From lush prehistoric forests with trees the size of skyscrapers, to snow blanketed volcanoes towering high over the rest of its prospect, the Pacific Northwest is a daunting landscape of immensity. Over the last month I was fortunate enough to spend several weeks wandering the high cascades and the steamy forests of coastal Washington.
First, a week of exploring in the forests outside of Bellingham with the boys of Sweet Grass Productions, and my dearest friend Eliel Hindert. Our forays into the sponge of life that are the rainforests skirting the base of Mt. Baker were for a test of skiing ingenuity. Eliel and several other Surface friends went off piste and shredded some dense jungle foliage for the cameras of Sweet Grass. Only time will tell, but from behind the camera next years film might just awe a few folks, says this observer.
Back to Montana for a few days of R&R and work catch-up. Then back across the expanses of Eastern Washington, but this time down to Mt Rainier National Forest with my father Conrad Anker, my brother Sam and his friend Kevin. After meeting up friends Kalen of Voke Tab and Brandon Watts of Freehub Magazine, we all donned heavy packs and headed for higher ground.
I have done a fair amount of alpine adventuring, but our hike up to Camp Muir, the high camp of Rainier, with heavy laden packs in the mid day sun, was a push. After a hot alpine dinner of ramen noodles and Salami, we retired for our much-needed 3 hours of sleep before our summit bid at 1 AM. The expanse of black heavens above us held a million flickering stars as we trekked slowly, step by step up the face of the age old volcano.
Few things can top the beauty of a sunrise from 14,000 feet. As the sun crept over the horizon, an alien landscape of titanic expanse revealed itself. This was a place not meant for man; yet here we stood. At the summit, we rested and reflected on our ascent and on the decent yet to come.
After a grueling slushy trudge down to Camp Muir, thankfully we were able to don our skis and fly down the extensive slopes that took us so many painful hours to hike up. Back at Paradise, after a mere 48 hours, we cracked some chilled Rainier Beers, and toasted to a climb well done.
It's easy for most, but impossible for few. Going to Mt. Hood, saying you skied Mt. Hood, and spending days and days at Mt. Hood. All without actually skiing from the top of Mt. Hood. Jay Eichhorst, Adam Clark, and I were completely incapable of being at Windells's Surface Week without visiting the tippy-top of the tallest peak in Oregon and vying for its 942,876th ski descent. While 99.9% of the mountain's visitors were working on their cork 7's and underflips on the medium line, their blind-ups and k-feds on the dub kink, and their sandwich-making lunch-building at the Windells campus, we climbed. We traveled over This Named Snowfield, alongside That Famous Buttress, up Some Other Glacier, and eventually through the couloirs that reach the summit of Mt. Hood. Alone at the top of Oregon, our dull crampons reflected the cloudless sunshine. We gazed out to St. Helens, Rainier, Adams, and Jefferson. We closed our mouths and opened our eyes. Adam and Jay raised cameras as we chose our preferred ski descent. Only 3 hours after sticking skins to the bases of our Free Series skis, we left the summit, knowing that we wouldn't remove our skis until we rode into the parking lot, 5300 feet below. It was mid-July and the present danger wasn't riptides, the coping, or emergency exits; it was a broken cornice, an avalanche, or a slipped crampon. Skiing from 11,250 feet, precipitous ridges were left behind, 100-foot tabletops came into view, and My Surface Week was officially a success.
- Brody Leven