Mexican Volcano Trip – Intro

Despite spending quite a bit of time doing various types of climbing, hiking and mountaineering this year, I still feel like I haven’t quite had my fill. Hence I’ve done something slightly impulsive and signed up for a 9 day trip to Mexico to climb Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba with International Mountain Guides. Neither mountain is technically difficult and I’ve climbed tougher routes before, but we’re starting to get into serious altitudes here (17,342′ and 18,405′ respectively) so it will be a big test.

This is a bigger expedition than I’ve done before. Firstly it’s in a foreign country. Secondly it’s a bigger undertaking (2 summits in 3 days). And thirdly I’m doing it without Krista which means I’ve got to stand on my own two feet. On the plus side, I’m in better physical shape than I’ve ever been, and the trip is being lead by Mt Rainier grand master and Everest summiteer George Dunn. I’m a bit nervous about going into uncharted territory (for me at least), but I’m also immensely excited about the prospect of spending a week in the company of someone with so much experience to share. Should be good! I depart on Nov 6th.

CN Tower Climb 2010

Last year I missed the CN Tower Climb as a result of missing my flight back from the UK the night before the event. This year I made no mistakes. To make things challenging, I set myself a target time of 17 mins and a fundraising goal of $250, and I beat both of them. I knocked over 90 seconds off my target time and beat my fundraising goal by $50 as well. My time of 15 mins 26 secs, despite being a looong way off the record of 7 mins 52, was the 348th best time out of over 9,900 entrants.

Not bad for a morning’s work! 🙂

Highest peak in the North-East; Mt. Washington

Hello U.S. of A! Crossing the border I welcomed Blue Moon Beer, home style cookin’ and HUGE portions of food. Oh ya, lets not forget 24oz beer at Mr. Pizza.

Matt picked out a nice RV park. The owners were very welcoming and helpful, giving us tips on places to eat around the small town of Gorham, New Hampshire.

Patience played a huge part in this trip. First off, it rained for two days straight. Low clouds prevented us from seeing much of the mountain. Sunday was our best day to do it as the forecast had mentioned clear skies. So with some extra time on our hands we did some sightseeing and ended up in North Conway, which I highly recommend, and managed to put in a hike around Mt. Tom.

6am start and we were off to the trail head. The weather on Mt. Washington is notorious for being unpredictable. So we packed all the essentials. Our ascending route was Tuckerman Ravine.  We hit the trail with the top as our destination. The trail is steep and you basically spend most of your time rock hopping. The scenery takes the edge off of your hard breathing and sweat. Stopping for a drink or a snack and you could see the steam coming off the two of us. Simply cause we are so damn hot! No really, we were. Slogging through the dense forest we finally made it up to the shelter cabins. This is where you can actually see what you are preparing to climb. Pause for a WTF moment…

The gully was massive. I thought how the hell are we going to climb this? The scenery was stunning. There is something about being above the trees in the alpine zone. We had 1.8 miles to go. It felt like it went on forever. Steep rocks all the way up. Well defined route though. I did find that I literally  had to stop if I wanted to look around cause I would fall over if I tried to walk and look up at the same time. Funny enough there were a few icy patches along the way. It was a slog but worth it. Matt jumped ahead and went a little further as I came up from behind. He popped down told me we were so close.  The weirdest thing occurred. The last few big steps coming up this mountain and I see a bunch of fat people (sorry I am being blunt I was aggravated). standing there taking pictures. Insert WTF? We both climbed up to a road. We had to cross a road, walk through a sea of tourists to touch the summit sign. Apart of me was thankful to have made it. Another part of me wanted to yell “get out of my way”. I felt I deserved to be up there more than any of those people who chose to drive up and wear all there hiking gear! Posers! Pictures taken and off we went to find a bench to eat our packed lunches.

We spent a few hours up at the top, looking around, reading up on the history, taking in a hot chocolate. Our patience paid off. The view was incredible.considering this mountain spends 237 days in dense fog we were able to see the Presidential range and surrounding mountains in all their glory.

Our descending route took us through Lion Head Trail which would eventually meet up with Tuckerman Ravine.  It was rocky, steep and for me in particular required a lot of concentration. Matt is pretty quick through this type of terrain, it really is quite impressive. There were some really steep rocky sections that required a good stop and think. A few instances where I had to lower myself down cause my legs were just too short. It was a long way down. It was tedious but there was  no alternative but to keep going. Finally got to the Tuckerman Ravine junction. I was so happy to see it as I knew the rest of the trail would be moderately difficult but nowhere near as punishing at the last 2 miles I had just done. A stop at Crystal Cascade waterfall and a sprint finish and we were back at the start.  We were so focused on beer that we forgot to pick up a sticker to put on the RV. Our feet were sore, legs were tired, knees were angry but we were pretty happy  to have completed that round trip of Mt. Washington in a day. To top if all off we had the pleasure of seeing Moose! Not one or two but three!!! Beer, Ibuprofen and a wicked dinner ensued.

It was an awesome challenge which we pulled off with great effort. *High Five*

*Special mention goes to the individual (we are thinking we met along the way) who left a wicked note on a dude who nearly blocked us in from Rhode Island. It was so blunt that we added a note to it 🙂