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The Kirwin
Chronicles, Volume 6: Fire in the Sky The Kirwin Chronicles, Volume 6: Fire in the Sky  by Bob Sihler

For many months prior to August 2011, I had been planning a backpacking trip up Frontier Creek in Wyoming's Southeast Absarokas in order to climb two remote and seldom-climbed peaks, one an unnamed summit along a ridge separating the basins of Green Lake and Emerald Lake and the other the ominous-sounding Devils Graveyard, atop which there is said to be a field of slab-like rocks resembling gravestones set perpendicular to the ground. In fact, I'd been thinking about both summits for more than a year, and the latter for over a decade.

So of course, shortly before leaving for Wyoming, I learned from a friend that there was a large fire burning in my destined area and that there were area closures. Sure enough, those closures included where I was headed even though the fire was not in that drainage at the time (and apparently never was). Accordingly, I altered plans to focus on day hikes and climbs in the Southern Absarokas instead.

O Brother,
Where Art Thou? O Brother, Where Art Thou?  by LukeJennings

"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow…For in this world I'm bound to ramble," lyrics from the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? were running through my head as I, delirious with exhaustion, stumbled down the dark trail frequently tripping over roots and rocks. My three teammates and I were trailhead bound after completing our climb across the Brothers Traverse. It was well past midnight and our way was illuminated only by headlamps in the moonless night. The weight of my backpack dug painfully into my shoulders and my feet ached with every step. We finally stopped for a quick break, unshouldering our packs at the viewpoint above Lena Lake. The mantle of stars in the cloudless night sky glittered reflected light across the lake's dark, still waters. It was the weather we were promised by the forecast, unfortunately it arrived too late. By that time it was 1:30am. We could have used clear skies about sixteen hours earlier when we reached the North Brothers summit. It would have saved us a lot of time in a day that started at 5am. When we rested at Lena Lake we were twenty-and-a-half hours into a day of non-stop climbing and hiking and still one-and-a-half hours away from the trailhead. That said, I had no right to complain. I was a student in the 2013 Boeing Employees' Alpine Society Intermediate Climbing Class (BOEALPS ICC) and I had requested The Brothers Traverse as my first alpine climb.

Montasio /
Jof Fuart - an overlooked gem in the Eastern Alps Montasio / Jof Fuart - an overlooked gem in the Eastern Alps  by damgaard

Summer 2013 was (as usual) spent in the Alps doing a mixture of hiking, climbing, orienteering and mountainbiking. Until a few days before departure the weather forecasts had been looking rather questionable and we had been arguing back and forth between Western Alps or Eastern Alps. In the end Eastern Alps won - a lucky pick since it turned out to be close to three weeks with absolutely perfect weather almost every day!

The first week was spent hiking with a friend in the Grossglockner group including a climb to the summit itself. Then I moved on to Slovenia for some orienteering, mountainbiking and via ferrate climbing with other friends before heading towards the Montasio / Jof Fuart group in the northeastern part of Italy just on the border to Austria and Slovenia for a small solo hiking trip.

Canyoneering Canyonlands Canyoneering Canyonlands  by Scott

Matt Lemke contacted me and asked me if I wanted to go canyoneering for the weekend. At first we were thinking of the Roost, but the un-betaed canyon I had in mind might be too long for the short days. Doing it in two days would be hard since it would be too tight to take packs through. I made the suggestion that we put the Roost canyon on hold.

I had remembered that years ago (1991) I had scouted out Elephant Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. I knew it wouldn’t be a tight slot, but what intrigued me about the canyon is that I could see huge pools and waterfalls and a narrows section. While canyons with pools and running water are common in places such as Zion National Park or Escalante, they are very rare in Canyonlands National Park. The canyon was also ruggedly spectacular and 1300 feet in its lower end. I suggested the possibility of descending the canyon to Matt and he was interested.

Northshore Peak Northshore Peak  by nader

Northshore Peak rises in Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the east of Las Vegas, Nevada. The peak is officially un-named. Its north face creates a wall/steep slope that rises 1000 ft above North Shore Road, a 50 mile long scenic desert drive that parallels the northern shore of Lake Mead on Colorado River behind Hoover Dam. Northshore Peak does not have an established trail but can be easily hiked via its northeastern slopes. Only below its summit, a short section of Class III hand and foot climbing will be required.

I had a cold and my ears were ringing. I had decided not to do any hiking today. Woke up in our hotel on Las Vegas Strip at 7:30 a.m. While still in bed, I thought that if I don’t do any hiking, I will be bored to death. It was quite ironic that I could not keep myself busy in the entertainment capital of the world and had to run to the dust and dirt of the wilderness. At 8:00 a.m., I suddenly decided that I wanted to climb Northshore Peak.

Cruising the Mirror Lake
Highway Cruising the Mirror Lake Highway  by ZeeJay

So this time, I really, really vowed not to ski the highway again unless the conditions were absolutely perfect, old slick snow, minimal wind, not too cold, not too warm, and a weekday to minimize snowmobiles. My friend Glen was interested in doing it too, but had no waxable skis, lightweight or otherwise. I volunteered my husband's gear and fortunately the boots fit. I don't know anyplace that rents waxable skis anymore so renting was not an option. Glen, like most people, was otherwise occupied Mon-Fri, so my weekday plan went out the window. In Utah, Saturday is the day most people recreate, since many of the local population spend 3 hours in church every Sunday. I drew the line at going on a Saturday, fearing it would be one snowmobile after another the whole way, so Sunday it was. The problem was that both of us had Sundays tied up until February 9, and 31 inches of snow fell between the 7th and the 9th. I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid. The next day we could both make was the 23rd, and in between the two dates, there was really no day when conditions were good anyway. It was either snowing, too warm for good glide, or too windy. The 23rd didn't look all that good either, but it was warming up so fast I was afraid that if we didn't do it then, we wouldn't find a cold enough day for the snow to refreeze for the descent.

Staying the
Course up North Staying the Course up North  by Castlereagh

Castle Peak had been on Greg’s radar for longer than mine’s; having already climbed most of the range highpoints and P2K’s in the area, he had for years gazed tantalizingly at Castle in the distance, scrutinizing its ever changing profile from every direction. Me, less so, but Smoky Dome and a couple other trips to the Sun Valley area peaks this summer had allowed me a glimpse of this towering behemoth hidden deep in the White Clouds. Greg had wanted it last summer, but with inclement weather and the giant haze storm from a particularly bad year for wildfires, the timing never really worked out. Now with a week off in early August to do some peaks deeper up in North/Central Idaho he figured he could start with Castle after leaving Salt Lake, then work his way further into the Idaho interior. This worked for me too, as I could get Castle in as an exciting scramble the weekend before I was due to fly back to Massachusetts for a wedding.

Narrows-Minded Narrows-Minded  by Bob Sihler

The latest installment of the series showing how I lose hiking and climbing partners.

My brother Chris, not the one who almost got lost out on the Jackson Glacier, got it in his head back in 1996, after our first visit to Zion, that he wanted to hike the Virgin River Narrows. Looking at pictures of the canyon, I was interested as well, and everything I’d read about it said to me that the Narrows was one of America’s most spectacular and unique hiking destinations. And since the water in July, according to the NPS site and some other guides I’d read, would only be around ankle-deep in most places, it sounded downright good for a Utah summer day.

Winter Mountaineering Around
Boreas Pass Winter Mountaineering Around Boreas Pass  by Scott

We were all tired from the late night before, so we didn’t plan a big day. The blizzard was still continuing on and off throughout the day as well. It was a very warm night though and never dropped below 18F. After a very late start, I did climb Madonna Dome (12,331 feet/3759 meters) to the west of Boreas Pass. Kim and the kids decided not to try the climb in order to save up energy for the next day’s climb. The weather was OK with light snow and cloudy skies. I had to break the trail most of the way up to 12,000 feet, but the ridge was windblown after that. Avalanche danger was high, so I had to make my way by using a winding and non-direct route that avoided any avalanche danger.

2013 - Year
In Review 2013 - Year In Review  by Vitaliy M.

Since I started mountaineering in 2010 I been trying to figure out my identity. What do I like the most out of many sub divisions that make up what we call “climbing?” What am I good at? Should I focus on ice climbing? Crack climbing in Yosemite? Big walls? Long free climbs? Scrambling in the Sierra Nevada? High altitude mountaineering in preparation to tackle conga lines on 8000M peaks? I can’t do it all and continue improving on all the fronts, right? Wrong! I finally figured that true reason I fell in love with climbing is because there is so much complexity to it, however it could be as straight forward as getting a crash pad and walking up to a boulder. My mood changes, so does the type of a climb I seek. In 2013 I had an enormous mix of experiences which did not only lead to appealing photos, but changed the way I view myself and the world.

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