Most recent trip: September 2, 2015 (with Geoff Hardy)
Trip time: 3 hours 45 mins
Elevation Gain: 851m
Difficulty: Difficult with a few tricky spots and sweet exposure
(from July 28, 2014)
Getting to Mount Arethusa’s summit is a straightforward (albeit hands on) affair. The ridge gets pretty hairy in places but its all very manageable. I expected the ridge crux to be gnarlier than it was…the true crux of this trip is the descent gully. That’s where the outing went sideways on me. Big time.
Down-climbing from the summit to the notch was a snap. Descending the first 75m of the gully was a blast until I hit ice and snow. I foolishly continued descending on and beside the ice and snow for about another 50m until I came to a big boulder lodged in the center of the gully. This is where the pieces of ropes and slings are. Somehow I managed to navigate around the obstacle but it was very slippery on the ice and snow. About 75m below this (I was watching my altimeter) the snow became so significant safe passage was not possible. There was a 5ft deep strip in the center of the gully and it had pulled away from the sides leaving a 6 inch crevasse 5 feet deep in places rimmed with a crust of ice, not ideal terrain for a steep descent. I clung to shoddy holds for about 5 mins pondering my options (about 8:30pm). I finally made the right decision and climbed back to the summit. It was extremely challenging to climb back up to the dry portion of the gully. I didn’t even take a pic at the craziest part of the descent, true testament to my precarious position.
Once at the summit I retraced my steps quickly enough to make it off the ridge by sundown. By the time I made it back to the woods it was pitch black but I was so happy to be alive and able bodied I didn’t care. I came very close to spending a night in the Arethusa descent gully or worse. If the gully has any ice or snow in it I’d turn around immediately next time. To the 2014 season Arethusa hopefuls: if you plan on descending the gully I’d give it till Aug 15 at least, there was a good 200m strip of ice and snow left in the gully.