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We got to a place somewhere out in middle of glacier below unclimbed ridge of our choice. We weren't all that sure how close we were, on account of visibility problems, on account of a certain portion of that cloud stuff curling down slope and lacing across glacier about eye level. Calculating from approaching darkness that we were where we wanted to be, we dug-in forthwith. It was a classic flat glacier cave. We dug a trench, then dug in from side of it. This time it was a square box shape, without much head room, but a castle compared to a tent. We noticed that wind blew snow away as we threw it out. When we finished, only indication of cave was a bamboo wand we put at entrance of trench.
Next day we set out a line of bamboo wands on both sides of cave, in case visibility wasn't so good when we returned, and cave being otherwise not distinguishable out on flat glacier. We then toddled on up mountain a ways, on a route no man had dared to challenge before us, for lack of any man's interest in such an obscure climb. We pitched our tent on a small spot we hacked out of ridge, sleeping between roar of rime ice avalanches crashing down faces on either side. One of those faces was famous ridge between summit and perhaps equally high north peak of Rabbit Mountain, which is on map with that name, but you won't find it. We were looking at vertical side of ridge. The other side was steeper.
Next day we reached summit, after usual spots of climbing interest along way. Crevasses at bottom of vertical ice are common on steep mountain-side glaciers, and always amusing. A bit nippy with December wind being what it was up there on top. We looked to right, and we looked to left, and we reverently offered ancient mountain climber's summit dissertation: Yeah, okay, lets get back down off this thing.
Sometimes you can get a day of good weather in December, but not this time. By time we reached bottom of ridge, ground blizzard along flat glacier was as robust as they get. We couldn't see our feet. We took off our crampons and put on our skis and headed out to center of glacier, where we left our cave marked by a string of wands. We got there, somewhere out there, and saw nothing in fading light. We preferred to find cave, rather than dig a new one, since a lot of our stuff was in one we already dug. This was one of those times when you looked down-wind no matter which direction you were moving, on account of wind would freeze your facial skin, then peel off layers, if you looked up-wind. This made it a bit difficult to look for wands. After aimlessly wandering about a bit, roped-up of course, each yelling at each other that we each thought cave was in different directions, we methodically trudged along a grid pattern, by lengths of rope, marking each corner by wands. We were pretty much at point of it qualifying for old desperate story, albeit as usual, since we could not really function too much beyond stumbling around in wind, with our hands under our arm pits and our ski poles dangling.
We huddled for decision to dig a cave, or maybe ski back to base of ridge to find respite from wind, when we noticed a wand right beside us. That is embarrassing when it happens. Then came debate as to whether this was a wand we had just left on our grid search pattern, or one on line leading to cave. During astute analysis by our keen minds, it slowly became noticeable that it was wand at corner of trench leading down to our cave.
You know feeling of getting back home after a month long vacation. That's nothing. We dug down to that cave, pushed in snow-block door, and started party. If I had that cave right here, I’d start party and not bother with upload button.
Outdoor adventurer at http://www.AlaskaStories.com.
Intellectual adventurer at http://www.Think.ws