Pre-Climb - Day 7
May 9 Summary

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The team woke to blue skies again with high hopes for our Expedition to start to fly onto Mount Logan. A quick check with Andy Williams, our pilot, and we heard that there was lots of cloud in closer to Logan, but they had to fly in close to pick up another Expedition who had been there for 10 days and this would give us an excellent look at what was happening near Kings Trench. I had a chance to make breakfast for the team with pancakes, scrambled eggs and omelets with a touch of salsa. After a hearty breakfast, Shawn, Larry, Josh and myself went down to the airport when Andy flew back in with the two climbers to get an assessment of what was happening over the mountain ranges around us. The news was not good with plenty of low cloud to 2,500m blocking all landings near Mount Logan and the Kings Trench.

The weather waiting game is a well-known part of climbing Mount Logan and while we have 7 days extra in our schedule for storms and weather, each of us would prefer to be on the mountain than here in Silver City. With 14 team members it will take 7 flights for the group and gear for a total of 21 hours of flying time spread over 3 days. And while we are anxious to fly onto Kings Trench the only comfort at this point of waiting is that our group is the first in line to fly up when the weather window appears.

As the first climbing team, Shawn and I would rise early each morning to check the weather, pack all our gear with the hope that this would be the day we fly out. We would hurry our packing with a hope of ‘this is the day’ and look anxiously towards the direction of Logan wondering if the weather was right. A quick 5-minute walk to the airport quickly turned our faint hope into a dash of reality. Unfortunately, clouds were covering the area and there were no flights this morning, but we would check back at noon for an update.

The one issue for us now is that Lightbulb Larry is due back home this week, and if we are unable to get him on the mountain today he will not be able to spend any time on Logan. We spent a fair bit of time with the pilots discussing the weather and finally decided that we would get Lightbulb up on a flight towards Logan giving him a chance to see the glaciers and perhaps even a glimpse of Mount Logan. We knew from the morning that the glaciers and everything below 3,000m was covered in cloud so we kept our fingers crossed that something somehow had changed. As Larry and I prepared ourselves for the flight and the cold, I was very anxious about finally getting up over the surrounding mountain ranges and seeing first hand what was out there that has been holding up our progress.

As we flew off the dirt airstrip, I could only imagine the view of Logan and the mountains rising over 3,000m. It was exciting to finally be rising above the clouds and seeing the glaciers and snow that we would be living on for the next month. As we turned around the corner from one mountain range to another, we climbed steadily to 3,500m and the clouds started to thin. We went around the final corner and for the first time I glanced across the clouds and in the distance stood Mount Logan. My heart pounded quicker and my mind raced with thoughts of awe with my eyes straining to see details. I yearned to have our team there and looked through the clouds for the details I have read and dreamed about. We flew closer and closer and then I heard a whisper of hope as our pilot said the conditions had improved tremendously from the morning.

The clouds, which blanketed the area around Mount Logan, had started to lift and share the true beauty of the smaller mountains and what seemed like millions of miles of glaciers all around us. Had luck finally come our way, had the mountain and the weather finally chosen to let us come to Mount Logan? We continued to fly closer and the true size of the mountain grasped me like a warm and welcome hug. It was a massive mountain dominating the horizon and the surrounding area. The mountain was beautiful in its size, snow, ice and rock as we flew closer and closer. Then only 10km away, the clouds thinned to reveal the summit of Mount Logan, the very point we aspire to stand on. I looked at the beauty before my eyes like an artist observing a fine piece of art, thinking about the experience and the moment we would reach the summit. As we flew closer and closer it was obvious that the east side of the mountain was clear but our approach from the west side was still clouded over preventing us from flying into Base Camp.

We flew back from our filming trip having provided Lightbulb Larry and Channel 10 with some incredible footage to show the world our adventure so far, but also knowing that any chance of our team starting to get on the mountain would have to wait.

The evening dinner of spaghetti topped with a very nice tomato and sausage sauce was enjoyed by everyone, compliments of another excellent meal by Catherine, Travis and Stephanie. Danylo, Mike and Andy joined the dinner late as they returned back from a local mountain, climbing to the top and skiing down getting a few turns in late in the day. Everyone is still excited, but I can tell the waiting around and not being able to fly up onto the mountain is testing their patience.

The time here at Silver City has been well spent, team building and testing gear both of which will be valuable when we get on the mountain. During a team meeting in the evening there was lots of discussion about the lost days here at Silver City and we decided that when we are on Mount Logan, we will try to make up some time by shortening our rest days. This is a fine balance between acclimatizing and moving on the mountain, and as much as we would like to make up some lost time, it is important that we give everyone a chance to get their body ready with the thinner air.

It’s strange we are sitting at a camp with the birds singing during the day and the flowers starting to come up, knowing full well our plan is to be on a thousand year old glacier with snow everywhere in a matter of days. We took full advantage of our being here though and all sat around a roaring bon fire cooking marshmallows and making “smores” with graham crackers and chocolate. Samantha, having never cooked a marshmallow over a fire, was a quick study and perfected the art of making them golden brown. Catherine also enjoyed the marshmallows with her obvious sweet tooth (she had 5) and it was funny watching Danylo’s obvious lack of patience and cooking finesse as he would shove the branch with his marshmallow into the fire, setting it aflame and quickly blowing it out and eating it in one fell motion. It was a nice evening that lasted until midnight with the skies remaining lighter from the longer days.

We have been here now at Silver City for 3 days and I am hoping the weather gives us an opening so that we can get the team up and in the cold and on the glacier.

Namaste,
James