Perfect clear, starry night when we woke up, which was exactly what we needed for an adequate refreeze of the snow, especially on the crux 400m 50deg snow face called The Ramp. We set off at 3:30am pretty close to a guide with his client, which was pretty useful in making sure we found the correct start of the route.
Some trepidation at the start of the ramp when the guided pair took out 2 axes each and proceeded to front-point their way up the face. We only had one axe each and with it being pretty pointless being tied together on a steep face (no protection so both would fall if one person slipped), we put the rope away and soloed up the face.
The next 2 hours were pretty terrifying for me as only the points of my crampons and half my axe was digging into the extremely icy snow. Full focus the entire time as one slip would result in a quick slide and plummet over the cliffs below. Really exhausting on the calves and toes as well.
Much relief when we got to the top and then it was an easy 500m vert trudge up the less steep NW Ridge to the summit. Amazing views, much jubilation, but now to get down. We didn't want to downclimb the ramp in the same way so were considering the other more rocky route, but the guide we bumped into recommended that Craig lowers me full rope lengths down the ramp, I hammer in a snow stake and then belay while Craig downclimbs with both our ice axes. So that’s what we did! 8 pitches of it, for 4 hours, constantly wondering whether these snow stakes would hold a 120m slide by Craig anyway... I also dropped a glove at one point, which disappeared over the edge but had a spare pair in my pack anyway.
Much relief when we crossed the final crevasse at the bottom if the ramp and then it was just a slow trudge through soft snow back to the hut.
Such an epic day!