CLOSE CALL ON MT ROBSON

Mt Robson is one of those peaks where no matter what route you chose to climb, if you make it to the top, you've done a big thing. In 1981 Jay Wilson and I found our way to the Ralph Forster Hut fully intending to have a go at the Wishbone Arete.

By evening we were back at the hut and I was still wondering how close you can get to the edge without falling over. By-passing a short cliff on the easy ground left of the Great Couloir, we were forced for a second to kick some steps up the gully before moving back to the rocks. Well I never got there. Last thing I remember is a long tumble down the Great Couloir with nothing but my bare hands to effect some kind of self arrest. This was not working and when I did a complete somersault over a small cliff I recall yelling out something to the effect that 'its not gonna happen here'. With an axe I could have easily stopped. Without one (on the back of my pack ... where else!), I was starting to feel unlucky. Jumping up in the air I kept trying to do some kind of boot arrest like a skier would do by getting on his edges. Finally after many such attempts I tried it one last time where there was enough soft snow to bring my slide to a halt. I calmly stepped out of the gully on to a ledge and started shaking uncontrollably. After several minutes of this I yelled up to Jay and he calmly asked if I wanted to return to the hut.

The next day we did a nice variation to the hourglass couloir that brought us out on a long snow slope leading to the Kain Shoulder on the SE Ridge which we followed to the summit.