The next morning, shortly before 5am, I'd had enough of sleep. I roused everyone, and we started an accelerated get-ready-and-go routine (no-cook food and a desire to quickly get moving in the cold). I was disappointed that a cap of cloud had settled over the peaks, obscuring all views. Also, a nasty little wind had sprung up, making things a little extra uncomfortable.
Still, we didn't want to wait around and get cold, so we were off shortly after 5am. Fortunately, the trail immediately heads up steeply to the South Horn, and so we were relatively warmed up in short order. The summit was mostly socked in, and we had limited to no views. I chose to skip the spur trail to the North Horn - what was the point? I imagined the great view we'd have east to W. Bigelow and Avery.
From the summit of South Horn, we started the long descending ridgecrest to the low point between it and West Bigelow. I could tell the sun was trying to burn away these summit clouds, but it wasn't happening fast enough! damn!
Ewart hadn't brought enough warm clothes for his legs, and he was a little worried about the conditions on the open peaks of West Bigelow and Avery. We resolved to get up and over them if conditions warranted it.
After climbing steeply up from the South Horn - West Bigelow col, we emerged into the bit of open alpine below West Bigelow's summit. Still a bit too cloudy for views, we climbed up through a biting northwind with significant windchill, reaching the snow-plastered summit at just before 8am. With the temperature so low and the wind so chilling, we didn't dally long, and continued right over and back down into the trees.
Open terrain on W Bigelow
Ewart and Jenn on the move
The col between West Bigelow and Avery is actually pretty shallow. It lies at about 3800 feet, and is only 300 to 350 feet lower than the two 4000-footer peaks on either side of it. It therefore took very little time to get down into the col, take a break, and then head on up to Avery. Back in the alpine, we again encountered brisk north winds. The clouds had broken up a little more, but still not sufficiently for my liking. Still, I got some good shots of Jenn and Ewart battling up through the elements to the summit of Avery. Our second 4000-footer had been achieved!
Sun is trying hard again!
We spent a few moments in the lee of the summit observation building (it was closed up), and then started down eastwards on the long ridge that descended towards Little Bigelow Mountain. The clouds finally burned away, and we had spectacular views, especially down to Flagstaff Lake.
Heading to lookout building