Mountaineer Magazine

Mountaineer Magazine

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Finding Family in the Passenger Seat: A Car-Free Journey to Community

“Hiking is free. As long as you have shoes and an Orca card, you can go anywhere.” Read more…

Love & Loss

 I knew something was wrong. I could feel it. I was out on a solo hike and had stopped for a break when a small voice in my head propelled me into motion with a sudden sense of urgency. Get back down the trail, it said. Now. Go carefully and take the easy route. Get home quickly and take a shower. Keep your phone close. Somehow my subconscious knew before I did that Tyler’s life had ended. It would be hours before I got the call that changed my life forever. Read more…

Conservation Currents | Underfunded: Why Our Public Lands Need Your Help

One sunny summer weekend in 2019, Becca Polglase was driving with three friends to the Dingford Creek Trailhead for a brisk day hike. As they wove through the forest, the conversation flitted between adventure goals and gear, eventually landing on the topic of public lands. Her friends lamented closures, access limitations, and much-needed maintenance. “You know”, Becca said, “permits are confusing, roads are bad, and trailheads aren’t being serviced because of a lack of funding.” Read more…

Safety Stories | A Fall on Cutthroat Peak

Everything about this climb was perfect, until it wasn’t. Read more…

Backcountry Hygiene 101: You Don't Have to Smell Bad to Smell Better

Hello gorgeous! You - yes, you! With the messy hair, dirty legs, and that certain wilderness glow about you. You look fabulous! Read more…

Bookmarks | Peak Nutrition: Smart Fuel for Outdoor Adventure. An interview with Chef Maria Hines

Most people know Maria Hines for her culinary accomplishments. In 2005, she was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs, in 2006 she went on to open her first restaurant, Tilth, in Wallingford, and in 2009 she won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest. Read more…

Outside Insight | Charting New Waters: Creating a Cross-Branch Paddling Community

In the Pacific Northwest, year-round sea kayakers are a tight-knit community. These brave individuals don their drysuits in all conditions and relish in the opportunity to paddle big waves during winter storms. They seek adverse conditions to build their skills, growing more confident in their ability to explore wilder and more remote places. Read more…

Youth Outside | The Meaning of Mountain Workshops

Growing up, I counted down the days to when the Activity Bus would roll into our parking lot with my class on its roster. The air static with excitement, we would board the bus in single file, sitting side-by-side on cracked bench seats with backpacks at our feet. Short of a snow day, we were about to embark on one of the single greatest grade school events: a field trip. Read more…

Trail Talk | As Goes the Caribou

One of the most beautiful and wild places on the eastern seaboard, the Chic-Choc Traverse was placed on Peter Potterfield’s 25 Classic Hikes of North America with good reason. In May 2000, my wife Heather and I did a recon trip to Quebec’s Chic-Choc Mountains in the 200,000-acre Parc National de la Gaspésie. Three months later we returned to backpack the 50-mile Chic Choc Traverse – one of the most stunning stretches of the International Appalachian Trail. We were hooked. Read more…

Mother Tree

I watched in fascinated disgust as dozens of insects squirmed and wriggled towards the edges of the bark where it met the soft damp core, searching for darkness and safety. Just moments before, my mother in an effort to teach me about the wonders of nurse logs had wedged her fingernail between bark and wood and carefully pried off a chunk of bark the size of her hand. “All those insects make their home in the log. They eat the wood and make it into soil so other trees can grow.” Then she replaced the bark as carefully as she had removed it. “Let’s not disturb them any further.” Read more…

Retro Rewind | Mountaineers Books: Fulfilling Our Mission, 60 Years and Counting

A squabble over climbing styles nearly tore The Mountaineers apart in its early years. Choosing instead to put differences aside, that turmoil spawned a text so seminal that it would come to be read religiously by aspiring climbers around the world. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills is now seen by many as the pinnacle of climbing education material, and next to it since the beginning is the nonprofit publisher Mountaineers Books. Read more…

Peak Performance | Mountain Mindfulness

Mindfulness has become a popular practice in yoga and other therapies, but it also has its place in the mountains. To be “mindful” means paying complete attention to what’s going on, both inside your head and outside of yourself, and being fully present in the moment. If you are multi-tasking, you are likely not being mindful. Likewise, if you are rushing to get things done, or tag the summit and get back to the car, you probably don’t have a good chance of being mindful. The other component of mindfulness is accepting yourself exactly as you are, or treating yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Read more…

Why Hornbein Gives: The Importance of Philanthropy in Nonprofit Publishing

When I asked Tom Hornbein about his relationship with reading over his 89-year lifespan, he didn’t answer, he simply rotated his computer forty-five degrees so I could see the room behind him on our Skype call. What was revealed was an entire wall of books, most of them about outdoor adventures, many of which were Mountaineers Books titles. Buried in his stack is surely his own book, Everest: The West Ridge, which follows his and partner Willie Unsoeld’s groundbreaking 1963 first ascent of Mt. Everest via the treacherous West Ridge. It doesn’t take a bibliophile to recognize that this collection is the mark of fervor; his ice axe long stowed, Hornbein now sits on a mountain of literature.  Read more…

Gear Love

Forget about that special someone – let’s focus on that special something! We all have the pieces of gear we love above the rest. Things that keep you warm, safe, and comfortable. Take a moment to think about that piece of equipment you just couldn’t live without, and enjoy these love letters written by Mountaineers to gear they adore the most. Read more…

Preparing for the Worst: A Chaplain’s Perspective

On August 14, 2018, I received the phone call. A climber had died, and my mountaineering friend had just gotten the news. He needed assistance with what to do next. In seven years as an emergency services chaplain, I’ve lost count of how many death notifications I’ve given, and I was the right person for my friend to call. Only, when I realized that the climber he was talking about was Stephen Kornbluth, my best friend and “mountain husband,” I felt my world shatter into a million pieces. None of my experience had prepared me for this moment. Read more…

Did You Know? Washington's Wildflowers

We know spring has arrived in the northwest when the crocuses worm their violet heads and long green bodies out of the dirt every March, a harbinger of brighter days. Our walks to work and school are dotted by blasting spring rains, and hikers slowly start to fill the trails again as snow melts and our forests become plump with moss and ferns. Read more…

Out, Outside

My Mountaineers climbing team is at the summit block of Mt. Olympus, and the clouds are coming in. It’s July 2018, and this is our second climb of the week. My muscles constantly remind me of the miles and elevation I’ve required of them so far, and the distance I still have to go. To finish this ascent we have a short pitch of rock, and we’re doing our best to get up there and see the mythical views before getting completely socked in. Read more…

Tying In: Progress on Vision 2022

Lead innovation in outdoor education, engage future Mountaineers, and advocate for wild places: these are the three strategic initiatives at the foundation of our current strategic plan, Vision 2022. It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the midpoint of the plan that has guided our priorities and investments over the last two years.  Read more…

Ouside Insight | Alpine Ambassadors: Professional Training to Grow Our Programs

In mid-2016, The Mountaineers Board of Directors voted to allocate funds to begin an initiative called Progressive Climbing Education (PCE). The goal was to dedicate resources to advance the goals and initiatives of our passionate volunteers. Read more…

Nature's Way | Pigeon Guillemots: Indicating the Health of the Salish Sea

The black bird flew around the dock, showing long, white patches on its wings, and dropped its fire-engine red feet to land on the water with hardly a splash. The pigeon guillemot then looked both directions before diving. Its stubby wings flapped gently under the water as it headed to the shallow bottom in search of food. I caught glimpses of other guillemots coming and going while standing on the dock in Langley on Whidbey Island – some were nesting and may have had nestlings to feed – but the one below me disappeared entirely into the depths. Read more…

Retro Rewind | When Lifts Stop Running: Washington ski resorts of yesteryear

Skiers and snowboarders in Washington State are lucky to enjoy a wide range of opportunities to zip down the hill. You want the deepest snow? Head to Mt. Baker. Easy access from Seattle? Snoqualmie has you covered. Looking for something small and community-oriented? Visit Meany Lodge! With a range of options to choose from, Washingtonians have it pretty good. Over the past 100 years though, the ski map of Washington has changed dramatically. The Cascade and Olympic Mountains have been home to dozens of resorts, and the ones you see now are the few that remain. Of the current popular areas, few were present in the minds of skiers before the last few decades. Buckle your boots – we’re going for a trip to the hidden gems of yesteryear. Read more…

Global Adventures | Why Costa Rica Keeps Calling Me

A trip to Costa Rica is an all-sensory experience. The various fragrances are more pleasing, and different, than any you experience here in the US. The sounds are unique too, with wildlife chattering in preserves and an entertaining hum buzzing through the towns and villages. The sights are raved about, and it’s easy to see why; you’ll find tree-top bridges, great sand beaches, vibrant farms growing flowers shipped to local shops, stunning volcanoes, aromatic coffee farms, and, of course, rainforests teeming with life. Read more…

Peak Performance | 90-90 Heel Digs with Pelvic Tilt

Though it’s easy to become focused on major muscle groups, it’s important to remind ourselves to take a look at those parts of our bodies that sometimes go unnoticed. Read more…

Did You Know? Ski Equipment of the 1930s

The 1930s were a decade of firsts for skiers. New technologies, techniques, and ski areas were opening possibilities for the sport that used to be associated only with the European elite. With the introduction of the rope tow, those unwilling to climb were able to enjoy the same downhill thrill, and its popularity exploded. The number of skiers doubled between the late 1920s and the early 1930s, with an estimated one million American skiers in 1936. This, paired with new types of skis, methods of instruction, and options for gear, catapulted the sport into the American consciousness, and skiing as we know it today began to take shape. Read more…

Citizen Science: White-Tailed Ptarmigan, Ghost Birds of the Winter Cascades

Washington is a haven for birders, and yet we still have huge gaps in our understanding of some of our most iconic wildlife. Take the White-tailed Ptarmigan for example. Many of you have likely spotted ptarmigan in the Cascades in their summer plumage, blending in with their rocky alpine habitat, but reports of these beautiful birds in their all-white winter plumage are few and far between. As a result, our knowledge of White-tailed Ptarmigan winter habitats in the Pacific Northwest are meager. Read more…

Youth Outside: Discover the Magic of Winter with Olympia Youth Programs

As a child, do you remember anything more exciting than a snow day? The magic of waking up to a blanket of crisp white snow, the world outside your door transformed into something new and seemingly boundless, was unlike anything else. You’d grab your coat, tug on boots, and run outside to dive headfirst into winter, making snowballs, swooshing your arms into a snow angels, and grinning ear-to-ear at the snow-capped trees. On snow days, the cold didn’t seem quite as bitter and your cheeks didn’t feel quite as red. The world was a whole new place to be explored. Read more…

Conservation Currents | Conservation and Advocacy, Together

In the six years I’ve served as The Mountaineers Conservation and Advocacy Director, I’ve watched our community come together time and again to speak up for the places we hold dear. Together, we’ve enjoyed a number of successes, and suffered a few setbacks. Threats to our public lands, including the climate crisis, are mounting, and as someone whose life has been formed by adventuring in nature, I am concerned about what our planet will be like for future generations. Read more…

Trail Talk: Peril in the Pyrenees

I had hiked the route from the Col de Tentes over the 7,450- foot Port de Boucharo, straddling the French and Spanish border to the medieval town of Torla in Aragon, a half dozen times. It was one of my favorite hikes to bring folks along on when I worked as a hiking guide in the Pyrenees for Portland-based Mountain Hiking Holidays. I loved looking for edelweiss, pointing out izards (a chamois native to the Pyrenees), explaining the fascinating history of the route (used by pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and refugees during the Spanish Civil War), and highlighting so many other facets of this fascinating route to the folks I was guiding. Read more…

Wobble Your Way Through Ski Season: Finding Fun as a First-Time Skier

So you want to shred some gnar. Welcome. And congratulations on your willingness to look silly as a grown-up in the pursuit of a new skill. Many of your friends have likely been skiing since they were kids, and have no idea what it’s like to learn as an adult. They forget that white-knuckling your way down a ski slope with a waistband full of snow isn’t always stoke-inducing. So here’s a guide from another new skier based on my first season - tools I found useful, things I wish I’d known, and why you should accept and enjoy being an awful skier. Read more…

Mountain Education Alliance: A National Partnership of Mountain Clubs

As we well know at The Mountaineers, teamwork and a shared passion for the outdoors can produce some incredible things. Over the past few years, volunteers and staff at The Mountaineers have enjoyed deepening our relationships with our partners at the American Alpine Club, Colorado Mountain Club, and the Mazamas as we work together to develop national climbing education standards for volunteer clubs. Through this work, relationships and friendships have formed, new climbing partners were found, and we all quickly realized how much we have in common. Today, The Mountaineers is proud to be a part of the newly-named Mountain Education Alliance (MEA) - a formalized partnership between our organizations, and we’re excited to be a part of a new program to recognize volunteer educators, both in the United States and worldwide. Read more…