Summit on 5/27 - Still Questionable

Posted by: Whitney Zone

Summit on 5/27 - Still Questionable - 05/29/07 09:41 AM

Posted by zipperdoyle, 05-29-07
I made a successful solo summit attempt on Sunday (5/27). Made it to the cable section around 7:30 and there was a thin row of rocks along the cables (no ice on them) that I walked along with confidence. I had one hand on the cable to my right, my trekking pole to the left, and walked on the dry rock. The rest of the trail was fairly clean and there were a few tricky spots on the backside where the trail was a downhill of snow/ice to the next rocky section. I felt very comfortable as the snow was firm and I used the foot holds that were previously created by other hikers. Made the summit in about 3.5 hours and enjoyed the spectacular views. There were several people at the top while I was there.

Now the part that makes me reconsider my attempt (left the summit at 11:00): As the day progressed the sun came out and started to melt the snow that had been firm earlier that morning. All of the spots that were easier to traverse now became a slush fest and I would literally sink or slide into the snowy sections. They were not an issue until I reached the cables and came to the middle of the cables where they hang out over the abyss. Earlier in the morning there was a nice dry rocky section that I walked across, but now the snow had turned to slush and covered the last portion of this section. The only way across was to walk through the slush and the cables were about three feet to my left in the air. My heart rate started to pickup as I knew that all of the snow was slush and the footing going to give away. I literally took one step on the snow and it gave away under my feet and I fell out over the abyss. Thankfully, I have a long wing span (6'5") and I caught myself on the cables, as one of my feet was dangling over the edge. I was also fortunate that I fell on my side, rather than head first as I was able to grab on to the cables. Initially, I thought it was kind of funny and thought it would be a "cool" story to tell people at work on Tuesday. But after reading other posts and considering that I probably would have ended my life if I did not catch the cable, made me reconsider my actions. There were probably around 20-30 people on their way up as I descended so I'm hoping that they made it safely back down later in the day as the snow turned to slush.


Posted by Dave A. R., 05-30-07
A harrowing tale -- thanks for the warning.


Posted by VersatileFred, 05-30-07
Thanks for sharing. The more real-life stories that we can share the more we remind people that it is best to err on the side of caution. Even so, we still hear stories like Hikers Walking Into Lightning Storm. Someone Tell Me Why!


Posted by zipperdoyle, 05-31-07
I do have one more other strange occurrence that happened that morning on the trail. As I walked up the first few switchbacks before the cable section I came across a tarp laid in the middle of the trail with a sleeping bag on it. I walked across it in my boots and poles confused as I was uncertain what was going on.

I later learned that there was a guy who was suffering from altitude sickness and he decided to lay down in the middle of the trail in his sleeping bag for quite some time(I think his friend was there with him). Probably not the most effective way to battle AMS, but I know that many of the other hikers I met up on the summit were offering water/meds to him and trying to coerce him to go down the hill. I do recall seeing a guy in jeans walking down in a drunk like state so I'm assuming he made it down okay. Altitude is not a thing to toy with especially when you start to feel the symptoms.


Posted by VersatileFred, 05-31-07
Wow! That sure sounds strange. If he was just hiking up from Trail Camp to the summit, he probably would not be carrying his sleeping bag with him. Maybe he had too much altitude exposure at Trail Camp that led to sickness on the switchbacks. That is all that I can think of.

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