The babies were sleeping semi-soundly, but too much fumbling in the dark would alert them. I must forgo the headlamp near the nightstand, as clumsy fingers might knock over various glasses and nostrums!
Hurtling into the gloom, I stuffed gaiters, a fraying sweater and a powerbar into a pack. I would have brought Jeff’s guidebook, but it was also in the Room of Soft Sleepers, so I mentally traced the picture as the RAV4 careened through Gold Bar. Once before I’d tried to climb the peak after work, but merely got some exercise climbing to the forested ridge crest as dusk arrived.
I started hiking at 7 am, after a brief chat with some fellows going to climb Merchant Peak. After a short walk on the abandoned road, the steep muddy path was a shock to the system. Squelching along, I took solace in my iPod and Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians.” The pulsing woodwinds and voices lended a much-needed sense of mystery to the woody rooty ankle stretching journey.
Eventually I was cruising along the gentle ridge crest, getting that great ridge feeling despite a heavy scrim of trees. Ridges are a gift to mankind. Soon a bit of flagging marked an indistinct path leading steeply upslope. It was an enjoyable trip through open forest, culminating in a ridgetop with the first view of a broad snowy gully between the North and South summits. I found myself wishing for crampons on the rock hard snow of the morning. It slowed me down quite a bit, trying to stay in the posthole steps of preview climbers, alternating with (mostly ineffective) attempts at step kicking. At a dramatic saddle, I followed tracks left up a steeper section of snow to a “staging area” with great views of the South summit rock walls. I was hoping the snow would soften a little for the trip down!
Bits of forest path alternated with snow patches for several hundred feet until reaching a rock gully below the summit. I scrambled up to a great view in all directions. It was 9:30 am. I called home, everyone was happy and well-fed. I left a message for Carlos. I got the idea for a “cell phone club” where people relay calls from one mountaintop to another at some time, like 10 am on Saturday for example. I ate the uninspiring PowerBar. I was happy to be here, it completed the “triumvate” of Wild Sky Peaks for me, since I’d climbed Gunn and Merchant before. Okay, better head down.
Pretty soon I got lost, because I was lured into secure post-hole steps I hadn’t seen on the way up. They wandered along a rock wall and dead-ended at a cliff. Darn. I fooled around a while, then climbed back up a ways to probe for the error. Back on the trail I worried about the steep hard snow ahead. But some softening had occurred, so I could kick the occasional step and not have to resort to “chopping.” On the way down the snowy gully I met a large party coming up, well-shod in crampons which I envied. Bumping and slipping my way down, I was happy to be off the snow and moving quickly to the sounds of Pink Floyd tearing down the wall.
Ah, the long semi-controlled fall down to the road, finally reaching the car at 12:30. There was still time to take the boys to Green Lake for a walk around, a fun visit with friends, then a Red Mill Burger. Something had to give though, I crashed hard before giving the fellas a bath. I don’t know how Kris got everyone bundled and sleepy while my snores echoed metallicly in the bedroom. Gnight!