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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Goats on Ice

Today John and I went up into the mountains to hunt mountain goats. Near town this time of year you are only allowed to hunt them with bows and arrows. So John carried the bow and I was his porter. We saw some goats on the way up, but the only way to get close to them was to loop around behind them to the very top of the mountain and then approach them from behind. This maneuver took almost 3 hours to accomplish.

Things got a little dicey when we discovered that the entire top of the mountain above 2000 feet had been coated in 2 inches of rime ice. Some of the ice crystals were almost 10 inches long and 2 inches across with flat facets. The sunlight sparkled on the crystals, lots of little flashes. But it was scary to walk on. At one point John's crampon slipped on the ice and he slid away on an uncontrolled descent for about 100 vertical feet. Good thing there was not a cliff below him. After that we were much more cautious and even mild slopes, if there was a cliff anywhere nearby (exposure), had our full attention.

Eventually we did sneak up right behind the herd of goats and John would have arrowed a big old billy goat if he had not run into an unexpected nanny goat and her kid looking right at him. The whole herd spooked and away the big billy ran with the herd. That's goat hunting with a bow. But the hike and views were spectacular. Patrick

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