28 October 2012

More Baker Photos & Video

I stumbled across more Baker photos that were taken by Owen and thought they were worth sharing, along with this video of what it looks like to cross a crevasse. Skerred!

Camp at sunset. Those tents should have been in a Mountain Hardware commercial!

Roped up and ready to go

Ryan and I cresting the Pumice Ridge. Neat perspective.

Looking down the headwall

And now looking up! Steep!!!

Cresting the summit. I'm last in line and getting HANGRY!

Wide load

Such a pretty hike down. If only it were 10 minutes long instead of 3 hours.
Do you see the ghost? How about now? Smiley faces in nature for the win! (and Happy almost Halloween!)

26 October 2012

Leavenworth Wedding

I recently attended a vineyard wedding in Leavenworth, WA: home of the Bavarian-ophiles dream come true. The scenery was idyllic, the wine was plentiful and I got to wear a pretty pink dress. What more could a girl ask for? Well - since you asked - we also happened to be staying at a cabin I've stayed in before....so I also had a lovely reunion with an old friend - Mr. Kris Kringle himself!

Here are my fave pics from the weekend:

Southern Style house and lawn setting. Heels came off almost  immediately

Smokey clouds made for a pretty sunset

A photographer with a sense of humor

I heart Dahlias


Kris Kringle, where have you been all my life???

23 October 2012

September Turns on Rainier

One of the things on my 30 Before 30 list is to ski for 12 consecutive months of the year. September marked month number ELEVEN. It also marked the most miserable skiing to date, as Luke and I battled sun-baked, late summer snow conditions and hallacious winds just to make a few turns. In fact, for 5+ hours of driving and 5+ hours of hiking, we only got about 12 minutes of pretty terrible skiing. But it's all about the journey right? RIGHT?

John Muir, so wise

Finding a good weather window was not a challenge this summer. With record breaking sunshine, Seattle only had one rainy day in three months. I've never seen so many Tan Seattlelies!

While our day was sunny it was also mired in smoke. Seattle, like much of the country, suffered from ongoing forest fires all summer long. You can see the haze in all of the photos below.

If you don't believe in global warming, you will now. Shrinking glacier!
Destination Camp Muir

Ants moving up hill

Our hike began around 10am and we traveled 3 hours up onto the Muir Snowfield. The wind picked up when we hit the moon rocks at 8,000 feet. We endeavored on before turning around at 8,500, when we met another skier hiking down because the ski conditions were so bad. We were planning to stop about 9000' due to crevasses opening above anyway, and I was glad to move the skis from my back to my feet and head down. Not that it (the skiing) was pretty.

Luke busting a move

Three turns in and my quads are already SCREAMING to stop

As you can see from the photos, the snow was really dirty and had been decimated by suncups: cup-shaped indents into the snow, usually between 2 and 20 inches in depth (closer to 12 inches in our case). Skiing around these divets is difficult and they cause inconsistent snow conditions, which "grab" at skies causing you to jerk forward as your skis stop, and your upper body continues with it's downward momentum.

But hey, that Coors Light sure did taste good when we finished! Thanks for a fun adventure Luke! Who's ready for October turns?!?!? It's snowing in the mountains already.

17 October 2012

Portland Marathon

On October 7, 2012, I completely my first FULL MARATHON! I have been considering running a full for a while now, and at the urging of my friends in running group, I finally decided to pull the trigger and sign up for the Portland Full.

The main reason I hadn't signed up before was the training. Just seemed like SO. MUCH. TIME. I already have enough passions competing for my weekend time, I didn't need to add three hours of running each weekend into the mix not to mention all of the hours during the week....but with the job at the Seattle Storm I knew I'd be spending a lot of summer weekends working at games, so the timing just felt...right.

I found a training schedule online through MarathonRookie and began my running. The first few weeks were great - I could have cut back from my normal routine if I wanted! Then - BAM! A few weeks into training I hurt my foot. It happened on my first real training run: I set off feeling good with a little discomfort in my right foot. Then it started to feel tight. Before I knew it I was 5 miles out and my foot pain had increased from uncomfortable to unbearably EXCRUCIATING! So much so that a friend had to pick me up.

I never officially went to a doctor (I received a "consult" from a doctor friend at a bbq though!) but I think it was some sort of foot sprain. I took almost 4 weeks off from running, then had to train for the marathon in the final 6 weeks. I'm lucky though. I found some new (still minimalist) shoes that worked for me, and by my 21 mile run I was feeling GREAT!

Training Schedule (click to enlarge)

The good thing about this injury is it gave me 4 weeks off from training and it really made me appreciate JUST HOW MUCH I wanted to run the marathon. As you can see from my training schedule above, I hit it hard after coming back, and managed to thankfully remain injury free.

The day of the event was clear and sunny, like most of our summer days this year in the PNW. The start was at 7:00am and my heat crossed the start line about 7:15. Here are some photos from the event:

Starting out. Sunny and chilly, thus the arm-warmers (pink!)
Closing in on the finish - is it over yet? About 70 degrees and sunny. 
Sorry that the photos are all "proof"ed up. You see, I would pay for photos, only MarathonFoto is asking $79.95 for me to DOWNLOAD my photos. Yes, you read that right. Seventy nine dollars and ninety five cents just to download my own photos. Who would pay that? I mean, really? That's egregious. MarathonFoto should really be ashamed. Think about how many MORE they would sell at $20 and thus how much MORE money they would make!!! Okay, end rant.

How did it go? How did I do? Well - I completed my three goals:
  1. I finished
  2. I didn't fall on my face
  3. I didn't poop my pants (it's more common than you might think
I managed to finish in 4:20:22, which places me in the top 33% of finishers both overall and in my age group. That's a 9:51 pace, which I am happy with considering I walked at miles 21 and 23 just because my legs simply could not handle running any more. It turns out running on pavement is a lot more difficult than running on dirt and I should have accounted for that in my training.

I tried to pick it up the last mile to make up for lost time, but my legs just wouldn't do it. They froze up into blocks of cramping calves, and it was all I could do to hobble across the finish line. Here's a look at my race according to my Garmin, which had me running 26.43 miles (and yes, that extra .23 made a huge difference at the end!):

Overall, I have to say I did not feel great on this run. Not sure why. Running is like anything else. Sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad days, and the Portland Full just happened to fall on a bad day for me.

Finish Flex

How did I make it through? What fueled me at the end? People like to say you're fueled by adrenaline. Well, I was fueled by ANGER! I just wanted the thing to be OVER! Ever think about how long four hours and twenty minutes is??? When you're running it's ALL you can think about.

I certainly dreamed of sweet Coors Light on my lips (in a mini can, don't want to overdue it) and some delicious advil. After a necessary shower I got my wish! As a finisher, I also picked up not one but TWO shirts, a finishers medal, a keepsake coin, a bracelet charm, AND all of the free chocolate milk I could drink.

Next time I want it to say "High Five!"

I'm very happy to have finished with a respectable time, and I suspect that it will be my last full marathon. I think I'll stick to half's thankyouverymuch.

Happy Finisher! Mmm...beer.

Thanks to all who supported me by training with me and offering words of encouragement and advice. It takes a village to run a marathon, and I really appreciate everyone's support!

16 October 2012

Mt. Baker Headwall, Ski & Summit

For part 2 of the Mt. Baker summit attempt, let me take you to 4:45am on our second day. The disruptive alarm woke us from our deep slumber and we arose from our warm, cozy sleeping bags to shove our protesting feet into cold, rigid ski boots. Dramatic enough for you? Good.

We weren't taking skis to the summit for a few reasons (opening crevasses, lack of experience [me], low familiarity with the route). To save weight we (Ryan and myself) planned on wearing ski boots with crampons to the summit (thus not carrying an extra pair of boots). The morning was chilly, but greeted us clear and beautiful.

Moon at top; climbers headlamps middle right (worth expanding this shot by clicking on it)

Sunrise - fire smoke is causing the red
From our camp on the Black Buttes we started towards the summit, with our goal in view almost the whole time. To gain the summit, we had to cross on the saddle between Colfax Peak and the Baker, then take the pumice ridge straight up, staying to the right of the Roman Wall. 

Ryan on lead. Our other three man rope team in front. Roman Wall center-right at top of Baker.

Gaining the saddle to Pummice Ridge.

Rope. Helmet. Picket. Shades. All Check! Ready for summit!

We took a rest before tackling the Roman Wall, which was the steepest and iciest portion of our climb. The steps were already frozen in place from the day before. Going was steep, but completely manageable with crampons and an ice axe. We only had issues while passing people on the way down. Who has the right of way you ask? Yeah, none of us had any idea.

Sunrise at the Roman Wall
Summit is the dark cone at left. The summit field is the size of many, many football fields.

Summitters! Left to Right: Ryan, Brian, Owen, Me, Grandpa Max, Spidey, Ben

In all, it took us about 4 hours to summit. I, for one, was happy to finally make it to the top. The Roman Wall took longer than it should have due to all of the poeple coming down and I was low-blood-sugar-crashing hard once we finally crested the ridge. I could not get my sandwich in my face fast enough!

For whatever reason, Baker felt like much more of a slog to me than Adams or Helens. The elevation is much less of a factor on this volcano, but the 7,000' of elevation gain combined with the "backwoods" and roundabout hike to even get to the snow level just really takes it out of you. Plus, my backpack is pretty heavy for such a short person! Proof!

Probably a 40lb pack when you put my skis and boots on it. Ouchie. 

We enjoyed the summit views for about an hour, basking in the midday sun and letting the snow soften up, before heading down about 11am. Our descent was pretty straight forward. The snow was soft and made for easy progress. We found a lost beanie on the way and made a nice little landmark for it, so it's owner wouldn't miss it. We also had to cross a number of crevasses and a recent avalanche field, which we did with much haste. I was SO HAPPY when we could see our tents again!

Summit Views

Snowie. The Beanie Snowman.

What do you see when you look into a crevasse? Empty darkness.

We arrived at the tents and collapsed into piles of sweating flesh. The relaxation didn't last long though, as we still had a 3+ hour hike to our cars and we were entering the hottest part of the day while standing on a reflective snow field. Ryan and I took the skiing short shortcut to the bottom of the snowline, and got more than a few dirty looks from people on foot. The skiing was even surprisingly decent!

Summer turns. What they lack in elegance they make up for in "I-HIked-For-That-In-August-AWESOMENESS"

A big thanks to Ryan, Ben, Owen, and Brian for letting me be the token girl on this adventure. We definitely experienced some Level II Fun mixed in with this adventure, but overall I'll count it as a Level I win in the record books!

30 Before 30: Stand on 3 NW Volcanoes. Check.

08 October 2012

The Fun Scale: Level I-III

I think I first heard about the three Levels of Fun on a podcast - perhaps Dirtbag Diaries? Or maybe I read a link from my favourite blogger of late Brendan Leonard? Either way, Fun Levels I through III have become my rating scale for any and all adventures ever since FLD (Fun Level Discovery).

What's the Fun Scale? I'll let Kelly Cordes tell it to you straight:

Type I Fun – true fun, enjoyable while it’s happening. Good food, good sex, 5.8 hand cracks, sport climbing, powder skiing. Margaritas.

Type II Fun – fun only in retrospect, hateful while it’s happening. Things like working out ‘till you puke, and usually ice and alpine climbing. (Think a bad hangover that makes you swear you'll never drink again)

Type III Fun – not fun at all, not even in retrospect. As in, “What the hell was I thinking? If I ever even consider doing that again, somebody slap some sense into me.”
Why am I telling you about this? Because frankly it's entertaining to have a scale on which to measure weekend warrior trips. Also, because everyone's life experience  makes their take on the Fun Level Scale different.


For me, the majority of what I do is Fun Type I. However, many long slogs on skis up mountains turn into a Type I-ish fun...somewhere between I & II. This hill for example, NEVER ENDED:

Those people at the top? Yeah, a good hour ahead of me.
You'll be reading more about the fun scale when I finish the Baker post sometime next week. Sorry for the delay - traveling for business!

04 October 2012

Mt. Baker via the Coleman Deming

Chasing my summer ski turns for my 10th consecutive month (part of the 30 Before 30 quest), I endeavored to climb Mt. Baker in August with 4 friends. Baker is the 3rd tallest mountain in Washington State (10,778') and the volcano offers some of the best training ground to learn glacier travel skills. According to NC Mountain Guides, "the key to success on this route is good weather and good endurance. While the climbing is not very technical, it does require over 7000' of climbing from the trail head and a long summit day with close to 5000' vertical feet of elevation gain." 

As is often the case in the backcountry, I was the only girl on this little adventure with 4 dudes. Lucky for me, these dude-bros were pretty cool. We scored an amazing weather window and I learned a lot on this trip, as three of them had extensive glacial travel experience.

Baker from the Heliotrope Ridge, about 4,000'

I've skied at Baker Resort, and did my first backcountry skiing at Baker, but I had never roped up on a climb before, so I was excited for the new challenge and learning opportunity.

We loaded up two cars on August 11, and drove a few hours north to the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead, which would be our launching point. Our planned route was to follow the Heliotrope to the Coleman Glacier, camp about 7,000', then get an alpine start to summit by 10am.

Our first obstacle, a mere 5-minutes down the trail, was to navigate a log crossing, which can be a bit spicy when you're carrying a big pack with skis.

Then we began the long slog up the mountain. Moreso than on any of my other adventures, this just felt long. I guess it makes sense given that we needed to gain 4000' in our first day! Hydration was very important! Good thing we had lots of melting water to drink.

Once we got out of the trees, the views were stunning. August brings wildflowers to the glacial valleys and they did not disappoint.

The snowline sat at about 5500'. Ryan and I were happy to take the skis from our backs and use them to skin up the glacier (the other three did not bring skis) when we reached the snow. We skinned unroped, and apart from one spicy section, the going was pretty smooth.

You can see the crevasses forming at top
Zee Mooountain Looms
Growing Crevasses.

Ryan and I reached camp first  and started packing out a few platforms for our tents in the shadow of the Black Buttes ridgeline.

Basecamp - Code Orange
We made camp quickly and went to take a few laps on a nearby high spot. The skiing was surprisingly decent (all 300' of it)! We made two laps, but only because my ice axe fell out of my backpack and we had to go back for it! These were our views from camp (ridge at left was our ski descent):

Now that I've got a sweet new iPhone, I won't need to stitch together these horrendous panoramas anymore

By the end of two laps it was time for some good eats and bed. The next morning was an early start and SUMMIT DAY!

Dinner of champions - lil' smokey "cooked" over a stove
Camp sunset
Baker glowing at dusk

You can bet that after carrying that heavy pack for 4000' and many miles (5 maybe?) I slept like a baby! Part 2 coming soon....