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Hiking in the Falkland
Islands Hiking in the Falkland Islands  by vancouver islander

The last two weeks of November saw my wife and me once again in the wild and wonderful Falkland Islands. A previous visit in 2005 was mostly to see the incomparable wildlife in the Islands whilst trying not to eat too much without offending the locals’ incredible hospitality. We had plenty of opportunity to recognise, however, that with their open, trackless terrain the Islands would make a superb hiking destination and we accordingly made this the principle focus of our latest trip down there.

Falkland Island mountains are neither high nor rugged. They’re more like high heathland topped by ridge-like tors, not unlike Dartmoor in the UK or certain areas of Tasmania. What challenge is lost to simple lack of height, however, is more than made up for by the conditions. There are no trails. Risk of hypothermia is ever present. The constant frigid wind, uninterrupted on its passage from the Antarctic, can literally blow you off your feet. “Summer” weather includes sunshine one minute and a snowstorm/white-out the next. There are no trees and the mountainsides are mostly bare and open to the wind with limited possibilities for shelter in an emergency. Not, in the sparsely populated Falklands, that getting hold of anyone in an emergency would be likely anyway. On all hikes I carried clothing appropriate to climbing something more akin to Mt Rainier and often used all of it.

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The Beast of the East The Beast of the East  by Son of Hendrick

The plan was to meet in Boston around 6 at night and hopefully leave shortly thereafter and then take the long 5-6 hour drive up to Millinocket. However, as we all know plans rarely if ever come to fortune like that; we ended up leaving Melrose after waiting for everyone to pack up at around 8 at night. After that the miles went on and on until we got up to Maine and then it seemed as if we left the mountains and entered into snow machining land with a bunch of pine trees and no hills whatsoever. The long drive ended with us getting lost in Millinocket and eventually finding the way with help from back home. After we packed up and fixed the sleds in the parking lot we started hiking at around 5am and the long haul began.

The first few miles went very slowly, the sleds just kept on tipping over and we had to readjust them every single time they did tip over. After countless readjustments the sun broke and we started over the 2-mile long esker with our first views of Katahdin to the right of us. After that the only other landmark and noticeable thing along the trail was a mile marker that said 6.8 miles. Those next 6.8 miles were the killer and we ended up going around 1 mile per hour with no views of our objective and no landmarks to see how far we had made it. The sign at Roaring Brook was one of the most beautiful sights of the day, as I strolled in with Paul my pace quickened and I smiled for the first time in 6.8 miles. Once we got all checked in with the rangers and chose our lean-to the fun began with the nighttime ritual of boiling water, eating, and getting ready for bed. Once the sun went down we were knocked out, we slept like babies all night long until Paul woke up in the middle of the night yelling that there was a moose in the lean-to. After much deliberation we realized that it was just Reggie and a duffle bag making the midnight stroll behind us. When we all settled down the cold night, -15* F, was made even colder when our water bottles cooled down.

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Double-tapping Bierstadt in Winter Double-tapping Bierstadt in Winter  by metal4lyf

The last time I descended Mount Bierstadt in the dark, I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, which were soaking wet after I slipped and fell in a patch of slushy snow. I hadn't even reached the summit. That was my first bid at a fourteener.

Many summits later and volumes better-prepared, I returned to Bierstadt with some colleagues to settle unfinished business. This time we summited. I had an eye for the sawtooth, but one party member's recent fear of heights forced us to abort.

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Our tour on and around
Triglav Our tour on and around Triglav  by visentin

Triglav and Slovenia were already an old dream for both Dorota and me. From my side, I felt a strong curiosity for this southern country from which originate the mediatic "beasts" of my home mountains. More seriously, my knowledge of the Alps is below zero, a paradox for a Frenchman, so let's start with Slovenia ! But this journey is above all a double pilgrimage: first of all to my origins, since my paternal grandparents were Friulians (not exactly the same region, but almost), and also my new country of adoption in the "widest cultural and linguistic sense", since I expatriated to Poland, this other slavic country.

For Dorota, who has that nationality, the fantasm is even greater. Triglav, the highest point of Slovenia, is a truly emblematic summit. Present on the national flag and on coins, no other mountain in the world symbolizes so much one nation. So much so that its fame extends well beyond its borders, especially in Central Europe, where we can meet countless Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks, Poles and so on, who come to climb the fetish mountain of the Slovenes, kind of jealous of not owning such a beautiful and charismatic one at home. In short, Triglav is a kind sacred mountain and a fascinating destination, no matter if said to be crowded.

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Pueblo Mountain, finally Pueblo Mountain, finally  by Dean

They say that the third time is a charm and this proved to be true in this case. However, the first two times I went to the foot of this mountain, it was not attempted. Why? Well, twice before I had made the long trip to the Pueblo Mtn area, only to be twarted by bad weather. Both times, thunderstorms kept me from even attempting the mountain so this mountain had moved high on my "want" list. Funny how that works, not having a chance the first two times really whets one appetite for later. A bit of history is described below.

The first time was with Dennis Poulin and while he and I were successful on several other peaks in the area, when we went to do Pueblo, the weather changed on us and it changed dramatically. Thunderstorms boomed day and night and we knew it was time to leave it for another time. This was over the Memorial day weekend in 2005.

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One Step
Closer to Death One Step Closer to Death  by Diggler

“Trust me dude, you really don't want' to fall here.” When I hear Rob say this, I know that he means it. Problem is, it feels damn near inevitable at the moment; my precarious perch feels like it's itching to spit me off, & I feel the beginnings of a pump, trying to get past this initial “rock” section. I say “rock” because- as anyone who has been on Round Top, near Carson Pass, California, knows- the mountain might as well be made of some kind of dark grayish drywall, or something of similar consistency. Instead of logically analyzing the futility of my position until my muscles give, my body reflexively takes control from my mind, I commit, & grovel upwards these last few feet, practically willing myself up to the next stance. Phew.

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Three and a
half days on Ruta de los Volcanes Three and a half days on Ruta de los Volcanes  by Gangolf Haub

[...] We followed through with the plan but had a short break during the ascent of Deseada II. It turned out that we had to put on more clothes to withstand the cold winds and I went through the now familiar packing-and-unpacking routine again. One more picture of Deseada I (which now ranks among my favourites of the vacation) and we headed on. We soon noticed how busy the Ruta had become. People were popping up from everywhere. On the summit we met a guy who was waiting for his kid to come up. A kid in the midst of the Ruta de los Volcanes! Impressive! Judith joked that there must have been a bribe of a big amount of sweets involved … Only two weeks later I found out from this picture that we had met SP members Scott and Kessler and a perfect opportunity to get to know each other after 6 years of SP membership had been wasted.

We waited for Kessler to pass (I took the opportunity to shoot the panorama above) and headed back towards Montaña del Fraile. This time we took the western branch of the trail around Crater del Duraznero, which turned out to be even more colourful than the eastern branch before. Again we passed the Lavas de Malforada but instead of climbing Pico Nambroque again I scrambled up to the highest point of the Hoyo Negro Crater. Again, my pictures were seriously overexposed due to the blackness of the crater and again I didn’t realize.

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North
Wash/Hanksville Area January 15-18 (Photo Trip Report) North Wash/Hanksville Area January 15-18 (Photo Trip Report)  by Scott

In the area of Hanksville there are many interesting buttes. We decided to see how many we could find routes up. We explored around two buttes and found them to be too difficult. We explored around Sandpipe Butte to where we thought there might be a route up. We climbed up the steep sand and talus which was mostly covered with snow, to a promising looking crack in the caprock. After climbing to the crack, it was obvious that it wouldn’t be that easy. The pitch was 5.7 feet in difficulty. I climbed the pitch first and had a good look around before climbing back down. I lifted Kessler up the first six feet and he climbed the rest of the 25 foot pitch to the top to where I soon followed.

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West Arete
of Mt. Winchell West Arete of Mt. Winchell  by m_dquist

Having been to the eastern side of the Palisades plenty of times, I felt it was time to give the west side a little love. The pictures and maps I had seen had put this less popular side of my favorite section of the Sierra Nevada on my list for a while. With my favorite climbing team mascot (my dad) already planning to be there on a backpacking trip with his brother-in-law, what better time would there be to hike in, spend some time with my Old Man in the backcountry, and hopefully get a climb in?

My first objective was finding an objective. Having never been up close to this side of the Palisades, I turned to my favorite resource: RJ Secor’s “Peaks, Passes and Trails” guidebook. My eyes were drawn to the West Face of Mt. Winchell rising up above Dusy Basin. This was the only major Palisade peak north of Middle Pal that I had yet to climb, and this side of it looked to be by far the most impressive. The West Arete was mentioned in the Fiddler/Moynier book as a classic, but there is little to no information about the route other than lines drawn on aerial photos and very vague descriptions. Thanks to Misha for the info posted on Summitpost, and an especially big thank you for keeping the descriptions to a minimum and keeping the adventure level high.

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Meandering
through the Mosquito range... Meandering through the Mosquito range...  by maverick

NOAA conjured up a fantastic weekend forecast for the high country in general and the stage seemed well set for a 14er. After some incessant haggling I managed to convince Joe to give up delectable alpine ice routes to climb a mind-numbing heap of rubble instead. The plan included lugging skis to the top and finding something worthwhile to ski down. Neither of us had been up in the high country in over a month thanks to extended vacations at or below sea level. We were both interested in a warm-up and were both interested in a preliminary snowpack assessment. I was also excited to test my newly acquired overkill mitts (OR Alti mitts) on a winter 14er for the first time. We also carried standard avalanche gear – Beacon, probe, shovel plus first aid kits, sam splint, spare parts, stove and emergency bivy gear.

We got to the winter trailhead at 8:15AM after driving around for a little while and getting stared down fiercely by an honest gas station owner whose bathroom I shamelessly used without purchasing any of his fine goods. Trailhead directions from 14ers.com mention taking Monroe Street to Toledo St. at the South end of downtown Leadville. It’s probably worth noting that Monroe Street is now unmarked where it meets US 24. If you see a turnoff for CR-6 on your left while following 14ers.com directions, you’ve gone too far.

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