Friday, September 16, 2011

Adventure Journal: Pickets Day 4

Quiet dawn lights the sky above our heads. Last night's bivy, in a sharp notch between the east and west summits of The Rake, provided a protected recovery zone. Our obsessive hydrating and good nights sleep has done the trick. I'm ready for another fun day.

Morning ritual at the rad bivy between the east and west summits of The Rake

Sol leads out of the bivy, climbing strongly and quickly. After an hour or so, Dan and I finally join him at a comfy terrace of boulders. I click the pro onto my waist and start up the final rope length of the East Twin Needle. The climbing is exhilarating and I shake my head in awe when the features become clear. Again, unlikely, but solid and fun climbing leads to a pin top summit. Dan and Sol follow with joy. I pull the rope through the belay device and turn my back against the wind.

An incredible arete led to the summit of East Twin Needle

Myself on the crux lead of our trip, pushing for the summit of the Himmelhorn

I'm cold, so it feels good to move off of the East Twin, bag the west summit, and descend to our next objective. Ahead is the golden blade of the Himmelhorn. I'm also scared, as I can already tell my leads on the spire will be full on. I set an exposed belay and bring Sol and Dan over to a stance of loose stone. Within a few minutes I'm tight roping across a sharp horizontal arete that soon cranks its angle to vertical. I fire some gear in and set off into my own world. At nearly 200 feet out, I finally come to a solid belay that takes my last cam and a trucker nut.

Sol arrives at the summit of East Twin Needle

"That was crazy, climbing that pitch with Dan, you at some crazy belay way up there! Wild!" Sol says pulling onto my stance.

Looking back at the ridge we had been climbing for a few days from the top of East Twin Needle

The rest of the Himmelhorn passes with fewer hairs raised. Down climbing and rappelling, we efficiently make it to a fat col before the sun goes down. We hit the final bit of hot chocolate and slurp down freeze drieds. Lumpy rocks poke my back and my bivy slopes, but I fall into dreams before I've even zipped up my bag.

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