Hey y'all, I'm back! The expedition was loads of fun, and 2 out of 4 summited. Not bad at all for a first ascent, in my opinion! We were on the glacier for 5 days, all of which were bluebird! Ok, so here's the short story. Check back in with Marmot Mountain Works around the holidays for a slideshow date! That's where you'll be able to see all the pictures and get the real scoop!! We left the morning of Friday, July 17th to start the two day drive. Matt, Eric and I met up in Bellevue, and we picked Mike up in Bellingham on our way North. So there we were, 4 climbers in a full Suburban with skis on top trying to cross the border into Canada. Nice try, eh? They marched us inside for individual questioning. 2 hours later, we were back on our way. We stopped that night at about 2 in the morning to camp out at Williams Lake B.C. The campground host told us that he had the "best swimming hole in the whole country". We went to check it out, but it was fairly disappointing; it was a dirty eddy underneath a "danger no swimming sign" with a lump of packing styrofoam spiraling around in the current. We decided to pass and continue along. The next 8 hours of driving included a 100km of dirt road down the most precipitous, guard-rail-less stretch of highway I have ever seen. Once down in the valley, it was a clear shot into Bella Coola, and to Eagle Lodge, where we camped on the back lawn. The next day was a prep day, so we went and checked out the heli-pad, explored the area's granite walls, picked up some fresh smoked salmon, shared a few beers with and borrowed a radio from Fraser at Coast Mountain Lodge, and organized our gear and food for our flight out the next morning. We got up the morning of the 20th, threw all the gear back into the Suburban, and drove over to West Coast Helicopters where Pat and Richard helped us weigh all of our packs, duffels and bins, and get it all situated into the helicopter. Then we were off! In the air, flying over fields, then trees, then waterfalls, then glaciers, and granite for all of 10 minutes. We landed just a few hundred feet below the South Ridge of Desire. We made a deluxe base camp; we planned on spending at least a week there, and expected poor weather. We even had a pirate snow man. Later towards the afternoon, we roped up and went for a wander to scope out the approach to the ridge. It wasn't bad at all! We descended the SE glacier to a 4th class ramp which let us access the E. Ridge. What a view! We were all psyched to get on it for the real business climbing. The rock was solid granite, the ridge looked totally do-able, and we were totally pumped on actually making this project a reality. We scurried back to camp, ate dinner, and hiked up to the S. Ridge to watch the spectacular sunset. The next morning, we hit the ridge, and headed off! It was mostly simple simul climbing. There were a few steeper pitches in there, up to 5.7ish, but they were covered in grippy, 1/2" lichen. The terrain sailed by, route finding was pretty easy-breezy, a bit of hopping to one side or the other occasionally, but no biggie. At the end of the last gendarme, we finally got a good look at the headwall pitches. They were off vertical, and looked to be quite loose, and hard to get a protected belay. Eric and my guts both vetoed continuing, but Matt and Mike felt good and motivated as always, and so they pushed on while Eric and I began the descent. We didn't realize how committing our little ridge was until we tried to get off of it. It took 9 hours of business style down leading and down simuling, all of which happened in mountaineering boots. And some of which was in the dark. It took 5 rappels (all of our bail cord and all but one of our cordelettes) The last bit was definitely the most sporting; descending the sandy 4th class slab back down to the glacier in the dark, Eric without a real headlamp, and both of us in full TPU soled boots. Whew! Were we glad when we got back to camp! We were beat tired. Mike and Matt, having beat us back to camp by about 5 hours, passed out jetboil cup corn snow margaritas, and we swapped stories over the roar of the XGK stove that was melting water. Our third day on the glacier we went to do an off-shoot of the S. Ridge of Desire, which Mike and Matt dubbed "Manergy Ridge". Eric had a blistering sunburn, and my lead head was fried from the day before, so an hour into climbing we rapped to the glacier and headed back to camp. Day 4 Mike and Matt were still full of energy, so they went to go scope out the unnamed south peak of the S. Ridge of Desire and to see if they could continue on the ridge. Eric and I skied the SE glacier in swimsuits and packed up camp. Team energizer bunny returned back to camp at sundown to spicy chicken stew, having summited the peak all the way across the valley via a system of ridges. Day 5 we flew out early in the morning, and headed back to Eagle Lodge to dry gear, get showers (with I'd've remembered shampoo!!!!!), and share pictures. Then it was off to Coast Mountain Lodge to return the radio we'd borrowed from Fraser. After a quick visit, we hit the road and headed home, through a MASSIVE thunderstorm. No border troubles this time, thank goodness! I got home at around 6am Sunday morning, and caught 3 or 4 hours of sleep before the Mountain Rescue pager went off for a mission at Snow Lake, and I was ripped from my rest. The rescue self-resolved shortly after, and I spent the next 3 days eating.
The Monarchist's Cookbook received a Mountain Fellowship grant! Thanks to the American Alpine Club, Eric Dalzell, Matt Van Biene, Mike Pond, and I are headed to the BC Coast Mountains on July 17th. In the meantime, there's lots and lots of training and preparation. Dehydrating food, building finger strength, and regaining ankle flexibility. Who knew rehydrated curry could be so delicious?! As our departure date looms closer, the stoke builds. We are all psyched for our project. Many thanks to John Scurlock for the pictures provided of the route. I encourage you to check out his website at http://www.pbase.com/nolock The photos here are incredible! Whether you are snooping around for a new line, or simply need to wade forehead deep in alpine beauty from a desk chair, John's got you covered. Also, check out the fabulous AAC at www.americanalpineclub.org They've taken good care of climbers for a long time, and I'm honored and grateful to be among the grant recipients of 2009. They do a lot for the climbing community beyond funding expeditions. Enough shameless plugs for now. I'm headed for the hills.
I was recently awarded the McNeill-Nott Award from the American Alpine Club and Mountain Hardwear. This grant will fund a trip to the Northern BC Coast Mountains near Bella Coola. Mike Pond, Matt Van Biene, Eric Dalzell, and I will attempt the first ascent of a rock and snow ridge. Our plan is to head in mid July, and be home sometime in the first few days of August. We get to fly into our basecamp too! Should be fun! A bigger, nicer helicopter for passenger travel than Mountain Rescue, too. We'll even get seats in this bird! Oooh! Deeeluxe.
Since my freshman year in High School when I saw my friend and mentor Seth wearing a red Seattle Mountain Rescue softshell jacket, I've deemed that the epitome of awesomeness. And I hoped that maybe, just maybe, at some point in my life that I too would be awesome enough to earn a red jacket. That day came yesterday. At 18, I was admitted into the "boys club", as the fourth female. The age requirement was, and still is 21. I'm not sure how that worked, since every other member has to fight for entrance, and the other females tell stories of how ridiculous the admission process was for them. I just sent in my resume with the forms, said I was an EMT, and called back every few weeks to check on my application. No raking over the coals at board meetings, and no bitterness that I can tell. I really don't know what changed their minds about admitting a woman, and I'll never be able to tell you why they let me in three years earlier than their bylaws allow. But I'm super grateful. And so far it's been a blessing. Right as politics are getting ugly in KCESAR, SMR offers me another roster to sign in on, even on the same missions. Also, one must be a member for one year, and fulfill a minimum number of missions, and "prove their probationary worth". After that one year, the board members take a vote, and they deem you worthy or not of a red jacket. I asked, used my recent grant award as a shameless bargaining ploy, and picked up my red jacket yesterday morning. I had gone on the minumum mission number for the year too, but ony 3 months into my membership. And now I'll be able to fly around in the Coast Mountains, throwing down FA's in a shiny candy apple red SMR jacket!
The bitchin-est adventures so far has been my two months in Ouray, CO. I had applied for a scholarship to Chicks with Picks at Bree's suggestion, and I won, so that meant 3 days in Ouray. I had remembered something about an ice festival though, so I got set to do do both. I figured I should look up when the ice fest was, I thought it was pretty close, but it was three weeks away. I decided to go for both. I emailed Mike to see if he had any beta on where to camp out, and if there was enough to do outside of the ice park to merit a 3 week vacation. Turns out, he was going to be there for the winter, and offered me a place to stay. Perfect! We split rent on a two bedroom apartment right in town, a 15 minute walk from the ice park. Two awesome Scotts lived with us for the first three weeks. James and Finley are amazing climbers!! Fin and I snuck the Scottish flag into the ice festival and tied it on with rubber hair bands. The Chicks with Picks clinic was awesome too. I climbed with Kitty Calhoun! My whole stay in CO was inspiring and motivating. It seemed like everday, I met someone I'd read about. And every Wednesday night, the coolest kids in town met back at Mark and Tyler's house north of town for "family night". I'd always bring cookies, except for one week when I made pie. It caught on fire. But it turned out fine 'cause I just scraped the burned top layer off. It was still delicious. I ended up with strong arms and a lot of great stories. Next time we meet, I'll tell a few more.
I spent a good chunk of the fall as a cripple in a walking boot. I was a terrible patient, a doctor's worse nightmare, and when they told me they were going to put a cast on my foot in three days, I figured that gave two and a half days to climb. So I went to go do the NE col on Dragontail. I was in such a world of hurt on the way in. As we slogged up Asspounder Pass, I felt my ankle get weaker and weaker as it started to throb. Not awesome. Then I rolled a child sized block over my thigh, leaving a sweet goose-egg. And then a storm blew in, with high enough winds that the spindrift from the top of D-tail that it was making a growling noise. So we bailed. But we didn't hike down right away. Instead we played around on the uber lensed snow near the start of Hidden Col and Micah and Matt taught me how to place knifeblades. And they scare the living daylights out of me. Especially stacked shorty blades. Euggugug!!!!!! YUCK! But it really opened my eyes to the potential protectability of micro cracks, and I'm psyched to practice aid this summer. Finally out of the boot, and on the mend too!!!! Now I can focus on getting strong again! Watch out! I'm gonna rip it up this summer! I'm trying to decide between getting a guiding job, or simply teaching a few weeks of rock climbing and enjoying a last few months of dirt-baggery before I have to head to school. School will give me just shy of a whole week off every 2.5 weeks in addition to big winter, spring and summer vacations. I'll still have plenty of time to go climbing. But I'll just have to decide how much of my summer I want to spend working. It really is a tough choice! A guiding company is going to want my whole summer, but it pays fairly well, especially with a WEMT cert, but I'd get guides training and a whole bunch of experience. On the flip side though, I could teach three 5 day classes from 6/22-7/10, and spend the rest of the summer playing. I'm kinda leaning towards the latter since I can always settle down, but can't always play. I think I'll take the opportunity for personal climbing. I've already got a pretty good tick list going: Bugaboos (take two), Monarch Ice Field (BC Coast Range), Pickets, Boston Basin, Ranier (an embarrasing gap in my resume), and of course oodles of cragging and picnicing in Squamish, North Bend, Washington Pass, Darrington, and the Worth. Which kind of squeezes work to the sidelines, making guiding kinda hard. Oh well, we'll see.