Monday, May 27, 2013

Sat, 25th - Montezuma's Peak

Most of today was spent at 12-13,000 feet.  Our climb out of our camp in the valley was gradual up a drainage and a very good move to avoid some exposed snow traversing.  The views around Summit peak were fantastic.  We climbed up and over one rocky knob to avoid some scary traversing.

But then the route circled the shoulder of Montezuma Peak. Everywhere was high angled snow bowls.  We searched climbing around and above but everything was covered with icy crusted snow.  Finally we committed to a very scary traverse along the inside of the snow bowl.  Very, very, scared.  I would have been scared with full crampons and ice axe.  We bare booted, kicking steps, and it took two hours to cross the 0.1 mile traverse.  My foot slipped three times an was only safe because I kept three points of contact on each step.  One the kicked step let go and the other two when high gusts of wind hit me.  My hiking poles have bends in them from the stress.

That was the hardest traverse so far and I wonder if others behind us will manage it safely.  Bob and I were exhausted from the stress and heavy exertion.  By afternoon we were treated to large snow fields of extensive post holing.  Tedious and tiring but at least it was very safe.  This changed to swampy wet meadows and climbing in and out of the trees with a mix of deep wet snow, muddy ground, and icy spots.  Feet were like blocks of wet ice.

Finally we got a break and had some sections of fantastic dry trail.  The trail, cut into steep exposed side of the mountains with exposure had great views 
but all we could think of was how grateful we were to not have it chocked with snow.  I don't think we could have managed this section on snow.

Most challenging day yet but also so beautiful and rewarding to have made it safely.

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