Thursday, May 17, 2012

2 Days Until Rainier 2012!

Only two more days until we embark on yet another all-out assault on the legendary volcano. All last minute preparations have been made. Maps printed, gear packed, and trip plans sent out to the fam and friends. Once again, I've got a slight head-cold damping the good vibes, but I'm hanging in there. After all, I climbed last June, only few days after coming down with the flu. Sure enough, I was popping antibiotics at altitude.

On Saturday, I'll be flying out to meet my partner in alpine crime and our Washington state friend to attempt yet again, the Kautz route. We ran out of time last August, so this time we have budgeted a heap of time to slay this one off our to-do list. If we have extra time, we'll perhaps climb the Fuhrer Finger route too -- we have five days to enjoy the southside routes before our committed meetup with the rest of our group. On Thursday, we'll rendezvous with the other six members of our DC climbing team in Ashford and begin yet another push on the mountain's east flank. We'll hit up Camp Muir and from there ascend either the Disappointment Cleaver or the Ingraham Headwall route, assuming the snow bridges haven't melted out completely. Regardless, we have 9-10 sweet days to get our kicks for 2012 on Rainier.

Stay tuned... on Saturday evening, we go live. Be sure to check out our beacon tracker:


Current state of affairs:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco De Lamo on Four Peaks

Look Ma! No rope!
Rob, Jon-Erik and I tempted fate, attempting to drink a can of Four Peaks craft brew on all Four Peaks to celebrate the Cinco De Mayo holiday. Four Peaks is a small range of four mountains that lie to the northeast of Phoenix, overlooking the valley. While their silhouette looks rather straightforward from a distance, the actual traverse is anything but. Alas, we should have read up more on the actual route. The day turned out to be a route-finding nightmare.

Wow this is going to be easy. It's still dang early. 3 hours of sleep never felt so right.

Left:  Making our way around the western side of the peaks to the Amethyst mine, where our scramble begins.
Hey we're not too far away from civilization... there's the Supes and east Mesa

Our first crux move of the day. The razor-wire lieback.

 Jon-Erik knocked down close to 200 boulders... some of them falling to the people below us.
 We made our way up an endless gully of trees and loose boulders, with the day's objective(s) coming into focus at the saddle

After a couple hours, we arrived at Peak 4 (Amethyst peak) and we cracked our first brew of the day.

"Now just reach your right leg around, there's about a half inch of a lip you can stand on, but you can't see it from that angle. Remember to hang on your skeletal structure, don't fatigue the muscles. You'll need them later, bro.
Jon-Erik following the path of least resistance along the ridge.

Left: "Alright Jon-Erik, you just have to lie back, push off with your left leg, swing the right leg around and smear this slab, then reach the right hand over to this crimp-hold and transition the rest of your body over... just don't fall dude."
Right: I know they technically say "4 Peaks", but I think this and the other 39 just like it and just as big, count towards the official count. We must have climbed and down-climbed ten or more of these things that stood in the way of the ridgeline
And we were off to peak 3. Rob took the scouting role seriously and lead us through some questionable terrain.
Up then down, repeat 50x's
 Picture and beer time.Superstition Ridgeline on the right.

Another one of the 44 Peaks. Path of least resistance.

Down-climbing became second nature.

 The foreboding peak 3 looming in front of us. And the register of peak 3. Some interesting entries.

Looking back towards peak 4.

Staring down the knife edge ridge that leads down to the 2-3 saddle. Sadly I did not take any more photos of the route after this, since things got real real. We must have bailed off the ridge to both sides a couple times before we finally reached the Z-ramp of peak 2. At that point it was 4 in the afternoon and daylight was an issue if we wanted to stay on the ridge. We chose to bail, which was another adventure (read: "torture") in itself.

As we skirt peak 2 looking for the easiest route up, we cliff out several times. I dislodge a flake along the wall and it splits my knee open. The sun is getting low in the distance. We weigh our options and decide to bail off the west side from the peaks 2-3 saddle. What ensues is a sufferfest of epic proportions as we descend 500+ vertical feet through thick thorn trees and pricker bushes. This is one of the worst bushwacks I have ever participated in...

After an hour and half of bushwacking through thorns and razor-wire vines we stumbled onto the trail again. Bloody miserable, we cracked open the rest of the beers and feasted on the remaining rations for the day.

Argh!!! Curse you Mountain!!! My face before it began to swell up. Yes, I even got stabbed in the nose with a thorn branch. 

We'll be back.