Late starts, Nikon torture tests, backing off twice and other stories.Every few feet it would pick up speed and bounce again each time higher.
Funny I thought to myself I don’t remember there being a rock at my feet. Good thing there is no one down below I muttered again as I watched the green rock bound down the slope. Green rock? I watched the rock slowly metamorphose into my camera case.
People say when you die you life passes before your eyes. While I was in no danger the scene unfolded in slow motion. I could only stand there and watch. Visions of “Photo of the week slowly disappearing and I somehow managed a chuckle which quickly became a laugh. Why am I laughing I say. No more photo captions ending with “William Marler, Nikon Cool Pix 8000” and that is 900$ bounding out of sight. But what else could I do but laugh!
It was my fault to begin with. I kept the camera case looped though the belt of my pack and while it took a devil of a time putting it on each time I was heading for the hills. I had remarked to myself and friends, on how easily it would slip off when I removed my pack.
What was an accident waiting to happen had just that…. happened. And I was feeling foolish.
It was past 1:00 pm and I was only halfway to my objective of scouting out the route on Mount Evan-Thomas. My late start was due to my waiting for my 15-year-old son, Lawrence to wake up and join me on a journey to the mountains. I had been weak and let him sleep till 10:00 am. 10:00 am, for a teenage boy is an early start for those of you who are not acquainted with the species. After packing all my gear and his. I was ready to leave to perhaps go to Burstall pass once again. I pick the easy ones so as not to get too much resistance from Lawrence.
After listening to the moans and groans for a further 10 minutes I make an executive decision to leave him to his bed and head out on my own. I made the decision a while ago to not push him too hard into what is really my thing. He has been a trooper up to now and I don’t want to spoil things. I will miss his company though. This change of plans does allow me to change my destination. I can try something more challenging.
As I drive along in my rented Kia Sorrento. I decide to check out Mount Evan-Thomas.
At 10161 ft / 3097 m it looked interesting. That and the fact that it was not to be found in any guidebook I knew of made it even more interesting. As my day was to be a short one the easy and quick approach via the Grizzly peak col was just the ticket.
I parked on the side of highway 40 in Kanasakis and made my way quickly up the trail, a series of easy switchbacks that lead to a beautiful alpine meadow. This meadow surrounded by glorious peaks such a Mount Packenham, Mont Hood, Grizzly peak and my objective, Mount Evan-Thomas.
Mount Packenham from near the col between Mount Evan-Thomas and Grizzly Peak
Here I stopped for lunch. In doing so I removed my pack as I often do to sit on and gaze at the view while I munched on my sandwich and apple. It was only after finishing when I stood up to put my pack back on that my camera took its plunge.
As it bounced in what seemed like slow motion I could see that the case was slowly beginning to work itself open. The strap could now be made out as is it spun in the air of the next bounce. I wait for the camera to be ejected from the case and for bits of plastic to start flying in different directions. Miraculously this does not happen as the green spec comes to rest by the stream at the bottom of the valley.
Smiling and chatting to myself I slowly begin to down climb the grassy slope. This slope which has made things easier for my camera is slippery in places and I have to watch my step so I do not imitate my camera and start slipping and bouncing down the hill. Loosing the camera is one thing breaking a leg or something else while out on my own to retrieve it would be the height of foolishness.
After 15 minutes or so of grabbing clumps of grass for support and following whatever goat trails I can find on the way down, I reach the bottom and look for the green case. I find it quite quickly as its colour stands out from the light green of the grassy slope. Gently I open the case and turn on the camera. The camera seems OK and the lens opens as usual but I am getting an error message. No card. I take a look on the side. When the case started to open on the way down it had somehow managed to open the door to the card and ejected it. I check the side pouch for the spare cards and battery. Gone.
I follow the route the camera took on the way down and after poking around manage to find the card that that had been ejected. The bright blue and red of the Scan Disk helped. I plunk the card back in and viola… it works. I take a photo and check it out. Seem OK.
I’m back in business. Hooray! (•:
Now I must decide on the rest of the day. I have wasted a good 40 minutes with this silly episode. I decide to at least go to the col and check out the route once again.
This part of the journey is the most tiring. While it is not difficult you must make your way up a scree slope. Anyone who has done this will understand, If you do not choose your footing carefully you end up wasting a lot of energy spinning your wheels. If you can pick out the goat trails I find this goes better. 40 minutes later I reach the col.
From this point the obvious way is up the seemingly gentle grassy slope that becomes talus about 1/3 of the way up. It is now 3:30 pm. Late for an October Sunday to be still heading up. The weather is beautiful though so I give myself an hour before turnaround time.
The slope leading up to the ridge from Grizzly col
Slowly I make my way back and forth up the slope, which like a scene from a “Hitchcock” film and keeps stretching and getting longer. 1 hour later I am at the beginning of the ridge. The sun is brilliant and the ridge is mostly dry as I make my way first left then over top, and finally to the right of the various points along the way. Here I have to down climb slightly to the left then follow along the exposed edge to the next high point.
The ridge as it looked on October 15th, 2006. I stopped about 50 yards along from here. The summit looked so close.
It is here where I start to get my first doubts as to whether a can make this summit today. The next point require for me to either go over the top and down climb or work my way to the right slowly along a exposed section. The rest of the ridge is out of view as is the route and its difficulties. While the summit is tantalizingly close I figure that it is at least one hour away the speed at which I am moving. It is now 5:00 pm. The sun will be ducking behind the hill to the west soon. I have not brought my headlamp and even if I did am unwilling to walk out in the dark. So I make the easy decision to bail on this one for today. I am not used to backing off like this but am comfortable with what I have done to this point on this day.
By 6:30 I am at the car and heading back home dodging deer along the 40.
The next week I returned earlier in the day and made it to almost the same spot before my friend Peter and I called it off once again as there was now lots of snow on the ridge, making it far more dangerous that the week before when it was dry.
Snow on the ridge on the 22 of October making it too tricky without a rope.
So I am hoping I will be third time lucky. But no doubt will have to wait till next climbing season to do it.
Moral of the story. None really, except get an early start and be careful with how you place your camera case. (•:
William Marler notes from October 15, 2006.