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Wrestlemania Wrestlemania  by Gangolf Haub

When hiking in the Alps or the prealpine ranges we often encounter typical animals like ibexes, chamois or marmots. We also notice birds, alpine choughs, ravens or the huge birds of prey like the golden eagle. Some of us will take photographs of butterflies or grasshoppers and sometimes even lizards make it to the pages of SP. But rarely do amphibians get into the limelight, most likely because of the clandestine life they lead. This little article is dedicated to the Alpine Salamander (Salamandra atra) which will be referred to here with its German name: the Alpensalamander.


Right in the middle of the road a tiny black sculpture seemed to be standing and as I got closer (of course I had walked by noticing nothing) I realized that here was my first Alpensalamander. And the second as well. One atop the other. First we suspected indecent behaviour (in the middle of the road!) but we soon found out that something different seemed to be going on. One of the little guys was simply relaxing on top of the other's head. Of course I took out my camera and started to document this for posterity. We soon found out that we had interrupted a wrestling match.

My Outdoor
Mementos My Outdoor Mementos  by silversummit

There I was in early September, sitting on the table in the orthopedist’s office a week after returning from my Washington state trip. We were arguing over whether my ankle was broken or not and, I lost. My fall down the scree on the Upper Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier wasn’t as innocuous as I thought. But by not going immediately to an emergency room at Rainier I avoided a hard cast and instead, limped around in an air cast for six weeks. Another broken bone. And I also added to my growing collection of soft boots, air boots, shoulder slings and x-rays.

Heinrich C. Berann's
Stunning Map Artwork Heinrich C. Berann's Stunning Map Artwork  by StephAbegg

Heinrich Berann (1915-1999) is the father of the modern panorama map. Berann was known for his unorthodox habits of landscape manipulation, such as rotating mountains, widening valleys, and vertically exaggerating features. Berann painted four panoramas for the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) that demonstrated his genius for landscape visualization: North Cascades National Park (1987), Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and finally Mt. McKinley National Park (1994). Some of his work is now in the public domain and can be found via the links at the bottom of this page.

Golden Larch Trees
(Enchantments) Golden Larch Trees (Enchantments)  by StephAbegg

When autumn arrives in the Enchantments, the basin turns golden as the Alpine Larch trees prepare to shed their needles. This is a spectacular scene like no other. These flaming yellow larch trees deserve a page just as much as any climb.

The following page is chock full of photos of a golden yellow theme (taken during 3 separate trips in Oct 2008 and 2009). There are also some cool facts about the larch tree, and a little general information about the Enchantments here and there.

Walking with Mr. Muir Walking with Mr. Muir  by dwhike

The following is my humble tribute to a man whom I consider to be one of history’s greatest figures. It is a story of a man whom I can personally identify with. My love for the wilds, the quiet corners of the world, and natural wonders both great and small draw me to Muir as a common bond. No doubt, many of the places I have visited in my short life owe their existence to the conservation movement which had its beginnings, literally, in Muirs hands. No one before or since seems to have grasped the wonders of the natural world with such insight and clarity as John Muir did. Because of all this, I present the following article. I simply invite you to take a few minutes walking with a man who I draw an immeasurable amount of inspiration from…

The How
To's of A Splattski The How To's of A Splattski  by Mlasky

In Idaho we affectionately call it the "Splattski" out of great respect to him, the one we think may have started it. If he didn't actually establish it, well then, he certainly started the trend.

So what is a Splattski? It is a very special type of summit photo where a person in the photo has to be the one taking the shot. Good Splattskis require full single-arm extension, and if the extension is also reflected in the photographer's sunglasses in the photo, even better. If everyone in the photo is framed nicely within the shot and smiles, AND you also have other mountain summits visible in the background of your photo, then you have not just taken a Splattski, you have created a Splattski Masterpiece.

Tale Of An
Old Florida Climber: Chasing The Clock, Dodging The Snow Tale Of An Old Florida Climber: Chasing The Clock, Dodging The Snow  by DTressler

I live in Florida. How in the hell did I let climbing become my obsession? It must be because it is as common a pursuit here as surfing is in Banff. A middle age guy has to prove he can do the improbable, I guess. Quest for uniqueness and all that. Whatever my spurious reason, I've spent the past 13 years finding ways to climb: The local climbing gym all year, road trips to North Georgia, annual trips to Jackson Hole. And the occasional solo trips to Colorado and Switzerland. I don't intend to elicit pity, but people who live in close proximity to decent climbing might have a hard time understanding the anxiety-arousing process suffered by a flatlander when he plans what he expects to be his only major trip of the year. You have to balance available time-off, weather, air fares, availability of partner or guide and a host of other logistical variables. Ususally for me, I have been able to pull it off, putting together a series of trips over the years that have satisfied my craving for high places. It is a year-round process. Six months of planning...one week of climbing...followed by brief satisfaction, as the process of planning the next trip revs up again. Tic toc. In 2009, the formula broke down. A new paradigm was born on the fly.

Mountains that Lost
Attention Mountains that Lost Attention  by SzaniUherkovich

Country highpoints draw the exceptional attention of many mountaineers. Most of these mountains are really worth the attention, while others are focused just because they are country highpoints, and there is nothing interesting about those peaks. It means that the interest for a mountain often doesn’t depend only on the beauty or peculiarity of the mountain itself, but human political decisions can support or decrease the “value” of mountains and peaks, too.

Since WWII the general political climate was moving towards democracy (despite the still existing huge defects) and as a consequence several countries and territories gained independence. The number of countries increased, and the number of country highpoints increased, too. Anybody can easily search for these country highpoints: there are several such lists there.

Disappearing Glaciers of Glacier National Park The Disappearing Glaciers of Glacier National Park  by Bob Sihler

It's now becoming a common question among both first-time and long-time Glacier National Park visitors: "What will the park be called when the glaciers are all gone?"

Ice and
Mixed Climbing in Morocco Ice and Mixed Climbing in Morocco  by Stokesrees

In summer the Atlas mountains see a procession of British and European hikers enter the high valleys, entranced by the mysterious Berber villages and drawn to the barren hills by their formidable 4000m heights. The terrain is brown, arid and bleak. A crude iron frame tarnishes the broad scene of the Atlas' highest summit. Parties of 10 or more parade into its shadow and descend as swiftly back to Marrakech stopping for cerveza at one of the huts or kasbahs.

In winter heavy storms burry the range in a heavy blanket of snow and forbid all but a few hardy mountaineers from seeing their upper reaches. In January I packed up my gear and a few kilos of food and hiked/skied into the valley surrounded by Ras, Timesguida, Biguinoussene and Toubkal. Crossing frequent piles of avalanche debris and gazing upon the mountain faces around me, I was surprised to see numerous ice gullies and steep coulouirs reaching from valley to summit. These were to be the target of my climbing and I have compiled a video clip to show some of the best areas.

Ultimately, the more amazing discovery was that during three weeks in the region, I did not meet or hear of a single climber entering the range for the purpose of winter climbing on these exceptional, long pillars and gullies of ice. Clearly these lines were either unclimbed or seldom climbed, and it took me many days to even recce access routes (by ski) to the upper ice and faces.

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