Travelling In Style With NW Custom Trips
Most people don’t realize how luxurious mountaineering can be if you plan out your own custom trip! In the Cascades and the Olympics, Mountain Madness includes tents and cooking gear… and cook! Your guide will plan and prepare the meals and provide the tents so you can enjoy the mountains and climbing objectives in style. Custom trips also allow for a very flexible itinerary to create the ultimate climbing experience. Here are two of the trips we’ve run so far this season:
Liberty Bell Massif. Mark Gunlogson photo
ROCK & SKI NEAR WASHINGTON PASS
Guide Dave Ahrens took Andree Falls out to Washington Pass to mix it up with some rock and skiing. Our custom trips include food and the guide does the shopping, and we’re talking good stuff here! Dave went over-the-top at Trader Joes and was able to serve up some great penne with pesto, sundried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, and fresh salad. Nice car camping! So, the plan was well executed- climb or ski and enjoy the luxuries of car camping.
Early season conditions on the Birthday Tour. Jeremy Allyn photo
They first climbed the 11-pitch sport route Prime Rib (5.8) near Mazama. Beautiful weather, a short approach, and great views of the Methow Vally welcomed them. The next day they headed up to Liberty Bell Mountain where snow conditions on the couloir leading to the Beckey Route were great. The classic Beckey route (5.6) offered stress free alpine rock high in the Cascades. Normally it takes two hours to get down from the Beckey on snowshoes, but they got down in 20 minutes on skis. They were able to combine skiing and rock climbing and had great conditions for a well-rounded day.
Goat Wall, home to 11-pitch sport routes. Mark Gunlogson photo
Included during their trip was the well-known Birthday Tour, where, as Dave put it, “they nailed the corn on Madison Avenue – 1500 feet of great descent!” Both Dave and Andree had done trips together, so they both enjoyed each other’s company and the objectives. As Dave explains, “Forming a relationship with your guide eliminates a lot of decisions, the client just shows up and attacks the route!”
CUSTOM FAMILY ROCK TRIP
Guide Ian Nicholson also came back from a great custom trip with a father and son whose family has travelled with Mountain Madness numerous times. John and Luke Yarnall, this year, wanted to tackle some great rock climbing. Check out Ian’s report:
John on the summit of the Beckey Route. Ian Nicholson photo
“Trips with the Yarnalls are always super fun and we have gone on a number of adventures over the years. Last year John along with his two sons Micheal and Luke completed the Ptarmigan Traverse together which is one of my favorite trips of all time.
“On this trip the first day after leaving Seattle at 7:30 we drove straight to Mazama and got the last campsite and set up at Early Winters campground. We knew we had to get a campsite early because of the Americian Alpine Clubs Rockfest was sure to have an impact on the amount of open camps sites. After dropping off our tents and some other gear we drove back up to Washington Pass. We started hiking at 1:30 pm, late by most peoples standards but the Yarnalls are very fit and we made it to the base of the South Arête on South Early Winter Spire in just under two hours. We had to weave through 6 – 7 other parites that were coming down the route, including fellow MM guide Rob Schiesser and client Chris Egnatz who just completed the famed and difficult Hitch Hiker, right on guys!!!!
Descending the Liberty Bell Beckey Gulley. Ian Nicholson photo
“As we climbed the the route after the first 300ft had the South Arête to ourselves, almost unheard of on Saturday of Rockfest weekend. We made the summit by 4:00 and enjoyed the summit for over half an hour. We descended the route and traversed over to the top of Spire gully where we were able to glissade most of the way back down to the highway dropping and incredible 2200ft in 29 minutes.
“On our second day we climbed the Northwest mega classic Becky route on Liberty Bell. We got an early start because I was sure there would be a number of parties queuing up for this classic route. There was a hard freeze over night and we put crampons less than an hour out of the parking lot because the snow was so firm. Amazingly enough there was only one party on the route and they where nearly and hour ahead of us. The finally gully had very firm snow conditions and we used a verity of steeper snow travel techniques to make it to the base of the route. In the distance we could see no less than 10 people approaching the route. Sunday was much clearer than the previous day and as we climbed higher we could see mountains for as far as the eye could see including the entire Ptarmigan traverse which we had completed the year previous. We could see passed where we took breaks and mountains that we had climbed, it made the views feel even more special knowing that you had been there just under a year ago. The summit was amazing, not a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind in the air. As an Alpinist you often spend less than 5 minutes on a summit because of weather or approaching darkness but John, Luke and I felt none of these pressures and spent nearly an hour soaking in the sun and recalling past adventures. Once we started hearing other parties we descended. There were lines on both the Over Exposure route and the Becky route with parties on every pitch of either route. We talked about how lucky we were to have the whole route to ourselves as well as the summit for as long as we did.
The Yarnalls on the R & D. Ian Nicholson photo
“On our final day we climbed at Fun rock for a few hours but John had mentioned he thought it would be fun to return to Seattle from the East side of the crest since he had never driven that stretch of Hwy 97 before. We did and turned westward on hwy 2, but with a fair amount of time left in the day we decided to climb one last big route. We chose R & D a 500ft, 5 pitch 5.6 on the icicle buttress. Overcast skys made for comfortable tempetures but light drops from time to time kept our attention. But the light drops never turned to rain and we climbed the route in a hour and 30 minutes, a proud time to be certain.
“After that we returned to Seattle and the Yarnall family returned to Oregon.”