Thursday, June 21, 2012

Climbing at Rocktown Gym - Oklahoma City

Cindy McCloskey, Ariel Cohen, Kim Klockow, and myself (Jonathan Garner) went climbing at Rocktown Gym in Oklahoma City on June 20th.  The following pictures were taken on Cindy's phone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mount Saint Helens

I took the Worm Flows Route up the south slopes of Mount Saint Helens on June 9th, reaching 7500' near sunrise.  This is about 800 feet shy of the summit, but I had to turn around due to increasing wind speeds which caused white out conditions.  The trail up to treeline was very scenic, as dense forest gave way to rugged lava canyons, cliffs, and eventually tubes.  Above treeline, I scrambled up the crest of a lave tube for a while, and then traversed over to an expansive snow field.  The hard packed snow became more steep, but was firm and didn't show signs of avalanche.  I then encountered worsening weather, and soon decided to turn around since I was climbing alone.  Back near tree line, I turned around to face the mountain, and witnessed the south slopes glowing in a milky haze as the morning sun shone through an overlaying cloud deck.  Mount Saint Helens is still one of the most beautiful mountains in the lower 48, at least when viewed from its south side.

On Friday, June 8th, I viewed the north side of the mountain from Johnston Ridge.  Low clouds obscured the inside of the crater, but I was still able to gain an appreciation for the massive devastation caused by the 1980 eruption. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mount Hood

I joined Timberline Mountain Guides on June 7th for a climb of Mount Hood in Oregon.  The climb began at midnight, with a ride in a snowcat up the ski slopes above Timberline Lodge to 8500'.  We then attached crampons and began the long slog to the volcanic crater of Mount Hood.  The weather steadily deteriorated as we ascended the southern slope of the mountain.  Thick clouds hugged the area, with wind driven snow/sleet becoming heavier with time.  As we entered the crater, we were greeted by a strong smell of felt like I was in another world, and was a bit unnerving.  At a point called Hot Rocks (where volcanic gas was visibly observed seeping out of the lava dome), we stashed our treking poles, broke out the ice axe, and tied in to our climbing ropes.  We then began ascending up the 800' tall crater, which was a 50 degree slope composed of hard packed snow.  We eventually reached a icy/snow encrusted gully, and ascended this part by front pointing on our crampons and using the ice axe pick for additional leverage...similar to ice climbing.  We then reached the crater rim, and after a five minute walk, obtained the summit of Mount Hood.

The brunt of the storm reached us as we stood atop the summit, with winds easily above 40 mph...given the sleet/snow, any exposed flesh was constantly being stun.  We only spent a couple of minutes at the summit...there was obviously no view from the top due to the thick cloud cover.  During the descent of the snow gully, I was belayed by the guide, which saved time and avoided any downclimbing mishaps.  Back at Hot Rocks, we leashed the ice axe, put away the climbing harness, and spent the next 2-3 hours treking back down to Timberline Lodge.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Western Oregon