May 27 – June 1, 2009 – Mt. Columbia Expedition Training on Columbia Icefields
TIGHT THE ROPE!!! MAN IN CREVASSE!!!
The ice opened and swallowed our most experienced crew member! Using the skills we learned, we pulled him out to safety. We recovered the lost time navigating in the whiteout through steep slopes to set a survival first camp. Still no sight of our target; Mt Columbia was hiden in the snow storm.
After this hard beginning the weather slowly changed giving us a chance to move fast and take a look at the goal. We set camp 2 in the big trench. Short sleep, early start! We skinned up in the darkness crossing the endless crevasse maze to the mountain base, luckily this time no one fell in.
The first light of dawn accompanied us as we started to climb the east face. But the mountain denied us! There was an overloaded slope in the bergschrund which was too dangerous to travel over. We turned around and after reassessing the plan, we decided to keep on trying on the exposed south ridge. Racing the clock, we crossed the southeast aspect, transferred to climbing mode again, and stared our vertical endeavor. The mountain said NO again, we were too late, the snow was too wet even for winged climbers, the return would have been an endless fall.
Back on the camp, another crisis, the ravens have had a huge feast with our supplies.
That was too much for the team, we decided to turn around for more training, and set camp 1 again. The sun shined for us on the glorious next day, we climbed Mt. Andromeda and on the no longer unnamed, now Mt. Frisky a bump on Andromeda’s southern ridge. Back to camp, we decided an early start next morning, before the mountain melts exposing the crevasse labyrinth.
Final day, tired and stinky we were stumbling on the 3 benches of the Athabasca glacier, until our guides showed us the meaning of efficiency.
Out of the maze we skied our last turns on fresh snow back to civilization.