Alpine Scrambling

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Safety Stories: Unable to Arrest Above a 30-Foot Cliff

We make our way across a questionable snow bridge perched precariously near a waterfall of melting snowpack. Our team of three snow scrambling students and two course leaders move slowly, taking turns crossing the snow bridge one at a time. When the last person steps off the bridge, we share a collective sigh of relief that our group decision was a safe one. I’m grateful to have my helmet on and ice axe in hand. Read more…

Safety Stories: Earl-Bean Traverse – A rock bulge broke loose, sending me backwards

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident. Read more…

Dawn over Japan's Northern Alps

It was 4am in the Yarigatake Hut, nestled high in the snowy mountains of Japan. All who had persevered through the previous day's steep trek up to the hut  (elevation 9,908ft) started stirring in the large open sleeping quarters, struggling to fold the futon beds by our feet as silently as possible. The numbering system posted above the sleeping positions were very close together - one wonders during the crowded season how anyone can sleep without disturbing their neighbors!   Read more…

What Are The Ten Essentials?

The Mountaineers Ten Essentials™ dates back to our climbing courses of the 1930s. This widely respected safety and packing system was formalized in the third edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, released in 1974. Each of the nine editions of Freedom, as it is affectionately known, was written entirely by volunteers and reflects the collective wisdom of hundreds of outdoor skills instructors. The list has always sought to answer two basic questions: Read more…

Top 10 Trip Reports - Fall 2019

What better time to look back on your autumn adventures than when you're waiting for winter to arrive? Soon, snow will cover all of your favorite ski hills, the streets of the Pacific Northwest will be full of colorful down jackets and rain shells (if that hasn't already happened), and one single snowstorm will slow roads down for longer than is reasonable.  Read more…

Thank you Foothills Volunteers!

Foothills is the fastest-growing branch in The Mountaineers, and it's thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our many wonderful volunteers. Without you, we wouldn't be able to hold the many courses, activities, and events that we offer. For that we would like to thank and recognize a group of volunteers that recently made a difference in the lives of our students and helped us get outside!  Read more…

Devilish Trails for Halloween

Many hikers in Washington state have encountered – to their dismay – the prickly spines of devil's club, Oplopanax horridus, a shrub which grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest as well as near Lake Superior. While the origins of the name of this bane of bushwhackers seem quite obvious given its notorious thorns, Washington state is home to many more "devils". In honor of Halloween, here is a sampling of the "Devils" in our state, from north to south. Read more…

Top 10 Trip Reports of Summer 2019: Part 1

Unsurprisingly, The Mountaineers community takes an astounding number of trips all around the Pacific Northwest in the summer months, and many of those yield great write-ups and photos.  That makes aggregating reports for these Top-10 posts a lot harder. After looking through every report dated between June 1 and July 31, I pulled out the best of the best, which left me with about 50 reports - way too many to turn into a top-10 list. Therefore, I dub the reports below the "best of the best of the best." Read more…

Top 10 Trip Reports - May 2019

I have to say, Mountaineers seem to be an excited bunch when the weather gets nice. With summer on the horizon, the number of trip reports you posted in May went WAY up. These reports have been wonderful, and it looks like it's bound to be a good summer for The Mountaineers community. This month, we have six climbs, one scramble, two hikes, and one sailing report to highlight from our favorite trip reports. Read more…

Top 10 Trip Reports - April 2019

A little more dirt and a little less snow are filling the pages of our trip reports now that we're well into spring. You all promptly stepped into your hiking boots this month too, it would seem. But regardless of the trails clearing up, I still see plenty of rain jackets! Hooray for indecisive weather and unreliable forecasts through the next month or two! Read more…