International Man of Mystery...

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I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Colfax Peak Cosley-Houston Route

I had never ice climbed in WA before. Honestly, spending so much time ice climbing in CO and NH, it was hard not to have a bit of a snobby attitude about it. Getting out with Lee the other day gave me a whole new appreciation for the possibilities in WA.

We climbed a route known as the Cosley-Houston on Colfax peak. Colfax is a sub peak of Mount Baker with a summit at 9,360'.  The Cosley-Houston climbs water ice pillars and snow slopes formed by the melt-freeze cycles of the peaks upper snow fields.

Lee and I crossed the Coleman Glacier which, with a thin November snow cover made for some very scenic hiking across a very broken glacier. We climbed increasingly steep snow slopes to the bergschrund where we roped up. A few pitches of water ice led to some steep snow and a bit more water ice, more snow and finally the summit. The upper snow field was a bit sketchy with worthless protection options and what I can only describe as double lensing. That is, a snice crust over 8" of powder over and ice lens and more powder.

We delicately climbed this layer cake to the summit as the visibility dropped. Luckily Lee had climbed the East Ridge (a worthy route in its own right) and found the way down fairly easily as the visibility improved. We enjoyed an incredible sunset as we hiked down the glacier. It felt late and it had been a long time since I used my headlamp in the field. Turns out it was only about 4:30pm. On a roughly thousand foot route, with difficulties to WI4+, and that much hiking ~12 hours car to car seemed respectable, but damn the days get short up here this time of year!

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