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Into Thin Hair

Submitted by slavetogravity on 2003-12-12

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For as long as there have been men who climb mountains, there have been causes for climbers to embrace. Whether it be a first accent of a Baffin Island big wall done in the name of Allah, Jahova, Jesus, or Jennifer Lopez, or a multi national expedition to Everest done to raise awareness of the plight of gay orphan wales, every climber has their cause. So with this in mind, in the spring of 2002 I decided to mount a expedition of my own done to raise awareness of a condition that is suffered by countless men everywhere.

Sadly, every day thousands of male climbers needlessly suffer from a condition comely known as "sleazy teenager moustache disease". The sign of this condition is the near impossible ability to grow facial hair. In climber's society the ability to grow a beard is essential. During the time of the cursory summit photo, a climber must look battered, his cheeks and nose red and peeled from too much sun, his eyes glazed with exhaustion, and his face covered with a thick three o’clock shadow. His appearance must scream, “Hey, look at me, I’m a bad a$$ mountain climbing moe-foe, just look at this beard I’m packing!”

Unfortunately, many mountain men, including my self, will never know such glory. My ability to grow a beard or any other form of facial hair always ends embarrassingly with dead-cancer-ridden-rodent style moustache.

[page] So now that I had a cause, all I needed was a mountain to climb. Given that I had all of five days off work, I decided to go climb Washington's picturesque snow capped volcano, Mt. Baker. Unable to find any climbing partners on such sort notice I decided to go it alone, and climb that big bad mother of a mountain by myself.

After driving all day from my home base in Vernon, B.C., I arrived at the Mt. Baker trailhead at 2pm. Hiking up to the tree line I passed a steady stream of climbers coming down from their weekend climb. Among the countless hoards of descending climbers was a Climbing Ranger. After explaining my cause and discussing my intentions, I was made to listen to the Ranger's own selfless mission in life. Apparetly, she has been climbing laps on Mt. Baker for years trying to raise awarness of the plight of Forest Rangers everywhere. Her dream is to rid the U.S. Forest Service of the dorky uniforms that they are made to wear, and put an end to all the heartless Smokey the Bear jokes that they are made to endure at the hands of the snickering public.

So armed with a better understaing of the world, and info on a good place to make camp, I continued on with my climb. At around 5:30pm I arrived at the top of Helicopter Ridge and rolled out my bivi sack. Had I had arrived there on Saturday afternoon I would have been sharing the mountain with at least 100 other people. But because most people work on Monday, I had the entire mountain to myself.

Waking up at 2:30am the following morning, I wasted little time having breakfast and was packed up with my crampons on by 3:00am. Normally, hiking out alone on a glacier would be a bad idea. But because the weather was clear, the glacier was benign, and my feelings towards my cause were unshakable. I left the security of my camp site, setting off into the unknown.

[page] Three-thousand feet and four-and-a-half hours later, I arrived at the summit. I only wasted about half-an-hour or so at the summit before going down. By 9:30pm, I had returned to my bivi gear and decided to catch my breath and have a quick nap. During my descent, I ran into the only other people I’d see that morning.

Near the toe of the glacier a party of three guys were loafing around their tent. I stopped and spoke to them, and they said they were part of the “What Do Women Want” climbing expedition. They were all bummed out because they had spent the previous evening discussing their failed relationships. Consequently they had slept in that morning preventing them from doing their intended climb. I offered my condolences and went on my way.

By 11:00am, I had returned to my truck looking battered, my cheeks and nose red and peeled from too much sun, and my eyes glazed with exhaustion. But sadly, no beard, no moustache, not so much as a soul patch...just barely a hint of peach fuzz that would suggest I needed to stand closer to my razor.

In closing, my climbing experiences are often good to me. But genetics is often cruel.


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