Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tieton River Rock Climbing

Looking for some hard edged adventure this weekend, George W and I traveled to Eastern Washington, the land of extremes, to climb rock above the Tieton River (near Naches, WA).

Leaving Western Washington in the rear-view mirror, crossing over to the dry side of the Cascade Mountain Range, we dropped down into a free-wheeling land, hard edged and two-fisted, where the primary roadside business d├ęcor is wall-to-wall mounted animal heads, and where there are a lot of guys named Ernie :-).

Passing Edgar Rock, and numerous other historical monuments, we arrived at the Elk Feeding Station, parked, crossed the fast-flowing Tieton River (pronounced ‘tie-a-ton’) via foot bridge, and hiked a short distance up above the river to begin our rock climbing adventure in an area called the Royal Columns.

The Royal Columns are a spectacular band of towering grey andesite rock pillars, some rising over 100 feet tall. Between each rock tower are long vertical cracks, cracks rising from their base and varying in width – it is these cracks that we climbed, it is these cracks that also happen to be infested with rattlesnakes. During day one on the rocks, we were subsequently notified by another climber that a “rather angry” rattler was spotted in a crack we had recently ascended.

Personally, the scariest moment for me was sitting on a broken stone pillar, 5 stories above ground, half-way up, belaying George as he continued to lead-climb the second pitch up to the top of an adjacent pillar. Let's just say I focused on the anchor assembly tethering me, and mostly avoided gazing down into the river valley 500 feet below.

Well, you won't see many pictures from me capturing this climb, although there are a few below which were taken as we departed. During this trip my mind was much more focused on climbing, and much less capable of comprehending the need to take a picture (there were some choice moments to be captured...). I had a great time climbing and would go again at a moment's notice, but look at that expression on my face in the pics below - I thought I WAS smiling for the camera shots - I was definitely done after two days of climbing.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for LARGER view. In the LARGER view, an orange button will appear in the lower right corner. Click on the ORANGE BUTTON for a Full Screen View.

The Royal Columns (Closeup) Posted by Picasa

Done Climbing (An expression of joy and relief) Posted by Picasa

Done Climbing (There's that same expression) Posted by Picasa

Royal Columns Posted by Picasa

Royal Columns Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pyramid Peak on Mt Rainier

Today I returned from a 3-day backpack into the Mount Rainier Wilderness area, near Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. Taking the Wonderland Trail from Longmire to Indian Henry's, and establishing camp at Devil's Dream campground, hiking partner Ron J and myself explored the Mirror Lakes backcountry on the southwest side of Mt Rainier.

Heading above and beyond Mirror Lakes, we climbed Pyramid Peak (6937')on Sunday July 9th, spending an hour on the summit basking in the sun and taking in the most awesome, in-your-face views of Mount Rainier's west side.

Sitting atop Pyramid Peak eating the world's best tasting orange, while absorbing breathtaking, closeup views of Mt Rainier, Copper & Iron Mountain, and the three distant volcanoes to the south (Adams, Hood, St Helens) easily constituted an unforgettable, even spiritual moment in time.

The trip pictures capture a few creeks crossing the Wonderland Trail, then jump to the scenic Mirror Lakes - Pyramid Peak area described above.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for LARGER view. In the LARGER view, an orange button will appear in the lower right corner. Click on the ORANGE BUTTON for a Full Screen View.

Pyramid Creek Posted by Picasa

Devils Dream Creek? Posted by Picasa

Mt Rainier Posted by Picasa

Mirror Lake (Rainier Reflection) Posted by Picasa

Iron and Copper Mtn Posted by Picasa

Waterfall Near Pyramid Park Posted by Picasa

Grouse on Pyramid Pk Posted by Picasa

Pyramid Pk & Mt Rainier Posted by Picasa

Pyramid Peak Posted by Picasa

Pyramid Pk Summit (Mt Adams in Background) Posted by Picasa

Pyramid Pk Summit (Mt Rainier in Background) Posted by Picasa

View From Pyramid Peak Posted by Picasa

Mt Adams Posted by Picasa

South Tahoma Glacier (Left of Center) Posted by Picasa

Puyallup Cleaver (Big Rock Wall in Back) Posted by Picasa