telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
09/21/14, 01:05 AM

Solar Halo over Tahoma
on TAY home page
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  June 2008 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
:
« previous next »
Pages: 1 2 3 [All] | Go Down Print
Author Topic: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face  (Read 15756 times)
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« on: 06/23/08, 01:29 PM »

I normally post big, glossy photos (pictures added so many can see how the snow was that day), but on this trip I won't for awhile, mainly cause I want people to read and possibly learn from one of the closest calls in my life. If bears mention that even when I think I know a lot about these mountains we live in, that I can find myself in predicaments that warrant some soul-searching. With so many close calls this year for many climbers and skiers and the interesting snowpack (different than I've had in my time in the cascades in late spring), ones certain to think about their actions more. And riding an avalanche down an unknown aspect into the fog certainly warrants pondering.

So, as I always do, I wrote a trip report about this adventure. I couldn't really think about anything else this morning while running on the drags of a few hours sleep.

Fortress Mountain, SW Face
June 22, 2008



“The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver, and from each of his countless flowers a dew of silver light was ever falling, and the earth beneath was dappled with the shadows of his fluttering leaves.”
-JRR Tolkien


It is weird, how when life takes you up so high, you can by living it, come so close to dying. I have lived a high life and in the process had many close calls. Most I can stack up to being stupid or unlucky. On this day, during this adventure, I can say for sure this one smacks of stupidity.

Fortress Mountain lies deep in the DaKobed Range and is one of the 100 highest in Washington. Further north along the same ridge is Chiwawa Mountain. Buck Mountain and its impossible flanks and Glacier Peak whose slopes rise higher than all look at you with their faces of a million expressions, as does every mountain, near and far. On a sunny day, the view can be one of the most spectacular in the Cascades of Washington.

The drive was impractical. I had a last second decision to make. Go with my brother to Mount Daniel where I’d meet my old man. Or go to Fortress with Ryan, Sky and Corey. Somewhere deep down was this urge to see a place I hadn’t for sometime. When I was 13 or so, I’d gone to Buck Creek Pass during a 16-day hiking trip with my brothers and parents. In our circumnavigation of Glacier Peak, we’d seen many wondrous places. This one was among our favorite.

The planning was Ryan’s. He’d seen the SW Face of Buck on an earlier trip to the area and his itch to return was as infectious as my desire to see a place I had never seen snow-endowed. This year’s incredible amount of snow made a ski to this area feasible.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday

We spent the night five miles before the end of the road where the Town of Trinity rests. When the mine was abandoned the town became a casualty of the bust and boom of the industry. We caught sight of it not much time later when our 2am alarm broke the silence. It wasn’t until 3am that we were off. It wasn’t until then that I realized the length of the trip, 23 miles by our best estimates.

The first miles were on wonderful trail and the patches of snow remained patchy until 6 miles in. The snow was laid thick in places beyond there and when we came into snow barren avalanche fields we’d run the gamut through them, surely not taking the best routes, but neither were they bad ones. All in all, by the time we reached the upper snowfields, we’d made a fine run of it up to there. Choice views were at a premium as the fog and clouds swept upper cliffs and long fingers snaked down to consume us, often closing even the valley from sight.

Finally next to a massive tower of rock, the clouds parted and showed us the way. It was enough to spur me to continue, even when the earlier rain drops and dreary weather had made this a mission of futility rather than conquest. Not that any adventure is defined by either.

At a false summit in loose rocks we packed our skis up and waited for Corey, whose off the couch efforts were heroic. Meanwhile, twenty seconds of sun interspersed by those both longer and shorter tantalized us. The small windows into our place among them were infectious and seeing one fingered-summit above the clouds left me awash in wonder.

The climb to the summit was on easy rock and snow, some made much steeper by the fact that I climbed over the ridge to stay on the snow. I seemed assured that it went, but looking at photos, I may have been disillusioned. Dropping into such a face would’ve been ill-conceived, but when on a river course of such decisions, it is made more difficult to break free from the current when eddies and bends are swam by. Although this one wasn’t, others were.

We had made our way to the top via rock and snow and I wasn’t inclined to go back that way. I was sure a route went directly below us and would avoid traversing. While surely not as zealous as my earlier mention (that, I might add, was made more out of interest than actual doing), was still requiring further exploring. Our fog-encumbered summit views were far from definitive. We had been waiting for a sucker hole big enough to allow us to see enough to make a decision and to also enjoy the descent. In the end, we didn’t see enough to ski the route below us, which we imagined could be cliffed out and so agreed to ski a few hundred feet down and traverse over to our ascent route, which was not quite as steep. We had been able to skin up the entire way to the rocks, 300-ft below the summit. It was an exciting skin track!





From the summit, we followed the ridge down and then dropped from the ridge a few feet on rock. From there Sky had skied down and Ryan was waiting next to a convex slope. Below me I could see the fog and nothing else. Earlier I had seen the huge relief down to valleys, more the look of vast chasms as seen in a movie of some other place like Nepal, not Washington.

I had turned my brain off to all risk assessment. The terrain was steep, maybe 40 degrees, but not heart-clutching to say the least. The snow was new snow that had fallen a few weeks before, and was the same that I had seen remotely triggered from flat slopes (far from danger), on Mount Adams. It was assumed a week of sun had put all danger to rest, so without taking into account what was under my feet (so used to assessing danger on the way up and often shelving on the descent), I set course toward the center gut pounding turns right on top of the convex slope and proceeding to pound turns in the most abundant way I could. To a tee, I was having a blast. On a left turn, if I could’ve seen my smile, I would’ve seen it slip away into a mask of concentration, tinged I’m sure by flashes of fear and horror at what was happening. I felt then that I had made a critical error and not one I could walk away from. I could see Sky standing safely beneath a rock outcrop. I was no longer turning and yet I could see him being swiftly moved through my peripheral vision. Of course it wasn’t him moving. It was then I knew the man had come to collect. It’d had been 3 years since my last close call on Mount Baker and I’ve worked so, so hard to turn around when the danger is bad, to not go out when conditions are questionable, but often, after thinking about this on the drive home, I realized that in the spring I turn off my avalanche assessment because the danger is often limited. But this year has been an interesting one and late season snow laid on top of a wet spring base is an accident waiting to happen. My assumption that a week had been enough to bake the snow didn’t take into account that it really hasn’t been that warm, especially at 8500-ft. On top of it, the freeze/thaw cycle hasn’t been in full operation either. Temps at night weren’t always freezing and temps during the day weren’t always very high. A week then wasn’t enough to wrestle the upper layers of snow into a more compact spring-like base that we are familiar with this time of year.

In other words, now that I was in an avalanche, those allusions of control and predictability were now a matter of how and why than where I was then. In the midst as speed picked up and downward momentum set my fate to the snow’s path, I had time to consider so much more than in any other close call I’ve had before. As I fell into the fog, I was reminded of my first and only sky-diving experience. It was such a consuming fear and yet so very practical. The chute would pull and all would be safe, if it didn't then the end would be quick, painless. So was the case for me when, several hundred feet down, my greatest fear of all came to greet me...falling. In my head, as I was swept away by the rivers of snow, I thought of the cliffs that could be waiting below, some surely hundreds of feet tall. I’d seen many wet slides on hot days break off high slopes above cliffs and fall over a vertical mile to the valleys and forests far below, usually coursing where the rivers and waterfalls go. Right then I was freefalling and I couldn’t see how far, how big, what I was to land on, whether it would be jumbled boulders or ledged cliff-face or one of those giant waterfalls I’d seen lining the valleys. Would it be them? I’d hoped it wouldn’t, I really did. How could I be so lucky? I really couldn’t.

But I was.

In landing, now below the fog somewhat, I could fathom my predicament. There was a bench before another roll. Beyond that roll was theoretical, but  the valley below would entail thousands of feet and the math wasn’t good. If the others came upon this, they wouldn’t even need to bother to go down, although I know they would've. The snow was over 90 percent of the way there and and was beginning to coast over the roll, I kept my eyes open looking for any opportunity to escape. With all moving, there was none. Then, after an eternity, all was stopped, frozen in place. The fog was still drifting between blue and dominating gray. Right then, all was grey, but quickly clearing more than we’d seen all day. I let out a hoot of relief and there was no need to sequester thanks, I had it there too next to my wilting fear. Whence meeting it head on, I was quite thrilled to be walking away. Very thrilled to be alive when I had thought I was surely dead. Life has a curious mistress? She brings you up, spits you out, and sometimes you forget she could just as surely gobble you up. 





I had taken a ride for 800-ft according to Ryan’s altimeter with my beginning at the false summit of Fortress, 8,400-ft, ended approximately 800-ft lower at 7600-ft. The slab was 18-24 inches when it started, but picked up rocks and debris along the way.

My ski pole was swallowed by the avalanche and the only injury I appeared to have, were my fingers which had gripped it. Today, one finger still doesn’t have all feeling back, but a small price to pay for a second (or is that my eighth) lease on life. Hopefully I carry this one as a reminder for a long, long time to come.

The hike back was nice and rewarding. The forest and scenery along the way were truly special.




On tired feet, 17 hours after I began, we were at an end. Along the way I had a lot of time to think. The wind felt good, the water cold, the birds sounded loud, and the sun felt warm (more pleasant than usual?). Life is pretty damn good; you just have to watch your living of it. Although, as Sky said once, “If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do.” The mountains are certainly worth it to me, as it is to those I know. Of course, we don't want to die in them, but in order to experience nature, certain risks are assumed and can't be nullified. If you can't accept them, then you can hide under your bed, but for me, I seek more weathered places, less treaded vistas, and higher ground than most.

6/23/08 2:33pm I made several edits Smiley
« Last Edit: 06/27/08, 08:23 AM by Jason_H. » Logged

Stugie
Member
Offline

Posts: 925


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #1 on: 06/23/08, 02:00 PM »

I'm glad you are okay.  Wow.  Tolkien is a god of words.
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Snow Bell
Member
Offline

Posts: 509


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #2 on: 06/23/08, 02:28 PM »

Thanks for the reminder Jason.  It is a careful dance that we do, those of us for whom the exposure is an essential part of the thrill.  It will again be nice to have you around.

"Scalding coffee from a freezing cup.
At the rim no telling
Which is which."
                                -Lou Hartman
Logged

Life is going to slide by you one way or another
prestonf
Member
Offline

Posts: 107


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #3 on: 06/23/08, 02:34 PM »

"Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
-Helen Keller

Glad you were able to hike out.

Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #4 on: 06/23/08, 02:38 PM »

Two viewpoints:

"No mountain is worth as much as one's life." --Walter Bonatti

"If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do." --Sky Sjue

Which will you choose?

----

I'm glad you're okay, Jason.
Logged
alpentalcorey
Member
Offline

Posts: 349


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #5 on: 06/23/08, 03:00 PM »

Well, I think that Sky's quote is taken out of context and does not represent an accurate nor complete portrayal of his "viewpoint".  Just wanted to get that out there.

All that said, it's impossible to not ask one's self some questions after trip like this, and I'm sort of in the process of doing that right now.

Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #6 on: 06/23/08, 03:06 PM »

Two viewpoints:

"No mountain is worth as much as one's life." --Walter Bonatti

"If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do." --Sky Sjue

Which will you choose?

----

I'm glad you're okay, Jason.


It's hard to take his quote out of context lowell as I did somewhat. I agree with his philosophy and consider him one of the safest mountaineers out there. None of us think the mountains are worth dying for (sky, you, me). I think you were unfair in showing two viewpoints in that you assume you know Sky's.
Logged

Marcus
Administrator
Offline

Posts: 2361


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #7 on: 06/23/08, 03:14 PM »

It was pretty easy to take it the way Lowell did, out of context -- I did, for one.  I'm not surprised to hear that Sky's philosophy isn't that extreme... 

Anyway, glad you're okay and look forward to seeing the pictures when you feel it's time to share them.
Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #8 on: 06/23/08, 03:20 PM »

You're right Marcus. I was making edits throughout and maybe my last one wasn't read? If so, sorry Lowell, but I just think Sky often gets a bad rap (and I could be wrong) because he does technically challenging climbs and descents that are beyond most our capabilities and/or assumption of risk. But I must say, that dude is smart in the mountains. He certainly wouldn't be getting his PHD in Nuclear Physics in a month if he weren't smart as hell. That same drive and intelligence is seen in the mountains.
« Last Edit: 06/23/08, 03:31 PM by Jason_H. » Logged

Marcus
Administrator
Offline

Posts: 2361


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #9 on: 06/23/08, 03:25 PM »

Sky's ridiculous -- we actually spoke a bit about him this weekend at the Crystal search.  I think I said "I read his reports and say 'wow, that's uhh.. man, no thanks, but that's awesome'"  Everyone's limits are their own, for sure, and I don't think he would pull off the stuff he does so regularly if he wasn't pretty safe overall.

But yeah, hadn't read the most recent edits -- that softens the remark a bit.
Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #10 on: 06/23/08, 03:33 PM »

Ha. Ha. It's all good. I'm just glad to be here.
Logged

skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 710


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #11 on: 06/23/08, 03:33 PM »

Just a few comments.

One of the main ideas behind that quote, for me, is that death is always there with us.  It's an integral part of life.  Sometimes it's easy to look for that happy place, be it a "reasonable" trip or a "safe" powder stash, then forget about what's always waiting.  The quote, as much of an absurd atrocity as it may seem to some, is about living life with consciousness and conviciton.  When it's in my face I don't forget about it.

I like both quotes.  They're two sides of the same coin.  Somebody needs to put some salt in the cake batter, or it won't taste right.

And Jason, you already know that I have a lot of love for you and I'm glad you're all right.  Maybe next time try to be more like that scared pansy of a rando skier who was waiting below you: timidly cut the slope through the convexity and run for cover.
Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #12 on: 06/23/08, 03:42 PM »

Trust me, I thought about that on the way down Sky. I wasn't very smart. Not at all. I just came busting down the slope like indiana jones. I can't believe I did it looking back. But a million rights doesn't make one wrong any less costly.
Logged

David_Coleman
Member
Offline

Posts: 369


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #13 on: 06/23/08, 03:49 PM »

See Jason - Like I told you  last weekend when were talking about this stuff, it's just not your time!  SOMEONE somewhere is waiting for you to do something special.    Cool

So, did you and others get to ski anything? 

Glad you're o.k.
Logged
Stugie
Member
Offline

Posts: 925


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #14 on: 06/23/08, 03:58 PM »

I think you were unfair in showing two viewpoints in that you assume you know Sky's.

An unfair assessment given you presented the context and stated the original quote.

I took it the same way - however, quotes aside, your harrowing experience is I think, a reminder to all of how we reason after an event as such.  In light of this past weekend, it makes me realize the spectrum in which our common passion lies.  Andy wisely said (and the quote is probably not accurate), "that one side is the bluebird, waist deep cold smoke, with faceshots all day - and the other end of the spectrum..."  - need not be stated, we all know what is implied.  The harrowing end at one side is the same for all of us, but the other end of the spectrum is never-ending.  When people hear about what it is I like to do in my freetime and I tell them, it is often met by a "Wow!  That's crazy extreme!" to which I reply  Huh as I consider myself to lie only in the middle.  In my mind, I see you and Sky as having TR's that reflect what I feel I would love to be able to accomplish, but it is too far on one end for me to attain that level right now.  You guys bring inspiration to our community and amazing pictures and experience.  I respect your level of passion for the mountains and what we all share as livelyhood.  As you stated,
...in order to experience nature, certain risks are assumed and can't be nullified. If you can't accept them, they you can hide under your bed, but for me, I seek more weathered places, less treaded vistas, and higher ground than most.
You guys are inspiration.  You push limits.  You suceed where many of us wish we could, or only dream about doing.  Whether or not you guys see yourselves this way or not is irrelevant.  You are there.  So I now return to a couple of quotes - and also want to say that this was written in pure respect for you and Sky - no disrespect is intended whatsoever.

"Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." - George Burns
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #15 on: 06/23/08, 04:40 PM »

Thanks everyone and nice words Stugie, and sorry lowell if I came off a little strong. Would've softened that had I read it through before posting. Half the posts I ever write are erased and half the ones I make I shouldn't have been made. Ha. What do you do? We're all friends here on TAY and many of us know eachother. We can afford to have better discussions that way. That's why I posted this story here. I wouldn't be inclined to anywhere else.
Logged

Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #16 on: 06/23/08, 05:39 PM »

Thanks, Jason and Sky, for clarifying the quote somewhat.

I don't have any problem with what you said Jason. Or, at least, I'm not angered or offended by it. On the other hand, I feel that juxtaposing those two quotes was fair based on the context in which you used the second quote. I knew my reply was going to be controversial, but I felt it was necessary to get some discussion and clarification.

As I'm sure you know, I am squarely in the Bonatti camp on this subject. Sky's explanation was helpful, but not convincing for me. I've done a fair amount of challenging mountaineering, including some that was dangerous, but I've always considered danger a negative aspect, not a positive aspect. When it seems that danger for its own sake is being justified, I'm going to start asking questions.

From what you've said, it appears that Sky's quote is intended to have a subtle meaning. In this case I would suggest that it was you who used it out of context.

Quote
Although, as Sky said once, “If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do.” The mountains are certainly worth it to me, as it is to those I know. Of course, we don't want to die in them, but in order to experience nature, certain risks are assumed and can't be nullified.

You said, "The mountains are certainly worth it to me, as it is to those I know." In this context, you are saying that the mountains are worth dying for. That's the plain meaning of your words. You follow this by saying that you don't want to die in them, but that doesn't change the meaning you've already conveyed.

My approach to this topic is to acknowledge that mountaineering entails risk. Mountains are not worth dying for, but the experiences they offer are worth a certain amount of risk. That begs the question: How much risk are they worth? You imply a black and white choice: between hiding under your bed or going to extremes. There are other choices.
« Last Edit: 06/23/08, 06:51 PM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
ryanl
Member
Offline

Posts: 323


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #17 on: 06/23/08, 08:51 PM »

I wasn't going to say anything but feel the need to after having read all the posts.

First, i want to clarify something. I'm sure Jason would be the first to admit that he made some errors in getting caught in the slide. Unfortunately, though, it seems that his choice of words in describing his thoughts has painted his partner(s) in (perhaps) an unfavorable light. I don't think we were reckless in our descent. Sky and I both skied to the spot that slide and had a brief conversation. I  asked his opinion on stability because the snow felt alarmingly familiar to what I got caught in last weekend. He agreed, and decided to ski cut the slop BELOW the roll. When nothing significant went, he skied quickly to a safe spot below and behind some rocks. I stayed where I was when Jason started to ski because I too was in a safety spot, and was intending to leap frog our descent. For the reasons that Jason gave, he decided to drop in full go right over top the roll. AS soon as he got even with me, his speed and force triggered the slide. I watched him fight it, and then get swept out of sight into the fog and over the cliff band below.

Having said that I want to say a few things on behalf of Sky, who is the LAST person on earth who needs someone speaking on his behalf. He and I have talked at length about the ideas behind the quote that Jason attributed to him.   To say if it 'aint worth dying for then you shouldn't be doing it isn't a call to look outwards for danger. As I understand it, and believe, it's a call to look inwards at what you're doing with your life. Feeling strongly enough about something that you're willing to die for it only means that were you to die at the instant you were doing whatever "it" happens to be, you'd die content and without regrets. Sky may or may not agree with this. But it's what I believe, I ski and climb with Sky, and I can say without hesitation that I'd trust Sky with my life. He's an OK guy, too.

And one last note- for the last time Jason, my name is "Ryan" not "Eric" Wink
Logged
alpentalcorey
Member
Offline

Posts: 349


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #18 on: 06/23/08, 10:06 PM »

also, if you end up doing any more editing, change the part in bold that reads "Friday and Saturday" to "Saturday and Sunday"
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #19 on: 06/23/08, 11:20 PM »

To say if it 'aint worth dying for then you shouldn't be doing it isn't a call to look outwards for danger. As I understand it, and believe, it's a call to look inwards at what you're doing with your life. Feeling strongly enough about something that you're willing to die for it only means that were you to die at the instant you were doing whatever "it" happens to be, you'd die content and without regrets. Sky may or may not agree with this.

Thanks for giving such a thoughtful reply, Ryan. I understand that this is your interpretation and belief, not necessarily anyone else's. Your explanation puts a nice shading on the idea, but to my mind it really doesn't change the meaning. If you really believe this and you continue skiing, then you have decided that skiing is worth dying for. Not merely that there is an acceptable risk/reward balance, but that you'd have no regrets if you paid the ultimate price.

This is fundamentally different from the way I feel about skiing and other sports. I have always felt that if I died skiing or mountaineering, I f****d up , and none of my surviving family and friends should pretend otherwise. "He died doing what he loved" doesn't resonate with me. I love doing lots of things and I wouldn't be content to die doing most of them.

I totally agree with devoting yourself strongly to what you enjoy. "Follow your bliss," as Joseph Campbell liked to say. But couching it in terms of being worth dying for is a big step toward fatalism.

Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1381


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #20 on: 06/24/08, 12:16 AM »

Thank you for sharing, Jason. I think that particular weak layer has surprised many of us, particularly with its resistance to consolidation, thankfully without any apparent great harm. I'm very glad to hear that you're ok, and hope to extract a little wisdom from your tale.

As for the risk/reward discussion that's brewing, I'll just chip in that backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering has challenged me to think in new and deeper ways about death and life. The thoughts have seemed enlightening.
Logged

alpentalcorey
Member
Offline

Posts: 349


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #21 on: 06/24/08, 06:45 AM »

I love doing lots of things and I wouldn't be content to die doing most of them.

Lowell, this part struck me a bit as I read it and I wanted to respectfully ask if by use of the word "most" you are at all saying that there are things you love doing, however few, that you would be content to die doing?  If stating something in terms of dying is a big step toward fatalism, is "most but not all" not at least a little step toward the other side of the argument?  If it's just word choice/semantics then I would withdraw the question, just want to further the discussion.

But you know what?  When I ask myself the same question, the ONLY thing I love that I would be content to die doing would be protecting my family, friends, or other innocent people from mortal danger.  I think this trip has crystalized some ideas that have been floating around in my head.  I think it is time for me to find ways to lower the risks that I take, and it's time for me to start having a family and sharing my love for skiing & mountains with children.  I believe this will ultimately bring the greatest satisfaction.  For the most part I do not believe that the risks I have taken were excessive and I must admit that the rewards have been phenomenal.  I just think I need to find ways to shave a little off the edges.

Basically, I'm 34 and it's time to think a little less about being "rad" and a little more about being "dad".

Maybe it's also time for me to do some trips with easier approaches.   Wink





Logged
Woz
5Member
Offline

Posts: 23


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #22 on: 06/24/08, 07:54 AM »

I am staying clear of the philosophical direction this thread has taken.  I am just confirming that these conditions appear to be widespread and not-yet-stabilized.  Mike and I got back last night from a great 3-day tour in Van Trump Park (MRNP) and witnessed several slabs triggered by sun warming, minor rockfall, and cornice failure.  Shooting cracks and 3-5 foot slabs were the norm, and convex "rollies" seemed to be the worst offenders.  The larger slabs were about 1/4 mile across and ran for severl hundred vertical, entraining lots o' debris on the way.  I'll try to post some photos once Mike sends them to me.  The coming warm weekend should further stabilize, just don't be in the way! 

Great tour up there, by the way.  Snow within a mile of the TH and some exciting crack-jumping and mulch skiing (what do you call skiing the trees with a 8-foot snowpack and the snow surface barely visible with all the branches, lichen and duff??).
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #23 on: 06/24/08, 07:56 AM »

Lowell, this part struck me a bit as I read it and I wanted to respectfully ask if by use of the word "most" you are at all saying that there are things you love doing, however few, that you would be content to die doing?  If stating something in terms of dying is a big step toward fatalism, is "most but not all" not at least a little step toward the other side of the argument?  If it's just word choice/semantics then I would withdraw the question, just want to further the discussion.

But you know what?  When I ask myself the same question, the ONLY thing I love that I would be content to die doing would be protecting my family, friends, or other innocent people from mortal danger.  I think this trip has crystalized some ideas that have been floating around in my head.  I think it is time for me to find ways to lower the risks that I take, and it's time for me to start having a family and sharing my love for skiing & mountains with children.  I believe this will ultimately bring the greatest satisfaction.  For the most part I do not believe that the risks I have taken were excessive and I must admit that the rewards have been phenomenal.  I just think I need to find ways to shave a little off the edges.

Basically, I'm 34 and it's time to think a little less about being "rad" and a little more about being "dad".

Maybe it's also time for me to do some trips with easier approaches.   Wink

Thanks for your post, Corey. As a matter of fact, when I was composing my post I included the same exception you mentioned--protecting somebody else. That's the only thing I would be content to die for. I removed it from the post because it felt a little too preachy. But that's it.
Logged
Joedabaker
Member
Offline

Posts: 1815


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #24 on: 06/24/08, 08:00 AM »

(what do you call skiing the trees with a 8-foot snowpack and the snow surface barely visible with all the branches, lichen and duff??).
Good uphill traction.

Basically, I'm 34 and it's time to think a little less about being "rad" and a little more about being "dad".

Maybe it's also time for me to do some trips with easier approaches.   Wink
I have been fortunate to survive all the mistakes I have made in the mountains, I may not have been as "Rad" as others, but survival/health instincts said let go of the need to be fastest, first and greedy with the pow. Somehow I am at greater peace and have much more fun.
It is great that there are those who risk it all, I know that if I have the opportunity to live another 40 years the authors of those reports will generally not be the same, but there will always be those who take extended chances.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 08:15 AM by Joedabaker » Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 710


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #25 on: 06/24/08, 08:52 AM »

Dipping....

The fact is, in the mountains, everyone risks it all.  To say anything else is denial, unless you have a level of mastery that surpasses anything I can comprehend.  The evidence is readily available.  The element of the unknown in such a large, complex system will always be there; it's an integral part of the experience and the adventure.  Yes, we all can and should work to reduce it, but it will not be vanquished.

Is it necessary to deny this to also let your loved ones know that if you died in the mountains, you blew it?  Let it be known: I have no desire to die in the mountains, nor anywhere else, but I also know that it is not my choice when or where I will go into that great unknown.  I always have been and always will be a fallible creature, subject to errors, and it is quite possible that some day one of these errors could cost me my life.

Here's a little story from a few years ago.  A buddy of mine from Texas did the right thing.  He didn't drive home drunk.  He slept in the back of his truck instead.  He slept in a funny position and died from a blood clot.  He was survived by his wife and daughter.

"Oh no, that's different."

I'm sure we could type until our fingers fall off our hands, until we get the exact meaning and implication just so, but I don't care about that.  I do enough technical writing for my taste.  Skiing is freedom, the mountains are freedom, and damn it all if I can't be a little loose with how I express my sentiments about these things.
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 710


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #26 on: 06/24/08, 08:55 AM »

I would also like to thank Lowell for posting my name next to the esteemed byline of Walter Bonatti; it's an honor.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 09:03 AM by skykilo » Logged
danhelmstadter
Member
Offline

Posts: 313


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #27 on: 06/24/08, 10:16 AM »

Jason, glad you are OK, sounds like a hell of a scary ride.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:31 AM by danhelmstadter » Logged
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1368


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #28 on: 06/24/08, 12:14 PM »

Jason - glad you're OK, and thanks to you and the rest of the crew for sharing what you experienced, including your thoughts on your state of mind before the slide.

The "what's it worth?" discussion is sort of interesting perhaps on a semantic level - but I think I'm hearing everyone agreeing that none of us would actually say "I'll trade my life away in order to do that trip." But Sky is also right that we all have made a bargain wherein we accept at least some level of risk of death for our pursuits (for that matter, most of us make that trade every day in order to commute to work). Some are willing to or unconcsiously take greater risks than others, but none of us are going on the trip where we're told "you'll be shot sometime toward the end of this trip, but it will be awesome until then..."

Edited to add: when I first read it, I took Sky's quote as simply a prod to be sure you're seizing life.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 12:44 PM by Jim Oker » Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
Member
Offline

Posts: 1381


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #29 on: 06/24/08, 01:15 PM »

... but none of us are going on the trip where we're told "you'll be shot sometime toward the end of this trip, but it will be awesome until then..."

Sounds a little like life, except we're already on the trip.
Logged

powdherb
5Member
Offline

Posts: 38


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #30 on: 06/24/08, 01:22 PM »

Good to hear you're okay, Jason. Excellent write up, by the way.
Logged
Teleskichica
Member
Offline

Posts: 346


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #31 on: 06/24/08, 03:15 PM »

These may not be the right words, but in reading this, I am compelled to post my three cents. 
I get the feeling that there is more of an air of jubilation of having missed death (which I am certain Jason is feeling!) as opposed to a sobering assessment of what happened and a real warning.  In the end of the initial post, it is also said that we can "hide under our beds" or choose extreme unexplored vistas. (my gross paraphrase of the actual statement)  That is too black and white.  There are ways to soften the edges and still enjoy life to its fullest.

Regarding Sky's quote.  I think it can be interpreted in many, many ways depending on what you want to get out of it.  To me, it is another way to say, "If you die today, do you have any regrets?" 

These things aside, I think the more important posts have been overlooked:

Sky:  "And Jason, you already know that I have a lot of love for you and I'm glad you're all right.  Maybe next time try to be more like that scared pansy of a rando skier who was waiting below you: timidly cut the slope through the convexity and run for cover."

Jason:  "Trust me, I thought about that on the way down Sky. I wasn't very smart. Not at all. I just came busting down the slope like indiana jones. I can't believe I did it looking back. But a million rights doesn't make one wrong any less costly."


Jason fortunately did not pay a price.  But, I sure hope it has clearly registered to us all that there is a great price out there if we do not exercise the knowledge we have acquired and utilize it.

I love to see your pictures and hear your stories Jason.  The bottom line is, we'd all certainly like to have you, Sky and all fellow TAY-ers around to continue sharing many more trips for many more years!!!
Logged

Livin' high on the cold smoke!
Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3259


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #32 on: 06/24/08, 03:38 PM »

Teleskichica, you have great wisdom! Very, very well written.
Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1368


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #33 on: 06/24/08, 03:54 PM »

I get the feeling that there is more of an air of jubilation of having missed death (which I am certain Jason is feeling!) as opposed to a sobering assessment of what happened and a real warning.  ...

...These things aside, I think the more important posts have been overlooked:

Sky:  "And Jason, you already know that I have a lot of love for you and I'm glad you're all right.  Maybe next time try to be more like that scared pansy of a rando skier who was waiting below you: timidly cut the slope through the convexity and run for cover."

Jason:  "Trust me, I thought about that on the way down Sky. I wasn't very smart. Not at all. I just came busting down the slope like indiana jones. I can't believe I did it looking back. But a million rights doesn't make one wrong any less costly."


Interesting. I definitely see introspection across the thread, including some of our thanks to these folks for sharing this experience with the community, including thoughts behind the decisions that led up to the event that had one person sliding with two watching from safe spots that sounded like they were below the staring point (to underline the obvious, it sounds like Jason believes that he ignored key data that was in front of him and that two of his partners appeared to consider, and he shared state-of-mind that led to that which I bet many of us can relate to and thus now ponder). I'm not seeing jubilation as the dominant factor in posts like these:

I normally post big, glossy photos, but on this trip I won't for awhile, mainly cause I want people to read and possibly learn from one of the closest calls in my life. If bears mention that even when I think I know a lot about these mountains we live in, that I can find myself in predicaments that warrrent some soul-searching. With so many close calls this year for many climbers and skiers and the interesting snowpack (different than I've had in my time in the cascades in late spring), ones certain to think about their actions more. And riding an avalanche down an unknown aspect into the fog certainly warrents pondering.

All that said, it's impossible to not ask one's self some questions after trip like this, and I'm sort of in the process of doing that right now.

I think it is time for me to find ways to lower the risks that I take, and it's time for me to start having a family and sharing my love for skiing & mountains with children.  I believe this will ultimately bring the greatest satisfaction.  For the most part I do not believe that the risks I have taken were excessive and I must admit that the rewards have been phenomenal.  I just think I need to find ways to shave a little off the edges.
Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #34 on: 06/24/08, 04:15 PM »

My story was just that. It was writen without constraint. Warning is inherent to the story and the fear it is coupled with, and yes, thrill, too. We each find our own meanings in the written word, that is why poetry exists, etc.

'The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.'
George Santayana

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 04:54 PM by Jason_H. » Logged

Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3259


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #35 on: 06/24/08, 07:48 PM »

I don't know you Jason or Sky and let me say I have the most tremendous respect for what you guys do and the trip reports you write. I have expressed concerns to some people in the past to people who know you like" I hope they don't push it too far" and their reply has always been that you guys are some of the best , safest mountaineers they have ever seen.

But, the problem I have with some of the quotes is  the attitude that  if it isn't extreme enough that you might die, then hide under your bed. I feel this somehow diminishes the experiences of others who are not at your level.

I'm clumsy at explaining things so I'll give you an example of what I mean.

About I think 6 years ago the world of super-alpinism had two dudes called Scott Backes and Mark Twight. Both where exceptionally gifted climbers who where at the cutting edge of alpinism and had an unabashed philosophy of elitism. Twight wrote gripping articles and stories about their exploits and his style of writing and turn of phrase even coined the term" Twightism" to describe an article displaying the elitist, gonzo , nihilistic style studded with pithy quotations from punk rock bands and esoteric philosophers.

Years ago I climbed Denali by the West Buttress route, the easy way up. It's called the West Butt and derided by alpinists as the cattle route which it is . I was at the extreme of my endurance, scared part of the time and very proud at making it to the top. One of my climbing partners collapsed at 19,000 ft and had to be revived but we all made it and it is one of the defining moments of my life.

When I returned , I read an article by Scott Backes about some desperate, life in the balance ascent they had made on the Moonlight Buttress of Mt Hunter which is near the Denali base camp. In the article, they espouse a philosophy  that their climb was so extreme and that they where at the edge of life and death and that the climbers trudging up the West Buttress where sheep and not worthy and that if you didn't take it to the edge and risk your life, why bother!. In the article, Backes goes on to say that they and Twight openly cat-called and made derisive comments at the climbers passing by on the West Butt.

This pissed me of and when I read later that Backes had opened a guiding service to teach people how to climb, the hypocrisy was to much for me and I contacted him up and told him that I could have been one of the climbers he had been shouting insults to and although no super-alpinist like him, what I was doing was extreme and at the edge relative to me. He tried to apologise but was still an asshole.

You guys are not a bit like that but for many of us a ski down Brain Damage on the King is the apogee of our skiing and feels extreme to us and not hiding under a bed.

I am not picking an argument just giving my view in what I think is an interesting discussion and probably agreeing more with Teleskichica's point of view.

Live long and prosper.



« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 08:28 PM by Scotsman » Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #36 on: 06/24/08, 09:18 PM »

Scotsmen, my point of view seems to be missed. I've written a few times to clear it up, then erased.

I think what you wrote is great, and in no way am I saying that extreme is all there is. I am confused why many of you think I have said this??? But, no matter, the point is a good one to discuss. I have long battled the reasons why I ski the things I do. It is not because they are steep or difficult, rather it is because I like to climb and I like to ski. The two combined are what drive me. Sometimes these are on easier climbs, such as Fortress which was not an extreme peak BTW and something many here would ski if it were closer. But that's beside the point, I love the mountains, and most of the time I am out there to explore them in whatever shape or form they have, be they easy or hard. Skiing is only one thing I do, more of my time is spent biking and hiking. I certainly don't look down on anyone, rather I am happy they are out there. This is much the reason I put up a website, cause it inspires people to get out. I've written hundreds of e-mails to beginners and others alike in the utmost respect to get them into the mountains. I spend a terrible amount of time doing this.

Here is what I said,

Although, as Sky said once, “If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do.” The mountains are certainly worth it to me, as it is to those I know. Of course, we don't want to die in them, but in order to experience nature, certain risks are assumed and can't be nullified. If you can't accept them, then you can hide under your bed, but for me, I seek more weathered places, less treaded vistas, and higher ground than most.


I said mountains are worth the risk. To clarify that, to me all mountains easy or hard bear risk just by being in them, much like driving a car fast or slow, you can still get hit. By climbing under the bed, what is meant is more philosophical. Everyday I sit with people as a financial planner, and I learn much about them over the years. Those that I worry for most, are the ones who give up on life, lock themselves away and sit in front of the tube. For me, those are the ones who have climbed under their beds. I want to see people out there enjoying life and exploring new and exciting facets of it. Whether thats with golf or collecting cars, it doesn't matter. It does require walking out your door and facing your fears, which could be anything. Could be people, could be doing something on your own, could be the outdoors. Anything. For me, believe it or not, it is my fear of heights.

I hope this helps Scotsman, as I do like your post. I did put myself out there by posting this, and I knew that when I did it. In posting so many trip reports over the years, I wanted to show the bad side, not just the blue-bird days and perfect snow. I never want someone to die by trying to do what I've done without something to learn by as I and others have. We didn't have anyone to teach us anything. We had to fail. We had to make mistakes. I hope the next generation has this and other stories to learn by, which is such a better way to go. When I am written too, I teach also. When I meet people in the mountains, I teach by example. 
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:56 PM by Jason_H. » Logged

Scotsman
Member
Offline

Posts: 3259


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #37 on: 06/24/08, 09:28 PM »

Jason I think you clarified your point beautifully and I wish I could express myself as well as you do. I agree with your clarification and you have my greatest respect. I thought there was some "Twightism" creeping into your philospohy but I was wrong and I apologize.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:05 PM by Scotsman » Logged

Chief Etiquette Officer of TAY and TAY's #1 Poster
Poet Laureate of TAY.
Chairman and Founder of FOTAY( Friends of TAY)
Moderator of the moderators.
"Most Brilliant Move" of the 11/12 ski season
" Knows what he is talking about"
Expert Typist.
Crystal Whore
" Scotsman may be correct"....Mikerolfs
Stugie
Member
Offline

Posts: 925


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #38 on: 06/24/08, 10:11 PM »

I did put myself out there by posting this, and I knew that when I did it. In posting so many trip reports over the years, I wanted to show the bad side, not just the blue-bird days and perfect snow.

Thank you for doing that.

And you've done a great job starting and maintaining an excellent dialogue.  Even in a debating dialogue such as in this thread, I am impressed by the deep philisophical explanations our community has to explain, in essence, why we do what we do.  Shows we are more than just mindless testosterone (or estrogen) amped individuals out in the bc! 

Also, Jason and Sky, statistics show people respect you guys...I'm not sure how many other TR's without pictures could get 38 responses and over 1000 hits.  Cheesy Wink

Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
kylemanger
5Member
Offline

Posts: 47


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #39 on: 06/24/08, 10:41 PM »

I agree with Stugie..
Logged
kylemanger
5Member
Offline

Posts: 47


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #40 on: 06/24/08, 10:43 PM »

and Jason.. The mountains are not always friendly and the skies not always blue.. thats why i love them..
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #41 on: 06/25/08, 12:02 AM »

Thanks for taking the dip, Sky.

When you say that everyone risks it all in the mountains, I think you must be referring to objective dangers.  Since the subjective risks that different people undertake vary hugely, objective dangers are the only common denominator.  Objective dangers are important and I don't think I considered them as much as I should have in my previous posts.

Still, I think objective dangers are a much smaller contributor to mountaineering accidents than subjective dangers.  To check this, I flipped through the 2007 issue of Accidents in North American Mountaineering.  I found 40 accidents that seemed to be due to subjective factors and 10 that seemed to be due to objective factors.  (Of the latter, several were just hard to classify, so I threw them in the objective pile.) So based on this crude survey, we might conclude that objective hazards account for 20% of the accidents in mountaineering.  They're a small piece of the pie, but a significant factor.

Still, I'm having a hard time making the logical jump that you seem to want me to make.  Let's see if I can explain my difficulty with an analogy:



Passing On Curves

Like most people, I like to drive my car.  But unlike most people, I like to pass on curves.  For me, passing on curves is the spice of life.  In fact, just to be provocative, I'll say that passing on curves is worth dying for.

Some people don't understand why I'm so fond of passing on curves.  They think it's a needless risk.  They say you can drive your car just fine, with much less risk, without passing on curves.  It can even be enjoyable.

To this I say you're not facing reality.  Just because you don't pass on curves doesn't mean that driving is safe.  A drunk driver could wander into your lane, you could fall asleep at the wheel, or a semi-truck could sideswipe you.  Driving is just plain dangerous.  In fact, I know a guy whose wheels fell right off his car and he died.

So there's really no point in wondering why people like to pass on curves.  It's no different, really, from what everybody who drives a car is doing.

Logged
alpentalcorey
Member
Offline

Posts: 349


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #42 on: 06/25/08, 06:02 AM »

To me, the analogy doesn't really address what I saw as the best and most important part of Sky's post.

  Skiing is freedom, the mountains are freedom, and damn it all if I can't be a little loose with how I express my sentiments about these things.

To further explain let me use an analogy.  This is from my own life.  About 10 years ago there happened to be a small group of deaf people at my work (am I supposed to say hearing impaired?  The deaf people called themselves deaf.)  One of them was a snowboarder who would come up and stay & ride with me my first year full time at Alpental (winter of '98-'99 oh yeah!).  Among the group, there were different levels of hearing loss and consequent speaking ability, but this guy basically could not speak at all except for some sounds that he could form close enough to words that they could be understood.  So I ended up learning quite a bit of sign language, and I had a chance to get a small peek into their world.  I was also actively studying Spanish at the time and have an interest in language and linguistics (I better, as I live with a tri-lingual language teacher).  It turns out that most of the deaf kids in the Seattle metro area know eachother since for the most part they all go to the same school.  As such many of them grew up together and spoke the same "dialect" - starting even as children and continuing throughout life they would invent their own signs, essentially forming their own version of the language that existed only within their metapopulation.

And of course we do it too.  We invent words as children between siblings and friends.  We use different language depending on the group we are in or who we are talking to.  We tailor the things we say to our audience.  Should Sky not be allowed to be, as he says, "a little loose" when he is talking to Jason or anyone else while on a trip, especially if he thought they would understand it as he meant it?  And this is especially true with anything of an inflamatory or controvertial nature.  He might not say the same thing while giving a slide show at REI, or he might find a different way to express himself to that particular audience.  Maybe he wouldn't, that would be up to him.  Sensationalism and hyperbole are tools of rhetoric just like metaphors, but they are certainly more audience-sensitive.

For that reason I believe it ends up a bit like "the telephone game" that we played as children. 

Logged
kmcb
5Member
Offline

Posts: 11


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #43 on: 06/25/08, 10:55 AM »

There is a huge difference between acknowledging that when you go into the mountains you could die and saying that when you go into the mountains you’re embracing the idea of death.  It’s always seemed to me that if you go into the mountains, no matter how “easy” the ones you pick are, you’d better think they’re worth dying for, because the fact is you might. 

By far the vast majority of missions I go on as a member of search and rescue are for folks on non-technical terrain.  I’ve been on a body recovery on Granite Mountain when a guy slipped and could not self arrest on the hard snow.  He had done plenty of much more technical climbing, but a moment’s inattention on easy terrain during an after-work conditioning hike and it was over for him. 

Similarly, most of the avalanche awareness books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken have emphasized that the majority of accidents take place not when you’re doing some hardcore badass thing, but on nice sunny days when you’re on easy or familiar terrain and you’re with your friends and you let your guard down.  Doing less challenging things is absolutely not a guarantee of safety.

I think we all hear things through our own filters too.  I’ve heard a friend-who-shall-remain-unnamed say “Any trip I survive is a good one.”  It seems like some posting here would hear that as “It’s not a good trip unless my survival is in doubt.”  I heard it as “Staying safe is more important than succeeding on my route.”

Btw Jason, glad you’re still with us.
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 11:04 AM by kmcb » Logged
Big Steve
Member
Offline

Posts: 315


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #44 on: 06/25/08, 12:45 PM »

+1 to Scotsman's and Lowell's respective posts re Twightism and Passing on Curves.

I share Scotsman’s contempt for Twight’s writing and shameless snobbery.  Years ago, I read A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, a delightfully understated narrative by Eric Newby, a fellow who had dropped out of the British fashion industry to explore the high country of Afghanistan.  Twight’s exhibitionist macho missives and Newby’s humble account represent two ends of the spectrum of alpinist writing (although one might identify a third axis of the sub-genre, the “how I learned about myself and faced my fears in the mountains” self-help palaver, which I choose to ignore).  I deem phrases such as "if it's not worth dying for, then .  .  . " or similar prose of "mission[aries] of .  .  .  conquest” as falling near the Twight end of the spectrum – not my cup of tea.  If I were to wager on the matter, I’d bet – and hope – that Sky and Jason spend time in the mountains largely for the same reasons I do, that is, because they covet serene wilderness, the athletic challenge of steep ground, and sharing adventure with good friends.
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 01:08 PM by Big Steve » Logged
Stugie
Member
Offline

Posts: 925


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #45 on: 06/25/08, 01:54 PM »

In reading this ongoing dialogue, there is a lot of discussion about Sky's quote: "If it ain't worth dying for then you better find something else to do".  I think some excellent points have been made, but something has been weighing more on my mind as this thread continues.  I want to premise by saying I'm not pointing fingers, I'm just trying to highlight what in my opinion is an error we can learn from.

I don't think we were reckless in our descent. Sky and I both skied to the spot that slide and had a brief conversation.  I asked his opinion on stability because the snow felt alarmingly familiar to what I got caught in last weekend.

I feel that this is reckless.  This is why:

I was in front and slowed as I neared the roll that starts the pitch. Monika thought we should ski to the right. I thought about it, but decided to drop in anyway.

As soon as I cleared the roll everything around me cut loose and the slope changed instantly from creamy corn to slurpee chunks the size of my torso and as high as my thigh. My first thought was to traverse out, skier's left.  But as I pointed my skis I got a glimpse of what I'd started. The fracture had progated at least 50 meters to my left (and I later estimated about 200 meters to my right). The weight of the slide started to drag my skis under and point me down towards the funnel that was being created but the rock outcropping beneath me. Traversing out was impossible. I remember seeing a climber (who I'd only first seen once I'd committed to skiing) get taken and disappear beneath me...The climber/split boarder, amazingly, had only a few scratches. He, and I, are very, very lucky.

With a member of your party experiencing almost exact conditions to what happened the past weekend on Rainier, an very synonymous situation propogated almost identically and took another for quite a trip.  Now, in light of Sky's quote, and this situation, I feel that I'd like to share an allegory as well:

During the Korean War, a US soldier was comtemplating the risk of possible death he had taken by joining the military.  After being under fire a number of times, and some time spent in combat, he grew more and more comfortable with his situation.  The sound of a bullet whizzing past his head no longer made him duck, or even flinch.  During one particular day, the soldier's station was recieving a heavier than normal amount of attention from enemy bullets.  When it was his time for duty, he threw on his gear and instead of sitting behind the safety of the sandbagged walls, he sat on top of them and began to smoke a cigarette.  Soon the chaplin came by and noticed the young man up on the wall, bullets occasionally whizzing past.  The chaplin asked the man to step down to talk.  "What are you doing?" asked the chaplin.  The man replied, "My duty".  "Aren't you worried that you're going to be shot, and maybe killed by sitting up there?" asked the chaplin.  "When I joined the military I knew there would be some risk involved; that I could die.  When my time comes, there's not much I can do about that.  Would you agree chaplin?"  After a pause the chaplin said, "You're right, if it's your time to go, you cannot change that.  But why try to rush it by sitting up on the wall with bullets whizzing past your head?  That seems a bit reckless."  The soldier replied, "Like I said, if a bullet goes through my helmet and has my name written on it, there's not much I can do about that."  The chaplin replied, "Yes, but it's the bullet that says 'To whomever this may concern' that keeps me from sitting up there."
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Big Steve
Member
Offline

Posts: 315


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #46 on: 06/25/08, 03:24 PM »

Good one, Stugie.  I first heard a variation of that allegory (told to me in the form of a joke) when discussing the issue of advertent exposure to alpine risks about a decade ago.  In my view, it and Lowell's Passing on Curves allegory, although different -- Lowell's addresses advertent exposure to risk, while Stugie's is more about fatalism -- are directly germane to the discussion that has emerged on this thread. 

Lowell is right on the mark when he responds to Sky's "everyone risks it all" comment by distinguishing objective and subjective hazards.  Is this a generational distinction?  Why do Euros appear more likely to take on advertent risks (though write about it with less bravado) than Americans?

Most of we old goats have often heard (and, when we were young, likely uttered) younger comrades' sentiments that the alpine experience is valuable only if one is teetering on the edge of death.  I now know that such notions are folly, that one may experience the grandeur, challenge and collegiality of the mountains while limiting (albeit not wholly eliminating) exposure to risks.  Alpine travelers will always encounter objective hazards, but I flatly eschew the notion that we must advertently expose ourselves to imminent death lest we cannot fully enjoy the alpine experience. 

Of course, a TR of the N face of Maude will invite more ooohs and aaahs than one of a stroll up Sahale Arm.  I hope we can all agree that the desire to say "hey, look at me" is a manfiestly bad reason to chose a route. 
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 03:28 PM by Big Steve » Logged
hedonaut
Member
Offline

Posts: 138


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #47 on: 06/25/08, 05:00 PM »

oh what the hell.  while we're offering opinions (and drivel), here's mine: in the original post, actions were reported, and then some (not fully contextual) sentiments were expressed that were parsed and churned through the specula-tron.  i appreciate the discussion, but some of these analogies are wandering FAR afield.  passing on curves is not in the same category as managing risks in ski mountaineering.  nor is war--maybe i just need to think harder.

re: immediately above, as jason already stated, he was reckless. 
by my reading (uh, i wasn't there, so am speculating w/ the best of you), sky and ryan were methodically ski-cutting (now who here hasn't done that?) and skiing point to point.  the mountains present challenges that you manage, and these guys were doing that.  the one person that did not manage learned a tough lesson.  death was a potential consequence and that was later pointed out in a life-affirming way (pardon the crystals).

bottom line, we all trade off whatever skills we have against our goals, loves, and attendant risks.  the risks make alpinism exciting, the mountains provide a place for us to practice/exercise this primeval side of ourselves.  by exercising judgement, we find reward from managing obj. and subj. risks (and added risk ambition presents); and sometimes we even learn to suppress/surpass the ego, turning back at the appropriate time.  if every objective-oriented trip has a 100% chance of success it wouldn't be as much fun--where's the challenge? (of course, casual outings aside)

perhaps the most important lesson here isn't about who's willing to die for what, how much appetite different individuals have for diff. risks, etc., but this:

when things are (or get) sketchy, communication between partners needs to be rock solid.  the big flush might've been prevented if S and R's conservative strategy was discussed (it might have been?) from the top, and if J had consulted with R and S prior to his cowboy moment (or checked in with his rational self, as he takes pains to point out).  "fellas, how's the snow down there?"
that said, sometimes stuff just happens...and I'm glad you lived to learn, Jason.


Logged
hedonaut
Member
Offline

Posts: 138


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #48 on: 06/25/08, 05:19 PM »

looking up at alpentalcorey's reply #42, I see he already expressed some of my thoughts much better--that of the expressed sentiments taking on meaning specific to the audience...

should've read the abundant posts more closely--lots of thought-provoking stuff above, including the analogies, pardon my reaction.
Logged
Jim Oker
TAY Moderator
Offline

Posts: 1368


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #49 on: 06/25/08, 06:15 PM »

I feel that this is reckless.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I don't think anyone but those who were there can know for sure either way whether Sky and Ryan were reckless or not, e.g. whether one ski cut at the top and avoiding a hard turn on the convexity was all that was indicated, or what. At least not w/o a lot more information than we have in this thread. Jason, however, was quite clear that he should not have turned off his brain to avy assessment before the fateful run.

It's also clear to me that Sky's quote has done a good job of pushing some buttons for some folks, in a way that appears to go well beyond his intended meaning.
Logged
Stugie
Member
Offline

Posts: 925


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #50 on: 06/25/08, 06:30 PM »

I don't think anyone but those who were there can know for sure either way whether Sky and Ryan were reckless or not, e.g. whether one ski cut at the top and avoiding a hard turn on the convexity was all that was indicated, or what. At least not w/o a lot more information than we have in this thread. Jason, however, was quite clear that he should not have turned off his brain to avy assessment before the fateful run.

Very true Jim.  I did not in anyway mean to come off with a condescending tone, or present an opinion for discussion that would offend anyone.  Sorry.  Reckless was a poor choice of words.  First thing I read, and it stuck.  I agree though that I have no right to call them reckless.  As I've stated earlier, I've got a lot of respect for Jason and Sky being as I somewhat look at them and what they do as inspiration for me.

Maybe I should have instead just asked what similar conditions existed that they feel helped propogate the slide(s)?
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Keith_Henson
Member
Offline

Posts: 512


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #51 on: 06/25/08, 06:55 PM »

The hottest thread currently on TAY stars Jason Hummel and cascade hardman Sky both of whom are stars (along with Josh H) of the latest episode of the Fitz Cahall's Dirtbag Diaries (released last Friday) and available at

http://thedirtbag.libsyn.com/

(excuse me if this was posted somewhere else on the site)

The Crusade
True or False? Standard pushing is for the pros. If you want to shape skiing or climbing, you have to ditch the job, move into the car and find a deep-pocketed sponsor. The tiny window afforded to weekend warriors couldn’t possibly be enough time with which to make an impact. Right? 

Today, we bring you the Crusade, the story of two stockbrokers, an engineer and a nuclear physicist who, with a little help from the Internet, helped shaped American ski mountaineering without ever leaving their backyard. There will be no helicopters. No corporate expeditions. No photo shoots. Just a decade-long odyssey from the ambitious imagination of youth across the Cascades' steepest faces all the way to the unsettled wisdom of adulthood. It turns out weekend warriors are just as capable.

The photo and video enhanced version will be out shortly. 
Logged

Keith A Henson, Puyallup
AAC
"Let's go! That powder's not going to ski itself."
www.KeithHenson.net
Stefan
5Member
Offline

Posts: 98


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #52 on: 06/25/08, 10:28 PM »

very nice write up Jason.  way to hang your feelings out there.

I too had an experience where I stuck my toe into the "next plan for my soul"

Everything seems a little more special after that time.


Logged
Stefan
5Member
Offline

Posts: 98


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #53 on: 06/25/08, 10:30 PM »

As I've stated earlier, I've got a lot of respect for Jason and Sky being as I somewhat look at them and what they do as inspiration for me.

But Stugie....I thought you loved ME Smiley
Logged
T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 338


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #54 on: 06/25/08, 11:36 PM »

This is simple, mountain skiing is dangerous, Jason was lucky, and life goes on. Claims of skill or knowledge can be swept away with the sudden release of snow. What I wonder about is whether people who have constructed their identity around always doing difficult or increasingly difficult adventures can find meaning in less than radical adventures? I have played both sides of this situation and have been very lucky. I found that I loved climbing and skiing so much that the real challenge has been re-inventing those activities to meet getting older while at the same time trying to stay in touch with the feeling of being in the "zone." Wonderful long time climbing and skiing friendships make that challenge a piece of cake.
Logged
hedonaut
Member
Offline

Posts: 138


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #55 on: 06/26/08, 12:09 AM »

well said T.E. 
i look forward to extending and expanding those friendships. 
this requires every body staying alive, ha.
Logged
Gregg_C
Member
Offline

Posts: 327


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #56 on: 06/27/08, 10:31 AM »

Dan, Ian, Gary, John, Brian, Dave, Catherine, Kim, Martha, Alex, Scott......

List of names of former climbing partners killed in the mountains.   Some well known and some less so.  The events were varied and represented the wide ranging activities that folks I knew were doing;  an avalanche on Shishipangma, cornice collapse on Logan, slide with a 4 ft. crown heli guiding outside of Nakusp, collapse on the summit ridge of Everest.....

Not trying to be dramatic, but the attitude and exultation we felt pushing the boundaries cost our loved ones and survivors dearly.  I can totally relate to Sky's attitude and I do admire his accomplishments.  I also congratulate Jason on laying it out there for the rest of us to read about.  My whole take on this is that Lowell is reflecting back from many years of experience and putting out a warning.  You can push it in the mountains.  You will experience many profound and amazing experiences.  And someone you know or care about deeply will not make it back.  Don't ever kid yourself that it can't happen to you.  No matter how hard you try and control what happens in the mountains, events and conditions beyond your control will step in and change the dynamic.

I would suggest  Coffey's book about the loss of her lover Joe Tasker on the NE ridge of Everest.  She wrote more capable than I can here about the impact upon those left behind when someone passes in the mountains.

I guess I have strong feelings about this along with Lowell.  When I was younger we had some outstanding wakes to celebrate the lives of our companions.  Later, from the vantage point as parents and long standing friendships, the wakes/celebrations turned to more sober affairs.  I have friends that I think about on a daily basis.  I miss them greatly and I can only imagine what their children and wifes/lovers must feel.

Now I am no way perfect in controlling the risk/accomplishment dynamic.  On June 17th I skied the Kautz Headwall on Rainer with a couple of friends.  Despite a nagging head cold with the obligatory cough, I managed to summit and enjoy an outstanding descent with some great companions.  When we reached the cloud layer at 7,500 ft. the trapped sunlight had turned the Nisquilly into one big slurpee.  Up to 2 ft. of  Isothermic snow on all aspects.  We skied down to a huge wet snow slide that had gone off earlier in the day.  We hugged the ridge until we were faced with a slope that was way outside our comfort zone.  At that point we stopped and were quite ready to stay there well into the evening until things settled down.  After a couple of hours and a brew, we heard voices coming up from below; a large guided party post holing up the slope we were waiting on.  Based on the info from the guides about the slope below and the fact that the fan above the Nisquilly had slide during the previous avy cycle we started down.  We boot packed the worrisome slope and then nervously skied the rest of the way down to the Nisaquilly as safely as possible.  It was one of the scariest things I have done in several years.  The slopes were just so damn loaded.  Even though 8 climbers with heavy packs had ascended the 1,500 ft. prior to us it just didn't feel safe.  For several days after I felt like I had made a bad decision based on my haste to end a long day.  The right thing to have done would have been to wait until late evening when the temperature dropped and improved conditions.  So, you live-hopefully-and learn.

Here is a link to the pictures to our ascent and days with others:

http://picasaweb.google.com/GreggCronn/June2008CornFestWithFriends

Thanks to Sky, Jason and Lowell for a very interesting topic. 

Logged
Jason_H.
Member
Offline

Posts: 777


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #57 on: 06/27/08, 11:53 AM »

I feel that you all have good things to say. There is no me against you as I think is understood. But it should be noted that this story was a warning, not about going to extremes, as this thread has generally developed into a discussion of, but more about how something moderate can sting you when you let your guard down. Such as your Kautz Glacier trip Gregg_C (actually you didn't let your guard down, but chose to continue well aware of the danger). I feel I could've explained that better in my story. I didn't expect the attention, although, the insightful respones have surely caused many to ponder, which is healthy.

BTW, I did add photos, so others could gain a perspective of the conditions and layout of the mountain. Like has been noted, snow conditions over the last several weeks have been unusual and I think you will see that the photos, which show corn snow of a inch or two, don't hint at this as much. On the way down the worst place was skied on and what normally would be a wet slide, which doesn't always concern me, became a slab which can be much more frightening. 

Anyhow, I am off to the mountains for a week. Maybe one day, at a TAY get-together or some such, we can spar about our differing opinions. I am sure when all is said and done, we would mostly agree...
« Last Edit: 06/27/08, 11:59 AM by Jason_H. » Logged

T. Eastman
Member
Offline

Posts: 338


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #58 on: 06/27/08, 12:36 PM »

Jason, what I seem to detect from your writing about your near miss is some degree of confusion in understanding where skill ends and luck begins. The Cascade snowpack allows steep skiing on a regular basis but this norm might short-circuit route selection as skiers seek new challenges. "Unusual conditions" are often cited when the snow does not behave as the skier was expecting. In my experience "unusual conditions" are not that unusual but rather the result of myopic focus.

Have fun in the hills.
Logged
ash_j
Member
Offline

Posts: 395


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #59 on: 06/27/08, 09:53 PM »

Living is dying; all the living you do kills you a little.
But a little dying is no reason not to live.

Life IS killing you.  You don't have a choice--but you do get to choose how you live.
Try to live a life of which you will not regret dying.
« Last Edit: 07/02/08, 04:27 PM by ash_j » Logged
fitz
1Member
Offline

Posts: 4


Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #60 on: 07/02/08, 09:29 AM »

When I saw Sky’s quote on death and hiding beneath the bed…I thought ut-oh. I run a podcast called the Dirtbag Diaries and the quote that sparked this debate came out of a radio/rich media piece I worked on with the Hummels and Sky and well in makes more sense inside the context of the radio piece than as a quote on a message board.

Click here to listen – you're going to need a high speed connection, as its a large file with photos and video's from Jason, Sky and Phil.  If you've ever wondered what makes those guys tick, it's worth a listen. I guess if Sky and the Hummels were guests on This American Life this is what it might sound like.

For the record: I wasn’t attempting to write a history of northwest skiing. I think we are probably all in agreement that over the last few years there has been an incredible amount of energy poured into steep skiing up here.  If you look at it nationally, the Northwest is going off at the moment.  That energy comes from many different sources, but this isn’t a history or web database of descents. You can find that elsewhere on the Internet.  This is a story about a couple of very unique individuals, about their growth as skiers and people, and the thought process that we all go through in determining our personal threshold for risk.

On a side note, you guys have really developed a rich community up here. TAY seems to have been so influential in connecting people to one another and creating friendships in a pursuit where there are no pick up games.  I can’t tell you how much I wish something like this had existed for climbers back when I went to college(I guess there was the UW list serve, but that was debacle). I always struggled to find partners, in part because I was shy, but also because I struggled to find people my age interested in the types of routes I wanted to climb. Instead, I climbed alone – passing on corners as Lowell would like to say.  So I think this piece – The Crusade – is a reflection of what you all have built up here. 

I'm glad you're okay Jason.
Logged
Keith_Henson
Member
Offline

Posts: 512


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #61 on: 07/02/08, 07:57 PM »

the enhanced version of the dirtbag diaries  story The Crusade is now on-line:

"Finally, we’ve got a special treat for you – The Crusade Enhanced. Photos by Jason Hummel, Sky Sjue and Ben Manfredi. Video by Phil Fortier.  There are some sweet shots from over a decade of Cascade steep skiing. Skiing these peaks is a feat in itself – stopping to take the photos is another epic task in itself."
http://thedirtbag.libsyn.com/

Fitz Cahall emailed me today having seen my previous post about his podcast. I highly recommend the show. And it's free as the good people at patagonia (you can buy better but you can't pay more) are footing the bill.



The hottest thread currently on TAY stars Jason Hummel and cascade hardman Sky both of whom are stars (along with Josh H) of the latest episode of the Fitz Cahall's Dirtbag Diaries (released last Friday) and available at

http://thedirtbag.libsyn.com/

(excuse me if this was posted somewhere else on the site)

The Crusade
True or False? Standard pushing is for the pros. If you want to shape skiing or climbing, you have to ditch the job, move into the car and find a deep-pocketed sponsor. The tiny window afforded to weekend warriors couldn’t possibly be enough time with which to make an impact. Right? 

Today, we bring you the Crusade, the story of two stockbrokers, an engineer and a nuclear physicist who, with a little help from the Internet, helped shaped American ski mountaineering without ever leaving their backyard. There will be no helicopters. No corporate expeditions. No photo shoots. Just a decade-long odyssey from the ambitious imagination of youth across the Cascades' steepest faces all the way to the unsettled wisdom of adulthood. It turns out weekend warriors are just as capable.

The photo and video enhanced version will be out shortly. 
« Last Edit: 07/03/08, 12:45 PM by Keith_Henson » Logged

Keith A Henson, Puyallup
AAC
"Let's go! That powder's not going to ski itself."
www.KeithHenson.net
jd
Member
Offline

Posts: 160


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #62 on: 07/03/08, 10:12 AM »

Thanks for the confession/TR Jason - it obviously it struck a cord. While your initial post might have been written in the passion of the moment (and apparently didn't exactly communicate what you wanted) it has led to another good thread on TAY. I think we all debate/think about the risks of our sport and weigh the cost/benefit. Many of us old timers feel lucky to have survived our youthful hardcore adventures, and just want to have fun (and read about other's adventures). While risk/adventure/mountains/judgement/objective danger/wisdom/loved ones/skill/carpe-diem/skiing-climbing into your 80s/etc. has been debated here before, and will be again, it is one of the big questions of life and worth some thought/discussion. I find myself agreeing with everyone here in one way or another.

One of my early climbing mentors taught me two conflicting sayings to live/climb by: "When in doubt chicken out" and "Go for it!" The trick is raising your fitness/skills/judgement to a level where you don't have any doubt that you can handle the climb/ski. Once you choose to Go For It! the implication is that you commit fully, which elevates your capabilities and sometimes puts you in The Zone where you feel one with the mountain, which is one of the most addicting aspects of our sport. Of course the randomness of nature makes all of life a roll of the dice, so we just do our best and must accept that shit happens to the best of us, be it cancer, drunk driver, or rock fall. This isn't fatalism, but realism.

Years ago I read an article in Psychology Today that studied risk takers, climbers being some of the more dramatic subjects. One of their findings was that many of them exhibited low levels of anxiety producing chemicals in their brains. The question was if this led them to find normal life dull which is why they had to go to extremes to stimulate themselves to feel excitement/joy. I don't think that was the case for me, but climbing/skiing for years at ever increasing levels seems to do the same thing - making intermediate levels of the sport seem mundane. Another favorite saying I lived by is "Moderation in everything, including moderation." When I was younger it seemed only natural to push myself to improve, which also meant increasing risk (esp. in alpinism). I fully realized this and thought I was ready to accept the consequences. The year I graduated from college I made a pilgrimage to the Canadian Rockies and found myself on the Lowe route on Mt. Temple's north face. My partner and I were very fit and climbed fast to minimize exposure to the huge ice cliff hanging overhead, but I found myself scrambling up a steep shale slope between cliff bands looking for a belay when it went big. The next cliff hid it but I could feel the avalanche shake the mountain so I knew this was it. My mind/body went into frantic survival mode sprinting for the closest solid looking rock which I reached just as house sized blocks of ice started to fly over the cliff to my side. I jammed my hands into a crack, but found it was just the back side of a loose block that moved out as I twisted my fist. Giving up I felt an incredible sadness, and anger with myself in choosing a route with such obvious objective danger. Instead of acceptance I was pissed at throwing my life away for a climb/mountain. Obviously the avy missed, falling just to the side of us, but I've never felt that romantic acceptance of death in the mountains again. I didn't give up hard climbing (I was too addicted) but worked even harder to train and choose better routes (which didn't kept me for other close calls since then). My hardcore years are behind me now, but I wouldn't/couldn't do it any other way, I just thank my lucky stars that I've made it this far. I wish you and your crew the same.

Great slide show Keith! When I read your first post about The Dirtbag Diaries I thought it was a joke. Keep up the good work.
« Last Edit: 07/03/08, 09:02 PM by jd » Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 1789


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #63 on: 07/03/08, 11:15 AM »

Great slide show Keith! When I read your first post about The Dirtbag Diaries I thought it was a joke. Keep up the good work.

Just for the record, the Dirtbad Diaries piece was produced by Fitz Cahall ("fitz" in reply #60 above). Keith was just passing along the word. Thanks Keith.
« Last Edit: 07/03/08, 11:20 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
LeeL
Guest


Email
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #64 on: 07/03/08, 11:43 AM »

My mind/body went into frantic survival mode sprinting for the closest solid looking rock which I reached just as house sized blocks of ice started to fly over the cliff a to my side. I jammed my hands into a crack, but found it was just the back side of a loose block that moved out as I twisted my fist. Giving up I felt an incredible sadness, and anger with myself in choosing a route with such obvious objective danger. Instead of acceptance I was pissed at throwing my life away for a climb/mountain. Obviously the avy missed, falling just to the side of us, but I've never felt that romantic acceptance of death in the mountains again. I didn't give up hard climbing (I was too addicted) but worked even harder to train and choose better routes (which didn't kept me for other close calls since then). My hardcore years are behind me now, but I wouldn't/couldn't do it any other way, I just thank my lucky stars that I've made it this far. I wish you and your crew the same.

Good confession jd.  Here's mine hopefully buried forever.  I was all gungho to ski the couloir that you can see on the Kokanee beer can - its called Gray's Peak.  I couldn't get to it because the knife-edge ridge approach needed gear that you I didn't bring.  So I went to ski another face with attractive looking chutes.  Problem was there were two couloirs  both of which I hadn't scouted, had no route beta and where I couldn't see the bottom.      The approach to them was messy and i was running out of time so i rushed the entry. 

I skied down one couloir and got cliffed out above a rather large band.  Then when i went try to climb back out I found out i was on ice - with no crampons, no axe and no whippet or other ice tools.  I kicked two lousy footholds in and was scrambling to get gear together to climb out when one foothold broke loose - I then sat there elvis-legged for an interminable time till i used my dynafits toepieces as pickets (sounds funny now but that's the only thing I had) to get enough grip so i could reestablish footholds and handholds to get my act together.   I remembered intense sadness and saying goodbye to my parents, my wife (who was on the trip with me) as i thought about the general stupidity of my actions while i was perched on the ice thinking about how far i would fall and how much it would hurt.
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 710


WWW
Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #65 on: 07/03/08, 11:48 AM »

Whew!  Thanks for your stories, jd and Lee.  For the record, I was never referring to objective hazard, I was referring to human error.  Nobody's judgement is perfect, but we can always try to improve.

Let's cross our fingers for those crazy Hummels.  Jason called me from near the summit of Dome yesterday.  From today's weather on komotv.com:
Quote
Strong to severe thunderstorms continue to roll through the Puget Sound area this morning as we stretch into about 15 hours of severe weather around the area.   These storms are bringing torrential downpours, large hail, gusty winds, and frequent lightning.   It's not a day to be outdoors and driving will be incredibly challenging, with urban flooding a real possibility in areas where heavy downpours roll over.
Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 [All] | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.