The Cascade Range, which extends from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California is a wild srting of jagged peaks, glaciated volcanos and beautiful forested valleys. While the Cascades have something to offer everyone, from breathtaking roadside vistas, day hikes and multi day backpacks to mountain bike rides, they are truly an alpine climber’s dream, offering a lifetime supply of remote peaks, technical summits and the largest glaciers in the lower 48.
Born in Arizona, but raised in the Seattle area, Sherpa ambassador Garrett Meyers sat down with us to talk about his experience developing skills (and learning from mistakes) as a climber and mountaineer and to share some of the images of the Cascades he’s taken along the way.
When did you first discover a love for the mountains, mountaineering and climbing?
The mountains have been in my blood since before I can remember. I grew up rock climbing and hiking with my family. But It wasn’t until age 18 or 19 that I realized how much mountain life was a part of me, I joined the local climbing gym and it just took off from there.
My new found friend groups grew into the foundation for most of my current adventures. There’s always something in the works, something to push us further. We all learn together and keep the stoke high.
Which came first, outdoor adventure or photography?
Filmmaking and photography definitely came first. I started with stop motion animation when I was about seven and branched out into documentaries and photography when I was thirteen. The rest is history.
What is your most memorable mountain experience?
My most memorable mountain experience is without a doubt my first alpine climb, the West Ridge of Prusik Peak in the Enchantments. The experiences and lessons learned on that climb will be something I never forget, no matter how hard I try.
I don’t even know where to start, there are so many things that went wrong. We were supposed to wake up early and start up the trail around 7am but we woke up an hour late and left base camp around 9:30am. Five hours later we were at the bottom of the first pitch looking up. The last team on the route had just rappelled from the climb and was already heading down.
The weather was perfect when we got there. This was the cause for my first big mistake, not thinking it through, I decide to start the climb without a jacket on. At the base of the climb I also realized that I forgot my headlamp, but more on that later.
About five hours later we were nearing the top, the winds had started picking up drastically and the temperature had dropped about ten degrees or more. I was really starting to regret not bringing a jacket with me. By the time we reached the last pitch of the climb, I was shivering. The sun had set a little bit ago and the temperature had plummeted.
I ran up the last lead as quick as I could so we could bail. My partner Mark was supposed to summit with me, but after fighting a massive rope drag situation at the top, we didn’t have enough time, we were already well over our limit.
I set up the rope and rappel down to the next anchor with Mark. We were fighting the wind as we worked with the rope and prayed that it didn’t get stuck during our descent. As I was setting up the third anchor, I was really wishing I had my headlamp. If it weren’t for Mark being more prepared than myself, I’m not really sure how the trip would have ended up.
We finally made it down and were practically kissing the ground. It was close to 11pm and all the slushy snow at the bottom had turned back into ice, we were on a pretty steep incline, so I kicked steps with my climbing shoes all the way back to our backpacks. After a few well deserved minutes to collect ourselves, we threw on the packs and went straight for base camp, we got back around 1am, everyone was asleep. I threw a package of freeze dried spaghetti on the stove and passed out in my hammock until sunrise.
What inspires you?
I have many different forms of inspiration, but one of my biggest is definitely planet Earth. As cliche as it sounds, I’m inspired by true wilderness, incredible natural monuments and behemoth mountain ranges!
What is your advice for those who’d like to start getting into mountaineering or alpine climbing?
My advice for anyone wanting to get into alpine climbing or mountaineering would be this:
Purchase the book that we call the bible of mountaineering, “Freedom of the Hills” by the Mountaineers.
Ask lots of questions from those with experience and always accept the fact that you don’t know everything and you never will, we’re always learning!
Then last but not least get out there and find some good friends to adventure with!