Climbing from Challenger Arm
Day five coming from Ross Lake, Luna Col, East Fury climb, Luna Lake and up to the Challenger Arm. We had a good 24 hours of lousy weather. Waking up often during the night and early morning showed no signs of hope for climbing Challenger. We resigned to march out defeated for the fourth time on Challenger. Weather forecasts had been so good when we lefte Ross Lake for moderate temps and clear skies, but we all know that can change in a hurry in the North Cascades. We both dozed off again, only to wake about 6:30 AM to blue skies!!! We were off in no time eager to see what the bergschrund would look like. Weather could not have been better, bergschrund was covered. Everything was going right. We just kept moving up and up, accross the snow arete near summit block. Be careful, arete curved to follow the rock and finally onto the ledges leading to last of summit block and the famous 5.7 move. "Belay ON" "Climbing"...away we went on this step, used the old pitons to clip in, one cam and we're there!
Summit Views and down
The descent went without incident. Set up the rappel from bomb proof rap station, 100foot rope in half took us right to the ledge we started on. We were elated to have persevered and got the weather we wanted to make this possible. No one else anywhere on the mountain we could see. There was no summit register we could find either. Didn't matter, no disappointments at all. We made it back to camp on glacier, packed up and traversed to Perfect Pass where we spent the night with one more at Copper Creek camp. Seven full days, we were out of food, fuel and legs. What a trip.
Reflections on this climb if you please. This was ambitious for us, although we have been in the Pickets numerous times now. It is wild, remote, beautiful if weather permits. It gets addicting to be in here. You earn every mile and elevation. The rewards and satifaction are significant I must say. Somewhat proportional to the suffering you inflict on yourself to get up there. Fred Beckey said in his book, " CHALLENGE OF THE NORTH CASCADES", "Those who bivouac appreciate the nigh more than the tourists; the loveliness is paid for partly in the currency of suffering."(page 127) He and his brother Hemley were climbing in the Pickets when he makes this quote. I agree with him. The rewards are often comensurate with the investment. We have been paid in full. Also, Nick has been an ideal partner. We are getting older, but are very well matched, no conflicts ever. Friendship is rewarding in itself. No matter what happens, we just adjust and deal with it. What went right on this trip? Obviously we summited both peaks, East Fury and Challenger. Weather was good for all but 24 hours and even that we managed well. We met the guys at Luna Col who were thoughtful enough to see us coming in late to boil water for us and then give us another can of fuel for the rest of our trip that we calculated wrong. Both of us thank these guys again for their help. This is one for our record book. Unforgetable...
Where the trip began...Ross Lake, East Fury
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