Video of the Month: Upper Dexter Icefall

View Steve Heikkila's video of his climb on Upper Dexter Icefall in Ouray, Colo. Get stoked to check out the Portland Alpine Fest's awesome clinic and athlete line-up from Nov. 4 - 8. Get the skills you need to take your own trip to Ouray!


Re-united: The power of the Mazamas and Facebook!

Amy Mendenhall reuinited
with her lost Garmin.
by Rico Micallef

The weekend of August 15, 2014 I attempted Mt. Jefferson with the Mazamas - climb #544.
Unfortunately we did not summit. When we arrived at the Red Saddle there was a group of three climbers ahead of us who were making their way across the upper snowfield. We could see the sun beginning to hit the top of the slope, and with a team of 11 climbers it would take too long, the pickets would have to be reset on the decent resulting in descending in the dark, consequently we called it and did not summit.

I was the assistant on the climb, so I proceeded to guide our group down the mountain. As I descended I came across what I originally thought was a camera in the scree. I picked it up, and saw that it was a GPS, so I threw it in my backpack, thinking "I doubt it works, but what the heck I’ll change the batteries when I get home and we will see if it works, worse case I took some garbage off the mountain." When we stopped for a break, I mentioned my find to the group, where the common response was, wow I doubt it works. So I took it out my pack and switched it on, much to my surprise it turned on! One of the team said it was probably a fellow Mazama that lost it. I figured I might as well post it on the ICS Facebook page and see if I can track down the owner. Below is a copy of my FB post and the corresponding traffic:

Rico Micallef
August 19
********** Found Garmin GPS **********
I found a Garmin GPS on Jeff.
Much to my surprise it still works, it had been sitting on Jeff for over a year!
Based on the track data it was lost in the 2013 climb season!
I'd like to get it back to its rightful owner.
Here is what I need:
What model #?
when did you lose it?
Name some of the saved tracks?
Sorry but as Ronald Reagan said Trust but Verify!
Please feel free repost this

Larry Beck Hey Amy Brose Mendenhall, is this yours?
August 19 at 1:15pm • Like

Michael Zasadzien Hey, you should post this on cascadeclimbers.com; I'm sure there's a ton of visibility through that forum!
August 19 at 1:16pm • Like

Larry Beck Rico Micallef, Amy lost one last year in August on the south ridge above camp at Goat Rock.
August 19 at 1:16pm • Like

Amy Brose Mendenhall That might be mine! I lost it last year on Jefferson on the way down. I have no idea what tracks could be in there...but it was a garmin etrex 30. black. with a little waterproof case around it...it probably had tracks from last year (glacier peak, etc). I posted it on cascade climbers last year and figured it was a lost cause....
August 19 at 1:17pm • Like

Amy Brose Mendenhall actually, I think it may have NOT had a lanyard on it or a case, and that's exactly why my current one DOES...I was so pissed when I lost it, but weirdly, we found an active garmin etrex 30 lying in the trail on the PCT on the way down...didn't keep it, hung it at a trail crossing, but thought it was weird universal gps karma...
August 19 at 1:18pm • Like

Amy Brose Mendenhall our jeff climb was 7/12 to 7/14 last year...glacier peak tracks from other people might have been on there, but I did it after Jefferson, so likely none from glacier. it could have had Shasta, hood and st.helens on there, as I did those before Jefferson.
August 19 at 1:21pm • Like

Amy Brose Mendenhall or could have been yellow...pretty sure it was black: http://www.rei.com/product/825492/garmin-etrex-30-gps
Garmin eTrex 30 GPS 
Free Shipping - With a 3-axis compass, full-color display and geocaching, the co... See More
August 19 at 1:21pm • Like

Rico Micallef SOLD! That was fast, yes it has a case, and a lanyard, amazing I did not even have to CHANGE the batteries, turned on right away. I am in Inveremere, BC till Sunday, visiting family, I am almost 100% SURE your description matches the Garmin, I will verify it when I get back and get it to you.
August 19 at 1:23pm • Like • 1

The author's sweet reward for his good deed.
Amy Brose Mendenhall Rico, that's awesome....no rush at all (as I not-so-happily-but-promptly went out and got a new one after I lost it last year). But would love to have it back eventually. Name your favorite beer and six pack is in your future..or whatever! let me know  I lost it in the scree area fairly low on the south ridge. It's unfathomable that someone randomly came across it and that it somehow still works. Go figure 
August 19 at 1:32pm • Like • 1

Larry Beck Amy, what Rico will also want is to be on your next Jeff climb!
August 19 at 1:44pm • Unlike • 5

Rico Micallef No worries, they are not cheap so I am glad to be able to get it back to its rightful owner. Reminds me of the old Timex commercials takes a licking on keeps on ticking! We will have to let Garmin know what a solid product they make.
August 19 at 1:44pm • Like • 1

Elisabeth Kay Bowers wow! so cool! now when the glaciers melt out on rainier, we might find Chris Kruell's!
August 19 at 1:47pm • Like • 3

Elisabeth Kay Bowers wonder if fb will exist then...
August 19 at 1:47pm • Like

Justin Colquhoun Buhhahaha!! Well done Rico!!! I was only half serious when I suggested it might belong to a fellow Mazama. (note: others suggested this as well)(kudos again for finding it and its owner!)
August 19 at 5:57pm • Edited • Unlike • 3

Rico Micallef That was a great call 
August 19 at 2:16pm • Like

Regis Krug Now, can you find my tripod over on Park Butte north of Jefferson? Kill the friggin marmot that has it.
August 19 at 4:07pm • Unlike • 2

Rico Micallef Amy Brose Mendenhall I am back in PDX, give a me shout and we can figure out where to meet to get the Garmin back to you.
August 25 at 1:15pm • Edited • Like

Steve Heikkila This thread is amazing.
August 25 at 3:29pm • Like • 4

Rico Micallef Re-united!
September 4 at 7:37pm • Like • 7

Rico Micallef and my reward- not necessary but very much appreciated! Thanks Amy Brose Mendenhall
September 4 at 7:48pm • Edited • Like • 7

In addition I have been assured a place on Amy’s next Jefferson climb! Which of course is what I really wanted.


Jump Right!

I have always liked being in the mountains, but the thought of climbing a mountain never occurred to me until I met my husband Dan. He is a member of The Mazamas, a Portland climbing club. His spare room was full of all sorts of weird gear and he would spend his weekends climbing mountains in the dark.

When Dan was finishing his master’s degree in 1999, he knew he wouldn’t have much time for a girlfriend and he suggested that I take the Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Program. It’s a great class that consists of textbook readings, lectures and field sessions. I was fascinated by that textbook. I learned what all that weird gear was for and why you climb mountains in the middle of the night. And I learned nuggets of wisdom. Like, if you are roped to your climbing partner, and you are walking along a ridge, if your partner starts to fall down one side of the ridge, what you should do is jump off the other side of the ridge so the rope catches you and holds you both. --- Yeah, right! I finished the field sessions where I chased my more athletic classmates up steep hikes, and I learned to self arrest, where you jam your ice axe into the snow and thumbtack yourself to the mountain.

Thus, I became an mountaineer.

In 2003, we joined a Mazamas outing to the Swiss Alps. The Eiger, is the classic alpine peak, with a north face so steep that the snow doesn’t stick to it, and it looms darkly above the valley. Well, right next to the Eiger is the Mönch, and at 13,474 feet, it is 500 feet taller than the Eiger, and that’s the mountain we climbed. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the industrious Swiss built a tunnel through the Eiger so you can take a train up to 11,000 feet and start climbing from there. For this reason, the Mönch is actually one of the easiest of the classic Alpine peaks.

But, easy is a relative term, and it soon became apparent that I was the least experienced and the least fit of the eight of us on that climb. After they took everything out of my pack, and put it in theirs I was able to at least keep up with my rope team.

The Mönch consists of a series of boulder fields to climb interspersed with ice ridges. Picture a balance beam -- no, make it an ironing board; tip it up at an angle, raise it 1000 feet into the air and cover it with ice, and you get a picture of these ridges. So, I had a lot to think about on this climb. I had to keep the rope taut, not get cut with my crampons, and keep the ice ax in the proper hand, not to mention climb uphill at altitude. But during it all, I kept thinking about how this was the Alps and it was all going to be so worth it at the end.

Toward the top of the climb, I put my ice axe down in the snow next to me, and when I took it out there was a hole in the snow. Through that hole, I could see all the way down to Grindelwald, two miles below me. It occurred to me, that if I had put my foot there, it could have been me going all the way down to Grindelwald. But, I didn’t, and I made it safely to the top.

There were high fives all around and photos taken and I felt --- nothing!  Where was my climber’s high? Where was the exhilaration that made it all worth it? The view wasn’t even that good because of the cornice, and we were all crowded together at the top and you couldn’t spend any time up there because you still had to get down and you didn’t want to wait too long because the snow would get slushy and be unsafe. It slowly dawned on me that I wasn’t a mountaineer. I was never going to be one of those people who say, “because it is there.” As we started the descent I started composing my speech to Dan in my head, where I would say that I was glad to have had the experience once, but I didn’t see that I would be continuing to climb with him at this level.

It was early afternoon and we were worried about the sun melting the ice and making it too slushy for crampons to get a good hold. We had just put our crampons back on in preparation to cross an ice ridge. Monty, at the front of my rope had just stepped out on the ice and he turned back to me and said, “I was going to say that the ice feels pretty good, but they just fell.” and he pointed to the ridge ahead of us. About 100 yards away there was a group in front of us and one of them had fallen and was in the process of getting up. It didn’t look that bad at first, but she didn’t get up and she started to slide, and she pulled the next person on the rope with her, starting a chain reaction. As we watched in helpless horror, Sandy, standing next to me, said, “He needs to go right.” and it occurred to me that this was that absurd situation from my climbing textbook. We started to yell, “Jump right! Jump right!”

We didn’t know if they could hear us, but eventually the last man on their rope jumped off the right side of ridge. He jammed his ice axe into the snow and we watched as he fell -- up. He was being pulled up the ridge by the weight of the climbers on his rope down the other side. Finally, just before he reached the lip of the ridge, they came to a stop. There, hanging down the left side of the ridge, like beads on a string were four climbers and on the right side was one man holding them all with his ice axe jammed in the snow.

I knew I could be of no help, but both Monty and Dan had training in high angle rescue. I quickly unclipped from the rope and stayed behind while they made their way out on the ridge. As soon as they got close enough, Dan made an anchor with equipment he had with him and attached their rope to the mountain. Then Monty attached the ropes together so that now all of them were connected to the mountain by more than just the one ice axe, and they could begin the slow process of bringing the climbers back up to the top of the ridge, up that slope too steep to just walk up.

Another climbing group came along and helped the stricken climbers down the mountain leaving us to pull the anchor and make our own way down. It was late in the afternoon now, and the weather had changed. It was thundering and raining lightly and we had already heard one avalanche from the neighboring slopes. But, probably the worst time pressure was the fact that the last train down of the day was at 5 and Swiss trains don’t wait for anything. We had some intense climbing to get the rest of the way down and Dan and I were the last two people on that train, getting on just as it left the station.

We met up with the group we rescued in train station. They were a Czech family on their first climb, being led by a family friend. They didn’t speak much English and we communicated by hugs and tears and a Czech beer. Their leader spoke a little better English and he told us that he had heard someone yelling “Jump right” and that had been enough to trigger in his mind his mountaineering training so he knew what he had to do.

The Monch is the most technical mountain I have ever climbed, and it will remain so. I don’t think Dan believes me when I tell him that the rescue is not my reason for not wanting to climb at that level. But I did get a good story out of it. I’m able to say that I once ordered a complete stranger to jump off a cliff. And he did, and he thanked me for it.