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In any event, regardless of whether we headed down on all the way back to the trailhead on the day of the climb or not, we presently made our way back down and back into Tom's VW bus. And with the Shukshan portion of our refresher course/climb out of the way, we headed off to some North Cascades rock climbing crags for a final day (or perhaps two) of instruction solely on rock, with again, the emphasis on technical but low-grade terrain that was to be tackled in mountaineering boots.
The drier side of the North Cascades
Brian Top-roping
Using the boots
We never got to a point where Brian or I did any leading (it was mostly straight up top-roping), but it was useful from the perspective of getting comfortable on low 5.x terrain in mountaineering boots. One never knows when a short step of fifth class terrain might be the only thing barring your way from an objective or from safety. So, it was good stuff for us to practice.
Brian searches for the way
Brian on low fifth class
Tom leads a route
Brian the Mountaineer
And so, with the end of the rock work at the crags, we headed back west to Bellingham and parted ways with Tom. It had been a great week of instruction and climbing, and the bonus of getting a great summit climb of Shuksan was icing on the cake. Thanks to Brian and to Tom Bridge at AAI. This week-long trip surely contributed to the skills and confidence thet let Brian and I successful tackle our climb of Mount Rainier the following year.

And finally, thanks to the forces of the weather for giving us such a great nearly week-long stretch of perfectly clear and calm weather.
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