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Big Days in Tirol Big Days in Tirol  by mvs

I like big days. When you start walking at dawn, the first on the trail breaking all the spiderwebs. When you startle the animals, unused to seeing awkward two-leggers cantilevering along. And when you make the decision to take the long way home...through another valley or over another peak. The feeling of pleasant exhaustion and accomplishment at the high point in late afternoon or evening, and the long trip down on autopilot, again disturbing the spider webs in the silent forest.

Lately I've been without climbing partners for one reason or another, and a look at the calendars that govern our affairs means that will probably continue for a while. That's okay, I like going solo. As a beginner, I didn't know any climbers, so I got used to doing things alone, so in a way, going solo is going back to my roots. I just have to be careful to keep the technical difficulties reasonable because nothing will ruin your day like sketching around on 5th class terrain alone.

Potosi Peak
North Couloir: Dodging Some Bullets Potosi Peak North Couloir: Dodging Some Bullets  by shknbke

Potosi Peak is an imposing 13er that doesn't get a lot of attention as it is neighbored by higher Mt Sneffels and Teakettle Mountain in the dramatic cirque known as Yankee Boy Basin neary Ouray. It looks like a castle in the sky as it is well guarded on all sides with steep cliffs and impressive towers. Thousands of people drive up the popular 4WD road underneath the steep west slopes of Potosi to soak up the views in this dramatic place or to climb Sneffels, the monarch of the Sneffels Range. I climbed Potosi with Layne Bracy back in 2006 after a successful climb of Teakettle and we were not able to enjoy a rest on the summit as we were being chased by storm clouds.

We have been itching to climb Potosi via its aesthetic north couloir since Dave Cooper featured it in his fine "Colorado Snow Climbs" book. Last year, Dwight, Sarah, and Pete made an attempt of the climb but turned back at the saddle because of poor snow conditions. We camped at the Thistledown campground lower down on the Yankee Boy road and got a few hours of sleep after the long drive across the state.

A window
for Messix A window for Messix  by Dean

Messix Mountain in the Promontory mountains of Utah has long been on my wish list agenda. Being one of Utah's prominence peaks, it sits at #54 on the top 100 list having 2462' of prominence and despite the fact that it is only 7372 feet above sea level, it is a nice prize for prominence peakbaggers like myself. As far as I knew, no one that I knew had ever been on top of this one and there is a good reason why, it is totally on private property and heavily signed for "no trespassing".

Mount Olympus: Highpoint of
Greece Mount Olympus: Highpoint of Greece  by gimpilator

A few years back I read the amazing novel by John Fowles called The Magus. In the story, two of the main characters visit one of the refuges on Mount Olympus in Greece. They did not attempt to climb the mountain but merely came to see the terrain and appreciate the history. This part of the story raised my interest in the mountain. The ancient Greeks worshiped the 12 god's called The Olympians who were named for their dwelling place, Mount Olympus. Now the idea began to form in my mind that maybe I could climb this "mountain of the gods".

Some research revealed that Olympus has several high points along a long ridge and the highest, Mytikas, is 2917 meters or 9570 feet. The standard route ends with a long exposed rock scramble. I decided that it was probably within my abilities but wouldn't know for sure until trying. When the trip went beyond a possibility to a definite plan, I made contact with several of the local people. I contacted a guiding service, a climbing club, and a worker in one of the refuges. My correspondence with these people convinced me that my original idea of climbing in the end of April was likely too early in the season and it would be better to wait until June. I therefore set my window of opportunity for the end of May / beginning of June.

Gettin' dirty in The Grunge
Couloir Gettin' dirty in The Grunge Couloir  by Scott Wesemann

A year ago I stood on the summit ridge of North Timpanogos Peak looking down the Grunge Couloir with my climbing partners, Matt and Sean after coming up from the much tamer Cold Fusion Couloir. As we looked down and watched a few good sized rocks shoot down the steep slopes like missiles we commented that you would have to be crazy to climb that thing. Fast forward a year. Matt and I had been planning a return climb of North Timp via Cold Fusion for a few weeks, but our fickle spring weather had continually thwarted our attempts. We finally had a near perfect forecast and we both had a window where we could squeeze in a climb, so we had a plan… or so we thought.

Matt received a message from another SP member, Dustin about attempting The Grunge Couloir on the same day. I had been hearing stories about the Grunge for a few years now, and while I was definitely intrigued, I was also a little uneasy. I knew it was a steep (60 degree +) slope that was known for its rotten rock and frequent rock fall, and that very few people ever attempt it. The crux of the route is where the rock walls on both sides become very narrow, and all of the falling rock is funneled through. There isn’t any way to get around this because the rock walls are steep and rotten. Adding to my uneasiness was the fact that I had recently read about the route in the book The Chuting Gallery, and I remembered them giving this route an S6 rating. The authors definition of an S6 route in the book says “Slopes continuously steeper than 55 degrees, Painful death from falling highly likely”. I was very apprehensive about it, but Matt talked me into it, and I am glad he did.

Tail (06-05) and IPW tour (06-06) Dragon’s Tail (06-05) and IPW tour (06-06)  by maverick

We had wanted to climb dragon’s tail for a while now and felt like this weekend was as good an opportunity as any. We were made aware of beta suggesting rockfall facilitated by melting snow, etc. but the only way to know for sure was to go and look. Given that the time was late for this couloir we thought that the right branch was probably what we would climb. Overnight temps at 12,000’ were forecast at above freezing (38F) which would ordinarily mean no refreeze but the fairly clear night and fairly strong winds gave us hope that the snow in the couloir may remain fairly solid. However, it did not make sense to risk a late start and the melting that came from sunhit. We therefore advanced our start time to 4AM.

A Test of
Fortitude On the Notch Couloir A Test of Fortitude On the Notch Couloir  by noahs213

There are those climbs that take a toll on you mentally and physically. They demand every bit of knowledge you know to complete the task safely. They leave you with a long exhausting climb. You go through a lot just to complete it. So why do we climb? What's the reason of doing this? What's it worth that you can climb a challenging route? It's worth everything for me.

There is something about doing a challenging climb. When you fail over and over and then you complete it, it's the most rewarding experience. There is nothing that matches that gratitude. The Notch Couloir has always had me in awe. It's been a goal for me ever since I started climbing. There is no other route in the world quite like this one which is why I like it - it's different.

Great Basin National Park Memorial Weekend 2010 Skiing Great Basin National Park Memorial Weekend 2010  by TyeDyeTwins

After years of listening to the rumors, old wise tales, and many exaggerations about how great The Great Basin National Park truly is, we decided that the only way to find out was to actually go there. Early Friday morning we drove the 260 miles of barren desert, through the small towns and dust storms. From the highway our first view of the Snake Range was seen and right away we knew we made the right decision on spending Memorial Weekend in Great Basin National Park. Shortly after our first view of the park we found ourselves driving a short distance up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Highway where we got a beautiful view of Jeff Davis and the other terrain we would be skiing over the next 3 days.

We knew that the campgrounds in Great Basin National Park are first come first serve, so we made finding a campsite our number one agenda. The upper two campgrounds (Wheeler and Upper Lehman) were closed when we got there, leaving only The Lower Lehman Campground open. With only 11 campsites available at this campground, we got the 8th (and best) campsite and were relieved that we would not have to poach a spot in the desert with the rattle snakes and vast forests of cactus.

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!

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