Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Juneuary Adventures

Balance \ˈba-lən(t)s\:
A state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.

Balance is something that is necessary for all aspects of life. Balancing work and play, time with friends and time for yourself, enough sleep and enough fun. Is balance ever really achieved though? And if so, how can you tell?

In photography, balance is essential. This last week I have been consciously focusing on balancing the objects in my photos. Arranging the elements in the field of view to create an ascetically pleasing image is a process that takes thought and training of the eye. I have found that the more I have forced myself to look for balance, the easier is has become.

Here are some photos I took this week that have some form of balance:

Since winter quarter started, I have been trying to juggle school and adventuring. It has been hard arranging my schedule to fit in both, but I am starting to get the hang of it. Hopefully as this quarter goes on I will be able to keep getting outside, seeing as I don't have a ton of schoolwork.


Anyways, if you haven't experienced dense, dreary fog then you haven't spent much time in western Washington. This weekend I needed to get out of the grey so I went on a few outings. Above the fog the weather was incredible! It has been a weird warm January.

Mt. Erie

The fog surrounded us as we headed south on I-5 towards Anacortes early Friday morning. Kenny Frank, Brooke Warren, Gus Landefeld and I decided to hang up the skis for a day and go climbing. As we drove up Mt. Erie the sun started to peak through the dispersing fog. When we reached the summit the fog hung just below our feet, creating an ocean of clouds with mountain ranges as islands. We took a few moments to revel in the morning's glory and warm up in the sun before descending back into the fog to climb.

Happy Birthday Gus!

As the day went on the fog blew off and the sun came a shining. It ended up being spring-like, we were even climbing with our shirts off! I am fairly novice at climbing so I spent most of my time getting better instead of taking photos.

Sunset coming back from an awesome day of climbing


Mt. Baker Summit Fail

Sometimes things just don't pan out. As was the case of this weekend's attempt to summit Mt. Baker with Olin Wimberg and Brandon Clabaugh.

Olin and I left our house in Bellingham late Saturday morning to rendezvous with Clabaugh at his place in Kendall. There we grabbed his snowmobile (sled) and threw our gear in the back of his truck. Once loaded we set out for Baker.

We parked the truck at snowline and unloaded all the gear. As Clabaugh pulled back on his sled to unload it, the handlebar broke in half. 

Clabaugh gypsy-rigged the handlebars so we could ride up the road a mile or two to the trailhead. It was quite the process getting everything going that morning, but finally everything came together and we made it to the start of the man-powered climb.

We wound upward, skiing for about three miles through old growth forest while crossing creeks and dodging patches of exposed dirt and rocks. As the trees began to dwindle and the skinning got steeper we started to encounter bulletproof ice. We looked at each other with apprehension before continuing upwards, but went on anyways. A few seconds later, Clabaugh's skis slipped out from under him and he started sliding downhill out of control. Luckily it was at the beginning of the steeps, so once he hit a mellower slope 100 feet down he was able to stop himself.

At that point Olin and I had had enough of skinning so we strapped on our crampons and began to boot pack the last 500 feet to camp. Clabaugh decided to boot pack also but didn't put his crampons on (really sketchy... but... he is from Colorado). Struggling, we made it up and over the icy pitch to the site of our base camp.

Olin, not stoked on the conditions or the hike up
At that point it was about an hour till dark so we made camp and cooked up some dinner.  Over potstickers and ramen we discussed plans for the morning, and the outlook was not favorable. See, we are skiers and not experienced mountaineers. And with Mt. Baker being the ice rink that it was, it would have been extremely unsafe for us to try and climb. Also, the main goal was to ski Mt. Baker and that would have been virtually impossible given the conditions.

Even though the rest of the mission seemed like it wasn't going to happen, we still enjoyed camping up there in the mountains. As we were sitting on our snow bench bullshitting, the clouds above us broke off and revealed the night sky, littered with twinkling stars. It made me think, "why don't we sleep under the stars every night?"

The three of us crammed into a two person tent and tried to get some sleep. Throughout the night the wind was howling and at one point the tent was so far bent over that I thought it was going to collapse. We woke up in the morning to the same terrible ice conditions so we decided to call off the summit attempt.

Instead of just calling it a day and skiing back to the car, we threw on our crampons, set our eyes on a sun-laden peak and trudged upward for about a thousand feet.

After a good little hike we made it to the sun. We cracked a beer and took in the glory of the surrounding jagged peaks of the North Cascades.

Then, it was time to descend. Ha ha:

The glissade (I guess you could call it that) down to camp was quite comical. We decided to leave our crampons on and keep our feet up. It was a fun experience, but next time I'm going to remove my crampons and avoid flying down the mountain in starfish position.

Back at camp we ate the rest of our food and packed up to head down. The ski ended up being one of the sketchiest experiences of my whole life. Since the mountain was a sheet of ice, anything that was steep was almost impossible to set an edge on. We had to traverse across a ridge till we found a mellow slope down to the trail. Dodging trees, jumping creeks and skirting past patches of dirt, we flew threw the forest back down to the trailhead. Then we continued skiing on the road back to the car.

All in all it was a failed summit attempt, but not a failed adventure. We still got out of the fog to soak in the beauty of Washington's mountains and make some memories.

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