Prusik Peak-West Ridge - Via Snow Creek TH Date of Climb:
7/22/2006 Trip Report:
Despite the forecasted 104 degree temps in Leavenworth, my friend Jeff Ramos and I decided to climb Prusik Peak Saturday via the beautiful west ridge. The only catch is that Enchantment permit requirements make an overnight stay difficult, and the approach (Snow Lakes) is 10 miles and ~ 6,000 vertical feet. Rather than take our chances with the permit lottery, we decided to do it car-to-car in a day. We figured we could beat the heat by doing the approach in the dark & early AM, take advantage of the fact that much of the climb is on the north side of the ridge.
We arrived at the Snow Creek parking lot at 11PM Friday, and took a little nap in the gravel in from of the car, and started hiking at 2:30 AM. We made OK time, and got to watch the sun rise as we hiked from Nada Lake to Snow lake ~ 6 miles in. The trail up past Snow Lake was easy to follow with headlamp. Above that, cairns mark the route through low angled slabby rock at points – this might be a little more difficult in the dark, but it was light for us by then.
The steep mileage between Snow Lake and Lake Vivienne slowed us down, and we took breaks to stay fueled up and hydrated…making it to the base of the climb around 0900. A friendly group of 4 was nice enough to let us cut in front of them as they were camping in the upper lakes, and we had a 10-mile death march left at the end of the day. We all watched as a cute cuddly marmot scampered about the rocks at the base of the route (more on him later)
The climbing to gain the ridge was great fun…blocky 4th and low 5th class. I’ve read a number of TRs that express difficulty finding the start of the route, but we saw an obviously lichen free crack easily from the saddle. We climbed on a double over 8mm X 60M half rope which saved weight on the approach, and worked fine as we ended up simul-climbing after the first pitch until we gained the ridge near the crux. The ½ length was adequate to belay the 5.7 crux slab and exposed traverse to another good belay station. We then scrambled on ledges to below the final pitch(es). 30M might have been enough to get to the summit, but we set a belay after a 5.6 lie-back corner, 5.6 lie-back flake at the base of the final squeeze chimney as the rope drag was building. This worked great as it provided great photo ops of Jeff grunting up the final obstacle. He pulled up my pack and enjoyed watching me flail my way up as well.
After some summit shots, we began our first of 5 single rope rappels at which point it was a short scramble in rock shoes back to the start of the climb. After the first rappel, Jeff felt the need to mention that he had never gotten a rope stuck on rappel that couldn’t be freed with a few tricks below…..ummm….bad idea. Let’s just say Jeff got an extra pitch in, climbing the rappel route to free the rope.
On the way down, the mosquitos were horrible…..biting through clothes, wool socks, etc. We had some spray deet which was handy as you could mist your clothing as well as your skin. But eventually even it wears off, and in our desire to get back to the car we neglected to reapply, and paid dearly for this.
We both went in light footwear, Jeff in his running shoes, and I in low-top approach shoes, and they were more than adequate from a performance standpoint, although our feet were in pretty bad shape (i.e. feeling every pebble) by the time we reached the car at 9:30 PM….a 19 hour day!
Somewhere along the way down when Jeff took off his pack, I noticed that the nylon mesh on one side of his backpack suspension was suspiciously absent…..note to self…marmots, while cute, like to chew on salty plastic stuff.
Managed to find placements for Cams BD #0.4 – #3, but didn’t really need the #3. Used medium to large hexes a lot, particularly for building anchors, and mid to large stoppers mostly.
There were only a few patches of snow left on the approach, and none between the rappel exit and base of the route, so no need for crampons/ice axe, sturdy boots etc.
Here are some pix:http://ericbakke.spaces.msn.com/photos/?_c02_owner=1
All-in-all...it was a really fun route, with moderate climbing and great exposure in a beautiful area. Gear Notes:
8mm x 60M half rope
Small Rack to 3"
Approach Shoes/Running Shoes Approach Notes:
Few snow patches
Had to take shoes off to wade across the dam spillway at Snow Lake