Summit San Pelligrino

I have a tradition of bringing San Pellegrino’s to the top of mountains. I’ve expanded that tradition to drinking them at the end of long trails and at the top of multi pitches. It has also extended to to my friends group. The San Pellegrino I drank at the top of Rainier the first time I climbed Rainier was possibly the most refreshing beverage I have had. I was exhausted and a bit nauseous, but after stopping and and drinking the San Pellegrino I felt fine. I once carried a San pelli for 600km so I could drink one when I finished my through hike of New Zealand. But I’ve turned back before the summit on many climbs. A couple years ago I started saving San pellegrino from climbs I attempted, but did not summit. I leave those undrank San pellignos on my window sill as a visual to do list.

My San Pellegrino obsession began back in college when I was a part of the Adventure Leadership Institute. I remember on a 5 day rafting trip on the lower deschutes our instructors Josh and Ty were always chilling and sipping on San Pellegrino. San Pellegrino, became a huge part of camp culture at the ALI. So instead of a summit beer I bring a summit San Pellegrino and when I fall short of the summit I add a can to my window sill and I vow to go back to enjoy that San Pellegrino. I’ve been able to drink my Broken top San Pelli and my North Sister, but the collection on my window seems only to grow.

Two weeks ago I added another San Pelli to my to do list. My friend Gage and I set out to climb Flyboys an 18 pitch sport climb in the North Cascades, but we got shut down after only 2 pitches due to rain. With a busy schedule and the wet season upon us I assumed it would be months before I would get another attempt on Flyboys. But less than a week later another friend reached out and wanted to give it a go. I had one free day in the next couple weeks and it looked as though we might have one more good weather window, before the rainy season. And then my busy schedule got even more hectic. When I had to take last work trip to Hawaii. But I pushed a couple other obligations aside to give Flyboys a shot.

I flew back in to Portland late on Friday and On Saturday I made to long drive to the North Cascades. We went to run shuttle and Shelby’s Jetta got a flat tire. Normally a non issue, but Jettas have special lug nuts and we were without the key. After driving down the hill to get service we called AAA, but they would be unable to help on a gravel road. Shelby and Kevin would have to deal with the flat the next day instead of climbing. So to make things simpler and quicker Jimmy and I hoped on Prime Rib instead. Prime rib is an 11 pitch route on the same wall.

The climbing was fun and the weather was perfect. We topped out and drank San Pellis. But I’ll have to leave my Flyboys San Pelli for another time.

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Summit Selfies

It’s been a month since we finished our sufferfest. Which means I have been trying to write this blog post for an entire month. I guess that has given me time to reflect or whatever. More than anything though I haven’t had much time. I’ve been so busy since the trip that I really haven’t done much reflection. A couple days after we all reflected with a bit of disbelief “we actually did it” Fallowed shortly with “I’m definitely done with long sloggy glacier routes for a while though” Fallowed by making plans to climb rock routes the fallowing weekend.

Way back in January I wrote down a list of goals for 2018. The list had four things on it:

  • Run a 50 miler or 100k
  • Climb Mount Jefferson and North Sister
  • Lead a 5.12a outside
  • Climb a V8

So back in March I managed to climb a V8. I was super stocked. Also back in March I signed up for a 100k. That 100k happens to be in a month. So after completing my second goal for the year by ticking off the North sister and Jefferson as part of our sufferfest it was time to train for my last 2 goals.

So long story short here is the entire summit self collection. I would say more about the trip, but I don’t have time I have to go for a run!!!

 

5 Days 7 Peaks

We wanted to Suffer. We wanted to be a little miserable and yesterday delivered. After 5 Mountains in 4 day it was time for another 2 peak day. We settled on two similar peaks. Washington and Three Fingered Jack both require a little bit of rope work, but the approaches are typically relatively easy. The approaches yesterday were anything, but easy.

 

After Climbing Lassen on day 1 we were feeling great and plenty of time to get our selves sorted for a big day on Shasta. The original plan was to climb Shasta and Shastina on day 2, but after reaching the summit of Shasta we decided to skip Shastina because “It looks a little lame” in its place we decided to add in Diamond Peak. To stay on pace we needed to added in another peak that day. Next in line was McLaughlin. We started up Mclaughlin and 4 pm and with a little trail running on the way down we managed to make it down without even needing to turn on our head lamps. It was huge day and we felt surprisingly good when we were done.

Mount Thielsen is a fantastic climb and it could not have gone any smother for us than it did. At the end of the climb we felt better than we did at the start.

Next up was Diamond Peak and since it was a recent add to the trip we had done less research on it than the others. Google Maps gave us directions that took us essentially due North from Thielsen down a gravel road. It seemed like the best option so we headed down the road. As we got closer the road continued to get worse and worse until we encountered a downed tree. There would be no getting through on that road. We back tracked a bit and went around. After a couple more turnarounds we reached our trail head. The climb itself was a wonderful climb, but the drive out was more of the same.

Day 5 we took off for Washington in decent spirits, but the way down was a slog and none of us were particularly interested in getting out of our lawn chairs after we sat down to eat at the Three finger Jack trail head.  When we finally built up the courage to get started the mountain didn’t have any interest in making it easy on our tired legs. The trail soon became covered in patchy snow. The up and over the snow patches was making all of us a little irritated. The patchy snow turned into consistent snow as we traversed around the mountain to the climbers trail. We were struggling and our energy was dropping. When we finally made the ridge our spirits began to raise again. Reaching the summit we were only half way there, but the way back was far more enjoyable as we took the ridge as far as we could. With the end in site we finished the climb completely ready for a rest day!

This is what we asked for so I guess we can’t complain.

 

 

On the Road

 

After two years of talking about this trip, 6 months of planning it and one hectic week it is finally happening.

20 peaks 20 days

Mark, Nick and I begin thinking about this trip in October of 2015. We were finishing up a full weekend of climbing when some one suggested we climb all of the cascade volcanos. And for two years every time we would climb together someone one would mention this trip. Then in January we decided that this had to be the year.

After 6 months of hashing out the plan over Facebook messenger and Google drive we were nearly ready.

Less than a week ago I was in Oklahoma finishing up a zip line and now I’m in California on my way to Lessen National Park to start our first peak.

As I was headed back to Oregon I get a call from Nick. “I found a trailer, really good deal, but it’s going to require some work.”

That’s how my week in Oregon went from chill and casual to crazy and hectic. We tried to combine building up our trailer with social outings.

“Let’s just take the trailer with us on the camping trip and work on it there” I suggested.

We worked on the trailer as much as schedules would allow all week. Finally finishing up the electrical this morning before our 8 hour drive.

It may not have been the relaxing week I was expecting, but it was the perfect way to prepare for this trip!

The Recipe for a Sufferfest

Ingredients

  • An adventure so big it scares you
  • 2 Friends who prefer type 2 fun
  • 12 oz of San Pellegrino (Garnish)

Directions

Before you get started you’ll need to make sure you procure really quality ingredients.

Every good sufferfest should start as a stupid idea. You should wonder if could even be done. You should know for sure though that in order to do it it will take a whole shitload of suffering. The adventure should walk a balance between “why the fuck would we want to do that?” and “we need to do that” It should be big. You should need to take a step back to wrap your head around it. But you should take that step back and think about it for just a minute. You’ll know the adventure when you see it.

These type of friends can be hard to find, but they are easy to recognize when you have found them. They won’t need convincing. In fact they probably helped come up with the stupid idea in the first place. They are for sure the type you have already suffered with and they have pushed you to suffer even more.

Once the adventure has been chosen and the friends are on board you are ready to get started. So get started. That all there is to it. When you feel like quitting remember that you asked for this and keep suffering. Then drink a San Pellegrino: you deserve it.

Two Thumbs

After reaching Bluff I didn’t feel done. There was still a 60k stretch of trail that I hadn’t done. It included the high point for the TA and was suppose to be one of the best tracks on the TA. I had to complete that track to feel complete. After working out the details I hitched back up for one last track.

As soon as I was back on trail I felt a sense of relief. On that first evening on trail I saw what looked to be a kangaroo, but that’s crazy. New Zealand doesn’t have kangaroos. I shrugged it off until I saw another this time I was sure I had seen a Kangaroo. It ran past me and then stopped. I got out my phone and tried to get a picture as soon as I was nearly ready it started to hop away. I pressed video and got some blurry footage.

The next day I hiked the rest of the track. I took an alternate route up and over a peak and that was some of the best scenery of the entire trip. I was very glad I gone back. And as the day progressed I got more and more excited. Far more excited than I was for bluff. I reached my end point a road in the middle of nowhere and it felt amazing.

I was lucky enough to catch a ride out of there all the way to christchurch.

It feels good to be done and I am excited to go home, but I am going to miss this place.

Farmer Maggot was a Trail Angel

I like to listen to books(And Podcasts) as a walk. I’ve listened to several books throughout the trail and many more podcast episodes. It seemed as though listening to Lord of the Rings was a must. I downloaded all three books and I just finished them on the day we will reach bluff.

Here is a thru hikers book review:

Farmer Maggot was a trail angel, Tom Bombadil too, and Elrond, and Galadriel, and Fairomere. Farmer Maggot aided Frodo is some much needed yellow blazing and there was no shame in that.

When the snow fell too hard in the Mountains the Fellowship was forced to take an alternate route. Much less scenic and with little trail info they journeyed down the alternate out of need not desire.

I know many hikers/trampers like Samwise. They carry huge packs and always fret over things they might not have instead of wondering what they can do without. They can’t bare to part with anything in their pack .

Lembas Bread is the ultimate trail food and Ent Brew the ultimate drink however neither are truly suited for a paddle. On the river stretch the fellowship could have carried lots of heavy food and saved the lembas for later when it would have been more needed.

Frodo and Sam ran out of water very very often in mordor. The problem was more that they didn’t have enough capacity than an actual scarcity. With stretches like they had, they should have each had at least a 5 liter capacity, not one bottle for two hobbits. One bottle is not enough.

“We have probably 60 miles left. It will take us at least a week” I know the ring was heavy, but after all that walking they should have been fit. 60 miles should have been 3 days max. And they should have started ditching gear earlier. Sam carried a pot set all the way from home and he used it once after leaving the fellowship.

For most of us it is the journey and not the end that matters, but for Frodo it was the End and not the journey that mattered.

 

 

No Vacancy

After Arthur’s pass we again settled into big days. During that section we had two impassable rivers. The trail official ends on the river bank and starts again on the other side. Getting around the rivers involves going 50+ kilometers out of our way. We had made it to the first river and though the trip around the river took much longer than I would have liked we were still making good time. The section between the two rivers was very nice and we reached the second river ready to start the two thumbs track a very well liked sections of trail including the high point for the TA.  We started hitching around the river assuming it would be a time consuming process like the first river and when we got our first ride our driver informed us that New Zealand was about to be hit by a weather bomb: 140kph winds, snow down to 1000m Our track would have taken us up to 2000m.

It’s meant to be summer.

We took a ride into town as we considered our options. Everyone in town was talking about the weather bomb. Two really bad days, one okay day, and then two more bad days. And no place on the island was going to be safe from this weather bomb. We didn’t have time to wait it out. And we didn’t want to be walking a ridge-line in 140 kph winds. And we didn’t want to skip one of the best sections of trail.

So we hitched down to Wanaka to head north. We would be low for the first couple days out of town then if we timed it right we would have good weather going over a couple passes and then we would be low again before we made it back to the two thumbs track.

We didn’t time it right and we got stuck in a terrible camp site at 1000 m when the second weather bomb hit. It snowed and the water seeped through the ground until I woke up in a puddle. Everything was drenched. Nearly hypothermic we hiked over the pass and down to the road. Half way down the road the snow turned to rain. We were still 30 k from town and we very much needed to dry out our gear. On a fairly busy highway we waited over an hour before someone took us into Twizel. We warmed up at a cafe, but the town had no vacancy. We still needed to dry things out and we really wanted a warm place to sleep for the night. We moved on to Tekapo. No vacancy.

So once again we left the two thumbs track behind unhiked and headed back to Wanaka to head south.

Hopefully we have time to finish that track once reach bluff, but until then the two thumb track remains unhiked.

The weather hasn’t gotten a whole lot better, but despite/because of the challenges I am really enjoying myself.

Flashfloods and Earthquakes

It has been awhile since I’ve posted and a lot has happened. I’ve typed out a post on the this a few times now, but I didn’t post them, because while the described the events accurately the failed to capture the essence of the situation. So I’ll try again.

Everyone tells us this is the wettest summer in more than a decade, but it rains a lot either way.  We also have lots of stream and river crossings. And whats more is my hiking partner is named Swept Away. Long story short Katlyn doesn’t love river crossings and we have lots of them. At one point on the north island the streams rose so much over night that we waited for 4 hours to drop to a point we could cross them. On the south island the rivers are bigger and still raise quickly in a strong rain.

The terrain is rough and the going is slow at times and because of that Katlyn and I had fallen behind schedule. We had once again started to do big miles and were starting to get back on schedule, but we need to keep doing big miles.

The rain was light at first and the river crossing were not really effected, but the rain thickened and we were drenched as we came to a hut with 10k left to hike for the day. It was only 5pm, but it had become slightly miserable and everyone in the hut expected us to stay. We said hello and then we said good bye as we continued down the trail that was now a constant flow of water up to our knees. We had only gone 10 min when we reached a river crossing worse than anything we had seen at that point. We turned around and returned to the hut to wait for the river levels to drop. We weren’t the last to show up to the hut that night. Carbo and Jelly Bean showed up late and frazzled. The trail was even worse for them than it had been when we had gotten in. We hoped for a dry night so the water could drop.

I woke up at midnight. It was pouring. At 3 am it was pouring. At 6am it was raining and I looked at the river; it risen another meter. It became clear we would be staying another day. By 1 pm it had stopped raining, but the river was still high. We had a lovely day playing cards. And then we felt an earthquake. Just a small one. No one left the hut that but a couple more people  made to the hut bring us to 19 people and 18 bunks.

The next morning we all set out. The rivers were still a struggle and the flood track was even worse. Half way through the flood track Katlyn dislocated her shoulder. She put it back into place and we continued to the first exit. We were low on food and we needed a break. We hitched into town to recuperate. We returned to the trail for deception valley track: a track straight up a river bed. We got into arthurs pass and we ran into Carbo and Jelly Bean again. Carbo had gotten into stinging nettle. Stinging nettle here can be fetal and his senses weren’t working right. He couldn’t sense temperature.

We had all spent a day together in a hut and when we continued down trail we all dispersed and and every group did something slightly different.

I still wasn’t able to do justice to the situation, but at least there is an update for you.