Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mountains & Memories

There were a lot of news stories here yesterday about the 35th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens,  which got me thinking about "the old days" and prompted me to remember the picture above and dig it from my files.  In my mind, at least, this image ties many bits of history and memories together. Abell is with a Cascade Mountains legend, Louis Ulrich,  on the summit of Bear Creek Mountain near the Goat Rocks, about 1978 or 79.  Among other mountaineering milestones, Louis is credited with the first ascent of Mt. Stuart in 1933 by a route that now bears his name (Ulrich's Couloir.) 

Coincidentally, my buds and I hiked in the Stuart Range this past weekend, and our view of "Louie's Mountain" was amazing (photograph below.)

I first met Louis about 1977 when I was working for the paper in Yakima and photographed and wrote a story about him. Louis and I became good friends and did many hikes and mountaineering scrambles together. He was Swiss,  and, when he moved to Yakima in the early 1930's, brought many Alpine climbing techniques to the Cascades.

It happens that Louis and I were together 35 years ago, hiking near White Pass, when Mt. St. Helens erupted. When dirt fell from the sky and it became dark out (at mid-day,)  Louis and I had to use headlamps to find our way back down the trail to our car.  We slowly drove through the falling dirt and made our way to Yakima (where it was also dark and street lights had come on) and I went right to work, photographing the impact the eruption had on our town.

Even after Leah, Abell and I moved to Seattle in 1980, I'd often make the drive back to Yakima to hike with Louis.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Earthquake in Nepal

Two weeks after a powerful earthquake in Nepal killed more than 8,000 people, news came this morning that a second quake has struck, this one magnitude 7.3 and centered near the village of Namche Bazaar near Mt. Everest.

Namche is a place that Leah and I visited in 2007 and it is very dear to us.  After spending my entire adult life in mountains and never having problems with altitude, I got altitude sickness, big-time, in Namche. The experience scared and humbled me,  and, as I recovered -- with good care from Leah and some gentle, easygoing Nepali friends -- I learned to value each day of life.

Namche Bazaar is also where I first encountered Tibetans (first photo below,)  traders who had made the difficult journey over the Himalaya from Tibet to Nepal and, to me, were quite mysterious.  I guess it can be said that Namche is where my involvement with the Pacific Northwest Tibetan community began.

Early reports say that several dozen people have died in this latest quake;  and, as always,  but particularly today,  my heart is with my brothers and sisters in Nepal.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Prayers for Nepal

Beginning in the 1950's when when the Chinese first invaded Tibet  (and continuing to this day,) Tibetans fleeing their homeland have very often first sought sanctuary in either Northern India,  or Nepal. Thus, when news came to us early Saturday morning of a terrible earthquake in the Himalaya, my friends in the Seattle Tibetan community held their breath because many of them have family or friends still living in that mountainous and isolated land.

Leah and I too were concerned. We first trekked in the Nepal Himalaya for a month in 2007, and this past summer we traveled to northern India, and also back to Nepal. We have friends in that part of the world now, and one Nepali family is particularly dear to us. They live in Kathmandu and we stayed with them for a week in July. 

Several anxiety-filled days passed this week before we were able to make contact with our Nepal friends and learn they are okay. They are living in an open area now, away from buildings that might collapse, apparently taking temporary shelter under some kind of tarp or tent. They told us that about 500 people, now homeless, are clustered at that same open area, and I suspect the scene is repeated all over Kathmandu.

Many of our Seattle neighbors, friends,  and Leah's co-workers at the law firm have been moved by the news they have seen from Nepal. They've stepped forward to contribute money, asking that we wire it to our friends in Kathmandu, which we have done.

I shot today's blog pictures Saturday night when the Tibetan community in Seattle came together at their Buddhist monastery to offer prayers.