Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bugaboos - Day 8 - Paddle Flake

After a month of travel and rigorous exertion, I don't sleep well unless I'm physically exhausted from a big day of activity. Yesterday's day of standing around did not help me sleep. My hips hurt from spending so much time on my sides in my small tent.

The clouds have descended even lower, and it's looking like we might not be able to do much again today. Certainly, there is no chance of us doing anything big for the next day or two.

We contemplate the possibilities - do nothing or do something. What we'd really like to do is pack for a three-day trip to East Creek Basin. The Seventh Rifle, a 900 meter 5.11- on the North Howser Tower, is on our to-do list. The Beckey-Chouinard felt casual enough, and was very much a "known" for us. The North Howser Tower, which is far more committing, is an "unknown" and would provide the adventure and excitement we came in search of on this trip.

Counting backwards, we have four days left. If it clears up tomorrow - the forecast says it's going to - we can head over tomorrow afternoon it will allow us to climb Tuesday, hike back to Applebee Wednesday, and travel Thursday and Friday. My flight out is early Saturday morning. We're cutting things close, and the forecast doesn't seem to be improving.
A party on the upper part of Roof McTech

The thought of committing to such a large objective weighs heavily on me. Literally, it's causing me to be anxious at night and making me conservative about not eating too much of our food stash in anticipation of a few really hungry, physically demanding days.

The weather today is good enough to climb, but not good enough for big routes. We amble over to Crescent Spire in the middle of the day. There are parties on all of the popular routes. Having climbed McTech Arete already, we opt for Paddle Flake. There's a party on the direct start. We hustle and pass the party using the easier original start.

During the climb we discuss East Creek and the Seventh Rifle. With the grim forecast, and the seriousness of the climb, both of us are apprehensive about such a large objective. Quickly, we decide North Howser will have to wait for a dedicated East Creek trip (you can take a helicopter in there and avoid the hike). This single decision changes the entire dynamic of the trip. All of a sudden things feel like a vacation again.

The rock is so good, the jams very secure, and we're rappelling back down before we know it. On the way down we pass Roof McTech and give it a go. Lawrence gives me the lead and I set off. Fortunately, the wide, roof crack turns to stuffer hands at the lip, and I'm able to hang on for this fun, physical pitch.

Under gray skies we walk back to camp. We've earned at least a little sleep tonight, and hopefully things won't be as fitful as last night. Soup and instant mashed potatoes with cheese and salami have never tasted so good - I've been hungry constantly for the past few days. True starvation must be awful.

It rains overnight. Tomorrow, Monday, is supposed to mark the end of the rainy weather.

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