I did the first of two glacier refresher course yesterday. I played hookie from my prep course in favor of playing around in the snow, it’s not a tough choice really.
Things started really well. We met up at North Bend, then drove to Hyak which is a ski resort that is closed for the season. We quickly hiked up to the training area and I started seeing white. It’s not just the snow, it was everything was going white. I didn’t eat breakfast and my body rebelled by shutting down my vision, I almost passed out. After a short water break, I started seeing color again. If you ever want to appreciate color, run up a snow covered mountain on a sunny day with zero energy in your system, watching all color drain from the world with black outlines is not the cool potential for a coloring book that it sounds to be. Bonus: I got free color appreciation out of the class already.
There were so many things that I had forgotten already. You really do not want to be on my rope team, if you fall into a crevasse, I will just panic and not know what to do. I barely remember how to walk properly in the snow. Mountaineer walking isn’t quite the same walk you would do walking down the street, between your ice-ax and feet, you have to maintain 2 points of contact while in motion to maximize your safety. There’s a set pattern for which foot to move and when to move your ice-ax and this changes depending on whether you’re traveling uphill or downhill. So mountaineering is more like if you were crip walking down the street with your pimp cane, and like mountaineering, bad things will happen to you if you fuck up the crip walk.
There was much practicing of self-arrest, which is stopping yourself when you’re sliding down the mountain, we did it normal position, then face down head first, then on your back heads first. On your back heads first sliding down the mountain is actually less scary than it is awkward.
We practiced tying ourselves to the rope and moving as a rope team, adding pickets for safety, then clipping in and out of the picket. We did crevasse rescue where we each took about 30 minutes trying to rescue our “fallen teammate” AKA Instructor’s Ice-Ax.
One thing we practiced that I fear the most and I still fear is the simulated rope team falling. In this simulation, we walk up the snow covered mountain, if we’re lucky we hear “Falling” right before the instructor pulls with all his might down the mountain. We usually slide a good few feet before catching ourselves with our ice-ax, the instructor will continue to pull on the rope to test if you’ve self-arrested properly. To recap, we are clinging for dear life to our ice-ax, quite often pulling every arm muscle to do it, while your lower half of the body which is harnessed to the rope is being dragged downward.
I can barely put on a shirt today without crying pathetically. The boyfriend helped me with a jacket and laughed at my pathetic baby t-rex arms, so I started laughing too, but my abs hurt so much from being placed in the medieval stretch rack that I had to slump against the wall for support. While mountaineering sounds all macho and shit, I’m like a pathetic helpless baby bird flapping its sad useless wings.
The next glacier course is the day before my LSAT, so wish me good luck with that.