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Finland 2015: of dogs, snowmobiles & Irishmen Arctic Finland 2015: of dogs, snowmobiles & Irishmen  by markhallam

I am some 150 miles up inside the Arctic Circle , mired in a snow-drift – in the freezing blackness of a February night in northern Finland. My transport – a snowmobile – is tipped on its side yet again. With extraordinary difficulty I am trying to struggle to my feet, a near impossible task in waste deep snow – and with blazing pain from the osteoarthritis in my lower spine, which is now also setting fire to my left leg.

This is all made OK (but only just) by the fact that there is the most incredible display of the aurora borealis 50km above my head. There is barely time to stop and admire it, because I have to turn my attention to getting my mired snow-mobile unstuck – which is beyond me to manage unassisted. But nonetheless I steal a bit of time as Darren, one of our two 25 year old Irish guides hurtles up in a flurry of white powder, partially illuminated by his headlight. The aurora (or northern lights) has for the last couple of hours just been a subdued greenish glow on the horizon, below an inky black sky pin-pricked by myriad stars – many more than I accustomed to seeing in the light polluted skies of the UK – 1500 miles to the south. But now it has metamorphosed into a great swirling Chinese dragon right above – and it spans half of the black dome overhead.

Highlights from a Disastrous
2013 Season Highlights from a Disastrous 2013 Season  by BearQueen

Well, as they say, “IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times” pretty much sums up what was happening in my life at the time I was hiking Mt. Cavanaugh: It was New Year’s and I was with my husband, but the bad part, the part that has been the “worst of times” is basically chronic unemployment, falling out of hiking completely for about one year since we have been without a car that works and that shut down our ability to go outside of Seattle City Limits.

The triumph of Mt. Cavanaugh was pretty great for me. It represented a New Year, and although 2013 did not go in any way how I felt when I was on the top of Mt. Cavanaugh, I write this today hoping I can recapture it and I hope to snowshoe up this again soon.

Winter Winds of Change Winter Winds of Change  by Castlereagh

I sit here little over a year removed from the most recent events of this trip report having just started up a job in New Jersey. I’m still not entirely sure how this came to be and what exactly this means for the future if anything, but if the events that led to this moment were, to quote Shelby Foote, “stars in their courses”, then what transpired in and between what’s covered in the following tidbits certainly gave birth to those stars and set them on their course.

But first there was that initial taste of winter the week before my Nevada/Notch Peak trip. I teamed up with Matt (mtybumpo on SP) to go for Black Peak, a prominent P4K in Idaho and one of those peaks that always catches your eye as you drive on by on the way to bigger and grander things (in my case, on trips between Salt Lake and the Ketchum area). We approached the peak via Sixmile Canyon, where the air was reasonably warmish and the slopes were bare of snow.

Four Rings
of Saturn: A New Ice Climbing Route on Gothics East Face Four Rings of Saturn: A New Ice Climbing Route on Gothics East Face  by MudRat

Though everything in the backcountry is alluring, a few places and features intrigue me more than others. Most of the upper Great Range holds a special place in my heart. While climbing Gothics via Pyramid in the early 2000’s I was taken by a stone sculpture, a cliff, on the far side of the cirque. The four tiers of the cliff were striped with moss, lichen, water and algae. I snapped several photos and looked at them every now and again. I thought it unfathomable to observe it more closely, however—go off-trail—heck no!

Hiking the Ariege Pyrenees Hiking the Ariege Pyrenees  by mallowman

On June 2nd I returned to the Pyrenees to continue the journey I first began on a trip in December 2011 when I enjoyed six superb days from Banyuls sur Mer to Canigou. Last June I paid a return visit and continued from Canigou to Ax Les Thermes. This year I departed Dublin and flew to Toulouse and caught a train from there to the village of Hospitalet Pres L'Andorre from where I would be able to start my hike. My train from Toulouse didn't depart until 16.45 and as I was due to arrive in the airport at 14.20 I figured that I would ample time to get a canister of gas to have on my trip. But in the way that these things always seem to work out, we were twenty minutes late arriving and I just missed a bus into town which meant I arrived into the train station at 15.50. Still plenty of time says I, but as I went to buy my ticket I was horrified to discover that there was a numbered system in place and a Big queue. I was number J25 and the numbers were painfully slow in moving so at 16.00 I decided to leave and make a dash to a Decathlon store I knew was a kilometer away as I figured I needed my gas, otherwise I would have to stay in Ax les Thermes or somewhere similar that evening before I would be able to begin my hike. "Running" with a really big rucksack in quite warm conditions is never easy and the startled look on the sales assistants face when I entered the store said all that was needed to describe my condition by the time I got there. By the time I got back to the train station with my precious canister I must have been on the radar of the security people as my heated visage and profuse sweating must have been a cause for worry.

Four climbs
in the Cirque: Warrior I NE Face, Pingora NE Face, Warbonnet Black Elk, Sundance
Pinnacle NE Arete Four climbs in the Cirque: Warrior I NE Face, Pingora NE Face, Warbonnet Black Elk, Sundance Pinnacle NE Arete  by StephAbegg

The Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming's Wind River Range had captured my attention this summer. In July, I spent eight days in the Cirque. It had been a fun and rather successful trip where the weather was great and I climbed six Cirque classic moderate routes in six days. Nonetheless, I finished the trip feeling a bit disappointed, since for reasons I still don't quite understand my partner and I did not climb or even attempt any of the routes we had planned to climb. So a return trip to the Cirque before the summer ended was definitely on my mind.

Since the Spring, I had been corresponding with climber Dow Williams about planning a climbing trip. I put the bug in his ear about a trip to the Cirque, naming some grade IV routes like Warrior I's Northeast Face (a classic "Beckey adventure route") and Warbonnet's Black Elk ("hardest route in the Cirque") and Feather Buttress ("wildest 5.9 pitch in America"). Dow was interested and we set aside some dates to do a few of the harder routes in the Cirque.

My Return
to Maine My Return to Maine  by TLP

There's nothing like New England in the fall. The colors on the trees, maybe some snow on the mountaintops, a bit of chill in the air, these things may be found in other places as well, but how can they compare to New England! It's the time of year I look forward to most. After a long year, the land shows you it's true splendor before the barren trees, and shorter days.

Boyz on Da Hood Boyz on Da Hood  by EastKing

It was a long time coming, but after disappointment on Mt. Hood in April and Mount Shasta this Tuesday, it was time to head back once more. This time I invited my old friend nwhikers.net MountainMan, who I have had many successful hikes and a successful climb up Mt. Adams. I have never had a unsuccessful attempt with MountainMan. Having MountainMan here made a world of difference on this trip, especially on the last leg where a 40-50 degree hard snow/ice climb up the Old Chute. He helped me through that section when I was having second thoughts about some of the routes.

All right, here is the story. I have been trying to get MountainMan on a climb for a while but due to schedule issues nothing ever could work out. It though became obvious to be though that both MountainMan and I are going to be in prime condition for a Mt. Hood attempt. I was going to be coming from being camping for a couple of days around 10400 feet while Jason was coming off a backpack trip where he was going to be camping at 6000 feet. We would have two days to rest which is plenty of time. And the conditioning aspect worked like a charm.

Fall Classics Fall Classics  by Castlereagh

It had been an excruciatingly long drought, similar to the void of 2004-2007, or 2008-2011. And since that glorious June of 2011 there were kids as old as two and a few months’ change who had yet to experience a Boston Sports World Championship. The brethren approached this Red Sox postseason with bated hopes in the Fall of 2013, having watched our boys of summer slug their way to the best record of the majors, but still wary of a team that was only a year removed from an era of gutless glut and cognizant of the many heartaches we had suffered in recent memory…in fact, still smarting from a heartbreaking loss to the Chicago Blackhawks only three months prior.

Mount Saint
Helens (3rd attempt) and Trout Lake Area Caving 2013-10-11 Mount Saint Helens (3rd attempt) and Trout Lake Area Caving 2013-10-11  by Jeb

I attempted to summit Mount Saint Helens twice this February, turning back the first time due to weather, and stopping at the crater rim the second time because of dangerous snow conditions. I was determined to make it this time and planned to bring rope, a picket and a harness if there was any chance of snow just to be sure. Ben and Colin were available to join me on one of the last few days left with permits available. Ben and I were both interested in revisiting some Trout Lake area caves and Colin was game so we left Tacoma on Thursday night ready for a long weekend of adventure.

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