February 16, 2009
Heading towards the route
wallow (verb): to flounder about; move along or proceed clumsily or with difficulty
This weekend, despite or because of the weather (I'm still not quite sure), Dane and I made an attempt at climbing Dreamweaver on Mt. Meeker in Rocky Mountain National Park.
After sleeping in the truck at the trailhead, we woke at 3:00 am and began skiing by 4:00. We skied up to treeline and then hiked across the wind-scoured open terrain above treeline, up over Chasm Lake Pass, and down to Chasm Lake. This part of the journey went pretty smoothly, arriving at the lake before 8:00. The entire hike up to this point was cold and a bit windy and snowy.
Dane doing a superb job of wallowing
As we headed up from the lake to the base of the climb, we encountered deep snow and swirling spindrift that seemed to envelope everything. We made painfully slow progress for the next 2 or 3 hours. Dane broke trail for most of this stretch and only complained about his arms being tired from all the swimming. Eventually, after much wallowing, we arrived at the base of Dreamweaver couloir. We knew we had arrived when the gully we were hiking up narrowed to about the width of a body and steepened dramatically. We had optimistically hoped that the snow wouldn't be as deep on the steeper terrain. Hope was not enough.
Dane at the base of the climb
We had also hoped that the deep, narrow couloir would block the wind. Instead, the wind swirled and eddied all around us as it carried fine-grained snow that coated everything it touched.
Dane made an honest attempt at leading the first pitch of the climb. He made slow but steady progress up the slippery rock covered in a few feet of snow. After progressing about 50 feet in 45 minutes, we both decided we were in a loosing battle and opted to back off the route and return to the car.
After a hasty retreat (notice the eyebrows)
Returning back over the pass from Chasm Lake
Dreamweaver is a classic spring climb and only occasionally done in the winter. Had we not endured a recent snow storm, I think the route would have been doable. Nonetheless, we were fully engaged in Type 2 fun for a good, long day in the mountains. Every time one does something like this, one's ability to suffer increases and priceless alpine experiences are gained.