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Rating the
Road: Standardized 4-Wheel Drive Road Rating System Rating the Road: Standardized 4-Wheel Drive Road Rating System  by surgent

We are familiar with the usual numerical “class” rating of a climb from 1 to 5, with objective descriptions provided to warrant the various values. Yes, it’s true what may seem to be class 5 to one person may be class 3 to another, and the differences between class 3 and 4, or class 4 and 5, can be extremely subtle. Subjectivity is unavoidable, but with enough experience on hikes and climbs within each numerical heading, we tend to gain a pretty strong feel for properly rating a climb.

The same can’t be said for rating the approach road. Let’s face it: driving to the trailhead is a major variable that needs to be considered. The simple fact is, if you can’t get to the start, your hike or climb may not happen at all (or adds a lot of extra un-planned mileage to the hike). Many reports gloss over the approach road conditions, or offer very broad assessments based entirely on subjective criteria. Some simply report any road as “4-wheel drive” even if it is clear the road hasn’t seen a vehicle in 40 years, or similarly, assume if they bashed their beater Jetta up some old mine road, it’s “2-wd passable”. These subjective ratings are not useful and can be very misleading.

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A Petition to Outlaw
SummitPorn A Petition to Outlaw SummitPorn  by Deltaoperator17

That’s right, you could be doing anything like mowing the yard, killing ants and bugs or even messing with your gear, but NO. She or he walks in on you and finds you visiting SummitPost.org. Crap, caught again.

In the words of the great Bob Sihler,“At home, you try to visit SP only when your spouse isn’t looking (hence the term SummitPorn), and when he or she catches you, you get that look just like the one the dog does after it pees on the couch and gets scolded for it.”

I have no interest in trying to recreate a great paragraph like that. (Thank you Robert.)

So the battle begins. Why are you on that stupid SummitPorn (note my spouse uses that phrase—she loved Bob’s article) when you could be doing the things I asked you? My reply: Uh, I duuno?

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Climb Mt. Rainier Climb Mt. Rainier  by Titanium

After all, the NFL commissioner did it- so it can’t be THAT difficult, right? Hmmm. Okay, well, you’ll get over that soon enough. Let me guess, you’ve been training hard for a year now, right? Climbing stairs (trails, step mills, stair masters) with a heavy pack… walking instead of driving… and you’ve dropped a deposit on the guided trip of your choice (mostly based on the days you were able to take off from work).

First of all, climbing up and down flights of stairs with a heavy pack on is just another way to destroy the remainder of the connective tissue in your knees, hips and ankles. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here’s some food for thought: mountains aren’t climbed straight up and down like a staircase. If they were, anybody (including you) could put on a pack and just walk up and down. Think back to the 12 Day Mountaineering Course you participated in recently; roped glacier travel, walking/climbing in crampons, self-arrest, self-belay… what’s that? You didn’t take a mountaineering course? Huh?

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Chronicles
of a Pregnant Weekend Warrior Chronicles of a Pregnant Weekend Warrior  by Nice Axe!

Aside from the intense excitement we both feel, we are embarking on what we both suspected would be the crux of pregnancy: At what level will I be able to participate in our weekend warrior adventures, if at all? In fact, our first tiff, since it hardly qualifies as an argument, was about whether or not I should or could handle a climb and ski descent of Wheeler Peak and Old Mike in the Wheeler wilderness near the Taos Ski Valley. We had just done Chicoma Mountain, which was relatively short (~4 miles and 2450' vertical feet to climb), the previous week and it was a successful trip. But with this latest discussion, I felt like I was already being put out to pasture before I had even shown signs of slowing down. Needless to say, I was disheartened and upset.

We agreed to ask our doctor at our first prenatal visit, which fortunately was that day. We both desperately hoped our doctor wouldn't punt and give us the usual conservative, rote answer: "Don't exercise above 5000 feet." To which we'd reply, "But Doc, we live at 7235'." Only to hear, "Well, (thinking hard), then don't exercise above 8000 feet." To our delight, we didn't get the typical reply from our doctor and I instantly liked, and trusted, this doctor. We were told to listen closely to my body and to heed the instruction my body gives. More specifically, the doctor warned against getting dehydrated, to make sure my blood glucose levels didn't get too low or that I didn't suffer from a calorie deficit. We personally added not allowing my O2 saturation levels to get too low to this list. I acquired a pulse-oxymeter for this purpose. We were assured that my body would give us clear warning signs before any harm would befall our unborn jelly bean. In other words, I'd pass out and be stopped in my tracks, for example, to ensure the baby continues to get the oxygen and nutrients it needs. As a caveat, the doctor also told us that we, as weekend warriors, constituted a small percentage of pregnancies and that not a lot of information is known on this topic. "Do your own research" we were told.

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In the Land of Goshen In the Land of Goshen  by silversummit

One of the meanings for the word Goshen is ‘land of peace’ and that certainly is true for my experiences there. Six of the past ten summers I have had the pleasure of spending a week camping and hiking in the beautiful 4,500 acres of Goshen Scout Reservation. Protected by the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve established by the state of Virginia, Goshen is deep in the Appalachian Mountains, near George Washington National Forest, and Shenandoah National Park. Its six camps are centered around a 450 acre lake and dam with a tremendous variety of activities taking advantage of the rugged terrain including more than 50 miles of hiking trails within the camp boundaries alone and immediate access to the Tuscarora Trail network. Crews also come in from all over the mid-Atlantic to take advantage of the Lenhok’sin High Adventure program which is set up similar to Philmont in New Mexico offering 5 – 10 days of hiking with themed outpost stops to learn about Civil War life, caving, blacksmithing, black powder shooting and so on.

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Gridlines,
Goat Signs and Pika Poop: Citizen Science in Glacier National Park Gridlines, Goat Signs and Pika Poop: Citizen Science in Glacier National Park  by FlatheadNative

An interesting project has been underway in Glacier National Park over the past few years. In participation with the National Park Service’s Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center volunteers have been hiking to 36 mountain goat and 20 pika survey sites to count the populations in the park as well as document opportunistic observations of Clark's Nutcrackers.

The project called Citizen Science and utilizes trained volunteers to collect scientific information that would otherwise be unavailable due to lack of personnel or funding. Glacier National Park’s citizen science program was established in 2005 to help resource managers address the need for baseline information and monitoring.

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....One climb, one pitch,
one move at a time ....One climb, one pitch, one move at a time  by Gangolf Haub

We climbers are tribal. It sounds trite, but it’s true. The brotherhood of the rope is real. It spans the globe, cultures, bitter national rivalries, languages. Climbers from the world over gather around a fire and by virtue of common experience and shared passion, they know they sit with brother and sister.

One of our brothers is missing today. Our tribe is diminished.

Oh Brutus, you left too soon. Too soon!

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Protect the Belay Protect the Belay  by mvs

Over the last few years, I've tried to write this story down several times. I never get very far. Complicated feelings of shame or sorrow usually stop me. Mat tells me that I make too much of it. But I'll never forget the quiet shock I felt when we went back two years later. Mat stopped to get some water, some distance ahead of me. A ray of sun broke through the clouds encircling this southern Wetterstein corrie. The back of Mat's neck bore a nasty scar. "I did that." A hush fell over me like a thick blanket, and forever seemed like a long time indeed.

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Hot Springs of Cotahuasi
Canyon Hot Springs of Cotahuasi Canyon  by Vic Hanson

One of my favorite things to do after a long hard hike or a cold mountain summit, is to go and soak in a hot springs. Cotahuasi Canyon is located in a volcanic region, and while none of the volcanoes are active now, there are many hot springs in the area. The most famous one is in Luicho, which is in an enclosed area. It is right alongside of the Cotahuasi River, but the windows are so stained and dirty that you can't see outside.

The first hot springs I went to on my first trip to Cotahuasi is called El Niño (the young boy), and that has always been my standard to measure the other hot springs by. It is under some bamboo trees, right along side the Cotahuasi River, below the village of Velinga, in an area called Mayo. There is a small pool made of rocks, very natural, beautiful and free. My kind of place! Since then I have found a few other free outside pools, Ccosla by Pampamarca, on the Pampamarca River, one between Huillac and Tarhuara, by the Cotahuasi River, and one above Cahuana by a small stream.

This report will focus on what I think are the best ones, as well as a couple of the other popular ones.

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A Brief Geological History
of the Keweenaw A Brief Geological History of the Keweenaw  by stinkycheezman33

When one looks at a map of the United States of America, the eye is unavoidably drawn to that giant peninsula jutting out defiantly into Lake Superior. That peninsula that catches your eye has a name, and that name is the Keweenaw Peninsula. Located in the Upper Midwest, the Keweenaw (and Upper Michigan as a whole) does not get very much attention from the mountaineering world, and rightfully so since the highpoint of the state (located very near the Keweenaw!), Mt. Arvon, is a mere 1979 feet above sea level. However, what the Keweenaw lacks in height it more than makes up for in scenery and remoteness. With a total area of roughly 1,000 square miles and a population hovering around 2,500 people (most of whom live in Copper Harbor) the Keweenaw is a playground for the intrepid adventurer who desires to visit a variety of wonderful places and do so while hardly glimpsing another person. There are a myriad of places to visit in the Keweenaw, including mountains (Mt. Baldy, Brockway Mountain and The Cliff Range, among others), waterfalls (Montreal Falls, Hungarian Falls and Douglas Houghton Falls, among others), remote beaches, virgin forests, trophy fishing lakes and countless historic sites (most of which are abandoned mines or mining towns).

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