April 7: Island Peak climb

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We weaved our way through some crevasses and up the glacier to the final headwall before the summit. At about 19,700 ft. we stopped to get a bite to eat, enjoy the view and contemplate our situation.

Ahead of our group were two or three large groups of people, many with little or no climbing experience (we witnessed them learning how to put on crampons and harnesses at base camp.) The headwall has a fixed line, and there were about 20 of them all on the fixed line at the same time. Instead of just using the fixed line as backup protection, they were pulling themselves up on the line. Without knowing the quality of the anchor at the top, but knowing that it was a snow anchor, we decided it would not be a good idea to get on the line until these folks had completely cleared off. We figured it might take two hours. . . and then we would probably have to wait for them to get down before we could come down. I was guessing it would involve a 5-hour round trip to do the last 700 feet.

By this time, the clouds were beginning to build around the summit. By the time we got up, we figured that there wouldn’t be much of a view anyway. We decided we had had such a good day to this point that there was no sense spoiling it by turning it into an epic by coming down late in the day. All but two of us decided to turn around. David and Clay, the two who continued, did manage to make the summit.

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