BCP396 - Mount Rae
This one was simply not meant to be found today, at least not by me.
Where to begin? Well, I got a late start, and then ended up waiting at the wrong parking lot. Those mistakes cost me about half an hour. After realizing that I was in the wrong place and rectifying that, I managed to meet up with BVPete and Shigman. Then I discovered that I'd forgotten my sunglasses after we began the hike, I ran back to the car to grab them, and that set the tone for quite some time to come; being out of breath, I mean. Make no mistake about it, Ptarmigan Cirque is beautiful. But there was little time to appreciate its beauty, as our destiny lay ahead and above us. Way, way above us. The path across the scree above the cirque was unrelentingly steep, and just kept getting steeper. And steeper. And steeper still. When solid rock finally came within reach, I thought I was getting a breather. Wrong! The dip of the rocks approached 45 degrees; steep enough that there was no question of walking up; it was climbing/crawling all the way. I have no pretensions to being a scrambler, and it took me quite a while to make the ascent. BVPete has commented on my lack of fear of heights. I do have a healthy fear of falling, and the steepness of the slope combined with the uncertain footing certainly kept my attention from wandering. For example, it kept me from thinking (much) about how I was going to get [i]down[/i] this slope (that turned out to be relatively easy, if somewhat dangerous for people making the ascent below us).
By the time I got to the col, the fun factor was long gone, and it was just a slog. I gave the ridge a good shot, but eventually decided to backtrack and try my luck crossing the scree slope on the back side. After a few hundred yards of ascending that, I realized just how tired I was when I started missing simple steps and began sliding. I still had six or seven hundred metres to go, and at least another two hundred metres of elevation to gain. Enough was enough; no cap was worth killing myself over and so I sat down to try and catch my breath. Which, by the way, I was able to see; yeah, it was a little cool up on Rae today! When I could breath again I made my way carefully back to the col and sat in the sun to await the return of BVPete and Shigman. I could see several groups spread out across the scree below me, ever so slowly making the ascent, and believe me, I could feel their pain!
Eventually BVPete and Shigman reappeared and it was then that I discovered that our ascent had been entirely cap-less. BVPete was of the opinion that I'd have scampered across the obstacle that stopped them, but I don't know. I was so tired just getting as far as I had that I doubt I'd have been able to make the crossing safely. I guess we'll never know!
You know what? I don't feel bad in the least about not getting within shouting distance of the cap. I gave it my best shot, and simply ran up against my limit of endurance. It was still a beautiful day, with magnificent (if very smokey) views from the col and indeed all the way up and down. There was lots of animal life to see, from ponies, deer and moose on the roadside (I missed the grizzly) to pikas and some sort of stocky ground squirrel in the scree. There were fossils to be seen in the rocks, streams burbling away far below the scree. There were waterfalls to be seen, a moraine to skirt around, and oh, you get the idea, I'm sure. Sometimes it is all about the journey. Would I go back? I doubt I'll ever try for the cap again; it's too difficult for me. But to the cirque, definitely. On a weekday though I think. By the time we got back down to it, it was muggle central!
Thanks for the journey, outforthehunt.