After my summit of Denali in 2010 I lost my climbing partner and thought I would never climb another big mountain again. I passed my time with running trails and last year decided I wanted to focus more on running the mountains (of course after the Boston Marathon) I signed up for the most challenging races I could find and started up with an exhilarating training plan! I think I am way more fun to coach now!
Last year I reached out to my very dear friend Jane and asked her is she would like to climb Mount Hood with me. Seeing that my US Highpointing has involved so many different people and stories I was thrilled when she said yes! I then invited Dave who also is a US High pointer and himself, Eric and Richard signed up! It was going to be quite the adventure!
I had read that Mount Hood was not as easy as it looked. I really didn’t know what to expect but when we arrived and saw the mountain looming above us it sure looked steep! I had a bit of anxiety with having been away from mountaineering for seven years. I also had a burning desire in my heart to get back at it!
Jane had picked me up at the airport and we stayed at a lovely little Air BNB house with an absolutely hilarious couple that lived upstairs from where we rented. Jane and I went for a nice walk and it felt good after a day of flying. I had been up since 2am and was happy to get some sleep.
We had a half day of snow school to work on skills that we would need for the climb. Our guide was very professional and thorough. We hired Timberline Mountain Guides to take us up the mountain. We had fun practicing self arrest, rope skills and how to travel safely as a team. It was wicked hot out and the snow was so soft we were practically swimming in it!
We ended the day with a good dinner and went to bed. We did not get a lot of sleep because we had to be at the mountain for 1:30 am to meet our guides.
We met our guides and took a 20 minute snow cat ride to the top of the chairlift (yes, cheating but walking up a ski slope isn’t too exciting anyway!) We saw headlamps all over the place and when we got out of the snowcat it was a bit windy but not very cold.
We geared up and started the walk up the mountain unroped. It was pretty easy and we were all pretty fit so we were able to pass all but two climbers up ahead of us. This worked to our advantage because we were then able to go through the pearly gates route! We roped up and pulled out the ice axes for this part of the climb. It was surprisingly steep and as we climbed I was really happy that we were up front. There were so many people down below us and it was about to be a total mob scene!
Traveling on a rope team is a pretty wild experience. You become one, working together…but really you have to take care of yourself and in a way focus on only you because if you don’t you then become a hazard to your rope team. It is such an amazing bonding experience and when I think about how much trust you need to have in one another it makes me realize how important it is to trust your climbing partners but also to trust yourself.
We stood on the summit just as the sun rose and it was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen! I cried tears of joy because my heart felt so full and everything I left on Denali in 2010 came rushing back into my heart, my soul. I could have taken my last breath and felt complete but I have many more adventures in my soul and am not ready to go for a very long time!
We stayed on the summit for a while and then started our steep down climb back to the flat area above the fumerol where we could see and smell the steam escaping the living mountain. It is amazing to think that below our feet the mountain is alive, full of molten lava, steam and at some point will explode.
We unroped, tucked away the axes and enjoyed a lovely walk down the mountain in the warm sun. I really felt that everything went perfectly! The climb was not strenuous but it was much more technical that I thought it would be! It lit a fire in my heart and I will be climbing more big mountains and hopefully my Ryan will share many of those climbs with me! Of course I would love my friends there too!!!
Jane and I met up with some of her friends from Seattle and went for a beautiful walk around a small lake with incredible views of the mountain! It was a perfect trip and I am so excited to now have 20 US High points on my list. 30 more to go!
I want to thank my sponsors La Sportiva, JULBO USA, Choucas Hats and Boom Nutrition for all of their support. I used their gear on the climb and didn’t have any issues with clothing, getting cold, burned retinas or a cold head! My tummy has happy and so was I! I want to thank my friends for joining me on such a wonderful adventure, I want to thank my Ryan (and congratulate him for winning a 50 mile race while I was climbing!) for training with me in the Whites, I want to thank my pups for being my sweet trail buddies and snuggle buddies. I want to thank my coach Andy for being patient with learning my quirks and helping me get back my mountain strength. I am such a lucky girl!
And if you want a guided adventure in the White Mountains please check out www.redlineguiding.com! Ryan and I are now trail running guides!!!!!
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir,