* GET A GRIP: Once, on the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia, a fellow passenger told a friend of mine that he thought mountains were "Utopia." From a distance they are, but up close and on them they can be anything but, especially when you undertake climbs on the South Ridge of Pumo Ri in Nepal's Everest Valley, as Adrian Ballinger and Ian Boyer did last spring. Ballinger, Earth Treks' director of mountaineering, and Boyer, also from Maryland, came within 50 meters of topping out on the 7,161-meter peak during one of the worst stretches of weather recorded in the Everest region. Ballinger, who has soloed such notable peaks as Ama Dablam in Nepal and Artesonraju in Peru, will give a talk and slide show about Pumo Ri at the Blue Ridge Section of the American Alpine Club's next meeting, on Feb. 10 at the Rhodeside Grill in Arlington. The event is open to the public. Drinks and dinner start at 6:30 p.m.; slide show begins at 8 p.m.

* CRUISING SPEED: Hard as it is to believe, signs of spring are not far off. For many that includes the 42nd annual Washington Boat Show, which will run from Feb. 13 to 17 at the Washington Convention Center. This year's show, which will include more than 500 boats and more than 200 marine-themed display booths, is the biggest indoor show in the mid-Atlantic region and is geared to boaters of all abilities. For more information, visit www.washingtonboatshow.com.

* REEL IT IN: The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited's Feb. 12 meeting will include featured speaker Allen Noland, whose topic will be "Trout Fishing in Western Maryland." Meeting starts at 7 p.m., talk begins at 8 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Services Center at 4805 Edgemoor Ln. in Bethesda. . . .

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited will host its 15th annual fishing show on Sunday (Feb. 9) at the Middleburg Community Center. Show starts at 10 a.m.; admission is $5 for families, $3 for individuals. Call Marcia Woolman (540-253-5545) for more information. . . .

The ninth annual Indoor Bass Fishing Flea Market, which includes new and used equipment, will take place Saturday (Feb. 8) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hillendale Firehouse in Dale City. Cost is $2; kids under 12 free. Call Donald Neidig (703-305-6745) for details.

-- John Mullen