by Sebastien Galisson, Moise Sutter and Eric Wintenberger
PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4
After a few days of perfect weather, we went up to Camp 5 above a sea of clouds slowly covering the glacier below. After climbing among icefalls, crevasses and steep snow slopes, we reached the windswept Camp 5 at 4700 m, just at the edge of the summit plateau. From there on, the temperatures dropped significantly and the wind became a constant companion. While cooking that night, we debated whether to get a rest day or move on, and decided to go to Camp 6 the next day if the weather held. Waking up with a sea of clouds below us, we crossed the summit plateau, finding our way between crevasses and marking it with the wands we had brought with us. The clouds got higher and soon enveloped us. We were lost in a whiteout and at one point had to wait for 20 minutes for the clouds to dissipate before resuming our climb because we knew we were in a crevassed zone. After crossing a few more crevasses (some of them huge), we set up camp at 5200 m, in the bowl at the bottom of the East Summit of Mount Logan. The next day was spent in our sleeping bags resting and dealing with our headaches while a storm raged outside.
In the morning of May 29, the clouds cleared and we found ourselves far above a sea of clouds once again. We decided to use this potential weather window, as we did not know what the weather would be like in the next few days, so we left camp at 9 am to the summit. We crossed the bowl to the skyline ridge leading to the summit. The climbing was not very hard, but we all felt the altitude and were going slowly. After a while, the slope got a bit steeper (45 degrees) and we also had to deal with deep snow in places. The clouds once more hid the sun and it soon started to snow. We kept climbing as the conditions degraded because we knew we were almost at the top. The temperature dropped sharply to -25 and at one point I stopped feeling my toes. I was considering turning back and asked Seb if we were far from the summit. He told me we were almost there and a bit of sunshine through the clouds warmed up my feet so we continued. We reached the East Summit (5930 m) around 2 pm and celebrated with hot drinks carried in our bottles. We were disappointed with the weather, because we were really hoping to see the Pacific Ocean and Mount Saint-Elias from the summit! However, we could see maybe 100 yards away and it kept snowing. After half an hour on the top, we headed down to Camp 6, which we found thanks to our GPS because we were lost in the middle of the plateau in a whiteout...
The next day, although tired but happy, we decided to go down. We were planning to do the descent in two days, one down from Camp 6 to Camp 3, and the following one all the way to Base Camp. We left above a sea of clouds once more, and soon had traversed the plateau to Camp 5, after which we downclimbed some steep slopes loaded with a foot and a half of new snow. We were worried about avalanche conditions but our descent went without incident. Just above Camp 4, we met the 2 other teams who were following one day behind us at the bottom, but had now lost several days because they were stuck in bad weather while we kept climbing above the clouds. After exchanging greetings, we wished them good luck and continued downclimbing towards Camp 3. Going down the second knife-edge ridge was slow but okay, and then we rappelled down the steep ice slope below it. We arrived to Camp 3 after 10 hours of downclimbing and dug a new platform for our tent in the fresh snow.