Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend in Glacier

For the first time in a while I had the weekend off from work so Sage and I decided to go to Glacier National Park. She hadn't been there in a long time and I as usual can't get enough of the place. She hadn't been true backpacking before so I thought camping near the Sperry Chalet would be a good intro. It's not the easiest trail though. 6 miles and 3,200ft elevation gain.

Sage near the campground

The camp ground is on a nice flat bench just at tree line allowing for beautiful views of the main valley and surrounding peaks. As usual we found overly comfortable marmots and pikas so we had to be careful that our gear didn't get chewed up. The wildlife around campgrounds have become aware that backpack straps are taste after they're soaked in sweat.

A very friendly marmot

After dinner we took a short walk up to Lincoln pass and enjoyed the view from a higher perspective. The mosquitoes eventually got to be too much so we took refuge in the tent for the evening.

Sunset from camp

In the morning I was woken to about ten mountain goats running through our camp. The mosquitoes were still bad so we made haste and quickly had breakfast and broke down camp. The hike out was nice. Overcast skies made for cool temps keeping us comfortable for the journey out.
Saint Mary falls

Once back at the car, we decided to drive over the pass so Sage could see Saint Mary's falls and Virgina falls. Both waterfalls are on the same trail which is a pleasant 1.5 mile stroll.
Virgina falls

On the way back to the West side, I wanted to stop and get a picture of Avalanche Creek. Only a short ways from the road it cuts beautifully through the rocks of Glacier. After that we headed to whitefish and had dinner with Brandon and Katie before beginning the trip home.
Avalanche Creek

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mill Creek

Monday I hiked into Mill Creek with my friend Gray Thompson to climb. We had discussed climbing Ozzy's wall which is a few miles in the canyon and about 600ft tall. In order to do this, we felt it would be done most comfortably over a two day period. We packed up and headed to the canyon. We had gotten some approach and route beta from a few friends, but when we neared the area we couldn't figure out which wall it was. After a while of glassing the walls looking for a belay anchor, we said the hell with it and decided we would just climb a line on the wall directly in front of us. It looked like a nice line not to mention it would be a new route. A new route always leads to more excitement and adventure so I was eager to climb.

Gray wading in very cold water to our camp

Catching our appetizers

We waded across the creek and set up camp. Camping with Gray in my experience has always been koosh. This was no exception. I went for a stroll through the woods and by the time I got back, Gray had caught a few trout. He started a fire and I headed down the trail to pick some huckleberries. We got to enjoy trout and huckleberries for appetizers while we waited for our food to cook.

The star filled night

The route is just left of the foreground tree

The next morning we packed up and headed for the climb. The approach was quick and the route was looking better and better the closer we got. From the base we could tell the first pitch would be easy then the real climbing would begin. I took the sharp end to start. The climbing was easy and I quickly reached the end of the rope. Gray had the next pitch. He took his time since he had to clean some cracks out as he climbed. When I seconded I was shocked to find that it wasn't all that easy to climb and when I reached Gray we discovered that we had just met up with the route we had intended on climbing. Since we had just done two new pitched, we though it would be good form to continue on with the new route. I continued on and found myself on some steep dirty cracks. With some cleaning I was able to find good gear. About 50 feet from the top I found a good belay stance and stopped there. Gray came up and quickly chose an exit pitch. It looked a little loose, but good. After a little rock fall, Gray pulled some tricky moves and was on top.

Gray reaching the first belay

Gray on the second pitch

Five long rappels got us on the ground and on our way back home.

Lesson in Flight

Last week I had gotten back from Washington and wasn't feeling 100%. My buddy Josh called and told me we should head to a hill near the city dump and he would teach me how to paraglide. I figured why not.

After about 5 minutes of instruction from Josh which went about like this, "You got your A lines, B lines, C lines, and brakes. Keep everything untangled and if the wing starts to turn, run to the low side and add a little brake to the high side. Now...get that thing in the air and lets see what happens.", I was launching.

It helped to have a hang gliding background.