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About roald

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  • Birthday 11/26/2017


  • Occupation
    UW prof.
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  1. Missing climber in/around Storm King

    I was one of a party of two on Storm King in late July, and posted the report mentioned above. Thanks to several readers who let me know of Kelly's request for info (yes, the old register in a small glass bottle was still there on July 28). I spoke with someone at the Marblemount RS yesterday. There's some crappy looseness up there. Let's hope he is ok.
  2. Monster trip, Eric! You make it look like a stroll in the park. But having tried to follow in your wake I know better...
  3. Love that TR, especially the dog experience. At first, my dog couldn't figure out switchbacks, always turning around to go in the same (apparent) direction as me, even if it was downhill. He eventually got it, if only because I was carrying his food. Who knows where he'd be now if he had a saddlebag.
  4. Trip: Martin, Switchback, Bigelow, Star, Courtney, Oval - Date: 7/15/2007 Trip Report: Turning 50 and bagging Top 100 peaks This is a trip report about hiking/climbing six Top 100 peaks over two days. But first, some background. Call it a requiem for old geezers. Some time ago I read a thread about climbing Top 100 peaks in Washington State. This rattled around in the back of head until this spring as I contemplated my approaching 50th birthday. Fifty! Yikes, that sounds old. But it is better than the alternative of not turning 50. I figured I should do something to mark the occasion. In my book most travel outside of the Cascades is overrated, so hauling off to some other part of the world just because I am 50 makes about as much sense as buying a red BMW Z4. It won't turn back the clock. But there had to be some way of marking the occasion - some way to get outdoors, spend some of that time with friends, and maybe have an adventure or two. This is where the Top 100 thread came to mind. Climbing all Top 100 peaks - at least in the near future - is too ambitious for me. I like my job and family and am not ready to abandon them completely - just some of the time. So I hit on a compromise, something that is tractable and combines my love of mountains and the people with whom I have visited them: I would aim to get to 50 of the Top 100 peaks! When I hatched this plan my birthday was right around the corner, so I could not get to 50 peaks before turning 50. Rather, I would aim to get to 50 peaks while still 50 years old. This would give me a little more than a year, until the end of June 2008. I decided to call it my "50 at 50" project. I had a head start, as I already had visited 23 of the Top 100 peaks (using the Summit Routes list, 22 using the P400 list and 25 using the Bulger list). That meant only 27 (or 28 or 25, depending on how you count) more peaks to go in about 13 months. 27 does not sound like many, but between job, family, summer visitors, and other assorted sundries, I would have to work at it a bit. Enthused by this idea, in late May I immediately scrambled up Cannon Mountain (#24 for me) solo and then Snowfield Peak (#25) with Eric Wehrly (see the trip report at http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=7286.0 ). But then a series of classes, conferences, and personal issues kept me out of the mountains for over six weeks. The delay in my "50 at 50" project gnawed at me like a ferret in the gullet. The reasons to stay in the city were compelling, but they could not halt my craving to get outside. I turned 50 grumbling like an old man about not getting out. I must have been a joy to be around. Finally I got a break in the schedule. With the six-week delay I had to make some headway on the project and get my count up. Fortunately, there are a lot of easy peaks in the Top 100. Easy = Perfect for my plan. Eric and I took off a weekday and we scrambled up Dumbell (#26) and Greenwood (#27) mountains. I love the Chiwawa valley in the winter, but the summer setting is equally stunning: From left to right, here are Dumbell, Chiwawa, Fortress, and Glacier Peak lined up like lounge lizards (from Greenwood's south peak): Spending time with amazing people like Eric is one of my motives for climbing, and one reason for hatching the "50 at 50" project. But solitude in the hills also is an important experience. So soon after the Dumbell day I headed to the east side of the Cascades for a two-day solo peakbagging trip in the Sawtooth Ridge area. After driving over on Saturday night (July 14) and sleeping near the Crater Lake trailhead, I was so eager to get going that I woke up Sunday morning 10 minutes before the alarm set at 5 a.m. Bikes are allowed in that part of the woods, so I rode my bike about 8.5 miles to Cooney Lake and ran up Martin Peak (#28 for me) and Switchback Peak (#29). Then I pointed the bike toward Upper Eagle Lake to climb Mount Bigelow (#30). I am not sure how much advantage a bike provides compared to hiking the approach trails, because it is possible to cut the mileage and elevation loss by hiking cross-country from Martin Peak toward Mount Bigelow. Nonetheless, the bike was great for the ride downhill back to the car. Even though it was a Sunday, I encountered only one group of motorized dirt-bikers and a single pair of hikers. No other mountain bikers at all. It was a big day for me: About 31.5 miles and 8500 feet elevation gain (24 miles and 3900 feet of that on the bike). But the early start gave me time to linger at the tops, take a dip in Upper Eagle Lake to clean off, and still drive into Twisp for dinner. While kids shot hoops nearby, I aired out my gear at Twisp's city park and enjoyed a little town life. Then I drove to the West Fork Buttermilk Creek trailhead for the next day's hike. On Monday, July 16, I started up the West Fork Buttermilk Creek trail at 5:30 am, topping over Fish Creek Pass to drop down to pretty Star Lake before heading up Star Peak (#31). Then it was on to Courtney Peak (#32) and Oval Peak (#33) before heading to the car for some food in Winthrop and the long drive back to Seattle that same Monday night. This day involved about 24 miles of traveling and a total elevation gain of about 8800 feet. On Tuesday morning I slept right through the alarm. It was good to get out and bag a few peaks, making my "50 at 50" project seem more attainable. But such external goals are not what it is all about. It is sharing intense moments with friends like Eric. It is about the solitude of the hills. It is the lesson of humility that big terrain and high places can teach us. Another benefit of this trip is that it got me into a new corner of the Cascades. From a distance, the terrain seems parched and barren, as this shot of Star Peak and Oval Peak (from Martin Peak) illustrate: Up close, however, this is beautiful country dotted with lakes and impressive rock features. Here is a shot of Mount Bigelow from Upper Eagle Lake: Here is Star Peak from Courtney Peak: This is classic scrambling country, with open meadows and larch forests down around the lakes, and talus fields sweeping up toward the peaks. The summit block of Bigelow poses a very minor route finding issue, but mostly these mountains offer straightforward hiking routes with lots of ridgetop boulder-hopping. So this is a trip report in progress. I'll get out a few more times this year, and hopefully visit some new Top 100 peaks. I'll twist the arms of some friends who are better climbers than me to get out on some challenging peaks, and maybe meet some of the folks who post here on cc.com. A couple non-climbing friends from the east coast plan to join in (these must be real friends), and I am reserving the easiest Top 100 peaks for them (e.g., Abernathy, Big Craggy). Even better, my daughters plan to join me on a trip or two, and my wife might join me in the Pasaytan to catch a few more easy peaks. All in all, it's the best way to turn 50 I can think of. And if I make it to 100 I'll try the other 50 peaks.
  5. Melakwa Lake Study

    Ok, ok. Here's the story of my sordid trip with my navigational moron buddies: http://faculty.washington.edu/karpoff/personal/stories/Mind_matter.html . In our defense ... nah, forget it. There is no defense. Next time I'm taking directions from Catbirdseat's daughter. It won't be any worse. (Seriously, I began doing that with my kids too when they were young. It's a great idea. My favorite time of year for navigating with them was when spring snow still covered the trails. That way they could guide us while holding the compass and trying to figure out the local terrain. I had to help them with the map, however.)
  6. Getting ASS

    Those few of us who do adventure skate skiing have decided the benefits of publicizing it outweigh the costs. So I put together a site. Check it out: http://www.adventureskateskiing.com/ . It seems to be working. There are more skiers out there, and the USFS and snowmobile community seem to be getting used to skiers. On any given day, however, you still have the place all to yourself, as long as you obey ASS Rule #1.
  7. Nice work! After scrambling up your route one year, Eric W. and I began gauging trip distances and difficulties in "Chiwawa days." E.g., Lemah is a bit more than a Chiwawa day, and Kaleetan is about half of a Chiwawa day. Of course, nowadays Eric chomps off a Chiwawa day-type effort before breakfast. Two things: If you came up the Red Mt. trail, I don't think you were in the Fortress-Chiwawa saddle. Is that right? Also, as I recall there are two knobs at the top that are of almost equal height. The register is on the west one, but moving a couple of rocks would elevate the east knob to the top.
  8. I have decided to write about Adventure Skate Skiing (ASS) to drum up a little support for this activity. I've been getting some ASS for a long time, and don't see anyone else out there getting any. So I guess this makes me the King of ASS. What is Adventure Skate Skiing? It is skate skiing on groomed snowmobile trails. The US Forest Service and the State of Washington spend about a gazillion dollars to lay down hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails throughout the state. These are wide swaths of perfect corduroy laid down by big Bombardier sno-cats, just like on the groomed runs at downhill ski resorts. There are several well-groomed snowmobile havens in Washington State. I am most familiar with the Lake Wenatchee/Entiat area, which you can access via a Sno-Park area near Fish Lake or another up the Entiat River. Getting some ASS takes a little work, but it is worth it. You see, snowmobilers don't get up very early. The typical snowmobiler is too busy sitting on his ass to get any, well, ASS. This leaves a window of opportunity between the time the trails are groomed and the snowmobile mobs hit the trail - typically 6:30-9:30 a.m. on the weekends, and a little longer on weekdays. This leaves some ASS wide open for anyone willing to grab it. There is one rule, however: ASS Rule #1: Get in and get out quickly. I mean this. If you don't, you will be up to your ass in snowmobiles. This would be bad. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. (RANT: Is there any - any - socially redeeming value to recreational use of snowmobiles - other than providing an excuse to groom the trails for ASS? Snowmobiles are noisy and super-polluting. They promote the wrong wilderness ethic. And they are dangerous. On an ASS ski two years ago I came upon the scene of a fatal crash the day before. Bone fragments and blood still littered the snow. The woman who died hit a fallen tree on the way back toward the Sno-Park. She swerved around the tree on her way out, but on her return she hit it chest high at about 50 mph.) Ok, back to getting some ASS. There aren't any other rules. Just Rule #1. But as I said, it is important. Fortunately, this leaves about three hours to get in the highest quality skate skiing I have ever experienced. (On some weekdays, you can stretch this up to several hours.) It is an adventure even without the snowmobiles. Most routes involve 1000-2000 feet of elevation gain, plus ups and down. The routes generally follow USFS roads that you can drive in the summer. But in the sparkling quiet of a winter dawn these places are sheer magic. Fresh snow or hoarfrost glisten on trees, and, where I go most often, occasional vistas sweep down the Chiwawa Valley. If you are a decent skier, you can puff up some long hills, zip around downhill curves, log 18 or 20 miles, and still get off the trail before breakfast. I am not that great a skier, but I average about two hours on the trails at 9-10 mph. On good days and if I don't take many breaks my average speed clocks in at 10.5 mph, but even on bad days you can complete a 14-16 mile trip in under two hours. Occasionally, I will set aside a weekday and log a 40 mile day or so. For illustration, I am attaching a trail report from a recent ski. If there is any interest I can post descriptions of other ASS routes, as well as some other tips for selecting a good day and location. But this report might give you an idea what you are in for if you try some ASS. 308034-Faultline_LoopB.doc
  9. Most Hardcore Epic ever?

    Among explorers, Shackleton's 1911 Endurance trip rightfully gets a lot of attention. But as good a story as it is, some others from the Heroic Age of exploration were just as good. E.g., John Franklin literally ate his boots to stay alive in the Canadian north in 1822, and Aldophus Greely personally tended to his dwindling crew -- doomed by his own botched decisions -- after a failed attempt to reach the North Pole in 1881. The most improbable of all is George Tyson's ice drift. After a failed North Pole venture in 1871, Tyson's ship was nearly destroyed in a storm. Tyson and 19 others jumped onto the pack ice to retrieve supplies being thrown overboard, only to have the ship break free from the ice and float out of sight. Tyson was stranded with two Inuit families, the ship's cook, and 10 Germans who had been hired as crewhands. The families included four kids, including three that Tyson unwittingly had saved by picking up a musk ox hide just as the ice broke apart underneath it. The three kids were in the hide. Tyson had only the clothes on his back. The two Inuit men had rifles, and they went hunting every day, catching just enough every few days to keep everyone alive. The children wailed constantly from the pain of hunger. The Germans huddled to themselves, hoarded food, and refused to listen to Tyson's pleas to help coordinate a plan for survival. (Since he had no gun and they did, Tyson was reduced to pleading.) The Inuit men eventually gave Tyson a gun to protect their families while they were hunting. They were afraid that the Germans, who complained that the kids were a drag on the party, would kill the kids. Meanwhile, the party hopped from floe to floe, carried south out of Smith Sound and south of Elsemere Island. Eventually they were rescued by a whaler north of Baffin Island. They spent six months floating on ice. Remarkably, everyone survived.
  10. Cough up the Trip Reports

    I know this isn't cascadebikers.com, but mountain bikers don't have a decent discussion site and they aren't as cool as you dudes (hey, if I suck up you might not bounce my request below). Anyway, I got in one last butt-kicking ride in the Chikaman Ridge area -- starting low in dark forest and working up through meadows sprinkled with snow and golden larch needles. I had never seen so many needles on the ground like that. It was like riding through some fairyland covered in gold silk. And then flashed back to the car before night. Which brings me to the request: Any m-bikers out there? The eastside season is over but there is always wet westside riding before places like Devil's Gulch open up in May.
  11. Best Fall time scrambles down da Mtn Loop?

    That's right... Sloan is up Bedal Creek, not Weeden (or Weden!) Creek. Sorry about that. Has anyone been up Big Four via a scramble route? I tried Beckey's Dry Creek route once and ended up thrashing in some bushes and never got on the mountain. I've been itching to try it since.
  12. Best Fall time scrambles down da Mtn Loop?

    Up the Mt. Loop? How about Sloan via Weden (sp?) Creek? It is a little longer than 8 hrs, and you skirt the glacier rather than climb aboard. But I bet the Weden basin is fifty shades of red right now.
  13. Olympus questions....

    Here I wuz, hanging with my honey below the Snow Dome , when Norman and Skykilo come blazin' across the lower Blue Glacier. You could feel the wind as they passed us up. ("Who are those guys...?") Nice job you guys! But why risk downclimbing that cruddy rock at the top? If you had a light rope you could rap off the usual way.