The first couple steps of the booter went well but the snow conditions rapidly deteriorated. As rotten and wet as the right fork had been, the left fork was rotten and dry. The snow was so faceted and weak that I had to take massive steps uphill to avoid breaking down into the previous step.
I found a hold on a rock above me and started to pull myself up off the ledge when Jamie, who’d apparently taken the route I deemed unclimbable, shouted a warning that the rock was loose. I had tested the rock as a hold a couple times and didn’t notice any movement but I trusted her. So rather than pull down on the rock, I jammed my hands into the crack between the boulder and the bedrock to pull myself up and onto the summit!
As I rounded the lake, a striking peak near its outlet came into view and I knew immediately that the plan was kaput. I didn’t care if this peak would even count for a bonus on the Challenge, or if I’d have enough energy to continue on to the Challenge Peak; I had to climb this peak!
This was much more technical than I’d expected. Secor’s description indicated that there was a small amount of class 4 climbing but I found that nearly 90% of the 300 ft from the couloir was high consequence, fairly technical climbing!
At one point I followed a tight chimney 50 ft up before finding that the only way to continue would be to step out over 100 ft of air to connect with another chimney. I easily could have done the move, but I realized that this was getting into Class 5 territory and that there must be an easier route. I downclimbed the chimney, making quite a racket as my ice axe scraped on the rock, and tried a different route to the left which went well.
After five seconds I heard him shout “SLIDE!” I quickly descended to where he’d begun his ski cut hoping to get eyes on him and immediately found him skiing on the far right side of the ramp as a wet slab made slow progress down the center of the ramp.
The snow was soft and fun skiing. I arrived at the narrow section which I’d identified on the climb and had altogether too much fun making jump turns down the tight chute, both tips and tails landing on rocks with every turn.
Kevin eyed the gully for a second before deciding he didn’t want any of it and he too turned around to take a mellower route. I decided to take my chances but soon found my tails sliding out from under me and next thing I knew I was sliding downhill head first. Casey rounded the corner just in time to see me carom past a large pine at the outlet of the gully.
We clipped into our skis and I started down the steep snow field to see what the route entailed. After descending fifty feet I reached the rocks and was dismayed to see nothing but air on the other side. This was a dead end and a bad one.
After talking a big game all season, Rafee finally found himself a ski touring setup and was looking to break in his new equipment.