Next morning, the remaining 9 of us hit the trail for the summit between 6 and
7am despite heavy 12,500-foot cloud ceiling and lack of sleep. Visibility above
12,500 was 20-50 yards. Numerous fresh rockslides on the switchbacks from the
night before, some still unstable, but trail was generally good and Sky Pilot
lined the trail like a Botanical Gardens. Trail was a raging river over much of
the lower half due to runoff.
Ken was way ahead, and turned around at the Windows due to howling winds, but
when we reached that point an hour later all was calm, with some views opening
up to the West; clouds were piling up on east side due to strong and extremely
wet Easterly flow, so West side was just spillover.
Carl and I arrived at summit 9:30 after climbing last 400 vertical feet in fresh
but fast-melting snow. Mike and Todd were close behind. Found a group that had
camped overnight on top; they described the stormy weather as “interesting
to say the least”, with several inches of fresh snow. The other 4 in our
party reached the top in the next half hour. Clouds opened up in all directions
but to the North for about 10 minutes, enough to get some great pictures. 8 of 9
summited. Lynn had some moderate AMS symptoms due to impossibility of
acclimatizing in New York before the trip, but she made it back down without
Left the summit at 10:30; clouds closed back in on both sides, and we ran into
steady moderate rain 2/3 down the switchbacks. Clouds were right down to the
ground at Trail Camp, temp 44 degrees. Rain showed no sign of letup, and since
we were already soaked from the night before, we packed up and hiked all the way
out that afternoon in spite of having one more day on our permits.
Trail below Trail Camp was flooded for a mile, with raging stream crossings and
ankle-deep runoff over slick rock. Waterlogged 50+ pound packs after the summit
push made things all the more tricky and grueling, but less than 4 hours after
leaving Trail Camp we were back at the trailhead enjoying Doug’s famous
Hamburgers and Fries. 16 miles in one day, including a summit!
This expedition probably fits right into the “no guts, no glory”
philosophy, but what it really came down to was determination and luck. The
weather was uncharacteristically vile this weekend, but we took what options the
Mountain gave us and made the best of it, and were well rewarded for our