Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Released! 2010 Reach The Summit Mt. Hood Climb Trailer

Chech this out!!  Simply amazing!!!!!!


(** Sorry - you will need to be on Facebook to view it.  If non-Facebook one becomes available, I'll be sure to repost this **)

Mt. Hood Climbers - Congratulations!!

This weekend, the Mt. Hood climbers realized their dreams.  They climbed on two days, June 25th and 27th.  The following are the reports by Jennifer, the organizer of Reach The Summit.
Reach The Summit
Mt. Hood Trip Report
June 25, 2010

The first Reach The Summit climb of 2010 was a big success with 14 of the 15 attempting climbers making it to the top!

After spending the day in snow climb class with Timberline Mountain Guides on June 24, Team "Hood Fruit Salad” (ask one of them to explain the name to you) had dinner and a brief nap at Silcox Hut before their climbs. The RTS Hood climbers were joined by RTS volunteers Joe G and Marty and myself.

We had a midnight and 1:00 am snow cat so the entire team was above 8500 feet by 2:00 am. The snow conditions did not require crampons for the first hour or so but we had great “steps” and the team progressed up the mountain without incident. Just elow Crater Rock snow conditions hardened up a bit and we all put on the crampons and the snow conditions continued to be generally ideal for the rest of the climb. No icy spots or post-holing! The weather was clear and warm early in the climb and we were treated to a beautiful full moon. Many climbers did not even need their headlamps and opted to climb by moonlight. About an hour into the climb the wind picked up making the air temps colder and some high level clouds rolled in making for an incredibly cool moon-set over the lights of Portland. Of course everyone had enough gear to keep reasonably warm cold and the wind all but stopped once we hit the Hogsback.

At about a third of the way up (about 1,000 vertical feet into the climb), Christine Hansen made the tough decision to return to Silcox Hut with “take-down” guide Sheldon. The rest of the climbers continued the ascent to the Hogsback, traversed the Hot Rocks and ascended via the Old Chute route. Conditions remained excellent and the teams made their way up the steepest part of the climb without incident. Despite high clouds, the summit had spectacular 360 degree views of Rainier, St. Helens, Adams and Jefferson. Summit stays lasted about 30 minutes giving climbers a chance to snap photos, call and text friends and family and enjoy the spectacular view from the top of Oregon! The teams then made their way back down the same route to Silcox for some well-earned hot waffles and eggs!

The first teams returned to Silcox Hut by around 9:30 am and the last group arrived around 11:30 am.

Special thanks to our amazing TMG guides – Joe, Nick, Chris, Ben, Rodney, and Sheldon for leading the way and keeping us safe.

Reach The Summit

Mt. Hood Trip Report
June 27, 2010

The second Reach The Summit climb of 2010 was a big success with 14 of the 15 attempting climbers making it to the top! Hillarie and April were not able to climb with the team due to medical reasons but they will have a chance to do so with Timberline Mountain Guides when they are feeling better. They both came up to Silcox Hut to support and encourage the team last night and this morning!

After spending the day in snow climb class with Timberline Mountain Guides on June 26, Team "Lunar-Tics” had dinner and a brief nap at Silcox Hut before their climbs. The RTS Hood climbers were joined by Montana RTS Coordinator Alison James and me.

We had a midnight which made it to the top of the Palmer but because of slushy snow conditions the 1:00 am snow cat was only made to 8100 feet, adding a 400 “bonus” in elevation to gain for the 1:00 group. Weather and snow conditions on Sunday’s climb were very similar to Fridays. The snow did not require crampons for the first hour or so but we had great “steps” and the team progressed up the mountain. Just below Crater Rock snow conditions hardened up a bit and we all put on the crampons and the snow conditions continued to be generally ideal for the rest of the climb. No icy spots or post-holing! The weather was clear and warm early in the climb and we were treated to a beautiful full moon. About an hour into the climb the wind picked up making the air temps colder. Of course everyone had enough gear to keep reasonably warm and the wind decreased considerably once we hit the Hogsback.

At about the Triangle Moraine, Charles made the tough decision to return to Silcox Hut with his guide. The rest of the climbers continued the ascent to the Hogsback, traversed the Hot Rocks and ascended via the Old Chute route. Conditions remained excellent and the teams made their way up the steepest part of the climb without incident. With bluebird skies, the summit had spectacular 360 degree views of Rainier, St. Helens, Adams and Jefferson. Summit stays varied but everyone got to enjoy the spectacular view from the top of Oregon! The teams then made their way back down the same route to Silcox for some well-earned hot waffles and eggs prepared by representatives of our sponsor Columbia Sportswear!

The first teams returned to Silcox Hut by around 10:30 am and the last group arrived around 12:30 pm. RTS alumni/volunteers on the mountain this morning included Josh, Daniel, Bob and Eric. It was great to see the friendly and encouraging faces of the volunteers who helped the team get ready for the climb.

Special thanks to our amazing TMG guides – Joe, Nick, Rodney, Tikco, John, Sheldon and Pete for leading the way and keeping us safe.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

At Last, Mt. Hood Climb This Weekend!!


This weekend, the Mt. Hood climbers of 2010 Reach The Summit team will summit this iconic mountain, Mt. Hood.  Each climber has worked hard to raise awareness and fund to benefit the American Lung Association for the past several months while we trained together to reach the summit of the northwest's most beautiful mountains.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

16th Training Hike - Mt. Adams team, Nesmith Point June 19th, 2010

It was pretty weird to be hiking without the rest of the RTS teammates today.  In fact, there were more training hike leaders/assistants than the climbers.  Joe the training supervisor took a survey earlier this month to see if we preferred to hike Nesmith Point or Ruckel Creek and apparently it was decided on hiking Nesmith Point again for today.

We met up at the parking lot of a nearby grocery store as usual and went through the ritual of splitting into groups, except that there were only two groups instead of three, the fast group and the faster group.  I let you guess which one I ended up in.  The weather was sort of misty and drizzly type for the entire duration.  Driving down I-84 to get to the trail head, we could only see the bases of the hills and the clouds blanketed the rest entirely.  Great!

Eric kicked off the hike by leading the faster group up the hill.  Having the thoughts in the back of our heads that it was going to be practically viewless had pretty much set the tone of this hike even before it got started - it's all about busting our respective butts up to the top as fast as we could. Actually, the last part of the training, re-hydrating at Edgefield, was all I remember thinking about to be honest.

And, we zoomed up the trail alright.  Including the three short breaks we took, we ascended 3,800 over 5 miles in 2:45.  That translated to roughly the sustained average vertical speed of 1,381' per hour.  Not bad!  In fact I was so zoned into it that I remembered to take no photo except for only one.  The rest of the hike is sort of a big blur. 

It had never disappointed me - there's nothing like that first sip! I ordered a tall cold pint of Rubby, one of the in-house brews at Edgefield, and a small pizza to replenish the calories I had just left on the hill.  Then another tall cold one for a good measure.  By the way, I had always admired the training leaders/assistants for their impeccable commitment to always finishing up the hikes in time for the happy hours.

Next weekend, we the Mt. Adams team will be going back to Mt. Hood, to go from the Timberline Lodge to Crater Rock at just over 10,000' in elevation, only 1,000' below its summit.  Some of the Mt. Hood climbers will be summiting that morning so we might run into them on their way down too.  I can't wait to see the photos they took and to hear about their climbs.  But, even if we don't get to see them for some reason, I will be congratulating them at the celebration party the following day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

15th & Final Training Hike - Top of Palmer, Mt. Hood June 12, 2010

It was sort of a bitter sweet day today as this was the last training hike we would do together as the entire 201 Reach The Summit Team.  But what a gorgeous day it was!  After weeks of rain, the weather had swung to the other end of the pendulum.

The Timberline Lodge operated the ski resort on Palmer Glacier on the southern slope of Mt. Hood.  We would hike today from the Timberline Lodge at just shy of 6,000' to the upper limit of the non-backcountry area around 8,500'.  With the temperature expected to approach the 60s even at this elevation, we anicipated the snow to be loose and slushy so it was a good thing that we were carrying snowshoes with us.  There were some avalanche concerns in the backcountry area because of the new snow falls in the preceding days followed by the warm weather today however it was determined not to be a concern of ours as we were remaining in the ski resort area where the snow had been meticulously groomed.

I wanted to simulate my Mt. Adams climb today so I decided to pack everything I'd carry on that day, my sleeping bag & pad, ice axes helmet, harness, crampons, etc., etc., on top of everything else I had been carrying on all our training hikes (though I won't be carrying snowshoes on my real climb).  It turned out be roughly 55lbs altogether.

As usual, we all met up in the parking lot of a grocery store nearby and went through the usual rituals of getting briefed by our training hike supervisor, Joe, and splitting into three groups, the fast group, the medium group, and the "endurance" group.  Because of the weight I would be carrying today, I was tempted to join the "endurance" group but I decided against it and stuck with the medium group led by Matt, Leisa and Joe.  Altogether we started with 13 people in the medium group. 

I always enjoyed the picturesque drive on the Hwy 26 looking at a windshield full of Mt. Hood.  Sometimes, I had to try consciously not to get distracted and thus not to become another source of crater on its slope actually.  Charles, the climber with whom I shared the ride, no doubt appreciated that.  In today's amazingly clear air, the mountain looked even closer than it actually was.  There was not even a spec of puffy clouds anywhere or standing lenticular clouds that would indicate strong wind aloft.  I couldn't wait to get on the mountain!!!!

Once we strapped our gears onto ourselves, we gathered in front of the climber registration at the lodge.  You'd be required to register and get a permit for your climbing party if you were to venture into the backcountry area.  It wouldn't cost anything to do this but this was so that the rescue folks would have some sort of idea who and how many people were up there in case some unfortunate things happened.  (Not to mention how many permanent bivy sacks they'd need to bring with them...)

Now we were ready to go out there.  But as soon as we set our feet on the snow, it was pretty apparent that we'd need to put on our snowshoes right away.  The snow was as soft as Seven Eleven's Slurpee.  Without my snowshoes, I would have definitely kept sinking into it on every step I took with this heavy pack on my back and all. 

This was also a good chance for me to try out the "heel lifters" that came with my snowshoes.  They were metal bars that flipped up underneath my heels to give my heels few inches of lifts.  The idea was that, by having the angles of my feet relative to the snow slope somewhat flatter, the climbing will be more like going up stairs than walking up a steep slope thus keeping my calves happier.  And it worked!!  In fact, it worked fantastically well.  I was totally sold on this little feature. 

Anyway, the familiar slog commenced.  The first 10 minutes was always the roughest until my heart revved up to speed.  From there on, it was still tough but manageable. I just settled into a nice constant rhythm of rest stepping - putting one foot in front of the other, transferring my weight on it, and locking the knee for a brief moment, over and over.

The "trail", if you could call it that, paralleled the skiing and snowboarding area all the way up the slope.  It was more of an alley for the snowcats to travel up and down on than a trail actually.  Next to the trail, there was a bunny slope as well as jump platforms for freestylers in addition to groomed slopes.  It was nice distraction from otherwise the monotonous climbing task watching the skiers and the snowboarders launch into the air.  Now, I didn't know a lot about freestyling but it's probably safe for me to guess that the old saying, "take off is optional, landing is mandatory", applied in this situation as well.

As you can see from the pictures of us at our gear check, we were quick to take off any extra layers we started in.  Because the snow reflected 80% of the sun light, which was twice as strong at this elevation as at the sea level to begin with, the glacier had instantly turned into a broiler in this windless air that cooked us relentlessly, not only from above but also from directly below us.  It was not too long before the mixture of sweat and sunscreen started pouring down my face, rendering the sun glasses useless and stinging my eyes in the process.  (Note to myself - use a bandanna from now on!) 

One different thing about climbing mountains from hiking is that, more often than not, you would be able to see where you were headed for the entire time you were climbing.  Especially in good weather like this obviously.  And it was very difficult to guage the distance.  Here we were on Mt. Hood, everything looked so much closer than it appeared in the vastness of Palmer Glacier with gigantic Mt. Hood's headwalls looming right above us.

Then we popped out onto a small col only several hundred feet below the top of Palmer through which the wind accelerated owing to the venturi effect.  All that body heat we could not seem to get rid of fast enough up until now was suddenly valuable commodity.  However, that did not last very long as we soon reached our today's destination, the top of Palmer.

We hurriedly put on our jackets back on before we got chilled to our bones once we stopped.  Then it was a reward time!  Sitting against the snow at the backcountry boarder, we chewed on the lunch of our choices together for the last time enjoying the southern view from the 8,500' elevation.  In this seemingly unlimited visibility, the mountain ranges of the central Oregon was clearly visible from here, with Mt. Jefferson being the most prominent in the foreground, and Sisters and Broken Tops defining the ruggedness of the Cascade Range. 

At this elevation where the temperature was low enough for the snow to remain somewhat firmer, we started plunge stepping down rather than putting our snowshoeing.  We also saw other climbers glisadeing down which was probably the next best thing to skiing down.  Although we were no longer subjected to the strenuousness of climbing, it still was difficult to proceed because of the unstable snow condition.  But who cares about that when you're having fun with cool people like us!!  Ha!

So now that we've done our final training hike, what happens now?  Like I mentioned earlier, the big weekend for the Mt. Hood climbers are coming up at the end of this month.  After that, I am looking forward to joining them at our celebration party where we will be letting loose! 

But in the mean time, we the Mt. Adams climbers will continue to have our training hikes, at least three of them, through the end of July.  This weekend, we will revisit Nesmith Point, followed by a hike from the Timberline Lodge (5,800') to the Crater Rock (10,000') on Mt. Hood.  At some point in July, we will have another overnight training event somewhere on Mt. Hood.  Also, a group of us are going to climb Mt. St. Helens few days after the Independence Day as well (non-RTS).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

14th Training Hike - Devil's Peak, Cold Creek Trail June 6th, 2010

I've heard people say the weather on the climb would be good if it's crappy on training hikes.  I truly hope so after this very wet and muddy hike.  Where is the summer anyway?? It's already June and we continued to have spring like weather here in the northwest. 

I was feeling not as confident as I had felt on most of our past hikes when I stepped onto the trail in the morning.  I had not been able to do much of physical activities for this past couple of weeks due to a little knee issue that crept up on me.  So I was rather pleasantly surprised at how good I felt on this hike, notwithstanding its difficulty.

I brought a pair of YakTraks, traction devices that strapped onto the bottom of my hiking boots, however I left them in my car in my haste to get on with the hike.  They would have come in very handy today.  Our supervisor also warned us that there would be lots of roots and downed trees along the way, making it somewhat of an obstacle course.

The trail started off very steeply right from the trailhead.  For some reason, I was way overdressed for the occasion and, in a matter of several minutes, I felt like I had a kettle full of boiling water tucked under my shell.  Apparently, others needed to take early gear check breaks as well.  And that's what we did.  Actually, we knew that it would be almost pointless to be wearing a waterproof shells as, from our past experiences, we had known that we would be utterly wet inside and out anyway on a day like this with 1,000% humidity.  So we all decided to to pack them up and layered down to nothing but our base layers.  This worked pretty well - the rain had backed off a bit on its relentlessness mostly by this time and it was warm enough. 

Devil's Peak was located in the southwestern foothills of Mt. Hood in its wilderness area along a small backroad just off of Hwy 26.  If not for the sign, we would have completely missed the trailhead hidden in the bushes actually.  Although one might imagine from the name of the trail, Cool Creek Trail, that it would  follow right along a nice mountain stream cascading down boulders, we found out that it was not exactly like that at all.  However I am going to keep this one on my list of places I must revisit later in the season when I can expect dryer weather for the views it offers throughout the hike.  Unlike our last hike at Ruckel Creek Trail (another misleading name), this trail had actually had a final destination around 4,800' that we could look forward to reaching.  I think this helped keeping our morals up while slogged up 3,200' over the course of 4.1 miles or so.

Like I mentioned earlier, we did see lots of fallen trees blocking our path.  But it was fairly easy to overcome them by going over or under their trunks.  I actually enjoyed having varying features like these as it made the hike a bit more enjoyable.  We only took one 5 minute break along the way.  Our hiking leader, Eric, later took a vote to see if we wanted to take the second break and we unanimously decided to keep pushing instead. 

Somewhere around 4,000', we started to see some snow patches on the ground.  Soon, the snow covered the entire ridge this trail followed and our paces slowed down significantly.  This was where we appreciated what we learned during our climbers clinic last month - the value of making a good platform as we took each step, particularly when our footings were made somewhat precarious on half frozen snow pack.  Oddly, I ended up straying off form the path at one point so I had to cross over a woody section in order to rejoin them.

Soon we found ourselves at the summit of Devil's Peak where a small lookout stood.  Unlike at the trail head, it was freezing cold there especially wearing only a base layer that had been completely soaked in rain and sweat as we remained in the clouds pretty much the whole way up.  The first order of my business was to change into a dry base layer and put back on the mid and outer layer immediately before I lost too much of my body heat.  And what a difference it made!  It certainly made my lunch break far more enjoyable.  A note to myself - get a light weight thermos.  A cup of hot coco was the only thing missing from otherwise a complete picture. 

I went up into the lookout structure to see what it looked like.  It was actually pretty nice complete with a small table, a wood burning stove and a couple of beds!!  I could see this would be a very good place to be if I found my hike here in the snowier season turned into an imprompeau overnight trip.  It surely would beat bivying - that's for sure!

So what were those sayings - "What goes up must come down", "Summiting is optional, descent is mandatory", "What floats up must sink"??  Yes indeed.  It was a lot more precarious going down on this trail than climbing up as you probably can imagine.  The constant rain has made the snow near the top much slicker and the muddy trail lot looser.  Those  roots sticking out everywhere didn't exactly help either.  But we just had to do it - that's all.  The bottom of my feet were starting to get pretty sore by the time we were half way down the mountain.  All I could think about was how a hot shower was going to feel sooooo goooooood after getting home.  I couldn't wait!! 

Next week, we will be hiking together as a whole Reach The Summit team for the last time from the Timberline Lodge to about half way up to the summit of Mt. Hood.  After that, 9 of us climbing Mt. Adams will continue to train through the end of July.

It's time to bring it all home!  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

13th Training Hike - Ruckel Creek May 22nd, 2010

Did someone say it was a butt kicker of hike?? May I take the liberty to edit it a little in order to reflect the reality better by saying it was an @$$ kicker of hike?? To top it off, it was one of those hikes to nowhere that had no particular final destination. The sole purpose of its existence was to serve those who had not gotten their seconds after eating their own guts. And to give another chances to those who thought they already had their seconds in the past.  Scanning online about what other people said about this place, I found one of them said "Every foot of Oregon's Ruckel Creek Trail is a poem."  Huh??!! 

In terms of numbers, Ruckel Creek Trail launched almost 3,800' vertically over the distance of about five miles via its rather precarious path.  We were thankful that the weather held off while we were out there as it would have made it a muddy mess as if we would need that.

The only thing that made it mildly interesting was the variety of features the trail showed us.  Though we stayed almost entirely in the forests, there were meadowy sections with rocky features, including the rocky pits that were made over 1,000 years ago by the native Americans where we took a little breather.  Also there were some wild flowers blooming to look at and few breaks in the woods where we had the bird's eye views of the Gorge.

You must excuse me for not having stayed on top my photo taking duties while we slogged on upward to nowhere. We started to see some patches of snow and even a little flurries here and there once we got near the end of hike.  Later, I found out that we were actually at a place called Benson Plateau where the terrain leveled off for miles.  It got significantly colder at the end of the hike - so much so that most of us were pulling out down jackets out of our packs to keep warm while we devoured our food. 

On a hike like this with a wickedly steep trail, it was very strenuous to climb to put it mildly of course but the real kicker came going the other way.  And this was when we had to pay deliberate and close attention to what we are doing most.  It was easy to roll ankles, twist knees, do face plants, etc. because we were pretty fatigued. Generally speaking, 80% of injuries occured during the descent phase as a matter of fact and thus this was where our fitness levels counted the most - the less we were fatigued, the better our chances of making it down in one piece.

Just as I was starting to wonder if I should have knee replacement surgeries scheduled for myself, we were back down to where we started. Or so we thought - I forgot that there was a teaser section there that we still had to climb back up a little before we found the parking lot. 

Later that week, our training hike supervisor sent us emails to ask if we wanted to do Nesmith Point or Ruckel Creek again for one of our hikes in June.  I let you guess which one I voted for.

Next week, we'll be hiking Devil's Peak in the foothills of Mt. Hood, which we missed earlier because of the winter like weather condition.  Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reach The Summit BBQ Party - May 21st, 2010

Thank You!!

We had a great turn out and had a blast this past Friday chilling at Burdigala Wine in Sellwood listening to awesome music while we chowed down on tasty BBQ and sipped delicious wine! Geoff and Terry would like to thank all of you who came to and participated in this fundraiser despite the wet weather. We have raised $500 to benefit the American Lung Association!

Event Sponsors
  • Venue:
Burdigala Wine, Didier Sudre
  • BBQ Grill:
Traeger Grills
  • Entertainment:
  • Press:
The Oregonian
  • Raffle:
Arbonne International, Kelly Hobson
ChiRoweYoga, Linda Rowe
Hilton Garden Inn, Beaverton, MacKenzie Upchurch
Image by Karen Radique, Karen Radique
In Great Spirits, Sharona Tsubota
Juice Plus+, Beth Genly
Kim's Therapeutic Massage, Kim Hess, LMT
Marsha Cosgrove - Hair Stylist & Color Specialist, Marsha
Memories by Harvey, Harvey Thomas
Notes of Celebration, Linda Smith
Phoenix Inn Suite - Beaverton, DeEsta Denver
Poise Studio, Sarah Balmer & Victoria Marchese
Photo Images by Susan Gould, Susan Gould
The Plumbers Inc., Judah Hamnes

12th Training Hike - Nesmith Point May 16, 2010

I'm finally catching up with my training hike blogs that I slacked off in the midst of the BBQ Party preparations.

Although many of us were kind of sleep deprived and tired from the night hike training we had just done only the day before, we showed up again to take some more at Nesmith Point.

The training location was changed to Nesmith Point because we had already hiked Dog Mountain twice. It would be the longest and the highest one we would do yet at 3,800' of elevation gain over a five mile trail each way. (Of course we had been spoiled by all those hikes in the past with incredible views at every other turn too. So a hike for the sake of being butt kicked was probably long over due at this point..)

The first mile or so from the parking lot took us through dense forests to a junction with another trail called Gorge Trail. From there on, we got to savor the sweet suffering we asked for, step by step, on the countless switchbacks that promised to dish out the relentlessly steep climb up a gully. Once we left the gully, the trail took us traversing a steep slope that was seemingly almost vertical, followed by another series of switchbacks, though short, back up the ridge.

So was the hike all about the building our mountaineer characters? There were few brief moments that allowed us to take our minds off the gradual build-up of lactic acid in our muscle tissues. For instance, there were many wild flowers like trilliums and wild roses that were absolutely lovely all along the trail. We also got to see some views of the Gorge through the breaks in the vegetations with Mt. Adams off to the distance which was still covered in snow. (Sorry, it was a bit too hazy to capture it on my camera.)

About 1,000' (?) or so before the summit, we took a nice break in a rocky section where we refueled before the final push. I was surprised about how good I was still feeling at this point despite the lack of sleep. From there, we kept following the trail that eventually intersected with an old road that was used to take people up in the early half of the last century. The summit was finally near. So where was it??

The climax of our hike was accentuated by the broken down outhouse that had been there for decades as I was told. Otherwise it was a small clearing that faced opposite to the direction of the Gorge.

I am going to cheat a little bit now and post a bunch of pictures at the bottom to call it a blog.

Our next hike is going to be at Ruckel Creek which has been described by one of our training hike assistants as "butt kicker of a hike." Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fundraising Goal Reached!!

Fund raised: $3,000

I have no words to describe my appreciation today.  It would have never been possible without the support provided in all forms by those who have stepped forward to go the distance with me in this extraordinary endeavour. And I have been truly humbled most of all by your graciousness displayed simply as fellow human beings.

Again, thank you.

Terry Tsubota
2010 Reach The Summit Climber, Mt. Adams