It has been a little over two months since our Alpine Climbing class and our summit of Mt. Baker. It’s hard to describe something you never imagined doing – after it has happened. Before I begin sharing my adventure I want to say Thank You to the American Alpine Institute and to Erin Smart our guide, and my husband for one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I woke at 2:00 am, put on my crampons, grabbed my ice axe, tied in to my climbing partners and headed out on to the glacier of Mt. Baker. For more than five hours my world was a little pocket of light created by my headlamp and the sound of ice crunching under crampons. Just putting one foot in front of the other, controlling my breathing, and repeating the mantra: “out of balance, in balance, move the axe.” At dawn, we reached the crater – I had just 1,000 vertical feet of icy snow called the Roman Wall standing between me and my summit. I also found I had more than a bit of anxiety and doubt about my ability to make it safely up and down that last pitch. Pushing through that wall of doubt was as much of a struggle as physically pushing myself up the Roman Wall. On August 12 at around 9:00 am I reached the summit of my first mountain.
Here are a few things I learned:
1. I am a natural with an ice ax.
2. I can tie knots one-handed.
3. It still rains in the Northwest in August.
4. I can hike for 16 hours.
5. I can catch my husband from falling and haul him out of a crevasse.
6. I can get up at 2am and summit a mountain.
7. You can double insulate your food mugs and dry your socks at the same time.
8. Mountaineering is a 24hour a day activity with little time for fancy meals.
It seems that every moment on the mountain is spent keeping yourself safe. You are constantly adjusting your clothing layers to maintain a consistent temperature, applying sunscreen, drinking enough water, taking care of blisters, monitoring the weather and the terrain, and eating every hour. I found out there is not a lot of time for “relaxing” and even less for preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food on the mountain is about fuel.
While our meals that we brought were tasty – they took longer than we wanted to prepare in the cold and wet – and took time away from other activities like sleeping and drying out our gear.
There were some successes though. My Pasta with Meat Sauce re-hydrated quickly, was super tasty and easy to clean up.
Pasta with Meat Sauce
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce – dehydrated
1/2 cup ground beef – dehydrated
2 Tablespoons diced red pepper & green pepper – dehydrated
1/2 cup instant pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Ziploc bags
2 insulated mugs or camp bowls with lids
3 cups boiling water
Mix marinara sauce, ground beef, diced peppers and pasta together in a bowl. Distribute evenly between two Ziploc bags. Put Parmesan in it’s own Ziploc. Remove excess air and seal.
On the Trail:
As water boils, place the pasta mixture in each insulated mug or bowl. Divide water evenly between meals. Place lids on and let sit for 10 minutes. Be sure the meals are insulated while the reconstitute or heat will escape and you will have a cold dinner. After 10 minutes, stir pasta mixture and let sit another few minutes if needed. When ready, divide Parmesan between meals and enjoy!
My challenge for our next summit is to make tasty, quick fuel. My new partner in crime in this endeavor is the Jet Boil. Stay tuned for more Jet Boil friendly recipes.