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  • #1093


    Sorry, I am filing this report a few days late since seven North Shore Hikers made just another twelve hour hike in the middle of January look easy.

    Not. There was nothing easy for me hiking Bombtram Mt. It was just one of those dreary 20 hour days. You know, up at five am and back home the following morning at one. Please tell me what is easy with a day like that? If You read Ranging Bull’s version on Club Retread of this day you would think we were lying around enjoying little drinks with parasols under beach umbrellas on white sand. Who is he trying to empress?

    First, Raging Bulls report on Club Retread is very well written and entertaining coupled with great pictures taken from Korean Michelle. He provides all the unimportant details like altitude, location, and silly little items that will kill you if you do not know about if you decide to try your hand climbing a mountain called BOMMMMMBTRAAAAM.

    Secondly, thank you for all the emails I got from bored readers on the NSH web page giving me tips to use in the future if I ever get the Ring Of Fire again. Great stuff with lots of interesting advice. Things like being a human blow torch to light a candle in the event nobody has a match. Very innovative and creative. I was going to provide more examples but I think you get the point. I will say, that you should never argue with an idiot. The idiot will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. If you agree with me on this point, we’d both be wrong!

    Third, I cannot match Raging Bulls details in his report so I thought I would just stick to the important things like ‘we survived’. This last point may sound mute for some NSH but I take it fairly seriously and would like to share some of those details.

    Fourth, I have to say the few times I have read Club Retread I am impressed with the easy to use interaction you can have with other members. You can post a report and instantly someone can send a message to the few people that read this site and tell you how terrible your spelling is. This would be cool to have part of the NSH Web page and would certainly help me. This could provide valuable information for other readers. Just think if you told the world of NSH you use to be a lifeguard. Then somebody quickly comes on line and reminds you that you got fired because of some blue kids. Sad, but true.

    So the day starts at 5 am and I can down all my daily fibre to provide enough gas to keep me warm for the day. After taking my plastic container I like to store my gear out of my truck trunk I head over to Boundary too pick up some eager beavers. What happens, but Raging Bull sticks his plastic tub of hiking junk into my trunk and takes up three quarters of the space. No more tubs of anything Bull! Bags only. Takes too much room and is too inflexible. Don’t worry Bull. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you, nobody else had any space.

    So we drive two and half hours out to the Coquihalla and take exit 202 north so we can drive under the highway to take exit 200. south. What happened to exit 201 I have no idea. Once your off the highway there is covenant parking by a large highway shed full of road sand. Plenty of room for a dozen trucks and two NSH commuter vehicles . As I said, seven eager beavers jump out and put there snow shoes, gators, large packs covered with rain gear. Rain gear in January on the Coq! This is one of those winters when everything goes, especially the avalanches. Tricky conditions that need all the respect we can offer Mother Nature.

    On the way to our starting point the discussion took place was how many times we have been on NS hikes where on the decent everyone seems to take off in all directions. I thought the discussion focused on how we need to change this habit before someone get hurt and left behind. I guess I must have been part of a different discussion. Our group of seven was not going to change any traditions on this day. I am going to steal the following line from a financial news letter I read recently and apply it to our situation: “required changes sometimes you need to bludgeon rather than use a surgical instruments…referred to them 2 x 4’s to the forehead of a recalcitrant mule done to get the mule’s attention but after requiring a second or third, or in this case a seventh solid swing of a piece of wood.” Rather harsh, but required.

    BOMMMMMBTRAAAAAM Mountain has a great name with an interesting story behind it. On the long summit ridge you have the top of an old tram. Years ago someone used to hull bombs up to the ridge from the valley below to set off avalanche’s. Folklore has it when WAC Bennett was taking the back roads from Kelowna to Victoria…this was long before the Coquihalla Highway, and the NDP would wait for his truck to come rattling along then set off bombs to create slides to see if they could scare him back home. I did not check the BC Government History Journals but I suspect the story is true.

    Not wanting to repeat Ragging Bulls story from Club Retread, I can only say for me it was one of those days where I felt kind off out of sorts all day. Maybe it was the weather, kind of damp. Maybe it was the snow, heavy. Maybe it was trying to follow Korean Michelle who breaks trail by snow shoeing on top of the snow like a little mouse….likewise for French Canadian North Shore Smoking Joe. Maybe it was over striding trying to fit into Big Birds over sized tracks and extra long stride. Maybe it was when Big Bird asked if we are going for summit no matter if it takes us until three am. Maybe it was just all my gas from too much fibre in my diet. Whatever, it did not seem to bother Ziggy Stardust or CD who does not have VD but other issues, Mark T. They seemed fine.

    In fact, I have to give our CD with no VD but other issues full credit for selecting a very safe hike on a difficult avalanche environment. The Province of BC had high alert everywhere for avalanches. CD had almost cancelled until he discovered what he thought would be a safe hike. The hike took place up through the trees on a steep slope that had little snow. The next stage was in an open area of gradual slope to another set of trees. Again, the slope was steep but the biggest risk was falling into tree wells, and we all took turns doing just that.

    We made the summit around four with cold out flow winds and blowing snow. As usual, we were all very smug with ourselves. We had done it. Round trip would be nineteen km and some 6000 feet of hiking up. Not an easy day. Most of us changed out of our damp under garments and layered up in Down to keep warm while having a snack on the summit. Ziggy Stardust stood jumping around telling me his thick gortex jacket was plenty warm so he did not need a ski jacket…..yea! Who bonked going down from maybe using up too many calories to stay warm on a twelve hour hike? I cannot say, since some think my opinions are less than worthless but on this type of hike the conditions require more gear.

    At this point it had been a difficult day. A trying day. Yet, satisfying because we all made the summit safely, together and really no avalanche risk. Up to that point the biggest risk I had taken was leading along the final stretch that was five km ridge towards the summit in flat light. Sometimes I could not tell if I was going up or down, or if there was even ground in front of my steps. Very creepy. Now I understand CD who does not have VD but other issues hung near the back. He liked living with unbroken legs.

    Going forward, or rather down kind of turned into your typical NSH B, C or D hike. Day light was disappearing quickly. Some members wanted to go a new way down that ‘might’ be faster. Others were cold and just took off while others hung back enjoying the moment. As usual it seems like the summit excitement has come and gone and it is now every man/women for themselves. I have been as guilty as anyone else so I cannot pick on any particular person. The problem is the winter of 2011 is not our typical year. The weather is moving in and out like a yo yo. One day the temperatures are freezing cold followed with snow and then ten degrees above and rain. If we are not careful we are only delaying the inevitable. The inevitable I am referring to is not good.

    Case in point. CD slowly departs the summit waiting for everyone to come together. One person, and the least experienced, is gone. I mean so far ahead they cannot be seen in the blowing snow and fading light. The last words said on the summit were let’s stick together!

    If this was not concerning enough, two none CD’s are leading and wanting to take a ‘short cut’ to go around a uphill section and meet our tracks below. Using their GPS’s they have something picked out to allow us to catch up to our least experienced hiker who has gone ahead. CD is sweeping from behind from some distance. The rest of us are floating along just following blindly. This was a huge mistake and what in the hell were we all thinking? Group is missing one person. Light is quickly disappearing. Not following our tracks back down. Taking a new way going down a !@#$%^&* shoot. I mean this is like a scene out of the movie Dumb and Dumber. We are all at fault. The stupid leading the blind. The blind leading the CD. The inexperience off leading who knows where. We can blame who ever we want but the bottom line is we were all #$%^&#$% idiots. It is like we keep walking into the same sliding glass door again and again. How many times do we have to be so stupid before one or all of us do not come back home?

    Now, if you think we had been stupid enough I have to say ‘sorry’ we could even out do ourselves from here. Six well educated individuals and in some cases many years of winter hiking experience standing inside a shoot looking down with drool running out the sides of our mouths because the wet, heavy snow looked so inviting. All of a sudden, a very hollow deep thump sounds and vibrates up into my stomach. I scream out “get the #$%^@ out of here”. Three take off to the top side of the shoot without yet leaving. The other three idiots, which include myself, take off to the side of the shoot and continue going down. This is like the Baptism of fire. This has nothing to do with bad luck. It is all about stupidity.

    Unbelievable, but no harm done. What I did not know until much later was our CD saw two long major cracks develop across the top of the shoot. Call it karma or fate but the snow slab did not release. We got away with playing with fire….this time. I am not sorry to carry on this way because all our lives could have easily been gone, done, never to be found until spring. This was too close. When we all met up on our trail in the rainy dark our CD went ballistic. This was perfect for a mountain called Bombtram. He was visibly upset and emotional. His credibility once again went up in my books, but he was just as much at fault. We were all wrong. I know some think that I write too much about my feelings and emotions and it is a bit saturated, but not this time. One person thought it was humours, another was upset we went off our track and they were left alone because they had taken off on everybody. Then, then later said they did not want to take the axe course the club is offering because they wanted to just make peaks. This is just wrong. It was a gong show of stupidity. We all screwed up and were lucky to be standing there together. Some just did not get it.

    Keeping with the ‘how stupid can we be’ theme I am going to continue with my well justified rant. This is just not a D hike issue. This is not just a C hike issue. This is not just a B hike issue. This is an issue that seems to be well ingrained in the NSH mentality as well with the other clubs. Not everyone is guilty. Yet, many CD’s and so called most experience hikers are easily to blame young and old. It is bad habits that have been going on for years and have become acceptable behaviour. It is amazing we are all still here because too often STUPIDITY seems to rule.

    Some may think I have a self described warped, paranoid, pipe dream way of looking at the world of NSH but this is not one of those days. I have been on Wednesday Hikes, B, C and D trips when a group seems to just go insane once everyone has made the summit. We can blame a web site that sucks, or lack of whatever on whoever but perhaps the membership is not growing might have something to do with members not following CD instructions or others respecting their fellow hikers enough and just take off helter skelter. Those new potential members come out and if the degree of speed does not run them off in another direction the lack of respect surly does. What I mean by respect for our fellow member is “if you cannot keep up with me whether your CD or not that is your problem. If you cannot race down whatever way I want to descend that is your problem”. Then I say, “why do you even belong to a club”?

    I would like to think as a club when we meet to hike together we are doing so because we have common interest. Common things like friendship, interests, respect and safety with numbers. There are other interest but I have to end this report before I starve from the lack of dinner. If it is only to bag summits at any costs, including others expense, then we have a problem. Respect works two ways and it starts with SELF. If self has no self respect, then how can they have respect for others? Maybe I am over reacting, or maybe there is a common theme. You decide.

    To safer days in the mountains. Thanks for letting me rant. Thanks for all your emails about other reports. I enjoy the comments.

    ps taking on CRA is like taking on a thousand pound Gorilla….you do not win that battle. That is another story.

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