Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Name is Jump the Gun

I don't know about other people, but when I start working out possible plans I totally jump in with too many feet way too early before I've had a chance to really think about it. Then reality hits and those feet get cold. This is annoying as it makes me look like a flake though I usually make myself follow through unless I have a really good reason. This time I signed up for an avalanche evaluation course that has some serious skiing in it - it's not cheap either. Fortunately when I signed up they didn't have their visa system set up so I don't owe them any money but I feel bad for backing out as I really like the organization that's doing it and I want to do it in 2011. Instead I'm trying to get into a women's ski camp which will be much more at my level. The bummer is that I haven't heard from them and I can't get a confirmation either way.

Now I've discovered a 3 day glacier class on Mt. Baker in Washington.

The nice thing is that it does not include a climb which should be a bummer, but I get left behind by groups especially on snow. What I can do is schedule a 1 day private climb right after the class. Then I can go at my pace AND Mt. Baker while heavily glaciated and skill demanding is not a tall mountain but is 10,781 feet (another source says 10,778' - maybe they're subtracting the snow) and well within my ability.

So I want to sign up right now. Wait a minute. That's 6 months away and it's not like it's an Everest or a popular Rainier climb (backed out of one of those too). I'm going back to Whitney in late July or any time August and I need to schedule around that and I'm going to Shasta a couple of times (late May and mid June). Whitney is the difficult one as I need to be flexible in my dates. I suppose I could not do Whitney and just aim for Baker which might be just fine. Baker would be an adventure. Whitney is just a bleepin' obsession. Oh and I wanted to check out Mt Ritter later in the year.

I also hate the idea of not having my car with me, but instead having for a rental car to just sit around and do nothing while I'm on the mountain. So I've talked myself into the 12-13 hour drive up to Seattle which will be an adventure all in itself. Then I can drop in on my parents to say hello briefly before making the 1.5 hour trip up to Bellingham where the class meets.

What I love about classes is that I learn something and I'm not struggling to keep up with a faster group. The class is not that much money so hiring a guide for one more day is doable. The only thing is that it's with the same group as before and classes are a great way to test out other organizations, but the last class I took with these guys I was under the weather and I wasn't that successful at it, and I want to show that I can do it well. It's really tempting to take their 7 day course again but I fear being completely miserable in paradise (again!) and it's quite a bit more money. Enough money that I could almost go to another country and have a fabulous time.

I had written out an inquiry about how far in advance I need to reserve the spot, but I made myself save it as a Draft (Daft?). Slow down a second. Yeesh.

I'm working on a separate blog entry about me questioning why I have this stupid obsession anyway.

[follow up and reality check]
I was watching some you tube videos of Mt Baker climbs and it shows them climbing roped, and it all came back to me. I really hate traveling over glaciated terrain where you have to be roped and spaced out at significant intervals. This is so that the others on the rope can catch you if you fall into a crevasse by throwing themselves on the snow and digging in their ice axes (this is not a joke). what I hate about is is how intrinsically lonely it is. Half the fun of climbing mountains is standing right beside someone that I'm climbing with and saying wow look over there is that cool? In glaciated terrain that has to wait until you're in a safe spot, so a lot of the spontaneity (and hence some of the experience) is lost.

If you try and do it all in a day it's a huge outing: 7000' of elevation gain as evidenced by this pretty amusing video:


The AAI course ascends to 5600'-6000' and has class from there and if you were going to do a summit climb you would start from there which is easier, but it's still nearly 5000' climb which is no easy climb, and more than I've ever done.

Of course I could just do the class and not the climb, but much as I love hanging off the side of a crevasse, I'm questioning whether it's something I really want to relearn right now esp since I'm not doing much of this kind of climbing. I love all the snow skills I've learned beforehand as they are skills that I use (you use self arrest techniques to stop yourself when glissading, but crevasse rescue is not something you ever want to have to use, so I'll put this on hold and if I want more technical climbing practice I should work it out on rock.

In the meantime, I think I'll stick to non-glaciated terrain which is way more fun and less stressful - going to focus on longer climbs with a day pack with hopefully ski mountaineering in the future which brings me right back to that avalanche hazard evaluation class.

So cooler heads have prevailed this time and I've deleted the email inquiry that started this all.


Jan said...

I have a thing for rocks. And for trees. Serbs are weird about their trees and I am glad it is a DNA thing and not just me. Grandma can't leave Desparia...excuse me...Hesperia because she won't leave her two trees. And they are those scraggly Joshua wanna be trees, too.

Jan said...

Oops. I am also a tired idiot. I was reading further and meant to post this on your rock entry...

Jennie said...

I totally get the loneliness thing. One of the reasons I don't hike the local parks alone--it's really fun to say, "Look at that! What's that noise? Want to take a water break?" Sharing the experience is an important part.

Glad you figured it out.