Sawtooth Mountains

Trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

10 Favorite Photos From 2014 Adventures

By Michael Lanza

Was 2014 a good year for you? After poring through thousands of photos I shot on more than a dozen trips this year, including return visits to iconic national parks like Yosemite and Zion, and a couple of adventures that have been on my to-do list for years—backpacking the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood and trekking in Italy’s Dolomite Mountains—I picked my 10 favorite images of the year. I’ll write about these trips in upcoming stories at The Big Outside. For now, let these pictures give you a little inspiration to make 2015 a great year outdoors.

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Ask Me: What Are Your Favorite Places in the Northwest and Northern Rockies?

Michael,

I’ve been checking out your excellent backpacking posts and think you may be the right person to help me out with my search. My partner and I have taken a year off work to travel around the U.S. We had a great time hiking and canyoneering in Escalante. So now we’re in the Northwest, and want to find a great wilderness base camp where we can set up for a few days and explore the surrounding area. I’ve heard great things about Idaho, but Washington, Montana and Wyoming are all within striking distance, too. So much choice! If you have any recommendations for us—even if it’s just a wilderness area to hone in on—they would be most gratefully received.

Thanks,
Brian
London, England

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Hikers on Trail 47 near 10,000-foot Castle Divide in the White Cloud Mountains, Idaho.

Head in the Clouds: Hiking In Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains

By Michael Lanza We gaze up at a wall of shattered, crumbling gray and white rock rising several hundred feet above us, a barrier of cliffs separated by severely steep gullies of loose stones. The gullies offer the only remotely feasible routes up or down, but they look about as stable as a mountain of marbles. We’re debating which gully …

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Sunset above Buck Creek Pass, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Washington.

Photo Essay: A Year of Outdoor Adventures

By Michael Lanza

A few weeks ago, as I hiked with my daughter up the steep Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon, knocking off the last few miles of a three-day backpacking trip that had been wonderful on many levels, I was feeling awfully satisfied. For starters, through most of this fall, I’d had a bad itch to get out somewhere—and the Big Ditch, it turns out, is a pretty good place to scratch that itch. Plus, we’d just enjoyed three absolutely gorgeous, summer-like days of father-daughter time, and the company of two other families who joined us.

But seen from a longer view, returning to the Grand Canyon again felt like the perfect way to cap off another good year outdoors. In 2013, I got to seven national parks; five federal wilderness areas; an Idaho mountain range (the White Cloud Mountains) that might… no, should… become either federal wilderness or a national monument in the near future; and had the unforgettable pleasure of standing with my 12- and 10-year-old kids, my 15-year-old nephew, and my 76-year-old mom on the crater rim of Mount St. Helens.

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Backcountry skiing below Mt. Heyburn, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Hidden Paradise: Backcountry Skiing Idaho’s Sawtooths

By Michael Lanza

At a pass just below 9,400 feet on the north side of 10,229-foot Mt. Heyburn, in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the wind that has been steadily turning the dial upward for the past hour reaches full volume. Another snow squall bursts upon us, spraying white bullets sideways and dropping a veil over the rocky, snow-spattered, serrated ridge just overhead.

Six of us have labored 2,000 feet uphill on skis this morning in search of a doorway into a secluded mountain paradise of sorts, a high basin known in some circles as the Monolith Valley, though not marked as such on any map. A slender gash between Heyburn and another 10,000-footer, Braxon Peak (which I’ve stood atop in summer), the Monolith exists in the topographical shadows, easily overlooked. Most of our group have only seen tantalizing photos that revealed legions of rock spires towering above untracked snow. The images inspired visions of marking up deep powder on slopes rarely inscribed by skiers—like Zorro, but leaving many “S” signatures instead of a “Z.”

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