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Written by Patrick Fink

Sep 04

2016

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Running Around Broken Top

Man, what a hiatus. This summer has been a rough one. I’ve been inside, doing the hard work of becoming a doctor by undergoing the rights of passage called Surgery and Internal Medicine. It’s a necessary sacrifice, but it hasn’t been easy to watch summer slide by without me.

Now, finally, I’m on to lighter stuff. Two-day weekends. In to the hospital after sunrise and out before dark. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. And now that it’s quickly becoming fall, it’s time for some long runs.

I’ve been mulling over the Broken Top loop for a while now. It’s a great distance (~27 mi) in the great high country above Bend, OR. It’s part desert, part alpine, and part Ponderosa forest. The smells are amazing. This weekend, Taylor was going to go backpacking with a friend, so I headed out along to get this thing done.

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In the first quarter mile, a mountain lion track. That’ll put some energy in your step.

Running Around Broken Top

The most direct way to begin the loop is at the Three Creek Meadow trailhead on the Northeast side of the mountain, about a 30 minute drive from Sisters, OR. I opted to go clockwise, as that put the uncertain navigation up front, and I knew from scrambling around near Broken Top with Taylor a few weeks ago that the second half of the loop would be prettier this way.

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Overview map of the Broken Top loop. (PDF) (Zoomable Map).

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Jul 02

2016

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Mt Baker Easton Glacier Ski Descent

Author’s note: This post is one week old. I’m now sleep deprived and sporting the dorky combination of scrubs and a white coat. Looking back on this gives me a satisfied smile. Enjoy!
I’m on a ferry, out on puget sound, sailing from Friday Harbor to Anacortes. Despite my best efforts (hours of quietly watching at the rail), I’ve yet to see an Orca. That’s the only hope I had for this trip that I have yet to fulfill.
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Sunset over Mt Baker

In eighteen hours or so, I’ll be starting one of the rights of passage that every medical student is forced to endure: a surgical rotation. For four weeks, I’ll work longer than twelve-hour days for six or more days per week. Sometimes I’ll be there overnight. Thank goodness there are restrictions; I’m not supposed to work more than 80 hours per week averaged out over four weeks, or more than 28 hours at a time. So reasonable.
That’s not to say that I resent the rotation, or that I’m not excited. I don’t, and I am. This is what I signed up for. Still, it’s a transition moment from a few months that have afforded me a lot of time in the mountains to a few that will afford me little.
To mark the occasion, and to ornament some travel that we were making to a wedding on San Juan Island, Tay and I decided a few weeks ago to climb and ski Mt Baker It is one of the cascades volcanoes that has managed to avoid attempts by either of us.
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Punching through the snow line.

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Jun 06

2016

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Mt Adams Southwest Chutes Speed Lap

Earlier this season, Taylor and I walked a really long way to try to ski Mt Adams’ southwest chutes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite spring, so we didn’t get to ski the route. April passed, and so did May, and now in early June the conditions are fully ripe for cascades corn harvesting, so I made a quick solo trip to try to nab the route before it melts away.

Mt Adams looking mighty fine.

Mt Adams looking mighty fine.

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May 22

2016

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Skiing the Bomber Traverse: Part 2

This is the second part of a two-parter on our trip to the Talkeetna Mountains. If you missed the first part, check it out here. For our map/beta of the route, click here (pdf).


 

The ski down from backdoor gap was our first taste of surprisingly good snow. Five inches of recrystalized snow blanketed every slope approaching a northerly aspect. It wasn’t deep, but it skied fast and soft.

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Our first north-facing tracks down the pennyroyal. And with heavy backpacks no less.

A quick skate at the floor of the valley let us to the Bomber Hut, and much roomier and lighter affair than the mint hut.

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Taylor makes a quick skate on the way to the Bomber hut with the Pennyroyal glacier shaded in the background.

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May 13

2016

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Skiing the Bomber Traverse: Part 1

I first learned about the Bomber Traverse while doing something that I often do: reading a guidebook while sitting on the toilet. Some time ago, I heard about The Alaska Factor by Joe Stock, and I’d ordered it on impulse. Then, in January, in the depths of boards-study distress and desperate for something to look forward to, I was looking for an adventure idea. Taylor and I had a meeting. We nixed the plan we’d been talking about to travel to Japan; it was too soon and too much money. For once, I had no other ideas. Until I sat on The John.
Descending into Anchorage over the Chugach.

Descending into Anchorage over the Chugach, building stoke.

The Bomber Traverse is a ski loop outside of Palmer, AK, in the Talkeetna mountains. It begins near the locally famed touring zone of Hatcher Pass and cuts a modest circle of 20-ish miles and 6000’ across two passes. It’s clearly possible to ski in a day (and it has been many times), but three huts situated around the loop make it equally well-suited to going heavy and skiing the surrounding terrain.

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May 08

2016

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30th Birthday Mt Hood Circumnavigation

I’m still wading through all of the photos and video from our Alaska trip. It’s making my computer crash just to think about it. In the meantime, and more importantly, my fiancé and chief adventure partner Taylor turned 30 this week. To celebrate, she wanted to take on an epic day. With good weather stretching onwards, we settled on the Mt Hood ski circumnavigation.

Thirty. Dirty Thirty.

Thirty. Dirty Thirty.

I’ve been around Hood this way ages ago. Peter took a crack at it but with my nonspecific beta, he got sidetracked. For detailed beta on the loop, I have a post for you here.

Skinning up timberline

Skinning up timberline

We were later in the season for this loop than the last time that I did it. That meant more open crevasses and more ropework to make the loop happen safely. Where Ethan and I had been forced to walk with crampons, Taylor and I skinned. Where Ethan and I had skied unroped, Taylor and I skied roped and belayed across bridged crevasses.

Reid Glacier

Reid Glacier

The loop is still a favorite of mine, as there’s so much of Mt Hood that so few people get to see.

Taylor on the Reid

Taylor on the Reid

Headed down the first real glacier of the day, Taylor and I found that what had been a ‘couloir’ for Ethan and I was now spanned by a deep crevasse. Out came the rope, crampons, and classic sit-on-planted-skis hip belay.

Crevasse hijinx

Crevasse hijinx

Taylor sent the first crux with no sweat, and we cruised down into the sun, where we started sweating.

Past the first crux.

Past the first crux.

 

Yokum ridge

Booting the broad Yokum Ridge towards the Sandy Glacier.

Sandy glacier

Sandy glacier crossing, Taylor dwarfed.

The warm temps did mean that we had little hard snow to mess around with, so travel through the middle of the loop was pleasant and smooth.

Cathedral ridge

Cathedral ridge

Cathedral ridge

Exiting Cathedral Ridge to gain the Ladd/Coe glaciers.

 

Seracs

Seracs on the Ladd Glacier

The Ladd and Coe glaciers gave us some food for thought, with lots of refrigerator-sized ice blocks littering the crossing, dropped unceremoniously from the seracs above.

Pulpit rock

Below Pulpit rock, considering more serac trash.

We made quick passage under the seracs, which have a nasty tendency of collapsing without any warning. Though the scientists seem to think that collapse has little correlation to daytime temperature, it’s hard not to think that it’s more likely when the sun is hot. The sun was hot.

Debris on the Coe

Taylor jog-stumbles through debris on the Coe glacier.

The exit from the Coe glacier involved a quick scramble up what the local guide outfit refers to as Dick Pumpington ridge. I’ll leave you to consider the name.

Dick pumpington.

Dick pumpington.

We skied roped across and down the Eliot glacier amongst some big cracks and sagging bridges. This is one of many places where Ethan and I had it easy, and where Taylor and I had to pull out all the safety stops.

Our tracks on the Eliot.

Our tracks on the Eliot.

Exit from the glacier was considerably easier than on my last loop, and we made good time gaining altitude towards Cooper’s spur to begin our last descent.

Up Cooper's spur.

Up Cooper’s spur.

After kicking off wet slides all the way across the Newton and Clark glaciers, we made it to White river and a view of the car.

Exiting white river.

Exiting white river.

At a generally casual pace, we wrapped up the trip in 8 hours and 40 minutes, with 13.4 miles and 6700′ of elevation gain.

Parking lot.

Parking lot love.

Much love to this one!


 

Apr 06

2016

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Mt Adams Skiing, the Long Way

I’ve been really frustrated with skiing in the Pacific Northwest this year. A big part of my frustration comes from living in Portland, which is not somewhere that you live if skiing is a priority for you. The weather has been the source of the rest of my frustration: week after week we’ve had storms with significant moisture roll through, but temperatures hovered just a few degrees too high. Sure, I’ve gotten a few good days this season, but largely I’ve put in a lot of work to ski some pretty bad snow.

A couple weeks back, I was seriously considering shelving recreational winter skiing in the PNW. Next year, I’d focus on skimo, and I wouldn’t think about going out until corn season, which is the only good thing going around here. Thankfully, before I could make a rash and bitter decision, the weather turned sunny and it started looking like the corn might have arrived.

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Based on a report of what sounded like a pretty miserable car-to-car mission on Mt Adams, Taylor and I planned a two-day trip up there to try to ski the Southwest Chutes. Both Taylor and I have skied the South side of Mt Adams a couple of times, including car-to-car efforts both (TR from Peter here), so there was no need to suffer excessively and try to get that done in a day. Instead, the SW Chutes offers a 4000′ fall-line alternative in the 35-degree neighborhood: very appealing.

Image stolen from Skinsanity: Denied on Mt Adams. Annotation is mine. Photo links to original post.

Image stolen from Skinsanity: Denied on Mt Adams. Annotation is mine. Photo links to original post. SW chutes descend SW from the false summit of Mt Adams (Piker’s peak). The South climbing route follows the large snowfield on the right.

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Apr 01

2016

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Product Launch: GoBlow!

Edit: This post was first published on April 1, 2016. It is a joke. Mountainlessons.com holds no trademark on the name GoBlow, nor are we importing cocaine as a base for intranasal electrolytes. Thank you to all who enjoyed it, with a special thanks to the few who bought it hook, line, and sinker.


Today we’re very excited to announce a new direction for MountainLessons.com. As a regular reader, you know that we often ask you to use banner ads on our site when you make gear purchases online. Your contributions cover just part of the costs of running this site, so we’ve been looking to increase the revenue stream and also drive some innovation in the endurance sector.

The sport nutrition market is a crowded one. You don’t need another bar or beverage. You need something that works better, and we’re ready to deliver it to you. After three years of brainstorming, development, and testing, we’re proud to announce that beginning tomorrow we will be taking pre-orders for GoBlow™, the world’s first intranasal electrolyte formulation.

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What is GoBlow™?

Erythroxylum_coca_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-204Anyone who’s ever run an ultra knows that the stomach is an unreliable partner at best. It cramps, complains, and can even shut down during longer events.
Worse still, any fuel taken in by stomach can take hours to reach the circulation, limiting performance.

GoBlow™ uses a patent-pending base of organic Erythroxylum extract in combination with special nasal formulations of sodium, chloride, magnesium, branched chain amino acids, and mixed carbohydrates. When insufflated on a run or a ride, these vital nutrients bypass the stomach and troublesome metabolic barrier of the liver, traveling straight into your circulation to fuel your efforts.

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How is GoBlow™ delivered?

GoBlow™ will be available in four pilot scents: LemonPoppy,ChaiSpice, MountainSnow, and CocaMoca. We’ve designed the packaging to be lightweight, easy to use, and it’s an idea system for delivering an hourly boost to your endurance system. The slim, water resistant paper packaging is lightweight, easy to store, never goes bad, and best of all, it’s recyclable. You can’t say that about all of those sticky Gu packets!

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Our amazing pilot scents: LemonPoppy,ChaiSpice, MountainSnow, and CocaMoca

Pre-Order Now!

We appreciate all of the support that we’ve had from from our friends, classmates, fellow athletes, and our South American investment partners. Without all of you we never could have established the recipe and supply of this revolutionary product.

If you have additional questions about GoBlow™, our Q&A is below, but take it from us, you’re going to love this stuff.

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Best of all, if you pre-order, your first box is free!


Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 1.53.04 PMGoBlow™ Athletes Patrick Fink and Peter Innes first tested this final production run of GoBlow™ during a successful speed skiing effort on Mt Hood’s Wy’East Face:

“The energy that I felt was amazing. For once, I was the best possible version of myself as an athlete. With GoBlow™, there was no stopping me.”  -Peter

FAQ

I’m scared up putting things up my nose. Is GoBlow™ safe?
Absolutely! We’ve eliminate potassium from our formulation to prevent cardiac arrhythmias, and we performed extensive rodent testing before passing GoBlow™ on to our athletes. No rodents were harmed… but we did end up with some fast rats!

I once tried snorting a pixie stick and didn’t like the experience. Does GoBlow hurt?
We get it. We were kids too. But GoBlow™ is totally different. Sure, if you snort salt, it’s going to hurt. But our organic plant base will completely anesthetize the nasal mucosa within moments of intranasal dissolution. But enough with the science talk! We promise that you won’t feel GoBlow™ go in, but you will feel amazing afterwards!

It looks good, and it smells even better, but does GoBlow™ work?
We guarantee it! On our pilot testing run, our athlete Ethan Linck set the fastest known time around Mt Rainier! He was unsupported… but for a vest full of water and GoBlow™. I personally used GoBlow™ this winter, and I podiumed at every race I entered. If you want to feel invincible and “blow the competition out of the water”™, then GoBlow™ is for you.

I loved my GoBlow™! When can I get more?
We love our customers, and we understand that once you start using GoBlow™, it can be really hard to go back to other supplements. Still, it’s challenging to keep a good supply of our plant extract in stock. But we know that our repeat customers are our best customers, so we’ll notify you by email when the next bale arrives.

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Feel awesome again.

 

 

Mar 29

2016

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Three Fingered Jack Backcountry Skiing

This past weekend, a bit sad that we weren’t driving out to Colorado for the Grand Traverse, Taylor and I went looking for some new terrain in the Mt Jefferson wilderness. Neither of us had ever been to the Three Fingered Jack backcountry off of Santiam Pass (near Hoodoo ski area), and the forecast looked favorable for skiing on Friday and Saturday.

three fingered jack backcountry

Approaching Three Fingered Jack through the burn area.

On the North side of Santiam Pass is Three Fingered Jack, and to the South (and slightly more distant) is Mt Washington. While Mt Washington is a picturesque peak reminiscent of the Paramount Pictures logo, Three Fingered Jack is a much more rubbly remnant of a volcano, forming a sawtoothed projection aligned from North to South. Read on →

Feb 25

2016

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Southern Oregon Backcountry: Siskiyou Skiing

southern oregon backcountry

Taylor on the skintrack, with untouched Southern Oregon backcountry gold behind her.

This weekend, Taylor and I headed South along I-5 to Southern Oregon aiming to sample the Southern Oregon backcountry and ski a smaller cascades volcano, Mt McLoughlin. Unfortunately, with a busy week last week, Tay forgot to move her shovel and probe from her race pack to her touring pack, so on Friday evening we discovered that we didn’t have the right kit to go ahead as planned. We cursed bad fortune and looked for alternate ideas.

southern oregon backcountry powder

I found a few good turns here and there in some of the lightest snow the PNW has to offer.

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