An Ode To Fall

Don't shrug Autumn off as just "shoulder season." The weather may be fickle, but there are plenty of opportunities for adventurers to make the most of this time of year.
Jessica Hewitt Jessica Hewitt
Ultra Runner & Autumn Enthusiast
October 23, 2019

Ahhhh… autumn. Despite the immortalization of larches on Instagram, it feels like the underappreciated middle-child of seasons for outdoor activities. The shorter days make epic adventures more challenging, there isn’t enough snow for skiing yet, the glaciers are a mess of open crevasses, and route-finding is difficult if not impossible, assuming you’re lucky enough for a weather window at all. Such windows can be hard to come by, and a day that starts as crisp autumnal perfection can end as rain-soaked misery. Despite all of this, fall has a lot to offer as an adventure season, and deserves more than the ignominious designation as being a "shoulder season".

Smaller crowds, vibrant colors, and a dearth of bugs make the autumn as ideal a time as any to get outside. Maybe it's my personal luck, but I've encountered more inversions in fall than in any other season, and each one has started as a trip into overcast uncertain conditions. Glacier climbing trips can swing between magical and miserable, and often combine the two in unexpected ways.

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Overnighting in a lookout on a rainy day sometimes has unexpected perks. Photo by Jessica Hewitt.

After a summer of earth-raging, even the most hardcore adventurers can find the difference in temperature between under the covers and the surrounding room to be a barrier. It can be tough to knockout those last few adventures, especially when it’s tough just to get out of bed. Alpine starts and sleeping in the car at the trailhead give way to lazy mornings and pillow bivouacs. But I invite you to overcome that intertia and get outside, because fall truly shines as a season to recharge, reflect, and start to dream for the next year.

You can find an abundance of film festivals, seminars, and classes during the fall and winter months, what skills do you want to add to broaden your possibilities? Maybe you want to deepen skill sets you already have by undertaking more advanced training, such as AIARE Level II or upgrading from Wilderness First Aid to Wilderness First Responder? What and who inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and keep find new ways to explore the world outside? What did you learn? What trails/climbs/adventures were your white whales, i.e. the plans that never seemed to come together no matter how much you schemed (I'll get you next year, Dakobed!)

So much choss, but the views are worth it...right? photo by Jessica Hewitt.

Finally, what milestones big or small do you have to celebrate? Whether it’s widening your circle of mountain friends, leading your first trad pitch, making your first tree anchor (the silent green belay) or even just slaying your choss demons take a moment to look back at where you were at the beginning of 2019. And celebrate the here and now, and where you're going. 


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