Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Wings

I have no other words to describe these, other than if I could only live on three foods, they very well might be (1) chicken wings, (2) bacon, and (3) Frank's Red Hot Sauce. And if we were to pick a nice even number, like, say, 5, the other two would be ranch dressing and beer. Yeah, the last one is totally not primal, but a world without beer isn't really a world worth living in.

Seriously, let's just sit for a minute and analyze the pure awesomeness of bacon-wrapped buffalo wings. They combine two of the greatest things ever -- bacon and hot sauce -- and chicken, arguably one of the biggest staples of the American diet. Ok, I have no idea why I threw that link in there, but it's whatever.

1.5lb chicken wings
Frank's Red Hot Sauce
8oz. bacon
Red pepper (optional)
Toothpicks (they make your life better)

1. Separate the "wing" part of the wing from the "drumette" part. Also, cut off the bony/skinny "end" of the wing.
*I didn't take a picture of this, because I unfortunately lack a third hand that could have conveniently operated the camera while my other two were busy getting really really cold and covered in raw chicken, but here's a highly professional illustration to clear up any confusion:
Of course, if you buy a package of pre-cut wings/drumettes, you won't have to do this, at all, but I can't always find those.

2. Put the wings/drumettes in a pan and sprinkle them with red (cayenne) pepper. Use however much you want according to your own preferences -- I like things pretty spicy.

3. Bake the chicken wings (in an oven at 350F) for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the wings (mine were pretty big, and half-frozen when I took them out of the package, so if you get smaller ones you'll need less time. You want the chicken to be at least partly cooked.

4. Take the wings out of the oven. Cut your bacon strips in half (I had thick-cut bacon, if you're using wimpy thin bacon you might want to use a whole strip per wing).

5. Pour hot sauce on the chicken. Not just like a few drops, you want the wings friggin drenched in this stuff.

6. Wrap a piece of bacon around each wing and secure with a toothpick. Depending on the circumference of the wing, this may be easier or more complicated. But since you're a primal rockstar and therefore your brain isn't all effed up by sugar and chemicals, I'm sure you can figure it out.

7. Put the chicken wings back in the pan, and pour more hot sauce on them. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes.

8. Turn the chicken wings over (you want the bacon to get crispy on all sides). Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

9. Eat. Revel in the all-American glory of wrapping an all-American food in another all-American food.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gluten Free Biscuits and Gravy

This is so American, it should be red, white, and blue. Well, that might be a bit awkward ... I'm sure psychologists around the world have some theories about how the color that a food is supposed to be impacts our culinary perception of it ... but that's a discussion for people with multiple advanced degrees, which I don't have.

Now I'll forewarn you, this isn't completely primal, because it does involve cornstarch (but I used the stuff made from non-GMO corn!), but it has no gluten, and it's damned good for those cold wintery days when you just want a good hearty breakfast.

2 pieces of Rivvin's amazing gluten-free bread
1lb pork breakfast sausage
1 T non-GMO cornstarch
1/2 C heavy cream

1. Make the gluten-free biscuits following the directions in the link above.
2. In a skillet, cook pork over medium heat for ~10 minutes, stirring to ensure meat gets browned.

3. Add cream and stir. Continue to cook for about 3 more minutes
4. Dissolve cornstarch in 1T water. Add to meat/cream mixture simultaneously while stirring it. Gravy should thicken almost immediately

5. If desired, toast the bread a little bit using broiler (or toaster, though I imagine most primal folks don't own one).
6. Serve gravy over the bread. This meal is PACKED with fat and should keep you going all day. Great for powder days... if you get up in time to make it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poblano Pepper Ultra-Rellenos

Have I mentioned yet how much I love Mexican food? There's a vendor at the Farmer's Market that sells a couple dozen different varieties of peppers ... awesome.

These are basically like chili rellenos, only instead of being stuffed with cheese, I used a mixture of chicken, zucchini, onion, and cheese, to make this into a full meal rather than a side dish. Still, the basic principal could be used to make gluten-free chili rellenos.

8 medium-sized poblano peppers
1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 a medium onion
1 medium zucchini
4-5 oz queso or cojita cheese
4 eggs
3T almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1T melted butter/oil
Garlic powder
Chili powder
Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Part 1: Roasting/seeding the chilies 
The easiest way to do this is in the oven, using the broiler. 
1a) Put the chilies on a flat pan (I used a pie pan) and stick them under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes, until the skin starts to blister. Turn them over and put them back in the oven, so the skin gets blistered on all sides.

1b) Remove the chilies from the oven and immediately place in a ziplock bag. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes in the bag; the steam will help seperate the outer skin from the flesh of the pepper.

1c) Take the peppers out of the bag and carefully remove the outer skin, taking care not to tear the pepper underneath. 
1d) Cut the top of each chili off, trying not to rip the sides of the pepper open. Don't worry about it if you do; it's really just an aesthetic thing. Scoop out all the seeds and discard. Set the peppers aside.

Part 2: Preparing the filling
2a) Chop up the zucchini and onion into relatively small pieces.
2b) Heat some  butter or coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano. Saute for about 10 minutes until the onions soften up a bit.
2c) Transfer the zucchini and onion to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
2d) Chop up the chicken thighs (raw) into bite sized pieces. Cook them in the same skillet you just cooked the zucchini and onion in. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and chili powder*(optional)
2e) When the chicken is done (should cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally), put it in the same bowl with the zucchini and onion. Crumble up the cojita/queso and add it to the bowl as well. Mix it all up really good.

Part 3: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
Forgive the stupid philosophy title for this. I was just attempting to be creative.
3a) Using a spoon, carefully fill each pepper with the chicken/vegetable mixture. Set the peppers in a baking dish (you know, the rectangular ones ... 9"x11", I think).

3b) If there's any mixture left over, just distribute it in the baking dish between the peppers.
3c) In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add almond flour and baking powder, mix thoroughly
3d) Pour the egg/almond flour mixture over the peppers
3e) Bake at 350 for 17-18 minutes
3f) Remove from oven, sprinkle grated cheddar over the top. Bake for an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese (if you don't do this step, bake it for 22-23 minutes to begin with)

These things are amazing. I'm going to have to make them again. Soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

TR: Mt. Rainier + Broccoli and Leek Bake

Yeah, neither of those things have anything to do with each other. But this blog is called "Grok On Rock," so both of them fit what the subject matter theoretically should be.

Peak: Mount Rainier
Location: Cascade Volcanoes, Washington, USA
Elevation: 14,411' (4392m)
Route: Disappointment Cleaver (Grade II)
Distance/Elevation Gain: ~12 miles (RT) / 9000'

Rainier TR can be found here. I went non-paleo for the climb because it was convenient and suffered as a result. I'm pretty much sold on this lifestyle as being ideal for optimal athletic performance ... now it's just a matter of figuring out the logistics of cooking and eating primal-friendly meals on an epic mountaineering expedition in a foreign country where I don't speak the language. 

Now, on to the Broccoli and Leek Bake, which makes an excellent side dish for dinner and would probably be really good for breakfast as well:

1 leek
1/2 of a medium sized broccoli... whatever a chunk of broccoli is called.
3 eggs
1/6C cream (or almond milk if you're dairy free)
2T coconut flour
2T butter/bacon fat/some other kind of fat
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Chop the broccoli and leek up into small, bite size pieces.
3. Grease a loaf pan and dump the broccoli and leeks into it.
4. In a bowl (duh), whisk together the eggs, cream, and melted butter/bacon fat. Add salt and pepper, then coconut flour.
5. Mix batter thoroughly, then pour over the broccoli and leeks. Make at least a half-assed attempt to distribute it evenly; it's a fairly viscous batter.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.

The end result was a little breadier (not as custardy) as I'd like, so at some point I'll play around with it. Still, I'm a single, somewhat-poor graduate student, so playing around with recipes can be a long drawn out process ... I can only eat so much at one time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Balsamic Marinated Chicken

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp coriander
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts ... I used thighs because they're cheaper)

Thoroughly mix all ingredients except chicken. Place chicken thighs in a tupperware/airtight container, pour about half the marinade over them, then stab each one with a fork a couple times. I'm not sure if this helps, but I did it anyway. Pour the rest of the marinade over them and refrigerate overnight.
Melt some butter or bacon fat in a cast-iron or nonstick pan. Put the chicken thighs in the pan, then pour the rest of the sauce over them, and cook about 10 to 15 minutes, turning once.

There was still some yummy sauce left in the pan after the chicken was cooked, so I cooked some veggies (onions, peppers, squash) in that. Delicious. I made some tzatziki sauce to go with this, and it was awesome. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pistachio "Paleo" Bread

Did she just say "dessert?" Absolutely. How un-primal. Everyone is really good and nice and 100% faithful to the primal diet and doesn't ever even think about eating sweet things. Yeah, keep telling yourselves that. It's not like nuns/monks/priests ever think about having sex ... oh, wait ...

So I took the basic idea/methodology behind the almond/flax bread in the previous post and switched things up a little. I made this bread with pistachios, added a little stevia to sweeten it, and topped it with cherries and whipped cream.

If you don't think this looks delicious, you are not human.
PS -- it is made with pistachios, but during the preparation I burnt them a bit while trying to dry them out after blanching them, so that's why the bread/cake doesn't look very green. It still tasted good (and I'm sure it would be even better without slightly burnt pistachios).

To start off, you'll need to grind up pistachios, effectively making "pistachio meal." Take a bunch of pistachios and shell them. About half a cup of shelled pistachios should give you enough ... I used more than that and had way more pistachio meal than I needed (guess I'll have to make this again... damn, what a shame).

Part 1: Blanching The Pistachios
In a small saucepan, bring about 1 cup of water to a boil. Drop the pistachios in and remove from heat immediately. Let the pistachios sit in the water for about a minute, then drain the water. The pistachio skins should peel off pretty easily now.

Part 2: Drying The Pistachios.
I live in the Northwest, and it's pretty humid here (though not as bad as Michigan!), so I figured I'd dry the pistachios out a bit in the oven before grinding them down. Problem was, I got distracted by funny youtube videos and left them in there a little too long. They'd probably have turned out a lot better if I'd have not left them in there too long. Oh well.

Part 3: Making Pistachio-Meal
Throw them in your food processor and grind 'em up! You'll probably end up with a few small coarse sand-sized fragments, but they don't affect the quality of the final product as long as you get most of them ground up pretty fine.

Part 4: Making Pistachio Cake
Follow the directions for Rivvin's Bread, but use the pistachio meal (duh) and add a bit of stevia. Yeah, stevia. If you're a "paleo purist" who has a problem with stevia, then GTFO.

Top with whatever you want. I used cherries and whipped cream, and it rocked.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The "Bread" of Life

Well. I have a lot to say, not much of which is paleo-diet related, so I'm going to make a quick food post today because there's been way too many posts that aren't recipes recently. As in, two. Whatever.

I can't take credit for this wonderful, heavenly, ridiculously awesome creation. As a real geologist (wtf?), though, it is a godsend.

The ultimate bread recipe from Rivvin of the Mark's Daily Apple Forum.

At first, I was a little apprehensive -- I was like, bread? In the microwave? No way. But I made it, and it works, and it actually has a taste and texture that resembles that of real bread.

I generally use a mixture of both almond and flax meal, and I've done some variations, including adding rosemary and making it with bacon fat instead of butter (I've never used coconut oil for this; I hate the taste of coconut oil combined with anything involving eggs), and it is good! I can eat sandwiches again! Now, I just need a woman to make me one while playing Call of Duty.

But this food-related post suddenly became really non-food-related, so, back to the bread/sandwich!
Today I took a BLMCT (Bacon Lettuce Mushroom Cheese Tomato) sandwich to work, and it ruled.

Seriously, this bread actually functions like real bread... it doesn't fall apart like 99% of the almond/coconut/flax/etc bread recipes out there ... it stands up to all that and more. I used it as a hamburger bun (and I make ginormous hamburgers). Huh. The fact that "ginormous" is not highlighted is funny, because I'm pretty sure that isn't a word, but Microsoft thinks it is.

This bread is so awesome, I'm going to try it with other types of nut meal (I have a small food processor so I can easily grind my own), and more additions. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Warrior Dash

This race was awesome. Seriously, there are no other words to describe it. Last Saturday I went up to North Bend, Washington, for a 3.5 mile race complete with walls to climb over, mud pits, and of course, jumping over fire. Hell. Yes. And, of course, I'd say it definitely falls within the definition of "primal blueprint fitness" ... yes, it's running, but the random obstacles that are encountered along the way could be analogous to a paleolithic hunter-gatherer having to climb over rocks or trees or something while chasing down his/her next meal, right? I think so.
I made a costume (ridiculous warrior costumes were encouraged at this event) ... basically got the idea from Spartacus (if you haven't watched it, you should, this show is hot. And I mean that literally). I raced in the first wave, at 08:00, which meant I was done around 08:45 (it was only 3.5 miles), which meant: turkey legs and IPA for breakfast. Again, hell yes.

I don't really have anything deep or meaningful to say today, because fun Warrior Weekend aside, I've had a lot on my mind recently -- with both work and personal-life-type stuff, but I'm not going to clutter up a post about jumping over fire and drinking beer and eating turkey legs and being all-around badass with stupid bullshit like that.
More profound post(s) soon to come, along with recipes, and other paleo-related stuff that this blog is supposed to actually be about.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Life Is Awesome

In the last week, I have done the following:
1. Gone snowboarding
2. Rode around the Mount St. Helens Crater in a helicopter.
3. Gone rock-climbing

Yeah. Pretty sure it's gonna be a while before I have a week that can top that.
I have the most kickass job in the world. Even though it's only for a summer, I can confidently say that I'm pretty sure no one I know has a job that can top this. I really don't care if you're getting $25/hr to log cores or some shit like that, I get paid to ride around in a helicopter. WIN. This summer has been all about the transition from being a college kid who (technically) still lives at home (i.e. goes home for holiday breaks, etc) to a young adult who is starting a career and a life. HOLYFUCKSHITSOMEONESLAMTHEBREAKSIMNOTREADYFORTHIS! But it's cool. I'm 23, and I gotta grow up sometime, right?
With all the scariness of this aside, I'm in a great place right now. This job is giving me great and valuable experiences in geology, that I can apply to just about any career I decide to pursue. I kind of left Western with the idea that I'd do the same thing that 99% of people with this degree do: go into the oil and gas industry and make a fortune ripping big holes in the earth. But maybe that isn't going to be it. I have (at least) a semester of grad school to figure this all out, anyway (since many of my graduate classes will be influenced by my intended career path). Options are a nice thing to have.
I'll be honest, I was fairly skeptical of the Northwest when I first moved here, but I was all like "well this is where I'm working for the summer, and it beats the hell out of going to Texas to work for an oil company" so I figured I would just roll with it. But I actually like it here. Never, ever thought that there would be any place in this country (or on this planet, even) that I would enjoy just as much as the West, but Oregon and Washington are pretty cool. I'm not a fan of the humidity, and I'm sure I'd hate the winters, but the fact that I got to snowboard in JULY was pretty awesome.

Me and my fellow USGS intern, Tyler Kent (aka TK), after snowboarding on Mt. Hood

We drove up the night before and slept in the back of my SUV (there really isn't anywhere to camp there). Woke up around 05:00 on Sunday morning and hiked up the climber's trail (adjacent to the ski area) ... well, I hiked, TK skinned up because the lucky bastard has a splitboard, psssh. It's a slog (which I knew, having been up to the summit of Hood last month), but it was kinda nice actually having gotten some sleep the night before. The wind sucked, because when you're carrying a snowboard it acts like a giant sail, but it wasn't like I had anything else to do that morning. We continued above the top of the Palmer lift to about 9500', and enjoyed the ride down. The snow above the ski area was pretty crunchy, and my legs were sore as hell from going to CrossFit the day before, so it was nice to get on the slush of the actual ski area. About 4 hours up, 15 minutes down, haha, but it was worth it.

Ok, on to highlight #2 (chronologically): riding around Mount St. Helens in a helicopter. The USGS has a bunch of monitoring equipment set up to monitor volcano-related hazards (not just eruptions, but also lahars and the like), but due to the remoteness of the sites and the sheer volume of equipment that must be transported, the easiest way to set up this stuff is to fly it in with a helicopter.

Slinging a load out of one of the geophone sites

I was with two other scientists, working on a geophone setup in one of the drainages below the actual mountain. We were out all day, and it was hard work (digging holes, pounding in fenceposts, mixing and pouring concrete, etc), but it was awesome. Fucking awesome. At the end of the day, they took me up and flew around the crater and down one of the canyons. It was amazing; helicopters fly really low so you can get great views of the geologic features.

I don't really have a picture or anything to say about the rock climbing other than that there's a pretty sweet sport climbing crag relatively close to the office where I work that I've gone to with TK a couple times now.

But, to recap:
1. I have a job that I like, it pays decent money, I get to go cool places for field work, and it is giving me great experience for
any career path that I choose.
2. I live relatively close to some nice climbing/mountaineering/snowboarding destinations.
3. For a big city, Portland is pretty cool. It's the first
real big city I have lived in. It was definitely a bit of a culture shock, coming from western Colorado, but I really dig it. There's a great Farmer's Market downtown on Saturdays, and because we're so close to the coast, there's vendors that even sell fish/seafood! Awesome.

In conclusion, my life is awesome.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Smoky Red Cabbage

It's summer, and we're paleo, so we like to have barbecues and grill large pieces of dead animals, right? Well, me, not so much, because there isn't a grill at the house where I live, and it really likes to rain in Portland, a lot, but hey, it's whatever. Of course, being paleo creates a need for barbecue-esque side dishes that replace the traditional macaroni salad and sugar-laden mixtures of fruit, jello, and cool-whip.

I actually didn't make this for a barbecue, I just made it because I had red cabbage to use, but it seems like it would go pretty good with a plate full of grilled meat. I ate it with curried shrimp, because that was what I had, but hey, it's whatever! (That phrase is pretty much the theme of this summer)


One head of red cabbage

Half a red onion
2 T bacon fat (or butter, but bacon fat adds to the barbecue-esque flavor)
2-3 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp liquid smoke (I didn't actually measure, I'm just guessing on this)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Either slice or finely chop red onion.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, melt bacon fat over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and saute for about 2-3 minutes. While the onion is cooking, slice red cabbage into fine strips, like this:

Add the cabbage and water to the pan. Turn heat to medium/low and simmer, covered, about ten minutes, until cabbage begins to soften. Add salt, pepper, liquid smoke, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow some of the liquid to cook off.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

TR: Mt. Hood

Peak: Mount Hood
Location: Cascade Volcanoes, Oregon, USA
Elevation: 11,239' (3425m)
Route: South Side/Old Chute
Distance/Elevation Gain: 8 miles RT / 5300'

Yesterday, at 05:58 PDT, I summited my first Cascade Range volcano: Mt. Hood. The Oregon state highpoint, Hood looms an impressive 11,240 feet above the surrounding lowlands of the Columbia River Gorge. On a clear day in Portland (which is a rather rare occurrence), it can be viewed in all its glory as a snow-covered giant towering above the rivers and forests to the east -- a sight that could awe even the most urban-to-the-core individual.

My trip began on the evening of June 9, when I met up with my climbing partner, Eric, and left Portland around 21:45. There was a fair bit of cloud cover, but not enough to worry me. We arrived at the Timberline Ski Area parking lot around 23:30 and started up the trail shortly thereafter.

The first two miles or so were a slog through the slushy snow of the climbers' trail that ascends to the top of the Palmer chairlift along the ski area boundary. The path is regularly traveled by snowcats, which, added to the warm temperatures during the day on Thursday, made for an awkward-bordering-on-frustrating approach. We kept a relatively steady pace, ascending about 1,000 feet per hour and reaching the top of Palmer around 02:00, at which time we stopped for a snack and some water.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kind Bars are an excellent choice for the active individual trying to eat primal/paleo. Not only are they delicious, they are made of natural and (mostly) paleo-friendly ingredients. They do have honey, but I don't consider that entirely non-paleo (especially if eaten during intense physical activity. Additionally, they're pretty calorie dense, which is always good for climbing trips.

Temperatures were relatively warm for the first couple of hours, but by the time we got to the top of Palmer, things had started to cool off a bit, and the snow was getting firmer. This did wonders for my morale - I'd been a bit nervous at the beginning of the climb about the snow conditions, given the warm temperatures that the region had experienced over the past week and the ambiguous report of a slide/ice-fall event that had injured climbers the day before.

The sky remained relatively clear -- a few minutes after we started up, some clouds had started to form, but they quickly dissipated, leaving us with a night of stars and a half-moon that glowed orange amidst a few clouds (I'm not sure if that's common for the northwest, but I thought it was pretty awesome). At one point, I turned my headlamp off to admire the stars -- an experience that I took for granted living in Colorado that is now unfortunately absent from my life in the northwest -- and I even saw a shooting star. I took this, along with the orange moon and hearing "Living After Midnight" on the radio earlier, as good signs for the day ahead, and continued onward into the darkness. The faint silhouette of Mt. Hood against the dark sky was imposing, but I was thankful for the fact that it was clear enough to actually see the mountain.

First light on Mt. Hood

Around 04:00, we were about 500 feet below the Hogsback and it was beginning to get lighter. There is nothing in this world quite like witnessing the sky's magnificent transformation from dark, alluring blue, to brilliant purples and pinks, and finally back to a paler shade of blue from the slopes of a mountain. As the morning light danced off snow-covered ridges and slopes, illuminating the snow and the sea of low-lying clouds below us, we trudged upward. We reached the Hogsback and traversed left over Hot Rocks -- a patch of angular rocks and dirt left bare by the heat from volcanic processes deep within the mountains bowels -- up towards the base of the Old Chute.

Looking over at the West Crater Rim approach - the blurry spot on the left side of the image is actually steam from a fumarole!

Small fumaroles drifted off several exposed patches of rock near the Hogsback, engulfing the area with the smell of sulfur. If anything, this motivated me to ascend faster; it becomes rather unpleasant after the first few minutes. Furthermore, this area is well above 10,000 feet, so my body was already feeling the altitude (I know, I know!), and the last thing I needed was to be breathing in volcanic gasses.

Looking up over Hot Rocks toward the Old Chute. You can see two climbers traversing towards the Chute from West Crater Rim.
The initial part of the ascent up the Old Chute was relatively straight-forward ... the slope wasn't terribly steep and the snow was, for the most part, pretty good. Near the top -- about the last hundred feet or so -- the chute becomes very narrow (about 10 feet wide) and steepens to around 55 degrees. This, by itself, presents no great challenge, but the quality of the snow near the top was considerably more dubious, consisting mostly of hard ice and rotten snow.

This was the most trying part of the ascent (and would be the most trying part of the descent -- but more on that later). Having already ascended more than 5,000 vertical feet on no sleep, and being at an elevation more than 10,000 feet higher than where I'm used to living, I was, for lack of better words,
wiped the hell out. And there I was, on a slope that I know is too steep to self-arrest (especially in my fatigued state), standing on my frontpoints, gasping for air, every muscle in my legs screaming at me. My heart was pounding as I continued up, willing my legs to keep moving. The fact that I was front-pointing the entire way was both comforting (the slope was too steep for anything else) and unsettling (my entire fate rested on four crampon points forced into sketchy snow, not to mention I was sure my calves were going to give up with every moment I hesitated). Furthermore, clouds were starting to enshroud the summit, adding to the pressure to get the hell up (and get the hell back down).

After a few more moments of pain, I finally reached the top of the chute. I could see the silhouettes of some other climbers on the summit, across a thin ridge less than 50 meters away. My climbing partner made sure I was okay to cross the summit ridge -- it is not very long but it drops off steeply on either side, so a fall from there would more than likely be fatal. At 05:58, amidst the clouds and blowing snow, I reached the summit of Mt. Hood. We didn't stay there for long -- I took about two minutes to rest, take a couple bites of food, and drink some water, and then began to descend. We had no way of knowing if the clouds were going to get worse, and didn't want to risk descending in deteriorating conditions. Of course, about ten minutes later, the summit cleared up. Figures.

The summit ridge of Mt. Hood

The descent down the Old Chute was anything but fun. After a few sketchy steps and dubious crampon placements, I realized that this was beyond my comfort level. We went back up to the top of the chute and roped up, descending two 100-foot pitches belayed from a snow-picked anchor down the rotten snow and ice. After this, we stayed rope but essentially simul-climbed (simul-downclimbed?) down until we were a couple hundred feet above Hot Rocks, at which point we continued down unroped.

For some reason, I get these hot spots right on my toes from my leather mountaineering boots (La Sportiva Glacier EVOs), which made the descent pretty painful. Once we reached the Hogsback, we decided to continue down another 500 feet to the flat spot where we had stopped before. It was 500 feet of torture.

Looking bad-ass with my frozen hair

Once I got there, I asked my climbing partner (who works in medicine): "I have two Percocet, a ton of prescription-strength ibuprofen, and a shooter of pomegranate Smirnoff. What combination of this shit will give me the most powerful pain-reducing effect without making me pass out up here?"

Not wanting to take too many risks, especially considering the lack of sleep I was operating on, I took one of the ibuprofen, ate a Mojo bar, drank some water, and continued down. After a couple hundred feet, I stopped, realized that
walking all the way down a snow-covered slope was stupid, took my crampons off, and glissaded. The snow was pretty crunchy -- not optimal for glissading -- but it was a hell of a lot nicer than walking. I alternated between walking and glissading for the rest of the way down to the top of Palmer. The snow was a little rough, and lumpy in places, but again, it was nicer than walking.

Quote of the day: "Now I know what it feels like to get fucked in the ass by a snowball!"

After a couple more hours of slogging down the slushy snow of the climbers' trail adjacent the ski area (while enviously watching people ride the terrain park features) in the baking sun, we finally reached the parking lot. Taking my boots off at that point might have been the best feeling in the world.

Overall, I think this peak was a good introduction to the Cascades, where I hope to climb many more peaks over the next couple of years. The approach sucks, but apparently I have similar slogs to look forward to on Rainier and Adams. The snow is a lot different than Colorado snow climbs. But hey, it's something new and different, and that's what this part of my life is supposed to be about.