Thursday, August 7, 2014

Above The Snowline - A reminder about winter climbing

The forecast was solid. The temperature had dipped well below freezing. Kynan and I were in search of ice, fat runnels of the stuff that flowed tantalisingly down steep narrow gullies. Winter is the time to go forth, with ice crampons sharpened and ice axes held to attention.
We picked a valley of promise, wading waist deep through snow drifts that had somehow predicted which way we wanted to travel. Doing this for hours on end should be promoted as the next big Jenny Craig’s weight loss phenomena. By the time we had found a place to bivvy I was (a) completely poked, (b) frozen at my extremities yet overheating at my core, and (c) over it. I threw my pack down, kicked half-heartedly at a patch of snow before unfurling my sleeping mat, bivvy bag and sleeping bag. Later on came the hours of snow melting to rehydrate, and then a poor attempt at sleeping. My water bottle froze inside my sleeping bag, as did I. Spindrift blew in the small opening in my bivvy bag, thawing, dripping and then refreezing. I lay in the dark and imagined warm tropical beaches with palm trees and bikinis and pina coladas. Are we having fun yet?