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Tom MacD

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About Tom MacD

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  • Birthday 03/17/1966
  1. Long snowy approaches - equipment recs???

    Thanks Needtoclimb (and everyone else). Seems understanding the real conditions is the key (deep snow v. boot-tracked, etc.). My entire question stemmed from the disappointment of finding last summer, during the last week of May, that many objectives I had in mind for me and my 16 year old on a three week trip were basically off the table because of road closures (Sahale, for example, where the road was closed 6 miles before the trailhead!). We didn't realize how much snow would still be there east of the crest end of May & early June. Even when we climbed S Early Winter Spire on June 2nd, we found ourselves post-holing wallowing in deep snow, with very little boot tracks to follow. Add to that a last Xmas trip with a 2 hour snowshoe to get to a climb of a mixed route couloir on Broken Top in Oregon, which was my first such - and hopefully my last - long snowshoe approach and hike out (it was awful!). So I've had in my that head skis or something else like drift boards were the answer (and probably are given conditions?), but now I'm not so sure. I'm guessing the best advice is to call the area Ranger's office to get a clear scoop on approach conditions for any climb?
  2. Long snowy approaches - equipment recs???

    Thanks Jason! I have many questions because this snowy climbing idea is relatively new to me, despite years of rock climbing and doing many Mexican volcanos - I live in central Mexico. Curiously, Becky's books and the Nelson/Potterfield books give grades to the approaches but never really list gear needed on approaches (nor give suggestions). Skis seem the way to go for early season approaches (no surprise there) but my confusion still lingers as to say a route like Colchuck's N Buttress Couloir or Triple Couloirs - would you climb those routes in AT ski boots? I'm guessing so, but what if instead you got onto some long rock arete climbing? Would that change your choice?
  3. Long snowy approaches - equipment recs???

    Thanks Jason. That leads to another Q: Take Sahale, for example - if you went in mid May, I assume you'd ski in as far as you could, but would you take your mountaineering boots too for the summit or do them in your AT ski boots?
  4. I'm itching to do more mountaineering/alpine climbing that would involve long approaches in snow with serious altitude gain involved - basically getting in early to beat the crowds (but not too early/winter). In the Cascades, I'm thinking of things like getting to Ingalls & Stuart or maybe Colchuck in late April or early May (depending on conditions of course) for solitude and to beat the crowds. Other ideas range from Chair Peak to Baker's N Face (wide range, I know...). I hate snowshoes because I find them slow, cumbersome, and maybe it's just that I believe that there have to be much better gear options out there. But I don't really want to fork over $2k for new AT boots and bindings and skis, nor do I want to climb in AT boots. What would be ideal in my crazy head is being able to use my Sportiva Nepal GTX Cubes on something efficient and light both up and down. And my goal is not to get in the best back country ski or snowboard run in but rather just to make the approach and return much more manageable for remote snowy mountain climbing adventures. The BD GlideLite 147 set-up seems the best option, and by best I don't mean to say "great" (the big weakness being that the binding doesn't allow a non-flexible boot and also has no heel elevator, so it seems more "trail" worthy than "mountain" worthy). Is there any miracle gear out there I just don't know about? What set ups do you all use?
  5. Winter climbing in Bend?

    Yikes. The Timberline guys mentioned that Broken Top is all about having the right conditions (and low avalanche risk). Thanks!
  6. Winter climbing in Bend?

    Hi all - I'm looking for recommendations on some excursions during a day off from a family ski trip to Mt. Bachelor. I plan on checking in with the Timberline Guides as well when I arrive, but wanted to see if some of you locals had some recommendations for fun single-day outings in the area (and with relatively moderate approaches). My goal is to get more experience on crampons and steep snow and mixed climbs, and being relatively new to winter climbing & mountaineering, I'm looking for moderate to easy routes. Curious to hear what's available (so far Broken Top seems to be the main choice). I'll be in Bend for a week, arriving on the 29th of December. Thanks!
  7. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks Jared - both of those were on my "long list" and now just might be back on there. I've spoken to a few Ranger offices and it seems that the snow conditions are, indeed, a MF! At this point, which only a few days before we fly to Seattle, I'm thinking of keeping many options on the table and seeing what the conditions are by visiting the ranger stations and talking to the climbing Rangers when I arrive (Zach Winters in Methow Valley has been super helpful, and gave me the name of the climbing Ranger in Leavenworth too). As Zach said, "sometimes the mountains call the shots."
  8. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks Chuck - I'll check out those options - and I had no idea that there is an option to hit the Colchuck Lake area without a permit - I'll call the Ranger Station to confirm. And I'm open to some glacier travel that is safe, meaning no crevasse risk. My inexperience is an obvious issue, so I want to avoid any chance of a crevasse fall. And I've been assuming that any glacier has that risk. I can't help hearing the word "glacier" and immediately picturing a giant yawning crevass lying hidden under a thin bridge of snow. I want no part of that without being tied into someone who knows the drill!
  9. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    ...and another question for everyone: Given Becky's notorious approach descriptions, got any advice other than studying the approaches on maps? (Google's maps with terrain feature on has been helpful as has been www.Alltrails.com). Am I wrong in assuming that the Sahale, Tooth & Chair, Vesper, and Ingalls Lake approaches are pretty straight forward? If I do the Twin Sisters, that one seems the most confusing. Will it be possible to drive in close to Dailey Prairie in mid June?
  10. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks Whatcomboy! We can both use the practice, so I might as well take advantage of the snow, right? And I was considering Cutthroat - I'll take another look at it.
  11. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks Guys! Rad, I'm thinking pretty much the routes you laid out (hope I can snag that Colchuck permit) plus a mandatory stop-over at Early Winter/Liberty Bell. I might do the Tooth and Chair as well. What do you all think about the Twin Sisters (I'm heading to Vancouver anyway and will pass by the area)? And holy crap, Jason! Is there really that much snow still up there on Sahale?????
  12. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Wow. SUPER helpful, Rad - thank you. I think you said it in many fewer words than I did: That is EXACTLY what I'm looking for with my son. Also, on the subject of glaciers, I suspected what you said about some being perceptibly barely different than a snow field. I would feel comfortable crossing or climbing those assuming they aren't too steep and don't have crevasses we can fall into. I have a little bit of experience on steep snow using crampons and ice axes (Donner Summit and a failed attempt on Pico de Orizaba), some waterfall ice climbing experience too (but no desire to do that on this trip) but my son has exactly zero experience. It will be his first time in crampons and holding an axe. I'm looking more and more at Vesper and feel comfortable with the approach (Headlee Pass) assuming it's not super hard snow or ice (the runout sounds dodgy?). I'd love to do Forbidden and Sharkfin - maybe wait and see how conditions play out? And I'll look at Sahale. I'd prefer more roped climbing but a big part of this adventure is the hiking in deep, camping, and taking in the beauty of the wilderness. We can get a fair amount of crowded crag climbing here where I live, and perhaps you could recommend a good hike/climb to give my son some easy warm up using crampons and an axe? I was kind of thinking the approach to Vesper would be good for that if snow covered. But I certainly don't want to get us into something unpleasant or downright dangerous given our experience level.
  13. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks Jason. I'm praying for clear skies, for what that's worth, because I'd really love to get out into the wilderness with my son (away from cell reception!). And thanks for the notes on the peaks with loose rock. I've had a lot of experience with loose rock putting up routes near where I live in central Mexico, but definitely I don't want to risk sending anything down on my 16 year old son, so I'm ruling those out. I'm sure I'll find plenty of stuff for us to do without that level of risk. I'll check out Icicle and goat walls.
  14. Advice for First Timer to N Cascades

    Thanks AOC! What I've found in Becky's book and online (mountain project) seems to say the W Ridge of Forbidden can be gained via snowfields or rock (I'm OK on mildly steep snow) without having to cross a glacier. Can you give me a little more detail? Just how "tame" is the glacier approach? I'd be a fool to get into any situation with my son where a possibility of a crevasse fall exists, but if that is nearly impossible (or the glacier depth is super shallow, which one report seems to say) then I'd like to at least explore the idea more. Thanks for the other recommendations. I won't be disappointed if this trip turns into a cragging trip, but I was really hoping for some wilderness and class 4/low 5th tall peaks.
  15. First time headed to the Cascades, and looking for some honest and helpful advice on suggested routes for a father (me) and son (aged 16) three week trip into the N Cascades. We are both capable rock climbers (I comfortably lead trad up to 5.10a, have lots of anchor building and gear placing experience, and we have climbed long multi-pitch sport routes together) but are inexperienced in the alpine environment (no glacier or crevasse experience). The three weeks will be broken up with a wedding, family visit in Seattle, and two college tours, so I'm looking for suggestions that include moderate hikes in and camping from anywhere from 2 to four nights in one spot (or two). A little more info:I do NOT want suggestions that include:• glacier travel (I want no possibility of crevasse falls - we do not have the sufficient skills and experience for successful self-rescue)• mega-hikes in and out (I'm 52 and don't think I can get away with making my son carry ALL of the heavy stuff - but he will, of course, get the watermelon hidden in the pack)• routes with notoriously loose rock or other objective hazards (while I have at times wanted to kill my son, I think it best to not do so, and I don't want to be featured in the next ANAM)• routes that are only hikes up a path (I'd like some class 4 and low class 5 roped climbing)I DO hope to get suggestions that include:• beautiful campsites - especially sites that allow multiple climbing objectives from one campsite• moderate to easy climbing routes with fantastic summit views• fairly straightforward route finding, especially on the descents• sound rock with good pro (I'm fine with run-outs on low class 5)I think you all get the idea (and I apologize if this is a redundant post, but I haven't seen a recent post similar to this in the forums).And yes, I have all three of Fred's CAG books and have spent too many hours (according to my wife) pouring thru them. My thoughts right now (having never set foot in the Cascades), include the list below - please add comments and advice on them if you wish. I'd like to know if any of these are in fact much more difficult or loose or confusing on the descent, etc., than Fred's books indicate. Also, I have heard from many sources that Fred's approach info is notoriously difficult, so any tips on best approaches would be most appreciated. Here's what I was considering:• Mt. Adams South Spur or South Chute (will pass by that way to visit family - not sure if we want the big slog, though)• Guye's South Rib• The Chair, The Tooth and Mt. Bryant - the easy routes• Colchuck Lake for: Colchuck Balanced Rock N Face, Jabberwocky?, Dragontail's W Route from Colchuck Col or Colchuck Buttress or E Face of the NE Towers, Colchuck Peak's N Buttress or NE Face• Ingalls Lake for: Easy routes on Ingalls N and E Peaks, Mt. Stuart's W Ridge• Blanca Lake for: Columbia's NE Face or S Ridge, Kyes Peak's S Ridge, maybe also Monte Cristo's SE Ridge• Sloan Peak's N Ridge or SW Face (but I suspect this climb may be more committing than we should try to bite off???)• Boston Basin for: Mt. Torment's S Ridge or SE Face, Forbidden's W Ridge, Sharkfin Tower's SE Ridge• Wing Lake for: Black Peak's E Buttress or S Route or NE Ridge, Corteo Peak's E Face• Twin Sisters: N Twin's W Ridge and S Twin's W Ridge (heading to Vancouver to visit UBC, so it's on the way)• Reynold's Peak's NE Face or NE Ridge along with Rennie Peak's E Ridge• Gilbert Mtn's E or N Ridge and Crescent Peak's N Ridge• Kangaroo Temple's N Face or NE Face and Little Finger's N or S Faces• The "easy" routes on Early Winter Spires, Liberty Bell, Lexington and Concord (no need to list those)I realize this is an enormous request for info - so thanks in advance. Again, I have never been to the Cascades, so any advice is welcome. Oh - I should have added that we will arrive in Seattle on May 27 and leave from Seattle on June 18 - so please keep that in mind regarding advice on expected snow and ice conditions on approaches and the routes. Obviously, I don't have any real perspective on how realistic these routes may or may not be given expected snow conditions for this time of year. Also, it is worth noting that my son has ZERO crampon and ice axe and self-arrest experience, and my experience level there would be honestly classified as beginner (I live in Mexico, after all, and we don't get much snow and ice down here!). I am also wide open to recommendations on guides who could give us a day of instruction on snow and ice travel (glaciers too) if you think that essential prior to trying to get out there so early in the season. Thanks.
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