If you do the switchbacks and not the chute, do you still need an ice axe? I'm going up with teen agers on July 17th and although we have crampons and treking poles, I'd rather not have them use an ice axe. Any thoughts?

We are thinking of starting at 1 to 2:00 AM but I'm afraid of getting lost in the dark. Any advice? I don't think we'll be as fast as you were and I'm a little concerned about crossing over the streams. Is the water level very high relative to the rocks or logs used to cross them?

Lastly, what kind of food did you bring with you to eat? The kids think that jerky would be great along with other candy bars and oranges etc. Any suggestions?