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Everything posted by scottk

  1. TR: Shangri-La

    OK, where is it?
  2. Don't go this weekend. I don't think you can avoid potential avy slopes in that bowl below the Tooth.
  3. Great pictures. I've been toying with the idea of doing Buckner in a day. What's the "cable" you're referring to?
  4. Alpine solo tent selection help?

    I have the Eureka Spitfire. It's a decent 1 man, double walled, sub 3-pound tent for a great price (I think I paid about $90). I haven't used it in a hard rain but the fly comes down close to the ground so I think it would work fine as long as the seams were water tight. The inside tent wall is mesh so it's well ventilated and not a good option for snow and/or cold temps. It's also not free-standing, which may be an issue.
  5. So that was you I met on the way in. I was the guy with 3 teenage girls and wife who asked you about the Russel and Flett. Way to earn your September turns and link some patches.
  6. Nice trip report. Lots of excellant detail. Looks like you had a great day.
  7. When we climbed it 2 years ago it was brittle dinner-plating ice until the sun hit it and then it was beautiful plastic ice. I think people estimate the slope from 45 to 60 degrees because there front side of the ice penatardes are 60 degrees and the back sides are 20 degrees. I don't think the average is much more than 45 degrees but there are short sections (~10 feet long) on 60 degree slopes. No matter what the slope, when you can't get more than 1/4 inch of penetration on brittle dinner-plating ice, it doesn't feel secure. Also, for people that are used to climbing snow, ice can be intimidating. So I was glad to lead with 2 ice tools. It would have been a lot more fun if the ice was plastic.
  8. Boot selection for Pickets

    I climbed the Tahoma Glacier route on Rainier last year using the Asolo Fugitive GTX : http://www.rei.com/product/706762 These boots are not designed for mountaineering and are pretty flexible. The first day was a hike and I was running circles around my buddies with their heavy mountaineering boots. The second day we got into some steeper snow/ice (>45 degrees) and there were a few moments when I wished for more substantial boots. In general, I would use these boots and lightweight aluminum crampons on anything that was mostly rock and/or easy to moderate snow. It would have to be pretty close to ice climbing or winter conditions before I would pull out the heavy boots.
  9. Broken ribs-How to Workout

    I just got over some cracked ribs. I found the stair master to work pretty well, although I had to go slow enough that I wasn't breathing too hard. Sit ups were not an option.
  10. What is your recommendation for a Ski Helmet?

    Comfort is key (so you'll wear it). Mine has vents that can be opened and closed and the ear flaps are removable. I like my rock climbing helmet for spring/summer ski trips because it has much better ventilation.
  11. Mount hood....what do I need to know.

    I think exposing your son to the outdoors is one of the best gifts you could give him. My recommendation to all new climbers is start at the bottom and gradually build your base of experience and knowledge. You're on the right track if you intend to get some training and experience before climbing with your son. Then you can make your own informed decision. The "easy" route on Hood includes a short section of rather steep climbing, risk of ice and rock fall, and numerous inexperienced climbers all around. Frankly, this "easy" route is rather dangerous and not particularily enjoyable. I encourage you to try it yourself and then decide if that's an experience that your son would appreciate. There's a lot of easy walkup mountain climbs that are pretty safe if you have a fair amount of training/experience (St. Helens, south side of Adams, etc.) and would provide a memerable experience with your son.
  12. Life Insurance

    I recently went through the process of replacing my life insurance policy and was surprised to discover that there was a $5 annual climbing surcharge for every $1,000 of coverage (so a $100,000 policy would have a $500 surcharge). This was on top of the regular premium just based on my health and other lifestyle considerations. They assigned this surcharge based on a detailed questionnaire regarding my climbing activities. My climbing activities are fairly moderate (easy to moderate glacier climbs and easy rock climbing). About 4-5 major climbs per year and another 10 easy scrambles/hikes per year (i.e., trips to Muir). If you compare the regular premium with the climbing surcharge, it would appear that the insurance companies believe that my chance of dieing while climbing is less than 1 in 200 (per year) compared with less than 1 in 750 (per year) from all other causes combined. I'm interested in any thoughts/suggestions regarding options for less expensive insurance.
  13. Life Insurance

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I should have known to search past posts. If I find out anything new I make sure to post it.
  14. Soloing Rainier

    I second the south side of Adams. No crevasses, no rockfall, no seracs. As long as you're halfway decent at navigating (even in a white-out) it's a very comfortable climb for a solo climber. Climbing Rainier solo is not recommended unless you're pretty comfortable avoiding weak snow bridges.
  15. Trip: Mt Rainier - Tahoma Glacier Date: 7/6/2007 Trip Report: Tom, Tony and I climbed up the Tahoma Glacier route and down the DC route on July 5-7. Based on a 10-day old trip report from some skiers posed on Mike Gauthier's blog (Tahoma Glacier TR) and previous trip reports we expected a straight-forward glacier climb with crevasse navigation challenges and moderate slopes (no more than 45 degrees). Let’s just say we got more than we expected. On Thursday morning Tony dropped Tom and I at the Tahoma Creek trailhead, drove back to park the van at Longmire, and then rode his road bike back to the trailhead. For some reason we expected the West Side Road to be paved and we didn’t really think about the 800 ft of vertical up the West Side Road. This made Tony’s pre-climb workout a bit more strenuous than expected. We hit the trail around 11:00, just in time for the heat of the day. Here's a photo of a washed away section of trail: I had decided to climb with light weight hiking boots, which worked to my advantage up the trail to Emerald Ridge. Tom and Tony thought it was the hottest hiking they had ever experienced and were wimpering slightly on the way up. We stopped to check out the dramatic suspension bridge just east of the intersection with the Wonderland trail. Where the trail intersected the top of Emerald Ridge at 5,600 ft we decided to continue up the ridge over some easy rock scrambling rather than drop down on the glacier. Here's a picture of me on the ridge with the route in the background: This worked out pretty well since it saved us from losing elevation and was a pretty good transition onto the glacier. We followed the obvious ramps on the climber’s right side of the glacier to our camp at about 8,300 ft. Around 8:30 we were surprised by a team of 5 climbers. Turns out they had left their tents at about 9,500 ft and climbed the route several days earlier, expected to down-climb back to camp. The climb ended up being much more difficult than anticipated and they decided to come down to Muir rather than down-climb the Tahoma Glacier. They were climbing back up to their camp to retrieve all their gear. Talk about a major bummer! When I asked them about the route they told us of challenging crevasse navigation, a 50 ft repel to get around a big crevasse, and a section of 60 degree ice. Hmmm… that didn’t sound right. We thought, “Maybe they just messed up and got off route. Maybe they’re just not very experienced.” Let’s just say that our respect for their abilities would grow over the next 24 hours. We also discovered that it’s very important to shelter your stove well from the wind if you want to melt snow in an expedient fashion. It took us three hours to melt six liters using a gas stove that has always worked well in the past. At this rate we would not have enough fuel to complete the route. After considering our options we decided we would offer to take any extra fuel that the other team didn’t want to carry out and if that was successful we would continue the climb. The next morning we slept in to 4:30 before breaking camp. Given the navigation challenges that we expected, our plan was to navigate in the daylight. Last year we wasting several hours in the dark trying to find the repel point on the Kautz route and we didn’t want to have that experience again. Also, we didn’t want to wake up the other team too early since they would be sleeping in. We arrived at the other team’s camp around 6:00 and woke them up to beg for fuel. They were very forgiving of the early morning wake up and graciously gave us half a bottle. All I can say to these helpful climbers is thank you very much. May good karma follow you on all your future climbing adventures. In addition to the fuel re-supply, their description of the route allowed us to avoid the repel. We climbed onto a ridge that headed up the glacier (this ridge is apparent on the topo map). The previous climbers had continued up the ridge because it appeared to offer a crevasse-free route compared to the center of the glacier below. Somewhere above 10,000 ft however, their further progress was blocked by a huge crevasse that cut across the ridge. This was the point where they had to repel to continue. Based on their info, we found a place around 9,600 ft to navigate off the ridge down to the center of the glacier. It was a bit tricky given the big crevasse that bordered the west side of the ridge, but doable. We continued up the center part of the glacier around many crevasses and over many snow bridges. The snow ranged from hard to slightly soft and provided excellent cramponing. We stopped at 11,000 feet to make more water. This time the stove worked like a charm and we had another 6 liters in about an hour. We decided that the poor stove performance the previous evening was due to inadequate protection from the wind. The slopes in the 9,000-12,000 range were variable in steepness and seemed to max out in the 40-45 degree range. Here's a photo of Scott and Tom around 11,500: At 12,000 feet the slope steepened. We could see old faded steps from the previous party that went straight up the slope. Warm temps over the previous days had actually lowered the snow around the footprints so the footprints stood out in relief. Using two pickets for a running belay we did an upward traverse across an approximate 50 degree slope to a possible crevasse crossing. We encountered a short section of “white ice” on this slope before reaching a flat spot. (“White ice” meaning refrozen snow that you could penetrate about 1-2 inches with your ice axe and crampons.) We then debated whether to continue to our right across a rather shaky looking snow bridge and more 50 degree slopes with a huge gaper below or head left up a short section of 55-60 degree slope and no gaper below. We could see what appeared to be faded ski tracks on the slope to the right, suggesting the snow bridge was possibly more passable when it was skied 10 days previous. We decided to head left. Tony led and placed the two pickets for a running belay. The steep section was probably about one hundred feet of elevation that ranged from soft and stable snow to white ice. Tony wished for a second tool on the ice. With my lightweight hiking boots and aluminum crampons, now it was my turn to wimper. I comforted myself with the hope that the pickets would hold if things went bad. Things went good and I reached the top of the crux with no issues except tired calves. At that point, it was clear that the good samaritan climbers had provided us with accurate route information. Here's a photo of Tony and Tom on the steep section: We continued up a continued steep (40-45 degrees) slope with crevasses on both sides that appeared to join above. Based on the previous trip report, we figured we needed to be further right and eventually found a snow bridge that crossed the crevasse to the right. Here's Tony leading across the snow bridge: This worked out well and we continued up the 40-45 degree slope. The crevasse navigation continued to be interesting, particularly given the warm afternoon temperatures and soft snow. Although the soft snow provided secure footing, we did have to post-hole in places and some of the snow bridges were fragile. We often employed boot-axe belays across the bridges for security. This turned out to be a wise practice. Somewhere around 13,000 ft, Tom set up a boot-axe belay so I could test a thin snow bridge. Keeping the rope tight and holding it with my right hand, I planted my right foot on solid snow and reached over with my left foot to pound the snow bridge. It held. I moved my right foot onto the snow bridge and reached over with my left foot to pound again. Suddenly the bridge gave way beneath me and I was swinging in the air. My right hand was still holding the rope and my head was above the level of the crevasse. By digging my crampons in the icy sidewall of the crevasse and a helping hand from Tom, I was able to swing my leg up and over the edge of the crevasse. As we stood there panting, Tom reassuringly pointed out that, “Hey, those boot-axe belays really work.” It was the surprise in his voice that bothered me a bit. The slope eased off around 13,400 and we headed for the top. Although there are a few small crevasses in this area of the mountain, we figured the snow bridges were bombproof and just motored along towards the top. Somewhere around 14,200 we passed about 100 feet west of an open crevasse. In the back, I was head down slogging along. I heard Tom yell out and raised my head to see him sunk in the snow up to his pack. He had broken through into a crevasse and all he felt was air below his feet. Leaning forward and sinking in his ice axe he was able to extricate himself quickly. Tony had crossed this area with no problem (he’s about 30 pounds lighter) and there was no sagging or other indication that the snow bridge was weak. Just a good reminder for everyone. We reached the summit at 7:30 pm, a very long day. I’ve heard you can barely stand up when the wind is about 80 miles per hour. It was close to that. We figured the crater would offer some protection from the wind for setting up camp. After exploring the west side of the crater and finding no sheltered area, we headed across the crater to a bivy site with snow walls. We spend some time enlarging the bivy to accommodate our two tents and discovered that shoveling at 14,400 ft is not like shoveling closer to sea level. Tom melted some snow while Tony and I crashed in our sleeping bags. We woke up to the first climbers entering the crater at 6:00 and headed down to Muir. Here's a picture of our own little crater in the crater: All in all, an excellent climb with just the right amount of challenge for us. The lack of people (except friendly souls with extra fuel) and moderate challenge makes this route special. I think we took the best route but it’s not certain how much longer it will be feasible given the current warm spell. If you approach from the Puyallup Cleaver, follow the skier’s advice and cross onto the Tahoma at 8,000 ft. It doesn’t look real good at 9,800 ft with steep snow and gapers at the bottom. Gear Notes: Two pickets was good enough for us, although more might be helpful if you climb when the snow is hard. We brought screws but never used them. This may change if the ice becomes more extensive. A second tool would provide extra security for the leader but probably not warranted given the shortness of the +50 degree slopes. Again this may change if the ice becomes more extensive. Approach Notes: The Tahoma Creek trail was is better-than-expected condition with excellent flagging through the washed out areas and almost all the blow down cut away.
  16. Colchuck

    From Sat. June 23rd, here's a photo of the Colchuck glacier route from about 6,000 ft: Four of us carried skis/board to catch some turns. It's a long way to haul skis but it was a nice way to drop almost 2,500 ft of vertical from the col to just above the lake. We skied beneath Dragontail on skier's right to maximize our vertical on skis. Here's a photo showing the line we skied on the upper part of the route. We stayed skier's right to follow a snowfield that provided continuous snow to within several hundred feet of the lake. As the following photo shows, the line through the rocks on the last 500 ft was barely continuous. We had to straightline a few short sections to stay on snow. I suspect a few short carries will be necessary in a few days. A link to some video of our ski down.
  17. Aluminum Crampons for DC route

    Depends on the time of year, but you could be walking on quite a bit of dirt/rock that would be rough on aluminum crampons. I'd plan on removing the aluminum pons for the dirt/rock but otherwise they should be fine.
  18. Adams Road Conditions?

    Road to Cold Springs was passable to the trail head on Saturday.
  19. B/C skiing sunday 4/22

    Sent you a pm.
  20. Looking for a good boot fitter

    I second Jim. He took care of my heel issues for a very reasonable price and I know of several people that have had good results working with him. I've never thought of Sturdevants as the place for a bargain.
  21. Can I glissade with crampons on?

    If you're sitting up at Piker's Peak on Mt. Adams waiting for the snow to soften and you feel like a little community service, just wander over to the top of the glissade track and watch for people getting ready to glissade with crampons. Apparently people break their legs all the time on that glissade. I've only seen one person planning on glissading with crampons and he actually took my advice to take the crampons off.
  22. Risk- why?

    Reinhold Messner once said something to the effect that climbing without risk isn't really climbing and risk is different for different climbers. He also said something to the effect that climbers should always climb within their comfort level, which again varies for different climbers. Although there are many reasons why I climb, the pursuit of adventure is an important element for me. Every worthwhile climb requires route finding, judgement, and technical skill. Facing challanging conditions and situations, conducting risk assessment, and utilizing our skills and judgement to minimize the risk is part of the joy of climbing. The pursuit of adventure can be difficult for non-climbers to understand and is often considered unfair to their loved ones. There is an element of "selfishness" in climbing, but I believe we have to pursue those activities that bring us joy even if it takes away from time with family and friends. For me, the key is to balance the time and energy spent on climbing with time and energy spent with family and friends.
  23. My fleese hat and overmitts are missing from my trip up to Muir yesterday. Probably on the wooden stairs on the southwest side of the public hut. They may also be at Pebble Creek. A 6-pack of your favorite brew if you find and return them. Thanks Scott
  24. Kids Ropeup Sept 15-17

    Unfortunately, it looks like we won't be able to make it. I forgot about some houseguests that we have coming. I'll let you know if things change. Sounds like fun... Maybe next time...
  25. Kids Ropeup Sept 15-17

    I've got 2 girls (12 and 14) that have been rock scrambling and some gym climbing and have a high level of interest. What age range are the kids and how many girls? (These things seem to be important at these ages).