It Was Supposed To Be A 3-Hour Tour: (mis)Adventures In The Mountains

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by ninefivezero, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. ninefivezero

    ninefivezero infinite resolution

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    So this weekend, I went on a hike with my dad. We were going to climb Dorado Needle, which is in the North Cascade mountain range. It is near Eldorado Peak, and is 8440 ft / 2573 m tall. Not a big deal, an easy climb really.

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    Driving out to the North Cascades, this is about 3 hours from Seattle.

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    We drove there Friday night, so we could get up early Saturday and start.

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    We woke up at about 5:30am to get started on the hike, since it was a fairly long day ahead of us.

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    Starting at a fairly low elevation, the hike began through a forest of huge fir trees.

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    As we moved up in elevation, the trees disappeared and we entered boulder fields. At this point, the weather was cool and foggy, but we were hoping to get above it all.

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    The trail is just covered in nice little waterfalls like this one.

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    My dad on a mossy rock slab.

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    There were tons of cool rocks formations up here, a geologists dream I'm sure.

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    More neat rocks.

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    Then we hit the snow a little farther up.

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    Luckily, as soon as we got to the top, we were above the clouds, and it was beauthful out. In this picture is Eldorado Peak, 8876 ft / 2705 m, a very popular climb.

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    My dad. At this point, we got geared up for glacier travel, roping together in case one of us (hopefully not both) falls into a crevasse.

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    And me.

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    I'm in front, looking back at my dad on the other end of the line. The glacier and clouds sort of melt into one, with jagged peaks sticking up. Looks pretty neat.

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    Yah, try to avoid these. It's a long way down.

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    That big rocky thing on the left is the Needle, what we are going to summit.

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    Just a cool view through a gap. Looks like some kind of apocalyptic wasteland eh?

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    This is what makes glacier travel dangerous. What looks solid could be a thin snow-bridge just waiting to break under your weight.

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    At this point, we are at the top of the snow, and begin the rock climbing to the top. Here my dad is leading.

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    Because I'm behind him, I have time to admire the little alpine flowers that grow even at these high elevations and extreme conditions.

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    My dad a little farther on.

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    Almost at the summit.

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    And here he is at the top.

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    And there I am. Glaciers and mountains in almost every direction, good stuff.

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    Here I am heading back down.

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    Me rappelling down a face.

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    Hanging out on the cliff face.

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    My dad rappelling another section.

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    As soon as we got off the rock, the fog rolled in...

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    And we had no idea where we were. Visibility was maybe 50-100 feet at best, so without being able to see any landmarks, our topo maps were of no real use.

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    We knew we were in this large bowl at the top of the glacier, but had no idea where, and could not for the life of us find the route out. We literally walked in circles, walking around what we thought were the edges of the bowl three times. We had one spot where we knew where we were, and we had to follow our footsteps in the snow back to that point each time, then trying something new hoping we could figure out how to get down.

    At this point, we had been walking in circles unable to find how to get down for nearly 5 hours, and it was getting dark.

    We decided it was hopeless to get down tonight, and knew we would have to spend the night up here, at 8000 feet, on a glacier, with no food, no tent, no sleeping bags or anything else.

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    So we went to the edge of the glacier where it met the rocks of the peaks, and found a boulder with an overhang. This would be our home for the night.

    We began moving rocks around, trying to make a flat spot to lay until it got light again, and built up a bit of a wall on the opposite side for some protection against the wind. The spot was so small neither of us could actually extend our legs, and while my dad was under the rock, I was mostly uncovered.

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    Since this was supposed to be a day trip, and we were supposed to be home this evening, I tried to call my mother and tell her we were OK, that we had just been caught by the weather and would be home tomorrow. I had no such luck, and could not get a signal to make a call.

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    Naturally, we didn't have dinner either, so this is the food we had between the two of us. We ate it before laying down, so our bodies could have some calories to burn and thus keep us a little warmer in the night.

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    The rising moon.

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    My dad, under the rock. He has his feet and lower legs in his backpack, his upper legs wrapped in a crappy little emergency blanket, and all the other cloths he has on.

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    This is my 'tonight's gunna' be cold' face. I had a fair bit of clothing to keep my upper body warm, but not much for my legs. Luckily my dad had a large garbage bag as a waterproof liner in his backpack, so I was going to sleep in that.

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    A little while later, at about 10pm, the sky began to clear, and since what we were about to do (sleep up there in the elements) totally sucks, we crawled out to check the visibility.

    Success!

    The sky had cleared up enough that my dad looked up, and right away said "I know exactly where we are." Turned out we were not far from where we needed to be, right at the base of Eldorado Peak. Of course, we had no idea where we were, but now that we had our bearings, we roped back up and took off by moonlight.

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    We got off the glacier, and back to the rock slabs by moonlight. Because it was still foggy, our headlamps were useless, and we were sort of just wandering down steep wet rocks in the dark.

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    A little after 2am, 4 hours of hiking in the dark from the other spot we thought we were going to spend the night, it got too dark to continue. The clouds had rolled in thick enough we could not even tell where the moon was, so there was no hope of figuring out where the trail down was.

    We stopped on this little ridge, and laid out on these rocks to try and rest a bit until it got light again and we would be able to continue. So at this point we had been hiking/climbing for 20 hours (minus laying under our rock for ~20 minutes)

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    We laid in that spot for about 3 hours, and by about 5:30am it was light enough again to continue. I think I actually fell asleep for 2 hours, my dad wasn't as lucky.

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    Getting a little lighter still, looking across at more mountains.

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    Another shot of the area.

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    Neat alpine trees with the moon still high in the sky.

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    Back down through the boulder fields.

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    Some flowers.

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    And through the forest again.

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    And 6 hours after leaving our "sleeping" spot, we finally arrive back at the car.

    20 hours of hiking, 2 hours of "rest" and then 6 more hours of hiking.

    Good times :p
  2. ivwshane

    ivwshane We are all old school!

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    Damn!!

    Did your mom call the police or anything?

    On a scale of 1-10 how worried/scared were you? A 10 being, "Oh shit I crapped my pants!".
  3. Jackalope

    Jackalope NNNNEEERRRRDDDSSSSS!!!!!!

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    glad you made it out alright. Looks like one hell of a climb

    I was wondering if I could get some of those pics in 1920x1080 (or really any other high res, I can always resize em myself :) ) those would make FANTASTIC backgrounds. really beautiful pics. (pics 17, 18, 20, 41,42,43,44, 46,47)

    If it's not too much trouble that is.
  4. ninefivezero

    ninefivezero infinite resolution

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    Once we left the spot under the rock, I kept trying my phone, and at 1am on the way to where we ended up stopping, managed to make a call to my mom telling her what was going on. We did register at the ranger station, and in the morning they called the contact number (my mom) to check in and say we had not returned, and she told them we had called her.

    It was not scary at all really, we knew generally where we were, and were in a safe enough spot, so really it was just sort of being bummed out that we were about to have a really cold night.

    As for high res pics, PM sent.
  5. Coleman

    Coleman fresh off the corner

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    Well.. that was probably the coolest picture thread I've ever read here. I, too, would like some high res pictures of those.
  6. tweakmonkey

    tweakmonkey Webmaster Staff Member

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    Damn, a lot of people from this forum would've died if this happened. :)

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    Amazing.

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    x2
  7. theartofbone

    theartofbone Junior Member

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    Good lord, that shot demonstrating how thin snow can be yet not look that way really convinced me I would never do such a thing. :D Though it does look fun, I'm sure there is some essential training and education one must undertake in order to such a climb.

    And your dad seems like a cool guy. Glad you guys made it out and not everyone can do what you two accomplished. :eek:
  8. -=Lurker=-

    -=Lurker=- **BANNED**

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    Awesome thread. Thanks for sharing. :)
  9. ninefivezero

    ninefivezero infinite resolution

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    #1 Glad you liked it, I put a fair bit of time into these, so I appreciate the compliment ;)

    Forward it to all your friends, lets go for 1,000,000 page views :p

    #2 I have numbered all the pictures, anyone who wants full res pictures, PM me your email address and the numbers of the pictures you want, I will send you them.

    I won't lie, my dad and I are pretty tough :p
  10. Chris

    Chris Raptor Jesus

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    I'm always jealous when I read these. Like I should get off my ass and get lost in the woods.

    Awesome pics, thanks for sharing.
  11. Phant0m51

    Phant0m51 From Utah, NOT mormon

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    Glad you made it home ok! Looks like a hell of a trip!
  12. randomtask

    randomtask Chimp.

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    Never a dull moment hey?

    Great photos, glad you made it home so you could post this to us.
  13. j0k3r

    j0k3r El Chupacabra

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    950 is definitely the resident mountain-man badass.
  14. smirnoff

    smirnoff Curmudgeon

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    Would a compass not have done any good?

    Looks like a sweet trip! Glad it turned out ok. Cold nights ftl :(
  15. Goofus Maximus

    Goofus Maximus Too old to be this dumb!

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    Okay, show of hands: How many others had the theme song for Gilligan's Island run through their head when they read the thread title? ;)

    It's been a while since we had a Fiddy Landscape Panorama Spectacular. You can almost feel the cold damp mist soaking into your bones...
  16. jake

    jake Vagabond

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    That looks scary. I have only had to spend one unplanned night on a mountain in my life and it wasnt nearly as high as that. And I wouldn't want to do it again.

    I think I have the same harness as your pops. Is it a Mammut?
  17. mistawiskas

    mistawiskas kik n a and takin names

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    Gilligan's island right here! dunt-dun-dun-tada-dunt-dun-dun.
    great thread fiddy. You guys sure turned the rutine into an amazing adventure.
  18. j0k3r

    j0k3r El Chupacabra

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    Not if it's too foggy to to see any landmarks. It's impossible to keep a bearing without landmarks to follow. Plus with the visibility so low, the risk of falling into a crevasse is too high in my book.
  19. Sparky

    Sparky ¿sdooɥʍ

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    Awesome thread, Fiddy. I love when you post stuff like this. I never really know what to respond with. The photography is beautiful and you go on some great adventures. You're a man's man, that's for sure!

    No homo! :mrgreen:
  20. smirnoff

    smirnoff Curmudgeon

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    I imagine that was probably the case here, I just figured I'd ask.
  21. ninefivezero

    ninefivezero infinite resolution

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    Of course we had one, its usefulness in such weather was covered by joker. (aka: none)

    First unplanned night I've ever had in my life, and my dad said he hadn't had this happen to him since before I was born, heh.

    Not sure the brand of the harness, it's some fancy ultra light weight one. I just looked at one of the full res pictures, and I can see the brand ends with "-ssin" :p

    We didn't turn it into an adventure on purpose!

    Edit:

    This just happened the same weekend, not far from where we were:

  22. CroweBaby

    CroweBaby Guest

    Thats crazy
  23. WoodButcher

    WoodButcher just me

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    Awesome trip, glad your safe.