Since the climb was covered in snow, the best route seemed to be straight up, rather than trying to navigate the switchbacks with gps, which would have been more dangerous on the snow. In the India ink darkness, with headlamp, following Blis, I felt an adrenaline rush climbing, gasping for more air at 13,00 feet, and having to go slow, as my lungs tried to adjust to the altitude. At one point, half way up the pass, the snow pulled away from loose scree. Not quite awake, I stepped up on a rock, stuck my pole between two other rocks, and went to step 12″ up to the snow step above. The rock was unstable and I fell backwards. This fall could have been fatal if it hadn’t been for my black diamond aluminum pole wedged between the two larger rocks. The pole bent, but held, and I was able to scramble back to my feet. Phew.
Blis and I made it for sunrise, shouting down to Counsellor, Ready, Moontain Goat, and Picky – small, moving, dark ant forms two miles away and hundreds of feet below.
Navigating through snow, fallen trees, brush and humping fallen logs over river torrents with GPS, Blis and I made it up and over Kearsarge Pass and into Independence for Friday night, stopping at Bullfrog Lake for a seriously chilling dip into the ice covered lake!