Thursday, May 17, 2012

Post Holes

Ever had the chance to post hole for miles up a hill by yourself?  Yes, no, didn't care to?  Well it's tons of fun.  Just like it sounds.

What is post holing, for those of us who aren't savvy in ski bumming lingo.  Post holing is when your hiking in deep snow and each step creates a post hole to put your body into.  Your leg is the post and the snow is the hole.

In fact I was having just as much fun as the caterpillar I saw slinking across the snow field the other day in the middle of the Mount Cowan Cirque.  I thought to myself that maybe I should go over there and pick him up and carry him over to the nearest trees.  I also thought how crazy it was to see this little guy at this high elevation this time of year.  Then I remembered that I'd seen a quite a few butterflies out up here as well, and right then I saw another butterfly.  Cool, I thought.  This is cool.  Then I realized that my plight at attempting to climb this couloir was much like the plight of the little caterpillar.  So I honoured the plight of the little caterpillar and stood there and just watched him as he made his way towards the nearest grouping of small trees.  Then I continued plodding through the snow towards the couloir.

22 miles, 5500 vertical feet, and 15 hours later I was back at my car.  It was dark and I was sure that Justene was in bed already, watching a movie without me.

Elbow Lake in the Beartooth Mountains. 
Left to right; Enie, Meenie, Minie, and Mo.  I'm not sure who
named these sub-peaks in the Mount Cowan Cirque, but
they sure are easy to remember.

One of my favourite past times, drinking fresh water in the Mountains.
Sure enough, when I got home I can hear the faint hello from Miss Sweet in the bedroom. Laying there calmly watching a movie without me.  Perfect I thought, she's not worried at all.

Looking back down the couloir.
Climbers never ask the question "Why do you climb?", and the only
real answers are what we see and feel while we are up there,
and you can't explain that to anyone else but your self.
Elk are symbols for stamina, and hitting ones stride.
 8 is the number for infinite.
Paying attention to how the natural world is communicating to you is key.

When I left home at 5am to go on this climb, I brought an orange, an apple, and two energy bars.  Not very much food for a 15 hour climb, but that was the plan.  I had to do it.  I had to push myself in every way possible, and running out of food half way through the day was one of the ways I was going to train my body run more efficiently.  And it worked.
I ran out of food at 4pm where I ate the apple standing at the top of the couloir.  Now I have an eleven mile descent through snow, mud, and beautiful forest.  Crazy as it sounds, I felt good about this.  I felt that my diet and my training were paying off, and if I'm going to be able to push myself to new levels, then this is how I'm going to do it.  So off I went, butt glissading down the other side of the couloir that was a lot less steep than the side I had climbed up.
Half way down the couloir I got out of control and started sliding to fast to control my speed and my direction.  I got spun around onto my back and was bouncing off the snow, breakdancing down an old avalanche path.  Snow was flying all around me as I blasted through it.  Man that was fun.  Can we do it again, PLEASE!!!
At about 8pm I hit my stride.  And that was when I came around the corner and saw the Elk.