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About TheBootfitter

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    Seattle, WA Area
  1. Has anyone tried to get up to St. Helens lately?

    Yeah... I just found the road reports on the St Helens page, too: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/winter/current-conditions.shtml Shucks!
  2. Has anyone tried to get up to St. Helens lately?

    Anyone? I'm thinking about heading there to ski this weekend. How are the roads?
  3. Top-roping on the lower Nisqually?

    FYI -- We hiked up to about 6K on the climbers' trail to the Coleman. It started snowing and the snow turned into rain in the middle of the night. The wind was gusting upward of 20-30 mph. With only limited time available before a couple of us had to catch a flight that evening, we returned to the car without climbing any ice. The trail was in good condition. A bit icy on the way up, but it had melted by the rain throughout the night.
  4. Top-roping on the lower Nisqually?

    Thanks for the responses! After further consideration, we're opting to head to the Coleman on Baker. (It sounds like good ice is more easily accessible and three in our group do not have their Rainier climbing passes, so it would cost an extra $30/head to go there.)
  5. Top-roping on the lower Nisqually?

    (I posted this in the ice-climbing forum, too, but thought I'd get more visibility here.) A few friends and I are planning to head out for some top-roped ice climbing this weekend. We were considering the Coleman on Baker, but would like to minimize travel and approach time and hit the Nisqually from Paradise instead. Anyone been there recently? Are we likely to find decent ice conditions for setting up a couple top-ropes and climbing a few hours in the morning? Thanks for any insight you can offer!
  6. A few friends and I are planning to head out for some top-roped ice climbing this weekend. We were considering the Coleman on Baker, but would like to minimize travel and approach time and hit the Nisqually from Paradise instead. Anyone been there recently? Are we likely to find decent ice conditions for setting up a couple top-ropes and climbing a few hours in the morning? Thanks for any insight you can offer!
  7. Hi! I'm looking for some input for climbs around the Portland area to take a couple relatively inexperienced climbers over Labor Day weekend. (They are fit, understand the basics of glacier climbing, and have been on one unsuccessful Rainier summit climb.) Any suggestions? I'd like to climb Hood, but everything I hear is that the Hogsback on Hood is not much fun this late in the season due to rockfall and icy conditions. And my understanding is that other routes on Hood are not likely to be any better -- especially with inexperienced climbers. Anyone been to South Sister recently? If nothing else, we may consider a glacier route on Adams. I've seen some beta floating around for Adams recently. Thanks for any input you can offer!
  8. Rainier via Emmons -- July 27-29

    PLEASE NOTE: The second party of two that we contacted is likely changing their plans. Please contact me if you are available and interested in climbing the Emmons route July 27-29. Thanks!!!
  9. Rainier via Emmons -- July 27-29

    Update: We found another party of two! I am leaving this post up in case something happens and their plans fall through. I'll still take emails from interested parties in case I need to make something happen last-minute, but I anticipate that we are set. Thanks! EDIT: OUR PARTY OF TWO IS LIKELY BACKING OUT Anyone else available and interested for this weekend?
  10. Rainier via Emmons -- July 27-29

    Our third just backed out due to a family situation. My current partner is a newbie with extensive backpacking experience but limited snow/ice/glacier experience. We're heading out this weekend (July 14-15) for a shakedown/training trip for him to learn and review basic glacier travel skills. I will not allow the climb to happen unless we are able to find a third partner. (I.e. I have no interest in being at the sharp end of a rope with only a noob to back me up.) We are looking for a climber with at least a moderate amount of experience who is solid with glacier travel skills. If you are able to join us on the shakedown trip -- even better! (We'll leave Saturday afternoon and return Sunday evening -- again July 14-15.) For the climb itself... We plan to leave Friday evening, July 27, and hike to Glacier Basin. Up to Schurman on Saturday morning and hope for good weather to summit Sunday morning. We plan to use Monday as a weather/contingency day, but hope to be back to Seattle by Sunday evening. Anyone interested? If so, shoot me an email at thebootfitters@yahoo.com. Thanks!
  11. [TR] Mount Rainier - Disappointment Cleaver 6/6/2007

    That's cool! It's a small world, everywhere you look! Ian took all these shots, by the way. With his super-duper deluxe digital camera.
  12. Trip: Mount Rainier - Disappointment Cleaver Date: 6/6/2007 Trip Report: MOUNT RAINIER - REMOVE THE ASTERISK! Note: All photos were taken by Ian (except the summit shot). BACKGROUND I met Ian through our common interest in bootfitting via participation in an online backpacking discussion forum. We had a few differences of opinion, but I knew immediately that Ian was an individual worthy of respect. After exchanging several ideas electronically, Ian and I had an opportunity to meet face-to-face when my wife Laura and I visited my brother in Ian's home territory of Virginia. We met for a day of top-roping at a local D.C. area crag. Since it was one of my first outdoor rock climbing experiences, I paid close attention to how Ian set anchors and was impressed by his rope handling skills. I felt comfortable with Ian. I trusted his experience and his judgment. And from that day forward he became a sort of virtual mentor in my pursuit of climbing experience. After a few years of exchanging emails and phone calls (always with the idea in the back of my mind of climbing with Ian someday), I proposed a trip to climb Mount Rainier. I knew that Ian had attempted the mountain twice previously and had been forced to turn back both times before reaching the summit due to poor weather conditions among other factors. My own successful summit bid a year earlier had an asterisk associated with it, as we opted to turn back after reaching the crater rim but before reaching the highest point on the mountain due to poor visibility, 75+ mph winds, and an exhausted teammate. It appeared that our initial plans to climb Rainier together were falling through. But then I received an email from Ian saying that he and one of his climbing buddies (James) had tickets booked to Seattle and needed a third partner for the rope team. Coincidentally, I was already looking for something to climb that weekend, as Laura would be traveling out of town. I joined the team with excitement - both at the prospect of finally climbing with Ian and the opportunity to visit the majestic mountain yet again. THE TRIP Wednesday - Arrival and Departure We exchanged several emails in the planning stages of the trip (including several references to cheesy mountaineering movies that prompted me to rent a VHS player just so I could watch "K2"). The anticipation for me was realized when I picked up Ian and James Wednesday afternoon from the Seattle airport and we drove to Paradise, which looked like anything but paradise on this particular day. The spitting rain and cold wind served as a reminder of what the forecast predicted, but there was anticipated to be a break in the weather Thursday night and Friday as a ridge of high pressure moved in. We packed up and started hiking up into the uninviting, white atmosphere. Having been extremely busy at work over the past several days/weeks/months, I was concerned that my fitness level would not be sufficient to keep up with my fit marathon-ready partners. But I had the advantage of having hiked some vertical terrain in preparation for the climb. On the inclines that Ian and James complained of "feeling the burn," I was wondering when the climbing was going to start. In hindsight, I could have prevented two swift kicks in the butt had I not verbalized this sentiment to my partners. We hiked up through the whiteness until it was obvious the sunlight was diminishing before we stopped to find a place suitable to make camp. We pitched the tent just above Pebble Creek, feeling healthy but tired. Except for James. He had been working long hours too, but with the early morning flight and the three-hour time change, he had been active for nearly twenty-four hours with only a couple hours of sleep the night before. He vomited after we reached camp and complained of a headache. Acute Mountain Sickness may show up as low as 5,000 feet in some people, but this was the lowest I'd seen anybody experience it. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the who, when or where of altitude sickness. James had been higher several times previously without similar symptoms. Anticipating that James would feel better after some rest at the current elevation, we ate, drank, and climbed into the tent under a starless canopy of clouds. After several hours of warm, peaceful sleep - broken only by occasional sleet pelting the tent - I awoke to the sun trying to burn off the thick layer of clouds. I peeked out of the tent and saw that the sun was doing a pretty good job of it. Unfortunately, James was not able to get the rest he needed as he spent a near sleepless night struggling with his discomfort. Thursday - Splitting up We slept in late on Thursday morning, allowing James to rest and recuperate. He felt physically better late in the morning, but still was not 100% and felt a bit anxious about the climb. He agreed to attempt the rest of the hike to Muir, but was pretty certain he would not be joining us on our summit attempt. After some hot soup for breakfast, we broke camp and started hiking up. It soon became apparent that James needed to go back down. Ian and I were ready to stash our packs and hike back down with him to safety before returning to pick up our packs and finish the hike to Camp Muir. Fortunately, a descending hiker agreed to walk back down with James. (This hiker turned out to be Todd Burleson - an accomplished mountaineer with several successful Everest summits who happened to be on his way to catch a flight to lead a Denali expedition.) Ian and I divided the remaining food and group gear that we'd need and sent James down with as much as we felt he could safely handle. The drawback here is that we packed food for up to four days for three people; we had a three-person tent, a three-person cookset, and fuel for three people. Among three people, the weight isn't bad, but split amongst the two of us, my pack felt burdensome. It was easily the heaviest load I had ever carried up a hill. We arrived at the 10,080 ft Camp Muir around 5:00 PM - later than we would have liked, but still early enough to allow us some rest before a summit attempt early the next morning. After hiking up through clouds, the skies finally opened to reveal sun and bright blue hues. It appeared as though the extended forecast was accurate, and our window of clear weather was arriving right on target. We cooked dinner, melted water, and prepared our gear for an early morning alpine start. We opted to stay in the public shelter to maximize our available time. We were in bed shortly after 9:00 PM. Friday - The Ascent We awoke just before 2:00 AM to groaning, clanking and hissing as other climbers woke up, prepared their gear and cooked their breakfast before starting the summit bid. After the initial activity, Ian and I rolled out of our bags, made some hot soup and packed up. The night sky above was crystal clear as the snow crunched beneath our feet. The stars were spectacular as we watched the line of white headlamps slowly ascend the Cowlitz Glacier on the route out of Muir. We commenced our journey to the upper mountain shortly after 3:30 AM. We crossed the unbroken Cowlitz and picked our way up the Cathedral Rocks, reaching the area of Ingraham Flats just as the sun was beginning to tease the horizon. We were treated to a spectacular sunrise over Little Tahoma, with a sea of clouds far below us. That is one of those views that you can't easily experience anywhere except on the side of a mountain after an alpine start! Like the feeling of a perfect swing in golf, it's one of the things that keeps me coming back for more! We saw some climbers ascending the Ingraham Direct route, but having heard that crevasses on that route were opening up and with a freshly made boot trail on the Disappointment Cleaver route, we opted for the Cleaver. We crossed the Ingraham Glacier and clipped into the recently placed fixed lines to gain the Cleaver. Rockfall is a potential hazard during this part of the climb, but the rocks were content to lie still that morning. Looking at the steep cliffs just a bit farther down the slope, I was thankful for the security offered by the fixed lines that helped to prevent a minor misstep from turning into a major catastrophe on this exposed section of the route. Once we had gained the cleaver, we ascended a steep snow slope protected by a few running belays left by other teams on the mountain. We scrambled up a couple steep rocky sections before hitting the snow field on the Cleaver. We ascended this to 12,400 feet, where we encountered our first crevasse crossing as the route left the Cleaver and joined the big Emmons Glacier. The snow bridge was protected by pickets. It was a little intimidating staring down into the gaping crevasse, but we crossed without issue. We followed the boot path as it traversed farther to climber's right on the Emmon's Glacier before we started climbing again. This traverse avoids the large crevasses above the Cleaver. Around 13,000 feet, I noticed that Ian was slowing down. I asked if he was feeling okay, and he said that he had a bit of a headache, but nothing out of the ordinary. He said he would be fine. I was a bit concerned, but Ian was an experienced mountaineer and was completely lucid. It was obvious that he was working harder than he had been lower on the mountain, but so was I. That is a common experience at higher elevations. I trusted his judgment that he'd be okay, but I kept a close eye on him to watch for any further symptoms. A bit higher, I noticed that Ian was struggling a bit to keep going. I asked him again how he was feeling. He responded that he would be fine. He seemed a bit agitated... not so much at me, but rather at his body's unwillingness to cooperate with his intentions. He caught a bit of the flu from his young son before leaving for the trip, and that certainly wasn't helping him high on the mountain. After seeing Ian continue to fight against his body, I asked him again how he was feeling. When he assured me for the third time that he would be fine and would be able to make it up, I reminded him to keep some reserves for the descent, too. I expressed my concern at his condition, and I considered suggesting that we turn back to play it safe. Though I wanted to reach the summit, I was concerned about our ability to return safely to Muir. The sun was getting warm and the few snow bridges we crossed were only going to get weaker. I wondered what some of the steep sections would look like descending the Cleaver. I believe I would have turned back were it not for my respected partner's resolve to continue pushing higher. Knowing that Ian prefers to climb conservatively and is not prone to summit fever, I once again trusted his judgment. We continued to climb and passed a few cheerful descending parties who encouraged us, telling us that the summit was just around the corner. We wished them a safe descent. I scoffed a bit when they said the crater was just a few minutes away. I had been checking my altimeter on the way up, and it was now showing 13,500 feet - still nearly 1,000 vertical feet from the top. Only when we were looking down into the crater about ten minutes later did I realize that my altimeter was on 'hold' at 13,500. I reset it and saw it jump to over 14,000! The crater was inviting and warm, with bright blue windless skies above. A few other parties were basking in the warm sun as they rested before their descent. We stopped to rest and chat briefly with a guide before crossing the crater to reach the true summit of Columbia Crest at 14,411 feet. We were moving slowly, and I suggested removing our packs and unclipping from the rope in order to move more freely. Ian didn't like that suggestion because the way he had the excess rope coiled and his prussiks attached made it difficult to unclip. Being tired myself and wanting to feel refreshed, I convinced him to do it anyway. Only afterward did I realize that it may have been easier for him to stay clipped in. We clambered up the remaining five minutes to Columbia Crest and briefly enjoyed the 360 degree views. We could see peaks well into Oregon and beyond Mount Baker to the north - possibly as far north as Canada. The summit photos attest to how exhausted Ian was by this point, so we kept our visit at the top short. We exchanged a high-five and snapped a few shots. Then I silently thanked Rainier for allowing us to safely reach her summit (removing my asterisk) and we began our arduous descent. Friday - The Descent As we were leaving the crater, we chatted briefly with another party who had ascended the Ingraham Direct route. They were considering descending the Disappointment Cleaver route to avoid some of the sketchy snow bridges on the ID. Hearing this, I quietly asked them to keep an eye out for us on the descent, indicating that Ian wasn't feeling 100%. They nodded their agreement. It was already 11:00 AM by the time we left the crater. Ian mentioned that he was ready for a speedy descent, and I agreed, but indicated that I would prefer a safe descent over a speedy one. If we could have both - then great! As it turned out, we were moving quite slowly. I asked Ian to lead on the descent so that I could keep a watchful eye out and arrest any slips or falls. I still felt physically strong, but knew my muscles were getting tired. The anxiety I felt descending with only one partner - who was feeling less than ideal - didn't allow me to relax. I was slightly distracted as my mind played out several "what if" scenarios. Since I was momentarily not paying attention and moving faster than Ian, the rope became slack and interfered with Ian's footwork. A couple stern reminders from Ian to watch the rope were all I needed to return my focus to the present and keep my eye on him and the rope. I saw the party behind us descending. They were still far back, but I anticipated that they would quickly pass us at the rate we were moving. After an hour passed and they hadn't gained much ground, I suspected they were holding back a bit in order to keep an eye on us from above. When they finally caught up at the snow bridge to the top of the Cleaver, it became apparent that the three of them were exhausted and in need of some rest. Because they were not familiar with the descent of the Cleaver, they asked if they could descend with us. Though we wanted to keep moving to get Ian to safety as quickly as possible, we agreed to hold up for a few minutes while they rested. So, here we were... five of us... late on a hot afternoon, descending the Disappointment Cleaver. Ian was severely dehydrated and we were nearly out of water. He had a splitting headache and did not have much left in reserves. The other team was unsure of the route, dehydrated and entirely exhausted. At this point, I was the only one feeling strong physically and my reserves were beginning to be tapped, too. I felt confident that we would make it down safely at this point, but I still couldn't help feeling some anxiety at the situation. I wondered why I ever enjoyed climbing in the first place. At that moment, it wasn't much fun. We set out a minute or two ahead of the other team to minimize risk of falling rocks or other objects from above. The descent of the snow field to the right of the rocky spine we had climbed proved to be the most physically demanding section of the entire climb. With both of us tired already, we plunged through soft, mashed potato snow up to our knees (and sometimes our waist) for about 1,000 vertical feet. Every single step required strained mental concentration and physical effort. It was a huge relief to finally reach the fixed ropes that led us off the Cleaver and onto the Ingraham Glacier. Knowing that the rest of the route posed minimal hazard, I finally was able to relax. I confirmed that the party above us was still doing okay, and we kept on pushing. Near Ingraham Flats, I took one final drink of water and gave the rest to Ian, who obviously needed it more than I did. When passing the climbers camped there, I suggested to Ian that we ask for a cup or two of water for him, but he grunted a negative response and kept pushing. By the time we reached Cathedral Gap, Ian was moving even more slowly. We removed our crampons and I stuffed his daypack and gear inside my pack to minimize his burden. We continued the last part of the descent to Camp Muir at a snail's pace. Finally, after seven hours of climbing and nearly six hours descending, we arrived at Muir. Ian immediately crashed on the wooden floor of the public shelter. I set out to find someone willing to share a liter of water for Ian right away to tide him over until I was able to melt some snow. The rangers proved to be extremely friendly and helpful in our hour of need. After rehydrating some, but not able to keep down any food, Ian curled up in his sleeping bag. He drifted in and out of sleep/consciousness, groaning and snoring for the next several hours. Whenever he was awake, I reminded him to keep drinking, but could not get him to eat anything. I stored up enough water for both of us, cooked myself some dinner, then we both got some much needed rest for the night. Saturday - Return to Paradise We awoke on Saturday morning to howling 40+ mph winds and blowing snow. The expected front had moved in more quickly than anticipated. Ian still was not feeling well, and we knew we had to find a way to get him down soon. I kept in touch with the rangers at Camp Muir, relaying Ian's condition. Once again they were extremely helpful with information and offers of assistance. I learned from the rangers that the weather was only expected to worsen over the course of the next two or three days, but that currently the winds and snow would likely diminish just a thousand feet lower on the mountain. This was evidenced by the fact that we could actually see Paradise from above. There was a large group of novice climbers in the public shelter that was debating whether to descend or wait out the weather. After I relayed what I had learned from the rangers, we all agreed to descend through the white-out to Paradise. We certainly had no desire to stay on the mountain any longer. Ian and I had stuffed all of our gear into our packs. Ian was obviously in pain, but had a steely resolve about him. He had taken some codeine to take the edge off. We discussed crafting a sled from a sleeping pad in order to haul his pack, but he was determined to carry it himself. We were the first party to leave the shelter, and the others followed shortly after. The wind-driven snow/sleet pelted us. The gusts were schoolyard bullies, constantly shoving us and knocking us around. But as the rangers had anticipated, the wind and snow lessened as we descended. Whether from the codeine or from the lower elevations, Ian began to regain some strength. In fact, there were sections that I started to fall behind his increasing pace. We were able to enjoy a few short glissades on the way down, which saved some energy and provided some much needed fun! Though the weather was only marginally better than when we first arrived at the mountain a few days before, Paradise was much more inviting on the descent! By 10:00 Saturday morning, we had returned. We removed our packs and breathed a great sigh of relief. Then we began the adventure of locating James, who had our vehicle and was presumably somewhere in the state of Washington. Negotiating weak cell signals, broken payphones, a collect call to a sister-in-law with a request to call James for us, and unanswered text messages, we could do nothing else but wait. When James walked through the door, I never thought I'd be so happy to see someone I'd only known for three days! As we were driving down the road from Paradise, I looked back toward the mountain... obscured by clouds. I was already forgetting the suffering of the past few days and was wondering when I would return to this majestic place to climb again. Gear Notes: No snowshoes or avi beacons were needed. A few extra pickets for running belays may have been helpful, had there not already been some placed, but I think I would have felt okay with just one per person. Approach Notes: Mostly snow covered from Paradise up, but a few sections showing the summer trail.
  13. Bears in Goat Rocks?

    Thanks for the feedback! We ended up using Ursacks and had no issues. We saw goats and elk, but no bears or rodents. (There were signs of Sasquatch everywhere, though!)
  14. Climb: Gilbert Peak-Klickitat Ridge Date of Climb: 10/14/2006 Trip Report: (I was trying to add this photo, but I'm not sure if I was successful: On Friday, my wife and I met up with three friends in the Goat Rocks Wilderness of the Southern Washington Cascades (roughly in between Mts Rainier and Adams). The goal was to reach the summit of Gilbert Peak (aka Mt Curtis Gilbert), the highest point of the wilderness area at 8,184 feet. The Goat Rocks area -- so named because of the bands of mountain goats which live there -- is the eroded remnants of an ancient volcano that erupted well over a million years ago. Though none of my pictures are of a wide enough angle to show the entire crater area, the view is reminiscent of the blown-out mountainside of Mt St Helens -- only much larger and after significant regrowth. The rough outline of the mountain that dominated the landscape some two million years ago can still be seen in the semi-circular ring of peaks around the crater area. My wife and I made the 3+ hour drive from Seattle after we both got home from work on Friday. We hiked about a mile and a half with only the light of our headlamps under the starry, moonless night sky. Our companions had left us a trail of clues to help us find their campsite. We joined them shortly after nine o'clock and after a bit of unwinding by the campfire, we crawled into the sleeping bags. We awoke before sunrise on Saturday and hiked about five miles to Surprise Lake where we set up camp and loaded our packs with only enough food, water, and clothing to get us to the top of Gilbert Peak. We allowed up to seven hours to navigate the roughly 7-mile roundtrip mostly off-trail hike, which would put us back in our Surprise Lake camp before dark. The trail up started under the cover of the forest, but became a combination of cross-country travel, goat trails, and unmaintained trails. We soon climbed above treeline and saw the terrain rise sharply up to what was the crater rim of the ancient volcano. We picked our way up the steep, rocky terrain until we reached the ridge above. On the way, we were fortunate to see a couple of the creatures for which the area was named. Atop the ridge, the view was incredible! Mt Adams was so close that we could see the huge crevasses in the glaciers on the north side of the mountain. The hiking became much easier, as we simply had to follow the ridge for awhile. There were a few fun sections of class three scrambling where we had to use our hands and feet to cross. The view on both sides of the ridge was simply spectacular on this sunny day! Earlier on the steep terrain, my wife had twisted her knee. She pressed on for awhile, but after crossing most of the ridge, she determined that it was not wise to push through the pain any longer. She and I turned around for camp as the other three continued to the top. On our way back, we took a slightly different route that involved slightly gentler slopes. It proved to be a good test for our navigation and route-finding skills! I won't say we were exactly lost. (Well, okay, for a short time we were lost.) Shortly after leaving camp that morning, I marked a GPS waypoint and labeled it "Camp." I should have labeled it "Trail shortly outside of camp," because by the time we were returning, I had forgotten that the point was outside of camp and not camp itself. This simple oversight led to a few errors in judgment that caused me to take Laura off-trail through some thick forest. She took several unnecessary and painful steps as we tried to get back on track. Lesson learned, though: Don't trust a GPS waypoint alone over common sense, a map and compass. By the time we returned to camp, the others had just arrived minutes earlier -- having successfully reached the summit. We cooked some dinner, shared some stories, and crawled into the sleeping bags again. It rained off and on through the night, and a cold wind blew the following morning. My wife's knee was feeling better after some rest, and the hike out was mostly uneventful. (Except for seeing several huge tracks in the trail that we swear were made by a Sasquatch!) ;-) Gear Notes: Camping gear for Surprise Lake, no technical gear needed for the scramble up. Some people may be more comfortable with a helmet, but I didn't deem one necessary. Approach Notes: Approach trails are not always clearly marked. Past Surprise Lake, there are a myriad of trails -- many are game trails.
  15. Bears in Goat Rocks?

    I've been poking around a bit, but can't find any specific information about bears in the Goat Rocks area. Should I be concerned at all with regard to protecting food? Or is the lack of information indication that there is a lack of ursa? What have y'all done in the area to protect food from bears or other critters? Canisters? Ursacks? Crittersacks? In pictures, I don't see many trees to hang anything from. I'll be heading up there this weekend. Any feedback is appreciated!