North Ledges Ice [Photo]

andrew marquis climbing the north ledges in north conway, nh.

Andrew Marquis climbing the North Ledges in North Conway, NH. Click image for hi-res version.

I took this picture January 2013 during one of the Appalachian Mountain Club ice outings. The area is normally a rock climbing destination but during the winter it transforms into columns of ice. I was fortunate to get the morning light that highlighted the color variations in the ice.  Some route names in the area seem to be inspired by the color of the ice; the best example is probably ‘Snot Rocket‘.  I have no earthly idea why.


Read Between the Lines [Photo]

devin saveall leading 'read between the lines, wi4 in north conway, nh.

Devin Saveall leading ‘Read Between the Lines’, WI4 in North Conway, NH. Click to view hi-res version.

In February, Devin and I paired up for a great day of ice climbing in North Conway.  I had completed my second ice lead – a 50m WI3 gully route and I was in a great mood.  Devin wanted to challenge himself, too, so I belayed him up this challenging route and then followed him up.  The beginning of the route had thin, chandeliered ice that broke easily and rained down on me as he made his way up.  The first crux of the route is where I took this picture; Devin had to awkwardly pull to his left and work his way up and left to get to thicker ice before placing his first ice screw. Continue reading

Breaking Ice [Photo]

It’s been a while since I posted any photos to my blog – I’ve gotten a bit lazy and only put them on Facebook, which limited it to people in my network and sub-optimal viewing choices. I just migrated my blog off of Amazon Web Services and in the process found some good WordPress plug-ins for rendering photos so I’ll be doing more of that here.


Joe DiNardo in the North Ledges area of North Conway, NH. Click to see the full-size version.

This winter I had the opportunity to go through the Appalachian Mountain Club’s ice climbing program. It was a great experience getting involved in the local climbing community, meet some great people, and also get some serious laps on ice to where I got enough confidence leading WI3 (a.k.a. – a difficulty rating just above “pansy-level”) by the end of the season. Continue reading

Climbing At Red Rocks

It’s been over a week since I returned from spending four days climbing in Red Rocks, Nevada.  I’d have to rate it near the top of my rock climbing adventures probably only equaled to going up Monkey Face in Smith Rock.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the quiet and terrain of the desert. One of my fondest memories was going on a road trip after graduating college to the desert Southwest, traveling through the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, and Zion national parks.

Climbers to our left in the Whiskey Peak area.

Red Rocks created a whole new set of memories.  I remember exerting myself, singularly focused on climbing and then setting an anchor.  When I looked up I saw the desert floor a thousand feet below me and surrounded by the deep colors of the rock, no sound except for a small breeze.

Josh Strater climbing Electric Koolaid, rated 5.9+.

I took several hundred photos I’m still going through.  Going through them brings back memories of the trip and time I shared with the five others who joined me – Peter, Dean, Stan, Rich, and Josh.

I’ll share more soon.

Mt. Baker in Summer

Late in the summer of 2010 we went out on an ice climbing outing with the Mountaineers to Mt. Baker.  From high on a ridge we encountered this view of the glacier – exposed and broken up after a summer’s worth of warmth and melt, now looking like ripples of water caught in an instant of time.

Mt. Baker

We made our way down to the glacier, wearing crampons and utilizing ice axes, and winding our way up until we climbed some of the glacier ice on a top rope.  Up close the fissures were much more intimidating, with wide cracks appearing drop dozens of feet down.

Lane Peak Via the ‘Zipper’

The ‘Zipper’ gully of Lane Peak. Photo taken Feb 19, 2011. 

Lane Peak lies within the Tatoosh Range, close to Mt. Rainier National Park.  This was one of the rare instances where the weather cooperated during the winter and we were able to climb on a bluebird day.  Gavin and I kicked steps for the rest of the party much of the way.  This view is back down the gully we ascended during a brief moment where I stopped to catch my breath and rest my legs.

Ruth Mountain and Over to Icy Peak

summit of mt. ruth
View of Icy Peak from the summit of Ruth Mountain. Photo taken July 17, 2010.

Back in July I had the opportunity to climb Ruth Mountain in the Washington Cascades over three days. It can be done in a long day, but we wanted the opportunity to climb nearby Icy Peak and also get some landscape photography in so I packed additional camera gear.  Under the summit of Ruth is a large glaciated bench where we made our camp with fantastic views of Mt. Shuksan across the valley. 

mt. shuksan sunset
View of Mt. Shuksan from Ruth Mountain.

I was blessed to watch the sun go down over Mt. Shuksan and capture the beauty of the moment in this photo.  It’s one of my favorites from the entire year.

An Epic Day on Ingalls Peak

Ingalls Peak - Goat!

Mountain goat on the trail to Ingalls Peak. Photos taken June 2010. Larger version here.

Climbing Ingalls Peak via the South ridge was a long day.  Some statistics: hours awake – 23, trailhead and back – 16 hours, sandwiches eaten – 4, yawns – 14, snow steps kicked – #@!$ bunch. 

Before going any further I also need to apologize to my belayer, Mike.  For some reason, perhaps lack of sleep or focusing on leading the route I could not remember his name the entire day.  I’m normally bad with names but this time it was ridiculous.  Throughout the day I think I called him Andrew, Alfonse, The Fonz, Hey You, Stephanie,and Reba. 

I got to bed at midnight and set the alarm for 3a,stumbled out of the house and met my carpool at 4a, and then rode for two hours to arrive at the trailhead, embarking on the trail by 6:30a.  The dirt road to the trailhead was extremely rutted and had gigantic potholes, making the inside of the car seem like we were in the spin cycle of The Washing Machine From Hell. 

Ingalls Peak - Goats!
Larger version here.

After a short while we encountered patches of snow on the trail which quickly changed to all snow.  We were joined by several mountain goats who got quite close and ascended the exposed rock above the trail.  The approach required kicking steps nearly the entire way.  We got off course by ascending a steep snow gully about 150 yards up only to find out that we had found the start of the east route instead of the intended south ridge.  We down-climbed and made it to the base of the route by 11a.

Ingalls Peak - starting the route
Megan climbing the first pitch while Mike looks on. Larger version here.

The rock on Ingalls was different than most other rock in the Cascades.  It had varying levels of smoothness to the point of being slippery.  Even though our route was fairly easy, I double-checked all my foot placements before committing to anything.  A group of three scrambled up the route and cut in front of us, slowing our progress.  One of their climbers was extremely slow and should have stuck to the kiddie wall at the climbing gym.  For a long time I considered throwing the pack he’d left at the base down the steep snow slopes.

Ingalls Peak - view east

Summit view to the east. Larger version here.

The climb was four pitches to the top, following a wide crack that eventually tapers out at the end of the third pitch.  Protection up to 2.5”-3” is good to have, especially on the lower pitches.  This was the first time I used my large hex, the one that makes me feel like a Swiss cow when it clanks on my rack. 

Ingalls Peak - view west

Summit view to the west.  Larger version here.

The views at the summit were spectacular, although it was cool and blustery with gusts at least 20 mph.  We waited for the party of three to rappel off before beginning our descent. 

Ingalls Peak - steve at the top

Yours truly enjoying the summit.

Due to the traffic on the route, we didn’t get to the base until 7:30p. We got back to the trailhead around 10:30p, wearing headlamps the final hour.  After exiting the cratered road, I finally made it home around 1:30a Saturday morning and collapsed on the bed.  In the morning I had the worst bed-head ever.  I called it a reverse mullet: party in the front, business in the back.

Climbing The Tooth

The Tooth
Photo taken June 2010. Larger version here.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to be a rope lead on The Tooth, one of the signature rock climbs in the Snoqualmie Pass area.  It was the first outdoor rock climb I ever went on; although it”s an easy climb I remember getting wigged out by exposure and clomping around in rigid mountain boots, scraping the rock looking for a purchase as if I had hoofs for feet.

Scott led the trip, while Duncan, Vance, and I joined as rope leads for Jon, Robin, Nate and Errin. It was a great group of people to climb with. Although we didn”t know each other well, by the end of the day we were having a lively discussion about some recent incident about a cop arresting some naked person.

We had a bluebird day and climbing it the second time up I was much more confident. The gigantic handholds reminded me of the children”s wall at the climbing gym with big, colorful handholds shaped like elephants and donkeys. 

Unfortunately I left my camera at the base of the climb, but I was able to get this pic of my belayer,Jon,on his way down.  It was his first rock climb and it brought back fun memories of my first time out.

Colchuck Peak & Fun With Feminine Hygiene Products

Colchuck - view of Dragontail

View of Dragontail from Colchuck Peak. Larger version here.

The continued wet weather laid waste to my plans to climb Mt. Rainier over the Memorial Day weekend and I made a decision to bail on that trip Friday afternoon. Saturday I was calling friends to get outdoors and I was able to tag along with my friends Chris and Radka to climb Colchuck Peak, recruiting my friend Chewie (*name changed, you’ll understand why later) in the process.

Colchuck - Ascending the Glacier
Chewie* ascending Colchuck Glacier. Larger version here.

We arrived at the trailhead and hiked the 4.5 miles to Colchuck Lake with enough time to set up camp and eat dinner before heading to bed. To save a few pounds I left the tent at home and made a snow shelter by digging a trench and covering it with a tarp. The pack still weighed about 40 lbs. since I brought my digital SLR and tripod.

Colchuck - Ascending the Glacier 2
Chris in the foreground. Larger version here.

We woke up at 4:30a and hit the trail by 5:15a. Chewie’s heels were developing blisters so I gave him my first aid kit that had moleskin and other supplies in it. When I checked in on him I noticed I noticed he’d put large white pads on the back of his heels, not the moleskin. It turns out they were feminine pads (aka – ”kotex”) – a few years ago I took a mountaineering first aid class and they suggested packing them to soak up blood if an injury occurs in the backcountry. Not knowing what they were, Chewie had wrapped his heels with the pads but they did the job and he didn’t develop any more blisters. That was good for a laugh.

Colchuck - Final Scramble 2
Scrambling up the final portion. Larger version here.

We climbed the final 2.5 miles up Colchuck Glacier, nestled between Dragontail Peak and Colchuck. Once we reached the saddle we turned right and scrambled up a mix of snow and rock to reach the summit. We considered traversing over to summit Dragontail but decided against it due to the warming weather and potential for avalanches as the day wore on.

Colchuck - Final Scramble
Larger version here.

As we headed back down we were able to glissade and save some time but made me pretty moist in the process. After relaxing in camp for a while we packed up and were back at the cars by 4:30p.

Colchuck - At the Summit
The author, deep in thought with his deep thoughts. Photo by Luke Humphrey. Larger version here.