Matt's Diary: Day 4
4am wake up in Wabasso campground and after a hideously efficient break of camp, we are on the road at 4:27. Matt deduces the only way to have speeded things up would be by eating less! The road to the trailhead is bumpy but affords spectacular views of the magnificent peak of Edith Cavell towering over the trees [it was very dark; Matt must have killer night vision]. Starting at 1700m , there are 1600m to climb to the summit at 3363m, and rated as 'D' in the French system with low 5th class climbing, this is the hardest peak either of us has attempted. Yet we set off without fear and trepidation in the knowledge that a stout heart and a cool head will enable us to take the sneaky line up the east ridge and down the west of a mountain whose other faces (north) look impossibly impressive!
A 2 hour slog up the moraine and loose scree with barely a stop for water puts us on the col at the base of the east ridge at 7am (2310m ). The weather is perfect and this aspect of the mountain looks decidedly do-able. The first couple of hours of 4th class on mainly solid rock are a treat. A short section of step kicking on 45° snow leaves Matt flat on his back gasping for air, while Steph looks solid. But the best is yet to come, and after rest, powerbar and admiration of the phenomenal view - green meadows, forests, turquoise lakes and infinitely many snowy peaks, we head for the 5th class. We keep saying we'll rope up at the next bit, but when we get there we find the quartzite ledges provide safe ascent, though the exposure is exhilarating, and occasional loose rocks provide nasty surprises.
So we haul our rope and gear just shy of the summit, where a patch of steep ice blocks the path - crampons on, and the summit is ours. And the views are the best we have ever seen!!! We reach the summit (3363m ) just after noon and spend an hour photographing each other and the perilously steep and distinctively banded panorama of rocky mountains. Patches of snow sit like clouds on the ground in the meadows, pearly blue green lakes shimmer, and we dare not tread too close to the huge cornice on the North Face! We sign the summit log and head down at 1pm.
One disgusting scree face later we reach some comfortable snow glissades and at 3pm are off the mountain proper . After congratulating ourselves and eating many oatmeal cookies we head off on a gruelling 3 hour hike out, all the way round Mt Sorrow [7, 8]. Matt's feet hurt and he contracts Steph's stomach bug, forcing him to lie down to rest on the well used trail (to the amusement of passers by!) to regain energy. By heck - that was bloody 'ard!!!
|Click on a to see a photo.|