You can tell this is an artistic representation because I am never in the front, but the shirtless part is true.
It's 2AM and I'm crammed into the back of a Subaru with another dude. We finally rolled into this parking lot four hours ago after an extended drive that involved a stop at a fake Stonehenge, tailgating renditions of Let it Go, twenty chicken mcnuggets, two gas station dinners, one hit deer and about 6 wrong turns.
We're here to climb Mount St Helens.
To say this trip has some unknowns is an understatement. James and I just got touring setups at the beginning of this season. I've never even seen this mountain before, let alone walked up it. We're going to be embarking on this adventure with Rachel and Meaghann neither of whom James has ever met. We rented crampons and ice axes from school but honestly I'm more comfortable using them to stomp cans than for any climbing. Yeah, there are definitely some variables at play here.
There's nothing quite like meeting someone on the internet and then going and doing something stupid and potentially dangerous with them. There's no middle ground, it's either going to end in an explosion of stoke, or the park rangers will have to intervene before someone gets ice axed. Luckily for us the park rangers didn't have to step in and instead we left a trail of childish giggles, weak humor and excessive excitement spread up and down the mountain. We were one sketchy, out of control crew in the best way possible.
Apart from some bad choices in the freeze-dried dinner department our semi-early start went off without a hitch. Since the Northwest has had a pretty terrible snow year we ended up walking a long way before we hit any skin-able snow. There's nothing quite like racing the fog up a chunky boulder scramble to wake you up in the morning.
Finally we hit snow and started skinning up a decidedly euro skin-track. Whoever did this last had obviously decided that turning is for posers and his tracks ran pretty much straight up to the tippity top.
Some people make backcountry skiing look good. They exude composure and comfort on the skin track and look like they could have popped straight out of some outerwear catalogue. I guess that's why companies give those people their gear to wear. I am not one of these people. If I am sweating I will probably take my shirt off and my chastity beard, bare chest and thrift-store bibs combine for a decidedly gaper redneck vibe.
Thanks for the shot Meaghann
Next time I need new gear I'm considering asking for some kind of reverse sponsorship deal. Flylow, you want to send me some Patagonia gear so I don't ruin your rep? Or maybe Virtika could hook me up with some Lethal Descent so no one associates your logo with my frightening face?
Summits are always pretty cool and this one was no exception. I am a little disappointed though. We passed a lot of "Warning, Active Volcano" signs but there was a distinct lack of boiling lava at the summit. Oh well, I guess you can't win em all.
After hours of hiking and skinning it felt weird to finally lock those heals down and start arcing turns. We were met with the best skiing I've had all year, soft slashes on wide open slopes. To any onlookers we probably sounded like a kindergarten recess mixed up with some out of control ski bums. Loud giggly skiing is the best kind of skiing.
How we present ourselves to the internet:
How we actually look:
Too soon the snow fades back to rock and it's time for the down climb. The car is miles away but the stoke is still high. We walked up a mountain and then skied down it and nothing too bad happened. I don't know if there is a standardized metric to judge the success of trips against but I think this one ranks at about 11/10 on the good times meter. This might not have been the most epic trip ever or the gnarliest summit but it was a good reminder that mountains do not suck and stoked people make for a good time.
A huge thanks to everyone who spansorizes us or gives us free gear sometimes or even just gave me some stickers.
Look out for some more Tippity Top articles as I find more tops to tip!