Hi-Tec Adventure Race – Hartford 2001

Action Dave and Jamie Liu ran, biked and paddled this race with me. This race is a favorite since it happens at night. Getting lost in the woods in the dark is more fun than being lost in the daytime.

We came in at 4:30:06 in 50th place (out of 138 teams) in the coed division. The last team came in at 7:24:17 and first place came in at 3:29:20. See the full results for the Hi-Tec Adventure Racing Series #6 Hartford, CT, September 8, 2001.

A blazing start:

Emerging from the lake after a kayaking leg:

Dave, Jamie and Doug trying to figure out where we are and what we are supposed to be doing.

Setting the pole for Jamie to climb.

Jamie climbing.

Jamie tying.

Doug and Dave in the dark. Where’s Jamie?

The wall is the last obstacle before the finish line:

Crossing the finish line:

Climbing Mount Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route

Mt. Whitney, at 14,495 feet is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. It is also the most sought after peak in North America. During the summer months it is normal to find several hundred hikers ascending the peak on any given day via the Mt. Whitney Trail.

In the spring, Mt. Whitney is a different mountain. It becomes a climber’s challenge. Our route of ascent was the Mountaineer’s Route on the east side of the mountain. What is a third class loose rock gully in the summer becomes a snow climb on terrain up to 45°.

Jeff and I had George Dunn guide us up the mountain. Unfortunately, after making it up the gully the conditions prevented us from making the last few hundred feet to the summit.

Camp One, by Lower Boy Scout Lake:

Our kitchen at Camp One:

The view from Camp One:

Camp Two, by the East Face of Mount Whitney:

The view from Camp Two with Lone Pine in the background:

Jeff climbing up the gully:

Me, George and Jeff just below the summit:

We climbed up there:

To just about there:

Rainier: Camp Muir

After trudging up the snowfields, I realized that we still had to set up the tents. What I did not realize is that we were not staying in Camp Muir, but on the snowfields just below Camp Muir.

The sloped snowfields.

You may realize that it is uncomfortable and dangerous to sleep on sloped snowy surface. So Phil announced that we would have to start digging. Out came the ice axes to chop through the snow and cut it into shoveable chunks. Out came the shovels to clear the snow and flatten out a platform.

Up go the tents. Digging in the stakes into the snow and using our hiking poles for additional stakes.

We now had our home for the next three days.

e would also need a kitchen, so we dug a hole, wind screen and shelf for the kitchen. Three days on the mountain meant we would have to take care of other bodily actions. So down the slope we dug a piss hole.

After setting up camp we put the kitchen to use and cooked up some dinner. Hot dogs for everyone with some pudding for desert.

After dinner we had the Phil said to hit the sack if we were tired. I immediately dove in to the tent and went off to dreamland.

In the middle of the night I had this dream of tumbling down the mountain repeatedly slamming my head into the snow and ice. Half awake I realized that I was not moving but the tent slapping back and forth. Stopping when it hit my head only to send it back out to balloon out and ricochet back into my head. As I became more conscious I learned that the wind was blowing at gale force and was slapping our tent around. Groggily, I slipped on my boots and jacket while the tent kept sending shots to my head. Ed was still sleeping like a baby since he was on the lee side of the tent. Out into the night air, I vainly tried to tighten the guy wires and re-secure some loose stakes. After a few minutes of messing around with the supports it looked like I had tightened up the sides enough to allow me to get some sleep.

The Climb of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the northwest United States, towering in the backdrop of Seattle and Tacoma. I decided to climb it. Well, actually Jeff decided to climb it and convinced me to also climb it.

After dislocating my elbow in the months leading up to the climb and losing my luggage and climbing gear just before the climb, I finally made it to the mountain.

The climb starts at Paradise (5,400 feet). We hiked with our gear up to Camp Muir (10,600 feet) which about 4.5 miles and takes most of the day. We set up our tents just below Camp Muir.

The second day was glacier training, self-rescue and mountaineering training on Cowlitz Glacier.

Then at midnight, we wake early to head up to Cathedral Gap to our first rest stop.

The view from Paradise Lodge

Jeff and Connie resting on the Muir Snowfield

Ed resting on the Muir Snowfield

After hiking up the snowfields, we set up camp: Rainier: Camp Muir.

Ed learning to ice climb

Other climbing teams passing behind our camp at Muir

The view from our tent

A climbing team coming up from Cathedral Gap to the first rest stop

Another climbing team coming into the first rest stop on the Ingraham Glacier

Coming out on top of the Ingraham Glacier

Ed at the second rest stop, with Mount Adams in the background

Phil pulling one of guys out of a steam vent at the summit

In the summit crater (I am the pumpkin on the left.)

Thanks to the Guides at RMI

and our head guide: Phil Ershler

Required Equipment for Mount Rainier

This was the required equipment list given out by Rainier Mountaineering for my climb of Mount Rainier.

Each individual participating on a summit climb or seminar MUST have the items listed below. Do not jeopardize your safety, comfort or success – bring every item.

  • lug-sole climbing boots*
  • longjohns (top & bottom)
  • crampons*
  • ice axe*
  • ski poles*
  • backpack*
  • sleeping bag (rated to 32° F)**
  • parka (down or synthetic fill)**
  • rain/wind jacket and pants**
  • gaiters**
  • wool or pile/fleece pants**
  • 2 wool or pile/fleece sweaters**
  • 1 pair light wool or synthetic liner gloves
  • 1 pair wool, pile/fleece mitts or gloves**
  • 1 pair wind/waterproof shell mitts or gloves**
  • 2 pair wool or synthetic socks
  • wool or synthetic stocking cap
  • sun cream and lip balm
  • 2 one-quart water bottles
  • 2 trail lunches
  • 1 dinner
  • 1 breakfast
  • eating utensils
  • 3+ large plastic garbage bags
  • glacier glasses with side protection**
  • headlamp and 2 sets of new batteries**

Optional Equipment

  • Hiking Shorts
  • T-shirt
  • Sun Hat
  • Bandana
  • Earplugs
  • Facemask
  • Ski Goggles (for foul weather or if you wear contacts)
  • Tennis Shoes or Light Hikers

Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for all Expedition Programs:

  • Harnesses
  • Helmets
  • Avalanche Beacons
  • Ropes
  • Avalanche Probes
  • Shovels
  • Technical Hardware (pickets, carabiners, ascenders, ice screws, etc.)

* Available for rental in Ashford at Summit Haus and in Paradise at the Guide House. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.
** Available for rental only at The Summit Haus next to Whittaker’s Bunkhouse in Ashford (360) 569-2142. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

Summit of Mount Washington

Action Dave and I enjoyed a beautiful spring day in New England by hiking to the top of Mt. Washington.

We had bluebird skies as we hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, to the Lion’s head Trail and up to the summit.

The disappointing part of the climb is encountering the tourists at the top who were driven up there in a tourist van.

On the summit. From 1999 Mount Washington

Yes, the building is chained down.

Action Dave and one of the weather experiments.

The legendary Mount Washington Observatory

Snowboarding Tuckerman Ravine

After years of thinking about it, we finally decided to snowboard Tuckerman Ravine.

We got lucky and turned out to be a beautiful April day, with a bluebird sky. It was downright balmy, especially in the bowl itself with all of the sunlight being reflected off the snow. But, the temperature dropped very quickly when the sun went down behind the ridge.

We hiked for several hours up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to get to the bowl. We had a late start so we only managed to get in one snowboard. Several hours of hard work for one run.

It was worth it.

Reading the avalanche danger sign
Jeff and Connie, starting the hike up
Nattie and Connie, getting close to Tucks
Jeff and Connie, getting closer
Jeff and Connie, entering the bowl
Lunch rocks and the line of hikers climbing up the slope
Jeff and Connie strapping on their snowboards
Jeff riding down the Headwall
Yes, this guy chose to ski naked

Whistler and Blackcomb

A great few days at the Whistler resort.

That mountain is big. You can go from sunny at the top, down through clouds, snow, into ice and rain at the base. There is an unbelievable amount of terrain. There are wide open bowls up top, tree-lined causeways in the middle and easy terrain at the bottom.

From the top there is a rambling green trail that follows the ridges down to the Roundabout lift so less experienced skier can still enjoy the top of the mountain.

That’s just Whistler mountain. Blackcomb sits just next door and offers an equally excellent dollop of terrain.

For a lowlander like me, Whistler is at a much lower altitude that the mountains of Colorado. That means better endurance on the mountain and better sleeping at night.


We spent our third day in Colorado at Keystone, after spending time at Breckenridge and Vail.

Keystone was the lesser of the three resorts. It consists of a several mountains in a row. The entrance is at the first mountain. Then you need to go up and down over the other mountains to get to the good stuff at the back of the resort.

The conditions were not very good that day because of a strong wind. It did leave some great conditions in the trees.

Pete, Dave, Steve, me and Jeff:

Jeff after a fall in the trees:

Jeff, me, Dave, Pete and Steve at the top of the Outback Bowl at Keystone:


After spending our first day in Colorado at Breckenridge, we decided to spend our second day at Vail. It was just a short drive down I-70.

At first, we were a little disappointed. Sure it was big. But it was mostly just wider trails than I was used to back east.

Then we followed the signs to the bowls.

That changed everything. Thousands of acres of wide open terrain.

Me, Dave and Jeff at the top of China Bowl:


This was a boy’s trip out west.

Jeff, Dave, Pete, Steve and me.

Actually, it was my first time riding my snowboard on the big mountains. We rented a place in Breckenridge and spent out first day exploring the mountain.

We also spent a day at Vail and a day at Keystone.

The view from the place we were staying:

Jeff and me at the base of the mountain:

Me, grabbing some air:

1997 Colorado