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  1. 10 points
    Trip: Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4) Trip Date: 01/18/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday @Doug_Hutchinson and I skied out to the west face of Chair with low expectations and too much weight on our backs. As far as I can tell, this face has seen little to no winter climbing activity and was completely off my radar until @Kyle M showed me some photos. Our route started by slogging up ~700ft of steep firm snow with a couple easy ice chokes along the way. Nothing worth roping up for. The sun starts hitting the lower snow slopes around 10am, so I would recommend timing things so you start climbing no later than 10:30. After the slog we arrived at the head of a small alcove where we kicked out a platform and roped up. Gear for a belay is hard to come by, take what you can get. I took the first pitch which ended up being a tricky 20m M4 left facing corner system. Nothing was ever really that hard, but protection was difficult, and the rock quality left something to be desired. A really cool looking super direct mixed pitch can be found just to the right and would probably go at M7. Doug then took the lead on the money pitch. While only about WI4+, this pitch proved to be a pretty serious lead. The crux required climbing into an alcove behind a detached curtain, grabbing a rock hold with your right hand and swinging over a bulge above your head. Not your usual WI4. This pitch took good 10 and 13cm screws, but not always where you want them. One could probably bail back to the snow from here with 2 ropes. Moving forward we climbed a full 65 meters of scrambly snow/rock/ice up to a scottish looking headwall, and up a ramp to the left. Belay off a small tree that may be buried in different conditions. I have a hunch you can go either right or left, not sure which is easier. A short sketchy mixed pitch took us up to the false summit. Not hard, just tenuous and poor pro. ^Placing the only piece on the pitch ^The piece The route finished with a classic Au Cheval alpine ridge traverse with snow and ice on the north side, and warm dry rock on the south. This traverse is VERY poorly protected, and definitely not straight forward. Descent: There are two good options for the descent. The best option by far, is to do this route as a carryover, foregoing the skis and descending the normal route to the east. This requires very firm conditions, but would be much shorter. Since we left our skis in the Melakwa valley, we were forced to descend that direction via a long snow gulley opposite of the standard rappel anchor. The first rappel shares the piton anchor with the standard descent, just in the opposite direction. We left a piton and nut anchor 60M down to the left for future parties. This rappel only got us half way to the next worthy tree, luckily the snow was good for down climbing, but we were well aware of the exposed cliffs below. Two more raps off trees took us to the schrund. Ski back over Bryant col, or for bonus points, continue out via the second half of the Chair peak circumnav in the dark. Link to my Strava track can be found HERE for approach and descent help. Get on this climb! We thought it was pretty classic, and likely not in good condition very frequently. Reach out to me with any beta needs! Thanks to Kyle M for this photo! Green is the route, Red is the descent, and the Yellow dots are rap anchors. The last rap is in a bushy tunnel that may be difficult to find for future parties. Gear Notes: Single rack .2-2, stoppers, KB's and Bugaboos. 6-10 Screws 10-16cm most useful. 2 Pickets brought but never used (per usual). 60m twin ropes. Approach Notes: Ski or boot up and over Bryant/Chair col via pineapple basin. Descend over to Melakwa lake, and up to the base of the wall.
  2. 7 points
    Definitely good in the alpine now, really good. Mik and I climbed the NF of N Index yesterday and found excellent, firm conditions - hard to imagine it in much better shape. Despite its pedestrian grade, the NF is a mega route, even in a cruiser conditions, it is about 8x harder than Chair despite being "only" 5300' tall. Some pics: The hidden ledge traverse: Upper north bowl with tons of real ice everywhere: Mik leading the upper N Ridge: Final pitch:
  3. 7 points
    Trip: MT HOOD - Reid glacier HW Trip Date: 01/09/2021 Trip Report: We climbed Reid HW yesterday. Taking the longer 8a variation. CURRENT ROUTE CONDITIONS: Deep snow from IR over to the base of the route with a bit of snow swimming as you approach the base of the route. Most of the ice steps/ramps consist of hollow ice right now and are much shorter than normal. We did manage to find one steep 60-70M AI3 full value rime/hollow ice pitch. This could be avoided by going farther left up a short ramp. Overall the route right now is mainly steep deep snow, hollow ice and good old MT. Hood rime. Gear Notes: Two tools Approach Notes: IR and over to route
  4. 6 points
    Trip: Wy'east (Mt. Hood) - Fric-Amos Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: I went up to the Black Spider last weekend with Lindsey and Riley. We found the Fric-Amos in very nice condition but were too late on a warm day and bailed up an easy mixed pitch to the L of the main pitch. Thankfully the weather granted me another opportunity and I came back this weekend with Kyle to get it done. Noah and Matt saw my Insta story from the first weekend and jumped on the send train. They acted as true gentlemen, coordinating with us and giving us a head start. The route is currently in good condition (but don't expect a straightforward WI4). We used an approach pitch to the R of the original both times that follows an easy ice slot (the original would probably go but is discontinuous ice blobs up a vertical cliff). The crux pitch is a full 60m or could be broken up, expect tricky and sustained climbing but with good ice. Above this snow slopes take you through one more short ice step and up to the summit ridge. This may be one of the more frequently formed ice routes on the Spider given that it is in a shaded cleft, unlike most of the other routes. Though you are basically going for one mega pitch, it is very good and I would recommend it! I talked to Bill Amos the next day and he believes ours was the 3rd (and Noah and Matt the 4th) ascent of the route (2nd was Marcus and Marsha, go figure). Awesome sunrise approaching on first attempt... Lindsey and Riley below the face, clearly too late... The face... Closer view of the Fric-Amos (original approach pitch is on the L, our approach pitch was on the far R of the hanging snow field)... Riley following the approach pitch, classic slot... Our escape pitch... The crux pitch (taken during from 1st attempt)... Kyle booting up to the face on attempt 2 (much earlier)... Kyle's pic, me below the face... Kyle's pics, me on the crux... Looking down from top of crux... Kyle leading above crux... Looking down from ropes off... Summit selfiez... Gear Notes: Screws: 2xstub, 4x13, 2x16, 1x22 (used for the belay but not any good) Rock gear: nuts, cams 0.4-0.75, pins (not used), 2 med hexes (not used) Plenty of slings if you're going to do the crux as one pitch. Approach Notes: Boots from Timberline, crossed White River ~8,800ft.
  5. 6 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Gully Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: With the long period of sunshine after the rain event, @thedylan and I figured it would be lousy skiing but should be great for climbing... we were right! (This time). Earlier this fall we had made a list of possible winter climbing objectives, but then it started snowing, and snowing, and snowing; so we gave it up and went skiing. But this was our opportunity. Emboldened by some beta from this 2009 trip report, and this extra beta from Kyle M we decided to go for the East Gully route on Sperry Peak. It turned out to be an awesome route for easy ice and snow. Typically crappy ice climbers (like us) are left out in the cold (see what I did there?) when looking for alpine routes. You ask on a forum for east ice routes and everyone suggests Colonial, Eldo, Graybeard, etc. Or else North Twin and east snow routes. There never seems to be a happy medium or real climbing but not AI4. This was it! We nailed the conditions on route, except for a little sugary snow shenanigans on the ridge. The Mountain Loop Highway is closed for the winter at Deer Creek at 1600' so we opted for bikes. After a TH bivy on Friday night we started off at 5am. To our surprise we made it to the summer trailhead with only minimal biking through crusty snow, arriving there at 6:30 with 7.6 miles under our belts already. We brought snowshoes but ditched them at 2400' where the trail breaks out into the open and we got a good view of how crusty the snow was going to be. We did not regret this. The approach is short but was seriously aided by the high elevation snowpack and firm crust. We easily booted to the approach scramble at 3600'. First view: Route from where we left the summer trail: From the trail the route is obvious, up the gully that splits the face. All the photos make it look like there is a notch between two high points, but the right point is just a flat spot on the ridge. At about 3400' the approach scramble begins that shut down Kyle M and party. Fortunately, we had an easy snow gully, the ice step was wet and thin but there is a right variation that worked with an easy scramble section. The climbing begins at about 4400' with the money pitch right off the batt. If there was a way to build a rap anchor I might have been tempted to give up here and just lap the first pitch, there were several variations possible and it was awesome easy ice and hero snice, the kind of conditions to make you feel like a good ice climber! This didn't last and after maybe 100' it turned to snow over rock with no pro and a rock step looming, I built a crappy anchor and belayed Dylan up. He took the rock step that turned out to be an easy scramble move aided by the shockingly warm sunshine (I climbed it without gloves or a jacket). Then we were back into the snow gully. From here it was simul-soloing moderate snow and snice for several simul blocks with one great snice and ice step in the mix for Dylan to lead. First pitch: Second pitch rock step with spindrift: I lead again up to the ridge, as I approached it I realized I was climbing up to a cornice so had to bear left onto some insanely steep sugary snow with no pro and terrible axe plunges. I wallowed upward somehow making decent footholds and trusting that it seemed to be working. After probably 30 minutes for what was realistically probably 50' but felt like 200 I topped out on the ridge at a flat safe spot at 5500' and started burying everything metal I had for a crappy anchor in the sugar snow. I was psychologically done from the insecurity of it. You don't train for those conditions. The climbing worked, somehow, but it felt awful. Dylan, naturally, made it look easy on second. Dylan's photo looking back down to my belay with the NE ridge behind: Dylan lead the next simul block through the same place mentioned in the 2009 report: " the physical crux of the climb on such a move that required hooking a tree and pulling up with disintegrating footholds above a near vertical flute that dropped into the north face." Second that! The summit was close but the cornice looked daunting, fortunately, it was mostly fatigue talking and it was an easy 4' vertical step onto the summit! Summit slope: We had a good snack break in the sun and felt much rejuvenated. The descent went smoothly, some front pointing and careful walking on crusty snow, mostly NW near the scramble route to the head of the cirque and across the lake to the trail route and out to Headley Pass. We hit the summer TH at 6pm making it an 11.5 hour day on foot, just under 14 car to car. This was a fantastic route, if we could figure out a better way to do the NE ridge part I would definitely go back. There was an ice line to the left a few hundred feet below the ridge crest that I think the '09 party took, but it looked hard compared to the snow I did... in retrospect... Gear Notes: bikes, sneakers, boots, axe, ice tool, helmets, 60m 1/2 rope, 3 screws, some nuts and cams (placed 2 rock pieces all day, minimal options), 2 pickets (3 maybe useful?) Approach Notes: Bikes! Crust made for awesomely fast travel on the low angle stuff. The climb is very accessible from the summer TH.
  6. 5 points
    Trip: Trappers Peak - South Ridge Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: The incredible weather window on Saturday (1-23-2021) coupled with low avalanche danger inspired @Alisse, Silvia, Rio, and myself to aim for something with a little more adventure than the ski tours we'd been enjoying around the passes for the last few weekends. Trappers Peak seemed to offer a good taste of all the requirements- Questionable forest service road, icy creek crossings, crusty tree skiing, steep enough snow to be fun, and incredible summit views. We found the forest road to be generally easy going despite recent wind events. Instead of blowdown it was snow on the road that stopped us about a mile from the trailhead. With one steeper section on the road and a few modest ruts to navigate I'd recommend a vehicle with more than a few inches of clearance though I'm sure @Alisse could have made it up with her off-roading Civic. We took off from the car in ski boots, carrying skis to the trailhead where we decided to start skinning. Of course this was short lived to the first of the creek crossings. The first two were a bit icy taking some care to not dunk the boots. A nice bridge got us over the third. After crossings to the north side of the valley we were forced to pack up our skis and start booting due to the inconsistent snow on the southern aspect. At about 3,500' we started skinning again on firm and at times icy snow. Conditions and terrain were a bit less consistent than expected and we ended up transitioning more times that I'd like admit before reaching the ridge proper. Continuing up was generally easy going. We followed the summer trail pretty close all the way to the ridge. The first bit of steep snow was encountered at about 5,200'. This open, south facing slope had old avalanche debris towards the bottom and on a warmer day could be a concern, especially on the descent. We topped out that slope to be greeted with ever improving views of the final stretch to the summit and beyond. The ridge was basically all corniced to the east and required some consideration and a little bit of route finding as to not creep too close to the edge. The snow was not too difficult to boot, postholing was generally minimal. Around 5,800' the ridge chokes up for less than 20'. The snow here felt shallower than in previous sections, we bottomed out down to rock on a few steps. The final step to the summit offered some fun moderate snow that steepened up enough that daggering the axe felt good for a little over a body length. The snow here had great purchase, solid footing. Summit! Mount Triumph Southern Pickets On the descent Trip Details: 13 miles, 3,800' gain, 10 hours Gear Notes: Skis, ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe. A whippet or second tool could be useful for the final summit step if not super comfortable on steep snow, however it climbed fine with just an axe. Approach Notes: Typical forest road. Winter route generally follows summer trail.
  7. 5 points
    Trip: Chair Peak - NE Buttress Trip Date: 01/17/2021 Trip Report: Climbed NE Buttress of Chair Peak on Sunday 01/17/21. Snowshoe approach with headlamps was warm and wet, with a persistent drizzle. This led to the avalanche slopes along the Snow Lake approach shedding copious roller balls. Despite this, the slopes showed no sign of worrying instability in an impromptu pit test. Roller ball trails clearly visible The snow was well consolidated and rather deep from the recent storm cycle and freezes, so we were optimistic about route conditions. This held true, but the weather wasn't as good. Chair basin itself was in near whiteout conditions with relatively strong winds when we stashed our snowshoes at Thumbtack rock, but with an 11am storm break in the forecast we hoped the flurries would be gone for the higher pitches. The approach ridge to the climb itself was okay snow with some cornicing on the north side. Base of NE Buttress route from ridge The first pitch was fat with both ice and snow, but the ice was weak in many places and would not always take a screw reliably. The tree anchors for the p2 ridge and p3 belay were almost entirely buried, but the snow was solid enough 2 or 3 pieces of pro a pitch felt adequate. The p4 ice step was in and seemed to be in good condition both for climbing and placing screws. P1 ice conditions P4 Ice conditions P5 went easy, and we decided to forgo the summit scramble in favor of making our way down early, not wanting to get benighted on such a low vis day. Needless to say, the 11am storm break predicted never came. We made our way to the correct rap gulley with the help of @DPS's beta, using a double rope rappel to get quickly to the mouth where the snow slope begins. This was a good call, the anchor cornice was rather large and using a single rope would have left us exposed to it in the gulley while pulling the rope. Either there were no anchors from that point, or they were buried. We drove a questionable piton underneath a rock overhang skiers left of the gulley mouth for a second rap to avoid some of the steep snow downclimbing at that point. Partial view of descent gulley with cornice in foreground Descent went as planned. Summary: As of 01/17/21, the route is in good condition, with high snow levels and decent ice higher up on the mountain. Rock gear was used for reliable belays, while many usual rock protection spots were somewhat buried along pitches so ice screws were placed often, even if questionable ice quality was encountered. Gear Notes: Cams .3 to 1 taken, only .4 used. Small and medium nuts used. Ice screws of various lengths used. One snow picket placed, but snow conditions made for bomber pickets if one took the time. Double 60ms for the rappel. Approach Notes: Approach on snowshoes unpleasant due to extensive avalanche debris fields at the time.
  8. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Curtis Gilbert - West Route Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: The catch up from last summer continues.....We're in early July at this point. Most all the federal lands are back open, the snow is melting fast, and the high alpine is calling! And, of course, there are still Smoots to be ticked. Luckily for me @Juan Sharp isn't too picky so it didn't take much arm twisting to get him to make the drive way south to the Goat Rocks and Mount Curtis Gilbert. We opted for the short and sweet approach via the Snowgrass Flats TH, thence to the PCT and Cispus Basin. It was all very short and civilized with great weather and views. First look of Gilbert (R) and Goat Citadel (center) Klickitat from the hike in Juan crossing a scenic stream just before Cispus Basin The man, the myth, the Juan at camp. The blown out hulk of Loowit to the south (R). We kept it Covid friendly and slept in two tents. Shortly after I took this picture, I busted the filter and ring on my go-to lens. Oops. Both my lens, and wrist, though unrelated to one another. The next day dawned clear, earlier than either of us would have liked, and so we had no excuse to stay in camp, starting the engaging slog/scramble using goat paths and steep snow to the mellow area near the summit. Crampons, axe, and helmet kept it reasonable, but there was certainly a lot of loose rock and steep snow to keep your attention. And the views! A rare photo of me (R), thanks Juan! Without too much trouble or head scratching we reached the summit in a few hours, having it to ourselves this glorious day. Views were expansive, from well north of Tahoma way down past Wy'east into central Oregon. It was a great day to tick a Smoot with a good friend. I can't really say much more. Maybe because it was 6 months ago and my memory isn't what is used to be! We must have descended and hiked out at some point, but my memory of the details are hazy. Suffice to say that it was smooth and we got home all in one piece. Another great weekend in the Cascades! Gear Notes: crampons, axe, helmet Approach Notes: PCT to Cispus basin. Good camps above and below the trail
  9. 5 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Richardson-Rocket Link-up Trip Date: 12/29/2020 Trip Report: The Routes: The Full Richardson is an ice route on the N side of Broken Top. First ascent by Clifford Agocs with Brandon Seymore. It is essentially one 35m pitch of WI4+ up the headwall of an amphitheater that you pass through on the North Buttress Route (listed in Oregon High). If this route were listed in Winter Dance it would probably be described as 150m WI4+ (pitch 1 optional WI3 30m or climb around on snow ramp, pitch 2 WI2 50m up the gully, steep snow up to the headwall, pitch 3 WI4+ 35m, rappel or climb steep snow up and right to a walk off) The amphitheater seems to be producing more ice in recent years as winter temps increase. It was attempted several times by other locals starting in the 90's but rarely found in climbable condition. Based on what I saw on this outing, it seems that there are at least 5 possible routes for the confident smear/mixed leader. Here is a picture of me leading the main pitch... The Rocket Launcher (has definitely been climbed by Pete Keane who calls it Rocket Launcher, this might also be called Cold Sweat FA by Aaron Lish, but that might be a different line, we're trying to track down more info) is a finicky ice line on the East face of Peak 9094 (Broken Top's South summit). Because it is in the Crook Cirque (the so-called crater) which is a South facing glacial bowl and East facing, it can be hard to find in good condition. It starts up some easy ice mixed ledges for ~50m (exposed WI2/3 when fat) and then climbs a beautiful gash feature which is steeper than it looks into a hanging bowl (55m WI4, probably deserves an R rating most of the time). From there the obvious course of action is to just climb the easy snow for 90m to the summit ridge (often corniced), and then either head up to your R and tag the 9094 summit or down and L until you can down climb open snow slopes to the valley below the glacial moraine. Here is a recent picture... Our day: Clifford Agocs and I used a sled to get to the wilderness boundary by Ball Butte just before dawn. We opted to boot (not recommended, but our desired linkup and Landon's success booting on the rain crust on our North Sister climb the week before convinced use it would be okay, it was just okay). We hiked around BT via No Name Lake to the Bend Glacier and transitioned to crampons etc. at the base of the North Buttress Couloir. We soloed the approach pitches to the base of the Full Richardson and I got the sharp end as Cliff had already snagged the FA. Ice was in difficult condition (brittle but sticky to get the tool out again), definitely solid 4+ in the Rockies, Cody, etc. similar to steepness to leading Cleo's at Hyalite when it's fat but without the hooks. On top anchor options were limited. I dug down, bottomed out some screws in decent ice and tied them off. We then unroped and front pointed the snow up to the summit pinnacle and followed the standard scramble to the summit. We down climbed the summit and made one short rappel, then we traverse the W face to the top of the 11 O'clock Couloir. We tried to saw the cornice with the rope but its a big ice block with the weather we've had so Cliff body belayed me down next to it to check the snow before we both committed to down climbing. Once in the crater we traversed over to the base of the Rocket Launcher and soloed the first few steps until aerated ice and snice over some steeper/exposed rock made us rope up. I lead ~15m to a belay stance just R of the the crux pitch (left a fixed pin for ya). Cliff lead the next pitch in lovely spindrift conditions which started on good WI4, involved stemming through vertical snice, and climbing easier alpine ice up to a short vertical pillar. The pillar was pretty awkward so he brought me up and I got to lead the vertical ice into overhanging rock with an awkward move left, digging through snow for a stick and hooking a blob on the overhang to skate my way through (not hard per se, but definitely some of the more awkward ice I've climbed). I made a belay in some rock 15m up and then we simuled the snow up the bowl and gully above to the ridge. We hiked back to the sled in the fading light. Luckily the increasing winds were at our back, though the variable drifts made for some frustrating post-holing at times. Roughly a 12hr car-to-car. Pictures: Leading the Richardson... Cliff topping out Richardson... BT summit shot, Rocket Launcher climbs a hidden cleft on the L face of the peak on the R (Peak 9094)... Approach ice on the Rocket Launcher. You can just see the main ice in the cleft in the upper middle of the photo... Cliff leading the main pitch on Rocket Launcher, he's just above the difficult snice section and you can see the awkward pillar poking into view at the top of the gully... Gear Notes: 1x stubby, 4x 13cm, 3x 16cm, 1x 22cm, 2x knife blades, smallish nuts, long slings, 6-8 alpine draws, 1x 60m half rope Approach Notes: Sled + slog
  10. 4 points
    Trip: North Sister - Complete East Buttress Trip Date: 12/23/2020 Trip Report: The East Buttress of North Sister is listed in the Oregon High guide book but it doesn’t receive much praise there. However, a close reading would interest any winter climber. The Complete East Buttress (“Direct” would be inaccurate) is an obvious extension of this route and several local climbers (myself included) have made the mistake of thinking this awaits a first ascent. However, it has been done, and soloed, by @now_climbing and maybe others too. When Chris first told me he had done it I was a little disappointed as the mystery was diminished, but when he told me it was his favorite alpine climb in Oregon that piqued my interest and I got quite excited to try it in early season conditions.Last winter around this time @kyleptarry and I came darn close despite no ice on the upper buttress and plenty of post holing in wind packed powder.On 12/23 this winter @lim.landon and I decided to give it another go. We hoped the recent rain up to high elevation had created ice earlier than last year but we were betting against ourselves. Despite our pessimism we got lucky and enjoyed near perfect conditions on our way to the summit.Though a little contrived, this route is really good and deserves more attention: long, varied, good rock (for volcanoes), and pitch after pitch of memorable moderate mixed climbing. I've listed a pitch-by-pitch breakdown below, though it would probably be more fun if you go explore for yourself! 😉Hopefully someone else can repeat it while its in good nick! Here are some pictures... Pictures SPOILER ALERT - PITCH BREAKDOWN P1- climb the short vertical ice pillar in the middle of the lower buttress follow easier ice up the gully to a tree and short ice step (WI3+/4-) P2 (simul)- short ice step and snow up to base of cliff, go over ridge crest to R traverse snow and climb up first snow/neve/ice gully to broad snow field on ridge crest simul/solo snow field, stay on crest over a couple high points until you are cliffed out P3- down climb steep snow/neve to the R/N side and traverse at highest opportunity to regain ridge crest P4- black gendarme, climb up and right, down the back side, weave through some orange rock features (downclimb some steep snow) and terrain/body belay (M3) climb up to the next high point on the ridge (easy snow) and rappel off the fixed tat (25m free hanging rappel), this is the end of the lower buttress walk up the snow ridge and right to the obvious double gully which starts the upper buttress P5- if ice is in climb the L of the two gullies (WI2/3), if its dry climb the R gully (runout M4 on nubbins) and traverse back L on easier ground P6- v-slot, continue up this cool feature above the L gully from the last pitch, you can link with the last pitch if you came up the L gully (M3) simul up steep snow above these pitches and either skirt the next cliff band on the R up more snow/neve, or go to the chimney on the L P7 (optional chimney)- climb the chimney past a chock stone and onto low angle slab, some more scrambly bits and then snow above this P8- the snow narrows and steepens with a big rock face feature on the L ending in an exposed and runout slab section (M3 R), climb snow above this and body/terrain belay P9 head up and L (don' get sucked R or you'll be stuck beneath steeper rock), until just below the top of the ridge, then a slight R and some short moves to the ridgecrest (M4) P10 (3 options)- move the belay down the ridge crest to the base of Glissan Pinnacle (the slightly lower of the 2 summits that forms the headwall at the top of Early Morning Couloir) and... option 1- traverse steep exposed snow L over the Thayer Headwall to get around Glissan to the true summit (Prouty Pinnacle) option 2- climb the headwall of Glissan directly (actually quite good, what I would recommend, but more time consuming) (M4, 60m rope stretcher) option 3- traverse steep snow R over the top of EMC, from here you can descend or wrap all the way around Glissan to the summit (definitely the longest distance, and the least cool) P11- summit pinnacle (Prouty Pinnacle) walk across the snowy saddle and climb the NE aspect of the summit (either sketchy rock slabs to snow on the L or stacked jenga pile on the R (M3+ R), OR if both those are looking terrible you could go all the way around the summit to the W side and climb the Bowling Alley gully (AI2/3)) Descent options: down climb Bowling Alley to the W and descend the standard S Ridge, OR rappel the last pitch to the saddle and traverse around Glissan on the N side (steep exposed snow, option 3 from P10), and down climb Early Morning Couloir (I prefer this second option as it gets you back to the base more directly). Expect either descent to be exposed and unprotectable, with lots of high dagger down climbing for over 2k'. Gear Notes: 60m half rope (a 70 would make things a little more comfy), 2 knife blades, nuts from tips to 0.5, single set of cams from 0.4 to 3, screws (2x stubby, 2x 13cm, leave the vthread at home this time of year) Approach Notes: Pole Creek is accessible with high clearance 4WD. Skin/slog is a straight shot on snow (less than 2 hrs car to base)
  11. 4 points
    @Doug_Hutchinson and I checked out the Roosevelt Flows yesterday. Most of the ice was rotten and aerated with snow clinging to it, just like most everything else we've seen in the snoqualmie area recently. We climbed the thin gully feature, which went at WI2+/3- for 60m. There's a lot of potential here, but none of the climbs are really in. Definitely worth the trek when it's in! https://climberkyle.com/2020/12/28/roosevelt-ice-exploration/
  12. 3 points
    How about some ice conditions from somewhere other than Snoqualmonix? @Michael Telstad and I drove up to the Methow and found not much ice, reportedly the mid Jan warmup/rain killed a lot but it is healing and reforming (other than one day on Goats Beard, I haven't chased any ice up there so take anything I say as BS). Yesterday, we climbed the only decent looking ice we saw = the Standard. I would describe the ice as in the later adolescent phase, definitely fun and worth doing. The Standard P1: P2: Based on a quick glance, I would assume that the Czech Gully is in typical, mixed conditions, but again, I would assume I don't know what I am talking about. The previous day we climbed the first 6 pitches of Mark Allen's dry tour-de-force Mazama Queen. If you don't like ice getting your tools wet, this is the route for you. Michael starting P3: Goats Beard will not be getting an ice ascent this season: Bonus condition report - on the drive home we detoured up the Entiat. Nothing worth shooting for there yet, and the private property/access issues in that valley make me have mixed opinions about climbing there ever again. The left side of Tyee Falls is probably climbable but much leaner than when I climbed it in years past: Preston Falls is nothing but flowing water, and the Fang has a long way to go to touch down: And that, my friends, is what rainy Weds mornings are for...
  13. 3 points
    Trip: The Mighty Tooth - Regular Trip Date: 01/17/2021 Trip Report: Took a spin up The Mighty w/ a lad from work for his first mixed climb. Mixed as in slush and rock, with just a hint of ice. Oh man, if it gets cold before it dumps again... Gear Notes: Tricams Approach Notes: Separate cars, slowshoes
  14. 3 points
    Trip: WELKER! - Whacky Wallow Trip Date: 01/18/2021 Trip Report: You can all feel sorry for @Alisse. She was desperate enough this week to reach out to @Kit and myself to try and climb a mountain somewhere. And so we convinced her that she might as well go where few have gone before.....WELKER! And since it was winter, it would be the WELKER WHACKY WALLOW. Now doesn't that just sound fun? Well, it wasn't, at least not in the traditional sense. It didn't help that JGAP lost his nerve quite high on the NW ridge, muttering that his "mountain sense" demanded an easier route with less danger of bodily harm. @Alisse seemed unconvinced, but nevertheless went along with the ignominious descent and shuffle to the North ridge, where much bodily harm was endured by the team anyways, while post-holing in less than ideal conditions. We were crazy alright, but not crazy enough to bring snowshoes. Didn't it rain several inches up here? Why wasn't this crust thick enough for my fat ass? Why do bad things happen to bad people? Why does fat need to be punished? Why would a nice young lady pack beers to the summit for two jackasses? We might never know the answers to these questions, but we do know that WELKER has quite a good view and is maaaaaaaaaaaybe worth the work to climb. Oh, and that @Alisse is a saint...... despite what @Kit says. (captions, in time) Gear Notes: Whatever you think will lessen the pain. Summit beers are key. Approach Notes: Ha!
  15. 3 points
    Trip: Mount Ann (5840') - East Ridge Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: A buddy and I climbed Mount Ann this weekend. Snowshoe trip in perfect winter weather. We started from the Mount Baker Ski area. We headed up and over Austin Pass heading towards Lake Ann. We climbed up the north basin between Han Peak and Mount Ann, to the east ridge, to the summit. Temperature was fairly cold, water bladder hose kept freezing along the way. Snow conditions were pretty good, varying between a frozen crust to 6" deep powdery snow on a crust. The snow on the steeper sections was a bit slippery, the top 4" or so wanted to slide on the crust beneath. Surprisingly there was running water available along the route. Great trip and workout for a day climb. Awesome views. Trip distance was around 12 miles round trip. Travel Time: Car to Summit: 5 hours Summit back to Car: 4 hours We started at 8:30am and finished at 6:15pm in the dark. We brought lights but didn't need them, the moon supplied enough light to see. Gear Notes: Snowshoes, Trekking Poles, Whippet. The Whippet worked great on the steeper sections. Approach Notes: Mount Baker Ski Area to Austin Pass to North Basin to East Ridge.
  16. 3 points
    Hello, An interesting turn of events has brought me here for the first time. I was attempting to write a recollection of my ascent of the East Pillar Direct on Mt. Slesse with Greg Child in 93 and of course had to start by acknowledging John Stoddard and Dennis Mullen's visionary and bold first ascent of the East Face proper of Mt. Slesse in 77, hammerless and no cams? Then in thinking of John, I remembered our adventures together back then and was once again saddened to to think of his untimely passing. I decided to look John up on line and found this thread and the remembrances of so many including most recently Dennis Mullen. I met John in Squamish on one of my first weekends there in spring of 76 and he'd just bailed off the Grand from the start of The Flats and the fact that he was even up there blew my newbie mind. John was the Seattle ambassador to our gang of misfits and we shared a lot of shenanigans on and off the rock with a shared love of climbing, weed and Zappa. He was engaging, smart, fun, sensitive and caring. John's enthusiasm and support was critical to my success in solving the Misled bolt ladder (in Vasque Ascenders) and then freeing the 2nd pitch of The Phew which opened up my eyes to Cruel Shoes. John was a dear soul and I will treasure his memory and miss him for as long as I live; maybe some day when things are better there's a gathering for him somewhere? My condolences to his family and those closest to him. Perry Beckham Squamish BC
  17. 3 points
    Trip: Mount Ann - The path of powder, part deux Trip Date: 12/28/2020 Trip Report: Well, @Alisse is right. We need more ski TRs! Or at least more pretty pictures of snowy mountains. Which is what this is, more or less. It was a typical day for @Trent ,@kmfoerster, and I in the Baker backcountry so not much to report other than good snow, great company, and a fun day out and about. After a couple laps on the north side of Ann my legs were tired on the grind out of Swift Creek, but that isn't new. Hoping the freezing level comes down and the skies clear after all this weather! Gear Notes: Skis people (or a splitboard if you are slow, like me)! I saw snowshoe tracks further down Swift Creek than I ever had before. What is wrong with people??!! Approach Notes: Follow the skin track
  18. 3 points
    Perhaps the first ever double Chair climb/ski orbit in a day! Like Michael said, the best way to do it would be sans skis as a carryover but then you would miss thousands of feet of skiing icy avy debris in the dark, where's the fun in that?
  19. 2 points
    C'mon DPS, I started and have been basically almost single-handedly fluffing this thread for months, isn't that enough?? My publisher has been working with Kyle M on a TR ghostwriting deal, but even with his writing skillz, it will probably be challenging because I haven't had shit for time to recount any of the details, so be prepared to stay let down. And/or someone else go climb that awesome Nordwand and write it up!
  20. 2 points
    I remember in January 2019 when Jacob and I reached the top of the Melakwa Flows and turned around and laid eyes on the beauty. We remarked how it could be "the Winter Dance of Snoqualminix!". But it was far above our pay grade at the time. So psyched someone could finally go send it. Some more enticing photos of it, from a scouting trip around Christmas 2020. Top of the flow is visible in the bottom right. Visible once again upper left of the image.
  21. 2 points
    Trip: Mt. Shasta - Casaval Ridge Trip Date: 01/08/2021 Trip Report: Casaval Ridge January 8, 2021 - January 9, 2021: Headed out with my buddy Seth from Bunny Flat parking lot at 1:15pm on Friday. Mt. Shasta had received maybe a little over a foot of snow in the last week and it had snowed a little less than an inch Friday morning. Depth of snow at the Old Ski Bowl was reportedly 45.5 inches when we started. Moderate storms within the last (7) days caused some concerns. Recent snow fall in addition to high winds impressed into our minds that considerable avalanche danger above tree line was possible. We proceeded with vigilance and kept our ears open for shooting cracks and other disturbing sounds from the snow as we climbed. We also had concerns that due to the wind, Casaval Ridge on the North-West side of the ridge may not be sufficiently covered for a successful ascent. Travel with snow shoes, an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel were a given. The Avalanche Center had identified North, East, and South side aspects of the mountain as potential moderate danger zones for wind slab. We felt that given the overall aspect of Casaval Ridge, we were in an okay position to suss out the terrain for a possible ascent. We had planned to sleep at the top of Giddy Giddy Gulch. Weather forecasts made us optimistic. Our No-Go was 30+ MPH winds or snow fall. At our campsite Friday night, winds were forecast for 30MPH, dropping down to 25MPH after midnight. We expected to start our ascent early Saturday morning from the bench in 30MPH winds, dropping to 20MPH as we climbed and staying at 20MPH until we returned to base camp. We arrived at upper Giddy Giddy Gulch at 4:15pm (9,800ft). We made camp just above the first window down into Avalanche Gulch. Wind speeds were high and gusts felt above 30 MPH. We spent 1.5 hours building a snow wall and setting camp. Camp was comfortable and warm in a four season tent. We woke up at 4:00am Saturday morning with the intention of starting our climbing at 4:45am. We began at 5:15am. We ascended the slope above Giddy Giddy Gulch and started the first 50 degree crux of Casaval Ridge around 6:00am. During this portion of the climb, we were between 10,300ft - 10,400ft. We traversed climbers left of the gendarmes maybe a hundred meters uphill. There was little snow. Many rocks were exposed below the gendarmes. The snow was solid for maybe two inches but the rest of the ice axe shaft would fall into powder. Snow conditions were not sufficient to make this climb safely. We aborted the attempt and observed lenticular cloud cover moving over the summit shortly after sunrise. Gear Notes: The four season tent ended up being essential given the exposure along the ridge and the high winds we encountered. Approach Notes: After feeling high winds at one of the 50 degree slopes I believe that this route is best completed with wind speeds under 20 MPH. For the next attempt my personal no-go criteria will be changed from 30MPH+ winds to 20MPH+ winds.
  22. 2 points
  23. 2 points
    Trekked up to the base of Abiel today, there is ice but in a very similar condition to what Kyle described i.e. climbable but with almost zero chance of pro. Ice is thin and unconsolidated with layers of snow underneath. North Face direct starting to form: Blind date:
  24. 1 point
    I am preemptively (and prematurely) starting this thread in an attempt to consolidate ice conditions beta here. As the seasonal stoke is building, I have been involved in many offline conversations about the best way to share condition info. My vote is to not reinvent the wheel, and do it here; solely or in addition to any of the numerous (and ephemeral) Facebook forums. Since I am aware that posting to an internet-based forum is way too time consuming for many, next best would be to strongly encourage that you tag your local social media ice posts with #WAice. Last we talked, Kyle M was redesigning the internet to create a better ice conditions mousetrap. Even if he dazzles and amazes again, this can be the repository for unpolished beta that he later shines and geocodes up. To not be a complete tease, here is all I got now: Mt Baker seracs and the lower flows on Heliotrope have received a decent amount of activity in late Oct/early Nov. I don't think Cosley Houston fully formed and was climbed before the snow switch flipped ON the second week of November and access become challenging, but the early season skiing has been the best in years. My #WAice season began on Nov 13. Tom and I were hoping for some semi-alpine ice in the WA Pass zone but the deep, unconsolidated snow pack (21" fell the day we were there) meant cross country travel, even with skis, was nearly impossible and the pass closed for the season (very early) a few hours after we left. The consolation was getting the rust off on the practice roadcut ice along the highway below the Liberty Bell group: This morning (Happy Thanksgiving), I skied around Alpental Valley (can you say concrete) and as expected there was nothing/nada, nary a drip or drab to be seen. The snow is deep but the temps have been consistently too warm to get anything more than a few icicles forming. Based on the long term forecasts, it will be several weeks before any pick dulling may be possible in the Alpental zone. Mazama is reportedly all dry now too. It is still very early. Happy ice hunting.
  25. 1 point
    I second the above comment. For future reference I also wanted to post this photo from December. At that time there was actually more ice on the rest of the face, for instance the obvious smear at the base of Arachnophobia, but I guess we were afraid to commit to anything. Now having done Fric-Amos I'm pretty sure it would've gone at any time over the last couple months. Based on some news helicopter footage, I'm suspicious there was ice on the face as early as October. In any case, this route and possibly some of the others are climbable outside of the brief (and often non-existent) Spring window when people usually look up there.
  26. 1 point
    Good stuff! It was fun sharing belays with you guys and I'm psyched we could both get it done. What a great route.
  27. 1 point
    Inspired by your pictures, I set upon this hill on Saturday. I took a different route (traditional?) up and was surprised that i didn't see any tracks after knowing that you all did the same trip earlier in the week. It was just me and two dogs going up a very steep peak until we reached the top and saw where you summitted. My track was so exhausting that i assumed you MUST have picked a better route. Damn, I was wrong. So wrong. It was a nightmare coming across the avalanche field and then later down through all the knocked down lumber. The storm did a number on that side of the hill, whereas what I climbed up was completely unmolested. It must have added an hour or more and exhausted the three of us! Kudos to you guys for summitting that way. Fortunately, the views were great and the weather was perfect. No wind meant a nice lunch break at the top and made up for working my way over and under trees through scrub in the dark.
  28. 1 point
    Guye Peak south gully had great alpine ice on Saturday. Most of the gully was hard snow and ice, and there were around 4-5 short mixed steps (~M3) which generally had solid ice above/on them, making for some super fun climbing, including a layback move on ice sticks with high feet on rock edges. A lot of the trees had tat on them already, some with rap rings. Knifeblade pins were useful.
  29. 1 point
    What, no stand alone trip report? C'mon Jack, you're letting us arm chair alpinists down. Index in winter is definitely quite a tick and quite difficult to catch in good conditions. Makes me wish I had stayed for this winter season.
  30. 1 point
    Anyone out there ever ski in the Lake Chelan Sawtooths? I've spent time out there in the summer and fall....always dreaming of ski lines. Seems like access is tricky but possible with a sled. Coverage probably varies year to year but I'd think there would be enough to ski. Since moving to CO I'm learning you don't need much. Horsethief Basin, October 2020 Don't know when a trip would actually materialize to explore the area, but it's definitely on my bucket list if anyone else is equally curious!
  31. 1 point
    I do, but not permanently! I'm here for the winter and La Nina isn't being nice to us. Had me dreaming of WA adventures. Just trying to see if anyone had fun stories or exciting pictures of Sawtooth skiing. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm back in WA next winter. In that case...you have a deal!!
  32. 1 point
    It sure was... something! I can't remember the last time someone I'd met less than 12 hours prior yelled "Fuck you, Alisse!" not once, but twice. 😁 @kmfoerster you should have come! I wish I had a witness to the day (and survivors' group therapy buddy). @JasonG forgot to mention in the TR that he graciously led the vast majority of the post-holing. @Kit and I offered to take over MULTIPLE times but @JasonG snarled and fended us off with his axe. A fun day out, though, in all seriousness. I don't even regret bringing up the beers for you two -- thanks again for letting me join you!
  33. 1 point
    I'd like to think that we all have a little Gen. Weakness and Maj. Junkshow in us. It sounds like the kind conditions that would have me cursing up a storm. Those who have seen it know. Its called "Going post-hole".
  34. 1 point
    Wow, the ice conditions have been great lately...in Wyoming. In WA, conditions are taking the slow-is-smooth approach, it has just been a little too warm for too long. There is some ice out there if you are willing go hunting. Yesterday @Michael Telstadclimbed a new route on Chair Peak. The Upper West Side There is a lot of anticipation building for an upcoming cold snap to happen this weekend and beyond before the snow machine turns back on, so start sharpening yer tools...
  35. 1 point
    I've been aware of UW's time-height forecasting system for a while but really started using it this year. There have been several days where NOAA pt predicts clouds or high winds but the time-height shows its calm and clear above 5-6k' and its right on. Reading them takes some getting used to, they are definitely not the most user friendly, but once you've practiced a bit it's easy enough. Time goes from R-L on the x-axis in UTC (date/hour, 00=4pm PST day before and 12=4am day of), elevation is on the y-axis in mbar pressure (800 is aprox 6k', 700 = 10k'). Green = clouds/precip, arrows = wind (more fletchings = more wind, they point in the compass direction), temp is deg C shown in red lines ("0" line is the freezing level). Here is the link to a map of the time-heights. Click on the location down wind of where you want to go. Look for white above 800mbar with small wind arrows, there's your window. https://a.atmos.washington.edu/mm5rt/rt/timeheights_d3.cgi?GFS+current_gfs+
  36. 1 point
    Every xx/00 to xx/12 is 12 hours, it covers 84 hrs.
  37. 1 point
    x-axis starts on the R and goes back L (counter intuitive right?) and is in xx/yy format. xx is the date. yy is the hour in UTC (8 hours ahead of us in winter and 7 in summer so 00=4pm PST and 12=4am PST). basically you just look for the date and the 12 which is about when you'd be heading up with an alpine start most days. If its white (clear) above and to the L of that then its clear skies.
  38. 1 point
    Hahaha. Because I am not into it as much as you are. Sorry for the confusion. Carry on with your quest.
  39. 1 point
    Don't get the latest RX100. All you need is RX100 III or RX100 IV RX100V has terrible battery life. RX100VI has 2nd worse battery life. RX100 III and RX IV differ by only RX100 is 1080P and RX100 is 4K video.
  40. 1 point
    I have a P&S (Canon S120, which has been replaced with the G5X) case on my shoulder harness of my backpack for routes where my DSLR gets in the way (so, mid fifth and up at my choss pup ability). I use a velcro strap to wrap tightly around shoulder strap, then use case attached to that (something simple like this). Wrist laynard on camera is clipped to sway straps at top of shoulder strap with non-climbing biner to keep me from dropping it. Will work in rain and brush no problem, though in car wash situations I will put it inside my pack since I am not taking photos anyways. Never destroyed a camera in the Cascades, which I often marvel at, esp. given the terrain and weather. I am careful not to ever drop them though.
  41. 1 point
    You are aware of the problems with this strategy, yes? https://www.amazon.com/review/R2JGNJ5ZPJT4YC
  42. 1 point
    Excellent condition, Eva Lopez Transgression hangboard, used a few times but in almost new condition. Board is $225 new. https://transgressionusa.com/shop $100+ shipping or local pick up Bend/Terrebonne
  43. 1 point
    I use a plastic biner to clip the top of the water bottle, then a small bungee cord around the middle of the bottle with one or two zip ties around the bottle at the right height to keep everything snug.
  44. 1 point
    Excellent, excellent! Glad y'all got out. Pretty slick pack, @kmfoerster!
  45. 1 point
    Was an excellent day indeed! Towards Baker Lake A true Cascade hard-man goes nowhere without his yellow hard-man pad. We thought we'd lost them to the surrounding clouds, but Kulshan and Shuksan ended up putting on a show.
  46. 1 point
    Good TR! Glad you made it out OK. Seems like everyone has close calls when they're new to the Alpine game, but your situational awareness and humility saw you through. Well done and congrats on the classic.
  47. 1 point
  48. 1 point
    N. Face Left Gully: Climbed yesterday. Currently the best conditions that i have ever seen the N. Face left gully and completely different terrain than my other times climbing it. Ice almost the entire way up and 6 different steep ice steps, 2 of which you could bypass if you desired.(First 7 pictures) Reid HW: checked out last weekend. Knee deep snow slog to the base. Still just powder on that side of the mtn, not much ice or firm snow yet. (Picture 8-9) Black Spider: Currently the warm weather has melted most of the snow and the face is looking dry. A little ice forming on a few of the routes but not close to being ready for the season in my opinion. (Picture 10) DKH Var 1: As of last week it is dirty choss ice. Climbable but more of a rotten ice/dirt climb right now. (Last Picture) Hope this info helps anyone who is curious about the different aspects of the mtn. I will try to actually post about conditions every few weeks if people care to know what is in and what is not. s for anyone who is in
  49. 1 point
    Trip: Mt Hood - Right Ridge of Icefall / Boy Scouts Chute Trip Date: 12/04/2020 Trip Report: Climbed up the rime encrusted rocks on the right ridge of the Icefall / Boy Scouts Chute. Tool and foot placements were difficult since there was little consolidated snow or hard ice. Most of the ice was rime on large rocks. The lower part of the route was the most difficult. More image here https://imgur.com/gallery/x2t3tMU Route: Some mid-route shots: About to top out: Gear Notes: Two tools, crampons, helmet Approach Notes: Walk up the chewed up cat tracks
  50. 1 point
    Trip: Bear Mountain - North Buttress: Beckey Route Trip Date: 07/15/2018 Trip Report: Bear Mountain: Two new dads trying to keep a 10 year dream alive For me, mountains can become obsessions, sometimes to the point of irrationality. In my life, no mountain, or route has been more indicative of this than the North Buttress of Bear. I stumbled upon Bear in 2007 in my early days of climbing WA by devouring each page of the Beckey guides like they were some gripping novel. Trip reports from this site only further set the dream of someday ascending this monster objective. Being nothing but a budding sport climber at the time, this peak seemed out of my grasp. As the years went on, I honed my mountain skills. I learned to trad lead, sent my first few alpine rock routes, got on my first glaciers, and began developing the mind for the rigors of schwacking in the cascades. By 2011, I began thinking this dream could possibly become a reality for me. I even found a climbing partner, Andrew, who shared my dream. Each year we'd talk about making our dream a reality but each Summer would come and go without an attempt. For 5 years in a row we'd try to make plans only to see them fall through. Timing, schedules, obligations, weather, forest fires, and work all conspired against us. Fast forward to 2016, and each of us became fathers of our first children. Yet another reason to push Bear farther from our grasps. During the first year of fatherhood I discovered, although not surprised, that being a father does not easily co-exist with committing alpine objectives. My fit physique, lead head, and drive for summits began to recede like the glaciers surrounding the peaks I had grown to love so much. Over trail runs, occasional crag days, and family outings, Andrew and I still spoke of our mutual dream contrasted with our diminished abilities. One thing was clear from these conversations: the dream, and our stoke was still alive for our beloved Bear. Spring of 2018 came around. It had been a dismal Winter of training. Trips to the crags confirmed, family obligations and our lack of training over the Fall and Winter had left both of us less than prepared to crush in the coming Summer, but we began to discuss plans for Bear as we did every year. We settled on the dates of July 13-15 and began attempting to play catch up with our training. As the dates drew closer, one thing became certain, neither of us felt strong. But the week of July 4th came and still nothing looked to foil our set plans. So early July 13th we made the early morning drive to the end of the Chilliwack road along Chilliwack Lake in British Columbia. The bushwhack across the border and out to bear camp lived up to its dreaded hype. Six hours of magical, rarely touched old-growth forest contrasted with the torturous efforts required to navigate and move through said forest left us bewildered and uncertain. This uncertainty as well as the contrast of beauty and torture would be a reoccurring theme over these 3 days. From bear camp to the bivy on the western shoulder of bear is 4000 vertical feet up. A quarter of the way up, late afternoon, and we were beat. I am on liter 5 of water, schwacking in my underwear due to the heat and effort. Both of us are bonking and cursing ourselves for thinking we could pull this objective off. We were not fit. We had not trained enough. Doubt began to dominate our thoughts. It has already been 8 hours of this shit and we still had 3,000 feet of trail-less hell ahead of us. Who were we kidding? There was no way we were going to make it to camp before dark. We sat, uncomfortably, on a steep slope, in the middle of nowhere and began talking of retreat. "Squamish isn't too far away, is it?" "I guess we could always just crag at Mt. Erie on our way back to Seattle." Inside, a voice screams at my exhausted brain, "MT. ERIE!!!!???? Are you fucking serious!!?? I am never coming back into this valley again. It is now or never for Bear. The dream either lives or dies on this shitty, viewless, insignificant slope." My senses kicked back in. Remember, anything too big to fathom all at once needs to be broken into digestible chunks. The decision to push on grew from this and we decided to at least try to make it to the lake for the night and we would make the next decision from there. Two hours later, after 1,000 feet of extremely steep blueberry bush pulling, we broke out into the alpine and our spirits began to soar like a vulture in a thermal updraft. It’s amazing how something as simple as alpine views can change the mindset and determination of a climber. I began to feel rejuvenated. Maybe we could make the bivy site before dark. A heather-strewn meadow on a gentle shoulder gave us the first real physical break of the day. Panoramic views of remote North Cascade summits rose all around us. A mother Ptarmigan and her brood of chicks sprinted out of the bushes, snapping me from my alpine daze. Discussions of a potential closer bivy site gave us a closer goal. Running on fumes, past the lower bivy spot, and we still have light. Must, keep, moving. At last, 12 hours after leaving our car, we collapsed at the col. We had made it. I promptly gave the double middle finger to the valley below, clearly showing the shit-show we just wallowed through. We promised ourselves we would not make a decision about what to do about the next day until after we ate. Dinner went quick. As we crawled into our bags, we listened to the cacophony of a thousand tiny flying vampires trying desperately to find a way through our netting and into our skin. Twilight lit the sky with a rainbow of color. We both agreed that since we had overcome the uncertainty and brutality of what many, including us, consider the hardest approach in the Cascades, we felt obligated to throw ourselves at the North face the next morning even as our bodies screamed in opposition. We awoke with the sunrise. I shook the heaviness of last nights sleep from my head and felt somewhat shocked that yesterday wasn't some dream/nightmare. I was here. We were about to start our summit day. A day we have both been dreaming of for at least 10 years. With each sip of coffee, my stoke began to rise. We strapped on our crampons and make a quick and pleasant descent onto the north side of the mountain. We turned a corner to catch our first glimpse of Bear's north buttress. Ominous, glorious, stunning, perfection on ice. Words cannot really describe the feelings I had, but these are close. Upon seeing both the direct north buttress and the north buttress couloir, we checked in. The direct looked safer as the couloir looked broken up near the top, but our energy levels and dismal cumulative rock pitches for the year had us thinking that the extra rock pitches might not be reasonable. We settled on following the couloir and Beckey's footsteps. In hindsight, this might this might have been a bad idea, but I am pretty sure I would have said the same thing if we had taken the other option. Either way we felt the collective weight of our dreams, the debilitating approach that we vowed never to do again, and the sheer power of what we were trying to accomplish. I felt as if every step upwards tightened the grip of the vice we were in. Committed, for better or worse, to move upwards. We switched back and forth from approach shoes to crampons a few times and quickly found ourselves in irreversible territory. There is terror and clarity in realizing the only way out of a predicament is forward. We broke out the rope to lead our first pitch out of the couloir. A shit show of snow, poor pro behind detached blocks, and slopey ledges littered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. My rope skirted across a ledge and sent a microwave down towards Andrew. Our years of work together in the mountains gave us the foresight to expect such events and was glad Andrew had set himself out of harm’s way before I led. We had reached the 4th class ledge system that would get us up to the North buttress proper. Kitty litter, slopey ledges, and the exposure below made for careful, calculated movements while simuling, often without adequate gear between us. Trust in each other became paramount and again I found myself thinking that I was thankful to be climbing with such a trusted partner. At last, we reached the first real quality pitch of the route. Beckey's glorious left facing 5.8 corner. Andrew led and we both laughed at the idea of "5.8" at the top. It felt like index 5.9+ but would be an instant classic if situated at the lower town wall. We were finally finding some type 1 fun. I linked the next two pitches of fun and deposited us at the base of the infamous 10a offwidth. DE8DD876-06ED-4585-BEE2-4CF80B5ED29B.MOV It was at this point that we began to feel the efforts of the pat 36 hours. Dehydrated, low on energy, and stoke, Andrew reluctantly agreed to lead the next pitch and quickly made the decision to take the 5.8 bypass pitch. We ended up breaking this pitch into two because the lower portion of the offwidth took most of our small cams and the upper 5.8 portion looked to take nothing bigger than a .75 BD. Crap. We swapped leads under the only stance Andrew could find conveniently under a car sized detached block. I was tasked with leading over it and him without touching it. Yikes. I led to a nice ledge and brought up my partner. Both of us feeling both physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, we began to flounder. Neither felt the desire to lead the next pitch. Bonking hard, I finally took the sharp end. Staying on the crest I mantled to the base of a steep featured, but unprotect-able face. I began to lose my cool. 15 feet above a ledge and my last piece and seeing committing climbing and no cracks above me, I retreated. Reversing the mantle had me nearly hyperventilating but I, somehow, safely made my way back to the anchor. We discussed our predicament, spied a horn with rap slings 30 feet down to our right and consulted our beta. We both thought that this was the Beckey rappel that would take us to a 4th class gully exit but our position would not allow us to confirm it. Below us, the gullies looked vertical, smooth, and crack-free. Committing to the rappel felt serious. Andrew rappelled at a diagonal across ribs, at times placing gear as directionals to reach the farthest gully. Upon reaching the first gully, Andrew looked up. There is no way that is 4th class. Second gully. Sweet baby jesus! It goes! Relief washed over us like a warm caribbean breeze. I rappelled down and we quickly began to lead. We both just wanted to be done with this endeavor. How quickly a dream becomes dread. My mind screamed, "Get me the fuck off this mountain!" After two rope stretching pitches and some mid fifth climbing (another sandbag) the Sun hit our darkened spirits and the tomb I'd climbed myself out of was no more. A few hundred feet of 3rd class was all that separated us from the summit. Elated, exhausted, and emotional, we hugged. I looked over the edge, down the north face and wept. Tears of joy, relief, and sadness fell hundreds of feet down the alpine face of my dreams. I always pictured myself feeling triumphant at this moment, but instead all I felt was relief and the intense desire to hug my wife and two year old son. We had done it. We had fought through constant moments of fear and uncertainty to obtain our dreams, but I felt far from dreamy. As we began the descent, I turned around and gave one last look at the summit of my dreams and gave it the double middle finger. I was done. I could close this chapter of my climbing pursuits. Fatherhood has changed my drive, my dreams, and my abilities. I am unsure if I will ever climb anything like this again, but much like any overwhelming obstacle, I will take it one decision at a time. Who knows how I will feel about such commitment and risk taking in the future. We hit a mellow snow slope and just like any decision we made that day, we assessed the terrain and made the best choice for moving forward. The joy in the glissade took me by surprise and I burst out into a giggle fit. Type 1 fun!!!! What a wild ride of emotions. We reached our bivy a half an hour before sunset. We smiled and laughed as we recapped the day. Feeling thankful and shocked to have pulled the ascent off, we crawled into our bags, passed a joint back and forth and fell into philosophical ramblings about life and reality. What a life we live. The next morning we made the long march back down to bear camp and through what felt like endless old growth shenanigans pushed by the thought of a dip in Chilliwack lake and the beer stashed there. Upon reaching the lake we found the beer gone, hoards of people on what I thought would be a secluded beach, and leash-less dogs aggressively charging us while the owner continued to flirt with some bikini-clad girl. WTF. I thought that was the shit-cream on top of a long and miserable day, but oh no. Upon reaching the trailhead I saw my car in the distance but somehow it did not look like my car. The back window was missing! Someone had broken into my car! Son-of-a-bitch! As we got closer, the horrific reality set in. My car had not only been broken into, it had been set on fire. The tires, the windows, the interior. Everything that could have burned did. My car was a hunk of metal and nothing more! I was in disbelief. How was this possible!?? How are we going to get out of here? Is this a nightmare? Am I still in the mountain sleeping in my bag and this is some horrid hallucination fueled by the joint and exhaustion? Nope. This was reality. Whoever did this also nearly set the entire forest on fire based on the completely burnt cedar behind my car. Jesus Fucking Christ! We could have been trapped in that valley if they had succeeded in doing so! As my mind swirled with the gravity of our situation, the last car in the parking lot approached us and gave us a ride into town dropping us off at the Chilliwack police. After reporting what had happened, expecting surprise, they just smiled and said, "Yep, this has been happened a lot this Summer and there was little they could do about it. They gave us our police report number and directed us to a local bar and motel. I called the border to confirm they would let me back into the states without my passport (burnt in the car) and made arrangements for a friend to come pick us up. ”the urban mountaineer” This trip will live in my mind till the day I die and will hopefully entertain many. Journeys like this are great reminders for what is important in your life and just how lucky I am to be apart of this amazing planet. Get after what fuels your soul people! Gear Notes: 60 m rope Double rack tops to fist. Single 4 and a set of stoppers. Lots of alpine slings Approach Notes: Follow the tape till you can’t then turn on your zen and be one with the forest.
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