Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alpine climbing!

Caution (I jan to o la! (in bambara)): No music this time.

I had a free weekend away from my flies, so I took to the mountains. Washington's North Cascades are a great alpine playground; tons of (melting) glaciers, fairly solid rock (depending where you are), and tortuous approach hikes that'll put hair on anyone's chest. Since devoting my last two years to research I haven't been out climbing as much as I used to/want to.

Objective: East Ridge of Eldorado (below). A really moderate snow climb from the bottom right up to the left. The approach is actually harder than the climb-- roughly 5000 ft up, straight out of the car, battling through thick trees and endless boulder fields, and then trudging across the glacier in the boiling sun. I camped just off to the right at the base of the rock ridge.

And here is my lovely pad for the night, a cozy nook between some boulders. Surprisingly warm, protected from the wind. And melt-water was running not too far away-- always a plus.

A well deserved dinner: pasta veggies, wine, and hot mango drink! All that's missing are some candles and a date.

I climbed Forbidden peak a few years ago (below), and had a nice view of it from camp.

I don't know why I fool myself, I can't ever get away from fruit flies; I brought along some light reading. This paper (below) describes photo-activating a modified protein by using a laser, in order to activate the modified protein whenever desired. If the protein isn't hit with the laser it's "off". So they blast a group of cells in the fruit fly egg with light and induce its function, which happens to be involved in group cell migration, and study various conditions to suss out the developmental regulation of the specific migration of those cells. Pretty cool.

Settling in after some wine and bedtime reading. It got cold with the wind, but I stayed pretty warm between the rocks in my sleeping bag.

Just after sunrise.

The moderate East Ridge of Eldorado. I didn't take the traditional alpine start to the day (4am) because I knew it didn't get cold enough to completely freeze the snow overnight (none of my water froze), which would make for easier travelling. The climb itself was easy, the exciting part is just up over the sky-line...

...where you traverse this knife ridge. In reality it's probably a solid two feet across, a little smaller than a sidewalk, which everyone can easily walk across. The exciting part is how steeply and immediately it drops off hundreds of feet back down to the glacier on either side, and the whipping wind-- it's fun.

A nice view from the top. This might be Dorado Needle, but I'm not sure. It doesn't really look like a needle.

Peanut butter sandwiches are a staple, although if I eat another one I might vomit. There can be too much of a good thing and I reached my limit on the summit.

On my way down I passed three old-timers slogging up the snow, which was getting progressively softer and mushier as the sun cooked it, making for slow, sometimes painful climbing (why an alpine start, if cold enough, is better).

After climbing, packing up and decending a total of ~6000 feet, I finally made it back to the car to be attacked by big, biting, black-flies. I walked back to the river to jump in and rinse off but just one step in reminded me why I don't like swimming in glacial rivers-- they're too damn cold.


Anonymous said...

fantastic....thanks for sharing the adventure

Jax said...

You're a freak. I don't know what you just said about fruit flies, but it sounded dirty. Fun climb. Keep it up :)

Carrie said...

GORGEOUS. Good job. Great pics.

p.s. the computer wants me to type "broed" to prove that I am a real human. "Broed" as in, "If you would have shotgunned a beer on that ridge, you would have broed it up a bit."


Wassoulou said...

I guess wine isn't bro-y enough.

stefin said...

Buck nasty sir...

Glacial alpine sidewalks...gourmet, multi-course meals on the trail, and a little photography to boot. I'm just a little disappointed the yeti never made an appearance. Fix that please.

jjazz said...

wow, what a great place to be there. i wish i could study too with those views! :)

Lady Anne said...

This is a good gruyere cheese for a good mountaineers

computer repair new york said...

what a graceful, brave and dream like work these people were doing. hope to see things like that in future.