NOLS Alaska Mountaineering – Day 7
Guess what? Today I climbed my first mountain! Also I didn’t forget to get a rock from the top! =)
We woke up and had hashbrowns around 7:30am and got together our day packs. Mine probably weighed 15 pounds or so, so it was a really nice relief. Next we met up with the rest of our group (our tents are kinda spread out, so we can practice solo camping skills) and got started.
The way up was pretty hard, but I’ve learned from myself that if I will to go forward and just don’t stop, I can do it. We had to travel down a nearly vertical wall into a canyon, and then up the other side. Next we hiked up through the tundra and went up the west shoulder of the mountain and onto the snow. Before moving on, we had snow school and learned how to walk up snow terrain with and without our ice axes, and then practiced self-arrest. I was pretty good at them, so I was proud of myself. Oh by them, I meant all of the three ways one can self arrest. The end product is you have your ice axe into the snow with your face away from the pick, your axe’s shaft across your chest, butt high in the air, and kick into the snow. It stops your fall really quickly. However there are three ways of falling you have to practice getting into that end position from.
First is the basic position – sliding down the mountain on your butt. I got that one easily.
Next came sliding down the mountain on your stomach head first, like a penguin. You fall the fastest on this one. It took me a few times of practicing it, but I finally got it.
Finally was my absolute favorite – sliding down the mountain head first and on your back! I surprisingly got this one really quickly, and it was so much fun to learn!!
Then we went up to the peak. I couldn’t get a picture from the VERY top because my camera had been in my bag for snow school, but I got some from where we kept our packs, just below it. After that we gook a long break and some of the guys went and climbed a second mountain with the instructors. I was feeling alright but needed to rest so I decided not to push it and came down with the group going back to camp.
This place is so beautiful, and hiking through it is like watching an ever-changing post card. The weather can change on a dime, but luckily today was completely sunny for our whole excursion! As opposed to yesterday, when it was sunny, hailed and was sunny again over the course of 30 mins.
The sun is pretty fun to watch being so close to the north pole. In the “morning” it hits the left side of the tent, sweeps to the south by noon, is on the right side of the tent by “evening” and at midnight we watched it cross to the north of us, over the glacier! I’m getting used to sleeping with the sun out, but I do miss sunsets.
It’s so peaceful here too… especially with most of the guys gone! Haha. I like them, but they talk about the dumbest things and can be pretty mean and mocking. I guess I’m too used to nerdy jokes and monty python impersonations. I guess I’ll stop rambling now and read some while it’s still quiet! We’re supposed to go on the glacier tomorrow =)
Cya later alligator!