July 26, 2013

Climbing the East Ridge of Mt. Temple and Grassi Ridge on Wiwaxy


Looking over a sea of clouds from the classic East Ridge of Mt. Temple.

Coming back from a major injury and surgery is an uncertain and delicate process. At first, you don't really know what your body is capable of. This is fine if you're hanging out at the climbing gym or pool, but presents different challenges when you're in the middle of a committing alpine or rock climb. When we started up yesterday's climb of  the East Ridge on Mt. Temple, I couldn't say with 100% certainty that my body would be able to complete the task. Up to this point, the longest climb I'd done took 7 hours and the East Ridge could possibly take twice as long. Would my leg be able to able to sustain the effort? Would my back give out? I certainly thought that if I paced myself, I could make the climb. But still, there were a few unknowns that could only be answered through performing the act itself.

In the end, the climb went great and was a huge milestone along the path of recovery. The weather was perfect, the company was tolerable and I felt reasonably strong from start to finish.  Many thanks to my partners who helped out by carrying the rope and rack. 

Some useful beta from our ascent: 
Gear: Camalots: 0.4 - 2, 8 draws, 4 nuts, light weight ice axe, light weight crampons, 1 ice screw, 60 meter rope.
All anchors on the Big Step and in the Black Towers are fixed with ring bolts.
The traverse to the Black Towers is currently in great shape with mostly bucket steps in snow.
We were able to refill our water bottles along the traverse below the Black Towers.
The summit glacier is becoming sporty.
Time: 12 hours


Darcy C climbing on the lower route with the West Face of Mt. Fay in the distance.


Scrambling low down on the route.


A perfect day in the mountains.


Taking a break low down on the route. Darcy Chilton Photo.


We put a rope on for this short step.


The first pitch on The Big Step. The climber is about half-way to the belay and is just left of the arete.


Pitch 2 on The Big Step. Darcy Chilton Photo.


Finishing the last pitch on the Big Step.


A nice walk in the sky towards the Black Towers.


Almost like the Frendo Spur.


Climbing below the Black Towers.


Good snow conditions on the traverse to the Black Towers.


A bolted station marks the start to the 1st pitch in the Towers.


The summit ridge + glacier. Darcy Chilton Photo.


The view from the summit of Mt. Temple never gets old. I wish I could say the same for the knee crushing descent.


Sara H on the crux pitch of Wiwaxy's Grassi Ridge. This was my re-introduction to leading in the alpine and Sara let me guide her up the route a few weeks ago. We took the 8:30 bus in to Lake Ohara and were worried that we might not catch the last bus out. In the end, we surprised ourselves and made the 4:30 bus. 


The rock gets better the higher you climb.


Using Sara as a crutch to stand up straight.

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