Tag Archives: California climbing

April 10, 2017 Sahale Glacier Camp, North Cascades National Park

Tent Flap With A View: 25 Favorite Backcountry Campsites

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, International Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   29 Comments

By Michael Lanza

An unforgettable campsite can define a backcountry trip. Sometimes that perfect spot where you spend a night forges the memory that remains the most vivid long after you’ve gone home. A photo of that camp can send recollections of the entire adventure rushing back to you—it does for me. I’ve been very fortunate to have pitched a tent in many great backcountry campsites over more than two decades of backpacking and trekking all over the U.S. and the world. I’ve boiled the list of my favorite spots down to these 25.

I update this list every year, and each time, it becomes more difficult. This year, I’m adding two spots where I camped in the past year: below the East Face of Mount Whitney, and on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Below my top 25 list you’ll find a second list of campsites that were previously in my top 25.  Continue reading →

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March 8, 2017 A climber on the Ptarmigan Traverse, North Cascades Range, Washington.

Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb

In Backpacking, Hiking, Paddling, Skiing, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   8 Comments

By Michael Lanza

When three friends and I decided to attempt to thru-hike the John Muir Trail—221 miles through California’s High Sierra, with numerous mountain passes ranging from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet in elevation—in just one week (backpackers traditionally take three weeks)—the plan seemed like a wild dream. Hike 31 miles a day for seven straight days through some of the biggest mountains in the Lower 48? It was an agenda for lunatics. So we started training. Seriously training. Continue reading →

February 6, 2017 At Kaweah Gap, Sequoia National Park, California.

Why I Endanger My Kids in the Wilderness (Even Though It Scares the Sh!t Out of Me)

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling, Skiing   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   12 Comments

By Michael Lanza

A glacial wind pours through a snowy pass in the remote mountains of Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Virtually devoid of vegetation, the terrain offers no refuge from the relentless current of frigid air. Some of the troops are hungry, a little tired, and grumpy; mutinous doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility, so I don’t want to add “cold” to their growing list of grievances. I coax everyone to push on just a little farther, down out of the wind to a sun-splashed, snow-free area of dirt and rocks for lunch.

But I don’t like the looks of the steep slope we have to descend. Blanketed in snow made firm by freezing overnight temperatures, and littered with protruding boulders, it runs hundreds of feet down to a lake choked with icebergs—in mid-July. A trench stomped into the snow by other trekkers diagonals down to our lunch spot. It’s well traveled, but someone slipping in that track could rocket downhill at the speed of a car on a highway. I turn to our little party—which ranges in age from my nine-year-old daughter to my 75-year-old mother—and emphasize that we have to proceed extremely carefully. Continue reading →

Gear Review: Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX Mountaineering Boots

January 19, 2017  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX

Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX mountaineering boots.

Mountaineering Boots
Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX
$480, 4 lbs. 1 oz. (mondo 25/men’s US 6.5/Euro 39)
Sizes: men’s US 6-13/Euro 39-46, women’s US 6-12/Euro 37-43
backcountry.com

For my 15-year-old son’s first technical mountain climb, a four-day, April ascent of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney—where we’d face conditions ranging from hot alpine sun to frigid winds, and be walking in snow with crampons for nearly the entire four days—I wanted to put him in a pair of all-around mountaineering boots that would feel comfortable for miles of hiking, handle the “technical” terrain of a moderately steep snow gully, hold a crampon reliably, and keep his feet warm. I decided on a proven performer that would serve virtually any climbing adventures on glaciers, snow, or ice: the Mont Blanc GTX. Continue reading →

Gear Review: La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX Mountaineering Boots

December 21, 2016  |  In Gear Reviews   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment
La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX mountaineering boots.

La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX mountaineering boots.

Mountaineering Boots
La Sportiva Trango Cube GTX
$390, 3 lbs. 3 oz. (men’s Euro 42/US 9)
Sizes: men’s Euro 37-48/US 5-14
backcountry.com

Traditional mountaineering boots are heavy, and we’ve all heard the maxim that every pound of weight on your feet is like five pounds on your back. That’s taxing when you’re climbing a big mountain—and that’s why I picked the Trango Cube GTX for a four-day, April snow climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney. On it, and other classic mountaineering routes in the western U.S. and elsewhere, you hike more than you “climb”—meaning that you’re striding normally (albeit often on snow) more than you’re employing French technique or kicking steps for ascending steeper snow in crampons. Due to their heft and stiffness, many mountaineering boots aren’t all that comfortable to walk in. But that’s exactly the kind of adventure where this boot shines. Continue reading →

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