Last week I set off on another adventure with my son Ryan. He calls these “mom and Ryan adventures.” We have had several of these in the past, not all of them have been, what you might call routine😂 We have had some, let’s go with interesting, escapades.
This one was pretty straightforward. We would drive 3 and 1/2 hours north to a town called Marblemount, where we would obtain a backcountry camping permit. Then hike 4 miles (with 3,000 ft+ elevation gain) to the base of the glacier and make camp. The next day we would hike up the glacier, climb Forbidden Peak (which is a traverse across the top ridge at 8,816 ft) tag the summit, then reverse the climb, rappelling back onto the glacier, hike down back to camp, break down the camp and hike the 4 miles back out.
Simple, right 😳
It all started out as planned. We made it to the ranger station at Marblemount by 6am and obtained the last permit! We made our way to the parking lot and set out on the hike.
The thing about this type of hiking is that you need to carry EVERYTHING with you! That means it’s all on your back, and I had to borrow a pack that, of course, did not fit me quite right. But, that was ok, I can handle a 4 mile hike. On the way up we were treated to some pretty views
We had several river crossings to complete to get to the campgrounds. Ryan took a few videos of me (slowly) making my way across.
Ryan took a moment to point out our climb! He pointed out this ridge as “Forbidden Peak”
Our route would be to ascend up the gully on the left, then traverse over to the summit under the arrow on the right.
Ok, so I am fine with that!! It looks fun😍 and we keep hiking. Until Ryan, who is quite far ahead of me, suddenly stops. I figure he is waiting for me, but when I catch up to him, he doesn’t advance. I say “what’s wrong” to which he replies “bear”
Huh, this is new! We have never run into a bear on our adventures. In fact, I was really hoping to see some mountain goats, this was pretty cool! He wasn’t too interested in us (fortunately!)
Our path went up and around, away from the big critter, so we just kept on going!
We made our way to the campsite, which had gorgeous views! And this creek was our water source.
We pitched the tent, next to another two climbers. It didnt take too much longer before our buddy, the black bear, wandered into our camp 😂
You can see him behind our green tent.
The bear crossed between our fellow camper/climber and the other man, who was next to Ryan and myself.
I took a video of him as he went on his way!
With the bear exiting and the excitement abated, Ryan immediately took a nap!
And I had a cup of instant coffee!
And went for a look around as Ryan brilliantly snoozed. Looking back I wish I had tried harder to get some sleep, not really knowing how taxing the next day would be! But, instead I went for a walk around.
Check out the composting toilet in the lower corner of this pic. Not much privacy or comfort, but what a view!!
I got a closer look at the gully we would be approaching early the next morning.
I had an unflavored snow cone from this snow pack 😋
When I got back, we ate dinner, watched Meru on Ryan’s phone, and went to sleep. Well, Ryan slept!
The alarm went off at 4:30am, a proper alpine start for our long day. We got up, ate and geared up for the hike and climb. One thing that is significant to this story is that I have never used crampons or climbed a glacier before. This is not a huge glacier but it is very steep! This also meant that we would spend the entire day, hiking and climbing, in 3/4 shank snow boots (not climbing shoes and this was very new to me!!)
The sun began rising as we made our way to the glacier
Getting up the glacier with crampons and the ice ax, went slowly but overall, not too bad
We were getting closer to the actual rock!!!
Finally, it was time to start climbing! 🌟
The next few hours saw Ryan and I simul climbing the route. He did stop a few times to belay me or place some pro, just in case. But overall we moved pretty efficiently!
We stored our snow gear here for the return trip
Summit selfie and video. It only took 6 hours to hit the summit
Now, to get down 😲 This is where I struggled!
Check out Ryan working the boulder problem on the turn around
Yes, I did this too, but not as gracefully! We had a series of short rope sections as well as several rappels, which were fine with me. It was when we rapped onto the very steep glacier where my world began to disintegrate!!
We landed on the glacier at 3pm, just when the sun had been on it for most of the afternoon, so the snow was too soft for crampons and Ryan showed me how to do a self arrest. This is when you are sliding down the glacier and need to use your ice ax to stop your fall.
Sure enough, I slipped and went hurtling down the steepest section of the glacier. I twisted and dug in my ax but didn’t stop for about 35-40 feet 😳 Ryan was just setting up his save of me, when I finally stopped myself. It was terrifying for me, and of course it happened again, but Ryan grabbed my pack when I went flying by him!
I was going so slow! Trying to kick in my steps so that it wouldn’t happen again! So it took a long time to get back to camp. Once there, we still had to eat something, pack up the camp (back onto our backs) and start the 4 mile hike out!
We started that hike at 7PM, and we really wanted to get across those river crossings before dark. Of course I was getting slower as it grew darker so we didn’t make it to the car until 11PM, and I was shot! EVERYTHING hurt!
We were both exhausted, Ryan slept some while I started the 3 and 1/2 hour drive home. We stopped at a Denny’s around 1am, I needed coffee to stay awake and we both needed some food.
We got to bed around 3am, a full 22 hour day!!😩 talk about exhausted! My feet were thrashed, and it would take a week before I could even put some of my shoes on!
So, did I enjoy this climb? Yes! The climb, not the glacier😤 Even the hiking would have been fine, if we had done this as a three day trip, instead of two.
Tomorrow, I leave for a climbing trip, just climbing!!! No glaciers in site!🗻