Let's set the stage. Last year, I made astonishingly good decisions and turned back at the Hogsback in the face of falling ice and unwarranted danger. I know. Who would have guessed it?
This year... well let's start in the parking lot. 11pm. Again. We slept until 2am this time. Scott wasn't with us so nobody was kicking our bags to get us up. Instead, I had KC, Matt, and Rich with me. We were on trail by 3am. Kind of a late start, actually.
Like last year, they were skiing and I was walking. Walking proudly. And making decent time. We were above the top of the ski lifts around dawn. Well, three of us were. Unfortunately, Rich experienced equipment failure that set him back. Even after he joined us, he was short some of the critical gear so we continued without him. (Probably should have given him the keys, though. Oops.)
At Hell's Kitchen it was plenty stinky thanks to the very active fumerole. Above, there were oodles of climbers, but they were mostly on their way down. At the Hogsback, where we turned last year, we decided to follow the ridge about half way up, then contour to climber's left and up the Old Chutes. The snow was firm, but the wind was blowing a steady 20 mph with gusts around 40. Not a good for being on the summit, but a handy tailwind for getting up there.
Atop the summit ridge itself, it was clear we'd have to follow a narrow bit of snow with a sure-death type of fall on the left and a ouch-class fall on the right. Others had done it and there were a couple of people on the true summit. But this is where we made our good decision.
Instead of dancing with death or crawling along the ridge where one of those gusts of winds could turn us into a kite we declared we were on our summit. Hurray for prudence!
Now we just had to downclimb the steep slope while the wind blew ice up into our faces and navigate the Hogsback down where the wind was trying to blow us off.
Below that, it was just a slog back to the car. I got some glissades in, but it was actually too fast in spots so I did a lot of walking. Matt and KC chumped it up and skied for part of it, landing them at the car about 30 minutes ahead of me. It doesn't sound like much, but that was 30 minutes of postholing through soft snow. Lovely.
Next up: South Sister? Crater Lake? We'll see what the summer holds.