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    Yea baby, we did it again!

    Now, I know I have written other trip reports about Needle Peak but it is always so much fun I could not resist doing it again.

    So, here we have it. Another trip up to the Coquihalla Highway this past Saturday morning February 5th to where the sun shines and the snow is fluffy and light. It is a bit of a drive there and back but the location is worth it for me and anyone that wants to join in. In fact, the day before I was so excited because at work they told me I was chosen for a random drug test. I asked “which ones I get to test?’ It all adds up to why I get so excited about going to the ‘coke’ for a day of fun. Heroin cannot it be withdrawn without euphoria leaving permanent damage. Think about it!

    Here is the gory details so I keep everyone happy. Yes, this is a ‘C’ hike in the winter. ‘B’ hikers always ask how I can list this as a ‘C’ hike. In the summer it is a clear ‘B’ rated hike but at this time of year all bets are off what you are going to experience. Most of the hike is straight forward fun but the summit push gets very sketchy in winter. Usually all windblown ice. Crampons and ice axe are a must. Time requirement, still a ‘B’ hike. Five hours under perfect conditions. Six to seven is normal while taking plenty of breaks and having fun. Mark T puts it down as a ‘D’ hike and throws in a few other items to change things up a little, so for me to list it as a ;C’ is okay.

    Summit is 2090 m with only an elevation gain of 880 m, so just a Grind day after Ground Hog Day.

    The other morning I read the Government winter travel warning. They suggest that anyone travelling in the current icy conditions should make sure they have the following: Shovel, Blanket or Sleeping Bag, Extra clothing including hat and gloves, 24 hour worth of food, De-icer, Rock Salt, Flashlight with spare Batteries, Road Flares or Reflective Triangles, Empty gas Can…go figure, what are you going to do with an empty gas can?, First Aid Kit, Booster Cables….I looked like an idiot going to work on the bus that morning!

    Work with me on this report. I am just getting started. Some people give me no respect….you think I was like the crazy aunt concealed in the basement. I mean, do I look like I need a bra?

    To really give you a feel for this wonderful day I need to take you back to the previous Wednesday hike which I somehow was allowed to lead. We have this rookie Wednesday coordinator who obviously will just let anyone post a hike. See, I had all these plans for how I wanted the Needle hike to go so I thought I would practice on a Wednesday hike.

    Take the Tram up Grouse. Snow shoe over to Goat. Lunch. Traverse along Raven Ridge and drop down to Kennedy Lake. Back up to Thunderbird Ridge and home for 3:30 with everyone staying together.

    Last Wednesday five hikers showed up plus me to make it six. Pretty good adding eh! When you use an abacus for your accounting it always helps. One hiker took a look at who was leading and then politely said they were just showing up to say they were not joining in. Thanks Stevie Wonderless for your support. The rest, Cam The Ram Guy, Too Tall Peter, Soooooooke and Pete W Soft Woody Lumber and myself. Later we would meet Dave Flame Out at the summit. He took the BCMC while the rest of us went in style up the Tram. I told you about Pete W Soft Woody Lumber before I think. Some say he has an earring but truth to be told he took a fall at an industrial sight. He hit some metal that stuck to the side of his head, so no earring. Saying that, he is still an interesting guy. We could have hit it off about as badly as it goes or we could be friends. Today we were friends, and good ones at that.

    My first Wednesday hike with NSH was lead almost two years to the day by Pete W Soft Woody Lumber. If my memory is correct, it was on Seymour with a large group of NSH. Soft Woody was very direct with instructions and ‘other’ things. Frankly, I liked his style. I always knew where I stood, which was mostly lower then whale crap! Also, I remember English Michelle getting an ear full from Pete W Soft Woody Lumber because her cell phone went off. EM was ready to kill someone but in the end all went well. I figure we have hiked together at least five times in the past, Woody and myself. Nice of him to introduced himself to me this time!

    Back to this past Wednesday hike. My goal was to lay out what my expectations were for the day. Review the hike, meeting spots, everyone sticking together up and down. It worked. Mine you, I had four other hikers that had more experience in their little finger then my entire body. What I have found with hikers that as a CD I should never give other the benefit of doubt no matter how much experience. Always good to review the course of the action plan, every time out. It might sound redundant or even nagging but better to be safe. It might sound redundant or even nagging but better to be safe. It might sound redundant but better to be safe. I remember traveling with 12 time Everest Summit climber, Dave Hahn, and watching him review his gear and plans for the day and every day after. He even kept his back pack on the same side of his bed in Tea Houses out of habit. He would say: “Michael, you can never practice good habits enough.” Every day we did something like rehearse self arrest, pack your gear the same way every time etc. For Dave, he believed you never know when something is going to go wrong, be prepared. Almost 20 times up Everest and he is still around to tell the story of practicing good habits. I can only try to learn from others that are more qualified and smarter than me which makes almost everyone qualify.

    That Wednesday everything went great. I nagged, but in the end we all stayed together and supported each other. Can you imagine me reviewing self arrest and crampon style with Pete W Soft Woody Lumber before going up too Goat? Well, like I said everyone was cool with me. Patience is a virtue.

    If you can bear with me, I have another digression to make. What sparred me on to write this missive was a trip over to the North shore last night. I heard through the grape vine that a small group of NSH were running a Super Bore gambling ring out of the lower Lonsdale area. Always one to help justice I went to investigate to see what I could uncover since Elliot Ness was not going to be there. Sure enough, now that The Wizard and his Assistant have retired from leading Wednesday hikes they have started a new past time, gambling. There was some pretty doggy characters present throwing money around like it was nothing. I arrived early and positioned myself in the thick of things to see if I could uncover the source of their money. The old saying if you have not figured out who the mark is within 20 minutes at the gambling table then your it. Well, I was it! Their source of money comes from innocent victims like me. In true NSH Mafia style they tried to make me feel it was okay for them to take my money by buying my Sea Bus pass home. I think the Mafia Don was the Wizard Assistant herself. I have never witnessed first hand the glow in her face as she split one pot after another between herself and The Wizard. Who do you think fixed the rules? You got it, The Wizard and his Assistant. Their side kick in crime was John Seaspam and his fan club member Jen The Olympic Scottish Figure Skating Champion. I wonder if they had a fix on that Winter Olympic Games? Just asking the question.

    Watching the Super Bore they played that TV add where Betty White gets tackled on the foot ball field for a Snickers commercial. Man, can you believe she really is still alive?

    So after watching my life savings go up in smoke with this ring of Mafia style gamblers I was going home trying to reflect on all the good things with NSH. This is when I thought of my trip report, or trip reports. Everything between Goat and Needle just went so well. New and old members. Fun loving hard working passionate, physical and some border line suffering from debauchery members made both days well worth the price of membership….$28!

    The advantage I had on Needle to set the record straight on what I expected for the day was we stopped in Hope before the hike. While having everyone sit around a table and sign the waver form I could discuss how I envision the day unfolding. Poor soles, I had them captive. I made it clear that I don’t like making plans for the day because then the word “premeditated” gets thrown around the courtroom. It seemed to catch everyone’s attention. We all stuck together up and down. We all worked together on the sketchy parts. We all watched out for each other and kept our distance while crossing exposed areas. We all took lots of breaks and had fun.

    If I had any grips it was a group of skiers that followed us up to the peak with no axe and in ski boots. I mean it was their lives and if they felt it was a good day to die that is up to them. I just did not want to get into a rescue. Furthermore, because the conditions were so good I lead our group up the shoot on the west side of the summit and the skiers followed. I had perfect axe holds and front point crampons in an area that if you slipped back it was only a mere 300 or more meters down. Last year, while trying to climb the same shoot I almost got to witness that 300 meter cliff. This year it was perfect.

    The skiers took a long time to descend. Doug Flameout piped up and said we should stick around to assist them just in case. He was right. I was just totally focused on our group that I had completely forgotten about the skiers. The skiers were very slow and almost paralysed at one point. They made it down thank goodness. Now this is the second time I have been too the top of Needle in the winter when I have witnessed this type of behaviour. Last year Lionel and I came across a group of skiers from BCMC that were doing the same thing. One of the skiers was an instructor. Wow, more guts than I have. Maybe this is only a slight mischaracterization of my position.

    We all made it back down safe and somewhat sound. While descending I was thinking what I could do to help my goldfish epilepsy problem. I figure if I put it back in the bowl it might help. You think it might work?

    By the way, I had three new members for me on the Needle hike. I tell you NSH Boss Lady you have competition. Randy Andy can talk more than me and maybe as much as you. Between Flameout and Randy Andy sitting in the backseat of my truck I could barely think all the way to and from Needle. They talked like a group of High School girls at a hen pecking party. They talked about everything imaginable for 5 hours. Politics, sex, religion, finance, cars climbing Denali and my favourite topic WikiLeaks. You have to love this kid from the land of Oz, Julian Assange, and his whistle blowing website. Given time he might have more to do with altering history than anyone else on earth. When you have Hilary Clinton racing around the world on Air Farce One meeting every world dictator assuring them that what they are about to read from WikiLeaks is really not true. “The American Government really does support your repressive ways” wink wink nudge nudge, “here take another billion of our hard working tax payers money and carry on like nothing was said”! Oh, I digressed.

    Randy Andy can talk, and most of it is pretty interesting. The real reason he can join me anytime is cake. Yes, banana chocolate chip freshly backed that morning cake. He was killing us with this cake, which he eventually shared. If he had not, I am sure one member would not have made it home Saturday night….know what I mean. There would not have been two licks of the lollipop here. Just a lot of hurt.

    The other guys were equally good, well almost. They could have brought cake or brownies or even chocolate chip cookies. I have to love the one fellows name, Kisoo. Isn’t a Kisoo one of those things you blow….”hey, get your brain out of the gutter and think whistle like blow.” A Kisoo was one of those things you played with while you were a teenager sitting around a cold basement with your friends on a cold Saskatchewan night while passing a rolled funny smoke around and making each other split in laughter with funny sounds. Holy mackerel, it just hit me. It was not a Kisoo, but rather a kazoo. Now that could have been a near biblical proportion mistake.

    On closing, I like to thank everyone from the past two hikes for putting up with my nagging. I had a blast.

    Oh yes, one more thing……lots to say today, eh!

    I should have said this last month but now is better than not at all:
    There were probably many times this past year when my missive may have
    Disturbed you
    Troubled you,
    Pestered you
    Irritated you
    Bugged you
    Or got on your nerves.
    So today, I just wanted to tell you…..
    Suck it up buttercup!
    Cause this ain’t no changes planned for 2011!

    Did you miss Ground Hog Day. Besides one of my favourite movies having the same title. This year, both Ground Hog Day and the US State of the Union address occur on the same day. Is it an ironic juxtaposition of events. One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, while the other involves a groundhog.

    ….there, I said it. I got everything off my chest. Good night.

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