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Tomorrow, I will meet up with Josh here in Tucson where we will organize a two week rock climbing trip into Cochise Stronghold, AZ  with 16 NOLS students. Cochise is an amazing natural area both for it’s shear nature beuty and the fantastic face and crack climbing found within the mountains. It will be the first time Josh and I have talked about the trip face to face in almost 6 months and there are still many decisions to be made. In addition, I will use the time to bump up the training regime… trail running and some specific strength training to prepare for the Pirate Valley.


A quick note before I head out for three weeks. I got the great opportunity to talk with my friend Dalio regarding his trip into the Rio Turbio area last year. We spent about an hour and a half looking at pictures and drawing crude maps on six pack boxes. The many valleys off of the Valle Quatro look limitless and immense. While they did not enter the Valle Pirate proper, they ascended a saddle that borders the valley and were able to get some photos of the valley. A little beta goes a long way towards keeping the anticipation level high.



Mugs Stump climbing the Eyetooth, AK

Mugs Stump climbing the Eyetooth, AK


Well it is official, the Pirate Valley has been selected to receive support from the prestigious Mugs Stump Award. Yahoo!!

Hot Flashes Climbing Magazine

January 13, 2009: The recipients of the 2009 Mugs Stump Award were announced at the Ouray Ice Festival the night of Saturday, January 10, in Ouray, Colorado. The awards, sponsored byBlack Diamond EquipmentClimbingMagazineMountain Gear,PatagoniaPrimaLoft, andW.L. Gore, were created in 1992 in memory of Mugs Stump, one of North America’s most visionary climbers. The award annually grants $30,000 to small teams pursuing climbing objectives that exemplify light, fast, and clean alpinism. The seven recipients for 2009 were announced after a presentation by previous Mugs Stump Award winner Max Turgeon. Organizers showed a film about Stump on a loop, followed by an introduction by Dan Cauthorn, of W.L. Gore, who then handed the mic to Conrad Anker, to give some personal remarks about Stump and announce the winners. The applications received for 2009 included many strong teams with objectives in far-flung corners of the mountaineering world, from Patagonia, to Pakistan, to the Canadian Rockies, to Alaska. In the end, seven teams with outstanding talent and objectives were granted awards ranging from $1,500 to $9,500.

In 2004 I also received the Mugs Stump Award for an expedition to Chile were I was able to establish a route up the perviously unclimbed Avellano Towers . 

While the funds from the Grant are a huge help in making this trip possible, the award itself has a much deeper meaning for me. 27 years ago, when I was just 17 years old,  I had just roped up for my first technical rock climb and began consuming every book my suburban CT library had about rock climbing and mountaineering. For my 18th birthday my Aunt and Uncle gave me a subscription to a brand new magazine called Outside. The first issue feature an article called titled “The Dance of the Woo Li Masters”  which described the incredible first ascent of the East Face of the Moose’s Tooth located in the Ruth Gorge of AK by Jim Bridwell and Mugs Stump. At one point during the descent in sub zero blizzard conditions, Bridwell and Stump were forced to rappel off a single No. 3  stopper (a very small piece of climbing gear). It has been several decades since I have read the article, but my palms still sweat just thinking about it. Despite several attempts the dangerous committing line has never been repeated.

Mugs left his mark on the climbing world by attempting and completing many bold and fast ascents in Yosemite, Zion, the Canadian Rockies, Alaska, the Alps, the Himalaya and 1992 he was tragically killed in a crevasse fall while guiding on Denali. He was and still is one of my climbing heroes and an inspiration not only for his pure climbing style, but for choosing a way of life instead of having society choose one for him. 

Although I never met Mugs Stump, I now live in the city he called home and in a strange way feel his presence today.

Bridwell’s Outside Magazine article title drew upon the ideas presented by Gary Zukav in his “new age” quantum physics book book, “The Dancing Woo Li Masters.”

“Whatever he [the Master] does,” writes Zukav, ” he does it with the enthusiasm of doing it for the first time. This is the source of his unlimited energy.”

We hope to be able to tap into some of this energy in the Pirate Valley.


It would be the real Pirate Valley Expedition without a picture of an actual sailing vessel and a pirate. The image is of Elle Toder working on The Bounty, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

After a few harried flights and connections and going through security three times, I finally landed in Balmaceda, Chile.  I arrived at the NOLS branch at 1030 and promptly enjoyed a day and a half of downtime before going on contract for a climbing camp.

As I sit in Coyhaique writing this I am focused on an immediate adventure, one that has my coworkers and I developing a climbing area for a course.  We are in the process of cleaning and establishing routes in the Rio Ibanez valley as well as scouting forays into the Avellano Towers region.  My co workers and I will be taking 13 students into this area in order to teach them how to rock climb.

I agree with Dave.  I can’t imagine planning an expedition without the modern conveniences.  I am quite glad that the planning of this expedition can happen with all the modern amenities.



Steph Davis and Jimmy Chin sorting expedition gear

Steph Davis and Jimmy Chin sorting expedition gear

So, the planning for the Pirate Valley Expedition has been going on for almost a year now, but now that 2009 has crested over the horizon things have shifted into a higher gear. Jared left yesterday for South America, he will be spending the next 2 months guiding rock climbing/mountaineering courses for NOLS in Chile. Josh is about to start work at the NOLS southwest branch in AZ leading an Outdoor Educator Course. I am in Salt Lake City trying to finish up some web and writing projects and then head to Joshua Tree for some climbing and photo work next week. Then I will be back in Salt Lake City to attend the Outdoor Retailers Show. There are still many logistical challenges before us and with the three of us spread out across North and South America, it makes me wonder how I ever planned expeditions before cell phones, email and the internet?


Dave Anderson

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New updates coming soon!

January 2009
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