The past two weekends were the alpine climbs with the Washington Alpine Association Basic Climbing and Mountaineering class. The first weekend we met bright and early at the Alpental parking lot near Snoqualmie Pass.
My group of six was assigned to climb Lundin peak. Getting to the top would just be a scramble, but the trip out there was designed to be as much of a navigation exercise as a climb. We had maps and a guidebook, but none of the students had ever hiked to the base to Lundin. The instructors left it up to us to make a plan, figure out a route, and work together as a team.
|(Photo by Charing)|
We needed to go up a steep gully of snow before we would get to any rock. There was a lot of avalanche debris right where we needed to walk. The snow was deep, wet, and mushy. We couldn't see what the terrain looked like above the gully. When the sun came out, it was really warm. It was already a day of moderate avalanche danger, and considering all the factors, we decided as a group that continuing up Lundin was not a conservative decision. We played it safe and decided to not attempt it. We found out later that none of the other five groups in the class had climbed at all that weekend due to the conditions, so clearly we made the right call.
|(Photo by Alice)|
We ditched our poles and took out ice axes for the last steep section before the base of the rock. Then it was time to prepare for the actual rock climb. We put on warmer layers, our harnesses, ate, and hydrated just as we felt rain drops. It was only sprinkling, so we would keep trying to get climbers up for as long as it was feasible.
We waited while a few classmates went first. It is a multi-pitch climb, so we were staggered climbing at different times. It was set up by our instructors as four pitches (three belayed climbs and one hand-line where we used a prusik). Here are a couple students on the first and second pitches.
|(Photo by Angela)|
"What part specifically makes you nervous?" he asked.
"Hmm, I guess it's just the walking over a cliff backward part!" I replied.
The hardest part is always those first moments, but once I was over the edge the of the cliff, I remembered that I LOVE RAPPELLING. It's really, really fun.