Posts tagged mountaineering
Mount Monroe Winter Ascent

I have to credit Josh for getting me moving.  He encouraged me lovingly then reminded me in no uncertain terms that, if I did not move from that spot, I would die in it.  I got to my feet, and together we locked arms and leaned into the 90mph winds, trusting one another and our crampons to keep us from slipping down the many hundreds of feet of cascading rock and icefall.

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Mount Adams Winter Ascent - Day 2

Whether or not we would be reaching our destination was uncertain as morning broke; on Day 1 of the trip up Mount Adams, Shanna's ill-fitting boots had put her in agony with shin bang as we approached shelter at Grey Knob, and we were unsure that problem could even be fixed.  Nevertheless, she was willing to try again.  What could be fixed--thanks to the well-stocked field repair kit which I had brought with us--were her dead-on-arrival crampons purchased specifically for this trip.  My first order of business after waking was to rig the locking mechanism that held them together with 3mm nylon cord and steel wire.  Something as simple as losing traction on ice and snow-covered mountains can become disastrous when combined with the effects of gravity, so ensuring Shanna's crampons kept her solidly attached to the ground was of paramount importance. 

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Mount Rainier/Winter Denali Seminar - Day 5

The conditions on the descent reminded me of my Mount Washington summit.  The visibility and temperature were not quite as bad, but similar enough to have flashbacks.  As we moved down, the whiteout was disorienting.  Even while moving, it was very hard to discern whether the next step would have us move up or down and to what degree.  Faraway rocks appeared closer, and ledges and ridge lines were camouflaged in the flurry.  After hiking for an hour or so, my goggles were covered in a sheet of ice, and our clothing and packs in rime…

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Mount Rainier/Winter Denali Seminar - Days 3-4

The night ended with a long conversation about politics and religion and everything in between.  None of them were “solved”, so I guess in the end it was no better than endless superficial banter about climbers and alpinists that were “badasses”, but having the deeper conversation sure felt more meaningful.  I wonder if those badasses carry on about who summited what and how quickly they did it…I hope not…

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Mount Rainier/Winter Denali Seminar - Days 1-2

Because while they Netflix the latest documentary from their couch, we are digging platforms in the snow for tents.  While they are sipping hot chocolate at the ski lodge, we are hunkering around a stove melting snow for water.  And while they thumb through the photo books, we are taking in the scenery the camera simply could not capture…

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NOLS/Mount Baker Ascent - Days 10-14

“Falling!” was what rang in my ears, echoed by Bryan, a software engineer and sea kayaking guide who anchored the team and was presently yet above the smaller crevasse.  I immediately slammed into the hillside of snow beside me, all seventy pounds of my pack and every bit of me underneath it leaning into the shaft of my ice axe.  Quickly, I kick the front teeth of my crampons into the snow and brace for impact—that moment when Matt’s rope finally tensions and shock loads me and potentially everything connecting me to the ground out of place…

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NOLS/Fisher Chimneys to Boulder Route Traverse - Days 7-9

Mostly, I was terrified of being terrified—of having my abilities petrified by fear.  The team would slow on a difficult section and I would chill—not in a good way, but I would stiffen up—both with my body and mind.  Not moving and being in the rhythm of movement makes me not trust my first movements, especially when they are on foreign surfaces, which are everywhere here for me…

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NOLS/Mount Shuksan Ascent - Days 1-6

I always tell my children, “Don’t climb something you can’t climb down.”  Today was not a day they should’ve followed my example.  Down climbing is hard, and when my footholds were blind, my fear of heights set in…hard.  Luckily our instructors were far more competent climbers, and were amazing at setting up great protection.  Our navigation of it less superior…

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Mount Washington Winter Ascent

My past of sleeping in my car in parking garages, daily panic attacks, and struggling to be with my children because I could not afford groceries was all behind me as I took my first step toward the trail head. I journeyed in the present tense, enjoying snow-blanketing landscape, venturing across ice-covered waterfalls, and breathing in the crisp silence of the hermetic hills.

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