Friday, December 26, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
We did get the deep freeze after last weekend, and it wasn't that bad. Something like -24 degree wind chills. Easy. It's been much worse in my years living in ND. The Twin Cities really doesn't get that bad, although everyone would have you think it. Don't get me wrong, the weather does get lethal, but the deep bitter cold of the ND prairies will take you out and then do it again. The snow came after the cold, and it actually got to the point of hampering my bike commuting. It wasn't that I couldn't ride in it, it was the motor vehicle missiles (people loosing control of their SUVs they feel so warm and cuddly and overconfident in.) I just don't have a safe route to work after I get out of STP and into the suburbs, which are less bike friendly and built with only cars in mind. So on the super slippery days, I may have to suck it up and start my pickup to get to work. Sad. I'm writing to the city and seeing if there is any way to lobby for safer bikeways over I-494, my trouble spot. Right now the only way is a busy road, albeit with big shoulder, but still a shoulder that sees wiping out automobiles when it's slick.
The good news with all the snow is that there is all the snow! Skiing and snowshoeing and winter camping can start! And of course indoor climbing will continue. I will not be bored.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
So right now I'm sitting in my apartment, reading Ghost Trails, by Jill Homer, relaxing on a messy Sunday, and I checked the weather split between here in STP, and the old stomping grounds- Grand Forks, ND. It's currently raining and starting to get colder. 30 degrees now, and we were almost at 40 today. In Grand Forks, it's -12 degrees (F), with a wind chill of -45. Gross. Our turn for the deep cold will happen tomorrow morning, but I doubt it will be that bad. Winter in the North.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I never did blog about a great trip that happened earlier this year, so I thought since I'm inside recuperating from a big class I taught for the last two weeks I'd take a moment to write about it. It's been somewhere around a decade since I first had the chance to climb Mount Saint Helens. I thought I'd return, this time with Alison and our friend Ty. Mid-summer we headed out to Portland and drove up to the mountain. When we arrived, it was typical summer weather for MSH- hot, sunny, and dry. Wear your sun-screen. We enjoyed a good free campsite, ate a good meal over a fire, filtered all the water we needed, and even had a couple beers chilled in a nearby snowbank. We talked to a couple other climbers, who had also heard the news we had on the way out to the mountain- tomorrow would bring rain. Bummer, but not a no-go yet. In the morning, we awoke early as planned to head out on the climb as planned. But getting out of the tent we saw what we had already heard as soon as we woke up- lots of rain, and very low visibility. We were sill below treeline at our camp, but cloud line was much lower on the mountain and we were well inside the storm that had enveloped the mountain. Many climbers we turning down the mountain before starting. But still many were going. I should also mentioned that over 5 times as many climbers as normally allowed on the route we were taking were given permits that day due to a reservation computer glitch. So even with the terrible weather, more climbers were on Monitor Ridge (our route) that most days in the peak season. We decided that since we could continually see that posts marking the ridge route, and since we were GPS-equipped, we'd give it a try. Although it is normally referred to as a "climb", Monitor Ridge is truly just a "strenuous hike and scramble", so we didn't have to worry about carrying technical gear. We followed the route past the treeline, through most of the boulder fields that mark the second third of the route, and stopped just prior to the last third, which is a pumice slope that leads to the crater rim. With sideways winds, constant soaking rains, and no view to enjoy, there really wasn't any point to push to the summit other than to extend the wait until dinner (seafood back in Portland). Even though we didn't top out, I enjoyed the challenge. If you know me, you realize that I don't like to sit idle, and things that push me outside and even cause discomfort seem to be my relaxation. A tough soggy day on the mountain is better than a comfortable day spent in a cubicle. Highlights:
Camp at the base of MSH:
About to enter the gross weather and start slogging upwards...
Monitor Ridge under rainfall (some climbers can be made out):
Who ordered this storm??
Alison climbed her first 5.10a at the gym this week! Like I said earlier, VE has been good for our climbing, seeing as we live in a very cold northern locale now and the outdoor climbing is not accessible many months of the year, nor is it close to home. It's been great to see her get stronger, and she's now climbing routes that give me a run from time to time. Sweet. Great job, babe!