Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mount Walker - Olympic National Forrest (WA)

As fog covered the Puget Sound, we four (Paul, Ron, Dan, & friend) punched through the white shroud to bask in the sunshine and bag these views from the summit of Mt Walker. Note: Click picture for LARGER view, or click here for a slide show.

Paul Above The Clouds on Mt Walker Summit Posted by Picasa

Ethereal View From Mt Walker Posted by Picasa

Ethereal View From Mt Walker of Olympic Mtns Posted by Picasa

Mt Rainier Viewed From Mt Walker Summit Posted by Picasa

Mt Constance Viewed From Mt Walker Summit Posted by Picasa

Mt Baker Viewed From Mt Walker Summit Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Vantage, WA Rock Climbing

While rock climbing with the Tacoma Mountaineers in the Frenchman's Coulee area (near Vantage, WA), I snapped a few photos of the columnar basalt surrounding us. This was my first trip to Vantage and I found the surrounding canyonscapes truely spectacular.

Saturday morning, under clear blue skies, we set up climbing routes at the "Feathers". Later that afternoon we climbed different routes on sunny southern facing walls. At day's end, upon return to the nearby campsite, gluttonous appetites were sated by an unsurpassable feast.

A slide show of the pictures can be seen by clicking here.

Simply click on any of the thumbnail pictures shown below to view the enlarged image.

Rock Climbing at Vantage (Mountaineers) Posted by Picasa

Vantage Basalt Landscape Posted by Picasa

Afternoon Climbing Wall at Vantage Posted by Picasa

Rock Climbing at Vantage Posted by Picasa

Vantage Canyonscape Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 12, 2005

Crevasse Rescue & CZ Haul System

During my August Mountaineering training on Mt Baker, I learned fundamental glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques from the American Alpine Institute. The following pictures show our class on the Easton Glacier practicing these techniques. (Click on picture for larger image)

Climbing steep ice with our crampons (German Technique):

Front Pointing (German Style) Posted by Picasa

Climbing out of a crevasse using our prussik lines:

Climbing Out of a Crevasse Posted by Picasa

We were also taught how to set up a CZ 6-to-1 haul system. This instruction was for implementation by a two-man rope team, meaning one person falls into a crevasse leaving the remaining person on his own to arrest the fall, setup the haul system, and haul his partner out of the crevasse. The primary steps for performing the rescue and setting up the haul system, to the best of my recollection, are listed below. I have included photos of several portions of the haul system we set up during our practice sessions in a snow field on Mt baker.

1. Self Arrest the fall.
2. Dig T-Slot & set picket or fluke anchor.
3. Clip foot prussik into anchor sling.
4. Transfer weight to prussik & relax.
5. Remove rope coil & flake out.
6. Shed backpack.
7. Measure out slack rope to allow travel to set backup anchor, tie new fig eight loop in slack, hook loop to harness (unhook old loop from harness).
8. Walk over to backup anchor site and setup backup anchor.
9. Tie a new fig 8 loop in slack rope to allow travel to crevasse lip, hook loop to harness (unhook old loop from harness).
10. Girth hitch pack cordellette (loop) to waist prussik, move out near crevasse lip, straddle rope seated, kick holes in snow to allow placement of ice ax under rope to pad lip.
11. Slide ice ax under rope to pad crevasse lip.
12. Remove all figure 8 knots from line.
13. Clip slack rope to master with a locker, run rope back down to within a few feet of padded crevasse lip. Tie a prussik (waist or pack loop)to the loaded rope near the crevasse lip, clip the prussik’s loop to pulley “A”, run the slack rope through pulley “A”, and add a figure 8 loop to the side exiting pulley “A”.
14. Tie another figure 8 loop on the very end of the slack rope, clip it into the master, run it back down toward victim, run it through another pulley (pulley “B”), and clip this pulley to the figure 8 created in step 13.
15. Establish a “hauling” seat in the snow near the ratcheting (foot) prussik. As you begin hauling, tend the ratcheting prussik and, occasionally reset the traveling prussik back toward the crevasse lip.


CZ Haul System (End View):

C-Z Haul System Posted by Picasa

CZ Haul System (Detailed View Below Master Biner):

CZ Haul Rigging Posted by Picasa

CZ Haul System (Top Half):

Top Half of CZ Haul System Posted by Picasa

CZ Haul System (Master Biner Linkage):

Master Link Posted by Picasa

CZ Haul System (Redundant Anchors):

Redundant Anchors For CZ Haul System Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mt Baker-Easton Glacier

(Click on picture to see larger image.)







Paul on Mt Baker Summit - Click here for slide show

Recently, I participated in a 6-day mountaineering course on Mount Baker. During the course, I received instruction on glacier travel, crevasse rescue, setting effective snow anchors and belays, rock climbing, and various other fundamental mountaineering principles. The course began on Monday, 22 August 2005, we summited Mount Baker (10,778 feet) on day-4 which was 25 August, and we returned to Bellingham, WA on Saturday.

I was one member of a diverse, 6-student group, guided and schooled by two very experienced American Alpine Institue guides. Our group received approximately 10 hours of instruction daily in sessions held on the Easton Glacier and on snow fields above our base camp.

Most of these slide show's pictures were taken near Base Camp or from the summit of Mount Baker. Scenic views from the summit and Base Camp were pretty spectacular with Mount Rainier, Baker Lake, and Sisters Peaks to the south; Mount Shuksan and much of the interior North Cascades to the East; the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains to the West; and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North. Every day at base camp we woke to the topography of Mount Baker, which included clear views of the summit, the adjacent Easton Glacier to the East, and just above us, the Black Buttes and Colfax Peak.

Pictures taken from the summit include the volcanic crater on Mt Baker, known as Sherman Crater, and several of its sulpherous fumeroles.

Sherman Crater Fumerole Posted by Picasa

Sherman Peak Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Lake Angeles 2 July 2005

Taken today, this picture of Lake Angeles is one of my favorite lake pictures.

Lake Angeles
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mt Baker Summit Attempt 7June2005

Mt Baker Summit (View From Base Camp) Posted by Picasa

The following is a trip report of my Mt Baker summit attempt via the Coleman-Deming climber’s route. The summit attempt was part of a 3-day crevasse rescue; glacier travel course taught by American Alpine Institute (AAI) guide Scott Schumann, beginning Sunday, 5 June, and ending on summit attempt day, 7 June 2005. Scott led a 5 client team on this Mt Baker odyssey. Scott’s mountaineering skills, judgments, and wisdom shaped a valuable wilderness adventure for our entire team.

Day1: At the trailhead (3700 feet), after donning full rain gear, our team commenced hiking in a steady downpour through an old growth forest on the Heliotrope Trail. Veering right we traveled the climber’s route to the Coleman Glacier, destined for Hogsback Base Camp. Nearing the base camp, precipitation changed from rain to wet snow. Arriving on the Hogsback (about 6000 feet elev.), we set up base camp in a snowing, chilly whiteout.

Whiteout Advancing On Hogsback Base Camp Posted by Picasa

Suddenly, as the sun burned through the thick whiteness, the whiteout cleared revealing stunning views of the Mt Baker summit, Coleman and Roosevelt Glaciers, the Heliotrope Ridge, and a cloud covered valley below. Rejoicing at our good fortune, we smirked upon noticing that Bellingham and the greater Puget Sound remained completely socked-in, enveloped by clouds below us. How could those dwelling below us, our friends, acquaintances, and loved ones, ever appreciate our good fortune? Trust me when I tell you that the Goddess of Mt Baker cares little for smirking, would-be climbers.

Coleman Glacier - View From Base Camp Posted by Picasa

Minutes after taking photographs and congratulating ourselves, the whiteout and winds returned - temperatures dropped from “sun-baking” warm to bitter cold. Retiring early to our tents, we suffered through a night so frigid, it was truly impossible to stay warm.

Day 2: Waking early, we broke camp in the bitter cold with another whiteout advancing upon us. Departing base camp, we roped-up and ascended the right fork of Coleman Glacier, establishing High Camp on the glacier at 7800 feet, between Heliotrope Range and Black Buttes. All day long whiteouts would come and go, producing conditions alternating from bright, clear sky, intense sunshine to frigid, wind-driven whiteness. We experienced forms of icy snow-hail precipitation mankind has yet to name. We were surprised on two separate occasions this day, as rope team members dropped waist deep into narrow, snow-covered crevasses on the Coleman Glacier (without injury and almost self-extricating).

Looking Toward Black Buttes From High Camp Posted by Picasa

With High Camp established early, we spent the remainder of the afternoon practicing glacier travel and crevasse rescue techniques, absorbing much wisdom from Scott, our AAI guide and mentor. The weather continued to cycle. Around 6 PM however, the whiteout became sustained, temperatures dropped to “miserably frigid”, and we were pelted by millions of tiny snow-hail crystals. At about 9 PM we ducked into our tents, gaining relief from the weather and resting for our subsequent day 3 alpine summit start. I must confess, at this point we were not optimistic that a summit attempt would even be remotely possible unless the weather changed dramatically.

Day 3: The weather changed dramatically. Waking at 1:15 AM, we emerged from our tents into a beautifully clear, starry night – the summit attempt was back on track. Three to four inches of fresh snow had deposited overnight, so we elected to not don crampons (Crampons were worn later at the bottom of Pumice Ridge). Without breaking camp, we shouldered our summit packs, roped-up, and commenced climbing above High Camp, ascending past the Black Buttes, Colfax Peak, up the Pumice Ridge, onto the Upper Deming Glacier, to the Baker Headwall at 9800 feet elevation, our turnaround point.

Why did we turn around instead of advancing up the headwall to Mt Baker’s summit (10,781 feet)? Well…remember that smirking climber story? Yeah, the weather changed 45 minutes after leaving high camp. The starry night became an intense, frigid, sustained whiteout. Climbing through the whiteout to the top of Pumice Ridge and the base of the Baker Headwall, we decided to wait 20 minutes for the whiteout to subside. Wind speed at this point was around 40 mph. We only waited 10 minutes before deciding to scrub the summit attempt. One team member was becoming hypothermic, it was clear that the weather would only worsen if we proceeded to the summit, and we still had to navigate through the whiteout all the way back down the mountain.

Scrubbing the summit attempt at 9800 feet was a wise decision. The whiteout worsened and winds thrashed us mercilessly as we began the real adventure – navigating through the whiteout back to High Camp. Scott led our rope team back to High Camp using every mountaineering trick ever devised. Observing Scott, I learned our safe return resulted from his steady, unflustered application of mountaineering principles, an accumulation of similar mountaineering experiences, and application of sound judgment and leadership under such adverse conditions.

As we safely returned to High Camp, the Goddess of Mt Baker continued to exhibit no mercy. Pelted by freezing snow-hail, with visibility of about 15 feet, we rapidly broke camp. Hastily stuffing all remaining gear into our soggy backpacks, we roped-up and continued down the mountain, descending the Coleman Glacier to the Hogsback, still navigating under whiteout conditions. One team member punched through a thin snow crust, dropping waist-deep into a narrow, very deep, hidden crevasse. Wedged between the narrow crevasse lips, his thick backpack prevented him from plunging further into the chilly abyss. Unable to extricate himself due to the thin surrounding snow crust, the rope team setup a belay and Scott hauled him out of the crevasse (grabbing his backpack and pulling him out).

Although arduous and wet, the march down the Hogsback to the Heliotrope Ridge trail, was uneventful relative to all preceding events of the day. Returning to the trailhead, we drove to AAI headquarters in Bellingham and exchanged farewells with our fellow team members and guide. This three day adventure was an experience to be treasured.

Sunset At Highcamp Posted by Picasa