Let me start by saying that this is one of the best trips to the mountains I’ve ever had. Outstanding times with friends, beautiful scenery, amazing snow, great photos, and countless stories to tell. I organized this trip in August, after a few of us decided that last April’s trip was too much fun to not do again – only this time, it was to be a WAGS (wives and girlfriends) trip.
We got an early start on Friday, heading out from the Spraddle Creek trailhead about 8am with big, heavy packs on our backs.
While it was a frigid morning (4F at the trailhead, as low as -5F on the drive in), things quickly became comfortable once the sun came out.
About a year ago, Hans forgot his sunglasses, and borrowed some of Lauren’s. This year, the look has been made permanent. I bring you Rockstar Hans:
Though I had one minor glopping scare which terrified me with the memory of last year, it turned out to be nothing, and I was able to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather on the approach. Here’s Lauren with Vail in the background.
Lauren and I were in brand spankin’ new AT boots on this approach – me in the Scarpa Maestrale (review to come), her in the Gea. I didn’t have any problems, but her feet were not pleased with making a 7 mile approach with a heavy pack in brand new boots, and became quite painful. She toughed it out though, and was incredibly happy when she finally made it to the hut.
As I was the only one in the group with the combination to the hut, and Hans and Derek arrived a bit before Lauren and I, they kicked back and enjoyed the view. Hans hauled in a few beers, and put one to good use while he waited.
Hans and I took a quick test-lap once we unpacked to check conditions, and were blown away by how good the snow was; and when we returned to the hut, it had started snowing. Eiseman is pretty decked out as far as the kitchen goes, and we enjoyed a delicious chicken and tofu pad thai before hitting the sack. It was fairly early to bed, in anticipation of the day ahead.
Although 3/4 of our group had been here before and knew exactly where we were heading, the other folks in the hut wanted to get a little more adventurous, so Derek looked over the topo with them. I’m not sure where they went, but they said it was good.
As Hans and I learned in Alaska, if you’re eating Mountain House, you’ve failed before you even began. Breakfast the first morning was 6 potatoes sliced thinly with cheese, scrambled eggs, and bacon.
Here’s one of yours truly – notice the cracked brim on my Smith Variant helmet. It happened when I set my pack in the snow, with my helmet on the back. I’m rather disappointed in the breakage, but I’m more disappointed in their warranty department. I talked to them and was offered 30% off MSRP for a new helmet, which is still more than I paid for it. But the pow was amazing.
Being about 1pm, we decided to head in for lunch before taking a couple more laps. We were expecting our two other friends any time now too, and so we reheated leftover breakfast, cooked up a couple quesadillas, and got hot water ready.