I was cleaning up an old laptop, and stumbled on my “write-up” from a climb of Mt Baker I did in 1999. I read it, and it made me smile to remember my one “success” as a mountain climber. Its a long one though, so I have decided to break it into 3 parts. One for each day of the climb.
Bear with me though, I have changed nothing since it was first written. In fact I was married to my first wife back then, and Michelle and I were just friends. Lots has changed in 14 years, for the better. But here is a snippet into the preblog, hell, pre facebook life of Moutainstroh. Hope you enjoy.
OK, all day long Alan kept saying “Hydrate! Gotta drink water!” Well this is all well and good and trust me it tasted great, but there is a downside. I had to piss like a racehorse. I was sleeping fine till Kevin came in from the outside for the same reason. Since I was up I could hear the wind, and see the tent light up from lightning. All I could think of though was “Damn I gotta take a leak.” I used every trick I knew, but finally had to get out of tent, slip on enough clothes to stay warm, put on boots and go out into the lightning.
Truthfully it was not to be missed. Middle of the night but I could see from reflection of something off snow. The sky lit up time and again, and the rain hadn’t started. I’ll tell you though I got back inside quick, and then the real storm hit. The tent rustled, rain drenched and lightning flashed. I started to fall back asleep, until I started wondering where my backpack was and if it could blow away. I also couldn’t remember where I had pt the bowl, cup and spoon I packed up as I KNEW they would blow away. I started thinking about what would happened if the same storm, which hit two days in a row now, hit on summit day. Made for a very long night of worrying. Add to that Tom snores (from the other tent!) like you wouldn’t believe, and I had another night of little sleep
“It’s Six O’clock! Time to Wake up!” came from Barbara in the guide tent. Try as I might I just could NOT find a snooze button on that lady. So time to get up. Three men in a 3 man tent don’t have much room to move, let alone get boots on, clothes and get out of the tent. It took a while, but Kevin, Scott and I were up and running before the other tents. First thing I did was locate my stuff. The back pack was still in the 2 hefty bags, and dry as a ‘tater chip’, and darned if I hadn’t put the eating utensils right where they belong. I soon had a big cup of hot chocolate and waited for breakfast.
For the record, cold cereal and powdered milk just does not hit the spot at home, let alone at base camp. You might even say it sucked! However, I couldn’t find omelets on the menu so I choked it down. Not the best start to day 2.
My concerns from the end of the previous days hikes started to grow. Walking from guide tent up hill to ours left my legs dead. I made a run to the bathroom with the best view ever (over looked a glacier covered valley) only to be huffing and puffing when I got back. Given the fact we only had two guides I started wondering if I should even try to summit. I didn’t want to get part way and cause everyone to turn around. Good thing the scenery was gorgeous, because I was trying hard to be depressed.
We soon learned Michael and Susan were heading out to the car. She let the guides know she was sick and feeling worse, and he decided going out with his wife was the best idea. Alan was elected to take them out, while Barbara handled snow training. Of course Scott kept yelling, “Don’t worry Susan I’ll carry you out!” Just didn’t seem to inspire her at all.
The second day could not be called a day of rest, but it was fun. Most of it was spent sliding down the hill in our rain gear and self arresting. The sun was out; it was warm and a good group. I can truthfully say I could stop my butt if I was sliding foot or head first, and either on front or back. Dig in that ice-axe and KICK with you feet. With each slide though came another hike up the hill that almost wiped me out the day before. Funny though, I wasn’t all that tired. I had been through a day of this type of training before, so I picked it up quickly and was able to help the others.
Later after crampon training we learned to tie the bow line (the rabbit goes through the hole, around the tree and back inside) and started up the hill roped up. We were almost to the turn around point when I realized I wasn’t tired. Somewhere, down deep I could feel some confidence coming back. Walking back down the three leads yelled “FALLING!!!!!!” and let themselves go. We survived. I was right on it.
While dinner cooked, we had the final packing. NOTHING in the pack, but extra clothing, food, water and battery. Double check for glacier glasses and sunblock. It needed to be as light as possible. Beth had been having problems with her pack, and the guides wanted to give her as little as possible, so I gave her the top of mine which doubles as a butt pack. You have to love REI and the way they build things. Wasn’t long before I was done and had the pack re-stuffed it the hefty bags
I was first in line for food and ready for bed by 5 or so. This was good as the wake up call was going to come at midnight. With Michael and Susan gone, I moved in with the Tom the one who snored, but I slept like a log, he said I kept him up!