If suffering is part of the human condition, I was a human as I care to be last weekend. Avalanche Gulch may be the easiest, or at least most direct, route to the top, but that mountain is a mean prospect — regardless of the approach. I coursed through ever emotion and left no muscle untouched. Here’s the photographic proof;
Setting out — Blissfully ignorant.
Moments after Brian wondered aloud about Tim and crew, homeboy appeared out of nowhere.
We chatted at Horse Camp a bit; about his experience, the best routes up the gulch, conditions and what not.
Heading up to Helen Lake. It’s about midway up the gulch, and much farther than it looks
Me in the throes of a narcoleptic fit. Yes, I stopped for rest and literally fell asleep — on my feet.
Brian pitching base camp at Helen Lake, 10,000 feet.
A view spied due south from Helen Lake.
Sunset to the west.
Dawn looking up to Red Banks (center portion of ridge line) from Helen. Click this image for a little perspective, I counted nearly 50 climbers ahead of us.
Brian on the east side of The Heart just before Red Banks. This is where the work began.
Brian at the foot of Red Banks.
The top of one of Red Bank’s steep chutes.
There’s a lengthy hill at the top of Red Banks we mistook for Misery Hill. It wasn’t.
Summit Plateau with the promised land in sight. Again, enlarge this picture, I counted 18 climbers ahead of us.
One for the record book.
Mustering smiles even felt like work.
My low point back at Helen. Somewhere between packing the tent and filtering drinking water, I just stopped.
Somehow made it through the rough patch, donned the pack and bombed the hill back to Horse Camp. Brian and I joked that carrying that pack was like climbing the mountain with a midget on your back.