Last summer he ran across the Valhallas in a day. This year, Chris Rowat set his sights higher and summited Mount Logan, which, at 5959 metres (19,551 feet) is Canada’s tallest mountain. Here’s an abridged version of his report.
“The alarm goes off. It’s 5 a.m. Time to finish what we started almost two weeks ago. It’s time to summit. It’s really cold. Probably –30°F (-34°C). My two tent mates are still asleep. I roll over and a rude dusting of ice crystals settles on my face from the inside of the tent. In fact, the whole inside is covered with frosty rime from our breath. Did I really volunteer to be up first and get the stove going? This is the worst part of the day: getting out of my cozy sleeping bag to begin the countless tasks of “getting going.” When it’s this cold, and the air so thin, every task is a struggle.”
And so begins Chris Rowat’s report of climbing Mount Logan via the King’s Trench, which was recently published on the Feathered Friends website. Chris is the art director for both KMC and CMC magazines and he had arranged to do some gear testing for Feathered Friends in one of the most hostile environments in the country. Over the course of his 16-day adventure, Chris and the four other members of his team would endure debilitating cold, earthquakes and brutal storms. This is another paragraph from Chris’s report:
“Suddenly, from the other tent, and through the roar of the storm Steve yells his battle cry: “Guys, everybody out!” We crawl out into the gale and start to shovel frantically, building higher snow walls and adding extra guy-lines, all the while struggling not to be blown over ourselves. I look up from shoveling and the tent is gone. It reappears a moment later when the wind drops momentarily and the wall of driving snow eases. I’m scared the tent will blow away, and I dig faster.”
The entire team summited in clear weather but the temperature hovered at around -35°C. This is Chris’s entry from that experience:
“Slowly yet steadily we advance. We take 20 steps, then lean on our axes, doubled over, waiting for our bodies to stop screaming at us. And then we repeat, again and again. Through half iced-up goggles I follow the faint pinpricks of our friend’s crampons from an hour ago. I look up and think I don’t have enough energy. A narrow ridge looms maybe 100 feet higher. I hear a grunt behind me and I’m shocked to see Alex up to his waist in a narrow crack in the snow. He pulls himself out easily. Down to my right I see the rest of the team far below in their snow hole, waiting for us. I know there are incredible views to either side of me, but they will have to wait. I’m too tired to clean my goggles, so I strain to see through the bottom corner that is still clear. I follow the crampon marks, feel the lactic acid build up that brings me to a gasping stop. I count the breaths, start again, count 10 steps, fade again. I rub in vain at my icy goggles with the back of my glove. Ten more steps. Rest. Repeat. And then the slope suddenly flattens out. There’s no more up. I collapse on the narrow summit and look around. The physical and emotional relief is pure joy. The wind even seems to ease off, and we enjoy a few minutes of happy relaxation. The view is amazing. The world is far below, like looking out the window of a passenger jet. Mountains extend to all horizons. For a moment I think the mountains are poking through a cloud layer, but it’s just the endless icecap. To my right is the friendly-looking expanse of the summit plateau, with its five or six gentle sub-peaks poking out. To my left, I peer down the steep south face as it plunges 11,000 feet to the glaciers below. There is no summit cairn. No prayer flags. It’s nice to be up here so alone. We goof around for a few pictures. I do the cliché raised-ice-axe pose. If there is ever a time I can legitimately do it, it is now. I can’t believe I pulled it together. My face mask hides a big smile. We soak in the view for a few more minutes before leaving this remarkable spot.”
To read Chris’s entire trip report, log on to the Feathered Friends website.