Satish Shrestha (सतिश श्रेष्ठ )

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Unforgettable Climbing Fiasco

Posted by Satish Shrestha on June 12, 2011


It is the second day in the camp ground; sunny, warm and beautiful. Heather seeks people to go climb Aqualine route, a two pitch climb graded 5.9 in the east side of Banks Lake. It requires us to kayak to get to the rock face and start climbing from the kayak. I tell Heather that I don’t have much experience in kayaking. She convinces me that if I wait until I get better at it to try an adventure, I end up doing pretty much nothing. I concur. Trusting the company, Heather, Wyeth and I commence our journey in three kayaks to the middle of Banks Lake.

Map of the Lake and our Location. Click on image for better view.

After kayaking for about 20 minutes, we reach our destination- a spectacular rock wall about 150 ft high. I get off my kayak and start preparing my gear. Heather, an adroit climber, leads the climb as Wyeth belays her from the kayak. After completing the first pitch, Heather preps to belay Wyeth from the top. She tells me to check Wyeth’s gear and knots. The whole time I think that Wyeth is an experienced climber. Taking Heather’s suggestion into account, I keep my eyes on Wyeth’s knot. To my immense surprise, he doesn’t tie his figure eight knot right. I take the end of the rope and tie it for him. I start questioning myself if I should climb today or not. In the mean time, I try to get back to my kayak and I stumble as the waves generated by a motor boat sways my kayak. I am all soaked. As Wyeth climbs up, I am in charge of untangling the rope. The kayak is drifted away from the bottom of rock face and the rope is tangled in a paddle attached to the kayak. Fortunately, Jacki and John appear in a canoe. They attempt to help push the kayak towards me and untangle the rope. Again, a motor boat passes by us and the water gets very wavy. Jacki attempts to get off the canoe but stumbles. John, then, loses his paddle. Analyzing the situation, I shout to Heather that I am not sure if I want to climb today. But in order to clean up the carabiner, it was essential for me to climb. Making sure that Heather was on belay, I opt to climb. Because the kayak was drifted away, it is not possible for me to start climbing from the recommended starting point. Thus, I start traversing from the side next to the shore in order to avoid water. It was a fun traverse. After traversing about 12 feet, I finally reach the recommended starting point of the climb. As I get there, the waves get my rock shoes and it is partially wet. I ask the belayer to take some rope but the structure of rock face and the noise from motor boats passing by make it very difficult for me to communicate with the belayer. I shout “take” several times but my voice doesn’t reach Heather. My feet are unstable after holding on to a tiny ledge for some time. Finally my partially wet feet slips, I land on water and my rock shoes are all soaked. It makes it even harder to climb. But I do not want to give up yet. My toes are wet and are making spongy sound every time I put pressure on them. Jacki and John are a little away from the rock face and can see Heather. They communicate with Heather in my stead. I push myself to around fifteen feet up despite the wet slippery shoes. I try to convince my mind that it is possible to climb despite wet shoes. After taking rope off of the biner in first bolt, I keep pushing myself up. I need some slack and I shout. But my voice still doesn’t reach Heather. John, from his canoe, communicates with Heather and I get some slack. Because she can’t see or hear me, it is difficult on her part to know how much slack I need. Not getting enough slack to take off the rope from the biner, I opt to leave it there. Traversing towards the sharp edge of the rock I get a good hand hold and try to mantle myself up that hold. Unfortunately, my wet shoes give up on me and I slip. Then, I decide this is not the day for me. John passes on the information to Heather and she lowers me. That’s the end of the climb for me for the day. Ryan appears on another Kayak and help me unlock the kayak to get to the shore. Heather and Wyeth then go climb the second pitch as I lay my wet gears and shirt on the sun to dry. On the way back, I get some kayaking tutorial from Wyeth. At the end of the day, I reminisce the events and thank Heather, John, Jacki and Wyeth for their patience and company. I am more thankful to John and Jacki whose presence made my communication with top belayer possible. In retrospect, considering Wyeth’s better experience with kayaks, I think I should have been the second person to climb instead of third. Despite the fiasco, none of us is hurt. Though not quite satisfied as I couldn’t finish the climb, I think the whole experience was a great learning opportunity. If I get a chance, I will certainly attempt to climb that route again. Thanks to Petey for making all this possible.

Found this picture on google. Added texts for info

Here’s a picture taken from Petey’s camera

Heather leading the climb, Wyeth on belay

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$16 Short

Posted by Satish Shrestha on June 8, 2011


Catching a megabus at 1:30 in the morning from penn station NYC, I make it to Boston at 5:30 am. As soon as I walk out of South Station, a lady, probably in her late 20s, runs into me. She has an interesting story to share that early in the morning. With no introduction or whatsoever, she iterates her story as fast as she can. She tells me she is a good person not a “scumbag” and have been walking around seeking help since the evening of the previous day. She tells me she is 16 dollars short to board a bus to Burlington, Vermont. In a rather sympathetic manner, I tell her I will go buy her a ticket but won’t give her any cash. If her story is true and if she really needs help, there is no reason for me to not help her unless I actually I didn’t have $16 myself. Her expression, her story all appear fake to me and the fact that she can only accept cash, not a ticket, confirms my conjecture. I tell her once again that i wouldn’t mind buying her a ticket. She refuses my offer and I walk my way. The morning of my last day in Boston!

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जोगी

Posted by Satish Shrestha on March 21, 2011


आर्थिक दरिद्रतालाई छिचोलेर

आफु भित्र को “म” लाई चिन्ने कोशिश गर्दै

सांसारिक प्रलोभन भुलेर

अपनत्व बुझ्न खोज्दै

खल्तीमा एउटा क्रेडिट कार्ड

अनि परिचय पत्र बोकेर

डोके-झोलामा झुत्रा-झाम्रा कोचेर

डुल्दै छु जोगी झैं पश्चिमी संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका |

 

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The Mountain will always be there

Posted by Satish Shrestha on January 18, 2011


The Flood


With an intention to learn something new, I had enlisted myself a couple months back for a free snowshoeing class at REI scheduled for last Thursday. The class briefly familiarized me with this goofy looking snow sports called Snowshoeing. And on Friday morning, out of the blue, I receive an invitation from Val for snowshoeing in Mt. Hood. She had registered her son for the event but as he got sick, he couldn’t join the team. Thus, I substituted Val’s son and headed to Mt. Hood with Val, Sue and Petey. While mere Mt. Hood was enough to excite me to the fullest degree, our reservation for rooms at renowned Timberline Lodge just sky-rocketed my excitement.

All psyched, we hit the road at 6:30 am and headed southwest. Interesting conversations, Janis Joplin in the speakers, Washingtonian desert all just made the drive more interesting. As soon as we crossed Umatilla, we were welcomed by the Oregonian rain. The mountains were all shrouded by grey clouds and all we could do was hope that it would clear out. The rain just got worse and we witnessed a massive flood as we headed towards the mountain. We stopped by a fallen tree right by the river and made a quick errand in Tamanawas Falls trail. As we drove uphill, the downpour just swelled up. We stopped at the Timberline Lodge, check in, left our stuff in the rooms and walk around the lodge. The only thing we saw outside was snow and cloud. Had it been a clear day, we would have witnessed the real beauty!

Happy faces

Val and I went out for a snow cat ride. The view was just isotropic! Couldn’t see a damn thing because of the clouds. Back in the lodge we spent time taking silly pictures and checking every possible nooks of the edifice. At 6, we headed down to the Cascade Dining Room, a really expensive restaurant for a student like myself. At the table, we were seated with Carol, a retired professor of French at Whitworth College. The conversation ran a gamut from sky diving to base jumping and trekking in New Zealand and Nepal to Patagonia. I didn’t speak much as I was quite absorbed in the stories of Sue. She’s an outdoor Junkie by hobby and professor of kinesiology by profession. The dinner was followed by an uncertainly for the next plan. Despite extreme wind and rain, we jumped into an outdoor hot tub. While rest of the body was warm and relaxed, the head was almost frozen because of the cold wind. After about an hour in the hot tub and spa, we headed back to the rooms and hit the sack with a hope that the weather would favor us the following day.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t get any better. After eating elegant buffet breakfast at the Timberline, we headed back to Spokane. The drive downhill was pretty amazing as we witnessed at least seven different rainbows and drove under three of them. The green hills and hazelnut trees in the Hood river county reminded me of my first visit to Oregon in the spring of 2008 when I was visiting my ex-girlfriend. It was the same time I first witnessed the beauty of Mt. Hood. The pleasant nostalgia and soporific Rolling Stones ballad Angie in the car’s speakers put me to sleep.

One of the many rainbows we encountered

Over 8.5 inches of continuous rain and massive flood as a result of that forced us to make changes in our plan. Nonetheless, it was one heck of a trip. I’ve heard wise mountaineers say “The Mountain will always be there”. I’ll be back sooner or later. There’s always a good reason to visit Oregon.

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Snow Practice in Steven’s Peak (April,2010)

Posted by Satish Shrestha on October 20, 2010


Saving every penny I could, I decided to join the Spokane Mountaineers last year and ended up becoming a part of Mountain School Class of 2010. With no exaggeration, it has been one of my splendid experiences so far. Spokane Mountaineers is kind of an underground club for most people as they do not get to hear about it a lot. But surprisingly, it has been around since 1920’s! And for the most part it is run by volunteers. Thus the classes it offers are relatively less pricy. One ends up spending more money on purchasing/renting climbing gears than on the Mountain School fee.

I was trying to see if  I have saved journal from the first outdoor training session at Mt. Spokane but unfortunately didn’t find anything. But I did find some journals I had saved after completing the second outdoor training session. Here’s a short account on that.

The Rope Team

 

The second week of April last year was insane as I was occupied by a ton of homework and papers. After completing half of the physics homework set due the following Wednesday, I started packing for the weekend and was all set by Friday afternoon. Failing to avoid the Friday night temptation, I ended up hanging out with friends until rather late. I had my alarm set at 5:30 am but I failed to wake up. I was sharing ride with Chris. I was rather embarrassed when he had to come knock on my door to wake me up at 6:00am. We were driving to Willow Creek Trailhead in Mullan, ID and we were supposed to be there by 8:00 am. We barely made it on time. The agenda for this training session was to practice self arrest, snow anchors, and belaying techniques on snow and summit Stevens peak if weather permitted. It required us to have mountaineering shoes, gaiters, crampons, ice axe and extra carabineers in addition to the “thirteen essentials”. Those added significant weight on the body and thus it was different from regular hiking/backpacking trips. The Asolo mountaineering boots I rented from the Spokane REI was significantly heavy and thus it took some time to get used to it. The first couple hours of the trail was extremely icy. Several of the fellow mountaineers slipped although they were taking every steps very cautiously. Crampons came very useful in that part of the trail.

Because it had rained the following night, the snow was very soft. After we crossed the icy trail, we started climbing up in the soft slushy snow. It slowed us down quite a bit as the snow came above our knees on every step we took. Under the dark gray could, we kept ascending slowly but steadily. It started raining cats and dogs right before we reach the campsite, which was not much fun. After setting the camp in the rain, we ascended further for snow practice. We began with self arrest training, which is a maneuver that a climber performs to save himself/herself upon falling and is sliding down the snow. Because one could fall in several different ways in several different body positions, it was vital that we simulated such falls and practiced self-arresting techniques. We glissaded down the slope in four essential ways; facing up with feet first position, facing down with feet first position, facing up with head first position, and facing down with head first position. Glissading in slow is a lot of fun, and is a great way to descend down the snowy slope as it reduces the descent time. However, self-arresting is different and it is very important that a person performs in at the right moment in a right fashion. It requires one to properly use the ice axe on a proper body position to avoid any injury. Upon the fall, one has to use the pick of the axe to stop oneself and make sure the feet is in the air if crampons are on. As soon as one stops, to avoid further fall one has to “dig a bucket” by kicking snow with knees.After practicing self-arrest, we practiced crevasses rescue techniques making anchors using ice pickets and carabineers. We learned proper application of boot-axe belay, biner-axe belay and hip-belay. After a fun day of training we descended to the campsite by the frozen lower Steven’s lake. It was a cold rainy night at the campsite, which is not unusual in mountaineering. The following day practiced climbing in rope team and applied self-arrest technique and crevasse rescue techniques within a rope team. Communication among the team members is indispensable in a rope team climbing.

Ascending on an icy trail

Glissading

Two days of snow practice training was a great learning experience. It certainly showed me a way to befriend snow! In addition to learning great techniques to save ourselves in the snow, we also witnessed a massive loud avalanche and a magnificent sunrise above the mountain on the second day. On our way back, Renee slipped down the trail and hung herself on the edge of the trail, which could’ve been serious. Fortunately, we were able to pull her up to the trail without any serious injury.

After the Avalanche

Frozen Lower Steven's Lake

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