Sunday, February 18, 2007

Messenger Mt. Climbing... A really bad idea!

It has been suggested to me that I post some of my many stories here on my blog.
It has also been suggested that some of them are so incredible as to be entirely unbelievable.
Memoirs are just that. Memories.
Sometimes they come out of the brain a little different than how they go in.
That is my disclaimer.

I would like to add that one of the stars of this sordid tale, Colin Breckon, is no longer with us, due to many bad decisions on his part.
He was my best friend, and his own worst enemy.
I loved him.
The anniversary of his death is coming up. Any day now.
Getting this story out of my head and into the minds of other's is part of my therapy.
It is posted here to remind me, and you, how great life is, and how lucky we are.
Especially me.

1996. Early June.
I was asked to take a group of guys up Mt. Hood. For some reason, I agreed to do so.
A couple of weeks before, I had taken my friends Jim, Mike, and Matt onto Mt. St Helens.
We met outside the Skidmore Fountain building early in the morning. Matt Lewis was so drunk still, I was no less than a little worried.
I mention this to give reference to the rest of the story.
On the way up Mt. St. Helens, which is about a 6 hour or longer uphill hike, Matt started waking up. We offered him food, which he would put into his mouth, and immediately spit out.
Yet, within a couple of hours, and the steeper it got, Matt started catching up, then passing us, eventually beating us to the top of the mountain. It was there I enjoyed a cigar, a picture of which my brother has somewhere...By the way there was also a wedding going on there that day. The grandparent's made it to the top, one set of parents didn't. But they did give us champagne...
I mentioned this to show the resolve that a messenger will endure to get a job done.
Once started, not much will keep you from a goal....
So, back to early June.
Six of us went up to Gov. Camp, to a house that Jim had rented. He had recently done a photo shoot for Ski Bowl, and had been partially paid in credit, to be used on the Mt.
They had a job to do up there that day, which left Colin, Matt and I with what is called the "Action Pass". This means that you can repeatedly ride everything, as much as you want, all day.
This was a dream for us. We found ourselves in the bar early, drinking what is known as a "Skullfucker", a selection of many white boozes, and a little fruit juice, served in a pint glass.
After slamming one of these each, ( our on the spot rule was that they had to be slammed, not sipped) it was straight to the go carts. Then straight to the Bungie Jump (100 feet I guess). On to the alpine slide, back to the bar to slam another Skullfucker, then back to the go carts to do it all over again.
At the end of the day, we met Jim, Mike, and Dave at the Ratskeller, for dinner and drinks. Realizing we were not going to make it up the mountain at 3 or 4 in the morning, I decided to postpone our climb for a day. Jim, Mike and Dave left to go to bed around 11pm, leaving us at the bar, unattended.
This led to closing down the bar, and me giving Colin a piggy back ride to the rental, then going back to help Matt Lewis, who I think was lost within the three blocks we had to travel.
After finally making it to bed at around 3:30, I wake up at 5AM to hear a scream, and a lot of racket follow it.
It turned out that Colin had fallen asleep on the bathroom floor, and Jim had opened the door into his head. This turned into Colin punching Jim in the head.
Moments later, it is announced to me (remember, I was supposedly in charge of this climb) that they were going "To the top!!!"
I am like, "The top of what?"
It turns out they were leaving in minutes to have some breakfast, then climb the mountain.
While Mt. Hood is not a hard climb persay, it still takes some knowledge, some skill, and better yet, some cognitive capacity and proper decision making.
This being the case, I was the only one prepared even slightly to climb the mountain, let alone lead the way.
Essentially, as idiotic as they were being, it was my responsibility, and I had to go. No question...
I pull myself out of barely 1 hour of sleep, and start getting ready.
Shoved food and gear into my pack, and ran off to breakfast, where, as it turned out, sadly, they were waiting for me outside, already full. No breakfast for me, due to extremely high testosterone levels.
We drove immediately up Mt. Hood, where, due to our late start, it was decided that we were going to ride the lift up to the Palmer Glacier. I then decided that they were buying my damn ticket, so up we went.
Gear on at about 7,500 feet, we started moving well.
I think it was right below what is called the "Hogsback" that I started feeling my ears ache.
I suggested that we stop, and eat, for I had the classic Hemmingway lunch in my pack. (Bread, salami, cheese, and a bottle of wine)
Chewing will relax the jaw muscles, which are connected to the sinuses, and deeper to the ears, which were starting to pound away on my head. The wine will help a little with the headache, when combined with the vicadon in my pocket.
This was the second of of many times that I heard screamed "To The Top!", a term I began to hate, as it meant we were not stopping for lunch, or anything else for that matter.
On we went, up and up. The pain in my ears increased ten fold. Many more times I suggested we eat, stop, and relax, only to be shot down with the same war cry...
It was right below the "Berg Strum" (a sideways crevasse below a steep pitch), that I finally turned around, leaving them to their own demise.
I realized that I needed to hammer down the hill, and get the pressure in my ears to equalize. I both slid and almost ran down the mountain to Timberline Lodge, hitched a ride down to Gov. Camp, where Colin and Matt were nowhere to be found.
I still had to go lower yet, so I drove down to Rhodedendrone.
My ears started to feel a little better, so it was back up the hill to the house, where I searched for Colin and Matt.
Nowhere to be seen, I drove back up to Timberline, where I saw a hastily scribbled note at the climbing station saying "Went up the mountain to find you, Colin and Matt".
I still have that note somewhere.
This put me in the position of having two different parties, on two different parts of a very big mountain.
I started back up to Palmer Glacier, very worried. It was about halfway or more back up when I ran into Jim, Mike, and Dave, on the way down.
They said they had made it to the top, Dave had backslid the final steep pitch for about 25 yards, but somehow magically stopped himself from dying.
They moved on down, and I proceeded up, and up, and up again.
I eventually found Colin and Matt above the top of the Palmer, sharing a bottle of Wild Turkey between them. I was so pissed off at everyone involved, for being so ignorant, that I sat with them for a while, drinking.
After convincing them that we needed to go down the mountain, as it was already late afternoon, or even evening, and my ears were really not better at all, we took a nice, slow hike down, enjoying the view.
Another fight ensued back at the rental house, and we made up, and rolled back to close down the Ratskeller again, stumbling back at around 2:30 AM.
We celebrated our ignorance with another full day of rides and drinks at Ski Bowl, where the bartender decided she really liked us. This quickly became our downfall, and led to repeated drunken go cart racing, into the night.
We went home the next day, and I went straight to the ER, where the truth was told.
It turned out that the week before, I was at my swimming hole, diving off a 30 foot rock, and picking things off the bottom of the river at a depth of probably 25 feet.
This had once again blown my ear drums, a fact which I discovered high on Mt. Hood that fateful day.
The only real wise decision made that entire weekend was when I ditched my friends, and turned around, "supposedly" ending my climb. Had I continued, I probably would have either had to be carried off the mountain, which I am sure those three would not have been able to pull off, or be rescued by the authorities, which would have cost me thousands of dollars (rightly so!).
I know this has been a long post. I have even left out details of this sorted saga, which I had no room to insert.
I am sure you could only imagine what else may have ensued.
By the way, all of this occured way before I owned a camera, sadly....


Anonymous said...

Hilarious! and well written even...though there are still soem typos...this was a great story.Thanks for sharing it.

the-dolomite said...

Nice retelling...and RIP Colin.

As for your next story I'd vote for "parasailing behind the car" or "Ebon and the Ape Caves" or a remembrance of Steefa, Sharky and Page in high school.

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