Jen came up to our house around 9:30am Sunday and JS Butler and his buddy Cliff arrived shortly thereafter around 10 am. We solidfied details about boots and extraneous gear as it would be Jen and Cliff’s first time climbing outdoors. We rented a pair of 13 and pair of 6 plastics from CMS for Cliff and Jen, respectively. I ended up wearing the toasty warm plastics and Jen opted for my less warm but more comfortable Nepal Extremes.
We decided to hike in to Jewel lake rather than Hidden Falls because Cliff was from PA and it would be a nice hike to Jewel even if we didn’t climb at all. We left from the Glacier Gorge trailhead around 11-11:30am. We took the shortcut trail and saved a lot of time. Despite her warnings of being slow, Jen hiked like a champ.
We got to the base of the climb around 1:30 and Phil set up ropes while we put on our harnesses, crampons, etc. We dropped one rope on the main flow and one off to climber’s left on a shorter, narrow, more vertical section.
I climbed first on the main flow. Then John took a run. Next Cliff took at try and did great. Jen and I went over the smaller, steeper flow and practiced swinging the tools. Once Cliff was thoroughly worked, Jen hopped on the main flow and slowly made her way to the top. John and Phil had a run up the steep flow and I finished up the day on the steep flow. I broke down the anchor and was going to rappel off some slings around a tree. Tossed the ropes, check with the ground-crew that both ends were touching, and began to rapel. About 15-20 feet off the ground, I found one end of the rope in my hand. I almost rapped off the end of my rope. After freaking out a little, I sunk a tool and climbed back up to a rock outcropping. Wedged between the rock and the ice, I pulled the tool, resunk it higher, and clipped in with the cordellette I pulled from the anchor. I untied from the rappel, pulled the rope till I saw both ends touching the ground (for sure this time), and (still with shaking hands) rethreaded my reverso to continue my descent.
Hiking out, we crossed back over Mills Lake, skirting the eastern side this time rather than the side directly beneath thatchtop. I put my foot through the lake but did not get very wet. We hiked out mostly in the dark, warm and tired from the excitement of the day.
Everyone climbed really well and learned a very valuable lesson – or I did, at least – ALWAYS watch for the ends of your rope while rappelling. Even if your buddy tells you they are touching the ground, ALWAYS watch. In this case, the long-end of the rope was looped around a bush about 10 feet off the ground. So, what my friends thought was both ends of the rope touching down, was really a loop of rope from just one side.