Climbing Yonah

Posted: December 22, 2008 in Traveling
Tags: , ,

(This is a long one, but you’ll enjoy it!)

The Mountain Top in the Background Behind the Trees as seen from about 1/4th up the Mountain
The Mountain Top in the Background Behind the Trees as seen from about 1/4th up the Mountain

Marked Trails, Mountain Safety Books, Avoiding Ice Covered Slopes, Using Professional Climbing Gear…… how could that possibly lead to a fun mountain climbing experience? Well that is apparently the question Tony Elrod, our expedition leader, asked himself before todays hike. What conclusion did Tony come to?  Apparently he decided all of those things are the ways of the weak, the ways of those far inferior to our expert climbing skills…… wait, let’s rewind….

Last Friday I heard through a friend that a group from my former youth group was going hiking up Mount Yonah. Of course I wanted to take part in this because what way is better to spend a Monday morning but leisurely hiking up the face of a Mountain in the beautiful winter months where the temperature had been averaging over 60 degrees all week! I emailed Tony to let him know that I was in for this expedition. For those of you who don’t know what Mt. Yonah is I’ve got a picture of it for you. It’s the large granite rock behind the tree line. I took this photo from about 1/4th up the “trail”.

My Hiking Look with the Bag

My Hiking Look with the Bag

So anyway, back to the story, we met at the church at 9am to head to breakfast and then to the trail. Michaela’s dad had packed her a massive REI backpack that I believe he packed in the event we were stranded for weeks in the mountains. Some of the contents included a complete first aid kit, waterproof matches, a huge water pouch and I think I may of even saw Flare Guns, Bow and Arrows, Dart Guns, Tents and an emergency surgery kit. However I will say the food that was packed came in quite handy! Of course I couldn’t make Michaela carry this 125 pound pack up the mountain (Ok, maybe not 125 pounds) so I put it over my shoulders and strapped it on.

Also, although it has been over 60 degrees all week, today was the COLDEST day of the year with the temperature only around 19 degrees when we left!

We then set out on the trail. Now, to get to the top of Mt. Yonah there are two main options. The one most traveled encompasses mainly an old road bed that winds its way up the mountain… this is the one I was led to believe we were traversing on… and for the more advanced there is the “expert” trail that goes up a little more steep slope. So which of these did we choose? Well, neither would be the correct answer! Apparently when Tony looks at a mountain he chooses to climb as the crow flies, therefor we headed straight up the mountain!

Me after climbing the first Slope

Me after climbing the first Slope

Straight up the mountain you ask? You all must be experienced, avid climbers you say! I’m sure you carried tons of climbing gear you yell at the top of your lungs! The answer to both is not at all. In fact, I haven’t been hiking in a long while and the only piece of climbing equipment was a rope. We kept climbing though and reached our first major rock face. We all take a short break sitting at the face thinking we’re about to walk around it when Tony somehow appears at the top of the rock and is tieing up a rope! Now, I look at this rock and I think… I can take that! So, I back up, get a running start, and tackle the first slope! I get about 6 feet up and start to feel like I’m falling but I keep on going. Making it to the first ledge I hear Tony “What are you doing! You’re crazy!” so I stop and wait for him to throw the rope. I then use it to hold onto and climb the rest of the way.  The others were still at the bottom and wrapped the rope one by one around their bodies and climbed up.

The Guys... Tony, Me, Jr., Chris, Cody

The Guys... Tony, Me, Jr., Chris, Cody

Thinking the worst was over we headed out on our next piece of the trail. Approaching a sheer cliff of solid ice… ok, ok, maybe not a sheer cliff and maybe not of solid ice, but it was a steep rocky slope with plenty of ice… we think surley not this slope to! Tony tells us to sit still and he disappears around the corner. About ten minutes later he appears at the top of that slope and is tieing up the rope! At this point we are panicking! I make a few phone calls to tell people that the group leader is CRAZY and that I love them and for them to remember me!

Part of the Ice Slope!

Part of the Ice Slope!

Then Tony starts throwing the rope down to us. The first to tackle the slope was Blake Jr.. Slipping and sliding up the slope with Tony pulling hard he finally makes it to the top. Next was Chris Baker who seemed to take quite a bit longer than Jr.. Then was Renee and Cody. Left at the bottom was Michaela and I so I let Michaela go first leaving me at the bottom alone! After Michaela made it to the top it was my turn to tie the rope around my body and climb the mountain of ice! After a treacherous and often dangerous climb I made it to the top unscathed.

Me Climbing the Steep Part

Me Climbing the Steep Part

Thinking it was over I smile with accomplishment before looking up and seeing the next slope! This one wasn’t long but it was steep! We adjusted order this time which means that I wasn’t last… and I wasn’t complaining! We made it to the top of this slope and the main assent was completed… notice I say assent!

Michaela Climbing the Steep Part... Me behind her

Michaela Climbing the Steep Part... Me behind her

Upon reaching the top of the rock there was a large patch of grass where we all laid down for a break. Tony comes over and says “I’m going to the rock face to lay down!” Thinking that would mean it would be right across the hill we all hopped up to join. Well, you can probably guess, it wasn’t right across the hill! Another hike ensued before we finally made it over! However, when we made it over it was beautiful! The view was amazing, and, without seeming too “sports movie” it really felt awesome to know we had just cimbed that! Here are a few pictures from the “Top of the Rock”

Me on Top of the Rock

Me on Top of the Rock

Me in deep thought atop the mountain

Me in deep thought atop the mountain

The only spot I could find to hold the camera for our Auto Timer Group Shot

The only spot I could find to hold the camera for our Auto Timer Group Shot

Me Swinging on the Vine

Me Swinging on the Vine

After a brief stay atop the mountain which included a small “lunch” break (Thanks Robin for the food 🙂 we turned around and headed back down the mountain. “Easy” is the word Tony had used to describe the descent. However, did we stay on the trail? No way! We headed straight down the mountain! Straight down the mountain means that we basically slipped and slide all the way down…

Me, Chris and Michaela on our way down

Me, Chris and Michaela on our way down

So… was this the most fun I’ve ever had on a hiking expedition? Absolutely! Now, that doesn’t mean I would do every hiking trip this way… but I would gladly do it again with the group of amazing people I was with! The fear and danger only added to the excitement of the day! I’ll never drive by that mountain and think of it the same way again.

Disclaimer: Ok, I may have exaggerated a little on some of the stories, but that is definitely what it seemed like at the time!

Thanks to my awesome expedition team:
Michaela, Chris, Blake Jr, Renee, Cody and our Fearless Leader Tony
Oh, and my sister Emily who couldn’t go but stayed with Tony’s wife and kid to keep them company 🙂

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Comments
  1. chrisbaker102 says:

    omg !!!

    that is all i have to say

  2. Michaela says:

    That was an AWESOME but SCARY trip! WOW!
    Tony never stops does he..lol but ya got to love him! That was a BLAST! You ready to go again? yeah right. I have a feeling I won’t be going back anytime soon.. 🙂

    -Michaela
    (the mountain climber)

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