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Crippled Peakbagging I: Big
Sky Rehab Crippled Peakbagging I: Big Sky Rehab  by Castlereagh

This past August I stood atop Mt. McGuire in the heart of the Bighorn Crags and could not see a damn thing through the wildfire haze. To quote Vince Vaughn a la True Detective Season 2, it was truely blue balls of the heart, in addition a waste of a valuable vacation day, and alas just one of several during a frustrating four days of fruitlessly seeking views during the worst of the 2015 wildfire season, flashbacks of which still fills me with pure, unadulterated rage and literally costs me whole nights of sleep.

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The Long
Way Up the Owen-Spalding The Long Way Up the Owen-Spalding  by oblongflight

Climbing the Grand Teton was a long-held goal for me. I was captivated by the the Teton Range long before I visited for the first time in 2012; I still easily recall the wonder I felt when I first saw the legendary Ansel Adams photograph The Tetons and the Snake River as a teenager. Back then I didn't think that I would ever climb any of those peaks, only that, more than any other landscape I had ever seen, the Tetons had an unmatched sense of grandeur and majesty. As the years passed that sense of wonder faded a bit from my memory. As a result, the first time I found myself there it wasn’t even my first-choice destination - the trip I was planning on taking, with my then-girlfriend, was to RMNP, but it was derailed at the last minute by the High Park fire. We chose the Tetons essentially because it was the next closest national park either of us had heard of. So we loaded up the car and pointed it that way. The seven days we spent backpacking in the park’s various canyons were profoundly formative for me. Suddenly my outdoors goals, previously nebulous, came into sharp focus: I wanted to get to those high places. I started learning to trad climb for the sole purpose of climbing the Grand Teton (which, as we’ll find later, is a little ironic). “Next year,” I thought, “I’ll be back.” I didn’t have any idea how rarely the stars align to make something like that happen. It took rather longer than I expected.

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Alpine Cragging on Ingalls
Peak Alpine Cragging on Ingalls Peak  by LukeJennings

The Seattle Times newspaper has been running a series of articles in their Sunday magazine titled "Our Crowded Future" about the impacts of population growth on our quality of life. I was thinking about that while standing at the base of Ingalls Peak waiting in line behind four other rope teams to climb the South Ridge. On Ingalls Peak I discovered a new form of climbing that combines the crowds of a popular cragging destination like I-90's Exit 38 with the approach hike of an alpine climbing destination like the North Cascade's Black Peak. I call it "Alpine Cragging".

The day began before dawn in Seattle as an "urban alpine start" when my friend Jason picked me up at 5 a.m. It was the first weekend of fall, but the forecast was promising some fine Indian summer conditions—warm and sunny. With such good weather I hoped to do something ambitious, but it was a Sunday and Jason had to be at work early on Monday so he had one criteria—that whatever we climbed needed to have zero possibility for turning into an epic that would result in us getting back to Seattle late.

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Big Fun on Big Island Big Fun on Big Island  by Jow

Bit of Jow history: Back in 2005 a younger me got married and we spent our honeymoon in Maui which was lovely. In 2008 I started this whole state highpointing project. So in 2015 for our 10 year wedding anniversary when the idea came up to head back to Hawaii I suggested it may be fun to explore a different island this time, one that may or may not have a certain peak on it. This time there would be a little stowaway coming along with us for the adventure.

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A Stellar time in the Court
of Oval A Stellar time in the Court of Oval  by Mike Lewis

The last couple days of September Fletcher asked me to join him on Courtney, Star and Oval Peaks in the Chelan Sawtooths. Given that the Larches were peaking, weather was looking perfect and I missed that show last year, I had to go. Given the long ride out there from Kirkland, we arrived at the TH sometime after 11am on the 29th. Going over Washington Pass we had excellent views of the foliage and knew we were in for a treat. I was excited to be packed very light and testing a new camera on the gorgeous scene. Unfortunately the camera turned out to be a let down, but I'll see about using some of Fletcher's phone pics. The Buttermilk Road was in decent shape except for a large ditch near the last mile where clearance of 9 inches or so might be handy. The trail itself was open and easy dirt/soot. The soot on the trail from older fires came up in plumes, though, and gave both me and Fletcher a hard time when it became suspended. I suspect there may have been some damage to the lungs. Oh well, worth it.

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Val Fedaria
Circuit (Livigno, Italy) Val Fedaria Circuit (Livigno, Italy)  by damgaard

My summer vacation for 2015 went to the Alps, again, and part of it was spent in the town of Livigno in northern Italy. In the winter Livigno is a major skiing town that in the summer takes good advantage of the skilifts for hiking and especially mountainbiking (MTB). Many of the hiking trails have thus been optimized for MTB and the trails and surrounding scenery are great.

On one MTB trip I had taken the Carosello 3000 lift up from Livigno to the mountain ridge west of the town. From the ridge you have a great view of the next valley, Val Federia, the valley floor lying some 800 meters lower. When enjoying the view I noticed the row of mountains that surrounded Val Fedaria and wondered, if it was possible to hike/scramble around to all these, and thus more or less possible to walk all the way around Val Fedaria. My map (a somewhat crude hiking/MTB map that they sell in shops in Livigno) showed only trails on a very little part of the route, but from my viewpoint on the ridge it looked doable.

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A Long Overdue Trip Out of
Smokemont A Long Overdue Trip Out of Smokemont  by MarkDidier

It’s not that I dislike the mountains of North Carolina. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. When it comes to the southern Appalachians my love affair has always been with western North Carolina. This goes back a long way, back to 82’, on my first trip to the mountains. It was all those glorious views I had while I pedaled the Blue Ridge Parkway. Besides riding my bike through the Smokies, and into North Carolina over Newfound Gap, I was fortunate enough to spend a week pedaling the entire Parkway. For three of those days I was blessed with countless western North Carolina vistas. For a first timer to the mountains, it was love at first site! When I returned home, and reminisced about that trip, western Carolina stood out as my favorite area. And to this day, when it comes to the southern Appalachians, yes, Carolina is the most special to me.

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Hiking The
Box, Utah's Pine Creek Canyon Hiking The Box, Utah's Pine Creek Canyon  by nader

Pine Creek originates in southern Utah’s Aquarius Plateau at an elevation of 10100 ft and heads south to reach Escalante River. On its way down the plateau, between the elevations of 7800 to 6400 ft, Pine Creek carves a deep canyon that is referred to as The Box. A trail follows the creek at the bottom of the canyon. Since a road gives access to the upper and lower trailheads, The Box is often hiked as a 9 mile long one-way trip down the canyon.

My lovely wife Mary and I left our vacation rental home in Escalante, UT at 6:40 a.m. and went on Posey Lake Road which turned out to be a well graded dirt road. The sun had not risen yet. The road headed north on a plateau with juniper trees and other pretty desert shrubs. An impressive line of white colored cliffs could be seen to the east. After 7.3 miles, we reached a short spur road that went to the lower trailhead. The road was actually closed to vehicles but parking was available at the beginning of the spur road. The plan was for Mary to drop me off at the upper trailhead and pick me up here at the end of the hike.

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Panther
Gorge-A New Marcy Route (Cat on a Wet Tin Roof) 2015 June 14 Panther Gorge-A New Marcy Route (Cat on a Wet Tin Roof) 2015 June 14  by MudRat

Panther Gorge, ah, the constant call in the back of my mind drew me again on June 14th. It was only two weeks since my last visit with Adam Crofoot and Allison Rooney, but my body felt up to the challenge. Bill Schneider, a veteran of the area that added new rock climbing routes during 2003 and 2004 joined me--. His goal was the same—to explore the unexplored.

We hadn’t climbed together so we discussed logistics on June 6th and decided to meet at the Rooster Comb Trailhead at 4:45 am the following morning. We’d leave a car below and drive one up to the Garden trailhead in case parking was at a premium.

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Making Colorado 14ers More
Interesting Making Colorado 14ers More Interesting  by ajberry

I have mixed feelings about the Colorado 14ers phenomenon. It’s great that the peak-bagging craze has stimulated lots of people to spend time in, and to appreciate, the mountains. But, at the same time, I think it’s a pity to introduce a competitive box-checking mentality into an activity that should, for me at least, be primarily about the aesthetics of what you’re doing — about challenging yourself in a beautiful, wild place and about engaging fully with every aspect of that environment. Because the 14ers are so popular, they tend to be crowded, which, selfishly, I suppose, is not how I like my mountains. One of the reasons I for one go to the mountains, after all, is to escape my fellow human beings. But there’s a silver lining to this: because the 14-ers serve so effectively as hiker magnets, every other peak is wonderfully neglected. One of my favourite of Colorado’s mountains is the Sawatch Grizzly Peak, which, at 13,988’, is Colorado’s highest non-14er; because of those missing 12 feet, you can be pretty sure, even in high season, that you won’t meet a soul all day.

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