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Hiking for the Holidays Hiking for the Holidays  by nartreb

My wife and I were fighting. Again. Even worse, the December holidays were coming up. Mercifully, Hanukah had come and gone at the same time as Thanksgiving, but soon we'd face St Nick's Day, Orthodox Christmas, and Roman Christmas, each bringing obligations and expectations. (I'm an atheist, but my family is made of immigrants from various places, each with very firm holiday traditions.) "Sorry, we'll be in FarAwayFromYouia that week" was a tempting strategy, but there was a problem with that idea too. For some reason, my wife and I can't seem to travel anywhere together without having a huge fight by the end. This year, my wife wanted to go on a Caribbean cruise, which, frankly, sounded very boring to me. With a stop in Disney World -- my idea of a perfect hell. So I was relieved when she told me she'd decided to leave me behind. I figured I'd hang out, catch up on sleep, do some hiking, maybe some ice climbing (if I could find a partner -- marriage and children have thinned my Rolodex). Not ideal, but I was looking forward to being by myself for a while.

The thing about my wife is, though she's impossible to live with much of the time, and she's guaranteed to cause a major relationship crisis at least once a month, every once in a while she'll give me a nice surprise - like a round-trip ticket to Seattle so I could do some holiday hiking with my old friend Greg (better known as EastKing here on SummitPost).

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Maple Mountain in Early
Spring Maple Mountain in Early Spring  by jtrain

I pulled up to the parking lot for the Y trail head just before 6 am Saturday morning. There was a large group of college students congregating there to hike the Y. It took only a minute to pull out my pack, throw on a jacket and start off up the trail. One thing I left in the car was the 7.5 minute USGS quad map that was in the passenger seat but I wouldn't think about for another hour and a half. Having the entire Y trail to myself, I kept up a good pace to the top of Y and knew I wouldn't see the group from the parking lot again, or anyone else for that matter, until coming back down the mountain. The week before I had been up to the summit of Y Mountain for the first time and coming down the trail from Slate Canyon to the Y I had flushed a few chukars out of the brush on the steep slope below. Now I could hear their calls in the rocky cliffs above as I hiked on the same trail.

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Parker Loop Parker Loop  by boyblue

I used to enjoy studying topo maps of the Sierra Nevada for the purpose of weekend peak bagging trips. I was especially interested in the more easily reached trailheads of eastern Yosemite- only about 3 or 4 hours from where I lived in San Jose. Sometimes these trips would be done as dayhikes, but more often than not, I would do them as 'over-nighters' with a lightweight pack. The idea was to keep things as simple as possible in order to have as much flexibility as possible.

One summer in late July, four peaks on the western edge of the Mono Craters quad caught my attention: Kuna Peak, Koip Peak, Parker Peak and Mount Wood. A nice collection of peaks that ranged from between 12,500 and 13,000 feet in elevation. All were connected by a wide east-west trending ridge that had an overall length of about three miles. Traveling from peak to peak looked easy with very little elevation loss and gain. Easy money- but, how was I to access this interesting ridge? Therein lay the rub.

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Dude, we gotta snuggle. Mt.
Anderson pt.1 Dude, we gotta snuggle. Mt. Anderson pt.1  by olympicmarmot

Under a near perfect sky, Wes and I watch the first stars appear. They arrive slowly from east to west toward the fading remnants of sunset. We sit with our backs against a large boulder, cleaved smooth on one side by moving ice. The boulder is snuggly imbedded near the terminus of the Anderson Glacier, jutting up like a huge weathered tombstone. My tent is pitched twenty yards away, and we plan on climbing Mt. Anderson in the morning.

Massive walls of glacier scoured sandstone rise around us in a loose horseshoe shape, creating an alpine basin dominated by the snow streaked summits of Mt. Anderson and West Peak, rising 2,000 feet above our heads due north.

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Treating Hubris Treating Hubris  by Bob Sihler

It was Friday, August 14. It had rained, hard, most of Wednesday. It had rained, not as hard, most of Thursday. It was supposed to rain most of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and it did). But when I woke up Friday morning before dawn and looked out from the balcony of our hotel room (we had lucked out and gotten one of the lakeside balcony rooms at Many Glacier Hotel), I could actually see the outlines of the mountaintops. My gut told me to grab the weather window and go on the climb I had planned, but my reason told me to wait a bit and see if the window was for real. Two hours later, at 8 A.M., I was seeing real sunlight for the first time in over 24 hours, and although the sky was far from perfectly clear and I knew there would be more rain later, I decided to make a go of it. Plus, with weather forecasters issuing a winter weather advisory for later that day and overnight-- yes, this was friggin' August-- I knew I couldn't waste any more time if I wanted to have a successful climb.

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"West Gunsight" in Winter  by ZeeJay

My first trip was on Monday, March 3. The trailhead is an almost 3 hour drive from my house, the last 18 miles or so on a plowed dirt road. The road isn't bad to drive on when it is frozen, but in the middle of the day when it is muddy and slushy, it's a mess. I drove up Sunday night, slept in my car and took off the next morning at a casual pace. The first 3.5 miles are on an unplowed dirt road that leads to the summer trailhead. These went pretty easy as the first 2.8 had been snowmobiled with light snow on top. The last .7 miles weren't too bad as they had at least been skied on, but there was more snow in the tracks to slow me down.

The route to West Gunsight shares most of the route to Kings Peak. In the winter, the accepted wisdom is to forgo the summer trail and ski directly on top of the frozen Henrys Fork Creek. The tracks I was following quit less than .5 miles into the creek and then I was on my own. It wasn't too bad, but I sunk into my knees and had to dig out my skis every 5-10 minutes. Twice, I went in all the way to my thigh and one of those times banged my knee bad on a rock. Nevertheless, I thought it went better than previous year's trailbreaking trips when I seemed to sink in with every single step.

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Winter Ambition: Whitehorse
in a Day Winter Ambition: Whitehorse in a Day  by Josh Lewis

After my Burgundy Spire Accident I had to give up mountaineering for a while. When I finally recovered enough to hike, a small run would be enough to re-injure my knee once more forcing me to be very careful with getting back in shape. With rare winter conditions it was painful to watch as many sunny days went by. I knew that if I wanted a shot at a spectacular climb I would have to wait until the perfect opportunity.

Michael and I contacted some buddies of mine, before long we had a solid team of climbers for Whitehorse Mountain. I have been wanting to climb this mountain for many years. Gimpilator has had too many canceled trips up this peak. We were all very eager to climb this mountain. With 7,000 feet of elevation gain during January and being out of shape, this would be a big under taking. Less than half way up the mountain I was trashed, the rest of the climb was dizzyingly exhausting, but the views were breath taking.

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Fishhook Arête, Mt.
Russell Fishhook Arête, Mt. Russell  by StephAbegg

Following a sharp crescent-shaped spine on the southern aspect of Mt. Russell, Fishhook Arête is one of the most aesthetic routes in the High Sierra. Nearly the entire length of the 8-pitch route is exposed and on perfect golden granite. The climb is easily divided into two distinct arêtes separated by a notch. The lower arête is thin, exhilarating, and diagonals up mostly moderate terrain with a few stout 5.9 sections. The upper arête ascends steep rock that gradually lessens in angle and has incredible belay ledges every 50 feet. Plus, the route tops out on a 14,000+ foot summit. It is no surprise that Fishhook Arête is named as one of the 100 best Sierra alpine climbs in John Moynier and Claude Fiddler's "Sierra Classics."

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A trip to
Montgomery Woods A trip to Montgomery Woods  by Noondueler

Over the last few months I moved up to the north Coast Range in Lake County. With mountains and ridges in every direction the possibilities appear endless. I spend considerable time pouring over topo maps of the area looking for something doable. The main challenges are private property and dense brush covering much of the terrain. So I zero in with Google Earth to get a better idea of what lies ahead. Arriving home a few days ago my roommate Jonathan declared he wanted to do Mt. Konocti on Saturday. Konocti (4,299') is the monarch of Clear Lake. A huge multi-summited volcano that rises 3,000' above the south shore. We tossed the idea around and then came to the conclusion that Montgomery Woods was the destination of choice. This is a redwood grove out in a remote canyon to the west. The drive is almost 2 hours past the north end of Clear Lake, over the Mayacamas Range, through the Russian River Valley and back into the mountains on a winding road that drops down to Orr Hot Springs. We swung by to pick up Justin and the 3 of us were off by early afternoon.

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Last Fling up North Last Fling up North  by Castlereagh

With the East Ridge presenting the prospect of a fun and basic scramble, I found myself concerned with the loose talus below the ridge proper. Having examined possibilities for this peak countless times over the last year , I decided that perhaps my best bet was to follow Scandinavian peakbagger Petter’s route as posted on one of his peakbagger.com TR’s, which ascends an ENE variation of the East Ridge route. This put me at a lower starting point of 7,300’, and as I ascended the dry ridge towards the peak I glared enviously at a SUV making its way up the ridge to join a few other cars parked several hundred feet above me.

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