I got up early today so I could have breakfast at a little place on Shasta Blvd (isn't EVERYTHING on Shasta Blvd here? haha) , but before I went for food, I scouted the location of the climbing store where I was to meet up with my climb team. There were a few people starting to congregate out front, but he 5th Season's doors were still closed, so off I went to grab a bite. Tasty… eggs benedict, some pancakes, and the like.
Afterward, I headed back to the store, which was now open, and met my guide for this trip, Rich Meyer. He's a big, burly dude with a big personality, and I figured we'd get along just great. My fellow climber was a guy named Rutherford (uh… really? Who names their kid "Rutherford"?), a slight, and gooshy fellow of what looked to be about 38 , sporting some goofy glacier glasses, pasty skin, a weak chin, an unbelievably wicked combover, and a very quiet walk-behind-the-man kind of GF/wife in tow.
Apparently Rutherford has climbed a lot of huge mountains in Europe, South America, and other places in the world, and rattled off an impressive resume of major peaks when Rich asked him what mountaineering experience he's had.
I found out later on the trail that she is from Russia... maybe she doesn't speak any English, or is a quiet mail-order bride or something… but I'll get to that whole bizarro experience on the trail in a minute haha)
Nevertheless, my paltry experience just sounded stupid by comparison. haha
The three of us finished our preliminary gear check out back, stashed the stuff that didn't make the cut, and it was at this point that Rutherford began wondering aloud to Rich about things his GF would do while he's gone for the next 3 days, since she wouldn't have a car.
Wait, what? Why doesn't she drive you to the trailhead so she can keep the car? Ohhh… she's a halfwit… I see. And she doesn't drive, and the implication is that she's also completely incapable of figuring out her own program while the big bad nerd-climber is away? Wait, why didn't you guys think of this before coming here in the first place? You've had months to figure this out.
|The Hotlum Bolam Ridge is the spine of |
rock about halfway up that runs upward from left to right,
starting just left of center
Our turnoff was Military Pass Road, a long, very dusty, and bumpy road that twisted up into the foothills and snaked around the northwestern side of the mountain to the North Gate trailhead. Here, it was officially time to get climbing. We parked the cars, changed into our climbing gear, and took the last civilized bathroom breaks we'd have for a while.
|Me, the awesome Rich Meyer, and the impossibly weird Rutherford|
*ahem* I will now detail the standard poop kits provided by the Forest Service:
1. A brown paper bag with some kitty litter in it
2. Large fold-out paper target (!!) for aiming properly
3. A pair of ziploc bags
So when you need to take a dump while on the mountain, you take out a kit, pull out the paper target, unfold it on the ground and put a rock on each corner, and hope your aim is good as you shoot for the center of the target. When you're done, fold in the corners and roll it up like some crazy, weirdo poop burrito, put that into the paper bag, then put that roll of warm happiness in the Ziploc, and then put the whole thing into the second ziploc. If you're careful, I'm told, you can use each one twice, which precludes the need for carrying more. They're bulky, and they take up room and add weight to your pack, so less is better. AWESOME! Hahaha
With all our crap sorted (so to speak), we at last headed up the trail for a 4-ish hour climb into the moraine at the snout of the Hotlum glacier where we'd pitch our base camp.
|Beautiful, dense pine forests on Shasta's north side|
At almost exactly an hour up the trail, Rutherford speaks up behind me.
Rutherford: Uhhh… guys… Can we stop for a minute? I can't be here. There's something I have to take care of.
Rich: (thinking Rutherford had to take a dump) Sure, man… We can just wait here while you go do your thing.
Rutherford: No, I mean there's something I have to do. I really can't be here.
Rich: Yeah, seriously, no problem. It's cool… we'll just wait here and…
Rutherford: No, I mean like I have to go do something.
I was just as confused as Rich at this point. "WTF are you talking about, dude?" is what I was thinking. HAHA
Rutherford: I've just been thinking for a while, and I realized I shouldn't be here, and there's something I have to go take care of.
Rich (realizing what dude is talking about): Ohh, wait wait wait hang on a minute… you mean you need to TURN AROUND and go back down?
Rich: Ohhhh… wow… *stunned* Hmm…. Well, this has never happened, so
Rutherford: Yeah, but I'm really ok, I'm fine. I just can't be here.
Rich: What's wrong? Are you not digging the conversation? Was that bumming you out, or what?
Rutherford: No, the conversation isn't what sparked this… I just can't be here.
Rich: Are you feeling ok medically? Are you lightheaded or feeling dizzy or sick or anything? Are you hurt? I mean, I don't wanna get into your business, and now I get what you're saying, but by the same token, you have to understand, I'm responsible for your health and well being up here. I can't just let you turn around and go back down by yourself, so you've gotta give me SOMETHING that tells me what's going on. All three of us would have to go down to take you back if I don't think everything's cool.
Rutherford: Nonono, I'm totally fine… I just realized I really should go take care of this, and I can give you guys back the group gear I'm carrying, and such…
|Heading toward the alpine zone after |
Rutherford's bizarre departure
|Finally above treeline... and onto |
the lower snowfields
A breathtaking sunset washing us in bright pink and orange hues combined with brilliant colors out over the valley and behind dramatic outcrops of nearby rock were our reward for today's hard work.
|The final grunt up that snowfield leads to 10k basecamp|
Realllly looking forward to the climb tomorrow.
|Sunset from 10,000 feet on Shasta is a beautiful thing.|