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emilio taiveaho pelaez

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  1. So happy you asked about Chad's Backcountry Catfood ("Climb Like a Cat, Eat Like Fred Beckey") Here's a photo of a fresh batch. There's usually a ton of foraged mushrooms dehydrated into the mix as well, which really helps with the bowel consistency for those wag bags... there's just no dehydrated meal on the market that compares (and we've tried plenty!!), or that you can prepare in multiple ways (as soup or as a weird salty crunchy snack). I think the fresh ingredients from the Moline garden are key. If we heat it up, we usually put some fresh garlic in there too to make it seem more like a fresh meal. When I was first getting into dirtbagging, someone told me that the old heads like Beckey and Chouinard would get discount cat food to bring into the backcountry, so I would be out in rural Wyoming trying to be like them eating literal cat food haha... this feels like a way of keeping that tradition alive while also being kinder to my internal organs!
  2. Trip: Mt. Fury - Wayne Wallace’s Mongo Ridge (Second Ascent of the Rooster Comb and new line on the Pole of Remoteness) Trip Date: 07/07/2024 Trip Report: Once in a Lifetime: Wayne Wallace’s Mongo Ridge (Second Ascent of the Rooster Comb and new line on the Pole of Remoteness). VI (26 Pitches, Steep Snow) 5.10a+ R. [not to dispute or change the current ED 1 5.9 rating, proposed by Sam Boyce. A note on the grade: 1. we encountered climbing harder than 5.10a on tower one--this could be avoided with better route-finding 2: Wayne gives a grade of 5.10 on tower three with the description of an "overhanging bulge" that matched our experience. We are in agreement that there are multiple ways of lowering the technical climbing difficulty, as Mongo Ridge is itself full of lines, and are quite honestly not concerned with the naming of difficulty or grade. The experience is full on, and the "hardest" pitches usually get low technical grades--5.4 Tower 3 traverse.] 65 hours on the route (30+ hours of climbing and three bivys), 6 rappels, 3 simul pitches, 1 big bag of Chad’s Backcountry Catfood. Adam “Mo” Moline & emilio Taiveaho Peláez Itinerary: Monday July 1st: Drive and boat-in, walk to Luna Camp Tuesday 2nd: Luna Camp up Access Creek Wednesday 3rd: Below Luna Col to ½ way up Tower One (travel low route, below Luna Ridge, summit Fury, descend; sleep at tower one bivy) Thursday 4th: Tower One, Tower Two, Tower Three; sleep at tower three bivy Friday 5th: Summit of Tower Three to False Fury Bivy (climb Tower 4, Rooster Comb, Pole of Remoteness) Saturday 6th: False Fury to True Summit of Fury, traverse back through East Fury and back to Luna Ridge Bivy Sunday 7th: Luna Ridge down Access Creek and hike back down Big Beaver to HWY 20 Concise Version: A celebration of Wayne Wallace’s achievement on soloing the mythic Mongo Ridge. A rare opportunity and ideal weather window, following the wake of a week spent in the Chilliwack range for the wedding of a lifetime. Adventure, friendship, gratitude, the closing of a four year project, renewed vigor and commitment to wildness and to the power of cooperation and trust. Our line up The Pole of Remoteness (“Once in a Lifetime” 2 Pitches, 5.9R) is accessed by climbing the Rooster Comb and rapping climber’s left of the formation, then following an upward gulley to an opening near the base of the Pole before traversing onto the ramps comprising its south facing aspect (see P.24-25 for additional details/beta). Thank you to Wayne Wallace for the line. The boldness and grit of onsight free soloing Mongo Ridge, only rope soloing the hard climbing of tower three, is astonishing. Words fail in capturing the admiration we feel in imagining being on the ridge without beta, committing to each challenge--each tower, each pitch, each move--without certainty of outcome. As we mention in the trip report, our effort is but an echo of that awesome event in 2006; thank you to Jeff and Priti Wright for their second ascent and trip report (this trip report motivated us to attempt Mongo for the first time in 2022, and we’ve poured over it for years); thank you to Lani Chapko and Sam Boyce for the third ascent beta–including the idea to luxuriate on Tower Three, the “sick bivy” was indeed the sickest bivy of my life–and thank you to them for their second ascent on the Pole of Remoteness, for cleaning our rap tat during their climb (and a cam I think?); thank you especially to Jake Johnson, secret hero of this trip report, who selflessly gave us gear, helped us think through the logistics, and who climbed with us in spirit, hoggin’ all the leads with his enviable trad dad style even when he wasn’t there, we were redpointing Tower One because of him; thank you, too, to Cedar Wright for the nice gear and rain jacket that I’ve been living out of in the backcountry, sleeping on top of ropes in the open air but feeling like I got a tarp on; thank you to our families for the continued support and love and openness to allow us to pursue this lunatic dream; and mostly thank you to the Picket Range, for providing us passage, for testing us, humbling us, and endlessly teaching us. The Picket Range is the heart, to have the privilege to be there, in such a special and sacred place, among clouds and glaciers, is not something we take for granted. Preamble: Last year, Adam and I Sharpened the Saw on the Sawtooth Ridge of the Olympics. This was a climb with injuries, consequences, and many lessons, as it took us out for a big part of the summer. Facing the existential questions of: “why climb?” “Are the risks and objective hazards involved in alpine ascents worth it?” ushered in a renewed commitment to the craft, and a year of blue collar trad work for me. We had tested our systems and crossed true choss, we knew what we had to do to make sure we’d be ready for Mongo Ridge. My home is parked in rural North Carolina, so I spent the year putting time on moderates across the Southeast, honing rock skills and getting humbled. Mo, living in Olympia, put time in climbing all over the state (and many long hours on the garage woodie), consistently pushing his grades higher and refining his style, polishing his rockcraft with the precision of a master potter. We trained in North Idaho with our partner Jake Johnson, seeking ice and snow adventure. In North Carolina, we climbed wet multipitch in the Linville Gorge and tried the strangest and most beautiful routes we could find (Zombie Woof at Moore’s Wall; the Open Book at the Linville Gorge), learning to fall on gear and getting as dialed into our trad systems as we could. Mo and I have been climbing together for half a decade, so it’s safe to say we’re a unit, and if anyone would be able to climb and live on Mongo Ridge and have a blast at the same time, it would be us–particularly given all we’ve gone through in the Cascades. We had a very strong shot at setting the SKT (Slowest Known Time) of the Ridge, and weren’t about to give up that opportunity. Taking a boat ride in, we stache some Mt. Fury Chardonnay, protein, and bone broth in a bag at Big Beaver, hoping to have a celebratory meal and toast next week, regardless of what happens, and hike in to the big commit. Pitch by Pitch: Given that we swapped leads back and forth, each section of the pitch by pitch report is written by the leader of the pitch. If the follower gives commentary, it will be noted in the description. Sections of commentary are written by both of us in collaboration. East Fury: After a long grinding slog up snow, scree, and heather to East Fury, we stache extraneous supplies on the summit and eat a big meal. A forecast showed the best Picket weather we’ve had in years. We decide to go with 2 packs to share the weight and haul more water, but as light as possible. Early afternoon deliberation about gear leaves us staching clothes, bivys, extra food, and a half-pound of dry-salami for our return journey. Everything non-essential including our tooth brushes and spoons got the cut. Soon the descent begins and each quick step down towards Goodell Creek pushes up deeper and deeper into our commitments and dreams. We stop twice for water, filling up our supplies below the “washboard” feature used to access the first tower. We drink as much as we can, knowing water is going to be a crux in the days ahead. Mo fills 5L, but I (Emilio) felt a little too intimidated by the climbing to carry the weight, so I brought with me 3L. With early season conditions still lingering, we are able to use a snow bridge and avoid the moat crux to gain the tower. By 4:30 P.M., we were on rock, here we go: Tower One: Emilio Pitch 1. 5.6 squeeze chimney. Grime and loose rock but fantastic moving. A devotee of the old school, I take “chimney” literally, rather than escaping right or left. The top is a narrow constriction that eats the body like a cam. Tight enough that I took off my pack and slung it behind me, pulling the pig up once I was out. Time to get birthed. From here, the search for a belay led me right and up, though I couldn’t identify Wayne’s original “5.8 overhang,” I got to a position that seemed to allow passage, had a good anchor, and brought Mo up who climbed the solid rock to the left of the chimney. Mo Pitch 2 5.10 (b/c?). After a long day which looked more like a wave-function going repeatedly up and down the snow and scree, vertical rock was a treat. Finally we only have to go up! The excitement of being on route, slight exhaustion, and a head focused on speed led me to punching up the first overhang I saw after the belay. Ironically trending up to try to avoid the 5.10 pitch the Wrights climbed, I found myself in 5.10 territory with overhangs on smeared feet. I climbed up and looked where I could bail left but found no escape from the increasingly steep pitch. Not being fresh on my choss dancing skills and feeling weighed down by the pack, I reached up for a hold with too little grace for the pickets and pulled a head-sized block down on top of me. I saw the earth spinning closer as I fell towards the chimney when Emilio miraculously catches me on my 2nd piece after a ~15 foot fall. I felt oddly calm and with only an elevated heart-rate and a small cut on my finger I realized my luck. After catching my breath and realizing the need for delicate climbing, but not wanting to go clean and down-climb that crux section, I repeat the moves trending up and slightly left on sustained 5.10 terrain until a decent belay. My father’s life advice, “Be smart about being stupid” rang in my ears for the rest of the trip as my attitude turned to patience without rushing the remainder of the ridge. While I had studied the beta the route, I underestimated Tower 1 given our previous ascent/descent (with sherpa Johnson hauling me up luxuriously last time). I am grateful for the easy and hard lessons that the Pickets teach and this seemed like a slap on the wrist. The next 2.5 days on the ridge gave me a renewed sense of mindful choss-dancing while communing with this stellar ridge. After this intro pitch, a sense of cragging in the sky on some of the best rock I’ve found in Washington left me elated and excited for the seemingly endless options of gendarmes on the road ahead. Emilio commentary: Say what Mo will say about this pitch, I firmly believe this was the crux of the route and the most difficult climbing we did by far. I was definitely at my edge in terms of the movement and commitment required for this pitch full of slopers and foot trickery. As the second pitch of the route, it was a sobering follow. During Mo’s fall, I remember my body reacting as if by instinct as I threw myself down the mountain to catch the steep fall without getting yanked up and potentially colliding with loose rock or compromising my anchor (a slung block requiring a downward, rather than sideward, direction of pull). Emilio Pitch 3. Wondery 5.6ish with wolverine climbing (trying to avoid moss and branches, sometimes grabbing branches, surprisingly bushwacky). At a great belay, Mo looks both triumphant and battle worn–on his first lead of the trip. His fall had certainly rattled us both, but we knew we had to continue pressing upward. Once we were back on route things would ease up. After all, we were redpointing Tower One, which had previously been very cruxy and time consuming, but at least we knew it, and had slept on it. On our previous attempt, I remember this tower being tricky to navigate until the fourth class ridge… this time around, we were again too far right to access the true ridge. From Mo’s belay, I started climbing up and left, looking for anything familiar. Mo Pitch 4: A shorter than necessary pitch traversing left through brush brought us to a view of the ridge and easier terrain. I was still shaking off the nerves after my fall, so I relied on my reliable climbing partner to help bring us to some version of a safe nook for the night. Emilio Pitch 5: Low 5th. More of the same movement, wolverine and brush dance. I kept pressing up and left, up and left, looking for a bivy spot for the night, until I found a nook that looked like it could accommodate two. I barely fit in the loving squeeze of two blocks, while Mo somehow balanced his sleeping pad between two young trees and slept as if suspended in air. Thursday morning we woke up at 5:30 a.m., lingering in our packs a little bit to appreciate the warm embrace of morning sun after a cold night. Emilio Pitch 6: Low fifth. Some sketchy tree moving and continuing to push up. Recognizing that Mo must still be at least a little rattled by his fall (the biggest I’d seen on trad prior to that point) I figured I should start the day on lead, given that I’d scoped out the route and was feeling strong and motivated to continue upwards, this would be a nice warm-up for the work ahead. Mo commentary: This was the only time we deviated from swinging leads equally. I was grateful for my top rope which properly warmed my bones and woke me back up. Mo Pitch 7: More rock than brush now, more of the same climbing and regaining confidence leading. Emilio Pitch 8: 4th/low fifth. Up and to the summit of Tower One. The most straightforward lead so far. Once at the familiar summit, we scope for the rap stations the previous parties have left behind. A small cluster on the climber's left of the formation leads us to the first single rope rap, which we gleefully ride in order to cross over to the base of tower 3. Tower 2. Fun!! Mo P.9 5.7 Some choss on ledges, but overall solid rock compared to what Tower 1 felt like. Trending up and right until a solid belay ledge before the traverse. Expecting choss made this tower feel like a solid block of granite. Moderate climbing with easy route finding was affirming. Emilio P.10 Blue Collar 5.8/5.9 emilio leads right and up in steady moving. This is the first lead where I really feel the hours of drilling trad moderates in North Carolina coming to my aid, as I encounter really enjoyable climbing on consistent rock. It certainly felt nice to be on rock with decent, if runout, protection after negotiating all the obstacles we had overcome to get here. From the summit of tower two, we use both our ropes to rap steeply to the base of tower 3. Tower 3. This felt like the crucible of the route. We knew it was supposed to be the technical crux of the trip. In his AAJ article, Wayne called Tower 3 5.10. On the other hand, both previous groups (Priti & Jeff; Lani & Sam), had only reported 5.9. Either way, we knew it was going to be old school and looked steep and intimidating. I had dreamt of that sight for two years now, remembering gaping at the massive tower during our first attempt in 2022. Mo P.11 5.4 R traverse skirting tower 3 turned out to be the most stressful climbing of the day for me. Few options for pro led to an intimidating lead and follow. Probably my longest (time) lead of the day, a delicate calculation and sideward dance on a solid quartz band led me to an amazing ledge at the base of the route. Emilio commentary: This sure was a fun and scary pitch to follow. Amazing ledges and solid moving, all covered with loose rock that wanted to eat the rope. There was some pro, but it was a pretty long traverse so rope management was crucial to pulling this pitch safely. Despite the low grade, this pitch was scarier than many others… thank you again to the sandbaggery of North Carolina, combined with a heady cocktail of previous trips to the Pickets and the Wind River of Wyoming, for preparing me for this moment. Emilio P.12. 5.9 corner. Being back on lead sure felt nice, especially with a feature as exquisite as the route ahead. Some of the best rock of the trip (and actually more than ample pro) made this section ecstatic for me… perhaps a little too much, since I kept punching up past the nice belay ledge and instead found myself at a very awkward hanging belay realizing I was going too far. Tricams inspired confidence as I realized I could have Mo rack up below before pumping up, making our next transition surprisingly effective despite my strange arachnid position on the rock. Mo Pitch 13 5.9 steep arete. The pitch that brought me completely back to my wits for the rest of the trip. Amazing holds on stellar rock left me in a ecstatic flow state as the arete continued to offer exactly the hand and foot holds I needed. I remember throwing a heel hook over thin air around the other side of the arete in order to avoid a loose block. Sometimes we would clean the route for future venturers, but most of the time we decided to leave the choss where it sleeps. Emilio commentary: Tower three kept delivering. Incredible rock on a steep follow. It felt as though Mongo acknowledged our love dedication and training, and was starting to grant us passage. Emilio P.14 overhanging bulge, 5.10a honest. I acknowledge that I am far more mountaineer and andinist than pure rock climber, but for the last four years I have been dedicating my time to honing the art of rock climbing and have done my best to make sure I am competent for Mongo. In retrospect, this pitch was to be the definitive moment for my experience on the ridge, as I was confronted with a committing and challenging sequence that demanded everything from me as a trad leader. I placed a finicky nut to move up a short slab ramp leading to an overhanging bulge on the steep prow. I went up and down, breathing and gathering my wits for the sequence. I remembered the advice Arno Ilger gives about commitment: once you decide to go, go for it and do not hesitate, trust the decision you have already made. Sloping hands and cryptic feet brought me up and I dug my fingernails into lichen filled crimps on really solid rock. My nut popped behind me so I pushed on until I could find a belay. I know other groups give this a 5.9, but this was harder than other routes I’ve done at the grade (a good point of comparison is the Keystone Route on Harrison Peak in North Idaho, a Randall Greene route that is my standard for the grade. Experientially, I would argue this pitch on Mongo was quite a bit harder and more committing than that route, but would not be offended if others think this pitch is simply really hard 5.9). Mo commentary: I’ve been in this position many times before. Watching Emilio working a crux from below and drilling the moves to gain confidence. On my follow, this felt like the hardest climbing we did and got me close to my limit. Bad feet up to lichen slopers and hidden crimps presented a 15 meter section of sustained hard climbing. Thank god for having an Emilio on the rack because this is where they shine. In the obscure, cryptic, and heady pitches that leave me questioning if it goes. With Emilio on the sharp end, it goes. Mo Pitch 15 I climb up and look at the steep committing vertical section above. After deliberating, we remember the beta of skirting to the right. I peek around the corner until an easy ledge continues to low 5th class climbing on solid rock for a long pitch ending between the bivy and summit. I could have done this kind of climbing all day long as I run out long sections to the top due to most of the rack being on the exposed ridge below and easy climbing ahead. I must say that we both sewed up the steep sections of the climb and the options for protection were plentiful. Some sections of the ridge obviously require run-outs, but we realized that we almost always had either great rock to climb or ample options for pro. We spent a vast majority of our time on route roped up with anchors or gear between us. This led to a sense of comfort and safety throughout our time on the ridge which facilitated the incredibly fun time we were having navigating the steep walls of this gorgeous ridge. Summit tower three. Best bivy ever. Truly thank you to Lani and Sam for recommending this sleeping spot. We took our time on tower three, fairly worked but psyched to have made it through. Like the poet says, bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to bivy on tower three is very heaven. We knew we were in for what felt like a rare jewel of a beautiful opportunity. It was around six thirty in the afternoon and we got to soak in the landscape, becoming enveloped in the aura of the Picket Range and thanking the universe for this rare and tremendous gift. I have had many incredible times (and incredibly trying times) in the Pickets, but nothing had prepared me for the delight of that evening. I reflected on all the storms we had weathered over the last half decade. Here, I was brought back to my first time in this wonderful place, when six years ago seeking the sobriety of raw truth found in the alpine I found myself on top of Whatcom peak, at sunset, with no way down for the night. That year, I tried to call a rescue helicopter out of the fear of being underprepared. I did not know in-Reaches existed, or didn’t care to have one, and of course rescue never came. Instead, led by by mentor and lifelong friend, Jake Johnson, we downclimbed our route, got off safely, melted snow, and continued to live for a week out in the North Cascades, hiking like holy fools after our life warping adventure. On tower three, all these years later, the preparation, love, and dedication to the place shine through me with ease, and I bow in gratitude for the experiences, for the possibility of good weather we were now experiencing, I bow in gratitude for the good company of my dear friend and brother Adam Moline and all the climbing partners who have ever trusted me behind a rope, I bow in gratitude that the wilderness is real and will never be exterminated, I bow in gratitude of all the positive, constructive, and ecologically responsible attitudes of the wild to be found in the American spirit. We eat salmon and share stoke, leaving some for Jake Johnson, who had gotten us here in the first place and who was up here with us in spirit and in our hearts. Before bed, we re-read Wayne’s original trip report and a poem from Dōgen. We sleep deep and rest well with milky way dreams and positivity. Thank you, universe. In the morning we wake well slept, and hop on our double rope rap from tower three to base of tower four. Back to the eternal now, the dance of going up and down these towers is becoming routine. At the low point in the ridge, we find a drip of snow and fill from the source. We stuff snow into our water containers that will melt against the heat of the body as we continue to lizard upward. We eat a little more breakfast and get back to work. It feels nice to be at this point in the ridge early in the morning, with the whole day ahead of us so we can take our time and attempt not to compromise on the integrity of the line–we knew, no matter what, this would be our last true full-on attempt to commit to Mongo, so it was our last shot to get it right. I have nothing but respect and admiration for all prior parties, all of whom covered a tremendous amount of ground in a short span of time; at the same time, I knew that in order to execute, as a strong team Mo and I would have to be able to take our time. As self-taught climbers, we have no experience in the greater ranges like the indomitable Priti and Jeff, are not high priests of the new-old school choss wizards like Wayne, and certainly are nowhere close to being professional climbing guides or instructors like Lani and Sam. Going slow, in this specific instance, seemed like a way to negotiate some of the risk involved in our undertaking and to make sure we set ourselves up to make smart decisions. The motto of our trip “Be Smart About Being Stupid” echoes through us. Damn did these values and priorities allow for us to have the time of our lives. Tower 4. Emilio Pitch 16. 5.9 traverse. An excellent start to the day, this pitch got us going with leftwards moving through nice holds on thought provoking but solid sequences. It was a little harder than I anticipated, but it was honest climbing and kept me motivated, nothing desperate. Not wanting to create too much rope drag, I belay at the end of the traverse so Mo can take a nice line and to avoid the rope creating rock fall. Mo Pitch 17 No pictures of this pitch but it was virtually choss-less rock going straight up the face with a nice corner and cracks to stem and jam when rests were needed. The rock continued to get more enjoyable to climb for the reminder of the route. Emilio P. 18 5.7. Climbing eases up a bit here, nice moving on quality rock up and to the top, still going up and up and up through a labyrinth of spires and sharp edges. From the summit, once again set up a double rope rap. Once more we found a drip of water to melt snow against our bodies and to drink from the source. Since we grew up Minnesotans, eating snow felt like a natural childhood snack on this warm summer day. These minute particulars–the snow, drip of water, the short rest, the extra bar–really made the trip enjoyable through great fortune on the conditions. There is no way to plan or to expect this, so we did not take the rare opportunity for granted. To continue climbing was ecstasy. We scoped out the fourth-class Rooster Comb bypass climbers right, but knew we were in the perfect spot and the perfect time (~11am) to seek the summit of this improbable and bizarre and absolutely wonderful formation. I thought of my own rooster back home in North Carolina, Charlie Parker, and once more was filled with gratitude for all the minute textures that underpin the fabric of life: how is it possible that such strange sculptures of stone exist? The gendarmes often appear far more striking than the peaks themselves. The vital mineral life and art of rock is on full display in this place, the Northern Pickets. The existence of the Rooster Comb renews my faith and commitment to poetry and art. Rooster Comb: Mo P.19 The most aesthetic line of the rooster comb is to climb as many pinnacles on the knife-edge arete. I head up the arete trying for several pieces enjoying solid blocks and good pro. While the images may deceive, this pitch had some of the most solid rock on the ridge and was my favorite climbing. I agree with Wayne’s ambiguous rating of “Gymnastic” once on the horizontal traverse, but this first 80-90 meters of climbing to gain the top was some of the best 5.7-5.9 climbing I’ve done. I give it a range because many route options presented themselves whether you want to be on the sharp end or a few feet to the right of the many pinnacles along the top of the ridge. I peeked around the corner to find that the Rooster Comb is cleaved in half with a perfectly vertical wall on the other side. I skirt around several blocks and push upward. Several easy chimneys provided a safe embrace above the exposed climbing. Emilio opts for arete and face climbing to avoid being squeezed by a chimney again. The route continued up and then right looking to gain the upper ridge on confidence-inspiring rock. As Emilio is warning me of running out of rope, I look up and see amazing rock leading to what could be a solid belay ledge up top. Knowing that I have solid protection below and an even more solid climber on the other end of my rope, I decide to continue past the sub-par belays to the ridge. At the top, I howl as I see a luxurious seat across from a massive horn to sling for my anchor and a clean line of sight towards the “Ancient Art” of Mongo Ridge. I belay Emilio up, recline into a comfortable seat, and take off my shoes to fully enjoy this island in the sky. Emilio commentary: I realize Mo is moving quicker at this point, scampering and performing some trapeze act I can no longer see in the skies ahead, running out the leads. I also realize he needs rope so the walkies help us talk: “how much more?” “10 meters maybe?” I knew Mo did not have enough rope, but also new it was going to be essential for us to have a decent belay ledge on the Rooster Comb if we hoped not to sever a rope through this gigantic saw. I radio’d back “take all the rope you need” and starting simuling towards the first placement, then towards the second, as Mo kept pressing on. Emilio P. 20 Gymnastic traverse with easy but intimidating boulder problem in the sky. Mo found a delightful island where he was able to kick off his rock shoes and lean back on a sturdy block for the belay of a lifetime. He would be able to see most of the next pitch, and communication would be decent. I was again grateful to have paid a pilgrimage to the strange desert towers of Utah, as this section somewhat resembled the last pitch of Ancient Art. It was straddle then walk a thin rock line in the sky with dropping edges all around you. Navigate blocks piled up in improbable perfect shapes. A v0ish boulder problem steeped in exposure led to a beached whale and lichen crawl. I do remember somewhere after that, there was a nice chicken wing that brought the familiar respite of using your own meatbody as a cam. Scoping out the last pillar, and mindful of the diagonal raps up ahead, I spotted Wayne’s tat. It was nestled in a confusing block, and I had a tough time determining the route he had taken. I did remember a key piece of beta: Priti and Jeff had written that Wayne avoided some of the unclimbed gendarmes by going left, where they went right. I interpreted this as meaning that Wayne’s “grassy gulley,” was accessed by rapping off climber’s left of the Rooster Comb, rather than climber's right. After belaying Mo up to my stance, I negotiated a double-rope rap going diagonal and left, using a horn as a redirection. It was a strange kind of sideways moving, and I used a couple of nuts (which eventually popped) to keep me hugging the wall until I arrived down at a kitty litter ledge. Mo made his way easily enough down and, through the grace of the mountain, our ropes got neither cut nor stuck on the sharp edges that guided our descent. Mo Pitch 21 When looking for a grassy gully to follow, one would obviously choose the one with 100s of feet of grass rather than the gully blockaided by snow. I start climbing by crossing a rock rib into the grassy gully on climber’s left. Staying mostly on the rock at the edges to avoid the choss littering the gully, the worst rope-drag of the trip began. Doing deep lunges up the gully while running out of rope led to another section of simuling the gully as Emilio begins following. I look for anything to build an anchor with to end this quad-pumping squat workout knowing that even with good protection a fall would be painful (thank god for all the pistol squat training in the home gym!). To avoid being pulled down the long gully, I set up an awkward anchor with an arched back and quickly belay Emilio to the top of the grassy gully with cramping arms. I see snow at the top and hope for an easy cross to access the gully leading to the Pole of Remoteness. Emilio P. 22 A lead with similar climbing, up and left past grassy gulley on rock. A far shorter pitch than Mo’s, but made sense with the belay ledges we were able to take advantage of. Adam commentary: Doubt set in when Emilio peeked down the other side of the gully and reported a long rappel to access steep climbing. Continuing up and left to avoid the chasm below, it felt like we were going in the wrong direction at first. With steep climbing to the right and what seemed like climbing the wrong gendarme to the left, I second guessed our route from below, beginning to suspect we climbed the wrong gully. Luckily, the doubt was extinguished by trusting my partner and the mountain by venturing into the unknown. We continued up looking for passage and the mountain would offer more than we would have ever asked for. Mo Pitch 23. Yet another determining pitch, a crucible. Emilio tells me to look for bail routes to the right seeking the snow gully up to the Pole. I traversed around 50 feet to the right and find easier rock leading up to a small ledge and patch of snow. At this point, we had access to the original snow gully down and right and we suspected to be at the south side of the Pole of Remoteness nestled in a col between its closest gendarme to the south. The distinct color of the rock made me think we made it to the Pole but unsure given our position. Could this be another gendarme? Despite an intimidating wall between us and the summit, the kitty-litter down scramble to the steep snow gully did not make the standard route seem like the obvious choice. An idea began forming that sticking to what we had felt the most confident on, the rock, may be the best choice. I decided to keep quiet about the ramp I could see up above until we deliberated together. Pole of Remoteness In our strange and isolated position, we recalled Wayne listening to the Talking Heads on his visionary downward solo journey and the song rang loud in our heads: “Letting the days go by (same as it ever was, same as it ever was)/ Once in a lifetime, let the water hold me down./Letting the days go by, water flowing underground”). We had kept repeating the line throughout the trip “Once in a lifetime” to acknowledge the difficulty of timing this climb, getting the right conditions, having the right physical preparation, so much had to line up for us to be able to make this happen, the song really felt right. We negotiated how we would get to Wayne’s “Grassy Gulley,” which by now we realized we were left of, and in current conditions, the gulley looked wet and icy and exposed and scary, and we were loving the rock. We thought we could see the summit of that elusive and by now mythical block, the Pole of Remoteness. I guess I don’t have to repeat the Pole’s conception and appellation, we all celebrate, love, and appreciate John Roper, pioneer of these ranges. I knew if I wouldn’t take the lead, Mo would, because dang it looks like it goes… and safer than the “grassy gulley” (I now understand what I already knew, that “grassy gulley” can mean different things. The way the Olympic Climbing guide calls some peaks in that range “4th class,” which in a way is true but… yeah it can feel really steep, and the line between fourth and fifth is mercurial. I’ll use this aside to say I do not think the standard summit to The Horn on Sawtooth is 4th class, haha). Adam commentary: At the belay ledge, I offer a minor suggestion that we stick to the rock hoping Emilio bites. Never disappointing or turning from an adventure, Emilio scopes out around the corner and with the equanimity of a sage, looked at me and said, “I’m gonna go for it”. I knew we just committed to an experience of a lifetime. Emilio Pitch 24 5.8 cerebral traverse and slabby head wall on dinner plates and spanning across air to find the south face ramps. A traverse walking over unevenly stacked dinner plates and positioning yourself on the lesser angle slab on the lower right side of the tower (which is usually hard to see because it’s obscured by yet another gendarme in front of it), places you on a ramp to the heavens. Compared to what we had already been through on the first and third towers, this was nowhere near as intimidating. Instead, this opportunity felt like a treasure I could not take for granted, for something like this is truly a rare flower and I certainly acknowledge that luck went into this well-prepared endeavor. I climbed trending up and left and then back right towards the ramp to steep prow-like moving, moving towards a no-hands rest ramp with decent pro leading to a large ledge beneath what was hopefully to be the final pitch. I will admit that the anchor I used was not SERENE, but at the moment, and seeing how possible the route ahead seemed (if, indeed, we were on the pole and not another mysterious gendarme which we had misidentified), it was certainly SEEN and appreciated. A literal big block of time. Climbing here was on very decent rock, and in some ways I was especially prepared for this section after onsighting horrific runouts out at Stone Mountain in North Carolina, where I had previously been 60ft runout on slab shaking my boots at 5.8. It was a gift to feel prepared, as though I had put in the necessary devotion and dedication to put myself in this lunatic situation, yet continue to feel a certain sense of grace and steady confidence. I thank the universe once more, for it used me as a flute to sing this song of moderate featured slab. At that moment it felt as if I had no control and all the control in the world, as if my climb had already happened. The Picket Range is wild and holy, the most powerful of teachers, and I have nothing but devotion to these peaks. Climbing this line and venturing onto this face unknown to human hands was not an act of conquest but rather of communion and of submission. Adam commentary: The rock on this pitch was on par with Tower 3 and the Pole of Remoteness in quality and enjoyment. Unique fractures and blocks improbably held together created easy moving up the south face of the Pole. Who knows if the lower pitches climb at this grade, but the upper pitches on the south side offered some of the best climbing on route. Future picketeers will have to evaluate if the lower pitches offer as enjoyable climbing as the upper pitches. The grassy gully bypass may involve a few more pitches of climbing on solid rock at the base of the pole from the south. Emilio initially said over the walkie, “It’s not the Pole” and my heart sank. Slightly dejected, I traverse around the corner and my mood quickly improves by the high-quality climbing. This momentary misunderstanding of Emilio’s words could not take away from the elation of our venturing into the unknown. Mo Pitch 25 5.9 As I reach the belay ledge, I realize that we are in fact on the pole, but just shy of the summit! Realizing the serendipitous potential we had to share a first ascent and to be set up just below the final steep section of climbing gave me overwhelming gratitude. I saw many routes that would go but my eye was drawn to the thick band of white rock directly up the middle. Steep and exposed climbing, high feet, and even a heel hook brought me up good rock with good pro. Climbing in a euphoric flow-state, I steadily climb with my undivided attention on each movement fully engrossed in each moment of time. I grabbed on to the summit blocks and released a long bellow from deep in my lungs. This was the defining lead of my life and I was grateful for the teachers who prepared me for this moment and my body for being ready to enjoy it without a drop of fear or doubt. Emilio commentary: I won’t deny, I quaked a bit on this one just because of everything, but I truly trusted Mo. When I heard his soulful yawp at the rap station, a certain sense of calmness washed over me, and I gave myself up to the rock with an attitude of devotion. Summit of Pole of Remoteness By far some of the most enjoyable moments of the trip, especially after all we had been through, after all the ground we had covered (from our early adventure up Redoubt Creek as a way of thickening the coat and sharpening our goat hooves against alder). At the summit, the realization that the sun was setting hit me. I was cold, dehydrated, worked, ecstatic, and more than anything, grateful, but we needed to find a place to sleep. My seriousness was somewhat underscored by Mo, who offered to lead the next two pitches since he knew I was worked and he thought we should push to False Fury. He was not about to take the lead from my back. Luckily, we were working as a team, and I was already having that thought. Now, at around 8:30 P.M. came the most unexpected of delights. False Fury Emilio P. 26: One long speed simul up false fury. After being fully ready to commit to onsighting 5.11 (near my absolute onsight grade), and having negotiated most of the ridge already, the return to fourth class was surreal. I did my best Dan Osman impression and ran up “False Fury” as though my life depended on it. I was especially grateful once more to Jake Johnson, for his donation for a pair of first gen (!!) TC Pro’s (basically boots) that made me feel confident as as I grabbed a rock to self arrest and kicked steps across the snow gulley to get to better rock on a right traverse from the base of the pole to the rock on false fury. Once at the top, I pulled the rope through an old-school hip belay as if my whole life depended on it, and did my best to haul Mo up the mountain, to our wind-protected bivy. At the summit, I reflect that I can’t imagine on-sighting Mongo Ridge with heavy pack, pitch after pitch. I especially can't imagine being there absolutely alone, no one on the other end of the rope. Wayne’s level of wizardry is astounding, and our effort here is but an echo of that awesome event in 2006. At the top, we set up our bivy on the summit of false fury, melting snow, laughing, crying, and trying to drink as much water as we can. Bouillon cubes bring a special kind of joy to the belly and the morale continues to be high despite Mo realizing his sleeping pad has gotten punctured. Mo commentary: As college cross country and track runners and general endurance athletes, I truly felt like we tapped into our decades of training for this beautiful last pitch. After following a steep moat along the left side of the gully to stay on rock, I see Emilio begin kicking steps to cross the snow gully in rock shoes without even a moment of hesitation with rock in hand for self-arrest. Once across, the rope begins hastening out of my hands and I know I’m in for some of my favorite movement. Speed climbing on moderate terrain. By the time the rope tightens on my waist I begin the tricky moat movement. Once across the snow, I remember running on all 4s up the rock without any ability to look at the route above. The rope would tighten if I stopped for even a moment to look up and I was not going to fall behind. I put my head down as I speed climb up hundreds of feet of amazing 4th class rock without ever looking more than a few feet ahead of me. We reach false fury from the base of the Pole after maybe 10-15 minutes as I’m gasping for air and I see a proud Emilio. “That felt personal”, I say, as Emilio gave us one last beautiful gift to close our our SKT of Mongo ridge with some of my favorite kind of moving, hauling ass. The morning brings snow and fourth class to the true summit of West Fury then eastward easy scrambling. We look through the summit register and find our entry from 2020, when we were the 25th group to sign the log. Looking through the thin pages, we see some of the names of Cascades legends… John Roper and Fay Pullen stick in the mind. To be in this company is a tremendous honor. I share a poem I have written with the summit of West Fury, as a kind of symbolic offering to the mountain. Grateful, humbled, and worked, we make our way back to East Fury, crossing the same ridge we did four years ago when we first stood on this peak. We sleep comfortably that night on a wide ledge on the “crux tower” of Luna ridge. Having a full extra day on our itinerary, we plan to spend that next day living on the ridge, maybe climbing Luna, and integrating the experience as we take our time going down Access creek. However, the universe had different plans and we woke up at 7 to wild-fire smoke. After brief panic that we would be trapped, a message from Monica confirmed we were safe and the fire was south. We decided to push out to avoid feeling sick in the smoke and had some adventures traversing the ridge to Luna col. We start our long descent floating down the mountain feeling like we were hardly touching the ground. We planned to push to big beaver for a treat of wine and salami. On the way to Big Beaver, we ran into a group of Picketeers coming out of what sounded like a gnarly and excellent traverse from Challenger down into Luna Cirque and back out. If y’all are reading this, we’d love to read your report and hear what happened to the injured climber… we felt very fortunate to have been integrated back into civilization by a group that knew what Mongo was, in our state of dazed elation to be in the presence of other climbers was a comforting feeling. We hope everything is alright and that your adventure was incredible! A last point of note on our return is that back at Big Beaver, someone had taken our wine and salami. Rather than luxuriate on the shore as we originally thought we would, we share the last bites of dry Chad’s Backcountry Catfood, change socks, don our packs, and get ready for the ongoing hike out, no boat for us today… What may have been upsetting to others felt like another offering to the mountains in order to have safe passage. We hope someone enjoyed these luxuries and we were happy to share because we had more than enough of what we needed. We sing along the trail as we enjoy our last fleeting hours in this place we call home. “On the road again, I just can’t wait to get on the road again. My favorite thing is climbing mountains with my friends, and I just can’t wait to be on the road again.” Gear Notes: Chad's Backcountry Catfood, homemade by Mo in Olympia, was the MVP of the climb. Approach Notes: Long
  3. That photo of the Needles is unreal, so good. Thanks for sharing such quality photos again and again!
  4. It’s that time of the year again, prime time for choss. This year I gotta give Cedar Wright a huge thank you for helping me out with the Dirtbag Fund!! Having very little money left I was worried to have depleted my account on plane tickets and didn’t know what I would do once I was out here… crisis averted: thank you Cedar! Once again, wily weather kept Mo and I off Rainier’s Kautz glacier. With lightning on the forecast, we’d have to change our tune. Good skies west of the Sound looked promising, so we figured we’d return to the Sawtooth Range in the Olympics. It seems like every climber with a love of choss follows the footsteps of Wayne Wallace, so Mo and I had the idea of Sharpening the Saw and completing a North East Traverse of the range. Here’s Wayne’s TR. We had tried it last year and got turned around by the weather… that trip, we opted to climb the standard route on cruiser in the rain before turning back to camp, so we had a sense of the climbing As we were planning our chossy adventures, for some reason neither Mo nor I had considered returning to the Sawtooth Range this year, but the universe works in mysterious ways. Soon, we found ourselves waking up at five in the morning for an easy drive to the trailhead, where we eat miles for breakfast. Once at Gladys Divide, we found a high camp, dropped some gear, strapped on the crampons and walked to the base of Alpha. We stared at the Noodle Needle in the distance and looked back to see the ridge ahead. We knew from here on out it would get real, we were committed. A low angle snowfinger brought us to the base of Alpha. We had “forgotten” Wayne’s beta about the “tree in the gulley” and were desperate to try out this volcanic rock, so we ended venturing into a deep chimney roofed with a massive chockstone near its north face. A highball (though low grade) boulder problem brought us up to the chockstone, where it was time to rope up for the face. On the sharp end, Mo climbed straight on the face and angled left, aiming for the NE Arete. Some pro and a lot of loose lock. More loose rock than pro. Felt like R-rated 5.5ish., it was heady but fun, and similar to what we expected. From here, we simuled up Alpha Beta and some other steep pinnacles. This was very fun climbing, steep, exposed, but relatively easy and inspiring. When the ridge unfolded to give us a view of Cruiser, we were thrilled. Having not seen the mountain all day long, it was an amazing sight. The steepness of the North East face, and Waynes descriptions of the climbing, gave us a calm and determined focus. Cruiser began with a large easy chimney on its north side that I followed to a ledge below the North Face. With a big looming bulge above me, I contemplated the lead. I studied the face for a while unsure of rock quality. Climbers right? Looks steep… loose… damn... Wayne is such a badass…. I opted to start near the middle of the face and angle left. The climbing was comfortable enough, but I had to wonder what kept this mountain together. Every time I thought I found a placement, the rock would crumble at my hands, or shatter when I pulled on the stopper. Slowly and methodically, I did my best choss dance to get to the northeast arete, where the climbing was unprotectable but eased up. It was amazing moving through slabby tufts of rock with slopers for hands. I belayed Mo up and we scrambled down the third class summit to the rap station. Two raps brought us back to the ridge and up through the blob and other highpoints on the ridge. Movement through this section is absolutely incredible and easy and the views are overwhelmingly beautiful. Passing the satellite peak near the needle, we dropped down needle pass back to base. For anyone in the future, there’s a great bivvy spot carved out at the top of Needle pass. It’s reminiscent of the bivvy on the Otto-Himmel Col in the pickets and would be a great place for a single person to sleep. Back at camp we ate some of our “Chad’s Backcountry Catfood” (made at home by Mo) eggs with hen and chicken of the woods. Deep sleep on a flat rock brought us to the morning. We woke with the sun at around five and prepared for the day ahead. Back up to Needle Pass, a fun quick pitch to start the day. Climbing on the needle was easier than much of the ridge prior, very solid rock. We rapped down and skirted climbers right to the base of Castle Spire. Mo was ready for the lead and started on a steep, overhung arête. After attempting to pull an overhanging bulgy roof move, and finding no options for hands or feet, he decided to reverse the moves and traversed left and up to stay on the North-East side of the formation, before joining back on the arête. This was the hardest climbing of the trip. Plenty of loose rock but this time somewhat predictable. Direction of force and distribution of weight are key in keeping loose rock in place. Mo agrees with Wayne in that it was “one of the greatest leads on the trip,” and it sure was fun to follow. From there, we scrambled up what we counted as four castle spires. The exposure and ironically rock quality here is some of the best that you could ask for in the Olympics. We dropped down to the east side of the ridge to head towards the Fin, looking for the monster chimney. From a distance, the chimney looked intimidating, a huge slash cutting across the face of a giant. Unable to stay true to the SW-ridge raps, we cut further east to descend a steep gulley, soloing until we could find a place to rapel. The rap brought us onto snow, which we crossed to get to the base of the fin. What at a distance had looked impossible suddenly became inviting. Weird moves the face led to a long ramp with a deep chimney getting right to the heart of the mountain. The further in you got the safer it was. Big chockstones to sling, great texture on the walls, and the best rock quality of the trip. This climb was pure enjoyment. An easy scramble brought us to the summit as we stared at the Horn. We knew the Horn was where Wayne and David’s pure ridge traverse was compromised. We, too, would have to compromise the pure ridge at this point. Skirting around the Horn, we found what appeared to be either a climbers trail or an animal trail, maybe before they sent the goats away from Olympic National Park. This trail brought us back to the ridge, where we crossed a wide variety of small pinnacles and bigger peaks, but it was hard to differentiate one from another. We looked for tin cans and film canisters, based on previous trip reports, but found nothing, and only few signs of visitors. Here, we backtracked down the ridge to find a place to rapel, and found old tat from a previous party on a very sturdy tree on the base of the cleaver. Travel was tough at this point and we knew we were running low on time, so we opted to take three raps down to get to the snow to approach North Lincoln’s ridge. On the way there, fatigue started to set in for Mo. Lack of water and many hours of being on loose rock were taking their toll. He waited at a comfortable spot on the ridge as I did my best to move up what I assumed was picture pinnacle to traverse to the base of North Lincoln. Here, fatigue caught up with me, too, and I realized it would be irresponsible to keep moving forward. So I turned around and rapped back down to Mo. It was around seven or seven thirty, so we had been moving for close to twelve hours. Everything was much more difficult. On one of our raps down, the rope above knocked loose a lot of rock. One of these pieces was a plate-sized clump of rock moving at the speed of a bullet. I tried to yell rock to Mo, and even though he doesn’t remember it, he must have heard it because he ducked. Thank goodness he ducked. The rock bounced off a ledge and hit Mo in the shoulder. If he wouldn’t have protected his shoulder, the rock probably would have shattered the bone, but it seemed to hit the square section of the deltoid. After an assessment of health and cognitive function, and reminders to breathe properly, Mo gathered his wits and used the adrenaline to one-arm down climb back to the trail. Our attempt to sharpen the Saw had demanded much from us. At this point, with the aid of walkies and a good of sense of direction, we decided to split up. Mo would travel light, leaving everything behind, to get a head start and be able to rest a little. I gathered Mo’s stuff and hiked back up to our basecamp near needle pass to pack up everything. With Mo’s pack on my back and my pack on the front, and after so much continuous movement, it was time to begin the nearly ten mile journey back home. I was grateful to be out in the backcountry, close to choss, with the privilege to be able to travel through them. These thoughts kept me going as I hobbled like a joyful and overworked pack mule. A little ways the trail I was greeted by a sight for sore eyes, Mo was waiting for me at a high bridge, just as I beginning to get strange feelings about being animal bait once the sun truly set. Mo had walked down to flapjack and rested, moved on and rested some more, waiting three or four time before I arrived. He describes practicing walking meditations in order to move forward and wait at the same time. I am grateful to have climbing partners who are also my best teachers, because I thought this was truly profound. Long hard miles and a stop for water brought us back to the car at around 12:38 at night. The thing about this part of Washington is there is no hot food seemingly available at this time, and at this point it was more about the stomach than heart. Unsuccessful, we drove home to an early breakfast at the Moline compound and passed out. Overall, despite not completing a full traverse and compromising on elements of the line, we're happy with the effort we gave and what we were able to accomplish. From Mo’s adventurous line on Alpha to the challenges of North Lincoln, all of that movement on steep and beautiful terrain saw that our saw was definitely a little bit sharper. The FA’s grade of V+- 5.7R (old School) felt right to us. The climbing itself is not too difficult, but it is incredibly cerebral due to the nature of the rock. Wayne's a way better climber than either of us, so it felt tough, but that's why it's old school. Many placements felt more psychological than actual, because a lead fall would very likely shatter the rock. That’s not to detract anyone from climbing this thing: it deserves more traffic as its a gorgeous line in an incredible location—probably one of the best in the country—and an experience I won’t soon forget. With more traffic (i.e. rap stations, perhaps bolting the Trylon), staying true to the ridge for the whole traverse would become more manageable. Either way, it's an incredibly aesthetic ridge and an incredible climb so get on it!!! Anyways, more from us soon… Gear: 1 70m, med rack to 2”, lots of small stoppers (the tiny RP’s work great), lots of slings, tat cord. If you can, triple your small cams, haha!
  5. Really love this area! Very stoked to read this TR. I went up Cruiser a couple times in July, both times approaching via Flapjack (such a good place to camp! Would definitely recommend if you're not doing it in a day). There was more snow on my first summit (June16), which made the approach to gain the ridge through Needle Pass feel easy and secure. Ten days later, Needle Pass was a bit more exposed, so Sawtooth Pass (next to the Horn) felt like the more comfortable option to gain the ridge (it was also quicker; getting to Needle Pass required a little bushwhacking, but that's probably because it was early season and the trail wasn't defined). Both times I was amazed at the amazing opportunities along the ridge--I hope to see more reports on the sawtooths! To share some stoke, here's a photo of Cruiser peeping out through the fog: & an image of the Horn (someone really oughtta climb the beautiful NE line along the ridge....):
  6. Damn! Others have been saying it but I gotta join the choir: really incredible pictures! Thanks for sharing them!!
  7. Jason - I am sorry for your losses, it's absolutely not my intention to disrespect the seriousness and gravity of the mountains. Most of my childhood heroes have died in the mountains, and our sport is populated with too many examples very real, unspeakable loss. I don't take this lightly. In the last year alone, I was deeply affected by Korra Pesce's tragic passing, despite never having met him personally. There are plenty (too many) painful examples like this. I don't mean to belittle risk, or to promote a naive view of the dangers of alpinism. Within the context of the trip report, the quote comes from Kerouac's The Dharma Bums: "Then suddenly everything was just like jazz: it happened in one insane second or so: I looked up and saw Japhy running down the mountain in huge twenty-foot leaps, running, leaping, landing with a great drive of his booted heels, bouncing five feet or so, running, then taking another long crazy yelling yodelaying sail down the sides of the world and in that flash I realized it's impossible to fall off mountains you fool and with a yodel of my own I suddenly got up and began running down the mountain after him doing exactly the same huge leaps, the same fantastic runs and jumps, and in the space of about five minutes I'd guess Japhy Ryder and I (in my sneakers, driving the heels of my sneakers right into sand, rock, boulders, I didn't care any more I was so anxious to get down out of there) came leaping and yelling like mountain goats or I'd say like Chinese lunatics of a thousand years ago, enough to raise the hair on the head of the meditating Morally by the lake, who said he looked up and saw us flying down and couldn't believe it. In fact with one of my greatest leaps and loudest screams of joy I came flying right down to the edge of the lake and dug my sneakered heels into the mud and just fell sitting there, glad. Japhy was already taking his shoes off and pouring sand and pebbles out. It was great. I took off my sneakers and poured out a couple of buckets of lava dust and said "Ah Japhy you taught me the final lesson of them all, you can't fall off a mountain." "And that's what they mean by the saying, When you get to the top of a mountain keep climbing, Smith."" Personally, I've experienced moments of debilitating fear (particularly on descents), where I feel like i'm stuck on the mountain. This happened to me at the beginning of my climbing pursuits while attempting to summit Black Tooth in the Bighorns of Wyoming in an event that has shaped me ever since. Seeing my friends dance down the mountain gave me a feeling of ecstatic joy that allowed me to recognize that many of the fears I experienced were actually self-imposed. I believe this is what Kerouac is describing in this passage, it resonates. Something similar happened to Greg on this trip, where he realized he was afraid but by allowing the mountain to seep into his psyche, he could overcome his fears and gleefully move through difficult terrain. He got to the top of his own mountain and kept climbing, which really is what I was trying to express. Thank goodness for the mountains! They are true teachers and they are sacred I hope they always stay wild.
  8. Trip: Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus in a day Trip Date: 06/23/2022 Trip Report: Mt. Olympus in a day On Thursday, June 23rd, Adam “Mo” Moline, Monica Moline, and myself ran Mount Olympus, car to car, in 14 hours 43 minutes and 38 seconds. I firmly believe that with this run Monica holds the women's record for fastest known time for Mt. Olympus (If i'm wrong, please reach out to me with additional information!). Time, however, wasn’t so much what we were seeking as was having a blissful experience communing with the mountain under blue skies. Mo and Monica are notoriously humble, so this trip report comes as a way of celebrating both of their achievements since I know they would probably not be making much of what is, to most, truly a wild and exceptional thing to do. Splits as recorded in our voice memos: 0:33 mins Mt Tom 1 hour Five Mile Island 2:06 Ranger’s Station 2:17 Lewis Meadows 3:17 Elk Lake/High Bridge 4:53 Glacier Meadows 8:17 SUMMIT Joyful Delusional Blur 6:27 down For a little more verifiability, here is a screenshot from Monica’s Garmin, shared with her consent: You can also find Adam Moline on Strava, if you’re interested in his detailed splits, etc. A few images from the trip: Early Morning Start up on the snow dome Summit Block with Mo and Monica! A delirious return Trip Report: With the end of the school-year and the summer solstice comes the season to worship the choss. Since choss is alive, choss worship changes from year to year depending on the moods, the weather, of the mountains. Following the same migratory patterns I’ve established for the last decade, I flew to the west coast to visit my kin, this time with sights set on climbing the Kautz Glacier with my mentor, eternal friend, and climbing partner, Mo Moline. In the restless pursuit of choss, it becomes easy to grasp the truth of what the song says when it says “you can’t always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes you find you get what need.” We had another climbing partner who dropped out the day before the climb, and aside from that it was a late spring (the mountains of Washington have been thick with winter well into June), there was far too much avalanche danger. We didn’t make it up the route. We both agreed we were here to listen to, rather than fight, the mountain. In lieu of this summit, during a conversation a few days prior to our departure to Rainier, Mo’s wife, Monica, had somehow proposed and ignited the idea of us spontaneously running Mt. Olympus in a day. Monica’s idea had sent energy and dread through my stomach because I knew we would do it, especially if we didn’t get far on the Kautz. We had a perfect team for it. Both Monica and Mo are stellar athletes with brains to match, they’re two of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Even then though, it was still a crazy idea… Monica had never done something like this, and neither had Mo (though Mo had climbed Olympus before, twice, and has sharpened his mountaineering skills climbing in the Picket range). Keeping the possibility of the run in mind, while on Rainier we enjoyed the solstice, spending time listening to the birds and thanking the mountain for its lessons, fingering lichen and getting ready for what was ahead. While it was a spontaneous decision to commit to running the mountain with a few days notice, the idea for this trip didn’t come out of nowhere. Mo and I had spoken about running Mount Olympus a little under a year ago (while moving under Olympus herself in fact), as the two of us, along with Seattle-based mountain goat Gregorio Brosi, were traversing the East, Middle, and West Peaks. For me, this traverse almost immediately followed a run/walk up Gannet Peak in Wyoming that I completed in 22 and a half-ish hours, an experience that led me to realize you can climb big, remote mountains (i.e. Olympus), in a day. [A little parenthetical here, running Gannet was a heady, grueling experience, but more importantly, it was an incredible time mountaineering and communing with a remote peak… Any opportunity to get into backcountry choss with my best friends is too good to pass up, so when Jake Johnson—by far the best climber and the strongest mountaineer I know—proposed the idea, there was no way I was going to let him do something like that without me.] While this idea of climbing Olympus in a push had been in the air, a big part of me didn’t think we’d actually do it. I was scared, so I didn't bring it up. As a climbing team, we hadn’t spoken about it since last summer, I live far away, the logistics seemed too complicated with the other climbs we have lined up… but somehow everything for Olympus lined up, and making the push now made sense. I’ll say that while I’m no longer a distance runner, I try to stay in shape for my climbs in the the North Cascades, so I knew I would be able to pull it off despite a lack of ultra-marathon-specific training: any trip to the Pickets matches an ultra marathon in my book. On Wednesday, June 22, Mo and I woke up on Rainier, drove back to Olympia where Monica got off work at around three thirty, and we drove to the Hoh Rainforest. Fueled by burritos and sandwiches on the way, we stopped outside the park entrance and I laid down my bivy by the side of the road as the two of them slept in the car. After three hours of sleep I was up at 12:19, a minute before my alarm. Monica and Mo were awake, too, we ate some bananas and drank some coffee and drove to the trailhead. We entered the Hoh River Trail at 1:17 in the morning and were off. While the running started off smooth, the darkness led us to lose the trail a couple of times. It’s funny because the previous day we had read a trip report from someone climbing the mountain in 16 hours who wrote about “technical roots” slowing the approach and had laughed; being lost on a well marked trail at two thirty in the morning, those technical roots were real (but could be avoided in the future—these mainly happened at stream/creek crossings). Once back on the trail, everything was fairly smooth and we cruised through the morning hours at a 12-ish/hour mile pace, with very enjoyable moving up through Lewis Meadows. It continued to be slow, easy miles up to the high bridge, around the section where the elevation begins to increase up to Glacier Meadows. Once on the incline, our pace settled to a fast walk, and we pushed up, rising in altitude alongside the rising sun. The varied thrush was the first to sing. Moving upwards, we didn’t stop until Glacier Meadows for our first real break. Eating some bars, filling up on water, and using the outhouse kept our spirits warm despite the increasingly cold weather. We were surprised to find so much snow up there (we encountered snow before we ran into the campsite). After twenty minutes, we had lost our morning’s heat and kept moving upward through the snow, eager to get into the sun’s beams. It was curious to go from being warm at 2 am to feeling cold at glacier meadows. Putting on yak trax we moved quickly as we took a snow ramp with bootpack leading up to the moraine. Once at the moraine we looked out at the glacier: it looked very heaven, healthy even. There was a group of three moving slowly across the blue glacier who seemed to be turning around, though we were unsure why. As we crossed paths, a father’s stern face indicated discontent with the two on the other side of the rope. We waved and made good time pushing up through the snow dome on hard but purchasable and delicious snow. Overall, the glacier system seemed to be thriving in comparison with some of my previous visits—the mountain made it clear it was a welcome winter. Unlike in previous summits, we saw very few exposed crevasses (though therefore recognize that there are plenty of crevasses all around). A firmly established bootpack carried us up through crystal pass and next to the false summit and we felt calculatedly confident on the terrain. At this point of the morning, climbing came as a delightful break. It was restorative to touch rock, to move some choss out of the way of great holds. Moving with confidence and glee upwards, fingers flowing with the rock, all three of us were up in no time, and spent a few eternal moments on the summit block. On the way down, we cleaned some cams left behind on the fourth class (this is starting to become a yearly activity). Getting back on the snow and ice led us to the profound bliss of running down the glacier and the opportunity of taking long glissades. The euphoria of the morning had us feeling deeply good, deeply grateful, deeply humbled, this is the life!!!! Above Glacier Meadows we found a deep pool of water and had a brief respite, knowing, with a a wink and a nod, that the run was really just about to start. And start it did. From here, it seems like we were running downhill and then running downhill and then running downhill. It felt like we were just shy of running up the rope ladder as we remembered what quads are. True fun. At this point, I felt so happy it was as if the mountain was running me rather than the other way around. The wild raw beauty brought tears to my face! It felt great to move quickly knowing we had just paid a visit to the sage mountain Mount Olympus, now we could feel like we were part of the wildlife. Going down under old growth we were eating minutes and making up trail just as much as eating up trail and making up minutes. As we approached Lewis Meadows, our water strategy changed. Thinking we would be near water the whole time and wanting to save on weight, we thought to stop at convenient creek crossings and simply filter what we needed to drink at the moment. While this strategy led to non-ordinary states of consciousness, it proved to be to our detriment as we would later battle heat exhaustion and dehydration. For anyone doing this in the future: consider the last five miles, that is the crux. Water is your friend and will only help you get through it. A combination of delirium and my body’s desire to keep going meant that after our first of these new “quick breaks,” I didn’t stop again until a few miles out, when my pace really slowed down. Running through the flat terrain was overwhelming, the foliage was too beautiful and kept going, as did the miles. I didn’t look back to Mo and Monica because of a desire to be on the move, not to make good time but to make time good, and in my mind this would only happen in by moving so that I wouldn’t collapse on myself. Later, the two would tell me that they tried to maintain 10-12 min miles with frequent water and small breaks, but eventually also ran without stopping for the same fears. Mo says the battle against the self started at five mile island and Monica agreed that at that point the grit to finish was the crux of the run. Really, walking or stopping would have led to a strange kind of exhaustion, running was the only option for all of us at that point. As I was ahead, I began to face a strange mental crux of continuing and my legs shifted between walking and quasi-running, I kept repeating to myself that I must study the walking of blue mountains and not slander the mountains by saying they are not walking, but maybe this was just a way of justifying my suffering. Luckily, with about a mile to go I sensed Monica and Mo behind me and the joy of their steps brought me back to a painful trot. I followed the two of them and we ran the last mile together, it felt like they were graciously carrying me and we finished at the same time having given it all we had. Getting back to the car, we drove out of the rainforest, parked the car alongside the road and soaked our feet in the Hoh. Dreaming of burgers, we drove the Hard Rain Café and ordered three Mount Olympus Burgers, few things have ever tasted so delicious. All thank yous to the mountain and to the choss! Gear Notes: Ice Axe, Yak Trax, Running backpack, Camelback, electrolytes. Approach Notes: Hoh River Trail, up through the Blue Glacier/Crystal Pass
  9. Thank you for solving this mystery for us, Ryan. We were impressed and wickedly surprised that someone else had also opted for that Perry Creek BDSM approach, seeing that others were around was humbling. That TR is great, really appreciate your sharing it--the photos of that Chilliwack choss in particular are delicious! The snowpack was really melting fast as we were coming down, so I can imagine what it was like for y'all. also, happy to hear that someone read our summit registers and it wasnt just a delirious summer haze dream haha.
  10. Trip: Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak Trip Date: 08/01/2021 Trip Report: Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak Climbers: Adam “Mo” Moline - Sacramento, CA Emilio Taiveaho - Saxapahaw, NC Gregorio “Brosi” Scott – Minneapolis, MN Summary: Day 1 – Hike to Lewis Meadows Day 2 – Hike to Glacier Pass Day 3 – Summit Push: East, Middle, and West Peaks Day 4 – Restorative climbing/Choss worship at Glacier Pass Day 5 – Hike out Seeking sweet sweet choss, a return to the Olympic Peninsula was in order. In 2020, Adam and I (emilio) climbed the West Peak in a three-day push—an adventure that left us hungry to explore more remote areas of the park and spend some time on the dense and complicated glacier system skirting Mt. Olympus. As this trip marked Gregg’s first backcountry experience, we pursued a comfortable line full of loose rock and crevasses, giving him a delightful taste of the proverbial “freedom of the hills.” Day 1: Our pilgrimage to Sunh-a-do began at the airport, as Adam and Greg picked me up from Seattle on Monday morning. Running low on sleep, I was full of nervous anticipation having just completed a run up Gannet Peak a couple days prior, climbing the South-East Couloir in a twenty-two-hour push. Although my legs were tired, my spirits were at all time high and I was eager to rest my legs by walking alongside the mossy delights of the Hoh River. We made good walking and camped at Lewis Meadows, this being the only site with open campsites along the developed trail. We had a leisurely afternoon spent reading Deleuze and Guattari by the river and beginning to contemplate how to make ourselves bodies without organs. Day 2: After a full night of rest, we began our hike up to Glacier Pass. Soaking in the sights and feeling healed by the forest we had no trouble getting up to Glacier Meadows. Auspiciously, on our way up a smiling mustached old-time climber yelped: “The Ice is great! You won’t even need a rope!” Once at the Blue Glacier, the leisurely walking continued. Crevasses were easy to spot and the ice was solid, so there was no need for crampons. After a good day of walking, arriving at our camp felt like a true treat—we were welcomed with open arms by the mountain. The afternoon was spent staring at Hermes and the Hoh Glacier, basking like lizards under the Washington sun. Day 3: On our third day, we woke up early with our objectives in mind. Descending class 3 rock to the glacier, we put on our crampons and headed up the Hoh towards the East Peak. The Hoh Glacier was in lovely form and we heeded the old climber’s advice, seeing no need for ropes, and made good time negotiating crevasses. Once at the rock, climbing was straightforward, class 3 and 4 to the top. We all took slightly different routes to the top, but found no summit log there. We descended the way we approached, getting back on to the Hoh Glacier in order to approach Middle Peak. The route up Middle Peak was marked by solid snow and heavenly sights. Getting onto the rock was straightforward. The route up was chossy class 3, maybe 4, with a couple cerebral moves. Here, we found a true summit register with a handful of entries—mainly from groups traversing the Bailey Range, which will be an objective in the future. Looking over at the West Peak and getting hungry for more climbing, we decided it was a good idea to rap from the top in order to make good time, traversing onto the Blue Glacier. We were moving fast now, downclimbing class 4 choss after a 30 m rap, when I was frozen by the sound of falling rock and the sudden mushrooming of a cloud of pure dust. This was Gregg’s first time climbing in the Alpine and he had expressed some fear, so my mind immediately rushed to the worst: he had fallen and broken a limb… or worse. Rushing to see what happened, both Adam and I found Gregg suspended by his fingers and toes, having caught himself on a solid jug after a bloody, chossy, bruising rock slide. Seeing he was okay—just a little shook up—made me think of Jean Afanassieff’s legendary words “This is the fucking life! No?” Thanking our lucky stars and bowing to the greatness of Mount Olympus, who humbled us yet kept us going, we made quick time across the Blue Glacier and arrived at the West Peak, troubled only by our own internal agitations and “what if” scenarios. Needing a respite, Gregg waited for Adam and I at the base of the climb as we scampered up the back. It was easy, class 4 climbing with a couple class 5 moves for good taste. At the top, we came across some mountaineers who had spent the last hour watching us cross the glacier. After some good conversation about the beauty of the Picket Range and this summer’s adventures, Adam and I headed down to Gregg, whose nerves were calmed and mood once again elevated. We followed our tracks on the way back and found climbing Middle Peak from the west a welcome breeze. A single rap brought us back to the Hoh Glacier and with soulful bounding leaps, we navigated our way back to Glacier Pass. It’s true what Japhy Ryder says in The Dharma Bums, “You can’t fall off a mountain!” There are times when this adage is felt and its truth shines through—this is something that can only be experienced, description lacks what only the body relates. Food tasted particularly tasty back at camp, where we were greeted by water and the sight of a fleeting hummingbird, attracted to our prayer flags and the vibrant colors of our jackets. That night was filled with a spilling milky way, stars as choss populating my deep sleep. Day 4: The next day we awoke to make coffee and stretch, having carved out a day to rest and recover. Soaking in Glacier Pass without determinate plans we ate a meal of morels and other dried mushrooms, and decided to have a day full of turmeric, ginger, and meditative bouldering. Devotees of the lazy lizard school of hedonism, we worshipped the choss and spent a day on the rocks, singling out Hermes just across the glacier, and living on Big Rock Candy Mountain. That evening, a small black bear crested Glacier Pass not realizing we were there. Upon hearing and seeing us, the Bear raccoonned down the Blue Glacier, moving quickly and lightly back down the glacier. The night was filled with signs of inclement weather—it was clear we were going to be greeted by rain in the morning. Day 5: After another night of deep sleep, we woke up to morning rain and shifting clouds at our Glacier Pass Eden. We packed our gear and a steady glacier walk brought us back to the trail. Our boots guided us back to the trailhead, adorned by a couple water breaks. Near the end of our hike we came across a beautiful flush of Chicken of the Woods, and Adam gathered some for dinner. We are thankful, and will be back for you, Hermes. Gear Notes: Light rack, some cams and nuts. Approach Notes: Smooth Big Rock Candy Mountain Walkin'
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