“Dream It. Do It.” Well, I couldn’t say it much better than that.
My mom has always said that I needed “exertion.” I got cabin fever really easily when I was young (hell, I still do. . .), and if I didn’t get my daily exercise in I’d be bouncing off the walls. As I grew older I spent more and more time in the gym to get my “exertion.” The most recent evolution of this “exertion” has been through backpacking, putting in mile after mile in the Southeast, Sierra Nevada, New Zealand, and Alaska.
Recently, I have been looking to take my experience in the mountains to the next level, to get out into the alpine and further my abilities on snow and ice. I had been looking at Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, the Three Sisters as training grounds, places I could sink my boots and ice axe into as I develop my experience in the field.
But in reality, there is no substitute for local expertise when it comes to the Cascades. Especially in the early season, conditions are variable, and an extensive knowledge of the area is required for any sort of climb.
|| A Personal Feel: KAF Adventures ||
In March I connected with Joel Koester, the Managing Director of KAF Adventures. Joel and I had a conversation about my goals as an aspiring mountaineer, talked about curriculum and learning opportunities that KAF could provide, and ultimately, we began to craft a program that was perfect for my intended goals and outcomes.
My conversation with Joel, and his willingness to work with me one-on-one, is a testament to KAF’s dedication to their clients. The alpine guiding industry continues to get bigger and bigger, and much less personal; KAF Adventures, however, brings a refreshing dose of personality. Every step of the way, Joel worked with ME, to customize and strategize ways for me to maximize my time out in the North Cascades with KAF.
|| The Grand Adventure: Mt. Baker ||
In our conversation, Joel felt that Mt. Baker would be my perfect training ground to begin developing skills in glacier and snow travel. Baker’s accessibility from Seattle, only 2-3 hours away by car, makes it ideal for the somewhat condensed time schedule I am on for this trip (3 days on the mountain). Baker provides the perfect balance between having an “expedition-like feel” and being a relatively quick climb.
|| Getting Ready ||
One of the most exciting parts of adventure for me is the preparation process. Gear lists, itineraries, schedules, weather forecasts, etc. Once Joel and I worked out the details of the program, it was time to get to work.
I went back to my old gear list spreadsheets from previous backpacking trips, modifying for technical climbing equipment and winter apparel. Here’s an example of what a preliminary gear list looked like for me:
|compass||1||Suunto MC-2 Global|
|printed topo maps w/ Ziploc|
|Garmin inReach||1||Garmin inReach Explorer+|
|Sleeping Bag||1||REI Igneo 20d|
|Sleeping Pad||1||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm|
|pack cover||1||Osprey UltraLight Rain Cover|
|1 L bottle||2||Nalgene|
|Fuel Can Stabilizer||1||Jetboil|
|Knife||1||Gerber LST Ultralite|
|1.4L pot||1||Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium cookset|
|utensils (individual)||Snow Peak Titanium Spork|
|Sunglasses – with case||1||Dragon Alliance MountaineerX|
|hat||1||OR Active Ice Cap|
|buff/bandana||1||UV insect shield Buff|
|Hiking poles||pair||REI Co-op Carbon Composite Powerlock|
|Headlamp||1||Black Diamond Spot|
|Repair Kit||PCord, Extra SD cards, pen, super glue, tenacious tape, snow baskets|
|Watch||1||Suunto Core Multifunction Watch|
|Carabiner||1||BD Positron Screwgate|
|Mountaineering Boots||1||La Sportiva Spantik|
|Gaiters||1||REI Mountain Gaiters|
|Midweight Wool Socks||2||Smartwool PhD|
|Synthetic Underwear||2||Duluth Trading Buck Naked boxers|
|Base Layer – Top||1||Patagonia Capilene Midweight|
|Base Layer – Bottom||1||Under Armour ColdGear 2.0|
|Softshell Pants||1||Outdoor Research Cirque Pants|
|Hardshell Jacket||1||Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid|
|Hardshell Pants||1||REI Tallusphere Rain Pants|
|Softshell Jacket||1||Arc’teryx Atom LT Insulated Jacket|
|Midweight Layer||1||Arc’teryx Cerium LT|
|Beanie / Skull Cap||1|
|Microfiber Towel||1||REI Multitowel Mini|
|Heavyweight Gloves||1||Black Diamond Guide|
|Lightweight Gloves||1||TNF Etip|
|Ice Axe||1||Black Diamond Raven Pro|
|Crampons||1||Black Diamond Sabertooth Crampon|
|Helmet||1||Black Diamond Vector|
|Harness||1||Black Diamond Momentum|
|Sling – 4 ft.||1||Black Diamond Nylon Runner|
|Locking Carabiners||3||Black Diamond RockLock|
|Non-Locking Carabiners||2||Black Diamond WireGate|
|Harness Prussik||6 ft.||New England Rope|
|Leg Prussik||12 ft.||New England Rope|
|Trekking Poles||1||Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork|
|Toothbrush||1||GUM Travel Toothbrush|
|Toilet Paper||1||Cotton Buds Tissue-to-Go (75 sheets)|
|Purell||1||2 oz per mini-bottle|
|Dermatone||Dermatone Mini Tin SPF 23|
|Gold Bond||Gold Bond Travel Size|
|Dr. Bronners Soap||Dr. Bronners Castile Soap Travel Size|
|Miscellaneous (NEED TO UPDATE)|
|Backpack||1||Osprey Atmos 65 AG|
|Camera||1||Nikon D60 with 18-200 lens|
|GoPro||1||GoPro Hero5 Black|
|Electronics Bag||1||Charging Cables: GoPro, Garmin, PowerBank, iPhone, Olympus, headphones, extra batteries|
|Pen||1||Fisher Space Pen – Military Pen|
|PolarPro GoPro mount||1||https://www.amazon.com/PolarPro-StrapMount-BackPack-LifeVest-SCUBA/dp/B00UJI8OVK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1496188103&sr=8-3&keywords=polar+pro|
Whenever I had questions, KAF was there to help out. They sent me an impressively comprehensive gear list; both Joel and one of KAF’s guides, Andrew Archer, were available to answer any questions I had about gear for the program.
Once I had my gear list down and finalized, it was time to turn to monitoring the weather and observing mountain conditions. This can be hard too far in advance, especially in the springtime in the Pacific Northwest when rain/snowstorms are constant.
For years, my go-to weather resources have been:
- Weather.gov – the official NOAA site for weather updates. This site provides detailed information on weather fronts, and incredibly accurate forecasts.
- Mountain-Forecast.com – an amazing resource for weather predictions dependent upon elevation. Mountain-Forecast will give detailed descriptions of weather conditions centered on actual mountain ranges and peaks, which is incredibly useful for scouting out routes in the Cascades and elsewhere.
- Weather Underground – my first stop for a 10-day, high-level forecast. Their system is user-friendly, easy to use and navigate, and gets me the basic information I need fast.
In talking with KAF in preparation for the program, I was excited to learn that most of their guides use the same resources, a nice confirmation that I am onto something.
|| Upcoming: The Adventure Itself ||
I am extremely excited to get out on the mountain, as time is ticking away! Stay tuned for more updates, and keep your eye out for pictures on Instagram as well, @engineeredforadventure.