(Image credit: Hank Stein)

Posted by Ellen

That's a couple of wet dogs goofing it up, out there by the Golden Gate Bridge. Zoe, at left, lived in San Francisco until recently, when her boy Patrick moved to Seattle. Hank's pup Mabel visited with Zoe last June and now shares a house in Seattle with her and some other critters.

Posted by Ellen

In the wintertime, Franklin Falls, in the Cascade Mountains about 60 miles east of Seattle, takes on a dual personality.

The main cataract at the center of the waterfall flows too fast and furious to freeze up tight; it roars and splashes and spits spray all winter long.

But closer to the edge, the waterfall's trickles and drips crystallize as icicles, which pile up through the winter months into layercakes of glittery, frothy ice. And this year, by mid-December, the ice at Franklin Falls was ready to be climbed.

Our man of the mountains, Hank, showed up there then with his buddies and their gear: ropes, crampons, ice axes, and optimism. They were climbers who knew their way around in the mountains, who'd put in their time conquering knife-edged ridges and post-vertical cliffs and glaciers and whiteouts and whatnot. 

None of them, as it turns out, had actually climbed a frozen waterfall before. But they must have seen it done on YouTube. They were pretty sure they would be able to figure it out.

And they did. We heard that it was a little bit scary but pretty fun, actually.

Posted by Ellen

We have a new dog in the family, Hank's shaggy pup Mabel. She's a cross between an Australian Shepherd–which is actually an American breed with no connection to Australia–and an Australian Cattle Dog–which is actually an Australian cattle dog. The two breeds are often crossed to produce a kind of sturdy, active, people-oriented working dog that's sometimes called a Texas Heeler.

Hank tells us that Mabel, who's seven months old, is the world's smartest dog. She's smart enough, obviously, to know when she's got a good thing going.

Posted by Ellen

There are two good dogs here, who are paying attention and no doubt salivating over the treats in that plastic bag. But the guy in the back, a young Belgian malinois named Boulder, still needs to get with the program.

Posted by Ellen

In 2009, when Hank was a U.S. Senate page, he got up on top of the Capitol dome one day and snapped this picture, looking down across the roof of the Senate wing of the Capitol building.

It was all clear up there by 2009, but for several years after 9/11, snipers had been posted on that roof and on many other government roofs in Washington.

Posted by Ellen

On August 13, Hank and about a dozen other climbers summited Yanaphaqcha, an 18,000-foot peak in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Peruvian Andes. As they neared the top of the mountain, they were engulfed in thick clouds spitting snow. "What you see around me in the picture," Hank says, "that was the view from the top."

Posted by Ellen

We take a brief break from admiring New Zealand in order to catch the view Friday evening from Drexel Park in West Philly, when the center city skyscrapers snagged the sunset.

Posted by Ellen

Last night, we saw a ram with a pomegranate in Fitler Square, Philadelphia.

Posted by Ellen

The climb must have been going pretty well, straight up the wall of Mt. Gimli, in Canada's Kootenay Rockies. And then Hank stopped for a moment and looked down.

We might speculate that looking down would be a terrible thing to do. But all the evidence suggests that Hank just calmly snapped a picture of his own right foot and then went back to climbing on up.

He and Pat, his climbing partner, summited, rappelled down, hiked back out to their car, and drove into town to find something to eat.

For the record: They wore their helmets and harnesses and utilized their ropes and stuff. No mammals were injured in the making of this photograph.

Posted by Ellen

Last weekend, Hank, his climbing buddy Pat, and their other climbing buddy, the orange-footed yaller guy, summited Mount Gimli, a 9,000-foot spire of gneiss in the Valhalla Range of southeastern British Columbia.