I just keep staring at the calendar, as if it’s going to make the days go by faster. I always longed for winter. My days were filled with snowboarding and nights ice climbing. It was my life. Year after year I couldn’t wait until it started to snow in the mountains. Now my life seems to be consumed by rock climbing and my attitude towards snow has taken a complete 180. I still love snowboarding but I can’t shake the desire to be outside, high above the ground in some beautiful location, on some incredibly amazing rock formation.
I could have snowboarded this weekend, I mean, for Pete sake, I bought an Ikon pass and have hardly used it! Instead, my friends and I tossed around possibilities of where we could potentially climb. It had been sunny for a few days in a row and we are starting to jones. The rock had to be dry somewhere, right? Vantage? Index? Squamish?
The last images of Index that I had seen were taken a few days earlier and it was still covered in snow. The high temp expected at Vantage was going to be 34 with wind. Squamish was too far to take the gamble that it would be dry. We finally threw in the towel and just accepted the fact that it’s early March and we’re just wishful thinking. I was slightly disappointed but knew the day would come soon enough.
Later that night I remember the Exits! They hadn’t come to mind to any of us earlier. They’re close to Seattle and relatively low in elevation. I quickly sent out a text to see if anyone was still on board to get out side and pull on some rock. I had one taker, my friend Mark. I looked at the temps and the weather and it was going to be sunny and a balmy 40 degrees!
We opted to meet at noon the next day, giving the rock some time to warm up before heading out to the crag. We both wore long johns and had our puffy’s so we were good to go. A few miles down the highway from exit 32, I started noticing more and more snow on the ground. I started to get a little concerned and mentioned it to Mark. We both had envisioned a dry, snow-less trail to the crag.
As we pulled off the highway, I immediately knew we were screwed. There was a foot of snow on the ground! Mark was in his La Sportiva approach shoes with ankle high socks and I was in my La Sportiva trail runners. Definitely not appropriate footwear for hiking in the snow.
We drove slowly past the trailhead so I could see if there was at least a boot pack and I saw that there was. We turned around slowly contemplating what we were going to do. We were about to head back to the city when we decided to at least check the condition of the trail.
We pulled into the snow-covered parking lot and headed to the trailhead. The trail was packed down but the temps were warming and I was worried the snow would be soft and we’d have to post hole if we wanted to get to the crag. We carefully stepped onto the trail and to our relief it was pretty solid. We walked a few feet up the trail and decided it was a go. We were there, might as well try.
We went back to the car, loaded up and headed back to the trail. On the way up we encountered a couple climbers coming down the trail. I asked if it was a bust and they said no, just cold. They also told us we just missed the sun. Great.
Upon arriving to the crag, it was relieving to see a couple other parties climbing. It meant the rock was dry even though they were all standing in snow. To see everyone else wearing the same footwear meant that they were just as unprepared as we were so I had no need to be embarrassed.
I was excited to slip on my shoes and get to climbing, albeit we had to precariously balance ourselves on the rock while swapping snow covered approach shoes for rock shoes. It was cold so I wore my socks in my climbing shoes and had hand warmers in our chalk bags. We made it work and had an awesome time! We hammered out a few routes then called it a day. I was so happy we decided not to just drive back to the city but to actually give it a go even though the odds were against us. I’ll take an adventure over the couch any day. The End
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