Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventure Journal: Pickets Day 6

Ping! Ping! Ping!

Getting ready to rap out of the Himmelhorn/Ottohorn col

I drive home a pin, sling a block, slam a nut into a constriction, and equalize the trifecta of protection. Instead of upward or horizontal movement this morning, I ready myself to start rappeling down the broken coulior and glacier that spills off of the northern side of the Himmelhorn/Ottohorn col. Our plan is to make our way to the south face of the Frenzilspitz, climb it's shimmering wall and then head north.

Dealing with moats on the descent out of the Himmelhorn/Ottohorn col

"Sure glad we didn't down climb this," I think. Standing at the edge of a huge overhanging moat, I kick at the snowy border again and again. I don't want it to collapse on me when I jump in! When I'm finally confident it's safe, I hurl myself over the edge and swing into a pit. I have to unholster the ice axe to climb out the other side. Soon, I am working on another rock anchor to the side of the snow as Sol and Dan slip down the ropes.

Heading for the Frenzilspits

Another rap takes us to lower angle ground. I work across the glacier towards the Frenzilspitz, but when I get close I realize I most likely won't be able to reach the rock. Scary chasms seperate me from granite and the glacier's flimsy edges won't hold my weight.

After a few hours of trying to make it work, I kiss the Frenzilspitz goodbye. I really want its airy summit, but it's not worth dying for.

After deciding to leave this peak behind, we scramble onto a broad ridge that will take us across Picket Pass, over Outrigger Peak, and to a bivy near Luna Peak. Even though we've chosen to forgoe the entire traverse, we are excited to finish our trip as a loop and Outrigger and Luna form a line that inspires us, even if it is only a back up plan.

Sol heads north. Mongo Ridge (bad ass Wayne Wallace!!) rises in the background

Outrigger Peak, which appears to be a major choss pile, suprises us with beautiful orange stone. We have a blast twisting up the ridge, finding secret passages, and climbing a beautiful golden staircase in the steepest section.

Next, we strap on our crampons again and cruise across Mt. Fury's SE glacier. The going is easy and we take in the powerful beauty around us. We follow bear prints off the glacier and onto a bench which we follow into a talus field. A slog to the top of the rocks brings us to a spectacular bivy with running water.

Outrigger Peak on the left, Fury on the right.

I am dissapointed we have failed in our original objective, but I am also thankful and happy to be out in these wild lands at all. All night we stare at the Southern Pickets. They stand in the darkness, like deserted castles from another time. "I may never complete such an incredible traverse again," I muse. The line of jagged peaks is truly unique and terribly beautiful. I scan the moon lit horizon again and then close my eyes. Sleep finds me and takes me away.

Heading for Luna

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