A Few Unfortunate Things, One Beautiful Day
I guess I should have realized we were in a bit deeper than safety would allow after the second round of gale-force winds nearly dropped me to the ground. In that moment, I silently thanked myself for leaving my skis at the previous clearing. The snowshoes I was now wearing would have become very inconvenient sails had I still been packing them on my back. I looked back at Andy and tried to silently communicate my exasperation at the conditions before realizing that I had bundled my entire face up in an effort to prevent more ice from stinging my face. I decided to simply shrug before trudging a few more steps toward our yet-unseen objective: the summit of the beautiful Diamond Peak.
As I lifted each snow-laden foot out of the billowing snowpack, I took slow inventory of what dominos hadn’t fallen as we’d intended… one, downed trees and knee deep snow prevented us from coming anywhere near the trailhead, adding what had ended up being 5 miles to the approach, two, my left ski binding had snapped apart one mile up the trail, three, we had missed the trailhead due to heavy snowpack and no signage and had to backtrack a short ways, four, the GPS was dead, five, I had hastily forgotten to swap out the GoalZero charging cable for the one that actually charged phones, six, it was 2:45pm and the sky was already starting to turn, seven, what we had expected to at least be slightly consolidated snow was cracking in slow slabs in front of us and we weren’t even out of the trees yet…
I stopped again and looked up toward the shapeless cloud hiding the summit. Andy walked up next to me and we began acknowledging that between the negative temps, the quickly-becoming-apparent avalanche risk and the fact that the mountain was very obviously ready to throw whatever it could at us to encourage us to turn around (I’d already had a massive pile of icy snow dumped on my head and we’d been experiencing increasingly-powerful winds as the day had gone on), we should probably head back.
As we spoke, we got one of our few brief glimpses at the summit ridge, so close yet so far away. Another tree dropped a massive load of snow onto the ground next to us and we turned back, watching our trail wipe itself further and further into oblivion with each gust of wind.