Last week I set out to do a 4-5 day solo trip, but turned around at the first col I encountered. Solo trips, no matter how short or long, committing or not, require a mindset that I just don't have right now. At least not for mountain travel. Feels like I've been free soloing my day to day life for some time.
Anyway, after regrouping on friday over a few beers with Dan, I gave Amar a call to see what he was up to. He floated the idea of skiing the Emmons from its terminus. With Greg, Khan, Tobae, and Tim. It sounded like exactly what I needed. A few leisurely days with some friends and lots of turns. I met Amar and Greg at 5 on saturday for the drive to the recently opened White river campground.
I don't remember what time we began skinning, and I don't think I ever looked at my watch on Saturday. I like days like that. We followed the trail for a short ways before dropping down to cross the white river.
After that, the skin up to camp sherman was through beautifully rolling terrain and untracked uncracked glacier goodness
All in all, Saturday proved to be quite hectic:
We got to camp with plenty of time to set up tents/shelters, melt snow, chill, and enjoy. I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to relax.
Obligatory chill shot. Lots to be smiling about on saturday:
The next morning, Khan, Tobae, and Tim left before Greg, Amar, and me. They felt like booting; we felt like skinning. I think we left camp around 6:30 or so. Ski crampons were nice. As many found out, the sun never really broke through on sunday. But the temps remained warm enough to keep the snow soft and to allow us to skin all the way to the crater rim. Except for Amar.
At a little over 13k I heard him say something along the lines of "Oh shit!!" Seems that while making a routine step all 5 of the screws securing his front dynafit toe piece ripped out of the ski, leaving his toe piece dangling from his boot a foot or so over ski. Wow. Haven't seen that before. He, Greg and I chatted a bit. For all the heckling I give him, I must say he handled the situation with surprising calm. I guess spending a night in a fumarole makes everything else taste like gravy.
So while Greg and I continued skinning, Amar began booting. We all ended up rejoining Tim, Khan, and Tobae near 14k, and reached the crater rim as one big group.
The creativity began out of the wind, back at 14k.
Unfortunately, the end of this last video marked the end of my camera. It froze as I was shooting. When i pushed the power off button, the lens along with a variety of small intricate pieces fell out of the camera body. Not something to be fixed with Voile straps. Not that we had any left (photo by Greg):
The setup worked well enough for Amar to side step/slide the roughly 4500' back to camp sherman. Makes me tired just writing that sentence.
Fortunately, the coolest climbing ranger on the planet, David Gottlieb, was at camp to save the day. He offered us a cordless drill and drill bits. We adjusted Amar's heel piece as far back as it would go and re-mounted the toe piece in 5 new holes. Good as new.
Which was nice, because the ski from Sherman to the White River was divine. I enjoy steeps and aesthetic, creative lines. I also enjoy nearly 5000' of cruising on a rolling filled in glacier. The snow was on the heavy side, but still super, super fun. It never ceases to amaze me how simply gliding on snow elevates one's spirit.
My hat's off to you Amar. Great idea for a trip, and way to hold it together. And to Khan, Tobae, Tim, and Greg- thanks for letting me tag along. It was a pleasure.
Is seems it was a day of binding breakage, as my Dynafit heel unit cracked completely off the pillar right at the crater rim as we started our descent of the Kautz that same day. But toe pieces are way more useful than heels, so I was able to ski the Kautz to the bridge without the assistance of a cordless drill, with one ski in freeheel mode. Also saw Hannah on the summit. And I guess I missed Dan by about 5 minutes.
What a great trip you guys nailed though, I'm glad Amar directs his mental powers towards the mountains, cool things come of it.