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Big, Black
and Beautiful: Tasting the Kaweah Mystique Big, Black and Beautiful: Tasting the Kaweah Mystique  by Augie Medina

I had the good fortune to have a friend and hiking/climbing partner, Tom Becht (SP bechtt), who initiated the plans to tackle the Kaweahs. A third candidate was unable to make it, so it was Tom and me in the end.

Of the two approaches, we chose the “easier” one from Mineral King. This would involve a 26-mile roundtrip with 11,000 feet of gain to climb the coveted Black Kaweah. But 18.5 of those miles would be with full backpack and 8,200 feet of gain! I’m not as successful at going ultra light as Tom is, either with a day pack or an overnight pack. Taking too much food was one mistake for me, but that’s in hindsight. We opted to take along ice axe and crampons in case needed. We didn’t want to fail to summit any of the peaks due to lack of equipment. We vacillated on the need for tents until the very last minute. We decided to take our respective one-man tents in case of inclement weather (which we got but not at camp).

Wolf's Head
Fully Charged+/- Wolf's Head Fully Charged+/-  by dfrancom

Our trip started with the idea to climb the East Ridge of Wolf’s Head in the Windriver Mtns, Wyoming. Was it a good idea? The answer to this question is left to the reader’s judgment. Wolf’s Head is a huge granite razor back ridge located in the Cirque of the Towers. I had heard about this climb as one of the “50 Classics”. I began to search information about the climb, its difficulty, approach time etc… and then we set the date and time to go.

Dreams: Photo Trip Report July 2008 Teton Dreams: Photo Trip Report July 2008  by marauders

Who hasn't dreamed of climbing in the Teton Range? The adventure, the terrain and the history. For years I've wanted to begin exploring the Tetons, but work and responsibilities kept pushing me away from my goal. Out of frustration, I simply threw out a random set of dates and proclaimed that this week I was going to the Tetons. Initially it was for 7 days, then 5, and then 3; but I did it! Three uninterrupted days in the Tetons with a great climbing partner and superb weather. Let the fun begin!

Did someone say Gran
Pilaster Did someone say Gran Pilaster  by mvs

This is part of a week-long trip Carlos, Theron ("OZNID") and I made in the Alps. Theron wrote his version of the trip report here.

After a difficult late night trying to get down to this southerly Dolomite region (I'd never been this far south), we crashed on the ground for a few hours of sleep. Our guidebook warned us against trying this climb from the ski lift, probably because it doesn't open until 8 am, but there was no way we were going to walk up after our previous hard hiking days. So we slept until almost 7 am, then started getting ready.

I had mentioned a lot of different climbs to Carlos and Theron over the months before their visit, but this one, the Gran Pilaster on the iconic Pala di San Martino really seemed to stick. In my mind, it didn't stand out especially, but at any opportunity one or the other of my friends would mention it: clearly it was a goal not to be passed up! So I got into the spirit too, and the heroics of the night before were our way of living up to that dream.

Wasatch Wildcat Ridge
Traverse Wasatch Wildcat Ridge Traverse  by Matthew Van Horn

When I first climbed Mt Olympus over 15 years ago, I became aware of the vast green and orange wilderness stretching east from the peak. On that first climb, I ventured a small distance past the peak, to the point where I could overlook a steep, narrow chute running down into a maze of vegetation and rock to the North. The other side was even more impressively wild and treacherous: an enormous southwest-facing amphitheater (I would learn later it is called Heugh's Canyon) lined with dozens of colossal vertical rock fins, steep ramps of talus, and a jumble of boulders and trees clinging to all sides. At the head of Heugh's Canyon is a narrow strip of ridge that slims down to a knife edge, a near vertical slab sandwich that at one point in geological time was as horizontal & flat as a parking lot.

Waiting for the Full Moon on
Chachani Waiting for the Full Moon on Chachani  by Vic Hanson

Around the beginning of July, I received an email from Tim, a fellow SPer from Salt Lake City. He had read my Arequipa Seven Summits report and wanted to climb some of those peaks using public transportation. I also was interested in climbing Chachani by the southern route using public transportation so we discussed that and agreed to do it together. As usual, Julver Castro, a mountain guide friend here, was willing to give us very helpful information about the route. He showed me some photos and pointed out the route on them, which seemed very clear at the time. He also told me that we could take a taxi to the first National Reserve sign on the old road between Misti and Chachani, which is the trailhead for the climb. I had driven past that point about seven months before, but didn't remember the sign. Not wanting to lead Tim astray, I decided to ride up there on my mtn. bike and check it out while he was climbing Pichu Pichu. I did this on Tuesday, taking a few photos and climbing up the first hill as well, to get a better look at the route. I again checked with Julver after returning to Arequipa that afternoon to confirm the route, using my photos.

Drama on
the Cooper Spur Drama on the Cooper Spur  by Rob Ricks

Chris Wright, our climbing guide from TMG, was climbing with alacrity for the first belayed pitch of our effort. The rockbands signified where the real climbing began. Mike Dietrich (Chevy Chase, MD) and I rested as the rope paid out above our anchor. I looked out over the skies in the Columbia River Gorge, anticipating a dawn of bluish-pink cast to begin showing itself. Instead, I registered a lightening charcoal gray hue signaling something different.

“Well, that doesn’t look right,” I said to Mike as I scanned the skies east for changes farther up the Gorge. Up to this point we climbed in beautiful, clear night skies. The only problem was that it was too warm. The freezing level was 16,000 feet – way above Hood’s 11,239 foot summit. The ridge snow provided a nice air-conditioning effect as we ascended from our camp. Still, it was much warmer than I was used to climbing in the past. I was doing great in a base-layer, shell pants, and a wind jacket.

A Journey of a Very
Different Kind A Journey of a Very Different Kind  by Sierra Ledge Rat

This is a tale of a modern Odyssey. It is the epic adventure of two brothers who roamed throughout the High Sierra, cursed with wanderlust and graced with the love of Zeus's daughter, bright-eyed Pallas Athena. This story will recount the fate that befell these alpine travelers when they inadvertently incurred the wrath of Poseidon the Earthshaker, god of all waters. Wrathful Poseidon punished these timberline voyagers for their transgressions by luring them into the underworld, into the realm of detested Hades, into the depths of the Enchanted Gorge.

The Hidden Teton The Hidden Teton  by b.

I’ve never been denied a campsite in the Tetons. We got a Lower Saddle permit once for the same night at 9 in the morning, peak season. I’ve camped on uncomfortable, cramped, windy cols high above Garnet Canyon because the camping zones were full, but the ranger on duty felt like we should get a shot at the south face of Cloudveil during the weather window. But trying to get a coveted site at the mouth of Leigh Canyon on Fourth of July weekend seemed to be asking too much of karma. So Garrett took the hit for the sake of the trip, and gave up an entire day of work to drive down early and reserve our site. It’s that kind of sacrifice that you look for in a climbing partner.

Leigh Canyon is one of those places that holds high treasure for those intrepid enough to leave the smooth walking trails of the southern range and side hill on loose talus for a few hours. This was my fifth trip up this way, twice to climb the Direct South Buttress of Mount Moran (last fourth of July we climbed the DSB and continued to the summit over two days), and three times to attempt the Hidden Couloir on Thor Peak. An often overlooked gem, Thor Peak is one of a dozen Teton peaks reaching Twelve thousand feet (12,028’) and sits in a truly remote and hard to reach setting. By now we were pretty well acquainted with the schwack into the canyon, the 1,500’ of steep gully and the couple hundred feet of snow that it took to get to the base of the east face. With the new moon, we would need familiarity to navigate the dense brush between talus fields until the sky lightened with dawn.

Europe’s Westernmost
2000er Europe’s Westernmost 2000er  by Gangolf Haub

So we really are in Andalucía now and the skies of southern Spain are shining brightly blue. It’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning in early May and we are wondering what we will do today. Yesterday was one of those horrible travel days. The flight from Frankfurt to Malaga had been postponed from reasonable 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and thanks to the usual delays at Frankfurt we had arrived only at 9:30 p.m. To claim our baggage took another 45 minutes, renting a car was quick but then we got lost in the underground parking garage. There is second rental car office on the lowest deck and getting down there turned out to be quite a journey in itself. But finally we got the keys, found the car (in a completely different place than indicated) and took on the 65km journey to Nerja in the east.

There the office of our apartment complex was closed, but our directions told us to pick up the keys in a hotel down the street. Down the street was no hotel but a Moroccan restaurant. The waiter, however, knew the hotel, directed us there and finally we received our keys. Another half hour later the baggage was unpacked and we sank into our beds. The clock struck 2 a.m.

So now we are planning the day. We need to pick ups some groceries first but then we want to get out and climb something. Something close to Nerja, something with a reasonable elevation gain. We don’t want to start with the most serious climb. And it shouldn’t take too long.

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