Why have you forsaken me?? When I was a Sophomore in high school you convinced me that it was a good idea to tape nudie magazine pics on the windows of my moms soccer van and drive through Mt Washington (which actually turned out to be the funniest day of my life). And now, you told it was a good idea to climb to 11,300ft. Here I am, moving slower than an 80 yr old man with arthritis and a bum hip, and I have to admit this was another crazy idea that turned out to be a day I'll never forget.
It goes a little something like this... I had to go on a work trip to Omaha this past February. What's there to do in Omaha in February?! So I got a bunch of books and read all week. One was called The Seven Summits, made me think, 'Hmm, that sounds like fun'. I personal train David who climbed Rainier 2x. I got back in town and said 'David, I want to climb.' He said 'Ok, let's do it.' He chose the climb, planned the trip, and this weekend it all went down.
Thursday morning myself, David, Michael, and Jacque flew to Portland. I have never been to the west coast... it's gorgeous! We drove from sea level to our lodge on the side of our mountain at 6000ft. The views were spectacular as we drove up and up through the clouds!!
Friday: Climb school!! We got to meet our bomb dot com guide Sheldon! She's a rockstar and totally made this trip the experience that it was. Sheldon is a freestyle competitive skier and is the only girl guide at Timberline. If I was a bettin' girl, I'd say Sheldon could out climb any of those dudes. Any who... we got outfitted with our packs, boots, ice axes, crampons, and harness and headed out to a gully at the base to learn how to use it all. I have to admit, this is when I realized I was in over my head. I was all over the place, stumbling over my feet. Not good when you have spiky things on your shoes! As much of a fool as I made out of myself, it wasn't anything I wasn't used to, I was even more pumped for our climb! Shortly after school let out, we had an early dinner and headed off to bed.
When we were hanging out in our room earlier in the day I found a walnut in my shoe. It didn't phase me. I always eat and sometimes it doesn't always make it in my mouth. When I went back to my room later, I found a cashew tucked nicely in between my pillows. Weird, not sure how I managed that one. I stepped out to call my folks, came back in and Jacque solved the puzzle.. we had a mouse!! Holy cow this mountain climber freaked out! We called for a new room and thank the lord they had one. Jacque trapped our trail mix bandit in the wall and it was flipping out trying to escape, which of course made me flip... it was a sight.
Phew, ok new room, 6pm, past bedtime. Few hours later... alarm goes off. WTF dude!! Why is it still light outside. Smart Monica set the alarm for midnight eastern time... back to bed. Three hours later, pitch black outside, real alarm goes off. It's midnight, time to rise and shine!!
12:30am Saturday - We're geared up and at climber check in. We have a private group: Me, Jacque, David, Michael and our 2 guides Sheldon and Cliff. We double checked our gear, peed one last time (have you ever tried to pop a squat with a damn harness on... about 20min later I pulled it off!).
1:00a - Snow cat arrived (a big bulldozer thingy that took us to 8500ft), we loaded up and headed up the mountain side. I started to get really hot and nervous. WTF was happening, you can't freak out before you start?!
1:30a - Off the snow cat, head lamps on, packs strapped, trekking poles in hand. Deep breath, and we're off!
After that, I couldn't check my watch. We went up and up. It got a bit steep so we breaked to put our crampons on. Up some more, whenever I thought it was really steep, it got steeper. We traversed, back and forth, up into the clouds. The sleet was sideways, the air was non existent. The altitude started to get to me. My head was pounding, I couldn't eat or drink enough, and the best part is when I asked what our altitude was it was always like 3ft higher than the last time I asked!! Holy hell this is hard!
4:30-ish - We hit Crater Rock where we were told to put on our puffies, steady ourselves, take a seat on our packs, and eat and drink up. The guides grabbed their shovels and axes and went off to test the snow. Our last 1000ft were super steep and required ropes, belays, and axes. So snow has to be stable to climb on it, so the guides did some tests first. They have a ranking system to see if the snow is stable, 0-30. 15 or lower, red flag, and snow would most likely fall away from under us. 16 or better, we're in the clear. The guides called us up for the verdict. Our snow received the whopping ranking of a 3. Not even debatable, they told us if we climbed, we'd avalanche.
So we all hoped in the snow hole, took some pics at our summit, and packed up to head back down. At this point we were sitting still for 30min and I was frozen!! Walking up no matter how hard the wind was blowing, I was hot! As soon as you stop working, the real temps set in. My hands of course went numb, so we jumped around and swung our arms, and headed back down.
5:00ish - we were flying downhill, plunge stepping past all kinds of groups on their slow ascent. We had to break the news to them, you aren't going to summit today. Most groups didn't care, they were there for the views, the experience.
At first, I was so disappointed we didn't make it up. But then the sun started to rise, and I can not even begin to describe the sights. I was on top of the world, literally! It was amazing!!
7:00a - off the mountain. we did it! It was so tough in ways I've never dealt with. But we all made it, and got to see the most beautiful sunrise of my life, it made everything worth it.
We cleaned up, had a giant breakfast, and headed to Portland for the day. We waited in a line that wrapped around the block for, what else, a doughnut! My was called the Memphis Mafia and it was bigger than my head. A chocolatey peanut buttery banana goey goodness.
Sunday - I woke up and couldn't move my legs. As the day went on, it got worse. I have never, ever, it my whole life, been this sore. My quads and calves only work about every 4th try.
All in all, amazing trip with amazing friends. The coolest experience ever! I've found a new hobby, and I'm already planning the next adventure. Stay tuned ;-)