Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation gain: 960 m View map Download GPS track
Yesterday was graduation day at St. Mary's. I find all social rituals quite tiring, but when I am also required to dress up, wear ritualistic gowns, parade down an aisle while being recorded on hundreds of iPAD's and phones, and then sit on stage trying to remember not to pick my nose for two hours I find it incredibly draining. The best way to recover from this is of course a hike up a mountain, and today we decided that mountain would be Mount Indefatigable, a peak that had defeated us 5 years earlier when we ran out of time on a late afternoon attempt.
Mixed precipitation overnight had many of the mountains on the drive in sporting a new coating of snow and low cloud obscured many summits, but when we arrived at the parking lot Mount Indefatigable was in full sun and had no new snow. With the weather forecast to improve as the day wore on we figured we'd lucked out. As it turned out that luck lasted about one hour, at which time it started to snow heavily. We were about 400 m below the summit at this point and chose to shelter in a thicket of spruce hoping it was just a quick squall, but by the time it started to taper off more than an hour later there were a couple of wet centimeters of snow on everything. We didn't have much hope of summitting at this point, but Sandra was cold and so we figured we might as well plod upwards as that'd warm her up faster than heading down.
As we slowly gained elevation on the very muddy and slippery trail it started to brighten up and about 30 minutes after leaving our shelter we reached treeline and realized that the heat of the sun through the clouds was melting the new snow surprisingly quickly. We were now warmed up, but decided to continue slowly upwards to see if the rapid melting would continue and improve our chances of reaching the summit. While our pace was painfully slow, by the time we reached some minor scrambly sections below the south summit the rocks had dried out nicely. Clouds still enveloped the actual summit and bits of snow still swirled by us, but the patch of blue sky was becoming clearer and larger and the solar radiation was now hot enough that we were both down to just one jacket.
Cresting the summit ridge we were met with a cold and very strong wind, but with a weather contraption marking the "summit" just a short distance away along the broad ridge we didn't think the wind would be a problem. We reached it a few minutes later, but were surprised to see a higher point on the summit ridge perhaps 75 m away sporting a cairn clearly indicating the "actual" summit. While a trail along the now narrow ridge was in excellent shape the exposure to the east was significant and the strong gusty wind made the traverse a bit unnerving. I made it to the cairn, but Sandra had enough just meters from it and I couldn't coax her on in the crazy wind. This was particularly disappointing as it would have been her 100th summit!
As it turns out, however, the cairn I reached isn't even the summit of Mount Indefatigable! I've been far too busy lately and hadn't done any research prior to heading out, but when I uploaded my GPS track when I got home I realized that the true summit is what Kane calls the "North Peak". I'd summitted the "South Peak"! Oh well, given the adversity we'd faced today that's good enough for me!