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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Bolting Climbs: The Ethics of First Ascents

Evaluating the ethics behind first ascents begged the question of whether or not we’re creating safer climbs by “conquering routes”. Were we providing positive accessibility by bolting walls? Or just flaunting our abilities?

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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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MSR Dromedary Bags: My Guardian Angels For More Than 50 Expeditions

MSR Dromedary Bags have become my guardian angels, providing me life—yes, literally providing life—on more than 50 expeditions around the world to complete major athletic goals. From first desert crossings in China to climbing huge first ascents on vertical rock walls in Greenland, on every continent and beyond, they have kept me alive. Let me explain: Water. It is the sweet giver of life. This transparent fluid forms the world’s streams, lakes, oceans and rain, and is the major constituent of the fluids of living things. We are water and water is life. And, of course, life is sweet. My body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water, depending on the day or my activity. To function properly I need to drink between one and seven liters of water per…

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Escape the Snow: Where to Hike, Bike and Climb this Winter

EDITOR’S NOTE 12/20: The gist of this article is travel – the safety of which is questionable right now, given the current and uncertain trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic. That said, we are dreamers and optimists at heart and we trust there will be brighter days ahead. In the meantime, read on to make some great future plans. As always, please do what’s best for you and those around you by follow current guidelines for travel from the CDC, state and local authorities.    Not everyone embraces the onset of winter. If you’re hardcore about warmer weather outdoor pursuits, from hiking, biking, trail running and climbing to paddling, there are parts of the western U.S. that offer respite from the polar vortex. Whether you’re looking to escape the snow entirely or just avoid hauling extra gear, the following places feature exceptional- and diverse- terrain…

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