Forester Pass is hard to discern from a distance. We spent miles trying to figure out where the trail was taking us. Through boulders and sand and snow, we distracted ourselves wondering which spot on the horizon, which was quickly enclosing us in an earthwnware bowl of jagged grey cliffs, would allow an escape to the snowy north side of the mountain. Everyone was breathing well as we topped 12,000, 12,500, 13,000. Finally, a little steep set of well-designed switchbacks built on salvaged slabs of rock appeared next to a chute of snow which had distracted our eyes from it. End of the line. Everyone survived that final ascent. Hugs all around. Even lunch at 13,200.
Then down. Snow patches, boulder fields, disappearing trail. I fell for the first time on the trail, twice. Luckily, the postholing was minimal; we planned well for snow softness. Snow dissipated eventually, jagged rocks replacing it. We all had aching knees and feet when we reached Middle Vidette campground.
A huge shark tooth of a peak pokes out through the trees above my bivy. I ate my last dinner, thoroughly unsatisfied with it. Hugs and Pockets just appeared, letting us know that a helicopter had been searching for Charlie. Dammit. All we wanted was oxygen and a health assessment. He will sort it out tomorrow, I'm sure.