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Culture and Climbing in
Bolivia Culture and Climbing in Bolivia  by Haliku

“Why don’t Americans come to Bolivia?” asked our tour guide.

“I have no idea, I really don’t.” I responded as I thought about the numerous Europeans, and the ubiquitous Australians, I had already met; but very few Americans.

After three weeks in the Bolivia I still don’t have an answer to our guide’s question. From our experiences there is no reason not to visit Bolivia and many reasons you should plan a visit. While we did meet other travelers from the USA during our time in Bolivia we were a minority among our fellow travelers.

"The Clearest Day I've Ever Seen" in the Lofoten Islands  by foweyman

Exhausted and exhilarated is how I usually reach a pass from an eastern Sierra trailhead, and Piute Pass, although relatively easy, was no exception. At the pass stood an elderly woman surrounded by a group of younger weary people sprawled on the surrounding rocks. Upon hearing me marvel at the scenery, she calmly stated in a thick Germanic accent, "These are the most beautiful mountains in the world." At my prompting the Belgian lady listed an extensive set of alpine treks she'd made throughout the world. Her relaxed presence within her tired group gave her words admirable credibility. She had seen more mountain ranges than the well-traveled Muir, but they reached the same conclusion.

But this isn’t about the Sierra. “What is second on your list?” I asked. “The mountains of Norway” she replied with little hesitation. I’ve only experienced one mountain range outside the US, so I felt especially fortunate to have seen the top two on her list. What these ranges have in common is that they are both located on the western edge of northern hemisphere continents, perfectly situated to receive plentiful snow that formed massive glaciers during the ice ages. Now the glaciers have all but disappeared, revealing the results of the intense glaciation including steep, highly sculpted mountain sides, waterfalls from hanging valleys, and numerous glacially carved lakes and fjords.

A Double Summit Delight –
Banner Pk & Mt Ritter A Double Summit Delight – Banner Pk & Mt Ritter  by PellucidWombat

Joel Wilson, Mike Shen, and Mateusz Matolek and I celebrated our successful climb of Mt Williamson the day before by stuffing ourselves in a Big Pine restaurant. We had hiked out from Anvil Camp early, and Mike and I needed to meet up with Dan King for our next mountaineering trip, so we called his cell and set up a meeting place where we were eating.

Dan was an SPer from San Diego who wanted to join my trip to climb Banner Peak and Mt Ritter together as a snow climb. Kevin Long, a UC Berkeley student with whom I had climbed Lassen Pk earlier in the year, was also interested in the climb. He was going to meet us up at some hot springs north of Bishop. It was a precarious arrangement since Mike and I didn’t have a ride back to the Bay Area after the trip. The best arrangement we could make was for Dan or Kevin to drop us off in Fresno so that we could take a Greyhound back to Berkeley.

out to the Ice Caves Scrambling out to the Ice Caves  by hornj

Back in September my brother and I went out for a night on Mt. Hood, going to McNeil Point and the Sandy Glacier Ice Caves. The hike up to McNeil Point was great. Finding the right route was very straightforward, thanks to the information on this website. We left somewhere We saw a handful of hikers going up, but when we got to the top there was no one else up there. We left Top Spur Trailhead about 4, but we reached McNeil Point in plenty of time to see the beautiful sunset. The night was very windy, but we slept better than expected thanks to small rock walls other campers had built.

Living for the Grave Living for the Grave  by Bob Sihler

About 25 mostly unpaved miles from the closest town, the trailhead is remote to begin with. Then the trail begins with a stream crossing that for much of the summer is not going to please most people. Seven miles up the canyon is a challenging stream crossing if one wants to take a little-used trail up to a high pass (Cougar Pass) and beyond. Past that junction the trail largely goes to hell, though it is tolerable until 9 miles (while also passing a petrified forest on the other side of the stream), and then a pretty miserable 2 miles (ups and downs on game trails at best across numerous avalanche chutes) to an amazing alpine lake basin that due to its beauty and remoteness has got to be one of the best settings in the U.S. Rockies (many of these details are from my experience and not found in the book, by the way).


Mount Taranaki has been an alluring challenge for us for more than a year. Almost every weekend spent rock climbing prepared us for the second highest volcano in the North Island of New Zealand. Tahurangi, the highest peak of Mount Ruahepu at 2797 m climbed in the middle of the summer this year was a great practice and gave us more confidence for the winter Taranaki. Known as a moderately easy climb given the elevation gained (2518 m), Taranaki is famous for its difficult ascent. A lot of people inadequately equipped try to summit the mountain during winter end up with fatality. Sitting close to the Tasman Sea, unpredictable and rapidly changeable weather makes Taranaki a very dangerous mountain.

Thin Ice on the North
Couloir Direct Thin Ice on the North Couloir Direct  by thatnissanguy

It's 10:45 PM. I'm slumped in a booth at a restaurant in Buena Vista, opposite my friend Kirill, while a half eaten Supreme pizza occupies the territory in between us. There's absolutely terrible music playing over the restaurant's PA system. It's one of those settings that blurs the line between success and failure. Yeah, we climbed the route, but isn't this a different kind of low? I can't decide. Completely brain dead, for the last 15 minutes we've both been staring straight off into space. With a faint flicker of cognition, I realize I have been examining the intricacies of a Coca-Cola drink cooler. I am interrupted by Kirill ruminating about the consequences of our taking up residence in the restaurant's "party room." This prompts me to launch into a story about sleeping in a Subway one night while hitch hiking through West Texas. We both come to the same conclusion almost simultaneously. We're not going to be able to drive any further, safely. We spend the next 3 hours parked behind the building, crashed out in the front seats of a car that neither of us own. We're sleeping off the days activities, just another "fun" day in the mountains.

Mountain Bushwhack via Chapel Pond Slab: 2014 May 4 Round Mountain Bushwhack via Chapel Pond Slab: 2014 May 4  by MudRat

Hmmmm…what to do when you don’t have a full day to devote to a big outing and want a moderate challenge at an elevation where winter has lost its grip? How about Round Mountain? Just don’t use the trail and take a rope (or not). This little trip developed some time ago after reading a trip report about the mountain’s summit—open with a great panorama; a visit seemed like it might be a nice diversion with low mileage. Combining it with a climb of Chapel Pond Slab seemed like the perfect fit.

the Pemi Loop Extending the Pemi Loop  by nartreb

Along with a few other SPers, I'd been planning a Devil's Path {Catskills} traverse for months. Puma Concolor and I eventually settled on the date of July 14th, even though that meant WalksWithBlackFlies and MudRat would have to miss it because they'd be doing their ADK Ultramarathon during that time. Then Puma's work schedule went all moebius-shaped and I found myself with a gap in my calendar.

In order to prepare / test myself for Sufferfest 2007, I needed to do a big hike in early July. Something with lots of distance and lots of elevation gain, preferably a loop so I could do it without any logistical support, and ideally something within an easy drive of Boston. As of July 1st, I had in mind some kind of loop involving most or all the northern Presidentials and the Great Gulf trail. By way of preparation, I went for an eight-mile run on the morning of the Fourth. Then on Thursday the fifth, about the time I was failing to spot the fact that I had written $h->{MtgMinutes} when I meant $h->{MtngMinutes}, I had the kind of dubious inspiration worthy of the original Devil's Path plan: why not do the loop: the Pemigewasset Loop? At only two hours from home, I could even sleep in my own bed if I woke up really early in the morning.

The Ragged Edge The Ragged Edge  by LukeJennings

Always read the fine print! It is as true of climbing beta as it is of signing a contract. This thought crossed my mind as I clung to the damp, lichen covered north face of Vesper Peak. I was stuck halfway across the sheer fifth pitch traverse of the new "Ragged Edge" route. Just a few feet below me the face of Vesper Peak abruptly dropped away leaving nothing but air between the edge and granite slabs lying hundreds of feet below. Struggling to maintain my footing on damp lichen covered slab and set cams in shallow flared cracks I thought, this is a 5.7 climb? Then I remembered the fine print—the route setter had put a disclaimer in his climb description stating that, "The ratings...are potentially soft.

" Why was I there? It is a question I often ask myself on climbing trips. It was the first Sunday of October and by that time the year before the weather had turned; rain in Seattle, snow falling in the Cascades, and me sleeping in on the weekends. Based on that expectation I had stowed my alpine gear for the season instead of leaving it in a pile in my living room like usual for the whole summer when it gets used every weekend. The answer is that it was a post on Cliff Mass' popular weather blog that sent me running to the mountains where I was sneaking in one more alpine climb for the "summer" season—six harder-than-expected pitches on Vesper Peak's Ragged Edge route.

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