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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Pushing the Limits on Arrowhead
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Josh Lewis
a.k.a. Flow



Joined: 01 Nov 2007
Posts: 4370 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lynnwood,WA (The Cloudiest Place on Earth)
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:54 am   
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"Failure is not an option. Everyone has to succeed." -Arnold Schwarzenegger

"Damn! I climbed that... Looks fricken hard." -Vern Clevenger

"A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard." -Bruce Lee

Who Came: Joanna, Matt Lemke, Michael Lewis, Rex, Holly, and myself
Time: 6 and 1/2 Hours
Date: December 27, 2010
Elevation Gain: 3,300 Feet
Distance: 8 miles Round Trip


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Las palabras del corazon. This was the hardest trip I have done in a long time, even more so than Snowking or Mount Maude. In today's adventure I pushed myself to the limits. The idea came about on Bullion Peak and was said to be a low avalanche danger mountain. Glad that part was true. Before I went to bed on December 26 I saw Matt wanted to join on a trip so I invited him along. In the morning we piled up at our house into the car which was now crowded with people and dogs. As I went to drink my hot chocolate the dogs bumped me which slightly spilled. Joanna looks over at me and says "If you spill one drop of that drink your going to be toast!".  embarassedlaugh.gif Woops, well what she doesn't know saves me trouble. I silently clean it up. As we drove towards Steven's Pass Matt received news that he had to be back some what early, this put a bit of a spin with the trip. Now the ascent would have to be made in speedier time. After passing over Stevens Pass we parked off the side of the road for the trip and began the walk on the rail road tracks. It was interesting to notice that the train it self was not that loud, but the hissing rails give it out which we run off the track and watch the hundreds of carts go by.


After walking East for a mile and a half we turn into the woods to get the East Ridge. Matt starts off breaking trail for us which was decent of him. As we go further up the slope I then take a turn at leading at the more steeper part of the slope. For some reason I find a joy in breaking trail on steeper slopes, I hate breaking trail on flat stuff, but terrain mades the job worth while. At about 11 a.m. we finally get onto the East Ridge where views finally started to break out, although cloud cover made views some what limited.


From here we put on our snowshoes, for a few moments my hands got really cold. "Darn I knew I should not have brought the crummy gloves" I uttered as I coldly put on my snowshoes. My main gloves were wet from the previous day and could not fit into my mitten shell, while the pair I brought was supposedly mountaineering quality (certainly not water proof) but gets cold super easy. So I went to Joanna's technique she showed me on Mount Cleveland which was to use my spare wool socks as inner gloves and then use the shell mittens. Unfortunately finger flexibility was extremely low as a result so I could hardly even buckle traps with it. Travel now was not too bad, especially with Joanna breaking trail.


To save myself time I decided to grab snow and put in my mouth as water which at first seemed like a little thing, but later it became necessary. The mountain atmosphere was quite good for a cloudy day, the great feeling I have when seeing snow covered mountains with gentile snow falling from the sky. Matt was starting to fall behind as the snow got deeper, he's in really good shape but lack of snowshoes played a roll, it later played a roll with myself. It was now time for me to take the lead to break trail, we were starting to run out of time, but the trees ahead were teasing making us seem close to the summit. As I traveled there was a little bit of winds, and a little while later when I took a step my snowshoes fell off. "Blazes this is not good" I thought to myself. I had to make a choice, either leave it behind or put it back on. I dreaded the idea of putting it back on, the straps usually freeze over and are a pain to put on. This is one main reason I don't like tub snowshoes, not only do the straps freeze over but most of my trips they fall off of me at least once. I thought of how painful it would be on my hands to have my gloves off with the winds, and how I would have to melt the ice off of them and how horrible it would feel. The snow did not seem that bad I thought, so I ditched it. Bad move, although either option is not friendly, this was a bad move.


As I walked with one snowshoe on and one off I was sick of the imbalance of it, besides I wasn't sinking in that bad. So I decided to ditch the other snowshoe. I heard from Michael that we were really low on time, now it was time to step up to the plate and start really pushing myself to try to get the summit. Although it was difficult to break trail with plowing in a bit deep I was able to manage, I was still breaking trail. As we went on higher the snow had become deeper and I lost my position for trail breaking. In fact the trail that Michael and Joanna broke did not help much for me and sinking in, I was as good as breaking trail myself in deep snow. As I went on up I became quite tired by this point but I kept telling myself "You know that if you don't rush your self you will not make it!".


Then things got even worse for me, I fell in deep snow steps, mini tree wells, and was getting thirsty. With each scoop of snow it was like ice cream because it was that nice to have. My face by now was getting very cold, and my hands were going numb again because I swapped to the other gloves, I needed my ice axe to help me out with some balancing. As I was going along a song was rolling through my head:

"Well I won't back down
No I won't back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

No I'll stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin me down
gonna stand my ground
... and I won't back down

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
hey I will stand my ground
and I won't back down..."
-Tom Petty in I Wont Back Down

Things started to feel horrendous for me, I started to become dizzy, hungry, and very spacey. Sometimes I would look over at the sun through the clouds which looked very nice. I would snap out of the daze and say "Josh! You have a job to do!". Seeing Joanna and Michael having not that hard of a time it got to me a little. Every step started to feel very difficult, even when resting and catching my breath (for a short time) I felt like I was working hard when I was standing. Every motion now felt that it mattered, the struggle was on and I was now in this all the way. I tried to cheer up my mind with something nice sounding:

"I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar situation
I closed my eyes and I slipped away

It's more than a feeling
(More than a feeling)
I feel like I'm somethin
(More than a feeling)
I begin dreaming
(More than a feeling)
I see my view today

So many people have come and gone
Their faces fade as the years go by
Yet I still recall as I wander on
As clear as the sun in the winter sky

It's more than a feeling
(More than a feeling)
I feel like I'm somethin
(More than a feeling)
I begin dreaming
(More than a feeling)
I see my view today

When I'm tired and thinking cold
I hide in my snowshoes, forget the day
And dream of a peak I used to know
I closed my eyes and it slipped away
Adventure now slipping away."
-More than a Feeling by Boston (slightly modified)


Every time we passed trees on the next section I felt like I was constantly being teased. I genuinely believed we would not make the summit, I tried with all that I could to go up, but it just seemed like there was no way. Time was running out, and I figured I was just going on just to see how close I can come. When I thought it could not get any worse with difficulty matters I started to get cramps. Every moment my heart was loud and heavy as well as my breath. I was tired to the point where I didn't even take much of photos, I took one last one of Joanna and Michael. All interest in photography was lost past this point (until the end of the trip).


I saw the ridge on the left moving up to the top of the trees, this very well could be the summit. If it wasn't we would have to turn around. I yelled for Michael in wondering if that was the summit, he could not hear me. I felt it was so important to know if it was or not, because if it was not there would be no sense in me making myself more dizzy than I already was. By the time I got near the summit Michael was already heading down, by now I was alone. Even the last few feet were hard and I did slowly. When I was on top I yelled in excitement (no jumping, was way too tired). Then I collapsed and had to rest for a moment. I crammed as much food as possible as fast as possible but without choking. My hands were numb, they had been very cold for a long time so I had to beat them together to get them to work properly again.

I put on my mitten socks and mitten shells which I was so happy to feel my hands again, I laughed that I made it but sighed because it was not over. It was like what happened on Middle Chiwaukum, going down I had to race down alone (although partners were probably 400 feet ahead or so the whole time, but when I stopped I could not hear them nor see them). There snowshoe tracks covered most of the deep steps I made making for some hidden sink in spots and difficult travel. Going down was almost as hard as going up on the upper part of the ridge. At times I would fall into a snow hole, take a minute to roll out of it laying there spacing out. Then I would dash on down. At other times I would trip over a snow hole and land nearly on my face (catching myself with my hands but still nearly face on the snow). I knew that everyone was racing down the mountain so there was no time for any hesitation. I kept going for a while more until later on I reached the group.

From here I drank some water and we got to the glissade slope which was a lovely change, going from super tiring to fun traveling. We lost elevation fast although I had to stop at one point due to a bad cramp. Then Holly had some fun biting us as we went down (tradition of hers).


Next we hiked out of the woods and were on the train tracks. Getting to the car I was so happy to sit. On the way home a truck flipped which I was impressed at how quick people responded, we (random people and I) attempted to flip it but it would only move. Then someone offered to get a cable while someone else offered to use there truck. Glad no one was hurt, they managed to unflip it. I was happy to see so many willing people, wish I saw that more around where I live. Then I had luxurious pizza which was a great ending to a great day. This was certainly a satisfying trip although really tiring on me. Had I kept the snowshoes it would not have been that epic at all.


What did I learn? Keep your snowshoes on you, even if it does not look that bad.

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My Websites: Alpine Ascent JoshLewis.name SummitPost Profile AceMaps
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Lono
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Joined: 19 May 2006
Posts: 905 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 7:20 am   
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I'll say it then say no more - I read Flow's TRs for the same reason I watch NASCAR.
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Michael Lewis
Ribbit



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 246 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:17 am   
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Wow you had an epic struggle! I know Joanna and I looked like we were fine but as you can see from the photos of me lying down, I was working hard on that mountain (though by the sounds of it not nearly as hard as you were!) Next time you have troubles with your snowshoes and you forget the right gloves or something, I could help you put them on. I'm sure Rex wasn't enjoying the trip too much with all the crying he did... poor puppy bawl.gif  he has to put up with us crazy humans because he loves us so much.

Thanks for capturing the trip the way you did. I appreciate the honesty. (no matter what all the "perfect" people say about it) up.gif
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
Location: subject to change
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:33 am   
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Matt Lemke said in anothr thread he doesn't have snowshoes...and he broke trail?  eek.gif Dang.

Cool trip! Dont know how much attention Arrowhead really gets, nice.

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"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
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dicey
custom title



Joined: 11 May 2004
Posts: 2851 | TRs | Pics
Location: giving cornices a wider berth
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:53 am   
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Tangeman wrote:

Dont know how much attention Arrowhead really gets.


Arrowhead sees quite a bit of attention this time of year and into the spring.  It's one of those peaks easier done with snow cover, much like Union/Jove/Sky/Tye, etc.

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I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32121172@N00/sets/
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RokIzGud
Cozza Frenzy



Joined: 08 Feb 2010
Posts: 1052 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:30 am   
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It's always good to get to push yourself in preferable conditions. Since you seem to like pain and misery (another example: Glacier Peak twice in a week) you should consider adventure racing up.gif   up.gif

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North by Northwest
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wamtngal
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Joined: 13 Jun 2004
Posts: 2278 | TRs | Pics
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Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:11 pm   
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How old is the puppy? Seems like quite the trip for such a little guy...I'd be crying too!

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Opinions expressed here are my own.
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 4826 | TRs | Pics
Location: In the flatlands :-(
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:11 pm   
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Nice pic of the pooch sitting on the guy laying down.

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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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Michael Lewis
Ribbit



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 246 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:17 pm   
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That's 2-year old (permanent puppy)Rex laying on me whilst I'm dangerously laying down on traintracks paranoid.gif
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Beer King
Drunk as Crap!



Joined: 11 Dec 2010
Posts: 13 | TRs | Pics
Location: Lynnwood, wa
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:19 pm   
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Jimbopo wrote:
Wow you had an epic struggle! I know Joanna and I looked like we were fine but as you can see from the photos of me lying down, I was working hard on that mountain (though by the sounds of it not nearly as hard as you were!) Next time you have troubles with your snowshoes and you forget the right gloves or something, I could help you put them on. I'm sure Rex wasn't enjoying the trip too much with all the crying he did... poor puppy bawl.gif he has to put up with us crazy humans because he loves us so much.

Thanks for capturing the trip the way you did. I appreciate the honesty. (no matter what all the "perfect" people say about it) up.gif
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"I'm lazier than crap!" -Sean Ellis

LOL i read your Siggy that made me ROFL. Anyway Sounds like it was a fun trip. To bad its winter break and josh isnt home to come hang out =O.

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Copy and paste, thats me!
Don't forget the beer!


http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7988266
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 4826 | TRs | Pics
Location: In the flatlands :-(
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:44 pm   
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Jimbopo wrote:
I'm dangerously laying down on traintracks paranoid.gif


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www.youtube.com/bkraai | www.flickr.com/photos/bkraai/sets/
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
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Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:47 pm   
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Bryan Kraai wrote:
Jimbopo wrote:
I'm dangerously laying down on traintracks paranoid.gif


eek.gif  eek.gif  eek.gif

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"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
My photos
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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1513 | TRs | Pics
Location: Red Lodge, MT
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:27 pm   
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Thanks Josh...Great write up for an amazing trip.
Really wishing I had snowshoes to be able to finish that last 700 vertical feet.

I think I did well though without them
And I have to agree with you, following the broken trail after gaining the ridge didn't help much since I was still postholing a lot, just as you did after you ditched yours.

Maybe I can garner a reputation proving people that you don't need snowshoes to get a majority of the way up a mountain.   lol.gif

It really is possible even in feet of loose powder (however very hard for even the most fit of people as I now know)
I have a bunch of nice photos that I will add later today.
Thanks again for inviting me!

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The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost username is Matt Lemke
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
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EastKing
Summit Addict



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
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Location: 40 hours week work; 40 hours summit
Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:55 pm   
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Looks like conditions were the same as when I went up there nearly two years ago. Good for all of you for making that trip. Awesome stuff! up.gif

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I am addicted to summits! I can't eat, drink or breath without them. Life without mountains would really suck.

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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
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Post Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:38 pm   
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Here's the photos I got from the trip on Arrowhead.
Hope you enjoy them!  smile.gif

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The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost username is Matt Lemke
See my website at:
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