To recover from yesterdays’ technically demanding climb, and to spend a day not clomping around in heavy mountaineering boots, I decided to do Teewinot, the easiest of my remaining days. Another party, arriving for a 5AM start on the peak, woke me for a few minutes, but I quickly went back to sleep, and made a leisurely start at 6:45. I pushed myself up the steep but well-graded trail, making it to the “apex,” a narrow, treed ridge leading to the face, in an hour.
From there, the trail steepens and disintegrates, eventually disappearing into the mixed rock and snow of the face, though bits of trail from previous summers remained in places. After crossing the first snowfield past two prominent pillars, the “worshiper” and “idol,” I finally caught the 5AM party, two guides and three clients. I was grateful for the fresh steps they had left in the snow, but didn’t stop to chat. There’s something about meeting a group consisting of people who have paid a lot but lack experience, and others who have experience and are being paid little, that inhibits conversation.
Once off the initial snow, the climbing was mostly the kind of class 2-3 cruise I enjoy, with concentration required to find hand- and foot-holds, but enough of them to still be able to move at maximum exertion. I got into a bit of class 4-5 terrain while trying to avoid lingering snow, but still reached the top faster than my usual climbing pace. The summit block is small, but not particularly steep, and nowhere near as intimidating as those of Bear Creek Spire, Thunderbolt, and Starlight in the Sierra.
I lounged around for awhile waiting for the guided party, but eventually gave up and met them on the way back down, moving in 20-foot pitches and belaying the clients using various rock protrusions. All were wearing heavy mountaineering boots and helmets, and the guides, at least, were suffering in the heat wearing insulated pants, gaiters, and long sleeves. I guess it was safe, but it didn’t look like fun, or like a way to become a better mountaineer.
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