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Mt Blanc Traverse Mt Blanc Traverse  by phlipdascrip

As I carefully put one foot in front of the other I realize that all my concerns are going overboard and this is well within my comfort zone. I take in the scenery on this beautiful morning in late September and feel a calming serenity rising inside me.

I am descending the east ridge of the Aiguille du Midi. A friend who stayed with me in Chamonix for a while has left again a few days ago, and today is my first outing just by myself. We had wanted to climb Mt Blanc while he was here, but in the end he decided he wasn't fit enough for it and so Mt Blanc du Tacul, his first 4,000m peak, was our "big" climb instead. In fact, aside from an easy and short scramble up to a walkable ridge in the Colorado Rockies, it has been my first real 4,000m peak in the Alps as well.

Index of happiness in
Valais Index of happiness in Valais  by reinhard2

The comment of my profile image reads "Loving relationship with mountains ...". As everybody knows, love is often costly. On what was my biggest mountain trip since long, a 9 day trip to Switzerland's Valais at the end of July 2009, I could experience and assess these costs, and I want to frame this assessment at the end of the TR in an "index of happiness".

What is happiness in the mountains? The meaning of this kind of happiness has, for me, changed considerably over the years. Over more than 2 decades I have identified myself as a climber, with happiness meaning dancing up, ideally, a sunny funny rock climb (mostly in the low mountain climber paradise of Frankenjura). More recently this has quite suddenly and decisively changed to high alpine promenades, with the emphasis on skywalking as high as possible, not on conquering difficulties.

Giro dei Cadini di Misurina Giro dei Cadini di Misurina  by Gangolf Haub

10 years ago I first set my eyes upon the fantastic Dolomite mountain group of the Cadini di Misurina while I was doing the overcrowded hiking loop, which circles the famous Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime di Lavaredo. I was immediately attracted to this dense assortment of pinnacles and towers and in my mind a vague determination formed to inspect it up close some time. Five years later the same thing happened when – during a bad weather period – we visited the Sexten Dolomites / Dolomiti di Sesto for a day trip around the rather unimportant Morgenkofel. From one of the saddles suddenly the view stretched towards the Cadini and my vague determination received a boost.

Again five years went by and when I started to prepare for the recent vacation, which took us to Sexten / Sesto itself, I consulted my guidebooks with the Cadini somewhere in the back of my mind. I found several suggestions, which in the end boiled down to two day-trips: the Via Ferrata Bonacossa which runs right through the group and Sentiero Durissini, which circles it in the east. Both trips can be done as loops starting from the southern end of Misurina Lake.

For warm-up, day one of our vacation took us to the Carnic Alps Main Ridge (easy, panoramic walking terrain) but a forecast for wonderful weather for day two decided me to prove Gabriele wrong, who writes on his SP page about the weather in the Cadini: “I've spent here, in different years, 3 climbing days and 3 hiking days (with my family) and, maybe I've been unlucky but ... they were all raining days :( “. To my surprise, Judith immediately agreed not only to one of the trips but both, suggesting the apparently more difficult Sentiero Bonacossa for a later date. With sunshine on my mind and red wine in my stomach I happily sank down sleep that night …

Tijeras & Music: The Spirit
of the Sangres Tijeras & Music: The Spirit of the Sangres  by shknbke

We were looking for a relatively snow free scramble involving 13ers that we needed, so the Sangres were calling. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find 13er day hikes that none of this crew has climbed outside the San Juans! Tijeras is now in Dave Cooper's CO scrambles book and has probably seen a few more ascents as a result. Music was also in the Denver Post, but we noticed in the trailhead register that only one person had listed these peaks as a destination!

We all arrived at the Music Pass trailhead at different times, with me electing to make the quick drive down from C. Springs in the wee hours of the morning. The road to the Music Pass 4WD trailhead was pretty mellow, easily passable in any stock 4WD vehicle. You can even get by without 4WD as long as you have decent clearance.

Last Hike
of the Season - North Route Last Hike of the Season - North Route  by Rocky Alps

The weather forecast showed one last weekend of warm temperatures before the first big cold front of the fall moved in, and with snow on the way in just a few days, it seemed like a good time to get in one last summer/fall hike. It looked like a prior commitment might prevent me from hiking Mount Nebo with James, a friend from work, but when that fell through I was good to go. I wasn’t sure if James was still going to do the hike, so I invited my brother Chris to come, since he had enjoyed his first big mountain hike of Mount Sneffels a month earlier in Colorado.

Mont Blanc - A child's
dream Mont Blanc - A child's dream  by nattfodd

Even though I now live in Denmark, I was born and lived the first 20 years of my life in the city of Lyon, France, which happens to be located a mere 2h30 driving distance from Chamonix. Ever since I was a toddler, our parents took my two sisters and me to this amazing place for a couple of weeks each year. I learned how to ski in the Planards, the Flégère and the Tour, I hiked all the valley trails multiple times, first with my parents, then alone, going higher and further each year, but always stopped by this invisible barrier which separates "moyenne montagne" from the realm of "haute montagne". I didn't even climb rock back then, and those glaciers, snowy peaks and granite spires were so inaccessible that they could as well have been on the moon.

Yet, every time I had to turn around, a little voice in the back of my head was telling me "one day, some day, you'll go up there". And of course, the call was the strongest when it came from the true lord of the valley, the mountain that can't be ignored, majestic Mont-Blanc.

Reality Check on Pica Peak Reality Check on Pica Peak  by Moni

A few weeks ago, Fred went up to the Washington Pass area, near the Liberty Bell group, to climb Wallaby Peak and Copper Point, while I was caring for a friend who had had surgery. He spied a nice looking peak that sits between Copper Point and Early Winter Spire. It looked like it might be a good climb with a short approach. According to the Beckey guide, it is Pica Peak (labeled only as 7565 on the USGS quad sheet). Subsequent research also came up with an alternate name of Poster Peak. Its east ridge route is locally known as Blue Buttress and depending on which trip report you read, this is either a fabulous climb or sort of a dog, anywhere from 5.3 to 5.7 and anywhere from 9 to 12 pitches.

Great weather was forecast this past weekend and since we are back teaching college, it’s hard to get away for anything long, so we thought to give this climb a shot.

Huascaran Sur Huascaran Sur  by albanberg

We set out to do the normal Garganta route, which has been back open again. We used a guide service that I found a link to on SummitPost. The guides seemed very good to me, but I’m new. Jackie didn’t mention the guides being any less competent than high-end U.S. guides.

We took a cab from Huaraz to Musho. We left our porter and the arriero (mule driver) to deal with the gear and started our hike in. It was hot and we went very slow, which was fine. We had no gear to carry! It was about four or five hours to base camp. We met a group of Austrians that were going up and we followed them and their guide up to camp.

Quest to 10,000 ft Quest to 10,000 ft  by Smoove910

I had been frequenting Facebook for a few months now and a couple weeks ago I was revisited by an old friend I haven't seen in about 14 years. When seeing the friend request and who it was, my mind was flooded with old memories and good times we used to have back in our 'wild' days'. Cruising the town of Boise, partying, mischievous pranks on each other, etc. was usually the norm for a couple summers of my life before becoming a parent, therefore when seeing Matt's friend request I HAD to accept and catch up on old times. In a message from him, he had stated how he was a huge outdoor fanatic and would absolutely love to go out on a hike with me. 'Oh really ', I thought….

Losing a
New Friend on Aconcagua’s Polish Direct Losing a New Friend on Aconcagua’s Polish Direct  by Brad Marshall

At the time my decision to partner with Stefan didn’t seem unwise though some of you may see it that way. Although we had never climbed together previously, the Polish Direct route is not technically difficult and I was confident in my abilities to control the situation.

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