Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mt. Conness Hike (Part 2)

(AKA The Exposed Scary Part)
Happy Thanksgiving (for those of us who celebrate it in the U.S.A.)! There is a lot for me to be thankful for. This is a good blog for Thanksgiving day. I am thankful for not slipping to my death on this part! Well, it really is not that dramatic. Let me explain.
Back in June I looked at a bunch of pictures I had collected on the web about this part of the final ascent. It is the type of thing that kept me awake a few hours at night thinking about it. Did I really want to do this?
This is about half of the way up on what I refer to as the "stairway." Click this link to see my favorite picture I found online of it. It reminds me of a snake that is rising up. Or, what you might see in a fantasy movie with a castle stronghold at the very top. Although it looks like a true granite rock scramble to the top, it really is not. There is a clear trail through the granite blocks as you ascend higher and higher. It really is easy to climb, but maybe not for those who fear heights. The following is the most "scary" part in that it is the most exposed.
The catwalk above has drop offs on both sides. Then you cross the knife-edge with a little more than a foot in width to walk on. It is about a 10-15 foot crossing. On the right side of me I had the glacier below:
On the left side of me I had this:
Here is this part looking back to where I was just at. I then ascended the rocks to the left of the picture. There was another drop off there too.
Was all of this really something to stress over? Although I probably should say, "Oh this was the most dangerous thing I have ever done! Watch my video! I could have died! I almost did!" I was actually laughing as I was crossing it here. In fact, originally, when I shot the video I did not hold the camera thinking I would need both hands to cross. I realized it really was not that dramatic here, and I could get by with with one hand holding the camera since I had solid footing all the way across. When I came down I tried to shoot more pictures and video of this area to reveal that it is not that scary here, but looking at the pictures and footage at home I realized that I do not think I can show how secure this area really is. The earlier part of the hike where I crossed the pass had more danger issues going up and down. In this area, sure you have to becareful and not make any mistakes, but it really is easy and fun to cross. Of course, if a heavy wind or a earthquake hit at the wrong are much safer here than driving on the streets or freeways where I live. Do not let this part of the hike discourage you if you want to do it.
Both of the above and below pictures are looking back at the snake like stairway that I climbed.
In the background you can see Mt. Dana. Unfortunately, there was some haze in the air that probably went away in about an hour or two because of the angle of the sun. In the next blog entry I will show how the area looked from the summit. The whole "stairway" section only takes about 15 minutes or so. It is exposed with a drop of few a hundred to thousand feet on the sides, but the above pictures are the most dramatic parts of it.

The Guardian of Mt. Conness (Youtube Version)

The Guardian of Mt. Conness (Vimeo Version)

For The Guardian of Mt. Conness video I used the following from Incompetech: Heavy Interlude, Coming Storm - Preview A, Mechanolith, Faceoff, and Virtutes Instrumenti. The non-Incompetech Spaghetti Western sounding piece is called "I Diavoli Dello Spazio" from a science fiction movie called Snow Devils.