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.
08/22/19, 11:59 AM

Become a TAY Sponsor!
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Second Ascent
Second Ascent
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
|-+  2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  January 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum  (Read 44848 times)
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« on: 01/31/05, 02:10 PM »

This winter has been very frustrating.  Many nights of being a drunken braggadocio in pubs
around Seattle made me feel impotent, as if I were losing my edge.  I needed release.  I
needed adventure.  My plan was to ski Mt Blum in a day.  I was hoping that I could make
lemonade out of our bitterly citrus-flavored weather.  The Hummels were ignorant of the
more sinister aspects of my design, so they happily agreed to go with high expectations of
surveying new terrain.

The more I looked at the topo maps, the more excited I became.  There is an abundance of
alpine terrain up there!  Bacon Peak connects to Mt Blum and Hagan Mountain , from which
there is a high route on a ridge to Mt Despair that never drops to timberline.  Wow!  
The weather forecast deteriorated before Sunday, but that's more of an expectation than a
surprise.  The situation in the northwest right now is remarkably vexing: we have
effectively zero low elevation snowpack, and the forecasts give no hope that we'll have a
low elevation snowpack any time soon, yet we still can't get any stable weather to make the
best of it in the hills.  Maybe it's good to know how bad it can really get; I'll be more
happy with all kinds of less-than-ideal situations in the future.

So pardon my lengthy preamble and let me tell you about our picaresque adventures above
Baker River.  The Hummels met me at my house at a quarter past three in the morning on a
Sunday, so that we could visit the church of steep brush.  Never mind that it was raining as
we packed our gear at the end of Baker Lake Road; such is the fate of ski
mountaineers-errant: to climb and ski the great worthy peaks where others would not
deign to venture because of the great suffering required.  No bushwhack is a match for a
gallant ski mountaineer-errant's doughty back and well-loaded pack, with skis proudly
pointing to the sky to make the branches overhead crack.

How difficult could it be with the nice new bridge over Baker River?  We found no trace of a
trail leaving the Baker Lake Trail on the other side.  It was probably only because it was
dark, but we wandered from the bridge to the next creek to the south several times without
finding the indicators we sought.  With much speculation I used my mapcraft to determine that
the creek nearest the bridge was Blum Creek, which meant we needed to leave the main trail
somewhere in the interval we had repeatedly traversed.  Several forays into the woods gave us
no sign of the well-flagged route of which we'd heard, so we finally decided to do the honorable
thing and make a sortie through the shrubbery.

Our efforts up the flood plain and through gullies choked with dead trees were eventually
rewarded with daylight, and a pink flag hanging from a tree.  I can only speculate how long
we would have continued through the wet woods without this affirmation, but the bootpack we
found in short order after the flag multiplied our motivation manifold.  This approach was
unique in my experience.  In all my gallavanting about the Cascades the last few years, never
have I spent 4,000 vertical feet (That's 1,300 meters for you SI junkies.) in steep forest
without intermission.  Luckily, most of it is in open old growth forest, so it could be much
worse.

By the time the steep ridge eased at 4,600 feet, there was a consistent snowpack.  We were
thankful that the rain had subsided not too long after we began, but brushy sections in the
woods had left us as wet as we could be.  We didn't contour to Blum Lakes, instead we stayed
on the ridge.  The trees opened at 5,400 feet, and we left our water-logged tennis shoes and
socks (except for Josh who had forgotten extra socks) to don skis and skins.  I had read of
several routes in the red Beckey, but they left me ambivalent.  Given our position we
decided to follow the ridge as it turned to the north and passed a lake at 5,900 feet, en
route to crossing a ridge the trends northwest from Mt Blum.

Josh lead the procession on skins at noon.  Two seemed like a reasonable turnaround time,
but I wanted to make a good effort and considered a time more toward three acceptable.  
We crossed the aforementioned ridge and climbed toward the small, north-facing glacier to the
west of the North Ridge without further ado.  We were treated to one of our two tantalizing
glimpses of that giant yellow thing in the sky about this time, which allowed us to ogle the
terrain toward Hagan Mountain.  I was also elated to discover the return of the maritime
snowpack.  There was a thin coating of a few inches of powder over a bombproof concrete base.  
Moreover, the snow began warm so that there was no trace of a crust, just an impregnable
bottom layer.

I was in the lead as we sallied toward the top of the glacier, which presented an array of
obstacles against which we could test our resolve.  We chose to regain the northwest ridge
via a steep chute.  The chute's sidewalls consisted of blue ice over granite.  Josh lead the
posthole procession up the chute, which included a large fan of snow accumulated from
spindrift off its steep sidewalls.  I stayed well behind him, somewhat concerned about the
large pile of snow releasing.  The runout on the glacier was mellow, though, and the snow had
shown absolutely no signs of instability.  Josh was a bit intimidated by an ice step where
the chute made a bottleneck, and he asked me to join him.

With temerity befitting a ski mountaineer-errant manifesting great deeds, I quickly kicked
steps up the seventy five degree constriction.  The angle eased before long and I was able to
boot to the gentle ridge without hindrance.  The ridge above 7,000 feet presents easy
ambulation, but is exposed to large cliffs toward the glacier.  We slowly strolled over a
roll and were disappointed to see that the whiteout had enchanted us and that we had work to
do yet.  So I began kicking steps up the snowfield just to the northwest of where the North
Ridge and the ridge that trends northwest meet.

I recently bought a gradient gauge so I decided to put it to use on the open snowfield.  A
measurement near the bottom yielded 45.5 degrees, and 150 feet higher the result was 47
degrees.  I didn't bother to use it again in the j-shaped chute above the snowfield, because
I found the cliff at the bottom of the 'j' somewhat discomforting.  The chute was much
steeper than the snowfield, though; I would estimate 60 degrees.

The top of the chute formed a hinge between the North Ridge and the ridge that trends
northwest.  It looked like an easy stroll along the ridge was all that remained to the summit
of Mt Blum, which according to my mapcraft and trusty topo was about 200 feet above us.  
Faced with fleeting daylight and the prospect of navigating the steep woods down to the river
in the dark, combined with the nontrivial aspects of the ski descent now below us, we decided
to end the ascending phase of our adventure there at the top of the honourable j-chute.  

I was the first one ready to ski, so I had the honor of scraping the meager layer of fresh
snow off the chute's icy surface.  I made a turn at the top, the ugly skidding end of which I
found quite disconcerting.  In the interest of self-preservation I side-stepped and -slipped
the remainder until I found myself facing the wrong way at the bottom of the 'j'.  I asked
Jason to take a photo and made my jump turn.  Then I traversed onto the snowfield and made a
couple relieved turns in the nice snow of the benign, 47 degree slope.  Josh had never seen
me resort to the sidestep, so he followed with a bit of trepidation.  Both Hummels made it
down the chute intact.  

They were in concordance that their new skis may have saved them in the chute.  I helped them
select something other than the big fat skis this fall.  It is good to see them on reasonable
skis at last.  Now if I could just talk them into getting properly functioning bindings!  Don
Quixote had that brilliant beast Rozinante, as every knight-errant had a worthy horse.  In
the same manner it is befitting that a ski mountaineer-errant should have a good set of
boards.

It was pleasant skiing on the ridge to the chute above the glacier.  The top of it was too
narrow to sidestep.  It was also a dogleg, so straight-running the top posed the peril of
maiming oneself on the rock and ice at the side of the chute.  I was considering climbing
down it, when Jason solved the problem in short order.  He hurled himself in a thirty foot
drop onto the pile of spindrift in the chute's gullet.  There were plenty of pillows for all
of us, so Josh went next, followed by me.  The landing was as soft as could be; I emerged
from a butt-check to make a few powder turns on the glacier and shout for joy.

Time was now our enemy, so we truncated our celebrations and made a high traverse for the
ridge.  After we skied by the 5,900 foot lake we were treated to views to the east and west
off the ridge.  Both directions beckoned with huge, tempting fields of powder.  We had to
ignore the enchantment of the powderfields in light of our haste.  Return to this fair bastion
of terrain in the future, we must.  The rolling ridge was a worthwhile consolation prize, then
we were able to ski another 500 vertical feet or so into the trees, amazingly without losing the
path.  

We stayed in our boots for the downshwhack.  We ran a respectable race against the clock, but
we could not avoid the inevitable.  Darkness descended upon us with 2,000 vertical feet
remaining to the valley floor.  Somehow we had made it 2,000 vertical feet in half an hour as
darkness approached, but in its presence it took us three and a half hours to finish the deed.  
The sounds of Blum Creek and Baker River were maddening.  We could hear them, but they didn't
seem to get any closer.  The closer we got to the valley floor, the more deadfall, devil's
club, and daunting debris slowed our progress.  The rain returned with some fervor as we
struggled down to the valley.

By the time the terrain was flat we were going nowhere and I was absolutely convinced the
valley was enchanted.  Consider the evidence: Jason Hummel, for all his celebrated adventures
as an esteemed ski mountaineer-errant, was reduced to behavior unbecoming of even a squire.  
Some devil got hold of all of our tongues, and we were walking as if drunk and falling due to
some bedeviled branch every third step.  I had to laugh in delight, knowing that an evil
wizard would only go to such lengths to stop a ski mountaineer-errant who was destined
for truly great adventures.  That same wizard further tried to stifle us by extinguishing my
torch.  I had to stay between the Hummels.  Add to the copious evidence of enchantment the
fact that the Hummels, with their torches, were falling much more than I was falling with only
the scattered light they left for me.  Or perhaps my fair lady was coming to my succor.  Who
is my fair lady, you ask?  Never mind that you base heathen, I would never betray her honor!

After many ups and downs, and a pause to check the compass and realize that my topo had
become a slimy ball of pulp, we were surprised to stumble upon the Baker Lake Trail.  We were
relieved to see that the wizard had not thought to hide the bridge by enchantment, and we
hiked to the Hummels' Explorer posthaste.  Jason offered me a fruit cocktail, telling me it
would get me high.  It was most excellent, but it could not replace the salve of a good beer.  
I cracked a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, which to me is as good or better than the magic healing
balm of Fierebras was for the famous knight Don Quixote de La Mancha.  I tried Jason's salve
but he would not try mine.  Maybe it would treat him like the balm of Fierebras treated
Sancho Panza?  Huh Wink Cool
« Last Edit: 02/02/05, 05:03 PM by skykilo » Logged
philfort
Member
Offline

Posts: 628


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #1 on: 01/31/05, 02:34 PM »

Ok, I'm a bit jealous  Wink

Way to make the best of conditions!
Logged
Jeff Huber
Member
Offline

Posts: 771


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #2 on: 01/31/05, 04:04 PM »

Wow - how pleasant sounding!

My favorite lines:
"The top of it was too narrow to sidestep.  It was also a dogleg, so straight-running the top posed the peril of maiming oneself on the rock and ice at the side of the chute.  I was considering climbing down it, when Jason solved the problem in short order.  He hurled himself in a thirty foot drop"

"we were walking as if drunk and falling due to some bedeviled branch every third step"

"We were relieved to see that the wizard had not thought to hide the bridge by enchantment"

"Jason offered me a fruit cocktail, telling me it would get me high. It was most excellent, but it could not replace the salve of a good beer. I cracked a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon".

Seriously, good job and thanks for the entertaining TR.
« Last Edit: 01/31/05, 04:05 PM by Gaper_Jeffey » Logged

markharf
Member
Offline

Posts: 623


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #3 on: 01/31/05, 04:26 PM »

Any trip report which features nonchalant use of words like "picaresque" and "temerity," plus extravagantly alliterative riffs like "deadfall, devil's club and daunting debris" gets my vote, regardless of content.  If it also entertains at exorbitant, exuberant length, so much the better.  Thanks for setting the standard.
« Last Edit: 01/31/05, 04:29 PM by markharf » Logged
Squakmtn
5Member
Offline

Posts: 70


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #4 on: 01/31/05, 04:39 PM »

Great prose from what sounds like an excellent trip considering our meager year.  Conditions read like a great report from July!
Alternate title for the trip report, "Mt. Blum...another January 05 act of desperation."
Logged

Squak MountainEars
"We hear there's powder up there"
ron j
TAY Moderator
Offline

Posts: 2602


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #5 on: 02/01/05, 12:52 AM »

Nice read, Sky.
The obvious effort that went into it representative of the effort and creativity of the destination.
Keep up the great work, you guys, you're making ski mountaineering history!  Wink
Logged

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #6 on: 02/01/05, 01:51 AM »

Thanks for the good words, my fellow esteemed ski mountaineers-errant.  I truly believe the order of ski mountaineer-errantry we profess here in the northwest is as honourable as any gallant form of chivalry witnessed to date on this little planet of ours.

Sorry for the edit.  I had said something inaccurate about Pioneer Ridge; hopefully history will show me to be a better ski mountaineer-errant than geographer.  Maybe that wicked wizard was trying to do me dishonor yet by making my words ring false!?
Logged
Paul Belitz
Member
Offline

Posts: 409


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #7 on: 02/01/05, 03:06 AM »

Good lord, Sky, can't you be a bit more verbose? Your erudite trip report/thesis needs a bit more loquacity.

Sounds positively miserable, glad you enjoyed it. But where are the photos?
Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2089


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #8 on: 02/01/05, 04:07 AM »

Dear Sky, Jason and Josh,  

I'm glad your trip to Mt Blum ended safely.  I hope we know each other well enough that you will accept some critical comments from me.  I sent these comments to Jason in response to his email.  In this day of public trip reports and public congratulations, a dissenting viewpoint may be warranted.  

I think you made some bad decisions during your trip.  The biggest one was not bivouacking during your descent in the woods. I climbed Mt Blum in autumn about 20 years ago and due to slowness getting up the north ridge we found ourselves in darkness right at the same place you did, around 3000 feet elevation in the woods.  We bivouacked.  As I remember (and as Jason described in his email) the woods are bluffy and steep there.  In the dark you cannot see the bluffs until you are on top of them.  People have died in that kind of terrain in the dark--see the note about Richard Berge's death in the preface to Mt Baring in Beckey's green guide.  

For 4 ounces per person (less than the weight of a good chocolate bar) you could have carried a bivi tent that would have sheltered all three of you during the night.  You would have been clammy, but reasonably warm.  I showed you mine during our Nooksack Traverse trip last April.  Here's how to make one.

During the ski descent, you decided to jump a thirty foot cliff instead of downclimbing around it.  The reason for doing this was to save time, because you weren't prepared to bivouac. Fortunately, everything went all right. But what if it hadn't?  Could you imagine the accident report?  

Quote
Skier, descending North Cascade summit in mid-winter, late in the day, with deteriorating weather, jumps cliff to save time and breaks leg.  Shock and hypothermia follow ...
 

I've lost several friends in the mountains in various ways. One technique that I have used to avoid joining them is what I call "advance hindsight." When making a critical decision, imagine for a moment that the decision goes wrong.  Then imagine what someone writing up an accident report would say about it. Would they say you misjudged the conditions or took a needless risk?  If so, then don't do it.  This method isn't foolproof, and I continue to make bad decisions sometimes, but this method helps to cut through the emotions of the moment.  

In a recent TAY thread, Jason wrote, "I hope that we will shed 'extreme' and let people know that we are not adrenaline hazed, young punks but just normal people who enjoy the outdoors." I think that's a great sentiment.  But if you really want it to come true, you need to make decisions in the mountains that will stand the light of day.
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #9 on: 02/01/05, 06:59 AM »

Lowell,

I understand that you concur with the Cervantes-influenced theme.  Don Quixote was not only a comedy, but also a tragedy.  C'est une comedie, et une tragedie...

More seriously, your points certainly have merit, as always.  In the same vein I can tell you that I don't think I would have bivouacked even if I had either of the two ultralight bivy sacks I own.  One of our big rushes was to get through the cliffy sections in the vicinity of where the ridge narrows before dark, which we managed.  I won't debate any of the other aspects with you, but I respect your opinion and I haven't taken any offense at all.  I hope that anyone would feel free to critique anything I say on the internet, as I would do likewise to them.

I almost responded to Jason's comment about 'extreme' before, and what I wanted to say was that I didn't mind the label if it is framed as such.  I really don't care what people think.  The foremost motivation that drives me is to get far out of my comfort zone.  I can't explain the exhiliration that comes with it.  In this case I wanted to write about our trip, and I've been toying with the idea of a Cervantes impression for a few weeks.  I wanted to share the fruits of my labor with others.  

So in summary, I thank you for your frankness.  I think your advice is quite sound.  But neither will I nor can I guarantee that I won't do anything you think ill-advised in the future.
Logged
Sam Avaiusini
Member
Offline

Posts: 240


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #10 on: 02/01/05, 07:34 AM »

Hmm, Jason invited me on this one, but I had a flight to Reno for 3 days of skiing at Squaw...

I'm not too sorry I missed-out on this particular suffer fest.
Very glad it all worked out though!

Sky, this was a very nice read indeed!
Logged

Sam Avaiusini
gregL
Member
Offline

Posts: 1222


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #11 on: 02/01/05, 08:09 AM »

That's what I love about this forum . . . the erudition, the literary references, the self-deprecating humor . . . any idiot can post misspelled IM-like blather on TGR or Biglines . . .
Logged
David_Lowry
Member
Offline

Posts: 122


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #12 on: 02/01/05, 08:25 AM »

PBR?  What happened to Tecate? Grin
Logged
gregL
Member
Offline

Posts: 1222


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #13 on: 02/01/05, 09:47 AM »

High-end truth serum derived from blue agave?
Logged
David_Lowry
Member
Offline

Posts: 122


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #14 on: 02/01/05, 10:02 AM »

No, the Mexican equivalent of PBR!  I vaguely recall a photo of Sky holding one in one of the TR's on his site- before it was refurbished.

Of course, I could be going off on another flight of fancy...
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #15 on: 02/02/05, 05:32 PM »

Here is a photo from a highly esteemed bushwhacker-errant who bears the seal of the Rhinoceros, a strong sturdy beast if ever there was one.  His celebrated sorties and picaresque adventures canvass the Cascades in a most inimitable fashion.  Thanks for the photo, Dr. John Roper!



David,
You remember correctly, there was a photo with Jeff and me drinking Tecates at the car after a climb of the Kennedy Glacier and Frostbite Ridge; that's gone.  I'm not too particular about my brew; so long as it has the blessing of my fair maiden it is as good to me as the legendary balm of Fierebras.

Lowell,
I hadn't fully appreciated your post until this morning.  Your chivalrous wordplay is slightly more subtle, which might be considered the mark of a more mature author.  Cleary you thought I was making a gross oversight without reference to The Curate, so you decided to take that role upon yourself.  Well done!

I made one more edit because I noticed two spelling errors upon review.  The famous Don Quixote clearly demonstrated with the most irrefutable arguments, while dining in that enchanted castle where he first made the balm of Fierebras, that knight-errantry is a greater profession than scholarship.  Nevertheless, I aspire to some day achieve a certain level of mastery in both ski mountaineer-errantry AND scholarship, so I loathe to see the typos remain.

« Last Edit: 02/02/05, 05:37 PM by skykilo » Logged
Amar Andalkar
Member
Offline

Posts: 1231


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #16 on: 02/03/05, 06:48 AM »

Quote
I made one more edit because I noticed two spelling errors upon review.  ....  Nevertheless, I aspire to some day achieve a certain level of mastery in both ski mountaineer-errantry AND scholarship, so I loathe to see the typos remain.


Um, Sky, I hate to go around correcting anyone's spelling, but since you've brought the subject up, "gallavanting" is still misspelled. The preferred spelling is gallivanting, with galavanting as a variant. See http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=galavant.

Thanks for a very entertaining story, but I'm sure glad I went to Muir instead.
Logged

David_Coleman
Member
Offline

Posts: 382


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #17 on: 02/03/05, 10:01 AM »

I'd say that's petty to be complaining about that typo compared to some of the spelling both you and I have seen.
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #18 on: 02/03/05, 10:58 AM »

I think it's only fair for Amar to cite it considering I made a point of editing the others.  Good eye, Amar!  I was actually aware of it, but I decided to leave it since the root word it 'gallant'.  It's a linguistic form of civil disobedience.
Logged
alpentalcorey
Member
Offline

Posts: 358


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #19 on: 02/04/05, 09:59 AM »

Quote
I decided to leave it since the root word it 'gallant'.  It's a linguistic form of civil disobedience.


Was this to tempt us also?   Wink
Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #20 on: 02/07/05, 02:07 PM »

OK you guys can judge for yourselves.  The following *it* a 7meg .wmv video that includes me doing some *step* skiing.  Josh shot it, and I did a little editing.
Ski Mt Blum.

I only jumped about 20 feet; my narrative describes Jason, who took it a little bigger.  I'll leave it for a few days before I remove the behemoth video file.

Logged
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2089


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #21 on: 02/07/05, 04:01 PM »

Quote
OK you guys can judge for yourselves.  The following *it* a 7meg .wmv video that includes me doing some *step* skiing.


Fair enough. Unfortunately, I'm on a slow dialup connection, so I'll leave it to others to make their own judgments. My comments were intended to get people thinking. I think they did.
Logged
ron j
TAY Moderator
Offline

Posts: 2602


Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #22 on: 02/08/05, 01:00 AM »

Nice viddy, Sky.
And the trip appeared to go clear to the "story for the grandkids" level in torture points.  
As for rendering a decision on the sanity of the jump, I'll demur on that.  It seems to me like too much of a personal thing to come up with any measurable criteria; too many variables.  "One man's meat is another man's poison".  What might be a "sporty" line to one might mean certain death to another if within miles of it.  
It did look like you did a nice job of choosing a nice conservative line, for a jumper.  As a geriatric, I tend to prefer no air under the slippery sides, although I occasionally inadvertently break that rule  Wink).
Logged

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
Lowell_Skoog
Member
Offline

Posts: 2089


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #23 on: 02/08/05, 04:23 PM »

Quote

My comments were intended to get people thinking. I think they did.


After reading the posts over in the Observation Rock thread, I think what I was trying to say got lost. The issue has degenerated into whether a cliff jump or a 360 (or both, or neither) is reckless. I think that misses the point. The point, for me, is awareness of chains.

When you review an accident in hindsight, you often find that disaster didn't strike out of the blue, but instead it was the end result of a series of decisions and/or circumstances which, in retrospect, seem almost to have been fated to end in trouble.  This series is called a chain.  (This is probably a very old concept.  I don't remember where I heard about it.)

A valuable skill is the ability to recognize a chain in the making and break it, or at least avoid adding to it.  The thing that bothered me about the Mt Blum cliff jump was that it seemed to be the end of a chain which fortunately did not lead to an accident, but could have.  Here are some of the links:

Mid-winter - Minimal daylight for travel and/or for responding to emergency.

Iffy weather - Increases the risk of exposure if anything goes wrong.

Unfamiliar approach - Delays climb and increases the risks of descending after dark.

Rushed for time - The party turned back before reaching the summit and started down because they knew they needed to hurry to timberline.

No bivi option - No choice but to keep going.

The jump - In his e-mail, Jason wrote: "We were going to downclimb but time was really getting short and the jump landed on the only nice snow (that was blown in there) that we got."

Group dynamics - Once Jason decided to jump, everybody decided to jump.  Jason said he has done a lot of jumping and he didn't consider this dangerous.  I don't know if that was true for everybody else.  It seemed to me (sitting comfortably at home) like sort of a "lemming moment."

So when I voiced my dissenting viewpoint, it was because I saw this chain, and it didn't seem like anybody else noticed it.  Sky has said that he doesn't really care what people think.   I accept that.  Maybe others will get something out of this discussion, at least a greater awareness of chains.

I'll be happy to hear pbelitz's analysis of my 360 incident.
« Last Edit: 02/09/05, 04:53 AM by Lowell_Skoog » Logged
skykilo
Member
Offline

Posts: 797


WWW
Re: January 30, 2005, Mt Blum
« Reply #24 on: 02/09/05, 07:27 AM »

Lowell your analysis is good.  I also like the chain concept, and it makes a lot of sense.  

Of course at some level, being a homosapien and all that, I do care what others think.  With that particular comment I specifically meant that I don't care if we're perceived as 'extreme' or not.  As a matter of fact, I'm glad not too many other people want to do this kind of stuff; long live the wilderness feel of the Cacades!

Your conclusion was sensible, and in terms of consequence I woudn't argue that your helicopter on a sunny summer day, with plenty of gear to weather any unforunate mishaps, was in the same realm as our trip on Mt Blum.  I don't think that obfuscated the issue.  I'd venture to guess that most of the posters here realized that Paul was just taking the opportunity to turn your words on you, which can be quite fun, if not in the best of decorum.  There are a few additional facts, the inclusion of which may or may not have affected your conclusion.  

I never felt rushed during this trip.  I was resigned to the onset of darkness, wherever it left us.  As always, application of the adage Be quick but don't hurry! was essential.  I could easily provide links to a handful of trip reports where I felt much more anxious about nightfall.  It's not as if we couldn't have made it through the night (miserable as it may have been).  It never even occurred to me to bivy, and I'm fairly certain that wouldn't have changed based upon having a plastic bag for the vigil.

Additionally, as I mentioned, I was ready (although not eager) to downclimb.  I wouldn't have made the jump had I not felt totally confident in the outcome.  Part of your perception was probably influenced by your correspondence with Jason.  I'm not sure whether or not I should use the word melodramatic (oops there it went), but...

This is a good discussion.  It seems that the compelling question of Risk versus Reward lies near the heart of it.  In your first post was this question:

"Would they say you misjudged the conditions or took a needless risk?"

Well, I don't know what they would say.  But it would be true that we took a needless risk regardless of the outcome,  or whether we jumped the cliff.  Going to Mt Blum has some level of risk during good weather in the summer.  Given your experience, surely you've considered the possibility of mangling a leg in a North Cascades jungle.  There's a risk none of us ever needed to take.

Clearly, nobody involved in either backcountry skiiing or mountaineering can say they don't take needless risks.  So all that's left to ask is, "How much risk is acceptable?"  Well, you could argue that we're ignorant of the risks we're taking.  In that case you could enlighten us.  (I wonder how well that would go over with a young cocksure SOB like me? Wink)  I would argue that we were well aware of our plight in this instance.  

Perhaps we disagree.  That's OK right?  Hooray for civil discourse!

One last thing I would like to note is that my continuing analogy with Don Quixote screams, "CHAIN!!!"  Maybe the literary reference was lost.  The book is about a deranged madman who fancies himself a knight and has one misadventure after another until he eventually dies.  Given that knowledge, the implications are obvious.  I highly recommend Don Quixote, le chef d'oeuvre de Cervantes.

So is Rozinante dead yet?


 
Logged
Pages: [1] 2  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.