Diamond Lake, Oregon
Elevation: 9,178 Feet
We live in Bend, Oregon. My in-laws live in Myrtle Creek, Oregon. You can drive two different ways to get to and from our houses; taking the Santiam Highway to Eugene, Oregon and then I-5 south to Myrtle Creek, or, you can drive south on Highway 97 and cutting across the Diamond Lake / Crater Lake Junction on Highway 210 and turning onto Highway 138 to Roseburg. The Crater Lake drive is absolutely gorgeous, but is much windier and a bit slower. Needless to say, I much prefer the Crater Lake drive to any drive on any Interstate.
For the last two years, I have stared off into the distance of this gigantic pinacle that rises from the center of a mountian. Mount Thielsen had some of the most spectacular sunsets behind it as to be breathtaking. It sat there...staring at me...daring me to try and climb it. It tasked me! It tasked me!
I had originally wanted to climb it at the end of the summer and not really into the fall. Linda had expressed a lot of interest in doing it with me, but we both knew we wouldn't be able to get Tanis up it. Knowing this we needed baby-sitters. My parents did a prisoner exchange with their dog and our kid. Late in the night, wearing long trenchcoats and communicating only with semiphore we established the hand over.
I knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, that pinacle at the top looked...well, it looked intimidating. All of the mountains I had done so far were just slogs to the top. Just really long, really steep, really hard and oxygen deprived hikes. Not to take away from any of them, but in all honesty, they were hikes.
The last mountain I had done was Pike's Peak right at two years ago. It had been a beat-down of massive proportions, really kind of turning me off the energy, will and drive to do another for a while. But it had been building up inside of me louder than Tommy Bahama shirt at an IBM convention.
Climbing mountains, hiking, rock climbing; they are all so frivolous. You work your ass off to climb to the top...then...you come back down. Usually the way you went up! Even in golf you get a score card with all your chicken scratch and a final score to measure up how you did from previous times. You don't really get that with any of the above sports. You just do it. And its hard, relentless, painful and truly useless when looked at the grand scheme of it. I think that is why climbers have this attitude of not taking themselves or their sports seriously. I haven't ever seen anyone smacking their teammates butts at the top of a mountain, but then again, I haven't ever climbed a mountain that required a team.
My point being that climbing is about individual accomplishment. This goes for alpining as well as for rock climbing. Steph Davis just free climbed a major route on El Capitan in a day. What does that mean to me? Tommy Caldwell just climbed what is being hailed as the hardest free big wall climb in the world. His wife just completed a humongous herself. What does this mean to me? How does it affect what I do? Not really very much in the grand scheme of things other than it being inspiring to me. I have seen Beth Rodden and Tommy Caldwell, I ate at the table next to them at El Caporil in Bend while they were out here climbing. Beth is TINY! She can't weigh more than 100 pounds. And her husband, Tommy, isn't necessarily an imposing figure. But they have tenacity and perseverance just like all of the other thousands of people you never heard of who do the same thing.