After ascending Mount Ball we decided to give Beatrice Peak a go. It seems very minor compared with the bulk of Ball, but it's an impressive height on it's own. It's only 25 meters lower than Stanley Peak.
From the col it only took us a few minutes and we were on the second windless peak of the day. Our two followers soon joined us but since they were going all the way back to the parking lot they bailed off the summit very quickly. I'm sure they had an interesting descent considering one of them was cramping up already on Mount Ball! We encouraged them to give the alternate descent gully a shot. We figured if it didn't go we would probably find out this way! Aren't we nice people?
Based on Dave Stephen's trip report that Andrea had printed out we were pretty certain it would go (Dave did it when it was full of snow.)
The views from Beatrice were still very good, but not quite the quality of Mount Ball. After another relaxing summit stay we decided that since the other two guys hadn't come back they were either stuck in the gully or they made it out already. We proceeded down the west side of Beatrice to the col above the gully and scoped out the route. It looked fabulous, but rather loose.
We scree-skied down the gully until hitting a snow patch which we glissaded and boot-skied before resuming on large scree. This descent gully is much quicker than retracing your ascent route through the waterfall and probably safer too - assuming you have a brain bucket on. The gully is full of very loose rock and rockfall is a hazard here. The good news is that it's a short exposure to any hazards.
We leisurely made our way back to our bivy drop before lugging our gear back up to a perfect bivy site about .5km past the tree line where there was a rock kitchen set up, complete with chair, table and cooking area! A small stream briefly surfaced just under a nearby rock wall before plunging back into the rock - this is possibly the best bivy site you'll find in the area, but it's wide open so maybe not so good if it's windy or raining.
Supper never tasted so good! I found the perfect little depression in the ground to sleep in and couldn't wait to get into my warm sleeping bag! After supper I spent a couple of hours wandering around the karst pavement above our camp, trying to get some video and pictures of the marmot population. One little guy was not very smart. Every time he poked his head out I would scare him. Each time he would get too curious and come back out! I did this 20 times and he kept coming back for another peek. Small minds are easily amused I guess (I'm not referring to the marmot here).
Sunset was amazing. The whole world turned pink for about 5 minutes.
So and I stayed up late to get some star pictures. I should have done some research on how to do this better. Next time I'll be better prepared with more batteries.
While we were gone two other guys came up and set up their bivy next to ours. They were going after Mount Ball on Sunday and had taken over 6.5 hours to get through the approach. Mount Ball was becoming a pretty popular place!
After getting into my warm sleeping bag around 2230 I was mesmerized by the incredible night sky. A few meteors only added to the incredible view of the Milky Way and stars that seemed so close I could touch them. I have never seen a sky quite like that. Absolutely incredible - it made the trip worth it right there.
I fell asleep and slept like a baby until 0600 when my alarm told me it was time to pack camp and head over to ascend Stanley Peak.
Looking back at Mount Ball and the crux section on the ridge while we traverse back to Beatrice. Our ascent slope is out of sight to the right of this photo.
Group shot at the summit L-R So, Andrea, Eric and Vern:
The descent gully:
It is steep and loose but much faster than the ascent route:
Walking back to the bivy site across the karst pavement:
Eating supper under a warm sun and no wind!
Flowers near the bivy site:
After supper I visited with some friendly marmots. They love the karst pavement because it's endless options for home building!
Prayer flags and Mount Ball from a peaceful spot above our bivy site:
Sunset on Mount Ball and Beatrice Peak:
Sunset on our bivy:
The last rays of sun promise us a nice day for Stanley...