Deeper - The Alps. Going for Gold, Round Two
By Jeremy Jones | June 10th, 2009
Everything was going as planned. We did the 3 am rappel, climbed to the col, down climbed into “no mans land,” crossed under multiple seracs, climbed over half a dozen bergschrunds. Just as we made it over our last barrier and were getting ready to hammer down to the peak we realized it was not going to happen today. The problem was the wind, ALWAYS THE WIND! It was keeping the upper half of the line frozen which would mean we would be riding hard snow on a 50 degree slope over exposure. The tricky part was that the bottom half of the line was warming up fast and would need to be ridden in the next two hours so we could not wait for the possibility of the top warming up later in the day. There was also the serac and glacier issue that complicated things. We wanted to be out from under the seracs and off the glacier by 11 am before things heated up and the mountains did their daily shedding.
If we went any higher and things did warm up we would have had to been rescued with the heli. Two out of the three of us felt good about things but we had to stay together so the decision was made to pull back. The hard part was we were in the gnarliest place I have ever been and our options to get home safe were either cross under the multiple seracs we had crossed before the sun came up and climb up the now heated up two faces we descended, or navigate our way down the most ridiculously featured glacier I have ever attempted to ride through. We opted for the glacier, tied ourselves 30 meters apart and quickly but methodically belayed and rode our way down the edge of the glacier.
Everything went as planned and a few hours later after a long hike down the scree field we made it back to town. It is always hard turning back but it is something I like to make a habit of doing. “Just say no, do not have an agenda, listen to the mountains,” are all things I tell myself over and over again as I go into the mountains. Riding big lines is very complex; twenty things need to go right and today we had 19 on our side but that was not enough. It is one big “feel out” and one of us was not feeling it today. You do not ride critical lines with bad feelings in your gut no matter what.
We did not achieve our objective today but we achieved our goal and that is to come home safe. Once in town we heard the sobering news of Karine Ruby’s death on a glacier not far from where we were today. Over a hundred people a year die in these mountains and most of them are experienced mountaineers following protocol. I am bummed we did not get our line but the trip surpassed all my expectations. The mountains are not going anywhere and neither am I. I will be back to try my luck in the wonderfully complex game of big mountain riding next year. Live to ride another day!
**Hiking to the Hut**
**Afternoon chillin’. We would have to ride with everything we brought to the cabin so we had the bare essentials for an overnight. We slept in our gear but the blankets kept us pretty warm.**
**Seracs are one of the big killers in the alps. We limited our time under them and would climb more technical routes to keep from being under them. Xavier skirts the edge of the big serac on the face.**
**This is why we wake up early. This debris pile came down the day before and could have buried a small village. We hiked up so we could cross it with speed to limit are time under the South Face Of Mt Blanc.**
**We rode the edge of this glacier.**
**Fan Fan gets lowered over the edge and weaves his way through some small cracks.**
**Glaciers are receeding fast in Europe. You can see the difference from year to year sometimes.**
**We came down the lookers left of the glacier. We did not get our line but we still got in a 7,500 vertical foot descent to town**
In this post: Jeremy Jones Xavier De Le Rue Location: Italy Film: Deeper Keywords: Big Mountain Backcountry scenic Premium Content Teton Gravity Research Featured Snowboard Athlete Blog