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#1151396 - 08/31/16 08:38 PM [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016
JeffreyW Offline

Registered: 05/11/15
Posts: 28
TRs: 10 Photos: 155
Loc: Seattle, WA
Hey boys and girls! If you haven't heard, Slesse NE Buttress is open for business! And it's only getting colder and darker. The Pocket Glacier slid a few weeks ago and there is just a little bit of safely perched snow here and there on the slab.

Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright
Route Up: NE Buttress via Bypass Route
Route Down: Crossover Descent
Total Time: 25hrs (13.5hrs up, 11.5hrs down)

Download-able GPS tracks:

Here is a neat TR with pics of Slesse (for conditions) from Ensakwatch on the same day we were on Slesse:

To continue our experiment of 50 Classics Car-to-Car/Single Push, this is our third in the past month (with Beckey-Chouinard on S Howser Tower and North Ridge of Mount Stuart). It was a slow, 25 hours. Again, we're not the fastest in the bunch, and it's not a Triple Linkup, but we're working on our pain and suffering tolerance!

3:15AM - Leave Trailhead
4:15AM - Memorial Plaque (don't get water here! It's a 10min bushwack...)
5:30AM - Propeller Cairn
6:45AM - Base of Bypass Route
4:45PM - Summit
4:15AM - Back at Trailhead

The Crossover Descent was long and hard, with tricky routefinding in the dark. It started raining on the last pitch from the summit and lasted a few hours, so descending the Crossover on slick rock was slow and sketchy. We simul'd/short-roped most of the descent, not fully unroping until under the Wooded Stump. The climbing was fast and easy, but we found this descent route very difficult. The crux was finding the flagging boot path at the bottom of the orange scree through the subalpine meadows to get to the established Crossover Trail. We never found this path or any flagging, and wandered for hours in the subalpine before just bushwacking hard left to intercept the Crossover Trail. Otherwise, the Crossover Descent route was obvious. Next time, we'd want to know what elevation to expect the subalpine skier's left traverse..or better yet, next time, we're bringing two cars to do the normal descent! This Crossover Descent might have been must faster in dry condition, with daylight, backpacking boots, and general situational awareness. We had tennis shoes which were perfect for the approach, but terrible for the Crossover Descent. You have to do a lot of travel on sketchy, muddy scree!

Blake Herrington has the best description of the Crossover Descent in his new book, Cascades Rock. Get as much beta as you can on the Crossover Descent!

Because of the sopping wet rock, we took all available rappels (7 total) with a 60m rope off established tat anchors: 2 rappels at bottom of summit gully (could be done with 1 70m, or 5.6 downclimb), 1 after crossing the traverse notch from the gendarme (4th class downclimb), 2 to get down to the final scree/meadow slope (3th class downlimb), and 2 off the summit block of the final peak before Crossover Pass (raps recommended, looked like hard 5th class downclimbing). Usually I think people just do it in 3 (1 at the beginning, and 2 at the end).

Water: There is running water at the Propeller Cairn, the Pocket Glacier slab, and the orange talus on the Crossover Descent. Crossing the Pocket Glacier slab, you don't have to get on snow, but it's a wet, muddy affair. No snow on route.

The route: Routefinding on the Bypass and the NE Buttress was very straightforward. We pitched it out the exact same way as Steph Abegg did (13 Pitches), which was very natural and obvious. Only the first 2 pitches and the crest involved simul-climbing. Further simulclimbing would have been difficult with rope drag, unless you kept the rope very short. Did the whole Bypass Start unroped (3rd/4th class, never any 5th), roping up behind the gendarme on the NE Buttress. The only mistakes we made was on Steph Abegg's Pitch 4 and Pitch 8. On Pitch 4 where you cross right over the arete, there is "off-route" tat out left which gets you way left and adds a tons of rope drag...instead go straight up from the belay to cross the arete soon, angling right to cross the arete. On Pitch 8 (right after the long crest simul), there again is an aluring "off-route fixed nut" out left up a tempting hand crack (the only hand crack on the Buttress!)...instead, you want to avoid the beautiful hand crack and traverse right (away from the buttress) before going back left to the grassy ledge (just as Fred Beckey's topo shows). The hand crack out left near the buttress is a siren which leads to decaying, exposed, unprotectable 5.9 granodiorite.

Beautiful route. In hindsight, after forgetting all of the descent suffering, the Crossover is rather adventurous and aesthetic, but I think 2 cars is still the best way to go.

Gear Notes:
-Not really any jamming on this route (mostly face climbing), so recommend leaving the Ocuns/Jammies at home
-We both brought chalk bags, but the climbing was so easy, we never really used it. The route felt like a long scramble.
-SR to 3; doubles of .5, 1, 2; orange, blue, yellow Mastercam (used a lot); red C3 (not used), light nuts, pink tricam (obligatory, lol)
-Recommend light boots for Crossover Descent. Tennis Shoes for normal approach/descent.

Edited by JeffreyW (09/01/16 06:48 PM)

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#1151397 - 08/31/16 08:53 PM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
ilias Offline

Registered: 06/14/15
Posts: 104
TRs: 21 Photos: 339
Nice! This is definitely on my list for this year! Now to find a partner...

#1151402 - 09/01/16 10:01 AM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
Daphne H Offline

Registered: 08/02/16
Posts: 28
TRs: 7 Photos: 53
Loc: Vancouver, BC
Seems like you guys went plenty fast to me smile Great job! We were looking over at Slesse from Nesakwatch wondering if anyone was climbing... wonder if I zoom in on my pictures enough I can see you? LOL. Good job guys!

#1151416 - 09/01/16 08:19 PM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: Daphne H]
Priti Offline

Registered: 02/20/15
Posts: 20
TRs: 2 Photos: 63

Edited by Priti (09/05/16 09:37 PM)

#1151442 - 09/01/16 09:57 PM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: Priti]
matt_warfield Offline

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 1640
TRs: 8 Photos: 2
Loc: seattle
Thanks for the TR and the Priti pics. Good timing for the pocket glacier- doesn't look very mean right now! Many a great adventure to be had car-to-car in a day. Followed of course by a good sleep.
I do what I want and take what I get

#1151447 - 09/02/16 09:13 AM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
G-spotter Offline
Sick Spray Bird

Registered: 12/20/01
Posts: 15217
TRs: 57 Photos: 410
Loc: free range
Priti slipped one of the Beckey-Chouinard in there that stands out like sore thumb compared to the Slesse Darrington phyllite choss.
Bagging a cougar is one of the most enjoyable sporting feats a young man can accomplish

#1151452 - 09/02/16 10:30 AM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
bellows Offline

Registered: 08/11/08
Posts: 152
TRs: 29 Photos: 315
Loc: Seattle
Did you guys lose your bivy sacks or something??? smile

Really impressive work on all the c2c classics this summer!

#1151454 - 09/02/16 11:25 AM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
keenwesh Offline

Registered: 02/21/09
Posts: 1247
TRs: 21 Photos: 182
Loc: Bozeman
The crossover does kind of suck. Has anyone tried the alternative downclimb that drops you at the propeller cairn?

#1151481 - 09/03/16 01:45 PM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: JeffreyW]
G-spotter Offline
Sick Spray Bird

Registered: 12/20/01
Posts: 15217
TRs: 57 Photos: 410
Loc: free range
u talking about Marc's SE butt descent? I don't think downsoloing a 20 pitch 5.7 is a faster descent option for most people. if you have to rap the gully off the summit you'll find chossover faster.
Bagging a cougar is one of the most enjoyable sporting feats a young man can accomplish

#1151501 - 09/05/16 09:47 PM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: G-spotter]
Priti Offline

Registered: 02/20/15
Posts: 20
TRs: 2 Photos: 63
Whoops, removed the B/C pic. The rock is definitely not that good!

I think the descent would have been faster if the rock wasn't wet. I wish downsoloing 20 pitches of 5.7 sounded feesible to me...

#1151502 - 09/06/16 01:11 AM Re: [TR] Slesse - Northeast Buttress: Car-to-Car 8/28/2016 [Re: G-spotter]
marc_leclerc Offline

Registered: 04/11/08
Posts: 1432
TRs: 41 Photos: 66
Brette and I just did this again a couple weeks ago, and were surprised by how chill it was even with some snowmelt in the gully (easy water!)

It's mostly 4th class with little 5.6 sections. Took us about a hour from the third peak to the propellor cairn.

That being said it requires a certain degree of 'self assuredness' with route finding on wet/loose/slippery rock. It's a lot more technical and the route finding is much less obvious than the standard descent.

I liked that bugaboos shot in the original post, I was trying to figure out how in earth I missed that bit all those times!


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