Cerro Ciento 1, Scottie & Tommy 0
I had wanted to summit a peak for about a year and had no real experience in this area. I have 4 season backpacking experience but wanted to do something that was low risk and with opportunity to strap on some crampons and try to look cool with an ice axe.
Trip was with Scottie K and boy did we pick a crappy weekend for weather. We may also be in poor physical conditioning but let's not dwell on that, let's focus on the crappy weather. We may also have left our topos at home but again, let's focus on something other than us here.
We were able to make it up Spring Creek Road and park near the junction with a second road as described in Tom Lopez' book. We further prepared our bodies by staying up late, drinking coffee at night, eating what some may describe as heaps of pepperoni sticks and enjoying a fine, filterless, american spirit. Or two.
Some of you may by now conclude that we were not serious about climbing this peak the next day. Not so! We were very serious about this. However, Scottie and I have been friends longer than most and we hadn't hung out in a while. The night was late with conversation before we turned in.
It was snowing when we went to bed and snowing when we woke. We hit the trail at 08:15. We thought we might be off our route (using Lopez' notes as our guide but again, without topos - just notes) by 08:45. It sounds silly perhaps to those of you with more experience but we looked expectantly for the road we were walking to "veer sharply to the north" at which point we would "Leave the road at this point and hike east through the forest...". We found ourselves at the end of the road which, in our experience, had performed zero veering to the north. We weren't too worried as we knew we simply must head east and hit the ridge line.
By the time we hit tree-line we were pretty beat and the light snow we'd experience since the night before was now a pretty decent storm. Visibility was very poor and we had no goggles, just sun glasses. Better than nothing, the sunglasses, but there was a bit of a theme showing up at this point wasn't there?
We paused about 200 yards above tree-line to bust out the crampons, it seemed like we needed them as the snow was steep and solid. 20 yards later we were walking on scree that had 2-4" of powder on them. We should have taken off the crampons at this point but remember that we were now at 10 yards of visibility and it seemed as if we might need them the moment we took them off. We trudged on. Very steep terrain it seemed to us and we hoped very much to be on the correct ridge. I'm not sure what a topo and an altimeter would have done for us exactly in those conditions but I sure would have liked to have these tools along.
We were moving steadily albeit slowly. The storm seemed to be getting worse. We were on a ridge that had (what seemed to be) a very steep ravine on our left (West) and a less steep ravine to the East. The East side of the ridge would have been easier to climb but the snow cornice on that side was very soft and we weren't sure about it's desire to hold us. We paused at 2pm and had the talk.
We're beat. No visibility. Not quite sure if we're on the right ridge. We probably are. We don't really know. Can't see anything. Beat. No idea of current elevation or remaining elevation or time. The storm was getting worse. It had taken us about 6 hours to get to our current point.
We smiled. Took a few crappy pics. Headed back. Our first summit turned into our first attempt. It was grand. We'll be back.
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