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Christmas 2014 on Orizaba
and Iztaccihuatl Christmas 2014 on Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl  by shknbke

Orizaba has been on my list of international adventures for quite some time. It is a logical stepping stone to grander plans. With my only above 14K’ experience being on Kili some 7 years ago, it was prudent to test the waters at high altitude again. My experience on Kili was good, but I didn’t feel as strong on summit day as I would have liked. My friends Dave and Jane Schmid had a trip booked for late December, but I wasn’t sure I could pull off the vacation days. Since the trip was wrapped around Christmas weekend, it would only require 4 days off. The bonus for this trip would be 17er Iztaccihuatl on a day’s rest if the weather cooperated. I signed up with a little over a month to plan, and it was a decision I wouldn’t regret!

There were 7 of us, but we had 3 different travel itineraries. Dave, Jane, and I elected to use the shuttle services of Antonio Juarez Guzman for travel to the Canchola’s hostel in Tlachichuca. We also used him for transport to Izta and back to Mexico City. Although the bus system would have been about 1/3rd of the cost, the convenience was worth it. We didn’t have to worry about our gear getting stolen and were able to pickup groceries very conveniently. Antonio and his employee Joel were very reliable for the duration of the trip and are highly recommended.

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Trapdike, December 2014 Trapdike, December 2014  by nickbk

The Adirondacks received a lot of snow this past December, so on December 20 the Trapdike was much more of a snow climb than an ice climb. In fact, at several points I was swinging my ice tools through a few inches of snow and into rock. And on the slab we found ourselves similarly having nothing under the snow to stick our crampons into.

Because of all snow, the gully part of the climb was easy at first. The 3 of us roped up together with a 60-meter rope, and Josh put in a few anchors and ice screws at the most tricky and exposed points. All 3 of us used 2 ice tools, although for much of the climb I gripped onto the top and used the handle like a mountaineering ice ax.

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Pilgrimage to the Eagles'
path Pilgrimage to the Eagles' path  by peterbud

Nice sunny morning in the capital of Hungary. It's time to start, we have arranged to fetch the other half of our team in the outskirts at 8 am. We are ready to go, but the door of the garage doesn't react to the remote controller. Looks like we've got a problem... Maybe it's the RC malfunctioning. Amm, it's Saturday, and all my neighbors are still sleeping in the building. It wouldn't be polite to wake up someone just to let us out from the garage. But we have to be at the hut under Rysy by the evening!

15 minutes later... free! Half an hour after the successful escapade we meet the others, so the team (consisting of my friend Tamás, his friends Máté and Balázs plus yours truly) is finally together. This will be the first Tatra trip of Tamás's friends. Time to hit the road north. We stop for a short lunch on Čertovica pass in the Low Tatras. Despite the sunny weather, it's much colder than at home. Well, we're above 1200 m, so the difference is not surprising. As the car descends, the excitement grows. Partly because of anticipating the first glimpse on the High Tatras, partly because of the clouds that can already be seen towards our destination.

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Rock Climbing around El
Chorro Rock Climbing around El Chorro  by rgg

It's been a few months since the last bit of climbing I've done. By now it's late in the year, the days are getting shorter and darker and temperatures are dropping. We are looking around for a place to go rock climbing. The obvious solution is to fly south, to a warm, sunny place. But where?

Last year Jan and I went to Gran Canaria, and although we were unlucky to get much more rain than usual, and a few days with stormy winds on which we couldn't climb, we still got good weather most of the days, and often got balmy temperatures. All in all, we still got a decent amount of climbing done. However, there still are lots of opportunities we didn't have time to explore, so that's where we decide to look first. But we have left it too late, and there are few cheap flights left.

The paddle points to Finca la Campana, one of the many accommodation options. We stayed at their bunkhouse. Somewhere in Southern Europe, along the Mediterrean coast then? Or perhaps further south, in Africa? As usual, our search starts on the internet, and it doesn't take long at all to find a good alternative: we shall go to Andalucía, Southern Spain, to the area around El Chorro to be precise. On the Rockfax site we read that there are more than a thousand bolted routes down there, so we will have plenty to chose from.

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Zimmer-- Zip Is Not Always
Zilch Zimmer-- Zip Is Not Always Zilch  by Bob Sihler

What constitutes a good day in the mountains?

Some will say any day in the mountains is good, or at least that a bad day in the mountains beats a good day in the office. Although I appreciate that sentiment, I’m not so sure I agree; while I’ve never had a day at work I wish I could live over and over again, I have had days in the mountains that I wish had never happened. A day of non-stop rain when I was backpacking in the Sierra Nevada once comes to mind. Low clouds devoured the views almost all day long, and the crappy cover I had for my tent proved to be both too small and a wonderfully porous conduit for water. That day sucked.

But back to the question. For a mountaineer, especially as his experience and ability grow, it is all too easy to judge the day by whether or not he made the summit. A shutout, no matter the reason, becomes a failure and a throwaway, a waste.

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Solo Climb
of Boundary Peak Solo Climb of Boundary Peak  by Bombchaser

Since I was going to be working in Fallon, Nevada for several weeks, I decided to find some mountains to climb. In 2007 I had attempted to summit Boundary Peak, Nevada with a partner. We were forced to turn back 700 feet from the summit. So this mountain was at the top of the list. I put a plan together and decided I would spend three days and try to summit both Boundary Peak 13,140 feet, and also Montgomery Peak 13,441 feet just over the state line in California. I put together my 40 pound overnight ascent pack. The weather was calling for partly sunny, temperatures; high 20 and lows 1, with 40 mph winds, and minus 20-30 wind chills. I would leave early on Friday and return Sunday. I ended up getting a late start on Friday since I had to wait for a piece of gear to arrive in the mail. I got on the road for the long drive south around 7:00am.

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Campanile Val Montanaia Campanile Val Montanaia  by drunkfox

Towards the middle of July, as we were approaching the end of our two week stay in Cortina, the weather forecast offered a glimmer of hope; we quickly scheduled a climb with Enrico: we were going to climb the iconic Campanile di Val Montanaia in the Friulan Alps. This entailed a drive to the Pordenone Hut the night before and an early start on the 800 meter, two hour hike to the beginning of the Glanvell-Saar Route, the “Via Normale” on the Campanile. Enrico had tried it the year before but had to turn back at the base of the Campanile because of bad weather.

Much has been said about the first ascent in 1902, and how two Austrians, Glanvell and Saar, “stole” the climb from two climbers from Trieste, Cozzi and Zanutti. It’s true that Cozzi and Zanutti got past the crux of the climb, the famous Cozzi crack, but they did not or could not go beyond. The two Austrians, armed with some beta from the two Triestini, made it past the Cozzi crack and pioneered the daring traverse to the bottom of the Glanvell-Saar chimney, which they also overcame. A couple of easier pitches later they were on top. Having climbed it myself, my hat goes off to the two Austrians for having the guts to follow the traverse and make it up the chimney, no easy feat.

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Snowshoe ascent of Gothic
Peak 1-3-2015 Snowshoe ascent of Gothic Peak 1-3-2015  by Jeb

The trail to Gothic Basin was well packed until the first gully crossing about a mile beyond the Monte Cristo Trail. We put on snowshoes on the other side of the gully and continued climbing as the peaks to the east began to appear above the tree tops. Evidence of the trail could be seen occasionally through a foot of fresh powder. Sheep Gap Mountain came into view ahead as we crested the ridge into Gothic Basin. Clouds flowed through the peaks surrounding Monte Cristo and Sloan Peak appeared in the saddle between Sheep Mountain and Gemini Peak. We were moving very slow, though it didn't seem like it - in 7 hours we had traveled only 4 miles and gained less than 3000 feet.

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Surviving a
1,000 ft Fall on Mt Nebo Surviving a 1,000 ft Fall on Mt Nebo  by PellucidWombat

There was no sound from the cracking, and if I hadn’t been getting ready to move I surely would have been taken more by surprise. I saw a huge maw open up beside my right foot, and about all I had time to do was lunge over the gap. It felt as if I was being sucked downward, and my chest landed hard on the ridge. My arms were outstretched but there was nothing to grab on to – I slipped back and suddenly I was airborne. The slope below was so steep that I don’t recall feeling any impact. One moment I was falling and the next I was sliding, standing vertically on my toes as I tried to dig them into the slope. My snowshoes prevented me from getting much penetration in the snow, so I tried digging the handles of my poles into the slope, but by then I was rocketing down so fast that my efforts were futile. As I accelerated I could do nothing but kick and claw harder at the slope.

Everything happened so fast that I barely had any thoughts or feelings as I fell apart from “I must stop myself before I reach a cliff or tree” and “I’m going to die”. I fought as hard as I could but nothing seemed to work. Everything was white around me and all I could hear was a low rumbling sound of my body whipping down the slope. There was a brief moment that I was airborne again – I was going off a cliff! Then I was sliding again, and then I was airborne again. I didn’t fall far but the brief loss of contact with the slope started to pitch me back and to my left. I spread my arms and legs out further and strained with my legs and back to fight the overturning forces pushing me down the hill. By some miracle I was able to keep myself upright and facing into the slope.

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Coyote Mountain & Clark Dry
Lake Coyote Mountain & Clark Dry Lake  by nader

The 3192 ft Coyote Mountain rises 2700 ft to the north of Anza Borrego Desert Plain in southern California. To the east and west, Coyote Mountain is separated from higher mountains via arid valleys. Clark Dry Lake sits to the east of Coyote Mountain.

This beautiful mountain was well visible from where we stayed for one week near Borrego Springs, CA. My heart, however, was set on climbing it long before I actually saw it.

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