Exploratory Mountaineering – The Tien Shan Mountains

16 Days and 8 First Ascents in China’s Tien Shan Mountains The Tien Shan range in China is ideal for exploratory mountaineering expeditions. There are hundreds of valleys, each with handfuls of unclimbed peaks and each mountain with plenty of route options. A lot of the routes can be simple mountaineering, but you can choose a line more demanding and direct. Although a lot of these peaks can be easily climbed it’s important not to underestimate the experience needed to safely climb in the mountains, as well as having the correct mountain equipment. I had never experienced exploratory mountaineering before—it had always been daunting. I wanted to make sure I had enough experience to make the most of any unclimbed mountains before an opportunity arose. It had taken me years…

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Mountain Running in the Sierra Nevada

One of the best parts of mountain running is when you get to walk. I’m not calling mountain running a gentle stroll, but generally, you’re not full-on, maxed-out sprinting hour after hour up an enormous rock pile. The running part is great, but the main draw is that rock pile and the ones around it. Just being, and moving, in the mountains. Starting from the smell of sage and climbing into solitude with the sounds of rushing water, birdsong, and your own feet finding rhythms on the ground. Often, if you are walking, you are someplace spectacular: a steep forest trail,  a technical ridge, or on the way to a lonely summit where the air is thin. As a mountain runner coming from the Alps, I’ve been adapting to the…

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Paring it Down to the Essentials: A Guide’s Gear for a Three-Day Mountaineering Trip

As a guide with the American Alpine Institute on Mt. Baker, I often end up working with clients who try to bring all the appropriate gear but end up bringing just a tad more than necessary. In this post, I will talk about the gear I bring with me on a 3-Day Baker Skills and Climb trip and how I pared it down to its current amount. I hope this will help you on your fast-and-light adventures! 58 Mountaineering Essentials To start out, here’s a standard list of what I bring on a Baker 3-Day… Climbing gear: Crampons Harness Ice axe 1 ice screw 4 locking carabiners 6 non-locking carabiners 20-foot cordelette 2 double-length slings 2 pickets 1 rope Waist and foot prusiks Helmet Clothes: 1 pair soft shell pants…

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From Sea to Source: Misadventures & Camping on the Hudson River

In August of 2019, my friend Kirk and I fulfilled a childhood dream, paddling the Hudson River from source to sea. Growing up, my friends and I would explore my small hometown and go as far as we could get before making it home for dinner. We would go paddling, swimming, cliff jumping, hiking and occasionally jump trains when they were moving slow enough. Setting off to wander our town each day was an exploration, even if we had been there before. As kids, my friends and I were too naïve to even realize that our exploits rarely took us more than a mile or two from home, yet they still had a sense of adventure that built the kind of lasting friendships that are only forged in the outdoors….

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Bikepacking Through Death Valley: A Loose How-To Guide

Something about bikepacking Death Valley drew us in—maybe it was the iconic sand dunes, the deep canyons, salty-dry basins, or moving rocks, but more likely it was just the empty space and lack of cell service. After a year of chaos, we all wanted a break. What better way to get out the angst than to hammer pedals for a week in the middle of the largest National Park in the country? After getting tested for COVID (a qualifier that’s nearly a prerequisite these days), the five of us met at Saline Warm Springs, a hidden gem in the northwest corner of the park. The pools were closed and the wind was gusty, but we had work to do anyway. That afternoon we went through and packed all our food,…

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10 Amazing Places to Snowshoe in North America

Your favorite hiking trails may be under snow until spring, but snowshoeing is an affordable, accessible way to keep winter fun. The solitude of snowshoeing is also a bonus: there are no crowds, heavy machinery, or endless lift lines. The following destinations have some of the best snowshoeing in North America, from groomed Nordic tracks and valley floors, to lakeshore forest glades and rugged ascents. 10 Best Places to Snowshoe in North America 1. Ashcroft, Colorado: Ghost town turned dining destination Eleven miles from Aspen, this ghost town has been turned into an ungroomed, unmaintained Nordic playground. Explore the miles of trails that traverse meadow, creek and evergreen forest dotted with the remnants of the mining boom town of Ashcroft. Your destination should be the famed Pine Creek Cookhouse, which…

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