By Maisie Ramsay
Only the women remained.
It was the middle of November, and they had been trudging uphill for nearly six hours. More than a mile of elevation gain lay between the trailhead and the goal: Mount Oxford, a destination that first required us to summit Mount Belford.
The male component of the team – two men and two dogs – had long since fallen back, deterred by poor gear, injury and the suspicion that perhaps one mountain was enough for the day. The women, however, pressed on.
The journey began with Mount Belford’s northwest ridge, a relentlessly steep slog through windblown snow with all the traction of confectioners sugar. Then another mile and a half to Mount Oxford, separated from Belford by a broad saddle that tapered at its western terminus to a steep, narrow ridge.
The traverse meant losing and regaining 1,000 feet of elevation, and traveling three extra miles, adding hours of toil to the journey.
What possessed them to embark on this fool’s errand? Well, Mount Oxford happens to be over 14,000 feet.