31 Dec 09 – 1700 Local
Location: Refugio la Renclusa
This morning, we tried for an alpine start on Aneto. At 4Am, we woke up ready to go, but it was a total white out outside. So, we went back to sleep and woke up every hour after to check the weather. Eventually, everyone else in the refuge woke up, as well. So, we joined them for breakfast. Finally, around 8:30 or 9AM, the weather cleared a bit. We saddled up and hit the hill. It was slow going. We were unsure of the avalanche conditions, because of the weather and visibility. So, we just took it really slow, picking our way up the valley. As the weather cleared more, the scenery became breathtaking. The mountains were gorgeous even shrouded in clouds. The terrain was demanding, but nothing Dan and I couldn’t handle, which was good because I was more focused on looking around at the scenery.
The climb is supposed to follow a valley on the climber’s right side of a ridgeline, then one crosses through the ridge via one of four gaps (one of which is the good one), after which one descends to the glacier, crossing it and moving up to the summit. We arrived at what we thought was the Portillon Superieur (the good gap) and began making our way to it. It is supposed to be an easy descent to the glacier, but as we were in a semi-white out, we rappelled down. Well, it was a good thing we did, because it was not the gap we should have been in. After a series of very sketchy rappels, which may or may not have involved an anchor backed up with a camera strap, we made it to the glacier. By this point, our feet had become blocks of ice from hanging in our harnesses for so long, so we decided to bail. We followed the ridgeline back to the actual gap, went through it and were back in the valley. It took some route finding to get off of the ridge’s cliffs, but we were soon riding our shovels down the valley back to the refuge. Everyone was happy to see us and cheered our arrival. They had been contemplating coming to find us. I recounted the story many times, very slowly in broken English/Sapnish and with sign language.
Now, we are all napping. It is New Year’s Eve and we need our rest for the party tonight.