Tag Archives: Mt. Hood

BCEP – Snow School!


Last year, I took the BCEP class with the Mazamas – Basic Climbing Education Program. It was interesting; a great chance to review my well-trained skills, practice some that I hadn’t used in ages, and get to meet some new climbing and outdoors people. It was fun, and ticked all the boxes that I had hoped that it would.

My faith in the outdoors community reinvigorated, I quickly and happily volunteered to help teach BCEP this year. I was expecting to assist with the same group that I’d taken the class with the previous year, since leaders tend to continue teaching year over year, so I was a bit surprised when I was placed with a different group… but it turns out, this new group was just starting out – the first year the leader had led a BCEP team on their own.

The chance to help out with a new group, and to help build a similar culture of excitement and optimism for the outdoors? All while getting to show people the unbridled joy of rock climbing? Of seeing new views off the side of a mountain?

Well. Sign me right the heck up.

Saturday, 22-Apr-2023

I love the snow.

I love the cold, I love the smell of snow, and I love the feeling of being an arctic explorer, forging through an unexplored world at the spearpoint of civilization.

I mean, okay. We were like 500ft from the parking lot here, but you know what? Thanks to the snow and the wind we could barely see the cars. So it counts, right?


This weekend was the Snow School portion of BCEP – taking the students out into the cold, and trying some of the skills that we’d been practicing out in the “real world”. It’s one thing to learn about rope travel while on a warm hike, but it’s something again to be post-holing through the snow, having to stop and freeze every 30ft to plant a picket.

We started off easy and fun – setting up a few practice stations, and moving the students through them one by one. I mostly just manned a rappel station, but I did take a few moments to escape and play photographer… and maybe have a snack and mug of cocoa or two as time allowed.

We went through the curriculum, did some “ascents” where we roped up and explored some nearby hills, and generally had a blast. Then, all too soon, the day was done and our coursework completed. We did a quick skills test for the students (which they all passed with flying colors, unsurprisingly) and then headed back to the parking lot, with the goal of moseying onward to the Mazama’s Lodge for an evening of food, revelry, and an early evening in preparation for a possible ascent up the Palmer Glacier in the morning…

Backpacking up the White River Glacier again, 2023 edition!


Friday and Saturday, 20-Jan-2023 and 21-Jan-2023

Man… it’s been ages since I’ve gotten my tent up onto Mt. Hood! 2023 is nearly a month old, and so far… You know what? Let’s not be harsh on ourselves here, huh? I’ve been getting by. I’ve been decompressing, getting into the flow of the year, and spending quite a bit of good time in the gym.

I’m socializing, making plans, and getting projects done… but that “getting out into the cold” itch still needs to be scratched, doesn’t it? Yeah it does! And so Thursday evening saw me packing a bag, and Friday morning found me driving the well-travelled road up toward Mount Hood. I had a good breakfast in my belly (Pine State with a friend!), and a nice and easy plan for the weekend. The weather looked good, and road conditions seemed positive. So was I, with a lovely relaxing trip on the horizon.

The universe obliged.

Hiking in, the slopes were beautifully devoid of the howling mobs. The sky was blue, clear, and crisp. The temperature was cold… but soon enough I had my sleeves rolled up and my jacket wrapped around my waist. I wasn’t quite sweating, thankfully, but the combination of the sun and exercise were definitely doing their job at keeping me warm.

I made camp, did some quick setup to make sure I had space to carve a good shelf for my tent out of the snow covered hillside, and took a walk up the ridgeline of the glacier. I enjoyed the sunset, appreciated the cold, and let myself slowly expand out of the compressed form it’d taken over the last few weeks.

As Yoda tells Luke, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” I can take that to heart… I’m realizing that I need time alone in the wild woods to let myself expand back outward. Time at work, time in the city, time in the gym… I enjoy all of them, but they shrink me down a bit in a way that only the open sky can rectify.

This trip did an amazing job of that rectification – As the sun set, and I finished carving my little campsite out of the slope, with snowshoe and ice axe, I felt good. I felt excellent!

I ate my dinner, read my book, and drifted off to sleep way earlier than I expected. Not a bad thing.

The next morning was beautiful and clear – though there were a few lenticular clouds hovering over the summit block of Mt. Hood, indicating the oncoming snow expected in the late morning.

I breakfasted, hiked around a bit, and enjoyed the last bits of cold as the day warmed up.

Packing and hiking out went quickly, and I was back at the car far earlier than I’d really expected… though the snow was definitely starting to fall in earnest. I’d put chains of the car before leaving, in case the snow was thicker than expected, and they definitely helped power over the packed snow and ice of the parking lot. But… I didn’t need them after that.

I felt a little silly, taking the chains off at the end of the parking lot… but hey. Better to have them on and not need them, versus having to battle through the snow to get them on if I had needed them, right?

Without chains, the drive home was quick. I didn’t have to stop, and I simply relaxed. I think I put some music on… but maybe not? I felt great, exceptionally thankful for an excellent evening in the snow.

A retrospective on 2022


Holy crap… how is 2022 already done and gone? I feel like it just started… but also that it’s been going on for a lifetime? I can’t imaging that I was in BCEP a short seven months ago…

It’s intense, and impressive, how time seems so variable. It’s not healthy, undoubtedly, as I’ve repeatedly heard people echoing the sentiment of trauma that “A day lasts forever… but a week is gone before you realize”. The constant influx of “once in a generation” disasters, events, and improbable or impossible happenings… It wears on you, you know?

So let’s forget all that tomfoolery, and focus on the one small slice of life I really understand. My own.

Here’s a list of all the archetype galleries that I have saved from this year, in chronological order… followed by a single gallery of my favorite photos I’ve taken:

  • Hiking on the beach
  • Cross country skiing at Elk Meadows
  • Sunsets in Wilsonville
  • Making babyback ribs
  • Photos of a tree in Wilsonville
  • Walking around Wilsonville
  • An oyster dinner with coworkers (holy crap, this wasn’t even a year ago?!?!)
  • Camping at Smith Rock
  • Hiking up the White River Glacier
  • Walking around POrtland
  • Gardening
  • Seeing a punk show in Portland
  • Hiking up near Timberline Lodge
  • Hiking and Stargazing near the coast (Wait, this was a year ago too??? I thought it was like… two years back!)
  • Fog in Wilsonville
  • BCEP! Hiking Story Burn
  • Wandering around Portland
  • BCEP! MMC Night
  • BCEP! King’s Mountain
  • BCEP! Horsethief Butte
  • BCEP! Land Nav at Mt. Tabor
  • BCEP! Hardy Ridge
  • BCEP! Snow School
  • Gardening, Pt. 2
  • Spring is springing in Wilsonville
  • Visiting Massachusetts – Rumney
  • Visiting Massachusetts – Rising Phoenix
  • Visiting Massachusetts – Flying, archery, and dinner
  • BCEP! Graduation
  • Hiking Elk Meadows again
  • Backpacking the White River Glacier
  • Skies and flowers
  • Duffy Lake
  • Exploring Seattle
  • Backpacking Flapjack Lakes
  • Summer in Wilsonville
  • Alegria!
  • Wandering and paddling around Wilsonville
  • Elk Meadows on the 4th of July (Again with Elk Meadows? Jeeze, Ben!)
  • Backpacking Foley Ridge
  • Walking Izzy and Lando
  • Climbing at Ozone
  • Rise Against in Bend!
  • Smith and Trout Creek
  • Summitting Middle Sister
  • August in Massachusetts – Allison’s wedding!
  • August in Massachusetts – Hanging Mountain!
  • Late night at Dove Lewis
  • The GRE & GMAT!
  • Octoberfest at Mount Angel
  • Backpacking Elk Meadows (Okay, it’s getting silly now)
  • Chasing zen in the desert
  • Pretty fields and pretty views
  • Backpacking Jade Lake
  • Thanksgiving in Sacramento!
  • Wisdom teeth, goodbye
  • Portland art museum
  • Elk Meadows and Timberline Lodge
  • Indian Head beach
  • Portland in the rain