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A blog about the great outdoors, photography, and not taking yourself too seriously.
I like diminutive titles. Something too grand, too pompous, and I don't even feel like reading myself. Mountains are large rocks with ice cubes on them. Sometimes, a bunch of smaller sharp rocks are piled on them (we call that scree, from the internal screems that it causes when you realize you have to climb it).
Sounds inoffensive enough. But I sure got pretty destroyed by this latest attempt on Shuksan.
The worst thing about exhaustion and sickness is that your camera becomes too heavy to use, and you end up with a collection of photographs inversely proportional to the length of the adventure. The following photo essay, I hope, still captures what it's like to go toe-to-toe with a glaciated giant (remember clicking on a photo will enlarge it, should you want a better look at it).
It's time to get excited for the Arc'teryx climbing academy. For once, this blog post is short... enjoy it while it lastsRead More
Self assigning is fun. I recently decided to go out and follow some trad climbers for an evening in Squamish (photos below). It went well! So I then self-assigned myself a photoshoot in Whistler Blackcomb's bike park. I'll tell you all about it after I finish my newest self-assigned project; eat this entire cheesecake by myself.
Why do I talk about self-assigning so much? It's because outdoor photography (and actual paid work in the field) requires you to have a good portfolio, filled with great images companies might want. Makes sense. Problem is, competition is a thing. Established photographers get a huge advantage when applying for shoots because they already have a huge amount a material; they've been at it a lot longer (And are therefore a lot better at it).
This means you somehow have to reach a high level of skill and build a huge collection of images showcasing your talents, without profiting from all that work. It's a huge gamble. You have to really like shooting photos and be very motivated for all of this to even make sense.
Or you have to be dumb.
I'm definitely one of the above, so I went out to Whistler and shot all day, got stalked by a bear and managed to escape with only 4 of my limbs. Many thanks to the guest relations department of Whistler Blackcomb for hooking me up with lift tickets. The images showcased below would not have been taken if they hadn't been so nice.
... and specially not for me. I melt in sunny days. My poor canuck scalp burns like an unattended pancake, and I sweat horribly. It's very dramatic.
Contrary to what this opening paragraph says, this article is not about my fair and perfect complexion
Sun's also not great for mountaineering (or mountain photography, as Angela Percival would tell you). Under warm conditions, snow becomes soft and the postholing is real. Postholing, of course, is the least of your concerns when collapsing snow bridges and slides are an option. Unfortunately, I was part of a BCMC group that had the ambition of climbing Mount Baker, so the sunny forecast was mildly depressing (It's Always Sunny in the PNW apparently). We decided to be bold and give it a shot anyway.
The approach through thick brush and rushing melt water was figuratively a breeze. It was warm, sweaty, wet and confusing; as we learned on the way, a massive slide had wiped out most of the creek crossings, and we had to improvise new ones. Snow, ironically, only provides short relief. In my case, it only cooled off my ankles while reflecting sunlight, giving me a rare case of the sunburn-under-the-bridge-of-my-nose.
An extra early alpine start was complemented by nice views of Hera's mess. I requisitioned a handy tree trunk as a makeshift tripod and shot away. The resulting shots may not be as sharp as the ones taken using a sturdy tripod, but there's no way I'm hauling 10 extra pounds of gear.
I'm used to catabatic winds that freeze you, winds that you have to shield against using a strong Arc'Teryx Alpha SV 100D Denier includng new zipper design (I don't have a sponsorship from them, but I'm practicing. See how I casually slid that placement in the article? Soon I'll either be rolling in it, or I'll be editing the post at the request of their PR team). Not that time. We woke up to a warm, weird wind coming from the col. Ever stuck your face in a hands drier? I haven't. But I imagine that's how it feels.
The weather proved way too warm for any serious attempt at the summit; we had to settle for a gorgeous sunrise instead. What a bummer.
Failed summit attempts are usually accompanied with a morale, about how failure doesn't define you and how adversity is the biggest ally you can have in your quest for personal growth.
Screw that. We're all adults here.
The one thing I would like you to take away from this trip report is this: when you go back through Sedro-Woolley, stop at that little nameless diner on your right. Portions are huge and pancakes are cheap.
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