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Author Topic: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face  (Read 16141 times)
Stugie
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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)?
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"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
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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. 
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Keith A Henson, Puyallup
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Stefan
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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.


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Stefan
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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
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T. Eastman
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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.
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hedonaut
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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.
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Gregg_C
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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. 

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Jason_H.
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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
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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.
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ash_j
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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
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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.
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Keith_Henson
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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
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"Let's go! That powder's not going to ski itself."
www.KeithHenson.net
jd
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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
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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
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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.
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skykilo
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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.
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