On March 24, 2007 Wietse and I returned to the Livingstone Range to bag some more peaks. Our objectives this time were Hailstone Butte and Sentinel Peak. As we drove up the steep road to Teardrop Lake we were a bit nervous. The wind was howling at the pass and there were dark grey clouds closing in around us with snow coming down. We stepped out of the car and immediately got right back in! The wind was so strong we could hardly stand up in it - and this is the PARKING LOT! ;-)
The defeatist talk started. Did we really want to summit in this crappy weather? Was it really worth going up in this wind? Would we even stand a chance? Finally I asserted that I wasn't driving 2 hours there and 2 hours back again just to do nothing so why not at least put our gear on and give it a shot? Ok then. We reluctantly started getting our gear on. Wietse gave a nervous look back at his car as we started up the slope above the parking lot - he wasn't sure if it would blow into the pond or not. I'm not kidding.
The wind was to be a major factor all day but in between furious gusts we actually experienced some moments of relative calm. The weather also steadily improved around us and as we hiked up to the col beneath Hailstone's summit we had a partly sunny sky above us with lots of cloud to the west. We followed Andrew's route which skirted the cliffs just below the summit due to icy conditions. The traverse across the steep avi slope wasn't much better but at least the snow gave some more stable footholds.
[A look back down the approach gully shows the weather that we started with.]
[Wietse navigates the steep avi slope under the cliffs below the summit of Hailstone Butte.]
[A better view of the steep slopes we had to traverse. There was no hazard because it had already slid off!]
Once up above the avi slope we headed up to climber's left and traversed just above the cliffs to the summit. The wind was absolutely amazingly strong at the top and we struggled just to get behind the lookout! They must really build these lookouts strongly because you would think that constant exposure to 100+ km/h wind would eventually blow those suckers all the way into Saskatchewan.
[A view north towards Sentinel Peak after topping out on Hailstone Butte.]
[Vern at the summit of Hailstone Butte.]
We quickly snapped some photos and then the debate about whether or not to continue over to Sentinel Peak started. It didn't take long to decided that we were there now, we might as well get some more exercise and at least do the hike to the base of Sentinel. If the wind was too strong we would simply turn back. Yeah right.