The Guides

My Arrival: on Loss, on Giving


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ACC GMC 2007

Day 3: Fried Rice/Fools Gold - Monday, July 23, 2007

Once again, I wake up to light rain. Despite the forecast, last night I signed up for a trip with a technical flavour: Fried Rice/Fool’s Gold. They look to be a fun duo of peaks with some challenging 4th class sections requiring some belaying.

We begin the trip by heading southwest from camp up into the meadows below Whirlwind. The rain stops, and it isn’t long before we all begin to heat up, so we stop and take off some layers. We then begin to traverse slowly up the grassy slopes of Whirlwind’s flanks until we run into a cliffband on its west side, which stops us in our tracks. We gather together and debate on how to proceed, not wanting to backtrack or lose too much elevation. We decide to follow the ridge higher, hoping to find a weakness in the band somewhere along the way.

Unfortunately, the weakness doesn’t materialize and we run into more cliff where in front of us at a spot where the ridge plummets down about 100 meters. It isn't downclimbable and continuing higher is impossible, so we wrap back around the ridge east and then north to it's base. From there we make our way through the same break that foiled us from above, easily getting through and onto easier terrain provided by the moraine.

We continue onwards towards Osprey, which is the last mountain blocking our way. Again, we angle high up on its flanks, but are once again faced with another cliffband to descend the other side.


Grrrr... Mountaineers are smart, but sometimes not necessarily quick learners.


We all have something to eat while Lars does some scouting for a route down.

He comes back saying that it looks like we should be able to get on the shortrope and scramble down to the south. So Ben and I get on the rope with Simon and trod onwards.


In the meadows above camp, with Rosepetal on the right and Whiterose jutting into the clouds on the left.


Attempting to traverse Whirlwind,  the South Rice Brook valley filled with cloud and Bryce sandwiched between white layers, only its midsection visible.  

The wall on Whirlwind that we had to go around.


On the glacier below the snow-filled gully, Ben chows down on a left over drumstick. I'm not sure I've ever seen chicken on a glacier previously.

The terrain is really only moderate to difficult scrambling as we pick our way down the face, with the crux being a snow-filled gully that we have to cross. We traverse it by clinging to the headwall where the snow has separated a meter from the rock, leaving a space for us to slip into. There are a few wet and showery steps as we make our way by a stream of water cascading down between our bodies and the headwall.


Descending Osprey's ridge.


From there we get onto the glacier that fills the valley between Osprey and Fried Rice/Fool’s Gold. We make great time, not needing to rope up or use crampons. We quickly arrive at a snow-filled gully leading up to the col between our objectives and make fast work of climbing it as well.


Our team ascends the gully with Osprey on the left. The clouds are darkening.

I spot a rock climber heading up the ridge of Fried Rice. Yes, he's climbing, and yes, he's a rock.  

At the col, we decide to tackle Fried Rice first. Ben and I again rope up with Simon and follow Lars' team as they begin to wind their way up the ridge on a direct line from the col. It’s mostly moderate/difficult scrambling with the occasional 4th class section where we belay.


A close-up of the yellow area on the photo to the right shows the face is not a walk in the park.

Lars' team makes their way up the ridge of Fried Rice.

We come to a corner of coloured rock where Lars has gone around to the right and run into some difficulty. While we wait, the rain begins to fall. Simon leads us left to see if we can find an easier route that way. It does look good, so we call Lars over, but the rain has steadily increased in intensity. When Lars appears from around the corner, I see him signal to Simon that we should abort. The rain is making things too slick and it doesn’t look like it is going to let up any time soon. So, with less than 100 meters to go, we have to retreat.


Yes, the best mountaineers are the ones who know when to turn back - and do it.


Despite the rain, it is a much easier and quicker trip home. We stick lower on the flanks of Osprey and Whirlwind, avoiding the steep parts of the cliffbands. The crux turns out to be a couple of stream crossings that have bloated significantly since we’d crossed them earlier in the morning. With a few acrobatic moves, we all make it across safely and return to camp, only wet and feeling somewhat defeated despite nearly eight hours of solid effort.

Although it looks like you may be able to simply walk around the coloured rock from this angle, make no mistake, it's not so straightforward.

Other parties that have already returned to base camp by the time we arrive have stoked up the old iron wood stove in the drying tent. I enter the tent and to a room full of wet clothes hanging limply from ropes strung across the rafters. Soggy people are crowded around the stove, soaking up every bit of heat that it radiates. I remove all my wet stuff and find a spot to warm up. 

We’re all chatting and slowly drying, when all of a sudden a stream of water begins to carve its way from under the wall of one side of the tent.

The nearby stream must have overflowed its banks! 

There is a flurry of activity as some people rush outside to see what’s going on. The water is slowly making its way across the dirt of the tent floor and fanning out from a single stream into a complex, braided system. Some people grab pieces of wood to try and carve a path for the water, but the flow is quickly increasing.

Thankfully the people outside are able to make an impressive set of dams and diversions to reduce the flow, while those inside are able to carve a defined track for the water still flowing into the tent to follow.

Dinner is soon ready and we are all famished. It begins with black bean soup and mixed salad, with roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, horseradish, broccoli and cauliflower doused in melted cheese, and camp-baked blueberry pie for dessert.

Trip options for tomorrow are RosePetal, Osprey, and Fried Rice/Fool’s Gold.

I initially sign up to do Rosepetal, but our defeat on Fried Rice/Fool’s gold keeps nagging at me. I sit wondering if maybe I should give it a go again.

Perhaps this will be the last time it will be attempted, since there are so many other trips to be done.

On the other hand, Rosepetal is a much more straightforward trip technically and the probability of success is much greater if the weather turns bad once again. But I reflect on my goals for the week - I really want to push my limits and improve my skills; it’s not merely about attaining summits. There's less potential for learning on Rosepetal.

My decision is made. I want to re-attempt. The trip members have already been set, though, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to switch up. I talk to Peter, expressing my angst at being shut down and my desire to return to try again if the weather is good. He says we’ll see tomorrow at breakfast.

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Rice Crust from the Bottom of the Pot: A Journey Across South East Asia

Although in creating this site I have tried to make the information as accurate as possible, it is not meant to be a guide, and I accept no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience sustained by anyone using the information.

 ACC GMC 2007 Review

 © 2007 Parry Loeffler