Apr 17, 2011

The assault on Bomber Mountain - 12, the summit

Wednesday, August 30

We staggered out of our tents at 6:45 am with the mercury thick at 35.  Breakfast was a Country Kitchen husky skillet minimalist affair; eight ounces of pulverized cocoa and two packs of apple insti-oatmeal.  We loaded our daypacks with bulk quantities of Nutter Butters, oatmeal bars and fluids.  I also stuffed the filter so we could pump and drink water, not urine, if we got in trouble.  Fish and I topped off our backpack-mounted hydration systems, Sherpa stuffed two Nalgene bottles full of spring water into his hip pack.  Note: we'll never again hike with Sherpa unless he has a hydration system.  He stopped us every 20 minutes and asked us to unzip his pack, remove the bottle, hand it to him and replace it.  We were pretty much bottle feeding a grown man.

Surveyed the map one last time and planned our ascent to thwart any surprises up Bomber.  Bonus points if all three of us made it to the top and back in one piece.

We hiked two miles to Lake Florence and sucked glacier drink through the filter into bottles.  

It was time to get down to business and climb the mountain.  I put on my game face, cracked knuckles and muttered “Bring it on Bomber, let’s see what you got.” The three of us spread and began the two mile boulder scramble that would take us up 3,000 feet.  

Would we find the crumpled B17 bomber plane up top?  We'd Googled photos of the wreckage from SummitPost.org for months.  Other hikers blogged that they found the plane and posted pics to prove it, but they always seemed to leave out the coordinates of where exactly they spotted it.  We had an idea where the B17 was located, but it would be a tough Easter Egg to dig up unless we lucked and the sun lit up a corner of aluminum. 

We were embarking on an expensive goose chase, fueled by chicken ramen and piles of Nutter Butt's.

The climb grated but wasn't steep enough to require ropes or harness.  Everything was oversized; the rocks, the crevasses, my too-big pants that tried to fall down.  Bomber was putting up some strong resistance to our assault.  

Glance at the photo below, I took this about a third the way up Bomber.  What's your guess on the size of those rocks?  Now zoom in and notice Sherpa in the middle, near the bottom, specked by the boulders.  The rock to the right of him is eight feet high with the girth of a bus or a small whale.

Paused every 15 minutes to check back on my comrades, it wouldn’t be wise to split up too much.  Something minor like a sprained ankle or exploding hemorrhoids could become a big problem if one of us slipped behind a crag out of sight and earshot.  

My hat blew off.

"Hey Fish, have you called the plumber yet to have that crack in the back looked at?"
We squinted and smiled at what we thought was the crest of Bomber.  False alarm, it was a phantom peak.  We climbed higher to another peak, gawked up and saw another.   "Yeah, you move across that little pebbly area, skip up those rocks, and we’ll be there” Fish said. The mountain mind/eye scale illusion was in full effect, as those small pebbles inflated into multi-ton limestone chunks as we got closer. 

My hat blew off.

“Heeerreee plane, where are you??!!” I yelled.  The temp slipped 20 degrees as we rose, with wind whispering at 40 MPH.  A little snow could be found here and there, but not enough to lay down a nice snow angel.  Don’t eat the yellow snow.

I reached the top of Bomber Mountain before noon.  

It was excellent!

Could see Wyoming rock rollout maybe 75 or 100 miles on this hazy day, over 250 miles with a clear sky.  The altitude shrank the large lakes below into small puddles of turquoise ribbon.

Waiting for Fish and Sherpa to pull in, I cupped hands and yelled “Yodel lay he hooo!!”, spun in a circle and sang “The hills are alive, with the sound of music!"

They arrived coated in fatigue a few minutes later.  High fives all around!  

A marmot photographed us, note the look of disgust tossed with sheer pain on Fish's face.  He affixed a death grip on the rock behind.  Inches back was a cliff that plunged a couple thousand feet.  Fish later told me the only thing he could think of at the top was him missing his wife and two daughters, wishing they could be there to experience it with him.  

I think he was also thinking about pooping his pants.

My hat blew off for the last time.

“Sherpa, ready your Canon!” I snapped over the wail of the wind, with a smile and a wink.  It was high time to give the bloody hat a proper farewell, a moment I’d looked forward to since the first time it blew off four days ago.

"Good riddance!" I bellowed while launching it on an unattended journey off the face of God’s rocky Earth.  

It would blow from my greasy scalp no more.  

Maybe Bon Bon the bighorn sheep is bleating around the base of Bomber, showing off his slightly tattered straw hat to his fellow curly-horned brethren. That is, until it sails off 274 times like it did me, and he tramples it to death.

1 comment:

  1. Having been to Wyoming quite a few times, that is the best I've ever seen it look. That Marmot takes good pictures.


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