Dave and I continue to enjoy our field days with the HAMS course. We ended up back at St. Mary’s Glacier on Saturday for some additional snow travel practice. As the “young” group we seem to pride ourselves on flying through the required practice stations. We started the day under a bluebird sky and quickly made our way through a marked course simulating roped glacier travel. Dave and I were roped up with two other guys for this and its too bad we don’t have a picture of all four together since Chris is at least 6’6″ and Ricardo might break 5′ with his boots and crampons on.
Our second obstacle course included navigating up a steep slope with a series of running belays and protection while still roped up. With a little patience and communication we managed to get the hang of it. This led into some additional self-arrest practice. The snow was much more compact this weekend so we got some speed and really had to work to stop ourselves. Dave continues to throw himself down the slope like he was attacking a ski slope but also does a great job of stopping himself. Unfortunately the score at the end of the day was crampons 1 – pants 0.
My favorite part of the day was using an ascender through a steep mixed rock and snow course. This was an entirely new method of travel for me and it was fun figuring out how to get into a rhythm of travel that was also safe. We wrapped up the day down in the trees as the weather deteriorated and got snowy and windy. Time for some Z-pulley practice and making snow anchors. Our instructor was really impressed with how quickly and efficiently we set up the pulley system!
After a full day we headed to BeauJo’s, a great restaurant in Idaho Springs with tasty and filling pizza complete with good conversation and lots of swapping of mountain stories.