|Three Sisters, from the Air|
Hi All! I'm back out west for a week in Bend, Oregon! Located smack-dab in the middle of the state, this is an excellent location for a launching point for several adventures in the Cascades and the High Desert. Bend is an outdoorsman's paradise and I am living it up as much as I can before going back to grad school in the fall.
Today I had a unique opportunity to fly around the cascades in a small four seater aircraft! A family friend who also happens to be an avid climber and aviator offered us this opportunity and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see some of the routes I've climbed from 12,000ft in the air. It was an adventurous experience even though I was just riding shotgun. I'm also thoroughly infected with the flying bug and have predetermined that I will learn how to fly some day and own an airplane. Yeah... instead of having a mid-life crisis and buying a motorcycle, I'll just buy an airplane.
|Cleared for takeoff!|
Aviation has found a particularly useful place in the rock-climbing and mountain climbing world. My friend who is an avid Cascade Peak-Bagger will commonly fly around routes he plans to climb. This trip around the Cascades helped me see some of the stuff I've done and future routes! We left from the municipal airport in Bend, Oregon and flew straight over Mt Bachelor, Broken Top and the Three Sisters.
|The summit crater and ski area on Mt Bachelor|
|Aerial View of the Standard Trail up South Sister|
|South Sister Summit Crater and the Largest Glacier in Oregon|
The Sisters from the air where all spectacular. The geology and age of each of the three was much more evident. North Sister and Middle Sister are considerably older and more eroded than the taller South Sister and hence the climbing routes are much more difficult. Glaciation has carved ugly and tricky gullies up North Sister making it a very difficult ascent. Middle Sister has a slightly less challenging ascent up several snow filled gullies.
Heading North from the Sisters, we got an excellent view of a somewhat newly discovered Wolf Rock in the Central Cascades. Although it was first climbed over 30 years ago, its so isolated from any major road or town that there are still new routes being pioneered. It is becoming the new frontier in Cascade climbing from what I've heard.
|Wolf Rock, from the sky!|
|The overhand on the right is a challenging route up Wolf Rock|
From Wolf Rock, we headed North to fly over Mt Washington (Oregon) and Three Finger Jack. Both of these mountains are very eroded and have some difficult scrambles and climbing routes. The rotten rock that is so indicative of the Cascades has the consistency of "smooshed gram-crackers". Never the less, there are some worthy challenges that seem to be safer in the winter when colder temperatures freeze up the tricky sections.
|Aerial view of Southwest side of Mt Washington in Clouds|
|Three Finger Jack, Southwestern Side from the Sky|
Finally we had a chance to see Mt Jefferson which is an imposing climb from any direction. There are no easy routes up Mt Jefferson as the summit pinnacle is a class 5 climb. Its heavily glaciated and not too unlike Mt Hood although far less climbed. Its a two to three days climb from most conventional routes. Its towards the top of my list of climbs I'd like to do within the next couple of years.
|South Side of Mt Jefferson, Aerial View|
|West Side Routes and the Summit Pinnacle, Mt Jefferson|
|North and East Faces of Mt Jefferson|
The last stop on the trip was a view of Smith Rocks from the air. Smith Rock State Park is the premiere rock climbing destination in Oregon. Unlike the Cascades, the rock is solid and not crumbly! On nice days in the spring and fall, you can get into a traffic jam of climbers. The summer heat tends to ward off most visitors, but the state park is visited all year long.
|Smith Rock State Park|
So there you have it! Aerial perspectives on the Cascades gave me a higher appreciation for this wilderness. Although I don't show any pictures, it was also interesting to see the massive lava flows that have covered the forests over time. This is an ever-changing landscape that could change again at any time. The Cascades are a unique range and I'm glad that I'm able to be here for a week and enjoy what the West has to offer. Stay tuned for some climbs and spelunking trip reports!
Read. Plan. Get Out There!