Distance: 18 miles
start: 6:40 am
stop: 6:00 pm
Elevation: 12631 ft
Others Here: Cloudbuster
Camp: near summit peak ; tenting
Sorry, I was too tired on this night to do the journal, so it’s a day later.
We hiked about a mile to Blue Lake where we ran into Masshole and Stummy. They had attempted the high route that we were headed toward and turned back. They told us there was a particular traverse that was icy and way too sketchy for them. They said there was no way it could be done without crampons or microspikes. Speaking of microspikes; Linus Cloudbuster had just found a single extra large one in the last mile and M & S had found a single large one. They gave their found microspike to CB so he had a pair, but I didn’t have any. So given the information we had, we decided to take a lower alternate route. Even after having second thoughts, we flipped a coin and it came up low route. I have to believe that God put then in my path. It was disappointing to skip that high route, but there will be others.
The low route was about 10 miles down into a valley and then back up. I think we lost and then had to regain about 2000 feet. All of the way down was bushwack/route finding in the snow through trees and the climb back up after crossing a thigh deep, snow melt swollen river was much the same. Needless to say I was pretty beat.
After we got back on the trail we continued mostly on the ridge until coming to a long traverse along the north slope. We could see from the map that we would be crossing a valley at the far end and then climbing back up to 12000 ft. Rather than do the traverse, we glissaded down 200 to 300 feet and 100 or 200 yards lengthwise. It was a little sketchy because you had to weave between two rock outcroppings. But the snow was soft and it was pretty easy to stop. Well except for the 20 hair raising seconds when my whippet (ice axe) wasn’t showing me down. I did stop myself, stand up, calm my breathing, collect myself, and continue on down with no further excitement. I would go back and do it again, it was so much fun.
This was followed by a long slog up the valley and then up beyond 12000 ft where we setup for the night. It took a bit of time to find a place where the wind wasn’t howling. After postholing/swimming through thigh deep snow, we found a spot. I don’t think I could have gone another quarter mile. Did I mention being surrounded by dark clouds at 12000 ft with not a tree in sight, but knowing it was another 6 miles to get down low? Sure we should have camped in the valley before this ascent. Sometimes the drive to move northward outweighs common sense.