Highlights from a Frustrating Summer

Highlights from a Frustrating Summer

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 5, 2013
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer


This was a hard summer for me both in the hiking field and in my personal life. I have had to go through a number of health issues resulting in weight gain, health issues, extreme poverty, marriage separation and a loss of reliable transportation. I am thankful for my job but the alternating days off have damaged my chances for trip. I won’t lie, though I appreciate my job, I am presently looking for better. The weather this summer was near perfect except when I wanted to go hiking. When I was able to schedule trips I ended up having 21 cancelled trips. This would not be such a big deal if I had a vehicle but unfortunately without one I was doomed. I also had lost a number of hiking partners this summer, from climbing injuries, family movements, and others losing interest. My summer ended fittingly with me getting food poisoning just before being able to go on two awesome trips and a FALSE weather forecast that prevented me from getting two Bulgers I had been eyeing for 6 years.

Morning light on the summit
The highlight of the summer; a failed attempt at Shuksan

Before I write this though I just want let others know I am really thankful to be in good health and have no major injuries. I also though want to thank my hiking partners who I was able to get hikes going with and that is SP members CascadeCohen, JordanH, Zephyr2us, mtn.climber and non-SP members Aaron, Adam, Rainie, Bob and Tom who helped me go on the trips I did. I want to thank those who attempted to get trip organized with me despite me not having a vehicle. Without all of you this would have been an even tougher summer. This trip report is dedicated to you because without you my chances of mountaineering would have been non-existent. You all give me hope that my bad luck with hiking will not continue into the future.

Mount Adams Failed Attempt (July 5th)

Mount Adams
Picture from near the lunch counter during the morning

Considering that summer begins on June 21st and you can already tell I am on a rough start here. Normally I will have a couple peaks done by now or at least a Bulger. But this summer despite the good weather the only trip I could come with was Mount Adams. My good friend CascadeCohen really wanted to take a shot at his first volcano in Washington State. We got to the South Climb Trailhead the day before and set camp up there at the trailhead. In the morning we woke up at 3 am and started to head for the summit. We were going to try to get to the summit in one day.

Me on Adams
CascadeCohen on Adams

We made a great time getting to the Lunch Counter. From the trailhead to the Lunch Counter it took us about three and a half hours. Unfortunately that great speed came with disastrous results. By the time we made it to the Lunch Counter, both CascadeCohen and I were starting to feel the effects of altitude sickness. We took a two hour rest there which made me quickly feel better. But for CascadeCohen the effects of altitude sickness really started to hit him. We quickly had to head down the mountain because he was beginning to get blind in one eye. With a little help in navigation we were able to head down the mountain safely. It was a success in many ways in that we were safe and we were able to get some good altitude. I had already summited Adams back in 2008. But it was not a good start to the season.

Mount Shuksan Failed Attempt (July 14th and 15th)

Clouds over the summit
Shuksan in the clouds

I am sad to say this but this was the best trip I had all year. It really was good, even though there was no summit attained. I will make this section very brief because I already wrote a front page trip report about this trip. Essentially we were in a group of 4. After hearing a lot of bad beta, two of us (Dave and I) decided that it would be a bad idea to head up the summit block. The other two people in our group pressed on and found an awesome way up the mountain that did not require a rope. I do not regret turning around on this trip. I do though regret though not having another trip set for August on this very mountain.

Mount Shuksan Trip Report

A look back at the North Cascades
A look back at all the mountains that I wanted to do this year.


Spiraltop (July 25th)

Spiraltop from the road
Hey it's small but better than nothing

By this time I was desperate for any kind trip I could find. CascadeCohen and I were introducing one of our mutual friends and his brother to hiking and we were looking for a good mountain to do it that none of us had been to. So the peak we decided on was Spiraltop, a little summit located south of Rainier that is basically a road-walk to the summit. Other than the fact the road was overgrown at the summit, which caused us to break some of the bushes to get to the summit it was easy and a great way to spend the day. The significance of this trip was that it was the only summit successfully attained in the month of July and the first unique summit of July. Not exactly what I was hoping for going into the summer. But it was better than nothing. Had I not got to the summit it would have been the first month in six years that I ended up summit-less.

One of the many views of Rainier
Hi Rainier! I will be back in 2014 for you!!


Mount Pilchuck (August 4th)

Evening light at the base of Mount Pilchuck
Evening light on Mount Pilchuck

I will limit writing this trip up as well because I already wrote this trip on Summitpost as well. This was a great evening after work on a mountain that the last time I had been it had snowed and there were limited views. It was a great evening trip with CascadeCohen and Jordan Halas.

Mount Pilchuck Trip Report

Bearhead and East Bearhead (August 15th)

Bearhead-East Peak
East Bearhead from Bearhead

Summer to this point was one of the driest on recorded. We had no significant rain recorded in Seattle and it looked like that would continue into August. Unfortunately on the day when the weather would change I ended up being in the mountains. I now had met new hiking partner Tom Lackey for a good hike into the mountains. We had originally hoped to knock off three mountains on this trip but bad weather had moved in just after knocking off East Bearhead so we had to bail on Summit Lake Peak. But despite the bad weather this trip was a great success in many ways. First of all Bearhead Mountain and East Bearhead turned out sadly enough to be the highest summits attained during this disappointing summer.

Looking back at the true summit from down the ridge
Looking back at the summit of Bearhead

The trip also was only one of two trips in which I got two different summits on one trip. The first peak Bearhead Mountain was a very easy hike to the top. I was really feeling it though from the lack of hiking I had been doing in 2013. But even with that we were able to summit that peak in under an hour and a half. The second summit, East Bearhead, was a little more interesting, especially in the rain. We headed up a steep grassy slope to the wet summit. Because of the rain the grass was very slippery and traction was very hard to come by. We hit the final summit scramble (Class 2+ with some exposure on the east to what potentially could be a great view of Rainier and the other mountains in the region. Unfortunately the clouds moved in quickly limiting or views and setting us up for an unsettling scramble down the mountain. At some point we were scrambling down in a white out on slippery scree. Not much fun but we made it through and I finally was starting to make some headway in this summer. 
Looking east from East Bearhead
From East Bearhead before the rain came in

Summit Lake Peak (August 29th)

Another view of the face
JordanH on the rocky face of Summit Lake Peak

Yes as the summer goes I finally got another hike plan this summer and yes we were greeted with a thunderstorm as we were leaving Seattle. But luckily as soon as we got into the mountains the weather changed its tune and the clouds lifted enough to make this trip among the most scenic of the summer. It had been a long since I have done a good trip with my friend Aaron and we thought Summit Lake Peak would be a great mountain to get back into the swing of things. 

Summit Lake from near the summit
A look back at Summit lake 

Heading back to the same trailhead as the time I went up Bearhead Mountain was a feeling of déjà vu. It was yet again cloudy and we were prepared to get rained on. The trail up to Summit Lake Peak was relatively easy and the views from the summit were excellent of the nearby mountains. Mount Rainier was fogged and so was some of the others but this excellent bang for the buck mountain was perfect for me to go up and enjoy. We spent maybe four hours hiking and an hour and a half just enjoying the summit area and the beautiful blue lake. Summit Lake Peak was a great find in what has been a not so great hiking season.

Bearhead from Summit Lake Peak
Summit Lake Peak (8/29/13)

Stegosaurus Butte (September 10th)

Green and Moolock Mountain
A look back Green Mountain and Moolock Mountain

Both JordanH and I were getting off work the same time so we decided to check out this small little summit right off of the Middle Fork Road. Stegosaurus Butte was a great hike to kill two or three hours and it only took a little over an hour to get to. Another bonus is that very few people actually know about Stegosaurus Butte. The hike up was a good workout. The underused boot-path was at times hard to see as we headed up for the summit. But soon we made it to the top and were greeted with decent views of the Middle Fork River Valley. We made down from the mountain well before nightfall and enjoy this summit quite a bit. For me I had learned to appreciate this summit a lot because of the past issues during the summer. I was just glad to be out to enjoy the beautiful mountains for an hour.

Preacher from Stegosaurus Butte
Preacher Mountain from Stegosaurus Butte

Blowout Mountain and Pyramid Peak (September 13th)

Mount Stuart from the summit of Blowout Mountain
A look at towering Mount Stuart and the Enchantments

I was glad to final be able to hike with my most reliable hiking partner in the past three years. Zephyr2us and I have been on more than 30 summits together and our summit success rate is 95%. He was recovering from a combination of a long trip to Tennessee along with some illnesses that struck over the summer. Because of this we decided on two different mountains. The point of this was so we could both test out how strong we were after what had been sub-par hiking season for both of us. If we were weak after the first mountain we could just call it a successful day.

Another Rainier shot from Pyramid PeakRainier from Pyramid Peak

We did not have to do that though because we were strong enough for both summits. It turned out to the perfect call on the perfect day in the mountain. This Friday the 13th was the total opposite of what much of my 2013 summer season was. The weather was excellent, the views were great and the trip was a total success. Plus that road into the mountains was excellent for views. What I did not know was that would be the last hike of the summer season despite me having the entire next week off. A bad forecast and bout of food poisoning sealed the fate of a disappointing and frustrating summer.

Remenants of a lookout tower
Hey there is some fall color!! Maybe that means there will be better luck this fall!!


Face it, this season for me was disappointing. But thankful I had enough good friends to come out there and help during the summer. Without their help the season would have been even worse. I certainly hope 2014 becomes a much better season that 2013 is and I will do whatever I can in my power to make that happen. Hopefully in the near future you will be hearing more from EastKing, like you did in years past.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-8 of 8
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis - Sep 22, 2013 3:51 am - Voted 10/10

I like the positive tone.

You manage to be hopeful and see the bright side and that is inspiring friend. You've also got some decent pictures here so we know you're building that summit-hunger again.


Castlereagh - Sep 25, 2013 1:00 am - Voted 10/10

Sorry to hear

about the shittiness. Sucks that frustration in the mountains coincides with frustration in real life. Best of luck to you guy and best wishes that things turn around.


EastKing - Sep 25, 2013 4:40 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Sorry to hear

The key for me is to focus on the positives and try my best to get ready for next year season. There are others who have had far worse happen to them this year. I must now stay focused and plan out the 2014 season. Hopefully 2014 will have much more rock and snow and less trees.


ChrisJahn - Apr 23, 2014 9:17 am - Voted 10/10

Good account

"Some people see no more in climbing mountains than an escape from the harsh realities of modern times. This is not only uninformed but unfair. I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.” Walter Bonatti


EastKing - Apr 26, 2014 1:30 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Good account

I love this quote!!!


mvs - Apr 27, 2014 6:07 am - Hasn't voted


You survive in America without a car and you don't live in NYC! I'm impressed :)

Do you know the Costco in Kirkland? One time, I was so frustrated that I wasn't getting out to the mountains, and I was getting weak and fat, and I didn't see when I could change it, and the next weekends were sunny but I always had to stay in town. Massively frustrated, we were leaving and as I got in the car I told my wife, "Nope. I'm going to walk home." I guess it was 15 miles or so. I had 5 bucks in my pocket. The effort and hours out alone made me feel better. By the time I stopped at an apple orchard for fresh squeezed cider with my 5 bucks, I was on an adventure: created from small, sad, "non-heroic" circumstances.

I felt much better through that dry patch for climbing because I'd exercised my will along the way in a symbolic effort to not feel beaten.

Alternatively, I was just a weirdo without a car :D. Keep dreaming EastKing!


CClaude - Apr 27, 2014 11:10 pm - Hasn't voted


Hopefully, this year will be more kind. Someone posted on one of my trip reports, its not how hard of a punch you can take, but how often you get back up. I know how it goes, having lost the feelings in my hands, which has made climbing a bit more challanging, but the joy of just being in the moment doing it is worthwhile. Hope the summer goes well.


Hawkwind - Apr 28, 2014 9:08 am - Hasn't voted

Onwards and upwards..

Just keep on puttin' one step infront of the other...head up and good things will continue to happen!

Viewing: 1-8 of 8



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Mount AdamsTrip Reports
Bearhead MountainTrip Reports
Blowout MountainTrip Reports
SpiraltopTrip Reports