Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Mitre Mite

Its too cold to go outside today, officially below zero, so I'm trying to catch up on some blogging. My computer has been out of action for over a week now,and its driving me crazy. I can use Ry's computer, but it doesn't have picasa, so its more effort to resize pics and upload them....if its not easy, it just doesn't get done sometimes. But I got to climb the Mitre and it was pretty exciting.

The ski up to the Mitre takes about an hour from the hut. Or thats about how long it took Ry and I, he didn't have skins for his approach skis, and the scales weren't quite adequate for the task...there was a bit of sliding and cursing going on. Meanwhile I was enjoying the beautiful scenery...

Beautiful Sunlit Bold Peak

Me with Road to Nowhere on the Right
Photo by Ryan Campbell

The Mitre Might is truly a mighty big climb. The scale of it took us by surprise every rope stretching pitch. We roshed at the bottom, and I won the first pitch. It was wonderful, the dry blue ice just ate my picks, and 230 feet flew by. Radios were really nice on this climb, because we kept running out of rope.

The second pitch is usually grade two ice, but this year is was a two foot snow wallow. Lucky for me this was Ry's pitch. He tried to finangle my third pitch, but I told him it wasn't my fault his pitch had snow on it. The third pitch was amazing. I took a wet, sustained line, it was never dead vertical, but just a touch less for a while. Another 220 foot pitch of Pure fun.

The Mitre Might

Ry got to lead the fourth pitch which was similar to the second pitch, but a little less deep, and shorter. I tried to say that technically the fifth pitch should be mine, but this time he was having none of it. He had wallowed enough and was ready to lead a pitch.

Ry Approaching the Fifth Pitch

We started the fifth pitch at about 3:30, and at this time of year, it gave us an hour to potentially finish the route before dark....but then Ry hit a patch of hard ice and suddenly a ice tool was hurtling through the air toward me, it landed right at my feet and I stepped on it to prevent further travel. Going leash-less carries some risks, and this was the first time Ry had dropped his tool. Luckily he had just placed a screw and was able to lower off and retrieve his tool. Now it was getting a little dark, but Ry finished the pitch in fine style by headlamp, and I joined him in the dark. Five V-threads later we were back at the base, and skied back to the hut.

Road to Nowhere

The whole time we were on the Mitre, Tanya, Jon and Ryan were on Road to Nowhere, it was awesome to watch them climb. In the picture above Tonya is leading the first pitch, she is on the lower right, and John and Ryan are standing together below her.

I have wanted to climb the Mitre might for many years. Ryan and I even endured hauling climbing gear over the Eklutna traverse in hopes of doing the Mitre beforehand. Two years ago I skied into the hut, breaking trail through two feet of snow, it took hours to get out there. And then it continued to snow, avalanches roared down steep faces and gullies not just once in a while, but every few minutes. Not really the sounds or sights an ice climber wants to observe around the routes. I had a meltdown, so disheartening was the disappointment, after all the anticipation and effort, all I could do was cry. It was a bit embarrassing, but I guess we all need moments in our lives that we will never live down.

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