Milky Way over Mt. Rainier with climbers making summit attempt

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Growing up in Mumbai, I remember seeing stars above me. I remember vividly that I could see the 30 brightest stars in the Northen Hemisphere as I knew them by name and could find them at night. In the 90s, light pollution came and you couldn’t see anymore. Yet, nothing is more awestriking yet relatively easily accessible than a simple moonless, starlit night. At least for now, you can just get away from man-made settlements by maybe a couple of hour to experience that.

Last week I went with friends over the Sunrise Point in Mt. Rainier. The visibility forecast for it was very good and I was hoping to capture the Milky Way on my camera using a long exposure.

Here are the results. All the light in this picture is coming from the Milky Way and other starlight. There was no moon, and no other man made light leaking through. The dots on the mountain itself are climbers making a summit attempt.


Milky Way over Mt Rainier by Sameer Halai on 500px.com

Climbing Mt. Adams in one day

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It can be done in one day but it’s more comfortable to do it in two. But if you plan on two days then you end up carrying more weight which slows you down and justifies doing it in two days. So it’s a cyclical argument.

Mt Adams Summit

We decided to summit Mt Adams in one day. Conservative estimate was 14hrs round trip to do the 6,800 ft up and down but we ended up taking 17hrs to get back to the trailhead. Really started to drag above 10,000 ft but I successfully managed to keep my Acute Mountain Sickness at bay with the right breathing techniques and rest. Good thing we had excellent weather on our side so we renegotiated our turn around time and pushed through to the summit. However, due to the delay the glissade chutes had re-frozen with hard rough ice. While sliding down the 30° slopes at 9 mph the skin on my lower back got exposed to all the friction and I got some minor burns. But descending 3000 ft in 60 mins by sliding down a mountain is a fun experience and was the delayed gratification that kept us going up in the first place! The only thing we could’ve done better is plan for more sleep before getting started 🙂

Heap of snow creates a higher summit Summit on the way up - looks deceptively close Lots of layer changes during the day At the summit

By planning on doing it in one day, we carried less stuff than we usually would for an overnight climb. Which helps us move fast, which in effect also makes you safer and you need less mitigation. Look at what speed can mean:

A night in a Snow Cave on Mt. Rainier on New Year’s day

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Welcoming 2013 from our snow cave on Mt. Rainier

Jen and I don’t really attach much significance to days like New Years day. However, why pass on a nice extended weekend to get out and have some fun? We decided to go snow camping on Mt. Rainier. We had been to Mt. Rainier many times before but had never camped overnight, and never really built a snow cave. Got a lot of help from my good friend Brad, who helped me figure out what supplies I would need and how to use them. Also did a lot of research online on tips on building snow caves. Mt. Rainier is one of the snowiest places on earth and the hike to Camp Muir is one of the 10 most deadliest ones in the US. So I also went through all the incidents of fatalities and emergencies on Mt. Rainier over the last 30 years. Almost all involved bad luck and many were made worse because the victims and survivors hadn’t been planning on staying there long but were forced to due to bad weather. Since we had enough supplies

A night in a Brooklyn warehouse via Airbnb

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Airbnb opens up so many unique options to find a place to live in a new place that it’s really hard to ever consider staying in a hotel again. Case in point this awesome warehouse loft that I spent the night in when I was in NY last week. I was in Boston for work and decided I really wanted to get my NY fix – even if for a day. On my way over in the bus, I checked Hotel Tonight and found some nice hotels in Manhattan ranging from $225 – $400. Then I checked Priceline and Kayak and saw similar options. I could’ve bid and maybe got something for around $150. But none of the options sounded appealing. So I looked up Airbnb. I also decided I wanted to spend my night in Brooklyn because that would force me to go there – otherwise I never end up making my way over. I reviewed some listings but the one that I found intriguing was this warehouse loft.

How Limeade worked on Kilimanjaro

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When I was climbing Kilimanjaro, I carried my fitbit with me on the 9 day climb. I broke a lot of steps records on this climb – averaging 20k steps every day. The peak was great in itself but as soon as I got online, my fitbit synced with Limeade and I also got points within my Limeade wellness program to work towards no insurance premium for the quarter. I didn’t have to log-in anywhere and everything just worked. Which is why we say that Limeade fits into people’s lives.

Crazy cold and windy as it was, I managed to convince Jen to hold her camera steady as I explain this on the mountain – the highest place in Africa.

On top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

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We took a longer, circuitous, beautiful path around Kilimanjaro to get to the top. It was colder than we had planned for and the lack of sleep compounded the effort needed. The endless strong wind that ran across the continent became very overbearing after a few hours. But we were there and we saw the glaciers on the roof of Africa. We started the final ascent on the day of our 4th year anniversary.

Hiking to Camp Muir at Mt. Rainier using 5 finger shoes

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We hiked up to Camp Muir yesterday which is at an elevation of 10,080ft. Starting at Paradise it’s a 4,700 ft climb that happens over 5.5 miles. The last 2-3 miles is just a vast snow-field and traversing up that is a chore. Good boots help but we use 5 finger shoes which don’t do too well on the snow.

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Solution: we used micro-spikes and attached them to the 5 finger shoes and they work really well! Except, the 5 finger shoes don’t have much insulation or water protection and the toes start getting cold 🙁 Make sure you wear socks and have more at hand in case they get wet.

Camp Muir Hike Path

Kayak 11 miles from Seattle to Kirkland and back

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We love kayaking in Seattle and have been going to agua verde paddle club for many years. Last year I was the mayor of Agua Verde on Foursquare. We almost always go towards Lake Union because we like the views and really like getting close to all the houseboats around the water.

Last week we decided to go the other direction towards Lake Washington near the arboretum. We asked the attendant, “How far is it ok to go into Lake Washington?”. To that he replied, “As far as you want. As long as you are back here before we close at 6:00pm”.

GPS Track of Seattle to Kirkland in a Kayak

We decided we will keep going until we reach Kirkland. It ended up being 11 miles round trip.

on lake washington

It took us about 2hrs with a short break in between to get to Kirkland. It was a beautiful day and the water was just gorgeous.