Pete Alport Photography


Years ago I was guided on a backcountry snowboarding trip with pro skier Lucas Wach’s dad Dave Wachs to the volcano Seekseekqua (pictured here). The hike into base camp was strenuous, yet manageable; crampons, tent, ice axes, food, jet boil, first aid, snowboarding boots, helmet, split board, clothing + camera gear, the pack was heavy.

We woke up at camp around 3am to start our ascent and beat the morning sun, sun that would heat the snow and ice, producing ice fall and rockfall. As dark turned to dawn, the volcano began to wake up and shed snow+ice, my nerves began to show. Huge, powerful spires of volcanic rock flexed and the rime+ice+rock fell, the climb was exhilarating. The runnels from avalanches and rockfall were the width of freight trains and navigating over and around was tedious. After a few hours, placing one crampon and ice axe in front of the other, we gained the “top” of where we would was gorgeous. We were a couple hundred feet from the summit you see here.

The run down was the longest run of my life, both epic and terrifying; some of the steepest pitches I have ever ridden. We made it back to base camp safely with smiles, packed up and left. I vowed to return and summit Seekseekqua.

2023 Summer and I made a quick plan to summit this volcano. I called a few friends to see if they wanted to join, two said yes; one would stay at camp. The day we were to leave the friend who would join me on the summit climb bailed, I was left to decide whether or not I would still climb? I know myself and believed I could do it solo...if I didn’t like what I saw when I got near the summit, I would simply turn around...I’ve made these decisions many times in the snow. I love being solo. I feel I am the most present I can be, no one to think about but myself, no one to distract my thoughts except me.  If you know you know how awesome being alone can be.

Sunday morning I woke up at camp at 3:30am with a clear idea of the route. I was a little nervous, mostly of cougars and hiking in the dark solo. Dark turned to dawn and I was in the alpine, away from cougar habitat and the objective was clear in sight. I felt great! At about the 8,000’ mark I passed two climbers who were friendly and making their second attempt at climbing this volcano, they made it!

The image you see here is called “The Red Saddle” and to the left is called the “Terrible Traverse.” Most of the months this traverse has snow and crampons, pickets and ice axes are recommended. The snow had melted out and the traverse was a steep mix of mud, scree and dirt covered ice, sketchy, but not too bad in my opinion.

I made it across the traverse and was in front of the summit block. I could see slings where people roped in to repel back down from the top. I chose not to rope in and made the final push with relative ease. The small summit was above wildfire smoke and breathtaking. I could see the tops of The Three Sisters to the south and the top of Mt. Hood to the north...smoke laid in the valley floors, just beyond the remaining glaciers.

The descent to camp was fun, skiing down scree fields and some boulder hopping. We packed up camp and made the hike back to the trailhead by 4:30pm. Incredible 30hrs. of living exactly how I want to live. Grateful!

Powerful image...