OK, Technically we are Headed to Seattle.

I love traveling for destination weddings, especially when I am traveling with my wife, Carin. As you are reading this, Carin and I are probably just boarding a plane in Denver to whisk us out to Seattle for a wedding.  Technically the wedding is on the other side of Steven’s Pass in Leavenworth, but it’s a lot closer to Seattle than Denver.

This is a special wedding, because we are not just the photographers, but friends of the bride and groom, Karen and Cliff. I met Karen for the first time in college in Illinois while we both worked at the outdoor recreation center together.  We took other students on various adventures like climbing, whitewater kayaking, and backpacking.

A few years ago, I met her fiance while we all just happened to be in Kathmandu, Nepal at the same time. Just happening to meet someone in Kathmandu would seem odd to the average person, but believe me, after a few years of travel, those kinds of chance meetings become common place.  About a year after meeting Cliff in Kathmandu, a few of us decided to climb Mount Rainier together.

After living in Colorado for several years, the idea of climbing a fourteener (the term given to any mountain with a summit that is at least 14,000 feet above see level) seemed more like a morning undertaking before heading to work, than a serious expedition, but Rainier would prove me wrong.  Rainier is big, and I mean really big.  It isn’t so much the height as it is that the trail-head is at a mere 4,000′, leaving a lot of climbing ahead. Not only that, but the mountain is covered in glaciers.  Even in the summer, we experienced rain, snow, cold, heat, gaping crevasses, and miles of ice.  This made all the mountains in Colorado feel like hills.

Conditions were rough.  A tent pole broke in the wind on the first night.  Karen and I, along with our friend Rob, took turns holding the tent up at nice.  No one really got sleep, but laying there still was far more relaxing that fighting to keep the tent together. Sleep is really not something you get on the mountain.  If you are lucky, you can be so tired that you actually lose consciousness on the mountain, but that is hardly the same as sleep.

Three days later, we awoke at 1:00am for our summit push.  The weather was clear, and comparatively warm.  Unfortunately, shortly after sunrise a member of our team said their foot hurt, and it might be a blister. When conditions are so cold, it is really hard to tell how bad an injury is without actually looking at it.  When we took Steve’s foot out of his boot, we discovered the mother of all blisters.  More of his foot was covered in blister than not.  There was a short debate over whether to continue ahead or not, but it didn’t last long.  We decided to head down.

It was definitely a bum deal for Steve, and I can only imagine what he was feeling being the cause of our retreat, but I think the rest of us were all thinking the same thing.  This could have been any of us.  If not a blister, than some other injury could have stopped any of us.  The bottom line is that climbing teams have to work together.  It doesn’t matter who gets hurt, because the injury is the team’s responsibility. Not to mention the obvious fact that the mountain will always be there, and I for one plan on returning.

Being a destination wedding photographer, I tend to meet clients for the first time the weekend of the wedding.  I am really looking forward to getting back in touch with Karen and Cliff to photograph their wedding considering all the adventures we have shared together.


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