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County HighPointers - EOG Magazine 2 Q 03 Dave Covill (Page 5)

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County HighPointers - EOG Magazine 2 Q 03 Dave Covill
2nd QUARTER 2003
Continued from previous page
We ended up spending a total of about 70 straight
hours over 14,000 feet. The sun is always present,
sometimes dipping below the horizon from NW to NE
and from about 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., but it's always there,
always light enough to read, even light enough to read
your watch in the tent at 1 a.m., about the darkest hour.
June 8 (Day 7). Off we went, Dick and I roped up,
Gerry, Larry, and Jobe roped up ahead of us. It was
clear, albeit windy, but Gerry guessed right, luck and
Mother Nature were on our side, and the wind died
down to nil by noon. We left at 9 a.m. and made our
way west and up to the plateau between Bona (16,500
feet) and Churchill (15,600 feet), its neighbor a few
miles to the east. At 14,500 feet, this is a new altitude
record for me. Everyone else in the group had been
over 20,000 feet before. Mt. Whitney in California is
14,495 feet, as high as you can get in the continental
U.S. without jumping out of a plane. We moved
onward towards Mt. Bona, and by 1 p.m. we were at
the shoulder, about 15,000 feet, where it turned from
inclined plateau to real mountain. Here, we stashed our
snowshoes and trekking poles, in favor of crampons
and ice axes. Still beautiful weather, and we were able
to see far east into Canada.
Remember the first paragraph of this story? I return
The crew gets its first peek of their final destination as the peak of Mt. Bona rises above the horizon.
the reader to that very same spot now. High on the
shoulder of Mt. Bona, turning from northwest to due
west, at 15,500 feet. Nice day to be on a mountain.
2:30 p.m. Day 7. The wind has picked up a bit, and
we see clouds below us to the west, in the direction the
wind is coming from. We're at 15,750 feet. We are
beyond the steep stuff, and slowly walking upward
across sastrugi, which is wind swept snow, firmed and
then carved by a winter of wind. Looks like we're at
Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Except, of
course, that it's snow, and it's maybe 15-20 degrees
outside, and blowing 15-20 mph as well. No biggie.
2:45 p.m. Day 7. We're at 16,000 feet, and the end
would be in sight, except that in about 15 minutes we've
gone from broad daylight to light snow, darker, colder,
windier, lonelier. No big deal, I think; we have wanded
the upper mountain well, and we're almost there.
3:15 p.m. Day 7. We arrive on top. A bit anti-
climatic, as it's the end of a ridge, and the snow appears
to simply head increasingly steeply downhill from here
to the west. We take photos, high five each other, and
turn to go. I remember to whip out the EOG and
Highpointers Club banners, and someone takes my
picture with them. Cool.
3:30 p.m. Day 7. We head down. We should be
Continued on next page

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