Tellot Glacier, Various Activity and New Routes. Dead. Not even a flicker when you turn it on. It was time to go home—not the planned time, not the scheduled time, but nonetheless, it was time.
Mike Spagnut, Mark Hartley, and I were flown to Plummer Hut on the Tellot Glacier and packed a week’s worth of food to a beautiful sheltered campsite on a rock knoll above the Cataract Icefall. We were a disjointed group for most of the trip: Mark was brooding over his love life and seemed ambivalent about the climbing, Mike was suffering from altitude but was still really driven to do a big route, and I was on holidays. The first week was low energy; we climbed the East Ridge of Stiletto, the West Ridge of McCormick and a short new route on the southeast side of Shand. The week culminated in an 11 p.m. start to get solid ice for the Northeast Face of Sera III—and it was well worth it!
After the mid-trip trudge back to the hut to get our cached food and run up the ultra classic West Ridge of Claw Peak, a day enlivened by my plunge 15 feet down a crevasse, we looked at our options. We chose a shorter line that we thought would go in one day, and Mike decided to sit it out and take a rest day.
The next dawn, Mark and I started up the prominent 650-meter buttress on the northeast face of Shand. We found many pitches of fourth-and low-fifth-class leading to where the buttress narrows and becomes more defined. It was good rock with solid pro and relatively clean for six to eight pitches (up to 5.9). The crux was high up in a right-facing corner: an unfortunate moss mantle in an otherwise stunning pitch. The rib ends in a small gendarme that marks the “Kitty Litter” pitch, which is a broad horizontal band of poor-quality rock that crosses the entire face. Mark, being a Rockies climber, merrily trundled across this to the base of the final headwall. Some ledges and 80 meters of 5.8 squeeze chimney led to the summit rim. A short walk down the central snowfield dropped us back to our tracks on the glacier and the trail home.
After that climb we had time left, but no motivation. We hiked back to Plummer and tried the radio to call for a pick-up, but it had been left on. Bailing wire, duct tape, a Petzl headlamp battery, two double As, and some prayer.…
“Plummer Hut to Whitesaddle?” (Please work, please work, please work, please work!)
“Whitesaddle to Plummer. Go ahead.”
Lorne Hoover, Canada