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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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Moroni Slopes region
backpack, March 2010 Moroni Slopes region backpack, March 2010  by Matt Lemke

In March 2010 while I was on spring break, we took a trip over to southern Utah and had a blast. Started the week with Bluejohn Canyon. Drove the entire Notom-Bullfrog Road the second day in a raging blizzard and got to the Halls Creek Overlook Trailhead (managed to avoid getting stuck amazingly). Did the Halls Creek Shortcut route and hiked through the narrows the third day. The forth through the sixth days were spent in the Grand Staircase Escalante NM. The final three days were spent doing a backpack in the Moroni Slopes area in the San Rafael Swell. We started at Salt Wash where we parked and the plan was for an epic loop hike (about 33 miles) that involved hiking up Salt Wash (mind you it was still flowing after the very wet winter of 09/10) and climbing Black Mountain. Next was the hike up Last Chance Wash and the climb to the "Fryingpan". It would finish with a long cross country walk to the summit of Horse Heaven and beyond. A road walk down the dugway into Segers Hole and a climb up to a point on the swell before descending the slopes back to Salt Wash near the mouth of Cable Canyon. The home stretch was a hike back up Salt Wash to meet the car. See the Google Earth image below to see the route taken.

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Never
Ending Punishment On Satan's Ridge Traverse Never Ending Punishment On Satan's Ridge Traverse  by noahs213

The Capitol Peak - Snowmass Mountain ridge traverse is the hardest 14'er connecting ridge traverse in Colorado and in competition with many of the traverses out there. It may be the most dangerous ridge traverse in the lower 48. Ever since I began climbing I have dared and dreamed of climbing this ridge traverse. I spent a few years researching it and the history and have not found really that much at all. There have only been a couple ascents known of it. I found that none of them stayed on the ridge direct the whole way, meaning they dropped off to the bottom to skip the nightmarish sections. I talked to one of the fellows who actually had it in him to solo it. He reported how scary it was and stated in an e-mail he ranged from scared to extremely scared for all 3.5 miles of it. The fact that he made it through it in one piece is quite amazing.

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Swiss
Arête -Living the Dream Swiss Arête -Living the Dream  by Vitaliy M.

First time I came across Swiss Arête (III 5.7) as a possible route to the top of Mt. Sill (14,153 ft / 4314 m) I fell in love. I fell in love with the amazing line that follows an impressive arête, and ends on the actual summit of this stunning CA 14er. There was only one problem at the time- it was May of 2010, and I had no experience with climbing trad, or climbing any 5th class routes outside my local gym. Swiss Arête was only a dream, a route I thought was possible some time in the future, maybe in two years, maybe in three. A route I had to work hard to complete. Outing that would require planning, confidence in climbing multi-pitch trad in an alpine environment, and ability to haul plenty of gear in (19 mile round trip with close to 7,000 feet of elevation gain) and out- all at high altitude.

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Midweek
Mountain Moments Midweek Mountain Moments  by alpinpete

While weekdays account for five out of the seven days each week that we could be spending time in the mountains, most of us fall into the weekend warrior segment of the climbing population. However, there exists another segment and for whatever reasons these fortunate few can find themselves in the mountains any given day of the week. Whether it is to liberate themselves from the nine-to-five norms or to search for some solitude away from the masses, midweek mountain men and women find a way to put themselves in the high places at the odd times. On this trip at least, we would find ourselves among this minority and try to capture some midweek mountain moments.

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