What were they thinking, naming a peak Nervous Knob? a quick Google search on the subject might not be the best idea… but I decided a Winter ascent of the peak was in order this weekend. Standing at 1820m, it’s a peak of a pretty high order too! Having run across the ridgeline earlier in the year for Peak 7 & 8, I decided to go bag it on a far from fine Winter’s day.
It was, in the end, for a celebration of my housemates 30th. what better way to celebrate than climbing my 30th peak!
So there were some of us skiing, some boarding, some donned our crampons and ice axes and headed into the whiteout. It was raining as we arrived and that rain turned into sleet at the Broken River Lodge… and further up (thank goodness) it turned into snow.
We (Mark, Catherine & myself) walked from the huts up to the lodge where we decided we’d put on some crampons as the snow was powdery over the top of some crusty ice layers. We climbed with the ski tow in sight, but kept out of the piste routes (so not to annoy the slope users) and climbed up the ridge to the top of the lift. We could see probably around 70-80m at that time – which was awesome and was a blessing! We crossed the top of the pistes and that was where the visibility stopped.
The climb from there was steeper, snowier and rockier. The real fun and adventure began!
The visibility dropped and the snow got a little less powdery until we were having to kick steps to climb. We took it gently and zig-zagged up the peak; across snow covered slides and onto some rocky ridge sections.
The visibility dropped to around 10-15m and this made it difficult to see the drop-offs (white), the sleet/snow (white) and the snow covered rocks (also white). It strained the eyes and therefore the brain to work out what was going on under your feet. It was a bit like a magic eye puzzle that never appeared.
Not too long after, hands were drenched with powder, the slope was getting steeper and the higher we got, the more wind battered us (thankfully from behind). The steepest section was right near the end of the climb, but with axes it was no trouble and the wind quickly died down. From that point, it flattened off to the summit, a level section about the size of a garage – enough to stand on without fear of dropping off the edge.
Woohoo! Peak 30 out of 52 complete. A great intro for Catherine to Winter climbing and a very white view from the summit.
We stopped for a bite to eat for 5 minutes. Then, suddenly without warning, the wind picked up and out hands froze. Not normal hand pain, but that pain where they are so cold that you’d prefer to chop your hands off than keep moving.
It came so quickly too, no warning signs, no chills – just full on pain!
We quickly packed up and started to descend. Mark led the way down and it was a lot quicker than the climb as we followed out post-holes back down and didn’t have to cut steps anymore, just find the ones we’d climbed up with previously. There was a point where Catherine was going to chop her hands off (the limit!), but she soon warmed up as we got out of the wind and kept moving into warmer temperatures – the skifield seemed to have it’s own microclimate as we approached the tow ropes again… time for a little snow fun before setting off back down to the lodge and a well deserved beer.
A night at the lodge full of partying and 30th birthday antics – a great co-celebration for the 30th peak!