If you click on these photos, you'll get a clearer, higher-resolution view.

Seven-Fingered-Jack (9077') and four-fingered Al.  Our objective, Mt. Maude, is just to the right, and 5' higher.

Al saved this trip right at the start by passing his Porcupine Test.  Leave It.  Good dog.  REALLY good dog!

Ice Lakes, July 30 2011.

South ridge of Mt. Maude -- the weenie, Tourist Route -- you walk up behind that rocky crag, then traverse the steep snow in its shadow back to the sunny ridge.  This is an easy climb, but definitely ice ax travel.  I used crampons, Al used his claws.  If the snow was hard, it would be much more dangerous: if you fall, you'd get going very fast very fast.  You can also see the top of a cornice there; not a good idea to climb underneath or on those, as they can break and fall. Looking down from about 8500'.

Hurry up with that dinner, wudja?  Summit sunset, 9080', the 11th highest peak in Washington state.  Al's Chillybuddy(TM) cooling vest is drying at center. I do think it helped keep him cool in the hot sun on the ascent; he wore it above timberline. For water, we melted snow on the stove.

Corgi with altitude.  See where the zero mark is -- 400' above sea level?  That's where it was at home.  The needle's gone more than halfway around. 

Conceivably the corgi altitude record for the Washington Cascades.  A corgi might get higher on some of the volcanoes, but I don't think there are any other 9000' nonvolcanic Cascade peaks a corgi could walk up.  Maude's south ridge is easy, but it has a steep, ice-ax stretch.

An altimeter is a barometer.  If the indicated altitude increases, say, overnight as you stay in one place, that's a bad sign -- barometric pressure dropping, deteriorating weather on the way.  It was rock-steady all weekend.

Sunset view to the northwest.  Although there were no signs of serious incoming weather -- no cloud caps over the volcanoes, no persistent jet contrails, barometer steady -- and you can actually rely on the weather forecast nowadays -- those thin wavy lenticulars (mountain wave clouds) presage the "marine push" of moist Pacific air that will rob us of our summit sunrise.  Lightning flashes on the far distant eastern horizon will spoil my sleep -- people who sleep on lightning rods do not sleep well. It will be a clear dark starry sky, no moon, not too much light pollution, no audible air traffic, just the familiar stars sweeping counterclockwise, until 4 AM -- and we will awake in a whiteout.

Bedtime.  It's very mild weather for 9000'.  Did not freeze, light wind.  Al has his blanket.  I didn't pitch the tent.  I had a sleeping bag and bivvy sack.

Dawn.  Al enjoys a typical Cascade summit view.  Lovely scenery!

A "sucker pocket" unveils Fortress Mt. to our west (Gwynnie has climbed that).  A month later, we'll be sleeping 200' below the crest of that ridge on the right, on the other (west) side, in perfect weather.  We are right in the middle of a thin cloud layer perhaps 1000' thick.  Mostly we see nothing; occasionally blue sky above; occasionally, briefly, this.  It is dramatic.  Looking downsun into the fog, you see your shadow surrounded by a rainbow halo (like you sometimes see from airplanes). To the left, occasional stunning glimpses of Glacier Peak, a 10,500' volcano, plastered with glacier ice.

Time to start down.  Not even the Corgi Mind Control Stare can make the sun come out when it doesn't want to.

I'm getting old.  I don't want to get home at 2:00 AM Monday, so we don't wait for it to clear.  It's maybe 9 AM, down to about 8500'.  You can see how thin the cloud layer is. The climbers camped in the basin below said the summit was just barely in the clouds, and we could see blue sky above us.

Al ponders the descent route -- right-to-left across the photo, on the snow, to the notch at left-center.  The "runout" is fairly safe here, mostly:  if you fall on the snow, as long as you don't hit any of those rock islands, you might not get hurt.  It's a huge snow bowl.  Hitting the rocks might be fatal.  If you're good with an ice ax, you might be able to arrest your fall (that's one of the things it's for).  The snow is soft enough to kick steps; I didn't even use my crampons on the descent, although it would've been prudent.  Soft snow also means a slightly slower slide.  I did not bother to belay Al.  I kicked good steps for him, but I trust him on this terrain in these conditions with a safe runout.  But we did this slowly and carefully.

8000'.  The alpine tundra is sparse but lovely.  There was a chipmunk-type ground squirrel at the summit.  That's why you don't leave you boots out, anywhere; they chew things for the salt.


Almost back to the car.  A wonderful adventure.  Something like 10 miles one-way, 6600' of elevation gain; a challenge, but not really hard.  At the summit, we met two climbers who'd just done the north face (a real climb).  One of them remarked, "that's a real bad-ass dog".  I was inclined to agree.


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Comment by Mickey on October 13, 2011 at 4:15pm
Sophie's an Al Groupie & has pics of him over her bed too!! She heard he played in a band...Badass Corgis.
Comment by Joanne Koppenaal on August 6, 2011 at 8:43am
Looks like a great trip! Never knew about chipmunks and the salt chewing! Fascinating!
Comment by Traci Nudelman on August 6, 2011 at 2:43am
Great pics.  What a handsome corgi!  Is Al from a local breeder?
Comment by Ellen Andersen on August 3, 2011 at 1:36pm
Phenomenal!  That 'sunset view to the Northwest"....holy moly, just drop dead gorgeous!  Having Al along on your trip is just terrific.  He truly is one 'badass dog'!
Comment by Susan Stanton on August 3, 2011 at 12:35pm
Holy cow. What photos, and I suspect Al wasn't the only bad ass on the trip!  Just amazing, we live vicariously through your pics. (Ethel is hanging pics of Al over her bed, shhhhhhh, I'm not supposed to reveal her crush on him...)
Comment by Yuki & Ellie on August 3, 2011 at 9:31am
Absolutely wonderful!  Your adventures always make me wish I could go out hiking!
Comment by Bob and SparkPlug on August 2, 2011 at 8:40pm
Absolutely stunning! Being a flatlander at sea level, I can only dream of the shear beauty of the Pacific NW.
Comment by Gromit, Sparkle, and Doug on August 2, 2011 at 5:18pm
Excellent as always, John.  You and Al are the Dynamic Duo of the Cascades.
Comment by Kari & Quin on August 2, 2011 at 4:45pm
That is gorgeous thanks for the virtual adventure.
Comment by Cheryl Nickel on August 2, 2011 at 2:33pm
John, thank you so much for the tour!  Although, it does make me so homesick for the Pacific Northwest. Stunning photos to boot!!

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