A blue and red sheath woven tightly around the core stretches from my harness forward 20 yards to Aaron. If I take a wrong step, the cord is what will keep me alive. But I hate it. I want to admire the immensity of the landscape that surrounds me. The ice, a glowing blue, hanging impossibly over enormous cliffs. Spines and fluted snow, a skiers dream. The peaks shrouded in clouds. I am instantly drawn back to reality when I step on the damn rope, jerking Aaron. An annoyed look shoots back my way. I concentrate on our spacing for a few minutes before my eyes start to wander again.
Our dream of Hayes is all but over. We have moved our attention to figuring out what to do that doesn’t involve the huge peak hanging above our heads. Due to the avalanche concerns most steep lines are out of play, which leaves little to work with.
We begin the day with a walk into what I have been calling Scary Valley. From camp we move west, weaving around the many crevasses that scar all the glaciers in the area. The valley constricts about two miles up. The sheer walls on either side hold tons of hanging ice just waiting to come down. We would go no farther.
Back in camp we eat a leisurely lunch. Not wanting the day to be finished we head directly east to a low angle section of the glacier that had a nice looking narrow tongue that seemed like it would be fun to ski. Still not wanting to head back to camp after the cruiser Aaron and Riley go over to a broken section of glacier to do some ice cragging while Jordan and I head up to check out a little chutelet. Once we find the entrance we discover it to be much steeper than we had first thought. Jordan gives it a quick cut and then takes it to the bottom. 1000 ft of creamy corn turns later we rope back up, collect Aaron and Riley, and make it to camp just as the sun slides behind a ridge.
Spending so much time and money on an objective that we can’t even begin to attempt is frustrating to say the least. The South Buttress sits right there, inviting yet deadly. I will take what the mountains give me, and I’ll like it, and one day I will be back.
WildSnow.com guest blogger Anton Sponar spends winters enjoying the Aspen area of Colorado, while summers are taken up with slave labor doing snowcat powder guiding at Ski Arpa in Chile. If Anton didn’t ski every month and nearly every week of the year, skiing would cease to exist as we know it.