even get his hands out to break the fall ...and she was going to run up the hill. But I said nothing more. It simply wasn't my place. People come to a mountain like this with a lot of funny ideas. Yet each is entitled to her own dream and who is to say what might work out.

Many hours later we shuffled into the Ranger Station, dusty and exhausted. We showed our climbing permit for the last time, checking out of Aconcagua Park. Our ride pulled up forty five minutes later, a jeep that hunched to one side beneath the considerable weight of its Driver. Fredrico offered us each a can of beer from a hand almost large enough to completely conceal it. Though the park gate had been closed for the day, he had bribed his way in with beer and soon bribed his way out by modus same.

We pulled up to the Penitentes Hotel next to a van containing the IMG Group. They were busy loading their gear for the drive to Mendoza that night. "Hey, Alaska," they greeted us. I asked if they were going to stick around long enough for me to buy them a beer. They said they were leaving momentarily. I told Ty I was going to ask Peter a few questions. "I would just let it go, Mauro," he counseled. "No, I gotta talk to him," I said. "Let's just get to our room," Ty urged. "I'll catch up with you there," I said and walked over to the van. Peter was loading duffels of gear as I approached. I introduced myself again and told him I am a Journalist who was writing a piece about the climb and my experiences on it. He seemed to tense up immediately. "There seemed to be an animosity coming from you toward us from the very start. I am wondering where that comes from," I asked. Peter paused for a moment, seeming to consider his words carefully. "Well. Some times. Climbers. Who don't have a Guide. Will. Use the Guides paid for. By. A group of. Other Climbers," he stammered. "Is that what you thought we were doing," I clarified, "freeloading off you guys." I said this in a non-emotional matter of fact fashion. "No. No. Not at all," Peter responded, backing away from his own statement no sooner than he had said it. "Were you aware that Ben invited us to join up with your team?" "Yes," he acknowledged. "Still you told Ty Hey Alaska, you're not with the group." Peter seemed surprised that I would bring this up. "Well. I was. Terrified. That we might be leaving you behind." "I see." Then I asked Peter about our exchange involving the mountains I had climbed. His response focused on a love and respect he has for the mountains, values imbued in him by his father. He spoke of the need for Climbers to embrace these things and not be fixated on the summit. In short, he exposed the views of the Yin but did nothing to explain the conflict-oriented manner in which he had chosen to advance them. Enough was enough, and it seemed clear this cranky Guide, a bully of sorts, was not going to own his actions. And something inside me, recognizing that those same actions may have prevented my being lost, did not feel right about really leaning on him. Forty yards away was my Hotel and a hot shower I had spent many hours dreaming about. I thanked Peter for his time and offered my congratulations to the IMG members as I left. They were beaming, positively radiant with the satisfaction of a Treasure Hunter who clutches something shiny. I at once wished I knew them better and recognized we would probably never meet again.