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[TR] Slesse Mountain - Northeast Buttress 9/7/2008

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We had a memorable trip there about 1985.


We spent a day waiting out thick, ominous, foggy weather, our tarp pitched near that main landing gear strut. We'd been warned about a sow with 2 cubs at the base of the climb. Our reading material included Stephen King's "The Mist", a horror story wherein people are trapped inside a Safeway by a mysterious thick fog, and every time anyone ventures out into it, they meet a quick and grisly end at the hands of some monster, a manifestation of their nightmares. This amplified our nervousness as we heard a large creature cracking branches in the dark and mist around our camp. Periodic icefall calving off the left-hand pocket glacier made such horrendous noise in the dark and gloom that we were wondering..."is a quarter-mile far enough away from this thing?!?" At dawn, I got up to see Mama bear very close over here, and her 2 cubs very close over there, and I made the fastest fire of my life (old Indian trick involving white gas).


So we gave the left-side glacier a very wide berth on our approach, practically running under the right side ice, and got on the ridge ASAP. As I was leading the 2nd or 3rd pitch, I heard my pal Carl shout wildly, and turned to watch half of the left (south) pocket glacier slide off its bed and liquefy as it poured over the edge of the shelf. It was like watching Niagara Falls, only louder. Seemed to last for minutes. Some time afterwards, this was repeated when the rest of the thing slid off. The icefall smothered our approach path. To this day, one of the most astonishing things I've ever seen.


I wonder if that ice ever grew back, and did this periodically, or did we witness its last gasp? Unfortunately, I have no photos of that trip because my camera battery died.


On the way through Bellingham, we stopped at a German deli. It featured two large blackboards covered with the vast sausage selection in crowded multicolored writing -- knockwurst, bratwurst, thiswurst, thatwurst, every kind of sausage you've ever heard of. Some guy comes in, spends several minutes studying this, and asks the proprietor, "Do you have anything vegetarian?" I swear. In a thick German accent, the proprietor replies, "Noh. Vee eat meat heyah. Vee ah human beinks."

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