Tom Landon's Excellent Adventure
Tom Landon's Excellent Adventure
"What I Did On My Summer Vacation"
Recap: When last we heard from Blue Ridge PBS K-12 Specialist Tom Landon, he was headed for the Northern Range of the Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington as part of a ten person mountaineering team. The expedition was led by David Carroll, the Pulaski County High School science teacher who was last year's McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence winner. They spent 9 days learning glacial travel, crevasse rescue, and alpine ascent strategies in preparation for next year's trip to Illimani Potosi, a 21,000-foot peak in the Bolivian Andes. Footage shot on this trip will be used in an ITV series and live electronic field trip, being produced in cooperation with Virginia Tech's Institute for Connecting Science Research to the Classroom.
Just wanted to let you know that I made it back from my trip to the Cascades without incident. Oh, our leader Dave Carroll did fall into a crevasse the day before our crevasse rescue training, but other than that, as they say in Bellingham, "No worries!" It rained every day and the iodine tablets were hard on our bellies, but the experience was awesome. On summit day I left at 3:00 a.m. with headlamp on and hiked onto the glacier through the fog, with only the person in front of me visible. As we climbed higher the temperature dropped and the rope froze as solid as a cable. The student behind me walked in my footsteps across a snow bridge over a crevasse so deep we couldn't see the bottom, and her feet went through, but she scrambled out without any aid. By 4:30 a.m. it was bright enough to walk without the headlamps in the foggy blue light of morning, the crunching of our boots in snow the only sound. At about 8000 feet the snow became encrusted with ice and we put on our crampons, making travel much easier. At 8500 feet we broke through the clouds for the first time all week and saw blue sky just after sunrise. We rested at the lip of an active volcanic crater as the sulfuric steam rose around us. We crested the summit at about 9 a.m., the hoods on our Gore-Tex shells frozen from the left over moisture. We stayed at the summit for about an hour, eating, hydrating, taking pictures, and setting our wet gloves on the sunny rocks to dry. From the peak we could see nothing but the tops of the clouds and the amazing summits of Ranier and Mts. Hood, Adams, Glacier and Shuksan.
The descent took about 3 hours and we arrived back at base camp wet again. We packed the tents and the rest of our gear and moved out again toward the van at the bottom. Three hours later, muddy, tired and sore we reached the base. We covered about 13,000 vertical feet in 15 hours of hiking.
The rest of the trip was great too, with lots of training in Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue. We learned a lot and got along great. We didn't summit Mt. Shuksan but camped there in the snow for three days, tuning our skills and trying to stay dry (unsuccessfully.) The team of climbers (3 adults, 4 high school students, and a college kid) is an amazing group, and our guides John and Steve were awesome. Hopefully we'll all make it to Bolivia next summer to attempt to climb Illimani, the 21,000 foot peak in the Andes. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. I felt the support of so many people as I climbed, and now I know what it will take to make it on Illimani. As soon as there is an edited video, I'll share it with anyone who isn't tired of hearing me talk about it.