Vincent Chan-Ying and Emily Kuang
It all began when Vin clicked on the link.
“THE VOC HAS A PEAK BAGGING CHALLENGE AND VALHALLA PURE IS OFFERING PRIZES…”
There was more, but the rest washed over me. Vin gets overzealous about new things at the rate of 1594955 times per day, so I figured this was just another one of these things. Plus, we’d never win so I tuned him out…
Fast forward to May 6: we were napping at Elfin shelter under a sunny yellow Rab 2 person tarp, preparing for our attack. (“I’m worried for you guys,” said a hutgoer of our shelter. As it turned out the cheerily coloured tarp was more than adequate.) According to Vin’s calculations, we could rack up some points and have an awesome weekend starting with a nice sunny mid afternoon nap, the effects of which would mitigate a not-so-nice 3:30 AM wake up.
“What are you guys doing?” we got asked by a friendly bunch of hutgoers whose alcohol count outnumbered them 2:1.
“We’re planning to hit Columnar, Little Diamond Head, and the Gargoyles.”
Vin sounded really confident, a sentiment that I didn’t share but with the Peak Bagging Challenge and an epic weekend on the line, I nodded.
“That’s ambitious,” they replied. “We’re going to have alcohol all night and then wake up whenever….We’ll probably be woken up early around 7 or 8 and then leave but you know when one person wakes up we all do…”
Our 3:30 AM wakeup time came earlier than we wanted. Still, we did our best and were ready by 4:45 AM. We joked about alpine starts, which none of us had actually done before. But, for the Peak Bagging Challenge, we would do it. We figured we’d do our best to avoid avi trouble by leaving early, being wary of cornices, and keeping a safe distance from one another. What we didn’t realize was how icy it’d be. Vin suggested that we bootpack. Indeed the icy snow lent itself more to the hard soles of our boots than the thin edges of our skis. As we slowly but steadily made our way up Columnar, a worthwhile spectacle revealed itself: sunrise.
“Is this the top?” I asked, taking in the view of the frosty landscape. I was a bit frightened from bootpacking up icy snow for the first time.
“Nope,” said Vin. “We don’t get points if we don’t reach the top.”
At 9:00 we reached the top of Columnar.
9:10 Me: “Why are you doing that stupid pose?”
Vin: “You get an extra .5 points if you do a Captain Morgan pose!”
11:10, we reached the top of Little Diamond Head. Had a satisfying ski down under blue skies. Snow is warming up considerably and between tests of snow softness with our poles, we boot our asses back up to go up the nearby Gargoyles.
11:25: “Ow!” While trying to add steeze to his pose, Vin proceeded to punch himself in the shoulder with the handle of his pole.
12:00 PM, we reached the Gargoyles.
12:30 PM, we were basking in the comforting shade of Elfin shelter, journey completed.
The peak bagging challenge is more than a competition. It is a ticket to explore what the VOC has to offer in the summer months when school is out and meet new people while doing new things, even more so than normal. It will amplify the fever of summiting mountains with other like-minded individuals in even the most casually interested and the possibility of 15 minutes of fame atop a peak wearing a flamingo pool floaty.
Whether you’ve summited mountains before or not, here’s your chance. Join masses of school weary students creeping from darkened rooms and climb atop sunny summits.