Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 2012

 Here are some photos of fun times in the last two weeks of August:

Friday August 17, 2012: Dyan McMinn & Mark Dickeson tie the knot!


Great party after the ceremony!

Fun with friends and family during the week leading up to the wedding:





Hiking Hanes Valley:


A few days of some fun rock climbs in Squamish:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mount Rainier 2012

On August 9-13, 2012, Mike and I headed down to central Washington to attempt to climb the 14, 411ft high volcano, Mt. Rainier. This would be the 3rd time we’ve traveled down to Rainier for a summit attempt and the 4th time we’ve planned an attempt over the past 4 years. The first go was with our friends Christian and Ursula Steidl and Steve Oliver back in 2008.  We made it to about 13000 ft EL, just above the Disappointment Cleaver, before being turned back due to incredibly cold, windy weather.  The snow storm in the parking lot should have been our first clue..... 

We had plans with Steve Oliver to try again in 2010 but this time didn’t even make the drive down due to a bad weather forecast.  And just last month Mike and I drove down to Rainier, with a mediocre weather forecast, but a possible climbing window, to give it shot.  We were woken up in the middle of the night, while “camping” in the car at the trail head, by a massive lightning and rain storm. When we got up in the morning we registered for the climb hoping the weather would ease but after 4 hours of waiting for the rain to stop and learning that the lightning was touching down at Camp Muir, we decided to call it off.

So last weekend, after anxiously watching the forecast all week, we headed back to Mt Rainier with the promise of sunny skies and low winds all weekend long.  We left after work on Thursday and arrived at our hotel in Eatonville at 9pm. After a good sleep and tasty breakfast we drove an hour to the Paradise trail head (5400ft EL) at Mt Rainier where we registered at the climbing center and were on our way up to Muir Camp by 11am.   

The hike up to Muir was slow and tedious. It took us about 2 hours of winding our way up the “tourist” trails to reach the base of the Muir Snow Field (about 7200 ft EL) and then another 3 hours of hiking up the snow field to reach Camp Muir at 10,200 ft EL. Once we reached Camp Muir we dug out a tent pad and set up our tent on the Cowlitz Glacier, melted some snow for drinking water, make a yummy ravioli & Pesto dinner and had an early night to rest up for our upcoming climb.

The next day we slept in until 8am and after a leisurely breakfast we packed up our camp and moved up to a high camp at Ingraham Flats.  It took a little over an hour to travel across the Cowlitz Glacier and up and through Cathedral Gap to reach the Ingraham Glacier. We set up our high camp with a kick-ass snow-kitchen and tent pad and spent the rest of the day sun tanning, reading and relaxing in preparation for that night’s summit attempt. 

After a few hours of sleep we awoke at midnight to the sound of passing climbers. We crawled out of bed and watched some shooting stars while we ate “breakfast” (can you call it that at midnight?!?) and prepared for our climb.  We roped up and left the tent at 1:15 am for the journey up the Disappointment Cleaver and the Ingraham Glacier.  The excitement of the day started about 20min out of camp when we reached out first crevasse that was about 1m in width a required a pretty good jump to get across.  Shortly after the crevasse crossing we passed under the icefall and the cliffs of the Disappointment Cleaver.  

 We shortened up our rope and started the crux of the route, the steep ascent of the rocks and steep snow on the Cleaver. It took us about an 1.5 - 2 hours to reach the top of the Cleaver from our camp. After a quick snack break we lengthened our ropes back into glacier formation and continued across the “flats” above the Cleaver and began the steady climb to Mt Rainier’s Crater. We climbed steadily up the snow slopes, with a few crevasse crossings and some traversing to reach stable snow bridges along the way.  About 800 ft from the top the wind picked up and we were slowing down due to the elevation so we bundled up in our puffy jackets for the final push to the summit. 

We reached the crater rim at about 5:15 am with the first sign of light finally peaking over the horizon. The crater was a great place for a break as it was sheltered from the wind.  We crossed the crater in about 15min of flat trudging, took a bit of a breather and then climbed the final 200ft to the true summit; Columbia Crest. 14,411ft! 

After watching the sun rise for a few minutes and taking some summit photos, we headed back into the crater to escape from the cold summit winds. It turned out that out of the 100+ people climbing the mountain that day, we were only the second party to reach the summit. It was quite something to have such a popular summit all to ourselves! Once sheltered from the wind again we had some food and water and signed the registry, which is stored about 100ft below the true summit, and then prepared for the descent.
The descent was pretty straight forward. We followed the same route back down as we had ascended. The entire route was wanded and a majority of it was beaten trough in the snow. It was nice to see the views of the surrounding peaks while descending since it was dark during our entire ascent. The biggest challenge with the descent was trying to get around all of the climbers who were still making their way up the mountain. We arrived safely back at our camp at about 9:45am, making for a 4.5 hour ascent and 3.5 hour descent, including all breaks other than time spent at the summit.

Once back at camp we spent a couple hours having lunch and melting snow to rehydrate before breaking down camping and continuing on down the mountain.  We descended into Camp Muir at about 12:30 pm where we  packed up the rope and crampons, refilled our water bottles (thanks to the friendly Hikers giving away water) and had a bit of a breather.  From there we began the 4800 ft long grind down the Muir snowfield, where some bum-sliding occurred, and the tourist trails near Paradise, which were insanely busy. We finally arrived back at the car at 6pm, Happy, but tired, 18 hours after the days adventure began.

To wrap things up, here’s Mike’s Trip Report:

From Paradise take the Skyline trail following signs to Camp Muir.  At around 7200 feet EL you will step onto the Muir Snowfield, this is usually the last place to get running water so fill up.  Once on the Muir Snowfield follow the path, or compass bearings provided by the ranger station, towards Camp Muir.  Time of ascent from Paradise to Camp Muir is 5 hours with a full pack covering 4800 feet EL.  

Plan to spend a night at Camp Muir as this will greatly aid in the acclimatization process and increase the odds of a successful summit attempt.  After spending the night at Camp Muir make your way across the Cowlitz Glacier and through Cathedral Gap to Ingraham Flats this covers 1000 feet EL and takes roughly an hour.  Spend the rest of the day enjoying the views and resting up at Ingraham Flats.  Plan on leaving Ingraham Flats by 1am if you wish to be ahead of the guide service.  From Ingraham follow the trail that will lead up for a few hundred feet before dropping down slightly and going flat under some potential icefall hazard.

  After this you will step onto the Disappointment Cleaver, at this point shorten up the rope to minimize rock fall.  Move quickly along the bottom of the Cleaver to avoid potential rock fall. Follow the wanded ledges of the Cleaver or, depending on the time of year, you may venture onto a steep snow field (40-45 deg).  After surmounting the Disappointment Cleaver extend your rope back into glacier formation.  

Again, follow the wanded trail which will vary year to year to avoid the crevasses that plague the route.  As you ascend the mountain the overall steepness lessens until you finally reach the crater rim where you will be rewarded with a 20 minute flat walk across the inside to the crater before reaching the final 200 ft climb to the summit.  Don't be disappointed when you reach the summit if you cannot find the register as is it located just above the crater floor on the trail to the summit.  Descend the same route, negotiating the many people still on the way to the summit.  Approximate travel times from Ingraham Flats are 4 1/2 hours for the ascent and 3 1/2 for the descent under good conditions.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

3 Peak Challenge: Kayaking & Climbing

On July 28-29 my running buddy Banafsheh and I joined Bowen Island Sea Kayaking for their "3 Peak Challenge" tour. The tour was a two day, one night trip that included paddling to 3 Howe Sound islands, Anvil, Bowen and Gambier, and climbing the highest peak of each, complete with with a campout on Gambier Island. The three peaks that were climbed were Mount Gardner on Bowen Island (727m), Leading Peak on Anvil Island (765m) and Mt Artaban on Gambier Island (615m). On Saturday night we camped on Gambier Island at Halkett Bay. The tour was an excellent way to get a taste of sea kayaking in the Howe Sound while breaking up the paddle with some hiking. The days were long (10-12 hours of activity) which made for a bit of an endurance test, but in a fun and challenging way.

We started our adventure at 6am on Saturday morning with a drive to Horseshoe Bay to catch the 7am ferry over to Bowen Island. After a quick, 20min sail we walked down to the  Bowen Island Sea Kayaking shop to meet our guide, Lisa and our two other kayaking buddies, Peter and Lisa. All three of them were residents of Bowen Island. We spent the next 90 min or so organizing our gear, driving over to our launch point and packing our boats. At exactlty 9am we were off!

We started with a 16km paddle to Anvil Island. We lucked out and had the current and wind heading in our direction. Combined with calm waters, we had a very quick and uneventful 2 hour paddle to reach Pebbly Beach at Anvil Island.  The paddle was beautiful and interesting as we passed sea lions and various sea birds plus enjoying great views of the Howe Sound islands from the water.There was one are near a bird sanctuary where we stopped and watched the sea lions surround and show off their swimming skills. very cool!

Once we reached Anvil Island we beached our boats and got organized for our first hike, Leading Peak, which is the highest peak in Howe Sound. The hike was about 10km round trip with 765m of elevation gain and took us about 2.5 hours up and 2 hours back down.  The hike was quite steep most of the time, but had some areas of reprieve.  It was a fun trail with a bunch of little scrambling sections along the way and some nice scenery of Howe Sounds, a small lake and an impressive viewpoint where you first get a glimpse of the steep and pointy summit tower. The summit tower looks quite daunting, and although it is a steep hike the trail does a good job of switch backing and winding its way up some ledge systems to avoid any serious scrambling. On the Summit of Anvil you are rewarded with 360 degree views of Howe Sound and nice a wooden "patio" (aka Heli pad) to have a snack and sun tan. On a nice day you can see from  the Lions all the way to Black Tusk. It's absolutely stunning!

Once we got back to Pebbly Beach we rested for a few minutes and then packed our boats to head out to Gambier Island.  While we had been hiking the tide came in and unfortunately for us, the beach that we landed on was basically submerged.  We managed to fight the waves and launch our boats with minimal beach space, but not without getting a good soaking in the process. Luckily it was hot out!

The next segment of the trip took us about 2 hours to paddle about 10 km from Anvil Island to Halkett Bay on Gambier Island. We were fighting the waves and wind this time and it made for some challenging paddling. Along the way we say eagles and some tiny baby sea lions that were awfully cute! Once we got to Halkett Bay we staked out a camp site and enjoyed an Ocean side dinner of pasta and salad, complete with wine and cookies for dessert.

The next day we got up at 7 am to tackle our 2nd hike of the trip.  After a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, yogurt and coffee we headed up Mt Artaban.  The hike was significantly less steep than leading peak with some nice meandering sections mixed into the climbs.  The hike took us about 2 hours to get to the 615m high summit where we enjoyed the views of Howe Sound and had a snack. The full hike took about 3.5 hours round trip and covered approximately 10km through some scenic creek beds, along rock walls and along some soft, mossy trails.

After a quick lunch back at Halkett Bay, we broke down camp, packed our kayaks and headed Gardner Landing on Bowen Island. The Paddle was about 10km long but took us a little over two hours due to high winds and "washing machine" like wave conditions which made the paddle someway slow and challenging.
Once we reached Bowen Island, Martin from the Kayak shop picked up our boats and we said goodbye to the kayaks, completing the paddling portion of the trip. Only one more Peak to go to complete the challenge! Lisa and Peter had said goodbye to us at Halkett Bay and opted to paddle home so it was just Lisa, Ban and I for the trek up Mt Gardner. We decided to rock it off in a speedy fashion, so we left all extra gear (i.e. weight) with Martin and headed out for a light and fast trip to the top of 727 m high summit.  It took us about 1hour and 15min to cover 6 km to the summit with steady climbing the entire way. Think "Bowen Islands Grouse Grind".  We reached the top just before 5pm and opted to relax and take in the view of the Lower Mainland and Howe Sound for a while before heading back to Snug Cove. The to Snug Cove took us about 1 1/2 hours from the summit and covered about 10km of trail.

36 hours later and our challenge was complete! We collected our gear, said our goodbyes to Lisa and after a tasty burger at the pub we boarded the 8pm ferry to Horseshoe Bay to begin our journey home.

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