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Val Zephyr

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About Val Zephyr

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  • Birthday 11/30/1999
  1. Alpine Partner June 24-25

    I just started a new job, so I'm a dedicated weekend warrior for the next three months until I'm allowed vacation days (some other time though, it would be fun to climb with you again Joe!). With weekends being all that I have for now, I am aiming to fill every single weekend day. The good thing is that grad school is done, so I have no responsibilities after Friday at 4pm. Pick a weekend that you are over here and we'll pick a good climb depending on weather and conditions. There are always a lot of options in the summer, so I'd rather have a good partner lined up than a place. I'm generally also just looking to increase my base of alpine partners again to keep up with the demand for a busy summer climbing season. If anyone else is similarly motivated, get in touch with me.
  2. Alpine Partner June 24-25

    Hey all! I'm hoping to line up a climbing partner for next weekend. I'm very fit (Ptarmigan Traverse last summer in 26hrs). Lead 5.8 trad right now (used to be up to 5.10, but getting back into it after a short break). I'll follow 5.10 still if you are leading though I have a few ideas: some ambitious, some more reasonable and am happy to hear your objectives as well! PM me and we can start throwing around some ideas for next weekend! Val
  3. November ice?

    Climbed Hubba Hubba Left yesterday. There was good ice that took stubby screws. Pitch 1 Pitch 2
  4. [TR] Jaberwocky Tower - East Face 10/24/2015

    The Colchuck Glacier really is that melted out. It was rather shocking. I doubt that it is anything less than easy ice right now to get to the summit via the normal walk-up route. We were all happy to see the snow fly this weekend up there! I was pretty happy to get some interesting clouds for the photos on this trip. I actually spotted this little peak last weekend while I was up there on a photography focused trip. The weather was much more cooperative this time though. Too bad my friend with the better camera skills wasn't around this weekend, he might have gotten an even better pic of Jaberwocky with our little group on top. It might be worth setting up something like that for next year's larch season photography trip
  5. Trip: Jaberwocky Tower - East Face Date: 10/24/2015 Trip Report: A few friends joined me for a late season trip up to the little tower known as Jaberwocky (located between Colchuck Lake and Colchuck Balanced Rock). It was a great choice for the late season conditions. Two short 5.6 pitches of fun climbing on the east face reach the summit. 360 degrees of impressive views including: Stuart, Colchuck, Dragontail, CBR, Colchuck lake and Cashmere make this one of the more scenic summits in the area. A few photos: Jaberwocky Peak: Approaching via the basin below CBR: The first pitch goes up on the right side of the east face to gain a ledge that traverses to just below an obvious chimney: The second pitch ascends the chimney to the summit. The chimney protects very well and has some really fun moves: Looking down from the base of the chimney. We had some wintry conditions during our little climb: One double rope rappel or 3 single rope rappels down the east face will reach the base. Beware of rope-snagging trees if you go for the double rope rappel: Happy climbers! A few more views from Jaberwocky:
  6. Trip: Prusik - Beckey-Davis Date: 9/24/2015 Trip Report: This is a belated trip report of Jerry and my climb of the Beckey-Davis route on Prusik last month. I thought that I'd post it here, since we couldn't find in ton of information prior to trying this route. I was very surprised when Jerry asked me to join him for this route as he hasn't done the more popular Stanley-Burgner yet. As I'm running out of Enchantment moderates, having a partner who was equally excited for this semi-obscure climb was great news. I'm glad that we barely managed to make it happen before the temps dropped and the snow arrived! Edit: Jerry and I were just looking around a little more online at old TR's and realized that we climbed the wrong crux pitch! (we were too far to climber's right). Everything still went, but it was an intense pitch and we both though that is was the most sandbagged 5.9 we'd ever done (we just figured it was rated by Beckey so.....). If anyone who's been up there can verify our suspicion, we are curious. We came up just east of the 5.10- crack and had to traverse about 30' west to reach its base. It looks like other parties have climbed straight up to the base of the 5.10- crack. Here's Jerry's write-up: Val and I had been eyeing the Beckey-Davis route on Prusik for a while, and after a couple weather and life related misfires, finally got our chance. We headed up to the trailhead the night before, leaving Seattle at 6:30 and making it to the trailhead a little before 10, even after stopping for groceries and dinner. We got off to an early start the next morning, waking up at 3:45 and heading off around 4:15. Steady hiking took us to the lake, and we steadily climbed up Aasgard as the sun came up. As we crossed the plateau, the day gradually got warmer and less windy and we started to get excited about climbing. We racked up and stashed our packs in a tree, and were ready to climb a bit after 10. I got the first pitch, and decided to choose the 5.8 crack that is technically part of the Stanley Burgner over the 5.7 “unprotectable” chimney. I was a bit nervous based on the description of the crack as “wide and awkward”, but it protected really well with our rack (I used two threes and a four on the wide part) and succumbed to my remedial off-width technique without any trouble. From there, Val headed out on 5.7 terrain for about 50 meters, then brought me up. I took the next pitch, and it started to seem like we might be off-route as I plowed through piles of lichen. But pro and holds continued to come up, and I worked my way to the base of a clean corner that lead to a ledge system where it looked like we could traverse back right to the crux pitch of our route. Val took over and climbed the awkward corner, and then started the traverse. A few short pitches of horrible rope drag took us over the ledges, to the Snafflehound ledge – a large ledge that was perfectly flat and more than large enough for a bivy. We refueled and I racked up to jump onto the crux. The crux pitch, a 5.9 shallow dihedral, started off easy but rapidly got more difficult as the cracks got thinner and dirtier. I cleaned some moss and dirt out of a particularly dirty section to get some pro, then moved up to a good stance just before the crux of the route. A good crack on the right gave me a few good pieces before I moved onto the crux – an eerily thin flake with thin features for feet. This lead to a large solid undercling flake where I put in a solid cam and pulled an awkward bulge, then the pitch got easy as I went up some friendly twin cracks to the next belay. We were sure we had just climbed the crux pitch, but from our belay there was only one way to go, and it didn’t seem to match the route descriptions we had. But Val was up to the challenge, and squeezed through a narrow gap, then climbed through some awkward 5.8-ish moves before getting to easier ground that lead to the notch right below the summit. From the notch, there are two choices to get up the last few meters to the summit- a 5.10- tight hands crack that goes straight up, or a traverse to the north that leads to a 5.8 corner. Not excited about the prospect of more awkward 5.8 moves, I stood on my tiptoes to place a cam high in the 5.10 crack and started up. Some good jams took me to the top of the crack. At this point, a cold wind had numbed my hands, and nervous about doing a mantle without having hand feeling, I reached forward, grabbed the best holds I could, and did a fully horizontal beached whale move as Val laughed below. Val followed with even colder hands and an awkward follow pack, but still managed to nail the beached whale move. After topping out, we waited at the summit as an off-route west ridge rope soloist worked his way up the rappel route. Val, who had gotten the worst of the cold wind belaying at the notch, wore both of our puffy coats, while I stayed warm by doing summit pushups. After a short wait, four rappels took us to scrambly terrain on the north side, after which only six hours of walking took us back to our comfy car bivy. Over all, we were glad that we did the route, but would probably recommend the Stanley Burgner above this one – Val, who has done both, described the SB as much cleaner and easier to follow. (Most) pictures credit to Val. Gnome Tarn Little Annapurna and the Flagpole First pitch. Don’t let the wide scare you, this thing’s a blast. Val following up the first pitch. Moving towards Snafflehound Ledge. Heading up the crux. Splitter up to the summit! The only beta you need to top out on Prusik. Summit! Climbers, remember to exercise your antagonist muscles! Gear Notes: Doubles 0.3 to 3”, one 4, silver, blue, and purple TCUs, and triples of 0.75 and 1. All of it got used at some point, and we both felt like it was worth carrying a larger rack in. I used almost every piece by the time I built an anchor at the top of the 5.9 crux. Two nut tools – the leader might need one to clean out cracks on the crux. Lots of pizza (no thin crust!) Approach Notes: Long.
  7. Ha! I was wondering how often people climb Horizontal Spire and I was really excited to see a TR with this title. It figures that you guys climbed it on accident There is so much climbing in this area that rarely sees an ascent. The wall on Porpoise Point is certainly inspiring too. Do you think that there might be an enjoyable route to the top of Horizontal Spire? What do you think that the best approach might be? I love the obscure towers in the Enchantments. Thanks for the TR!
  8. Trip: Crystal Lake Tower - SW Rib Date: 8/16/2015 Trip Report: Kyle and I teamed up for a weekend in the Enchantments, which included a lovely walk up McClellan and an ascent of the SW Rib of Crystal Lake Tower. Crystal Lake Tower is a worthy alpine objective. The ridge is long and complex (19 pitches up to 5.8) with interesting climbing throughout. The 5.8 cruxes are short and there are ample belay ledges, yet exposure on the climb is high and the location in the Enchantments is hard to beat. We met up at the Snow Creek lot and stashed a car there to give us more options later. Then began the hike into Crystal Creek from the Ingalls TH at 2:30pm Friday. Our full itinerary for the weekend began with a rough start. I’ve never been up Crystal Creek from the Ingalls side and with way too much beta, somehow managed to miss the correct drainage by a mile, literally. We ended up doing a long traverse on steep slopes at 5000’ and sleeping in a creek bed 1000’ below and 0.5 miles of steep brush away from our intended location of Crystal Creek basin. Saturday morning we completed the hike in to the basin and were staring at our intended objective of Crystal Lake Tower by noon. It is a long, intimidating ridge and we were not about to jump on it this late in the day. Off route on the approach: Our first view of the SW Rib of Crystal Lake Tower (ridge line coming directly toward us): We decided instead to tag the summit of McClellan. Despite the countless times I’ve visited the Enchantments, I hadn’t stood atop this particular summit yet. The route is short and enjoyable and offers probably the best view in all of the Enchantments. With renewed stoke after hitting a summit despite our disaster of a start Friday, we set our sites again on Crystal Lake Tower. Instead of a leisurely hike out on Sunday, we were now preparing for a very long day, with the climb and the 10 miles of descent down Snow Creek (given that I hadn’t seen the correct Crystal Creek in the day, I didn’t want to try descending it tired and in the dark). We took in the views of the Enchantments in the fading light before ducking back toward Crystal Creek Basin for the night. The view from McClellan isn't bad: Evening walk through the Enchantments: The climb of the SW Rib of Crystal Creek Tower was as good as people had described it. It is another huge ridge of granite, and is just as worthy an objective as the rock routes on Stuart and Dragontail. The exposure is impressive throughout much of the route, climbing sometimes on steep faces or knife-edge ridges, but there were ample comfortable belay ledges. The setting is hard to beat too. Views down to Crystal Creek and Little Annapurna and the Flagpole, which I think Kyle and I both never stopped admiring the entire trip. Pretty much every time I had the camera out, Kyle would say, “get a picture of the Flagpole!” I took 17. As you gain elevation the entire Enchantment Plateau comes into view as well as Fantasia Pond, the Chessmen and the Nightmare Needles which are all tucked in this whole other world on the south side of McClellan. What really sets this climb apart from the others is that there was no play-by-play description of each pitch and there is not a defined route to follow. It really is a choose-your-own-adventure style climb. That was both rewarding and mentally challenging at times. There were a couple of times that we had done some fairly committing moves, hoping that things would work out and the route would continue around the next corner. It seemed like whenever things were starting to look grim, a new weakness in the rock would present itself and we could keep moving up. Without giving you all a play-by-play (so that you can go have an good adventure yourselves!), I’ll say that we started left of the toe of the ridge and simul-climbed to the bottom of the prominent slab ridge in 3 simul-leads taking 3 hours to reach the ridge. Much of the terrain was fit for simul-climbing here, but we still did find a few difficult sequences and stopped to belay the second when this happened. From the base of the ridge we pitched out the remainder of the climb. After this ridge, the difficulty increases and the route-finding becomes more thought provoking. There are some excellent pitches in there, there is also some choss. We topped out a little more than 10 hours after starting. Flagpole in the morning light: The prominent slab ridge that marked the end of simulclimbing: Fun face climbing pitch: Rounding the corner at the top of the face climbing pitch. Great exposure here again. I'm really glad that the route kept going after this! Final summit tower comes into view: Fantasia pond and Nightmare Needles: Summit! Chessman from the summit: The descent is very straightforward. We walked the ridgeline toward the First Chessman and there is an easy walk-off to Crystal Lake. Easy walk-off from just before reaching the first Chessman: We thoroughly enjoyed the walk through the rest of the Enchantments, soaking up the scenery in the fading light. This is paradise. We would need these happy thoughts for the next 9 miles of dark trail that would follow. We reached the car at 2am, exhausted but happy for a trip well done. I’m so glad that Kyle is the kind of guy that would pick a big climb over getting a good night’s sleep any day. Thanks for the trip! Gear Notes: Double rack to #3 was plenty Approach Notes: 7 miles to Crystal Creek. Why did I let myself think otherwise....
  9. TFT conditions?

    Hi everyone! I'm planning to do the Torment-Forbidden Traverse this Friday through Sunday. Myself and another experienced climber will be taking a good friend of ours (with little experience beyond basic glacier and easy alpine). Our friend requested that the trip be "epic", I just don't want to actually epic Has anyone been up there lately that can give me a conditions update? I've done the traverse before in 2012. This time I'm planning to take the rock bypass to keep things more tame. I'm curious how troublesome the moat crossings are right now. Also is a single 60 or 70m rope sufficient? Or would we benefit from having 2 half ropes for the rappel off of Torment? My friend only gets out about once a year to climb, so I want to make sure that she has a fun and memorable trip. Thanks for any help! Val
  10. [TR] Nightmare Needles - Fire Spire 8/9/2015

    Cool trip Ilia! Thanks for the approach beta too. My first attempt to climb the Flagpole was via Crystal Creek. We didn't like the look of that gully either. I went back a few years later and tried the approach just west of Little Annapurna. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=866340 This was much better.
  11. Leavenworth area climbing partner for Aug 14-16

    Partner found. Thanks!
  12. I'll have some free time in Leavenworth from Friday-Sunday and I'd like to get in some alpine climbing. I will be driving over from Seattle on Thursday night or Friday morning and can climb Fri, Sat and Sun. My first choice would be for a 2-3 day climb of Crystal Lake Tower, but I'm open to other ideas as well. I can meet up in Leavenworth or can carpool from Seattle. Shoot me a message if you can meet up for a climb this weekend. Valerie
  13. Keith, Excellent trip report. Congrats again on pulling off this trip in these conditions. It sounds like things got quite a bit more spicy since we were there. With these added challenges you certainly got a full value trip, the kind that you won't soon forget. Thanks for posting! Val
  14. [TR] Bonanza - Mary Green Glacier 7/3/2015

    Nice Jon and Dylan! This is another one that I had considered lately (we've had quite a few near misses in the mountains in the last few weeks). I was planning to come in from Spider Gap though. On my little recon. hike last summer (where I ran into you and Dylan on Buck Mountain, Ha!) I noticed that it only took about 4-5 hours of easy hiking to get to Lyman Lakes (in this photo) and what looked like a nice trail to Holden via the Railroad Creek (maybe 5-7 more miles away). We of course went the other way to Buck Creek, but I think that it would make a nice alternate approach with the work going on in Holden right now. Has anyone tried this? Is the Railroad creek trail from Lyman lakes to Holden lake in OK shape? Bonanza is hiding in the clouds. I think that you can see the shoulder of it on the right.
  15. Minerals was Brendan's goat theory too. MattP is right about the rocks and seracs. I would absolutely plan on a carry over. There was only hard snow, no real ice climbing was needed in the Sickle. We brought screws, but only ended up placing a couple of pickets on the steeper leftward traverse into the Sickle. I liked the route overall. I think that Rainier is generally chossy, so expect some of that. But this was a more varied and interesting route than the other standard routes that I've done so far.