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The Big One – Mt.Temple SE Face First Descent

Ed’s Note: This is a repost from Ruari Macfarlane’s Blog

June 1st, 2014: Unfortunately, I’d been awake for 24hrs at this point due to long day the day before.  Coincidentally 1 year to the day after my first time riding off the summit of Temple, which at the time (via SW ridge/bowl) was intended to be the wrap-up of the Mt Temple project.

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…not my photo. Probably also June, but after a more typical (warmer) Spring.

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Sluff during a wee skiff of Westerly snow that would provide the right conditions a couple days later. During a scoping evening/morning at moraine lake.

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A quick run up to the base after work to scope from the bottom proved well worthwhile…though perhaps I could’ve saved myself the bother a year earlier if I’d brought my camera up the Tower of Babel. It turns out the direct finish is a no-go.

In the right year, the couloir angling up to right from top of fan could be a (very dangerous) goer, however there are rock bands involved in entering it; copius water ice; and most importantly, it is the funnel for any sluff from the whole face. nice water ice line in that left gully though eh? late May…!IMG_5521Thanks to Ali Hogg of SSV snow safety (currently on an expedition to the Himalaya,  kudos & best of luck and health) for keeping me up to date with their snowpack conditions over the preceding weeks. Working as a gardener is not conductive to keeping in touch with the snowpack, though I may say it lends a better idea of the weather’s effect than for those bound to a cubicle.  Though who knows, maybe I will be there one day too. It’s a big life.

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Snatching a quick look back from near the start of the traverse to safety. I think this is shortly after a blind, dry tooling, toe edge traverse across rotten rock slab covered in 10cm of unconsolidated moist snow.  This was to avoid non-navigable runnels. Sadly, deep(head high) slick runnels are an inherent part of being on this face late enough in the season to trust the snowpack. Thus getting the right conditions is an extremely tricky balance…to cross the multitude of runnels in conditions soft enough to get an edge in inside the runnels(the surface of the ice needs to moisten), yet not soft enough to avalanche.

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Subsequent descents of this face is NOT Recommended due to unreasonable exposure to objective and subjective dangers above exposure.

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