The past few weeks have been full of all kinds of granite-based fun; a couple weekends in Squamish, a whole lot of pitches on the Chief, running out slab on the Apron, snagging a team division win at Leavenworth Rockfest, and all kinds of stuff in between. If I'm learning anything in school, it's how to wring every last drop of fun out of the weekends.

While I've been hanging out in the rockier corners of the Northwest, the skis have been sitting in the corner of my dorm just begging to be taken for a walk. Still wanting to keep my climbing mojo going, I opted to combine the two and get a nice multisport day in the WA Pass area. I've hiked or ran every trail within a pretty decent radius of WA Pass at least twice, but never had the chance (or gear, or skill) to sample the skiing and climbing that the area is truly known for. Blue Lake was one of my first "real" hikes back when I was just knee high to a grasshopper, and now that some years have gone by and I've surpassed the height of most grasshoppers, it was great to pull in to the same trailhead with a little different objective and means of transportation in mind.

We started the day just as the car campers were poking their heads out from their truck-bed bivy bags and squinting in the filtered sunlight. The snow was frozen, the trail easy to follow. Not too long after entering the clearing, I hit an icy patch and stabbed my pole into the ground to stop the backslide, and bent the lower third of my pole at nice angle. A bit of a bummer, but we dug the edges in and skied right up the base of the Liberty-Concord gully where we put the skis on the packs and booted. In the shaded, frozen gully, kicking steps was easy and everything stuck to the mountain like it should; but as the sun warmed the east faces behind us, massive avalanches rained down from the hanging snowfields above Blue Lake - leaving us thankful that there was nothing but solid rock above us. Upon reaching the notch, we ran into two other parties and stepped in ahead of them.

I'm sure a lot of people here are familiar with the Beckey Route, so I probably don't need to go into a whole lot of detail but I did think the climbing was super fun for the grade, complete with half a rack's worth of fixed gear if you ever took the time to hammer it out. I took us off the ground and then we swapped leads - the 3rd pitch I thought was a blast once you got past the scrambling, the second pitch I probably would've enjoyed more if I wasn't following and trying to thrutch up the chimney with a pack on (weighted chimney climbs have been a theme for me lately apparently). We scrambled most all of the 4th almost-a-pitch, though I belayed my partner up the boulder problem.

All in all, it felt good to stand on a summit I've been looking up at more or less since I could walk, and spend a day in one of my favorite areas of the state. Three straightforward raps with a 60 took us to the notch, and though the sun had gone away, the snow gave us the signal it was time to harvest the corn fields. I was happy to not be booting down that gully! As always, the long run back to the car was just the icing on top the cake du jour.