Slide Film: North Cascade Climbs
I found a bunch of old slides from North Cascades climbing trips. Back in the day, I shot thousands of slides on Fuji Sensia 100 with my Canon AE-1. I would get my slides developed for $8.00/canister at Rainbow Photo in Laramie. At some point around the year 2000, I found a slide scanner and created a few low-resolution digital photos. They are blurry, dust-speckled, and grainy, but fun to look at nevertheless.
Chris and I on top of Liberty Bell. I think we did a couple of different routes that day.
Jenny and Rick atop an unnamed spire high above the Cascade River valley, North Cascades. Mt. Johannesburg in the background.
My goofy neighbor and I climbed North Twin Sister together. Its usually a quick, in-and-out trip, but my partner was very slow. We ended up getting our car locked in behind the miner's gate and had to walk many miles out to the highway where we hitched a ride back to the North Fork Brewery with a couple of stoners in a crapped out Mazda 280-Z. I shared the back seat with a pile of cigarette butts and one pit bull puppy not 2 months old.
Glacier Peak via the Frostbite Ridge route is a super fun trip. Rick and I started 5 hours later than the rest of our party, but hauled ass and caught up with them before they made camp, 16 miles later. We checked out a prominent sub-peak (Kennedy Peak?) on that trip, too. The summit of Glacier Peak, like most Cascade volcanoes, is surprisingly boring. The problem with climbing volcanoes is the view from the top: miles and miles of dark green forests. What you want is to look out at oceans of rocky spires and waves of dramatic peaks trailing off to the horizon. But volcanoes tend to have low footings, thus trees. The fun in climbing them is in the approach with friends, not the summit.
Shawn at the 6,500' bivy on Glacier Peak.
Frostbite Ridge route near the summit of Glacier Peak. This little slope is the best 1/2 hour of the climb.
Brian on Glacier Peak's summit, North Cascades.
Hiking in the Snowy Range west of Laramie, WY with a young Hilary and even younger Emma. One of the great things about living in Wyoming was that I always felt in shape; town is at 7200'. We’re hiking above 11,000’ here.
Lockhart Basin in Canyonlands National Park, UT. I was a student on University of Wyoming's geology field course in 1995, the summer after my junior year. I served as a graduate TA on this same course for the next 3 summers. Dr. Peter Huntoon, who mapped the geology of entire park as a PhD student, is in the handmade leather hat at right. He's probably eating my lunch. 95 degrees.
I was awarded the "Golden Hammer" for my performance as a student on the University of Wyoming's Geology Field Course in 1995. I ended up giving that hammer away, but kept a photo of this hammer. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
I would take long drives into the mountains of Colorado whenever I had time off from my graduate studies. Here I'm traversing from Mt. Bierstadt to Mt. Evans, two 14ers. I set the timer on my old AE-1 and ran over to pose on this precarious rock. It took me two times to get all the way over there before the shutter tripped. Lots of mountain goat hair stuck to the rocks all along the ridge leading between the two peaks.
Hilary and I summitted Mt. Baker via the Boulder Glacier route on this trip. It was Hil's first trip to the top, my fourth. Camp at 7200'.
Hil and I on top of Mt. Baker (10,781') just after dawn. Mount Shuksan (9,131') to the east in the distance.
Sunburn-induced nap. Mt. Baker.
Hilary, Emma, and I did a 35-mile Hells Canyon hike one 4th of July weekend back before we were married. We had run ins with two mother bears (both with cubs), a pack of wild, dog-hating mules, and miles of boiling hot sand. No people, though.
Pidduck and I at the base of the North Ridge of Mount Stuart. Twenty-two pitches to go. 1995.
Climbing out of the morning clouds on Mt. Stuart's North Ridge. The peak sits right on the Cascade divide. We watched clouds pouring over the crest and evaporating all day.
A commercial pilot, a dentist, a CFO, a developer, and me. This group of successful business men invited me, a tremendous slouch, to join them for a week of climbing in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The deal was that I had to lead the hard climbs. No problem! What a great time we had - perfect weather, perfect granite, mountain goats, lots of summits, cool people. We came in via the steep pass and out via the long lake trail. And the ranger only asked us to change out one of the backcountry latrines!
Pilot, dentist, developer. Combined net worth: 5.7 million. Lead climbing ability: 5.7.
Follow the monkey on the sharp end.
Heart of the Alpine Lakes basin.
My trashy little trailer at the Omak Airstrip had a 360-degree view of mountains. We would walk the runway every day. Typically, just four flights a day came into Omak unless the medical plane came in. The place got really busy in fire season, though. Emma had a daily routine at the airport complex. She would disappear mid-morning to make the rounds from the UPS hangar to the FedEx hangar to the wildland fire hangar, looking for suckers with Cheetos and sandwiches.
Hil and I spent a couple of memorable November birthdays in Polebridge, MT. Its located way up near the Canadian border in Glacier National Park. Great place for dinner if they're serving and you can find a stool.
Exercising good backcountry judgement by skiing below the huge Blue Peak Peak cornice. Washington Pass.
I don’t recall his name, but this guy and I had a great weekend climbing at Liberty Bell and Cutthroat Peak.
High on Cutthroat Peak's South Buttress. Located across the road from Liberty Bell, the peak sees a lot fewer people. Two hour approach, ~10 pitches of moderate alpine rock, some 5.7 but mostly 4th and low 5th, obvious route finding, one awkward step, and a tidy summit with good views. A perfect day climb in the North Cascades. Mountain goats may chew up your boots if you leave them at the base of the climb.
Typical Spring climbing in the North Cascades: A long slog in, a steep snow ascent, a rocky summit.
Emma asleep at the base of the crags at Mt. Eerie, waiting for humans to finish whatever nonsense they are up to.
One of the great places in the West is Steamboat Rock State Park at Banks Lake, WA. I was lucky to spend several months camping here during the year I commuted between Nespelem and Pullman for work (170 miles each way).
Its fun to look back on old summit photos and realize you've been on top of all the peaks in the picture.
Readying for the trudge up Silver Star Mountain glacier route, North Cascades.
Dorky ski photo at Red Mountain, B.C. when Hil was working out of Rossland and me out of Nespelem.
Apres beers at the Red Mountain lodge. I'll have a Sleeman's!
In college, we took a geology trip to Mt. Rainier. We hiked in several miles to the base of the glaciers, where Kevin took some students ice climbing. As daylight faded, we all made our way back to the vans. But the keys had been left behind, somewhere along the trail. So, in the dark, Brian and I jogged all the way back in and actually managed to find the lost keys near a trailside bench. A late night.
Three great people: Brian, Jenny, Rick. They taught me a lot of life lessons that I since forgot. I miss trips with them. Here we are at base camp below Black Peak in the North Cascades.
Jamey, his 9 month old Labrador, and I circumnavigated Mount Adams together. It was an enjoyable adventure that ended with us bivying high on the peak and coming in a day late. The ice field crossing was a thrill. I think Bracken enjoyed being lifted (thrown?) up the rock and ice benches for most of a day.
McLoughlin Canyon near Tonasket, WA is just one of many hidden gems of Okanogan Valley. Strongly foliated rocks of the Okanogan gneiss dome. I have to believe we'll live here again someday.
An alpine start up the climber’s trail into the Torment-Forbidden high country is a quintessential North Cascades experience. The smell of broken granite, the taste of icy water, avalanches off Johannesburg, a visit from the climbing ranger (blue bags! blue bags!), the marmots, the promise of the day ahead.
Brian on the approach to Black Peak. More often than not, North Cascades weather looks worse in the parking lot than it does in the high country.
I was a few hours late to the trailhead, but managed to catch up with the group before they made the summit of Mt. Higgins, east of Marysville, WA. The route follows the left skyline. I shoved a box of Krispy Kreme donuts into my pack and pulled them out to share when we all reached the summit.
Two of best people I know are from Concrete, WA. Brad and Cathy Monrad make every day in the mountains more fun. I miss the long, wet slogs into North Cascade peaks with them. Here we are, dug in below the Liberty Bell group above Washington Pass.
This mural is located very near the center of the known universe.
Brad not driving a gravel truck. Peshastin Pinnacles.
The Tarswegian and I atop Whistler Peak, North Cascades, April 2004.
Brad M. belaying me on the usual route, Fun Rock, Mazama, WA.
The Liberty Bell group at Washington Pass, a couple hours west of Omak. After a long weekend, it was always great to turn the car east towards home.
Mike and Dave on our trip into Wing Lake. "More often than not, I find trombone is the answer."
An early March trip to Joshua Tree with friends from the Skagit Valley. Me atop the Finger of Hercule Poirot (or something like that). Tape your belly for it.
Frisco Peak with Keith Spencer, 2002. Cutthroat and Whistler in distance.
One of the great cross-country mountain rambles of the West is the Bailey Range Traverse in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. I did the traverse solo in running shoes with a Megamid, a Green Trails map, a Dana Designs Bomb Pack, and an ice axe. The high route fades in and out and I got off track at several points. Each time I began to feel lost I would regain the ridgeline to resume my ramble. A Park Service helicopter landed on me twice, looking for a group of lost hikers. I woke one morning to find a huge pile of bear scat not a foot from my tent flap. I had precariously stacked my stove and pot as a sort of alarm to warn me of overly-curious bears, but the bear avoided it. Black bears and deer are everywhere up there - and especially active at dusk. I snapped this photo at Appleton Pass.
Hilary and I climbed South Twin Sister with the Skagit Alpine Club a few years back. You hike in a few miles, set up camp at the end of an old logging road, and do the up-and-down climb the next day. We had to leave Emma in camp while we climbed. She stayed put all day, back in the warm tent under piles of down.
Hil in Hells Canyon.
John Deere 8440. I drove this monster for about 9 months for the Knutzen Company on Samish Flats. Awesome job. I got to stare up at the mountains all day and listen to sports radio. I should have been a farmer.