Our camera froze so no pictures survived, but it was pretty much just like this.
This was 6 years ago today, but the memory still haunts me. We will never be the same, after this near death experience at Rodeo Beach.
We ran for 2+ hours in gradually worsening conditions. Dan’s fashionable running shorts unfortunately proved inadequate for the wind, driving rain, and near freezing temperatures. We were forced to abandon our grandiose plans for a massive ridge traverse linkup as the hurricane force winds threatened to blow us off the ridge, pelting us with freezing rain and spindrift.
Once we gained the main ridge, every exposed surface of our bodies was soon coated with rime ice, inhibiting limb function, while the wind began picking us up and tossing us about like rag dolls. With heavy hearts and beards thick with ice, we reluctantly headed down in a desperate bid for survival. Disappointment and desperation set in when we were unable to locate the high camp the Austrian team had abandoned back in ’75, when 2 members of their party perished.
Dan bravely soldiered on in spite of quickly worsening symptoms of frostbite and severe hypothermia. Meanwhile, I was suffering from the worst case of Low-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (LAPE) either of us had ever seen. However, I selflessly offered Dan my extra hat, enabling him to retain enough heat that his limbs continued to somehow function, and he regaled me with off-color jokes about the disastrous Austrian ascent, enabling me to cough up the worst of the sputum. We rapidly descended the french col, and my coughing subsided with the dramatic change in altitude from 400′ to 150′. After sucking down another Mocha Clif Shot with 25 mg caffeine, we somehow mustered enough energy to continue.
And so it was that, in continually worsening conditions, now soaked to the bone, completely and utterly exhausted from our 2 hour and 18 minute ordeal, we staggered back to the car, heroically and miraculously completing our self-rescue. More than anything, we were thankful to be alive, and glad we had once again escaped the cruel grasp of the reaper. Also, we were happy to have avoided the horrible choice that we would have had to make, had we been out there in those conditions any longer: certain death at the hands of this cruel spring storm, or summoning the courage to ask a middle-aged woman race-walking in capris if we could use her cellphone to call for help.