So here goes my first post and I suppose I’m the bearer of bad tidings…..
I’m currently convalescing after getting frost bite on my toes after being benighted on the Illicillewaet Glacier two days ago. Not the most uplifting of posts but I suppose this blog is supposed to be warts and al’.
I was alert to potential slides and took a longer, more conservative route to get up the last section which avoided the Seventh Step. Very safe and low risk but a bitch to climb and I lost a lot of time boot packing in deep, faceted snow. When I got to the top of the bootpack, I realised I was on the wrong side to get to the summit ridge and had to descend the backside and skin back up. I had a bad feeling on this side and could see that a fair amount had ripped. It did not look good and I did not really want to be there. But now I was totally committed and was fast running out of time before it got dark. I still needed to find the entrance to the couloir which I found but losing more time.
The whole day just wasn’t turning out as I had envisaged: getting to the couloir had taken way too long, I was running out of day light and I was not feeling too good about the avalanche conditions. So, it was no surprise to get to the high side of the entrance for it to rip down 15cm about 30m across with me nicely sat on the bed. The first avalanche I’ve triggered of any real consequence and needless to say, I was pretty spooked. It didn’t make me want to enter the couloir but a purged couloir is also a safe couloir. Angelita was waiting for me a distance away with a view of the couloir but couldn’t confirm via phone whether it had completely gone. With not much day light left, I had to make a decision: down the couloir or head down the Illecillewaet for the Youngs Peak Traverse. I just didn’t want to take the risk and decided on the Traverse, knowing full well that I might be benighted but hoping for a bit of luck in route finding.
No such luck. I’ve never been on the glacier before and could see it was fairly crevassed as I approached with hardly any light left, so the decision was an uncomfortable one but a no-brainer. Stay put and wait out the morning. Thank God for my space blanket. That really was a life-saver.
A long, cold night in a make shift snow cave but no big deal. I got down easily enough with the help of a skin track the next morning and made it to the Wheeler Hut in good spirits where Angelita was waiting for me. Unfortunately for me, we discovered that my toes had frozen overnight due to wet socks.
So here I am, going mad at the house waiting for my feet to recover. The official verdict is first degree frost bite with second degree frost bite on two toes but a full recovery looks to be on the cards. I’ve never been benighted but had all the necessaries just in case. I never thought spare socks would be part of that list but I will never leave without them now. It was a great learning experience under very forgiving conditions, with no wind and clear skies and a temp of ca. C -8. A real confidence builder if such a situation should ever arise again. Things don’t always go according to plan, especially in unfamiliar terrain and you’re not always going to have someone with you who’s done it before, so it’s essential to be prepared for the worse.
Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands to get this blog going now which could be dangerous, so bear with me if I start going a bit off track!
Total Vertical skinned for the day: 1800m//6000 feet
For more trip reports around the Revelstoke area, click here.