Day 12 in the Chugach mountain range

Published 01.08 in category Ice Legacy Chugach Alaska

Chugach – Day 12 Report

10 magical kilometers along the wall.

Wake up sore from the previous day going up and down that col between Silvester and Powell glacier. We take it easy this morning.

I start the day in the front. After a short while we enter in a crevasse area where I feel the need to use the rope. The ground is loose here and there. Couple of zig zags and Børge goes: “the snow bridge just broke right passed the back of my skies”. Sometimes I question myself about the right moment to decide using the rope. My conclusion to that is: if there is a little doubt about the terrain, there is no doubt that I have to use the rope.

We continue towards the upper part of Powell glacier. We have  in front of us a large avenue of ice. All along the South side, big mountain walls with hanging glaciers and seracs remind us how vulnerable we are. We keep a distance to that vertical world. Avalanches coming from the top of these giants can travel quite far across. “Let’s keep it to the right” declares Børge.

The wind picks up. The scenery is spectacular. The clouds coming from the South and hurting this mountain chain stay stuck on the top rolling over the summits. On the back side of this wall, the weather looks bad. On our side it is sunny. It looks like an established weather frontier, two worlds are meeting here, one is wet and grey, the other one dry and clear. The wind goes down. Basically during the whole day, we put our jacket on and off several times. It’s calm and suddenly gusty. It’s calm again.

We keep the rope until we approach a snow col. The magical line continues towards a plateau. Let’s deal with col first. It’s Børge’s turn to lead. We have in front of us massive cubes of ice and two options to go over that pass. Either on the right sunny side, either on the left under a steep mountain. Børge is hesitating. We try the right side in order to stay away from the avalanches. We go uphill and discover the steepness of the hill. Børge stops, turns to me and says: “the other side, no?” “Yes, I think you’re right”. I wasn’t feeling comfortable about going up that steep snow slope. We ski down and up again but under the big mountain this time. Børge finds a route nicely balanced between the avalanches of the mountain and the steepness of the hill. “Good job Børge!” Nearly on top of the col, we rope up again. “I don’t like this snow bridges, they have already started to sink into the crack” he says. The snow is soft, the leader works hard but every step forward is a progress towards the plateau.
The profile of one particular crevasse is terrifying. I say “Death traps!”. The lip is huge and overhanging over the whole. “Scary”. The whole landscape is breathtaking. “Børge, have you ever ski in this kind of terrain?” “No, never” The sun is right above the walls and the clouds are still rolling over the tops. We are still in the sunshine. I guess you are really an expert when you are able to forecast the weather in this area.

We finally approach the plateau and it is opening up. We take a break. We are at nearly 3000 meters. It is the very first time of the trip that I have the feeling to be in a polar environment, a windy plateau bitten by the winds. Still surrounded by mountains though. We start going down the plateau. On the far distance, I see the clouds taken by the winds. We might camp in the cloud with no sun. As we really need to recharge our batteries, I propose to Børge to call it a day and take advantage of the sun. “That’s fine with me”. As soon as the tent is pitched, I hang the solar panel on the outside of the tent, connect the energy bank and place it inside the vestibule where the air is warm.

“Surprise!” says Borge. He pull a pack of Mashmallows / shamallows (how do we write this dam word? Ahahahah), grab two extra tent poles and here we are, barbecuing them over the stove and at the end of each poles. Life is good!

The wind picks up. The fabric is making quite some noise at the moment. Good night!



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