The author on the summit of Mt. Hood.
by Richard Schuler
The telescope on the back porch of the Mazama Lodge points directly at the summit of Mount Hood. You can watch climbers pursuing the summit. They seem as tiny black dots with legs. Just dark figures moving imperceptibly slow on a triangle of snow. One morning in early June, I watched such a group for a few minutes, and then I stepped back to the lodge to refill my coffee cup, and talk with friends. After a few minutes, I went back to the telescope. My eyes took a second to find the proper distance from the lens, but then there it was: the white triangle of Mt. Hood with the bright blue sky behind it, and the black dots of climbers. If I strained, I could see their microscopic feet taking one step after another. Upward, they went. The mountain was so huge, how could they even imagine such a task?

The cook rang the iron triangle and people came running. That sound meant, hot eggs, sausage, pancakes and fruit, but in the back of my mind, I thought about that climbing team. They should have been approaching the Old Chute. How terrified I was, when I looked up that wall of ice for the first time. Inside my rented mountain boots, I was shaken. I looked for any toehold, no matter how small. I struck the ice axe hard, and I struck it harder. Up I went. Soon, there was nothing to cling to, and I held on with the fangs on the front of my crampons and wondered if I had fastened them right. How far could a person slide under those circumstances, I wondered, five hundred feet, a thousand feet? It was far enough to die, that’s for sure. Three people on a rope climbed below me. They looked up with hopeful eyes, as if to say: keep going, don’t let me down, while one person urged me on from above. When I came to the top, it was by sliding on my belly, not striding like a lord.

When my plate was empty I hurried back to the telescope and searched for the climbing team. The face of Mt. Hood was empty. I looked left, and then right, even panned the telescope a bit, but could not find them. As far down the mountain as the trees allowed, I searched. Nothing. A movement at the top drew my eye, and there they were. The little team made it. They stood in a row, shoulder to shoulder, close enough to hold hands. Was one of them waving? As ridiculous as it felt, I waved back. Their triumph was my triumph. In a way, we were connected.

A second ring of the triangle drew my attention away from the mountain. This time, it was to announce jobs for the day. Mine was to build a traffic island in the drive behind the lodge. The first thing we did was to dismantle a border.  The island had a row of stones perfectly aligned, forming a nearly perfect oval. It looked artificial because neatly defined border is the product of a human mind. Lines of contour on a topographic map, the boundaries of a national park, or a nation itself, are all imaginary. In nature, things blend into each other. Climb to the top of Mt. Hood and you will see it flow into Mt. Rainer, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters. Climb as part of a team and you will feel your connection to others. This is why we do it. We climb, not just for that one moment on the summit, when the world slopes away in all directions, and the peaks all look like frozen waves, but to be a part of a team. It is as John Muir told us many years ago, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I invite you to make this your mantra the next time you climb. It could be me on your belay rope, or I could be holding you. Are you ready? Climb on.   


Rainier Rematch

by Jon Skeen

Sustained 60 mph winds, unending clouds, and ultimately having to descend after a forced rest day left a bad taste in our mouths. We had been blown off the Kautz Glacier on Rainier and now we had unfinished business with the mountain. Clearing skies and calming winds taunted us as we neared the parking lot. The team was in good spirits and happy to settle for brunch as consolation, but already the need to go back was creeping into our thoughts.

The itch was not soothed by forecasts of blue skies and calm winds the following weekend. Fewer than 48 hours after being thoroughly shut down, we were planning a reattempt. Glenn Widener and his team pushed through the technical ice and winds the previous weekend, and provided helpful beta on the ice conditions, location of the infamous fixed line, and Camp Hazard platforms. John Godino also shared notes from an adjacent route, the Fuhrer Finger, which boasted of 25 pound packs and encouraged carrying up and over, down the Disappointment Cleaver. Armed with these reports plus our own first-hand knowledge, it was time to get the band back together. We had one roster substitution from the previous weekend, setting the team as Ally Imbody, Eric Kennedy, Nate Mullen, Hannah Seebach, Kevin Vandemore and me.

Jon Skeen and Eric Kennedy starting
up the 3rd pitch of ice on the Kautz
Glacier under a super moon
Spirits were high and pack weights were down, which was important; the pace had to be more aggressive this time, as we didn’t have a long weekend to work with. We aimed to make high camp around 11,000 feet Saturday, then head up the Kautz and down the DC Sunday. We got off to a great start, leaving the trail head at Paradise at exactly 5:05 am. It had been a hot week on the mountain and much of the snow that slowed our early progress the last time had melted out, making our descent from the trail onto the Nisqually Glacier more direct. Of course, the disappearing snow had opened new crevasses and exposed new seracs as well. Undeterred, we roped up and made our serpentine path towards the Wilson Glacier.

We reached our previous camp at 9,200 ft. around 11 a.m, shaving about two hours off of our previous time. We took a break here to refill water bottles from the flowing glacier melt and marveled at how much familiar landmarks had changed in just six days. We could see a couple tents set up here, but it wasn’t until we were nearing the bottom of the Turtle Snowfield that we realized there were twelve tents set up. While that’s not uncommon for the Emmons Glacier or DC routes, it’s virtually unheard of for the Kautz. Twelve people is more typical of the population on this line. We were able to ascertain that the tents belonged to a large group from a climbing club in Utah, some experienced climbers, some very fresh who probably didn’t fully appreciate what they had gotten into. Our experiences with these guys could fill another write-up, but for now let’s let’s just say we really wanted to stay ahead of them.

Upward we marched, gaining a thousand feet on the Turtle before taking a quick break for food and water. We watched two climbers ascending in our boot tracks. As they neared, we saw what appeared to be a "No Jive Ass" sticker and realized there was a good chance we knew these dudes. Sure enough, there were two more Mazamas on the Kautz! Victor Galotti and Brian Wetzel had been camped out where the Nisqually and Wilson meet and had caught up to us, which I maintain was largely due to the quality of the steps we were kicking for everyone behind us. We decided to team up for the rest of the day and through the ice pitches in the morning.

Buoyed by this encounter, we pushed to the top the the Turtle and into Camp Hazard. We claimed a few platforms for our team and set off to find the fixed line and get our first real look at the ice. The route was dramatic: cracked ice hanging above and waiting below. As if issuing a warning or a challenge, a few large blocks of ice let lose and tumbled down into the gaping maws below. We returned to our platforms to work out the next day’s plan, eat, and get to sleep early. We chatted with a few other small parties and lamented the throng that would be pressing from below. With our hunger and planning satisfied, it was time to get as much sleep as possible before our midnight wake up time.

Mt. Rainier Summit team with Eric Kennedy,
Kevin Vandemore, Ally Imbody, Nate Mullen,
Hannah Seebach, and Jon Skeen.
The alarms rang, time to get moving. We made our way to the fixed line via headlamps and the super moon. Nate was first down. As he reached the bottom we heard a crack! and looked towards the ice fall to see block after block of ice tumbling across our traverse line. It’s one thing to know there is danger in the abstract; it’s another to watch it tumble where you’ll be walking in five minutes. With a renewed appreciation for the objective hazard, we roped up and shuffled across as quickly as possible. We made it to the base of the ice without incident and up went Nate, leading the first of several pitches.

One by one, we ascended fixed lines, moving in tandem with other teams all fighting to stay ahead of the giant group we knew was hot on our heels. We managed to stay out front for a few pitches, but the top came to a bottleneck and we were stuck while we waited for an opening to push through. Finally, Kevin had a chance to lead the final pitch and we fought our way out of the chute. I was impressed with our team’s ability to climb cleanly; altogether we knocked down maybe four pieces while the other teams around rained ice on everyone below.

Kevin Vandermore scouting the descent route on the DC.
After a quick break to exchange gear, Victor and Brian set off on their way and the original team regrouped for a bit before pushing up toward Point Success. We picked our way up the Kautz, surrounded by the Utah teams. This made the going very slow, but did allow us to conserve energy. Silver linings, right? After several steps plunging into air and a few “verbal scuffles” (as I’m choosing to call them) with the Utah teams, we were able to make our way off the glacier. The crater was in sight! Just in time too, as clouds were starting to move in. We worked our way up to the summit and snapped our victory photos. One more quick stop at the summit register and down into the crater to melt snow.

Once all the bottles were filled it was time to follow the wands down the DC. By this time the snow had turned into sugary mush and we were sliding around a little more than is comfortable on a crevasse riddled downhill trail. A pair of collapsing snow bridges (which I fear we may have finished off) added additional spice. Down and down we went, reaching the Cleaver and down climbing a bit of rock to avoid steep, slippery snow. We made it down the Cleaver, across the Ingraham (including a ladder over a crevasse), and over to Camp Muir. One last break before bombing the Muir Snowfield and returning to the parking lot.

While we high-fived and drank our mandatory Rainiers-on-Rainier, we watched headlamps flickering across the Kautz. The Utah club was still at it; one of the consequences of ignoring your turnaround time. We’ve since heard they made it down ok, but two days overdue. Yikes! Hearing that only makes me more appreciative of the awesome team we had on this incredible route. 


"What's In My Pack?" Contest - Mountain Hardwear

Does anybody ever win those contests? You know the ones you enter - raffles or sweepstakes - that you usually never hear back from?

Well, as Mazama staff member Kati Mayfield found out - occasionally you do win, and the prizes can be awesome!

In the June Bulletin we featured a deal from our partner, Mountain Hardwear. For the last weekend in June they offered great discounts to Mazama members. Kati headed down to the downtown PDX Mountain Hardwear shop to grab some gear, and was informed by the staff that they were holding a "What's In My Pack?" contest, where shoppers could guess what was packed into one of their Shaka backpacks; and, if they guessed correctly, win the contents.

Kati casually turned in her guesses, not expecting to hear anything back. But about a week later she had a message in her inbox (which she originally mistook for Spam), congratulating her for winning the contest. The prize? The Shaka 70 pack and all of its contents:
It has been far too hot to utilize the gloves, the rain pants and the cap. But the sleeping bag and pack got a good workout on an overnight in the Mt. Hood National Forest and a hike to Ramona Falls this weekend.

Thanks Mountain Hardwear! And, the moral of the story: enter the contests, especially when the winnings are so sweet!


Video of the Month - Mt. Baker North Ridge

Is the North Ridge of Baker on your list? Check out this video to see some stunning imagery and to get a feel for the climb. Enjoy!

Do you have a video for our Video-of-the-Month feature? Send us the link! 


Tales From The Forbidden Peak

by Michael Zasadzien

Bushwacking fun.
A little under a year ago, I was on one of my first Mazama climb. One that I’ll never forget, simply because it introduced me to a whole new level of exposure. The back-of-the-neck-hair-raised-for-the-next-4-hours exposure. The kind that made you think seven times about the placement of each footstep, and whether you felt comfortable standing on that ridge with a 500 foot drop on one side, and a 1,000 foot drop on the other. This was Chiwawa Mountain, a fierce little guy that Bob Breivogel took us up, with a nice long ridge traverse. I remember coming home from that climb, shaken up a bit from adrenaline withdrawal, but definitely with a huge smile on my face. I remember Bob telling me that if I enjoyed that climb, that the next year I should aim my sights on Forbidden Peak. So I did.

First light.
This was supposed to be my big goal for the year, the climb that I was going to work up to. I’ve already read all about the “airy-step” on Summitpost. I’ve looked at tons of pictures of the route and committed those images to memory. I’ve been doing my research on the cruxy bits, thinking that one day I’ll work up the courage and strength to do it. I need to develop trad skills for placement, and get comfortable leading on gear. I need to mentally prepare for run-out on relatively easy terrain, but one that has large consequences with a single miss-step. Am I going to be ready this year? Am I going to be on target with my training schedule? 
Enjoying a bit of steep snow.
When Andrew Holman asked me if I was interested in tackling Forbidden Peak as one of his final climbs in the Pacific Northwest, I jumped on it like a fat kid on a candy bar. Honestly it was a lot sooner than I expected, but hey, take your opportunities when you can! Climbing with him previously has proven to be fun and rewarding, and even though we have exactly opposite personalities on the Myer’s Briggs, we get along well. I know he’s a strong alpinist, and that he’d be able to lead many of the pitches if I get freaked out. I have myself a solid partner.

For the climb, we plan to join up with Kai Waldron and Ingrid Nye. We debate camping out in the basin for a night, or knocking it out in a single push. We know it can be a pain to get permits and even though we were pretty sure they’d be available, we’ve been told that a single-push is totally doable and has been done before. The Mountaineer’s website gives me a breakdown of 3 hours to camp, 6–9 hours to the summit, and 8–10 to get back. By conservative estimates, if we leave at midnight we can be back at the car by 7–10 p.m.—a long day, but manageable.

Ingrid Nye on the approach.
We did a Portland-start with brunch at the Screendoor on Saturday morning before driving north. We set up camp for a few hours at the Cascade River Trailhead and enjoy awesome views of Johannesburg Mountain and Boston Basin. After a restful 3-ish hours of sleep to the sounds of coyotes nearby and large ice falls letting loose in the canyon around us we are on the move.

The hike up isn’t too noteworthy. The trail winds uphill steeply through the forest as it slowly gets more and more dense. We get off-trail, or maybe it simply turns into a bushwack at some point, and manage a couple of interesting creek crossings. We know we just have to go up and north, and so we do without much hassle. We made it to the basin in exactly 3 hours. Perfect timing. I also get to witness the biggest snow release I’ve ever seen on Johannesburg. I watched the ice flow from top to bottom, barreling its way loudly down the mountain in the pre-morning dawn. We stand there in awe and take in this amazing demonstration of nature’s power.
Andrew Holman on the west ridge.

We hike up to the higher basecamp to find only one tent set-up; where the residents were slowly waking up and getting ready. Seeing that they are really fresh from actually sleeping and that the snow is kind of soft, we take our time fitting our crampons, donning our helmets and harnesses, snacking, and taking care of any other housekeeping possible to let them stay ahead and kick steps for us. This was an excellent technique I’ve learned in the past, and it paid dividends. Thanks guys!

The couloir of snow is nice—steep and fun. We self-belay until we get to the rock where we set-up the rope. We know that there are numerous pitches ahead, and a lot of it is 4th/low 5th class. The most efficient accepted method is either free-climb or simul-climb as much as possible. This is precisely what we did. Having never used this technique before I was surprised how well it can flow if you get your timing right. You pick up on a lot of signals just based on how the rope is tugging or going slack without seeing your partner. I was really ecstatic that, as I reached the “airy step” I read all about, that the rope got tighter and tighter, and was literally pulling me into the void. Before I had a chance to really sit there and think about how I was going to get across, the rope told me that it was go-time and over I went. It was just as cool as I thought it was going to be, minus the forced timing ... What I didn’t know is that I would get the opportunity for significantly more and bigger airy steps all along the route.
The author on route.

We get into a great rhythm, climbing upwards and onwards. Running into a few areas of technical bits dangling off of the rock and happy to be on a rope. There are also secctions that you can just walk quickly over, skipping from rock to rock. Then there are sections where you sit-down and butt-belay your way over, or as the French eloquently call it: à cheval [mounting the horse]. When we got to the harder bits, we stop and do proper belaying. The pro is great, the supposed Beckey piton stuck in the rock is awesome to see, along with the cruxy moves around it, another piton looked like some screwball took tin-metal and banged into the mountain as a joke. The climbing is great, and we don’t want it to end. The weather however kept getting foggier and colder, and we begin to realize that this is taking quite a bit of time.

We hit the summit at 1:30 p.m. A little late, but close to tracking with our time estimates. Andrew and I high-five each other, waiting for the other two for a moment, and make our way back down. Unfortunately with the timing and the weather, Ingrid and Kai make the choice to turn around before summiting: so close, but a good call. Andrew is leading the whole way, which means that as a second responsible for cleaning, I am technically on the sharp end of the rope on the way down. Seeing it’s already been a bit of a day, I remind myself not to rush, take it easy, and enjoy the views. This really helps me mentally. We pull all the tricks in the book to be efficient, including quite a few simul-rappels (my first), and simul-downclimbs (another first), and make it back down to the basin without incident.
We make it back into the trees at dusk. It is around 9 p.m. and we are going to blow by the conservative estimate by just a bit. What we don’t know yet is by just how much.
Almost on the summit.

We can’t find the trail. At all. We have a map. We have GPS coordinates. We have a track. It all seems to be useless. We run into footprints from time to time, but it seems like within 20 feet they’re gone again. Instead of running in circles trying to find the “trail,” which we know is a bushwack anyway, we make the decision to aim in the right general direction, and hope to pick it up again. 

We come upon our first stream crossing, which isn’t too bad. It is difficult to judge the best place to cross when you only have the light of a headlamp. The shadows can mess with you, especially when you’re a bit tired. I do my best to keep stay composed and keep on going. We must eventually hit the trail and get back to the car. Right?

After the crossing, we find ourselves in an ultra-dense young juniper sapling forest where every step we take we end up being smacked in the face by a branch. I’m not sure if going forward is going to get any better and my headlamp is completely obscured by the last branch. Thwack after thwack after thwack, we finally make it to the second creek. Only this creek turns out to be a torrential river with no easy crossing in sight. We bushwhack up and down and up and down and up and down again looking for any possible way across. We’re tired. Dead tired. It’s now 1:30 a.m. Two of our members are sitting down and have fallen asleep in that position. We look at each other and make the hard call. 

Time to bivy. We can’t see, and we will resume once daylight comes back. The night is cold and we

View towards Mt. Torment.
are wet. In the middle of the night, members in the party randomly get up and turn on their headlamps and just stare into space. Someone gets up, move around for 5 minutes to get warm, and lays back down to try to sleep. Too cold to sleep, but too tired to not doze off for bits at a time; we are all in a very weird delusional zombie mode just waiting for dawn. It sucks.

When dawn comes, I couldn’t be happier. I have had no sleep and feel worse than before, but at least I can now see all the trees that were making my life hell. I can probably find better lines to ‘shwack through this forest, and we can probably find a way across this river. We are all shivering uncontrollably as we get up, but the second we begin bushwacking again, we get nice and toasty in seconds. I felt great again!
View of Johannesberg Mountain.

Eventually we find a way across, and are rewarded for our success with more bushwacking on the other side. Good thing it is all prickly and thorny bushes, we wouldn’t want it to be too easy. We can’t find any trail, and we just keep trying for the path of least resistance, aiming for a landmark. We start seeing barrels and other signs of human life: remnants of the diamond mine that used to be in the area. We are close to on-track, and eventually we run into the trail! Our morale skyrockets as we run into rangers five minutes later. Apparently they are already out looking for us. They are excited to find us so soon, since apparently the parking lot is less than 100 feet away. That’s right, we fully bushwhacked that entire 3 mile section. What took 3 hours in one direction, took 8 plus 3 hours of “napping.” Twenty-two conservative hours turned out to be Thirty-three. Whoops.

If done again, I’d camp in Boston Basin, both on the way in and the way out. It would have been awesome to get rest and walk through that forest only during the day. Next time I would also bring multiple GPS tracks if possible, and record points on my way in to make the way out easier. But I was as ready as I ever was going to get for this climb, and it turned out to be even more of an adventure than I could imagine. I never thought I’d say this so soon after, but ... A+ great climb. I would definitely do it again!