Monday, July 18, 2011

Mount Arrowsmith - Summit!

Justin and Mike moving up through the forest

On the 17th July 2011 I joined Justin Lynch and Mike Stewart on a focused summit attempt to Mount Arrowsmith. The previous two times to the massif were focused on locating birds, this time the birds came second to our goal. En-route to the mountain Justin and Mike, both experienced climbers, discussed the various routes that could be attempted.

Mike and Rich just before the gully

It was decided that we would take the 'gully' route which meant I would get some experience using crampons and ice axe. Though I was excited to learn, the terrain, at times, was somewhat intimidating. Fortunately both Justin and Mike are veterans in the mountains and have a strong ethical code for safety.

taking it slow up the gully

Roped in

Using 'old school' techniques we made our way up the steep gully; plunging the ice axe in deep and making a step, then repeating. After a few minutes rest at the top of the gully we continued on as we wanted to reach the summit as soon as possible. The weather was very sucked in and there was a good chance of rain. Though the summit is the focus, it, in fact, is only the halfway point: you still have to get down!

Nearly there
Log book canister
The book
It's official

Who am I kidding! Yes, of course I looked for birds! At the summit I scoured the rocks (desperately) for ptarmigan but I should no better. You don't find ptarmigan, they just appear. But not today.

Justin, Rich and Mike at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith

With time ticking and the weather looking ominous we started heading down. It was decided that we should take a different route down to the plateau as the gully would be a little tricky on the descent. So, we descended over the 'nose' with the use of a rope.

Down the nose
The Mount Arrowsmith humps

We did find sign of ptarmigan in the form of pellet and white feathers but that was a close as we got. Bird of the day for me was a pair of Townsend's Solitaire at the base of the 'nose'. Both contact call and full song was heard on several occasions.

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