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Face to Face with Mt.
Mansfield Face to Face with Mt. Mansfield  by Moogie737

Yes, I have a goal regarding state highpoints. It is not, however, to climb every one of them. It is to greet the apex of the twenty-five highest. So why would I be worrying about frittering away time bagging the 26th highest, Mt. Mansfield, in the Green Mountains of Vermont?

The question is valid and deserves an equally straightforward answer: because it is there. Now that the curmudgeonly sarcastic remarks box has been dutifully checked, I will simply say that the challenge of a winter ascent of any of the New England state highpoints is so full of magnetism for me that to resist the opportunity was unthinkable. There is a lure emanating from Mt. Mansfield, its unruly undulating profile covered in a winter cloak of white, which pulls, tempts and dares.

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Park Butte 2010 Park Butte 2010  by fjes6

Park Butte is a textbook Cascade sub-alpine area, set directly across from the SW flanks of Mt. Baker it rises 5,450' above sea level with low valley footings on the west in the Upper Middle Fork Nooksack river valley. The Park Butte trail is one of the main entrances into the Mount Baker National Reacreation Area and can be accessed via Hwy. 20, turn north onto Baker Lake Rd. and proceed to the National Forest boundary. Four tenths of a mile inside the National Forest Baker Lake Rd. turns sharply east (right) and on the apex is the entrance to FR12, turn left onto it.

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The Winter
Route The Winter Route  by hamik

I awoke on a ledge two-thirds of the way up the 1000m south face of Lone Pine Peak. By turning my head slightly, I could see the Milky Way out of my sleeping bag's fist-sized breathing hole. It was midnight and calm. I wiggled and struggled in my claustrophobic bag until I rolled onto a fresh side, the rope coming taut on my waist as my pad slid down the sloping ledge, and I dozed off again. The next time I woke up, it was because a breeze was chilling my cheek; I adjusted my balaclava to put a layer between my skin and the sky and went back to sleep. Before I was fully conscious again, I knew the breeze had picked up; pinpricks on my face meant that spindrift was falling on the bivy site. When I peeked out of the bag, I noticed a black, hazy crown on the crest. Stars to the west started to wink out; clouds were lapping at the ridgeline, the highest obstacle they had met since they were born over the Pacific, and I watched, through fits of sleep, as wispy tendrils reached farther and farther down Tuttle Creek Valley, eventually engulfing us in mist and blotching out the rest of the sky. At three it began to snow.

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President's Day Weekend on
Mt. Washington President's Day Weekend on Mt. Washington  by Jow

As my little highpointing hobby continues to progress I realized that at some point I may need some actual mountaineering skills so I decided to register myself into the 2 day REI beginner mountaineering & Mount Washington course over President’s Day Weekend. I figured not only would I learn some valuable skills but also if weather cooperates be able to knock Mt Washington off my list and have an even dozen highpoints under my belt.

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Glorious Winter Day on
Sneffels Glorious Winter Day on Sneffels  by shknbke

Winter is drawing to a close and it has been a good one in terms of getting some long weather windows. The weekend was looking like a beauty, so a trip to the San Juans was in order. After a successful climb of San Luis on Saturday, we checked the forecast for Sneffels and it looked like we had a reasonable shot at it. We dinked around on 3 low peaks on the way from Creede to Ouray and they turned out to be a bit more strenuous than we hoped complete with steep mud and a nasty gully descent. I hoped it wouldn't come back to bite me, as it was going to be a long march up Sneffels.

After a nice dinner in Ouray at Buen Tiempo, we car camped at the winter closure at Senator Gulch. This is right before the big switchback that puts you on the shelf. I found a suitable flat spot to setup my tent, which turned into a mud bog when I got down. The start from here adds 8 miles round trip to the day from the lower summer trailhead.

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High camp on El Castillo High camp on El Castillo  by andre hangaard

It took a while until Chimborazo revealed itself to us. It was not until a sudden 10 second- window opened up in the thick fog, while approaching El Castillo at around 7:00 am in the morning, when we could see the Veintimilla summit surrounded by white smoke of snow, violently blowing across the top. This reminded me of pictures I’ve seen of the famous jet streams blowing on top of Everest. The sight was tremendous and very powerful. This was a very big mountain, no doubt about that!

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Sampling Seneca Sampling Seneca  by Bob Sihler

In general, I find Facebook to be pretty lame. While it's been useful as a way to communicate with people I haven't seen for many years, I mostly find the site annoying and don't go there unless I want to post some pictures or unless I get an email notification of a message someone has sent me. Somehow, it saddens me to see people eagerly announcing the utterly mundane details of their lives on a serial basis. And then there are the unwanted invitations. And the "Liking" and being a "fan" of something or someone, mere invitations to join a herd. And the people collecting friends-- I'm sure I'm not the only one who has received a friend request from someone he doesn't know, someone who apparently is friending him because he is a friend of a friend, or something like that. Sad.

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Going for
the Gold Going for the Gold  by Josh Lewis

After having a few mountaineering attempts that week I decided it was time to stay low in the mountains, with a clear day I figured Gold Mountain would be a good choice. Fortunately I was right on this call, although sadly we did not make the summit. I took the bus to Arlington which Chris then drove us to Darrington which is right next to Gold Mountain. The road started off with semi deep snow (certainly too much for my mom's car). As we got higher up on the road the snow got deeper which at times we started loosing speed. Chris was persistent with wanting to get as far up the road as possible. Pretty soon there was a tree in the road which I figured would be the end of the line. Nope, sure enough Chris pulls out his chain saw and has me depressurize the tires so that going through the snow is better. Praire Mountain from Gold Mountain

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Saintgrizzly: An
Extraordinary Life Saintgrizzly: An Extraordinary Life  by Saintgrizzly

My wonderful friend and great climbing partner, Vernon Garner, passed away on March 1, 2011. Known as Saintgrizzly here at SummitPost, his life has been made legendary by his stellar submissions, regarded by many to be the best work on this entire, massive web site.

Vern joined SP a few years after I had joined, having been introduced to it by me and becoming enamoured with this place that would ultimately serve as an outlet for his amazing writing talent and testment to his passion for the natural world. Vern's participation on SP exceeded my expectations from the inception of his activities. I knew he would be a shining star and set the bar high for submission quality (I have yet to see it matched by anyone), and I knew his presence would be a real blessing to SP's community.

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Winter
Ascent of the Full East Ridge of Mt Humphreys Winter Ascent of the Full East Ridge of Mt Humphreys  by PellucidWombat

“I need to piss . . . it is warm, I WANT TO DRINK IT!”

Such were the mutterings from Vitaliy as we tried to force ourselves to sleep in the frigid icebox that was our snow cave bivy at 13,600 ft on the summit plateau of Mt. Humphreys. Such sayings, while both masochistic and depraved, also seemed to embody the spirit of our intended winter objective. I’ve wanted to climb the East Arete of Mount Humphreys for years now as a mixed snow and rock climb, and I’ve twice gotten high on the route without success. But this time I fully understood what climbing the route in those conditions would entail, and I had a partner with the resolve to see things through with me.

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