Day 11, Chugach, Alaska

Published 01.08 in category Ice Legacy Chugach Alaska

Chugach – Day 11 Report

If a bird would fly between our camp this evening and the one from last night, he would cover the distance of 962m. It will probably take the bird few minutes. It tooks us 12h!

6 o’clock this morning, it rains again. “Let’s see how it is at 7” claims Børge. For the past few days, the rain occurred during the night and in the morning leaving place to better weather and sunshine in the afternoon. The atmosphere gets colder during the night and can’t hold all the moisture which becomes rain. During the day, the air is warmer and the sun burn that moisture which reduces the chance of rain.

We are at the bottom of the third mountain pass. There is only one safe option to us. Instead of going for the col itself we are going nearly all the way to the top of a mountain on the North side. Then, we can trek on the ridge and connect back to the col. It’s 9’ish we are ready to start the day with half our load. “What about leaving the tent up and pack it down when we come back for the second load?” I say. Børge agrees. We use the skies until the end of the snow. Crevasses are everywhere in this valley. Step by step, we are gaining altitude.

The weight of the backpack makes us sweat. Soon, couple of drips fall from my forehead to the glass of my eye protection. Few more steps, the glass becomes all blurry. I decide to take my sunglasses out. My whole face is wet from being too warm. We are going from 1950m elevation to 2280. Not a big deal unless you weight more than 110 kilos which our case at the moment. We help each other every time we put the load on our back. In the beginning, I always think “Ah! That’s gonna fine”. 30 minutes later sweating like hell, I realize how heavy the load is. “Mom, please come and get me out of here! ” ahahahahah. Sometimes when the slope is made of tiny stones, we slide down. One step further, 1/3 sliding backwards. Børge goes ” it makes our progression 30% slower”. “Not a good investment!” I reply. The pressure on our feet is hard. Placing your feet at the right place becomes a challenge. In every day life, I would not even think about it. Here, carrying like a Himalayan Yak, every steps counts and require special attention in order to keep the balance. Falling here could a bad consequences! We stay focus.

On the way, we decide to drop our gear and go for a scout. A potential traverse which could shortcut this long trek. We end up in a steeper place where we both feel unsafe. Alright, let’s head back to the long route. We still need to scout the route up and the ridge back to the col. We make it to the top without difficulties. It rains though. We cross fingers to find a way back the col. We go on one side of the mountain and then to the other. We zig zag around massive rocks standing on the ridge. Here comes a little gully. My thoughts goes ” please, please, please” hoping for a smooth way down. Yes! We found a good way. Børge and I are both stoked about that. It means we are able to connect the mountain to the col carrying on that ridge. It is still raining. Our jackets and pants are wet. We go back to the gear left half way on the mountain. Meanwhile, Borge installed a fixed rope. Half of the gear is not up the col. Now it is a matter of finding a way down from the col to Powell glacier. One attempt aborted. We both feel that the day is bound to be long. Lucky us, we find a path made by the mountain goats. Børge declares ” they can go really steep but usually take the easiest way”. Next way down looks good. We’ll go for that one. We get back to the sleds and take them all the way down to the ice where Børge secures them with two ice screws.

And now what? Well time to get back to the tent. It’s already 3pm. We are both hungry and feel quite weak. As soon as we reach back to the tent, Borge proposes to have an hour rest here eating, drinking and building energy for the second load. I wish we could have continued but his idea turned out to be very positive on our body. We lay in the tent for approx.1 hour before tying the shoelaces of our ski boots. It’s 4pm past and we still have some work to do. The weather is now clearing up and the sun is shining.

Play, pause, repeat… the four sleds are all together at the bottom of the col on the side of Powell glacier. One more challenge is ahead of us, the crevasse that separates the mountain from the glacier. Børge and the 4 sleds are attached to anchor composed of ice srews, slings and carabiners. I am roped up with Borge. He is going to lower me down while I transport one sled at a time. From there, I will walk my way over the snow bridge and leave the sleds further down. 4 sleds later, we are almost ready to call it a day. We connect the sleds as we have two each, put on the skies and ride down for couple of minutes before finding a good place to camp. The mist is leaving some places for the sun to shines on the mountains. The scenery is magical.

It’s 2130 when the stove runs.
It’s midnight now. We are tired.

Good night!
Vince

 

OUR POSITION



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