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Return to the Maze District
- May 2010 Return to the Maze District - May 2010  by Matt Lemke

This time when my friends and I went to the Maze, it was May right after school was out and we only had passenger cars. This backpack was to be a part of a much longer two week trip through southern Utah. After going through the permit process at the Hans Flat Ranger Station, we carefully drove our cars to the top of the Fling trail switchbacks where we had to park. Along the way I was able to get some nice panoramas.

The King Got His Crown The King Got His Crown  by EastKing

Winter in the Pacific Northwest much of the time get depressing with the constant precipitation moving through in the wintertime. But when it is sunny in winter and there is snow in the mountains there is no other place in the world I would rather be then Washington State. I will pick one sunny winter day in western Washington over 30 in other places in the United States because the mountains here can really light up and show their true winter beauty like few other places in the world. Case in point would be Bullion Peak and Crown Point. These two peaks really do give excellent three volcano views of hundreds of peaks on a clear day and make for excellent summits to explore.

It had been almost a year since Gimpilator and I teamed up on a really good summit. Though we nearly combined on many incredible peaks such as Sahale, Glacier Peak and North Ingalls my work schedule never gave me enough time for us to combine on some cool climbs. But with the approach of winter most of the great summer climbs are much harder to get to and now that Gimpilator is back after conquering a ton of incredible South American peaks we could now combine for a good couple summit. I also invited Firestar, an experienced hiker who recently made the move out west to give a shot at true mountaineering. I was very fortunate in that many people showed me the ropes of how to mountaineer out here in the Cascades and I am always very thankful to give another climber at shot. With Gimpilator, who was a former guide and I, I knew she would be OK.

Bernina, the easternmost 4000er in the Alps Piz Bernina, the easternmost 4000er in the Alps  by rgg

"Which are those?" we ask Hermann, our guide, pointing to some distant peaks, "the ones that under that little cloud?" With his encyclopedic knowledge of the Alps, he names the peaks of the Bernina Range that we're looking at: "Piz Bernina, Piz Palü, Piz Morteratsch ...". I quickly forget the rest he's saying.

We just climbed Hochwilde, on the border of Austria and Italy, and are enjoying the views all around us. We don't know it yet, but right there and then we are hooked. And so, one year later, we travel to the Alps again, to have a go at Piz Bernina, the easternmost 4000er in the Alps

Cotopaxi_Climb for Hope
Expedition 2011 Cotopaxi_Climb for Hope Expedition 2011  by Crabman

We arrived in Quito around midnight; customs took its usual forever, but we made it thru security without any major hitches. As Tim and I departed the airport, people looked at us quizzically, staring at our trekking packs – gear attached, and our overall rugged demeanor, dissecting our intentions with their imaginations and prospective wonderment. Everyone loves to dream of adventure – they saw that dream in us …

The next morning Tim and I woke-up bright and early to meet and greet our two other team members at a local restaurant and coffee sanctuary, called The Magic Bean, located just a few convenient blocks from our hostel. Our group would consist of four climbers – Dan and Gavin, both from Earth Treks Climbing, and Tim and me, with Climb for Hope. Dan was our leader, a well-versed climber and educator in both mountaineering and rock climbing, and just the kind of high-wired, super enthusiastic adventure-life-nut we needed to lead our high octane, and hopefully efficiently performing mountain team. Gavin, the young buck of the bunch and the seemingly quiet leader-type, brought a healthy and contagious eagerness and mountaineering knowledgebase to match his own apparent passion for living life to the fullest and bettering the world by helping those less fortunate around him. Tim I knew and had climbed with before back in 2009 on our first Climb for Hope expedition on Mount Adams. He’s a rock with the beating heart of a lion, and although outwardly concerned with and often comically verbal about his elder age and subsequent crumbling body, Tim’s one dude you wouldn’t trade for anyone when it comes to grit and determination in any endeavor where shit can go bad. Overall, looking around the table that morning at breakfast, and after spending ample time with these three in the days to come, I don’t think we could have asked for a better, more complimentary team of individuals to climb with in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Mount Massive Winter Summit Mount Massive Winter Summit  by benners

To give credit where it's due, the idea to go for Mt. Massive came from my friend Eric and his dad Steve. The two have been ticking off winter 14er summits for some time, and Massive was first on their list for this winter. Preferring more of a siege style of mountaineering, Steve and Eric planned to head in on the 26th, camp at treeline, go for the summit on the 27th, and deproach on the 28th. Unfortunately I was tied up on the 26th so the overnight plan wasn't an option for me, instead I managed to rouse an old winter partner of mine in Kiefer to join me for a single day ascent on the 27th. Kiefer and I had hopes of catching up with Steve and Eric so we could join them for a portion of the ascent.

We pulled into the Fish Hatchery at 6:45am under clearing skies. The clear weather was somewhat of a relief as we had driven through a practically constant snowfall from Georgetown to Copper. The forecast called for temperatures in the 0 to 20 degree range throughout the day, with winds kept in check under 20mph. We geared up and started the day at 7:15am. The initial portion of the route heads south from the Hatchery along a road that winds its way to the start of the Highline Trail a few miles in. This road was snow covered so I was able to skin from the parking lot, Kiefer on the other hand chose to keep the snowshoes on his back for the first few miles.

Cragging by Kayak Cragging by Kayak  by Bob Sihler

In the vicinity of Great Falls, the Potomac River is filled with rocky islands that can only be reached by paddling or swimming. Sometime last summer, I got the brilliant idea that-- duh-- I could visit these islands and the crags on them, as well as riverside crags hard to access from the trails, by using my kayaks to reach them. That’s what I did a lot of last summer, enjoying scrambling from Class 3 to easy Class 5 (harder was available if I wanted it), being closer to wildlife (the best is when an osprey or even a bald eagle soars overhead), and always finding solitude in the midst of a very popular area.

This article/trip report documents my visits to some of those destinations and can hopefully be useful to someone considering similar kayaking/cragging outings at Great Falls.

Nadelhorn – A Needle on
the Dung Fork Nadelhorn – A Needle on the Dung Fork  by hansw

The foot path was blocked by pigs, yes ordinary pink pigs. They were standing in front an alpine hut with a typical stone plate roof. The red flag with its white cross left no doubt of where I was. Far behind the retreating Fee glacier on its way down from the Allalinhorn formed the background. After a while I had everything in the viewfinder and pressed the shutter button. At the same second I felt something strange on my left foot. One of the pigs licked my shoe so that it got wet. My left street shoe was all wet from pig licking! I considered putting my right shoe forward as well for the sake of symmetry, but refrained. Instead I walked down towards the village with one wet and one dry shoe. Sadly my left shoe never fully recovered from the incident.

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.

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.

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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