Volcanoes are one of my passions. I climbed Mount St. Helens in 1987. I had to register for a permit the night before, then start at 4 am. It was a 10,000 footer day, 5k up, 5k down! Met some great folks on the climb, including Kelly who grew up near me and knew my sisters. That night we all camped together, and went to some local bar to watch Monday Night Football with the locals!
Spent a week hiking the trails around Mount Rainier. Went back 5 years later with Ricky for more hiking. He did a 5 day Summit, Ice and Crevasse seminar (... it was cold and snowy, so I took off in the van to hike the Olympic Coast for the five days) Someday maybe I'll try to hike the 10 day, 100 mile Wonderland trail that rings the volcano.
My time at Crater Lake was wild! It snowed heavily the night before, so half of the road around the rim was closed. The sunny weather and all the new snow made for a couple of beautiful days.
I spent a few days up on Mt Hood. I bivouacked up high a couple nights, and stayed one evening at the old cabin that was being rebuilt. The ski area there (Timberline) is only open in June, July and August for glacier skiing; the Olympic team practices there duringthe summer!
In 1996 I got to within 250 meters of the 19,000 foot summit of Cotopaxi in Ecuador. One guy on our rope was having serious problems, so after 10 hours of climbing, we turned back. (see my Ecuador page for more details)
In Costa Rica we hired a Guide and a Jeep, packed some tents, and headed up to the base of the very active Volcan Arenal. This volcano erupts continuously, and every half hour or hour it sends up a huge mushroom cloud, lots of sparks and lava, and sometimes the ground shakes violently. We had been staying at a nearby pension for five days watching the thing going wild, so decided to get a close-up look. We didn't sleep much that night thanks to the fireworks. (see Philips photos/story) (excellent Arenal photos)
In Nicaragua, I spent some time on the big island in Lago de Nicaragua. The island is really just two huge ancient volcanoes. I hooked up with Heike and had an awesome (but quite muddy) climb up to and down into the crater of Conception.
Antigua, Guatemala is full of great memories. The city is surrounded by volcanoes, some of which are very active. The famous Volcan Pacaya erupts on a fairly regular basis, but is often quiet enough for the long hike up to the crater. Guards must be hired as escorts, for banditos regularly rob those who attempt the climb alone. After a long rocky hour-and-a-half bus ride to the center of a tiny village, the hike begins. Everyone carries a flashlight, for we will be up on the rim to watch the sunset. The climb takes two hours, and the final push up the steep cinder cone is arduous; with every step forward, one usually slides two steps backwards!. The wind howls incessantly, and ash gets in your eyes, inside every piece of clothing, and is later found in places unmentionable. The group of 15 or so climbers stretches out for several hundred meters, and the stragglers must keep up, or risk meeting up with the banditos! The summit rim is absolutely wild! Looks like a lunar landscape! The view in every direction is incredible. Some of us hike down into the crater, while others simply attempt to stay low to escape the wind. The ground is very warm, and provides welcome relief from the cold wind. Just after sunset, we all bury ourselves up to our necks in the buoyant cinder like sand, and the ground is so warm that it feels like a sauna. Suddenly the fog moves in, and completely envelops the group. We must leave quickly, and attempt to stay closely together to discourage the bandits. We descend rapid in standing or sitting glissades, and the 45 minute climb up now becomes a five minute joyride down! We regroup at the bottom of the cone, but still have a long dark hike back to the bus. We are all sore and exhausted. The ride back to Antigua is cold and bumpy, and most of us doze from exhaustion. Our small group represented nine different countries, and many friends were made! Less than two weeks later as I rode along the Pacific Coast to Monterrico, I watched the Volcan Papaya in the midst of a full eruption! The scene was magnificent, but also a bit of a wakeup call!
Sometime I'll get down to the Hawaii Volcanoes!
Page created and updated by Tim D; March 1999