adventures with Jen Olson

Rock Climbing

Dolomites with Sara and Geoff

Meet Geoff and Sara, a happy couple

I was fortunate to climb with Sara and Geoff in the Dolomites this past September. This trip allowed me to experience the magic of these historical mountains in the eastern Alps.

Bad Timing

Unfortunately, we timed our trip perfectly with some of the worst weather of the summer. Every day, tough decisions were made, but we made the best of it and managed to climb some rocks!

Sport Climbing near Sands in Taufers

Our trip started with a three hour traffic jam on a Saturday morning driving over Brenner Pass from Innsbruck. In the future I will try to get an earlier or much later start. We were chomping at the bit, but by the time we found a crag in the late afternoon, we found it seeping from recent rains.

The next day we awoke to rain and we ended up making a long trip to a dry sport climbing cliff, where we got in a really good workout!

Not my photo, as the day we climbed the 3rd Sella Tower we did not have any blue sky.

Summit of the second sella tower and the famous Messner route

We enjoyed the first half of the Vinatzer route on the 3rd Sella Tower and everyone enjoyed the crux pitch up a finger crack and through a roof, even though it was a little bit moist.

Then I made the tough decision to go down, as the weather wasn’t improving, and I was worried about some technical scrambling on the descent in the rain. So we rappelled from there and found our way into the descent gulley.

arriving at the big ledge before the crux pitch on the Vinatzer route

Getting a bit discouraged with the weather we packed up and headed from Val Gardenia to Cortina. On the way I managed to get a 170 euro speeding ticket for going 11km over the speed limit while trying to pass a dump truck. I was getting passed by locals all the time as I get car sick when I drive fast on windy roads! Nice italian hospitality.

rain on Sass di Stria, we managed to climb the left hand skyline route later in the afternoon, called Hexenstien

When we got to Falzerego Pass it was raining so we headed up the cable car to the top of Lagazuoi

The information in the cable car and for tourist about WWI was fascinating

The tourist book told us to take the cable car up and hike down the tunnels to avoid going against the crowds, but on this rainy day–it wouldn’t of been an issue to hike up the tunnels (which i would of preferred).

Enjoying Italian hospitality at the Rifugio Lagazuoi before descending the mountain

I loved the ledges, trails, paths, tunnels, trenches all initially built in WWI. It was not difficult to imagine what it might of been like

Helmets and headlamps required, i kept bumping my head!

Unfortunately, i am claustrophobic (felt nauseous, and headachey) and I didn’t really enjoy this experience. when there were opportunities to go onto ‘balconies’ or walk outside on exposed terraces, i was very happy.

ahhh, the relief of getting outside, scoping climbs and ski lines : )

In the afternoon, we managed to squeeze in this climb on Hexenstein.

the second to last pitch involves climbing over a chockstone into a rock crevasse, a very cool location on the mountain. These mountains provide lots of natural hiding places.

Savouring one of our few summits on the trip before hiking off through many trenches and walls built in WWI.

The next day we through our hands up in the air and headed to Venice to escape another day of rain and indecision.

In our short time visiting Venice, we did some great sightseeing, but mostly ate and drank wonderful food and wine

And of course we went to find the Glass Blowers on the island of Murano, we missed them, but bought some gorgeous glass jewelry and vases.

The Yellow Edge in the Tre Cime was our next objective. We shared the route with a few other parties. What a spectacular location!

Fun corner climbing for the first couple pitches

Crushing the stone

Shortly after this pitch the route traverses left and up into the final crux dihedral.
We got passed by a local which was also, a classic European experience for us!

We had a good day out at the Cinqui Torri after this and really enjoyed the route called the NW corner on the Torre Barancio.

Superb classic climb on this Torre up the obvious corner in the sun (photo from

I want to thank Sara for being so adventurous and strong and trusting me on this trip. I want to thank Geoff for his patience and care of Sara and ability to be supportive through bad weather and help with the details of guiding. I appreciate them both for all the amazing wine and fantastic food we devoured!


the Burkerts’ crush the Bugaboos

Raring to go

Maija, Ryan and I had a jam packed week of climbing this past August. We spent most of our days in the Bugaboos climbing Bugaboo (Kain route), Pigeon (West ridge), Crescent Towers (Lion’s way), Crescent Spire (McTech arete), and East Post Spire, all based out of the exotic Appleby campground (that I love!)

Near the end of our trip, we escaped some fresh snow, and went to the Rockies to climb exquisite quartzite at the Back of the Lake and on The Grand Sentinel.

Morning Sunrise climbing up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col looking east

working hard with the mountain boots on – Kain Route, Bugaboo

miles of pristine granite ridges

keepin’ on movin!

Grand Success on the famous Gendarme crux

a perfect day to enjoy the rewards on the summit of Bugaboo

organic snausage and fried eggs for the paleos (thanks for the frying pan Matt and Will!)

the slow start is an essential part of camping at Appleby

the way of the Lion-ess

enroute to Pigeon, the Howers’ greeting us in the early morning

oh how I love the bugs…

Bad Weather weighing on my shoulders while we scamper up Pigeon

a new day on the Crescent Spire

Every day we feel the urge to jump in

then …. common sense kicks in
(ice on the upper lake, whoa!)

Time to head to the Rockies, a pair of happy campers

The Grand Sentinel. Small in a Big Landscape

The route has cracks, roofs, ledges and fantastic ‘grips’, and not a bad view either

about to cruise the crux

the chin/cheek jam gives a nice rest mid-crux ; )

the tippy top

A panoramic end to a full week of climbing. Thanks to Maija and Ryan for all the good climbs!

Climbing in Estes Park with the AAC and Iranian Female Climbers

I appreciate the folks at the American Alpine Club who believe in International Climbing Meets. I have now taken part in a few of these and they are such a great way to connect people from all over the world who love climbing in new magical venues. This past week I visited Estes Park, Colorado to join up with about twenty ladies who all love climbing.
The wonderful and generous host climbers were: Mary Ann, Chris, Tracy, Casey, Melissa, MG, Yasmeen and Kammie. These women were so talented and caring. They cooked, organized, chauffeured, translated, guided and made sure that almost no Iranian wish went unmet!

The host climbers brought some special male guests such as Jason, Chris and Arman to also help out.

Scheming Host climbers: Casey, MA, Chris, Melissa and Tracy. with my lasagnas on the oven  ; )

The Iranian climbers were: Nadia, Mahsa, Shahnaz, Sheima, Farideh, Dena, Parastoo, Shirin, Fatemeh, Afsar, Parvin, Masoumeh and  Farnoosh. These ladies were so motivated and determined to make the most of their trip to the USA.
(In a couple of the following photos their faces are blurred on purpose.)

Before coming to Colorado

In the nick of time

On our first day up in Estes, we stopped along the way, at Jurassic Park. We managed to climb 2 routes, including the super classic, Edge of Time, before the Daily Thunderstorm arrived.

Cruising a stiff 5.9 arcing crack at Hens and Chicks

The next couple days saw us at Lumpy’s ridge. In the following areas: Left Book, the Bookmark and Hens and Chicks Crag. Where we learned to jam cracks from 5.7-5.9 and enjoyed some multi-pitch adventures.

On Fantasy Crack. Everytime you were on slab…. you fantasized about a crack

Everyday we had to beat the thundershowers. They actually were quite enjoyable given the super hot temperatures we were experiencing, but tricky to climb in. I love the bellowing thunder. It was often quite threatening, but way more bark then bite.

The view of the diamond from lumpy’s

On our last day in Estes, a few of us host climbers went climbing, while the others went shopping and did laundry. We went to the magestic Hallet Peak in RMNP.

We approached in the dark, so this photo was taken on the way out…

a pro’s photo of Hallet, we were climbing on the steep mid-right hand side of the face on a popular 5.8++ route called, Culp-Bossier.

sweet morning light

This is an eight pitch route with lots of route-finding and short sections of run-outs between protection. Many fun edges to grab and endless small footholds.

Chris on the first pitch, still warming up

Chris and I were a team, as Tracy and Casey climbed together. Tracy graciously let us go first as it was our first time on the mountain. We actually got to the base of the climb before it got light out (thanks to Tracy for the blind-boulder-hopping route-finding). So we waited a little bit and I started up when I could just turn out my head lamp ; )

Nice pitches in the alpine granito

Great Exposure on this route with amazing views all around

I didn’t climb very fast as I spent a lot of time making sure we were on route and hunting for gear. We topped out around noon and found the east descent gully fairly easily.

Tracy, a very professional climbing guide, topping out on the Culp-Bossier

hobbling out from Emerald Lake

Once again, we beat the thunderstorms. We all had really sore feet from heat and many days of climbing/hiking. The highly groomed trail was a treat at the end of the day.

I hope the Iranian women have a very enjoyable stay in the USA and feel safe travelling and returning home.

I really enjoyed meeting everyone, hosts and Iranians, as well as sampling Estes Park. I especially enjoyed the little bit of Iranian dance we got to witness one evening. Thank You.

Aguja Guillaumet Squared

I am grateful to Saule Zukauskaite, Arunas Kamandulis, and Gediminas Simutis for this fantastic opportunity to climb in Patagonia. Saule, Aras and Gedas proposed this trip to Mammut for the 150 year project and it was selected. Thanks to Mammut for choosing me to accompany this talented team of young climbers.

For more information on Aguja Guillaumet look here.

We climbed the routes: Brenner-Moschioni  350 m 6b and Comesaña-Fonrouge 350 meters 6b+

The view from my window at my posada, Inlandsis, the day of our departure

Buenos Dias and the waning Luna

Gedas, Saule and Aras... ready to giv'er

definitely 6 tons!

Starting the grind...

We started our march to the promised land on December 12th. We ended up camping in the valley at Piedra del Fraile after taking a load up to Piedra Negra. On December 13, we hiked from the valley at ~500m, changed up our loads at Piedra Negra (~1300m) and continued up to Paso Guillaumet where the rock climbing begins, a few pitches of quality rock climbing gets you to the aesthetic crux pitch.

At Piedre Negra, ready for action

The left summit is Guillaumet

The crux pitch on the Brenner-Moschioni

Saule on perfect alpine granite

loving the shadows and the cracks

Rising to the ridgeline

Looking back at the ridge we climbed

Summit Shot ~2579m

We gratefully summited at 8:30pm after ascending a little over 2000m from the valley.

starting the descent with fantastic views

the shadow of the aguja in the valley below

We rappelled the Guillot couloir into fading light.

Finishing the rappels, back to the Paso Guillaumet for a midnight snack

We arrived back at our tents around 3 am. We spend the next day resting, recovering and sheltering ourselves from the heat and the sun. Climbers say they haven’t seen it be so hot here in previous seasons.

On December 14, we decided to head back up Aguja Guillaumet–to minimize our time on the not so frozen snow. Aras, Gedas and Saule did a great job of leading us up the approach on snow, keeping the momentum on the route and up to the Amy couloir.

Crux Pitch of Comesaña-Fonrouge

Fitzroy group shadow on Pollone

a happy guida

Gedas leading the rappels

the last rappel

Racing down to beat the heat

Gratefully back at the trailhead, without our packs on our backs

crammed into the taxi

Team Lithuania in Patagonia

Gedis, Aras and Saule

Today we went for a 5 pitch rock climb. Bolts, around 5.10 or 6a. Very fun outing. A little bit windy– good training for us to get to know each other and get into thinking about alpine climbing.

Gedis on the 1st pitch

in the rhythm

enjoying the views

the wind picks up

our 1st summit - many more to come ; )

to rescue training...

So after a day of getting to know each other and some rescue review… we are off to the mountains. Tomorrow we will hike into Piedre Negra and hope to climb Guillomet and Aguja Pollone in the next couple days….

Multi-pitch Skills

Cecile and Corina learning the ropes

Cecile and Corina learning the ropes

By breaking up some classic crack climbs into shorter pitches, we can learn a ton, in a very short time, about transitions on multi-pitch climbs. We had great weather and a super fun time learning these skills late in the summer in Squamish.

Chicks on Crack 2009

Lynn, Ilze, MC, Karen, Ella, Shannon and Cecile

Back: Lynn, Ilze, MC, Karen, Ella, Shannon & Cecile Front: Jen, Jasmin & Kinley

Challenge and Fun were the two main sentiments from the weekend. Everyone (including me ; ) ) got their butt handed to them by some challenging, but exquisite granite crack. The women of the All Sizes Crack Climbing weekend did not get off easy, but lots of learning was had in a fun and supportive environment.

We learned how to jam fingers, hands, cups, fists, off-widths and chimneys. The Smoke Bluffs and the Chief  had many cracks for us to get schooled on.

Karen chimneying like a demon

Karen chimneying like a demon

Shannon jamming up a storm

Shannon jamming up a storm

Cecile cranking the crack

Cecile cranking the crack

Our egos and bodies got bruised, but our muscles and awareness got toned and tuned into what it takes to get up these ‘holdless’ cracks.

Showing off the hard work and tenacity

Showing off the hard work and tenacity

Thanks to the participants for their determination and great attitudes and to the guides for their skill and expertise. Looking forward to many more days of kung fu fighting with talented aspiring crack specialists!

Thanks to Blurr for the hats, headbands and t-shirts that made us look SO good  AND to LaSportiva for the t-shirts, stickers and SHOES that made us climb like lizards.


Jen hard at work

Jen hard at work


Welcome to my new website for advertising guided trips. Soon many cool adventures will be available for the 2009 summer season… stay tuned!