Sunday, July 02, 2006

Ice Mountain - A cold-hearted slave

Editor's note: This is the "peaking" section of my poker/peaker blog. You'll see a few more like these as the summer goes on. They have nothing to do with poker. If you can't stand that, go deal yourself AA and watch a rerun of "Poker Superstars III" while I post this.

P.S. OK. Poker continues to go well in the cash games. I was down $25 Saturday but finished up $40 playing mostly .25 NL.
There. Happy?

Mountain: North Apostle (and Ice Mountain attempt)
Feet: 13,840
Date: 7/1/06
People: Mike Schumacher and Dan England

I’m starting on my quest for the Centennials and my partner for the day, Mike Schumacher, and I thought Ice Mountain would be a good preview for our planned trip up Dallas with Ryan Kowalski and possibly Piper.
Mike planned to camp at the South Winfield trailhead, while I didn’t want to fight the 4th of July traffic and all the yahoos planning to fish and drink Milller High Life, so I opted to roll out of bed at 1:45 a.m. and get on my way at 2 a.m.
The good news: At 2 a.m., even I-25 is empty, for the most part.
The bad news: It’s 2 a.m.

Fortunately I had Pearl Jam’s new album to help keep me alert, as well as the best of Sade (an underrated pop artist) and an icky Power Bar and Banana and tea. I arrived at the trailhead at 5:45 a.m. and met up with Mike, where we bounced our way to the start on the 4WD road.
The weather forecast didn’t look all that great, a 40 percent chance or greater for storms, but the sky was clear and sunny when we started. I wore just a fleece top and pants.
The trail was fine, save for the trees and plants swiping us with water on the way. By the time we got to the Apostle Basin and Lake Ann junction, my pants were soaked, an omen for the day ahead.

We crossed the huge log and then the icy logs written about by Mark Fisher, who wrote a much more detailed trip report than I will (I’ve got a story to write after this). We used that one most of the way.
We arrived at a basin right after the icy logs across the creek and Mike found a game trail to the left of the basin up a steep slope. Fisher apparently bushwacked through willows to the right up the hill. You could go both ways, but the trail we found was fairly nice and somewhat easy to follow. It spit us out above treeline, right under the slope where you want to start heading up to the saddle between North and Ice.

It’s a straightforward trip over crappy loose rock once you get beyond the few hundred feet of tundra that follow up a small lake. I struggled over it all day, as it was my first time out for the summer season, while Mike, who has already been out many times this year and just spent a week in Chicago Basin, looked like Peter Pan, flying over the rocks and leaving me in the dust.
I really believe I’m in good shape - I ran the Bolder Boulder in 50 minutes - but these guys from 14erworld are stomping all over me. Am I getting older? Is it because I have a baby now? I do think I performed all right but I”m getting tired of not keeping up.

Anyway, we made to the saddle, looked up and, almost like magic, a cloud appeared before us, building by the second. Mike and I decided to go for North and see how it would play out.
We made it to the top of North about 11 a.m. while the skies got worse. Ah, so THAT’S why the forecast didn’t look good.
By the time we made it back to the saddle, I had heard a couple of thunder claps in the far distance and it looked black to the right of us. Crap. We were less than 300 feet from the top of Ice but it wasn’t going to happen today.
In the past, this would disappoint me. It still did, but instead of arguing with Mike for a try at Ice, as I might have in the past, I knew he was right and started heading down with him. In fact, I never considered it. I’ve got more important things at home now, waiting for me, and I can’t risk it.

Mike and I started to head down and picked up the pace a bit as the lightning got closer and closer and it started to dump little pellets of ice on us.
There was still enough snow for a couple short glissades, so we took advantage. (The Fridge, by the way, still looked to be in great shape), and by the time the lighting was less than a mile away, we were close to treeline. Once we got through the trees, it was raining, or rather sleeting, pretty hard, and we wound up getting pretty soaked.
We made it back to the car wet but I was happy for the day. It was great to hike with Mike and we did get a peak in.
My climbing season has begun. I just hope it improves.

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