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Ridin' the
Storm Out: Memorial Day in Evolution Basin Ridin' the Storm Out: Memorial Day in Evolution Basin  by Princess Buttercup

My first ski tour was not starting well. Mashed potatoes under my boots, I sank crotch-deep into the slope traversing above the far side of Sabrina Lake. My heavy pack of almost sixty pounds pushed my shoulders into the slope. The tails of my skis, dangling from my pack due to the patchiness of the snow, touched the surface, forcing me to wriggle and writhe to move out of the hole, driving my left leg to the side and planting my poles flat to plank myself upwards. I wasn’t even 3 miles into the weekend and I was already flailing in the soft snow, driving up and around the ridge to the slabs leading to Blue Lake.

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The Queen
is at Stake for the King to Conquer The Queen is at Stake for the King to Conquer  by EastKing

Yes it was yet another tough half day at work. So what is the best way to deal with the situation, climb to peaks and enjoy the adventure. On this trip with me were fellow SPer Jimbopo and Gabe. It was a nice rare warm morning in Seattle so we all knew we had to capitalize on this day because temperatures have been well below average this year. I decided to go to a place I consider to be most reliable The Crystal Mountain Ski Area. There I knew I could get a good quality adventure, have killer views, glissade great runs and be heading home well before dark.

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Near Miss: Hypoxia and
Weather on Shastina Near Miss: Hypoxia and Weather on Shastina  by Trawinski

One of our party, Nate, had decided to go "ultra-light" during the entire trip, consuming nothing but water and Clif bars. He had pulled this off successfully on shorter trips at lower elevation, but had never been on Mt. Shasta. We suggested he bring more food and water for our climb up Shastina, but he assured us he knew what he was doing. "I know my body" was Nate's common refrain. Within an hour he bonked. He'd already burned through all his water and turned around when it was still dark. Since camp was still in sight and the terrain was relatively mellow, we let him descend alone, putting in a call on the radio to make sure he got back okay, which he did.

We continued up the gulch until about 10,400 feet, at which point Todd, our most experienced and level-headed member made an odd suggestion: "Why don't we go do Shasta instead?" Paul and I exchanged a glance. "What are you talking about?" I responded. "Shastina is the plan. Let's stick with the plan. We didn't start early enough for Shasta and the weather has been getting shitty every afternoon." Todd argued his point for several minutes before finally giving in. At the time, it didn't seem weird, but in retrospect, for Todd (of all people) to suggest this was way out of character. Todd planned even the simplest routes months in advance, with waypoints marked and downloaded into his GPS. To change our plan and go for Shasta at this point was strange.

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A Solo Tour of the Northern
La Sals A Solo Tour of the Northern La Sals  by mjp20k

I had been planning a trip to the La Sal Mountains of southeastern Utah since the beginning of 2011. When the $250 round-trip Richmond-Denver airfare special appeared on the Internet in early January, I pounced on the opportunity and bought tickets for the second week in May.

I had seen the La Sals from a distance in April/May 2010 when visiting Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and I had gotten a closer view when briefly passing through Moab. The snow-covered range was virtually unknown to me, and it quickly captured my interest. I had been (and continue to be) drawn to less-traveled peaks and ranges, so these mountains became my next serious mountaineering objective.

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Thinking about the thin
line Thinking about the thin line  by gabr1

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”-- Edward Whymper

This quote came to my mind while I was hanging at a belay point on the Ago di Villacco in the Julian Alps, hoping that the rope would somehow come free, so that we could finally get off of that face and back to the trail that runs just under the route.

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North Maroon and Handies
Too North Maroon and Handies Too  by Castlereagh

With Handies handily down, I had one 14er left on this trip I wanted to cross off: North Maroon. It had not been in my original plans, but on the drive west, somewhere in Western Maryland, I became enamored of the idea of giving it a shot. Not to denigrate Yale, Handies, or even Sneffels, but I felt that my once-a-year trip out west wouldn’t be complete without a memorable (ie harrowing) summit like North Maroon. The prospect was both exhilarating and terrifying. I wasn’t so worried about the class 4 chimney, since there was little exposure involved, but both gullies necessary to gain the chimney and the Northeast Ridge struck me as loose, steep, one slip and you’re toast territory. I posted on 14ers.com to see if anyone else was going to be attempting North Maroon at the same time. If I could find others to come along I would try it, but even though I had soloed Pyramid the prior September, I didn’t feel comfortable by myself on North Maroon.

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South Guardian Angel: The
Elusive One South Guardian Angel: The Elusive One  by shknbke

The forecast is looking crummy for CO this weekend, so a last minute trip is planned to Zion! I'm pumped because I didn't think I would make it to Zion this year. Unemployment is sure a pain, but it does have some benefits! We're not sure what we're going to climb other than possibly a challenging climb of Mountain of Mystery on Sat with guidebook author Courtney (CP) Purcell involving a wetsuit descent.

He suggests South Guardian Angel as a "warmup" on Fri as he wants to hit a couple unnamed peaks in the area. South Guardian is a reclusive, seldom climbed gem deep in the heart of Zion that is on the wish list of many desert peak baggers. It is a long day any time of the year, complicated by possible swims in the Subway. It has turned back many with the intricate routefinding involved. CP advises us of a route that will avoid the Subway and we bite. He'll get us through the approach and show us the way!

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Humbled on Standing Rock Humbled on Standing Rock  by McCannster

Once in a while you come across a picture of a mountain, a rock, a gully, a canyon, whatever, where you just go "Wow, I really need to hike/climb/ski/descend that". This is what came to my mind the first time I saw a picture of Standing Rock, a freakishly skinny desert spire located in remote Monument Basin, deep in Canyonlands National Park in Southeast Utah. Having recently read "Miles from Nowhere: Tales from America's Contemporary Frontier" by Dayton Duncan (I highly recommend it), I was very psyched on what Duncan dubs as the Contemporary Frontier: any county in the USA with a population density of less than 2 people per square mile. San Juan County, where Standing Rock is located, is included in this list. I had been journeying through this contemporary frontier for some 7 days before I met up with Noah (noah213), a trip that took me everywhere from partying with recent college graduates on a houseboat on the channels of Lake Powell, to a snowy hike in the Henry Mountains, to freezing my butt off whilst wading through the chilly chest deep slot pools of Bluejohn Canyon. Needless to say, I felt like I had the desert on lock down when Noah and I drove the bone rattling White Rim Road towards Monument Basin. Our climb of Standing Rock reminded me that the desert is one of those places where you must keep your wits about you in order to survive. Noah and I had one of the best climbs of our life that day, and here is the tale of our fun.

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A First
Ascent in Zion A First Ascent in Zion  by Bob Sihler

What follows is less a step-by-step account of a climb and more a testament to a great day and a nod to the person who planned and pioneered it.

Also, the first ascent involved was not of some insanity-inducing big wall; instead, it was the first known ascent of an obscure peak in Zion's backcountry, along with what likely were the second known ascents of two other peaks. It is a story about adventure and exploring. Although Class 5 climbing was involved in reaching the peaks, the theme is the journey, not the grade; the climbs from this day will not make the lists of America's greatest rock exploits, but they should fire the passions of those who love to find their own way.

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West Ridge
in Spring: Sunshine, Snowpack and Sunburn West Ridge in Spring: Sunshine, Snowpack and Sunburn  by Sarah Simon

01_Jacque Peak from Parking Lot Enlarge Jacque Peak from Parking Lot Sunday morning arrives and the Colorado Front Range is socked in. Clouds hang low and a maddening, never-ending drizzle coats everything in a fine mist. There are hopes that in heading west of the Continental Divide, we can get above the cloud. But it's hard to escape the lingering doubt that we are heading into a day of damp, cold, cloudy, view-less misery on Colorado's 87th highest peak.

On the drive up I-70, we all hoped for that magical moment when we pop out of the Eisenhower Tunnel at 70 miles per hour into...SUNSHINE! Alas, even as we neared the tunnel, the clouds were breaking up and blue skies and sunshine were plentiful to the west. Perhaps things would go our way today, after all.

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