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For our first spring snow season on the tour, we wanted to try and climb most of the higher Cascade volcanoes, i.e. Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker and Mount Hood. Since we had very little experience with glacier travel, we thought it would be preferable to climb easier mountains before tackling Rainier or Baker. We had been on glaciers before in Ecuador but those were not nearly as heavily crevassed as the typical Cascades glacier. Besides, after spending about a month doing very little else than walking on the beach or the occasional yoga session, we felt really out of shape. We really needed a tune up before even considering something like Liberty Ridge for example.

For our first climb in the area, we selected Monitor Ridge on Mount St Helens, because it can be skied as an easy day trip and does not require any glacier travel.

Our next objective had been to climb Mount Adams, but we delayed that attempt as the access road was still blocked by snow a good 6 miles from the summer trailhead. Instead, we headed to Leavenworth and climbed the easy Colchuck glacier route on Colchuck Peak.

Now ready to get some experience on glaciers, we thought we would attempt Mount Daniel, a 7,960 ft peak not far from Colchuck Peak. Access to Mount Daniel is from the south, through the charming town of Roslyn, which was featured as Cicely, AK in the TV show "Northern Exposure". The approach to Mount Daniel turned out extremely long again because of snow closure of the access road.

After a failed attempt on Mount Daniel, we drove back to Oregon to climb Mount Hood. We climbed it first by the easy South Side (Hogback) route that involves very little glacier travel and is pretty straightforward. Even though it is not a particularly pleasant route (because it follows a ski area for the first 2,500 ft), it is a good conditioning climb that can be done in a day from your car (about 5,400 ft vertical). After the South Side route, we attempted Hood again, this time via a route that promised to be much more interesting: the Sunshine route on Mount Hood north side. We turned back on that climb because of very warm temperatures and what we thought were dangerous snow conditions.

For our next outing, we wanted to ski the South Spur of Mount Adams, but turned back a few hundred vertical feet from the top in a total whiteout.

We then felt ready for bigger challenges and drove to Mount Rainier National Park. The route we really wanted to climb was Liberty Ridge. This classic route follows 50° slopes up an exposed ridge to Liberty Cap. Because the descent is usually made on the other side of the mountain via an easy non technical route (the Emmons Glacier route), climbing Liberty ridge means that you have to carry all your overnight equipment up and over a 14,000 ft mountain (unless you feel strong enough to attempt the whole thing in a day... few do). Not having been on The Mountain (as the locals call it) before, we chose to climb the Emmons Glacier first to get oriented. After that climb and a couple of days rest, we went back up and climbed Liberty Ridge in two days.

A few days later, we concluded our volcano slogging phase by climbing the North Ridge of Mount Baker. After that, we really had enough and decided it was time to have fun on the rock again.

 

Cascades Snow & Ice Climbs

Spring 2003
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The Columbia River near The Dalles, WA.
 
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Some lucky people's view (Columbia River at White Salmon, near Hood River).
 
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Yo gotta do yoga!
 
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Roslyn, WA, a.k.a. Cicely, AK in TV circles.
 
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Some may recognize the "Northern Exposure" radio station.
 
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And one for the "Only in America" series....
 
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The North entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.
 
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Free camping near Mt. Rainier, on a foggy day.
 
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The pier in Fairhaven, WA (by Bellingham).
 
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Aaah, the view ain't bad on this parking lot, right dear?
(high res. images are about 300KB)