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[TR] Colfax Peak - Cosley-Houston 5/26/2017

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Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley-Houston


Date: 5/26/2017


Trip Report:

My friend Gerry and I climbed Colfax Peak, Cosley-Houston route last Saturday, May 20. We left Seattle on Friday evening to save time and try to be the first on a route. The road to Heliotrope Ridge was free of snow till mile 6.6. There were many cars at the end of the clear road. We parked at the camping area on the right side. Many more cars came at night.

We started approach at 4 am. The trail to Heliotrope Ridge was well-beaten and straightforward. The weather was perfect. We took snowshoes for approach that proved to be a smart decision. The snow in the woods was firm, but became soft on Coleman glacier and we put our snowshoes on.

We roped up on a glacier. After some time we could see our mountain. Both routes - Polish route and our Cosley-Houston looked in fat shape. Luckily we were the first party on it.

We crossed the bergshrund on the left side without any problem. When we came to the first crux pillar we found very rotten ice in the beginning of it. We hesitated, but decided to give it a try. Gerry belayed me on a picket. First 2 meters the ice was horrible, but then I found some ice flow on a right side and managed to put a screw. At this time I realized that I was climbing with my pack on and a second rope in it. It was hard and the pitch was steeper than it looks. I descended and left my pack. Even without pack for me the pitch was pumpy and chandeleured ice made difficult feet. I think the pitch was 15 meters or so. I made a belay on a solid picket and took Gerry. The route now eased off and we simul-climbed further.

The second step was much easier - just about 2 meters. Again we used a belay on a pickets before and after the step. After the second step we mostly soloed the rest. Te snow conditions were pretty good with good kick steps and some fronpointing on neve.

We reached the summit at 1 PM.

I will give some description of the descend. Descend from the summit mostly follows the ridge towards mount Baker. Don't go to the left, there is heavilly crevassed area there. No rappel is necessary at this time, but be careful - there is a crevasse on a ridge crest. Bypass rime-covered buttress on a right side. After it go straight towards Mount Baker and join the descend from Colman-Deming route.

We were glad we carried over our snowshoes. In warm temperatures we would sink in the soft snow on Coleman glacier.

We came back to a car at 6 PM. Yet another good day!




Polish route



Upper pillar closeup



Cosley-Houston lower part





First pillar



Gerry follows



Second step









Obligatory summit picture


Gear Notes:

2 half ropes

2 ice tools each

8 ice screws

8 quickdraws

2 pickets


Approach Notes:

Skis or snowshoes needed

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