Saturday, November 18, 2023

Honor Matters

[Originally published in the Monroe News on November 17, 2023]

Last weekend we celebrated Veteran’s Day.  It is a very appropriate and honorable holiday for a group of people in our nation who are rightly remembered and celebrated.  I give thanks every Veteran’s Day for all who have faithfully served our nation giving of themselves, and in some cases their very lives, to protect and defend our liberty and our nation.  This rings true especially in my family as I have many relatives who are veterans, including two grandfathers, and more relatives who are currently serving including a brother.  

I hope that our nation will always continue to celebrate Veterans Day as well as other similar holidays like Memorial Day and Armed Forces day.  I believe this because I believe honor matters.  We celebrate these holidays and the men and women they represent because we should give them honor.  They have made sacrifices, some big, some small, for the rest of us who regularly benefit from them.  They have put themselves in harm’s way and they have spent much time away from family for the sake of others.  This deserves to be honored.  Honor matters.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Press On Toward the Goal

[Originally published in the Monroe News on October 13, 2023]

The name Mt. St. Helens rings a bell with most of us.  Some are old enough to remember the day this volcano erupted in 1980.  It was a modern example of catastrophe. We were reminded of the power of the forces of nature and just how much the face of the earth can be changed in a short amount of time.  We’ve all been struck with awe at the pictures and stories of its aftermath.  Days turned to night.  Clouds of ash moving across our continent.

Mt. St. Helens is also an amazing story of recovery and wonder.  In the 40+ years since its eruption its site has now become a place of rejuvenation and new life.  You can visit its surrounding areas and see how “life finds a way” as a new landscape has come to life.  You can still see the mountain itself with its side blown open by the blast.  It makes for a powerful contrast to the other volcanoes in the area like the world famous Mount Rainier.

Just a couple weeks ago my brother and I were on an adventure trip in Washington and one of our objectives was to summit Mt. St. Helens.  We wanted to see what it was like on the crater rim and to get those views down into the heart of the volcano.  We wanted to see that once devastated and now reborn landscape from the heights of the mountain top.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm (North Cascades)

For a number of years now, when I go on the hunt for beautiful scenic nature wallpapers I would inevitably be directed to shots from the Sahale Arm in the North Cascades of Washington. This was especially true if I was searching for fall colors and I would be enamored by the reds, yellows, greens, and mountain scenery of the Sahale Arm. It seemed like a pipe dream to somehow find a way there in the fall when my person and family calendars are always so busy. So it was quite fortuitous when my brother invited me to join him in Washington after he was finishing with a conference. It would be late September and there was hope that we might hit the colors and scenery just right.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Camp Muir (Mount Rainier)

For most American mountaineers, to summit Mount Rainier is a high and worthy objective. In the Lower 48, it probably is the premier mountaineering objective. You would have to journey up to the Alaskan peaks, like Denali, to find something bigger and greater. My father, brother, and I spent 24 years climbing the highest peaks in Colorado and we would readily admit none of them are in the class of Rainier. For my brother and I, it remains on the possible future objectives list if and when we feel the time is right.

For now, we just wanted to wet our appetite. A climb up to Camp Muir is special in its own right. It is a bit of a halfway point to the summit of Rainier and also an overnight basecamp for those intending to summit. It also happens to be a popular dayhike objective for many tourists and hikers alike who make the trip to the National Park. Generally speaking, it is a fairly accessible route to get up to Camp Muir with most hikers of average experience being able to do it safely. One should be prepared with reasonable skills for snow travel and also understand the perils of mountain weather and terrain. There is nothing strictly technical about the route in terms of rock climbing, rock scrambling, or glacier travel.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Mount Adams (Washington Volcano)

To climb a volcano in Washington state is quite an endeavor. Most people from out of state generally only know about Mount Rainier as the big mountain climb. Many others are aware of Mt. St. Helens but few think of it as a mountain climb and rather a tourist destination. Mount Adams exists in the middle of it all with little outside attention. Its the 2nd highest peak in the state and from afar looks every bit as imposing as Rainier. It has sides that are glaciated like any of the other big volcanoes in the state. It has a massive prominence that adds to its grandeur. But it also has something that some of the other big mountains do not: a non-technical approach.

My brother and I are arguably seasoned mountaineers now and we have a ton of experience on Colorado peaks and others. We have finished the Colorado 14ers. We've handled our fair share of class 3 and 4 mountain terrain. The one thing we haven't done: glaciers and crevasse training. Maybe someday. Without these necessary skills for a safe summit right now peaks like Rainier and even Washington's Mt. Baker remain outside of our comfort zone. Adams, though, fits right in. The South Climb approach to Adams can be done without glacier travel and many people do it every summer. There are through much of the year persistent snowfields but they can be safely traveled with the very skills we have honed in Colorado. The biggest challenge for Adams is simply the length of the approach. It is a long day and maybe will tackle it over two days to lighten the load.

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