Go back to Russia.
Go back to Into The Mountains.
Up not too early the following morning. We’d normally wait until the sun hit our tent at some 8am before crawling out. No need to shiver as we had ample daylight. I think the sun dipped below the horizon for some 3 hours during that time of the year (23-2?) but we’d be well asleep during that time so we never really saw what the brief night looked like. Up the familiar valley and its endless boulder field and down the other side. We had scoped out a gully descent into an adjacent cirque during the previous day’s recon. Another sketchy third class gully (the rope came out) to get us into the right cirque and we were shivering at the iced over start of Epaulette route on the shoulder of The Commander. A slab of ice was covering the approach gully and part of the first pitch and so we roped up earlier and climbed some slabs right of the gully. The rest of the route was fairly easy (up to about 5.8) with some bits of route finding and lots of lichen (second ascent of the line I guess). The conditions were cold – north facing cliff and quite windy at times. There’s a long and mostly easy chimney near the top of the route. That section provided some excitement as one of the pitches had two what seemed like 500 pound blocks wedged against each other. Not only needed to climb around them on a thin face but also had to make sure the rope below me would not dislodge these “belayer slayers”. A couple pitches higher we topped out into sunnier but just as windy conditions and our packs.
Back in camp in the early evening. The following day we woke up to on/off drizzle and worse looking conditions off in the distance above the cirque. We hung out in camp enjoying multiple cups of coffee (good stuff from home) and polished off our bottle of Scotch (decent stuff from a Bilibino store); should’ve brought two bottles. Did some firewood collecting – not a trivial task in the high tundra (construction material from whoever put in the “road”) to enjoy a bit of warmth in the evening.
Morning in camp (Aug. 2018).
Hiking up to the “pass” behind The Commander (Aug. 2018).
Into the cirque (Aug. 2018).
Views of an unknown formation in the distance (The Shark Fin perhaps? Aug. 2018).
Having descended into the next valley, we now have to traverse to the shortcut (shitty) approach gully that will put us at the base of The Commander (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on the approach into the cirque and looking for the shit gully (Aug. 2018).
Found it. Views of The Commander (foreground, partial) and The General (background) from the notch above a “shortcut” gully (Aug. 2018).
Into the gully which leads to the base of The Commander. The General is looking on. Should’ve been camping by that lake down there (Aug. 2018).
Lower in the choss gully (Aug. 2018).
Racking up for Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Starting pitch 0 of Epaulette…basically avoiding the ice filled approach gully (Aug. 2018).
Higher on same “pitch 0” (Aug. 2018).
View up at the splitter crack on the first proper pitch of Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on pitch 0 (Aug. 2018).
Opening splitter on pitch 1 of Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Looking back towards Shirley from the lead of pitch 1 (Aug. 2018).
Shirley topping out on pitch 1 (Aug. 2018).
Starting pitch 2 of Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Views from low on the route (Aug. 2018).
A bit higher (Aug. 2018).
Leading pitch 3 (Aug. 2018).
Looking back at Shirley from early on pitch 3 (Aug. 2018).
Bit higher on the same slabby pitch (Aug. 2018).
Shirley starting up pitch 3 (Aug. 2018).
Shirley higher on pitch 3 (Aug. 2018).
Topping out on pitch 3 (Aug. 2018).
Pitch 4 perhaps (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on pitch 4 (Aug. 2018).
Looking longingly towards the Finger Crack Cirque (Aug. 2018).
Pitch 4 topout (Aug. 2018).
Leading pitch 5 (Aug. 2018).
Views from the route (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on pitch 5 (Aug. 2018).
Top of pitch 5 belay. Click for a quick pano video (Aug. 2018).
Pitch 6 of Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on pitch 6 (Aug. 2018).
Shirley high on pitch 6 (Aug. 2018).
View of the distant Finger Crack Cirque (Aug. 2018).
Almost done with the pitch (Aug. 2018).
Shirley starting up pitch 7 (Aug. 2018).
Scary stacked blocks on pitch 7…had to gingerly climb around those and keep the rope away as well (Aug. 2018).
Shirley on the final pitch (either 8 or 9) of Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Is that an edge or a piece of moss?
Views from the top out point on the shoulder of The Commander; proper summit (with some sort of a geo marker) is visible (Aug. 2018).
Shirley topping out on Epaulette (Aug. 2018).
Traversing the edge of the cliffs back to our packs. Click for a quick pano video (Aug. 2018).
Cold but at least we’re not in the shade anymore (Aug. 2018).
Back in camp and warming ourselves up with fire and tea (Aug. 2018).
Sitting out some drizzle (Aug. 2018).
Camp hobbies: reading for Shirley and…
…something else for me (Aug. 2018).
About to get hosed again (Aug 2018).
Go to A Failure.
Go back to Russia.