I spent the night last night living my way through every possible contingency.  Rockfall.  Avalanches.  Crevasse falls.  Tripping.  Getting lost.  Everything was so real in my dreams.  I can feel in my gut that I’ve been living deep inside my head, getting to meet my fears as they happen.

The avalanche forecast changed since yesterday.  Yesterday it was low in the mornings, and moderate in the afternoons.  Good.  Now it’s moderate in the mornings, and considerable in the afternoon.  Really questionable.  Considerable is the rating that kill most skiers, because hey, it’s not high right?

The plan is to head up to Mt. Hood in a few hours.  Alex and I will skin to Illumination rock and make camp there at around 9000′.  An open bivy will bring us through the night in the low twenties to a cold morning around 2am.  From there, it’s a dash across the Reid glacier, up the couloir, and across the ridge to the summit.  I think that five hours is a generous amount of time to allow ourselves, which puts us down out of the danger around 9am.  That’s about the time that the freezing level rises to 9k’.  In and out, quick and alpine.

The question is, how do you know when you have to turn around, or even if you can?  The danger’s above, not under your feet.  Retreat may be more dangerous than topping out.  Failing upwards, Mark Twight calls it.

I’m looking forward to sleeping out in the open on the Saddle.  You can see the lights of Portland stretching out to the West, and the Cascades out to the South.  I’m sure though that I won’t have a peaceful night.  If the dreams were bad at home, they should be all the more real when I can sit up and stare down onto the glacier that I’ll have to cross, and up along the chute that we’ll climb.

The last time that we went after this route, we were almost clocked by rockfall even before we got to the saddle.  I don’t want to say that I have a bone to pick with the route, but I will be glad to get it done.  That said, returning unharmed, having headed into the dragon’s lair, is success enough.  I’m not sure that what I’m doing is the right thing, on the mountain or off, but I figure that if I just keep trying to do what I think is best then I’ll at least have given it my best shot.  No living in the shadows– I’d rather meet my end early in the sunshine.