Regular Posts Tagged ‘Sue Kuznik’
Women’s Advanced Alpine Camp Rogers Pass
10th Aug 2011Posted in: Blog 3

We had an ambitious week lined up for these Alpine veterans.  The plan was to meet in the amazing Rogers Pass and do a traverse of high alpine peaks for 5 days….taking everything we will need with us on our backs.

Deb Mckague on Asulkan Traverse

This camp should really be called the family reunion, as that is what it feels like…the yearly gathering of good friends and mountain comrades.

Claire wilkinson and Andrea  Lyman in front of Sir Donald

We arrived at Rogers Pass to a good weather forecast and blue skies…just what we needed to really try this objective!  After a good packing session in the parking lot, and crucial decision making over shelters and other key items, we started up towards mt Abbott.  Just getting to the first peak involves over a 1000m of elevation gain!  This is no small task with the loads we were carrying.  As we approached a decision point the weather started to set in.  Clouds that strongly suggested an electric storm had us calling it a day at the base of Abbott.  There is a great little lake, good flowing water and a few flatish spots for tents just off the ridge near Abbott and so we took advantage of this last good bivy spot before the ridge would unrelent for the next stage.

Kirsten at first biby for Mt Abbott

That night, as predicted it rained.  In the parking lot we decided to go with 3 tents, a 2 man, a 3 man and a megamid…my old megamid….instead of 3 people carrying 3 individual bivies.  This proceeded to haunt me throughout the night as the rain persisted and persisted.  Several times I got up to check on the 3 in the Megamid…would they be wet?  would they be up all night?  would they be cold??  I have slept 100’s of nights in a megamid in working with NOLS, but for some reason I was worried.  Everytime though I checked on them, I encountered 3 snoring, dry and warm alpinists…so despite my sleepless night, they had a great one!

Mt Abbott

The next morning, the weather did not look very promising.  we knew that if we started the traverse, we were quite committed for some time.  We didn’t want to hunker all day though either…so we decided to go for it!  Abbott was a great warm up. A nice unroped scramble, which still felt challenging with our packs and the slippery quartzite.

Group summit shot Mt Abbott

After we found our way down, we hit our next small challenge…a bump between Abbott and Afton.  After some scouting, we decided to take the snow around it instead of up and over.  At this moment though, the rain really came down! We pulled out the megamid and siltarp and hunkered down.  20 minutes later we made the snow traverse and started up Afton. This required a rope, with our heavy bags and the every slippery quartzite.  Numerous pitches in sometime downpouring rain eventually got us to the summit!!  Some more hunkering time under our tarp, a fixed line for the summit traverse, and some entertaining down climbing got us to the Rampart, Afton col.

hunkering mt Abbott mt Afton

Here we had to make another decision.  Going up over Rampart to the Lily Glacier would involve a ton more rope travel, which would be time consuming and the day was passing quickly and we were moving slowly with the wet quartzite.  Kir and I scouted a bit and decided to try and contour around Rampart to get to the Lily Glacier.  It would prove to work…but be less then fun!  Much sidehilling on scree, rock jumbles and wet high angled grasses kept us focused!  After a solid 2 hours we got to the glacier though!  Hitting the glacier we put our crampons on for easier travel and made a move for the Sapphire col.  This was another solid hour and a bit of travel as we watched rock fall continously be belched from the side of Swanzy…ick….

Sapphire col hut bananagrams

The final push up to the col was a bit of a grunt, but by 9:30pm we made it to our home!!  We got water going, soup, appies, dinner and desert and headed for some much needed rest!

The next morning…rained again:(  Kir and I hardly slept in the tent as the temps were quite cold.  Everyone in the hut seemed well rested though and we all decided to have a forced rest day due to the weather.  We filled the day with an attempt on Dome (we should have brought the ropes up there!!), some anchor work and some fun filled hours of bananagrams made out of paper!  hilarious….

the group sapphire col

The next morning, after all 8 of us slept in the little hut, we awoke to some promising weather!  We got up early, packed up and headed out!  We cruised up Castor, and then did some rope work to get up Pollux and Leda right as the weather moved in us yet again!

andrea Lyman on Jupiter traverse

What a fabulous ridge though, great rock, and huge cornices made for amazing exposure.

Jupiter traverse

Everyone moved methodically and safely and after hours of work up high on the ridge we were able to descend to the Swanzy/Asulkan glacier and up and over to Mt Jupiter.

Sue Kuznik on Castor

Tagged Jupiter and struggled to find our way down in a low cloud/whiteout.  After much more down climbing and effort we reached Asulkan Pass!!  We were ecstatic..we could see the hut that promised us good sleeps, dry beds and endless water…

group at end of Jupiter traverse

The coolest part, was a massive set of grizzly tracks the went right up and over the pass…looked pretty recent too!

Grizzly tracks Asulkan Pass

We got to the hut and claimed it as our own, tea, snacks, soup, dinner, lots of smiles and laughs, and the smell of drying footwear we headed for bed. We set our alarms for early as we wanted to try Youngs peak.  Of course at 5 in the morning though, the weather once again proved to not work in our favor, rain all night, no overnight freeze and soon the hut was back to the sound of snoring…

That morning we feasted on “leftover” brunch.  Cheesy pitas, fried turkey slices, coucous hot cereal, tea, coffee…it was wonderful!  Full and happy , we made the most of our warm hut and practiced rescue skills, belay escapes, reversing a reverso, lowers etc.

rescue skills in Asulkan Hut

Eventually we rallied and packed our bags for the last time for the final trek down to our cars.  A nice mostly rain free hike down, we returned to some clean clothes, chips and ciders from Andrea and Claire and some final photo ops!

Thanks OR

Thanks again ladies for an amazing week.  Kir and I are always so inspired by your motivated, your endurance with the long and ardous days, your positive energy and your keenness to learn and put your skills to work.  It was an ambitious week, made more challenging by very hard weather, and we couldn’t have done it with a better group!  Thanks OR for always supporting these courses with your generous jackets….they are SO appreciated!