Friday, January 4, 2013

Reasonably Epic

The 2013 cycling season is off to a good start. As much as we'd hoped to get in a New Year's Day ride,  life got in the way and it was not to be. Friday night found us with charged lights; the Old Man was sporting a new set of fat tires. Four miles of single track isn't much, but throw in the cover of night along with below freezing temperatures... it's reasonably epic.

And, we do our own stunts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Special Invitation

Take 2

Here's a video invite to my family:

Hopefully I havn't made any glaring errors like I had with the previous version of the video.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Anxious to climb "The Mountain"

Counting down the days until I make my trip up Mt. Rainier. Just four to go! I have to tell you I getting really anxious. I've never been so excited for some event and yet at the same time eager to have it over with. I hope I'm ready for this. Saturday I went up Mt. Pilchuck and practiced glacier travel with most of the group. The mountain was covered in snow (even in July!) and we learned about how to deal with crevasses and how to work on a rope team. Even with the practice I feel really nervous.
But I can't back out now! I've spent too much money on gear! I have a feeling this will be a defining climb for me. I'll know by Sunday whether I was made to be a mountain climber or not. After this I may have a permanent case of summit fever.
I have some pictures from two Saturdays ago, from Mt. Dickerman, a massive mountain several hundred feet taller than Pilchuck and covered with snow from 4000 ft up. When I get a chance I'll post those too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winter Ascent of Mt. Bandera

Every Mountain is better with snow!

This last Monday, since there was no school (president’s day or something) I decided to get one last climb in before the finals start coming. My thought was that I could get climbing out of my system so I can focus on school (not sure it worked, them mountains looked awfully tempting yesterday). So I headed out to my favorite mountain, Mt. Bandera! This would be my fourth summit, second winter summit, and 7th or so climb in the area.

Joining me: my two climbing buddies and super guides, Bruce Hart and Mark Oostra. I really like climbing with these guys. They have tons of experience, with maybe 11 or 12 Rainier summits between them. But here’s the irony of it all: They had never been up this mountain before, so essentially I was guiding them! I thought that was kinda fun.

We headed out at 6am for the trail-head, wanting to get an early start. There wasn’t a single car in the parking lot. The sun was just coming up, and it was partly cloudy. The previous two days had been near perfect, meaning we wouldn’t have to deal with any fresh snow. Once we had our gear on our backs we put boots to the trail by 7:50am.

The trail began as usual, but when we reached the big water fall, we were in for a nice surprise. While they were still flowing hard, the falls were actually partially frozen . It was a spectacular sight, with ice hanging everywhere.

It didn’t take long for the snow to start to appear. Bruce and I put on traction devices for our boots, but Mark didn’t bother. In fact, he climbed the whole day with no extra grip save for his trekking poles. With the extra traction I was able to easily move across the light snow on the trail. This thin layer was steady until we reached the open area about 1500ft below the summit. At that point, the trees largely disappear and the snow get much thicker.

The snow had completely obliterated the trail, which usually traverses under the main south face and then shoots up a steep slope towards the ridge of the mountain. Instead, all there was is a boot path laid down by a previous hiker that cut up towards the col between Mt. Defiance and Mt. Bandera, then veered off towards Defiance to the west. We decided that rather than cut our own trail we would follow this one (even though it went the wrong way). I didn’t know just how far off we would end up until I reached the col and saw the sign for a completely different trail!

The ridge-line was covered by trees, but it was still easy to navigate. So we simply hiked up through the trees, which had deep and soft snow untouched by the wind, and made it to where the trail usually hits the ridge. There we stopped for lunch at an open overlook of the Alpine Lake that sits between Defiance, Bandera, and Pratt Mountains. At this point the weather was beginning to turn. The sun disappeared, the wind began to blow (it didn’t help we were on an open part of the ridge), and the snow began to fall.

While we were munching away, the mountain birds came up to make us share. I didn’t feel like giving them anything, but Mark and Bruce took turns getting them to eat out of their hands, and they even put food on their head to get the birds to land there!!! I had to defend my food fiercely, as these birds were extremely bold.

After lunch was done, we made the final push to the summit, only about 500 feet above us. The mountain has three or so false summits, so you don’t know you are on top until you’re there, but I knew we were less than an hour away. This part of the trip is the toughest, since there are icy, make-absolutely-no-mistake stretches of trail. The wind, snow, and ice made the summit push truly epic. Mark, again with no traction assist, was leading the team at this point, with me behind him to guide and Bruce behind me. After climbing the false peaks, we reached a point where we could go up no farther. Summit!!!

The decent was a little different then the way we came up. For this part I chose to use my ice axe instead of my trekking poles, and found that I really liked travelling that way. We decided to bypass the ridge line partially and come down the steep and icy southwest face, following some markers left by a previous team. Mark and Bruce glissaded down, but I chose to walk down. I’m still not comfortable with that particular maneuver. They did in one minute what took me ten. I took my time and self belayed with my axe as needed. My feet wouldn’t always go into the snow when I took a step, but it wasn’t too tough.

After the face the trek went smoothly, and we were at the waterfall again in what seemed like no time, taking one last round of pictures. It was one of the best climbs I’ve ever done!

The obligatory self portrait.

The always enthusiastic Bruce Hart

Leading the way at the moment: Mark Oostra
Climbing towards the West Col
Tonight on Fox: When Birds Attack!

Summit Drive

Almost to the top. None of the summit photos turned out this time.

Making our way down.

The waterfall, taken on the way out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I wish I could go climbing in Scotland!!!

Check out this cool video of some ice climbing. I would like to post some news about my own attempts, but things havn't stabalized for my hearing and school is keeping me busy and away from the mountains. However, Thanksgiving break is coming up soon and I plan to get out at least once then.

Until then, enjoy this video I found about mountain climbing in SCOTLAND!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Cronkright's conquer Mt. Pilchuck!

Dave's been wanting to show me why he wants to stay in Washington and keep on with the mountain climbing he loves so much. I had an opportunity to go to Seattle so he arranged for a little "hike" up Mt. Pilchuck. We had beautiful weather. I stayed in long sleeves the whole way but never needed my jacket and only used my glove liners a little. Mt. Pilchuck is about 5300 feet tall and our vertical ascent was about 2200 feet. It took us around 3 1/2 hours to get to the top. The trail is very rocky and Dave says that is not typical but Mt. Pilchuck is a very popular ascent for novice climbers. That describes me! There were probably about a dozen other climbers we met along the trail. Many had dogs with them. None of the dogs were leashed but all were well behaved. Perhaps the most interesting climber we met was Ben who is 90 years old. Yes, he made it to the top! It was quite an inspiration.

Yup, we were really here!

Dave at the beginning of the trail

early on the trail looked much like what we would see in Michigan but that soon changed

some views from the trail:

King of the World!!!

There were times it was hard to find the trail

Lynn at the summit- - 5300 feet!

The final "boulder scramble" up to the old fire lookout at the summit. That's Dave ascending it. He made it!

Monday, September 6, 2010


This year we took the 5 day route again, only this time there were four of us plus our faithful SAG driver Jeremy. Our first day was hot and windy. After that the weather turned cold and wet on top of the windy. Night three and day four were the worst. We got very little sleep and about a quarter of the tents actually blew down. We spent the first couple hours of the day at the local Laundromat drying things out. None of us did the entire 340 miles of the route. Tim came the closest; riding all of days 1, 2, 3 and 5 and part of day 4 (including “the WALL”). The final day, while cold, was sunny with less wind and the scenery was beautiful. It is a pleasant ride along the shore of Lake Michigan. Next year we’re thinking we’d like to try a different route. Anyone want to join us on the 5 UP?

And we begin in East Lansing, Michigan.
D/T mechanical issues, just Tim & Jess started at the beginning.

one of the signs along the way

resting at Lake George

Hi Mom/Grandma

Elk Rapids- Just imagine: this went on all night

Loading up the bikes. The whole day was wet, cold, rainy, yukky

Our first stop of the day: the laundromat

getting ready to ride out to The Wall in East Jordan.
You can see how bundled up Jess was COLD!

and off they go


and they both made it to the top!

the view from our hotel window. we weren't staying out in THAT again! Tim thought the effect of the rain on the windowpanes was pretty cool. not bad for a point-n-shoot camera.

Riding through the "Tunnel of trees" along the shore of Lake Michigan

Where the North Country Trail crosses through Wilderness State Park

the final ride into Mackinaw City

our faithful SAG driver (and photographer) Jeremy

Goodbye DALMAC! See you again next year!