Saturday June 4 at 3 P.M., the three of us slogged into white-out conditions (wand to wand) and camped approx. 1000 feet below Camp Muir. Sunday June 5 we continued our wand slog to Muir and prepared our gear in case of a weather break. At 2 A.M. on Monday June 6 the snow and wind finally let up leaving a crystal clear, cold (10 degrees) night to begin our ascent. We roped up and headed out making great progress to Cathedral Gap where we encountered 20 mph sustained winds and an incredible ultraviolet sunrise. We uncoiled and crossed the Ingraham Flats where the wind eased. Upon entering the steep, crevassed section above the Flats (around 6 A.M.), we had a near disaster when the leader of our team popped through a snow bridge spanning a 5-10 foot wide crevasse. Our lead fell 30 feet pinballing into the crevasse and lost a picket and his wands (but sustained NO INJURIES). Luckily, our second arrested the fall, and I was able to set anchors and a simple jumar rig. Also luckily, a RMI team was right behind us and assisted in the crevasse rescue. After a quick reassessment and rally, we decided to continue the ascent and belayed nearly every snow bridge after that one (after the fall, I took the lead, our savior anchor man stayed on the second position, and our intial leader took the third position). The weather was in and out cloudy and snowing, but visiblity stayed relatively good, so we kept going. We had one more near fall as our second began popping through another major bridge near 13,000 feet. Only one of his legs went airborne as I arrested him from above, and he was belayed by another two-man team from behind (who turned around after that incident). We summitted at 11:30 A.M. in light wind, temp. 2 degrees. We were the third and last team to summit. On the way down, weather conditions worsened. It was a near white-out around the exposed corner above the D. Cleaver, and it began snowing heavily back at the Flats. From Cath. Gap to Camp Muir it was a white-out (it was sometimes difficult to find the next wand and the trail had been wiped clean- I was very happy to have my GPS). Needless to say, we were very, very happy to be back at Muir around 4 P.M. We slept well and descended back to Paradise Tuesday June 7. Thank you very much to RMI for wanding the route, and helping in our crevasse rescue. For anyone who may attempt this route this year-- if RMI hasn't changed this route already, be VERY, VERY CAUTIOUS, as those snow bridges were failing us even in the "stable" cold temperatures. Be hyper-vigilant and ready for crevasse rescues!
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