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Baptism by
ice: learning (without) the ropes on Shasta's Clear Creek route Baptism by ice: learning (without) the ropes on Shasta's Clear Creek route  by ElGreco

As 2009 was drawing to a close, three friends and I decided to sign up for a guided climb up Mt. Rainier in June of 2010 in a sort of early new year's resolution. All of us had a mix of backpacking, camping and rock climbing experience. Some of us had been at altitude before on Whitney and Kilimanjaro. But none of us had any mountaineering experience as such. The nearest we had come to crampons and ice axes was on REI shelves. So the resolution was about taking the next step. We would not fully digest what it involved until later on - which was precisely the point of signing up.

The winter and spring was spent mostly going up and down the steepest trail of Mt. Diablo, east of San Francisco Bay, carrying increasingly heavy packs stuffed with blankets, sleeping bags and weights. Not the most glamorous activity, but the 3,500ft gain over a short mileage prepared us well for what was to follow. We also made a point of snowshoeing up smaller Tahoe area peaks and camping out, to get accustomed to that side of the package. June shortly arrived, and conditions on Rainier looked questionable. One after another, late season storms battered the Northwest, and a big avalanche made headlines when it caused the first fatality on the mountain in several years. Nonetheless, we were preparing and hoping for the best.

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4000er of
Firsts 4000er of Firsts  by alpinpete

Ever since the publication of Karl Blodig’s book Die Viertausander des Alpen, four thousand meters has marked an invisible line to distinguish the highest mountains in the Alps. The UIAA recognizes 82 peaks in this group, but the exact number of 4000m peaks varies depending on the height separation used. Switzerland’s Weissmies (4017m) marks the first ascent of a 4000er for many climbers. Being one of the eastern most 4000m peaks in the Valais Alps, it provides a nice panorama from its summit. This combined with a relatively easy ascent makes it a popular objective. However, each year the summit dome has progressively melted down with recent map revisions lowering the elevation by six meters. Therefore, one would be advised not to wait too long for an attempt on the Weissmies. In a few more years the peak may no longer be a member of the exclusive 4000er club.

Having climbed other 4000m peaks before, an ascent of the Weissmies would not mark my first 4000er. Instead, this trip would turn out to be a 4000er of firsts. It would be my wife’s first ascent of a 4000er and our first 4000er together. It would be our first stay together at a Swiss alpine hut. It would be the first time we were woken up by two different bells at two different times. It would be our first aluminum ladder-assisted crevasse crossing. And it would be the first time that my mountain boots did not rub holes in my heels!

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Moroni Slopes region
backpack, March 2010 Moroni Slopes region backpack, March 2010  by Matt Lemke

In March 2010 while I was on spring break, we took a trip over to southern Utah and had a blast. Started the week with Bluejohn Canyon. Drove the entire Notom-Bullfrog Road the second day in a raging blizzard and got to the Halls Creek Overlook Trailhead (managed to avoid getting stuck amazingly). Did the Halls Creek Shortcut route and hiked through the narrows the third day. The forth through the sixth days were spent in the Grand Staircase Escalante NM. The final three days were spent doing a backpack in the Moroni Slopes area in the San Rafael Swell. We started at Salt Wash where we parked and the plan was for an epic loop hike (about 33 miles) that involved hiking up Salt Wash (mind you it was still flowing after the very wet winter of 09/10) and climbing Black Mountain. Next was the hike up Last Chance Wash and the climb to the "Fryingpan". It would finish with a long cross country walk to the summit of Horse Heaven and beyond. A road walk down the dugway into Segers Hole and a climb up to a point on the swell before descending the slopes back to Salt Wash near the mouth of Cable Canyon. The home stretch was a hike back up Salt Wash to meet the car. See the Google Earth image below to see the route taken.

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Never
Ending Punishment On Satan's Ridge Traverse Never Ending Punishment On Satan's Ridge Traverse  by noahs213

The Capitol Peak - Snowmass Mountain ridge traverse is the hardest 14'er connecting ridge traverse in Colorado and in competition with many of the traverses out there. It may be the most dangerous ridge traverse in the lower 48. Ever since I began climbing I have dared and dreamed of climbing this ridge traverse. I spent a few years researching it and the history and have not found really that much at all. There have only been a couple ascents known of it. I found that none of them stayed on the ridge direct the whole way, meaning they dropped off to the bottom to skip the nightmarish sections. I talked to one of the fellows who actually had it in him to solo it. He reported how scary it was and stated in an e-mail he ranged from scared to extremely scared for all 3.5 miles of it. The fact that he made it through it in one piece is quite amazing.

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Swiss
Arête -Living the Dream Swiss Arête -Living the Dream  by Vitaliy M.

First time I came across Swiss Arête (III 5.7) as a possible route to the top of Mt. Sill (14,153 ft / 4314 m) I fell in love. I fell in love with the amazing line that follows an impressive arête, and ends on the actual summit of this stunning CA 14er. There was only one problem at the time- it was May of 2010, and I had no experience with climbing trad, or climbing any 5th class routes outside my local gym. Swiss Arête was only a dream, a route I thought was possible some time in the future, maybe in two years, maybe in three. A route I had to work hard to complete. Outing that would require planning, confidence in climbing multi-pitch trad in an alpine environment, and ability to haul plenty of gear in (19 mile round trip with close to 7,000 feet of elevation gain) and out- all at high altitude.

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Midweek
Mountain Moments Midweek Mountain Moments  by alpinpete

While weekdays account for five out of the seven days each week that we could be spending time in the mountains, most of us fall into the weekend warrior segment of the climbing population. However, there exists another segment and for whatever reasons these fortunate few can find themselves in the mountains any given day of the week. Whether it is to liberate themselves from the nine-to-five norms or to search for some solitude away from the masses, midweek mountain men and women find a way to put themselves in the high places at the odd times. On this trip at least, we would find ourselves among this minority and try to capture some midweek mountain moments.

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Facile Facile  by AlexS

Climbing grades can be meaningless at times. It does not take a long apprenticeship to experience that questioning doubt over the grade of the climb that is giving far more than you expected upon initial departure. “Sandbag!” It’s an accusation that has been levelled at many climbs that have masqueraded as something amenable to ones climbing ability. Neither do climbing grades convey how enjoyable a climb will be, as this is so subjective to the individuals and situations involved. If you yearn for technical climbing or commitment, then a “Facile” is unlikely to fulfil that need and in return less likely to be enjoyable. The French word for “easy” and the associated alpine climbing grade does not conjure up images of excitement or uncertainty, which are often the cornerstones of the alpine climbing experience. It was however a low profile “Facile” in the Cordillera Blanca that gave up an experience of the highest quality way beyond that which the grade would ever have indicated.

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The
Humbling Adventure of a Young Trad Climber The Humbling Adventure of a Young Trad Climber  by RyderS

This story is a bit late in coming. However, since I'm currently an undergrad, time seems to be a luxury I cannot afford... at least until the semester ends. Anyways, this story is one that has certainly humbled me as an amateur climbing enthusiast. When I discovered trad climbing a few years back, I was incredibly eager to learn as much as I could and hit up the local New England crags as soon as possible. I got the literature, the equipment, and some instruction; I even spent part of january climbing in the Tahoe area. But I would soon learn that without incredibly intensive training, empiricism would end up teaching you in a way that will leave your adrenaline rushing whenever you think about your... well, let's just call it an incident. I always took stock and was aware of the adage that warns that people of my age are prone to doing very reckless things because they think that they are invincible. I was aware that trad climbing is an inherently risky sport. However, before my run-in on Mount Washington, I did not fully appreciate the necessity of preparing with incessant hands-on practice. Theoretical knowledge is certainly great, but I learned that you need to get the all-important muscle memory--knowing how to build anchors, manage ropes, and manage your climbing party inside out, with your hands behind your back, in your sleep, etc. Anyways, enough with the preachiness and on with the actual story...

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Italy’s
Heaven on Earth Italy’s Heaven on Earth  by alpinpete

There we were again…Thursday evening in Geneva discussing the weekend's sortie in the Alps. We had a good group that included my colleagues Roland and Jean-Marc. This time, we would make a pilgrimage to Gran Paradiso, Italy’s Heaven on Earth. The word ‘paradiso’ translates literally into paradise, but perhaps heaven is more appropriate in this context because of the various experiences one may have from its ascension. The approach from Italy’s Valsavarenche is absolutely stunning, especially in the fall when larch trees turn a golden hue. On Gran Pardiso’s summit sits From Gran Pardiso’s summit on a clear day you are blessed with a view of countless peaks: Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, Monte Viso and more. While most parties opt for the normal route that ascends the west flank via the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II, our route would include a night at the Rifugio Federico Chabod followed by an ascent of the Ghiacciao del Laveciau and then a descent of the west flank.

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Dead Indian
Peak-- Tim Was Right and I Was Wrong Dead Indian Peak-- Tim Was Right and I Was Wrong  by Bob Sihler

Tim was right and I was wrong. Well, actually, I was right and Tim was wrong before Tim was right and I was wrong.

Sorry to get all John Kerry on you there. We’ll address all that in time. But first, we'll have some route details since as of yet there is no SP page for Dead Indian Peak, then the story, and, finally, the right and the wrong.

One of the highest mountains in the beautiful Sunlight Basin area of the Northern Absarokas, Dead Indian Peak is impressive from many angles. Its tiny, pointed summit catches the eye and makes it easy to spot, and no other peak in the vicinity has such a distinctive profile. In fact, few other peaks in Greater Yellowstone are as spectacular in form as Dead Indian Peak is. Most people probably see the peak from Dead Indian Summit along the Chief Joseph Memorial Highway or from the Beartooth Highway, but mountaineers recognize its shape from many different directions.

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