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Backcountry Skiing Intro

Sunrise on the prime ski terrain of Mt Baker’s east side Backcountry skiing is a broad sport. Even seasoned veterans obsess over what might be the best gear for a particular endeavor. When selecting equipment, it’s important to ask: Where and when will I be using this? The answer could be: mostly at the resort with a little sidecountry; riding lifts through the winter, then big spring volcano-corn; skiing powder yoyo style through the winter, then spring corn; long, rolling [...]

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Ice Climbing Gear Intro

This article is intended to inform you of the features and uses of modern ice climbing gear. The focus is on technical waterfall ice and mixed climbing, as well as alpine routes in the mountains. For specifics on how to ice climb and the details of how to safely and correctly use the gear that I will discuss, please be sure to consult a qualified teaching source and use this article only as a reference of my personal experience and [...]

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Colin Haley Alpinism – Equipment for Alpinism in the ‘Greater Ranges’

Editors note:  This article is a little dated (it was written in 2007), so you can trust that Colin’s equipment has evolved a bit from when this was written.  The article may no longer reflect Colin’s recommendations, so keep that in mind.  We still think there are things to learn from it, so we’ll keep the around as long as that is true.  Introduction For better or worse, climbing is an extremely gear-intensive activity, and alpinism is the most gear-intensive [...]

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Arcteryx Alpha FL Pack review by Dave Burdick

It’s not often that a truly category-changing product comes along. Products like single wall tents, Nomic ice tools and LED headlamps were so innovative that they radically changed the landscape of their categories. Light weight climbing packs though are all relatively the same: some nylon cloth, a couple shoulder straps and not too many extra bells and whistles. What differentiates Arcteryx’s new Alpha FL climbing packs is that they are waterproof while still being tough and light weight. They are [...]

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What’s in the Ultimate Cascades Daypack?

  The Cascades offer an amazing array of options when it comes to different mountain sports. And Spring is the best time of year for multi-sport days. We may not have the fluffiest powder, fattest blue alpine ice, or cleanest white granite, but we have some of everything, so Spring is an amazing time to take advantage of the area’s diversity with single-day outings which combine several different activities on adjacent peaks. Whether you are looking to combine splitboarding with [...]

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Arcteryx Alpha Comp Hoody & Pants Review by Jenny Abegg

Let me first state the obvious: last year’s winter (2013/2014) in the Pacific Northwest was a bizarre one. In December we had uncharacteristically cold, dry weather, giving all of Seattle’s ice climbers a chance to play in their own backyard for a few weeks. January and February turned balmy, the ice disappeared, and skiers started thinking about picking up a new hobby. And then at the end of February, the clouds let loose, finally, dumping feet of snow in the [...]

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Top Rope Solo: Where and How in the Pacific Northwest

Toprope soloing is the fastest and easiest way to maximize climbing with limited time at the crag. This week I will focus on standard setups and ideal locations for TR solo climbing, but for an introduction to the topic and why you should try it, please read the first article in this 2-part series. The individual hardware setup that you use and where you choose to use it are the two decisions which may seem confusing or daunting. However, there [...]

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Climb More. Improve More. TR Solo.

Stop going cragging. It’s an inefficient and overly-elaborate process if your primary goal when heading to the cliff is to improve as a climber. Choosing an area that suits both partners, then sorting and re-sorting gear, and dealing with the myriad changes in belayers, shoes, and climbing locations all take up huge amounts of time and energy, and produce nothing of value in terms of training. Traditional partnered cragging results in a lot of “down time” for everyone. And while [...]

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Cold Weather Crags in Washington, Oregon, and BC

There’s more to winter rock climbing in the northwest than pulling on greasy plastic and sneaky a morning at the front side crags of Smith Rock. Washington and Oregon aren’t cragging destinations this time of year, but they do contain enough winter crags to make a few December and January days possible and downright enjoyable on the rock. The trick is finding an area with the holy trinity of necessary traits: sunny, sheltered, and low-elevation. In Squamish, the smoke bluffs [...]

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