2nd Challenge on Wecge Mountain (Whistler, BC, Canada)

It has already been two months since last trip to climb Wedge Mountain.
We let out a whoop of joy because we had another chance to attempt the summit.

Same as the last time, it was a two days adventure.
The day was beautiful and sunny, the air colder though. After making base camp beside the lake, we put a pot over the fire for dinner.Made some coffee and laid out a map. How come just cheap, instant coffee tastes fantastic on the mountain. This was our quiet pleasure.

The view from base camp had changed. The top layer of snow had already melted through summer and now the mountain was waiting for new snow to come. This time, we saw many rock falls than before and that made it difficult to choose a line.

Our eyes were on the same place, the very last steep and rocky part of North Arete. That's where we were taken aback and decided to stop last time. We definitely didn't want to go there this time so we devised other plans: the south face or the knife ridge on the west side of Wedge. Both plans had the same approaching route so we decided to make the final decision depending on how it looked when we got closer.

The pot over the fire was simmering. We put the map away and ate a big meal of curry rice beside our tent. While having dinner, it got darker and darker and stars started shining in the sky. 
We saw a shooting star. It was a big one. After dinner, we went into our tent with our stomachs and hearts full. Inside the tent, we stretched to take care of our bodies, then slipped into our sleeping bags.
"This time we'll get to the top... what're we gonna  see there?"
We closed our eyes full of hope.




At 2:00 am it is beautiful outside the tent. There's nothing but stars and the moon in the sky. Before sleeping, there was a completely star-filled sky without the moon. Now the moon shined brightly on the earth and that gave us great visibility.

Before stepping on the icy ground, we breathed deeply.
"We've come back and we're getting to the top!"

Our crampons caught the ice. This feeling is what makes us addicted to climbing. Every step, a quiet, pleasant feeling comes up from ground through our feet. Around us, a simply amazing world. Stars flickering, sometimes shooting in the sky. The vast glacier dimly lit by the moon. The vast range of mountains were in the distance. 
When we come into this amazing world, we are filled with quiet excitement. No one can describe it with words.
The icy ground at our feet was shining around us from our headlights. We felt as if we were walking on crystal in a fantasy world. Have you ever been to a world like this? It made us smile.

2:00 am。



We took a rest halfway up the glacier. Tomo stuck his hand into his backpack and grabbed a dorayaki. He divided it in two and shared with Kenzo. This time, without special intent, we had brought some dorayaki instead of ordinary energy bars. Dorayaki is Japanese red bean cake. This was by no means silly stuff. The nostalgic taste of dorayaki made us deeply relaxed. We found ourselves far more mentally refreshed by dorayaki than sticky  thick uncomfortable energy bars. Better concentration comes from being refreshed. Our sense and feeling were sharpened.

Though we didn't feel it while climbing, it was pretty cold on the glacier. After having a dorayaki and water, we started climbing again. The sun was still somewhere behind the starry world.  
"We may possibly meet the sun rise at the top!"

Getting closer to the west ridge, rocks and ice became rough. Suddenly, we heard whomping noises from the icy ground. The peaceful feeling had gone and we became nervous. Though it looked hard, we made a decision to climb the west ridge. Somehow it attracted us. The sky was starting to change its slightly colour along the east ridge line.




We started climbing an ice slope beside the west ridge and met the first challenge of this trip there. The pitch of the ice was the steepest and the hardest ever. The ice was pretty hard. It looked like a thick clear glass wall and it was as hard as concrete. If we took a misstep there, we fall straight into a crevasse or slide down and hit a sharp rock. Kenzo found his knees quaking with fear. Too scary to look at the valley. Still, we wanted to look at it all the more because it was scary. Kenzo could do nothing but believe in himself and trust Tomo. Superficial techniques can cause death. We simply focused on the feeling and took one step after another.  

Everything was huge there. Much more tremendous than the last time. Huge chunks of ice everywhere, giving us the impression of ruins. Silence reigned on the mountain. Huge chunks of ice were piled up in crevasses. Rocky walls were surrounding us. Everything was simply beautiful. We were just overwhelmed. Though climbing in "the ruin" was death defying, paradoxically we found ourselves at peace there. We weren't mad. We were far from that.

Because of the high concentration and the exceedingly dry air, we were parched. We were climbing halfway up the north west face of Wedge and that meant we were far away from the sun's warmth. Darkness, coldness, and dryness made the air feel uneasy. Sunny warmth gives us energy while shady coldness stirs our fear.

そこで本日ひとつ目の修羅場。斜度は今まで見た中でも一番に急なものだった。そして何より氷が硬い。分厚いガラスのかたまりのように透き通って、コンクリートのように固い。落ちれば止まることはなく岩場に衝突、またはクレバスに落ちることになるだろう。思わずKenzoの足は震えた。下が見れない。でも見たい。恐怖が入り混じる中ひたすら KenzoTomoを、そして自分を信じるしかなかった。中途半端なフットワークでは死を招くことになるので、一歩一歩確実に決めて登った。

After the very steep part, we looked back where we had climbed.
"How did I manage to climb here?..."
Steady footing let the tension out of our shoulders and we smiled.

Looking back at the whole mountain after climbing, we saw a much more beautiful mountain than what we saw before climbing. Just like that, the same place looked totally different after we had climbed. The beautifulness can never be captured with a camera but still it comes into our mind's eye for sure.

Looking up the ridge, we saw the sun's rays shining.
"We can see the top from the ridge, I guess."
"Let's go."






We found a light in the darkness. An irresistible excitement. We forgot about fear, tension, and thirst and climbed the rest of the steep ice quickly in the excess of our joy.The moment we stood on the ridge, we were engulfed in a flood of sunlight. The sun was shining so strongly that we couldn't open our eyes. We closed our eyes and we felt our whole bodies getting warm in a moment.i

We were just on the ridge and the top was still ahead; nevertheless we were in high spirits.There was a flood of pleasant feeling. We frolicked; jumped, shouted and high-fived. We were deeply impressed to meet the sun. Strong energy welled up.
For most of us, the sun is always there. We don't usually think about it. Have you ever high-fived  your friends to see the sun? At the most, we'll say, "Nice day, isn't it?" Those are just greeting words. Being in the mountains give us a chance to be aware of what's special. We thanked the sun. Now we know how wonderful it is for us to have him. He gives us energy all the time. Mother nature gives us a new light in our thoughts. We shared the joy.

Climbing in the bright sun shine, we were sure of getting to the top.
"Almost there. We'll get it."
We felt shaky with the excess of excitement.


これは山の面白いところなのだが、普段自分たち人間は太陽を浴びて生活してる。でもだからと言って、晴れの日に友達と大喜びして、ハイタッチして叫ぶだろうか。 そんなことしなくて、せいぜい「いやぁ今日はいい天気だね」と言葉を交わすだけだろう。しかし、山に入って、太陽のないところで行動して、色んな困難を越えている内に、「太陽の素晴らしさ」に気がつく。そこで初めて「太陽があってよかった。太陽は普段こんなにもエネルギーを与え続けてくれてたんだ。」ということに気がつく。山は自分らの私生活、行動、当たり前、普通、そういうものに新しい見方を教えてくれる。




Still it's not easy to climb the rough wall of the west ridge. We traversed to the north looking for a step. We were carefully traversing inbetween the wall and a huge crevasse but in the end, we met a dangerous snow bridge.
"Cross the bridge?"
"No, not a good idea."
"No... ok then, these rocks here."
We decided to climb a rocky steep slope. It wasn't such a 90 degree wall. Not too far to the next snow covered part. The only problem was that the rocks were loose. If you climbed roughly by grabbing a rock in a careless manner, you would fall into the dark blue crack with the rock stuck in your hand.
One climbed and then the other. Feeling a sure grip with hands and foot, we carefully climbed there. Finding a better way, we traversed left and right. Conversation with rocks.
Looking down at the valley, Kenzo became hard with a fear of heights. Fear welled up in a moment. "If I fell off here..." The bottomless dark crevasse was waiting for something to eat with its mouth open. We were in the shade again. He managed to hold back the fear.
"Nice climbing, buddy! No worry, I know you can do it"
 Tomo kept calling out to him.




After the rocky part, we found a step on a icy snow wall. Stable footing on ice with crampons was a complete contrast to that on the loose rocks. Though we were on a higher part of the much steeper, super icy slope, we had a solid comfort. Fear had already gone. The sun's rays were shining through the ridge up there again. The top was almost there. We climbed to the ridge at a stroke quickly.

"...... oh-oh...... Tomo... we made a terrible blunder... "
Standing on the ridge, kenzo said .
Following behind him, Tomo answered,
"Terribly awesome, hey?!"

We climbed up the sharp knife ridge a bit and sat on a rock together.





"what ... we're not going to be able to reach the summit, again?!"

This was our second Wedge climb, and now we realized we didn't have enough time for last steep and rocky part of North Arete. Since avoided that last difficult part, we started climbing from the west and traversed north to find a better way to the ridge. As a result, we came all the way again to North Arete.

We checked the time and calculated the time to climb there and the time needed to get down. 

"too late..."

We were lost in thought... then... .

"Let's go down."


We had to put an end to our challenge . 
Having a light meal , we looked up at the top. We had gotten much closer to the difficult part this time. The rough wall looked more and more overwhelming, and were even more as vexed. We grumbled. We shouted. We wanted to go to the top so much. We tried to make funny faces and tried to laugh it off like crazy; otherwise we'd start to cry. We put on an unconcerned air to hide our tears. Still, we didn't miss the fact that our lips were quivering.

"We'll come back and climb there next year."
"Of course. We won't miss getting to the top then."

Our second challenge on Wedge Mountain came to an end. Still, we know better than to go back home miserable. Descending was as fantastically crazy, of course.

'When you face something big, you have to be patient. If you let circumstances overwhelm you, then you are beaten. The summit is just one part of a mountain. The summit is not the whole mountain but a whole mountain wouldn't be complete without it. A fantastic adventure starts the moment you take a step up a mountain.' 












PS We didn't take many photos this time. It was so beautiful but too dangerous to stop to take the photo. Still, we have some here.
Photo gallery!!

Oct 7th & 8th 2012
Kenzo Nosaka & Tomohiro Tango


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