Friday, June 2, 2017

AMTL Part 1: A day in the life on South Early Winter Spire

Alpine climbing is about movement. Slow and steady upward progress on approach and climb - care and efficiency on descent. Breaks are short and weather fickle. Bolted anchors are few and far between.

 The dedicated alpine climber knows that every piece of gear must be scrutinized. Too heavy? Useful enough? Really necessary? Then carefully selected or discarded according to the variables of team, route and conditions. 

Yet for those of us lucky enough to experience the high peaks, the rewards are beyond words.

This past week, I was lucky enough to find myself part of a group of dedicated climbers and aspiring guides, working to take their alpine skills to the next level in the first installment in our four-part Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership series of courses. After spending the first half of the course learning glacier mountaineering and crevasse rescue skills on Mt. Baker, the group drove to Washington Pass for several days of alpine rock climbing and a student led attempt on the Silver Star Glacier route on Silver Star Peak. The following photos are from our successful attempt of South Early Winter Spire via the South Arete and Southwest Rib routes:

Hiking up spire gully at around 7 am.
Mike looking ready for that hot spring sun.
Dave sending the crux of the South Arete.
Ezra and Tom climbing up the middle of the Southwest Rib
Zak, Josh and Dave on the infamous whaleback pitch.
Zak belays Josh and Dave up the last few feet onto the summit plateau.
 Eric and Mike enjoy the sweet view atop SEWS.
The whole crew back at the car with the Early Winter Spires in the background.
Eric Shaw, Instructor and Guide

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