Sunday, May 24, 2009

Chad's First Scramble 5/23/2009

A while ago Chad mentioned he would like to summit Mt. Ellinor. Not that he would suddenly develop desire to climb steep slopes but the photos of mountain goats from my first trip up there a year ago were lingering on his mind and he obviously liked the idea of having similar experience. The thought of being able to glissade down the chute was also tempting.

With the 3 day weekend approaching and most of our group heading to the Enchantments I figured it would be a great opportunity for me to take him out for some glissade and self arrest practise. The bottom part of Ellinor's chute is a great place to do so and that's where we headed.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. We parked at the lower trailhead. We saw some vehices heading further and with the truck we likely could have made it all the way to the upper trailhead but to me it would kind of feel like cheating. The walk through the forest was very pleasurable today. Rays of the bright sun shined through the trees, casting shades on the forest floor, making the forest look nearly magical.

I was surprised how much snow melted in the three weeks since my last visit to the area. The trail was snow free nearly all the way through the forest which made for a reasonably fast progress.

We did not spend as much time practising as I originally planned. The snow was softened by the streak of warm days and the conditions provided for a slow and very controllable glissage so instead of few hours of practise we soon started to head up the chute.

Our pace slowed down considerably. Last time Chad was on a slope of this steepness was likely during his ski years and then it was a lift taking him to the top. Now that he had to do all the hard work himself, he found out what breaking sweat is really about. He huffed and puffed his way up the chute and surely did not like all the false summits along the way.

For a little while I was really concerned that we might not be able to reach the top. During one of our breaks I found a GU gel in my pack - leftover from previous week. It did its work well and shortly after eating on it, Chad regained energy for the summit push.

Once atop the mountain we soaked up the views. We had the summit to ourselves for about 15 minutes before more hikers emerged from the slopes below. There was no goat show off here this time. We only saw one goat along the way but still it was so worthwhile to make our way up here... and the funnest part was still ahead of us.

After about 30 minutes on the summit we decided it was time to head back. On our butts we went and off we were down the hill. It took us 3 hours to climb the chute, it took us about 10 minutes to glissage it down. It was a very fun 10 minutes though.

We'll be back next year.

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