Scree slopes and safety ropes

Saturday 9th July. By Paul.

Waking up at the base if the mountains, we knew that today would involve some suffering. It was gorgeous weather, but we would be in the alpine and the track notes indicated that a steep descent over a pass was waiting for us.

The ascent was wonderful. Great steady walking in a stunning landscape. We reached the mountain pass in sunshine, with no wind, and great views of the western mountains. Like the first stage of a rollercoaster, we had to now head down steeply.

The track notes we used are quite frankly, ambiguous. With vagaries such as “just before you get to the point where you can’t return” and “the way down is obvious”, we pretty soon got off track and picked out a route down the valley using good old fashioned trial and error.
We decided that a scree slope through a steep gully was the best choice, but the rocks were large, sharp and the entire scree was unstable.
So off came the packs and we lowered them down on a rope as we scrambled along the edge step by step, avoiding tumbling rocks that we either dislodged ourselves or that decided themselves that a new location would be nice. Fifty meters down, we were close to the bottom when Jodie decided her pack could be detached from the rope.

Initially, the pack tumbled slowly but then accelerated and started going end over end, and then bouncing…an extraordinary sight. Up to that point Jodie was embarrassed by the cleanliness of her pack, but was now horrified that the pack would split open, three days into a nine day hike, with no turning back as this pass was possible only in one direction.

The pack survived, Jodie feels guilty about gear abuse, and we had a cup of tea not knowing if the rest of the gully was passable.

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About paulandjodie

Our first blog, five star tent, was a six month project in parallel with a journey on foot and by kayak from Alaska to Patagonia. Now back to real life, Jodie is inspired to start blogging again, just a little bit, with photo theme hop.
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