Monday, March 16, 2015

Mt. San Gorgonio via north face chutes

I unsuccessfully attempted Mt. San Gorgonio via the north face chutes. I probably haven't spent enough time above 10,000' and lack long-term acclimatization. My turnaround was 14:00 which I hit at 10,900', 600' below the summit. According to New Alpinism my VO2 max should be 15% lower at that elevation, but it seemed way more severe. I was out of breath, weak, and had almost no appetite. I couldn't imagine downing another gel. I was making mistakes (not switchbacking consistently up the slope, not finding a stable place to sit while putting on my crampons) and realized the safest thing to do in my physical and mental state was to descend. I also chose the wrong chute to climb. My route, which I believed to be more direct (common mistake for me) probably had the softest snow because it was just east of a ridge and thus received more sunlight in the first half of the day. In the image above, it is the second from the rightmost chute. I saw some skiers take the line just west of the ridge, wise of them.

Footwear was tricky. At the base of the climb, from Dry Lake, snowshoes were necessary. During the climb it was less clear. Most of it was plungey and while at first I believed snowshoes were necessary, and wore them for the first 1,000' or so, I now think the snowpack was dense enough that postholing/kick-stepping in boots would be sufficient. The snow was firmer than on the flat base due to receiving shade on the north face.

No comments:

Post a Comment