A cold night. Our sleeping bags are not as good as we thought, we’ve discovered, but we still managed to stay warm, mainly by Val + I sharing the same bunk. The price we paid for warmth tho’ was a cramped + uncomfortable night – you can’t have everything, I suppose (tho’ a little would help.) Despite the favourable weather forecast we’d received over the radio last night, the snow was still snowing + the wind was still blowing, so we remained in our beds. I was lucky to have found a book to read just before we left – “The Group” by Mary McCarthy, which I found interesting, along soap opera lines – otherwise I would have been bored rigid (as opposed to frozen rigid.) Tony + Brian left late morning, struggling out to battle the elements, but it still looked pretty bad to us, so we stayed put. We could have stayed an extra night + taken a chance on the weather clearing, but I think it was boredom that drove us out.
When the weather eased slightly, early in the afternoon, we seized our opportunity + left. We didn’t have an awful lot of food left, + I for one was nervous that if the weather deteriorated even further, we might find ourselves stuck, halfway up a mountain, hungry + bored. I find Kirsten a difficult person to get along with anyway, _ in difficult circumstances + a confined space (shades of the boat once again) would be even worse, I fear. So we donned all the clothes we had, + then some – both Val + I borrowed clothes from Andy – Val fashioned some improvised gaiters from plastic bags, + we were ready to go. I dreaded the trip, I must say, envisioning 2 or 3 hours of hell. And the first 100 yds or two were a little bit tricky, with the snow thick enough to conceal the rocks + make them treacherous, but not enough to make a carpet. However, within 5 mins, as is often the case, I was having a whale of a time, sliding down steep slopes on my bottom. Kirsten was the most cautious of the 4 of us, , then Val, then me, then Big A… but then he does live in Calgary.
Just as we had left the hut, 3 other people had arrived, so we were easily able to follow their upward tracks. This led us into problems only once when we found ourselves down a very steep slope that they had somehow climbed up. I was in front, + tentatively made my way down, step by nervous step. Andy, coming along next, slipped + promptly slid over a 12 ft drop. Luckily for all of us (but especially him) he landed on his feet in soft snow, and was able to prevent himself from tumbling further.
The second half of the descent was less fun, more of a plod, but in any case we arrived safe + sound back at the Wyn Irwin hut, warmth + comfort. We celebrated our little travail at the pub, drinking a couple of jugs more than the women thought we should have, then back to the hut for dinner.
Always the way. I really am physically timid, scared of almost anything with a hint of danger about it (even somewhat manufactured danger, as in the white water rafting.) But once I get going…
To some extent, I blame my upbringing. My father was always frail, and never one for physicality (and I have passed that on – other fathers rough and tumble with their children, especially their sons. I never have, and actually have always placed a strict injunction on anything approaching fighting in my own children. Valk and I once returned from a short break, having placed our children under the care of Pete, Val’s brother, and his then partner. “They were very good,” she told us. “They didn’t fight.” She clearly regarded this as strange; we would have been amazed had it been otherwise.