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Manly Beacon-- Back to Where
It All Began Manly Beacon-- Back to Where It All Began  by Bob Sihler

We eventually left and headed on to see Badwater and the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells, but late afternoon brought us back to Zabriskie Point, and the golden ridges, starting to glow in the light of the lowering sun, drew us to them, and Manly Beacon seemed to be the epicenter of that force. Although there is no official trail to Manly Beacon, not even to the base of the route people take up it (though there are sometimes cairns in the wash that is the key to the approach), it was not hard to find our way to the end of a wash surrounded by red cliffs (Red Cathedral, I would learn some years later), and then we scrambled to the saddle between those cliffs and the narrow ridgeline of Manly Beacon and followed that crumbly ridge, really a knife edge in places, all the way to the small summit, where the late-afternoon colors on the badlands and the views west of snowy Telescope Peak, which I'd return to climb the following spring, and the great salt pan of Death Valley made me gape and exclaim my amazement.

Americans and Mexicans. Oh My! Bosnians, Americans and Mexicans. Oh My!  by Kiefer

I like Mexico. It’s a big country. The culture is vibrant and intoxicating. It’s exotic and colorful like a massive chilé-scented peacock. One has the option to head north and dodge cacti, coyotes and coyotajes while rummaging for desert peaks in the Sonoran or Chihuahua deserts or relaxing to the super-swinging sounds of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney down Tampico way. Getting lost within the crosstalk and great confusion that serves as Mexico City (one of the most populous cities in the world) is awe-inspiring, frustrating and heart-wrenchingly sad.

And then there’s the volcano’s. Mexico holds three of the highest peaks in North America: Pico de Orizaba, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. Unfortunately, one of them is off-limits due to its being perpetually pissed off, but that’s another matter. But for someone who has diminishing and occasional aspirations in all things altitude-related, I am drawn to its volcanos and mountains. As a traveler, I’m fascinated by its anachronistic progress towards the modern while keeping both feet and some could argue both hands, firmly planted in tradition and torpidity. And oddly enough, I believe that, is Mexico’s savior…tradition. For without its devout religious beliefs and tradition, the poverty which, is all encompassing and leaves one speechless in its totality, would be unbearable. But liked a buried ember, it’s tradition that rises like a Phoenix to save the people. For this, is why I like to go to Mexico when not hiking, for the people.

Cowboys and
Aliens in the American Elysium - Yellowstone, The Grand, The Wind Rivers Cowboys and Aliens in the American Elysium - Yellowstone, The Grand, The Wind Rivers  by tvashtarkatena

Going to Wyoming from Seattle involves a time change: one hour minus 100 years. Here, things are made of logs, rocks, and whatever bits of steel the pioneers left on their way to Hollywood and Eugene, crudely TIG welded by a guy named Lindsay, but you’d best call him Buck.

Everything that happens here stays here but, like the surface of Mars, it remains indelibly etched upon the land for all eternity. If a front yard display of every machine International Harvester ever made is the statement you’re looking for, hire a Wyoman as your landscaper. Despite Wyoming’s inherent remoteness, the state harbors two of the world’s most popular national parks. I was 16 the last time I backpacked in Yellowstone, and 21 when I was last stormed off the Grand Teton.

Wolfjaw Mt. White Slide: 2014 Winter Finale Upper Wolfjaw Mt. White Slide: 2014 Winter Finale  by MudRat

It’s difficult to describe why I love this slide (perhaps love-hate is a better term). It’s the prize of Upper Wolfjaw Mt. and one of the most difficult Adirondack slides. The combination of setting, challenge and general character set it apart from most others in my mind. While there is plenty of clean rough slab, during non-snow/ice seasons, it harbors moss in the most precarious places, most notably, on the crux of the climb—part of the draw for me. Oddly, this is also the same reason that I sometimes dislike the slide. In any case, climbing it requires total emersion in the moment. This alone draws me back to it over and again.

The Kirwin
Chronicles, Volume 6: Fire in the Sky The Kirwin Chronicles, Volume 6: Fire in the Sky  by Bob Sihler

For many months prior to August 2011, I had been planning a backpacking trip up Frontier Creek in Wyoming's Southeast Absarokas in order to climb two remote and seldom-climbed peaks, one an unnamed summit along a ridge separating the basins of Green Lake and Emerald Lake and the other the ominous-sounding Devils Graveyard, atop which there is said to be a field of slab-like rocks resembling gravestones set perpendicular to the ground. In fact, I'd been thinking about both summits for more than a year, and the latter for over a decade.

So of course, shortly before leaving for Wyoming, I learned from a friend that there was a large fire burning in my destined area and that there were area closures. Sure enough, those closures included where I was headed even though the fire was not in that drainage at the time (and apparently never was). Accordingly, I altered plans to focus on day hikes and climbs in the Southern Absarokas instead.

O Brother,
Where Art Thou? O Brother, Where Art Thou?  by LukeJennings

"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow…For in this world I'm bound to ramble," lyrics from the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? were running through my head as I, delirious with exhaustion, stumbled down the dark trail frequently tripping over roots and rocks. My three teammates and I were trailhead bound after completing our climb across the Brothers Traverse. It was well past midnight and our way was illuminated only by headlamps in the moonless night. The weight of my backpack dug painfully into my shoulders and my feet ached with every step. We finally stopped for a quick break, unshouldering our packs at the viewpoint above Lena Lake. The mantle of stars in the cloudless night sky glittered reflected light across the lake's dark, still waters. It was the weather we were promised by the forecast, unfortunately it arrived too late. By that time it was 1:30am. We could have used clear skies about sixteen hours earlier when we reached the North Brothers summit. It would have saved us a lot of time in a day that started at 5am. When we rested at Lena Lake we were twenty-and-a-half hours into a day of non-stop climbing and hiking and still one-and-a-half hours away from the trailhead. That said, I had no right to complain. I was a student in the 2013 Boeing Employees' Alpine Society Intermediate Climbing Class (BOEALPS ICC) and I had requested The Brothers Traverse as my first alpine climb.

Montasio /
Jof Fuart - an overlooked gem in the Eastern Alps Montasio / Jof Fuart - an overlooked gem in the Eastern Alps  by damgaard

Summer 2013 was (as usual) spent in the Alps doing a mixture of hiking, climbing, orienteering and mountainbiking. Until a few days before departure the weather forecasts had been looking rather questionable and we had been arguing back and forth between Western Alps or Eastern Alps. In the end Eastern Alps won - a lucky pick since it turned out to be close to three weeks with absolutely perfect weather almost every day!

The first week was spent hiking with a friend in the Grossglockner group including a climb to the summit itself. Then I moved on to Slovenia for some orienteering, mountainbiking and via ferrate climbing with other friends before heading towards the Montasio / Jof Fuart group in the northeastern part of Italy just on the border to Austria and Slovenia for a small solo hiking trip.

Canyoneering Canyonlands Canyoneering Canyonlands  by Scott

Matt Lemke contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go canyoneering for the weekend. At first we were thinking of the Roost, but the un-betaed canyon I had in mind might be too long for the short days. Doing it in two days would be hard since it would be too tight to take packs through. I made the suggestion that we put the Roost canyon on hold.

I had remembered that years ago (1991) I had scouted out Elephant Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. I knew it wouldn’t be a tight slot, but what intrigued me about the canyon is that I could see huge pools and waterfalls and a narrows section. While canyons with pools and running water are common in places such as Zion National Park or Escalante, they are very rare in Canyonlands National Park. The canyon was also ruggedly spectacular and 1300 feet in its lower end. I suggested the possibility of descending the canyon to Matt and he was interested.

Northshore Peak Northshore Peak  by nader

Northshore Peak rises in Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the east of Las Vegas, Nevada. The peak is officially un-named. Its north face creates a wall/steep slope that rises 1000 ft above North Shore Road, a 50 mile long scenic desert drive that parallels the northern shore of Lake Mead on Colorado River behind Hoover Dam. Northshore Peak does not have an established trail but can be easily hiked via its northeastern slopes. Only below its summit, a short section of Class III hand and foot climbing will be required.

I had a cold and my ears were ringing. I had decided not to do any hiking today. Woke up in our hotel on Las Vegas Strip at 7:30 a.m. While still in bed, I thought that if I don’t do any hiking, I will be bored to death. It was quite ironic that I could not keep myself busy in the entertainment capital of the world and had to run to the dust and dirt of the wilderness. At 8:00 a.m., I suddenly decided that I wanted to climb Northshore Peak.

Cruising the Mirror Lake
Highway Cruising the Mirror Lake Highway  by ZeeJay

So this time, I really, really vowed not to ski the highway again unless the conditions were absolutely perfect, old slick snow, minimal wind, not too cold, not too warm, and a weekday to minimize snowmobiles. My friend Glen was interested in doing it too, but had no waxable skis, lightweight or otherwise. I volunteered my husband's gear and fortunately the boots fit. I don't know anyplace that rents waxable skis anymore so renting was not an option. Glen, like most people, was otherwise occupied Mon-Fri, so my weekday plan went out the window. In Utah, Saturday is the day most people recreate, since many of the local population spend 3 hours in church every Sunday. I drew the line at going on a Saturday, fearing it would be one snowmobile after another the whole way, so Sunday it was. The problem was that both of us had Sundays tied up until February 9, and 31 inches of snow fell between the 7th and the 9th. I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid. The next day we could both make was the 23rd, and in between the two dates, there was really no day when conditions were good anyway. It was either snowing, too warm for good glide, or too windy. The 23rd didn't look all that good either, but it was warming up so fast I was afraid that if we didn't do it then, we wouldn't find a cold enough day for the snow to refreeze for the descent.

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