We started off hiking in our boots. The snow was supposed to be good after maybe a mile, so we didn't want extra weight. Mistake 1. We maybe made it to within 1/2 mile of the Interglacier basin before we found continuous snow that was worth skinning on. We got to the basin, enjoyed watching ants of people slowly trudge up both St. Elmo's pass and the Integlacier, and made haste to St. Elmo's ourself.
The top of the route came into view. We crossed the Winthrop roped because of some big-ish crevasses, headed over a rib and various snow and rock bounds and then found a way to boulder down to the Carbon Glacier. Sun dogs greated us as we neared camp: the sign of impending weather was not a good omen. We made it to a nice protected spot just underneath the beginning of Lib Ridge. Good light only lasted tens of minutes before the mountain and clouds removed much of its beauty.
We set up Robert's nifty new Firstlight tent and melted water. To save weight had brought a small canister for my Reactor, as I always seem to have extra fuel after a trip. Converting maybe 8 Liters of snow into drinking material the stove gave out... I shook the canister, no fuel at all. Totally tanked. Should have brought a bigger canister. Mistake 2. Well, we'll see how it goes... To get more water for the next day I tried to sleep with some slush in a camelbak between my legs (and in a waterproof sack!) , but after 1 hour of uncomfort I abandoned this idea.
With the weather coming in, the top of the mountain was now lightly enclouded. Damn. We decided that it should still be a go the next morning... we had a GPS so we weren't too worried about getting exceptionally lost in a white out.
3:30am rises are a bitch when right before getting the wakeup, rain and wind pelt the tent. They're even more annoying when you look outside and your route is covered in clouds... We slept some more.
At 5:00 the route was viewable to at least 1k above thumb rock and our lazy-morning became not so lazy. Turn on the GPS. No batteries?? Damn, We decided to use my Avy-beacon batteries instead.
We started up the snowface, placing two ice-screws over the entire slope, with the rest of the snow not superb for additional protection. (We saw later, people with 3-4ft snow pickets that might have done the trick!). We made it to thumb rock, and checked the GPS. It was dead. No more spare batteries (Mistake 3). Knowing the cards were slowly stacking against us we continued up with Robert swapping leads and pounding our way up rotten ice-snow, rain-softened corn, and even 2inches powder-on-top (of rotten ice).
Finding our way to the bottom of the clouds we were accutely aware that we had no GPS, and snow and wind removing our tracks soon after making them, no stove for more water. We found a nice platform carved out on the ledge and discussed our options. The decision was annoying, but relatively easy to descend.
The first 20 feet were a wee bit sketch on rotten ice-snow. I belayed Robert down, and he belayed me to him. Now on more reasonable snow, we had a great deal of fun skiing, doing only minimal survival turns down the snow. The more east facing snow was actually delightful, and the part of the ridge with mad exposure down part of Willis wall to Carbon, was unexpectedly delightful.
On our descent, we met a few guys who were ascending and had extra fuel that they gave to us. Awesome mountain kudos!
We arrived at our camp, just in time for rain to start coming down. I put my camera away at this time and did not take it out for the rest of the trip. We decided to wait to melt water as we had just a bit left.
After getting off the Carbon glacier, we met some people who shared some Whisky and water with both of us. In return, we gave them the extra fuel canister we had just been given as they were musing giving an additional day to ascend if the weather was continually ick.
The depproach was a slog. I became dehydrated, and could not eat. My boots/socks decided to rub my feet the wrong way, and every step became more 'burny'. I tried to set a goal of making it to the car by sunset. We didn't make it. This notably annoying descent off the mountain forced another goal in my head: make it back to the car without a headlamp. This we succeeded at, and were pleased to have the skis of our back, and the boots off our feet.
Starving, we went to the first food place that could have possibly good food: Subway. It was good. Robert drove the way home, with me staying awake to keep him awake. It seemed to work reasonably well...
In bed by 2:30am. 'twas a great trip, and I would definitely do it again. Maybe correcting a few of the mistakes we made, however...
Pictures will later be imbedded, but for the moment are here