Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cathedral Traverse: My Favorite Photos

Below are some of my favorite photos of the Cathedral Traverse, which I did last week with Jason, Chad, and Andy.  While some of those guys feel like we "settled" for the Cathedral Traverse, I am thrilled to have traversed the Cathedrals.  Never before has an outing emphasized the difference between the mediums of rock and snow like this one did.  Never before has an outing emphasized how less-comfortable I am in a vertical environment when the medium is rock.  Will my foot stick?  Will it slide?  Not fully able to predict this, the traverse was a mental challenge for me.  I'm glad I had good partners and good guides.  Thanks guys.

After the clouds lifted, this is the view that greeted me.  I have mixed feelings about this glacier.  On the one hand, it's intriguing, especially since it is August.  But on the other hand, this glacier looks like it is dying.  It is pitifully small.  Has it always been in this condition?  Or  am I  unfairly comparing it to Pacific Northwest glaciers or Alaska glaciers?  
My guide framed in front of the GT just as the clouds burned off.  The North Ridge of the GT loomed BIG.  I was feeling slightly out of my league. 
This is Mt. Owen.  We rapped and downclimbed this mountain.  When the downclimbing got serious (5.6), I pulled out a rope and rapped.  The others waited for me at the bottom.  
The descent of Mt. Owen requires negotiation of this snowfield.  We traversed across the top of the  snowfield, and then downclimbed.  This was scary because there is lots of air at the bottom of the snowfield.  Andy and Chad courageously led the charge and in doing earned a spot in the Top Ten Moments: Bad Ass or Dumb Ass (forthcoming on this blog).  Lucky for us, the snow was very soft, which enabled us to stick our feet deep into the slope.  We each had an ice axe.  I had a prayer.
Two of the Cathedrals of the Cathedral Traverse:  Mordor, I mean Teewinot and Mt. Owen.  

Chad leading the second pitch above the Gunsight.  This would take us to the Grandstand.
This is the view from the Gunsight.  In view is Teewinot, Mt. Owen and Delta Lake.  The clouds didn't completely leave.  Would it rain on us as we climbed the GT's North Ridge?
Jason belaying Chad.
Andy, Jake, and Joe climbing the Italian Cracks.  Photo taken from the Grandstand.
One of the stunning views from the Grandstand.  Mt. Moran in the distance.
Another view from the Grandstand.  Cascade Canyon and beyond.  The thunderheads threatened, but never got serious.
Chad on the second pitch of the Italian Cracks.  
This photo was taken on the last pitch of the North Ridge direct route.  Maybe we were off-route.  Jason led this pitch; Chad and I followed.  As he was doing so, there was an uncharacteristic pause with lots of grunting and gasping.  After a few moments, we heard a, "Whew!  That was sooo physical."  Worried (and serious), I asked, "do you think I will make it?"  Jason said, "I doubt it" and kept climbing.  

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