The most serious climb that I've ever done so far in 2011. Below the treeline, there were signs of cougars around, and I was hiking alone. I attempt this mountain two days before, but turned back below the treeline due to seeing a dead goat’s consumed body (I went off route as well). So today I picked up a bear spray and a knife. So at least I have something to fight if a cougar comes. Near the treeline, I had to post-hole a bit on a bouder field, then scramble straight up towards the Tea House. I didn't follow the trail there, since I wanted to avoid the snow as mush as I could. Before reaching Tea House, I had to step-kicking while traversing a corner, and I was too lazy to take out my crampons for that.
From the tea house, it's a straight scree slog to the summit ridge, where the fun parts began.
The scramble grade jumps up two levels abruptly on the Summit Ridge, from easy to difficult. It's indeed difficult. I've experienced some exposed ridge such as Mt. Rundle's Dragon's Back, but compared to Lady Mac's Summit Ridge, it's really for the beginners. The ridge is somewhat bare on west side, but corniced on east side. The first 30m or so wasn't that bad because I had good hand grips with at least one good foot grip. Before reaching the false summit, I had two options, climbing down then up, or climbing over a extremely exposed section with no good hand grips (because of the snow). I chose to down climb a steep slab crack for 20m, with good holds on left foot and left hand, but only friction holds on right hand side. Then things became tricky since the snow became ice there, and I had to crampon-on to reach false summit. It's still about 40m to the true summit, and I continued on the ridge to near 10m away from the summit. There, you have to downclimb a bit, then climb up. This downclimb part is extremely narrow (1 ft at most), with drop-off on both sides. It's okay in summer for sure, but since it's north facing, it's very corniced and icy. In that condition, it's not a scramble and requires some rope works for safety. So instead of taking a chance, I decided to turn back, since scrambling alone means, an injury would probably means death, because no one was gonna help you. This ridge is for sure difficult, but also fun, so I will come back in summer to conquer the entire thing. On the way back, I chose to climb the narrowest section instead of retracing my steps (climbing up the slab crack), to give myself some challenge. It was even worse than what I thought, since it's not only corniced, but also icy. For about 2m, I had to "horse riding" on the ridge, with my centre of gravity on west side. But I had to use my left leg, hanging on east face, to balance and to prevent me sliding down the west slabs. I only had friction grips on my right foot to keep me moving forwards. In summer it would be easier for sure, but anyway I made the way back. When I reached the scree ground, I finally could relax a bit.
Then I saw two people coming up. I really wanted to wait for them to get a picture of the ridge with human on it to show how serious it is, but it was also very windy and freezing cold if you don't move. So I headed down. Very valuable experience and this scramble definitely increases my confidence level about exposure, since it's one of the most exposed ridges described in Kane's book.