Magic Mountain - South Ridge, August 2008
The sound of distant rock fall was at once frightening and a relief. I turned to look at Eric and could tell by the expression on his face that he wasn't thrilled with the prospect ahead of us. What happened to our motivation? Was it a full moon the night before? Was that why we had the nightmares? Dreams of falling, drowning and most bizarre of all a mountain goat jumping off our heathery perch only to fall to its death. Where did the two cowboys on horseback come from? Why were they asking about the dead goat? It was an odd night indeed. No one stirred when the dreaded alarm clock rang. It felt as if I'd gotten all of five minutes of sleep.
Standing at the notch in the North Ridge of Mixup Peak a few hours later, my mind was no more at ease. Unable to shake the persistent dizziness, I glanced again at the beast before us. It sure looked steep and distant from our vantage point, thanks in large part to foreshortening. "Do we really want to do this?" I asked Eric. Before he could respond, the first of two rumbling rockslides somewhere high on the peak settled the matter for us. Judging by Chris and Tai's wide eyes, I gathered they were of the same mindset. And with that, our first pathetic attempt at climbing Johannesburg Mountain came to an end.
So what now? Mixup, Magic, Hurry-Up...so many options, so little motivation, which for Eric is particularly unusual. Little did I know that Eric was suffering from post-op pains at the time, which certainly helps explain his lack of drive. Yet another reason not to go for J-burg I suppose. We descended Doug's Direct from the notch and regrouped at the glacier's edge to discuss plans for the rest of the day. I was adamant about getting up on top of something and Magic Mountain seemed like the logical choice. We booted up to Cache Col, at which point Eric called it good so as not to further aggravate his condition. Chris graciously hung back with Eric, while Tai and I continued on towards Magic Mountain's South Ridge.
We scrambled up Doug's Direct en route to the notch in Mixup's North Ridge. There's a fair amount of exposed and loose class-3 scrambling here, reportedly very much like the J-burg's East Ridge route. The descent from the notch was tedious and unpleasant - better get used to it if you want to climb J-burg, though! Once back on the Cache Glacier, we proceeded to boot up to Cache Col. Not wanting to aggravate his condition any further and having already climbed Magic Mountain on a previous trip, Eric and Chris stopped at the col while Tai and I continued down towards Kool-Aid Lake.
Having previously ventured along this trail en route to climb Mount Formidable, the hiking here was a pleasant trip down memory lane for me. At a large talus basin somewhere before the lake we began side-hilling up on heather, and eventually scree and gravel to reach the gentle Magic - Hurry-Up Saddle. From the saddle, a faint climbers path traverses an improbably steep heather and grass slope on the west-side of the crest. The path continues in this way for a while longer, but I took the first opportunity to scramble up directly to the ridge crest in hopes that it'd make for a more aesthetic experience.
Most of the elevation gain is made once the crest is reached. The low-angle ridge continues with the occasional exposed move here and there (easily avoided by dropping down to the aforementioned path) and enjoyable "sidewalk in the sky" sections. From the false summit, the true summit appears somewhat intimidating and difficult to reach. However, after descending into the notch between the summits and traversing loose, but easy ledges now on the east-side, the going is considerably easier than it seems. A few short, moderately exposed moves up the final tower saw us to the summit proper. For a newb, I thought Tai did quite well and congratulated him on his accomplishment. I allowed him more than "seven minutes" on the summit that his mentor Eric apparently allows...Tai was quite happy with me about that. I know Eric has disputed Tai's claim to the supposed 7-minute rule, so someone's not being entirely honest here...ha ha!
We relaxed up on Magic's small perch for a good 15 or 20 minutes before starting back down. Reversing the route back to the false summit, we continued down the ridge back to the Magic - Hurry-Up Saddle, reaching Cache Col after more tedious traversing in the hot afternoon sun. A quick slog down Cache Glacier saw us back to camp where Eric and Chris were waiting. We packed-up camp and continued down to Cascade Pass. We reached the cars a mere thirty-two switchbacks later and found ourselves indulging in Good Food's 'fine cuisine' a short while later. God, I shudder to think how many times I've eaten there over the years. At least I remembered to avoid the 3-ply Mountain Burger this time. A meal such as that must be truly deserved. And by deserved I mean after having successfully climbed Johanessburg Mountain, and by any route for all I care. Alas, Johannesburg was not a feather I could put in my hat this time, so I settled for the Mushroom Burger knowing that my next date with the mountain will come soon enough.
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