Sunday, July 15, 2007

NOLS: North Cascades Mountaineering

The past 30 days were spent in the mountains and valleys of Washington state, instructing a NOLS North Cascades Mountaineering course. Ten students and one other instructor and I headed out for 30 days of glacier mountaineering. But first we had to get there.

From the dense forrests we climbed up and up and up towards the snow in our not-so-trail-friendly plastic mountaineering boots. We had a ration periods of 8 days, then two 10-day ration periods. With each re-ration we had to descend into the lush forrest to get another 10 days of food. Not easy to add 20lbs of food to a pack that was just starting to feel good, and then start heading up again. But I was always happy to be heading back up towards the snow and rocky peaks.

The work was hard, but the living was simple, as I like it. Keep yourself dry, warm, fed and rested. No phones, no television, just the team and the surrounding world. Here are my favorite pics:

During my week off, I flew east to NYC to see my brother, Chad, play in his band, Dispatch for two of the three sold out shows at Madison Square Garden. It was an unreal experience to be in New York after this last month in the wilderness with our small team, and then seeing 20,000 wild fans singing my brother's songs.

I am now back in Washington getting ready to head out on another 30 day expedition. This time, we are heading to the Waddington Range of British Columbia. We spend more time on the glaciers here, getting resupplied not by van or horse packer, but by... ....helicopter. And we get into the wilderness not by van, but by ... ... float plane. Yes, I am very excited. It will be fun. All the best to you all.