Elfin Lakes 05/12/09

Rob M. at Elfin Lakes:
“From the snow-free parking lot we boot walked easily on compacted snow to the Red Heather hut. On snowshoes now, we took the extra wide poled traverses up Paul Ridge and to the winter route crossing some active and icy steep slopes before gaining the open ridge top with the eye-popping views as we approach the hut 6 km away. Three-and-a-half hours from parking lot to the Elfin Lakes, we drop our gear in the near-empty hut, carb up and head out. We sight a long line above the numerous gullies and below avalanche debris leading to the saddle. From the south end of the Columnar Peaks we gain a small shoulder where breaking a crusty trail, fierce winds and waning light force us back into the shelter for some fine wine, food and cards. A plan to be back at the trailhead by 3 pm and a persistent overnight howl didn’t hold us back from being on the trail at 8 am the next day, aiming at the south Columnar Peaks. Shortly before gaining the south ridge we realized the crust is getting thicker and that a fall might end up in a toboggan run into the hikers-hereafter-forevermore. We opt for a single line of tree wells leading close to the south peak. Out of the trees, we’re down on all fours buffeted by gale force winds along a very narrow exposed ridge to the peak for a harrowing but impressive 360. Returning, we take the aggressive gluteus line for the longest ass-wiping ever. We’re out of the hut by 1 pm. After two short breaks and one face-plant we’re back in the parking lot by 3 pm for pitchers and buffalo burgers you know where.”

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