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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.

Three and a
half days on Ruta de los Volcanes Three and a half days on Ruta de los Volcanes  by Gangolf Haub

[...] We followed through with the plan but had a short break during the ascent of Deseada II. It turned out that we had to put on more clothes to withstand the cold winds and I went through the now familiar packing-and-unpacking routine again. One more picture of Deseada I (which now ranks among my favourites of the vacation) and we headed on. We soon noticed how busy the Ruta had become. People were popping up from everywhere. On the summit we met a guy who was waiting for his kid to come up. A kid in the midst of the Ruta de los Volcanes! Impressive! Judith joked that there must have been a bribe of a big amount of sweets involved … Only two weeks later I found out from this picture that we had met SP members Scott and Kessler and a perfect opportunity to get to know each other after 6 years of SP membership had been wasted.

We waited for Kessler to pass (I took the opportunity to shoot the panorama above) and headed back towards Montaña del Fraile. This time we took the western branch of the trail around Crater del Duraznero, which turned out to be even more colourful than the eastern branch before. Again we passed the Lavas de Malforada but instead of climbing Pico Nambroque again I scrambled up to the highest point of the Hoyo Negro Crater. Again, my pictures were seriously overexposed due to the blackness of the crater and again I didn’t realize.

Wash/Hanksville Area January 15-18 (Photo Trip Report) North Wash/Hanksville Area January 15-18 (Photo Trip Report)  by Scott

In the area of Hanksville there are many interesting buttes. We decided to see how many we could find routes up. We explored around two buttes and found them to be too difficult. We explored around Sandpipe Butte to where we thought there might be a route up. We climbed up the steep sand and talus which was mostly covered with snow, to a promising looking crack in the caprock. After climbing to the crack, it was obvious that it wouldn’t be that easy. The pitch was 5.7 feet in difficulty. I climbed the pitch first and had a good look around before climbing back down. I lifted Kessler up the first six feet and he climbed the rest of the 25 foot pitch to the top to where I soon followed.

West Arete
of Mt. Winchell West Arete of Mt. Winchell  by m_dquist

Having been to the eastern side of the Palisades plenty of times, I felt it was time to give the west side a little love. The pictures and maps I had seen had put this less popular side of my favorite section of the Sierra Nevada on my list for a while. With my favorite climbing team mascot (my dad) already planning to be there on a backpacking trip with his brother-in-law, what better time would there be to hike in, spend some time with my Old Man in the backcountry, and hopefully get a climb in?

My first objective was finding an objective. Having never been up close to this side of the Palisades, I turned to my favorite resource: RJ Secor’s “Peaks, Passes and Trails” guidebook. My eyes were drawn to the West Face of Mt. Winchell rising up above Dusy Basin. This was the only major Palisade peak north of Middle Pal that I had yet to climb, and this side of it looked to be by far the most impressive. The West Arete was mentioned in the Fiddler/Moynier book as a classic, but there is little to no information about the route other than lines drawn on aerial photos and very vague descriptions. Thanks to Misha for the info posted on Summitpost, and an especially big thank you for keeping the descriptions to a minimum and keeping the adventure level high.

through the Mosquito range... Meandering through the Mosquito range...  by maverick

NOAA conjured up a fantastic weekend forecast for the high country in general and the stage seemed well set for a 14er. After some incessant haggling I managed to convince Joe to give up delectable alpine ice routes to climb a mind-numbing heap of rubble instead. The plan included lugging skis to the top and finding something worthwhile to ski down. Neither of us had been up in the high country in over a month thanks to extended vacations at or below sea level. We were both interested in a warm-up and were both interested in a preliminary snowpack assessment. I was also excited to test my newly acquired overkill mitts (OR Alti mitts) on a winter 14er for the first time. We also carried standard avalanche gear – Beacon, probe, shovel plus first aid kits, sam splint, spare parts, stove and emergency bivy gear.

We got to the winter trailhead at 8:15AM after driving around for a little while and getting stared down fiercely by an honest gas station owner whose bathroom I shamelessly used without purchasing any of his fine goods. Trailhead directions from 14ers.com mention taking Monroe Street to Toledo St. at the South end of downtown Leadville. It’s probably worth noting that Monroe Street is now unmarked where it meets US 24. If you see a turnoff for CR-6 on your left while following 14ers.com directions, you’ve gone too far.

21 mile day - Mt. Elliot
(UT) 21 mile day - Mt. Elliot (UT)  by Dean

After finishing off the Knob (San Rafael Knob), Andy and I drove back to Green River (I-70) and grabbed some dinner (Subway) and gas for our last mountain which we were to do the next day. We met Kadee at the pre-determined location where we all camped for the evening. Kadee had some knowledge of what we were going to be dealing with the next day and she shared that with us so we were aware of what we were looking forward too. She also amazed me with her Verizon phone's ability to get a signal at where we camped, that was impressive in and of itself.

Early the next morning, we all piled into my truck and drove the last mile or so from the spot where we camped to where the road was blocked. We left the truck and walked around the obstruction and headed for our first objective, the Price river. Initially the first mile or two was pretty much a downhill trek that eventually took us to the river and we made the crossing, with the Price river running cold and higher than I thought it'd be. Fortunately I'd brought some river sandals to aid in the crossing and that helped a lot on the rocky bottom. All of us made it across with no problems but we also realized that the river would be running a bit higher when we hit it again later in the day.

Harvard &
Columbia in Winter: Jekyll & Hyde Harvard & Columbia in Winter: Jekyll & Hyde  by shknbke

Harvard in winter is a daunting proposition made difficult by a long approach. The most reasonable way is via the standard route with variations to avoid avy concerns, but you add a little over 6 miles round trip to the summer stats since the N. Cottonwood Creek road is not plowed beyond 9080'. With a long New Year's weekend, we decided to give it a shot.

Ken was nice enough to invite us to stay at his place n.w. of Buena Vista just minutes from our winter trailhead. We had a nice spaghetti feast and discussed the 3 route options in winter for Harvard. We decided on the Horn Fork Basin approach hoping that we would find a track for at least part of the way. Ken Nolan was nice enough to show Dwight where we could park, and Dwight did a few donuts on the road for good measure. Luckily it wasn't as slick the next morning! Ken and Jean decided to check off another grid point for La Plata and headed out New Year's morning an hour or so before us.

Not the
Wright Mountain: An Avalanche Tale Not the Wright Mountain: An Avalanche Tale  by EastKing

Rarely do I ever write about trips where there wasn't a succesful summit involved. However this trip up Wright Mountain was an eye opener and well worth writing about. Thought the trip lasted maybe six hours, there was quiet a strong potential for this trip ending much more differently than it did. We all learned plenty of lessons on this trip and the trip made all of us stronger. The the largest lesson from this trip report is to always be aware of everything around you and don't always trust the avalanche forecast.

Winter always has its surprises and today was a classic example of an avalanche surprise. Avalanche conditions were supposed to be low today but that didn’t quite turn out to be the case with the mountain that we picked. Wright Mountain was not the right mountain and luckily we found that out before something serious happened. I think all us of feel very glad that the outcome was so positive.

Gimpilator, Josh, Gabe, FZTE, and I decided to take a shot at Wright Mountain, which in summer is a fairly easy 12 mile 3000 foot elevation gain mountain right from the Alpental Ski Area. In summer this mountain can be done in four to five hours. There is a great boot path that goes right around Snow Lake and head right up to Gem Lake. From there it is just a minor scramble to the summit of Wright Mountain. As you will see here Wright Mountain takes on a different character in winter.

Stone Mountain Preschool Stone Mountain Preschool  by rpc

So there we were with some left over vacation days that needed a burning. We both felt as though we’ve had our fill of lonely Christmases somewhere in the deserts of the southwest sitting around some random Chinese buffet on Christmas Eve…and most especially those lonely Christmas trips where shitty weather had prohibited much (sometimes all) actual climbing. We checked the guidebooks and the forecasts, packed the presents, grabbed a rack and headed for my parents’ place in western New Jersey . A great family fun-filled Christmas followed with its usual heavy doses of overeating and oversleeping interrupted by much sofa surfing. Shirley kept herself in shape with the usual running regimen while I worked my liver extra hard. Though we all managed to get in a nice family hike a short distance up the Appalachian Trail , that apparently was not enough to keep me from growing an extra ass. The post Christmas week forecast to the north was calling for shitty weather while the forecasts to the south looked a little less shitty.

The Frigid
Ice Climbing Experience The Frigid Ice Climbing Experience  by noahs213

With that, me and my partner, Jeff, were excited to go to the Lincoln Icefall. We planned to winter camp so we could get two days of ice climbing in. The plans were set for December 26-27, 2009. I had a plan for which climbs we would do but as you may know, climbing usually never goes according to plan. I was very excited to get on the ice though.

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