Comp- Timing is Everything
By no stretch of the imagination would noon be considered an 'Alpine Start' - not even when daylight lasts close to 20 hours, or when you only have about 4km to travel.
To be fair, we had gotten up in the region of 5 a.m., but a quickly ascending bank of clouds accompanied by strong winds turned us back into our tents, where we lay and hoped that the weather would finally break for us.
We were a group of four from BC's Interior, and after waiting close to two weeks at the Kluane Lake base camp, we had witnessed several groups pull the plug on their Mt. Logan expeditions before even getting to fly onto the Quintina Sella glacier. It was a tough season to get near the Logan Massif, let alone the summit as weather systems seemed to keep pulsing that direction. Fortunately for us, we had no time constraints, and this meant that our position in the flight sequence kept getting bumped forward. The path to the mountain had started to more closely resemble a war of attrition than a game of skill and tactic.
Even on the mountain, it seemed our waiting (and lack of jobs to go back to) was really a blessing in disguise, as we had seen several parties forced to leave the mountain without even making it to the summit plateau because of the unfortunate timing of weather events during their set number of days on the mountain. Despite Mt. Logan being a sought after high altitude objective, this was the busiest we ever saw it on the King's Trench.
Finally, the 'Mists of High Camp' parted and we decided that despite the late departure, we were going to try for the summit, hoping that things would work out in our favour. After all, we were in the land of the midnight sun.
We left our camp on the summit plateau in high spirits, extraordinarily happy to be outside and moving! All of us had spent the last few days tent-bound due to a storm, fighting nausea, headaches, and the desire to not eat or drink anything. I had alternated between shovelling puke out of the vestibule (my tentmate's, not mine), lying in the tent staring at the frost growing before my eyes on the walls, and listening to the wind trying its best to pummel the tent fabric into oblivion.
Fortunately, things were looking up, and it seemed we were en route to an incredible summit day.
The higher we climbed towards the summit, the slower we became. Soon, almost every step required a few seconds of rest to prevent the dizzy, nauseous feeling from becoming too overwhelming to move on.
Fortunately, the views were pleasantly distracting, reminding me of why I love and choose to do things like this.
When we finally reached the summit ridge, it was both alarming and somewhat comical to realize that it was almost 7:30 pm, yet the sun still had several hours before it would be even close to dipping below the horizon. The real sign that it was so late in the day was the rapidly plumetting temperature, but by some miracle, we were spared the typical gale force winds that one hears about in many Mt. Logan summit stories. I was extremely thankful for this, as I had literally had nightmares of being blown off the mountain.
We reached the true summit by about 8pm, took the required summit shot, then promptly began our descent (with a slight detour to recover a rogue crampon).
Two days later, we were no longer in a land of ice and snow, but happily ordering ridiculous amounts of fresh food, and drinking water at Kluane Lake that did not taste in the least like the last three dinners we had made.
The weather had been good to us again, and we had managed to ski from the summit plateau to the base camp landing strip and fly out that same day.
After we were flown out, a storm blew in that lasted a few days, preventing anyone from getting on or off the mountain.
We started the drive south the next day, and after two days, the Alaska Highway closed due to severe flooding.
I was planting my garden in Revelstoke when I heard the news.
Now how's that for timing?