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Expedition Tales

  • Rock to Ice: Pro Tips to Smooth your Transition to the Frozen Vertical

    IFMGA Certified Guide Jediah Porter shares some of his pro tips on making the shift from rock climbing to ice climbing. 

    All pictures and words by Jediah Porter. All pictures and words by Jediah Porter.

    Ice climbing is oh so strange. It’s all the fun and challenge of rock climbing, plus… Plus cold, plus hazards you likely haven’t even thought of, plus an ephemeral surface, plus special equipment… On one level, it seems similar to rock climbing. It is often a natural progression to get competent on rock and then try transitioning to ice climbing. This transition isn’t real clear to rock climbers.

    Here are my tips for smoothing that transition.

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  • Ominous: An Expedition to the Rolwaling Himal, Nepal

    Rolwaling Valley new route "Mixed Emotions"

    Earlier this fall, Feathered Friends Ambassadors Mark Pugliese and Nik Mirhashemi journeyed to the remote Rolwaling Valley in the Himalayas in pursuit of big mountains and new routes. Words by Mark Pugliese. Pictures by Nik Mirhashemi and Mark Pugliese.

    I shook violently with cold. My hands felt like pieces of wood. My body was attempting to pump what felt like molasses though my veins. I was standing under a rock outcropping at 6,100 meters on the West Face of Chugimago in the Rolwaling Valley of Nepal. As I swung my hands side to side to get the blood flow going, I watched the alpenglow of the setting Himalayan sun engulf the 7,000 meter peaks around me and burst into brilliant orange and red flames. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. I knew the light would be gone soon, and I would be left with only the dull glow of my headlamp. I thought my partner had reached the ridge, but I wasn't sure. I drew within myself in that lonely space beneath the rock, accepted and embraced my fear, and prepared to move upwards. Time to harden up.

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  • Gear List for Winter Adventures

    snow hiking north cascades

    Winter is coming which means the door is open for many fantastic outdoor activities. If you’re just getting into winter sports it can be a bit intimidating to plan your adventure, so here is a basic list of items that will make you much more comfortable and safe along the way!

    Words and Pictures by Meghan Young. Meghan is an avid outdoorswoman from Washington and a founder of the Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women's Group. You can follow her adventures on instagram @missmeghanyoung. 

    Ten Essentials

    The ten essentials are a must-have for backcountry travel during any season. In the winter this list becomes even more important due to the more severe temperature ranges. Online you will find a few versions of the list, but I like the one created by our friends at The Mountaineers the best.

    1. Navigation (map and compass)
    2. Sun Protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and clothing)
    3. Insulation (always bring a variety of layers)
    4. Illumination (headlamp/ flashlight AND extra batteries)
    5. First aid supplies
    6. Fire (butane lighter and waterproof matches)
    7. Repair kit and tools
    8. Nutrition (extra food for one additional day)
    9. Hydration (extra water and a purification method)
    10. Emergency shelter

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  • Arc'teryx Alpha SL Jacket Review

    A waterproof and windproof hardshell is the heart of my outdoor adventure kit. It is a piece of gear that goes on every single trip from a short day hike on my favorite local mountain to week-long backpacks in remote areas. Over the last year I searched for a new favorite hardshell, and I think I finally found it in the Arc’teryx Alpha SL.

    Alpha SL Jacket on Wonderland Trail day hike. Picture by Grace Giordano. Alpha SL Jacket on a Wonderland Trail day hike. Picture by Grace Giordano. Review by Claire Giordano.

    At the end of September I took the jacket on a slew of day hikes and a multi-day backpacking trip. Fall hiking in Washington guarantees a mixed bag of weather, and we got a little bit of everything from rain to cold wind and sunshine. I was happy through it all in the Alpha SL.

    The first thing I noticed about the jacket is how LIGHT it is. The women’s jacket (size M) clocked in at a pleasant 9.3 oz. This shaves significant ounces off the other jackets I usually carry, and I barely noticed the jacket while wearing it. The GORE-TEX® PacLite® fabric is not only light, but is less crinkly and compresses into a stuff sack that came with the jacket. Lightweight and packable, it was a no brainer to take it with me everyday.

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  • Skiing Alaska's Mount Sanford

    A trip report from AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide Jediah Porter.

    Jed Porter skiing perfect pow above the clouds on Alaska’s Mount Sanford. 1000 feet done, 10000 more to go! Photo: Meagan Buck Porter Jed Porter skiing perfect pow above the clouds on Alaska’s Mount Sanford. 1000 feet done, 10000 more to go! Photo: Meagan Buck Porter

    Human adventures are like caribou antlers; born soft and fuzzy with hope. Really, both start as just an idea, deep in one’s DNA. As they take shape, before they even take action, they are gentle and virtually unnoticeable. The promise of their power and prominence is there, but the scratched, hormonal, prideful reality is yet to be revealed.

    For us, the climb and ski of Alaska’s Mount Sanford started as just a tiny, incubating idea in a teenager’s soul. In Wildsnow, the definitive tome on North American ski mountaineering, guru (and now mentor) Lou Dawson mentions the Sheep Glacier route on Mount Sanford as perhaps the ultimate mid-difficulty ski run on a giant peak. I stumbled across that literally 20 years ago, and the idea has simmered since then.

    My wife Meagan and I booked some guiding work in Alaska in the spring of 2016, and looked to tack on a personal adventure. The time was right, the team was right, Mount Sanford was the call.

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