Saturday, August 18, 2012

GMC - August 1 - Silvertip Mountain

I was contemplating a rest day, but Jan's infectious enthusiasm meant I signed up with her for Silvertip.
Peter was leading our rope team. Inga in second is
happy to be out on the ridge. Jan was last, which meant on the
return trip she got to do all the down-climbing first :)
To get to this mountain, we ascended through a short snow field and scree right above our tent and then headed to the Silvertip glacier. While the distance we needed to travel was less than the previous day's, the steepness was considerably greater.

Rope team number 2, led by Chucky, with Eric, Alisen
and Bruce. On the summit ridge.Yeah.

Another notable difference: Silvertip is a mix of rock and snow, with a good length of rock ridge to get to the summit. And a moat. That we had to jump across. We did.
Jan, happy on the summit of Silvertip (2,880 m)

While I had no trouble with exposure on rock ridges, even those with lots of loose, rotten rock, I do need to take a moment to gather myself when it comes to jumping across deep seemingly bottomless chasms. Notwithstanding the rational mind's knowledge of being on a rope, with skilled belayers providing protection, the emotional mind seems to get distracted by deep, dark space that must be crossed. I did manage quite a funny re-enactment during the nightly story-time.

View from Silvertip Mountain includes Alpina Dome (2,695 m)
and, in the background, Cital Mountain (2,923 m)
and its snow ridge.
We did get to put to use our self-arrest practice on the way out. There's a short section of steep snow we had ascended in the morning, The snow was quite good. By the time the sun had worked on it all day, we discovered that that section had turned slushy; within my first few steps I felt the snow give way underneath me and I went sliding down. I quickly got into self-arrest position, and watched as my ice axe just sliced through slushy snow rather than being held by it. I dug my boots in ever deeper. While I slid I yanked Jan from her footing and she quickly zoomed past me and Peter lost his footing, too (I have greater mass than both of them ;) It was amazing to feel the velocity we rached when all three of us were sliding; and we each felt the urgency to stop as at the bottom of this section is a band of solid rock. We stopped above it and got ourselves extracated from this situation without any injury. We were quite pleased with ourselves for putting the Snow School training to such good use and remaining calm and collected throughout.

Blackfriars - 2 teams led by Jeff and Andrew, total of 6 people
managed a long ascent on this rock route. They left camp at
5:30 am and returned tiredbut happy 15 hours later. This mountain
was in our view all day and we even spotted them at one point
on the rock.
The weather held even though there were plenty of clouds swirling up from the Adament range and around Sir Sandford on the other side.

Blackfriars was at times total engulfed in cloud and then completely clear. When our camp compatriots climbed it they had good views most of the day, but they got to the summit during a brief period when it was completely in the clouds without any views at all. And so, even hard fought for summits can go without glorious vistas from the top. The accomplishment remains.

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