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Blacklab

[TR] Glacier Peak Wilderness - Ptarmigan Traverse North to South 8/10/2016

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Trip: Glacier Peak Wilderness - Ptarmigan Traverse North to South

 

Date: 8/10/2016

 

Trip Report:

Started on 8/3 after the low pressure system moved through. Travel across mixup arm and cache glacier was straightforward with the exception of a steep gully that was followed immediately by a steep scree hillside. Placed a picket before the scree and headed out onto the scree... turned out it was mud and was giving way. Super sketchy.

 

Main point: Fairly sizeable moat (6-7 feet away from wall) at red ledges and no snow up to the ledge or in the gully was problematic for my group to continue. Despite the beautiful weather we decided to descend. Looked like one other person before us turned back, their tracks never made it to the scramble to access the ledge. A third party behind us decided to turn back the same day.

 

Surprised for a normal snow year. Looked like the wall got really hot a few days this year and baked the snow away from it. Snow was surprisingly covering the slope much further to the north relative to the lack of snow on the tongue approach to the ledge... There was no snow in the gully to the right, and the moat there was much more pronounced with a huge sickle of a fin sticking up about 15 feet away from the wall.

Edited by Blacklab

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Normal snow year, but the warmest spring (and fastest melt out at SnoTel sites) on record. Better luck next time!

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Trip: Glacier Peak Wilderness - Ptarmigan Traverse North to South

 

Date: 8/10/2016

 

Trip Report:

Started on 8/3 after the low pressure system moved through. Travel across mixup arm and cache glacier was straightforward with the exception of a steep gully that was followed immediately by a steep scree hillside. Placed a picket before the scree and headed out onto the scree... turned out it was mud and was giving way. Super sketchy.

 

Main point: Fairly sizeable moat (6-7 feet away from wall) at red ledges and no snow up to the ledge or in the gully was problematic for my group to continue. Despite the beautiful weather we decided to descend. Looked like one other person before us turned back, their tracks never made it to the scramble to access the ledge. A third party behind us decided to turn back the same day.

 

Surprised for a normal snow year. Looked like the wall got really hot a few days this year and baked the snow away from it. Snow was surprisingly covering the slope much further to the north relative to the lack of snow on the tongue approach to the ledge... There was no snow in the gully to the right, and the moat there was much more pronounced with a huge sickle of a fin sticking up about 15 feet away from the wall.

 

I was planning on doing this climb this weekend. Thank you for saving me a turnaround.

 

Just curious what it would take to get into and out of the moat? Is it even doable? Rappel? Ice tool? Or just too shitty to even try?

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For what it is worth, a friend and I did a light and fast push of the Traverse on 8/6 (no technical gear to speak of) and did not encounter any issues gaining the red ledge. We were able to easily climb into the moat just slightly uphill (maybe 20-30') of where you would typically access the red ledge, then simply worked our way down the moat to an obvious scramble point (3rd class) that put us into the ledges. YMMV.

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Will have to go back with a bit more cascades experience. It was 2nd time to the cascades (no problem with the snow, but the crumbling rock is a bit new to me in the alpine).

 

We had a mix of experience levels in our group and others were obviously not comfortable. It would have been a challenge for our group and given the circumstances, it seemed to be the right call.

 

Thanks for the followup and perspective.

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On a trip to Koolaid Lake last July with my wife, I noted the poor condition of the Red Ledge route. It appeared to me (from a distance) that you might be able to descend a few hundred feet below the west shoulder of Arts Knoll (below and west of the Red Ledge) and climb over it from this lower elevation. This was a distant view and I didn't try it, but it looked promising to my eyes.

 

Worth checking out sometime if you're skunked by the Red Ledge route.

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