Phillip Elden, a member of the mountain climbing club Mazamas, explains how the Cascade Range of western North America is a sight to behold.
Q: First of all, tell us about the Cascade Range.
Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range, also known as the Cascades, is a large mountain range that extends from British Columbia through the states of Washington and Oregon, and then into parts of northern California.
Q: How does the Cascade Range compare to other mountainous areas?
Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range is truly one of the most interesting and beautiful geographical locations in the world. Part of what attracts people to this region is its fragile nature.
Q: What else draws people to the Cascade Range?
Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range is home to several active volcanoes, including Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake and Glacier Peak. These peaks are all considered to be a threat. After all, Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980.
Q: What are the most notable physical characteristics of the Cascade Range?
Phillip Elden: The Cascade Range is perhaps known best for its deep evergreen forests and tall evergreens. While the North Cascades feature a rugged group of jagged peaks, the long streak of snowy volcanic cones extended from Mount Baker to Lassen Peak dominate the range. As a young kid, it was extremely scary but also exciting to hear the huge explosion of Mt. Saint Helens.
Q: What particular images were etched in your memory?
Phillip Elden: The television footage of the north side of Mt. Saint Helens literally sliding away was thrilling, not to mention the ash and smoke clouds that emerged in the thick, hot air. The ash fallout from Mt. St. Helens was found in locations as far away as Oklahoma. This remarkable occurrence started my lifelong passion for the entire region.
Phillip Elden, an active environmentalist and conservation researcher, has scaled six peaks in the Cascade Range.