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An Alpine Awakening An Alpine Awakening  by Bob Sihler

Something that has always helped the bond between my wife and me, something that has strengthened our relationship and for which I am deeply grateful, is our mutual love of nature, especially its wild places. Although our specific tastes vary, we do at least both feel the draw of the mountains, particularly the Rockies. It has never proved difficult to agree on taking a trip to anyplace from Alberta to New Mexico, and together we have seen much of the best of what I feel in my mind, heart, and soul is this continent's greatest mountain range.

Pawnee Peak
- East Ridge Pawnee Peak - East Ridge  by Mots010

It's 3am. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself. My alma mater, The University of Connecticut, had a big basketball game the night before, so I went out to the Streets of London to watch the game downtown. The 3am start was a little harder than normal. I checked the weather report for Indian Peaks: Partly to Mostly cloudy with 10% chance of precipitation. Nice. After a quick breakfast, I was off to Golden to meet Brian and Jack.

We all headed up in Jack's truck with 3 bikes in the bed. Who's idea is it to close the road up to Brainard Lake when there is no snow on the road? We arrive gate and meet up with Stephanie, who came down from Fort Collins. This is our team for the day. We gear up, hop on our bikes, and head up the road at about 5:45am. It's a chilly morning, and the wind was stiff into our faces. After about 30 minutes we are at the Long Lake TH, ditching the bikes and ready to roll...

I Need a
Hug, Cause I Got the Rocky River Blues I Need a Hug, Cause I Got the Rocky River Blues  by AJones

It was December 2006, and Greg and I were going to attempt to climb “Rocky River Blues”, a beautiful 3 pitch ice fall located in a side drainage of the Rocky River in Jasper National Park. We had been wanting to climb this route for a while, but two things kept us from doing it. The first was the long approach (approximately 3 hours). The second was that if the first pitch isn’t in (and you can’t tell this until you get there), then you’ve walked 3 hours for the exercise only. We’d heard many stories of climbers who had done the long approach, only to walk back out without climbing a pitch.

Bhutan: The
last trekking season in the Himalayan Bhutan: The last trekking season in the Himalayan "Kingdom"  by Outdoorpartner

“Good morning!” “Coffee, tea?” I rolled over in my sleeping bag and shouted “coffee, please”. I had grown accustomed to this morning wake up call over the past two weeks. The camp staff delivering hot beverages to my tent would be unfailingly cheerful whether it was drizzling rain, bitter cold, or bright sun. It was impossible to guess the weather conditions until I unzipped from the cocoon of my sleeping bag and gazed outside. Today was the most anticipated day of my sixteen day trek in Bhutan; I desperately hoped for clear skies.

As I scramble to unzip the frost-laden tent, I discover both my water bottles are frozen solid. Night time temperatures tend to be chilly when camping at 13,500’ elevation. When I stick my head out of the tent into the brisk morning air, I’m astonished by the brightness of the view. The sun is shining directly on the white snows covering Chomolhari (23,997’). I have to squint as I take in the spectacle of the majestic peak surrounded by brilliant blue sky. Yes, this will be a birthday I will always remember.

Ridge Traverse Yucaipa Ridge Traverse  by Travis_

With the threat of afternoon storms sitting in the back of my mind, I parked my car at Vivian Creek trailhead and we started walking up the road as you would for hiking San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek. We were not sure what this hike would entail, since if storms developed we did not want to be descending the ridge within a drainage (obviously). So at some point we had to either commit or retreat if storms were developing. We continued walking on the trail past the large and dramtic drainage for Camp Creek, past the turnoff for San Gorgonio and continued about ¼ mile to the next gully east of Camp Creek. We basically followed the HPS description, however it can be confusing.

1st Fall Gathering 14ers.com 1st Fall Gathering  by Aspen

By the time I was on the road heading west on I-70, the sky opened up and dumped an enormous amount of rain on my white Jeep Liberty. Periodically, patches of blue sky appeared above me yet the rain still came from above and from the sideways. I drove carefully to the I-70-Route-91 junction and headed south towards Buena Vista, Colorado. I called my new friend, Chris Mumaw, in Leadville to thank him for the offer to stay at his place. It was too late to disturb him and his wife so I kept driving till I reached Buena Vista. Searching for a hotel on a weekend in this tiny town was next to impossible. With a recommendation from Beverly who worked at the front desk of a local Motel 8, I found a rental place and decided to rent a guesthouse for 2 nights. This became the first time I actually slept in a trailer. The interior was nicely decorated with a western theme. The accommodation was very modern with heating system, hot water, cable television, and a nice fully stocked kitchen. The only thing that it lacked was direct high-speed access to the Internet. At 7:00 pm Mountain Time, I drove to find the trailhead. It was confusing at first but became straightforward after I had found it. The North Cottonwood Trailhead would lead me to the Horn Fork Basin on the south western side of the mountains. Its elevation is 9,880 ft. and provides access to the south side of Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia. There were a number of cars and SUVs there, including a Subaru wagon belonging to one of my climbing teammates, Scott Patterson. He and his 4-y.o. son Kessler had arrived early, hiked the 10-mile trail to a campground, and stayed the night. Little did I know that when I had arrived at the TH, Trish Conlon had just begun her hike to the campground with her grandfather and brother, Ted; Trish is a graduate of my alma mater, the University of Denver. Happy and assured that the TH was where it should be, I drove back to town. I stopped once and turned off my headlights so that I could enjoy the eerie silence of the night sky – lit up by the brilliant arm of our Milky Way galaxy. Seeing the bright band took me back to my college sophomore days at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank, West Virginia. I remember looking up at what seemed then to be old friends of the night: Cygnus, Cassiopeia, Hercules, and Orion.

Over the Top Rock Over the Top Rock  by GeoPooch Sobachka

Few visitors venture beyond the super-popular Wave into the wilderness of Coyote Buttes. We planned to scramble up Top Rock and to see its arches, and to check its back side, before taking off to White Pocket.

We started before 8 am on a chilly November morning. The Sun was still low but there were two new lines in the trail register already (one of them from the ranger out to check the $%$#%# permits!). As we hiked into Sand Cove, we couldn't help noticing that the rays of Sun didn't even touch the domes above the Wave, let alone shine into it. So we went looking for the dino tracks on the West side of the Cove, then dropped into the wash some ways upstream of the BLM-recommended crossing, and enjoyed exploring the little slot there.

Virgins: a trip to the Fisher Towers and Indian Creek Desert Virgins: a trip to the Fisher Towers and Indian Creek  by Dan Dalton

To me, climbing acts as a way to manipulate time. When I am truly climbing, and am in the moment, time stands still and all of my senses are heightened. I can feel the grains and texture of the stone on my hand, I smell the unique scent of rock just after the morning dew has evaporated from the plants below, and most importantly I can free my mind and think about whatever I want. It is almost as if the actual climbing itself does not matter, my body automatically reacts to the sequence of holds above me and executes the perfect physical motions to ascend that line. It is my mind that wanders. Exploring and probing places that it does not dare venture to in everyday life. I can be on a climb for only a matter of five minutes and after being lowered have the feeling that I was on the rock face for days, (and no, no drugs are involved in this entire process, although I am sure that those who relish Mary Jane and a certain fungus might also experience such feelings!) This is not a common occurrence in my climbing and happens occasionally, but seems to have been more prevalent in my recent trip to Utah.

The Shit Times The Shit Times  by rpc

It’s Friday night. Travelocity special to Phoenix – a great deal! Barely make the 6:30pm flight out of PDX. 4 bags. 150 lbs of gear. My Saturday outfits; my Sunday outfits; my soap collection and make-up kit for starters. Cheap car rental and a 3 hour drive put us in the East Cochise Stronghold. It’s 1am. Too lazy to pitch the tent. Quick sleep on the front seats of the economy rental. The alarm goes off. Shit – no pen to fill out the fee envelope! Off we go hiking up to the Rockfellows.

Bombing in the Cirque of the
Unclimbables Bombing in the Cirque of the Unclimbables  by AJones

“You want to do what?” I said to Mirek Hladik, my good friend and climbing partner, while discussing plans for our newest adventure – a trip into the Cirque of the Unclimbables to tackle the world famous “Lotus Flower Tower”.

“Parachute our gear in – it will be great”, replied Mirek with enthusiasm. Having heard about the horror of the hike into the cirque; Mirek, always thinking, had come up with the idea of parachuting a significant portion of our gear into the Cirque, thereby saving us the pain of having to hump it in.

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