Friday, February 25, 2011

Everest Ridge: Timpanogos

I laid there trying to drift off, but the wind was incessantly bearing down on our little tent. Remembering that Meera had an extra set of earplugs I rolled over and asked. Earplugs might be the best piece of camping equipment ever. The sounds of the night faded away as the little plugs swelled in my ears. Deep sleep followed.

The 1:00 a.m. wake up call found me ready and well rested. We pulled on our crampons and readied our ice axes. Everest Ridge, a 3,000+ vertical foot protrusion on the face of Timp hung over our heads. This was the biggest group I have ever been with in the backcountry. 30 something people began the climb toward the summit.

We stopped a short way up the ridge for a clinic on self arresting (stopping a fall using your ice axe for a brake). We all took short slides down the icy slope before coming to a stop. After we had all practiced we move on. I climbed with Meera, Neena's little sister, she was a champ the whole climb. This was her first endeavor of this sort and the conditions made it that much more exciting.

As we climbed higher the weather grew worse. The cloud cover moved in thick and the wind grew stronger. Snow pelted your eyes if you turned your head to the wrong angle. The higher we went the worse the visibility became. We climbed passing groups that had turned back. It wasn't long before we made the same decision. No one would make the summit today.

I once read somewhere that 80% of climbing accidents happen on descent. With all my time in the mountains this was my first time walking back down. No snowboard. After I got used to it, I was glad to be walking off this one. It was often that we were on long patches of ice. A member of our party slipped at one point close to camp and took a long fast slide to the bottom.

We reached camp and packed up. The hike out was nothing short of miserable. It was a happy misery. I eventually pulled out my shovel and slid down any portion of trail steep enough. It wasn't long before we were at the car, the next thing on my list was a nap... a long one.

The hike up started at Dry Canyon in Lindon. Nearly 3,000 vertical feet to base camp.

We set up base camp as we watched the sunset.

Wake up.

Headlamps in the dark.

Our tent.

The wind never let up. I love being out when it is like this. Climbing in all forms puts you where you aren't supposed to be. There is a reverent quiet feeling that the expanse beneath your feet evokes. It is almost like you have happened upon a private conversation between the earth and God.

Eric and Whitney.

Blasting winds, you can see the plumes on the right.

Family Photo.

Don't slip. Ice.

Walking home.

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