CONFIRMED – Crowsnest Mountain scramble

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, 3rd editionClimber Scott Whiteside who lives in the Crowsnest Pass recommends the Crowsnest Mountain scramble in the Canadian Rockies. It’s 4-7hrs return, 1100m (3609ft), non-technical. Good fun — but no mountaineering gear needed when dry.

No map needed, just Alan Kane’s book.

A group of us are planning to do it Saturday, June 17th. Email or leave a comment if you want to join us.

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Bear attacks

Hiking for years in the Rockies, I’ve still only seen two Grizzlies. Bear aware, they do not worry me.

But Parks Canada bear management is getting more savvy.

For the next two seasons (2006 and 2007) two specific areas will be closed during berry season where attacks have been frequent. Over the past 8 years, there have been 5 bear attacks in Banff National Park — 3 near Allenby Pass in the Bryant Creek area, and 2 on the Aylmer Pass trail near Lake Minnewanka. In all cases, the attacks were a result of hikers travelling alone or in a small group, who surprised female grizzlies with cubs during berry season.

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mountaineering ethics

In the death zone everyone is at risk. It’s not an Olympic yacht race. The same rules do not apply.

Anyone who climbs that high knows the risks.

As I write at least 10 have died during the 2006 Everest high season. Thomas Weber died on the way up at 8,700m. His partner David Sharp freaked out on the way down and died 300m below the summit. Perhaps 40 climbers passed unwilling or unable to save him.

My Journey Home from EverestThey were criticized by Edmund Hillary — but I don’t judge them. I’m not sure what I would do.

Lincoln Hall, another day, was left for dead at 8,800m. He survived overnight, a miracle, and was helped down the mountain next day.

What I am saying is that this issue is more complicated than it seems. Read Beck Weathers uplifting book Left For Dead before you pass judgement.

Climber left for dead rescued from Everest

The Milford Track, New Zealand

The Finest Walk in the World.

That’s the tag line inevitably associated with the Milford Track on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s almost always wrongly attributed to Kiwi Poet Blanche Baughan. Her original title — A Notable Walk — was changed by an editor when printed in the London Spectator, 1908.

Serious hikers often make the Milford pilgrimage so they can legitimately rank it below more favourite treks.

In reality, Milford is a wonderful hike. Lakes, crystalline rivers, huge waterfalls, kooky birdlife, rainforest, and, of course, arriving at fantastic Milford Sound.

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Details on besthike.com

Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand

The best multi-day Kiwi hike, we feel, is not the Milford Track, rather a circuit around an active volcano called Ngauruhoe. You know it as Mt. Doom in the film The Lord of the Rings.

On this 3-4 day trek you can scramble 2 volcanoes. Walk the only desert in the country. Wash-up in pristine waterfalls. And marvel in how life survives in a bleak, tortured volcanic landscape.

The best trip report is posted by David Briese. He calls this the Land of Mordor.

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Ngauruhoe – David Briese

Details on besthike.com

Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand

The best day hike in the world, we reckon.

Especially if you have never hiked around active volcanos. It’s fascinating.

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You can warm yourself at steaming vents, scree down volcanic scoria, marvel at aquamarine water filled explosion holes, tramp craters & puzzle at bizarre volcanic formations.

Wait for good weather before setting out. Wind & low cloud sometimes make this hike a miserable slog in the fog.

Details on besthike.com

Angel’s Landing, Utah

The shortest hike deemed worthy to be listed on besthike.com is Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, one of the best hiking destinations in the world.

When I climbed to the Landing I felt it should be restricted to experienced mountaineers! And angels.

This is one vertical and hairy ascent. It’s almost as steep as Half Dome in Yosemite in places. But what a view from the top.

Angel's Landing

Details: Angel’s Landing on BestHike.com

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu, Peru

Choquequirao is a enigmatic ruined Inca city even less accessible than Machu Picchu. In 2005, we had the Choquequirao ruins to ourselves in the late afternoon.

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One day it will draw hordes of tourists but for now it is still little visited. The ultimate itinerary is to hike to Choquequirao and continue to Machu Picchu via Aguas Calientes.

As of this date, no guidebook details the long route, 7-days minimum. Guide and pack animals recommended.

If you are looking for an alternative to the over-popular Inca Trail, check out:

Choquequirao to Machu Picchu