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About Mtguide

  • Birthday 01/17/1947


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  1. That's not a bad idea, pcg; very practical and simple solution, if, as you say, someone does make that error. And actually visibility of ten feet is certainly workable. And you're probably correct as well about getting into Big or Little Zig Zag Canyon, since in poor or zero visibility, people who are moving with no sense of direction or without following a compass bearing (or even if they DO think their sense of direction is good) will tend to curve to skier's right over the distance, rather than drop straight over Mississippi Head. But that has happened a few times though, and I was just trying to get people to stay away from the whole area in the first place. But, a good thing to keep in mind in a pinch.
  2. Route finding on Mt. Hood is pretty straight forward, on any south side route, certainly in good weather. But if the weather closes in, the most basic thing to know and remember is the MT. Hood Triangle, which you can Google, or refer to on the Mazamas website. It essentially consists of one very simple fact: In poor visibility, do NOT follow the natural fall line down from the summit. That will tend to lead you over onto the Lower Zigzag Glacier and a possible fatal fall off the top of Mississippi Head. Instead, simply set a bearing of 180 degrees due south from the base of the Hogsback, and you will almost literally wind up at the back door of Timberline Lodge. If you are on the summit, or somewhere between the summit and the Hogsback, and are paying attention to the weather, simply grab a quick visual, magnetic bearing, before you lose visibility, to get yourself back to the Hogsback. Once you're down to the Hogsback, set your 180 deg. due south and just follow it home. Piece of cake. If you're on the way up, and the weather is deteriorating, it's not wise to continue to the summit in the first place. Turn around, make sure you have your 180 deg. bearing just in case the weather envelops you, whether from above or below. Remember, the mountain will still be there another day. And a good rule to follow regarding the weather is to ALWAYS allow yourself at least a 72-hour weather window to climb the mountain. Yes, I know it's just a day climb, but many people have died on Hood because they took too many things for granted, such as, 1.)"We're in great shape, it's only a day climb, we can beat the weather", 2.) "Nothing is going to go wrong", 3.) "We don't need (pick any: glacier slings, rope, extra food, clothing, or water, crampons, compass or GPS, map, to register at the Climber's Register, or tell anyone where we're going, headlamp, locator beacon, 2-way radio/walkie-talkies", etc. 4.) "NOTHING is going to go wrong",5.) 5 to 8 hours is PLENTY of time, even if anything goes wrong; 6."Dude, NOTHING is going to go wrong!", and 7.) "the weather forecast is ALWAYS right" (NO, just NO.) 8.) "Mt. Hood is just a little mountain, it's not that big of a deal, you can always get down." And, the best way to use that 72-hour weather window is: Watch the forecasts (both weather AND avalanche) carefully. If you're waiting for bad weather to clear before your climb, be in place, ready to go, and begin your climb from the parking lot AS the weather is beginning to moderate and to move off the mountain. If you time it right, it might still be overcast or even snowing as you set off, but by the time you reach the top of the Palmer, a bluebird day is arriving from the west. If you've read the forecasts carefully, you should now have a full 72 hours, which is not only way more than enough time to do the climb, but will also allow Portland Mountain Rescue and other authorities the lead time they'll need to get onto the mountain, locate, stabilize and treat you and either get you down, or airlifted off the mountain, in case of any incident. However, a very important caveat (Warning): As noted above, DO NOT take the weather forecast for granted, ever. Forecasting is getting better, but the Pac NW, and the Mt. Hood area, is an extremely difficult and challenging locale for meteorologists. UNpredictability is the watchword, especially in the spring, until high summer and early fall bring long, stable periods of high pressure. The best local TV forecasters are the crew at KGW Channel 8, headed by Matt Zaffino, himself an avid climber and backcountry skier. They are pretty good at giving you a daily breakdown of what you can expect to see on an hourly basis, as the day progresses. Also the National Weather Service/NOAA website is very thorough; but a close reading of their day-by-day discussions will reveal and impress upon you the fluid and ever-changing nature of the flow of the weather. The fact that their discussions speak mainly in terms of percentages of probability, is fair warning to the wise. One thing to be constantly aware of is that very often, the weather that is forecast has an annoying tendency to arrive sooner than originally forecast, frequently 8 to 12 hours earlier, sometimes by as much as a day or two. And there are systems which can arrive over the area, that cause the weather not to just move in from the west, where you can see it coming with ample warning, but to actually build in place right around you, before you know what's happening. This is what can cause a bluebird day to go to hell in a matter of a few minutes. And the alpine environment and altitude tend to exacerbate these tendencies. This is also why you ALWAYS want to go well prepared, in case the weather DOES pin you down. Finally, do NOT take Mt. Hood for a pushover, or for granted, EVER. The three young men who died on Hood in the late fall of 2006 made that mistake, assuming many of the things listed in the third paragraph above. They had recently done a difficult route on Denali; they were competent and experienced, and in shape. But, they assumed that the North face of Hood was just a day climb (which, yes, it is;) they could beat the weather, they left some very important, even critical gear, behind for the sake of speed, and they hugely underestimated the potential power and savagery of bad weather on Mt. Hood. At the time of their climb, there were four critical elements in place, or I should say, in motion, concerning the weather. 1.) A major cold front moving in from the northwest off the Gulf of Alaska; 2.) a major Pacific system, with extremely low pressure and high winds aloft, heavily laden with moisture, on it's way from Hawaii; 3.) the yearly winter "well" of super-cooled air in place in central Oregon, causing 4.) a powerful river of freezing high winds roaring over the low divide from the central Oregon Plateau past the east side of Hood, down the Hood River Valley and into the Columbia Gorge. When the three climbers left the cabin at Tilly Jane campground, they were late getting off, and the weather was well on it's way. They made the climb easily, although just below the summit, a short but crucial fall left one of them with an incapacitating shoulder injury.(Remember,"Nothing will go wrong."?) They hit the summit at the moment when these 4 weather elements converged in a raging, howling maelstrom of extreme, almost tornadic high winds and brutal cold; sheeting , suffocating blasts of heavy, wet snow; blinding, battering ice, and oncoming darkness, worthy of anything that Denali, Rainier, or any much bigger peak can dish out. They had never been to the summit of Hood before, and had no clear idea of how to find their way around the place or how to get down. Fred Beckey has said that when the right elements are in place, Mt. Hood is the equal in ferocity, fury, and deadly power, of any of the great peaks on the planet, anywhere. It is a very serious, very dangerous peak, precisely because it is so deceptively accessible; deceptively complex, while seeming to be simple; relatively small, the routes are mostly short and moderate; and the more skilled and experienced you are, and the better shape you're in, the more likely you are to underestimate it. And if you're still unconvinced, just talk to some of the climbers from Portland Mountain Rescue, Timberline Mountain Guides, or the Mt. Hood Climbing Rangers who tried valiantly, persistently and doggedly over the course of what was a major 10-day storm, of Alaskan proportions and strength, to battle through winds of over 100mph, attempting to find the three lost climbers and get them down. They were forced to retreat time and time again, when the winds began to literally tear them off the mountain and hurl them bodily off into space. You won't find anyone there who thinks that Hood is sure thing. Now, I'm NOT recommending against going up Hood, not at all. Go, but take your time and take care in planning and getting your gear right; if your navigation is "shaky at best", as you say, well,sorry,guys, but that's NOT good enough. You need to fix that, and fix it good. If you don't know map and compass,altimeter, AND GPS, and know how to use them in combination to the best advantage, you need to make a major effort to get that under control, down pat. Avalanche training the same. And practice, practice, practice, and then some more practice. Read and study up, take a course or two, make absolutely as sure of your navigation, your avalanche training and response, as you would of the quality and condition of your gear. Not a stitch or seam or strap out of place on your clothing or gloves or pack, or about how to do a self-arrest or place a picket or ice screw, or do a belay, and not so much as a single shadow of a doubt in your mind about how to find your way, or how to avoid a dangerous avalanche zone, or how to respond in case you are caught in one. That said, I see some of the other posts are suggesting Adams, and that's not a bad idea. But did you know that Adams in higher than Hood, and actually MORE complex than Hood,(depending on the route.) much more remote, and what many people don't know is that Adams is actually a bigger mountain, by sheer mass, than Mt. Rainier. And Adams can also be a big weather peak. So, also most definitely, not a pushover. Hell, for that matter, you can even get into trouble on St. Helens, if you don't know what you're doing, or if you think you can get cute or flippant with the weather. They are ALL worthy of caution and respect. But going up to Hood and staying low, going to St.Helens, or Adams' south side route to practice your navigation or avalanche beacon search and probe technique, is all valuable and worth your time, in a comparatively safe and relatively easily escapable environment. The most important thing is to take it one step at a time, not getting ahead of yourself. Quite literally, you have no business on the summit of anything, if you don't know how to find your way down it, or how to handle trouble and weather if it comes. That's the ONLY way to truly stay safe. You do everything you can, to know as much as you can, and to mitigate risk. Hood is a great school and training ground; treat it with the respect, effort, preparation and honesty it demands of you, and you'll do fine, and have a great time. If you can find it, make every effort to read "On Snow and Rock", by the very great French guide Gaston Rebuffat. While some of the gear and technique is dated, the chapters on training and preparation are timeless and essential, as true and accurate now as when they were first written; the language and photos are beautiful, poetic and inspiring, and the spirit and wisdom are clear, strong, deep and profound. Rebuffat was a very great climber, guide and alpinist, and a very great man; study and learn the things he has to teach, and they will take you to the far corners of the earth, and the summits of the greatest peaks. And you will also become worthy of the title of climber and alpinist.
  3. Fred Beckey is nothing less than our very own Living National Treasure of Alpinism. This is an honor that is long overdue.
  4. A correction here, regarding Mt. Erie weather; Since the mountain and the nearby town of Anacortes lie within the rainshadow or the Olympics, it stays dry for much of the year. There is a website for Mt. Erie's daily/current forecast, or you can just check the forecast for Anacortes, which will be the same. Of all the times I've climbed there, I can only remember it being showery once.
  5. I have to agree; don't know why I didn't think of it sooner. As far as ease of access and being close to Seattle you can't beat it. Definitely warmer, but not as often dry.
  6. Interesting to read these posts and not see a single reference to Castle Rock, Midnight Rock or Snow Creek Wall. When I was living in Tacoma and then Seattle in the late 60's and was still learning, Leavenworth was our usual destination for several reasons: 1. Dry weather (usually) e. of the mountains. 2. Lots of moderate routes suitable for first-time leaders, short enough that you couldn't really get into trouble, but enough exposure to make it real 3. A good variety of routes demanding different techniques.4. Excellent rock. 5. Relatively close to Seattle area, and the climbing is easily accessible from the highway, mostly very short or easy approaches. Perhaps these areas are more crowded today, and I know from experience that holds and cracks have gotten pretty slick and polished from use over the years. I took a friend who was a solid 5.12 climber to Castle Rock a few years ago, we did Angel Crack.He wanted to lead it; but he had a hell of a time with it, and I was surprised. I'd told him it had been rated 5.9 back in the day; it was my very first 5.9. The newer guidebook calls it 5.10 or 11. He thought it was the stiffest 5.11 he'd ever seen, and finally gave up. Since I'd climbed it before all those years ago, and several times since, I gave it a go; remembering the sequence, it all felt familiar. But even so I just barely made it to grab the horn. Very tough for me, but then I was almost 60. The rest is easy from there. Most of the old routes like Saber, Rainshadow, Cat Burglar,etc., show quite a bit of wear from what I remember, but they're still very moderate. Later, on Snow Creek Wall, routes like Umbrella Tree, Outer Space,Orbit, White Slabs and Easter tower, it was the same, but still very doable and excellent training, suitable for climbers who've got a few years of learning experience and are ready for leading. You don't say what degree or rating of difficulty you're climbing at, but if this all sounds too easy for you, consider that when you're on lead, a 5.5 or 5.7 will be much harder, especially when there's exposure, than it is to follow. Don't turn up your nose at this. Take the example of the great Colorado climber Harvey Carter(founder of Climbing magazine) to heart: Carter spent a number of years traveling all over the intermountain west and southwest, climbing and putting up hundreds of workaday, homely, modest routes in the range between 5.3 or 5.4 to 5.8 or 5.9, in all seasons. He was taking it slow and easy, one step at a time, and building a broad, deep, solid foundation; and what he learned over this period in the way of routefinding, adaptability to all kinds of conditions, on all kinds of rock, dealing with mishaps, the unknown and unexpected, pushing his levels and limits, little by little, grade by grade, gave him an invaluable, priceless, and literally rock solid background of experience which was to give him huge advantages later on, on big walls and big peaks all over the world. He was famous in Yosemite for being absolutely calm and unflappable in the most dire situations, unendingly resourceful and creative in finding a way out of the most difficult and stubborn of problems. He was the Alex Lowe of his day, continually upbeat, cheerful and positive, a climber's climber, a true master. And he got that way by taking every step in it's course, not skipping or skimming over a thing. Today, I don't care where you go, in the entire intermountain west, you'll find climbs that Harvey Carter put up all over the place. You name a place, Carter's been there and climbed the hell out of it. Just amazing. You could do a lot worse than to travel around and follow in his footsteps. By the time you're done, you'll have learned what he learned, with of course your own weather and difficulties, fatigue and challenges, that will make it your very own. A great way to learn and get really, really good. So, that's process. But to get back to the local area here, my main point is, there's just so much in Tumwater Canyon and other areas around. People seem to seldom visit Midnight Rock or Noontime Rock anymore, but these have some of the best trad crack climbing in the state; it's bit of a hike, but what the hell, that's just good conditioning. And they're south-facing, perfect for chillier days when it's sunny. I suppose it's getting a bit late now, probably getting, and staying, pretty damn cold. But at least nowdays you can check the local weather online before you go; we always had to guess. And nowdays, with all the great new cold-weather clothing gear there is, it's great practice, both mental and physical and conditioning, to go over there and get some cold-weather/bad weather climbing experience in a relatively safe, easily escapable environment. I still think it's well worth the drive from Seattle to go over there, just get up early, or leave Friday afternoon or evening and camp out when you get there. And it doesn't take that long to get there. We always used to carpool and chip in for gas,it was very inexpensive for the weekend. You can still do it that way for pretty cheap, and besides it's fun to go with a good group of your best friends. Those were great days, and there are more to come yet. Get out there and make your own great times. It's a wonderful training ground, and the huge number of good new routes is amazing. It's the best. Finally, we also used to spend lots of time at Index Town Wall, kind of the next step. And as you progress, it's not that far to go over to Mt. Baring and Mt. Garfield where it gets a lot bigger and more serious. And Mt. Index will throw a lot at you that provides excellent experience for bigger things later on. With each of these steps you're also increasing the number of total pitches per route, which helps you develop your skills of efficiency and speed doing the actual climbing, placing pro, setting up and breaking down the belay, etc. All excellent preparation for the bigger, wilder, more remote and serious ranges. One recommendation for your reading and study, if you haven't already seen it: "Traditional Lead Climbing:Surviving the Learning Years" and "Traditional Lead Climbing: A Rock climber's Guide to Taking the Sharp End of the Rope"(with a chapter on Transitioning From the Gym to the Great Outdoors)", both by Heidi Pesterfield, Wilderness Press. Very important--can't stress it strongly enough. Both are excellent, essential reading for a climber at just exactly your stage of the game. Also see if you can find a copy of "Care and Consciousness in Climbing" by Pat Ament,1989, Boulder, Colorado. Really required reading. Might be hard to find, but the library or Powell's Books can probably find it for you. Or if they can't, let me know, and I might be able to scare one up. Just send me a PM on the site here. Best of luck !
  7. Yakoff Smirnoff's joke about the Russian/Soviet Space program: Concerned that they were falling behind, Russians announce, "We will land on the Sun!". When asked if that might might not be too hot, Russian spokesman says, "Do you think we are stupid? We will land at night!"
  8. Mtguide

    Blame Obama

    The current Washington and Oregon wildfires? Obama for sure. Part of the covert Obama-supported Jihadist takover of America, burning down the forests so we'll have no place to hide when they come for us.I could go on.... And don't get me started on seasonal closures...
  9. Hi Chris; I would first consult with Dr. Ira Weintraub, an excellent orthopedist who is also a climber. While I'm not sure if he's specifically a hand therapist himself, he's associated with an crackerjack physical therapist. He can give a precise diagnosis on any joint condition, and could certainly provide a referral to a first rate hand specialist. He'd be my first choice of where to start. His office in NW Portland is at 1515NW 18th, 3rd Floor, phone 503-224-8399. Best of luck, guys. Zac
  10. Hi Bill; Man this IS great news; so glad to hear you're back in the area again. Give a holler anytime, and hope to see you soon. Can't wait to see the book, I'm sure it's a gem.
  11. Many thanks; sounds like it's worth the trip from PDX-we don't have all that much down here.
  12. Any info on snow conditions in the Area around Baker?
  13. Skiing, as it's considered among European climbers, is more than just a sport- it's an essential skill of the complete alpinist, a door and a passport to the full freedom of the high places. I also found myself in a similar situation at age 40, with over 25 years of x-c experience, but no real alpine, telemark, or downhill experience, and AT gear was still nowhere near as advanced as it is now. This is what I did: I signed up for an all-day lesson in telemark with Wyeast Nordic of Sandy, Oregon. By the end of that day I had the basics down, and my instructor advised that the best way to keep it going and make it develop well, was to go skiing every weekend, for 3 or 4 more times, BY MYSELF,to really digest and solidify what I'd learned, (no skiing friends along to give well-meant but unskilled teaching)and then to take another lesson, go skiing, again alone, and all day, for 3 or 4 more times, take another lesson, and so on through the entire season.I skied by myself that entire season. I often went up with friends, but did my own skiing, not trying to keep up with anyone else, and the only instruction I had was from my professional at Wyeast Nordic. It wasn't cheap, but it wasn't THAT expensive, and it was well worth every penny. Then in June, Wyeast Nordic did their yearly weeklong Telemark Ski Clinic at Mt. Hood. They usually have 10 or 12 of the world's finest professional skier/instructors, the classes are usually only about 5 or 6 people, they video your progress and review the film at the end of every day, it's a priceless opportunity. Wonderful instruction by great people, and the cost is extremely reasonable considering the excellent quality of what you're getting. By the end of that first season I was able to get out on alpine tours and ski-mountaineering trips and keep up with my far more experienced friends, even if I was no where near as skilled, and over the following seasons my confidence and abilities progressed to where I felt capable of going on all but the most extreme terrain. It takes more time to gain skill beyond the age of 40, but if you keep at it, you can go a long ways. I hope someday to do the Haute Route in the Alps; it's only the expense, not my skill level, that has kept me from being able to go. Learning to ski with professional instruction may not be entirely necessary, but why try to re-invent the wheel on your own, when you can go so much further, and really faster, in the long run, with the right kind of help. becoming a skier truly has opened the door to the full range of year-round climbing and mountaineering for me; my only regret is not having started it at the same time I was learning to climb in my teens.Get after it, now; and best of luck.
  14. Perhaps, as the the profession of alpine guiding matures in this country, we'll see and hear of much less of this kind of complaint. Though no nationality is immune to arrogance and pride, it seems that European and Canadian guides, often families with many generations of experience and tradition, view their work as a fellowship of service, a calling, not just a job. And in my experience there is a recognition among truly professional guides, that independent climbers are often more skilled in a strict climbing sense, because they have to deal with the demands of a particular route for perhaps the first time, sight unseen, while the guide may have the advantage of having done the same route numerous times. The independent climber relies on beta and guidebooks and their own ability and background, while the professional has, in addition, been over the same route repeatedly, in all conditions. Perhaps the arrogance among some young guides stems from compensating for an underlying sense of being actually somewhat LESS adventurous than the independent climber, in that regard. To more mature guides, it's a distinction that really doesn't matter in terms of their own self image and self respect. They consider themselves guides in the broadest, truest sense,that they are there to open doors to experience and perception for those less independently skilled, to a profound,magnificent, and magical world above the clouds. I think of alpinists like Rebuffat, Comici, Terray, Chouinard, Buhl, Gervasutti, the Whittakers and many others others who both climbed and worked as guides, who exemplify that attitude. And while competition and jealousies among climbers are common to all times and places, among the best alpinists and guides there is a nobility and magnanimity, a readiness to encourage and applaud those who surpass them, and take the sport to higher levels, because they recognize that the mountains are beyond all personal ego and pettiness. Unless brought up and trained to be on guard against it, pride and arrogance are an all too common characteristic of youthful skill and energy. While the mountains are wild, manners are as necessary and appropriate on the heights as in the home and business. And those with real experience in the hills have learned that the peaks have their own capricious etiquette, sometimes quite severe, taking the proud and heedless down a peg in no uncertain terms. Smallness of mind and heart have little place in the mountains; the high places demand of us our highest and best at all times. Rebuffat states that a guide is something much more more than just a professional who gets clients up and down the mountain as safely and quickly as possible, for a price; rather the guide is also an actual friend "who is able to inspire confidence and to interest another in sharing the beauties of his domain. The guide is happy when the climber he takes with him is happy." Therefore the true guide is a friend and compatriot to all whom he encounters in the mountains as well as elsewhere. It takes time, and long experience, to develop this kind of maturity and equanimity. And Rebuffat again says, "Effort and comradeship are the pillars of our sport. To be able really to see, it is not enough to open the eyes, one must first open one's heart."
  15. Very sad; the only thing I can think is that they must have been climbing unroped. While it's a fairly easy scramble depending on just which route you pick on the summit block, there is some fifth class. Higher up it's 4th class going right to 2nd class, but you're about 100 feet off the deck so a rope is a good precaution. The rock is not the greatest, there's always loose stuff. And it was a big snow year in the Olympics so there may have been some remnant snow or ice on the rock. Hopefully we can get more details about this.
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