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Mount McKinley (Denali)
2009 Mount McKinley (Denali) 2009  by hora

Once again, my wife Viera gave me wonderful anniversary gift, a permission to climb “normal” mountain somewhere in the world… Originally we were planning to visit Saint Elias mountain range in Alaska which borders with Wrangell Mountains. Our goal was to climb Mt. Bona 5005 m (16,421 ft) and Mt.Churchill 4767m (15638 ft). These are quite remote peaks, so we were hoping that we could join some other expedition and be safer that way. Our decision got also complicated by eruption of Mount Redoubt volcano in March 2009 which brought some uncertainty regarding flying to Anchorage. After having discussion with mountain guide from the American Alpine Institute in Bellingham, WA state, we decided to try Mount McKinley. His main point was that this mountain is not as dangerous as many people think and in addition, there are many climbers who may help in case of emergency, also climbing route is well marked, 50 degree steep section of the Headwall is secured with two fixed ropes (one to go up and one to go down), access to Denali Pass is well secured as well with snow anchors used for running belay and lastly, rangers are permanently stationed at two locations, at the Base Camp and at the Basin Camp (Camp#4). Lot of useful information can be found on the Summit Post web site (http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150199/mount-mckinley-denali.html ).

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Scottish Towers Scottish Towers  by nattfodd

5:30. Both our alarms go off at the same moment. I had just found something resembling sleep in the decidedly not so comfortable bivy bag, but, excited by the climb to come, get up in an instant. It's too early to eat anything, but Dave manages to force a Scottish egg down while I lace my boots. We prepared the packs a few hours ago, when we reached the north face car park: a small rack, two 8mm ropes, our personal kit, a quart of water and some cereal bars, we're going light today. In less than half an hour, we are gone.

The path starts in a forest and goes steadily uphill. It takes me a little while to find a comfortable pace, especially with my huge Spantiks on the feet, but the walk in the dark soon becomes quite pleasant. After a little while, we reach the upper car park and a wide plateau void of any trees. In the distance, some lights close to the CIC hut let us know that we are not the only ones heading up the Ben.

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Mixed
Master (I am not) Mixed Master (I am not)  by AJones

After having a fun day (for once) climbing the Right Side of the Weeping Wall two weeks previous, Greg and I had to decide on our next climb. Having scoped out (from the road) “Mixed Master” the previous week (when climbing the Left Side of the Weeping Wall), I suggested we have a go at that. Greg agreed.

Mixed Master, according to the Guidebook, is one of the best mixed climbs in the Canadian Rockies. The climb is seven pitches in length, with ice up to Grade 5 and mixed climbing to 5.8. The crux is the rarely formed last pitch, which (when formed) climbs a ten-inch wide smear of ice for 10 vertical metres, and then another steep thin section of ice to the top. I had looked at the last pitch through binoculars on the previous Sunday and it appeared formed to me.

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A Capitol Winter A Capitol Winter  by Kiefer

Each mountain has its own, distinctive identity. For the non-mountaineer, looking at pictures of various mountains or non-descript panoramas of mountain ranges, it would beg the question as to why such mountainous terrain would be any more special & precious then say, coastal areas, desert steppe, canyon country or miles and miles of grasslands? And to be fair about it, it isn’t. Anyone who’s seen places like Inner Mongolia, The Icelandic Interior, The Grand Canyon or the Pawnee National Grasslands knows these places are just as special and indeed, precious.

But the mountains are what I know. I’ve grown up on a steady diet of 9,000ft (2.743m) to 14,000ft (4.267) peaks and equally cacophonous terrain. Multiple summers of cragging and scrambling segue into winters of snowshoeing, skiing and camping. This directly fuels my appetite for all things vertical. And it’s true. Every mountain does have an identity and character. There are as many Anthony Hopkins and Ian Holm comparisons as there are Aleister Crowley and Sid Vicious. And as far as natural basaltic, granite and sedimentary temperaments (Maroon Bells anyone?), each mountain can have mood swings. Capitol Peak is arguably Colorado’s hardest 14er. Winter adds a whole new dimension that few are willing to experience.

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Hiking in the Falkland
Islands Hiking in the Falkland Islands  by vancouver islander

The last two weeks of November saw my wife and me once again in the wild and wonderful Falkland Islands. A previous visit in 2005 was mostly to see the incomparable wildlife in the Islands whilst trying not to eat too much without offending the locals’ incredible hospitality. We had plenty of opportunity to recognise, however, that with their open, trackless terrain the Islands would make a superb hiking destination and we accordingly made this the principle focus of our latest trip down there.

Falkland Island mountains are neither high nor rugged. They’re more like high heathland topped by ridge-like tors, not unlike Dartmoor in the UK or certain areas of Tasmania. What challenge is lost to simple lack of height, however, is more than made up for by the conditions. There are no trails. Risk of hypothermia is ever present. The constant frigid wind, uninterrupted on its passage from the Antarctic, can literally blow you off your feet. “Summer” weather includes sunshine one minute and a snowstorm/white-out the next. There are no trees and the mountainsides are mostly bare and open to the wind with limited possibilities for shelter in an emergency. Not, in the sparsely populated Falklands, that getting hold of anyone in an emergency would be likely anyway. On all hikes I carried clothing appropriate to climbing something more akin to Mt Rainier and often used all of it.

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The Beast of the East The Beast of the East  by Son of Hendrick

The plan was to meet in Boston around 6 at night and hopefully leave shortly thereafter and then take the long 5-6 hour drive up to Millinocket. However, as we all know plans rarely if ever come to fortune like that; we ended up leaving Melrose after waiting for everyone to pack up at around 8 at night. After that the miles went on and on until we got up to Maine and then it seemed as if we left the mountains and entered into snow machining land with a bunch of pine trees and no hills whatsoever. The long drive ended with us getting lost in Millinocket and eventually finding the way with help from back home. After we packed up and fixed the sleds in the parking lot we started hiking at around 5am and the long haul began.

The first few miles went very slowly, the sleds just kept on tipping over and we had to readjust them every single time they did tip over. After countless readjustments the sun broke and we started over the 2-mile long esker with our first views of Katahdin to the right of us. After that the only other landmark and noticeable thing along the trail was a mile marker that said 6.8 miles. Those next 6.8 miles were the killer and we ended up going around 1 mile per hour with no views of our objective and no landmarks to see how far we had made it. The sign at Roaring Brook was one of the most beautiful sights of the day, as I strolled in with Paul my pace quickened and I smiled for the first time in 6.8 miles. Once we got all checked in with the rangers and chose our lean-to the fun began with the nighttime ritual of boiling water, eating, and getting ready for bed. Once the sun went down we were knocked out, we slept like babies all night long until Paul woke up in the middle of the night yelling that there was a moose in the lean-to. After much deliberation we realized that it was just Reggie and a duffle bag making the midnight stroll behind us. When we all settled down the cold night, -15* F, was made even colder when our water bottles cooled down.

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Double-tapping Bierstadt in Winter Double-tapping Bierstadt in Winter  by metal4lyf

The last time I descended Mount Bierstadt in the dark, I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, which were soaking wet after I slipped and fell in a patch of slushy snow. I hadn't even reached the summit. That was my first bid at a fourteener.

Many summits later and volumes better-prepared, I returned to Bierstadt with some colleagues to settle unfinished business. This time we summited. I had an eye for the sawtooth, but one party member's recent fear of heights forced us to abort.

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Our tour on and around
Triglav Our tour on and around Triglav  by visentin

Triglav and Slovenia were already an old dream for both Dorota and me. From my side, I felt a strong curiosity for this southern country from which originate the mediatic "beasts" of my home mountains. More seriously, my knowledge of the Alps is below zero, a paradox for a Frenchman, so let's start with Slovenia ! But this journey is above all a double pilgrimage: first of all to my origins, since my paternal grandparents were Friulians (not exactly the same region, but almost), and also my new country of adoption in the "widest cultural and linguistic sense", since I expatriated to Poland, this other slavic country.

For Dorota, who has that nationality, the fantasm is even greater. Triglav, the highest point of Slovenia, is a truly emblematic summit. Present on the national flag and on coins, no other mountain in the world symbolizes so much one nation. So much so that its fame extends well beyond its borders, especially in Central Europe, where we can meet countless Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks, Poles and so on, who come to climb the fetish mountain of the Slovenes, kind of jealous of not owning such a beautiful and charismatic one at home. In short, Triglav is a kind sacred mountain and a fascinating destination, no matter if said to be crowded.

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Pueblo Mountain, finally Pueblo Mountain, finally  by Dean

They say that the third time is a charm and this proved to be true in this case. However, the first two times I went to the foot of this mountain, it was not attempted. Why? Well, twice before I had made the long trip to the Pueblo Mtn area, only to be twarted by bad weather. Both times, thunderstorms kept me from even attempting the mountain so this mountain had moved high on my "want" list. Funny how that works, not having a chance the first two times really whets one appetite for later. A bit of history is described below.

The first time was with Dennis Poulin and while he and I were successful on several other peaks in the area, when we went to do Pueblo, the weather changed on us and it changed dramatically. Thunderstorms boomed day and night and we knew it was time to leave it for another time. This was over the Memorial day weekend in 2005.

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One Step
Closer to Death One Step Closer to Death  by Diggler

“Trust me dude, you really don't want' to fall here.” When I hear Rob say this, I know that he means it. Problem is, it feels damn near inevitable at the moment; my precarious perch feels like it's itching to spit me off, & I feel the beginnings of a pump, trying to get past this initial “rock” section. I say “rock” because- as anyone who has been on Round Top, near Carson Pass, California, knows- the mountain might as well be made of some kind of dark grayish drywall, or something of similar consistency. Instead of logically analyzing the futility of my position until my muscles give, my body reflexively takes control from my mind, I commit, & grovel upwards these last few feet, practically willing myself up to the next stance. Phew.

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