[e-mail received 8/16/96] Hi George! Greetings from a freezing South Africa. As promised a report back on our trip to The Cirque this summer : (a) Weather - we got away with arriving at Glacier Lake on 24 June. There was plenty of snow around - in fact two Swiss lads who had been there since 12 June had had to wade through knee-deep white stuff to get to the foot of LFT; they only got to the top of pitch 14 on 24 June after making an error of strategy (they tried to go in one long day & dispense with the bivvi). We had a window of pristine weather from 24 June until midnight on 28 June - we climbed and rapped LFT on 26 (my birthday!) and 27 June, in near-perfect conditions. After that there was a week of poor/wet weather - but this eliminated a lot of snow. In the latter half of our second week it was sufficiently good to climb Mt. Sir James MacBrien, which 3 of us did via the S.E.Arete (see later). We walked out on day 16 in a torrential storm - this period was very unsettled for the next 4 days. (b) Climbing - We were extremely pleased to get up LFT on our first attempt, in good weather, fair style, and after all the planning and considerable expense. We made the first all-South African ascent. (We must acknowledge that a colleague, Eckhard Druschke climbed it in the 1980's with Mugs Stump). There are two ways in which I feel your topo could be improved, George, viz: (i) Instead of using the words `extra small wires for pitches 11-13' - which we took to mean than we needed very small wires (RP's etc.) - you could say `additional small wires......'. This would tell future parties that they require more pieces. (ii) As mentioned in Steve Long's article in the British magazine, High (April 1995, #149) - there is a rope-snag hazard when rapping the LFT. We had particular problems rapping down pitch 17 (the fist cracks), which cost us 2x1,5 metres of rope and the second rap below the bivvi (a flake here cost us 7 metres of rope and some discomfort). Maybe a general note at the top of the topo could read, `Descent : Rappel the route, taking particular care with potential rope-snag on the second rap from the summit and the second rap below the bivvi'. Just a suggestion. We recovered 30 metres of the Swiss lads rope on the second problem area - they had had the foresight to take 3 ropes with them. On Mt. Sir James MacBrien (Route No. 42) we encountered 5 good pitches low down and then 5 pitches with a lot of rotten rock in a chimney/groove line. We are convinced that we were on the correct line at the top as we encountered numerous old pegs. To be fair to future parties I feel you should withdraw this routes `star' (*) status. We had a satisfied feeling on completion, but did'nt feel it was. `an exceptionally fine route'. Its prime merits are its sense of adventure and in reaching the area's highest summit. Nothing could have prepared us for the sight from the top of LFT - absolutely boggling! From Fairy Meadows one is unaware of being in such a glaciated area. Fantastic. The sight of Proboscis in the evening light will remain in my minds-eye for years to come! (c) General - the only disturbing thing encountered on our trip was the wooden hut which is located 100 metres west of the drop-off spot/campsite on the north shore of Glacier Lake. What an eyesore! Is this the thin end of the `habitation' wedge? I hope not. Fairy Meadow had very little litter I'm pleased to report. We had expected to see lots of climbers but saw only the 2 Swiss, 2 Canadians walking out as we walked in, and 2 English at the end. Apart from these 6 we had Fairy Meadows to ourselves for 14 days! Well George, thanks for all your information on The Cirque and your support. We are now planning what to do next (Fitzroy?), but our memories are full of the endless cracks on the headwall. Thanks. Yours in climbing, RUSS DODDING, LEADER 1996 SOUTH AFRICAN LOTUS FLOWER TOWER EXPEDITION, MOUNTAIN CLUB OF SOUTH AFRICA