The Guides

My Arrival: on Loss, on Giving


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ACC GMC 2007

Day 7: Whiterose Traverse - Friday, July 27, 2007

Making our way up the face of Coril before sunrise. 

 The 5.2 step.

Zac comes by our tent at 4am to make sure Iím awake. Well, I am, but barely.

We eat breakfast at 4:30am and are moving by 5am. The first order of the day is to climb the headwall on Coral just as we did two days ago. In fact, weíd also do the traverse across Coral's face and climb the glacier just as weíd done on our way to Alexandra. Itís at the col where, two days ago, we turned left, that weíd today be veering off right towards Whiterose.

Iím straggling a little bit as I adjust my layers to avoid overheating. I make my way up the headwall to just below the section where Conrad had placed the new bolt on our way back from Alexandra. Cyril and several of the others have stopped to rope up. Cyril says he has one more spot on his rope for someone who can be ready quickly.

I havenít yet been on a rope with Cyril guiding and have been hoping that Iíd get a chance this trip. 

ďIíll try to make it quick,Ē I respond, as I try to get my harness on at light-speed before someone else is ready to go.

Once I get it on, I reach for the last tie-in point on the rope with a smile. Bob and Roger are also on the rope and ready to go, so after I tie in away we go.

Cyril leads us at a slower pace to ensure no one gets tired-out too soon. Peter, one of the other guides, is a really fit marathon runner and has a really in-shape group on his rope, so they soon take over the lead.

Iím not surprised: I think any of Peterís groups would be fast. I'll bet he could pretty much haul people to keep his desired pace if necessary.

We make our way up the 5.2 pitch and traverse Coralís face without incident. As we rope up for the glacier, I think about my punch through the surface two days ago. Iím not concerned; Iíll be sure not to become too complacent today.

We trudge up the first part while Peterís group seemingly rockets through it and begins to veer right towards the ridge of Whiterose just before reaching the col. As we move to the ridge it becomes apparent that weíll not have a lot of time to play around today; the snow is soft and our boots are already sinking several centimeters - and the sun is only barely peaking up over the mountains on the horizon. It will be a warm day and the traverse is long, most all of it on snow. We need to get off the glacier before the bridges become too soft.

Cyril leads us on the traverse of Coril to get to the glacier, with part of Whiterose's ridge in the background.


 The group heading up to Alexandra is far ahead of us on the glacier, already beyond the most heavily crevassed section.


Peter's team climbing the ridge, with Simon's coming up behind.

You can see the white tents of Base Camp far below, above and left of the lakes. We've come a long way.

The other groups continue following us up the ridge, the bowl of the West Alexandra glacier now far below us.

We work our way along the ridge with fantastic views all around. We can look north and see the Larsí group heading up the face of Alexandra. They appear to be making fantastic time, taking the snow all the way up the face rather than transitioning to the rock as we had done.

We move along the ridge, soaking up the views. We hit one small part that requires a downclimb of a couple steps. This moves us onto a section of ridge where the snow is beginning to separate and peel away from the face, kind of like an old, fragile flake of paint from the side of an aging house. However, the snow on the ridge itself is very icy, so we opt for the precarious looking flake.

We stay on the top of it while I hope that the addition of our few hundred pounds of weight isnít just enough to send the thousands of tonnes of snow careening down the east face. Soon the ridge proper begins to move higher above the top of our flake, with the gap widening even more further down the ridge. We need to get off of it, so Cyril finds a good spot for us to transition back onto the ridgetop.

The snow up on top is no longer icy, but the ridge is narrow (previous groups have gone so far as to dub it a ďknife edgeĒ, but if so, I'd say it's a bit dull and in need of some sharpening). The exposure on both sides is large, though. We carefully make our way along one edge of the knife and soon come to the final summit block of Whiterose. The bergschrund is large and menacing, but if we stay on the ridge we can avoid it as the snow is still solidly bridging there.

We move steadily up the main summit block and by 4:50 trip time we summit Whiterose. It is a magnificent view and we enjoy a quick lunch before continuing onwards.

There are some big crevasses high up on Whiterose's face.


Cyril and I hangin' at the summit of Whiterose.

We traverse another short section of ridge past a bowl containing a nice tub of glacier water, but no one seems to want to stop to freshen up. The ridge narrows a bit and we have to overcome a rather oddly positioned crevasse that comes right across it. Soon after we are off the snow and onto the rock where there is a long rappel to get over a cliff. 

Actually, rather than rappel, Cyril sets up his Monster Munter hitch to lower everyone down with. He does a good job, as I don't hear even one person scream.

Cyril setting up our anchor.

And lowering Peter.


Peter halfway down the step. My camera is hanging at arm's length over the ledge to get a view of Peter, so it doesn't quite look at steep as it is.

Cyril continues lowering people. Here you can see that it's quite vertical in the crack.

Safely down, I join Peterís rope team and forge ahead to scout the condition of the glacier below Rosepetal. If it is too soft, weíll have to summit Rosepetal to go down the other side where there is no glacier.

But the snow is good, so when Cyrilís rope arrives, they take the lead. Soon the terrain becomes heavily crevassed. The route through the giant holes looks like a maze, but one that doesnít necessarily have a solution. Cyril begins chopping steps at one steep point, thinking that straight down will be better than searching for a path through the crevasse field beside us, but then thinks better of it, likely because he canít fully see what might be laying in wait below us. He begins to traverse right, looking for a path through the massive cracks.

We slowly wind our way right as well, at points making our way onto chunks of snow with black bottomless pits framing both sides as we move carefully along them.

But before long we clear the menacing crevasse field and make our way onto easier slopes that lead to the toe of the glacier. We unrope and our thoughts once again turn to what might be cooking for dinner Ė at least thatís what mine do.

Sitting at the dinner table, I see that itís Mexican night. We dine on soup, salad, and enchiladas with refried beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, onions, beans and other fixin's. And of course there is dessert as well.

Since itís our last night, we all sit around a fire and chat about the past week while Cyril and a few others take turns on the guitar. A great way to wrap things up.

Crevasses begin to occupy more and more of the face as we descend lower, eventually completely cutting right across our path.


Wrapping up the week with a campfire.

"The hardest thing is explaining to your co-workers that

               you're grouchy

because you were up until 1am reading..."

Ada Litvinov

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