Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Mailbox with Matthew

Cascades  •  April 6

Mailbox is my usual training climb. I have not been up it in months, however, due to work. I was stunned to realize that a trough of high pressure air was likely to protect the mid-Cascade range from precipitation on Friday… when my son was on spring break. We had a chance to get up there and give him some practice using the axe and crampons on the snowfields. In preparation, Matthew devoured the relevant chapters in Freedom of the Hills, our mountaineering bible. Like the real bible, this one is full of hocum… and some nuggets of wisdom too.

I did not sleep the night before due to work, but the weather models remained favorable, and we stuck with our plan to climb Mailbox. And so we did.

And so it begins….
Yes. A rare ridge of high pressure is predicted to protect the Cascades from precip for the next few hours. This is happening….
So, the model seems to have been off by an hour or so. We start walking in the rain.
Fire road leads past the new trail to our starting point, at head of the old trail.
“Ewwww it’s so muddy!”
Within minutes we can see our shadows.
Hints of blue sky above the trees.
This tree cracked in half during a recent windstorm. We take these moments seriously, and hustled past.
Last vestiges of the fog are burning off in the forest… compact snow ice underfoot on the trail.
Breaking out into pure sunshine.
At the top of the first talus field. We ascended in the snow, a great chance to practice with the axe.
Surveying the valley below from a break atop the first talus field.
Yeah, we love it up here.
Summit beckons above.
Matthew had no trouble on this section.
On the summit.
Summits are built for moments like this.
Summit pano.
All sorts of odd scraps and stories in the Box.
Gearing up.
Starting down from the summit.
Why bother to arrest when sliding is so much fun?
Clearly I have have spawned a luge enthusiast.
Matthew loves to glissade. I had no choice but to follow…
This glissade stuff is fun.
Practicing self arrest.

A bit of plunge stepping.
Enjoying the snow field.
The forest has dried out nicely.
The forest has dried out nicely.
Almost at the car. Feeling happy… and tired.
Paying dues for all that time in the snow. It was worth it.

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