Type 2 fun
Wed, 02/22/2023 - 10:33am caleb
2011 Grayling High School graduate takes part in mountaineering
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The community of Grayling is known for extreme endurance sporting events through its annual 120-mile AuSable River Canoe Marathon. Ashten Linkhart, a 2011 Grayling High School graduate, after moving out west, discovered an appreciation for a different extreme sport: mountaineering.
“Mountaineering is simply mountain exploration, often involving a goal of reaching the summit of a mountain and an ongoing goal of returning home safely. It requires education and specialized tools such as crampons, ice axes, and sometimes ropes. Mountaineering involves endurance, risk mitigation, and the ability to enjoy Type 2 fun. I find it similar to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon,” Linkhart said.
(“Type 2 fun occurs when a task is difficult at the time, but feels rewarding afterward, often because it challenges the practitioner to test their limits and grow. Examples of Type 2 fun include survival camping, backpacking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking,” according to www.masterclass.com.)
Linkhart said he got into mountaineering through a different hobby.
“When I moved out to Washington state I started hiking. In 2014, a gentleman by the name of Scott Awalt took me on a trek up to Camp Muir – 10,188 foot elevation – on Mt. Rainier. After that I started doing more serious hikes and then did everybody’s first volcano, Mt. St. Helens. In 2019, I took a glacier travel course that taught me the basics of mountaineering. At the end of the six-month course, we summited Mt. Baker (10,700 feet) and Mt. Rainier (14,400 feet),” Linkhart said.
Linkhart said he does most of his “mountaineering in Washington state because of the concentration of technical peaks within the Cascade Range with exception of a winter ascent of Mt. Hood in 2020,” but he has also “chased rock climbing in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Utah.”
Linkhart said he has some stories to tell with regard to mountaineering trips.
“In August of 2020, my climbing partner Kevin and I were doing a car to car attempt of Mt. Shuksan via the Sulphide Glacier. A car to car attempt is when you do an ascent in a single push with no camping or planned bivouacs. We were also doing this as a two-person rope team, which should only be done by experienced mountaineers that have the knowledge and ability to perform rescues/crevasse extraction solo and unprompted. On the Sulphide, we crossed some major crevasses, reached the base of the summit block, and continued to solo up to the summit via the west ridge. We were climbing in clunky mountaineering boots. We reached a seemingly blank section of rock slab on top of the ridge and rappelled off of the west side down into the gully for more secure, safer, less exposed climbing. Reaching the summit not much longer after, we rappelled off of the summit to a ledge where we decided to downclimb the rest of the way. Once back on the glacier we were back in the danger of crevasses. We crossed a problem section and relaxed. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a crack perpendicular to the other crevasses leading right under my feet. I started to yell back to Kevin ‘creva–!’ and in a split second my right leg punched through a weak snow bridge and I fell in up to my thigh. I was stuck for a second and struggled to crawl out. My right leg was dangling in the air and my left leg was pinned under me. I used my ice axe to get purchase on the late summer glacier ice and crawled out of the hole. I looked back where I fell and just saw a black hole leading to an abyss. After we cleared the rest of the cracks, Kevin later confided to me that he was in the middle of taking a photo just as I fell in. Looking back I’m really glad I didn’t punch through fully,” Linkhart said.
As part of the mountaineering trips, Linkhart said he enjoys taking photographs. He sells photos, too.
“I do sell photos on the side. I typically have a website; however, I’ve been focusing on pursuing guiding, so photography has taken a step back for me. I got into photography just as a hobby and something to do when I moved out here. My favorite place to shoot is either Eastern Washington, Alaska, or the Olympic Peninsula,” Linkhart said.
Linkhart said he also enjoys rock climbing, video games, snowboarding, and “checking out bookstores.”
“Since 2020, I’ve been spending my winters on Mt. Hood working in a tune shop and snowboarding as much as possible before climbing starts back up,” Linkhart said.
Ashten’s mother, Brandi Linkhart, said she is very proud of him.
“It’s a huge thing for some poor kid from Grayling with a used Kmart snowboard to now be asked to lead climbs in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah, Lake Tahoe, and many more,” Brandi said. “Ashten is my oldest son. Knowing him has made me want to be a better person.”