On a good weather weekend in the Pacific Northwest climbing a mountain is only one of the many great outdoor activities on offer but to my mind it’s one of the best! On a recent visit to the Seattle area from Australia I had the chance to do just that with my husband, photographer Andrew Peacock. Our local friend Bill was keen to notch up climbing another of Washington’s highest 100 peaks and the three of us decided to attempt a satellite peak sitting in the shadow of the lofty Mt Rainier (14,411ft) called Little Tahoma (11,138ft).Although dwarfed by its famous neighbor, it is an interesting climb and provided enough challenges for a fun weekend of climbing. An unexpected challenge I faced was dealing with self-destructing leather mountaineering boots! Not a mile into the approach through beautiful forest I noticed a flapping sound as I was walking and the others were surprised to see bits of colored rubber left behind in my footsteps. It became apparent that the mid layers of both boot soles were disintegrating with each step. Clearly this would be a ‘game over’ situation if they completely detached from my boots.It had been sometime since I had used the boots and they were stored in our garage back home. I knew the high humidity of hot summers in Queensland could take its toll on stored rubber products but this was a bit ridiculous and unlucky I thought.
Our resources for a quick fix were minimal, even the ever-trusty duct tape solution wasn’t going to solve the problem. In the end the only option to avoid a disappointing turn around was to strap on crampons immediately, even on the dirt trail in the forest, to hold the soles in place.
That solution worked well although I was feeling pretty stupid awkwardly tramping through the greenery with sharp metal on my feet. Eventually though we gained altitude to encounter snow and so it all felt a bit more normal to be moving in crampons.
In camp that night it was uncomfortable keeping the crampons on all the time but that was minimal hassle compared with the last part of the summit approach the next day. In windy and cold, but clear, conditions, Andrew and Bill were able to put their trust in solid Vibram rubber to make their way securely along the final few hundred meters of a rocky ridge while I was forced to practice delicate crampon edging techniques! All went well however and we enjoyed a superb view from atop Little Tahoma Peak. Thanks to ioMerino, as always for keeping me warm, and to Osprey Packs for the excellent backpack. I guess it’s time to invest in a new pair of boots though!Choose the layer that’s right for you here.
Photos by Andrew Peacock/www.footloosefotography.com