Mount Hood, South Route
June 10, 2006

Lives of great men all remind us
we can make our lives sublime.
And, departing, leave behind us
footprints on the sands of time.

~Henry Longfellow

Story By Christy Kinney/Photos by Jason Hummel

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Another Grand Hummel Adventure-Virgin Volcano Summit

The alarm goes off way too early. I pull my head further under the covers to pretend that I don’t hear it. Jason is already telling me to get up. Isn’t there a snooze button somewhere? I ask him. Nope. No snoozing when you’re climbing with the Hummel’s. I get out of bed, slowly pulling on socks and ski pants, yawning as I put on a shirt and hat. (Ironically, this proves to be the greatest challenge of the day) We gather our gear, drop off the room keys and make our way to the car. What’s for breakfast? Chex Mix, Cheetos, and peanuts. Yum (we forgot food the previous day, so ended up using the vending machines to resupply for the climb).

Josh and Jeremy climbing up Timberline Ski Area.

Skins are on, and my Dynafit bindings are feeling much more comfortable thanks to Sky. Our packs are loaded with extra gear for Jeremy, with pickets and shovels that we never used, with harnesses, rope, and crampons. Off we go! It is about 6:30am. Jason and I are skinning, while Josh and Jeremy are hiking up. The sun is already bright and this time, we are all wearing sunscreen. No repeats of Camp Muir sunburns on this adventure! I am already sweating. It’s 7:15am. I take off my jacket and stash it in my already over-stuffed pack. Needless to say, my super-warm puffy never makes an appearance. It stays nice and dry in the bottom of my pack. Jason begins to have trouble with one of his skins at this point. He is swearing and makes several futile attempts to reapply it before using one of Josh’s. Josh had continued booting up with Jeremy and wasn’t using his skins. I have to mention here that Jeremy is one strong little dude. He just keeps on going, maintaining a steady pace with all of us and trudging along. We pass numerous climbers on their way down; some successful at reaching the summit and some not. I teach Jeremy the ultra-secret Mountaineers hand signal. He has taken to using it while we are passing slower parties. Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t have taught him that! I might get banned from the club now.

Okay, it is getting warm.

The fog began to move in on us.

Somewhere around mid-morning, we encounter a group glissading with their crampons on. One dude catches a point in the snow and he topples over, his left butt-cheek landing on an upturned crampon. He starts squealing like a little girl (notice I say LITTLE girl. Big girls don’t squeal). His buddies are standing at the top of his glissade path, quickly taking their crampons off. Smart move guys.

Now we are getting somewhere.

Maybe not?

Hold your head up little man, and get your head out of the clouds.

Jason advises me to ditch my skis at this point. We can see a clusterf*ck of about 30 people coming down from the summit, right below the Pearly Gates. Another smaller group is seated on Hogsback, watching the ensuing circus act above them. There are rope teams going up and rope teams coming down right on top of each other. Jason and Josh begin discussing our next move. Should we move off this route and head up to the left? No, that’s too steep for Jeremy. We decide to rope up on Hogsback, with Jeremy in the middle. We have to patiently wait our turn to move up as another giant group of people slowly picks their way down.

Jeremy standing above the clouds. Look at me Ma!

Steam vent below the Hogsback.

We make it about 10 or 20 feet above the schrund before our little trooper, Jeremy, has had enough. He wants to go back down and there is nothing Josh or Jason can do to convince him otherwise. I have to admit, I am very impressed and proud of him for coming this far. Throughout the day, random climbers stopped to comment, "What a remarkable achievement for an 8 year old boy!" I think Jeremy is pretty proud of himself! And rightfully so.

Thirteen climbers above the schrund and descending through the Pearly Gates.

Josh takes Jeremy back down to Hogsback and Jason and I continue up to the summit. We leave the rope as neither one of us feels that it is necessary. I trust Jason’s judgement completely. Jason shows me some crampon-ing techniques and how to balance my weight properly, and the rest was a cake-walk. We are past the Pearly Gates and are amazed to find that we have the summit to ourselves! Jason points me in the “right” direction to the summit, snaps some photos and then realizes the summit is in the opposite direction. Oops. After finding the “right” summit, we make our way down the Pearly Gates and to Hogsback. I am ecstatic! My first volcano! I was a virgin volcano summit-er until moments ago. This is one of those special moments that every girl should have.

Christy smiling for the camera in Pearly Gates.

Jason enjoying the summit. Photo Christy Kinney (BTW her's didn't turn out. It seems that I shouldn't be the one holding the camera).

Josh and Jeremy have left Hogsback and are getting ready to ski. My skis are with them, so I leave Jason on Hogsback where he has left his skis. Hiking down by myself, I suddenly realize that my eyes are on fire! Not just burning from the bright sun and reflection off the snow, but on FIRE! I had given Jeremy my good sunglasses and had stupidly worn a pair of cheap $10 gas station glasses all day. (They were cute, though. This is very important on the summit) My eyes are watering and tears begin mixing with sunscreen and I am in some serious pain. I bury my face in the snow in an attempt to rub out the sunscreen. This doesn’t help and so I cram those cute cheap-o glasses in my pack and dig deep for goggles. Ahhhh…these feel better. I realize throughout all this eye first-aid I have performed on myself, that Jason hasn’t skied by me yet. Where the hell is he??? Ahhh….here he comes. Wait a minute…He only has ONE foot in his skis? WTF? He is swearing and stops to show me that one of his bindings has broke. Not just a loose screw. Not just a bent piece of plastic. But a completely useless binding. Now, I am no expert on bindings by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell by looking at this sorry mess of a binding that Jason is screwed. I can almost hear the wheels turning in Jason’s head. What would MacGyver do??? Some random pack straps later, and Jason is precariously attached to his ski. Now everyone is waiting on me. This being my second time skiing (minus one run at Alpental), I am a little apprehensive about what might happen. I step into my kickass bindings, pull up the toe three times with my ski pole like Sky taught me, and I am off!!!…and then down. One roll after another, but I am stubborn and determined and somewhat fearless. The snow is perfect and there is no one else around. It feels like we have the whole mountain to ourselves! Jeremy takes off in true Hummel fashion and rocks it all the way down. What a trooper! Jason skis along on one good binding, and Josh skis alongside Jeremy. Halfway down now, and I am feeling much more comfortable. One turn leads to another and then another and then…crash. I pull myself back up and try it again. And again. It begins to feel more natural and I remember thinking how I had never felt more alive than I did at that moment. The parking lot comes all too suddenly and I find myself wanting to do it all over again.

But that is another adventure.

Josh skiing down the Palmer Glacier in Perfect spring conditions.

Jeremy showing Josh how this skiing stuff is really done.

Jason's broken binding. Classic Hummel. Get to the top, binding breaks, ski down to the bottom with screwed up binding.

Another shot of Josh with the awesome clouds.

And...the only thing Jeremy wanted for his birthday was to be with his brothers. Well we're glad we could show you a good time. Happy B-DAY.

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