Fresh Tracks

On June 1, the posh El MONTE SAGRADO TAOS hotel in Taos, New Mexico, will open its teak doors. A showcase for local owner Tom Worrell's waste treatment systems, Living Machines, the El Monte Sagrado will have 20 individually designed suites, 18 rooms in the main hotel, a man-made swimming pond, a spa, and a fusion restaurant, all of which operate with minimal wasted resources. But ECO-SENSITIVITY is only half the action: The hotel will also offer custom itineraries for horseback riding, skiing, river rafting, hiking, and hot-air ballooning. Rates start at $250 per night. Contact: 800-828-8267,
On April 17, the PERUVIAN CENTRAL RAILWAY will once again chug over 15,800-foot passes from Lima to Huancayo in the Peruvian Andes, passing green fields and grazing alpacas. Closed since 1992 due to violence from the Maoist rebel group Sendero Luminoso, the railroad—the HIGHEST IN THE WORLD—covers 210 miles and takes 12 hours to travel through 66 tunnels, rumble over 59 bridges, and traverse 22 switchbacks. The diesel-powered train will run six times a year in the dry season (April-October) and will have a doctor (and oxygen) on board to help passengers with altitude sickness. Cost: $400 for a four-day guided trip, including ticket, accommodations, and guided excursions from Huancayo. Contact: Journey Latin America, 011-44-20-8747-8315,

Make THE WEATHER CHANNEL work for you. Just a few months ago, launched Notify, a weather-alert system that delivers CUSTOMIZED INFORMATION to your phone (home or cell), pager, and/or e-mail. Personalize Notify with the impending weather in any domestic zip code—from sunny and clear in Orange County to snowy and cold in Summit County—and change the location of reports as frequently as you like. Cost: $6 a month or $50 a year. Contact:


The C Lazy U Ranch, in Granby, Colorado, is just the place to live out that City Slickers fantasy. The working dude ranch, at 8,300 feet in the Colorado Rockies, is offering 15 percent discounts from June 8 to 15 (making an all-inclusive seven-night stay $2,125 per person) and 18 percent discounts from August 24 to September 14 ($2,025). Saddle up one of 173 horses for a ride across the ranch's 8,000 acres, fly-fish on private Willow Creek, or read this magazine by the pool. Contact: 970-887-3344,

If you've ever wanted to sample R&R rock-star style, take note: Until August 31, the Grenadines island of Petit St. Vincent—known for its two miles of white beaches—is offering 35 percent off its high-season rates. Normally a staggering $910 per double per night, rates drop to $585 per night and include meals, plus the use of catamarans, sailboards, snorkeling gear, and sea kayaks. Contact: 800-654-9326,

Want to ride Utah-esque snow in June? Head south to Portillo, Chile. For $1,820, two can stay for seven nights on the shores of Laguna del Inca, surrounded by snowy peaks in the cruise-ship-like Hotel Portillo (complete with a restaurant, workout room, spa, cinema, swimming pool, and disco). You also get seven days of lift tickets and good eats. Contact: 800-829-5325,
(New Trip)

Orca Alert
CETACEAN LOVERS will not be denied on the new Wild Orca Adventure sea-kayaking trip from Northern Lights Expeditions. After 21 years of spotting killer whales in the Broughton Archipelago, northeast of Vancouver Island, owner David Arcese has selected a new base camp on the archipelago's Cracroft Island. Arcese is so confident you'll spot a free Willy, if a guest fails to see an orca, he or she will get another trip for free. Dates: June-September. Cost: Three- to five-day trips, $699 to $999. Contact: 800-754-7402,

10. Mount McKinley

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

(Illustration by Olivier Kugler)

* SUMMIT ELEVATION: 20,320 feet
* DURATION: Three weeks
* SNAPSHOT: Combine alpine, ice, and glacier skills on the roof of the continent

READY TO EARN your stripes? Consider what you've encountered thus far—glacier travel on Rainier, exposure on Wolf's Head, altitude on Orizaba—mere warm-ups for surly, burly 20,320-foot McKinley, the highest point in North America. "That mountain chews people up," says Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb the Seven Summits. "You're carrying a 60-pound pack and pulling a sled with 50 pounds of gear; the bad weather is really bad—it'll bury your tent and you." Planning and training will begin months before your expedition, while the climb itself may well involve gale-force winds, sub-zero temps, punishing altitude, and arduous technical climbing in dangerous conditions. And what, exactly, is the payoff? Nothing less than an all-access pass to any mountain range in the world. Says Weihenmayer, "You're going to carry big loads, you're going to push through multiple storms, you're going to have to take care of yourself, and you're going to learn a lot. Once you've done it, it definitely makes you feel like you're ready for anything."

** The Route
Pioneered by Bradford Washburn in 1951, McKinley's WEST BUTTRESS is notorious for its mind-numbing cold and tempestuous weather, but what a trip: almost 13,000 vertical feet total, one of the greatest elevation gains of any mountain in the world. After catching a bush plane to the Kahiltna Glacier, you'll spend at least nine days hauling gear and provisions—sans Sherpas—up the crevasse-striped glacier to advance base camp in the Genet Basin at 14,200 feet. After a rest day, ascend The Headwall, a 45-degree snow slope, via fixed rope to 16,200 feet. The stretch above you—a mile-long catwalk along the snowy, ice-lacquered spine of the buttress—will blow your mind. At the end of the ridge, you'll make high camp at 17,200 feet, rest for a day, and then head for the summit just after midnight.

GUIDE Alpine Ascents International runs 23-day trips on the West Buttress each year. At base camp, guides will review and perfect your crampon technique and your self- and team-arrest and crevasse-rescue skills. You'll also review glacier travel, how to efficiently climb up fixed lines using ratcheting ascenders, and ways to avoid frostbite, hypothermia, and pulmonary and cerebral edema. ($4,500; 206-378-1927,

Keep your toes toasty with FORTY BELOW's K2 SUPERLIGHT overboots. Closed-cell-foam insulation around the boot and sole locks in the heat, while the Cordura nylon uppers allow perspiration to escape, the key to preventing frostbite. ($120; 253-846-2081, In MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR's ABSOLUTE ZERO down parka, you might look like the Michelin Man, but you'll be blissfully warm, even in the worst cold. ($525; 800-953-8375, THE NORTH FACE INFERNO ENDURANCE sleeping bag is rated to 40 below. Overkill? Not on McKinley, where temps drop that low on a nice day. ($649; 800-447-2333,

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