Category Archives: Climbing

Sahale Climb

August 26-27, 2012.

With my Forbidden Peak climb plans falling through, I quickly made plans with Lee to take his son up Sahale. We left Portland early Saturday morning to pick up permits at the Marblemount Ranger Station for the next two nights. Luckily, permits were available since we hadn’t come up with a backup plan.

After killing a day chasing bunnies and trying the various eating establishments in Marblemount, we drove to the end of Cascade River Road and prepared for a long day of hiking. We had an 8-year old with us and I had no idea how that was going to go. I assumed the worst.

The hike began on the trail to Cascade Pass, which was extremely well graded, with the most switchbacks I have ever seen. Nonetheless, about 5 minutes of walking passed before the little guy wanted to sit down and take a break. So, it was going to be like this…

Lee was good about setting short goals, like we’ll take a break after X switchbacks, but there was still an awful lot of resting and not a lot of walking. I was hoping to at least be able to hunt for huckleberries as we plodded along, but as this was a very popular trail, the berries were mostly picked over. I got a few, but quickly lost interest in looking.

Cascade Pass

Hours later we made it to Cascade Pass and took a lunch break. The views were breathtaking from here. A huge, wide valley opened up in front of us and throngs of hikers came and went across the trail. Once we left the pass, the trail switchbacked a bit steeper now. Up on Sahale Arm, the grade dropped and the views became more enthralling. We walked through green meadows dotted with patches of wildflowers. Dramatic, craggy peaks rose up from the valley on all sides. I could recognize Eldorado, Forbidden, and Johannesburg, and the others were too numerous to count. It was here that I broke away from the other two (sorry…) and blasted away towards camp.

The end of the trail rose sharply up a loose talus field to the camp, which was perched atop a gravelly moraine. A hiker we passed earlier recommended the camp on the second of three domes, so I chose that one for us. I unpacked, ate some food, drank lots of water, and took some pictures. It felt so good to have that heavy pack off my back and Crocs on my feet.


45 minutes later, the boys rolled into camp and G was instantly bored. I was flabbergasted. I will spare the details of the hours whiled away at camp.

The sunset was spectacular. Pink clouds decorated a dimming sky and the moon rose over the snow-capped peaks. I took a walk to the composting toilet, which was right out in the open on the ridge to camp. Using the loo was not for the shy camper. I was tempted to linger there, as the views were particularly gorgeous.


The next morning, we awoke to clear skies and a cool breeze. It was going to be a great day. We motivated to get breakfast going quickly and start climbing the mountain. It would take some time to gear up at each of the switchovers, so the more time we had, the better.

A short jaunt from the camp brought us to the base of the glacier, where we put on crampons and roped up. I would head the team with Lee on the other end and his son just about 10 feet away from him on the middle of the rope. I thought that would put me out of earshot, but I got to deal with being ordered around by an 8-year old screaming to “slow down” or “speed up,” depending on what he felt like doing. Actually, this is not much different from roping up with adults; being on a roped snow climb is obnoxious unless you have a really killer team of climbers who are all on the same page.

Sahale glacier

The glacier was mellow and short. Soon we were taking off our crampons to ascend a rocky pile to the base of the summit block. This also took some time, as the rocks were loose and I didn’t take the time to coil the rope nicely so I was dealing with a mangled rope butterfly held over one shoulder. We didn’t know exactly where the climb started and Lee mistakenly sent me, the worst routefinder in the universe, to scope it out. I stopped basically where I didn’t feel comfy scrambling without a belay and built an anchor there. I led up and over a rocky corner just a short ways until I found a rock slung with a red piece of webbing. I belayed them up and led a second pitch. This time I found a legitimate route on solid rock with good gear placements. I also found a sweet fist crack that had some webbing inside it, which I clipped and climbed over.

The summit area was small, but there was more webbing there so I quickly got safe and put the dudes on belay. It was windy and cold up there, so I hunkered down and appreciated bringing the BD guide to make the belaying chore a bit more bearable.

On the summit

View of Glacier Peak

With the 50 m rope, two raps brought us down to safe terrain and we hiked back to the snow from there. Crampons on, ropes on. This time I took the tail end of the rope as the kiddo and his dad led out. This was perfect. I kept enough rope in my hand as a buffer to allow me to walk at a reasonable pace and I may have let the rope pile up a bit on my end in places. There were a few big cracks in the glacier but our route was well away from them and so we were in a very safe situation. We made it back to camp around 1pm, in time for lunch.

The plan was to hike out and drive home today, so lunch was casual as we packed up and prepared to leave. Still, it was over an hour before we took off. The area was so beautiful I hardly cared. I took this opportunity to look around and enjoy the scenery. We even spotted a bear grazing in the meadows beneath the trail. Cool! But, walking behind an 8-year old was taking its toll on me. Rushing forward, then stopping every 10 seconds for no apparent reason, taking snack breaks at least 4 times an hour, and making funny noises just pushed every button I had. I jumped ahead of the crew once we got to the edge of the Sahale Arm and waited for them at Cascade Pass. There I chatted with some other hikers and tried to stomp on a critter scoping the area for dropped crumbs. We stuck together through the rocky section just beyond the pass, but as soon as it was time to stop AGAIN I made a break for it and finished the trip down on my own.


Forbidden Peak

It was nice to have some space to breathe and get lost in my own thoughts. As I turned one switchback after another, I drew little images in the dirt to amuse the child who was hopefully following close behind. I hoped that it would break up some of the monotony for him. It’s hard enough for big people do climb mountains; I could only imagine that it would feel like a huge undertaking for a child.

Overall, Sahale is big bang for the buck climbing. It’s mostly a hike, with a little bit of mild snow climbing and a short rock climb. Incredible views make this a five star trip. Go during the week for the best chance to get a permit or make it a day climb to avoid the permitting hassle.

Gear: 50 m rope, crampons/axe, light alpine rack to 1″, long runners

Rock Climbing at City of Rocks, Idaho

June 16-June 23, 2012.

School’s out! It was time to hit the rock. I was able to spend 8 days climbing and hiking in this beautiful park. It was my first trip there, and so I hit many of the classics. It took a few days to warm up to granite slab climbing, which is much unlike what there is to climb in Oregon.

I took some pictures on this trip, and I also went for a hike.

My favorites:

Lost ArrowBloody Fingers (5.10a)—WOW. Here’s a climb that lives up to its reputation. A strenuous start leads to sweet hand and finger jams above. Just when you think you’ve got it nailed, the crack disappears into a friction slab with some minor stress-inducing moves to the top. Very enjoyable route. We toproped it; I think it would be a scary lead down below. Trad.

Classic Route on the Lost Arrow (5.7)—I was glad Tom led the first pitch, because it would have been very heady for me. The second pitch was exciting on lead as well with an airy step around the corner to reach the slab. I bootied an old #1 Camalot from the upper crack. In fact, I wasn’t even expecting an upper crack but it came in handy to protect the so-called runout finish. Great views from the top followed by a nice free rappel make this a definite classic. Trad.

Columbian CrackColumbian Crack (5.7)—If you asked me while I was leading this, I wouldn’t have but it on my favorites list but in hindsight I think it was a stellar route. It begins in a wide to narrow chimney, then you pop up onto a block before stepping into the crack. Minimal crack skills are required since there are holds and ledges all over the face. Scary runout on top unless you bring the right gear (duh)–think, WIDE.

Double Trouble (5.8)—Slab to hand crack to chimney. Varied and enjoyable, albeit soft for an 8. It was nice to finally get some crack moves in as they are pretty hard to find in the moderates here. Trad.

Night Vision (5.9)—Really interesting opening sequence made me think and grunt a bit. With the right counterbalancing and body position, you can get up to the more straightforward slab. Toprope.

SinocraniumSinocranium (5.8)—Super fun, 5 pitch bolted multipitch route on Stinefell’s Dome. Most of the slab is easier than 5.7, with one 5.8 pitch that follows a dike full of quartzite crystals. There are a ton of bolts, so you can skip some to make things more interesting. This was definitely worth the hike. Sport.

Raindance (5.7)—This very well bolted route has a traversing lower pitch and a long slab for the upper pitch. It was an excellent introduction to the type of climbing here. I really enjoyed the second pitch. Sport.

Snack Break (5.9)—This is a very sparsely bolted route with a spicy opening sequence. There was a lot of reaching up and feeling around for jugs that weren’t visible. Mixed.

Snack Break Direct (5.8)—Same feeling as Snack Break, but considerably easier. Mixed.

White FlakeTennish Anyone? (5.10a)—Easy lower half gives way to some thoughtful, balancey slab moves on the upper half. Enjoyable route with very minimal 10 climbing. Mixed?

Triple Roofs (5.7)—The roofs aren’t the hard part. My crux came much higher, and it took a long time to commit to the moves to bypass it. This one made me think! There were a couple of bolts that may or may not have been for this route; I clipped one somewhere below the large roof. Trad.

Wheat Thin (5.7)—Followed Nate up this mellow flake/crack. Pretty straightforward and fun! Trad.

White Flake (5.8)—This would be my favorite climb if it wasn’t for the strange, smooth bowl in the middle of the route beneath the triangular rock. I had no idea what to do or how to protect it, so I stepped left onto the adjacent sport route and clipped a bolt before delicately traversing back right. The white flake at the top of the climb provides fun climbing, and I was so happy to jam my hands into a great crack at the top. Spectacular route! Trad.

And the rest:

Adolescent Homosapien/Homosexual (5.7)—I hated the opening chimney, which colored the rest of the route for me. It was incredibly windy and I was stressed out the whole time. I’d forgotten the beta for a “difficult to protect upper crux” so it took me a while to work through that. Not my best effort. Trad.

Cruel Shoes (5.7)—I wanted to do Dikes of Gastonia but my partners preferred this route. Nothing special, just another long, well-protected slab with remarkably uncomfortable belay stations. Sport.

Eastside Groove (5.6)—A not-so-memorable climb on the east side of Bath Rock. Trad.

Finer Niner (5.9)—This route is a bit contrived, but we did the best we could. The roof move is excellent and not that difficult, and the rest of the route is much easier. Sport.

Fledgling (5.7)—A really awkward leaning crack led to more interesting, but easier climbing on top. I was not happy with the bottom. Trad.

Fred Rasmussen (5.8)—This climb seemed to only go about 40 feet, unless we missed something. Too short to be much fun. Trad.

Funky Bolt (5.9)—I really wanted to like this one. I don’t know if my feet were trashed by this route or before I started, but my feet were in raging pain by the end. The sequence at the “funky bolt” was really reachy and stressful, even when following. The anchor is a ton of slings wrapped around a gigantic horn. Trad.

Pure Pleasure on the rightIntruding Dike (5.7)—Maybe because this was my first gear lead at the City, or because of the lousy walk-off, this was not one of my favorites. I wished I had more than one 0.5 Camalot. Trad.

Pure Pleasure (5.6)—Longish slab leads to a shortish crack. A reasonable warm-up if you’re in the area. The coolest part was exploring the window arch and algae-filled potholes above the top of the climb. Trad with one bolt.

Theater of Shadows (5.7)—I thought this was so easy and devoid of interesting moves that it was a waste. I’d never recommend it to anyone besides a first time climber who wanted to get on a multi-pitch. Yawn. Sport.

Too Much Fun (5.8)—The tricky move at the start for “short people” was definitely the crux for me. I had to deadpoint to an undercling before being able to reach up to a jug. It was good, but not sure what all the fuss is about this route. Sport.

Twist and Crawl (5.8)—Long, runout start. Tom put a big cam in a horizontal crack before the first bolt. Slab climbing leads to a crack at the top. We climbed this route to set a TR on Bloody Fingers. Mixed.

Overall, I must say I was a little intimidated by the City. I did not push my climbing grade at all, since I felt humbled by several 5.7 leads. Climbing on granite is a different experience, and I felt like I improved my footwork considerably over the course of the trip. I was happy for the opportunity to place a lot of gear and travel to a new destination. Back in Portland, I’m already sick of the weather and desperately missing Idaho’s sunshine.

Climbing at Madrone

April 15, 2012.

I was so worried about posting this trip report that I waited until 2018 to make it visible online. Madrone Wall is presently open to climbing, but in 2012 it was most certainly not. That’s pretty much all I knew about it. But a friend really wanted to take me climbing there, and he assured me that people climbed at Madrone all the time.

I cringed as I walked past the “No Tresspassing” signs. I did not consider myself a rule-breaker. I didn’t understand why climbing was not allowed there, but I assumed there was a good reason. A couple other friends joined us after we got there, so it began to feel like just a normal thing that regular people did. These weren’t outlaws, just friendly, respectable climbing folks.

I took the first lead of the day to get it out of my system: Route Crafters. This was a fun, ledgy, 5.8 sport route that served as an excellent warm-up. Next I followed several trad routes: Cornick’s Corner, Tangerine Dream and Wild Blue Yonder. They were all enjoyable in their own way. I struggled on some tricky start moves on Tangerine Dream but once I got going I found my flow.

Solidly following in the tens, my friend encouraged me to lead a 5.10a: Rising Desperation. I’d never led a 5.10 on gear before, so I was pretty nervous but I trusted his judgment and knew I could always bail off gear. I had trouble placing gear in flaring, weird spots and while I was on lead I felt exasperated and unsafe at nearly every move. I hung on the rope a lot. And after topping out and coming down, I looked up at the way I’d sewn up the route. It was, ahem…very well-protected!

Super stoked to have led a 10 on gear, I was excited for the next climb. I belayed my buddy on one of his projects, then led the sport climb Pillow Talk, a 5.10b. Another climber in our group had bailed after the first bolt so I picked up where she left off. I survived by climbing bolt-to-bolt and hanging after each clip. It took me several tries to figure out the roof sequence before I nailed it. The climb was short but interesting and worthwhile.

I followed one more climb: Whatever Blows Your Skirt Up, a 5.10b. It was pumpy and overhanging, which made for a fun free-rappel at the end. An amazing day of climbing! This place is truly a gem.

Mt. Hood, West Crater Rim

December 11, 2011.

Today I was excited to join an experienced team up Mt. Hood using a route that was new to me: West Crater Rim. I was invited by a trusted climb partner so I didn’t do much research on the route ahead of time. I was just there to play follow-the-leader.

We left at an ungodly hour so as to climb in the coldest and darkest part of the day. Rock and icefall is a hazard, so an early start helps to mitigate some of that danger. I took a photo of the team just before we began, and never touched my camera again that day. I was just trying to keep up and be a good team member!

The route began up the standard south side, something I was quite familiar with. Near the base of Crater Rock we veered left and climbed up on the other side towards the crater rim.

The terrain here was crumbly rock covered by a thin layer of snow and ice; quite possibly the most terrifying portion of the climb. We climbed with no ropes, just ice axes and crampons, so I paid real close attention to every step and knew that each one was taking me closer to better climbing conditions. I breathed a huge sigh of relief once that was over.

Back on good snow, the climbing became enjoyable again. The sun rose higher over our heads as we approached the rim and traversed to the true summit. It was a nice place to take a break and enjoy the progress we’d made up the mountain. Also a good time to remember that we were only at the halfway point: we needed to get back down!

We descended the south side route with all the others on the mountain that day. Near the bottom of the route, the snow surface was chunky and made of unstable blocks. My formerly broken foot was in a lot of pain from having to negotiate the blocks. My pace slowed down considerably and Linda stayed behind to keep me company on the final bit to the car.

I was happy to have another successful ascent of Mt. Hood under my belt! And I was reminded again of the consequences of having that broken foot. Just when you think everything’s under control…the universe has a different idea about how things are going to feel.



Smith Rock Frontside

October 29, 2011.

This weekend I headed down to Smith to climb with some friends. Today we hit the frontside of the rock for some mixed sport and trad climbing.

We decided to warm up on Lion’s Jaw, a 5.8 traditional route. It felt really burly for me and it took me a while to finish it. Upon later reflection I wondered if it was because: it was my first trad lead in a month or that I was using someone else’s rack. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

Next we had to get out of the sun so we headed for the sporty Hesitation Blues (5.10b). It was a tricky but fun follow for me.

Next, Tom led Toys in the Attic, a 5.9 hand crack that widens to off-width below a big roof. Oh bt it’s not over yet, a horizontal finger crack traverse with smeary feet leads over to the anchor. That was the scariest part for me!

Then, we all took turns on Double Trouble, 5.10b sport. My partners left the quickdraws up so I could try a lead. It was doable but there were some really heady moves for me. Coming on to the face from the arete was scary, since I had to step off the lower block. I had to hang on the draws quite a bit but I pulled it together and topped out.
From there we moved over to Blasphemy (5.11a). At the time they told me it was 5.10d so I figured I’d give it a go (I should always read the book myself). It was fun but very challenging with some delicate and precarious stems mid-way up followed by a not straightforward bulge. They were just dying to shout up beta for it but I just wanted to figure it out myself. I did.

We sneaked in one last climb at the end of the day: Pack Animal Direct (5.10b). I flew up the lower finger crack and came to a screeching halt at the roof because I couldn’t figure out how to go around it. Once I figured out how to move my right foot a couple inches higher I was able to reach a giant jug and pull through the move. Duh.

A fun day followed by pumpkin carving at camp later that evening!

Goat Rocks: Old Snowy and Ives

September 24, 2011.

about 14 miles | 3700′ ele. gain | 8 hours
Snowgrass Flats > PCT > Old Snowy > Ives > down talus to PCT and out

Photos from this trip are on Picasa.

Sue and I left Portland early to arrive at what we thought was a reasonable time. When we pulled into the Snowgrass Flats trailhead parking area just before 9 am, the place was overflowing with cars. I was already not excited about my first trip to the Goat Rocks.

We walked for a couple of hours through unremarkable, forested terrain. The trail was well-maintained and well-graded, so we were able to cover a good amount of miles without too much work. We saw a handful of people who were mostly carrying overnight packs. I was happy to cruise by with just a small daypack.

Once we broke free of the trees and entered one gorgeous meadow after another, I began warming up to the hike. An undulating ridge overlooked the colorful wildflower display at our feet. Remnant snow patches still lingered on the rocky slopes. Paintbrush, lupine, gentian, and asters provided a never-ending show of beautiful hues. We followed the trail as it gradually gained elevation along zillions of switchbacks that ascended to the highest point of the PCT in Washington State. Along the way we watched a train of horses heading up the trail, spied a lazy marmot enjoying the sunshine, and admired the intriguing rock formations. There was never a dull moment.

Once we hit the apex of the PCT we turned left to climb the north ridge of Old Snowy, our destination for the day. Ahead of us was another group of hikers with a small child, moving upwards at a glacial pace. We cruised by and were greeted at the summit by a Mazama team who were enjoying some snacks. Once the other group caught up, it got awfully crowded up there and we wanted to leave. I had gotten the idea that we could tag Ives while we were up here and it was so close. I didn’t have any specific details besides follow the ridge to the summit.

It didn’t take much convincing to get Sue to agree with the new plan, so we happily departed under sunny skies along the bumpy ridge connecting the two peaks. The route turned out to be surprisingly straightforward. We had to negotiate our way around several large gendarmes along the ridge that looked more challenging than they actually were. Along the way we came across bits and pieces of climber’s trails and the occasional series of boot tracks. There was a considerable amount of loose rock on the route that reminded me of climbing back in Oregon. We essentially followed the ridge as it rose and fell, passing by an interesting rock arch and other notable geological features, until we hit one steep talus slope taking us to the base of the summit’s ramp. From the base of the ramp we were able to follow a climber’s path up the rock to the top.

It took an hour to reach summit #2. We stopped here to soak in the solitude that we longed for on summit #1. It was beautiful up here; we got a great view of Gilbert Gottfried Peak (or Curtis-Gilbert or whatever the kids are calling it these days) as well as Mt. Adams. Although I could have sat up there for hours, we had some friends to meet at a car campground that evening, so we packed it up and eyed a route down.

It was easy to see the PCT junction in a huge patch of dirt far below us. We headed down a talus field, crossed over some snow, then lots more rocks, until we bottomed out in the meadows. After dumping the rocks out of our boots we glided across the wildflowers to reach the trail again for some easy walking. The time from summit to trail: 1 hour.

As we walked out, we kept turning back to burn the images of the expansive and lovely Goat Rocks into our retinas. I was sad to leave the open meadows, and didn’t look forward to the treed-in slog ahead. We passed several more backpackers on their way up and I was glad that I would not be camping up here with everyone else. I suppose since the Goat Rocks are accessible for such a short period of time, that all the use is concentrated in that fleeting window.

I will certainly return to the Goat Rocks, preferably in the off-season with some snowshoes or skis. There are some other peaks and areas that I am interested in exploring. This was certainly a nice introduction to the area. We took a quick jaunt up Nannie Peak the next morning before taking the long drive back to Portland.

Smith Rock: Lower Gorge

September 17, 2011.

Today was a nice day for trad climbing at Smith Rock. I tagged along with a friend and his climbing buddy for the day. Since both were much better climbers than me I was able to look forward to a day of following hard trad routes!

First they graciously offered to let me lead something easy. I chose Two Gentlemen’s Pneumonia (5.7) at Shakespeare Cliff. I struggled majorly at the bottom, where smeary feet led to an off-width. After lots of gear-hopping and takes, I made it past that section to better moves. When I reached the chockstone, I opted to squeeze into the chimney behind a pillar instead of pull up and over on the face.

Next, a couple more climbs on this side of the river, with my buddies on lead. I followed them both: Azog (5.9) and Much Ado about Nothing (5.10d/5.9). The upper pitch has the 10d moves so I just completed the 5.9 variation. These were both really fun crack climbs with some bouldery finishing moves.

Back across the river, we chose a couple more climbs. On lead again, I tackled Dire Wolf (5.8). This was nut-tastic! The gear was so good and the climbing felt easy that I just cruised up it.

The last, and best climb of the day was Morning Star (5.10 c), which I toproped. It was a sustained, challenging finger crack. There were also some crazy stemming/chimneying moves thrown in for good measure. I fell once and yelled a lot but otherwise climbed it well. What a satisfying day!

Diamond Peak

September 3, 2011.

Rockpile Trail > PCT > Climber’s trail up South Ridge of Diamond Peak

12 miles | 3750′ ele. gain | 6.5 hours

Photos from this trip are on Picasa.

I had two sets of instructions for climbing the peak: one from Sullivan’s green book and one from the Oregon Scrambles book. Sullivan’s route included much less off-trail travel, and all of the “climber’s route” was in open terrain. The Scrambles route seemed to require much more off-trail navigation, and to make things worse, there was quite a bit of it in the depths of the trees. In making the switch from one backpack to another, I had forgotten to grab my compass before leaving town and I was not comfortable wandering through the woods with no directional cues. So I decided to follow Sullivan’s description.

I set out at about 7 am to enjoy the coolest part of the day during this hot streak. I proceeded to walk through a pretty forest on a well-graded trail. There was very little elevation gain over several miles of travel. It was very quiet. I stopped occasionally to observe the plants growing on the forest floor but overall I was able to maintain a quick pace. In no time at all, I found myself at the lakes. In a wave of confusion I ended up dead-ending at Marie Lake, having to backtrack my steps and return to the last junction before getting to the PCT junction and turning left.

Once on the PCT I timed myself carefully so as to not miss the climber’s trail mentioned in Sullivan’s book. As noted, there was a huge cairn about 50 feet from the obvious hairpin turn in the trail. Perfect! The trail immediately detoured uphill, a huge change from the last 5 miles or so. This was one of the best climber’s trail I’d ever walked upon; the route was clear and the tread was well worn. A great effort was put into building cairns frequently along the path as well. I stopped to rebuild several of them on my way up. As the trail left the trees, the ground turned to a steadily ascending slope of rocks and debris. Among the rock and gravel, there appeared to be footsteps all over the place as well as cairns barely discernible from the other rocky piles. It was easy for me to find the way up but I was concerned about the way down. I stopped several times to turn around and gain the opposite perspective, as well as make a few mental notes to help me navigate back down to the trail. With huge and distinct volcanic peaks sticking up everywhere as well as obvious features on Diamond Peak, it was pretty easy to get my bearings.

The slog uphill was long but absolutely gorgeous. It was like walking through an ornate rock garden. Delicate and hardy alpine plants emerged from the seemingly lifeless dust covering the rock. The hillside was adorned with buckwheat, stonecrop and paintbrush of various colors.

Upon gaining the false summit, I looked north to my final destination. A half-mile rocky, undulating ridge lay between me and the top of the peak. This interesting section of climb took me past several cliffy rock outcrops that I had to navigate down and around. Squeezing in the space left by melting snow as it parted ways from the rock wall, I pondered how much easier this would have been just a few weeks earlier with a more hefty snowpack.

The summit area was flat and broad; it was a great place to sit and relax before heading back down. In the sun and haze I was able to see several peaks including the Three Sisters (at least two of them), Mt. Thielsen (aka “Tomorrow”) and Mt. Yoran (aka “Yesterday”). It was remarkable to have this beautiful place to myself at 10:30 am on a holiday weekend.

But I knew I had to get down before it really got hot. I sadly left the summit behind, hopping across the rock to a narrow snow ridge that I walked across until it got a little too narrow for my liking. I squirmed through the moat again, returning briefly to the rock ridge before barreling down the talus and scree. I edged right to another snowfield and plunge-stepped down as far as I could before moving back to the rock. About an hour later I reached the trail, immediately encountering people. I passed another couple at the corner and then three backpackers further down the trail. After that short rush of congestion I swiftly walked out to the car in peace and quiet.

Summit 2 out of 4 for this trip is also highly recommended. The flat approach provides a nice warm-up for the climb itself, and the off trail navigation is pretty straightforward. This would likely offer an interesting snow climb for most of the year as well, although it would be a shame to miss the spectacular alpine flora during its brief bloom.

Mt. Yoran and Peak 7138

September 2, 2011.

Vivian Lake Trail > Mt. Yoran Trail > Yoran Summit > Peak 7138 and back

8-ish miles | 2500′ ele. gain | 5:30 hours

Photos on Picasa

A holiday weekend: 4 summits in 4 days was the plan. I drove down to the trailhead for this hike the night prior and slept out under the stars in hopes of catching an early start in the morning. Temperatures this weekend were threatening to be in the high 80’s and into the 90’s, so I’d planned to avoid the worst heat of the day. This was easy to do, as I was alone for this part of my trip.

At 7 am I began the approach hike up the not-so-pretty Vivian Lake and Mt. Yoran trails, which traveled through brown and boring forest for most of the way. Just before descending to Divide Lake the forest floor picked up some interesting color and vegetation, adding some excitement to this so far trudge-like walk. Upon arriving at the lake I was greeted by a pine marten who stopped to pose on a log before running into the safety of the trees.

With a copy of the 75 Scrambles in Oregeon route description in hand, I promptly ignored the suggestion to find the climbers trail and headed straight up the obvious rock field leading towards the summit. Mt. Yoran is an impressive looking rock block; from many angles it looks impassable to the average hiker. However, the rock slope leads to a somewhat solid gully filled with loose rock that is manageable to negotiate. I moved into the treed section of the steep slope and climbed up the right side of the rock below the large gendarme. From there, I followed the most obvious route to the notch above, walked up the next gully and traversed right across an exposed ridge to the flat summit. It was over just as soon as it begun. While fun, the scramble was short. I sat atop the peak, enjoying the cooler air temperature and lovely breeze.

To the southeast, another rocky peak jutted prominently out of the forest below. The seductively named Peak 7138, which is actually taller than what is labeled as the “summit” of Mt. Yoran, looked like a nice secondary objective of the day. It only took me two hours to get here so I had plenty of daytime to play with.

I descended mostly the same way I came up, skirting away from the loose rock in the gully and exiting as soon as I could in order to reach the saddle between Yoran and 7138. I followed the ridgeline, keeping to the south side as to avoid the crumbly, steep, and exposed ridge proper. Traversing talus and grass, I bypassed a tall rock pinnacle and headed for a rock outcrop that appeared to be loose but fun. And it was.

A few hairy moves and tumbling boulders later I reached the top of the peak. That was actually more scrambling and more fun than the route up Mt. Yoran. I would highly recommend doing this double feature to someone considering the scramble of Mt. Yoran. It would be a bit more treacherous with a group of people due to rockfall, so helmets and functioning brains would be advised.

Atop the summit, gorgeous views were to be had in all directions. I admired Diamond Peak, my goal for tomorrow. I also found a memorial carved into a rock: “Norman Thomas 61-87.” I was blown away that someone came up here to this random, off the grid peak to remember a lost friend. As much as I despise these things at commonly visited spots I was surprisingly inspired by seeing this carving located here. I wonder if this particular peak had some significance in this person’s life, or what the story of his death was. I couldn’t find any information online when I returned home, so I will continue to wonder.

After getting sick of swatting flies and mosquitoes I began the exciting descent. I didn’t want to go down the way I ascended so instead I did some rock-surfing down a steep and loose gully that pointed me towards Divide Lake. I cursed the stupid chipmunk who danced across the rock as I fumbled around like a drunken sorority girl. Once back at the lake I paused for a nanosecond to take a picture before the mosquitoes could figure out I was there.

Shortly after, I passed a couple who were on their way up to the lake; they were the only humans I’d see on the trail. I’m not sure if it was so quiet because it was a Friday morning or because this isn’t a particularly popular destination. Either way, it was a win-win situation for me. The triple win came within a quarter mile of the trailhead, where huckleberries were ripe and ready for consumption. I stopped and gorged myself on the berries, which were the sweetest and tastiest huckleberries I think I ever had. They were large and sweet, tasting more like blueberries than the huckleberries I’m used to. What a treat!

I had a snack and then moved my camp to Indigo Springs Campground so I would be closer to my next hike. I still had all afternoon to read, stretch, explore the woods, and relax by the creek. It was a great way to kick off the long weekend.

Valhallas Climbing Trip (rest day and hiking out)

August 18, 2011.

Today, with no particular objective in mind, we decided to take a rest day. Two of our group members hiked out early in the morning, leaving the remaining group with 5 people. We had a lazy breakfast while chatting on Kitchen Rock with a great view of the floating ice in Mulvey Lake. It was a treat every morning to wake up to this little piece of outdoor heaven. In the six days we had been in the basin, we had encountered no other parties. Yesterday when we hiked up to the col, we did see two other teams; but no one had made the slog down to our blissful camp.

We spent much of the afternoon building an incredibly elaborate toprope anchor to TR about 25 feet of overhanging slab. I got bored with that project pretty quickly, but the others played around with climbing on it for hours. Meanwhile, I sneaked in an amazing lakeside yoga session and a quick nap.

Dinner was fantastic yet again, and the loss of two hungry stomachs was evident; there was a ton of couscous left in the pot at the end of the night. We discussed our options for the next day and decided we would hike back out to the car so we could drive up to Banff for some sightseeing before heading back to Portland.

August 19, 2011.

It was a bittersweet day. The weather was phenomenal; clear blue skies and bright sunlight shone overhead. Who would want to leave? But with the prospect of bad weather coming in soon, I would have rather packed out in the sun than in the rain. Plus, we had some extra time to complete the long drive home.

With heavy packs on once again (did they get any lighter??) we trudged up the snow, rock, and snow to the now familiar col. No one really wanted to carry their packs along the narrow catwalk to gain the col so we dropped packs at a big ledge and walked up without them. Brody stayed low while Lee and Eric built an anchor to lower a rope down. The packs were pulled up the corner, one by one, until all people and packs were safely on the rock. It didn’t take that much extra time, and it made the crossing safer.

From here, it was a trail hike back to the car. The section between the col and the Gimli camp was the most treacherous. There were some steep downhill sections and plenty of loose rock. When I reached the camp I waited for everyone to arrive. There were marmots, ground squirrels, and goats hanging out here; they know where the food and urine are.

We took a short break here before making the last push to the car. I was ready to just be done with it, so after walking with Brody for a bit I blasted off at my own (non-stop) pace until I saw the parking lot. It felt so good to take that backpack off and change into new clothes. There was a Pepsi, still cold, in the van as well as crunchy cheesy poofs for a treat. One by one the others filed in and we took our time loading into the van to leave. It had been a tremendously fun vacation with a great group of people, in a place of unparalleled beauty. But, we had to go.

The drive home included a few interesting stops and a road that ended at a lake. A free ferry ride took us across to the continuation of the road. That was a fun little adventure! The drive through British Columbia was incredibly pretty. I will have to come back to do some more exploring in the mountains and forests of this amazing land.

View the photos from the entire trip on Picasa.