Today was one of the more mentally challenging days of the season for me. I decided to attempt to top out on Weather Station Peak (unofficial name) after bailing midway yesterday. Today I packed boot crampons and an ice axe, for a moment I pondered if I should bring two axes and I later regretted only taking the one.
After parking and getting out in my double layered down suit I heard someone yell “hardcore!”. I turned around to see a rail worker staring at the only idiot looking to go skiing at -35C, (and solo at that!). After a short chat about wearing lots of down I followed my previous skin track which ends at the start of Weather Station Ridge. The boot crampons and axe came out and off I went. Soon I realized that today was going to be intense, the winds were coming up and over the overhanging cornice attempting to push me over. Chucks of cornice the size of my head were breaking off and hitting me!
Onward I marched until reaching yesterday’s high point below some cliff bands. I took a short break and then started climbing up the rock using chimneys to help stop the wind from throwing me over the cliff, (the skis on my back were making for an excellent “sail” today). Once through the cliffs I thought the worse was over, not so. Now the slope was ice with the wind speed growing in strength. I had to basically lay down with my crampons and ice axe firmly in place in order not to be blown down the ice and over the cliffs. I waited there for at least 10 mins as the wind would not let up. “I wish I brought the second axe” I thought, at least I could move slowly over to the next cliff band more securely. Then all of a sudden the wind stop and I ran across the icy slope to the next cliff band just as the wind picked up again. Sweet, the worse is over…
Of course the worse wasn’t over. After following the moat along the cliff band I realized I would need to climb a short section of vertical rock. Ah only a couple of meters but of course the finishing move was a mantel onto an ice covered slab. After thinking about bailing for a few minutes I finally found an unseen crack for the axe and a slot to wedge my ski pole into. I lifted myself up and onto the icy slab.
The next pitch was clear ice suncups, although not steep the wind was now again nailing me in the face. I climbed above the cliff hoping a big gust wouldn’t catch me between my single axe placements. I then finally reached the final slope leading to the summit, a nice snow slope with easy travel but I was mentally drained and the small exposed section of my face frozen solid. I slowly walked to the top.
Once at the summit there was almost no wind, there was even some dry loose snow around the weather station. I took the pictures I had come to get and strapped into my skis.
The summit slope held some good turns but soon the rock hard icy suncups showed up. Looking down the big steep face I decided I better ski with my ice axe, something I rarely do. About half way down a wind slab that I had ski pen in appeared and from here the alpine skiing was almost fun. I cruised down and towards Staff Accom Creek where I finished the day skiing some excellent snow in the forest.
The Upper Bosworth Weather Station registered -30C for most of the time I was on the ridge but the winds it recorded were surely wrong. The area within 10m of the station was very calm while I was switching over but outside of that bubble the winds were very high. It was sunny all day but there was a haze to the south around Collier and Narao. The skiing up high on solar is now scary in the area, the suncups have clear ice in them and are becoming deep. The windslab felt spooky to ski on but doubt it’s going anywhere with the current weather. It will be interesting to see what happens when snow falls on these developed suncups.