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RE: [pct-l] Side Climbs
I think your best bet is to be flexible. Don't mail your equipment anywhere
just yet. You will almost certainly change your plans during the summer.
Gather the equipment and keep it with your home contact. It can be mailed
to you if you want it.
Most people, especially those who are on their first thru-hike will find
that finishing the trail is more than enough of a challenge for one summer.
All plans for major climbs will be replaced by plans for major town stops.
Really! Getting enough rest, human contact, and pizza, turns out to be
critical to the success of their primary goal, finishing the trail.
A major climb should not be attempted alone, so you need a buddy or two to
go along. You may be willing, but if your buddy is not... And
coordinating a visit with a friend off the trail is cumbersome. The
off-trail friend needs to know when to meet you. Those on the trail soon
learn that they will get there when they get there. No one can say exactly
when that will be. And if you wait two days to meet a friend from off the
trail, you'll be saying good-bye to the group of friends you've been hiking
with for weeks. For most it's better not to make such commitments.
That being said, there's no excuse for turning the PCT into a 2,665 mile
corridor from which you never stray. In fact, side hikes were critical to
maintaining my positive attitude on the trail.
I didn't realize it at first, but each time I got back on the trail after a
side hike, I could hear my tired body saying, "Hey! We must be doin' okay,
'cause we had the energy to do that side hike!"
The shortest side hikes are some of the most important. The trail often
goes near, but not all the way to, the really great viewpoints. Walk the
extra bit, take your snack break a little early or a little late and enjoy
In '97, most hikers did the Mt. Whitney climb, and enough people were taking
an extra day or two off in Dunsmuir (Castella) to climb Mt. Shasta that one
could find a buddy on the spot. Mt. Shasta requires some extra gear which
can be rented in Dunsmuir, and a ride, which in '97 was generously offered
to all by Adel, the daughter of Milt Kenney. I know of no one in '97 who
did any of the more difficult climbs. (Rainier, Glacier Peak, Hood, etc.)
But the guide book is great at pointing out some of the better class 2 and 3
climbs along the route. Climb as many as you have time, energy, company,
and good weather for. I can personally vouch for Mt. San Jacinto, Baden
Powell, Tinker Knob, Sierra Buttes, Mt. McLoughlin, The Watchman at Crater
Lake, and anything marked "overlook" or "fire lookout" as well worth the
> From: John Drollette
> Sent: Saturday, April 18, 1998 6:14 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [pct-l] Side Climbs
> Howdy all --
> I was wondering about the conventional wisdom about side climbs during a
> thru-hike. Any thoughts? I'm interested in
> experiences/thoughts/recommendations on both side "hikes" (Class 2-3) and
> more technical side projects (Class 4-easy 5). Has anybody tried/thought
> about sending out their big boots, real tent, crampons, harness, rope,
> glacier pro, etc. to, say, Timerline Lodge? (Assuming, this year, that
> are probably carring your axe already <g>)
> I know that time is scarce on a thru-hike, but I didn't do many side trips
> on the AT and regret it. I'd like to do at least one of the classic
> along the PCT.
> Basically, I'm trying to figure out the logistics of climbing Ranier or
> (or Jefferson, or Shasta, or Glacier Peak, etc) during a thru-hike. I had
> tentative plans with a few of my buddies from Boston to come out and meet
> for Ranier and/or Shasta, but it turns out they can't make it. So, I'm
> stuck without anyone on the other end of the rope. Is anybody else on the
> May1-Oct1-ish northbounder plan thinking about these climbs? Let me know!
> 11 days until Campo!
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