Mt. Three Fingers

July 19 - 20, 2003

Dave Svilar, Jill Wolverton

 

Jill posing at the Three Fingers lookout.

Thank you AlpineFever.  I will never call this website 'worthless' again.  When I first started putting AlpineFever.com together I never guessed anyone but myself and perhaps my mom would find it amusing.  Not in my wildest dreams would I have predicted that this website would deliver me out of 26 years of futility.  Granted, AlpineFever cannot change the fact that I still live in my parent's basement.  It cannot reverse the effects of male pattern hair loss.  It cannot find me a job.  But... it did find me my first girlfriend!

Any girl who reads through the crap that's written on this site and is still interested has to be considered a prospect.  For our date the week before we spent the night in a Texaco gas station on Bainbridge Island (climber's terms = unplanned bivy), so I thought of something a little more interesting for the next weekend - a trip up my favorite peak, Mt. Three Fingers.  Not only did the weather look perfect, but I thought it would be a fitting activity considering the way we became acquainted.

A quick scan of Jill's resume does not suggests she's an alpinist.  Although a former collegiate track star and rock gym climber, she could only count an ascent of mighty Mt. Si in her climbing history.  Instead of wearing the gritty scowl of a mountain hardwoman, Jill can't seem to wipe the smile off her face.  Anyone's first impression of her always includes a comment about the size of her dimples.  However inexperienced she was in mountain climbing, she was game to try anything.  In addition, she seemed to enjoy herself no matter what the activity - the type of girl who would have a good time hanging out at a gas station.  Sure enough, as we pulled up to the trailhead she looked out the window at a dead tree and said, "ooooooh, fun!"  I was fairly certain she'd enjoy the rest of the outing.

I watched Jill's reactions carefully as we passed Saddle Lake, out of the trees to Goat Flats for lunch, and on to the end of the hiking at Tin Can Gap.  Jill wasn't aware, but this was a test.  Any girl I intend to date seriously (longer than two weeks) must be capable of summiting Mt. Three Fingers while enjoying the experience.  I was loaded like a Sherpa with both of our gear, but despite Jill's meager pack she still impressed with her hiking endurance.  At Tin Can Gap the route required us to travel over steep snow.  Jill wasn't sure which end of the ice axe was up, so I tied her in by wrapping the rope around her waist and tying a knot that resembled a bowline.

Jill and her makeshift harness leave Tin Can Gap using perfect ice axe technique.

My trusty weather report called for sunny skies, so the plan was to just lay out under the stars.  However, reports from hikers on their way down suggested the lookout may be unoccupied for the night.  The only threat to our night of solitude in the cabin ended when the two gentlemen in front of us turned around on the steep snow sketched out from the exposure and lack of equipment (sticks for ice axes).  Knowing a night alone in the lookout is a rare Saturday  summer event, I found myself excited for obvious reasons.  A lot of people new to Three Fingers get sketched on the ladders, but Jill scaled them without hesitation.

Jill didn't seem to understand that a big smile ruins the 'scary' climbing picture.

I've been climbing Three Fingers since I was 12 years old and I had always thought it would be neat to bring a female up to the lookout.  The time had finally arrived, so I enjoyed every aspect of the evening including raising the shutters, preparing dinner, and pointing out cities (Seattle, Everett, Anacortes, Port Angeles, etc.) and surrounding peaks (Glacier, Sloan, Whitehorse, N. Cascades, etc.).  Every time I looked over at Jill I worried that my good fortune of being with a pretty girl in the lookout would end by Jill morphing into an ugly redhead (Matt Alford).  Luckily this was no dream, and we enjoyed most of the sunset over Puget Sound.  The highlight of the evening was pulling our sleeping bags out onto the rocks and doing a little city light and star gazing.  Our efforts were further rewarded by a quick showing by the Northern Lights.  Another highlight was when Jill told me I smelled good.  I knew she was lying, but accepted the compliment anyway.

The wind blew all night, and in the morning I found out why.  A storm was on its way, and before we could pack up and depart it was pissing rain.  As the tempest raged, I bravely told Jill that it would be a cold and miserable descent, but assured her we would make it back to the car safely.  She was less concerned, "it's just a little rain.  Quit being such a wimp."  As we descended the upper snowfield I tried to demonstrate my skills developed over years in the mountains, but instead embarrassed myself by twice falling hard on my back.  Jill didn't fall once.  We roped again for the exposed sections, but now it was more out of concern for my safety than Jill's.  The rest of the trip was uneventful but soggy, so we were more than happy to reach the warmth of the Toyota.

Jill descends from the lookout and onto the ladders in the storm.

Despite the rainy descent the trip was a success as I became an exclusive member of the 'Three Fingers Club.'  Jill proved to be excellent climbing company providing benefits that my other climbing buddies can't match.  Hopefully the two of us can combine for future outings allowing Jill to appear on this website again.  Thank you AlpineFever.

-written August 2003

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