Ok, ok, it’s taken me a “leetle” while to get to the footage from Mt. Shasta in June. I’m human.
But, we did it! Keith Barrie, Eric McClelland & I all made it to the top! It was one of the best climbing experiences I’ve had so far, much better than Mt. Rainier. And the weather was off-the-charts! Super warm & cozy at night, sunny without a cloud in the sky both days, and mild winds. Given the history of bad weather on that mountain, we were particularly blessed.
Training seemed to make all the difference. I prepared my back & bones with heavy pack weight, hiked on high altitude trails here in Colorado at least 2 times/week. I also trained with aerobic activities like spinning & running. That seemed to make a huge difference with my ability to take in oxygen during the climb.
As I expected based on the Rainier climb, it wasn’t til about 13,200′ or so that I started feeling out of breath from the altitude. Just last week I went on a 12,000′ hike & was fine; that seems to be the magic height for me. Even so, this time around I had the muscle & mental stamina to keep going. I felt great despite huffing & puffing.
Some of the steeper areas like the Avalanche Gulch & the final ridge just under the summit almost stymied me. But, I simply slowed down & created a more sustainable pace. The final push to the summit was the worst, but by then we were so close that adrenaline & the drive to finish pushed me to the top.
The friendship & camaraderie of our group of three was awesome! It was wonderful to spend so much time with my dear & good friend Keith. He has overcome knee conditions, major injuries from falls, & more to keep on climbing. I’m so proud of him! Additionally he made special efforts to not cancel the climb, which will be revealed in the video to come. Stay tuned.
We all had many laughs, and Keith’s dinner during our Helen Lake campout was phenomenal! Rice pasta noodles with awesome homemade meat sauce. Even cold it hit the spot.
One thing I’d like to point out to you all, especially outdoorsy folks: tent walls are thin, and you can hear everything outside. Most of our neighbors were great, but there are always a few bad eggs. Nothing major, but a couple comments were on the gross side, because the fellahs didn’t realize there was a lady in the tent nearby trying to sleep but able to hear everything. Lesson: keep the body part descriptions to a minimum while camping with many parties in one area.
Besides reaching the summit & successfully creating the memorial, the biggest highlight was the glissading! I had never done it before, and it was super hella fun! It’s essentially sledding without a sled, using your ice axe as a rudder/brake to stay in the shoot & stop at the end. There will be video of that forthcoming, too…
My second favorite part was _literally_ bumping into my good, dear friend Faith Powell at the summit. It turns out our parties were climbing within minutes of each other, but we didn’t recognize one another with all our gear on. Our meetup goes down in the history books as the craziest “bump into a friend” story ever, IMHO, especially because Faith lives in Bend, OR now, and I haven’t seen her in about 3 years. Amazing serendipity!
Sadly, my boots failed me at the end again. That’s it, I’m investing in a good pair for real. I scoped out some Garmont’s, and it looks like some styles apply to both mountaineering & ice climbing. So, that’ll kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
Honestly, it’s hard to recapture the delight from the climb since it was so long ago, but I remember driving back to CO on such a complete & total high. I hadn’t felt that confident, strong, & capable in a long time. It truly was my best climb to date. Since that time I’ve been incredibly lazy, but also getting back into rock climbing, my true passion.
It just blows my mind how a single accomplishment can do so much for boosting one’s morale & self-esteem. Thinking back on it now, it reminds me that there’s nothing I can’t do. In fact, I’m actually doing a lot, although nothing seems to be on the _hugely_ financially successful side. But, I’m getting by. So, reviewing the climb has given me more motivation to keep going. If I can climb Shasta, there’s nothing I can’t do!
In the meantime, get your sleds ready, get your packs on, it’s time to prepare for…wait for it…DENALI 2014! It will happen. Plan now. Start your training. Commit. Let’s do this.
PS: Photos here…