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Windhorse First Ascent, Lone
Pine Peak Windhorse First Ascent, Lone Pine Peak  by brutus of wyde

In the land of the highest, harshest mountains on the planet, humans have developed a way of tending to spiritual concerns while concentrating their time and efforts on more immediate matters like survival. From porches, housebeams, trees, and from rough rock cairns on the highest mountain passes, they string prayer flags. The Windhorse, a mystical creature, carries prayers from the flags to the heavens on the wings of the wind. Ubiquitous in the Himalayas, prayer flags are seldom seen in the West. Thus were my partners and I surprised and pleased this summer when approaching Stonehouse in the southern Sierra of California, to see tattered prayer flags fluttering in the ever-present breeze.

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A Return to
Yosemite A Return to Yosemite  by RobSC

During the summer of 1969 I lived on the outskirts of San Francisco with my family. It was the summer of love, and San Francisco was the epicenter of the music scene, yet my parents never once took me to the Fillmore or any shows of Jefferson Airplane, the Dead or their kind. Instead, they spent a few of my Dad’s precious days off for a trip to the magnificent valley of Yosemite. I remember standing at the banks of Mirror Lake, with the high cliffs of Half Dome reflected in the clear sunlit waters. I remember the power of the waterfalls and the magnificence of the trees. I remember returning that winter with a small metal saucer sled and sliding down deep piles of snow. I don’t remember the cliffs, the climbers or the crowds, though, but then again I was only four years old at the time.

I didn’t return to that magical place until thirty years later. Of course I’d read about it: Royal Robbins, Warren Harding, Galen Rowell, but theirs was a foreign world, pitons, hammers, artificial climbing, sleeping suspended above all as storms swept past. It was a world I never thought that I’d enter. Sure, Cannon Cliff, Gothics, and the Grand Teton all had a magnetic pull but they were different, weren’t so steep or foreboding. I don’t remember how it came up, a random conversation at work maybe, but somehow I found myself planning a trip with a friend, Steven, to attempt three of the Valley's greatest climbs during a two week spell. Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, and the Salathe Wall were to be the primary objectives. We’d try to fit in a few smaller climbs as well if the opportunity arose but if those didn’t work out it would be okay. Since we’d never done any aid climbing beyond pulling on a couple slings, we sought out the Sphinx Crack, hard lines in Boulder Canyon, Big Rock Candy Mountain even, until we felt that we knew the basics.

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2nd Attempt
at Crazy Peak 2nd Attempt at Crazy Peak  by peakhugger

We started at the Halfmoon trailhead on Big Timber Creek, the “standard” approach, if there is one. A few years back (2004), a friend and I had attempted Crazy from Smeller Lake and turned around at the false summit due to weather. The Big Timber Creek approach, despite being snow covered after the first mile, was much easier. I wouldn't recommend the Smeller approach unless you were climbing Iddings Peak in the same trip. After finding the well-marked turn to Blue Lake, we crossed Big Timber Creek one last time and broke trail for the last 1.5 miles to camp. Snow conditions were surprisingly favorable: soft enough to climb steep slopes without crampons and dense enough to avoid post-holing. We set up camp at 8400 feet, just above the short stream between Blue and Granite Lakes, and enjoyed the afternoon sun.

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Mount
Watkins South Face Mount Watkins South Face  by m_dquist

It started, like it always does, over a few beers. Brett asked me if I knew anything about routes on the South Face of Mt. Watkins.

"There's one I definitely want to climb," I told him.

"Let's do it."

One of Brett's friends, Saylor, was keen as well.

I'll never know how serious Brett was at that moment to climb this wall, but don't ever make the mistake of making plans with me while drinking, because unlike most of the flakes you'll meet and make drunken plans with, I will hold you to them.

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ESE Ridge of Lady MacDonald
5.5 - Kananaskis ESE Ridge of Lady MacDonald 5.5 - Kananaskis  by Bill Kerr

Parked at the Cougar Canyon park lot. This time of year, you have to cross the stream 5-6 times on various wet slippery rock crossings as the trail goes from side to side. Expect to get toes wet. After about 45 min to 1 hour depending on stream crossings, see a cairn on the left side just before a big bend in the river. A faint trail leads up the side of a lightly treed ridge. Lots of ticks as this is prime sheep habitat.

We went along close to the crest (left side) of ridge on various trails for about 1 hour for about 500 m. until hit first rock band - 30 m high wall. Checked down and left but couldn’t find easy spot which is supposedly cairned. We went up a 5.4 groove for 30 m and then scramble some slabs and trees for another 50 m.

Put rope away if used it as it is another 1 hour as go up scree, small rock bands and treed ridge until hit second rock band which is 50 m+ wall. Lots of cairns and we went down and left to the find the 5.5 layback crack beside a big tree. Need a left hand underhand move to go up this. Good protection placements in crack. Hit bolted belay in 30 m. Top of ridge in another 20 m.

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The
Hypodermic Needle of the Wasatch (Photo Trip Report) The Hypodermic Needle of the Wasatch (Photo Trip Report)  by marauders

The Hypodermic Needle (a.k.a. The Needle) is a superb snow climb on the east face of North Thunder Mountain, in the Central Wasatch Mountains of Utah. This is one of my favorite snow climbs in the Wasatch because of the stunning scenery and the wide variety of terrain you travel.

The Needle is a narrow couloir through granite cliffs with a sustained angle of 50 degrees for 1,100 vertical feet. The Needle is in a remote location for the Wasatch and is rarely visited, this nearly guarantees an adventure with complete solitude. We climbed this couloir on June 6th and the snow was adequate for good climbing, although the top 50 vertical feet were melted out. The best snow conditions for climbing are probably found in mid May.

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Flat Top Peak, my personal
Rorschach Flat Top Peak, my personal Rorschach  by morgthom75

Flat Top Mountain was the first of 6 Ultra-Prominent Peaks that my friend and I are going to climb this summer. It was the lowest in elevation, and seemed like a good place to start our adventure. I haven't formally climbed a mountain in over 2 years. In that time, I've gotten married, moved to a new city, and have become severely out of shape. I now weigh close to 300 pounds. You can imagine how that might effect my hiking abilities! However, I have been preparing for these hikes by doing some small trails in Spanish Fork Canyon, and doing my first trail running. I have been doing small (1-2 mile) hikes 3-4 times a week, and was starting to lose a little weight, and feeling pretty good about myself. I had made an attempt at Spanish Fork Peak earlier in May, but couldn't summit because there was too much snow on the trail. Well, I was pumped to kick off our summer with Flat Top. I had read SP member Dean's reports, and was very excited. My friend, SP member csfoster, and I left for the small town of Ophir, UT at around 5:30 am Saturday morning. We made a stop in Lehi to get our "Victory Dance", a 4 pack of Apple Beer. (it's our celebration when we summit) We headed towards Ophir and the crazy experiences began...

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Snowy Pearls Snowy Pearls  by shanahan96

I never saw these two coming.

Last Saturday Mike and I cruised a mellow couloir(~40 degrees) on Missouri’s North Face. That adventure had me desiring something a little rougher and Snow’s West Face seemed to fit the bill. With no takers, a solo jaunt through the Gores was on the agenda….then Sarah called. The Elks, Two Pearls, an add-on 12er, and people(Dwight and Sarah) to climb with? Alright, you got me. When are we leaving?

I hadn’t been up the road towards Castle/Conundrum and Pearl Pass since July 2005, but I remembered the creek crossing. In my memory, it was pretty far up the road. Sarah assured me we could drive that far, and we did. Cool. ~10,100’-10,200’, we setup camp and called it good for the night. I took 15 minutes to wander up the road, tomorrow looks promising.

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The Ortler via North Wall The Ortler via North Wall  by mvs

Dan and I were hoping to go rock climbing for a couple of days in the Dolomites. There had been an extended period of incredible, high pressure weather. But "that's life" as they say, so inevitably as the weekend approached the high pressure ridge crumbled and rain and clouds pressed into Italy from the north. Reading the forecast closely, it appeared there would be showers and clouds here and there, but there wouldn't be a sustained frontal system. Also, temperatures would be well below average for the next days. A cog turned in my mind: this is a perfect forecast for north face climbing! A phone call to the Tabarettahütte, and we were reserved for Sunday night there. Climbing the North Face of the Ortler was on our "tick list" for the summer, and we had high hopes that we would get to do it now.

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Gannett
Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report) Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report)  by marauders

The Wind River Mountains are one of the finest outdoor destinations in the West, with Gannett Peak standing as its tallest peak. During a Cascade climbing trip in 2008, Dave proposed this idea of using GPS waypoints he had gathered over past trips to make a spring attempt on Gannett Peak. The additional snowpack mileage gave us a projected distance of 48 round trip miles.

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