Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:02 pm Posts: 730 Location: St. Croix Falls, WI
Ale... what can I say... As little as I know you, I can tell(my observation) simply by your writing of that day that you may have had some type of personal enlightenment, or a further clarification of life in general. You definitely know your path in life brother... You are a lucky man.
Epic feat for sure
Picture says a million words
_________________ "Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a supreme power, honesty, generosity, and brotherhood"
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:18 pm Posts: 939 Location: reiter hills
Rad! Can't wait to see part 2. Don't over think it. If you're stoked on it and have pics to prove it then just post that shit and let us decide how big your penis is As far as wordage, I've never heard anyone use "conquer" in a TR and I think "slay" is a perfectly respectable verb in snowboarding terms (it's actually quite appropriate given the name of the line!). Now I can't wait to see how you made that mountain your bitch!
your the one bitching about boring trip reports. You better be reading this shit!
it's raining here now, so I've got time. Also smoking some bacon and chicken. I love the smell of smoke. It envokes memories. All the senses do, eh? I was telling Ben how the accidental ingestion of an espresso and grape jelly belly at the same time can instantly transport me back to the time when my freind Dan gave me a drink of coffee witha grape five energy..BLECH! Or the sound of ski crampons jingling on a pack always remind me of my friend Monika. But today I smell smoke. PNW smoke. it makes me think of a couple moments. Once while E bivying with Kyle and JAson with a white man fire near mt Goode, or another time I hade the pelasure of sharing a camp fire of Kyle and some friends. a much more plannedd bivy.
As any one may or may not have noticed, I am sporting some new duds.
A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a friend of a friend. My friend being Kyle miller, and Kyles friend bieng Eddie Bauer. Well, not Eddie himself, but good enough. Kyle was kind enough to send out some em-mails, pleas, and pretty much down right demand that they hook me up with some propper gear. It was only fitting since I am in the eddie bauer catalog.. i'm the blurry gray figure way in the background behind Kyle. Anyhow, they where generous and let me do some christmas shopping on their website.
Kyle and me get out our fair share, but we populate differant parts of the state, and even more so during the snowier months. Last year I did zero snowboarding with Kyle through out the winter and spring. I had largly relegated myslef to taking the year off of ambitious splitboarding and spending the winter in one location. winter turned to spring and soon I put my stuff away for the summer. Turned out I had a far better winter then I could have imagined. more on that later.
I was down in Seattle wrapping up a chimney rebuild I was doing for spicoli's sister. fourth of july weekend was roling up and I was stoked for some beers and bar-b-ques. I was pretty high on life at the moment. I had just started my own masonry restoration company on a promise of the money I was making from this job. I finally acheived my life long goal thanks to my splitboarding friend. On my way back from dropping off the scaffoliding at the rental company i thought I seen a familiar character on a bicycle. we played leap frog in traffic a few times before I finally got his attention. It was my friend Seth, a Seattle bike messenger. He got a big smile and waived me to pull over. I hadn;t seen Seth in a few. Pretty funny to just bump into him over an hour from home. We exchanged the usuall what up's and and I asked Seth what he was doing for the fourth of July.
"Going to Traverse the Picketts. Day after tomorrow. You want to go?.. you should go"
woah.. heavy duty. I wasn't sure I wanted anything to do with the picketts, plus traverses aren't something I usually desire. I like up and down with no camping gear on my back.. but I like Seth, and he said Frankie was going as well. So I agreed to give Frankie a call that night for the game plan. I called Frankie that nigth and told me that it was actually Kyle's trip. a quick call to Kyle, and we wher four strong.. all splitboarders, about to attempt the impossible... and perhaps put that infamous Jason hummel quot,."the picketts are no place for a snow board' to rest.
I still had a lot to do before we left. my shit was disorganised and scatterd about as I was focusing on work for the first time in three years. i kind of gatherd it all into a big bin and figured I would pack at the TH. I asked Kyle to bring me a big pack. He thought I said stuff sack. So how the heck am I going to do a six day trip witha 32 liter pack?!? by process of elimination I made it all fit. not much room for comfort items like, any clean dry clothes, or real food. i would surive the almost entirely on cliff products, a half sleeping pad, a sleeping bag, and the clothes I was wearing. ok, and maybe a handout or two.
Our first day was pretty uneventful.. they young guys would race ahead, and wait for me as I plodded along at my old man six day pace. Wondering if I would have the stamina to keep up, they would ask if I needed a break. Nah lets keep moving, i'd say. eventually raching our first camp spot on a senic hump over lookin the mcmillan valley.we all found nice flat spots on rocks and enjoyed our first nigth camping together. excietd for teh what was to come.
Dawn comes early in the summer, and long days make it possible for long distances. we completed what would be the approach to the decent which would mark our true entry into the pickets. We surveyed the terrain trying to pick our route up Mt Fury with intent. It 'looks' like that goes, that looks too steep. armed with much more then word of mouth, we where mostly on our own in deciding. finally, go time. we decended by snowboard to teh mcmillan cirque until envtually finding ourselves cliffed out over some pretty complex terrain. we decided to continue traversing under mcmillan north slope hoping they would eventually conect us to the bottum. "when in doubt, turn left" this was one of the few valuable pieces of beta we had. it mostly worked. and we made it to the valley bottum. that horrid valley bottum.
camp that night was the least enjoyable of the trip. low in the valley, full of mosquitoes, and not alot of views. Bats swooped over my face to eat the cloud of bugs gathered at my bags opening.But at least we had a fire to dry shit! and that camp fire smell i am thinking of now. before bed, We all took turns hiking up the snow finger we camped under to see. that it didn't go. dissapointing. would re retrace the horrible bushwhack we just endured, or try to bushwhack outr way around it, still unsure if it would work? We would make it work. Man did it suck. but after a few strenuous hours we made it back to snw. eating and resting, Frankie, the never ending ball of energy went and did some scouting.
"it goes... or at least I think it does." then he throws out some high percantage of making it. We all followed as he led us up a small snow finger through the cliff bands all around. and then, it ended. frankie had already sent it..up a frozen snow arete, getting pelted by dripping water, across a moat, and then some funky rock climbing with crampons on, then to an even sketchier loose gulley. he made an anchor and tossed a rope down. it stopped at the bottum of the gulley. I decided to just go retreive it, and tossed it the rest of the way, and soon we where done with that bit. frankie then tells us high high percentage was actually a product of factoring. he really only gave that option 75%. optimistic math, I love it!
as we began mellower travel we seen a cool jelly fish cloud... we made our way up and had a nice lunch and dropped our heavy loads and left stuff hanging to dry while we went to do some snowboaring. Climbing Fury was awesome. highlight was finally gettting to be in front and go up this rad snow arete, and watching everyone rip tracks down the SE face. Freash snow, though corned, in July. nice. Soon back to our heavy loads, we decided to gain some ground and camp on higher ground on a nice ridgline. camp was sweet this nice. dry ground. alothough we would get our nightly visortor for the second time. The bukake bird.
WTF?.. that was frankies morning alarm wake up call. yeah, funny. I thought he was having a nightmare. We got up late, but at least the snow was soft, and we enjoyed a quick run down from the ridge to the other side and a quick fun snow climb and made it to Luna col much easier then we thought. Again, we survey our route across the valley, this time, mt Challenger. And this time instead of cliff bands and waterfalls, it seracs and avi paths. First, we get to enjoy some snowboarding. The run from luna col was pretty fun, and looked really cool watching Seth rip some big fast turns backlight by the mid summer sun...
Luna lake was still frozen, but sinking.. lookd pretty neat. we went around and began our horrid traverse to the valley. it was now after teh fourth of july, and the lower elveation where becoming discontinuous, and unridable in spots... agian, we made it, though this valley was thankfull all snow, and we quickly where skinning again... up was actually a pretty enjoyable, skin and boot combo in one of the most remote and gnarly places in the Cascades. AT one point while crossing through an avi gulley I blew a skin and ski and had to do some crazy shit to get it all together. but it's all good.
We regrouped in a safer zone, on some really cool rocks and dried shit. we did this every chance we got. Not long and we where back at it. Skinning up some steepish open terrain. it went on for a while, and as usuall, i was at the back of the pack running old man speed. tehn, "KA thunk". we all looked up and seen a bunch of chunks of cornice falling all towards me. the guys where all yelling to look out, and to let me know it was coming. no where to run, i kinda had to more or less dodge them. whew, that was close!.
The terrain easded immensly and soon we would be in what would be the worlds finest heli tubbing area. the biggest bathtub bowl you could ever lay eyes on. We continued on up mt challenger with our camp gear to without a doubt the best place I have ever slept. barely a thousande feet from the summit, a mellow camp that had a feeling of being exposed, while not. We enjoyed a rad sunset while we hung our gear to dry. In the mornind we would climb to the highest point of snow on Mt Challenger. I questioned if I could ride it on the climb, but once you get the boad on and look at thing s with the rigth eye, it's not so bad.
We enjoyed some steep turns, and then the terrain mellowed out for most of the decent as we skirted the crevassed up challenge glacier. around and up to perfect pass. gaining the pass was perfect, getting off it, not so much. first we got to enjoy a highlander type experiance doing a really cool secinic ridge run to the propper end of the pass. and more snow boarding!! who would have thought. for so late in the year, we did actually get a huge amount of riding in.. but soon out of snow again. onto a climbers trail, and then, onto snow boards again! and tehn off.. grrr. This tims a lot of scouting for treh way across teh cliffed out every thinning finger we where on.
This time Seth saved the day. and found a way across the final gulley and waterfall crossing. the water fall crossing. the whole trip i had joked that at one point we where going to have to rope up for a waterfall crossing. " i seen it in a pic!" As we crossed, frankie pointed out an exsisting anchor and we laughed as we all crossed. Another quick break on the other side, and we where off again. For teh hottest skinning experiance in my life! This is the part of summer snowboarding i just don't really enjoy. as we skinned up all i could imagine was taking a shower in every little water fall i seen. oooh that looks nice. But the skin track never nears a drip!.. finiall we are on easy ridge! easy. it's all easy now, right?.. along teh way i see some melt water has made a perfect swimming pool. i've had enough. the yuoung bucks press on. I tell seth they are fucking crazy and I take five minutes to enjoy the best swimming pool ever! with a nice view of the shuksan and the north picketts.
I still catch up and we make camp on easy peak. a big round noll with the metal anchor points from an old fire look out. Perfect for hanging stuff to dry! This nigth was a almost sedate. Relaxing as we watched a gorgeous sunset on mt shuksan. "god rays!" Says Seth. huh?? "thats how people get to heaven." oh, cool. As the others drifted off to sleep, I sat awake, wide awake. I hade just consumed the last of all my food. three packs of caffenated gu, and a cliff bar.. eventually that beauty sunset turned into a full blown lighting storm.
As we got hit by with, and after watching a great lights show get closer and closer for two hours I had enough. Maybe it's being from the mid west, but lightining just scares the crap out of me. and we where sitting ina prime zone. Maybe the other didn't feel so threatened, but eventuall we all went down and slep at a lower sadle... every one else snow boarder, but i just ran down like a sissy.
In the am, we where so stoke, just easy creek and out., Right? not so easy! first, we snowboard! summer riding at it's finest, but it was kind pretty fun. again, just atouch of route finding issues to get through some cliff, but a quick boot, and back to board to the valley. mostly. I was getting a terrible pain in my leg and had to boot a short overly firm suncuppy section. summer snowboarding. In the valley , back on foot,we almost entered bush whack heel, but more wisely chose a better route that got us quite a bit of distance to a real trail. but then, that damn easy creek finally had to be crossed.
And now karma bites me in teh ass for making jokes. sliiopery slimy rock and a raging river we finally found a spot and had to rope up. we donned wool socks for tread on this one. Our clutch rope gunner frankie took the lead, and the plunge! Our rig was set so he bounced and yo yoed back to shore some 20 meters down stream. SEcond ttry he made it across and set a fixed line for Seth and Kyle to follow. He wisely reset the line upstream and i cleanded the other end and joind teh others on the other side. Most intense river crossing ever.
wet, but more refreshed and excited then cold, we put our clothes back on, and within a very short distance found it. a real trail! Non official, but real enough. as we ploddedd downhill the pace quickened, and soon, a final giant log crossing back to a mapped and unexposed trail. Once all across teh log we all gathered and sat by the side of teh chiliwhack. not saying a whole lot for a moment just sitting, finally being able to relax, it was mostly over. finally Kyle broke the silence and exclaims in a congratulatory, but doubtful humility," we made it boys."
"yeah" seth says. I don't say anything. I have a huge lump in my throat and i sit their sileantly, taking a moment to think of the very few other that have. I 'm happing to be wearing sunglasses so they can;t see my eyes welling with tears. I look at them all knowing that forever we will have a special kind of bond that comes from enduring such an experiance together...
Eventually this wonderful momement was broken. The final long hiking section flew by as my mind was busy replaying the the past few days. we gained hannegan pass and had one more final snow board run, and then an ever quickening hike to the van frankie had left, and civilization. The pace at teh end quickened to a jog, even after so much. The exciement to be back fueled us now. Back at the van, Frankie gave us a cold gatoraid and some corn chips... and we got some guy to take out group photo..
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:18 pm Posts: 939 Location: reiter hills
Colchuck.. i've met so Rad people up here, Kyle included. I also met the gang that I climbed Shuksan with last winter up here. Scott Wicklund was one of that gang. Last year Stevens pass lost some really good people and it really rocked the community. Unfortunatly as that year to not be remebered neared it's end, one more decided to join his friends on the other side. perhaps he knew it was inevitable and wanted to leave all the bad memories in the past.
My frist trip of the year I was looking for some solo time to clear my mind. I had a grand alpine plan, my bags packed, and about to leave my house. on my last trip in to kiss my girl good bye I realised Ilet a bird in. a small bird that was easy to catch with a down coat. I gathered him and cupped him in my hands to take him back out side. Generally i amnot superstitous, but I don't like to dismiss signs. I took this as a sign and whispered"where should I go?" He flew of in a direction I didn't intend. I bagged my plans and took my board for a very long walk,, every bit as medative.
I've told a few freinds this story the past few days.. now here is the spooky part.
we've all been here. In our own little zones. listening to the rythym of our own steps and heart beats. Just taking it all in. no chatter. But still aware and thinking, but more easily. I love this zone. SOmetimeso only acheivable by going solo, or with the right partners. occasionally the silence is broken by my grumbling.. fucking cairne. annoyed by it's presence in my wilderness experaince.. tehn bakc to partial zen. A quick break for lunch, and we decide to go onto the summit, despit the lack of vis, or prospect of doing much more then retracing our boot pack back down into vertigoland. convinced still we where just taking our climbing gear for a walk.
I mention as we pass my previous high point. We dropped our packs and scrambled the final 50 feet and soon we are standing on the summit. Not really a peak bagger, but it's fun to stand on top some times. At this point we where both feeling pretty good. No anxiety, just enjoying our surroundings. But we where running short ontime and got moving back to boards. As we put our gear back on, and I finally transition to to do what we all come to do.. ride. After some discussion, deliberations, options, and everything else, we dicide to drop the 3rd couloir. We could always boot back up.. right?
in the waning light at 4pm, John went first. The snow looked so good. just enough soft snow and powder ona confidently carvable base. Steep! andman did it roll over into nothing.Dream conditions! I followed to small constriction where we both eased through, and then where able to make some solid turns to the end of the 3rd. As i did what snowboarders do, i sat in the middle of the sloe on a snow arete and we began to discuss. Now it was go time. comitt, or not? there was a 100' icy rock wall between us and teh 2nd. unclimable. To rappel would mean no return. we had a decent sized rack, some limited beta on exsiting anchors, and some good old faith in our own skill.
Total Zen starts here.
once john started to rappel and his head went over the horizon. All things human attributes inconsequential cease to exsist. no emotion, no fear, ne ego. only a acting with purpose and intent.
For our first rap, we built a snow bollard on the firm arete i sat on. a boot ax backup did not come into play and the anchor was bomber. Quickly back into our comfortable bords and skis we decended the second couloir in near darkness. each turn into the unkown. Lurkning below us was some 200' odd feet of un surviable exposure. To fall here would surely mean meeting your end. John led since skier do have the advantage of two edges, two whippets, and the ability to step back up hill.
Uneeeded. Again, the second couloir road better then the first! mildy suffy soft and sugary. Again, we are able to make real turns, with just a few jump turns in teh tightest sections. But then, all good things must come to an end. the couloir narrowed, and we ran out of snow. Wihout much talk we began looking for rappel option.. non to be seen.. damn!! search. search. search... John pulls off his best work of the night and we make it down to teh cool little alcove in the photo splittrippin posted.
A moment to relax! the weather had started picking up. it was getting windy, a light snow had started, and spin drift was beginning to flow down the river in little bursts. that alcove was so cozy. It would be a great spot for a bivy. Only for a split secpnd did we entertain that idea. If we didn;t leavenow, we could be here a while.. a loooong while. We decided to save on gear and build bollard number 2 here. same snow as above, and again the boot ax anchor did not come into play.
" I found a rap station!!" SIck man!!! I come down to a hanging station and we anchor in together. this is when I make my joke about how nice it has been hanging out tonight. ut as good as it is, time to go home man. Again he raps over a sickning mess of thin snow on rotten rock and water ice., again I join hi below on a small snow isalnd in between ice runnel. What to do, what to do!?
Again, no emotion, no ego, Just looking for a solution to the problem we got ourselves into. John looks for cracks in rocks while I attepmt to build another bollard. But the snow is too steep and sugary. we make a brief attempt but this time the ax does soemthing. fortunatly John was still on snow, but the brief slack was enough. This whole time the smalll dribble of spin drift had picked up in spped. and now I find myself on that very small ledge of snow, just barely out of the torrent a my friend below searches for a solid place ment for piton..John was able to put together another anchor, but it was to high to get us all the way. he was now dangling below in this torrent looking for the final piece of the puzzle.
This is where it mental fortitude really comes into play. John finally yells up "got it!,, come on down!" Pure master of his craft.
I rap down to find him hanging from a dubios looking station. There is a very small sketchy rock ledge for me to satnd on.
"not sure if this will hold both us"
fuck that man, then I'm standning right here. but at this point, what differance does here make? no emotion, no fear, standing on 2 "s of rock with unkown below. Our rope dangling, does it touch the bottom? who knows?
For a brief . very brief moment, real emotion almost crept in. a wtf am I doing here? feeling. but this is no place for a nervous person. I pushed it back inside and watched the anchor intently. i watched it go from a sketchy piton backe by a nut to only a piton.. Hollll y fuck!.. too late, john was wayout of distance. I should have been scared, but i was focused.
I heard him holler up to me to come one down. Still unaware of what down was too? I tried to put the stopper back as good as I could. but it was a big stretch from teh rock I was on. if I leaned out to far andslipped would the piton be able to take the shock? would I be better off gently going donw on one piece that already held a guy 30 + pounds heavier?
This is where that factoring Frankie taught me came into play.. I gave teh nut 10% and the piton 90%.. fuckin yeah. 100% let's do this! It's been a fantabulous weather windwo, but it just slammed shut and I was on the wrong side! I carefully clipped in and transfered my weight onto the rope and began the trickeist rap of the nigth through icy chimnies and off camber ice coovered rock. about ten feet down I felt the nut let go... fuck. nothing to do now. I kept going down alomost the entirre length of rope. until i could finally see Johns' head lamp.. He appearwed to be standing on a somewhat spacious snow arete falling off to both side.. home free!! well , we did still have the steepest couloir left yet to ride.
about 20 or 30 feet above him. it was hard to make out in teh darkness, i finally let out my trade mark "yeah Buddy!!!" ...
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:18 pm Posts: 939 Location: reiter hills
Snowboarding is fun! I think we can all agree on that.
Like i always say, it doesn;t have to be steep grnarly, dangerous. It just has to make you happy. Make you smile, or give you that unexplainable joy, you don't even feel the need to justify. This is the style part. evident in so many of us. All the differant interpetations, likes, loves. we are all unique, and it shows. it wold be boring if we where all doing the exact same thing.
Don't ever feel like your are bigging pushed. instead, feel the pull. Go where you want and do what you love. Not in the direction you think some sport is taking you. It's up to you. just be aware that this is a dangerous game, regardless of season, or terrain choices. Dragons live everywhere.
I was hoping to post a bucnh of good old fashioned fun boarding pics of pow pilows, baby ganr, aand good times, now. but my computers drive is toast. I have a whole seasons worth of pics I never posted just sitting on disks waiting to be seen.
You can take this moment to reflect on all teh good times you have had. The friends, the family, pow, good times, and bad.
And maybe some of my friends could taked some time to post a handfull while I fiugre this out.
Gary, Ben? HFT? anybody? Feel free to post all you got....
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:57 am Posts: 137 Location: Above the clouds
Great read! Thanks for not making us wait too long.
I appreciate the insight on the bird. Animal omens and totems should be recognized. I believe everyone of us, is an animist. We spend much of our time reflecting, or focused on peaks and points. Our climbing steps, require rythmic breathing, moments of clarity, and an almost mandatory head down submission to the mountain.
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2004 11:42 am Posts: 2387 Location: California
+1 Dig your zest for snowboarding and life.
ale, despite your limited TR's you've earned our respect over the years. I think most the guys on here get it and appreciate you taking the time to share something that's rather intimate. It's nice when you create a piece of art but it's even better when you share with those that really appreciate it. Looking forward to the words and pictures to come.