Easter is a special day. Christ conquered death to ensure freedom for each of us to be able to live a full, abundant life of peace, love, and joy. Most believers share the day together with a church service, but this year Jordan and I wanted to break out of tradition and enter into a place of worship where we feel most alive–the mountains. This isn’t to say that what we needed is better or less than the traditional church experience. That’s the beauty of following the spirit. The spirit leads each of us in our own directions; as Christians we should respect and rejoice with each other without passing judgment, and without making standards for each other based on our own desires and promptings.
In the mountains, I am stirred physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The brisk air ignites movement, pushing me beyond comfort; the culmination of physical strain and unknown conditions heightens my mental awareness; my fatiguing body craves food and rest, wearing down my emotional fortitude; despite the grueling push to the summit, I relish in the suffering because it deepens the meditations, ultimately deepening my faith.
We wake in darkness, fumbling around the back of the Tundra where we crashed the night before. It’s 4:30 a.m., go time. Sleepiness hangs in the air, but the 5 miles to the summit motivate us to movement. Jordan unpacks gear as I boil water for a quick cup of joe and ramen. Somehow an hour has evaporated as we hit the trailhead, faint light shining from above. The first two miles of trail is melted out, so we hike comfortably in our regular shoes, carrying everything on our backs.
Once we hit the ridge line above Chocolate Falls, the snow deepens and we switch to ski boots while still carrying our skis. The movement is quick and efficient up the rocky rib.
Finally, we are able to drop our skis and skin to the top.
The view from above the clouds is inspiring; a mushroom cloud hovers neighboring Mt. Adams.
Five and a half hours from the trailhead, we reach the crater rim.
The cold wind doesn’t stop Jordan from insisting that we follow the map to the actual summit, a 15-minute traverse around the rim. We did not set a trend. All the other parties following our lead, called the rim (at a mere 50 feet below the actual summit) the destination.
And the first shall be last? Ha. The traverse was worth it, as we could see into the crater from the dip in the Dryer glacier. From here, we traversed back toward the Worm Flows route, ripped skins and found a place to park it out of the wind. Lunch time!
The ski down was glamorous! In my first two turns, I had a powder shot in the face. The rain from the day before had deposited a couple inches, perfect for low angle turns in shallow fresh snow–a perfect combo of carving and gliding straight down the mountain! Back to the car by mid-afternoon, the day was everything we could have hoped for: inspiring, thought provoking, meaningful, and fulfilling. We packed up and headed to our next destination, the Tieton River basin for a couple days of climbing. On the way, we found a perfect picnic destination to cook dinner.
Summit accompanied us to important things like picnics and climbing, but slept in the truck for the high adventures.
The Tieton Range is a series of Basalt columns located along the Tieton River outside of Yakima, home to rattlesnakes and elk. We saw plenty of each and not much else. The climbing was solid. The first day we checked out Royal Columns: X-factor (5.7), Cross-eyed and painless (5.9), Thriller Pillar (5.9), Orange Sunshine (5.10b), and Inca Roads (5.9). The next day we went to the Bend, aka the Crackhouse and climbed Introductory Crack (5.9), Cruel Harvest (5.9), and Salmon Song (10.a with fun thin roof!).
The pleasantries of home were welcomed after 4 days on the road, but the implanting of adventure is unquenchable.