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Conville Alpine Skills Course 30th July - 1st August 2008 Jonathan Conville Alpine Skills Course 30th July - 1st August 2008  by Nanuls

This summer I was the recipient of a fantastic piece of luck in being offered a place on a generously subsidised Alpine skills course run by Plas y Brenin (a prestigious Welsh outdoor centre) on behalf of the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust (of course I accepted the offer). Jonathan Conville was a promising young Alpinist whose life was cut short in a climbing accident on the north face of the Matterhorn in the winter of 1979. He was 27 years old. The trust was established by members of his family to promote and teach, predominantly young people, safe and enjoyable mountaineering practices by absorbing some of the costs of skills courses that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive for many people.

El Diente - Mount Wilson
Traverse : 2008 El Diente - Mount Wilson Traverse : 2008  by Ingman

The game-plan was to climb El Diente (14,159) first via the long West ridge and then continuing along this ridge (El Diente - Wilson Traverse) all the way to Mt. Wilson (14,246). We would then descend down the North Ridge of Mount Wilson and meet up with the trail to Navajo Lake and our campsite. To the left is a map of our intended (and roughly followed) line of ascent and descent. Approximately 16 miles roundtrip.

Pomeroy to
Carbonate Traverse:A Southern Sawatch Six Pack Pomeroy to Carbonate Traverse:A Southern Sawatch Six Pack  by shknbke

I decided to take a 3 day weekend to hit some peaks before the summer got away from me. A trip to the southern Sawatch came about at the last minute on the way to a fun weekend in the San Juans. This is a cool loop hike that collects 5 ranked 13ers, 3 of which are bi-centennials! The ridges between these peaks can be kept at class 3, so you can move fairly well. I drove up FR-200 the night before and found a nice secluded pullout near the old Jennings Creek TH for Tabeguache. I was real worried about being able to pull this off, so a 4:15am start was in order. I drove my car up to the point on the map marked as the Shavano townsite, but I didn't see any old buildings in the dark.

Dreischusterspitze - Dante
and the Shoemaker Dreischusterspitze - Dante and the Shoemaker  by Hydronium

Wind, ice, rock, and air. There was plenty of windy air around me, as I was dangling on the knife-edge thin ridge of dolomite rock and ice. The last few seconds had been a blur. The rock had given in. Seconds later I saw it fall just below my feet; shortly after…a crash. It would not be long, I thought, as I held, strongly, but hopelessly; all I tried to do was, one last time, smell life around me – a flower, a scent, sweetness. No. There was just a cold, bitter wind. Anger; melancholy. I should let go, that was it. YET….. ….of course this stuff would never happen to a “noob” like me. It was just to grab your attention.

But PLEASE (!), READ ON, it’s worth it nonetheless, the above has happened to plenty of people; I am proof that half the time people probably made up the stories anyway (like me just now). If you end up wasting your time nonetheless, comment, write your name, leave a sign: I shall remember you and feel for your sadness, your lost time, your insulted self; thou shalt not be alone. If else, comment anyway; I will share in your gladness; thou shalt not be alone.

Palisade Traverse: Long Day's Journey into Night Our Palisade Traverse: Long Day's Journey into Night  by bechtt

I had been intrigued on doing the Palisade Traverse for sometime ever since reading Bob Burd’s harrowing trip report from his 2002 Sierra Challenge. It had been on Augie’s checklist since August 2003 when Climbing magazine featured it as one of “America’s 4 Best Ridge Traverses.” I had attempted to climb Thunderbolt the year before but my partner and I had failed to “lasso” the summit block and we departed defeated.

To succeed this year, I enlisted the help of two friends that I had met over the last couple of years hiking and scrambling. Glenn has done most of the traverse already and had the necessary rock climbing skills to lead the summit blocks; Augie had climbed Mt Sill from our preferred exit point. After much deliberation, we had decided to follow the lead of others and use a car shuttle to enter via Bishop Pass and exit via Big Pine. Glenn and I had both experienced the reverse talus traverse back to Bishop Pass and elected not to repeat that path. At the time, we didn’t understand Augie’s reluctance with exiting via Big Pine TH – something we would understand by the end of the trip.

Monarch of the Wasatch -
Jacobs Ladder Monarch of the Wasatch - Jacobs Ladder  by Rocky Alps

Lone Peak is a stunning mountain. Arguably the most difficult peak to climb within the Wasatch, its jagged summit is a prominent part of the skyline above Salt Lake City, and on a clear day from the top you can see all the way to Ben Lomond in the north and Mount Nebo in the south. Of the various types of rock found within the Wasatch, the granite in Lone Peak's alpine cirque is the best around. Just getting to the cirque requires considerable effort though, since all of the trailheads are at relatively low elevations (over a vertical mile below the summit).

A Rude Awakening on Teewinot
Mountain A Rude Awakening on Teewinot Mountain  by TomSellick

Long story short, I flew into Jackson on the 16th of July. I had been planning this trip for a while, memorizing route descriptions, and basically obsessing over the peaks I was hoping to attempt: Teewinot and Grand Teton. Some of you probably replied to some of my questions a few weeks before. The pilot on our plane announced we would prepare to descend, so I knew the mountains were near. I strained my neck to see out the tiny plane window, spotting a few jagged peaks in the distance. Were those the Tetons? I thought I could make out the profile of the Grand, but I wasn't sure. The plane turned a little more and I could see a much larger group. Those must be them. I laugh at myself now. Finally the plane made a huge left and the Teton range stood about eye-level with me, rising out of the valley with such ferocity; like nothing I'd ever seen except maybe the Sierra Nevada. They literally took my breath away. Someone in the seat behind me said "Holy shit," and I agreed wholeheartedly.

One wedding
and a summit: Grossglockner solo One wedding and a summit: Grossglockner solo  by kamil

It is already dark when I pass the toll booth near the top of the Grossglocknerstrasse above Kals. There is no one inside. After several hundred metres, just before I reach the Lucknerhaus mountain hut, first raindrops hit my windscreen. After a minute or two the rain suddenly changes into a proper downpour. Is the Big Bellringer telling me to bugger off even before showing himself to me?

* * * * *

The sound of alarm clock in my phone wakes me up. I switch it off without thinking but in a while it rings again. It’s not the alarm but Ag calling with some urgent stuff to talk about. Yeah, how could she know I badly need some kip right now? I look at my watch - it’s midnight. Only an hour since I went to bed. The two Italians in the opposite corner seem to be fast asleep.

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.

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