So while sitting on the glacier in the storm we had some options to consider. If we went over Fury Gap, we'd miss out on the highest part of the trip, but be able to spend some time on the north side of the range. It'd be faster and direct, but we'd have to ski Fury Gap (48', 500m) with 10 days of food on our backs. This cut a big portion of the high terrain out, but was really direct and meant that we didn't have to do option 2.
Option 2, haul all our shit over Munday and descend a long ways to the Tiedeman Glacier then climb a long ways up to the Plummer hut... all with 10 days of food. This option sounded like a lot of work and scary situations with really heavy packs.
Then, I had a bad (good?) idea. Why not take 5 days of food, drop it off on the Scimitar Glacier and then come back to camp that day, then just take 5 days of food around Waddington. It meant a bit more risk in the event of a big long storm, but we figured we could stretch out food if we really needed to.
The next day we split up food and took 5 days of food up to Fury Gap. (thataway)
It started out icy and slowly rolled. It was kind of like the entrance to the Coleman Headwall, but a lot easier to know where you were going (sort of... assuming you avoided the ice cliff).
After the ice, there was a short sketchy section of slabby snow we had to traverse, but on the face it was all pow!
We buried our food and set GPS markers and left a redneck Christmas tree to mark the spot. Lena wanted to go explore. I looked around at the weather and expressed my concern about the clouds and wind up high and though we should get up and over Fury Gap before the weather closed in again. The climb back up started out okay. It was a little difficult to get a purchase on the hard snow under the pow, but we managed to skin up 200m. The last 300m got scary. The wind was loading the slope stupid fast. I was following 20m behind Nick and I couldn't see his tracks. They were fully filled in. He would step and they would almost instantly disappear. Fear got a hold of me and I think I hammered out 300m of knee deep boot packing in about 20 minutes. Waiting for everyone in the wind at the top after sweating that much was cold AF. Trying to figure out our way back to the corridor through all the crevasses was a little confusing in the white out and with all the wind. After a bit of confusion we found our way and eventually got back to camp and shared more whiskey and stories with Sam's group.
The next day we packed up in mixed weather and climbed over the Jester-Waddington col and skied up the Ice Valley Glacier. We made camp just below the Agur-Munday col and made dinner in a weak storm. The next day we planned to depart early, but it was cloudy and we decided to keep sleeping. We hummed and hawed. There was another low pressure coming and this was sort of our only time to gain ground before a big storm. Lena and I decided to go for a skin and see what we could see. An hour or so later we were up above the clouds, but the cloud level was rising pretty quickly. We had been in valley cloud all along! We quickly skied back to camp and packed up in 20 minutes. The weather still looked ominous at that elevation, but hopefully we could pull it off with a 1pm start.
We made fairly quick work in crappy light and there were just enough sucker holes to beckon us higher. Nearing the summit plateau of Munday
We skied over and checked out the ramp below Arabesque and decided the Don would be the best chance. Lena traversing towards the Don with the lower slopes of Serra in the backgound.
We traversed around to the East ridge of the Don
Nic ran up to bag the summit of the Don while we transitioned. Everyone was a little nervous. There was 1400m between us and the Tiedeman below and the weather seemed to be holding off for now.
Nick and Lena had ran ahead and Nic, Maddy, and I were sticking together on the descent. We all skied the first few slopes. Maddy decided the consequences of falling were too high for her and the snow conditions too variable so she made the smart choice and decided to downclimb the steeper bits. Nic and I were being boys and decided we wanted to ski it in it's entirety. And some parts were really good
Some parts were not as good... like this part, that was icy AF and Maddy making more smart decisions
It was firm and the lack of edge-able ice made these slopes feel very exposed
The ridge was pretty good. It undulated between steeps and moderately mellow slopes. We made our way relatively quickly. Here Nic took his skis off to scope out the slope below, but put them back on at the same spot and skied the steeps.
The top of the final face. A fairly mellow glacier that can apparently get quite broken later in the season.
The last 300m of vertical was a combination of broken crust and avalanche debris.
A foreshortened view of the East Ridge of the Don
A stoked group of people
We were either going to ski down to Nabob Pass and camp there for the approaching storm, or we were going to climb up to the Plummer Hut. We decided we wanted a dry place to hang out and fueled up for a nice leisurely 1000m climb up to 2700m
A good note about elevations in the area. At first we were relatively confused about things. We'd look at the map and go hey, this should only be a 300m climb. Then over an hour later, still not at a pass, you'd go wtf, we've climbed 380m and we're still not at the top. That's because all the glaciers have lost about 100m of elevation, so pretty much when looking at topos, add on an extra bit of vert. On a map it's "only" 900m up to Plummer Hut, but recently that climb has gotten a bit longer. The route to the Plummer Hut
We generally went up the middle of the photo, but trended left in the dark and then cut back right. The hut is just to lookers left of Claw Peak, which is the wide pyramidal looking peak near the top center of the photo. Things got scary again. Maddy and I slowed down. It got windy, we couldn't see tracks very well.
Somehow we wound our way through crevasses and found the hut in the dark. The slurpee at the bottom was also a little frightening, but not too bad. The post holing up higher was frustrating. It was a long slow climb. We got to the hut shortly after 1am and found our friends that had flown into the hut for an attempt on the main summit of Waddington.
The storm raged all night and for the entirety of the following day. The wind was just howling. At some point we brought our skis in since we were worried about them blowing away and tumbling 1000m down to the Tiedeman. The next night it calmed down a bit and we awoke to this
We skied some pow and then geared up to head onto the Upper Tellot Glacier. We made it near Dragonback, but the wind picked up again and the visibility went to shit again, so we retreated back to the comfort of the hut.
The next morning we got this view of the East Ridge of the Don, 3 days after we'd skied it.
This place is pretty neato - Waddington in the clouds on the left and Asperity, Serra (+ Combatant, Tiedeman) on the right.
...to be continued
Wadd Circumski - Fury Gap + Munday East Ridge of the Don
Skiing and mountain literature, photos, and innovative media
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- from Santa Fe
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Re: Wadd Circumski - Fury Gap + Munday East Ridge of the Don
The depth and scale of these stunning skiscapes of yours fires up fresh neural networks that I almost forgot I had!
3 posts • Page 1 of 1