On the Way to the Top

Let me just say up front there is absolutely no point to this story. Writing the Chili Dog Guy story last week reminded me of one of my favorite side jaunts.

On my five-day guided expedition climb on Mt. Rainier in 1999, the first day out we climbed from Paradise Inn at 5,400 feet up to about 9,000 and set up camp. The guides had planned tacos for that first night – the only night where it was really feasible to serve a meal with fresh lettuce and tomatoes.

One of the guides had been assigned to carry the bag of tortilla chips. His name was Dane, and he looked like a young Brad Pitt. If you’ve ever crushed a bag of chips on the way home from the grocery store, you know how difficult it is to position chips so that you keep them more or less whole. Dane took the chips and strapped them to the very top of what had to be a 90-pound pack. Then he proceeded not to take the pack off – even as he was the guide assigned to stay behind with the Chili Dog Guy (CDG) who was lagging, ended up having to walk CDG back down to the lodge, and then reclimbed his way back to the group. All without breaking the chips.

So, he was cute and impressive! The next day we broke camp and climbed up to the Ingraham Flats at about 11,000 feet. The Flats have a great view of the neighboring mountain, Little Tahoma, and as you might have guessed, are flat, so they’re a great place to set up camp. As we settled in there to wait for a good weather window to summit the mountain, we practiced all sorts of mountaineering maneuvers like practicing anchoring a falling climber and setting up a pulley system to rescue someone who’d fallen.

Then the cute guide asked if we wanted to climb into a crevasse. Of all the things I’ve done because a cute guy asked, this is the most memorable. And before you jump to conclusions, I’m talking about fly fishing as one of the alternative choices, mind you. 😊

It was quiet and beautiful in the crevasse. The Flats were howling windy when I went in. And then I dropped over the edge and the calm set in. The blue ice all around was gorgeously sculpted and there was no telling where the bottom was, because it was not a strictly vertical gash in the glacier like it appeared from above but because it looped and whirled all around.

Being 1999, there were no cell phone cameras. The cute guide asked for my little pocket camera to snap a picture as I climbed out. I was so grateful for the ice tools in my hands and the crampons on my boots. I’m guessing a crevasse isn’t nearly as peaceful when you don’t have a way out.

It was a memorable side journey – maybe even more fun than getting to the summit a day later.

Now that I’m typing this, I realize that for me there really is a point to this story – a reminder that in the midst of getting to my “summits”, I need to embrace the fun and quiet of the short dips into the “crevasses.”

I’ve written a related piece about how telling random stories connect past to present on my personal blog: Connecting Through Stories If you have a moment, please check it out!

(featured photo is mine)

49 thoughts on “On the Way to the Top

  1. This sounded like a great moment – chips, crevasse and all, Wynne. And that is one superhero photo of you! It must’ve been a wonderful time to climb without the distraction of phones. I wonder how much more time is wasted – and dangers increased – these days by climbers who need to stop and snap every moment for their Instagram. 😆

    Have a great week ahead. May this one fly by to the long weekend ahead!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. A great point about cellphones and climbing, Ab. The guides used to say that cameras had to stay in our pockets unless we were at a rest break. As you say, there is too much potential for distraction and disaster.

      Yes, here’s to a quick week to the weekend. I hope you got some relaxation in after working on Saturday!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this story. You got to take time out to experience and appreciate the glacial crevasse. I bet the photo is a great reminder but won’t capture the real beauty of the place. I’m assuming it was peaceful too. You really do have some amazing memories to look back on. And I love it when you share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with Ab…that’s a superhero photo for sure and I’d say your post had several purposeful points. Tortilla chips, Brad Pitt lookalike? Crawling into a sliver of ice and your gratitude moments were that you had ice tools and crampons (whatever the heck those are)? Yes…I’d say you were absolutely embracing the moment. That’s the best ‘point’ of all! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many side journeys we don’t choose to take means we miss out perhaps on amazing moments. You connected both posts so subtly Wynne- The moments of sharing stories with your kids knowing the impact that hearing about your life before them will have as they grow and also (even if not totally apparent at the time) the impact your own little side journey into a crevasse has had on shaping you. Beautiful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Deb – what a generous and thoughtful comment. I had a little more life before kids than most so I guess it gives me good fodder for them… 🙂 ❤ Happy sunny Monday!


  5. You’re right about the fun! Reminds me of a time that I was taking part in a Tough Mudder and I did the ice pit obstacle. My wife had come to watch that specific one and had her camera out. That particular obstacle was awful, but seeing her response and the pictures was hilarious.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh yes, you definitely have a strong point to this story! I’ve never climbed mountains (which is amazing of you btw), but I have been known to get so focused on my goals that I lose sight of the journey in front of me. In retrospect, I find I remember those crevasses and side journeys more than the finish lines. What a great reminder to remember that life is what we make of it!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been thinking about two marathons that I ran in the early 2000s. I was never a great runner, but when I think about them now, I don’t think about crossing the finish line, I think of the steps along the way. Ha, ha, funny the way that works.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank goodness for the Brad-alike cutie with the camera to show us what a courageous soul you are. Wow! I love how you find lessons within lessons even though you may not think that there are any lessons to share with us! If they’re in there, you’ll find them, and thank goodness that you do! They are a wealth of profound food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a gorgeous photo. How impressive are you?! Amazing! My best friend growing up became a back country ranger for a few years. She’d leave her daughter and husband for several months a year to work in the North Cascades. She actually fell in a crevasse and made the newspapers. Thankfully she lived and the people she was climbing with rescued her.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, what an amazing photo of an amazing experience. Sometimes I’m so focused on my destination that I don’t take time for the side trips that could make my journey so much more worthwhile! I’ll remember this, Wynne.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! That is a SPECTACULAR photo! Why not make it your profile pic? I stared at it for at least 30 seconds, then reread to make sure it was you and not a stock photo. It is magnificent. Literally and figuratively!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I read your “Connecting through Stories” yesterday. And wow! This post is fantastic too. We must as you say find the peace in the crevasses too. How brave of you. And what a great experience. Mr. Pitt and all. 😄 Have a fantastic week ahead Wynne. 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Now that I’m typing this, I realize that for me there really is a point to this story – a reminder that in the midst of getting to my “summits”, I need to embrace the fun and quiet of the short dips into the “crevasses.” – Thank goodness you listened to the cute guide and had this epiphany after this grand adventure!!!!!!! What happened to the planned tacos for the evening?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great question, Mary! Well, the dinner was incredible. Tacos after a strenuous climb, cooked by Brad Pitt? Geez, does it get any better? 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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