Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Honor We Climb

11/10/10 Bits of ice left over in Odell's gully from the cold spell in October.

For the third year in a row, I have made the bitter sweet journey to Huntington Ravine on or near November 10th, to memorialize in some way, one of my very best friends who sadly lost his life on this mountain in January 2008. November 10th is Pete's birthday, which ironically or not, coincides with the United States Marine Core Birthday.  Pete's Dad was a Marine in the Vietnam War and I personally find it interesting he was born on that day, or maybe his folks planned it that way.  Anyway Happy Birthday Pete Roux, Happy Birthday Marines!

On my first outing, November 14th (missed it by a few days) 2008, I hiked solo, following in the footsteps of my lost brother, with the boots he wore on his final day now on my feet, I met the challenge with caution and some hint of higher being or spirit force.  The rocks were all covered in six inches of fresh powder, enough to hide them, but also enough to cause me to take violent falls a few times.  I've only told a couple of people this, but it was as if some power or force was giving me an extra firm shove when I tripped up on those rocks.  As I would trip up on a rock, I could feel the push, which led me to hit the ground very forcefully. Once was above treeline on the Alpine Garden trail, I remember with great detail, looking around through the white out conditions and seeing nothing, but hearing the wind whisper caution in my ear.  I didn't even think about or want to go to the summit on this day, I wanted to get down and home as quick as possible, the dark haunting feeling was uncomfortable.  

November 10, 2009, a full year and a half after the avalanche, I was heading up again. This time with Todd Ringelberg in tow.  What a day it was! We brought boots, crampons and ice tools, but left that all stuff in the car since there wasn't even a hint of ice or snow. We went for the fast and light approach with only our trail running/approach shoes and super light packs on our backs. We made it to the floor of the ravine quite fast and then headed up the boulder scree known as the fan, aiming for the base of Odell Gully, roughly 400 feet below the first ice pitch. The wind was silent and there was unlimited visibility, a Raven appeared catching thermals in the air above the ravine then landing on a ledge, giving off a quick verbal sign of his presence.  We hung out at the memorial site, then shot up the Huntington head wall. We did make the summit on this hike, I think it was my 44th time at 6288.

November 10, 2010.  Again another stellar day on the hill.  Hardly any snow or ice at all and a fine day to climb the Huntington Ravine trail.  We didn't visit the memorial spot this time around we stayed on the HR trail through the fan and headed up the head wall.

 Clouds creeping across the Carter Mountain Range from Huntington Ravine.

J'ai gravi la montagne avec mon ami.
This trail is one of the toughest hiking trails in the White Mountains and is as close to technical rock climbing one can get with what I rate as some 5th class terrain in spots.  It's pretty damn fun to put it in a few words.  PDF!
 Climbing up the steep head wall in Huntington Ravine.
It was quite windy on this day, but we didn't really feel the full force until the summit.  Emerging from above the ravine while climbing up the Nelson Crag trail, he appeared, but only for a brief second as he flew from the upper rim down into the ravine, who you ask?  The Raven, he was lurking near the top rim of the ravine and quickly caught the wind beneath his wings and flew down the mountain. I believe there's a pair of eyes watching over me on the hill, always and forever.

 In honor we climb 11/10/10

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