August 29, 2009

Liberty Bell - The Beckey Route

I just got back from climbing the Beckey Route on Liberty Bell in the North Cascades. Back when this route was first climbed by the infamous Fred Beckey, he had to bushwack 17 miles just to get to the climb. Today, Highway 20 passes within 1.5 miles of the base of the climb, and a well maintained trail takes one almost all the way to the start of the climb.

Within a little over an hour after leaving the car, we were at the base of the climb. Dane and I climbed first, followed by Dave and Sidney (fellow friends and NOLS instructors). The climb was fairly short overall and easier than we had anticipated. Nonetheless, we had a fantastic time on this classic moderate climb on great rock, surrounded by the beautiful North Cascade mountains.

Liberty Bell from the Northwest

Dane and Me on the Summit

Not sure why, but we decided to pretend we were riding choppers on the summit

Maybe someday I'll be ready for the Liberty Crack route on the east side of Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell, when viewed from the east, looks like a totally different mountain

August 28, 2009

North Cascades

I just finished a 10-day trip in the North Cascades with several fellow NOLS instructors. The purpose was to train current instructors in the ways of NOLS mountaineering customs in order check more instructors off to teach mountaineering courses in areas such as the North Cascades, Waddington Range, Patagonia, and India. Needless to say, since all NOLS instructors are great people, the company was fantastic! I learned a lot about how to manage students in an institutional setting in a terrain type that I'm fairly familiar traveling in on personal trips.

I was thoroughly impressed with the glaciers and vertical relief in North Cascades National Park. On the first day we ascended a steep 'trail' for 3,500 vertical feet to go from the forest to alpine environment. We stayed high in the alpine environment crossing glaciers and climbing peaks for the next 8 days, then descended the infamous Thunder Ridge to meet up with our ride back to civilization. The final mile of Thunder Ridge drops 3,000 vertical feet. I can't wait to do more exploring in this area! Here are some pics.

Dave crossing the creek in Boston Basin below our first camp

Emily navigating crevasses on the Quien Sabe glacier on the way up Sahale Peak

Looking down the Quien Sabe Glacier

Chris leading the summit pitch of Sahale Peak

The Quien Sabe Glacier and Sahale Peak (right side)

Crossing the Inspiration Glacier

Descending Eldorado Peak in a whiteout

The Inspiration Glacier with Forbidden Peak in the Background

August 12, 2009


Don Profesor el Segundo

I recently finished my first course as an instructor for NOLS. It was truly everything I had hoped it would be: from thoroughly enjoying myself to feeling like I had been a large part of a positive transformational experience for several students. After the course was over, I received a paycheck. It was then that I realized I had been working for the past 24 days.

The course was an Outdoor Educator Course in Montana's Beartooth Wilderness. For the most part, this simply means that the 12 students on the course were educators in some capacity and wanted to develop their skills in the outdoors in order to lead groups of their own students on backpacking trips. The students ranged in age from 18 to 52. We spent the first 17 days backpacking while teaching the students everything from how to use their stoves to the NOLS leadership curriculum. We finished the course with 4 days of rock climbing camp, which I found to be one of the highlights as my responsibilities increased for this portion of the trip.

We saw mountain goats, deer, river otters, hummingbirds, and weasels, all through the ever-present cloud of mosquitoes. My camera stopped working a few days into the trip, so my pictures are somewhat limited. I should be getting copies of everyone else's photos in the near future. I love my job!

Lizzie communicating with Don Profesor

Emily at Upper Sky Lake

Margaret, Kelly, Ava, and Sarah