Babes on Boston and Sahale

Cherry Lietz, Carolyn Cuppage, and I climbed Boston and Sahale via Boston basin this weekend. the ranger station at Marblemount was mobbed and all permits for forbidden or camping in Boston basin were taken. carolyn and cherry sweet talked dashing ranger Pete, (he of the cool gotee), into finagling us a permit for the buckner area and tagging sahale, which meant hiking all the way to the top of Boston basin and camping on col between boston and sahale, technically on the east side of the ridge. Our hero Pete swung into action and rescued the two distressed damsels while i kept the evil ranger Rosemary (who didn't smile on our request, possibly because the east side of the ridge is an 80-degree corniced slope and totally uncampable without portaledges) at bay with flirtatious banter.

Permit secured we blitzed up the road to Boston basin. curses! the gate was locked a mile and 800 vertical feet below the trailhead. the road is supposed to open July 15th, but call ahead. the Boston basin trail is a crummy, confused little thing that climbs 3,000 feet over 4 miles and several difficult streams. there's tons more snow than usual this time of year, and it's melting fast. the streams are cranking and hard to cross. after losing the trail a few times we finally gained the basin and headed up in bright sun. two rangers skied up and checked our permit. we were feeling like losers, working in the city and climbing on the weekend while these two buff dudes got paid to ski around the north cascades all the time, until they skied away and both promptly kerplopped on their butts at the first turn. Not so suave. I know they were bumming hard crashing right in front of the two beauties on my rope. "Well, even if they do have cool jobs we can still ski their socks off," we consoled ourselves.

Up and up to the col between sahale and boston, past many small crevasses and one big one. now those of you who've been between these two mountains might have trouble remembering a flat camping spot. that's cuz there wasn't one. now there is. while i got to work on dinner carolyn and high-altitude-architect cherry started throwing rocks around. "isn't this just like a bunch of girls", i thought, "always playing in the rocks in mud instead of doing something practical like cooking". after about 20 minutes of this carolyn starting calling me her special wife, and i got shamed into chucking rocks too. low and behold they built a killer platform - flat, dry, and just enough room for three - in about an hour. carolyn and i rock-paper-scissored for the middle, i won, we settled in for the night. (niener niener niener pat).

By now we all know that while i was curled up toasty between carolyn and cherry, paul and toby were just across the basin, feet stuffed in their packs, stitched tenuously to the side of Johannesburg, freezing their miserable butts off. if you ever get invitations from both paul and me to go climbing the same weekend, do the smart thing.

The next morning a big party of eager beavers got going on sahale before we'd really left our bags, so we opted for Boston first. It's a big crappy rock pile mountain, the kind you only climb once. With no guide book we felt our way up the east side, scrambling on loose rock that was still steep enough to kill you dead dead dead if you fell off. a party of Darwin award contestants hung out on the snow right below us, helmetless, and seemed genuinely surprised when we screamed "ROCK!" as the loose pebbles we inadvertently kicked off dislodged some major boulders and peppered the snow all around them. we opted to protect one pitch at the top to the false summit, then one over to the real summit to the south. three raps down (single rope, good rap anchors) dropped us safely back to the col by noon. the views from Boston are awesome but the fun to danger ratio is pretty low, unless of course you compare it to Johannesburg, in which case its about like a Disney ride.

On to Sahale. there's a big ol pile of snow on the approach to Sahale from the col that's gonna all slide off any day now with one big kabooosh! the million-dollar question is, "which day?" cherry thought it looked like sunday was the day, so she parked in camp, while Carolyn and i, burning with summit fever, went for it. our carefully thought out plan of attack was to rope together, go right along the edge of the cornice, and if one of us triggered a slide the other was to jump quickly over the other side of the cornice, saving us both. that was my plan anyway. Carolyn said it had about the same chances of success as "If caught in an avalanche, use a swimming motion to stay near the surface." Carolyn's plan was to haul ass. get up and down the damn thing before it slides she reasoned. So that's what we did. we boogied across the slide slope as fast, quiet, and light-footed as possible, then she led one pitch of straight-forward, solid rock to the summit, while i walked toward the base of the rock in steep snow with her tied to me on a fixed rope -- low-tech simulclimbing sans anchors. She set pro and climbed very fast. we were up, down, and back in camp in under an hour.

The big crevasse we'd skirted the day before slyly melted out and swallowed Cherry up to her armpits on the way out. She wallowed out most gracefuly, then Carolyn, on a different line, plopped in the same hole up to her waist. Mid much cursing and tugging from Cherry she flopped out on the snow too. i skirted far around the hungry beastie and the rest of the trip down was uneventful.

Oh yeah. except for one thing. the Good Food is closed. No more post-north-cascades monster burgers. major bummer. other than that it was a perfect climb. feel free to edit and print this bill if you're hurting for bulliten material.