A bunch of us were psyched to head to the snowy mountains, with many different pictures in our minds of what that might materialise as.
Manu and I set off in the evening, to perhaps jump on an ice route in the early morning. Though as we drove up the valleys there was very little ice to be seen except at exceptional altitudes, which I suppose I am quite used to. We found a spot to bivvy by a river to scout further in the morning. On the map, there was a lake at 850m quite near to us, which was cupped in between two peaks, which seemed an opportune place to climb or play about in while we wait for the others to arrive.
We spent so long in hesitation that it was late by the time we started. Haron and Ed decided to join us, which also greatly shifted the day. I had brought my axes and screws, with a spare set of crampons which still left us one short. We decided to do some ‘ice and mixed bouldering’ which is actually super entertaining and great for technique, though sometimes a little unnerving above slopes. A little weather front was heading in which I was not too phased about – we all had waterproofs, with nice layers and gloves to keep us cosy. Though this feeling was not shared. Others became nervous and were hasty to want to head down. In my eyes the way back was simple and straight – impossible to get wrong as we had been on the same aspect all day. My previous experience in the Scottish hills meant what were quite ordinary conditions for me, were extreme for others and this was eye-opening at the time and will be insightful for days guiding in the potential future.
I found a little ‘snow cave’ for shelter and waited out the wind, then we decided to practice securing on steep ground using snow bollards and ice-axe belays, while throwing snowballs – fully risk-assessed according to the SOP’s.
After heading down hill we messed around near the road where some ice had formed short steep walls, and checked out the views.
Later on, when we reconvened with the other half of the group, we found they had some issues with sorting out a campsite. I guessed a little later than when we experienced the winds, they too found them unnerving. Their tents lay on the ground and they were cold beneath a tree, some sulking. It was a little strange to me, so I got a fire going as there was plenty of wood beneath this dried out old tree, which ended up being a wonderful spot for some jokes, stories and some of Haron’s whiskey.
Of all the lessons learnt, the importance of bringing spare socks, etc. was a standout for Jasmine.
While I have no photos of this trip, picture lots of snow, psyche and cold fingers.