Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Managing my Drive Through Storms

At first, I arrived at Mt. Hood to find that I was a month too late to climb it safely; this was a month into rock-fall season, and I could see the very large bolder-skid tracks on Mt. Hood's main slope all the way from the Timberline Lodge. If a bolder had dislodged on that slope, and started heading towards me, jumping out of the way would mean sliding down the mountain right next to it. Never the less, I would have tried it anyway ;), except that the storm I had been hearing about then covered the top as I was climbing towards it.

So I waited out the storm at my friend Dave's, while catching up on Internet work, and apparently during my elation over working on two Internet jobs, I waited a day too long. Now I have one more day left - tomorrow - before a huge, week-long storm rolls in and covers the mountaintops with snow. There is something about multi-tasking that, regardless of "my super-human ability to concentrate," I don't seem to be getting. Perhaps, with a little luck and a Hell-of-a-lot more time sacrifice, I will get it before having to do all 4 remaining mountains as soon as climbing season roles around again next year. I just want to say that I hope the flack I get for this, from those I know, will be at a minimum. ,'-) I'm going to need even more strength then I did this year, as I am very behind schedule at this point.

Anyway, I'm off now to attempt the only mountain that is practically a guaranteed success this year---Mt. Adams.

Below are some really awesome comments that some of my friends and family left me after my last entry. They were moving enough that there was no way I was going to keep from sharing them. Really.

See you at the top!


P.S. Read the last entry if you find yourself somehow lost.


"Maybe the ultimate determination of whether you "succeeded" or "failed" is not going to be what peaks you scaled, but what musical results you came up with during this project...... and how this experience might positively affect subsequent musical efforts." -Jim Goetsch

"Don't worry about how your trip is going, or what others may think. Those who really believe in you will never question what you are doing!!! I personally am so jazzed about what you're doing. I get excited reading about it!!! I wish I were there with you!" -Fred B. Jones

"Your work is brilliant, however don't forget to look at it--musically or artistically." -Rene Ramirez

"Your work just can't stop to amaze me, Dean! It's always something new, smart and different! I am with you man, trust me! All the good luck!" -Branislav Gelevski

"I once played with a trio where we improvised some music about, as one audience member requested, "The Road Less Traveled". I believe that much of the emphasis of your project is to be inspired not only by the majesty of high places but also of the atmospheres present in an infinite number of places, places that would be considered "The Road Less Traveled". Many have the tendency to put their attention toward summit peaks, and not so much on the even more mysterious and fascinating places that lie in between the valleys and the peaks. When we went up Slate canyon, we were in one of those places between the valley and peaks. For this reason, I don't think it matters whether you made it to the top of Mt Rainier. Your project is also about "The Road Less Traveled". That means that an almost infinite number of places between the valleys and the peaks are fair game for work places. How many gold mines do you see at mountain summits?" -Nyle Steiner

"Please have faith in yourself and your passions, and your goals. They really are special and wonderful, and will translate to the world in incredible ways. I truly believe this will happen. It should happen. Actually, I think feeling constantly misunderstood is quite universal, so I really hope you don't take it too personally." -Lisa Claire

"You are making the Summit Music Project. The attempts at reaching the summit are all a big part of it. I/we as onlookers are fascinated with your every day details, friendships, environment, travels, thoughts, and feelings. That's what makes it a human experience. If everything went perfectly as you had wanted, it would probably not be as interesting to us. We share your lows, highs, and regroupings. Watching you create your Cambient music on Mt. Rainier is fascinating. I'm surprised it was so clear and out of wind range. There is humor in what you call failure. There is no failure. It's all a learning experience and change of venue. Will anxiously await your next blog and video about the four summits in the Volcanic Arch." -Dean's Mom

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sure, Failure Is Always An Option

I headed out at night last Monday, and my whole drive north was a two-day speed marathon and frantic rush to gather rented and bought equipment.  Even ended up at Wallmart in the middle of the night, which actually almost saved my project again.

But regardless, it turns out that I have indeed failed.  I failed to reach the top of Mt. Rainier with my guided team.

I skipped climbing Mt. Hood first so that I could lock down the last of my equipment for Rainier, but apparently still lost way too much sleep in the process.  Basically, after many months of training, I was still too out of shape to handle a mountain like Rainier with a mini music studio thrown into my pack, and with or without enough sleep.  It was only ten or so extra pounds above the climbing equipment, but apparently made all the difference, and I'm even wondering if that would 
have mattered, considering how much more worn I felt than the other team members by the
 time we hit Camp Muir.

I might have been able to do the summit by leaving my laptop there, but that would have kind of defeated the idea of this project--to arrive at the top of a mountain, and while there, record and produce some music inspired by it. 
And hiring someone to carry your stuff for you, or renting
 yourself a chopper flight to the top to make EXTREME MUSIC up there would not cut it either.  

This project is as much about the conquest as it is about the artistic principal.  It is a complete concept, and executing it with 
compromises would render it a totally different concept.

Even so, at least I'm not negative enough to give up and call it "destiny" or some BS like that.
  Luckily, my life doesn't depend on whether or not I reach my goals right away, even though it
 looks and feels as though it does.
There were some good aspects to this week's experience, aside from gaining new respect for Mt. Rainier and learning the total magnitude of what climbing it will entail.  
I made some Cambient music (vocal ambient music) at Camp Muir, which is what I'm planning for every mountain top.  During this session I learned that I was far less musically ready than I had thought.  I will now practice extra hard for Mt. Hood so that the music won't totally bite, essentially.   ;)

Also, I gained the support and curiosity of the RMI guides who headed the climb---Jake, Thomas and Eric.  Jake, the team leader, was a very serious and passionate guide who busted my butt every step of the way, yet his deep understanding of my philosophy and his overall enthusiasm for the project have inspired me in ways I did not plan on.  Among other people, I will be hearing his voice in my head during the coming months, helping to drive me forward.
Thomas and Eric were also very interested and inspirational figures.  Thomas, having a mind for literature, made even the deepest sides of my intellect feel embraced and appreciated.  I hope we continue to stay in touch in some way.  And I hope I can find a way to re-approach Rainier with that same selection of guides next Summer.

Having to wait another year to try again is far more ominous than it looks; God knows what may happen by then, especially with everything else I'm trying to accomplish, and with my rapidly depleting resources.  I would not even wait another year if I had the money to attempt Rainier again this season, but I will now have to raise it.

Suddenly, I no longer have blinders on about how finishing this project, and it's accompanying film, is far off on the horizon.  This project is actually still in it's starting phase, and after everything I've done so far, that's hard for me to believe.

 In all honesty, I am at a point in my life where finding support and understanding for my radical and seemingly fruitless idea(s) is growing scarce.  
Many friends, and even my family now 
find it hard to be patient with my absence and my ill-matched
 neediness.  From the outside, it just looks like I'm being my same old "selfish self," and I suppose that's not altogether untrue.  
Unfortunately, in life, selfishness seems to be required to achieve one's goals and/or visions, or to simply make one's own dream come true.  They never teach you that in children's books, or lecture you about it in Optimism 101. 
Ultimately, I suppose the real question becomes, "Is completing my goal going to end up being something that serves a useful purpose to others, at all?"  One would say "...if the answer is yes, then it must be a worthy goal," but considering how many great accomplishments throughout history have been achieved through pure self indulgence, and without any knowledge of the outcome, I'm not sure that that's an accurate evaluation method.

But I'm just using my blog as a therapeutic sounding board at this point.  My rantings and inner-most thoughts will not change the fact that over the next couple of weeks, here in Washington, I will summit four mountains of the Cascade Volcanic Arch, unless something else randomly significant gets in the way. 
Each summit will be a momentous achievement, and I will report them one by one.  Right now I'm staying with my friend Dave (whom I climbed St. Helens with in 93) and his family in Tacoma.  Good, old friends.  Today I plan on returning my gear to a store in Portland, OR, and then driving to the Timberline Lodge where I will head out on the trail for Mt. Hood summit the next morning.  I should be back in Tacoma a few days from now.

Also, I recently found a lot more info about Mt. Olympus then was made available before I left, and I'm realizing that I won't be able to climb that mountain either.  It turns out to be a class 4 technical ice climb, and requires a partner, a team or vast experience.  I don't have the money right now.  When I learned of this, I researched the possibility of climbing Mt. Baker instead, but as I suspected, it's the second largest in the state to Rainier and thus demands the same requirements.

Sure, this is all mildly frustrating, but I'm continuing on with
 those parts of the project that are within my control, and perhaps I'll be able to approach Baker or Olympus next year when I do Rainier.  Whether I do or not, it may not make much of a difference.  Olympus is not a panoramic view, and Baker is an extremely unpopular mountain.  Perhaps these things should not detour me, but I have to consider the footage and the project principal.

Here is a short film of the Rainier attempt.  I almost didn't post it.

Meantime, upwards.

Talk to you after Hood.  And yes, I'm still excited about that.


P.S.  Here is some of the music I've been listening to, and that I always bond with, deeply, in this part of the country:
Talk Talk
Sun Kill Moon
Tangerine Dream
Mark Isham
Ian Boddy
Loaded Coil
Jeff Pierce
Jon Hopkins
Ulrich Schnaus
Cathrine Feeny
Even some:
Massive Attack
And have been discovering:
Album Leaf
More soon...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Moments Of Sunlight


I've been training for the Cascade Mountains all Summer, and the last moments of sunlight have finally arrived. My Summer window is ending, rapidly, so I'll be leaving for Washington state within a few hours.

Juggling my training with a collaboration between two web designers was lame, and has made me late, throwing off my itinerary, but I'll be dipped in boiling nuclear waste before I wait another year for this. (Ouch. umm... maybe not.) Luckily I'm in the best shape of my life, so climbing all 6 volcanoes before the Summer completely ends might still be doable.

They are:
Mt. Hood
Mt. Rainier
Mt. Adams
Mt. St. Helens
Mt. Olympus
Mt. Shasta

Still, I'm late enough that the thought of any kind of tight schedule has now been cast to the wind. I will do whatever I have to do to climb these things. Even been watching the Weather and Discovery channel to get more in the zone. ;)

I do have some other killer news though:
Last Sunday I trained by putting some extra weight in my pack and climbing a well-known CA mountain. At the top I made ambient music with a laptop and a guitar. (Sounds so American.) Check out the clip below to find out which mountain it was:

I may have Lisa send photos of this to the Times. There were some other dudes up there (partying) as well, and they got footage, but have been having problems sending it online. They seemed to like what they heard.

I was hoping, over this last month, to fill in some journal entries and videos from the last Southwest trip so I could keep a record of what happened, but I lost time. Luckily, I don't think I'll be forgetting what happened any time soon, even if I was in a daze through most of it. ;) I will finish the Southwest post on here later (hopefully before the Southwest again in Fall), along with a great session I did earlier in the year at Mono Lake. Anyone who loves Mono Lake will dig that.

For now, I'm going to concentrate on Washington and Oregon, which is a far more involving and important venture. This will be a monumental accomplishment in my life, if I can pull it off.

I will post up short entries and at least a few photos for every mountain I climb. Going to attempt Mt. Hood first, this Monday. Already alerted musical friends in Portland. On the 17th, the day after Mt. Hood, I will join the team for Rainier and we'll start training for the summit on the 20th.

So, it looks as though I will not be posting another entry, or contacting anyone, before I reach the top of Rainier as well. This is it. If all goes well, my next post will be to show-and-tell the experience of those two summits--which is kind of my life's conquest, thus far.

And believe you, I shall "flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye."

Wish me luck, and I'll see you at the top.


P.S. And yeah, I promise to have plenty of fun with this also.