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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hiking in Crampons with My Son

We're plotting a Rainier climb later this year, hopefully my fourth summit, but my 16 year old son wants to climb it, so I have him in training. I've got him on the Stairmaster at 45 steps per minute with a weighted backpack for an hour a few days a week. In the big scheme of things, that's probably the best workout I can have him do.

Training MTB in the foothills of Mount Timpanogos

He's been in bicycle racing for several years now, and has a good cardio base. In 2015 he was the state points champion for his age division with Utah Cyclocross (UTCX). Right now he's racing for his local high school mountain bike team. I'm a NICA certified Level 2 volunteer coach for his team, which has been greatly rewarding in so many ways.

Selfie belaying Todd and Dallin simul-climbing at Ouray Ice Park
Our Rainier plan evolved at a recent ice climbing trip to Ouray with our good friend Todd Gilles. Todd has been wanting to climb Rainier with me for a few years now, and has been with me for several winter Colorado 14er ascents as well as our one-day ascent of Orizaba (highest volcano in North America) and our performance in a blizzard at Elbrus Race 2013 (Todd finished 3rd, I finished 5th).

Selfie on Stairmaster Stepmill with weighted vest
So while he's been on the Stairmaster and making some good progress adapting to the pack, I thought I'd take him out for a hike uphill and down wearing glacier crampons and double boots. He climbed in Ouray in double boots since his feet have outgrown the singles he'd inherited from me. So yeah, time to inherit some doubles from me too. They climbed good and he was fine hiking in Ouray for short distances, so time to try something longer.

Selfie, headlamps, winter scenery
I fitted him out with some BD Sabretooth clips (bail toe and heel). I used my Grivel Airtech Racing aluminums. Yeah, they should be fine on Rainier. I've been all over the world in them including the summit of Orizaba (in running shoes btw). I was in Scarpa Phantom 6000, and he was in LaSportiva Spantiks. We tossed some climbing rope in our packs for weight and took off up the road from Tibble Fork Reservoir toward Silver Lake. The plan was to attempt to average 2 MPH, get used to the crampons and pack, get used to one trekking pole, get used to darkness and headlamps. I've been there a time or two, but needed to see how he would do.

Would have been 4 if not for the moose!
He's been on the summit of a few winter Colorado 14ers, so I knew he had some winter hiking skills, but always in Sorels and snowshoes, not mountain boots and crampons. We did actually do fine, and made our time goals in spite of a few bathroom stops and waiting out snowmobiles around a blind corner. Then, the moose. What? Yeah, a moose. I guess the construction had interfered with the normal feeding patterns down at the lake, so we had a young, maybe 2 year old, moose in the middle of the road just about a half mile from the end of the road above the parking lot.

Color/light adjusted to make out the MOOSE

Original moose in the darkness

It's really hard to see in that pic. Dang Samsung S5 doesn't shoot well in darkness. We stopped in the road and waited him out, but suddenly he decided to charge us. We ducked out to the right, which was about a "blue ski run" steepness and he kept going up the road, having defeated us. It was a great story we shared with friends and relatives for days.