September 23, 2011
Trails for the most part are a necessary evil so you can get off trail is my perspective. Peak bagging as an objective of and in itself has little allure for me. Find an area I'm interested in, connect the probable passes on a topo, possibly a little beta, get organized, and go. Not over class 3. Unroped snow is fine. Long extended elevation gain is fine.
No answer yet
I live in Porterville, and get up year around. Been doing it pretty intensely for many years. Up in the mts. can be hiking/backpacking, snowshoeing, skiing. Generally 2-3 mph on trails, 1-2 off trail. Lightweight(not ultra)/spartan style.