Sunday, September 11, 2016

Some Highlights from the Cascades

August was a pretty wild month for me- I had a few big back to back trips, including the South Face of Charlotte Dome, one of my favorite trips to guide in the Sierra, before traveling North to the Cascades for another step in the IFMGA certification process, the AMGA Advanced Alpine Course/Aspirant Exam. While that may just sound like a mouthful of acronyms (which it is), the program is part coached instruction in high-level glaciated guiding, as well as an exam component in order to qualify for the full alpine exam.
Cilogear packs have specially designed donut straps.  

Brian and Andrew working towards our afternoon objective on Forbidden Peak
 The program was based in Marblemount, WA in North Cascades National Park, and included 2 different mountain objectives, each taking 4 days. With an amazing high pressure weather forecast, we were able to complete all of our intended objectives, and make the most of our time without any weather delays.

High on the NW Face to North Ridge, before reaching our high bivy camp
 Day after day, the course and exam took its toll on everyone. While the great weather meant for comfortable temperatures and no rain or snow to deal with, it also meant that we had consistently long and tough days. Most of who have already had a long season, which is not yet over, felt the fatigue set in mid course, but this too was a good learning experience, and good training for those stretches of demanding guiding objectives.
Sat phones make maintaining relationships a little easier.

Au cheval on the North Ridge of Forbiden
 After the 10 stressful days of guiding each other and our examiners, I was able to take a few days to visit family in WA, visit our cabin on the Olympic Peninsula and make use of that nice weather by sailing, kayaking and swimming before returning to guiding assignments here in the Sierra.

September is proving to be as busy a month as any of the summer months anymore, and though conditions are still prime for climbing, falling temperatures in the alpine elevations and shortening days, we can sure tell the autumn is arriving.

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