Yet another trip up the Duffey Lake Road, this time a few kms beyond Marriot Basin, which we had gone to the previous weekend. The route to Keith’s hut is in the forest for the most part, but it is very mellow. There were a few entertaining creek crossings, and soon enough we arrived to the cozy hut. Apparently the hut can be very crowded on the weekend. In fact, I had read a report written by someone who had spent the night with three dogs on the bottom floor.
For this reason we brought tents, but in the end didn’t use them. It had started raining not long before, so we decided to spend the night at the hut, and in the end we had the hut to ourselves. After lunch it was raining steadily and visibility was poor. We gathered our optimism and headed out into the rain, hoping that the weather would improve and we would to make it to the top of the Anniversary Glacier. At this point it became apparent why Klara and Stan had asked us already two weeks before if we’d like to go to Keith’s hut. It was their 11th Anniversary, and they wanted to spend it on the Anniversary Glacier…
We skinned up the ridge behind the hut, through the forest and then out of the trees, to an area known as Motel 66, since it’s flat, has excellent views and is at an elevation of 6600 feet. From there we had planned to cross over and continue up the glacier. Given the rain which was continuous since we left the hut, and the close to white out conditions we decided to make our way back. However, first I explored whether we could ski down the glacier directly from there, but we really couldn’t see the route ahead, and there was enough avalanche debris to make us feel uneasy (with all the rain to load the slopes). We eventually decided to ski down the ridge, the safest route. The snow was wet and heavy, but it was still semi-enjoyable, and way better than sitting on our asses at home. We had some celebratory drinks at the hut for the Anniversary couple: Klara and Stan’s champagne, James’ coconut rum, and Julian’s apricot schnapps (those Euros love their alcohol).
We went to bed holding our fingers for better weather (and snow). I woke up and took a look through the window, but it looked like a used white sheet at a cheap motel, so we took our time getting up. The warm weather and rain had at least one advantage – no need to melt snow for water. We simply positioned a bucket under the drain from the roof, and voila! It was very spoiling. After a long breakfast, we finally went outside and after some deliberation decided to head up to Vantage Peak. Just as we were leaving, the sky cleared and we could see Matier and Joffrey – what glorious peaks they are! Then we spotted three people skinning up the glacier. We all agreed to make another attempt at the Anniversary Glacier. From then on, the weather was perfect, and some of us even got sunburned due to a certain someone’s Chinese sunscreen. We reached the point where we had turned around the day before in no time, and continued on farther. We met up with the other group’s tracks – they had gone directly up the glacier, instead of taking the safer route up the ridge. They track seemed a bit too steep and had too many turns in it, so I made an alternate one. We arrived to the col, from where we had excellent views of Matier, Joffrey, the Matier Glacier, Hartzell, Spetch, and Slalok. We had originally planned to climb Matier, but in our haste we had forgotten the ice axes at the hut. Given the miserable previous day, and the fog in the morning, I don’t think any of us actually expected to get this far.
After a long lunch break, we skied down the glacier. We made some nice turns on the wide beautiful glacier, and then reached the steeper section. Klara and Stan went ahead, but had to bootpack back up when they found themselves on some steep terrain that was sliding. We found a mellower route on the left and continued down. The snow became heavy, so instead of continuing the run to the bottom, we figured we would traverse, cross over the moraine and ski directly back to the hut. Unfortunately, we had to cross some south facing slopes that were sluffing and snowballing and didn’t feel stable. Maya and I considered skiing down the glacier and then skinning back up to the hut, but in the end followed the others. Back at the hut we packed up and had a fast ski down the hard pack in the forest.