13 May 2001 - by Steve Bonowski
Yesterday's HAMS conditioner was a pleasant experience for all. An early
start; about 7:00 AM; allowed us to get some good crampon practice going
up St. Mary's Glacier. The snow was reasonably solid although it probably
didn't get that cold Friday night. We kept crampons on continuing across
the flats towards the summit area. There were a few weak, or even bare,
places. But we stayed on snow for the most part. We did the steep route up
almost direct towards the summit area as it mimics the traverse below the
lower east summit of Elbrus. We took crampons off in a bare area, but could
have left them on as we went around the corner and saw a perfect snow slope
going up James' south face.
On the return, the snow on the flats was softening, but the going was not
bad enough to require snowshoes, although all but one in our party had
them (two had skis and used those for a quick descent. The upper part of
St. Mary's was still decent, but the lower 300' was "mashed potato"
consistency. If it wasn't so short a stretch, we would have donned the
snowshoes at this point.
Weather was perfect with just a few scattered clouds & a light breeze.
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