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Part 2: Broken Top 7/12/2015

Over the last year of this project, we’ve both grown in a number of ways, our mountaineering skill level being a massive factor in that growth. Both as partners and as individuals, this project has brought us both closer to becoming the people we want to be and I will be forever thankful of the opportunities this project has afforded us. Homage to the beautiful Cascades aside, I am beyond psyched that we have hit 12 consecutive months of new routes and unique mountains and I was happy to have a couple of friends along for this trip.

This trip was an exercise in navigation, patience, and a really amazing way of gauging how I’ve grown in my skill set since our first trip up South Sister in August of 2014. I got “Navigation points” on this one and was given the responsibility to direct our group back to the climber’s trail once we realized that we were off by a number of miles from where we ought to be. That was cool (big thanks to this book for continuing to grow my skill set even when I’m not in the thick of it!). I also realized how freaking comfortable I’ve become traveling on all sorts of terrain- without even realizing it until Andy pointed it out to me!

The intermittent exposure coupled with the “free solo’ing” (jokes- sort of) of easy 5th class rock came to me without pause and I didn’t feel even a twinge of pause when going through the motions of the climbing. I never would be as comfortable in the mountains as I am today without this project and the support of the friends who have joined us on this journey.

I can now look at the skyline on hwy 97 and point out features on nearly every peak in the distance and describe how they look up close and how well my experience on them went. That is a gift I would never give back.

Broken Top was an exceptionally casual mountain based on the standards that we have set for ourselves since this project was initially thought up. We wanted to have the opportunity to have friends present and, well, honestly, how many people are completely content to spend their day moving as quickly as possible up steep terrain in an effort to push their physical limits and be the first ones on the summit that day? We also realized that the best part of spending time with friends was to, well, spend time with them- meaning that we wouldn’t be spending the day sweating and breathing in unison. This trip would provide a variety of exciting photo opportunities and we were just psyched in general to have two people with us for whom backing out of the trip at the last minute was not an option.

We may have missed the climber’s trail and gone a’wandering but for the most part, navigation was easy- the trail was well marked and well traveled and we really didn’t encounter anyone else until the 5th class sections.

Brittany elected to stay at the gendarme prior to the 4th/5th class sections- the choss characteristic of the Cascades takes some getting used to and being comfortable on mild exposure is a crucial skill with any mountaineering that doesn’t involve straightforward glacier travel.

So Maddee, Andy, and I shot through to the summit where we took a few photos and waited for the group beneath us to get out of the rockfall hazard zone. I was super proud of Britt, too, for making the choice she did. Finding the outside limit of your comfort zone is step one in making improvements (actually pushing through to make small steps toward implementing change is step two), and Broken Top was a good baseline mountain for finding that limit. No imminent danger is helpful when seeking out the place where you draw the line!

On the way down, we found the proper trail and cut a few miles off of our descent. The neat thing about getting off the trail was that we got to see a “new area” on the way out which was a fun change to the typical “out and back” approach to mountaineering.

Overall, this trip was fun. Andy and I chatted about my making steps toward becoming a Baby Guide and I am so, so exited to finally be reaching a place where my knowledge and experience are able to be helpful to people other than myself. The one thing I really learned during this weekend was how invaluable I find spending time in the mountains, in the actual quiet, to be.

Spending the weekend in a group of people, all of whom I love dearly, was really draining for me on an emotional level (granted I am a bit of a “are they having fun?!” worrier), and I still don’t feel the sense of ‘rebirth’ I usually have after spending a weekend exploring the unknown (to me). That noted, I am SO SO psyched to get our challenge- on during the next few peaks we head over to :)

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