Jeremy JONES: DEEPER - The Alps, Going for Gold, Round 2

Xavier DE LE RUE

Jeremy JONES: DEEPER - The Alps, Going for Gold, Round 2

Riders in this news : 

" Everything was going as planned.  We did the 3Am rappel, climbed to the col, down climbed into “no mans land,” crossed under multiple seracs, climbed over half a dozen bergschrundsand and just as we made it over our last barrier and were getting ready to hammer down to the peak we realized it was not going to happen today.

The problem was the wind, ALWAYS THE WIND! It was keeping the upper half of the line frozen which would mean we would be riding hard snow on a 50 degree slope over exposure.  The tricky part was that the bottom half of the line was warming up fast and would need to be ridden in the next two hours so we could not wait for the possibility of the top warming up later in the day.  There was also the serac and glacier issue that complicated things.  We wanted to be out from under the seracs and off the glacier by 11AM before things heated up and the mountains did their daily shedding.

If we went any higher and things did warm up we would have had to been rescued with the heli.  Two out of the three of us felt good about things but we had to stay together so the decision was made to pull back.  The hard part was we were in the gnarliest place I have ever been and our options to get home safe were either cross under the multiple seracs we had crossed before the sun came up and climb up the now heated up two faces we descended, or navigate our way down the most ridiculously featured glacier I have ever attempted to ride through.  We opted for the glacier, tied ourselves 30 meters apart and quickly but methodically belayed and rode our way down the edge of the glacier.

Everything went as planned and a few hours later after a long hike down the scree field made it back to town.  It is always hard turn back but it is something I like to make a habit of doing.  “Just say no, do not have an agenda, listen to the mountains,” are all things I tell myself over and over again as I go into the mountains.  Riding big lines is very complex, twenty things need to go right and today we had 19 on our side but that was not enough.  It is one big “feel out” and one of us was not feeling it today.  You do not ride critical lines with bad feelings in your gut no matter what.

We did not achieve our objective today but we achieved our goal and that is to come home safe.  Once in town we heard the sobering news of Karine Ruby’s death on a glacier not far from where we were today.  Over a hundred people a year die in these mountains a year and most of them are experienced mountaineers following protocol.  I am bummed we did not get our line but the trip surpassed all my expectations.  The mountains are not going anywhere and either am I.  I will back to try my luck in the wonderfully complex game of big mountain riding next year.  Live to ride another day! "

Jeremy JONES

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