Monday, August 06, 2007

The lakes

With reference to the previous post - It rained.

The tents held out for 36 hours of continuous rain, sometimes light but oftentimes torrential until they started to admit drops of water that in time accumulated into mini-lakes on the floor until they were absorbed by the sleeping bags.

Stephen slipped on a path, dropping the camera and smashing the zoom lens in the process. The subsequent pictures are all wide-angle although we took precious few pictures in the rain.
On a less overcast note - last week I updated my insurance policy to include the camera - will they be suspicious ?

The climbing involved a one and half hour to two hour hike into the mountain. This was punctuated by periods when the sun shone until we crested a spur or rounded a corner and we presented with wind carrying horizontal rain and storm clouds. The climb itself was a little tame with some exposure but not very much adrenaline. We were clustered on a ledge when the wind strengthened and despite a slab of shared chocolate I realised that no-one except me was particularly enjoying the prospect of the additional pitches required to enable a "walk off" from the summit.

We took a vote, qualified with a "no sulk" condition, that only I would complete the next pitch and we would then abseil back down the route and take a direct descent down the mountain to the valley - about 400 metres below the base of the climb. The climbing was easy, finding a abseil point was not. The best I could do was to use an unlikely looking block way off the line and right at the limit of the rope length.

I knew what would happen before I had even returned to the others. The wet rope would not pull around to block and thus could not be retrieved - apart from the value of the rope, this was our only means of safe descent having left the second rope below. My pre-constructed prusik loop is currently serving as an anchor line for my model air-plane, don't ask!, so the only option was a sling based prusik and an aided climb back up to retrieve the rope. This time I left a sling and a pair of carabiners to ensure the rope could be pulled through.

I hate leaving equipment behind but looking down on the rest of the family below I couldn't help thinking that they were nesting eagles waiting for their next rabbit to be brought to them. What I needed to do was bump them off the cliff and catch them on the wing a few times until they had the confidence to fly.

The direct descent followed a stream straight down the mountain side. Usually one slips when not paying attention but the rocks were green with lichen, the grass over run with running streamlets and the ground was soft and spongy underfoot so that we all fell - frontwards, backwards and sidewards many times. Often we all fell in the same spot even when forewarned.

By the time we reclaimed the car we were filthy dirty and soaking wet but miraculously unhurt and in surprisingly good spirits. Also my GPS that I had forgotten in the excitement of the departure was still sitting on the roof of the car - a happy surprise. A quick change of clothes, another family vote and we broke camp in record time, re-packed the car and headed home to the perfect weather in the south-east. It was a 2:30 AM arrival home but the beds were dry and our roof didn't leak.

The rest of the pictures are here

1 comment:

  1. Cool to get everyone's perspectives on the same trip. After careful analysis I conclude that the common thread here is Rain.