Fairy Meadows Family Reunion

This year, this veteran group of mountaineers decided we would head into the Adamants to explore the peaks out of Fairy Meadows. I was super excited as I had never been in there. Kir had though, numerous times, so she knew that it would make a wonderful venue.

We flew in from the same Heli base that this years GMC was using and high fived those coming out from the Sanford area. I haven’t flown in too many helicopters still, so every flight is exciting and a bit nerve wracking! What incredible views though and even though it was a short flight, we went up and over a few really cool passes.

We landed and immediately started to make ourselves at home. We had the hut to ourselves and spent the first couple hours cleaning it up and getting ourselves acquainted to the area and the start to routes for the next morning. Like kids in a candy shop we sniffed through the topos and book and decided on the Unicorn/Colossal traverse for the next day. That night though, we took a bit of time to celebrate Mary Ann’s 65th bday…with streamers and balloons and candles and a book that we had made her of all her prior mountain adventures.

That morning we woke early to amazing skies. A blue bird day for the most part. The glacier travel was fairly complex, but good coverage had us cruising over to Unicorn with ease. From their we had some fun rock pitches and ridge travel until we realized that we would not easily make it over to Collosal.

Lichen covered down sloping rock ridge forced a turn around and we retraced our steps back over Unicorn to the glacier. A hot, sunny descent down the glacier and we were psyched on our first Adamant summit.

The following morning we decided to try Quadrant because the group wanted to work more on their rock leading skills. A hefty approach got us started up the peak, but a large and close thunderstorm had us running back down to the hut in a good rain storm. At this point, it was already late afternoon, so we cut our loses and made plans for the next day. The hopes were to go over Pioneer Col towards Pioneer, to get some Schrund crossing and ice pitching experience.

That morning we got up early again and headed out. Kir and I weren’t sure if we could get past the schrund, but we figured we would try. The first spot we thought of trying, did not look like it would hold a person, and if it did, still involved a steep ice exit. We moved far left to try another spot and a snowy/rock gully exit. After much breath holding and traversing, I crossed the schrund and belayed Kir over. It was an exciting crossing for both the leader and the follower since it traversed so much! I then pitched out another full rope to check out the rock gully, but quickly realized that the snow had turned isothermal and having us all hang out in this gully seemed too dangerous from rock fall in the warm temps. Sadly, we turned around and went back to the group who patiently waited our decision and had already gotten themselves back into glacier travel mode! Always nice to see these ladies thinking ahead and making great forward thinking actions!

We headed back down the glacier with tails between our legs…I felt a bit defeated, and wanted to still make the most of our day for the group. We had already gained 800 meters of elevation and going back to the hut meant losing this again and starting over. This is exactly what we did though, since climbing anything from this side at this hour was too late. We headed back to the hut, regrouped and one group headed to Friendship Col to climb Mt Damon, while I headed up with 3 to try our hand on Gog.

Another 600 meter elevation gain approach got us to the glacier and my group got ready at the base of Gog, a cool tower that pokes out of the Shoestring Glacier. This “5.6” route felt quite engaging, with a bit of lichen covered loose rock to add to the fun. I found myself a nice 3 piton belay near the top and started to belay the group one at a time. By the time Paula started up though, rain had moved in, and along with it another thunderstorm. She hurriedly climbed the route, but at this point the storm was right over us and as the thunder and lightening hit, I felt quite vulnerable. I lowered her back down to the glacier where the rest hunkered under a tarp and quickly made an anchor to rap with and rapped down. At this Point Kir and her team had regrouped with us after their successful summit and we all were thankful that we were no longer at the highest points any more!

The storm passed quickly and we hiked back down in sunny skies….go figure!

With only one day left, a hut to clean, bags to pack and a heli flight to catch at 4pm, we discussed what we would do our last day. Everyone still wanted to do Quandrant, so that is what we aimed for. That night we polished off our remaining liquor stashes, and bouldered over and around the kitchen table…a great way to pass a night at a hut away! Lots of laughs, and bruised arms…

That morning, we got up…early…yet again! and packed our things. We headed back to Quandrant and this time made great time up to the col. Or course though, weather did not look good, and so we opted against the group leading their own parties up the route. Kir took Andrea and Sue and went for Quandrant knowing they could bail quite easily as a team of only 3 if the weather moved in. The rest of the group decided to scramble up the Houdini needles and and after a couple hours the weather totally improved and we basked in sunny skies and amazing views!

At 11;30 Kir’s group was descending and Kir and I had a quick chat on the radio. Our flight wasn’t till 5 so we decided to rally and try to climb Quandrant with the other 4. We moved quickly up and down the peak and found ourselves running back to the hut to ensure that we wouldn’t miss our heli flight out! What a great way to end the trip!!

We got back with enough time to spare to clean the hut well, and have our bags waiting for our flight. Thanks to these fine ladies for such a wonderful trip. Lots of LONG days with a ton of elevation gain, that only a motivated bunch like these could endure. HUGE thanks to Outdoor Research for the awesome jackets and Sterling Ropes for the coralettes and hollow blocks!!

Wonder where we will end up next year??

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