"When all that's left to do is reflect on what's been done."

"The Dam At Otter Creek" Live

when all that's left to do is
reflect on what's been done
this is where sadness breaths
the sadness of everyone

just like when the guys
built the dam at otter creek
and all the water backed up
deep enough to dive

we took the dead man in sheets to the river
flanked by love
deep enough to dive
deep enough to dive
be here now

we took him there and three
in a stretcher made from trees
that had passed in the storm
leave the hearse behind
to leave the curse be here now

For those of you who have been following my blog for some time now, I guess you'll appreciate that sometimes I get fixated on a certain song. I'm not very good with words, so when I come across a song with lyrics that speak to my current emotional condition, I sort of lean on that song to express myself. If I could have one super hero power, it would be the power of song. But alas, I can't sing, and I mostly can't write. 

I'm kind of mad at life right now, and it seems that, "all that's left to do is reflect on what's been done." And I guess that reflection kind of bums me out more.

To pass the time in perhaps a more productive way, I figured I should share a little bit about the three...yes three trips, Colin and I made to Colfax Pk. in the last month. Colin was preparing for a trip to Nepal, and I for a trip to Alaska, so slogging around on a volcano seemed the perfect training ground.

Just before we left Seattle for our respective international destinations, Colin spoke with Chris Van Leuven at Alpinist about all the activity on Colfax, namely our new route that Colin is calling Kimichi Suicide Volcano. Rather than regurgitate all the information Colin already shared with Chris, I figured I'd just copy and paste the Alpinist report here. I'll add a few additional photos at the bottom too.

Big, Blobby Jugs: Haley and Hart Climb New Route on Colfax Peak 
Posted on: April 16, 2015

Sarah Hart follows Colin Haley's lead on pitch 3 of their new route, Kimchi Suicide Volcano (M5 R AI4+, 1,000'). They climbed the route on April 9 in approximately 6 hours. On March 6, they completed a rare ascent of the neighboring Polish Route (WI6, ca. 1,000'), which contains a rarely formed, delicate hanging dagger. [Photo] Colin Haley

On April 9, Colin Haley and Sarah Hart, taking advantage of an open access road that saved them 10 miles of skinning and 2,500 feet of elevation gain, nabbed a new 1,000-foot route up Colfax Peak (9,440'), a sub-peak of Mt. Baker above Bellingham, Washington.

Haley belays Hart as she follows pitch 2. Their route continues up the ice directly above Haley. [Photo] Sarah Hart

Their route, Kimchi Suicide Volcano (M5 R AI4+), climbs over volcanic rock and up sparse cracks, and follows discontinuous ice into a narrowing chimney followed by a tunnel. The day of the climb, the team left their car at 6:30 a.m., gained 1,000 feet of elevation through the forest, then skinned 4,000 feet up the Coleman Glacier and reached the base around noon. Their route consisted of five roped pitches, protected by cams, nuts, pitons and ice screws. The highlight of the day was finding and then wiggling through the 15-foot tunnel, which they didn't know was there until after Haley climbed through much of the chimney and saw light coming through from the other side. Haley and Hart surmounted this obstacle with their back on one side and legs pressing against the other. From here, the route summited via snow slopes and neve, which the two simulclimbed. They stood on top 6:30 p.m., walked off the back of the peak and returned to their car by 9:30 p.m. 

Haley leading the third pitch on Kimchi Suicide Volcano. "I have three cams and a nut," Haley said with a laugh. "They're all shitty pieces, figuring if I put in enough, one would hold [a fall]." The ice above the mixed terrain took reliable screws. [Photo] Sarah Hart

The mixed climbing was "like Smith Rock but with blobs sticking out," Haley says. "[The blobs] look suspect but are totally solid." Smith Rock, Oregon, made of welded tuff and rhyolite, is riddled with pockets and knobs.

Kimchi marks the third route on the north face of Colfax. The other two are the Polish Route (WI6, 1000', Rogoz-partner, 1990s) and the moderate Cosley-Houston (WI4, ca. 700', Houston-Cosley, 1982). The Polish Route contains a hanging dagger and has been repeated only four times, three of them this winter, Haley believes, beginning with Will Hinckley and Braden Downey in mid January. On March 6 of this year, Roger Strong and Doug Hutchinson made their ascent of the Polish Route; it was Strong's sixth attempt since 1997, as not until now had he found the hanging dagger to be in condition. Haley and Hart also climbed the Polish Route on the same day.

Pitch 4, a mixed chimney with big jugs everywhere that narrows down to a 15-foot long tunnel. [Photo] Colin Haley

Because of the long approach, most teams climb Colfax in the autumn before snow covers the access road, but this year it saw traffic throughout the winter because the road stayed open. 

"These ridges [on Colfax Peak] may possibly be the walls of an extinct crater, whose vast hollow is some two miles in length by about the same in width," states The Alpine Journal, Volume 5. "At the point of intersection of the above-mentioned ridges, but beyond it (a vast field with neve filling the intervening space), rises the great peak, entirely snow covered."

Haley adds, "The special thing about Colfax... is that it's so high quality compared to other winter climbing in the Cascades. Colfax has this high-alpine ambiance to it, but with steep, technical climbing. It has this combination of easy access and reliable ice conditions... tons of real blue ice over. It could be in the Alps or the Canadian Rockies." Because of Colfax's lofty height, and since it faces north and is near the ocean, it receives moisture. Mt. Baker (native name: Kulshan) is a volcano, and Haley believes geothermal heat melts and forms water ice on the face and on the rock. "Nowhere else in the Cascades do you see such reliable waterfalls so high on the mountain," Haley says. 

Colfax Peak (9,440'), showing Kimchi Suicide Volcano (M5 R AI4+, 1,000'), the Polish Route (WI6, ca. 1,000) and the Cosley-Houston (WI4, ca. 700'). [Photo] Colin Haley

Sources: Colin Haley, Roger Strong, The Alpine Journal (Volume 5, 1870-1872), Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide, colinhaley.com 

On trip number one to Colfax, Colin crosses the snow hanging precariously over the bergshrund, that in any normal winter would be barely exist, to the base of the Polish Route.

Colin leads pitch one of the Polish Route with the populated Fraser Valley below.

I really just like how colourful this photo is. 

Here's me coming up to the belay of the first pitch.
Colin leads off on the crux WI6 pitch. Apparently, before this pitch, he'd never led a free hanging dagger before. Way to go Captain Safety!

Colin approaching the dagger. This is the rarely formed feature of the Polish Route that perennially turns people back.

On the summit of Colfax after completing the Polish Route. 

Time for round two. Here's me as we approach the base of Colfax's north face.

North faces are cold places.

Colin leads the WI4 crux pitch of the Cosley-Huston with skis. It was kind of amusing to watch him catch his ice tool on his skis each time he swung his tool. Hehehehe...

Looking down halfway up the crux pitch. After my Rockies Fat Camp 2015, I felt like the WI4 pitch, even though not super hacked out, was pretty darn casual. Hooray! Progress! I guess I need to come back and drag someone up the Cosley-Huston now. Who's coming with me?!

On the summit again with my lover. 
Colin on the summit of Colfax with the Salish Sea, and the Gulf Islands in the distance.

Colin pauses on the walk back to the Colfax-Baker col.

Me, slogging behind Colin with the summit of Colfax visible in behind.

We attempted to continue on to the summit of Mt. Baker after climbing Colfax, hence why we brought skis with us. Below the Roman Headwall I had a little breakdown though, when I couldn't feel my little toesies anymore. So we turned around.

I got to lead us over the bergshrund on the approach to the base of Kimchi Suicide Volcano on trip three to Colfax. Here's Colin following me to the belay below the first pitch.

Colin leading on the first pitch. This is where I fell while following. I took a big swinging pendulum fall and gave out a rather loud scream. I think the skiers on the glacier below heard me, and probably thought I'd done something really bad. Oops!
Colin leading out on the second pitch. Again, I mostly just love all the colour in this photo.

One more from the second pitch. Colin finished up by climbing out the ice above.

Here's me following pitch three. Yes, notice my sweet pink ice tool shafts. I'm pretty stoked about that. It definitely helps make the shafts a little stickier, and warmer.

Looking down on the belay at start of pitch four.

And here it is, the ice chimney that we eventually tunnelled through to the top of pitch four. It was pretty mind expanding for this rock climber to be climbing through an icy tunnel only to pop out on a snowfield above.