Sunday, September 1, 2013

The monster they call "Cascade"

I'm not certain how to effectively explain Cascade's difficulty.

Take all the mountains I have ever climbed and posted about on this blog. Take the hardest portions of each of those, string them end to end, and multiply it for 7.5 miles one way. Then, add a nasty thunderhead that rolls in from the south, banks straight toward you as you stand exposed on the ridge line, and unzips her contents as you have just scrambled up yet another unimaginably steep gain.

You can see the summit. It's not 1 1/2 miles more, at most. But you have uncovered the secret deception of this mountain now, and you are cognizant that between you and that destination are countless gains and losses in precious elevation. You've been taxed for the last six, or is it seven consecutive charges, up then down the ridge? This mountain isn't joking around with those brave enough to try and climb her. 

Climb you will, sucker. Climb and climb again.

Kelly called it quits for us, and I knew he was right to do so. We had lightning, after all, and absolutely no cover. Craig's hip was acting up, even with stretching. And even short rests at the middle and top of each new gain were beginning to be pointless for stamina. Sadly, even truncating the hike, it was going to be physically difficult going back. After 4 1/2 hours of a valiant elevational push against humidity and grade, we agreed that summiting wasn't going to happen. Maybe not even later this year.

It's that tough. 

I'm not bested, I tell myself. Reason called it quits.

But this mountain is difficulty at class 2+ that I never imagined.
She looks easy. She's really a monster.

I'm counting Cascade "climbed" for 2013.


Kelly contemplating the summit


Mountain


 harbinger


reality


contemplation


confronting age


wisdom (sans tempérance)


wildlife at 10,000 ft




more reality


complete lucidity


descent


Writers resting at the foot of a monster


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