Mount Nestor attempt IV Ė March 20, 2005

Mountain height:  2,975 m (9,758 ft)
Elevation gain:      1,250 m (we came up 2 vertical metres short of the summit)
Ascent time:          
Descent time:        2.50        

Snowshoeing and scrambling with Mark.

Nestor - 4 Nugaraís - 0: thatís the final score of our winter attempts at summitting Mount Nestor. Unfortunately, it took us four tries to finally get to a point on the mountain where it became obvious that this mountain is not a good candidate for a winter ascent Ė at least not the final 2 vertical metres anyway.

We gambled that the very optimistic forecast on The Weather Network was going to be correct, even though the satellite photo didnít seem to agree, and set off once again across frozen Spray Lake. Of the four possible ascent routes - the exciting and more challenging south ridge, Kaneís ascent gully, Kaneís descent gully, and our descent route of two weeks ago - only the latter was feasible. With a fair amount of new snow, the south ridge was too dangerous, and both of Kane routes would have put us in potential avalanche traps. Although there was some avalanche concern on our route (ascending slopes to the west of Kaneís alternate descent route), it was definitely the safest of the four options. 

Near the beginning, we were encouraged by periods of beautiful blue skies and hoped the good weather would hold. The false summit was shrouded in cloud, but we were fairly optimistic the sun would burn off the low-lying clouds. While the route was reasonably safe, it was also torturously long and grueling, due to the deep, fresh snow. Snowshoes helped in places, but travel with them was far too slow and we chose to abandon them as soon as we made it onto rockier terrain. Surprisingly, we both found it to be one of our most physically demanding ascents to date.   

Unfortunately, the clouds in all directions refused to move above 2,700 metres and four and a half long hours into the trip we ascended into the thick mist. Visibility was reduced to about 50 metres. The amazing scenery that we had seen on our first three attempts was quickly replaced by a wall of complete whiteness.

At this point, our pace was also depressingly slow due to fatigue. It took us about 5 hours to finally surpass the point we had reached two weeks earlier. We reached the ridge, shortly after, to a very bleak situation. A sizeable cornice lined the airy east face, visibility had further deteriorated, due to a strong west wind and blowing snow, and the temperature had plummeted. We cautiously continued on until we reached the false summit, a mere 2 vertical metres short of the true summit. Unfortunately, a fairly serious downclimb (in the present weather conditions) and traverse separated us from those 2 metres. Although equipped with enough climbing gear to attempt the traverse, we would have had to set up an anchor just to edge out onto the cornice enough to see the downclimb. With the dicey conditions and no possibility of a decent summit view, there was no reason to make the effort. We left, quite disillusioned.

Only some more beautiful scenery, below 2,700 metres, and a speedy and exhilarating Crazy Carpet ride down the west slopes, saved this dismally disappointing day. That little sheet of plastic is the best 99 cents Iíve ever spent!   

Near the beginning of the south west slopes


Heading up Kane's alternate descent route; we eventually made our way to the far left to avoid the potential avalanche trap ahead


Still optimistic about the weather...


....not so optimistic about the weather. Trying to brave the cold at the false summit.


The view of the true summit from the false summit; the cornice in the foreground prevented us from going any further


Descending the false summit ridge in whiteout conditions


Visibility starts to improve around 2,700 m


More of the descent


Mark demonstrates perfect form, as he skillfully ascends 5.10 rock wearing mountaineering boots, mitts, a Crazy Carpet in one hand, and snowshoes on his backpack.

Click HERE to see our first attempt
Click HERE to see our second attempt
Click HERE to see our third attempt

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