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An Expedition in the
Bolivian Andes An Expedition in the Bolivian Andes  by BLong

After a lame day-trip consisting of a very short acclimatization hike to the Chacaltaya Mountain (5,400 meters, see topo map) we met our cook and trekking guide and set out for Q'ara Quta Lake. Once we reached the lake, we set up a camp and met our arriero (muleteer). The camp was in a wild, beautiful alpine valley, and even included a fairly well constructed toilet. It is important to bring small bills to pay local co-ops for camping while you will be trekking. The next day we hiked east, following a trail up a ridge, down into another beautiful valley, and up onto a plateau. That night we camped at Laguna Ajwañi. On the third day we hiked to the Condoriri Base Camp. The elevation throughout the three days varied between 3,800 - 5,200 meters. While the Condoriri Base Camp can be reached in a day from La Paz, we wanted to use the additional time for further acclimatization. If you want to do this hike on your own, it is outlined in Yossi Brain's book Trekking in Bolivia: A Traveler's Guide.

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Shitty Day on Prodigal Sun Shitty Day on Prodigal Sun  by rpc

Shirley later told me that I yelled “ROCK!” but I do not recall. Whatever the noise was, it instantly directed our gazes skywards. My eyes locked-on to an object clearing the rim 500-600 feet directly above me. HAULBAG! I thought to myself. I would later find out that Shirley was tracking a large rock that sailed left in her direction while not really noticing the larger “object” that had my undivided attention. She was trying to make herself small under the slight overhang/dihedral that marks the start of P4. Did I mention that time flowed like molasses? I felt frozen yet my memories of those seconds are crisp. I was hanging below the ledge with nowhere to go. All I could do was watch and so I did. A tiny fraction of a second later, my brain shifted gears to “BASE JUMPER!” I assume I made out limbs by that point. I followed the person with my gaze hoping I could shift my position at the last moment if needed. With a horrendous sound of rushing air, the person flew behind me and slightly to my right. Close. My eyes followed. I don’t know why. I wish I would have looked away. By the time they passed my position I knew that shit was not right. We were less than 300 feet above the ground. I have no clue about base jumping but it seemed improbable that things would turn out well. And then came the impact on the rock slab marking the top of the rock band at the base of the wall. The body ricocheted into the brush below the rock band. We saw a small object falling by us slowly. A small pack and jacket. We knew then it was not a base jumper. I saw small papers gently floating down as well. Without thinking I grabbed one as it floated past my face. It was a twenty dollar bill. I recall telling Shirley not to look down. But there was nothing to see. The brush below obstructed any evidence of the tragedy. I thought “suicide” – there was no scream, no struggle. Shirley did not see this and was asking whether I was sure it was a person. I was.

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Pigeon Spire with Rime Ice,
Bugaboos BC Pigeon Spire with Rime Ice, Bugaboos BC  by dfrancom

A fifteen hour drive, a sore back, some instant rice and my brother Jared and I were at the Applebee dome camp Sunday August 9th. Our nonstop travel from Utah and Wyoming to the Bugaboos left us fatigued and we were fast asleep in my brothers newly purchased MSR Mutha Hubba 3 man tent (a roomy tent).

Monday was planned as a rest day until our lounging around camp hadn't satisfied our appetite to climb the iconic spires surrounding us (no rest for the crazy). Our list of “to do's” included the Kain Route and North East Ridge on Bugaboo Spire, West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, and maybe a north side/glacier ascent of the North Howser Tower, and if we had time maybe the Classic Traverse. The weather was partly cloudy and seemed good enough to scramble a peak. We started up the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col and onto the Kain route.

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Indian
Creek to the Fisher Towers Indian Creek to the Fisher Towers  by SteveMarr

Our first destination was Indian Creek. Driving through Indian Creek makes you want to be a better climber. Unfortunately, 99% of Indian Creek is beyond my meager climbing ability, so we aimed for South Sixshooter Peak's South Face which checks in at 5.6 and three pitches.

The first views of Indian Creek proper come after an uneventful drive down Highway 211. As the walls to the left and right rise, the first stop is Newspaper Rock, an incredible collection of petroglyphs carved into a soot encrusted rock. Immediately across the road is Newspaper Campground. It fills up quick, and is pleasant during the summer months. During the winter months it's often 5-10 degrees colder than the camping around the Sixshooters. After passing Newspaper Rock, the cliffs come one after the other: Friction Slab (not really a cliff), Battle of the Bulge, Blue Gamma, Supercrack Buttress, Donnelly Canyon, and many more.

The closer you get to the Sixshooters, the more the "canyon" opens up. South and North Sixshooters are unmistakable, dominating the surrounding plains from atop their talus towers. There is also good access to Davis Canyon and Canyonlands National Park.

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Torment-Forbidden Traverse Torment-Forbidden Traverse  by StephAbegg

The traverse from Mount Torment to Forbidden Peak is a superb route on good rock. The route is a mile long, which means about a mile of spectacular views, wonderful exposure, and (at times) challenging route-finding. First, climb Torment by whatever route pleases you (South Ridge and Southeast Face are two popular choices). The Torment-Forbidden traverse route begins from the summit of Torment and follows the ridge westward to the summit of Forbidden (via the West Ridge). From there, descend Forbidden by whatever route pleases you (downclimbing the West Ridge or the East Ledges are two popular choices).

Under the right snow and weather conditions, the route is quite moderate, and can be done in a long day, although a ridge bivy is a great location to spend a night. However, in the recent years, bergshrunds and moats have added some significant challenges to the route in the latter half of the summer (as they did for us). The route is not to be underestimated, as there have been some accidents on the route, including the fatal fall of Craig Luebben shortly before Jason and I did the route in August 2009. But it is a lot of fun if everything goes well!

The views from virtually every point on this route are stunning. To the west are Baker, Shuksan, and Eldorado. To the east are Boston, Goode, and Sahale. To the south are the peaks of the Ptarmigan Traverse such as Johannesburg, Formidable, and Glacier Peak.

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Granite
Peak: Exciting Finish to the Lower 48 Granite Peak: Exciting Finish to the Lower 48  by shknbke

Granite Peak is the highest mountain in the wild and rugged state of Montana, which I had barely set foot in once on a visit to Yellowstone. It was first climbed in 1923, the last of the state highpoints to be climbed. It is considered to be one of the toughest highpoints due to the long approach, frequent unpredictable storms, and 4th to low 5th class scrambling required. I would put it at #4 in difficulty behind Denali, Rainier, and Gannett. Many highpointers have had to make multiple attempts to claim this elusive summit and I was hoping not to suffer the same bad luck.

Dwight and Sarah were up for an exciting challenge like Granite even though they are not your traditional highpointer! I have a 100% success rate on primary summits with them, so we would form a solid team! We would only have 2 days available to make a summit bid, but could add a third summit day if we could possibly push all the way to high camp in one day. We had no problems finding the East Rosebud/Phantom Creek trailhead on Sat morning, electing to take this trail over the standard Mystic Lake trail as it makes a gentle ascent to Froze to Death Plateau.

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INNOMINATA INNOMINATA  by mvs

Rahel was in the back of my mind through this whole experience. All the foibles and hi-jinks Dan and I got ourselves into crowded her out, but in still moments she would return. What should I learn from her story, from her life?

Just like the day before Dan and I found ourselves in the common room, lingering over a late breakfast. We were in Argentiere, and should have been out climbing for hours already. But sullen clouds and wet streets kept us in the house. We were starting the second day of enforced idleness, and seemed to be losing our will to move. The forecast kept promising high pressure and it kept retreating in front. "So what's the plan?" asked Dan. "Like I know? But how about Mont Blanc since the rock is wet?"

If we did a big climb of Mont Blanc, we could afford bad weather on the first day as we approached a hut. Dan, veteran of many high-altitude ascents wasn't into a big mountain though. "I've done enough slogging for two lifetimes," he said around a mouthful of Muesli.

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Journeys
into the Greater Yellowstone Backcountry (July 4-17, 2009) Journeys into the Greater Yellowstone Backcountry (July 4-17, 2009)  by johnmnichols

For 2 weeks every summer, we leave the heat, humidity, gnats, ticks, and thick vegetation of the Southern Appalachians behind for a refreshing 2 weeks in the Rocky Mountains. While we usually visit Colorado, we were ready for a change and decided to head further north – opting for the northwest corner of Wyoming. We were leery of being near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks during the peak of summer activity, but figured with careful planning, we could avoid most of the major crowds. That led us to one week in Victor, ID with the intent of exploring the less crowded western slopes of the Teton Range followed by one week in Silver Gate, MT situated between the less frequently used Northeast entrance to Yellowstone and the Absaroka / Beartooth Mountains to the north and east.

For those looking for a trip report loaded with epic technical climbs, you may be disappointed. For one, we’re not technical climbers. And secondly, a bad tear in my wife’s shoulder left her reluctant to hike anything too steep where a simple slip and fall could put her completely out of commission. We contemplated some easier non-technical summits (e.g., Table Mountain), but instead landed on doing a large number of dayhikes without a ton of steep or loose terrain. For some variety, we also threw in some cycling (during week #1 only) – I kept any cycling recaps brief so as not to upset the SP purists.

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My First Expedition: Broad
Peak My First Expedition: Broad Peak  by Isaiah

I have known for years that I want to try and climb an 8000 meter peak. Finally, the summer after I was supposed to graduate approached and I signed on with Field Touring Alpine to climb Gasherbrum 2. Well, there wasn't enough interest for G2 and since they were running a high profile Broad Peak and K2 double header they asked if I wouldn't mind climbing Broad Peak instead. I looked up the stats and saw more people had died on it so I asked the owners of FTA if it was more dangerous but they cited that mountain conditions on G2 have changed in recent years making it more difficult so it was about the same as Broad Peak. So I agreed and gave them a lot of money. I spent the winter doing climbing and hiking and shopping for overboots and -20F sleeping bags and other expedition gear. I went rock climbing in January and February to get used to trying to do technical climbing with frozen fingers on slippery rock. I ran with snowballs clutched in my hands. I soloed the easiest gully on Mount Washington in New Hampshire because much of the route on these mountains was supposed to be that steep. I spent most of the spring running a lot of miles and trying to rock climb as much as I could. I was able to turn in a few decent races and after my competitive season I ran a double marathon in 9:31 in May. I figured if I could run for 9.5 hours then hiking for that long shouldn't be a problem. A few last minute workouts culminating with a swim in Lake Michigan and at a point where I could honestly try to climb 5.12a in the gym had me feeling very prepared for this expedition.

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Bells
Incident Bells Incident  by noahs213

Climbers are sometime’s faced with life-threatening descisions. Many escape death while many others become apart of it. Many think It will never happen to them and that there somehow invincible. Let me tell you, when things go wrong and you really think your going to die, that thought will change. Me and Kevin were faced with the Inevitable on July 31, 2009. This day will be remembered as really a miracle.

The Maroon Bells are nicknamed the “Deadly Bells” on purpose. They kill people. They are notorious for loose rock and steep cliffs. That’s an accurate description. If you fell at any bit of this climb you would end up 1,500 or so ft. on a rock pile. Between the two of us, we have significant experience. I am good with the more difficult class 4 and class 5 terrain(Meaning steep rock climbing). Kevin is very good with route finding and class 1-3 navigation. The Maroon Bells, while considered Colorado’s hardest 14ers, were in our range of experience. Both of us are also fairly good at weather decision making in the high country, though there is no “good” weather predicting at that altitude. A storm is able to form and come in a matter of minutes without notice.

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