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Matterhorn Prep with Mountain Madness

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. 

Hap­py Trails.

~ MM Guide Yoshiko Miyazaki-Back