First track day of 2019
First event of the season
The sun made the lighting difficult
Andrew, Chris and I convened in Washington to climb almost 18,000 ft in 4 days. Mt. Rainier to Mt. Baker. No strato-volcano is safe.
Up past Colchuck Lake to around 8000ft in the Enchantments. We got herded by billy goats and chased by lightning leading to a 12 hour day, but hey the worse it gets the better the story becomes.
Some more photos of track day at The Ridge
Some photos from The Ridge Motorsports Park for a track day on Friday and the winter route of Mt. Ellinor on Saturday. Photo creds for Friday go to Emily.
Shots from month 2
Around Oregon and back again
Unedited photos with a Nikon D7200 with 1.8 35mm fixed lens. Balance of minimal iso and attempted minimal blur.
Ah so my failed couple of days in the Olympics. These pictures are a collection either from Mt. Washington or Mt. Si which obviously are not the names of the Two Brothers.
Monday: So off I drive 5 hours through Seattle to look at potential places to live and then on to the Olympic Peninsula. The Peninsula holds a special place in my heart as access is a bitch for lack of a better word and seems less crowded than the Cascades or Enchantments. I make my way to the trailhead around 5pm and predicatbly don't have cell service. I however do have Sirius XM radio which allowed me to listen to political talking heads for longer than I should have. Not thinking about it I may have listened for around 45minutes with the engine off. Then it hits me "fuuug; I try to start the truck. "ERRRRRRR". Classic dead battery sound. Here I am about 8 miles from the closest town at a trailhead that is rarely used on the weekdays (seen no one) and its dark. Whelp guess my climbing day has been ruined. I planned to start climbing around 5am to finish the 16 mile 6000ft elevation climb before dark. I knew I wouldnt walk 8 miles after doing all that so I called off the climb and the next day at light I started walking. With bear mace, a tracker, and water I walk about 3 miles before running into a new car thats running with a dog inside but no one to be found so I carry on for another 3 minutes before I hear a door shut so I run back up and ask the kind woman for help jumping my car. She obliged as I attempted to be as little creepy as possible. She told me she spent the night in a cabin drinking champagne with her dying dog (a 5lb ragged Chihuahua). The canine Rusty enjoyed surfing on my lap and I was glad I chose to wear hardshell pants in case he lost his bowels. Eventually jumping my truck with cables I bought maybe a week ago I decided to push southward around 9:30am to Mt. Washington which is the sister peak to Mt. Ellinor. Reading through the description in the Olympic Climbing Guide I was sure to have a well trafficked trail to a sure alpine experience. About 0.3 of a mile from the trailhead per GPS a massive landslide had washed out the road (commo in the Olympics). NO PROBLEM. I set off looking for trails and sure enough all the trailheads to 3 different routes were washed away. I must have walked back and forth 3 or 4 times trying to find a place to start. There is no mention of an old slide in the book which makes me think this is new within the past year or two. I snap some photos of waterfalls and the slides and im off back to Seattle and then to North Bend which I decide to climb Mt. Si, probably the most hiked peak in that area. A beautiful peak it was with snow only becoming a factor at the top. I took 2 extensions, one to The Haystack (Mt. Si's proper peak) and a little loop lower down,. Haystack didn't have any footprints and as I climbed I discovered why. The rocks where icy and the snow hid the holds. Finally putting use to the whippets I crawled my way up and back down around 500 feet. Not much to see as visibility was around 100 yards. SOOOOO anyway lesson learned and here are some photos:
Hey friends; long time no post. I suppose my weeks have been more full than usual living in Aberdeenabad. These photos are from a weekend in which our third of Summit Squad was working in Seattle so we decided to hit at least one peak. We came prepared for snow; we were disappointed, but we were not disappointed by the views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Adams. Mt. Ellinor is an easy day hike but has great views over hood canal and into mainland Washington from the peninsula.
Just a few quick pics of my day at PIR before they coached me up.
Tetons to Yellowstone to Custer Gallatin, MT
Okay so it's been a while since my last entry; all work and all play.
Yakima is a dry hot place; reminds me a lot of Colorado with big mountain views but arid climate which leaves you wanting to escape to said mountains on every day off. These collection of photographs are from a single day summit of Mt. Adams and a hike up to the glacial lakes of The Enchantments.
Adams: So considering we thought Adams was about 5,500ft of elevation gain with no glacier travel, we thought could cruise up and down it in no time at all. Well 6,700ft later we were at the summit. Anyone who has done the south spine route (most popular) will tell you about the epic glissading. I never thought I'd use the terms "epic" and "glissade" in the same sentence, but here I am. Towards the false summit, Piker's Peak, there is about a 2,000 ft trudge up 40-45 degrees of snow field. This lends itself to a grooved glissade down thousands of feet. This is visible from the base, but without knowing it looks just like snow slide. It turned out to be a slide of snow. On the way down we learned the hard way Mt. Adams is not a national park and got busted by the National Forest Fuzz. Apparently you need 3 different passes to climb the mountain; we only had 2 because they named their specific mountain pass "The Cascades Climbing Pass". This apparently is a Mt. Adams exclusive pass which is hardly evident. Slapped with an $80 fine we continued out trudge down. I feel compelled to bring up that day I directed a lost climber to her camp, packed out other peoples trash (insect repellent and sun screen) that I found on the way up, pissed into a bag and carried it down, and paid close to $100 in climbing passes yet we were the criminal tresspassers; TRUMP'S AMERICA! BUILD THE WALL! KEEP THE GOOD ONES OUT! Successful trip non-the-less.
Enchantments: From Ellensburg, a town north of Yakima, there is a ridgeline of prominent rocky peaks unlike the massive glaciated peaks of the Cascades. After discovering these peaks have small glaciers on the north faces we decided to go check them out before climate change eliminates them in 3 weeks. What turned out to be a hugely popular hike (only about 8 miles round trip and 2500ft of gain), was pretty spectacular. You end up in an ampitheater of volcanic rock and clear glacial runoff. Also a bonus of running into a baby goat; although murderous and invasive (like us) they were quite cute. Those shots were taken with the 300mm and although I didn't get a great shot we kept our distance.
Today I got up at 4:30am to watch the sunrise over Olympic National Park.
Later today I went back up to hike out to Unicorn Peak. The snow was too deep for my apparel so I stopped at Hurricane Hill. This must've been the clearest day since I've been on the peninsula. On Hurricane Hill you have a view 360 degrees. You could see the Canadian Cascades, Victoria, Mt. Baker to the north and the entire ONP to the south.
Since coming out to Washington I have had weekend after weekend of failed outdoor excursions mostly due to access issues. This weekend I decided I needed easy access and a travel destination that would not fail to fill me with awe. I drove the 4 hours from Port Angeles to just outside of Rainier National Park. It has to be said that although this is the most prominent and glaciated peak in the contiguous US It can occasionally prove to be elusive from afar due to the famous cloudy Western Washington weather. Next month will be the two year anniversary of my first big mountain climb and the anniversary of the death of a climbing hero of mine growing up. Dean Potter died on the same day I was on this mountain. Two years pass without any mainstream climbers dying in a shocking yet not so shocking event; I climb on Rainier for the first time since my first and Ueli Steck dies. Dean Potter and Ueli Steck were mainstays in outdoor documentaries and most famously part of the films in the Reel Rock Film Tour. I won't comment extensively on how "he died doing what he loved" because no alpinist loves falling to their death. If anything can be described as shocking and not surprising at the same time its the deaths of outdoor athletes that ride the line of achievement and consequence. I didn't know him but I loved watching him do what he did best: crush mountains.
On a more positive note I ended up being the 4th person to set off from Paradise Inn up Rainier at 7am. Rainier (the whole west coast) got hit with a massive amount of snow this year making the drive memorable in its self. My plan was to skin up to Camp Muir and ski back down which is almost 5000ft of elevation gain up to just over 10,000ft. I had everything in order except I forgot to thermomold my new liners leaving me with numb toes and ankle blisters as reminders to not do that again. I eventually caught up with the first skier to set off around 9000ft and eventually got to relax and converse about avoiding crowds makes the experience that much more enjoyable. With a heavy pack on foot with my fellow climbers in 2015 I made it to Muir in about 7 hours via what we now deem as "The Trudge". In 2017 with a lighter pack and skins I made it in 3 hours with stops just to sling the skis on my back and put them back on my feet (water and food during this). It feels good to be the fastest one on the mountain even when no one else knows its a race; I just call that my advantage. It was perfectly clear until I reached Muir when a storm system rolled in. Visibility went down to around 100 ft at some points making skiing a little dangerous for a n00b like me. But anywho I made it back down alive with pictures of the BFM and her little sisters to the south.
Second weekend down.
It's been about 10 years since being to Victoria. A private ferry takes the 90 minute journey from PA to Victoria twice per day in the slow season; you definitely pay private prices. I will have to say ferrying between countries is actually quite similar to airline travel. There are specific times, lines, customs, and a boring extended ride. The internet did not work; it's 2017 people; why do so many public access wifis cease to function. It is funny to note I had American Verizon LTE until literally landing in Victoria. Keep in mind cell towers don't reach across seas; this is purely corporate negotiations on turf.
So my day in Victoria was not exciting so I'll just give the run-down: RBC museum, local climbing gym, a dive bar, a cafe, and lots of walking.
My plan was to be the first car up Hurricane Ridge to climb and ski Mt. Angeles and be back for a late lunch. I get there a 8:30, waiting for the Rangers show up to open the gate at 9. Sure enough 9 O'clock passes with no one showing up. Keep in mind this is the clearest day in 2 weeks on Hurricane Ridge and just last week it was open at 9am on Sunday in a blizzard (in the range). They aren't opening and I can't figure out why. So I'm geared up and amped and ready to go but I've got no where to go. I'm in a blind furry to climb a damn mountain; I throw in Mt. Townsend and I start driving the 2 hours for 50 miles to a point just one mile from the summit of Townsend (something like 6200 ft). While I'm driving on the highway I'm wondering if its a gps flub that'll take 2 hours for 50 miles. At around 15 miles left it turns into one of the worst pothole roads I've dealt with; this road is also lined with big rock fall and steep cliffs with no railing. Eventually I make it to a point where the road is covered with melting snow; I push about .2 miles before the clearance is an issue and I'm grounded. It's around 11am and I had not seen another soul (I am only about .3 from my destination). I slap the skis on and I'm off. The problem with navigation in the snow is the narrow nature of trails and that snow covers previous tracks. after about 15 minutes of searching I find a trail. It works well with skis until it does. Ice and rocks and steeper terrain make me shed the skis but walking on ice in ski boots is the greatest balancing act of my life. Issues with today lie with the quick repetitive change in terrain; knee and hip high snow then ice and rocks. Eventually I had to switch to crampons permanently but of course this meant I would be falling through the snow. I have no idea if there is actually a trail to the top of Mt. Townsend from this side; I am on a trail I know but I don't know if it's going to the top. Eventually I figure this trail is not leading me up so I have my gps and just say screw it I'm bush-wacking. I'm only .7 of a mile from the top so how hard could that be. Well to sum it up I made it about .2 miles over 40 minutes. Downed trees are everywhere which are surrounded by deep snow. Imagine walking a balance beam but not knowing where the beam is; also sometimes you have to go under the balance beam with long skis on your back. One picture is of me throwing my stuff down and giving up. I walk all the way back in crampons meaning falling through snow up to my waist at points. In all I went 2.2 miles with only 1000 ft of gain over 2.5 hours. When I got back to my car I had to dig it out and head back through the pot holes.
I get back to the hostel for the manager to tell me that Hurricane Ridge is closed unexpectedly for the whole month of april due to staffing issues.
My plan for the first weekend would be a blitzkrieg of the Olympics. I contacted as many outdoor outfitters and clubs in the area (even a Mountain Project posting) as I could. I was in a frenzy trying to find someone to dig me out of a prospective avalanche. The danger level was raised from moderate to considerable just before the weekend hit including increased cornice formation, wind slabs, storm slabs, and of course later in the day melt slabs. Not finding a partner pushed me south and east and across the water to..... Seattle. One day fartin' around town getting french desserts and middle eastern bites made for some TLC.
Many climbers feel anxiety as a weekend is coming to a close. I decided to cut my Seattle time short and head for some easily accessible skimo back in Port Angeles. My plan was to get up early and get up and down the mountain before midday storms and melt set in. I wake up and get to the access road to Hurricane ridge only to find it doesn't open until 9am... So back to PA I go to have a coffee and wait it out. Back up the mountain I went all the way to where I couldn't see more than 50 ft. Temperatures were around 26F at the launch point with wind whipping around 50mph snow off the ground and into the eyes (even with glacier glasses on). I waited for a ranger until 10am and discussed where I needed to set off. But after a brief discussion I decided the risk was too high being compounded by navigation difficulties. I called it quits and hauled down the mountain. I didn't even snap a photo because of the miserable conditions outside.
I then drove 2 hours to Cape Flattery. This being the most NW point in the contiguous US. This is near the only rain-forest in the Con. US. and just so happens to be where the Twilight series takes place........... I guess she thought with all the clouds maybe vampires could totally go to high school. I did the little scenic walk and even got a little display of the fishing technique of a seal. I took those shots with my 300mm lens with full zoom which turned out a little clearer than I thought they would. Today was a fail and a success in one.
Well. I'm here.
After about one week of driving hours on hours daily I am from one coastal state to another. My path today took me through eastern and northern Oregon to Portland then straight north to olympia then hugging the the rim of the Olympic peninsula. Not much to say about today but damn does eastern Oregon look just like the Shire. I would have taken photos but almost begging to fit the stereotype the rain poured almost the entire time in Oregon. It felt strange driving the same highway in my car that just last year I was driving a rental during vacation. This area has only been vacation to me and the colliding worlds were strange.
This region by the sea right on Olympic National Park is spectacular in the winter. Mt. Angeles looks out over the port and the ferries to Victoria and the cargo ships bound for asia. Mt. Angeles tops at 6400ft which from sea level looks much higher.
Thanks for following this past week. I plan on regular posts on the weekends during summit pushes in the Olympics and the greater PNW.