Escaping the Frontcountry

Two hikers work their way up a steep icy slope, one carrying an ice axe and the other with traction devices called crampons on his shoes, but the other usual ice gear is nowhere to be found. To be honest, one of them is enjoying himself a bit more than the other.

The more optimistic of the two is Peter Keckemet, AHS senior and lover of the backcountry. He and his friend Drew Hidalgo are on what they thought would be a quick hike.

“This summer I took another senior, Drew, one of my best friends, up to the Cascades and we did this hike up to Foggy Basin,” recalled Keckemet. “It’s on an old miner’s trail and we had a heavy winter so there was no trail and we were route finding.”

Just the thought of getting so far away from Facebook and their phones might scare some people off, but for Keckemet there’s nothing else like it.

“The first couple hours of any hike or climb or anything, you’re just gonna be asking yourself ‘why did I get off the couch to get outside? I could be at home watching TV right now not having to walk,’” said Keckemet, “but once you really get out there, it’s my favorite place in the entire world, just being outside.”

“I’ve been mountaineering for about a year. I’ve been climbing for about three years in the gym and a bit outside as well,” said Keckemet, “but I’ve been backpacking since I could walk with my parents and I’ve been skiing just as long.”

Hidalgo is also an outdoorsy person, but may have been a bit less prepared for the “quick hike” up Foggy Basin.

“Peter told me that we were going for a three and a half mile hike, two and a half of which was an older miner trail that was fairly steep,” said Hidalgo. “We knew that in the last mile we’d encounter some snow. The snow turned out to be a glacier.”

“He didn’t realize when I said ‘hike’ I meant more of scrambling on your hands and knees up scary snow slopes and he got a bit freaked out,” said Keckemet. “He may or may not have threatened me which was also a little bit scary.”

Mountaineers never stop learning and Keckemet is no exception. He’s looking to get more medical certification so he’ll be ready for anything.

“I have a wilderness first aid certification, but I want to get a bigger one, maybe wilderness first responder or wilderness EMT,” explained Keckemet. “I really want to do an EMT class that could let me get a ski patrol job during college, or potentially I could get work at a guiding company at Mt. Rainier or in the Cascades or something.”

Fortunately for both Hidalgo and himself, Keckemet’s first aid skills were not called for during the pair’s hike together, but they easily could have been.

“It was all good because we spent the night up there and then the next day we came back down and it was a beautiful view,” said Keckemet. “You could see the entire Milky Way, probably one of my favorite parts of spending the night out in the middle of nowhere. And then Drew apologized for threatening me.”

Keckemet wasn’t exactly born with a pack on his back, but like many people who get into the outdoors at a young age, he came close.

“I really got started outdoors from my parents, they started me sailing,” said Keckemet, “we were always hiking and snowshoeing when I was little either on their back or I’d have little kid snowshoes and it just developed from there.”

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