Cascades, Pacific Northwest

Cascade Glaciated Volcanoes (1997-1998)

Those early NOLS and Outward Bound experiences coupled with my time in Boulder, at the University of Colorado, gave me a great appreciation for the mountains. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Portland, OR, for work early in my career that I truly developed a passion for mountaineering that would take me all over the world, into some of the toughest and most inhospitable environments imaginable, and truly set me on my path to Everest.

Living in Portland, provided unparalleled access to glaciated volcanoes at attainable altitudes that proved to be the ultimate training ground for an aspiring mountaineer. From glacier travel to crevasse-rescue training to snow and ice climbing and much more, this region was a mountaineering paradise.

And, I took full advantage. I climbed nearly every giant, ancient volcano from Mt. Shasta in northern California up to Mt. Rainier just outside of Seattle. My good friend growing-up, Clay, was a very accomplished rock climber and wanted to try technical mountaineering as well. He came to visit me early in my Portland tenure and we climbed Mt. Adams and Mt. Shasta together, which were my first two, true glaciated climbs. A passion had been unleashed.

Perhaps no other climb encapsulates the easy access to these great peaks that the Pacific Northwest provides than my first summit of Mt. Hood. I spent the entire previous day convincing my climbing novice roommate to join me on the adventure. After he finally relented, we departed for the mountain at 2:30am after a short night’s rest. Getting a late start from a mountaineering perspective, upon our arrival at the base of the mountain at 5am, we climbed quickly and without breaks, reaching the summit a few hours later. After a rapid descent and drive home, we had gone from bed to summit to couch in 11-hours, including a stop for a much needed meal - a feat hard to repeat anywhere outside of the Alps.

I went on to climb Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams numerous times apiece, Mt. Jefferson, South Sister, Mt, Bachelor, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Shasta and more. Some of these climbs were more adventurous or memorable for various reasons, the most interesting of which I will share with you in the other stories on this site.