Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mt. Baker: Thoughts On Our Climb

I've done the impossible and pulled myself away from an intense Olympics viewing schedule to write a post on last weekend's Mt. Baker climb.  I'll give an assist in this endeavour to NBC, as the only live sport I could find this morning was archery and my interest in the competitors' high-tech, transformer-like bows waned after about thirty minutes.  (I was, however, reminded of my time in Japan, where it is common to see Tokyo teenagers riding the subway with archery gear slung over their shoulders.)  

So, Mt. Baker: 10,781 feet of glaciated volcanic rock located in the North Cascades of Washington State.  For around five hours we trudged slowly up one of its glaciers -- the Easton -- to its summit, where I proceeded to lie on the snow lifeless for minutes before reviving myself with a litre of fruit punch gatorade and posing happily for summit photos.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goodbye Vacation, Hello Life!

The end has finally come.  No more traveling around, climbing mountains, general fun -- as next week I return to responsible adulthood and begin the job that I accepted eight months ago.  At this point I have to admit that it can't be such a bad thing.  I've cycled my way several times through the Call Me Maybe parody videos and definitely feeling as though my productivity could be enhanced.  Plus:  My return to work means a return to Canada and a much anticipated release from the grip of NBC's monopoly over all things Olympics related.  While my list of frustrations with the American coverage is long and growing, by far my biggest is the lack of an adequate vehicle to complain about my frustrations.  Ellen has little sympathy for what I am (and am not) able to watch during the day and I've yet to find Bob Costas's e-mail address.  Thus, I'm left to whine on my blog.  (And there's always Cookie Monster's Share It Maybe to cheer me up.)

I'm happy to say, though, that NBC hasn't completely ruined my final week of freedom.  Yesterday I learned that I passed the bar -- meaning I saved myself the embarrassment of telling everyone I failed.  And Ellen, Paul, and I successfully summited Mt. Baker over the weekend in spite of my attempt to die of exhaustion on the ascent.  Trip report to come, hopefully tomorrow, though I hear NBC might let me watch the U.S. mens water polo match in the afternoon, shutting down my productivity for the better part of the day.   

On the march toward glory.  And a big sulphur crater. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Housing Crisis Averted (Mostly)

I'm happy to report that late last week my brother and I signed the lease for our new, hopefully bed-bug free apartment.  Alas, after three months of searching, we've finally found a place to live for next year.  The only downside is that the lease doesn't start until September 1st, meaning we're out of luck for the next six weeks or so.  But at least I no longer have to spend my days trolling Craigslist postings and emailing unhelpful landlords.  And my brother promises the wait will be worth it.  (That's right, I've yet to see the inside of our new home -- a fact that I've made well known absolves me from all blame in the event things go terribly wrong.) 

So until I start work -- which is in three weeks apparently -- it's early morning Mill St. lagers and extremely lazy days for me -- all of which I've convinced myself are well deserved notwithstanding the fact that, technically, I've been on "vacation" for the past seven months.  Also, I have a mountain to climb at the end of July; at some point I ought to try getting in shape for that.

Happy days on Mt. Shuksan, with Mt. Baker -- our July objective -- in the background.  Photo courtesy of Paul's Facebook.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Washington Pass Climbing: An Overview

Blurry eyed, unshaven, and pretty damn sore, I've returned from my week climbing in North Cascades National Park.  My life over the past five days:  Lots and lots of alpine climbing.  

My daily routine went something like this (with slight variation after day three when I discovered that mice had gotten into the trunk of my rental car and eaten their way through the majority of my food):  Wake at 6:00 a.m.; enjoy drip coffee and oatmeal before driving to the base of some alpine rock face and thinking to myself, "There's absolutely no way I can climb that"; walk for approximately three hours up a steep snowfield in hiking boots hardly fit for the task, eventually reaching the base of the rock only to get harassed by a pack of mountain goats who really liked my pee; rope up and climb for several more hours, oscillating between total fear and the delusion that I might be having some fun; summit high five, pictures, more mountain goats, then some down climbing, rappelling, and sliding down the snowfield to arrive safe and sound at the car by 6:30 p.m.; and, finally, a quick dinner and skim through the guidebook's description of the next day's climb before bed.  Turns out that alpine rock climbing is kinda hard.

Making moves on the Southwest Rib, South Early Winter Spire, just after muscling through my first semi-off-width crack, aptly named the "Bear Hug."
Details on the climbs to come . . . and, unfortunately, it looks like I'll have lots of time to blog over the coming weeks.  I had two things to do in June: (1) write the bar exam; and (2) find a place to live.  I failed miserably at the second.  Well, not entirely.  I did find a place to live.  It's just that on moving day we learned it's invested with bed bugs.  (F-ing bed bugs?!)  So, while the plan was to stay out west and climb for the month, you know what they say about the best laid plans.  Tomorrow I head home to search for a new home -- preferably one that doesn't have tiny little things that will bite me while I sleep and cause permanent psychological damage.  Good fun.

The playground I leave behind.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Goodbye Toronto, Hello Seattle!

Hello again, Internet.  It’s been far too long -- for me at least -- and while I’d like to say a lot has happened during my absence, my life has been rather mundane of late.  After leaving Kalymnos, Greece, I spent a couple of days in Athens, then boarded the 21st airplane of my trip, bound for Toronto, and completed the last leg of my big around-the-world adventure.     

That was all very exciting and I have quite the stockpile of experiences to blog about.  But that – and life in general – had to wait as I was doomed to spend three weeks in Toronto absolutely cramming for the Ontario bar exam.  Turns out that skimming densely packed pages of legal fun while jet-setting through strange countries is not an effective study strategy. So, upon landing in Toronto, I chained myself to my parents’ dining room table and read through the 1500 pages of material the law society tells me I need to commit to memory in order to be a competent lawyer.

It wasn’t all tough times, though.  If I wasn’t studying I was climbing – and it feels like I did that a lot too (which, admittedly, is inconsistent with my claim to endless studying).  And, more importantly, I got to plan my next trip:  Today I woke at 4:30 a.m. and set off for the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State to attempt several alpine rock routes on Washington Pass.  After that it’s two weeks of unknown adventure before an attempt of Mount Baker at the end of July with Paul and Ellen.  It’s all a little daunting at the moment, mostly because my lifestyle over the last month or so didn't lend itself to getting in shape for climbing – a conclusion I reached a couple of days ago after a 10:30 a.m. swim and beer.  But that’ll just add to the excitement.

The object of my desires for the next week.  From