Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Junuary Inversion

Marcel Gesmundo eyeing thousands of feet of corn on Mt. St. Helens
With sunny weather in Central Oregon and a persistent inversion in the mountains, I couldn't decide whether to climb or ski this past weekend.  Luckily, with a three day break, I could do both!  The Pacific Northwest delivered again with two days of sunny climbing at Smith Rock and a stellar day of skiing corn on Mt. St. Helens.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

More Mt. Hood!

The South Side of Mt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry - January 13, 2013
This January has produced beautiful conditions on Mt. Hood, with lots of sun, fresh snow, and cold temperatures, although it looks like a warming trend is going to settle in this week.  We just got back from a quick tour up to Tom Dick and Harry, and we saw exactly zero (0) other skiers all day, despite excellent conditions consisting of light powder over a hard packed surface.

The shot above provides a great overview of an excellent spring tour from Timberline Lodge, up to Illumination Saddle and then down to Paradise Park en route to the trailhead past the west side of Mississippi Head.  The trailhead sits at 2800 feet - a spring run from the summit would net you 8000+ ft.  Go check it out!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Red Rocks Into a Year-Long Grounding

The Split Boulder
For Kristin and I, 2013 will be the "year of the car."  For a variety of reasons, we've decided that we aren't going to board a plane for personal enjoyment (i.e. climbing) for the entire calendar year.  Many of our friends have already asked, "Why the hell would you do that?"  Well, the primary reason is because our travel habits have gotten out of control - run amok - taken over.  We've found ourselves in an endless cycle of planning, travel, incurring bills, paying bills and then the mental process of anticipation, the highs and lows of climbing, and the psychological roller coaster of re-emergence into the working world.  This lifestyle is what we crave, but I began to feel like it had become a burden to maintain that endless momentum of packing and unpacking, moving from one trip into the next all while trying to be a responsible co-worker and husband.  Air travel isn't the only contributing factor, but it plays a pretty big role especially in terms of the financial stress.   

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sun, Snow and a Big 'Ole Volcano - January in Oregon

Crater Rock and the bootpack towards the Old Chute
The first week of January brought relatively calm weather and sunny skies over the Oregon Cascades.  Easing back into the day-to-day after the holiday season, I played hookey on my birthday this past Thursday and then squeezed in one more day in the Mt. Hood backcountry on Sunday.  After the recent storm cycles, the mountain is holding a lot of snow, which is mostly stable and well bonded.  The skiing conditions have been a little tough, but the calm, sunny skies and the wilderness solitude have been sublime.

I'm always amazed that I don't see more people in the Mt. Hood backcountry during the winter.  The south side climb is mobbed on any given spring day, but the climbing/skiing conditions and the atmosphere oare often far better from January through March.  The weather can be a role of the dice, but you have to be on the mountain to see how it unfolds.  Often the wind will be howling on the drive up to Timberline Lodge, only to let up for 2-3 hours right after sunrise.  Or, like today, a cold, dense fog will sink into the valleys while the mountain itself basks in warm, winter sunlight.  Anything is possible on Mt. Hood if you show up.