by Sebastien Galisson, Moise Sutter and Eric Wintenberger
PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 PART 4
The next day was our final day on the ridge but also the scariest. We left at 8 am from Camp 3. I was kicking steps in the snow-covered ice on the steep slope below Camp 3, when suddenly a big slab next to me started sliding down. I just had the time to yell "Avalanche!" before holding tight on my iceaxes. Fortunately, the slab was small and we nervously followed its track on that slope. After slowly and patiently downclimbing the first knife-edge ridge, we arrived at Camp 2 for a break after 6 hours of stressing climbing. Seb took over the lead for the next section down to Camp 1. The going was slow as he had to clear out most of the rocks from snow before finding the holds. I was already scared about the snow conditions on the slope leading below Camp 1 to the glacier. The snow was very soft, at one point Seb fell all the way to his shoulders in the slope! We wanted to go down as fast as possible, but it took us a good two hours to make it down that slope safely. The snow bridge we had used on the way up had melted and the bergschrund was completely open. Seb decided to rappel above a section filled with ice and snow and set up his anchor with a snow picket before we arrived. He started rappelling down the overhanging ice face, when suddenly his snow picket pulled out and he fell on his back. Moise and I were scared to death for our friend but he quickly reassured us. He had fallen when he was only one meter above the ground. After lowering our packs, Moise and I rappelled off two snow pickets hammered into more decent snow. Upon reaching the glacier, we were all exhausted after 14 hours of scary downclimbing. However, Mount Logan was not finished with us yet. As I led on the glacier, a snow bridge collapsed under my weight while I was probing it and I fell 5 meters into the depths of a crevasse! Fortunately, my friends stopped my fall and I climbed back up the side of the crevasse with my iceaxes and crampons. After climbing out, I was physically and mentally exhausted... After walking like zombies for two more hours, we reached Base Camp at 11.45 pm and went to bed at 1 am after pitching the tent and eating.
The next day, we slept late and Moise found the radio left at Base Camp
by Andy. We managed to call that same evening and passed the message that
we were ready to be picked up, stressing that Seb had frostbitten toes.
Seb had developed mild frostbite on his right big toe, probably due to
his feet getting cold repetitively. We had medicine to temporarily take
care of his foot in our first-aid kit and he was in good spirits... We
celebrated our success with cookies and sips of Chartreuse and Fireball...
We eventually had to wait for 3 days before the weather improved and Andy
finally managed to fly. On our third radio contact on June 3, the weather
on the ridge had cleared sufficiently for Andy to fly in and land at Base
Camp. We packed in a hurry and managed to fit everybody in his plane. The
flight out was amazing, the views on the Saint-Elias range breathtaking
and the glaciers endless... These mountains left a lasting impression on