Monday, August 31, 2009

Sherpas without pants

In honor of my Summer Denial I would like to share with you the summit of the Cascades. I chose this because once winter hits here there is no denial that summer is definitely over. This is along route 20 in Chelan County going through Washington Pass. This spiky jagged mountain is Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires. It is more than 7700 vertical feet of massive granite. Now, that’ll make a few counter tops. We stopped at an overlook that was incredibly beautiful and incredibly dizzying if you looked down. I don’t consider myself afraid of heights but I’m not an idiot, I know where the ground is and exactly how far I am from it. There was a gorgeous wooden fence that ran along the cliff edge of the viewing platforms. It followed insane angles and I had to wonder if there metal rods within that wood because I couldn’t imagine anything less safe looking than this fence.

Liberty Bell and Early Winter Spires are called the sentinels of the pass and as you approach them you notice a sharp transition in the landscape. It becomes drier and the trees spread out more to reveal shrub brush and pine needle floors. Around November they will close this pass for the winter. One year we had come as far as the blockade. The rocks were covered in ice from the freezing waterfalls and the snow was quickly building up all around. It was abundantly clear why the pass had to be closed. This place looked like something out of the last ice age. I could believe that there were saber toothed tigers and woolly mammoths trundling around up there. What I couldn't believe was that someone had once looked at this treacherous mountain pass and thought “Sure, I could put a road through there.”

Mount Liberty Bell and Early Winter Spires are a big draw for climbers. You know, those crazy fools who like to suit up in weird combinations of biker spandex and Sasquatch hunter camouflage with little grippy shoes and boots. There are alien looking metal clips made from alloys of things like titanium, Teflon, diamond, and sea urchin rubber created in a lab on the Space Shuttle. They carry ropes tacked in seemingly random areas on their fat free bodies, which are made of some uber new age silk threaded stainless steel titanium coated non friction/water proof nylon. Somewhere in all the fancy mutant metals and fibers something will be made with hemp. Just keeping it real.

I have tremendous respect for these insanely fit specimens of the race. These glorious fools who revel in the idea of spending a day climbing some giant chunk of jagged earth thrust up into the sky while they try not to die. No, these creatures are not daunted by the staggering heights, sheer cliffs, loose rocks and sudden gusts of wind. They have their Space Shuttle REI gear and trusty Sherpa guide to keep them safe. So what if the Sherpa guide is really a Troll doll with a llama wool hat and no pants? He has a really cool vibe. And so as I drive by in my comfortable car with its wheels firmly on the ground and a cooler of snacks within reach on the backseat, I salute you, fearless mountain climber dudes and your pant less Sherpa guide.


  1. Hi Lesan,

    I too admire people who suit up in spandex and
    do odd physical tasks as long as they don't want me to join them. Good for those bon vivant metal clip climbers.

    Spectacular pictures.

    Great Blog,

    Take care,


  2. LOL Barbara. We can both toast them from the ground with nice glass of wine... and pray for their souls.
    Thank you for the super nice compliments! :-)

  3. LeSan, You made me laugh twice today. First, it was your comment on my blog about Heidi McGruff, then it was this post. I'm with you on wanting my feet planted firmly on the earth. I have a bil who lives in Breckenridge. One summer they talked me into riding on a ski lift. The distance between the earth and the lift got greater and greater, and I HATED it! I insisted there must be some other way back down, but was told there wasn't. While up there, though, I walked a cool trail, while my kids, husband, and bil stayed below. I yelled at them from the trail, at one point, though, to get back from the edge. It's heights and edges that bother me.

    Thanks for the laughs!

  4. Hi Sue. I also have experience with Breckenridge. It was where I learned to ski. Actually it was where I learned not to die while hurtling down an icy mountain with two sticks tied to my feet. My "friend" the avid skier was going to "teach" me how to ski. I thought this meant starting with bunny hills and hot cocoa till I was proficient enough to try a bigger hill. Nope! This meant taking me to the top of the frickin' mountain as soon as I was booted up. Then with a pat on the back and a wave for good luck she disappeared from sight. OMG! So that was how I learned to ski. The next day we did Winter Park. We don't speak any longer.

  5. Incredible beauty! I haven't been a downhill skier for quite a while, or spent time in the mountains, so this is the next best thing for me. Cheers, Alice
    aka Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel