A log of big adventures I've been on with occasional photos and stories.
Left: Jess Landing pulling through the short, steep ice crux in the South Gully.
Right: Jess Landing nearing the summit of Mt. Washington.
Left: Upper Hitchcock Gully — our second-to-last pitch before summitting Mt. Willard.
Right: Jess following up Hitchcock Gully.
Left: Jess Landing and Jojo Das descending granite slabs below the glacier on our way down from Pelops.
Right: Iota (left) and Pelops (right).
This was one of the most challenging scrambles I've done! The lower couloir felt very dangerous, and contained all the hard climbing. Exiting the couloir to the slabs was very pleasant, though, the slabs were quite fun. We completed this climb traversing the summit from the Lynn Headwaters, descending over Goat Mountain, for a total of nearly 20 miles and a few thousand metres of climbing. This was also completed entirely by public transit!
Andrei underneath a large granite prow below the Acrophobe's Arete.
A large group of us traversed the summits in ascending order, and planned goofy surprise challenges along the way, culminating in cake, beer, and pirate duel on the 3rd summit. What a hilarious and rainy day!
Top: Clouds engulfing a heavily glacieated point near 12,000ft high on the West Buttress
Below: Massive crevasses and Mt Foraker in the distance at our high point near the 14,200ft. camp.
Above: Looking up at pitches 3 and 4.
Below: Jess at the belay for pitch 3.
Hard, fresh conditions made this one feel pretty stiff by my standards! Looked untouched since the warm weather that had moved through about 3 days prior. With only 8 screws and two ice tools, we had to split the climb up into 4 pitches making for a pretty interesting adventure.
Above: Approaching the far left edge of the Balfour Wall.
Jess and I took our dear, sweet time climbing Mt. Baker on this trip. Over the course of three days, we spent two nights on Heliotrope Ridge. We smelled the wildflowers and watched the Perseid meteor showers from our camp, thousands of feet above the bustling Lower Mainland and Puget Sound. We ate delicious French breads and Cheeses for lunch, and even savoured a beer after our summit day. On our way home on the third day, we watched the olympics and sipped coffee at Grahams for most of the afternoon. Taking our time on this trip was such a pleasant change from my last 18 hour, single-push epic, and this trip will go down in the books as one of my all-time favourites!
Right: Our campsite below Heliotrope Ridge.
A photo of my 16-year-old self inspecting a crevasse high on the Ingraham Glacier. Photo by my father, Dave Clark. In this particular season, an unprecedented long spell of clear, warm weather conditions allowed months of continuous climbing on Tahoma, that led to the formation of a knee-deep, foot-carved trench following this popular route to the summit. These were likely the easiest climbing conditions I've ever seen on one of the major Cascade volcanoes.
Bottom Left: Blue Lake Peak above the Liberty Bell Group
Bottom Right: Jess on the summit of South Early Winter Spire. Silverstar Mountain in the background.
Some photos of myself on the Second Millenium wall taken by my father.
Left: The craggy summit of Helm Peak with an Approaching Storm Beyond.
Right: Ivan Yastrebov scrambling just below the high shoulder on the right skyline.
Above: A group of climbers from the Seattle Mountaineers descending from the summit of Sahale Peak at Sunrise (photo by: Ivan Yastrebov).
In the North Cascades of Washington, summer arrived late in 2016. On the fifth day of the month, the Cascade River Road was still gated on account of the heavily drifted snow in the campsite at the road's end. The long days of June gave way to short cold nights that still froze any running water in Cascade Pass. We started hiking up the road at 2am that day, and travelled 6 or 7 miles to the Pass by sunrise.
Above: The view from the summit of Sahale Peak with Boston Peak in the foreground, and Forbidden peak beyond and to the Left (also by: Ivan Yastrebov)
Right: Ivan Yastrebov rapelling from the summit.
We summited by 10:00am in spite of the extra hiking from the gated road. Rappelling from the summit, we quickly returned to softening snows on the Sahale Glacier and plunge-stepped easily down through the snow to the Sahale Arm below the glacier.
Filip was in the lead with Ivan close behind as we came to the last bit of steep snow that stood between us and the relative safety of the broad, flat Cascade Pass. Here, the snow changed character. Where the slope steepened, less sunlight warmed the snow. Furthermore, during the warm daylight hours, a small creek was running beneath the snow. The slope wasn't slick like water ice, but it was much harder than the creamy fluff that we had descended on the glacier above. I slowed down and began to step more carefully as I inspected this new snowpack. Ahead of me, however, Ivan was steaming ahead unfetterd.
As Ivan descended on this last steep slope he slipped and fell, accellerating rapidly towards Filip. As he failed to self arrest with his ice axe, 10 meters turned to 20, then 20 to 40, and I watched in horror as Ivan continued to fall faster and faster. Before I knew it, he had plowed through Filip, careened over a small patch of rocks, then finally flipped and tumbled, sliding to a stop almost one hundred meters down the mountain.
Not wanting to become another victim, I picked my way carefully down a rockband off to our right for what felt like an eternity. Almost 15 minutes passed before I finally arrived at the small bench where Ivan and Filip had landed. By the time I arrived, Ivan was sitting upright, facing to the South, overlooking the vast expanse of the Cascade Mountain range beyond. Filip was hunched over a small patch of red snow, breathing heavily, moaning in pain, and unable to respond to anything I said to him. The front of Ivan's shirt was torn and bloody.
We had no cell reception, and the nearest car was 5 miles away. I waved down a lone climber we had seen earlier in the day, and he agreed to take Ivan's pack and see if he could find help.
Ivan was pale and shaken, but fully responsive. This changed quickly, however, after he told me that as he was falling he thought he might have scraped his chest with his ice axe. In addition to minor scrapes covering most of his surface area, we lifted his shirt to find a laceration almost 2 inches long in his right pec with small bits of fatty tissue escaping from one end. He caughed lighty, and blood splattered from the wound. We quickly realized that the axe had punctured Ivan's lung. Ivan began going into shock.
I cleaned Ivan's wound with what few antiseptic wipes I had, and then used gauze to return the fatty tissues back inside Ivan's chest. I covered the wound with a large and bandage and sealed it tightly across Ivan's chest with a large amount of tape. As I worked, Ivan's pulse began to normalize with some rest, and the bleeding started to subside. Once the wound was cleaned and covered, I tied a sling from extra webbing, and braced Ivan's arm. I then helped him back into his shirt, and with the wound out of sight, Ivan began to return to his usual cheery self, cracking some dumb joke about how he "can't ice".
With Ivan squared away, I returned to check on Filip, who had finally begun to move around. He had a large cut and a lot of pain in his right elbow, but appeared to be mobile and coherent. Good enough to make it down the mountain for real treatment.
We began descendingvery slowly to safety. The slopes were very treacherous for Ivan who could only use one arm. Our speed was slowed farther by a desire to keep him from breathing heavily. He stepped gingerly over steep rocky steps, somtimes cracing himself on my shoulder or head when necessary. When we got down to within a rope's length of the pass, we rigged a rappel over the final steep pitch of snow, allowing Ivan do descend easily down with his one good hand.
It was then that our luck improved. The lone climber whom we had sent for help returned with a park ranger and a well stocked first aid kit. Her name was Abby, and she was out for her very first patrol of the season. She was joined quickly by Anton who practically sprinted up the 47 switchbacks to the pass in only an hour.
Left: Ivan grinning after telling his "but I can't ice" joke for the third time that day, this time to the wilderness EMT
With Anton dripping in sweat, they opened up Ivan's bandage and were able to clean it much more effectively than I could. They had a radio and could call for professional medical assistance. More importantly, though, having a reassuring ranger in uniform helped us all mentally. The reassurance brightened Ivan's mood noticably, and I'll never forget the feeling of relief that washed over me when I was finally able to share the responsibility of Ivan and Filip's survival.
We continued to descend slowly along the trail, stopping periodically to check Ivan's vitals. When stepping over a fallen tree, Ivan tore his pants. About two miles from the trailhead, we were greeted by a wilderness EMT named Rosemary who was able to further clean and inspect Ivan's wounds. She further helped us descend back to the road, where we were escorted in park vehicles to the gate, and eventually returned to our own car.
Driving back to Vancouver and the hospital there, we talked a lot about what we would do if Ivan lost conciousness while driving. We grabbed dinner at a Dairy Queen along the way, and Ivan scared the customers with his bloody shirt and torn pants. After treatment at Vancouver General Hostpital (which was an epic all it's own) we returned to bed after a 24 hour day, and it will forever stand out as one of the most memorable adventures I've ever been on.
Right: Some of the weirdest surface-water flow patterns I've ever seen.
Top Right: Prussik Peak as seen from Prussik Pass
Bottom Left: Little Annapurna Peak and Crystal Lake
Bottom Right: Prussik Peak & The Temple over Vivianne Lake
Navigating down the Jefferson Park Glacier in a storm.
Bottom Left: My father and I on the summit of Mt. Adams
Bottom Right: Making a silly face on the long approach hike to the Mazama Glacier.
Right: Myself in a storm on top of Ben Nevis.
Top Right: Simon looking maestic approaching the Bristly Ridge on Glyder Fawr
Bottom Left: A small, false-summit of Tryfan with phenomenal scrabling
Bottom Right: Strange rock formations atop Glyder Fach
The section of the Pacific Crest Trail that cuts through the Goat Rocks Wilderness is a super highway. It's nealy 4 feet wide in places, and can be spotted on hillsides from miles away. In July, it seems like you can't go more than two minutes without crossing paths with one of the thousands of hikers, but Mt. Curtis Gilbert, a mere 2 miles off that same trail, sees only a small handful of ascents every year.
Above: The towering cliffs of Goat Citadel.
To climb Mount Curtis Gilbert from the Pacific Crest Trail, you first have to get to it by traversing over another mountain called Goat Citadel. Aptly named, The Citadel is home to some of the largest known herds of mountain goats in Washington State. They scour the rocky peak for anything green, clattering up and down between cliffband, occasionally loosening rocks that crash loudly down the face for hundreds of feet. From the trail, Goat Citadel looms like a creation designed for defence. It's cliffs are tall, jagged, and steep; composed of a dark and crumbling volcanic rock as if heaved from the Earth's core only days before.
After ascending a windswept ridge above the PCT for about an hour, I found myself traversing through those giant cliffbands towards Mount Curtis Gilbert. I delicately tested each new foothold, listening and watching closely for new cracks that would sometimes appear around them.
Nearly an hour and a half passed as I moved quickly but delicately, and I paused to look down the face at the expansive landscape to the South. I don't know how long I stood there enjoying the view before I heard the distant clicking and clacking of a loosened rock bouncing like a pinball down a gully. It started from high, high above me out of sight, but it only took seconds before the sound grew to a roar like an oncoming train. I sprinted as fast as I could to the nearest overhang which was about 3 metres away, and only about a meter tall.
Tucked beneath the eave, the sound was deafening all around. I looked out, away from the cliff and saw the rocks come flying by. A small collection of talus and scree at first, but followed by sand and grit. Finally, near the end came the one I'd heard. The big one. The size of a refrigerator or a small car, the boulder flew past overhead, spinning and falling so fast it hummed as if overcharged with electric potential.
The big one plummeted down a gully below me and crashed mightily into the talus at the base of the cliff, about 200 feet below. The crash sounded distant as most of the sound had been reflected away by the smooth cliffs below me. Watching it explode into thousands of pieces and scatter across the slope below, however, was powerful, and it wasn't long before the scent of sparks and smoke wafted up from below.
That was it. I'd had enough, so I retreated. To this day, it was still the largest rockfall I've ever seen, and made for quite a memorable experience in spite of not making it to the summit.
Top: Right: Myself and the legendary Michael Durgavich eating Garlic Poot.
Middle Left: Mt Everest's Northern base camp
Middle Right: A small, terraced plantation below Annapurna South
Bottom Left: An impressive stacked house near Chomrong, Nepal
Bottom Right: Kathmandu, Nepal
Top: Myself on the last 20 meters of the Old Chute Route before popping out on the summit ridge.
Bottom: Myself on the summit of Wy'East in a beautiful inversion.
Top Right: The Karanga Camp on the Machame Route
Bottom Right: The strange summit glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Myself and Ellen Gradison on the East Shoulder of Mt. Buckner, photo taken by my father from the summit.
The campsite below Sloan Peak. One of the best I've ever camped at!
Myself navigating the one tricky cliffband required to ascend the AA Glacier (photo by Dave Clark)
Top: Snow Lakes with Snow Falling
Bottom: The top of Snow Creek Wall in the first snow of winter
One of the tougher rapids on day 2, just above the confluence with Moose Creek.
Right: stalagmites and crystalizing spiders on the roof of the odd cave.
During the Fourth of July Parade, Chad, Reid, and I went to explore a strange tunnel we'd heard about underneath Grand Avenue in Pullman, WA. We found the tunnel, and travelled almost a mile from the old gas station to the creek by the old train bridge. It was very slimy and full of spiders. While crossing under Main Street we could hear the sounds of the parade above! A very strange adventure indeed!
Myself top-roping a curtain at the Junkyard in Canmore, AB.
Right: Some big horned sheep on the Lower Snake (rarely seen now).
All Images © Benjamin David Clark - Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access.