Standing on the top of a summit with views of the surrounding area on a clear day is hard to miss. However, such perfect conditions are hit and miss while climbing peaks with high winds and weather trying to discourage the weariest of hikers.
Views from the top of Mount Adams
Why do I hike and climb? It is not about the physical workout for me. I grew up loving and exploring the outdoors through camping and wandering the Appalachian mountains. I enjoy working for my adventures and getting away from my normal routine of sitting in a cubical staring at a computer screen. My brain needs the natural distraction and beauty. I learn to challenge myself outside of my comfort levels to achieve my goals, which is more rewarding than any material item I could purchase. I guess I can’t say I have recently moved to Seattle now, but my love of the outdoors helped me transition to a new city and residence. I have found many friends with common outdoor interests, which made the transition even smoother. With many mountaineering options to choose from in the PNW (Rainier, Adams, Baker, Hood, Helens, etc), I have been playing with the idea of getting into mountaineering. After attempting Mt. Saint Helens in January 2013, I was not sure this type of adventure was for me. I attempted Mt. Adams in July 2013 and was able to summit.
Andy and I on the summit of Mount Adams
I honestly never heard about mountaineering until Andy did a course in Pittsburgh, PA. With his experience, I have been able to learn from him some of the basics. I am elated to announce that I have been accepted into a Basic Climbing Class through the Washington Alpine Club (WAC for short). Since the course will be taking up most of my weekends into June, I will be sharing my experiences and journeys along the way.
Mountaineering is definitely a learning experience where you have to trust your gear. It is important to practice using crampons, snowshoes, and ice axes before getting on the dangerous stuff. I learned the hard way. . .
Here are some useful items to have:
- Backpack – Used to carry food, stove, first aid, extra clothing, and sleeping gear.
- Base Layers – Layers to keep warm and moderate body temperatures.
- Hard Shells – Used to stay dry and protect from wind.
- Down Jacket – Used for extra warmth.
- Mountaineering Boots – Keeps feet dry and protected from the cold.
- Ice Ax – Used for glissading and stability.
- Crampons – Helps with traction on icy surfaces.
Fortunately, since I have been dabbling with mountaineering, I have slowly collected most of the gear needed.
Crampons on Mountaineering Boots
As part of training for the course, I hiked Mount Si just outside of Seattle to qualify for the class carrying a 30 lb backpack. I also hiked Bandera Mountain with friends to continue my cardio training. Both days had excellent weather for the hikes and views of Mount Rainier in the winter.
The graduation trip will be attempting Mt. Baker, which is roughly an 8 mile hike with a 7,600 foot elevation climb one way with glacier crevasse navigation. I guess I will find out through this course if mountaineering is for me.
More in this series:
- Mountaineering School – Gear and Navigation
- Mountaineering School – Knots, Knots, and Spire Rock
- Mountaineering School – Anchors and Climbing Mt. Erie
- Mountaineering School – Winter Camping, Ice Axe, and Snow I
- Mountaineering School – Staying Safe on the Mountain
Is there any advice you have for me?
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