In the morning, we woke lazy and lethargic. Slow going to get ready, slow going to make breakfast. The area we planned to climb was a wall left of the taller proper North Face and its top was the Northeast Ridge. We found a line we hoped to climb and promptly started up it, though unfortunately it was already well past noon. We climbed till dark then decided to head back to camp and try again another day. On thin ice and compact rock, and small doubled-up V threads and short knifeblades, we rapped into the cold & dark and eventually arrived back at basecamp in the middle of the night.
Over the next two days we rested, anticipating a light storm during this time. Our basecamp was in an unbelievable location. What it lacked in comfort it certainly made up for in beauty. With no sun, life in camp was a cold and stark environment. Hoar frost began to grow on every single surface. Our tent, hardware, & equipment bags were covered in white crystals. It was rather inhospitable. About fifty feet (15m) from our tents, a small glacial pond had a frozen surface of a few inches. Learning of this pond, we started chucking rocks onto it to see how thick it was. Solid! Austin hacked out a small hole just wide enough for an upright Nalgene and now we enjoyed the luxury of having water that we didn’t need to make from snow.
Beyond camp, views of stunning mountain features surrounded us. Mount Moffit’s North Face towered over the valley, its summit 8,000 feet (2438m) above. In the centre of the face, “Entropy Wall” stood as proud as a castle. It is one of the most powerful looking walls any of us had ever seen. The mountain’s great Northeast and Northwest shoulders stood over us on each side and the imposing cirque was frozen solid. Looking west, Mount Hayes’ East Faces rose more than 6,500 feet (1981m) from the West Branch of the glacier. Mount Hayes’ twin summits were silhouetted in the evening by pink & golden light. They stuck out from the skyline like great beacons; its shadowed faces dark hues of blue and grey.
Looking North, the Trident Glacier buckled in a short icefall before dropping off out of sight below. The great tundra of Interior Alaska was off in the distance and, in its autumn form, appeared like shades of tans and browns on rolling hills and benches. Smaller peaks stacked in an unbroken chain off the East Ridge of Mount Hayes blocked our view to the Northwest. The main flow of the Trident Glacier now guarded us from any other area. Long crevasses, one after another, made up even the flat ground. Rocks scattered across it and lateral moraines along its sides. At night, the stars were out by the billion. Stuffing our feet into our boots, we’d rise from the tent in puffy pants and parkas to gaze upward at the sky. Faint bands of the Northern Lights sometimes hung high to the North in a dull green. The milky way stretched horizon to horizon.