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Thirty Days
in the Cordillera Blanca: A Month of Stunning Scenery and Occasionally
Excruciating Toil Thirty Days in the Cordillera Blanca: A Month of Stunning Scenery and Occasionally Excruciating Toil  by hhsilleck

One year after making a sixteen-day trek through the Cordillera Huayhuash (see our trip report with lots of pictures here), I found myself back in Peru for another climbing adventure. Our plans for this year were ambitious for us, as we hoped to climb up to six summits and ascend to nearly 21,000 feet above sea level. I am particularly fortunate on two counts in being able to attempt such a trip: (1) I have a wonderful wife (Sonya) with whom I love to travel and share adventures, and (2) my wonderful wife apparently has very poor long term memory with regard to the amount of suffering endured during a lengthy trip in the high mountains. After sixteen days without a shower last year, I was lucky even to get Sonya to set a foot back in Peru! This year we were also fortunate to be joined by some of my friends from college, Derek Dalton and his wife Maggie, who were traveling through South America before starting new jobs back home.

All aboard the
Totenkirchl-Express! All aboard the Totenkirchl-Express!  by mvs

I was happy to get the chance to show my friend from Seattle the Wilder Kaiser. So few Americans have heard of this amazing climbing mecca which continues to amaze me. We had hoped to head south to the Dolomites, but the weather was very bad south of the alpine crest.

In fact it was supposed to be bad in the north too, but a careful look at the forecast revealed that we could expect some sun in the northern limestone ranges.

Knowing that it could rain at any time, we kept the commitment factor low, and sought out a long bolt protected climb. The Totenkirchl has a great fairly new "sport alpine" climb called the "Totenkirchl Express." Rated VI (about 5.10a YDS), it has 18 pitches in 2400 vertical feet of climbing. The topo advises to bring a few pieces of gear, but mostly quickdraws. It had rained heavily the day before, so we had another reason to enjoy a long clip-up: no squishing around in seeping cracks!

Monster In The Woods Monster In The Woods  by rpc

Given our experience from the previous fall, the approach two days ago went quickly. The bushwhack to the base is not terrible though the very last part is steep and so we fixed a line and rapped in (figuring we'd be done late). With the exception of the last pitch (low 5th slab), we aided the entire line. Aid was hammerless though I did use a cheater stick on P1 to get past a blank section (since my head was not into stepping out of the aiders). With exception of one new-ish looking bolt above the crack section on P1 and one very new bolt at P2 belay (Tyler? Much thanks!!!), all other fixed gear was as one would expect. We ran P1 and P2 together given the condition of fixed belay anchors atop P1.

Straining our guardian
angels Straining our guardian angels  by chris.mueller

After bringing our broken car to the garage, we left Berlin in the late evening hours of Friday 27 April for a weekend trip to the Alps, 700 km and some more away. We wanted to finish the boring winter time and start the alpine season with some easy Ferrata stuff in the Karwendel area near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. While Mathias, a friend and climbing buddy of ours, drove, my wife Juliane fell asleep very fast after a long day of work. Briefly before reaching Garmisch the alps appeared in sallow moonshine and the trip really began to start, as we figured out that we are back in the alps again. Absolutely tired we raised our tent at a camping site near Mittenwald at four in the night and immediately fell asleep. A few moments later a badly drunken guy showed up and shouted and screamed in a way you can hear it all over the place. He complained that nobody cares while he was freezing to death. One need to know that spring time in Germany and even in the Alps began very early this year and the temperatures in the night did not fall below 10° C (50° F). He calls on, until the police arrived ant probably took him. Anyway silence returned and we slept on until 7.30 (excellent 3 ½ hours) in the morning.

Sawatch Bliss, Sawatch Pain Sawatch Bliss, Sawatch Pain  by Brad Snider

It was still dark as I reached timberline after a hefty climb up the switchbacks of Missouri Gulch. Ahead, I could already see the silhouette of the gigantic Mount Belford illuminated by a myriad of stars. I had climbed this mountain before in deep snow; today the ground was bare and I was looking forward to the steep hike. I was on vacation from the east coast, and with one day to hike in Colorado I decided that I should tackle a mountain or two... or five. Several years ago I read Aaron Johnson’s account of Emerald and Iowa Peaks, befittingly entitled “A Secret in the Heart of the Wilderness.” That, along with my desire to climb Colorado’s hundred highest mountains, led me to this beautiful gulch. I hoped to make it to Emerald and Iowa Peaks today, but first I had some unfinished business to attend to.

Highland Peak Weekend Highland Peak Weekend  by JasonH

Finally June 30th rolled around. All of our planning was at an end and we were finally going to get to do some climbing. But first we had to get up there. My wife Milinda, my daughter Abigail and I picked Peter up at Sacramento International Airport at 7:30 in the morning. And to Milinda and my shock, Abigail took an instant liking to Peter. I knew right then that this was going to be a great trip.

After introductions were made and Peter had claimed his backpack, we left the airport to meet up with PJ at his home in downtown Sacramento. We had to print out maps on PJ’s printer because I was out of paper, but as it turned out he was out of ink. So we had to take some of PJ’s paper and drive to my place to print out the maps. It’s amazing how things work out like that, because as soon as we walked through the door, we saw my boots on the floor.

On the edge
between life and death On the edge between life and death  by schmid_th

Sometimes we have big plans in our life and then something happens and everything gets unimportant – only one thing remains: To become healthy again!

I didn´t think that something like this would happen to me… I was absolutely fit, did so much sports and I was well prepared for one week climbing in the Alps. Even this week should have been a preparation for climbing a 6.000 m peak in the Andes in Peru in September.

But then everything changed…

Blitzen Ridge Blitzen Ridge  by Andy

Ever since I first tied into a rope I've wanted to climb Blitzen Ridge. I'm not exactly sure what the attraction was - probably the spectacular setting as one of the dramatic arms encircling the gorgeous Spectacle Lakes Cirque and the large size of the route.

In the fall of 2006 I lined up a bunch of partners, got our bivy permits squared away, but the weather did not cooperate. We ended up bailing on the climb and instead headed south where the weather was better. This resulted in our ill-fated attempt at Gash Ridge.

Thus I had to wait a whole other year to make my attempt. I lined up some more partners, arranged the bivy permits, and showed up at The Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Saturday afternoon to meet Dan, Brian, and Fabio and pick up our permits.

Rip Roaring Thunder Rip Roaring Thunder  by Gangolf Haub

So here we are on Crete, island of 1001 gorges. Naturally I’d prefer to climb the mountains but since everyone seems to have to explore the gorges and canyons of the island I resign myself for venturing underneath. The Samaria Gorge is out of the question – too many tourists and a logistical nightmare – if you don’t want to rely on tour operators. Where else?

Judith comes up with a suggestion – the Aradena Gorge. Located in the south of the island near Chora Skafion and connecting the mountain village of Aradena with the sea this gorge looks reachable. It is supposed to be one of the most impressive canyons on Crete and – what is more – the guidebooks suggests a loop trail. Starting at Anopolis (also a mountain village), heading down to Loutro on the coast, a coastal path along rocky cliffs, the gorge to Aradena and a mountain path back to Anopolis. 6 ½ hours, 800m elevation gain and loss – sounds reasonable.

Moreover the “loop” actually is shaped like an 8 and we certainly can cut short the small loop on top if it’ll get late. Fools that we are – shortcutting in gorges!

Mt Olympus
- In 3 Parts Mt Olympus - In 3 Parts  by mbgriffi

When I saw the advertisement in Backpacker Magazine for Summit for Someone the combination of an opportunity for a guided climb of a mountain and the chance to help out inner city kids get into the outdoors was an instant appeal. My first thought was honestly to sign up for Rainier, however by the time I attempted registering on the Summit for Someone site Rainier trips were full and so I signed up for Olympus. Then began the work of raising funds to meet the pledge goal, and thanks to the generous contributions of many people I was quickly able to meet that.

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