As we moved higher, the fog thickened. Nancy Rich, Helen and I began putting in wands on the off chance we’d be descending this route. As the trail gained the summit plateau, called the Tableland, flat and featureless, the grade eased off and the route was marked by cairns.
Whiteout spindrift avalanches, the cold temperature and bulletproof ice all made the climbing slow and progress doubtful as I skirted around the right side of some horizontal ice roofs. I prayed Dave wouldn’t fall following this pitch: my gear was in questionable, shattered ice, and I was belaying above the crux from my seventy-centimeter wooden-shafted ice axe, which I had pounded into the turf forty feet back from the top of the pitch.