ExtraHyperActive: Mountaineering
Showing posts with label Mountaineering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountaineering. Show all posts

Tips On Climbing Mt Adams

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Mount Adams, situated in the eastern Cascade range, east of Mount St Helens and north of Mount Hood, is the second most massive and the third tallest volcano in the Cascade range. Popular among hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts in general, Mt Adams is accessible year round, and visited by folks from both states - Washington and Oregon.


During summer, Mt Adams becomes a huge attraction to many "wannabe" mountaineers and ski bums. There are several climbing routes on the mountain, ranging from the "non-technical" South Climb, to highly technical routes that require advance skill, experience, and special equipment.

Because  the South Spur Route (aka South Climb, South Side, or South Rib), which initially follows the South Climb Trail #183 is crevasse-free, it provides one of the easier climbing routes and nicest ski runs on any of the northern Cascade volcanoes.

Recently, I spent 3 gorgeous days exploring the mountain, and below I'd like to share a few tips that I couldn't find answers for when I was researching my trip :


-  Driving


12 mile dirt road to the trailhead is a killer. Though I managed to get there in my Geo Metro, I highly recommend to drive something more "outdoorsy" ( like Subaru or Jeep ). On the way up, the road gets pretty narrow and sketchy. Exposed slopes make it hard and dangerous for two vehicles to pass by.

- Summer Crowds

As mentioned above, Mt Adams is very popular among hikers/climbers/skiers. During the weekend I was there, a ranger told me there were close to 300 people at the trailhead. Though when I made it to the trailhead, I could easily find a spot right by the trail.
Which brings me to another tip - don't waste your time talking to the rangers at the station in Trout Lake. Instead, talk to people who just came down from the mountain. They will be able to provide the most updated information.

- Camping At The Trailhead

Just like at Mt St Helens, you can camp right by the trail. If it does get overcrowded, you can always find space/parking/camping at the bottom of the dirt road or at Morrison Creek trailhead.

- Navigation/Trail Finding


I don't provide the description of the trail ( cause you can easily find it online ), but can definitely say its easy to follow the trail all the way to the top. So you don't have to have any special navigation/backcountry skills to climb Mt Adams....

...BUT

- Be Prepared

Weather on Mt Adams can change rapidly. Sudden snowstorms can occur above 6,000 feet elevation at any month of the year. Climbers should always prepare for bad weather and an extended stay on the mountain. I was blessed with two gorgeous sunny days on the mountain, when on the morning of my departure I woke up in pouring rain and complete whiteout.


- Stay Hydrated

Though I was told about a creek at Lunch Counter, I couldn't find one. I was glad I had my trusted JetBoil, and the old school "snow melting" was a breeze. If you would have to melt snow for a bigger group, you'd probably need a water filter as well.

- Gear

Crampons Or Micro-Spikes ? Ice axe Or Ski poles ? Rope ?

It was my second time trying out my basic ski mountaineering/ randonee gear ( skis with special bindings and skins ). I was concerned about the steep slopes, and wasn't sure I'd be able to skin up all the way to the top.
I ended up walking the majority of the route in my ski boots. But in reality, while crampons are highly recommended, you can use micro-spikes or a nice pair of hiking/mountaineering boots with aggressive treads.
You will need ice axe if you're planning chute glissading.
A rope can be very handy for a big group in case of a whiteout.

- To Ski Or Not To Ski


I was told Mt Adams was a great place for skiing in the summer. Honestly, it wasn't exactly what I experienced.
Late in the season ( I did it in late July ), a huge part of the mountain is snow free. And the portion from Lunch Counter to false summit ( (Piker's Peak) holds a consistent 25-30 degree pitch for over 2500 vertical ft. Which makes "skinning up" hard to impossible. So a big portion of the climb I did in my ski boots.

All in all, it was a great adventure ! Climbing/skiing Mt Adams has been on my Bucket List for a few years now. This post is another proof that goal setting is the way to make your dreams come true !

Testing Ahnu Hiking/Backpacking Boots On Mt Si

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Mount Si, the monolith looming over Interstate 90 at North Bend, is Northwest icon, Washington state's most popular hiking trail, and the proven training ground for anybody getting ready to summit Mt Rainier.


But whether you dream of summiting Rainier, skiing Mt Adams, trad climbing Mt Shuksan, or hiking/backpacking the Wonderland Trail, Mt Si is the place to test yourself and your gear.

As I mentioned in my previous post, choosing a pair of good hiking boots can be the difference between a memorable experience and a miserable misadventure.

Recently, on a typical PNW winter day, I put my pair of Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots to a grueling test through dirt, mud, puddles and snow of Mt Si's 4-mile hike with about 3500 ft elevation gain.


Having summited both Rainier and Shuksan, and thru-hiked the 18 miles  Enchantments Traverse (aka the Death March), I knew exactly what I was looking for in hiking/backpacking boots.

Without getting too technical, I'll just focus on a few specs that were especially important to me :

Whether you are a hard core thru-hiker or a casual weekend warrior ( like me ), the Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots are light, breathable, waterproof, and will work great in all weather conditions and on any terrain.

My feet get easily cold. Keeping them dry and warm ( but not overheated ) is extremely important to me. After hiking for 3 hours in mud, puddles, and snow, at the end, my feet remained warm and (relatively) dry.

Leather boots tend to be on a heavy side. Same goes for synthetic ones once they get wet, adding weight and slowing you down. And we all know that a pound on the feet is like eight on your back. Even on the way back, the Coburn boots were as light as at the beginning of the hike.

Whether you are going on a leisure hike on a relatively flat trail, or  scrambling over piles of rock, the taller ankle height is a welcome feature for hikers who are looking for greater ankle support without having to upgrade to much bigger, stiffer, heavier boots.

Non-marking, slip resistant lugs provide the ultimate grip and traction. I was especially blown away by this feature ! In winter, the upper part of Mt Si's trail is (almost always) covered with snow requiring hikers to use either spikes or snowshoes. The boots' aggressive tread was amazing at gripping both wet rocks and snow. One of my knees is messed up, and I'm always concerned about slipping/sliding on the way down, even with extra effort (on my part) it was hard for me to make these boots slide.



All in all, the boots answered all the questions asked  when it comes to choosing a great pair of hiking/backpacking boots.

Now, the last question left unanswered - " How long will they last ? "



Hiking, Backpacking, Camping Desolation Peak

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Have you been to the North Cascade National Park ?

Less than 3 hours from Seattle and about 6.2 miles (10.0 km) south of the Canadian border, the North Cascade NP is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

The park is most popular with backpackers and mountain climbers. One of the most popular destinations in the park is Cascade Pass, which was used as a travel route by Native Americans.

The North and South Picket Ranges, Mount Triumph, as well as Eldorado Peak and the surrounding mountains, are popular with climbers due to glaciation and technical rock. Mount Shuksan, in the northwest corner of the park, is one of the most photographed mountains in the country and the second highest peak in the park 9,127 ft or 2,782 m.

Another popular attraction in the  the North Cascade Mountains is Desolation Peak.


Desolation Peak Trail, is a steep hike to high meadows, great views and the iconic fire lookout where Jack Kerouac spent 63 days during the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak. He wrote about his experiences in the books Lonesome Traveler, The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels.

I read somewhere that in summer time you can still rent the fire lookout and a spend a couple nights "in solitude".

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Best Washington Hikes : Rattlesnake Ledge, Si, Little Si Mountains, Mailbox Peak

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After rafting, hiking was the second outdoor activity I got to try.

Among the best hiking trails close to Seattle are : Rattlesnake Ledge, Si, Little Si Mountains, Mailbox Peak, Tiger, Squak and Cougar mountains. They are easily accessible, and suitable for anybody in a relatively good fitness shape ( I did Si and Little Si mountains on the same day ).



Though, honestly, I consider hiking to be a bit boring, it's a great way to stay in shape, get outdoors without spending tons of money on expensive gear, and meet new like-minded people.

Since I'm hoping to climb Mt Adams, Baker, and ,may be, go back to Rainier, I'm going on a few training hikes soon.

Mt Si remains the best training ground for anybody getting ready to summit Mt Rainier.





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Visit Mt. Rainier Video That Really Inspires To Visit

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I'm not sure who's in charge of marketing at Mt Rainier National Park, but I know they've been doing a pretty bad job inspiring people to visit this one of the most beautiful and unique parks in US.

I think the video below really brings up all the excitement, adventure, and discovery that you can find at Mt Rainier.

"It's more than experience. It's a way of life"

Two weeks, two mountains: Climbing Mt Stuart and Mt Shuksan

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It's been almost a year since I stepped on a mountain. Since my failed attempt to climb Mt Rainier, I added another goal to my Bucket List:

- take a mountaineering class (and climb major Washington peaks )

This year has been pretty great so far. I've had lots of adventures, but, unfortunately, not enough time. That's why when I got a chance I jumped on a great opportunity to climb two major Washington peaks just a few days apart : Mt Stuart and Mt Shuksan.

Last year I did a fun little hike to Ingalls Lake passing Mt Stuart on the way. While admiring the mountain I didn't think that a year later I'd get to stand on top of it...

Mount Stuart is the second-highest non-volcanic summit in the Cascade Range, and the highest peak in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Mount Stuart's upper North Ridge is listed as one of the Fifty Classic Climbs in North America and offers intermediate rock climbers a moderate route to the summit.

For me, Mt Stuart was "a strenuous hike", and a great test of my physical fitness. While most of the route is a class 5.5-5.6 scramble, the final 45% vertical snow wall was a bit intimidating...



If Mt Stuart was a training ground to brush up on my ice axe and crampon skills, Mt Shuksan made me pray for my life...




The final 600 feet to the summit involve what it's called " multi-pitch traditional climbing " ( meaning climbing more than one rope length, placing all gear required ), something that I had to learn "on the spot".

Gym or even crag climbing is fun, "easy and safe" ( relatively ), climbing with a 20 lbs backpack wearing your hiking boots is hell !

Know how to repel ( and being confident that you can do it with your backpack on while looking 9000 ft down ) is essential...as it's the only way down.

Though the mountain is imposing, beginner and intermediate climbers often climb this mountain.

Several mountaineering companies lead guided climbs on both Shuksan and Stuart charging $600-1000 for 2-3 days of climbing. So, not only did I climb two out of 18 Major Northwest Peaks, I saved about $ 1500 !

If you are a DIY type mountaineer, check out Climbing Washington's Mountains the book that provides the information needed to climb 100 of the state's outstanding summits, including all of state's 9,000-footers and high volcanoes.

Climbing Mt Rainier ( again)

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Unfortunately, this year I didn't go with my friends to climb Mt Rainier, since I had my own "climbing" Mt St Helens to do ( which was OK , but honestly, cant be compared to Mt Rainier).

I didn't get too much info on the climb. They went to Paradise on Thursday, stayed a night at the Paradise Lodge, and took off early in the morning.

Just like last year,they didn't use a guiding company. Two of them summited Rainier last year, so they had enough experience, practical and theoretical knowledge to climb and lead others. Other two were newbies, but they've been training for quite some time and were in pretty good shape.
Though the plan was to start climbing on Friday night, the wind was so strong that they had to wait till Saturday. It shows how unpredictable the weather up there can be and how important it is to use good judgement.

Below you can see some pictures from this year climb.











If climbing Mt Rainier is on your " to do " list, make sure you start training way before your climb. I know that many people use Si Mountain as their training grounds, going there as often as possible with the weighted backpack ( 40-50 pounds).

Also, if you don't have friends who are experienced mountaineers, you probably should look into climbing with one of the guiding companies.They will not only guide you, but will also provide the necessary training.

You will also have to rent some of the gear needed for your climb.You can rent out your get at REI or Backpackers Supply in Tacoma.
For my last year climb, I went to Feathered Friends in Seattle.On their web site I couldn't find rental information, but they do have it. And they've got some great deals. For three days rentals of axe, boots, crampons, hamlet and down jacket I paid just $100. Great deal !

Positive Impact Of Outdoor Adventures On Returning War Veterans.

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I don't think there is any other holiday that makes us feel more patriotic than 4th of July. No matter how trite it might sound, but it's when the fireworks start going off, you feel extremely proud to be an American, and at the same time ,it makes you think at what price it all came to us. You realize that those who serve our country deserve our profound appreciation. It is because of our war veterans that we remain strong as a nation, and we enjoy many of the freedoms we all-too-often take for granted.It makes you think what you can do to express your gratitude for their service.

In this post I want to write about two outdoor adventure projects in our state, that offer mental and physical healing for veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with post-traumatic stress disorder or injuries.