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  1. 7 points
    No matter where one stands on the issue of risk, this thread is an important and necessary conversation for climbers of all ages and skills. Like many climbers, I believe, my relationship and outlook on risk versus reward in climbing has been complicated from the very beginning. That relationship spans 26 years, more than half of my life. My view of risk has had many faces through the years, and it continues to be complex and fraught with contradictions. Which it should, if we are being honest with ourselves and continuing to play the game for the longhaul. Perhaps the most consistent element of it for me is that even in my younger age when I thought myself more 'bulletproof', I've always gone into every serious alpine climb with a very clear-eyed attitude as to the danger I was willingly embracing. "I could die on this trip", is something I silently recited to myself, as the plane lifted off in Talkeetna, or I stepped off the pavement in El Chalten, or I began traipsing up some Rockies drainage towards my objective. While just verbalizing these words didn't change the objective risks I would be facing, it allowed me to proceed with commitment and decisiveness into that zone, and to fully accept the potential consequences. It also served as a reminder of the responsibilities I had at home, the responsibility I had to get back home, which means that aforementioned commitment was not without conditions or limits. I don't regret any of the adventures I've undertaken over the years, nor my lifelong commitment to climbing. Yet in some respect, today I have an increasingly difficult time reconciling my desire to celebrate these memories, with a nagging question of why I have survived, when so many others I knew have not. My wife and I never had children, but I know that if we had, I would have done much less than I have. My wife is a saint for having tolerated so much time away, so much of our money spent, and so much worry that I have subjected her to, in what has been inarguably a selfish pursuit. We have been able to navigate it successfully out of a mutual recognition that a passion for something is what makes a person who they are. I think she has been simultaneously admiring of and appalled by my dedication. I became friends with Marc Leclerc a few years ago in Patagonia, where we shared a number of dinners and trips to Domo Blanco together. He seemed an astonishing soul to me, and someone who was extremely kind, humble and unassuming, especially considering the wavelength on which he was operating in his climbs. When I have observed some of the achievements and risks that he and others like him have taken, I am certainly impressed by the athleticism and the mind control they exhibit. And I've also just shaken my head in a manner that represents neither condemnation nor unbridled approval, but rather, an honest acknowledgement that these sorts of achievements are so far outside of my own abilities and comfort zones that I simply don't understand what they are. It is almost as though I'm watching an entirely different sport. It's tempting to frown on extreme risks, and yet as I myself have taken more than my own share, I'm not in a strong position to judge. In fact, I think we must recognize that their propensity and ability to take such risks is an intrinsic part of their character, the very thing for which we love those of this group that we know personally. And so if Bob's concern about applauding high risk has any merit- and I think that it does- I think it's that the community needs to be brutally honest with themselves about what we are witnessing, even if we choose to admire it. The brutal and honest truth for me is that I have ceased to even feel shock, much less surprise, by each one of these successive tragedies. Ryan, in fact was a good friend. Last fall as we unsuccessfully tried to synch up for some rock climbing in the Cascades, he glowingly told me how he didn't want to be away from his 2 year old son for very long, and that he no longer needed climbing to fill a void in his life. So heartbreaking to think back on this exchange now. But I fear that I've become so accustomed to these accidents as to be desensitized, out of a simple need to protect myself from a total meltdown. I have a photo from my own wedding, in 2006. In it, Lisa and I are surrounded by 7 of my closest friends. Three of them have since died in the mountains. A photo from one of the happiest days of my life now causes pain. Amidst the deaths of numerous casual friends through the years, the loss of Lara Kellogg, Joe Puryear, and Chad Kellogg, leaves a hole in my heart that can't ever be repaired. The widespread wreckage left behind from incidents like these can't be understated. A friend of mine here in Alaska who used to do some cutting edge stuff likes to remind me of why he scaled back the big alpine. "My wife says, you won't care when you’re gone, but I will". The losses that have touched me, my work commitments, being well over 40, and most recently, having a serious illness have all conspired to blunt the sharp edge of my formerly insatiable motivation for the mountains and big adventures. And yet I still do it, and I still hold ambitions on which I plan to execute in the near future. Amidst the flood of mixed emotions and out of a cloud of darkness, certain things have become clear. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with the ultra rare and very lethal adrenal cortical cancer. At the time, I thought that if I somehow survived it, getting a second chance on life, I could never justify taking serious risks for recreation anymore. Two years, two major surgeries, and a month of radiation treatments later, I'm somehow not only still here but cancer free, and throughout much of this time, I've been able to climb at full speed. I have so far gotten off easy. But I've deep dived into the world of this disease and what I've seen is neither pretty nor dignified. And I'm not out of the woods by a longshot. I know who I am and what has taken me to this point in my life. I've wrestled over and over again with how sustainable this activity is. I've simultaneously envied those like Marc who at a young age had the vision and heart to become committed in every fiber of his being to climbing mountains, and also had the talent to be one of the very best; but also guys like Simon McCartney, who at age 24, with Jack Roberts, established the hardest route ever done on Denali at the time, the massive southwest face. It was the zenith of what had been a meteoric few years of serious and groundbreaking alpine ascents for him. But high on this climb, Simon nearly succumbed to altitude illness in a harrowing ordeal, and afterwards, quit climbing cold turkey, moved to Australia, got married and started a successful business. Simon told me: "I knew what I needed from climbing at the time, each climb had to be harder and more audacious than the next. I could see exactly how that was going to end. I didn't want to die, not at that age". Simon is now 62 and has had a happy life. I've come to realize that as long as I have a chance of dying of cancer, and that if I could choose the manner of my death between that or climbing, I'll take the mountains. Ultimately, between the all or nothing of the above examples, I hope to walk a fine line right down the middle on my way out of this life, whenever and however that happens. Onward, and upward-
  2. 7 points
    My name was mentioned above (I think). It seemed in reference to my ability to stay alive and climb in the mountains. Just to be clear: I’m alive because I’ve been lucky. No more, no less. Sure, I try to mitigate risk as much as possible, but when you are going for it in the mountains on a regular basis, the odds of an accident increase. Climbing is a dangerous sport. It always has been. Life is dangerous too. I know that for me, climbing and skiing in the mountains is absolutely worth it. That said, the pain is crushing when someone is lost. Absolutely crushing. I still don’t know how to make sense of it, but I’ve accepted that there are many things I’ll never wrap my head around in this lifetime.
  3. 5 points
    Trip: Snoqualmie Mountain - New York Gully Trip Date: 03/16/2018 Trip Report: Jacob and I scratched our way up New York Gully yesterday. With visions of grandeur, i carried a full aid rack and bivy gear up there to try the upper head wall. With no prior knowledge of the rock type, this seemed totally reasonable. In reality, it was not! No wonder there's a beautiful unclimbed wall less than two miles from a 12 month parking lot. Anyway, the route is one of my favorites I've done in the range. We even placed an ice screw! Gear Notes: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. A run of cams, a few pins and a screw would have been plenty. Approach Notes: Armpit deep
  4. 5 points
    Really sounding like a grumpy old man here, dude. When someone loses a friend or loved one do you tell them to not feel sad? I don’t know how you feel all the time, and it’s none of my business. The feelings police don’t have any solid ground to stand on. Empathy. Only good that can come from this type of thing. If you feel sad, that’s fine, if you’re surprised, concerned, heartbroken, totally okay. If posting on the internet helps you, go right ahead. No one can judge the appropriate level of grief for another person. All that you have to give is compassion and love. I dont feel feel very good right now, and I feel like many others are feeling the same way. Take care everyone, and I love all of you that make up this community.
  5. 4 points
    Trip: Sedona - Mars Attacks! Trip Date: 11/20/2017 Trip Report: Having an adventure that pushes you beyond your comfort zone is great....unless it's your daughter, a friend's child, and your wife on the other end of the rope when things go sideways. When my wife and I started dating we made a deal: I’d learn snowboarding, which she loves, and she’d learn climbing, my passion. We shared some good times on the rock many years ago, but in recent years we haven’t climbed together except in the gym. My daughter, now 12, started climbing early, but she’s only been outdoors a few times, on top rope or following single rope pitch bolted climbs. Dan, a close family friend, has really enjoyed the few times he’s climbed and was eager to do more. A quick trip to Arizona, a few hours from his family, provided an opportunity. I figured we’d just climb on some short, easy routes in the sunshine. I’d walk to the top, set up an anchor, toss down the rope, and belay. But then on our hike to Devil’s Bridge we saw climbers on a sun-drenched buttress across the valley. Gaping from flatland, I realized I was now the tourist gazing up at climbers instead of the climber looking down on tourists. I’m not ready to make that transition. So I did some research and looked up the route…. The climb we did is the prominent buttress in the upper center of this shot. It was Mars Attacks. Four pitches of 5.8. Each one holds a different mental and physical challenge. 400 feet of climbing with a traverse and two double-rope rappels to get off the top. I might be pushing too many envelopes at once by bringing three inexperienced climbers up the route, but I was confident I could get us safely up and down (green dots mark the belay stances at the top of a pitch.) … The approach started on the familiar trail to Devil's Bridge before heading North to a wash and a faint climber's trail around a cliff to the base of the wall. Somewhere in there we got off route and had to dodge some ankle-biting cacti, but we found our way... The trail contoured above a small cliff with great views back across the canyon... At the base of the wall, we got our gear together: two ropes, harnesses, and a variety of climbing gear. My daughter sticks to the wall even without her climbing shoes. The crux of the opening pitch is a holdless low-angled slab where you must trust your feet and the rubber in your shoes, balance on the balls of your feet with no handholds at all, and BELIEVE in order to climb. I lead the first pitch, scampering up moderate climbing to a high first bolt. 20 feet later I hit the crux slab. I puzzled for a bit, but hundreds of ascents in recent years have worn off the tiny features on the rock, which is now smooth and blank. I tried one sequence and started sliding, so I grabbed the protection to stop. We didn’t have all day, so I pulled on the quickdraw and stood on a bolt to get past the crux. I climbed the rest of the pitch clean and made it to the belay, an airy stance below a giant hueco. The others came up behind me, with a bit of tension on the rope to help them through the crux. They all did great on the rest of the pitch. At the belay there was a giant hueco worn into the rock by thousands of years of desert winds. It was a comfy spot for some to take off their shoes and take in the view. The second pitch is a horizontal traverse along a limestone dike in the middle of the red sandstone cliff. There are good holds most of the way, but the exposure is incredible. The limestone band protrudes from the cliff because the softer sandstone below it eroded away, leaving you staring down between your toes to the ground about a 100 feet below. If you fall, you will dangle in open space and might be unable to re-gain the limestone. I had a hard time sleeping the night before the climb, going over in my mind how we could all safely climb this pitch without risking a pendulum fall into space. First, I lead across. A came next, clipped to both ropes via slings but not tied into either one. Via ferrata style. She had to unclip one sling at a time to get around each bolt. If she fell she'd still be attached to both ropes and could easily get back on the wall. Here she is moving past one of the seven protection bolts that were placed by the first ascent party in 2000. Resting in a thin section. The Devil's Bridge trail is visible behind her. It was impossible to communicate on the second and third pitches, but we had just enough cell signal for texting. Here's a snapshot of our communication. We had a clear plan, and I knew Beth had enough climbing experience to belay me and make sure A and Dan could set off safely. Arriving at the end of the limestone band. Dan coming across second. He was tied into the end of the yellow rope and had one leash clipped to the blue rope, which would keep him from dangling in space if he fell. He didn't. Beth came last, tied into the end of the blue rope. She unclipped our gear from the bolts. She was totally solid and didn't fall. Two pitches down. Two to go. But we were moving slowly. I was having to check everything and do all of the work to keep the ropes and protection organized and untangled. We were always very safe, but we were slow. And it would catch up to us... The third pitch is a dark red vertical chasm, a slot, like an open book. The steep sandstone on one side of the corner has been worn by wind into crazy pockets called huecos. Some are tiny, others are large enough to climb into, and you’ll find every size in between. Then there is the crack, which varies between the width of a finger and a slot several feet wide. To ascend you must use a wide range of crack climbing techniques that are not very intuitive to the uninitiated, including hand and foot jamming, palming smooth walls to move your feet up in a stem, using your palm and upper arm in opposition while your arm is bent like a chicken wing in a wide crack, lie backing on a sloping rail, and more. I placed cams at wide intervals for efficiency and because I didn't have a lot of gear. Fortunately, the climbing wasn't too hard and the tough bits were well protected. Sometimes an accidental shot can yield an interesting image. This is looking back down from high on the third pitch. Lead climbing brings the mind into sharp focus. The world's deluge of distractions is swept away in the face of the immediate situation. The views from high on the wall were stunning, the air was still. At one point, a raven swirled on rising currents and circled our group curiously, wondering what these noisy, vulgar beasts, whose brethren provide such rich garbage down below, were doing up here in the land of wind and stone. The fourth pitch combines some awkward crack with slab and face moves and ends with a long, unprotected section of low angled rock where a fall by the leader is unlikely but would be bad. Dan climbed the final section of the final pitch... just as the sun was just about to head down below the horizon. Night would soon be upon us, and we still had to get down. Here we are about to make the first rappel, which runs down a clean face on the far side of the buttress. You can see the trail far down below us. I rigged everyone's rappels and then headed down first to look for the next bolt station just as the sky glowed orange and red in a beautiful sunset. But we didn't have any headlamps, a cardinal sin I acknowledged before we left the car in the morning. I've rappelled in the dark, but never without a headlamp, and I've never had inexperienced climbers rappel in the dark without a light. Good thing they're all strong of mind. I rappelled down the vertical face in gathering darkness, looking for a three bolt anchor mentioned in the guide. We'd never seen this part of the wall as it's on the other side of the buttress we climbed. And here's where I pushed things a bit farther than I'd intended, because I never found the bolts. I looked left and right between 45 meters to 55 meters down our 60 meter ropes. Nothing. Swinging back and forth across a blank cliff in near darkness without a light was a bit unnerving even for me. Our ropes wouldn't reach the ground, and although I could have ascended back up to our anchor above, it would have been very slow and difficult. We could have rappelled back down pitches 4 and 3 and then to the ground from there, but I'd read multiple stories of people getting their ropes stuck in the cracks we'd climbed, so that was surely a last resort. Instead, I swung over to the crack shown here and built an anchor using a few cams I just happened to still have on my harness. Truth be told. I'd put most of the rack in the pack my wife was carrying. Fortunately, I had the pieces I needed. Luck was with us. I clipped myself into this unplanned, makeshift belay spot and yelled off rappel so the others could come down to me. I held the rope ends as first A, then Dan, then Beth rappelled down in the dark to join me in this corner crack 150 feet off the ground. I pulled them each over to me from the blank face out right. We were safe, and I kept reminding them of this. The stars came out on a brilliant night. I was able to tuck my phone into my pants by my belly and shine light on our belay as we rigged to descend. This time I would just lower them one at a time to the ground. Thankfully, the rope reached. I lowered Beth into the darkness first, explaining that she'd need to climb up to the large ledge below us if the ropes didn't reach the ground. But she made it. We were safe, but well beyond our intended plans. Then again, that's where adventure begins. We made it down and used the light of my phone to hike out on the trail. The evening was calm and still and the Milky Way guided us back to the car. I ended up leaving two cams behind. Over the years I've gathered gear from the misadventures of other climbers. This time they can benefit from ours. No worries. An adventure to remember! Gear Notes: Headlamp would've been nice Approach Notes: Follow the trail
  6. 3 points
    So much discussion of risk is only "just-so stories". I survived because my risk decision making process and resultant acceptance of the risk of my activities was accurate, and somebody else died because they made a mistake. Except that that's horseshit. I got lucky many times. I fell off the north Apron 3rd class walk off ledge on a wet patch and caught myself on a tree at the lip of Voodoo Amour with my legs over the edge. I put a crampon through my gaiter on the approach ice to Cascade and slid for 100 m before self-arresting with a desperate overhand in the only patch of snow and turf on an otherwise entirely icy slab. I stopped for lunch or a snack twice only to have cornice collapses come down right where I would have been if I kept on going while climbing alpine routes. Any of those could have killed me. I wager everyone that's climbed has stories of close calls like that. Lucky isn't a learned behaviour. And it's nothing to moralize about.
  7. 3 points
    In an ideal world this would have been posted on the sites anniversary, Oct. 2, which would have been 17 years in existence. Also ideally this would have been posted three plus years prior when I first started working on the migration. We actually started talking about it much further back. Something I’ve learned is things don’t always work out like you planned, you just have to keep moving forward and learn from you past mistakes. I’d like to thank those who are still around, some of you who have been here from the beginning. I’m sorry to those of you who have given so much to this site in the form of great discussion and trip reports, to the moderators that dealt with so much of the not so great moments, and that I let you down in not keeping this place working better and in a more modern state. We'll make it up to you. Porter, thanks for helping keeping the stoke alive with me and being such an amazing friend. Trip Report Tool v1 I’ve got the new trip report search working. In some ways is a few steps back from the old search in that you can’t facet by month or forum. It’s a step forward in that it works and works well on mobile. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/tripreport This only works if you are logged in at the moment. This wasn’t by design just what happened as I added this on the work of the developer I hired who did the TR submission work. We’ll get that sorted out. What we have on deck will be polishing up some of the trip reports and probably adding better geographical data for being able to search trips on a map. We certainly view trip reports on this site as our crown jewel, we are just shy of 9000, and we’d like to make sure they are easy to find and easy to add. I think we’ve nailed the later with the forum upgrade and I’m confident we can come up with better search. The Future Like I said we have now been in existence for 17 years. Not many things on the internet can claim that. But the upgrade of the forum and the work we are doing now is the beginning and not the end. I was 24 when I started this site and really didn’t know a whole lot. I was trained as a biologist and had no experience or really knowledge of web communities. My (still) good friend Timmy and I just decided to create something. I’ll never forget an email I sent to a pretty notable local climber when we first started. I actually don’t remember what I asked him, but I remember his response “Good luck getting traffic, that will be hard”. He seemed pretty pessimistic, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Getting the traffic ended up being easy, managing it was the hard part. There were certainly some real wild west early days with cc.com and it was difficult to know how to handle them, especially our spare time for what was a hobby. We’ve made mistakes. We can acknowledge that. And we have learned from them. There are people and behaviors that will no longer be welcome here. What is sad is many of those people just took their dump and left. I realize we have a bad rep with many people and that’s unfortunate. I also think it is what you make it, and maybe it’s time to give it second chance and be part of the solution. We’ve solicited a lot of feedback, we’ve read feedback posted on Facebook. We’ve taken a lot of it to heart. I understand Facebook is easier to use, they are a multi-billion dollar company with scientists who’s sole purpose is to get you hooked. I get that Mountain Project is a nice tool, I have nothing negative to say about them, but again they are owned by REI now and have huge coffers of money. It was also incredible to read how people met their climbing partners here, or even their partners in life. Yes there has been some bullshit, but there has also been a lot of good. Cascadeclimbers is a unique and local product: an opportunity to interact online as a community rather than as the product. We are not here harvesting you and your information. This is still a hobby for us. We turn down offers every year to sell this site as we know it’s not in it’s best interest, we know what will happen if a corporation take it over. We have turned down advertisers because we have stayed true to our commitment to supporting retailers. We run the site, we own the site, but the content belongs to the community. We will be better stewards of this place and we hope people will give it a second chance. To those sitting on the sidelines, sometimes reading, but not participating. I get that you don’t want deal with the spray, and I assure you things will be different forward. But I also challenge you because the only way to make something better is to make those positive contributions. If everyone just steps away because they don’t like certain things then all you are left with is what people don’t like. This is a community driven site and only works with contributions from the community. We will be better listeners and stewards; please be better contributors. Why we allow anonymity. This is actually pretty simple; we have no way to prove someone’s identity. Facebook doesn’t either. We also made this decision pretty early on because we felt this would make it a safer place for women to contribute, without a bunch of guys stalking them. Again keep in mind these decisions were made 17 years ago, but I still think it’s a valid point. We recently added JasonG to the moderator staff. You probably already know Jason from his Trip Reports and amazing photography. We are always on the lookout for trusted and committed people to help the site grow, so let us know if you are interested. We may have more roles in the future that need filling. And of course a huge thanks to all the existing moderators that have stuck with us through thick and thin. Our current path forward is pretty simple: We expect people to leave things better than you found it. If you can do that simple things you can be a part of this. If you can’t you will not be welcome here. We want the site to grow, in people, in posts, in trip reports, and new personal connections. Thanks for reading. Onward.
  8. 3 points
    It's a good discussion. Very good. I'm not at all suggesting otherwise. Just that it's very damn easy to armchair judge the risk choices of others without all the information and/or from the perspective on one's own abilities. And I'm not immune from it- sure seems like maybe Dean Potter and Dan Osman had adrenaline habits that led to increasingly risky behavior with narrower and narrower margins for error. If someone can go solo Astroman, which I couldn't aid up, all the power to them. It would be insane and too risky for me, and entirely within their abilities and risk margin. And in terms of the 'not being in a hurry to get out' thing you mentioned, I think it's helpful to evaluate one's motivations. If this kind of behavior becomes "need" and "have to" it's a pointer to an addiction that can easily overrule/cloud other aspects of risk evaluation.
  9. 3 points
    You are the person who has judged, I guess. It might be more accurate to say "Too much objective hazard for me". I would much rather be dependent on my speed and skills to get through that threatened slab section on Jberg than be stuck under a clusterfuck of bumblers knocking shit (and themselves) down on me on the Cleaver or below the Pearly Gates. Similarly, I fret less climbing up the Haystack Gully in thin, difficult ice conditions in winter than I do in summer when the hordes are sketching about above me. Only two people fully understand the risk on the Jberg route. Both measured it against their abilities and chose to proceed. To this day anyone else passing judgement on it is doing so with incomplete info. It's no different than big-mouth Krakauer writing a book about the 96 Everest disaster from the perspective of someone at sea level- the frame of metrics is just wrong. I've been in situations where I needed something from the lid of my pack and, as Beck Weathers said about his gloves, it might as well have been on the moon. "He should have just stopped and put on gloves" might make 100% sense at sea level, but at 28,000 feet or, as was my case, in 100+ MPH wind, it's nonsense. Thousands of people a year spend about the same amount of time under the Ingraham Icefall, where Peter Whitaker and team nearly got the chop, as we spent on those slabs. There is a trench-path below the icefall and with it comes a false sense of security. That said, Jens' (Klubberud, not Holsten) description in the TR he posted is more dramatic than I recall and than what I wrote for my TR and the AAJ article. My Dad came home from work in April of 2000, went for a run like he did almost every day, and then fell over dead at the kitchen sink from a heart attack. He didn't even have time to turn off the water or call out to my Mom, who was asleep one room away. Another friend had both his parents killed and his wife and newborn kid severely injured by a drunk driver as they stood at a crosswalk in Seattle. The only guarantee in life is death. In the mean time, I try to make conscious, reasoned, internally-referenced choices and refrain from judging the risks other take.
  10. 3 points
    Bill, I think events have made it very clear to Jens that luck plays a huge role. We live in a state of denial around that because it helps us to function, but sometimes events strip that illusion away. Sure, training, prep, and all that ala Messner makes a difference, but it's a fallacy that we're in control and if we just make the right choices everything will work out fine and predictably. For me, I think it was Craig Leubben's death in the relatlively mundane location of Torment's moat. a place many of us have been, that underlined the amount of random risk that defies preparation and planning.
  11. 3 points
    How To Climb ice in Oregon in March Step 1) Drive to the Tilly Jane trailhead Step 2) Hike / skin to 8,000 feet on the Eliot Glacier Step 3) Look to your left Step 4) Climb it
  12. 3 points
    Agreed. I think the general statistical pattern falls pretty neatly into a pattern where technical difficulty * objective hazards * repetition = increasing mortality, but there are enough noteworthy exceptions to the pattern to preclude any of us knowing how our particular coin-flips are going to turn out, much less that dialing our risk back to a particular level is going to guarantee that we die peacefully in our beds at an advanced age. Renotto Cassaratto (sp?) falling into a crevasse within view of basecamp after descending K2, Daryl Hatten falling out of a tree, Mugs Stump, Goran Kropp, are just the first few and I'm sure there are plenty more. My Dad wasn't a risk-taker, and action-sports had zero appeal to him. He did, however, have principles that he was determined to live by despite the fact that doing so entailed certain risks. He loved to jog, and it brought him a profound sense of peace and fulfillment. He also had atrial fibrilation and a pacemaker, and knew that physical activity above and beyond a particular threshold would elevate the risk of heart attack, etc. He also knew that an arrythmia or coagulopathy, or some combination of the two, could potentially strike him down while watching TV. So he kept jogging, and about 18 months ago he sustained some kind of a cardiac arrest while jogging on the Sound To Narrows, fell and broke his skull on the concrete and sustained a massive TBI. He spent the next several months hovering between a coma and a vegetative state where he could open his eyes and that was about it. Ultimately, his body was beginning to deteriorate so terribly that my Mother finally agreed that it was time to let him go. His accident happened three weeks before our youngest daughter and his final grandchild was born. Our oldest was four at the time and loved her Papa as much as anyone can love anything in the universe. He had an awful lot to live for, and it's possible that if he'd been able to accept a life where he'd never exert himself out of fear of overtaxing his heart that he could have lived many more years. But he couldn't. Our family suffered terribly as a result of his accident. Watching someone persist in limbo between death and consciousness for months is many orders of magnitude worse than someone simply dying. I was never sure if he understood the risks that I took, which despite being completely prosaic in the world of outdoor sports, always seemed completely bewildering to my parents. On some level, I think they both understood, and never held it against me. When he refused to stop being active - I understood, and I never held it against him. Even though I would never take the risks that folks pushing the boundaries take on, on some level - I understand their choices. You can do that, and mourn their passing even when you are at the epicenter of the grief their death causes.
  13. 3 points
    Trip: Baker Backcountry - An ode to the second half of February 2018 Trip Date: 02/28/2018 Trip Report: What a great way to end the month............ Gear Notes: go wide or go home Approach Notes: 542
  14. 2 points
    Do you have a favorite pre-2013 Dan Helmstadter where the photos aren't showing up? http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/profile/24033-danhelmstadter/?do=content&type=forums_topic&change_section=1 link one here...there are number to fix, so let me know if there is one i should fix sooner. I think around 2013 or so he switched to Flickr, so those ones are fine.
  15. 2 points
    Trip: Isolation Traverse with alternative finish down to Thunder Creek to get back to our car. Date: 8/26/2013 Trip Report: Dates: July 10–15, 2013 Robert Crouse and I (Doug Walsh) took 6 days to complete the Isolation Traverse in North Cascades National Park, with an alternate finish so as to avoid a car shuttle. I dropped Robert off at Pyramid Creek Trailhead, and then drove the car to Thunder Creek Trailhead at Colonial Creek Campground. After hitching the 3.5 miles back to the Pyramid Lake Trailhead, we started up the trail around 1 pm, following the Isolation Traverse route for the next 3.5 days to get to a camp at the col between Dorado Needle and Tepeh Towers on the McAllister Glacier. From here, we hiked to Klawatti Col and then north around the Austera Towers and over Primus Peak down to Thunder Creek, which we followed back to our car at Thunder Creek Trailhead. We found the scenery on this route to be stunning, while the travel was 90% casual and pleasant. The remaining 10% of travel was not very pleasant or casual, but such is the price one pays for getting to see country such as this. Day 1: We hiked up the relatively pleasant Pyramid Lake Trail for 2.5 miles. Once at the lake, we followed a relatively well worn climbers path steeply up the ridge toward Pyramid Peak. After 3 hours of grunting up the steep and often overgrown “trail” beyond Pyramid Lake, we cleared treeline and found a nice spot on the ridge close to a snowmelt stream. Day 2: (8.5 hours) We broke camp around 8:30am and worked our way over to the glacial lake at the base of the Colonial Glacier. It was relatively easy going up the Colonial Glacier (no visible crevasses) to the col that separates this glacier from the Neve Glacier. From this col, the view of the Neve Glacier was surreal, as we witnessed a number of big crevasses visible during brief clearings in the mist. We took a nice break here, hoping for some clearing in the weather to facilitate easier routefinding on this crevassed glacier. Once we did get moving again, it was a relatively steep descent onto the Neve, where we roped up. Fortunately for us, the weather cleared as we proceeded, and routefinding was easy as we climbed southward towards the pass between The Horseman and Snowfield Peak. Robert on the Neve Glacier. Col separating Neva and Colonial Glacier visible above him. Once at this pass, we took another break and contemplated a side trip to summit Snowfield Peak. We were both feeling the weight of our still loaded packs, and decided to skip Snowfield. This was a good decision, as we promptly ran into some unexpected challenges after leaving the pass. Our goal was to gain the ridge running between Snowfield and Isolation Peak. We headed S–SE hoping to reach an obvious flat area on this ridge, but ran into a huge gash which was hidden from our view back at our break spot. This gash was deep and with near vertical walls, and thus stopped all forward progress. It appeared that our only option was to turn around and gain all the elevation we’d lost in an attempt to detour around this feature. Fortunately, as we were climbing back up, Robert spotted a gully leading SW onto gentle snow below that looked like it would go. We gave it a shot and found this path to work – only a short section of easy 3rd class scrambling at the bottom of the gully to gain the snowfields below. Solid line shows our path. Dashed line is standard route followed south of Horseman/Snowfield col. Once on the gentle section of ridge between Isolation and Snowfield, we headed down SE a few hundred feet to a nice bench with great views and running water for a camp. Camp at end of day 2 Day 3: (9 hours) This was a tough day. Not much distance traveled, but a lot of up and down, with much of it very steep. We started out on a gradual descending traverse to the beautiful tarn east of Isolation Peak. From this tarn, one can follow a snowfield (40–45 degree snow) up to a bench on SE shoulder of Isolation Peak. From this bench, we contoured west below cliffs until we reached the top of a steep grassy ramp that lead down SW into a drainage running SE off of Isolation Peak. We hugged cliffs to our right and above us as we descended down this ramp on very steep heather. I wouldn’t want to go down this way if this slope was wet. As it was, we slipped and landed on our butt every couple of minutes. Fortunately, this only lasted 45–60 minutes or so. This ramp led us into 100 yards of so of dense schwacking as we crossed the head of the drainage. Then we contoured (steep side¬-hilling) SW thru forest until we were able to gain the ridge running SW off of Isolation Peak. In retrospect, we thought it would have been better to avoid the steep ramp descent and simply climb Isolation from the bench on SE shoulder, and then descend directly to ridge (see dashed line below). After a short distance on this ridge, we contoured over to the snowfield south of Wilcox Lakes. From here, we climbed SE up to a col. From this col, we descended on very steep forested and then rocky terrain down to a large snowfield at the head of an arm of McAllister Creek. This was another VERY steep descent, from which we got great views east towards the double pour off of the McAllister Glacier. From the snowfield, take the obvious couloir that leads S–SE up to backbone ridge. We bypassed a section of very steep snow in this couloir about 2/3 of way up by climbing onto rocks on left side. We followed the rock to the top of the ridge on left side of couloir and ran this ridge to the top of the couloir where we camped. Day 4: (9 hours) The Devils and Mt. Baker from camp on morning of day 4 Routefinding on this day was easy. After leaving camp, we contoured SW over to a spur ridge running SW off of backbone ridge. As we turned this spur, the beauty of backbone ridge was laid out before us. We contoured SE across gentle slopes on SW side of Backbone Ridge into the head of the Marble Creek drainage, and then followed an easy snow gully (25-30 degrees max) up to the col between Dorado Needle and Tepah Towers for a camp (take the right most of two distinct notches at top of this snow-filled gully to get onto McAllister Glacier). This was a pretty mellow and pleasant day with easy routefinding and gentle terrain. We passed through a short section of beautiful old growth in the Marble Creek drainage as we turned NE up the snow gully towards our camp, and found the shade a welcome respite from all the snow and sun. Camp at edge of McAllister Glacier on day 4 The standard route for Isolation Traverse on Backbone Ridge goes up the Marble Glacier and climbs up 5th class loose rock to a rotten col from which you must do a long rappel onto 50–70 degree snow above gapping crevasses on the McAllister Glacier. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Unless one is on skies and looking forward to skiing the McAllister Glacier (or the marble Glacier if you do the Isolation Traverse in opposite direction as we did), I see no reason to take this route over what we did. Our route was elegant, scenic, zero stress and quite pleasant. Day 5: (5 hours) This day’s agenda was to cross the Eldorado Icecap and climb Austera Peak. I had done the Eldorado Icecap Traverse in 2010, and climbed Klawatti, Eldorado, Dorado Needle and Primus, but missed Austera due to bad weather. I’ve been wanting to get back and climb Austera ever since to see what I had missed, so I figured what better way to approach Austera than the Isolation Traverse? Why climb a mountain in only 2 days when you can do it in 6 and see some new gorgeous country in the process? We left camp at around 8am and wandered over to Klawatti Col (flat area west of Klawatti Peak). Eldorado Peak from Klawatti Col We crossed over onto the Klawatti Glacier via a col that required maybe 15–20 feet of steep downclimbing (low 5th) on East side. We slung a boulder with a runner and rapped this to be safe. From here, we headed NE and then N to highest point of Klawatti Glacier at base of Austera Peak. We then dropped our glacier gear and scrambled north towards the summit towers. Once at the base of the twin towers, we worked right on a ledge on right most tower, wrapping around to NE side of the tower. From the end of the ledge, climb up steep class 3–4 to top of this tower. Descend into notch between towers on steep 4th class rock. From this notch, we walked up some remnant snow (not visible in photo below) until we were able to get onto rock on left tower at a good spot. From here, 20–25 feet of rock (class 4+, maybe a couple of 5.0 moves) put us on the summit. Eldorado Icecap from Austera Peak After some time gawking at the amazing view of the Eldorado Icecap and the McAllister Glacier’s twin pour off, we rapped off the summit and scrambled back to the rest of our gear at top of Klawatti Glacier. From here, we descended the Klawatti Glacier, heading east along edge of Austera Towers, until we reached a nice snow free ledge overlooking Klawatti Lake at around 1pm. We decided to take a break here, and eventually decided to make this camp. There aren’t many opportunities to spend time enjoying a place like this, and we had two days of food left, so there was no need to push on to the glacial lake at base of Borealis Glacier as we had originally planned for the day. Day 6: (11.5 hours) After a bit of a lazy morning, we left camp at 9am and headed up the North Klawatti Glacier towards Primus Peak. A mere two hours after leaving camp, we were on the summit. Robert summiting Primus Peak Klawatti Lake from Primus Peak After some time taking in more crazy amazing views (especially loved the gaping maw of the Thunder Creek draninage some 7,000 vertical below us to the north), we headed down the east ridge of Primus (class 2 if you stay to the south of a prominent rocky outcrop on this ridge just below the summit) to Lucky Pass. From Lucky Pass, we traversed NW across the Borealis Glacier until we could find and easy way down into the glacial lake basin below the cliffs. We walked past this glacial tarn on the east side, crossed an outlet stream not shown on the topo, and then worked our way north on a prominent moraine to the top of the forested ridge that leads N–NE down to McAllister Camp on the Thunder Creek Trail. After a lunch break, we began the descent down this ridge around 2pm. The descent began gently, on a well-defined climber’s trail. Soon however, we entered forest with brushy undergrowth and the trail became much more difficult to follow. At one point, we got off the ridge crest and into dense brush on the west side of the ridge. Once we realized our error, we had to schwack up steep slopes to regain the ridge proper. From that point on, we were much more careful to stay right on the ridge crest, although this was not always well-defined enough to be obvious. As we reached point 4835, the ridge steepened considerably. At 4,200 ft, the ridge steepened even more, and we were both glad we were going down instead of up. There were a number of very steep sections to navigate, some of which required we turn around and face the slope using tree limbs and roots as handholds as we downclimbed slowly. At one point, I found myself going down a very steep climber’s trail full of gravel and dirt. I looked down below me and realized that if I slipped here (a very real possibility), I would likely slide/tumble down a couple of hundred feet and over a minor cliff band. A bit unnerved, I noticed what looked like a trail contouring off to the left. We took this “trail” as it contoured beneath a small cliff band, and thankfully it led to easier ground. After what seemed like an eternity to our feet and thighs, we finally reached the bottom of this ridge and the Thunder Creek Trail around 6:30 pm. As the bugs were biting fiercely, and our car was only 6 miles by trail away, we went on autopilot and cranked out the remaining trail to our car. Nothing like 6 days of off trail travel in the North Cascades to make one appreciate the ease of mechanized travel. ) But oh what a glorious trip this was! Gear Notes: – one 60 meter rope (30 meters would have been sufficient) – helmet – standard glacier travel gear – ice axe and crampons.
  16. 2 points
    We went up there yesterday (3/18). A few inches of snow had fallen the night before, leaving us with some powder plastered onto everything. There was lots of scratching around to find it, but the ice is still there, albeit a little on the thin side. I would strongly recommend either skis or snowshoes. But the approach and descent were a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge pain without any floatation.
  17. 2 points
    Trip: Slesse Northeast Buttress - 2nd Winter Ascent - Date: 4/6/2015 Trip Report: This is a full month late, likely a by product of my brain exploding after my Patagonia trip as well as this climb I am about to describe. It is now undeniable that I have some kind of addiction to climbing Slesse Mountain. I have climbed the mountain more than 10 times by at least five different routes both solo and with partners. I think the main reasons for this are that: 1: It is ridiculously easy to access from the East. 2: The East flank of the mountain is hands down the raddest face in the area. 3: I can be a creature of habit. I had always wanted to climb a big route on Slesse in the winter, and after learning to 'really' mixed climb in the Canadian Rockies it became even more of a priority. I spent most of my winter in Patagonia, managing to bang off some great climbs in the Torres, including a solo ascent of the beautiful Cerro Torre. As I made the journey back north to Canadia a bit of sleuthing had me convinced that Slesse must be in the 'condition of the century' for winter climbing. I tried to find a partner to attempt Navigator Wall, but with only one or two days of stable weather remaining it was too short of notice. Listening to an interview with Stevie Haston on the airplane, I heard him describe his free solo ascent of The Walker Spur in winter which got me psyched, so I began to formulate a new plan. I had climbed the Northeast Buttress of Slesse too many times in summer, including a speed ascent in one hour and fifteen minutes. But in winter the line would certainly provide a completely new challenge. The line had only seen one winter ascent, in 1986, which required several bivouacs as well as aid on the upper headwall. Because I knew the route intimately I was able to slowly convince myself that I may be able to free solo the route in winter, for the 2nd winter ascent and first free winter ascent. It seemed a bit of a lofty goal, so I brought along an 80 meter 6mm Esprit cord and some pins and wires to bail with 'just in case'. John Scurlock photo. Isn't it just irresistible?! My sister, who lives in Chilliwack dropped me off at the start of Nesakwatch Creek FSR and I briskly walked to the Memorial Plaque beneath the mountain where I spent the night. I awoke at 4am the following morning, and after spending nearly an hour huddled in my sleeping bag I mustered the psyche to get a move on. At 5am, I left the memorial and approached directly through the basin beneath the mountain. The snow conditions were generally quite good, and a short WI2 step soon brought me to the slightly threatened slopes beneath the toe of the Buttress. I veered left here, joining the standard summer approach through the pocket glacier cirque. The upper section of the cirque still held a surprising number of deep crevasses, likely caused by avalanche debris from the East Face forming deep craters on impact. I crossed over several bergschrunds on the right hand side of the cirque then climbed directly up to the bypass ramps leading to the Buttress crest. This section, normally a third class ledge walk in summer, was a surprisingly steep and exposed traverse on snow. As I neared the crest the angle and exposure kicked back and I quickly made my way upwards on good snow to the first 5.8 rock pitch. This pitch was surprisingly easy in the conditions I found it in, the air was just warm enough that I could climb barehanded, as long as I stopped every two minutes to re warm my numb fingers. The pitch only required a few minutes of careful climbing and soon I was back on steep snow and neve, now accustomed to the exposure. Dylan Johnson photo of the route, taken the day before my solo. Line shown in red. On the traverse into the Beckey Ramps I climbed slightly too high and had to make a very exposed down climb to reach the correct ramp on the north face. The ramps were coated with perfect ice and neve, making for fun, fast and easy climbing with a spectacular view down into the 'Heart of Darkness'. "This is rad", I said out loud. The ramps led me back onto the crest of the Buttress and the second 5.8 rock pitch, which looked to be slightly more mixed than the pitch lower down. I removed my gloves again, and was able to climb about half the pitch with my hands before transitioning to proper mixed climbing. Finding a thin crack for my right tool, I danced over leftwards with my feet on small patches of ice until I could reach a thin veneer in which to place my left tool. The pitch felt around M5 in difficulty, and above the climbing slowly eased off until I reached to huge bivy ledge at mid height. At the bivy ledge I took a break to eat some snacks and assess conditions on the upper headwall. The steepest pitch appeared to be fairly free of ice, but above, where the angle relented slightly, the rock was decorated by a patchwork of thin white ice. It looked interesting to say the least. The snowslope leading to the headwall was relatively boring and does not need much description, nor does the WI3 runnel I took to bypass the first 5.8 pitch on the headwall. The 'rotten pillar' pitch was straightforward enough and soon I was on the crux, stemming in crampons around detached flakes in a corner. On top of one of these flakes I paused to remove my crampons and warm my hands before embarking on a slightly insecure bit of climbing on downwards sloping holds. I traversed back right to a small roof which I passed on juggy finger locks, and now at the apex of the small overhang I was able to peer upwards to the iced up slabs I had observed from below. It was clear I was going to need my crampons again. I placed a large nut and clipped myself to it for security, then gingerly stepped into my crampons one foot at a time. I mentally rehearsed my next sequence as it appeared from my airy stance, then removed the nut securing me to the wall and committed. I switched my feet on a good hold and stepped up and right onto the slab. With my frontpoints set in small divots I balanced upwards, holding a small edge with my left hand for balance. I uclipped the ice tool from my right side and reached upwards for a small bit of ice pasted to the wall. Now at the edge of my comfort zone, I gently tapped the tool twice against the ice until the first two teeth sunk in. I tested the tool carefully, then took care not to make any sudden movements while I slowly searched out higher edges for my feet. The edges I found sloped slightly downwards but my frontpoints found purchase enough to balance higher still. I carefully pulled out my left tool and placed it in thin but good ice above bringing me to a comfortable stance on a ledge. The crux now behind me, I allowed the mental RPM to decrease steadily until I was ready to continue. Jim Nelson photo from their 1986 ascent. This shows the crux pitch with the same patches of thin ice that I encountered. As I climbed excellent mixed terrain above I could really admire my wildly exposed position on this beatiful mountain. The whole buttress stretched out below me, black stone stained white with snow and ice. My tools found purchase on the well featured rock and the climbing gradually eased off pitch by pitch until I crested the final summit ridge and found myself standing in the sun. Eating a bar with the summit register in hand, I wrote, "Northeast Buttress - 2nd winter ascent. March 9 2015. Very exciting". The crux pitch was likely delicate M6, perhaps M5+, but someone will have to do a second free winter ascent to verify. The west side of the mountain was surprisingly warm compared to the shady, iced up North face, but the ledges and gullies were still covered in snow and neve making for a quick and pleasant descent. Descending the scree slopes on the Crossover Pass descent was nicely facilitated by the well settled snow and I was rewarded with a spectacular view of the route I had just climbed. After stumbling down the steep wooded trail below, I arrived at my bivouac site and ate a candy bar before packing up my equipment. Walking the road back towards civilization I pondered my options. I had no ride back and considered walking the fity kilometers to my sister's house through the night. I thought back to the ascent I had just made, it's often surreal when a long time dream, like climbing Slesse in winter, glides into the present, then into the past. I knew that my mind needed a break, I needed to relax and digest the adventures of the past months. As I thought these things, an animal control vehicle pulled up to offer me a ride. The driver was a likeable guy named Mark and we chatted, mostly about travelling, until he pulled up to a bus stop in Chilliwack and bode me farewell. A bus arrived a moment later and soon I was just a block from my sister's home. Her husband Robert saw me walking down the street through the window and came to greet me at the door. They welcomed me in happily, and at 6:30pm we all sat down to a delicious supper. Parting shot, taken from a plane that flew around the mountain the day of my solo. If you zoom in on a high res version my track is visible bottom center. Gear Notes: Lightweight bail kit! Approach Notes: Super chill relative to radness of climb.
  18. 2 points
    .recorded-1520112370.mp4Trip: Chair Peak - North Face Trip Date: 03/03/2018 Trip Report: Had a great trip to the North Face of Chair Peak on Saturday, March 3rd. Brilliant sun and warm weather kept us off our planned climb of the NE Buttress but we found conditions of the North Face to be fantastic. We did not summit due to fear of running out of daylight after skiing some powder laps before getting the courage to venture up the North Face route and having 1 headlight for us two. Both majors errors that, if avoided, may have led to a summit. Next time! There were two other parties on the route ahead of us and I believe 1 of them summited then descended the route. There was a large cornice over the typical rappel station and deep snow (travel back to gear/skis not taken on route) would both prove troublesome if one attempted the typical descent. Fun was had by all. Gear Notes: Pickets, small rock rack, 4 screws, 70m single and 50m tag line. Approach Notes: Skis
  19. 2 points
    This is one of the better threads I've seen on this site, thanks to everyone for their thoughtful words, esp. @W whose whole narrative rings true to myself (no cancer in my case, but a series of minor accident/injuries have recently reminded me of my mortality). My contribution is that while climbing is undeniably useless for society at large (other than some advertising photos for teamwork or life insurance etc.) it can be a core pillar of psychological support for most of us addicts. I don't know what I would have done without it in my 20s. It gave me my tribe and best friends for life, kept me in shape, and provided a spiritual experience after I lost my Christian faith. I still feel closer to the essence of the universe in nature, but more so during and after a long and intense alpine climb (even one with very low risk). But after 50+ years in the game I look back on those I've lost, and my own close calls, knowing that I've been damn lucky. Like others have said, life is dangerous, none of us get out alive. All of us who participate in challenging sports long enough will get injured, and I'm afraid some will die in the pursuit, but it is so deeply woven into who we are and how we find fulfillment that we can't quit cold turkey. I didn't know Marc or Ryan personally, but have followed Marc through his early posts here and his awe inspiring recent climbs. I must admit that when I heard about his Cerro Torre solo I grouped it with Alex on El Cap, "Please back off now and let this stand as a testimony to the human spirit and potential, not fuel for those who see such exploits as suicidal insanity." But I know how hard it would be to not keep at it with those skills. Then the boys die on a standard descent where any regular joe climber could have been. Wrong place wrong time. S@!# happens. RIP young bucks, and condolences to families and friends left behind.
  20. 2 points
    FWIW, I don't have any metrics on my personal web site and I don't have any ads. Never have. Primarily for two reasons: To resist the temptation to make it about popularity and to keep my motivations more grounded (i.e. not about money). I've been asked to write for money and declined, for the same reasons. I've seen Ed Viesturs talk. I walked out thinking, "That was boring". And compared to someone like Twight, what Ed has to say decidedly lacks drama. If shit looked or felt bad, he went home. And you're right: That crew tends to live longer in more obscurity. Is there a right or wrong option? Not in my opinion. Just choices with consequences. Jberg and Willis Wall. I'd looked up at both for a long, long time. Started dreaming of Willis when I read about the "Traverse of Angels" in Beckey. It sounded like a place I wanted to be. The Jberg route...to spend that much time moving across terrain entirely untraveled by other humans. After just three of them, I can so easily see why Fred became obsessed with FAs; it's as different an experience for me as gym vs. alpine climbing. No guide book, no topo, no route description, no looking for tat or cairns or rap stations or anything. An entire category of distraction from just being in the place in the moment falls away. My ego did revel in the sharing of what we'd done, yes. And, I don't recall ever thinking "I can't wait to get back and tell people about this" when on-route. "Spraying" wasn't a motivation that I recall. Before JBerg I told exactly one other climber what we were trying, in case we went overdue. Same with WW. And, whether it's a Grade V alpine FA, or an off-trail Alpine Lakes traverse, or a day of off-trail scrambling/canyoneering in the Valley of Fire (all of which I've done with thorough enjoyment), there is just something, for me, more pure and magical about being in a much-less peopled place; finding my own way, and making it up as we go with a fantastic partner.
  21. 2 points
    I heard the way he drove his wheelchair was very risky.
  22. 2 points
    But are any of you going to stop alpine climbing because of some back of the envelope calculation? I won't at least. The estimates of risk for any outing/route on any given day are wild SWAGs, at best, and quite unconvincing for me to give up something that has provided so much color to my life. Too many variables, too little data. For sure I've dialed back the "risk" or whatever over the years, but I think I'm mostly just deluding myself. Watching my old relatives linger and die over the years convinces me that no end is great, so I may as well enjoy it. My family wouldn't be that surprised, including my kids. I've had enough partners die and been involved in mountain rescue long enough that death isn't an uncommon topic in our house. I think the bigger issue is whether or not you believe this life is all there is. The spiritual dimension is much more compelling than statistics, at least to me. When it is your time, it is your time. Death is coming for us all.
  23. 2 points
    Oly, the new tool looks and works great! This is exactly what I've been looking forward to. I know I've been one of the people pestering you about this site, so thank you so much for all of the hard work you put into it!
  24. 2 points
    do you need help geolocating trip reports? If there's a list and there is some way to associate it with a spot on a map.. I would volunteer to help with that, 9000 is a big number but it can be done..
  25. 2 points
    First off. No offense taken Bill!! All good man, all good. Thx for pulling me in here I know my answer is kinda simplistic, but for me, this viewpoint helps me understand my decisions about pursuing climbing. I don’t want any illusions. For me, they are a disservice. I really think it’s important to recognize my fragile mortality everyday. I think it’s important to be grateful everyday for health, love, and happiness. Step three is to get out there and do what you love while trying to stay as safe as possible. But like I said above, there are things I don’t understand. I don’t think any of us would ever want our climbing friends to not follow their dreams (maybe I’m wrong?), but the pain is nearly unbearable when a friend is lost. Sometimes our actions in the wake of an accident may seem desperate and that’s ok. We are only human. When a close friend dies your heart may shatter into a million pieces. I’ve come to believe it’s about gathering the pieces that were scattered and putting yourself together again. The pieces won’t fit together quite the same way and that’s ok. Give yourself time (lots of time!) and keep inching forward. Reach out to the people who love you and let them support you. This is all I got after losing friends to both sickness and mountain accidents. I watched my mother die of cancer and Chad died by my side in a horrific accident on Fitz Roy. Both deaths were very traumatic for me and understanding how I can continue living and loving has been the theme of my life the past 10 years. It’s been beyond hard, but I’m as happy as I’ve ever been. I love myself and I’m learning to own my story. It is a wild journey. Sorry to take this thread a different direction. For me, I’ve been concerned about the boys in AK and I’ve applauded their climbing over the years too. As a lifelong climber still dedicated to the game, this seems totally natural to me. Just my take on it!
  26. 2 points
    These guys got plenty of grief for the risk inherent in their FA on Johannesberg. Yes, yes we did. And for the Willis Wall climb as well. I guess my position is that it's important to evaluate one's motivations for taking risks and, externally, to refrain from passing judgement on the severity of risks others take based on my abilities. Jens and I soloed a lot of unprotectable low-5th on those J-berg slabs. It was well within our abilities at the time and we'd done a lot of similar climbing together for years. At that point we didn't much need to talk to one another on-route, we just knew what the other would do. So while the consequence of an error was high and there was unavoidable objective danger (indeed, the slabs were swept by ice shortly after we got off them), we were able to move quickly and confidently through that section. As far as motivation goes, it comes down to internal or external. My sense is that people taking increasingly high risks in order to get press, "spray" (to drag out an old term from this site), appease sponsors, get Instagram "likes", etc. are in a higher risk category, as are those who have become addicted to adrenaline. For me, over 25 years, the most helpful question has become, "Can I stop doing this?". If the answer is "no", then it's no less a risk that a drinking, drug, gambling, etc. problem. If the answer is "yes", then it is (for me, at least) important to do so occasionally. There was a period when I thought of myself as "Loren the climber". The first time I lost my climbing motivation for an extended period I had a bit of an identity crisis. The result was a reorientation of my self-concept; I am who I am regardless of what I do..."Loren. A person who climbs." This connects to the idiotic and profoundly damaging "You complete me" movie idea. No one completes anyone, no one needs another *anything* to be complete. We are all entirely complete all the time. Start from a genuine embrace of that self-definition and the world is a brighter, more beautiful, less heavy place, where one can go have fun climbing and go have fun not climbing.
  27. 2 points
    If I ever thought that luck played only a minimal role in surviving years of alpine climbing at a higher than average level of risk, this feeling was nothing that couldn't be altered by the compounding effects of a collection of personal close calls, and a long list of dead friends.
  28. 2 points
    It doesn't need to be either or. We can grieve the loss of an inspiring climber AND shake our heads at the risks they took. Dean Potter is a case in point. I, for one, am not past the grieving stage for Marc, even though I never met him. His loss tears a big hole in the fabric of our local climbing community.
  29. 2 points
    Hi! I am 19, F, and a student of University of Puget Sound looking for a climbing partner. I have glacier experience and necessary gear, I am in training for big mountain expeditions and need someone to go out with me! I am motivated, hard working, and eager to learn new skills! I am looking to get on Rainier this spring and would love to explore other mountain ranges out here! Contact me if interested!
  30. 2 points
    No reason Adams can't be skied enjoyably in early July. I skied it last weekend of June last year and it was still primo - carried less than a mile, skinned to the summit, SW chutes skied great. It likely would have lasted at least 2-3 more weeks in good conditions, longer with more hiking/more suncupped skiing. I feel like I say this all the time to people starting out in mountaineering, but I believe Adams (and volcano/backcountry skiing in general) deserves a little more respect than it often gets. I don't know what your mountaineering background is - maybe you've got years of experience. If so, feel free to ignore my advice. If not, I think you should be at least a little concerned about routefinding - it's not terribly complicated, but simple mistakes can have big consequences on a big mountain. You should definitely still be knowledgeable and concerned about the potential for wet avalanches. They can still happen in summer - especially on steep terrain like the SW chutes. And you should be aware that the hazards of climbing and skiing a big mountain aren't the same as those of skiing in a resort, no matter how challenging the resort terrain may be. A week before I skied it last year it was an ice skating rink and several people took big, high speed slides with serious injuries. I don't say any of this to be discouraging - it's an amazing ski trip, absolutely one of my favorites, and you should totally have a go at it. Just give the trip the respect it deserves. Also - no one else has really said it, but I know my feet/legs would absolutely hate me if I tried doing a 7k foot, 10 mile day as my first day ever, in rental boots no less. Maybe I'm a pansy, but a day like that still wears out my hip flexors and threatens blisters even in well-fitting, well broken in boots after I've put in 30+ days and 60k feet in a season. Skinning can either be a really efficient means of travel, or it can be extra exhausting, depending on your technique. I'd take some other folks advice and do a shorter, easier day a little earlier in the season to figure out the mechanics of things, then go out for a fun day on Adams in late June/early July.
  31. 2 points
    Here's the Yocum Ridge in fatter conditions, January 1980.
  32. 1 point
    Trip: Spider - Arachnophobia Date: 12/3/2011 Trip Report: It started with talk of skiing powder, emails were sent, somehow plans were made to stage a mass assault on the North Face of Spider Mountain. When the dust had settled six skiers stood proud. The snow was overall variable, especially on the Face (we skied Arachnophobia, a line on the north face pioneered by Martin Volken and Peter Avolio), a fear inspiring ice crust lay buried at a variable depth under a blanket of powder. The upper bit of the face held much less powder and much more ice, we sidestepped this section with axe clutched firmly in hand. Speaking for myself I can say that I wiped sweat from my brow more than once during that section. Much ground and el. had to be covered in return to camp - then car later in the evening. Sunsets and moonlit vistas were seen, fun headlamp lit turns were had, and a bit of whiskey was drunk. This trip was special to me not only because of time spent with awesome friends, but also cause I had injured my knee climbing back in September, and haven't been out in the mountains since, till this trip. I am very happy that my knee is now pain/swoll free, I was worrying that going under the knife was going to be the only road to a healthy knee. The object of fear and desire The courageous Dr. Wehrly, AKA E$, Ryan and Pete behind. DT nears the top of the line Eric skiing, photo courtesy of Drew Back at camp, photo courtesy of Eric. Left to right Ryan, Pete, me, Drew. Antonio must be melting water.
  33. 1 point
    I teach a composition course to high school freshmen, and, as an assignment, they write an argumentative essay addressing the following prompt: Is is possible for climbers/mountaineers to make climbing a safer activity. Almost none of them have any direct experience with climbing. Most know almost nothing about it all. I provide them with data from Accidents in North American Mountaineering, a selection from Lynn Hill's autobiography, an article about the OES tragedy on Hood, and a video where two of my climbing buddies discuss their own direct experiences. Almost every student comes to the following conclusion: the environment that climbing occurs in is inherently dangerous and that the qualities of the choices that climbers make directly influence the rate of accidents. It is reinforced to me trimester after trimester that the math is not that hard on this one. Even an outsider, thinking carefully about the data, can come to this assessment. One of the interesting points of data that they often marvel at is that exceeding abilities and climbing unroped are contributing causes at nearly identical rates. They also note that half of accidents are caused by falling. When they ask me about what I do, my response is fairly simple. Accept that I engage in a dangerous sport and yet always make careful, thoughtful choices about my practices and habits.
  34. 1 point
    OK, this is back on my list! I'd been on either end many times over the years, but I can see that I need to connect them.
  35. 1 point
    Ryan Johnson was a good man. I met and climbed with him many years ago in the Utah desert, then we carpooled back to the NW after a bunch of climbing, racing back home in time for Thanksgiving in Washington. I remember we picked up another carpooler in Boise who we had found on Craigslist to split gas money, and the guy turned out to be an "adult model" photographer, with a variety of wild and crazy stories, though it was a relief when we dropped him off somewhere in Oregon... I remember how excited he was about the mountains around the Juneau Icefield and the Stikine area. It was because of his infectious psyche that I ended up making two trips to that region, and during one summer trip to the Mendenhall Towers, the weather was good enough for Ryan and a local friend to hire a helicopter ad come up and climb a route and camp alongside my partner and I. I saw and chatted a little with Ryan in the past few years, but last spring he bought a copy of my guidebook. My wife was searching via instagram and came across one of Ryan's posts which he had labelled #CascadesRock.I'm glad he got a kick out of the mailbox that day. I hope his collection of climbing guidebooks will go on to inspire someone else to great heights. I know the town and climber/skier community in Juneau will help nurture Ryan's young son Milo. Ryan also used to post to Cascade Climbers under the name AKIceBum, but he stayed above the fray and didn't post a ton.
  36. 1 point
    I do think attempts to quantify risk are valuable, even if they are flawed, because a better understanding of the risk/reward ratio might change a few people's minds, change their behavior, and perhaps spare them from a life-changing/ending accident. Or it could help them enjoy hundreds of days of climbing, skiing, or other reportedly risky activity without a serious incident. Unfortunately, many of us don't do a good job of evaluating statistics because we draw conclusions based on stories from people we know or read about and ignore or misrepresent statistical data on the subject in question. If someone says they have same risk of dying in a rappelling accident as being hit by a bus in a crosswalk should you believe them? What if your wife asks you to quit alpine climbing because it is too dangerous and take up paragliding instead? How do the dangers of these compare with texting and driving? What if someone could show you data that the chances of a rappelling accident go up 10x if you don't tie knots in the ends of your ropes? There will always be unknowns in climbing, but attempts to quantify risk can make us both wiser and safer. Here are two illustrations from other parts of life: If your doctor tells you that you late stage Pancreatic cancer, have a 98% chance of being killed by it within 2 years, and have a 10% chance of responding to a new drug that could allow you to live 10 years but will definitely make your next year miserable and drain your savings, would you get the therapy? Do you think you will "beat the odds'"? Will you go for the experimental drug? Do homeopathy instead and focus on getting the best out of the time you have? Understanding the statistics can lead to better decisions and better quality of life. The act of building a mathematical model for your personal finances, even if it is too simple and even if it is wrong, is valuable because it forces you to write down and quantify the assumptions that go into the model. Then once you understand the model you can change the assumptions, variables, and inputs and see what happens in different scenarios. Should you retire at 60 or 65? Get disability insurance? Can you afford to take a year to travel? Should you pay down loans, take that expensive vacation, max out retirement investment, or fix that plumbing leak? Everything has costs and near-term and long-term consequences. Quantifying these can be informative and lead to more informed decisions and a better life. Building a simple model of risk in climbing, even if it is imperfect and incomplete, could lead to better climbing decisions, better conversations between climbing partners about risk, and perhaps fewer injuries and deaths for climbers. That said, if you read ANAM and can learn to avoid making the top three types of human errors you will be much safer for it. Bring on the math!
  37. 1 point
    Great pictures, thank you! Looks like a great time out in the hills.
  38. 1 point
    I have a 1991 Civic. And I bike to work on a rural, two lane, 50mph road. I suppose climbing/skiing are the least of my worries.
  39. 1 point
    Awesome! You guys should make this and the TRs more obvious on the home page.
  40. 1 point
    you also usually don't hear of climbing being classified as text book addiction though. the whole "died doing what they love" thing...well that i think depends on your outlook on life and death. as has been pointed out several times in this thread already, life is fatal. we all go, and most of us don't get to choose when or why. "died doing what they love" is something not something that dead people say...its what the survivors say when they are trying to cope with the loss of a friend or a loved one. it just sounds better than the alternative. it does seem a bit silly, but people cope how they can. What will you do when the Risk Gestapo show up to take away your paragliding equipment because someone else deemed it too dangerous a sport?
  41. 1 point
    I've been having good conversations with friends and partners this winter about the difference between risk tolerance and risk awareness. Some people I know recognize the risks and hazards accurately and are ok putting themselves into situations that I would not be ok with. Other people I know will go into the same situations never even knowing they are at risk. My conversations have been in the context of avalanche hazard while backcountry skiing but it applies to alpine climbing/mountaineering as well and the conversations have been positive. I'd rather have a partner with a high risk tolerance and enough experience to recognize the risk than a partner that will charge into less risky situations thinking it's just as dangerous as walking down the sidewalk. It's easier to have conversation about mutual risk acceptance with someone who can see the hazard even if they are willing to tolerate higher risk.
  42. 1 point
    wise sir do not grieve it is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning for every one of us living in this world means waiting for our end let he who can achieve glory before death when a warrior is gone that will be his best and only bulwark
  43. 1 point
    Having lost many friends in the mountains only one really surprised me. That was Alex Lowe, not because he died in the mountains but because it was an exploratory walkabout with a big ass avalanche. Not what I would have expected. Others been been more of wrong place wrong time - rock or ice fall. While others have been because of a lapse in judgment. Those are the hardest. Everyone pushes their own envelope and regardless of the size of the envelope shit can and will happen.
  44. 1 point
  45. 1 point
  46. 1 point
    Well, shoot. You're right @AnthonyLubetski. I'll keep trying though.
  47. 1 point
    I did that route a few summers ago. It's a good Cascadian blue-collar adventure kind of thing. Some choss and vertical bush climbing, and some good rock. We intentionally got a late start and bivied on a ledge somewhere in the middle just for fun. I think the crux went at about 5.10; I don't really remember, but I think my girlfriend led it and she's pretty resistant to french freeing.
  48. 1 point
    Trip: Sherman Peak - Squak Glacier Trip Date: 01/14/2018 Trip Report: It's a little late for a conditions report but me Fred and Joel climbed Sherman Peak (the one on Baker) with skis/splitboard on 1-14-18. It took 15 hours with the 3+ miles of road skinning both directions. Conditions were actually really great except in the morning the sun/rain crust made for some hairy skinning until we got above around 6500'. Rain crust reflecting the sunrise: Skinning with ski crampons on, Joel decided to snowshoe the icy spots: We skinned more or less north up the ridge from the summer trailhead, using snow machine tracks where it helped with the trail breaking. Above tree line there was a solid crust, sometimes icy, but we never had to break trail again. By the time we were headed off the summit, about 2pm, everything had softened up nicely and even the wind affected areas were decent. We got back to the summer trailhead just about dusk for a blistering (literally) skin back to the truck. 6300 vertical feet of skiing total, plus some downhill skiing and some hiking. Sherman summit from the 9800' saddle at the crater rim: Looking back to the ski down on the way out: Gear Notes: skis, ski crampons, crampons, axe Approach Notes: 3.1 miles of road skinning from the sno-park closure. Good coverage from the TH to the summit.
  49. 1 point
    Im not gonna mention any names or what trip this was b/c I think some of the climbers on that trip may use this site. One time, I got invited to go with a group of people (one of which is a regular partner of mine and I have climbed with before) to do a grade IV alpine route. On the approach I listened to many stories of climbing long alpine routes... I eventually went up ahead and reached the bivi sites quickly. I then waited for an hour for my partners to arrive b/c a couple members decided to have a 1/2 hour 'decision making' time. They then persuaded the others to climb a different route to the bivi site up a long krumholtz slope insted of easy 3rd class rock. We bivied for the night and got up early for the climb. For some reason every small choice required a long 'decision making' time. It took forever to reach the base of the climb and I led the first pitch. It was fairly steep and you had to hang on your arms a bit but it was no more than 5.7. After spending 5 minutes on this short pitch I belayed the first person who tried it in mt boots, lowered off, changed to rock shoes, then re-climbed the pitch. Somehow the rope got put on the wrong side of some blocks and trees and the rope drag got terrible. After an hour of sorting out rope drag I just unclipped from the belay and started soloing up the next pitch (hauling a rope) and set up the next belay. I slept on my belay ledge for another hour while my team all changed shoes, repacked, sorted out the drag and climbed to me. I walked up the next easy (5.5) pitch without placing gear to save time and belayed another guy up, he told me how hard he was finding this climbing, then we belayed everyone else up. I soon realized that everyone was expecting me to lead everything and a couple members were not confident doing any leading or simul climbing one this long route... I suggested we go down after taking 10 hours (seriously!!) to get from camp to the top of Pitch 3.. after an hour 'decision making' time we started rapping down. I set up and found all the stations, went first and fixed the ropes ect.. Once off the rock I walked to camp... an hour later my partners show up by headlamp... These people were all really nice but were not prepared (except for a couple) to do this route, they asked me to go so I could ropegun (without being told).... I would climb with them again on easy routes but not on anything big again.
  50. 1 point
    Trip: Mt Reford - West Ridge Date: 9/8/2007 Trip Report: I joined the BCMC trip up Rexford on September 8-9, It was great...we did it as an overnighter and a couple other climbers and I did the North Ridge of the North Nesakwatch Spire too. A great trip and a great area!