CLIMBING MOUNT SAINT HELENS

The first time I heard of Mount Saint Helens was when I was 10 years old. It had just erupted and my family and I were getting ready to move to Seattle from Detroit, Michigan. It was both excited and frightened. The wild west coast was something with mountain ranges and oceans and erupting volcanoes. Twenty years later I was living in Portland when I first climbed Mount Saint Helens. My friend Jim and I drove to Cougar, Washington, and went to the local bar and grill where they held a lottery for permits to climb the mountain. Nowadays you can go online a purchase the permit; ahh technology. We won the lottery, got our climbing permits, and slept the night in his Jeep, which sucked because Jim neglected to tell me snores a water buffalo. Now I don’t know if water buffalos snore, but I imagine that if they did they would sound like Jim. The next morning we headed out on the trail with spirits high. The hike was about 5 miles and gained 4,500 feet. The trail wove through the woods until we got to a huge field of boulders. Hopping from boulder to boulder for awhile it finally thinned out. Next came the pumice and ash. It was slow going. You would take one step and slide back half a step. It was overcast and snowing. We kept going for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly we pushed through the clouds and it was bluebird sky. It was a gorgeous day on top of the mountain. We could see Jefferson, Hood, Rainier, and Adams poking out over a sea of clouds. We sat for awhile soaking in the view and headed down. Looking back it was one of the best days of my life. I highly recommend it.

Andrew and Dan ascending.

Recently I was talking to two guys from the shop, Andrew and Dan, who climbed Mount Saint Helens back in June. Both moved to Portland a few years ago from New York state. They didn’t know each other, but weirdly attended the same college. Andrew has been snowboarding since he was 8 years old. He loves pizza. His favorite topping; just cheese. He’s a purist. Dan has been skiing since he was 5 and snowboarding since he was 13. His favorite food; chicken wings. Favorite sauce; the time-honored Hot Buffalo. Another purist. Pizza and wings. Classic New York.

Andrew on the ascent.

They camped overnight and hit the trail at 4:00 am. They took the Worm Flows Route which is almost 11 miles and ascends nearly 5,700 feet. Andrew was using his Arbor Coda Splitboard with Burton Hitchhiker bindings. Dan was skiing on Rossignol Soul 7 HD Skis and Marker F12 Tour EPF Bindings. Dan actually hiked up in his Rossignol Alltrack Pro 120 ski boots. They both had Dakine Heli Pro 24L Backpacks loaded with water, snacks, shovels, avalanche probes and Pieps tranceivers. The ascent took them about 6 hours. They were on the summit by noon. It was perfect weather. Blue sky all around. They hung out awhile drinking it all in and then came the fun part. The descent.

Dan at the summit.

Andrew contemplating his descent.

They took their time enjoying the ride down. It took them about and hour and a half to cover about a 4000 ft. descent. For both of them it was their first real big mountain. They both said they had the time of their lives. Cheers Gentlemen.

Dan and Andrew at the summit.

The Full Circle Project: Episode 3

Watching the third installment of ‘The Full Circle Project’ in association with Marker, Volkl, DNA and Bolle really brings the experience, well… full circle. All word play aside, you really get a feel for what this group of professional skiers and representatives are accomplishing. Let’s hope their efforts prove bountiful for the people of Maras, Peru, and that their actions inspire everyone in their position to follow suit. Enjoy!

 

The Full Circle Project: A “Growing” Trend

It is easy to imagine professional athletes enjoying the spoils of their fame in ways that seem selfish and arrogant. Some don’t make it hard at all to imagine. But the Full Circle Project paints a different picture for athletes that spend their professional lives seeking snow. These professional skiers have begun to bring balance to the surrounding environments that their powder driven exploits benefit from every year. In association with Marker, Volkl, Bolle and DNA, professional skiers Taylor Fenton, Matt Philippi along with Caleb Braley the FCP Service Project Director set off to Maras, Peru “… we were there to plant an apple tree orchard as part of a sustainable agriculture project.” In many ways, the travel habits of professional skiers, snowboarders, and mountaineers have given them a direct route to the far reaches of the world that may benefit from a little helping hand. What better way to take pride in a landscape that gives professionals the opportunity to live a dream than to give back to the community that lives within that landscape? Professionals take note!