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#582314 - 07/11/06 08:37 PM [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10 *****
Blake Offline

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 2910
TRs: 46 Photos: 768
Climb: Gunsight Peaks-West Face & South Ridge

Date of Climb: 7/10/2006

Trip Report:

Just The facts: July 8-10 saw myself and John Frieh climb the North, middle, and South Gunsight Peaks. We did the 2nd ascent of the North Peak's W. Face (new route or variation of the 1986 route), and we believe our route on the South Peak was a new line entirely. It was a great trip to a very remote spot.

The Narrative:

On the morning of the 8th, we set out from the Agnes Creek trail, and climbed to the Chickamin Glacier where we set up camp for a few days in the "Patagonia of the North Cascades."

We were really hot, tired, and dehydrated from the approach, but decided to give the 1986 Nelson/Dietrich route a try, on the towering West face. I led a 40m pitch of sustained 5.9 on awesome granite.

I climbed past two sets of bail gear, one of which we believe belonged to Forest Murphy's attempt a few years ago. (He had previously told John that they were off-route). After stopping at a saucer-sized belay perch and bringing up John, he lead up about 20' to where a wide roof intersected our line and all cracks thinned out. I was nervously trying to balance on my one-foot belay ledge when I heard a sasquatch-like scream and saw John flying through the air. He had taken a ~20' fall and was luckily caught by a 1/2" cam he'd placed below the roof. We decided to call that our "recon" attempt and go back to the shade of our tent and re-hydrate.

On the 9th we braved the 5 minute approach back to the route, climbed back up to the first day's belay spot, and John led out again.

We were able to work together to ID a likely looking crack to get past our prior high spot, and some A1/A2 moves on hand-tied aiders got us past the roof and into a set of good looking flakes. The next pitch (#3) was my lead, and I started out with some free moves up to 5.10ish before resorting to A0 cam-hanging as the crack widened and flared. With a mix of aid and free moves I lead to the next belay and John got the security of a top-rope on a beautiful fist-jam flake pitch.

Too much fun...

For pitch four, the flake/corner system went through a couple of small roofs and continued to be fairly vertical the whole way. John was grateful for the #5 camalot as he climbed up more vertical granite to a belay at the first moderately comfy ledge on the face. I followed mostly free, but with some definite rope-tugging on sections as well.

From here I grabbed, the rack, and led straight up into P.5, a dark corner straight over our heads.

This was a really fun free lead for me, as I knew we were getting close, and the climbing was a good mix of stemming, face features, and crack jams. The top of the corner visible from the belay spot is the top of the route. You literally mantle up from the corner onto the flat summit terrace.

From the exit move atop P.5, you could easily flick a rock out a few feet and it would free-fall to the base of the wall.

We didn't see any of the three bolts used by the 1986 party, we climbed the wall in 5 pitches (as opposed to their 7) and we encountered bail gear of other climbers who felt that they were NOT on the previously established route. We don't know how much is shared between the two lines, but maybe Jim Nelson could add some input. It's rad to consider that the only other ascent of that face was done the year I was born.

After looking at the old summit register and reading the autograph of some guy named Fred Beckey, we scrambled to the North/Middle peak notch, and climbed a solid pitch of low-5th class to that summit as well.

On the 10th, John and I decided to try to climb the South Peak as well. From the Gunsight-Blizzard Col we climbed North along the ridge crest, before dropping off the ridge to the right. It would be best just to stay to the right of the ridge on easy snow and slab. Eventually we reached a clean right-facing corner and began the route. The corner went at 5.7, and I led up and continued to the ridge crest on cool chickenheads and face features and belayed up John.

From here John took the lead on a balancy and memorable traverse pitch across a giant cannonhole, and into the last notch before the South Peak.

From here, one more pitch of mid-fifth class led to the south summit. From this summit, you can rappel the last pitch, and then make one overhanging 90' rappel onto the snow down the east side. We're calling this the South Ridge - South Gunsight (Grade II, 5.7, 3 pitches)

Overall this was an amazing few days in the mountains. Thanks John Scurlock for the really inspirational photos!
(Scurlock's shot of the 3 summits)

Gear Notes:
glacier gear, full set of nuts, full set of cams, pink tricam.

Approach Notes:
Should have been a week or two later for ripe huckleberries.

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#582315 - 07/11/06 08:44 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10/
NYC007 Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 793
TRs: 2 Photos: 54
Loc: spokanistan
nice job guys, can never go wrong with the pink one. oh tri cam
Didnt you see my movie!?

#582316 - 07/11/06 09:22 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
Keith_Henson Offline

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 76
TRs: 4 Photos: 182
Loc: Puyallup, WA
Keith A. Henson

Turn back before it's too late!

#582317 - 07/11/06 09:23 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
Tom_Sjolseth Offline
addicted to

Registered: 09/02/05
Posts: 532
TRs: 45 Photos: 1969
Loc: Wenatchee (The Kent of the Eas...
Sweet! Nice photos. That rock looks SOLID.

#582318 - 07/11/06 09:27 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
G-spotter Offline
Sick Spray Bird

Registered: 12/20/01
Posts: 15028
TRs: 57 Photos: 407
Loc: free range
Bagging a cougar is one of the most enjoyable sporting feats a young man can accomplish

#582319 - 07/11/06 09:31 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
off_the_hook Offline

Registered: 05/15/03
Posts: 186
TRs: 90 Photos: 13445
Loc: San Carlos, CA
Awesome!! Great job.

#582320 - 07/11/06 09:39 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
zoroastr Offline

Registered: 10/02/00
Posts: 248
TRs: 40 Photos: 253
Loc: redmond, washington, USA
....just gimme a second to get my jaw up off the floor....there. A-W-E-S-O-M-E T.R.!!! Thank You.
Always be sincere--even if you don't mean it.
--Benny Hill

#582321 - 07/11/06 10:08 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
magellan Offline

Registered: 05/15/04
Posts: 371
TRs: 0 Photos: 0
Loc: on top
Wow! Great trip, great TR! What a nice balance between words and photos.

#582322 - 07/11/06 10:31 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
RocNoggin Offline

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 380
TRs: 2 Photos: 37
Loc: Olympia
nice. very nice. :-)

#582323 - 07/12/06 07:21 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
Kyle_Flick Offline

Registered: 12/23/00
Posts: 322
TRs: 19 Photos: 17
Loc: Cashmere,Washington,USA
Good persistance to stick with it and finish the West Face. Great beta. Psyched to go in there via Agnes Creek vs. Bachelor.

#582324 - 07/12/06 07:55 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
John_Scurlock Offline

Registered: 12/06/04
Posts: 251
TRs: 1 Photos: 0
Loc: Concrete, WA
Outstanding! Very glad to see your efforts paid off. I was fortunate to be out on an Actual Climb last weekend, looked over there & wondered about you. Good job.
John Scurlock

#582325 - 07/12/06 08:03 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
TeleRoss Offline
addicted to

Registered: 06/24/03
Posts: 696
TRs: 37 Photos: 288
Loc: green room
Nice work guys!
That rock looks sweet
All I do is surf now...but might make a guest appearance on a mountain or two near you wink

#582326 - 07/12/06 08:24 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
olyclimber Offline


Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 24872
TRs: 31 Photos: 844
Loc: In Love with You
Nice work alpine hero youth. That rock looks awesome.

Sounds like an awesome time out in the sticks and rocks.
Elon Musk for Pres.

#582327 - 07/12/06 09:50 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
Stefan Offline

Registered: 04/16/01
Posts: 2208
TRs: 7 Photos: 9
Loc: the circus
Gunsight has some of the nicest rock I have had the pleasure of touching....mmmmmmmm
Namaste - Whatever your outer appearance, I see and greet the soul in you.

#582328 - 07/12/06 10:01 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
Gary_Yngve Offline

Registered: 03/04/02
Posts: 3586
TRs: 36 Photos: 0
Loc: UW
Way to send! Nice!

#582329 - 07/12/06 10:24 AM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7/10
Chad_A Offline

Registered: 12/24/03
Posts: 1500
TRs: 14 Photos: 371
Loc: Bellingham, WA
Supadupa cool You guys are an inspiration.

"prepare, do your best, and continue trying after failures." -George Lowe

#582330 - 07/12/06 10:42 AM NOLSe's addendum
John Frieh Offline

Registered: 11/08/03
Posts: 6266
TRs: 54 Photos: 1204
Loc: PDX
Nice TR Blake!

It was an accomplishment for me to just physically touch gunsight let alone climb it... my previous three attempts (this was my fourth time hiking in there) all were cut short by bad weather before I could even touch the rock.

to the WSP officer who let me off with a warning for speeding on the way up... FYI just because someone is in possession of their driver's license doesn't mean it isn't currently suspended

to Mr John Scurlock for all the great photos and prints of the face

Speaking of pictures I should get my slides back tonight so I will scan them and post any others worth showing.

to Erik for letting me borrow your tent

for me forgetting my sleeping bag in Portland

FA of the west face of the north peak... with a sit start

Pitch 2

Pitch 4


Sleeping bag substitute

#582331 - 07/12/06 11:02 AM Re: NOLSe's addendum
valleydude Offline

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 48
TRs: 1 Photos: 1
Loc: WlmteVlly, OR
Amazing photos of an incredible climb. THanks for sharing.

#582332 - 07/12/06 11:11 AM Re: NOLSe's addendum
powderhound Offline

Registered: 07/11/04
Posts: 1464
TRs: 21 Photos: 307
Loc: pdx

#582333 - 07/12/06 11:14 AM Re: NOLSe's addendum
Alpinfox Offline
Tebow Believer

Registered: 03/05/02
Posts: 5223
TRs: 23 Photos: 321


That looks fantastic guys. Congratulations.
let's spank this pony and see where she goes

#582334 - 07/12/06 01:59 PM Re: NOLSe's addendum
DanielHarro Offline
addicted to

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 433
TRs: 6 Photos: 376
Loc: AK Grown
John / Blake-

Nice work!! John it looks like we need to make a "what to bring list" for each climbing trip. "helmet" and "sleeping bag" will be at the top of the list. How was the approch?

#582335 - 07/12/06 02:02 PM Re: NOLSe's addendum
lunger Offline

Registered: 04/18/02
Posts: 380
TRs: 13 Photos: 131
Loc: see atoll
rock does look stupendous, even the part where you're lichen it
nice work

#582336 - 07/12/06 02:05 PM Re: NOLSe's addendum
olyclimber Offline


Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 24872
TRs: 31 Photos: 844
Loc: In Love with You
1. Navigation (map and compass)
2. Sun protection
3. Insulation (extra clothing)
4. Illumination (flashlight/headlamp)
5. First-aid supplies
6. Fire
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition (extra food)
9. Hydration (extra water)
10. Emergency shelter

I don't see sleeping bag on this list, so obviously it is an optional item. But then, I don't see "scrap of tyvek" either.
Elon Musk for Pres.

#582337 - 07/12/06 04:02 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
pup_on_the_mountain Offline
addicted to

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 514
TRs: 5 Photos: 29
Loc: Land of Cows
Way to go!!!

#582338 - 07/12/06 07:07 PM Re: [TR] Gunsight Peaks- West Face & South Ridge 7
Blake Offline

Registered: 10/15/03
Posts: 2910
TRs: 46 Photos: 768
Thanks for the compliments. Someone who onsights 5.11 at Index should go give a shot at the first free ascent now!

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