21 June 2013

Trilogy on Mt. Rainier

In anticipation of a for-realsies attempt on Mt. Rainier in a few weeks, here are some photos from 3 trips I've taken up there this year already. One could call them "training trips" but frankly the weather was nice and I had some spare time on my hands, so...RAINIER!

In late-March, my new-to-Seattle bestie Gabriella joined me and some fellow trouble makers skiing the Nisqually Chutes all the way down to the Nisqually Bridge. That's roughly 7,000 uninterupted feet of skiing. Yes, it was awesome:

Kristen in the bright pants leading the charge
Made it to camp in about 5 hours - gorgeous day!
Cartwheels on Muir
See where the snowline ends at middle center? Yeah, that's where we're going. 7,000' of uninterrupted turns!
Sexy figure eights
We made it! Nisqually Bridge!

In May, the week before starting the new job (which is awesome) my buddy James and I "attempted" to "summit" via the Fuhrer Finger route. We spent 7 hours getting to to camp near the Fuhrer Finger on Thursday (about 2 hours longer than it should have taken - the crevasses and seracs were much bigger than this time last year, so that caused much delay). We made camp just before dark. 

We woke up to driving snow and wind and our summit bid was no more. We slept in then packed up camp. Around 10am we skied down in a fog out,NOT ideal conditions, but made it back safe and sound. It's too bad we couldn't see too, because the skiing was actually pretty great!

Approach on Nisqually Glacier
Crevasses to navigate
Crevasse tracks
James kicking steps
Be careful below these hanging seracs
Morning of the second day. You can see the bad visibility in the background. Sloppy Kiwi Coil in the foreground.
We stood on this ledge for 15 mins waiting for visibility to open up. Threw lots of snow down.
Where's James?
I post a lot of happy pictures. Here is an unhappy picture. But...still kind of fun. My mood improved upon digging our cold Rainier Beer out of the snow at the car.

Then this past weekend in June, Erica and I ventured up to Muir for a beautiful, sunny ski day on the snowfield. The sun was shining (with a rainbow halo!), the snow was corny, and the company was excellent. In all, a fabulous day!

Pretty clouds
Jumping for joy - yes, that is a tutu I'm wearing. Thank you for noticing.
Sun Halo!
At this point Grandpa Max is kind of bored with trips to Muir...
Fantastic ski buddy Erica!

Wish me luck as I set off to try the Emmons Glacier. Weather permitting.

05 June 2013

Slot Canyons & Hot Springs - Vegas Style

In March I enjoyed a fantastic 10-day trip to Red Rocks Canyon outside of Las Vegas. I've never been to either Red Rocks or Vegas, so when the crew was heading down to climb, I jumped on the opportunity for some sunshine! And while I'm pretty sure I could live my whole life without ever stepping foot inside another smoke-filled Vegas casino, I certainly plan to adventure back to Red Rocks frequently for the rest of my life. There is so much about the Southwestern US that I am completely in love with and I need to spend more time down there.

We had a rotating crew of about 11 people. Some were there only a few days (but brought enough awesome for ten days! [Hexar]) while others came later and stayed through the week. Allen and I stayed the longest - 10 days is a lot of climbing for the little fingers to handle. On one of our rest days we went for a little hike to some natural hot springs. And let me tell you, it was SPECTACULAR.

Old engine block on the trail. See? - SPECTACULAR!

The start of the hike for Gold Strike Hot Springs was an hour+ drive from Bonnie Springs. We started hiking in mid-late afternoon and saw a few parties coming back out on our way in, which we felt boded well for pool availability.

The canyon started wide and became progressively more narrow. The walls were lined with huge caves. Very chossy rock initially.

Jeremy leading the way

I'm not sure how Mandy found this hike, but the beta for the descent (you go down first, then back up on the way out) was pretty "intimidating". Being rock climbers, we were amused to actually get to the "huge boulders" and find them to be nothing more than a 5.2ish downclimb. In some cases, someone just cut steps right into the rocks for you. Intimidating indeed...

Hold me Allen - I'm not sure I'm gunna make it!

The instructions said 6 miles round trip and 5-6 hours total travel time. Imagine our surprise then when we stumbled upon the first pool (complete with a couple bathing in the nude) after just 55 minutes. Not wanting to be gapers, we passed them by and ventured further down into the canyon, where we were rewarded with more empty pools full of clear, hot water.

Hot Spring!
Cheers! Allen hiked with a backpack. Not saying it was full of beer, but not saying it was NOT full of beer... 

Adjacent to our pool was a little natural "water slide". Allen gave it a go, first sliding down on his bottom. Not feeling like that was extreme enough, Allen then decided to slide down face first.

Like all ill fated ideas, it started when he said, "Hold my beer and watch this" and ended with his face bloodied. Hey, better him than me amirite?!?!

I seriously love this photo. What a fantastic expression! All, "I got my beer, I'm coo."

With waning sunlight and a rucksack full of empty beer cans, we began our leisurely hike out. Even with our balance skills somewhat hindered, we found the hike to be quite straightforward. We even did a little "rock climber" exploring instead of sticking to the marked trails. You know us, can't stop climbing even on a rest day!

Mandy using the rope to ascend. Cheater.
Jeremy tenderly caressing his beloved rock
We found the car under a gorgeous full moon and crystal clear skies. If you are ever in Vegas, I highly suggest getting out of the city and checking out this amazing and relatively unknown little gem. Clothing optional, just be sure to bring enough beer and bandaids.

Goodnight Moon