Go forward or turn around
- John’s story and observation that it could have him as well as the first aid kit and pee bottle sliding headlong down the ice, brings back the memory of a loop trip through Gardiner Basin. This trip was in early August, 1982 and there was still significant snow pack in the high elevations. We still had glaciers back then in the Sierras. But not to digress too much, just about mid-route and just over the col from 60 Lakes Basin into Upper Gardiner Basin, I came to a snow field above an ice covered lake. I had no ice axe or crampons but the snow field was no more than 75 to 100 yards with no alternate walk-around.
I agonized over turning back or going through the snow field very gingerly. A couple of times I stepped out into the snow electing to go forward but then hopping back to terra firma. I did this for about 45 minutes in my state of indecision. Finally, after studying the map, I climbed up over another col and down another canyon into lower Gardiner Basin. It cost me an extra day. Looking back on this I am often glad I didn’t have the axe and/or crampons because the equipment balanced against the costly time would have led me through the snow field with an illusory confidence far in excess of my skill. Fortunately, at the time, fear of the consequences led me ultimately to the right decision.
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