Bubble Dance

The plan was to leave at 20:00, sleep for a few hours in the parking lot at Timberline and then get up and start skinning by 2:00. First trip in J’s new van – a Nissan NV high top that he recently acquired. I texted and said I needed more time b/c I had to finish watching Valerian with my daughter… her first intro to Luc Besson and the amazing set/costume/characters of his films. I also hadn’t packed anything yet. Once the movie was over I hustled to boil water for tea, make some pbjs and throw my gear in a pile for a 20:30 pickup.

We rolled into a mostly empty parking lot about 10 and left the van running to crank up the heat while we re-packed. J started the Mr. Buddy Heater and the van was toasty. I set up a camp chair and sorted my pack and set my clothes out for a 1:30 wake up.

Through my ear plugs I could hear the wind whipping through the parking lot from deep in my cocoon as the van gently rocked side to side. The only part exposed from my sleeping bag, my nose, was freezing cold. We were two mochi in a walk in freezer, struggling to sleep a few hours before signing out at the climbers bivouac to start skinning up Mt Hood.

After snoozing twice I watched the time on my phone change from 1:58, 1:59, 3:00. Daylight savings and we’re an hour behind before we even started.

I was a bit worried about carbon monoxide when we had the heater and the MSR Reactor both cranking as we boiled for coffee and oatmeal and changed for the climb. What does a CO overdose feel like… I’m already tired and lightheaded from 3 hours of fitful sleep. Best to wrap it up and get out into the pre dawn air.

The wind was blowing about 20-25 with stronger gusts on the regular. I kept my heel lifters down and powered up to Silcox on 120 counts… 120 steps, pause to turn my face to the West to rest my right eye and face from the ice microdermabrasion coming from the East.

We stopped for a quick drink and then continued up Palmer – I always use the mid lift hut as a mental gate in the dark – it’s a good landmark to set direction toward I- rock, or to just get a bearing on the way to the top of Palmer.

I got to the top of Palmer, pulled out my puffy and shovel and started digging a windbreak where J and I could rest and decide what we wanted to do.

Palmer before the sun hits is a strange place – sometimes times moves faster, sometimes slower. Climbers are tucked behind snow berms when the wind is up. Skiers are swinging wild windmills frozen in place standing in their skis, headlamp beams scanning ahead illuminating the spindrift.

When J arrives we took over a shelter 2 previously climbers had abandoned, dug in deeper to get out of the wind and I sat and drank my chai. The sun began to rise and we decided today wasn’t the day – J had to be back in town by 2, the forecast didn’t call for calming winds until the afternoon.

We tore the hides and skied variable crust and wind blown powder back to Timberline. We cut right at Magic Mile and had first tracks on freshly groomed corduroy. Sweet. It was just sweet sweet carving.

I caught myself falling asleep a couple of times on the drive home, but arrived home and into the Sunday schedule in time to take my daughter to see Captain Marvel at the Baghdad. Perfect.

It’s Spring in the Cascades but today had the max old man Winter feel. Great mini adventure on the local hill.

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