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Knoydart: One flew over the
cuckoo's nest Knoydart: One flew over the cuckoo's nest  by Boydie

We had planned this trip since the tail end of 2009. A weekend trip into the Rough Bounds of Knoydart, one of the last few true wilderness areas left in Scotland. The area is very mountainous and is surrounded on the west by the sea, the north and south by long narrow sea lochs and to the east by the high rocky peaks that surround Loch Quoich. Knoydart sits on the Western peninsula of Scotland, just to the south-east of the Isle of Skye and there are no roads that penetrate into this area so the options for getting there fail under just a few categories. Sea kayaking via one of the sea lochs, the ferry that runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Mailag over to Inverie or one of the two rights of way that provide access by foot, through Glen Dessary (13km one way) or along the shores of Loch Hourn from Kinlochhourn (11km one way). The latter was the choice preffered, as we figured the views would be more aesthetic and was the quickest route to Barisdale where we intended to camp.

Friday morning and Alec was at my place for 9am and within 30 minutes we had picked up Charlie and were heading up the A82 road towards Fort William, where we would grab a quick bite to eat and get any last needed supplies. The weather was looking good and the forecast for the whole weekend had sounded promising, with only the threat of some small showers predicted. The talk most of the way to Fort William was mostly catch up stuff; work, family, football, basically general chit-chat. Driving through Crianlarich to Bridge of Orchy, the peaks of those areas looked fantastic, on what was quickly developing into a scorcher of a day. The sight of Beinn Dorain, just before Bridge of Orchy, is always a friendly and familiar sight as it's where I feel that the start of the Scottish Highlands is truly begining. We rounded Loch Tulla on the A82 road and were surprised to see the loch so calm that it was reflecting the surrounding peaks, something you rarely see mid-morning in Scotland as it's usually always windy. The talk quickly turned to this fact and that there seemed to be a high level of humidity. The granduer of Glencoe followed, then a further 30mins driving before a short break at Fort William.

Toubkal: A Climb, A Culture, An Adventure Jbel Toubkal: A Climb, A Culture, An Adventure  by Dragger

In case you were wondering, Africa is a very long way from California. It amazes me what type of world travel is possible now, that would have been unthinkable years ago. We left on a Friday evening and arrived in Marrakech, Morocco mid-day Sunday, after flying from Sacramento to Atlanta, Atlanta to Paris, Paris to Casablanca, and Casablanca to Marrakech. We decided to spend the night in Marrakech before starting the climb of Jbel Toubkal the next day so we chose "Dar les Cignones" or "House of Storks to stay at. In Marrakech, there are many restored "riads" or "dars" which are like a bed and breakfast -- very traditional Moroccan. The chatty cab driver knew right where to go to get to our riad which is a good thing because Marrakech is a gigantic labyrinth and a bit crazy!

From the rooftop terrace of Dar les Cignones, you can see the storks nesting in the old royal castle across the street. The contrast between the crazy hub-bub of the outside and the serene fountains of the inside of the riad was stark. We were immediately greeted by a warm and welcoming woman with fresh towels scented like orange blossom, cookies, and the omnipresent sweet mint tea.

We had dinner with our friend Jen in the courtyard with candles and Moroccoan wine -- a rose actually. It was magical. I ate the monkfish tagine, Moroccan salad and bread. Anxious about the next day, I took some Ambian to get myself to go to sleep. Ahhhh!

Grey Rock
via New Era: A Garden of the Gods Mega-Classic Grey Rock via New Era: A Garden of the Gods Mega-Classic  by shknbke

Adam was coming down for the annual Y couloir trip on Pikes and asked if I wanted to do something technical in the morning on Friday before trudging up to Barr Camp. I'm always looking for a rope gun, so we decided on a classic line on Grey Rock (aka Kindergarten or Cathedral Rock) in Garden of the Gods. Grey Rock is a prominent formation on the southeast side of the park adjacent to Ridge Road. Many visitors have gazed upon it in awe and I've always wanted to get up it. I'm more inclined to rock climb if there's a summit involved, and this has been high on my list of formations to climb in the park.

The map actually shows the north summit as being higher by one contour, but a Front Range climbing guidebook says that this is the highpoint of the park. The easiest route on the north summit is the north ridge, which goes at 5.4R.

Making Merry on Martha - Mt.
Lady Washington Making Merry on Martha - Mt. Lady Washington  by maverick

I had marked my calendar eager to get out on some Alpine route with Sherpa Joe once before he left on his Denali expedition. Suspecting that he’d rather climb something that kicked his ass (which wouldn’t happen while keeping pace with me) I was set on Dragon Tail with another friend. However, come Friday afternoon at lunch at work, Joe issued a familiar “Mmrrr… uff… harrumph… Martha - Mt. Lady Washington - Longs traverse – ski Longs' North Face mruff?”. This moderately well articulated grunt was influential enough to make me forget Dragon Tail and begin assembling topozone maps of the Longs Peak area. With a gentle reminder that my skiing skills were not up to a North Face descent (and that I might end up hucking the Diamond instead), Joe was willing to just climb Martha and ski the East Face of Mt. Lady Washington… there was that dang party (his own going away party) in Erie at 4PM anyway... a short day might work. I decided to head up to the Longs Peak TH the previous night and sleep in my Jeep (Wall-E) so I was a little better acclimatized than usual. Joe would meet me there at 3AM. Old Man wind began his familiar evil shenanigans at midnight (his gusts were sporadic and lasted all day). I was mildly surprised that Wall-E didn’t blow away that night. Someone needs to let the old grouch in on a little secret. Calendar winter 2010 is over old man... you have no business here for a little while. At 2:55AM Joe’s Corolla pulled into the lot. I ate, we packed and left the TH at around 3:30AM.

Rainy Riglos TR Rainy Riglos TR  by rpc

I think it was an article in Climbing magazine (…or was it Rock and Ice?) about the huge conglomerate towers and faces of Riglos, Spain some years ago that initially put this area on our radar. However, the idea was largely forgotten until I stumbled on a couple of TR’s on the web within the last year or so. Looking at the photos of the 300 meter tall formations with their unique (steep!) rock towering above a charming Aragon village got our climbing juices going.

An overnight flight from Portland to Barcelona (including a layover in Atlanta) was followed by a very drowsy and seemingly never-ending (in reality, only four hours long) drive deep into the Aragon countryside. Thirty minute long bursts of driving were followed by hour-long rest area sleeping sessions. We finally arrived in Riglos on Saturday afternoon with just enough daylight to hike around and check out the starts of a couple of routes on our list. Incredible – the rock consists of “pebbles” of various sizes (ranging from thumb- to car-sized) embedded in a sandstone “concrete.” Something reminiscent of Meteora in Greece. From afar, the rock looks like chossy crap (a bit like Fisher Towers) but up close the holds seem well set in place and the established routes seem clean! With the fire stoked we went to sleep in a motel in Murillo (a nearby village) very excited at the prospect of climbing there over the coming five days.

A boxful of cats A boxful of cats  by kamil

Every trip has to start some time. This one was supposed to begin last night, or maybe in the wee hours of this morning after a few hours of sleep. The outcome is somewhere in the middle, i.e. this morning with no sleep at all. Just a few things popped out and didn’t let me grab a kip...

Only after midnight can I start packing my gear. While checking the car documents I notice that my MOT is valid only till the 14th. I subconsciously remembered I’ve got it till the end of July, like in previous years, forgetting that last summer I went to ?ód? to have the car checked some two weeks earlier than before. I quickly calculate that I’ll be back after that date, and not immediately in Poland but in Holland first. If I enter Schengen before the 14th, I have a good chance that no one’s gonna check me. I can do sod all about it now so there’s no point getting worried anyway. I leave Utrecht at 3 am, soon crossing the border. The slowly brightening north-easterly sky serves me its colours for an early breakfast. Only somewhere in the middle of Germany I pull in at a petrol station to catch my forty winks.

A Week at the Gorge A Week at the Gorge  by AJones

“Watch me”, I said, as I felt the strength fading in my arms; perhaps the result of six straight days of climbing; perhaps because I’m old and weak.

Five or six seconds later……


Thunk! The sound of my body slamming into the rock.

Stuart Glacier Couloir +
cozy cave bivy Stuart Glacier Couloir + cozy cave bivy  by StephAbegg

8:04 am: Approaching Mt. Stuart. That's the classic north ridge in the photo, which we climbed around on the right (via the Stuart Glacier) to get to the Stuart Glacier Couloir. We left the Stuart Lake TH at 4:30am, so it took us 3.5 hrs to get to here.

10:27 am: Looking up the Stuart Glacier Couloir. Not the greatest weather, but it was forecasted to improve by midday (which it never did)

Eagle Lake
Ice – Wild Basin (RMNP) – 4/17/2010 Eagle Lake Ice – Wild Basin (RMNP) – 4/17/2010  by maverick

Joe wanted to head up for a weekend to get some sled dragging practice in for Denali and I jumped on the bandwagon although I know ridiculously little about ice climbing and even less about handling the cold. Playing side kick to Joe is great despite all the bitching on my part. There’s always plenty to learn and plenty of perspective to be had… (Regular life doesn’t seem so hard after this shit!).

National Park Caparaó National Park  by PAROFES

To come back home after so many new summits on the Andes it's not easy. Brazilian mountains are not so big and there's never ice or snow, they're gorgeous too but in a different way. To do so i had to visit a completly new place for me, even at brazilian soil (i said to many friends overseas that we have tons of mountains here at my country and they didn't believe me he he he). So i chose the Caparaó National Park, a place i never went before.

It is a gorgeous brazilian park and third oldest, created in 1961. The distance is huge: 830 kms (around 515 miles) from São Paulo, and that means 12 hours on a bus to get there. Too far away...

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