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Roadtrip to Seattle & Alpine climbing on Mts. Whitney & Russell

Yo Yo,

Back home again after a couple of whirlwind weeks and one spent chilling — Week 1 was spent with Danielle on a 2000 mile roadtrip up to Seattle and back, with stops at Klamath Falls, Crater Lake, Portland & the Columbia river gorge, and finally Seattle where we stayed with some college friends Jay and Lisa, did the touristy stuff (Pike Market, EMP, Space Needle, Underground Tour, etc) and Danielle did some kick-ass road biking with our friends (while I chilled on the couch).  OK OK, I did one 6.5 mile run, so it wasn’t a complete week of sloth 🙂

Driving home on July 3 & 4, I got back just in time to pack for a week in the backcountry at Mt. Whitney.  I met a bunch of new friends (Tom, Bruce, and Rick) that were willing to take an Alpine Newbie on his Alpine initiation.  Whoo, it was great.  We climbed Mt. Whitney via the East Buttress (5.7), descending via the Mountaineer’s route (class 3, with about 1000 feet of snow).

Then we lounged around on a rest day, followed by an attempt on Fishhook Arete (5.9) on Mt. Russell.  We bailed after the first pitch due to extremely cold and windy weather and both parties of two (Bruce and I, Tom and Rick) getting off-route on the first pitch.  Brrrr.  I had 6 layers on and was freezing my ass off while belaying my partner (I was supposed to take the first lead but was way too cold — I almost bailed before even starting!)

We returned to camp with our tails between our legs.  The next day we decided to attempt Russell via the class 3 East Ridge… So we get to the ridge, and run into a woman running down the trail shouting “Help”, “Help!”.  Turns out one of her partners took a big fall while downclimbing a class 5 gulley on the way to Carl Heller.  We ended up assisting with the rescue, spending the entire day above 13,000 feet.  This is a whole story in itself that deserves an entire dedicated posting — look forward to seeing that in the future.  Needless to say, that dashed our summit plans for the day.

Take three — the next day we finally climbed Mt. Russell via the 3rd class East Ridge.  Beautiful weather (I was in a t-shirt and long sleeve shirt intermittently, only putting my wind shell on once we were chilling on the summit).  It was a really cool summit ridge, and a great traverse.  We ran into a party topping out on Fishhook.  They had a great time with windy but warm weather.

Finally, we hiked on out and grabbed burgers, raided a hot springs on the way home, and arrived back in the Bay Area late in the evening.  Yee Haw, what a great two weeks!



P.S. Too busy right now, but I promise more video and pics from the Seattle and Whitney trips.  If you’re on Facebook, Danielle has a bunch of the Seattle trip pics up there.  I’ll get around to posting the best here too.

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