Friday, August 25, 2006

A quick update while I drink a coffee and wait for my plane...

We are back in Moscow on our way to Minerlyne Vody to climb Elbrus. St Petersburg was an amazing place. The city is 300 years old and the buildings very beautiful. We visited the Hermitage, a couple musuems, Peter's summer palace (can't spell the name right now), and spent a lot of time just wandering around downtown. The city is huge but very walkable. The metro is like the one in DC - color coded and very easy to use. It's quite different than Moscow. I'd definitely like to come back again some day.

We've lucked out with good weather so far. Hopefully it'll hold up for the climbing part of our trip. Anyway, got to go. Stay tuned for the full length LLC report when I get back home and have an English keyboard to type on...

Friday, August 18, 2006

zdrastvuytye from Moscow.

After 17 hours of flying and some minor problems with our hotel Jim and I enjoyed the day roaming around Red Square. We had some amazing Russian cuisine today for lunch/dinner at the State History Museum. The Red Square was fun. We didn't go into the Kremlin yet and will do that with the rest of the group when we come back to Moscow after our climb. We walked all the way around the Kremlin and took a lot of photos which I'll have to post when I get home. It's a pretty amazing structure. Across the Red Square from the Kremlin is a huge shopping mall that used to be an old Soviet store for common goods, etc. Now it's totally decked out like something on 5th Ave in NYC. Lot's of designer fashion stores, etc. Very ironic considering it's beginnings.

Moscow is a very interesting city. There are lots of Soviet area buildings - big, plain, efficient - definitely a style of its own. Everyone seems to live in these 30-40 story apartment complexes clustered on islands of cement in a sea of green. Supposedly more the one third of Moscow is green space - parks, forests, gardens, etc. It was incredible to see it when landing - no suburbs with big box stores. There are a lot of really old buildings in Moscow too - stuff from the 1600's. Moscow had it's 850th birthday in 1997. I didn't realize it was that old. Then there's all the capitalism and conspicuous consumption that's shown up in the last decade. There are billboards and stores selling Western brand names everywhere. The women all seem to dress fashionable - with 3 inch heels with big leather purses. Strangely the guys usually just have jeans and a t-shirt on but wear these funky shoes that are super long and pointed. It's fun people watching.

Sushi and fusion food seems to be the big rave here although we're focusing on Russian food since I can get plenty of sushi in Portland. We had Borsch, Beef Stronganof and a type of Pork Stew today - very tasty. We've also tried a couple of Russian beers which were very good. Still haven't tried any Vodka, but that's on the list. It's warm and super muggy here, like being in the mid-west or south during the summer. We leave tomorrow to meet the rest of the group in St Petersburg so hopefully it'll be cooler and less humid up north.

Anyway, that's it for now. Internet access at the hotel is roughly $16 per hour, so check back in a few days...

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's been 6 months for Kerry and I so we celebrated with a weekend at Hotel Pinnacle, dinner at Jake's Grill, a Saturday afternoon at the Bite of Oregon and Sunday brunch at the Alameda Cafe. At the Bite of Oregon we tried dishes from local restaurants, tasted wines from several Oregon wineries and found another one we really liked - Hill Crest Vineyards located near Roseburg, OR. What a fun weekend!

Anyway, in less the 48 hours I'll be on my way to Russia. So much to do yet and so little time! I've always wanted to go to Russia ever since I took Russian history in 9th grade. I'm very excited to be going and especially looking forward to St Petersburg. If I find an Internet Cafe while I'm in Russia I will try to make brief updates. If not, stay tuned for the next LLC Report sometime after I get back on September 3rd...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I finally finished uploading my photos for Sahale Peak so here's the link to my album.

The trip started Sunday afternoon with a 5 hour drive up to Marblemount, Washington. The group rented cabins at the Skagit River Resort. It's a small collection of cabins with a good restaurant and lots of rabbits. The menu in the restaurant has the whole story, but it has something to do with a couple of pet rabbits turning into somewhere around 100 wild rabbits. It's interesting that rabbit isn't on the menu.

Anyway, Monday morning we ate breakfast, drove to the Cascade Pass trailhead and started the approach hike around 10am. The first couple of miles are up to Cascades Pass on a well maintained trail with 30-something switchbacks. We took a short break at Cascade Pass then hiked up to Sahale Arm and on into camp at 7600 feet. From there we had spectacular views of the North Cascades and an amazing sunset. As the sun set we had a full moon rising and I made my first attempts at some night time photography.

Tuesday morning we roped up and headed up the Sahale Glacier. About an hour or so later we reached the summit block which is described at 4th class with a couple of 5th class moves. A couple of us fixed ropes to the top and setup a rap station so we could get the group moving in a circuit. The view from the top was awesome and I was able to spend several hours up there while I helped everyone get setup for the rappel down. For the first time ever I filled up the memory card on my camera, mostly due to all the multi-photo panorama shots I was taking.

After everyone summitted we headed back down to camp, arriving around 3:30pm. A quick powwow and the decision was to hike out that evening due to an increasing chance of rain. The descent from camp was just as beautiful as the approach the day before and we got back to the cars around 9pm. I was eager to get home so I headed out ASAP getting back to Portland around 3am.

The Sahale Peak, Sahale Glacier route is a great climb for those who want to experience all the different aspects of alpine climbing. It has a beautiful, steep approach hike to the highest established campsite in the North Cascades. For those with some climbing experience you can continue on across the Sahale Glacier to the summit block and climb the easy 5th class rock to the summit.

Next up... 6 days until Russia which just became much harder to pack for because of the recent airport security crackdown.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A quick update, more to come later... I got home around 3am this morning from my climb on Sahale Peak (standard return time from a North Cascades climb). The climb was awesome and I have many pictures to share. I'll post them along with the whole story as soon as I'm finished building the photo album.

Last week I finally found a pair of plastic boots at Oregon Mountain Community. I went with the Koflach Degre's with the upgrade Intuition thermofit liner. I had a chance to try them on Sahale and they worked great. I have a couple of tweaks to make to the thermofit liner, but other than that I'm very happy with them.

Before I left for Sahale, Kerry and I did a day hike up Larch Mountain. We started from the Wahkeena Springs trailhead which has recently been paved all the way up to the viewpoint. This used to be a good trail to avoid the masses at Multanomah Falls. We'll have to see what the new pavement brings to this previously quiet route. Anyway, it was a perfect day for a hike our photos can be viewed here.

Anyway, stay tuned for the Sahale story...