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#946210 - 03/07/10 10:33 PM [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA *****
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 491
TRs: 44 Photos: 1948
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
Trip: Assassin Spire - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA

Date: 3/7/2010

Trip Report:
Assassin Spire - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+)


Photo courtesy of John Scurlock.

Assassin Spire is a subsidiary summit of Lincoln Peak, one of the intimidating Black Buttes on Mt. Baker. Until this weekend it had never seen an ascent via any route.

Daniel Jeffrey and I headed up to Marmot Ridge via Warm Creek off the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River on Thursday evening after work. We had planned to approach that evening, but it was raining when we arrived, so we decided to postpone the approach until the following morning.

Friday morning we awoke at 3:30AM, and got ready to head up. We were crossing a very icy Warm Creek by 3:50 in complete darkness. We then headed up new-growth timber through a clearcut for 700' to gain Marmot Ridge. From here, it was a long, undulating journey to camp at ~6200' in the basin below Assassin Peak and Heliotrope Ridge.

The next morning we awoke at 3:30 again to crystal clear, starry skies. We brewed some water and coffee, and proceeded to cross the basin to the base of the NW Face. We had spied a vertical line of ice (~3 pitches of WI6) below the hanging glacier, but it looked a bit intimidating for us, so we opted to try a less sporty line on climber's right.

2 25m pitches of WI4+ (90-100 degree ice - short stretches of overhanging on the first pitch) separated by a ledge led us up to a 55 degree buttress. The ice on the curtain was very brittle and it took multiple swings to get good placements. This was very tiring, and we pumped out fast. I led 25m on the first step before running out of screws. I then lowered off and belayed Daniel up to finish the last 5m (one more screw placement). From here, he belayed me up and I led the next 30m pitch. The ice was better here, but still brittle in spots. A swing of the tool would shatter the ice as it broke off huge chunks.

From the top of the first curtain, we climbed 55 degree snow (firm and punchy here) to gain the hanging glacier. Above the hanging glacier lies an amazing amphitheater of ice and rock that rivals anything else I have seen in the entire N Cascade Range. How impressive!! Many lines are waiting to be climbed here consisting of very aesthetic, sustained, and solid ice.

We traversed the hanging glacier to another gully (45 degrees), which we simul-soloed. This gully led into some 70 degree ice which we also soloed. We went right at John Wilkes' Tooth before arriving at the final ice curtain (20m WI4+). Daniel led this and we topped out in another steep snow/ice gully to 55 degrees. 3 more pitches led us to the summit. What a place!

From the summit, Lincoln Peak looks impressive, as does Colfax and Baker. We spied about 15 snowmobiles parked under Sherman Peak, and saw 4 climbers at the col below the upper slopes of the Coleman Glacier.

We were buzzed on the summit by an EA6B Prowler who did a double-take and circled us 2 or 3 times. The pilot tipped his wing. Very cool.

This was a fantastic trip of epic proportions with a great partner in Daniel Jeffrey. Thanks to John Scurlock for flying over before the ascent to take recon photos, and thanks also for flying over on approach day thinking we were on route (we had told him we would be climbing Assassin on Friday). We saw him circle about 10 times looking for us. If only we had a flare gun... laugh


Scurlock's photo from March 5. THANKS John!


Tracks in front of the Sister's Range on the approach.


On the approach looking up at Heliotrope Ridge.


View of Assassin Spire from the approach.


Daniel at camp.


Assassin Spire from camp.


Fading light over the Sister's Range from camp.


Alpenglow on Assassin Spire.


Sunset.


Me leading the upper portion of the first ice curtain on Assassin Spire.


Looking down from the arete.


Looking up from just above the first ice curtain.


Daniel topping out on the first curtain.


Daniel climbing up to the hanging glacier.


The amphitheater.


Views to the Sister's Range from mid-route.


Looking down from high on the route.


The Assassin Spire conglomerate.


Tracks on route.


Weeping curtains of ice from mid-route.


Daniel climbing up to the belay below the third curtain.


Daniel leading the third ice curtain.


The steep gully above the last ice curtain.


The upper slopes of Assassin Spire.


Daniel a few pitches below the summit.


Daniel on route below the summit.


Daniel approaching the final steps to the summit of Assassin Spire.


Lincoln Peak from the summit.


Mt. Baker and Colfax Peak from the summit of Assassin Spire.


Daniel on the summit.


View to the west from the summit.


Looking down from the summit.


Me on the summit of Assassin Spire.


Unclimbed ice on Lincoln Peak's NW Face.


A close-up of unclimbed ice.


A huge curtain of ice (WI6) below the hanging glacier on Assassin Spire.


Sister's Range in fading light.


One parting shot.
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#946213 - 03/07/10 10:38 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
rob Offline
sprayer

Registered: 07/27/06
Posts: 8642
TRs: 17 Photos: 88
Loc: Seattle
ah hells yeah!

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#946214 - 03/07/10 10:41 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
wayne Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 05/14/01
Posts: 3367
TRs: 59 Photos: 588
Loc: Seattle!
Wow, there really is ice in Washington? Seriously though, Congratulations on the historic ascent you guys!
_________________________
http://waynewallace.wordpress.com/

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#946215 - 03/07/10 10:50 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: wayne]
dberdinka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/29/00
Posts: 2066
TRs: 39 Photos: 566
Loc: Bellingham
Thats so bad ass. Nice work.
_________________________
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm!

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#946217 - 03/07/10 10:58 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: dberdinka]
rocky_joe Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 02/25/08
Posts: 507
TRs: 16 Photos: 72
Loc: High Horse Mountain
fecking shit man that'd awesome! fantastic photos as well.
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On a never ending quest to not pay retail.

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#946218 - 03/07/10 11:04 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: rocky_joe]
Water Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/12/09
Posts: 1136
TRs: 7 Photos: 170
Loc: pdx
love the photos -- congratulations on the GA (great accomplishment!) FA grin . cheers
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feel free to feel free

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#946222 - 03/07/10 11:31 PM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: Water]
layton Offline
sprayer

Registered: 11/27/00
Posts: 7370
TRs: 39 Photos: 807
Loc: Sandy Utah
wow!!

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#946231 - 03/08/10 05:10 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: layton]
genepires Offline
spray'prentice

Registered: 06/27/01
Posts: 3351
TRs: 8 Photos: 59
Loc: monroe-ville
sweet! you are mr butte's
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climbing is good enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not good enough for climbing.

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#946242 - 03/08/10 07:19 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: genepires]
Pilchuck71 Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 05/26/09
Posts: 591
TRs: 12 Photos: 164
Loc: Bellingham, Washington
Right freaking on!
Nice work Gents!
_________________________
www.onemansmountainadventures.blogspot.com

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#946257 - 03/08/10 08:38 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
BirdDog Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 395
TRs: 8 Photos: 103
Loc: too close to civilation
Awesome to see FA's still being knocked off. NICE! Really great photos. Congrats guys!

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#946261 - 03/08/10 08:48 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: BirdDog]
MattS Offline
stranger

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 18
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: Bellingham WA
Ever since the first time I climbed Baker I wondered when someone would climb that spire. Congratulations on a great ascent!

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#946266 - 03/08/10 09:02 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
waterboy Offline
journeyman

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 73
TRs: 2 Photos: 35
Loc: Snohomish, WA
Nice work guys. Oyvind and I and a couple of others were attempting Colfax peak via Thunder glacier on Saturday and we were watching your efforts the whole day. Very good job.

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#946269 - 03/08/10 09:12 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: waterboy]
OlympicMtnBoy Offline
Marilyn Monroe

Registered: 09/23/03
Posts: 1136
TRs: 38 Photos: 73
Loc: Georgetown (Seattle)
Wow, what a great trip!

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#946274 - 03/08/10 09:31 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: OlympicMtnBoy]
mountainmatt Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/05/06
Posts: 1124
TRs: 26 Photos: 259
Loc: Bwoooston

rawk


.
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Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

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#946279 - 03/08/10 09:46 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: mountainmatt]
dberdinka Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/29/00
Posts: 2066
TRs: 39 Photos: 566
Loc: Bellingham
I think Tom failed to point out that...

This was probably the highest unclimbed summit in the Cascades (est. of prominence Tom?)

It's the only summit that can only be climbed under winter conditions.

While certainly arguable, if it's not the hardest summit to reach it's gotta be in the top ...3?
_________________________
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm!

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#946280 - 03/08/10 09:47 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: Tom_Sjolseth]
wdietsch Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/20/01
Posts: 971
TRs: 0 Photos: 57
Loc: vancouver, wa
nice find .. sounds like a great adventure ... got to love it!! tup

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#946284 - 03/08/10 09:55 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: BirdDog]
quazimoto Offline
n00b

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 44
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
pint glasses up everyone! good job!line of accent please....

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#946290 - 03/08/10 10:47 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: dberdinka]
John_Scurlock Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 12/06/04
Posts: 244
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
Loc: Concrete, WA
Originally Posted By: dberdinka
I think Tom failed to point out that...

This was probably the highest unclimbed summit in the Cascades (est. of prominence Tom?)

It's the only summit that can only be climbed under winter conditions.

While certainly arguable, if it's not the hardest summit to reach it's gotta be in the top ...3?




If Assassin has prominence, you'll see the Top 99 list, not the Top 100...

I have to say I was pretty damned concerned when I didn't see any tracks.. & was sure happy to get yer call... Wow what an accomplishment...!
_________________________
John Scurlock

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#946299 - 03/08/10 11:13 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: John_Scurlock]
JoshK Offline
sprayer

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 5938
TRs: 27 Photos: 237
Loc: Seattle
OMGorgeous!!! Wonderful climb and incredible pictures. If that ice is really overhanging and britle, you might be sandbagging a bit! wink A damn proud effort.

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#946302 - 03/08/10 11:20 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: JoshK]
John_Roper Offline
n00b

Registered: 09/08/03
Posts: 35
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
This is an historic event in Washington climbing marking the first time the FA was also the FWA, afaik.

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#946305 - 03/08/10 11:28 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: John_Roper]
spionin Offline
the reverend

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 465
TRs: 26 Photos: 443
Loc: seattle, wa
great job, what a climb you guys!
the photos look awesome, thanks for the bit on the "unclimbed ice" - those scouts and reports are always so generous, in my opinion.

cheers!
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mountain softwoman

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#946308 - 03/08/10 11:30 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: BirdDog]
jordansahls Offline
addicted to cc.com

Registered: 09/06/05
Posts: 476
TRs: 18 Photos: 222
Loc: Seattle, WA
Uhh. who wants to get the FA on this beast.


Also, congrats on an truly amazing climb!


Edited by jordansahls (03/08/10 11:31 AM)

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#946310 - 03/08/10 11:36 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: jordansahls]
JoshK Offline
sprayer

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 5938
TRs: 27 Photos: 237
Loc: Seattle
That beast looks like an "accidents in mountaineering" write-up waiting to happen. Just a tad bit of objective hazard. wazup

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#946312 - 03/08/10 11:38 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Spire - NW Face (IV, WI4+) FA [Re: John_Scurlock]
Trent Offline
member

Registered: 04/24/04
Posts: 118
TRs: 14 Photos: 170
Loc: Oak Harbor
Tom: Congrats! I was in the Prowler that did the fly-by when you were summiting. I was doing a quick conditions check for a possible attempt later this month, and could not beleive my eyes! I thought that it was either you or Wayne, but I knew that you were aware of the peak and its status. I sorry now that I forgot the camera! Dallas Kloke, Scott Bingen and I had made an attempt four years ago in spring, and Scott had tried again last spring, both to be turned around due to poor rock. Nice work! (I'm jealous)
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Walking is SO underrated!

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#946314 - 03/08/10 11:44 AM Re: [TR] Assassin Peak - NW Face - The Shooting Gallery (IV, WI4+) - FA 3/7/2010 [Re: jordansahls]
spionin Offline
the reverend

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 465
TRs: 26 Photos: 443
Loc: seattle, wa
Originally Posted By: jordansahls
Uhh. who wants to get the FA on this beast.



...right. maybe after global warming has its way with the hanging glacier smile
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mountain softwoman

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