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Glen Affric: a winter's
journey 2017 Glen Affric: a winter's journey 2017  by markhallam

It is summer 1985. I am a 24 year old junior hospital doctor with a passion for mountaineering. One Friday evening, battered by 14 continuous days of work linked by nights and a weekend on-call, I am making my bid for freedom – for a long anticipated weekend off. I have no plans. Probably I will do little other than sleep – and dream of my next climbing expedition. By the light of an evening sun I amble out of the neon lit world of the hospital and across a court yard towards the junior doctor’s residences.

“Hey Mark!” I am suddenly accosted by Mad Alex, another junior doctor, a couple of years older than me “we’re going off up to Scotland – d’you want to come?” So called Mad Alex is possessed of a kind of restless energy, impervious to nights on call, and which is liable result in things like impulsive weekend trips to Scotland. The “we” is himself, his long suffering physiotherapist girlfriend Karen and another junior doctor by the name of Mike. If at all I would normally go to Scotland to climb things and with a minimum 6 hour journey to reach the Highlands I would aspire to go for longer than a weekend. None of the other three are climbers. Nevertheless in a matter of minutes I find myself piled into Alex’s Red Fiesta GTi and hurtling rather too fast for comfort up the Great North Road.

Mummy Range
Traverse via Icefield Pass Mummy Range Traverse via Icefield Pass  by Bill Reed

Back in 2003, my son Chris, who was 17 at the time, and I decided to do a week long backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from being our longest trip together it was also our first A to B trip. We’d cross the park from east to west, a distance of a little over 20 miles. Not an expedition by any stretch, but a challenging undertaking for us at the time.

Basically, we’d head west up the North Fork of the Big Thompson River, continue west off-trail, crossing the spine of the Mummy Range at Icefield Pass. From there we’d resume traveling cross-country, getting back on trail at Mummy Pass, follow that trail down to the Cache La Poudre River then along the river trail before turning up Corral Creek to the Corral Creek TH, which is where our trip would end. The crux of the route would be the crossing of Icefield Pass. Aside from completing the journey, we hoped to climb the highest summit in the Mummy Range, 13,561 foot-Hagues Peak and also to catch a rare Greenback Cutthroat trout from one of the Range's high lakes.

Going Crazy Going Crazy  by Castlereagh

I muddled through a year of work and stress in New Jersey, haunted every day by my failure to get any worthy views from the summits of McGuire, Taylor, Piquett and Leidy mountains due to the severe haze in August of 2015. Sleepless night by sleepless night I swore vengeance on these peaks, particularly McGuire (see trip report posted just before this one). But I was trapped by disdain for repeats and fretted about how I could salvage those days on the peaks without costing me a chance to explore new peaks and areas. I figured that the only way I could live with repeating several peaks was if I had a whole goddamn month off…time enough to get enough new summits checked off my lists whilst still going back and recapturing certain peaks whose summit views had eluded me.

Fortunately I had built up enough vacation days and goodwill for my employer at the time for them to agree to four consecutive weeks off that summer for me, and as the months counted down I started to draw vague outlines for a gameplan, though still hesitant to fully embrace the concept of repeating any peaks, even my holy Salmon River grail of McGuire. Then fate threw me a curveball when my old manager whom I had worked for back in Salt Lake called to offer me a new and fully remote position at his new company. I accepted but they wanted me to start as soon as I could, thus crunching my timeline a bit. I had a very good friend’s wedding coming up in two weeks (my roommate’s twin brother’s), and that pretty much made for my two week notice to my company. The problem was that the wedding was a Saturday, thus eating up at least two prime weekend days when I could have started my trip; I was able to extend my start date a two days back to a Wednesday. So while I still had four weeks to climb for summer ’16 I found myself with less flexibility…plus, aside from my accrued vacation days I now would not be getting paid while on the road.

A short day out A short day out  by MikeLJ

“As it’s the last day of your holiday, we will be celebrating tonight with a special barbeque. Consequently, dinner will be a little earlier so I need you all to be downstairs for 6.45pm”.

Our Chalet host was most insistent as he addressed us at breakfast. I turned to Marie, “it should be a short day today so we’ll be back early”.
We were staying in La Villa in the Badia valley, this September week had started in blazing sunshine but like so often in the Dolomites, it had become cloudy midweek, rained then snowed all in 24 hours. Thursday had been like Winter, so we had planned an easy day on Friday. However, the weather had turned back again, the grey clouds had been replaced by blue skies and the snow covered slopes were already starting to clear.

Enchantments: More Sunshine on Cloudy Days The Enchantments: More Sunshine on Cloudy Days  by MarkDidier

Looking at the three pics below…I can’t help but smile! These are three of my favorite scenes from my four days on the trail in the Enchantments. I look at these and it reminds me of how much beautiful scenery I consumed and how fond I became of this area on this short first visit. But I must confess, I often find myself thinking back to how the whole five days went down, and at times I can’t help but feel disappointed. I saw so much, but accomplished so little! As I have reminisced over the past several months, it has made for some very mixed emotions.

The more I thought about this visit to the Enchantments, the more I realized I needed to revisit the theme from my 2013 adventures in North Cascades National Park, as this 2016 trip was definitely a repeat of sunshine on cloudy days. But in this case the clouds weren’t limited to just the weather. I came to the area with high hopes, plans for nearby peaks not even in the Enchantments, but between some bad planning for Little Annapurna, the weather, and some nearby forest fires, I would end up not reaching a single one of my main objectives. Based upon that I could say my Enchantments visit was a total failure. But that of course, would be inaccurate…

Must Have Been Everest,
Mauna Kea, HP #30 Must Have Been Everest, Mauna Kea, HP #30  by Adam Doc Fox

This must be Everest, I thought. The Asian tourists were in full down orange mountaineering suits. They were ready for -60F with insane wind. But it was only 30F near the summit of Mauna Kea, at the top of Hawaii. Windy, yes, but about as far from Everest conditions as you could get. How’d I get there, to the top of Hawaii? A deal.

The family agreed to go winter hiking and climbing with me in the Great White North months earlier, and in exchange, I’d take them on a Hawaiian vacation. So there we were. A few notes leading up to the approach to Mauna Kea:

The Big Island of Hawaii wasn’t very touristy. Which was awesome. It was very easy to take a road or a curve and be totally surrounded by locals with Polynesian roots and tribal tattoos. But if you were pale and Caucasian, you stuck out, and perhaps wouldn’t receive the warmest of welcome from the natives.

Le Tour des Lacs Le Tour des Lacs  by Gangolf Haub

Corsica! They call it L'Ile de la Beauté - the island of eauty. They call it La Montagne dans la Mèr - the mounntain in the sea. The names are fully deserved: there are some 50 2000ers on the island and if you happen to visit the island in late spring or early summer you'llbe impressed by the natural scenery. Most of the island is made up from granite - either the solid grey one you also get elsewhere, or the red tafoni granite, which forms grotesque sculptures with holes, windows, caves and overhangs. Sometimes you'll find both forms very close to each other but usually you'ge to Porto on the west coast or Bavella in the south to admire Tafonis. And go to the high mountains of Haute Corse for the rock solid grey granite.

Kangri 2 Mentok Kangri 2  by opensea64

My pursuit of 6000m plus peaks has been an exciting one, since my first foray into climbs over 20,000 feet in Nepal in2010. Island Peak (6189m) in Nepal was such a game changer that I knew I had crossed the line between my love of climbing pretty much anything that looked like a mountain, to the high peaks of the world.

After summiting Island Peak, I knew I wanted to climb a higher peak, over 7000m. In 2015 the attempt on Kun(7077m) came fairly close, to a height of 6600m, thwarted by issues of weatherand other factors affecting our team. Weturned around 477m short instead of trying for the summit. Of course then I was plagued with second thoughts , the “what if” … Most people seem to think the decision to abandon the summit on that occasion was wise, and unwise decisions on high mountains don’t always have happy endings. So Iguess I will just have to live with that. As Brigitte Muir-Koch (the Everestclimber who led my Island Peak trip) said to me afterwards, “Better to come back alive, after all, you can always return, the mountains will always be there. “

Stuck on
Gerlach Stuck on Gerlach  by rgg

Looking down, I'm guessing that it can't be more than thirty meters to the bottom of the steep couloir I'm descending. If only I could get there, I would be off the mountain and in hiking territory all the way back to civilization. But how? That's a whole different ball game. Sure, my route description offers two possibilities, but after considering both of them, I don't feel comfortable to commit to either one. I have to face it, I'm stuck. How do I get off this mountain?

I first got to this point an hour earlier. Up until then my descent had been swift and easy. Sure, a few times the route was less than obvious, but whenever I didn't see traces where others had gone before, I just scrambled down wherever it looked feasible, and it never took long before I picked up the route again. And the place where I was right now matched the route description - so why wasn't there a relative easy way down anymore? Was it there, but did I not see it? Or had something changed since the route description was written?

July 2016 climb of
Thunderbird July 2016 climb of Thunderbird  by gregevans

We have been hiking and climbing in Glacier National Park on an annual basis for over 20 years. Most of that time has been spent on the eastern side of the park, in the Two Medicine, Logan Pass and Many Glacier areas. But having explored those areas pretty thoroughly now, we changed things up this year by going to the northwest part of the park, a remote region accessible with a car only by dirt roads, 40 miles from Columbia Falls. The region is just as spectacular as the east side of the park, but tends to have fewer people, and longer approaches to the mountain climbs. So, in late July of 2016 we set off on a four day/three night backpack trip to climb Thunderbird Mountain. The route includes trail and off-trail hiking, bush whacking, a stunning base camp perched on top of a ridge, a steep snow crossing, and class 3 climbing. Much of the off trail portion can be seen in Figure 1. The route is described in a popular guide book by Edwards (A Climbers Guide to Glacier National Park, J Gordon Edwards, Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, MT, 1984), and we recommend consulting that, but there are a few places in that description where some clarifications are helpful, which are described below.

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