27-May-94 (Private Trip)
By: Dan Richter
Tom Randel, Leslie Hofherr, Asher Waxman and I stuffed ourselves into my 4Runner and left Thursday afternoon from L. A. with Packs and gear hanging from the roof rack. Talk ranged from snow conditions to Lemurians from the lost land of Mu with sense organs that look like a walnut on their foreheads and live within Shasta. We made Williams and a cheap motel that night about an hour north of Sacramento. Friday morning was glorious and by mid morning we were at the Fifth Season Shop in Shasta buying Tom a new pair of cool gloves and renting a second snow shovel for me. After lunch we drove up to Bunny Flats and we had a leisurely climb up to Helen Lake via the Sierra Club cabin at Horse Flats. We were on snow from just before the cabin. We dug in at Helen Lake, got our tents up and began to melt snow for water and supper. Being ahead of the holiday crowd we only saw four or five other tents.
It was a bit windy that night and as we left camp to climb Avalanche Gulch a little after six we could see clouds above Red Banks. Climbing was easy on crisp corn snow up to Red Banks but as we reached the start of Misery Hill we entered a white out and the winds were quite strong and ice began to form on our clothing and gear. Half way up Misery Hill three climbers passed us and another joined us who was afraid of getting lost. We stopped to evaluate the conditions as gusts were now knocking us down and the ice was close to an inch thick on our clothes and axes. The lone climber wandered on and disappeared in the whiteness. Asher worrying about him followed him in spite of our shouts. Soon the three climbers appeared going down with the lone climber but no Asher. They had passed him in the white out. The wind was getting very strong but I was damned if I was going to leave Asher alone and remembering the John Muir's account of finding shelter by the summit fumaroles we pressed on. The winds abated a bit as we got higher nearing the top of the clouds and soon we saw Asher coming down. We were so close to the summit we decided to Press on and soon we were signing the register,
The icing was so bad that my glacier glasses kept freezing over, and as I was leading, I kept taking them off and putting them under my wind jacket to melt the ice off so I could see the route, Halfway down Misery Hill I realized that I had forgotten to put them back on sometime before the summit. We came out of the clouds at Red Banks and were back in camp by mid afternoon and broke camp and were back at my truck by six.
That night I woke and could not see. My eyes ached and everything was a blur. A doctor at a local hospital bandaged my eyes. We drove home via Burney Falls and Lassen all of which I had to be led around at. My bandaged eyes gave rise to a great deal of humor before they came off the next day (they painted eyes on the bandages among other jests).
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