Bearcant's 2005 Pacific Crest Trail Misadventure
CALIFORNIA OREGON WASHINGTON
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20 22 21 25 16 0 18.3 24.6 23.8 18.2 0 0 24.2 18.2 21.7 23 16.9 14.7 21 23.1 26.3 20 23.6 15.1 0 20.9 18.8 20.3 3.5 18.2 5.7
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Central California
Starting: Section H2 - Crabtree Meadows
Ending:  Section H4 - Center Basin trail

"Donny, you are out of your element." These prophetic words, uttered in the greatest film of my generation, were reverberating in my head. Perched on a tiny shelf kicked into the snow chute on Forester Pass, I was scared. Really fucking scared.

Feeling over confident but unable to find the trail & unwilling to spend the time to look for it, we (Pete, Jason, & I) took the "Scott Williamson Route" up Forester Pass: straight up the imposing ice chute. I should note that I have zero mountaineering experience. The only time I have held an ice axe or crampons was the day I bought them.

The 1st 1/2 of the climb was a scramble over loose rock. Really loose rock. Avalanche debris. On a steep slope. Every hand hold, every foothold, moved when weight was placed on it. Holy shit. The 2nd 1/2 of the climb was over snow that had been softening in the sun all day. The slope was 50 degrees.

I made it over the loose rock and paused at the start of the snow, gingerly took off my pack, took out my new crampons, & came to the horrifying realization that they were too small for my big feet! **Note to future thru-hikers: test your equipment before you head out.** Knowing that I had already climbed too high to turn around, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry & let out a pitiful sound somewhere in between.

I attempted to jury-rig the crampons on my shoes, put on my pack, & began to head up. They were dangling off my feet after only 2 kick-steps. Carefully retreating to my perch, I did what I always do in stressful situations: I shut my eyes, took deep breaths, focused on my breathing & felt my body begin to relax.

Relaxed, I took another long look at the crampons & noticed a small screw that could be removed, allowing them to fit on my shoes. Relieved that they fit I strapped them on to the point of cutting off circulation, tightened the belts on my pack, turned to face the snow & headed up again.

Slam the ice axe in, 1-kick step, 2-kick step... Slam the ice axe in, 1-kick step, 2-kick step... This was the rhythm. Don't look up at the 70-degree chute at the very top. Don't look down. Slam the ice axe in, 1-kick step, 2-kick step...

Roughly 30 meters from the top I was startled to see a beautifully kicked in series of steps traversing across the chute. Looking to my left was the PCT- snow free; looking to my right was the PCT- snow free. I cautiously climbed up to the steps & traversed to the left side. I kissed the trail when I got to it & walked up to the top.

Looking at the top of the chute, I saw that it was in excess of 70 degrees & a cold chill crept over me. I looked at Pete and asked if he had gone straight up & over the chute. I knew the answer before he even said it. "Yep"


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