I got up this morning at 5:45 to take advantage of the sun's recent late rising, so I could catch the morning alpenglow for my drive into the mountains.
This Veteran's Day, weather-wise, couldn't've been better. Conditions-wise, it could hardly have been worse.
Sperry looking very impressive
looking over the valley
The instant I got into the hanging glacier valley, I found snow, which I expected. But as I so often find in my naivete, conditions were nothing like what I expected. I debated with myself last night over whether to bring skis, eventually deciding not to because it seemed like a hassle since I don't know how to telemark ski, figuring I'd just boot bring cramps and an ice ax and I'd be fine, like that last time I climbed Vesper, in May.
This snow, however, despite being relatively early in the morning and a chilly day, was very soft, and neither shallow enough to be ignored, nor deep enough that I still didn't have to tangle with unseen boulders under the snow.
Looking up the hanging valley
From the valley, looking at Dickerman, at left, Twin Peaks in center, and the great hump of St'auk Mountain at right
All of this left me a bit sad, but I continued through the horrible, soupy snow. The snow was of just the right consistency to give me a smile of hope and joy that it might actually take my weight, before I stepped in, sunk to thigh deep and slid back a foot. On every single step.
The views were nothing short of spectacular, though.
Morningstar Peak frowning upon my struggles in the hanging valley
Headlee Pass was the worst, with the extreme steepness making me slip backward 4/5 of a step for every step I made of progress.
Three-peaked Bedal Peak peeking around the shoulder of Morningstar
The task ahead
Bedal, the white queen Glacier Peak in the distance, and sail-shaped, majestic Sloan
After much struggling I finally made it towards the top of the pass.
Hooray! My first and only glimpse of the day of Vesper, from Headlee Pass
Struggling up the horrifically slow, steep soupy snow
I got to the pass and then had to decide whether I wanted to continue. Having really worked up an appetite from the previous 3 hours of brutal snow-struggling, I had lunch and read some of my book while thinking about whether to go on. I realized I probably faced a similar fight from the pass to the summit. Still, with the unusually good weather I was considering at least trying to continue, until I found that the cold wind blowing over the pass had conspired to chill my hands and feet numb. Since I wasn't willing to sacrifice fingers or toes for the cause, I decided to head down at a brisk pace to warm my hands back up and get my soaking feet out of the snow.
Sperry looking quite heroic
The gorgeous glacier valley
I went back to the car, spent a good hour reading while gazing at Sperry's bulk and Del Campo's majestic shelves before peacing out.