Stikine VIII


We were beginning to worry about the weather. Our plane tickets afforded us 9 days, arrival to departure. We had spent 6 days waiting for a window, and from the top of the ridge, it seemed that we might get it on the seventh day. The Thumb was indeed baking above the clouds, but there was still plenty of snow up high on route. We radioed Wally for a forecast. There was good news, and there was bad news. We would get our window the next day, but it would only last one day before a low-pressure system would barge in for the foreseeable future.

We debated from the top of the ridge, the icecap draped below us. We could certainly try climbing the Thumb, but that would risk our ability to get flown out. Was it worth a multi-day vision quest down the Baird in bad weather? So many things could go wrong. But we're here, gotta at least try. The thoughts carried us back down to the tents.

Obviously, we ended up deciding to go for it. That evening, we skied to the bergschrund below the Thumb to make our approach the next morning easier.


Stikine VII


The next four days were spent mostly in either the sleeping tent or the kitchen tent. The piles of fresh snow that fell in the night were unable to support the warm rain that fell during the day. If we got a lull in the precipitation or a slice of sunlight, we went skiing rather than let our clothes dry. Usually, we returned from these short excursions in a full whiteout, no visual guides other than the shallow, ski-width indentations that led back home.

On the fourth day of whiteout, I got a sunburn. The clouds had thinned enough that we could feel, even see, the fuzzy white light through the fog, its warmth trapped between the reflective surfaces of glacier and cloud. My socks were finally dry. The Thumb, which had been receiving its share of precipitation, must be baking above these clouds, we supposed. One more ski-tour, this time to see if we could climb a ridge opposite the Thumb and break through the clouds ourselves.