February 13, 2013 | Posted in:Uncategorized
I have turned into a weekend warrior. It’s an odd lifestyle after spending every day in the mountains last year. Sure, I have occasional lapses where I forget that I do need to work. But for the most part I spend my weeks working during the day, spending my free moments climbing (or at least as often as my body will allow). Come the weekend, as my roommates can attest, I disappear.
The result of this lifestyle is a bit of a mess. My jacket and pants are draped over my chair to dry, boots tucked up against the heater (the smell is delightful), split leaned up against the window, base layers and socks discarded in the closet patiently waiting to be washed, gloves stuck on the handle bar of my bike, you get the idea. It is a good mess. It’s a mess that signifies an active and busy lifestyle. It doesn’t bother me much because during the week I am either at the office (often synonymous with coffee shop), or climbing – my room is a glorified storage area where I happen to also sleep.
Come Friday evening, I managed to remember to start a load of laundry before heading to the bars and the disaster in my room all wound up stuffed into my pack, ready for the morning’s adventure.
With an early start, we took off for Stevens Pass. The plan was to hike up Heather Ridge, drop down the north face, climb up Tye Peak, drop down the northwest face, make our way out to Lichtenberg Mountain, and exit off of the southwest face towards Yodelin, where we would hitch a ride back to our cars.
Eric, Evan, Ben, Wiktor, and I set off at a decent time, though we were all dragging a bit. Whether or not we would complete our full circuit was still a little bit up in the air. It seemed to take us ages to even get out of the parking lot and we knew it was going to be “one of those days” when Ben realized he’d left all of his water at the car. We did a quick inventory to make sure that was the only thing we’d forgotten, I stuffed my camel back with snow to supplement our already sufficient water supply and proceeded to give Ben shit about it for the rest of the day. Don’t worry, he did remember the beer.
On the first climb, our tired legs were trying to convince all of us to revise the plan and turn back early. Then we made it up the ridge and found couple chutes that were screaming to us. After a row of trees, the chute spit us out into a clearing that, from what we could see, looked like great snow with no tracks. I gingerly climbed out onto a short spine between two lines and set up to take a few pictures. Not bad for first turns of the morning.
Funny, how those first couple of turns makes you forget all about the sore muscles and tired legs. Stable, fantastic snow opened up the possibilities and we were set to make the most of it.
I stopped once more on our first run to take pictures. Sure, I made some great turns, but stopping in the middle of a run – especially when you are setting the first tracks, isn’t something I am overly fond of doing. Once everyone flew past me, I packed up the camera and vowed that I was done documenting the day and was going to start fully enjoying it interruption free.
That was mostly true…I did set up once more to snap a few photos but that was merely because I found myself in the right place at the right time. The northwest face of Tye Peak has some fun terrain. The top section is an open, steep face. A few features to hit, but mostly fun for slashing big pow turns. The bottom section we aptly named “The Playground” as it is overflowing with magnificent pillow lines. Each of us choosing our own line, we hopped our way down to the nameless lake.
The lake made a perfect place to stop for a little snack and goof around for a little while. We were reeling from the first two runs and looking forward to our last, which we anticipated to be even better.
Hiking out to Lichtenberg went better than I expected. We ended up making it to the foot of the mountain in good time. Apart from a minor disagreement in route finding (I’ll admit it, my route was WAY worse), the ascent of Lichtenberg wasn’t too bad. By this point, two members of our group were starting to get exhausted. When we rounded the mountain and Yodelin came into view, they decided it was time to call it. The three of us remaining were determined to keep going. We continued onward, still a long was from the summit.
Once we hit a clearing without a single track in it, we made the hard decision. We all knew we could push on for the summit, but we didn’t want to leave the others for too long and it was getting to be late in the day. Painfully, we all agreed to stop there, saving the summit for another day.
I can’t complain much about this decision. The run out to Yodelin was incredible. The snow couldn’t have been any better on the upper section. We were able to open up and carve huge turns down the face. These are the turns that make your day of hiking entirely worthwhile. There was nothing holding us back as we whooped and hollered down the mountain.
Yes, the snow down low did get a little heavy, but that’s to be expected when you are riding below 4,000’. We yet again found ourselves on some fun pillows that, with the heavy snow, we found ourselves cartwheeling the whole way down. On our short skin back to the road, we ran into the rest of our group and the five of us made it back to the car together.
Now, my gear is back splayed out across my room and I am left to wonder when my roommates are going to start complaining about the smell. I had tentative plans to ride on Sunday as well; alas your body does still have limits when you are coming off of a broken back. I resigned to spend the day moving as little as humanly possible.
I think I should try yoga.