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Curtain Call on the 2009 Ice
Season Curtain Call on the 2009 Ice Season  by GCutforth

"So what's the plan for tomorrow?"

This was the question Aaron was asking around 10 pm on Saturday night April 25, 2009. We had already been on the rock for several weeks and ice climbing had not been on my mind for about the same amount of time. All that said, after a week of very winter-like weather, typical spring in the Canadian Rockies, I answered "I think we should go check out Curtain Call."

"Really?" was the reply.

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Canyons of
the Escalante Grand Staircase Canyons of the Escalante Grand Staircase  by peninsula

Never been to Escalante before, it is a bit off the beaten path. This was to be a short trip given my lack of planning and an unexpected invite from my sister, Barb, and brother-in-law, David.

After considering my options, I came up with a cheap flight to Las Vegas on Kayak.com. The plan was to fly into Las Vegas Sunday morning, pick up a Jeep, and head for Escalante by way of Zion. I made Escalante by early evening just in time for dinner and a couple of beers.

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Into the Fire Into the Fire  by JSS

Before he was even born, my wife and I decided we would make every attempt to share our love of the outdoors with our son-to-be. So while he was still in the womb, we took a trip to Arizona and New Mexico, hoping he would take in the air of the desert mountains and badlands. Just six months after his September birth, we took him to Las Vegas (pity the ears of the other passengers on our return flight) with us to visit several of southern Utah's national parks, wilderness areas, and slot canyons; he might be able to vie for the title of youngest kid to "climb" the chockstone in the route from Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch. In May, he got to visit the neat canyons and cliff dwellings of New Mexico's Tent Rocks National Monument and Bandelier National Monument. In August, he got to join us on several off-road 4wd outings in the mountains of Colorado in my new Xterra (bad, bad idea-- not the Xterra, though) and also got to "climb" his first fourteener, Mount Evans, in Mom's Baby Bjorn (he did get to stand at the summit and play with rocks, though, clearly his favorite part of the trip).

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Accidental Success in
Glacier National Park Accidental Success in Glacier National Park  by Saintgrizzly

Sometimes you awaken during the darkest, most bleak winter days, and peeking through the window shows neighborhood chimney exhausts running horizontal in a strong wind, air temp around zero if you're lucky, and snowfall during the night doesn't compute because it has blown enough to make it difficult, if not impossible, to tell exactly how much of the stuff actually fell. Those are the times that what pulls you through is the thought of spring, and even though it is not always that grim, any winter has periods of snuggling fireplace joy when another word for the dark months is interminable. At such times the peaks seem impossibly distant, yet their calling is strong enough to penetrate even the most safe and warm haven. Winter has always played with my mind this way; occasional snowshoeing excursions are not the same as summits, so when warmer days finally arrive, it is a really substantial deal—but, and I know this is more than a bit self-centered, the issue under consideration is more than just the arrival of longer and less chill days. Hugely inconsistent from area to area, that time of year in this mountainous country where I live is a problem better stated (and this is what I really care about) as not that of getting from winter to spring, but from winter to climbing season.

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Corn Gods
and the Palisade Glacier Corn Gods and the Palisade Glacier  by Sierra Ledge Rat

In the beginning there were snowshoes.

Then one day in the Palisades the sky opened up and the mountain gods called down to me a deep, booming voice, “You... must... ski... corn...”

I dropped to one knee and cried out, “I believe! I believe!”

From that day onward, my spiritual life revolved around dropping to one knee during an annual ski pilgrimage to the Palisade Glacier.

No doubt many others share my higher calling. We have all spent many glorious days paying homage to the Corn Gods by ripping turns on the Palisade Glacier.

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Epic on
Devils Tower Epic on Devils Tower  by McCannster

Easter weekend 2009. My friend Colin and I had been planning a trip to the Needles climbing area in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Originally this was going to be a trip with quite a few people, but it turned out to be just us two. The climbing on Saturday was fun, yet sufficient snow coverage hindered us from climbing too many routes in the Needles. We climbed a bit throughout the day on Saturday and topped it off with a hike up Harney Peak in the late afternoon. We knew some weather was about to pass over the area, and we were debating what we wanted to do on Easter Sunday. Still wanting some adventure, we decided we would pay Devils Tower a visit, only about an hour and a half out of our way from where we were staying at a friend's house in Rapid City. Judging from the forecast, we expected not being able to climb the tower; the forecast called for rain pretty much all day. Colin and I decided that we would check the weather in the morning and call it. We slept very well after our day of climbing in the Needles.

Colin was up at 7 to check the weather. I followed him to the computer and saw that there was a lot of rain on the radar in the area. We decided to sleep another hour and check back. We slept until 10. I got up and went to the computer to check the weather, and to my surprise, it seemed that all the rain had passed the Tower and judging from the radar map, no more rain was on its way. I inform Colin, and we try to pick out a route on Mountain Project. Mindful of the seasonal falcon closures, we picked El Matador, a 5.10d that Colin had his eye on for a while. I agreed that we give it a try, and so we packed up and were out of Rapid City by 11.

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Sufferfest
on Colony Baldy: And This is Easter? Sufferfest on Colony Baldy: And This is Easter?  by shknbke

I slept in the 4Runner for the first time and was a bit concerned when the wind stirred up quite a bit during the night. Foreboding of things to come? Nah, the forecast was for 2-4" with moderate winds. We'll be fine! The wind let up during the night and we woke up to fairly mild temps and no wind, temps probably in the low 30's. We set out at 6:05am and headed up the Horn Creek trail a little over half mile to the signed Rainbow Trail. Here we headed south as the trail zigged and zagged, contouring across many drainages. There was enough snow initially to go sans snowshoes, but as we climbed higher, postholing commenced.

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Mojanda Epic Mojanda Epic  by JGHarrison

I needed money.

Ecuador had captured my imagination. A land of volcanoes, cloud forests, and the headwaters of the biggest river in the world, what's not to like. Blame it on some climbing magazine, but I HAD to get south of the Equator and climb these behemoths. I would be able to practice high-altitude suffering, learn about glacier travel, experience a new culture, and do some volunteering.

First, I needed money.

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Not Bad for
a Fat Man Not Bad for a Fat Man  by AJones

Being out of the climbing game for almost a year due to an injury has provided me with some new motivation to climb even harder in 2009 – you might say I’m making up for lost time. I’ve got a trip planned to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado (cancelled last year) with my climbing partner Greg, with the goal to climb (at least) the South Face of the Petit Grepon (5.8), Syke’s Sickle on Spearhead (5.9), and the Casual Route (5.10) on the Diamond (Longs Peak). Later on in the summer, if we get a 2-3 day window of stable weather, I’ve also made plans to climb “All Along the Watchtower” (5.12), a 32-35 pitch route on the west face of North Howser Tower with Mirek, another long-time climbing partner. All this planning has made me realize I better get my fat ass in shape – and the sooner the better.

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Kings Peak
- On Snowshoes - In One Day Kings Peak - On Snowshoes - In One Day  by Moogie737

In writing this narrative I wish to inform more than entertain. Should I become deficient in either effort the reader may bring his or her perusal to an abrupt and final conclusion without the slightest thought of regret. In that same vein, skipping paragraphs or sections is wholly and utterly endorsed; I would do the same in the construction of this short piece were it within the realm of possibility. For obvious reasons, it is not.

In late March of 2008 I joined the Swanson brothers’ annual Kings Peak ski trip (aka The Uinta Beat-Yourself-to-a-Pulp Slog). I was curious and forgot the time-honored aphorism about how curiosity can be fatal to cats and other living beings. Having practiced on touring skis only once, I managed to boldly stride in, boot it to the Kings Peak summit and stagger out shortly before the hour of midnight. The humiliation of the ski out was so indelibly burned into my aching frame and muddled mind that I vowed then and there to never attempt such foolishness again. (See the excellent trip report titled "Kings Peak - One day to ski, 14 months to agonize over.")

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