Fly like a Butterfly. Climb like a Mountain Goat.
Congratulations to John Davis, who recently successfully reached the summit of Mont Blanc. Back in July, John put time and mileage into preparation for the Alps earlier in the North Cascades on the Matterhorn Prep Course.
He came with motivation, good fitness and an open mind to broaden his repertoire of skills in the mountains that can open up more options for climbing objectives around the world. After half a day of learning basic skills once we arrived at Washington Pass and getting the feel for moving over rocky terrain with crampons, we had our first big day of climbing on South Early Winter Spires via the South Arête as the local mountain goats watch on.
(All photos by Yoshiko Miyazaki-Back)
Finding amusement in humans climbing
It may seem daunting, but covering terrain piece by piece
John enjoying the 360° view of Washington Pass
A nice hike out after reversing the rightmost ridgeline we climbed up.
On day 3 we hiked up the other side of the valley on Cutthroat Peak where you can also look across and admire what we climbed the previous day.
The Liberty Bell Group visible from the lovely basin below the scree slope
After pitching out a rope length to avoid the loose rocks onto the ridge, sections of short pitching and short roping along the West Ridge, and finishing off on the North Ridge, we reached yet another summit to enjoy a 360° view and have lunch. What goes up must come down however, and a few rappels, lowers and short roping down and along spectacular settings, we were back where we left our trekking poles and off we walked down the long way back to the car. It was John’s first time moving across such exposed ridgelines along with few other skills that were new to him and he took it like a champ.
Enjoying the summit and half way mark of the day’s objective
It was a long day, but no time to lose. After another early rise, we packed up and may our way to another area called the Boston Basin. The weather forecast called for rain and we decided to camp at a lower site in hopes of getting another good objective on the glacier in. The water level was high, making the creek crossing to the lower site challenging but manageable. We had the pleasure of sharing the experience with another Mountain Madness guide Mark Pugliese with his client with an early start the following morning to climb Sahale Peak. Despite fatigue and sore feet after multiple big days covering a lot of ground, we had an enjoyable climb and admired a different kind of view from the summit of Sahale Peak, hoping to spot another Madness team on the Ptarmigan Traverse at the time. The tubular streaks of clouds whisping by like a white dragon was very neat.
Forbidden Peak in the center, Sharkfin Tower on the right
A great alpine summit on Sahale Peak to add to fun times
The clouds have closed in as we reached a point to consider climbing Sharkfin Tower around 11am and rain drops were falling out of the sky. There was no need to twist each other’s arms to start walking back to camp in an erie alpine ambience. The alpine weather is indeed always changing but we had our fill of fun for the day. Content, we were soon back at camp to change into dry clothes, sipping on hot drinks and enjoying a hot meal. Another fun part of the days are socializing and making new friends. We woke up to a rainy day as expected, and we were the only pair left at the lower camp that was once bustling with movement, laughter and exchange of the day’s adventure. It was rather peaceful and a great day to rest and pass time exchanging stories. It gave John’s feet that worked hard a well deserved break and dry out. The new mountaineering boots at the start of the program now looked nicely seasoned.
The following and final day of the trip we made our way across a few creek crossings I filled in somewhat in addition to previous efforts by other guides to avoid getting more wet than we can help. The hike through the Cascadian Woods was pleasant. The air was fresh, the green was brighter, and the ground was softer with occasional muddy sections and back to the car. It was a refreshing feeling to change into our clean dry Mountain Madness soft T‑shirts, and munch on a fresh apple as we pointed our nose towards Seattle. It was a real pleasure climbing with John over the 7 days in the Cascades and wish him all the best in all future adventures on his mind.
~ MM Guide Yoshiko Miyazaki-Back