The Threat that Binds Mazama Volunteers: Inspiration

by Dan Schuster

The author on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Photo: Godlisten Christosa
Ask any longtime supporters why they give heart and soul to the Mazamas and you’re likely to get different answers. Contrary to popular myth, we aren’t all climbing sport enthusiasts. Yet to say we all love the mountains or mountaineering may exclude rock climbing buffs who’d rather hang out at Smith, or hikers who love the woodlands. It’s difficult to identify a common thread binding us together because our passions sometimes drive us apart. While we each may have a different vision of what the Mazamas should be, one thing we all share is inspiration. Mazama volunteers have inspired us and in turn, we volunteer to inspire others.

For many of us, that inspiration started with our BCEP instructors, and I was no exception. My BCEP ‘88 instructor, Bo Nonn, is one of the unsung Mazama heroes. That’s not to say he didn’t receive all the awards that come from being a long-time climb leader, but he kept a low profile, focused instead on inspiring us to pass on the love of mountaineering. I followed his example through BCEP, ICS, and ASI for the 28 years since, and as a climb leader for the past 14. Over the years, I’ve given both personal time and money to the Mazamas and with so many other critical needs out there, you might ask, “Why the Mazamas?” It boils down to inspiration.

For example, you may have seen the movie “Meru,” and been inspired by the extremity of purpose and commitment that might seem absurd to some. Yet the adventure aspects of the movie inspire even non-climbers in a way that golf and baseball never can. The movie had particular significance to me because of my experience with another Mt. Meru, Kilimanjaro’s unassuming cousin. In 2007, I traveled to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. My daughter accompanied me as far as Moshi, and while I was on the mountain, she volunteered her nursing skills at a local hospital. Afterwards, she shared her dismay on discovering how little of the hospital’s medical equipment was in working order. We later learned through a WHO report that up to 80% of East African medical equipment was nonfunctional. Inspired partly by Greg Mortensen’s school construction project for Afghan girls and partly by my BCEP instructor’s Peace Corps experiences in Botswana, I set about to remedy the equipment situation. It occurred to me that the many engineers who travel to Africa on safari and to climb Kili were part of the answer. “Voluntourism,” historically dominated by medical staff, was in dire need of technologists. After struggling to find a cooperative venue, I returned to Tanzania in January 2010 as an instructor at Arusha Technical College (ATC). Nestled in the shadow of Mt. Meru, ATC was created to fill the demand for qualified technical personnel in Tanzania. Since that first visit, I’ve spent 18 months in Arusha training future biomedical technicians to repair medical equipment and established a nonprofit corporation, Biomedical Engineering Technology Aid International (BETA Int’l), to support that endeavor. BETA Int’l has subsequently facilitated a biomedical engineering technology program at ATC by training faculty, providing modern test equipment and parts, and providing stipends for student internships at area hospitals. With a comprehensive training program in place, ATC now supplies electrical and biomedical engineering graduates to hospitals throughout Tanzania.

I’m not sure any of this would have come about if not for the volunteers that inspired me and the inspiration that comes from my own volunteering. Climbing taught me many valuable lessons including this from scree and soft-snow slogs: slide back a step for every two forward, keep going, and you eventually make the summit. You definitely need this kind of tenacity to deal with bureaucracies and governments in developing nations. And inspiration has opened doors to new opportunities. Now BETA is teaming with GE Foundation to address medical technology issues in all low-resource countries. Haiti is next, although it is more like climbing Mt. Everest. We’ve been slogging there since 2011, without yet reaching the first base camp.

For some of you this may not resonate (unless you climb Kilimanjaro and have need of hospitalization). For me, it justifies my “Curmudgeon Challenge” to raise funds for the MMC, and the countless hours I’ve put into Mazama training, climbs, and committees. My Mazama training was a prelude to a much bigger life mission—one that has become world-transforming. I understood that in 2003 when I teamed with Monty Smith to rescue a family on the Eiger’s neighboring peak; our oft-repeated leadership training saved five lives. So mountaineering will never be just a sport to me—the inspiration goes far deeper, and it is a fundamental test of character. Yes, I do love the mountains and any excuse to be in them—anywhere in the world. What inspires you may be different, but do keep our volunteer tradition alive within the Mazamas, and pass along the inspiration to others. Inspiration is the most pervasive impact we can have in this world, and our only legacy.

Author’s note: If you are bound for Kilimanjaro, interested in voluntourism opportunities, and have a medical or engineering background, see BETA International’s website at www.bmet-aid.com.
Author’s bio: Dan Schuster is a Mazama climb leader (2001) and has taught climbing since 1989. A retired Caltech-educated engineer, he founded Biomedical Engineering Technology Aid International (www.bmet-aid.com), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and is also a volunteer science museum educator in lasers and robotics at OMSI.


How a Team of Volunteers Changed My Life

The author on the summit of Mt. Hood, July 7, 2012.
Photo: Steve Deardorff
by Kristie Perry

It started with seven little words.

“Take Beecept, Kreestee. You vill love eeT.”

So proclaimed Ania Wiktorowicz, a relentlessly cheerful co-worker and one of the many awesome ambassadors for mountaineering that make the Mazamas such a terrific organization.

I wasn’t so sure about this BCEP thing. At that point in my life, I was about 18 months away from my last cigarette and about four years away from my last bottle of red wine. I had, at least, quit committing slow-motion suicide. But I was, at most, a recreational hiker and car camper with a head full of “I can’t.” Should I really do this BCEP thing?

I was quite convinced the answer was No. But every Monday morning, there was Ania, egging me on. “Take Beecept, Kreestee. You vill love eeT.”

So with high hopes and even higher anxiety, I enrolled in BCEP.
It was a life-changing experience.

There came a moment during the eight-week class when I fully realized that the massive undertaking that is BCEP is run entirely by volunteers. A lot of them: volunteers who are recent college grads, moms and dads, and grandmothers and grandfathers; volunteers with full time jobs as social workers, accountants, physicians, lawyers, engineers, and sales reps; volunteers who seem to have been born wearing crampons; and volunteers who only recently learned how to tie a butterfly knot.

That light bulb moment about BCEP came at the conclusion of Jodie Adams’ presentation on strength training exercises for budding mountaineers. Jodie is a Mazama member and physical therapist. She’d just had a baby. It was still very tiny. And yet Jodie hauled herself down to Jackson Middle School on a rainy Tuesday night in March 2013 to talk to a bunch of wannabe mountaineers about the proper body position for deep squats.

I felt tremendous gratitude for Jodie’s willingness to share her expertise with us. She did it for free. She did it with cheer. She did it even though as a new mother she was extraordinarily sleep deprived.
I experienced many moments like that during BCEP. There was Colleen Sinsky, who rescued me from a meltdown during knot-tying practice. There was Sue Giordano, who coaxed me up my first climb of the MMC rock wall. There was Kyle Heddy, who hugged me after I stemmed up the chimney at Horsethief, and Brian Anderson who made sure I did my BARK check correctly before rappelling back down. This chorus of “You got this, Kristie!” was conducted by BCEP Team 7 Leader Kevin Clark, who patiently instructed me—again—on how to plunge step after accepting me on his Mt. McLoughlin climb.

Volunteers. Every single one of them. Teaching me the skills of mountaineering. Doing it for free. Doing it because they wanted to. Doing it with a magical mix of patience and encouragement. Amazing.

Every single one of those volunteers played an important part in evicting that rat’s nest of “I can’t” that had been so thoroughly ensconced in my head for so long.

So I did the only thing I was really qualified to do for the Mazamas right after taking BCEP: I joined the Publications Committee. I got to geek out with other grammar nerds on the finer points of the Oxford comma. I got to apply my administrative and organizational skills to some process improvement projects. Eventually, I got to be chair of the committee.

And with every article I proofed and every meeting agenda I put together, I got to say thank you. Thank you to each and every Mazama volunteer that has come before me and made this organization what it is today: a welcoming place where even timid, middle-aged chicks with a head full of “I can’t” can learn to glissade with the best of them.

About the author: Kristie Perry is a three-year Mazama member and Director of Donor Relations at Central City Concern.


John Frieh: Q & A

In November 2015, John Frieh participated in the 3rd annual Portland Alpine Festival, offering clinics, seminars, and an evening presentation on climbing in Alaska. Several weeks prior to the festival, Joe Fox interviewed him about his thoughts on climbing and the origins of the Portland Ice Comp.

On the origins of his passion for the outdoors
I definitely grew up in a family that recreated outside. Spent a lot of summers camping. Though I love climbing, I think, at its core, I love being outside. And really there might come a day where climbing is no longer an option or a pursuit, but I don’t ever imagine a day where I won’t be getting outdoors.

My parents stuck me in the Boy Scouts at age twelve in hopes of instilling good moral fiber, I don’t know if that was successful. But during that time I climbed Middle Sister at age fourteen. And it was pretty rad. My experiences in the Boy Scouts allowed me to somehow talk my way into a gear shop job at 16, at a local shop in Eugene. Everyone else who worked there was a student at the University of Oregon, in their outdoor program, so there was always somebody willing to drag me along on the weekends. So I did a lot of climbing. I kinda grew up at Smith Rock. That led to me completing a NOLS course right out of high school.

On his “smash and grab” style of climbing
I only got three weeks of vacation a year at Intel. And, if you flip through any Alaska guide book—I remember I got the red one, the Joe Puryear one that everyone gets, when that came out in what ‘07? I think it was?—I remember buying it, flipping through it and just being depressed because every suggested time was two weeks, suggested time one month. I remember thinking I either have to leave Intel or I’m never going to climb in Alaska.

And then in 2007 Colin Haley, over his spring break, climbed Mt. Huntington. He happened to be up there, he thought he was going to ice climb, and the weather looked good, so he flew into the Central Range. And I was like, if Colin can do it, you know he just happened to be there when the weather got good, why couldn’t I watch the weather from Portland and fly up when the weather got good? And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.

On the climb that convinced him to start training
In the Mid-2000s, I was using Jim Nelson’s Selected Climbs in the Cascades, an excellent guide book. I was just going through there and ticking everything off that I could. I would go down the bookmarks, and think “where was the weather good” “what routes are near here that Jim says are good,” I’m going to do one of those.

And there’s one on Mt. Stuart called the “Girth Pillar,” and it’s actually one of the few “true” alpine routes in the Cascades where you actually have to climb up snow and ice, up to water/ice 3 (WI3), to get to the base of this rock climb that’s 9 pitches, up to 5.11 and then you’ve got to scramble to the summit, and then descend the other side. You have to carry over. It’s a pretty committing objective for the Cascades. And we did it. I think we planned on one bivy. We bivvied somewhere on the rock, and then we went up and over the next day. On the way out we were literally two hours to the car, and I remember I was so wrecked I had to lay down and sleep on the trail. And this route was put up in the ‘80s, you know, it was not some cutting edge route. I realized that if I want to do harder routes than this, and maybe do first ascents someday, I need to get my s**t together. Because up to that point, all I really had done was trail run and go to the rock gym, which is, what everybody does in the beginning.

On his long time ties to the Portland Alpine Fest
If you really go back, nine years ago or so, my climbing partner and I, Marcus Donaldson, wanted to find more people to carpool with us to Bozeman, because it’s the closest place to climb ice in the winter that’s “in” all winter. We started talking about having a party, and Marcus was like well you have that woody in your garage, we’ll have a bouldering competition, or something like that. We got to talking and one thing turned into another, and I probably got a little carried away, but I said, “we should just see if the Portland Rock Gym (PRG) will let us do an indoor dry tool comp in their gym.” So we went and saw Gary Rall (owner of PRG), and he’s a really nice guy, but he thought we were crazy when we said we wanted to bring ice tools into his rock gym. But somehow we talked him into doing it. We called it the Portland Ice Festival, and made it a fundraiser to give back to the local community. We had over a hundred people show up! It ended up being one of the biggest days at PRG all year. We raised a bunch of money, and a lot of people who had never even touched ice tools tried it for the first time. So that summer, Gary called me and said, we’re doing it again this year right? And I was like, I guess so.

We did it for seven years. I would hassle the local shops for donations, I’d hassle my contacts, people I know that worked at different companies, and every year it would be crazy. Every year I’d be say this is the last one because it was just Marcus and I doing it, and I was getting burnt out. Then Lee Davis, Mazamas Executive Director, approached me and asked what I thought about the Mazamas helping out, and taking it over? I told him that as long as they stayed true to why we organized it in the first place, which was to get the community together, hopefully get them excited about ice climbing, and raise some money for local organizations, then fine with me. So I handed it off. The Mazamas obviously have a lot more resources at their disposal than I do, and they’ve incorporated the the Ice Fest into the Alpine Festival, and now it’s this giant week-long celebration. They’re doing more with it than I ever could, and it’s just great to see.


Jim Whittaker: Q & A

Jim wearing a Balti hat, 1978.
Photo: Dianne Roberts collection (used 
with permission from the photographer)

On November 21, 2015 Jim Whittaker spoke at The Summit during the 3rd annual Portland Alpine Fest. Several weeks prior, Joe Fox had the opportunity to interview Jim and learn more about his incredible life.

I was hoping you could talk a little bit about where your passion for the mountains and adventure came from originally when you were younger?
I tell a story about my brother and I. We were identical twins, ten minutes apart, very competitive. We’d be wrestling in the house, when we were just young, playing, and scuffling. And our mother would say just go outside and play and we would go outside. And when you’re outside you’re in the trees, and clouds, and sky, and if there’s a beach nearby, you walk to the beach. So, my introduction to the world of nature was outside in vacant lots in Seattle where I grew up. There were beaches we could walk to. We’re lucky here in the Northwest that nature is pretty close, and that’s how I was first introduced to it.

My first climbing was on smaller peaks, very close to Seattle that you could just hike up. I was in the Boy Scouts, and I began to do a little bit more technical stuff then I had a chance to join the Seattle Mountaineers as a junior which had really good people, who knew how to climb. They were my mentors. Then we did Olympus, we did Glacier Peak, and then we began to do all the other major peaks. I was lucky to be guiding on Mt. Rainier, climbs up to the summit, through college, so that was my best climbing experience, where I really learned a lot about mountaineering.

You were only 24 years old when Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay made the first ascent of Everest. A decade later you became the first American to do it and it gives you a perspective on the world of alpine climbing that’s far removed from what most of us today grew up understanding about mountaineering. What is it about mountaineering that makes it a competitive pursuit, in your view?
Jim Whittaker on the summit of Mt. Everest.
Photo: Whittaker family collection.
Used with permission.
I go back to my friend James Ramsey Ullman who wrote a book Americans on Everest, and he came up with a pretty good analysis of all of that. He said that, “Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human activity. If there’s an ocean, we cross it. If there’s a record, we break it. If there’s a wrong, we right it. If there’s a disease, we cure it. And, finally, if there’s a mountain, we climb it.” It’s sort of the nature of man to meet those challenges. I see that as both good and bad. My own love of the mountains and the natural world is the reason why I climbed. It wasn’t to break any records, or anything, it was merely to be in nature. And nature is a wonderful teacher, a place where you can test yourself against many things. It’s a magical planet, we’re lucky to be on it and people like to break records, and that’s ok, but you don’t want that to take away from the beauty of the planet and the magical place that it is.

That resonates with me quite a bit. I think that’s the way I feel about it too. So then what did motivate you to climb Everest in those early days?
Well, we were over on the mountain and we had been invited to go over and climb it and I was a climber and I had guided on Rainier, so I knew quite a bit about it. I felt the need, because we were halfway around the world, to climb it, because we were there, and because IT was there. Then Jake, a member of our team, was killed in the ice fall. That made it even more of something that we should accomplish because, at that point, it would have been such a waste to have lost Jake and not have achieved our goal. I felt, was pretty important to reach the summit. At the same time, I’ve been turned back on a lot of other mountains and wisely so, because to reach the summit is optional, to get down is mandatory.
Climbers descend from the 1975 Camp I with a sled full of
oxygen cylinders to be cached for a later expedition.
Photo: Dianne Roberts collection (used 

with permission from the photographer)

You go up there to climb and to see what you can do, and you test yourself in that manner, but it’s all about rational testing. I used to speed climb up Rainier to see if my party would be the first to get up, and do stuff like that. It’s just human nature to do something the best you can. And to be as good at it as you can.

As you know, the Mazamas have a long history of leading climbs and expeditions.Our members take this role of leadership seriously and there is a great depth of experience and specialized training that leaders are required to have. I know you’ve spent a lifetime being a climb leader, essentially. What have you taken away from such a broad depth of experience as a leader? What advice can you offer to our younger members who are just starting to lead climbs?
I remember leading 80 to 90 climbers up Mt. Baker a couple of times. That was when we didn’t limit the number of climbers that went up. There would be a huge chain of people that would head up Mt. Baker, and then we began to limit the number of people on Rainier.

When you lead you need to, of course, know the mountain, know the route, know yourself, but the thing that I felt was important is you need to know the client, you need to know the people that you’re leading. And so we’d take people up that had never climbed before. Climbing Rainier, as you know, you go to Camp Muir and it’s just a walk to that point and it gives you a chance to measure the people that you’re with. Their stamina and what kind of shape they’re in. But it also gives you a chance to understand their mentality and why they’re climbing. And that was the good part of leading—you learn a lot about the people.
Jim teaching “John John” the snowplow, in front of the 
Roundhouse at Sun Valley; (L to R) Jim with Jacqueline, 
Caroline and John Kennedy, Jr., about 1966. 
Photo: Whittaker family collection/Look Magazine.

Then as I guided, I realized that you had better know a lot about these people because the people you’re climbing with can kill you. You are roped up to people who have never climbed before, if you’re guiding. It’s important that they know you’ve got to have good communication, that they do what you say, that you’re prepared for a backup in case something goes wrong and. When you’re leading, one of the most important things is to listen to your clients or your partners, whoever it may be, and to try and figure out if they’re on the same agenda as you are.

Leading climbs is difficult. Leading expeditions is very difficult because people have their own ideas. It’s hard to hold everybody together when things are going to hell and it looks like you’re not going to get the mountain and other people want the chance to try. It’s a very complicated issue.

On superstitions in climbing…
You do get superstitious, there is no question about it. If something works you’ll take it with you the next time. I’ve taken the same poetry book up on Everest and K2.

You say you’ve taken the same poetry book up there? What book is that?
Oh it’s just a book by Robert W. Service, The Spell of the Yukon.

A lot of the time you are trapped and up in the tent in a storm and you want to read stuff. If you’ve read a book a few times you’ve sort of gotten the message, but if there is a whole book of poems you can begin to memorize the poems, and so that’s kind of fun. You can spend time memorizing poems and doing stuff like that, so I found poetry to be an interesting read. You know you get trapped for five days in a storm up on a mountain and you’ll end up reading the labels on your coat and the food labels on the packages. You’re desperate to read something.

On the magic of the mountains… 
When you come off the mountain after a climb you’ve learned so much, not just about yourself, but about the natural world. But also, if you live long enough then you can reflect on some of the magic that’s out there and you can begin to think that every day is a gift. I’ve lived long enough to believe that every day is a gift and still an adventure ... life is a mystery. There’s a lot we don’t know and it’s fun to explore and find out as much as we can.

You’ve become something of a legend in the world of American mountaineering yourself, Jim. I’m sure you’ve given numerous talks and presentations. Do you set goals for yourself in these talks? Is there something you want to impress upon the folks who are going to be there to hear you speak this month at The Summit during the Portland Alpine Fest?
What I hope to impress is that there should be an effort to get people outside, to get them out into nature. If we can get them into nature and they learn about it then they’ll love it. If they love it then they’ll take care of it, and if they take care of it they’ll pass it on to their children. So, that’s my goal now when I talk to most people, is to emphasize how lucky we are to know nature and how we should make it a point that there is no child left inside. We gotta get them out and then maybe we can save the planet. Then maybe we can recognize that there is global warming. We can recognize that we do need clean air and we do have a right to clean water and so forth.

We’ve learned slowly about the environment. When we first started to climb there was wasn’t hardly anyone out there climbing. You began to get up on top of the peaks and you’d have your lunch sack and your orange peels and your can of juice, then you lift up a rock to hide this stuff under. Then, you find out that the next time you were up there, you lift up a rock and hell there is already so much garbage under it that you can hardly hide your stuff under it. Then, that’s when at REI we started to do these different programs. In 1955, we said, “hey if you pack it in, you gotta pack it out.” And so we began to do different things like that. But, we were dumb to start with. I can remember throwing juice cans off the cliff to hear the noise as it went down. And we used to cut switchbacks and then the switchbacks would erode and ruin the trail and so then we learned not to cut switchbacks. Then we began doing clean ups. We used to float tin cans out and sink them in this clear alpine lake and I took a Governor from the State of Washington out to clean up one of those lakes back in the early 60’s. It’s an educational process and we’re smarter than we were a hundred years ago and I think the newer generation is smarter than we were. There are still things that we can do to continue to make life pleasant for our children and their children.


Dawn Glanc: Q & A

Photo: Fred Marmsater

In November 2015, Dawn Glanc traveled to Portland to be a part of the 3rd annual Portland Alpine Festival. Dawn taught clinics, gave a breathtaking presentation on climbing in Iceland, and even participate in the Portland Ice Comp. Several weeks prior to the festival, Joe Fox interviewed her to learn more about her climbing career.

What you think of the trend towards competition as a mode for climbers? Do you feel a sense of competition with others to do things first, or faster? 
Well, I’m no longer one of the few women out there doing big things. There are a lot of women who have come on the scene lately. And I feel like there is some urgency on some of the things I want to do now. Of course I want to climb things before other people. That’s my goal. There’s a little bit of urgency with that. But luckily we’re all good enough friends, and we all talk to each other. So, if anything, it just stokes you up.

If you had to put a number on it, the amount of ladies out there doing mixed climbing at your level, how small of a group are we talking about? 
Under 10.

Can you talk a little bit about your new business venture? It’s not called “Chicks with Picks” anymore is it?
It’s called “Chicks Climbing and Skiing” because we do more than just ice climbing. We do rock climbing, ice climbs, and skiing.

You ladies bought the company from Kim Reynolds? And it seems like Kim was running it by herself for a while. Now it’s shifted to this cooperative crew of women. Is that correct?
Correct. We are called the “Pentagon of Power.” Colin Haley gave us that name.

Can you talk a little bit about being a business owner and what you hope to bring to this project?
Being a business owner is a ton of work, but the reward always comes when we actually run the clinic and we just see how stoked these ladies are. That’s what feeds us. That’s what feeds this whole company. And that’s why we bought this company because we didn’t want that avenue for ladies to go away. If we’re not there, then where do they go for this advanced instruction? Where do they go for these kinds of trips?

Is there something that separates folks that climb at a high level from other people?
I think that the sacrifice that some people are willing to make is greater. Because I’m 40 now, and I think about all of the time that I’ve been climbing. And you know, in my 20’s and 30’s, I wouldn’t have come to your birthday party. I probably would have missed your wedding. I would have missed any family function I needed to, in order to go climbing. I didn’t have a real job. It was paycheck to paycheck, guiding day to guiding day, with huge chunks of time where there’s no money coming in. Living in my van, with my dog—that’s a lot of sacrifice that some people just aren’t willing to make. I definitely know that there was a time in my life, when I was just so completely self-absorbed, and it was all about climbing. It was all for climbing.

There definitely was this wake up moment that recently happened—my parents were in a bad motorcycle accident, and some other things have befallen us too. I’ve realized that I’m losing this precious time with people, because I had to be tied into a rope. That was more important to me than being tied to my family, if you will. It was a real eye-opener that I’ve got to start thinking of other people. I can’t just be completely self-absorbed my whole life.

Can you talk a little bit about the fitness element, the training? What do you do to be in top form for these big climbs, when you are tackling M11 & M12?
I spend a lot of time in the weight room. I spend 3 to 4 days a week in the weight room. I’ve been lifting weights since I was 13. But I’ve been following my own program now for about 5 years, and I see huge results. I have a few exercises that are very climber specific, and they are specific to the moves that I’m trying to make. In general, it’s just an overall fitness plan, that includes weight lifting, and doing some aerobic activity a couple days a week, and also climbing as much as I can.
Dawn is about to begin filming a new documentary about the rise of mixed climbing by women in North America. It will be titled “Mixtress.” It’s a story that’s never been told about one of the most exciting new chapters in climbing history. Look for more info and a Kickstarter campaign soon!


Youth Program Development Intern

This spring, the Mazamas and our partner, Friends of Outdoor School, decided to team up to host an intern to help develop youth programming which will further the missions of both our organizations. You may know Friends of Outdoor School as the organization which exists to support access and funding for outdoor school programs across the state. They have also run the Adventure WILD summer camp out of the MMC for the past three summers. Both Friends of Outdoor School and the Mazamas are interested in partnering on and expanding the Adventure WILD camp to raise awareness and funds for the good youth education work our organizations are doing. Our shared intern will review successful camp models, conduct market research, and develop a business and marketing plan for an expanded Adventure WILD camp. After interviewing a number of great candidates, we chose Jenny Dempsey Stein as our youth program development intern for this fall. Jenny is a Mazama member, outdoor enthusiast and experienced researcher. Read below for more about her, and you’ll see why we feel lucky to have her working with us!
Jenny, on the left, pictured here with her husband, kids and mother-in-law at the Mazama Lodge
Jenny Dempsey Stein has worked for public organizations for many years. She got her start with Americorps and the U.S. Forest Service, conducting wilderness inventories of Northern spotted owl populations off trail and at night, surveying streams and educating visitors at Multnomah Falls Nature Center. She served as an Outdoor Education instructor in New Hampshire, where she facilitated ecology, ropes challenges, snow shoeing, skiing and wilderness survival activities. Jenny spent ten years serving the public, providing administrative support to Metro’s Parks and Greenspaces and Open Spaces acquisition programs, and coordinating Metro’s popular, widely used Disposal Voucher cleanup program. In addition, she supported Metro’s Community Enhancement grant program and managed a grant funded cleanup guide publication.

A Mazama member since 1998, Jenny’s family has recently participated in Mazamas Family Mountaineering 101 classes and hikes. She applied for the youth program development assistant internship because she has pursued projects throughout her career that support environmental education and natural resources stewardship. Jenny worked more recently with Oregon Community Foundation as a research and writing consultant exploring best practices for Oregon outdoor schools. She also volunteered with her local school, actively supporting the PTA’s school improvement committee, green team efforts and several Mazama Lodge fundraisers. Most recently Jenny completed a graduate certificate in sustainability at PSU, and is studying graduate ecopsychology at Lewis and Clark College.

Welcome, Jenny!


Mazamas Mountain Running Camp

by Amy Urban
Author, Amy Urban
taking a selfie in the
stunning beauty of Mt. Hood.

The first weekend of August brought together seventeen trail runners and four elite trail running instructors for the second annual Mazama Mountain Running Camp. The camp was targeted “for beginner to intermediate runners looking to explore running/training in the mountain environment.” For me, a slow-ish but experienced road marathoner and a long-time mountain hiker, it held promise of improving my skill and allow me to further combine two of my great loves.

On Friday afternoon, our gang assembled at the Mazama Mountaineering Center, loaded up in two vans and headed to Mazama Lodge. During the drive we got acquainted by casually comparing running resumes. There were several Boston Marathon qualifiers, an impressive road running accomplishment. Several people, like me, had recently converted from road to trail running. Others were already experienced at distances of 50-miles and beyond, and at least one was in training for a 100-mile race. And all, unsurprisingly once you get to know the personality of a trail runner, were welcoming and supportive to everyone regardless of level.

After settling in at the lodge—most of our group seeing the beautiful Mazama Lodge for the first time—we did our “get acquainted” power hike (an integral part of mountain running) up to Silcox Hut where we introduced ourselves to the group and, to break the ice, each shared an embarrassing running story. After a quick run back down, we had dinner at the lodge and then some relaxation and songs around the piano before heading to bed early knowing we’d need a good rest in preparation for the two coming days.
Instructor Yassine Diboun leads the way down from
Silcox Hut. Photo: Jacob Raab

Saturday morning started with a quick pre-breakfast run to wake us up and allow us to enjoy the beauty of Mt. Hood. After breakfast we broke into two groups, allowing us to have closer interaction with our instructors. While one group did “boot camp” exercises targeted for runners, the other group learned about mountain safety, including examples of what gear mountain runners could carry for their “10 Essentials”. When the first round was finished, we swapped and did the other session.

After lunch and a brief siesta, we headed out for hill training. Both downhill and uphill running have their secrets and tricks. For me, this part of the camp was overwhelmingly the most valuable part. Never having formal running training, each part of the instruction was entirely new for me. Hills will never be easy, but since I’ve come home from camp I’ve practiced these new techniques and found an enormous difference in what I’m able to do.

Team 2 before setting out to Ramona Falls.
Photo: Jacob Raab
Our camp coincided with the early-August 100-degree+ days in Portland. And while it was considerably cooler up at Mt Hood, it was still a hot day for running up and down the mountain. Sweaty and smiling, we piled back in the vans for a quick trip to cool off in Trillium Lake. After clearing the sweat and cooling our muscles, we gathered in the shady forest there to talk about training loads and strategies.

After a hearty dinner at Mazama Lodge, we enjoyed trail running movies, some shot by or including our instructors running around Mount St. Helens, the Columbia Gorge, and even Mt. Blanc. The main movie was Finding Traction about elite-runner Nikki Kimball’s inspirational quest for the fastest time on Vermont’s Long Trail. Post-movies, we tried out a variety of Petzl headlamps on the trails near the lodge.

Team 1 at Ramona Falls.
Sunday, our final day of camp, started early, with a fortifying breakfast before we headed up to Timberline Lodge for our 14-mile group run to Ramona Falls. Per mountain regulations, and to account for the various skill levels of our group, we split into two small groups for the day. And we ran. Mt Hood and her glaciers were glowing in all her glory. It was a beautiful run.

Sometimes people talk about trail running negatively, assuming that if you’re running through the scenery, you’re missing the beauty that brought you out in the first place. And, to be honest, I originally agreed. “Slow down and smell the flowers!” Over the course of the weekend though, I came to clearly refute this criticism. To a person, the runners in our group remarked on the beauty, stopped to take pictures, paused to take in the views…the same things that non-runners also do in the mountains. But this was also a group of people who found pleasure in running, in the physical sensation of moving exuberantly through the mountains. They weren’t running because they were in a hurry, they were running because running feels great. Feeling great in a place of great beauty, what more could you ask for?

Rebecca enjoying the hill running training. Photo: Jacob Raab
At the end of our run, we again loaded up in the vans to head back to Portland, bidding a fond farewell to our new friends, our generous instructors, Mazama Lodge and the beauty of Mt. Hood and her trails…until next year’s camp.

Learn more about the camp and get ready to sign up for 2016!

A big thank you to our sponsors: 


Nepal: A Great Way to Give Back

Since the devastating earthquakes that hit Nepal in April and May, people have been looking for ways to help the people of the region recover. Initially, the focus was on getting life saving aid to the region - food, water, shelter - to help the people affected go on with their daily lives. But the region needs more help, and you can provide it. This 28-day trip will put you on the ground in several of the affected regions, helping to rebuild destroyed homes, as well as continuing the construction of the Khumbu Climbing Center.

Khumbu, Nepal Service Trek 
Oct. 14–Nov. 11, 2015
28 day trip: Fly to Katmandu and stay in Thamel, an historic district near world heritage sites. A short domestic flight along the Himalayas lands in Lukla and there the trek begins. Trek along the Duh Kosi River on the Mt. Everest Base Camp Trail on the way to the center of the Khumbu: Namche Bazar. The destination is Phortse where we will spend 13 days working to complete the shell of the Khumbu Climbing Center (an Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation project) and help with reconstruction of homes in the village. We will have time to explore Katmandu and take a side trip from Phortse to the Goyko Lakes region.
This is a wonderful opportunity to work with the Sherpa villagers of Phortse to rebuild their lives after the recent devastating earthquake and avalanches & support Nepali expedition workers by working on the KCC.

Seeking people in great condition who possess a sense of adventure and good construction skills. For more information contact Mike Pajunas. Mike has experience in Nepal and at the KCC as he spent 3 weeks working on this project in 2014.

Estimated cost: $4,000, including airfare.


Ten Random Areas: Rock Climbing Beyond the US (and Canada and Europe)

by Radek Chalupa

Shirley Chalupa on the spectacular pitch 2 of the 
Sacred Site route on The Moai in Tasman National Park.
Photo: Radek Chalupa.
We finally stumble back into our camp just as it gets dark, toss down the gear, take off our harnesses and slump down next to the tent. A day and a half of climbing, including a bivy on the thousand meter southeast face of Jebel Misht, and a long and thirsty hike down the opposite side of the mountain are behind us. A search for water in some village (we should learn some Arabic), a bit of hitchhiking, and we’re finally back in camp. We hear the muezzin’s evening call to prayer from a distant village in the valley. We break down camp, toss things in the car, and once again bang up its undercarriage trying to get across a 300-meter-wide dry river bed full of microwave-sized rocks. We reach a small town just shy of midnight and gorge ourselves on roasted lamb in the only open restaurant. Tired, dirty, and—with no plans or reservations—essentially homeless. But we’re in the middle of Oman with a big climb in the bag and we couldn’t be happier.

The choice of how to burn precious vacation time is both exciting and frustrating as we’re always reminded of how little of it we have and how big the world is. It comes down to two questions. First, is there multi-pitch climbing? Second, how interesting is the place itself? Below is a list of areas we’ve tried climbing in and some bits of logistics for each. The hope is that it provides a starting point for further research for those who are interested and perhaps motivates those climbers who generally dislike traveling to try something new.

Making our way among the Bronze Age beehive tombs 
somewhere on the Salma Plateau of the Eastern Hajar 
range, Oman. Photos: Radek Chalupa.
Desert climbing on beautiful, golden-colored limestone. Our trip was only a week long and consequently we climbed only one route, The French Pillar on Jebel Misht, the El Cap of the Arabian Peninsula. Route development here has been going on for a couple of decades, driven mostly by European climbers, though more recently Americans have also shown up. There is an English language guidebook for the country (by R. A. McDonald), but its scope is limited to mostly small climbs. However, excellent information for The French Pillar is available online: www.foordkelcey.net/uae/misht_fp_topo.pdf. Also, internet searches for “Al Hamra” towers and “Wadi Tiwi” should yield some good information. Getting to Oman is reasonably cheap with a few European airlines offering non-stop flights to Muscat. Visa-on-arrival was available in 2014. Once in Oman, you’ll need a rental car and I’d recommend an SUV (gas is cheap) as even some sight-seeing will require high-clearance. Winter is the time to go (we went in February).

Wadi Rum is located in southern Jordan near the Saudi border. It’s a maze-like system of canyons defined by huge sandstone formations. Rock quality is generally good—somewhere between Sedona and Red Rocks—and the route lengths range from single to 20+ pitches, with a wide spectrum of difficulty. There’s a guidebook by Tony Howard that can be purchased online. Reasonably priced flights (most via Europe) will get you to Amman (in 2012, visa on arrival) where you can take a pre-arranged taxi all the way to the village at the mouth of Wadi Rum. Renting a car seemed pointless. Once there you can camp by the Rest House in your own tent (or a crappy rented one), buy your meals from them, and use their bathroom and shower facilities (those last two can be memorable adventures in their own right). Hiring a Bedouin guide is almost essential (eg. www.rumguides.com). This person is not a climbing guide but rather an “enabler”—he will drive you out to climbs (though a handful are accessible by walking from the Rest House), supply you with drinking water and other basic needs, arrange cab rides to Petra, and generally keep an eye on you ... and, if you’re really lucky, invite you for some very sweet tea or even a family dinner in one of the traditional desert encampments. We visited in mid-February and had mixed weather. Next time we’d go a bit later in the spring or earlier in the fall. Lastly, save a day for checking out the Dead Sea and vicinity.

The only place with long, multi-pitch routes that we know of is the Tsaranoro Massif located about 90 minutes southwest of the city of Fianarantsoa. This was also the setting for a climbing movie about the establishment of a big new route (Bravo Les Filles) by Lynn Hill, Beth Rodden and team. On the upside, the area is spectacular: colorful, huge, clean granite walls with plenty of lemurs to be seen and heard on the approaches and even on climbs (6b seems to be their free solo limit). The rock is almost totally devoid of cracks and so most of the lines we did were fully bolted. The downside is that the majority of routes were established by climbers much stronger than us. The longest and most spectacular looking lines start at about 7a+ (French or ~5.12-) and the bolt spacing tends to be on the exciting side—not sport climbing. Still, there’s enough climbing to be had at the 5.10-5.11 range to easily fill up a two week trip. Search online for Camp Catta (including Facebook)—their website has most of the topos published. You can buy meals and beer (and peanuts, a staple) from the Camp Catta kitchen and the dinners were outstanding—some of the best French food we’ve had. Getting there can be relatively expensive and painful. Other than some African airlines, Air France operates (2011) a twice weekly flight (so don’t lose your luggage!) from Paris to Antananarivo. After this 11 hour leg, you will have a 12 hour car ride in store which can be prearranged through Camp Catta.

The most established and best known climbing area in the country is centered on a large granite formation called the Spitzkoppe and the nearby domes called Pontoks. There’s a guidebook available (by Eckhardt Haber) and some shops based out of South Africa will ship it to the U.S. Things look great on paper: huge granite formations, beautiful and well established camping, and even a cafeteria nearby run by a friendly South African couple (2013). However, we found the climbing to be generally scary: flaky, exfoliating rock and run-outs on moderate pitches. Fortunately, the main goal of our trip lay several hours away. We came to Namibia with the goal of repeating the 2009 route called The Southern Crossing, established by Majka Burhardt and team on a remote wall called Orabeskopf in the Brandberg Massif.

Online search will show Majka’s beta on the route, including gear recommendations. While the logistics for the Spitzkoppe climbing are pretty straightforward (fly to Windhoek, rent a car and drive yourself), things get a bit more complex for Brandberg. The recommended starting point is to contact Basil Caditz who runs the Brandberg Rest Camp in the old mining settlement of Uis. He is the person who helped us with arranging permits (Brandberg is a protected area) and a porter (no reliable water in the backcountry) as well as transportation to and from the trailhead which is about an hour outside of Uis and requires a high-clearance car to access. The extent of modern day human activity in that valley seems to be limited to three teams of climbers establishing a total of four routes (last one called Hungarob Combination in 2011) with no repeats that we were aware of. The area really feels very remote and way off the beaten track. An incredibly memorable experience.

Most climbers have heard of the beachside climbing in Railay and Tonsai (multiple guidebooks available, best one is by Somporn Suebhait); and while those are fun and unique (tower climbing right out of a long-tail boat), they are also overrun with westerners making for a pretty diluted cultural experience. A bit of internet research reveals a handful of relatively obscure crags scattered throughout the country. One that captured our interest was called Khao Chin Lae 2 Peak outside the town of Lopburi. The limestone tower rises suddenly out of the rolling sunflower fields of central Thailand and is home to a couple of summit routes (~6 pitches long) as well as many single pitch climbs at its base. The nearby Lopburi is a logical base and off the beaten tourist track. Noom’s Guesthouse is the place to stay as Noom himself is a climber, rents scooters (best way to reach the crag), and makes an excellent cup of coffee. Lastly, don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Hong Thong before heading off to dinner in one of the local establishments. A guide can be found online (namphapayai-camp.com/pdf/topo-lopburi.pdf).

The country has a good selection of small crags scattered throughout both Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo regions. The latter is also home to some spectacular looking towers nestled in its jungles (full on expedition value) and the famous Mt. Kinabalu (which has both a complicated permitting system and bad weather). Off the coast of peninsular Malaysia there is also Pulau Tioman, home to a pair of large granite spires called The Dragon Horns. The South Horn is home to more than a half dozen routes, with most being difficult free climbs (13-ish). Exceptions are the original line called Waking Dream (aid, A2+; hardware at belays replaced with Ti glue-ins in 2013 by climbers from Singapore) and Damai Sentosa which apparently clocks in at 6c+. Our attempt on Waking Dream in June of 2014 ended in failure. Despite trying it in Malaysia’s dry season, we encountered severe thunderstorms on an almost daily basis. As far as logistics, I’d recommend flying to Kuala Lumpur (vs. Singapore; less hassle without the extra border crossing) and renting a car. Pulau Tioman is accessed via a ferry that departs from the town of Mersing. Once on the island, a quick hop in a small boat is required to reach the village of Mukut on the southern tip. Contact Mr. Khairudin Haja (Tam) who is an accomplished climber and who runs the Simukut Hill View Resort (facebook.com/simukuthillview) at the base of the Horns.

Though the more accessible climbing in Tasmania is typically not very long, it is certainly different (sea stacks) and can be exciting (venomous snakes). A nicely written guidebook on the select climbs on the island by Gerry Narkowicz is a great resource and worth the shipping cost from Australia. There is also a less-glossy but free online guidebook, (thesarvo.com/confluence/display/thesarvo/Climbing). Although we spent our two weeks there with a constant eye on the weather forecasts for the western part of the island, home to longer, alpine-ish climbs like the Frenchman Cap, we never got a good enough weather window to attempt it. We did get a sampling of the much drier eastern Tasmania’s routes: from the sea stacks of the Tasman National Park (which include swims and Tyrolean traverses), to the multi-pitch splitter crack climbs of Ben Lomond and on to the scenic granite domes of Freycinet Peninsula. Tasmania is easy to get to and to explore (rental car is essential), however, it is relatively expensive (2015). Extended camping in the wet environment could be painful and so renting a place with a kitchenette might ultimately be a good way to trim costs.

Advertised as the home of big-wall free climbing, this is the easy Patagonia or perhaps the Chilean Yosemite.  We spent two weeks there in the first half of February and had climbable weather about 50 percent of the time. The rock is high quality granite and the routes tend to be long (10 pitches and up) with difficulty starting at about 5.10 but with more options in the 5.11 range. With sufficient lead time, airfares to Puerto Montt can be reasonable. Flying to Santiago and busing (reliable and comfortable) down could be a money saver as well. The rest of the logistics can be taken care of in advance by contacting the folks who run the climbers’ hut in Cochamo Valley (cochamo.com). Here you can arrange your taxi ride from town to the trailhead, as well as pack horses to carry your supplies on the 13-km hike into the Valley. Although the climbers’ hut (Refugio Cochamo) sells breakfasts and dinners, they often run short. In other words, bring most of your own food (and sneak in all of your own alcohol, the hut is dry). The typical approach is to establish a basecamp on the valley floor (solar showers included) and then do overnight or multi-day trips up to adjacent valleys for the climbing. Climbing activity in Cochamo started in the early to mid-2000s and the area is still experiencing much new route development. Consequently, the most complete route beta can be found in binders inside the climbers’ hut—bring a pen, plenty of paper, and some artistic skills for copying the maps and topos by hand (a good rainy day activity).

Frey is a logical complement to a Cochamo visit: short approaches (once you’re camped out by Refugio Frey), more compact routes, drier but colder weather, and plenty of wine (and  food for purchase) at the hut. The term “alpine cragging” comes to mind. Climbing here is on small to mid-sized granite spires (one to eight pitches) that dot nearby ridges. Rock looks loose and dirty from afar but is in fact clean, solid and well featured. Free camping is available near the hut but you pay for the use of a shared kitchen space (gas stove). Bring a sturdy tent as conditions can be very windy. A nice guidebook by Rolando Garibotti can be purchased at Club Andino in Bariloche. Lastly, transiting between Cochamo (Puerto Varas) and Frey (Bariloche) is probably best done via a public bus rather than a rental car. Dedicate a day to do this and probably more if you’re in a rental car.

A Tyrolean traverse on the descent from Crescent 
Moon Buttress in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. 
Photo: Radek Chalupa.
Despite a several year lull (2010–13ish), hundreds of mostly foreign climbers once again visit the beautiful El Potrero Chico every year. Yet very few seem to venture beyond. High density of well-bolted, long routes, good weather, nice limestone, trivial connections to US cities are all contributing factors. As fun as racking up the pitch count in EPC is, the adventure aspect is a bit lacking. Partially motivated by the publication of a new guidebook (rockclimbing-mexico.com), we did a two-week long road trip through the country starting and ending in Mexico City (and yes, we did venture up north to EPC, as well). Two areas with moderate multi-pitch routes were Parque El Chico in the state of Hidalgo (conglomerate rock towers) and a large monolith called Pena de Bernal in Queretaro. While the climbing was good (all bolted), the setting of the post-card perfect Mexico really completed the experience. Logistics are trivial (cheap flights) though things seemed simpler in a rental car with Mexican plates as opposed to driving in from the US.


How to Climb Multi-Pitch Alpine Rock ... With Style

Rebecca Schob high up on Paisano Pinnacle as 
Burgundy Spire looms in the background. Photo: Katie Mills. 
by Katie Mills
I used to shy away from long alpine rock routes because hey, when have I ever climbed more than, say, four pitches in a day? Never! There was no way I’d risk getting stuck on some heinous ledge, shivering and thirsty, reluctantly spooning with a stinky climbing partner, praying for the sun to come up.

So I kept climbing in my slow, tedious fashion. Along the way I read some books, endured some ridicule about my bad habits, started training harder, and picked up tips for more efficient climbing. I’d like to share some of them with you.

Reduce pack weight
Pack weight will make or break you. Do you want to climb the North Ridge of Mt. Stuart in two days or four?

When I did the complete North Ridge of Stuart, the only thing I brought for camping was a one-pound sleeping bag. I slept on top of the rope and the back pad from my pack. Besides the clothes I wore, I carried only a lightweight puffy. If you’re doing a day trip, ask yourself whether you can get by with only one pack for the following climber to carry. No, you will not bring your “ten essentials” on a vertical rock climb where speed is safety.

How little water can you carry? While doing Stuart’s North Ridge, we left the ground with 2 liters per person. It’s true we had no water from the summit until we hit Ingalls Creek five hours later. It was uncomfortable, but we were fine. If I weren’t willing to suffer a little, I’d have stuck with cragging.
I started wearing minimalist trail runners on approaches. They work great and weigh much less in my pack than a pair of hiking boots.

Check out Extreme Alpinism by Mark Twight if you want to learn more about what you really need in your pack on a climb. Also, get a lighter pack! I have a small, very lightweight pack I affectionately refer to as my “crusher pack.” It weighs so little it makes me CRUSH! CiloGear makes some great light ones and they are made here in Portland.
Katie Mills enjoying granite for days on 
the north ridge of Mt. Stuart, Washington. 
Photo: Todd Eddie.

Do your homework
How did people climb before the advent of the internet? I would have just wandered around lost in the forest. These days, people put topos on the internet! Sometimes they post photos of mountains with giant red lines painted on them where the routes go!

Study these in town. The better you research the route, the less time you will waste staring at your topo while on route. Know what to expect at different points during the climb. Don’t be the person who does no research and therefore can be of no use when it comes to making navigational decisions. Two informed people are much more likely to make the right decision than one. Getting off route can really ruin your day. If the route looks weird or untraveled, backtrack before you make things worse. People who are “really good at navigation and route finding” probably aren’t any better than you; they just studied the beta beforehand.

Speed up transitions
Many people climb with no sense of urgency. A leisurely pace is fine until you have 20 pitches to complete before the sun goes down. Transition times should take no more than five minutes. Rack gear properly as you clean it. Stop lollygagging. You’ll find more tips in Speed Climbing by Hans Florine and Bill Wright, a highly informative and enjoyable read.

Be a vigilant belayer
Always keep the rope tight on the follower so he/she can climb as fast as possible. I had a partner who thought he was saving time when he stopped belaying me so he could eat. But I wasn’t climbing while he wasn’t belaying. So he really saved us no time. Followers should climb as fast as possible. This is alpine and there is no glory on top rope anyway. Pull on gear and do whatever else it takes to move as fast as you can.

Dial in anchor skills
Take two bomber pieces, each of which you’d trust your life on (three if you’re hanging precariously, or taking a Mazama class), and tie them together with a power point. What are you bumbling around for with your wishy-washy decision-making? Stop wasting precious time! If you can’t build an anchor quickly stick to a smaller scale climb until you’re ready.

Avoid rope drag
One time my lead climber led the route then had such horrible rope drag he couldn’t pull the rope up, so I just stood there dumbly wondering why he wasn’t taking in slack and doing nothing forever. Don’t let that happen to you! When in doubt, extend! If you really need a piece in a wandering area you know is going to cause horrible rope drag, will it be possible to get above the difficult part and then remove it? Check behind you periodically to make sure your rope isn’t caught on a horn or flake.

Combine pitches like a boss
Jeremy Lubkin on the NE Ridge of Mt. Triumph 
in the North Cascades, Washington.  
Photo by Katie Mills
No matter how many pitches the guidebook or topo says (22? 26?), climbing 1,500 to 2,000 feet normally takes a whole day and breaks down into 10 to12 full rope-length pitches. Yes you must run pitches together. Bring a few more slings and rock gear than you normally would. A full rope length pitch is 200 feet. That’s the equivalent of six routes at most climbing gyms. No wonder I’m so exhausted after each outside lead. You have to climb at least twice a week to maintain the endurance needed for a full day of full-length pitches. Hate the rock gym? You’re thinking about it wrong. The rock gym is like a McDonald’s Playland except for adults! I get to go play with my friends! Oh and I get stronger and more badass in the process. This doesn’t seem to happen when I go to happy hour. Cardio and overall fitness is important, too, for building the endurance necessary to tackle long pitches. So keep up the running, biking, rowing, etc.

Should you simul-climb?
Simul-climbing will speed your journey, but fewer pieces of pro and more slack in the rope creates a lot of risk. In deciding whether to simul-climb, consider the terrain. Is it below you and your partner’s ability? Ok, then maybe. More difficult than you expected? Better not. The weaker climber should lead while the stronger follows because if the follower falls, he can rip the leader off the wall. I am comfortable with simul-climbing when I lead since I’m so small I feel like I’m on belay with a portable anchor following behind me.

So maybe you followed all this advice and had an unplanned bivy anyway because you left your new headlamp batteries on the coffee table as you ran out the door and your headlamp died and now you can’t find the critical rappel on descent in the dark and you’re out of water and you start dry heaving after trying to choke down a granola bar and you reluctantly spoon with your climbing partner as you convert your pack into the world’s smallest sleeping bag and pile the rope on top of you as the world’s worst blanket and shiver pathetically through the night. These are the greatest climbs, and the ones you will remember most vividly. And even though you were miserable at the time, you’ll forget the suffering. Instead you’ll remember how much you loved being one with the mountain that night—with no worries about your 9 to 5 job or the laundry or the traffic—when your only focus was making it through the night. You felt the wind on your face. You eagerly awaited the sunrise. And that sunrise was the most beautiful thing you ever saw—so beautiful it made it all worthwhile. Well, that doesn’t sound so bad either. As long as you get out there and climb, you win!


Archive Exploration: Harold Bonebrake

by Maggie Tomberlin

Two hikers and Mt. Adam’s southeast face.
Photo: Harold Bonebrake.
As a new archive volunteer, I was excited to explore the Mazama’s historical collection. My first project, accessioning a collection of photographs by the late Harold Bonebrake, did not disappoint. Bonebrake was an avid photographer and an active Mazama in the late 1940s through 1960s. He volunteered his time on several committees, including the photography and research committees, and often showed his work in the Mazama Annual Photographic Exhibition. Highlights from the collection include photographs from past Mazama Annuals and outings, as well as photos of Mt. St. Helens before the eruption. In addition, the collection contains several excellent photographs of local glaciers, providing a valuable record of climate change in the Pacific Northwest.

Two hikers and Mt. Adam’s southeast face. Photo: Harold Bonebrake.


Flower Finder: Top Spur Trail to McNeal Point Shelter Loop on Mt. Hood

by Barry Maletzky

Following the maze of roads to access the Top Spur Trail is worth the small effort as this route gains you the quickest access to the wonderful profundity of alpine wildflowers surrounding Mt. Hood, both in forest and meadow. All you have to do is look down at the start of the trail to see a miniature version of the flowering dogwood tree. Bunchberry, also called Canadian Dogwood, looks like someone plucked a cluster of dogwood tree flowers, then strewn them across the forest floor. As with the tree, the actual flowers are tiny dull thing-a-mig things poking up in the center of the four white “petals”, which only masquerade as petals; they’re really leafy bracts colored bright white to attract pollinating insects.

Also prominent in these woods is Parrot’s Beak Lousewort, a low-growing pinkish-purplish plant with reddish leaves. Although the name sounds derogatory, it stems from the belief that many plants in the lousewort genus could rid homes and pets of lice, another myth exploded by reality. All our louseworts (including the famous Elephant’s Head) are in the Snapdragon Family and are thus distant cousins to Indian paintbrushes. Just about ¼ mile in, near a stream area, note Bugbane on your left. This plant, about 3 ft. tall, is visually rare along Northwest trails. It stands out as a spiky white specimen because the actual flowers are tiny but an army of stamens points outward as the most visible feature of the plant. Do not be deceived by its name: it has never protected anyone I know from the biting flies and mosquitoes common in these woods.

The delightful Avalanche Lily peppers the open woods here and although its white flowers droop, they have nothing to be ashamed of. Note the bright yellow centers of these close siblings of the Glacier Lily, which is totally yellow. As you turn right briefly onto the PCT, then almost immediately left onto the Timberline Trail, you may note the delightful Queen’s Cup Lily, a white six-petalled flower resting amidst a cluster of thin parallel-leaved leaves. Parts in sixes or threes usually denote the Lily, Iris, and Orchid Families, quite different in their evolution from most flowering plants, which hold their parts in fours or fives.

You labor upwards here gradually at first and should locate several examples of Merten’s Coral Root, a saprophyte all red and straw in color, lacking the need for any green chlorophyll but making its living off fungi and bacteria in the shaded soil. We have two other Coral Roots in our woodlands – Striped and Spotted. All are actually in the Orchid Family but I’m afraid tropical inhabitants might look down their noses at these compared to their large and colorful cousins down south.

In the transition zones here between forest and meadow, at around 6,000 ft. elevation, blue Jacob’s Ladder graces the sides of the trail. A Phlox Family species, it can be recognized by its ladder-like arrangement of leaves growing up its stems and by the charming sky-blue flowers nodding at the ends of its 6-9” stems. A close cousin, Sky Pilot, grows even higher in our alpine regions. Rub the leaves of either to smell their carrion-like odor, quite in contrast to their pleasant appearance. The trashy smell attracts the flies which pollinate this lovely plant.

You now proceed into the lush west-side meadows so characteristic of the high Cascades. Bear Grass, here up to 10 ft. tall, lends a subtle lily-like perfume, while blue Lupines and crimson Tall Paintbrush paint the meadows by a series of large boulders (note several Tiger Lilies on your left here as well) with spectacular views of Hood’s west face and the Sandy River drainage basin. After several miles on the Timberline Trail, look to your right just after a sharp left bend in the trail to catch the steep spur to McNeil Point Shelter. Walk through a crushing maze of daisy-like pink Cascade Asters and yellow Sawtooth Groundsels (or Senecios), these last with triangular sharply-toothed leaves, along with battalions of Sitka Valerians, the common white-topped plant of alpine meadows. Some of the asters and groundesls are taller than most hikers, giving the feeling of swimming through a floral sea. The rude path steepens here but the way is brightened by the many red and yellow Columbines you pass as you near the shelter.

But do not stop there. A few minutes hike above McNeil Shelter brings you to even grander viewpoints and the presence of my favorite lupine – Lyall’s, or the Sub-alpine Lupine (also called Lobb’s Lupine). The silvery-green leaves provide a gorgeous backdrop for the tiny blue and white pea-like flowers common to all lupines but in miniature: a jewel amongst the giants below. You can continue on an unofficial but well-maintained trail to complete a loop, and thus marvel at scarlet Paintbrushes; blue Lupines; Drummond’s Cinquefoils (the small yellow flowers); and the seedheads of the Western Anemone, with its dusty mop atop 2 ft. tall stems looking for all the world like the grey messy hair of the old man of the mountains. Many Avalanche Lilies will still populate crannies by trailside rocks and, as you descend through woods, the daisy-like yellow heads of Broad-leaf Arnica stand out against the monotone of green.

At several ponds at around 6,500 ft., often dry by mid-August, you will be rewarded with the sight of Fringed Gentian, a 2-ft. tall plant with petals the deepest of blues and green spots held upright and with fringes on each of their edges. In the woods below, just before you rejoin the Timberline Trail, there are two stream crossings which feature large gatherings of two Monkey Flowers: The yellow one is Mountain (or Tilinget’s) Monkey Flower, here mixed vibrantly with the shocking pink of Lewis’ Monkey Flower. These two line streambeds throughout our mountains; monkey flowers are also members of the Snapdragon Family, although their resemblance to an ape escapes me.

This loop often contains patches of snow throughout the summer, especially as it traverses meadows beyond the hut. However, ample footsteps and by-passes preclude the need for an ice ax. The way is only steep and rough in places just below the hut; otherwise, the trails are broad, relatively gentle, view-filled, and provide one of the best alpine flower shows in our state. If you’re not off on a climb and have a free day in July or August, this loop should not be missed.


Video of the Month - June 2015

Tom Bennett led a Mazama Outing to the Alaska Range again this year. Assistant Leader Mickey O'Brien made this video showing dramatic close-up aerial views of the Ruth Amphitheater.


Nepal - How Can You Help

We are all by now aware of the disastrous earthquake events that struck the Himalaya on April 25, 2015. We are only just now starting to make contact with our friends and business associates in Nepal. While we grieve for the dead and the wounded there, and mourn the loss of priceless and timeless architecture, and worry for the safety and health of the survivors, we can’t help but ask ourselves, “how can we help?”

The message from our friends in Nepal is clear: “come to us. Come and experience our world-famous trekking, and in so doing, help us to recover our financial stability.” For some of us, that may turn out to be the best sort of financial aid we can offer.

Mazamas is currently offering a 19-day outing to the Annapurna Region of Nepal, scheduled for October 26, 2015 to November 13, 2015, during which we will visit the famed Annapurna Sanctuary, the very heart of that incredible massif, there staying at two climbing base camps each located at elevations of just under 14,000 ft., and touching at numerous Magar, Gurung and Tamang villages along the way. It will be a splendid way to experience for yourself the resilience of these cheerful, hardy mountain people, knowing that by your presence you are helping them in the most concrete of ways to recover from this disaster.

An informational meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at the Mazama Mountaineering Center If you are interested in visiting this region, now is as good a time as there ever has been to do so. Please join us on the 28th and see if this is a way you can help. RSVP on Facebook.


An Abbreviated Flower Finder for Dog Mountain in May

by Barry Maletzky

Northwest Balsamroots
There exists no finer month than May to sample the floral glories on the various legs of the Dog Mountain. While it would take many pages to describe the more than 50 species of wildflowers present alongside these trails, perhaps you might be interested in brief descriptions of some of the more prominent species inhabiting these slopes. I will describe my favorite routes on Dog – up the steeper west-side trail, then down the gentler east-side loop:

Surely every hiker and climber is aware of the overwhelming display of Northwest Balsamroots in the meadows approaching the summit of Dog, reaching their peak during the second-to-third week of the month. However, some of the lesser-known flowers can be enjoyed throughout the month by those with a somewhat smaller eye and an appreciation for their delicate architecture and singular beauty, even though they are less abundantly-massed than the Balsamroots mentioned above.

Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)
Even in the parking lot, one can enjoy the well-known Broad-leaf Lupines so common in so many locales in the Northwest. Note the palm-shaped arrangement of their leaves; often a spot of dew resides at their center, like a diamond jewel held in their leafy hands. As you trudge the road and begin the trial proper, that tall shrub with bluish flowers may masquerade as a lilac but is actually a ceanothus, this one commonly called Deer Brush, somewhat ignominiously growing quite close to the outhouse. In the woods as you begin the trail, note the many small, pinkish-to-white low-growing Star Flowers, well-named as they sparkle against the monotone of green underneath.

Blue-eyed Mary's
Further up these switchbacks, openings at about 650-750 ft. of elevation display Small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary’s, accompanied by small white flowers with golden central “eyes”. These, unfairly, lack a common name and are referred to by the Latin moniker of Common Cryptantha. That tall white daisy plant decorating both sides of the trail here is Western White Groundsel (or Senecio) while much smaller, but of more colorful character, Herald-of-Summer (or more depressingly named Farewell-to-Spring) hews to the ground on your right. This last combines charming shades of pink on its petals but with bold red splotches toward the center of the flower.

Hooker's Fairy Bells
On the plateau at about 850 ft., the predominant flower is Hooker’s Fairy Bells. You will need to
peek underneath its drooping pointy leaves to discover the shy white bell-shaped flowers which lend their name to this brushy 3-ft. tall plant. Also on this plateau, a most unusual saprophyte exists, ghostly white throughout. It is the Phantom Orchid, rarely seen except in a narrow longitudinal range along the eastern crest of the Cascades. Saprophytes such as the three Coral Roots (also in the Orchid Family) inhabiting out forests, lack chlorophyll and thus are not green in any of their parts; they have no need of sunlight as they are fully sustained by the fungi and bacteria in the soil which supply minerals and water to the pant in exchange for the carbohydrates the saprophyte supplies to them. We do have other orchids in our mountains, though they cannot rival in color or size those of tropical realms. One such may still be out in the forests of early May between 900 and 2,000 ft., the beloved Calypso Orchid (or Fairy Slipper), with its diminutive pink tongue and red-spotted petals.

Fairy Orchid (Calypso Orchid)
More switchbacks bring one to a second plateau at 1,400 ft. Here, that white multi-petalled flower is the Columbia Gorge Windflower, actually an anemone closely related to the blue Oregon Anemone so common high on Nick Eaton Ridge. All anemones are in the Buttercup Family, a reminder that floral and leaf appearance do not correlate well with family membership – not so different than in our human families as well.

Dutchman's Breeches
After the sign and convenient bench at 1,900 ft., early in May look for the fancifully-named Dutchman’s Breeches, especially on the right as you steeply ascend the trail, then make a right-hand turn at 2,000 ft. With some imagination, these Bleeding Heart relatives do look amazingly like the upturned pantaloons commonly depicted in paintings of 17th Century Holland. After this turn, and accompanying you through the steep uphill trail from 2,100 to 2,300 ft. are yellow Stream (or Wood) Violets (most of our violets, despite their name, are yellow) and its frequent companion, Candy Flower, with white petals softly engraved with peppermint-like pencil-thin pink stripes.

Beyond, after the right turn at 2,300 ft., lie the meadows so often decorating calendars and wildflower book covers. But look beyond the maze of Balsamroots to find the fuzzy purple flowers of Ball-head Phacelia, especially early in the month. As you pass Windy Point (or The Puppy) at 2,500 ft., gaze up to your right at the towering fins of basalt at around 2,700 ft. to spot the shocking pink of Rock Penstemon, a plant that adheres to rock outcroppings here and on Table Mountain. It should be awarded the honor of “most colorful” amongst the many blooms you will find along these Gorge trails (think Vera Wang and Versace, not Old Navy or REI). At top, the shiny yellow flowers decorating the well-trodden meadows are Western Buttercups.

Death Camas
Down the east-side trail beyond the sign and bench at 1,900 ft., a few Calypso Orchids may still be in bloom at 1,850 ft.  Just before arriving at the glorious opening at 1,750 ft., look to your left for a mass of pink blooms called Rosy Plectritis populating a meadow, then immediately check the next meadow to your right for a view of Death Camas. Appearing as a miniature version of Bear-grass, to which it is distantly related, this Lily Family plant lives up to its name: Several folks have been known to have been done in by eating an excess of the bulbs of these plants, mistaking them for real Camas before they bloomed and showed their true colors. Watch here too for the rare Bicolored Cluster Lily, with faintly blue petals each streaked with a line of deeper blue down its middle.

Western Groundsel
Down in the forest, most flowers are absent but openings at about 1,100 ft. display Blue-eyed Mary’s, white Western Groundsel (which strangely is yellow west of the Crest), and the raggedy small flowers of Prairie Star, pink-to-white with tri-cleft petals. That white flower hugging the sandy soil is Woods Strawberry and its fruit, if available, should definitely be sampled. No poison here!

So many other flowers are to be found on Dog throughout the spring and summer than can be listed here. But even if you don’t know their names or the families and genera to which they belong, don’t fail to enjoy this trip. No able-bodied Mazama should fail to sample these floral delights on the Dog in May.