I’ve been itching to climb a mountain lately. I guess it’s been only a week since I hoofed it up Mary’s Peak, the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range, but what can I say, mountains are addicting.
The big mountain summer season is only just now beginning. Last year on 4th of July weekend I climbed my first big peak of the season, 13,330-foot Summit Peak, the highest point in Colorado’s San Juan Wilderness.
This year, I spent the 4th looking up at Mount Saint Helens. What a tease! I stopped by the ranger’s office on my way into Mount Saint Helens National Monument to see if I could get a last minute permit to climb the mountain. Silly me. I was informed that permits sold out in March.
To be fair, climbing in the Cascades really shouldn’t be spontaneous. These mountains are no joke. Two people have already been killed on Mount Hood this year and last week, a ranger fell to his death on Rainier while attempting to rescue a group of stranded climbers.
One of these days, I fully plan on devoting a summer to climbing the big peaks in the Cascade Range: Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and Mount Baker. I’ve gone bigger than the Cascades – 18,900-foot Cayambe and 19,200-foot Cotopaxi in Ecuador – but not badder.
Yesterday, got a tantalizing taste of Cascade climbing: I made it part of the way up Mount Baker, via the Heliotrope Ridge approach. I turned around partway up the final snowfield. My legs and lungs felt good and I wanted to keep going up and up, but the slope was getting too steep to climb without an ice axe or a belay partner. One of these days!
I’m off to Canada!