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Fools'
Gold: An Idiots' (winter) Ascent of Cathedral Peak Fools' Gold: An Idiots' (winter) Ascent of Cathedral Peak  by Diggler

To the laborer in the sweat of his labor, the raw stuff on his anvil is an adversary to be conquered. So was wilderness an adversary of the pioneer. But to the laborer in repose, able for the moment to cast a philosophical eye on his world, that same raw stuff is something to be loved and cherished, because it gives definition and meaning to his life. - Aldo Leopold

Not sure ol' Aldo ever skied Tioga.

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Communication Breakdown Communication Breakdown  by Kiefer

“Dang, Kiefer,” Stephanie let out laughing and sighing in perfect staccato. “We have got to get a new hobby. This is just crazy. I mean we’re either incredibly smart or incredibly stupid. I think I’m going to have to go with stupid.”

“You know, this whole trip reeks of our Holy Cross debacle last January with Ben and Ryan.” I put a handful of snow in my mouth. “I think Holy Cross and San Luis are scheming and planning against us. They’re in Cahoots!” I exclaimed, raising my finger in the air. I wanted to yell out "Science," but I didn’t think Steph would get it, so I refrained. “We should have been back to camp like three hours ago.”

We finished off a few more handfuls of snow and chased it with pumpkin seeds and sour patch kids.

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As high as you can get
outside Asia As high as you can get outside Asia  by Corax

- You must be insane to eat this s**t! My two friend’s faces were contorted in disgust and disbelief. I had just made them sandwiches with Vegemite, the Australian yeast spread. Long bursts of negative superlatives followed. Their grimaces and exaggerated facial expressions were fun to watch, but something else caught my attention. Behind them a person had showed up. Liba, my climbing partner had arrived and I left my spitting and cursing friends to their further evaluation of one of my favorite sandwich spreads. As always I was astonished by the amount of luggage and gear Aconcagua climbers bring. Liba’s gigantic duffel bags was no exception but it wasn’t an extreme case in any way. After some sorting we had decided one full bag could stay in Mendoza. The rest of the evening was full of talks about how and by which route we were going to attempt Aco. Our initial plan had been to climb the Polish Direct, but all climbers I had talked to had warned me against it. The ice was in a miserable condition and the time Liba had in Argentina was very short. We aimed for the Ruta Normal instead.

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Scottish
Highlands 2010 re-visited: a solo jaunt in the coldest December for 80 years. Scottish Highlands 2010 re-visited: a solo jaunt in the coldest December for 80 years.  by markhallam

In just two weeks I am off to make a solo attempt to climb Aconcagua – a trip for which I have been preparing for approaching 2 years. I haven’t been higher than Mont Blanc 4810m for 20 years, nor have I spent prolonged periods tent based over a similar time scale. So there has been a need to get do some training, not least to see if I am up to coping with altitude again but also to get back into the expedition mind-set again: to be able to plan for all the little details which have to be addressed to spend 3 weeks tent based in a harsh environment. And I have to get it right. I have climbed a few summits solo – but I have never set out on a prolonged expedition on my own before.

I have had a ball so far, with a trip to the European Alps in September 2009 (TR Alps 2009: sunny Saas summits & single return to Mont Blanc), a trip to the Scottish Highlands in September 2010 (TR Of vampires, mountains & men: Scottish Highlands 2010) – and I wrote an article on Expedition Medicine to get myself up to speed with developments in the field of high altitude etc. And now the latest has been a superb few days back in the Scottish Highlands – coinciding with coldest conditions for December for 80 years – for my final shake down before the big one…

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George Benchmark - Truly a
spectacular climb! George Benchmark - Truly a spectacular climb!  by Matt Lemke

The climb for George Benchmark starts at the Capitol Gorge trailhead. Get to the Capitol Reef visitor center at the intersection of Highway 24 and the Scenic Drive. Drive the 10 miles south on the scenic drive making sure to pay the requested $5 donation. When the pavement ends continue on the Capitol Gorge dirt road three more miles to the trailhead (road closed in winter). This is a good road passable to all vehicles when the gate is open.

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Learning
the Value of Humility in the Ecuadorian Andes Learning the Value of Humility in the Ecuadorian Andes  by centrifuge

Visiting Ecuador was not something I would have foreseen when I was young. To be honest, until I head the words, ‘Cotopaxi’ and ‘Chimborazo’, my knowledge of the county was limited to its location on the Equator, and the fact that the people of Ecuador spoke Spanish. So when Jesse first brought up the idea of going there to climb some of the volcanoes there, I felt like I was jumping into a great black hole in regards to real cultural knowledge.

That was in late March of 2009. Jesse and I had just gotten back from climbing Pico de Orizaba, and I found myself hooked to the idea of climbing bigger mountains. We ambitiously began planning, and set our sights for January of 2010, we planned, and trained, but the trip had to be delayed for a number of reasons to December of 2010.

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Mountains,
Jungles, Orangutans, Wild Caves, Raging Rivers, and Erupting Volcanoes Mountains, Jungles, Orangutans, Wild Caves, Raging Rivers, and Erupting Volcanoes  by Scott

This trip report is a summary of a spectacular adventure that took place December 8 to December 31 2010 to the countries of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Trip participants we Kimberly Patterson (my wife), Kessler (my eight year old son), Shaylee (my six year old daughter), my dad and I.

Although the photographs don't do the trip justice, a picture is worth a thousand words, so the photographs will tell most of the story (these are only a few of the 1500+ photographs taken on the trip).

We visited many areas, but since this is a mountaineering site, emphasis on this particular trip report will be on the more adventurous aspects of what turned out to be a remarkable journey. Along the way we met many friendly people, sweated in humid jungles, camped with all kinds of monkeys, climbed mountains, saw giant insects, crawled on our bellies through underground caves, rafted raging rivers, witnessed volcanic eruptions, and went snorkeling, but that was just the tip of the iceberg....

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Obstacles
on the Ilinizas Obstacles on the Ilinizas  by rgg

A few years ago, I started thinking seriously about mountaineering in South America. I had already heard about the Avenue of the Volcanos in Ecuador, and I thought this Avenue was right up my alley.

So, I bought John Biggar's book and started reading. About Ecuador, the book said: "Expect on average only 2-3 good days a week even in the dry seasons". That wasn't very promising. Since I rather climb than wait for good weather, I quickly wrote off Ecuador – and instead, I went to Bolivia, for which the book said: "... often only 3 or4 bad days in a month". Now that's more like it!

A year later, I decided to give Ecuador a chance anyway. How bad could it be? I took a month off from work, so, with plenty of spare days, I reckoned I could get a whole lot of climbing done, even if there was some bad weather.

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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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