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  1. I'll keep the beta spray brief since there is sufficient info out there on both routes involved in this climb. On Sunday the 4th, Eli Spitulnik and I hiked then skied out to Colfax with an idea I had schemed up the week before. We planned to climb the first ~80meters of the Polish route (Link, Link), then traverse a snow band left to the pitch 4 chimney of Colin's route Kimchi Suicide Volcano which we would then take to the summit. The combo worked out better than we could have imagined, and we both think this is one of the most quality alpine mixed routes we've climbed in the cascades. The nature of this route allows it to go in normal conditions, where the Polish or KSV would not be in. We hope that it'll become a popular way to climb this face as it has much more actual climbing than the Cosley-Houston, for a slightly harder grade. Here's some pretty pictures. Blurry, but you get the gist Eli about to cross the bergschrund Following P1 Myself taking the spindrift straight to the face starting pitch 2 Eli traversing over to the KSV chimney. Entering the squeeze Eli carried the pack like a champ through the rime tunnel Wild rime daggers threatening to collapse on our heads while we tunneled Eli after exiting the tunnel into the sunlight Pleased to be on the summit and in the sun. Tagged the East summit on our descent Rack: 9-12 screws, single rack .2-2, nuts, selection of kb's and beaks (very helpful for anchors). If you don't like long sections of unprotected snow climbing, a picket or two may come in handy for the upper slopes. In less rimed up conditions more rock gear should be available. In our conditions cams from .4-1 would have been sufficient. You may be able to climb all the way up to the ledge traverse in one pitch with a 70M rope, otherwise we had a single 60.
    14 points
  2. Trip: Boston Peak - West Face Trip Date: 02/10/2024 Trip Report: Boston Peak (8,883 ft) First Winter Ascent West Face (steep snow/rime, 5 pitch) Eric Gilbertson and Nick Roy Feb 10, 2024, 12:30am – 5:30pm The last pitch to the summit (photo by Nick) I’d recently been climbing in the area around Cascade Pass the previous weekend to bag Buckner, Horseshoe, and Sahale peaks. On that trip I’d taken some pictures of Boston Peak from Sahale and Horseshoe, and thought about tagging it on as a bonus point. But bonus points almost never happen on winter bulger trips, and we didn’t have enough time. The route Interestingly, the snow and weather conditions looked to be stable again for another weekend. I’ve found the highest chance of success on winter bulger trips often happens when revisting the same area after a recent trip, when conditions and approach beta are known and will likely remain the same. This sounded like a good recipe to attempt Boston Peak. As far as we researched Boston had not previously been climbed in winter. This is probably for good reason. All routes are loose, exposed, and at least 4th class (in summer, at least). According to Beckey “The US Geological Survey party of 1898 believed the summit inaccessible and applied the name to the present Sahale Peak.” That's why the survey marker on Sahale says "Boston." The west face route (drawn on photo by John Scurlock) There are four routes I’m aware of that have previously been climbed on Boston Peak. The Southeast Face is the standard route and involves steep, loose, exposed 4th class climbing. Nick and I had each previously climbed Boston twice via this route. We remembered there were basically no protection options. We expected in winter it would likely be steep thin exposed snow on rock for several pitches and sounded sketchy to essentially solo. The South face is the standard rappel route and has steep rock of low quality. This sounded like the most technical winter route, and would be tough with questionable protection. The North Ridge was climbed in 2018 by Sam Boyce and Kyle Willis in their Boston Marathon trip. This would likely be corniced in winter with prevailing west winds, and also sounded sketchy. The West face was climbed in September 1956 by Anderson and Shonle. The exact route up the face is described by Beckey as starting at the lower of two prominent gullies, then “begin from the gully and climb the west face.” Unfortunately even their original trip report doesn't give any more details. Loading up at the Eldo gate I’d been in Boston Basin in January 2022 climbing Forbidden and had gotten some good pictures of the west face of Boston then. It appeared like there might be some steep snow gullies on the face with rock walls in between. Based on topo maps the face appeared lower angle than the south face. We suspected the gullies might be protectable with the rock faces on the sides, and this face could be the best option in winter. It wouldn’t be under any cornices most likely since it was on the side of prevailing winds. The route would definitely require stable snow, which was in the forecast for Saturday. The weather looked clear Saturday but a storm was coming in Sunday, so we decided to go for the climb as a car to car push. Rigging up the bike tow (photo by Nick) Luckily I had very fresh beta about the approach for Boston. I had just driven and logged out Cascade River Road to the Eldo gate the previous weekend, and there hadn’t been any lowland snow or big storms since then. There’s unfortunately some inaccurate information online about the road conditions. The national park service website says the road is gated at the park boundary at MP 18, but that gate has been open all winter. The Eldo gate at MP 20 is locked though. My main resource for predicting snow depth, NOHRSC, had been showing deep snow starting at MP 18, but I found in reality the road is melted out all the way to MP 22 around 3000ft. With this in mind, I planned to leave the snowmobile at home, but bring the big chainsaw and bikes. Nick has an e-bike, and we planned for him to tow me up the road with a rope to save energy. I’ve done this before on cascade river road, and the best strategy is to tie the rope to the front bike’s seat post or back rack, then the follower holds the other end of the rope in one hand. Boston creek washout For the route we planned to take the Cascade Pass trail all the way up to the last switchback, then cut up and left following the same route as I had taken the previous weekend. We would traverse around sahale, drop through a low-angle gully to gain the Soldier Boy drainage, then continue to the Quien Sabe glacier. I know skiers often ski up Midas Creek or Soldier Boy creek directly from the road to access this area in the spring, but those drainages were all melted out last weekend and would be tough alder bushwhacks. Friday evening we started up cascade river road, and there were only two minor blowdowns to clear all the way to the Eldo gate. I was a bit disappointed to not get to use the chainsaw, but there was still hope for the drive out that something would need sawed out. We were the only ones at the lot. Approaching the Quien Sabe glacier We got a few hours of sleep then were up and moving by 12:30am. One car was in the lot by then. We strapped the skis to the bikes, then tied the rope to Nick’s rear rack. I pedaled a bit so he didn’t spin out but it was nice to get the boost on the uphills and save some energy. We had to carry the bikes over a few blowdowns but overall it save time and more importantly increased fun. Crossing the glacier Around MP 22 there’s a huge washout at Boston Creek. We ditched the bikes there, walked a bit higher, then hit snow and started skinning. We made fast progress up the road, then continued following the trail. This time there was a few inches of fresh snow on the icy snow, but we could still barely make out my ski tracks from the previous weekend. We topped off water halfway up at a stream, then left the trail at the highest switchback. Looking up at the west face gully system (photo by Nick) This time there was enough fresh powder to leave the skis on with ski crampons. We angled up to 6400ft, then dropped down a low-angle face into the Soldier Boy drainage. We descended with our skins on making low-angle switchbacks for our future use when skiing out. From there we made a rising traverse all the way to the northwest corner of the Quien Sabe glacier by sunrise. I’d never been on this route before, but Nick had crossed the Quien Sabe in July last summer and remembered some big crevasses. But there had been a safe summer route across the northern end of the glacier, which we planned to follow. We roped up and skied across the glacier to the base of Boston. The West face looked promising with a few gullies leading up to the summit ridge. It looked like the snow was likely deep enough to be supportive and there were also exposed rock bands on the sides for protection. We decided to give it a shot. Nick leading up the west face In the summer there is a large bergschrund directly below the col south of the summit, and with this low snow year we were worried the schrund might not be well-bridged. So we cut up and right to the outcrop just righ of the schrund area. There we ditched skis and switched to crampons and tools. Nick led kicking steps up the snow to the right of the outcrop. Then we traversed left acrosst the snow face. We didn’t have pickets, but Nick buried one ski pole as a deadman anchor. We simulclimbed to the base of a large gully that trended up and left across the face. Nick got a few pieces in, then belayed me up to an anchor. Me leading up the second pitch (photo by Nick) I took over from there, kicking steps up the steepening snow. I spent some time excavating out a rock face and smashing off rime ice to find a crack. For some reason the rock on boston doesn’t have many cracks, but if you look hard enough you can usually find one. The snow had a thin layer of wind slab but it was unreactive. Still, I felt happy to have running pro in on the steep face just in case something slid. We simul climbed on a shortened 30m section of rope from there so we could be within earshot of each other. I soon crossed over into an intersection of one gully going very steeply directly up and another going more gradual up to the left. I had to excavate out a wind lip to cross, and did a bit of downclimbing on steep snow. The direct gully looked like tough mixed climbing, and I decided to try my luck sticking to snow. The anchor under the overhanging rime face (photo by Nick) I got a few more pieces in as the gully continued up and left. Then I found a nice rock overhang with a flat snow bench underneath. I banged off 1ft long rime feathers and eventually found a few good gear placements to belay Nick up. From there we decided to leave the main gully and follow a subsidiary gully directly up to the north ridge. Nick led the next pitch, even managing to get a piton in at one point. In general I’ve found cams tend to slip out of icy cracks but hexes, nuts, and pitons can be more solid. With the terrain steepening we lengthened the rope to 60m and decided to pitch out the terrain instead of simul climbing. Nick on the summit Nick belayed me up a pitch of steep snow and rock, then I took over. The snow got icier and filled with more rime. I got a few pieces in and climbed all the way to the north ridge. The wind picked up there and I probed around and luckily there were only small 1ft cornices on the ridge. The summit was close! On the summit I banged off the cornices, got a directional piece in, then followed the direct ridge crest towards the summit. I soon reached a wider area with good gear and built an anchor. Nick then took over the last lead. He downclimbed a short bit to the final notch, then followed the narrow snowy ridge to the summit. There were no gear options the whole way, and the wind pickedup the rope and blew it pretty high off the ridge. Luckily there were no cornices for it to snag on. The summit register (photo by Nick) Nick was able to bury a ski pole as a deadman anchor and belayed me up by 1pm. Conditions were hard to beat. Only occasional gusts of wind, but not too cold and partly sunny with great views around. I peered over to the steep southeast face and was very happy to have not tried that route. It was very exposed, with no protection, and would have been super sketchy. I think our route was the best option for winter. I had brought my shovel up and we decided to find the summit register. Nick remembered its approximate location, and this is one of the largest registers on any Bulger peak. It is a huge aluminum rectangular case containing a full-sized notebook. Signatures go back to 1968, when it was first placed. I recalled leafing through it in 2016 and 2018 and not seeing any winter sign ins. We hoped to change that. Climbing back down We took turns digging down through 2ft of snow and I eventually managed to find the register! We cracked it open and signed in. This was the third Boston summit for each of us. After 45 minutes on the summit we decided to head back down. Our original plan was to descend the standard rap route, but that didn’t seem like such a good idea any more. There would be three anchors that would each need excavated out, and that could take a while if they were buried as deep as the summit register was. We might not be able to find them, and it would be a lot of work excavating out our own anchors. Climbing down (photo by Nick) We had already confirmed the snow stability on our ascent route, and had already excavated out plenty of cracks in rocks. It was low enough angle that we decided to just simul downclimb our ascent route. Nick already had all the gear so he started down first. Climbing down (photo by Nick) I belayed him to the end of the rope, then started down the ridge. It took careful balance with no protection on the ridge and occasional wind gusts. I crossed to the notch, climbed back over the gendarme, then downclimbed. I carefully followed our up tracks and eventually met back up with Nick at the overhang. From there the slope was low-enough angle that we put the rope away and just downclimbed facing in. The sun came out by then and warmed the snow enough to glop on our crampons. But we carefully made it back to our skis as the clouds rolled back in. By then the summit started getting socked in. It appeared the Sunday storm system was approaching. Biking out For the descent we scoped out a crevasse-free route more directly down, and we had fun turns down the southeast edge of the Quien Sabe glacier back to our up tracks. We had to briefly change to skins to cross out of the Soldier Boy drainage, then skied back to the trail. With the fresh powder we skied down the switchbacks, cutting the last five or so in a big snowfield on skiers left that led back to the trailhead. From there we skied back to our boots, walked a short ways back to the bikes, then biked back to the Eldo gate by 5:30pm. 68/100 Winter Bulgers Note: it's hard to know for sure if we followed the same route as the Sept 1956 ascent or did a different route. Their description isn't too detailed. Gear Notes: Bikes, two tools, 60m rope, single rack to 2", pitons, hexes Approach Notes: Road still clear to Eldo Gate and bikeable beyond to the Boston Creek washout
    8 points
  3. Trip: Buckner, Horseshoe, Sahale - Standard Trip Date: 02/03/2024 Trip Report: Buckner Mountain (9,111ft), Horseshoe Peak (8,480ft), and Sahale Peak (8,680ft) Winter Ascents First Winter Ascent of Horseshoe (SE Face, M3) Feb 3-4, 2024 Eric and Francis Rapping off Horseshoe (photo by Francis) The weekend looked like a rare alignment of stable snow and weather in the west north zone, and we decided to tag some peaks along cascade river road. This road is difficult for access in the winter. It’s not officially maintained in winter, and it is at a critical elevation where sometimes it is snow covered and sometimes not. One thing is guaranteed in the winter, though – there will be lots of blowdowns. In mid January it was snow covered and I was able to drive to MP 15, then snowmobiled from there to the Eldo gate, sawing out a few trees en route. This weekend looked to be a bit warmer, but NOHRSC was still showing deep snow starting at MP 18. The route Our goal for the weekend was to climb Horseshoe, Buckner, and Sahale, with the trailhead starting at MP 23 near Cascade Pass. I expected to be able to snowmobile the last 5 miles of road, as I had back in December on a road clearing mission. The road is gated at MP 20 at the Eldorado trailhead, but a snowmobile can squeeze under the gate. I also expected a lot of blowdowns, and I have a 25″ chainsaw for this purpose. Logging out a few trees I’ve previously climbed each of these peaks two or three times, which is very helpful for times savings in the winter. On one trip in 2022 I had hauled up my theodolite to measure the double summit on Buckner and concluded the SW summit is 18 inches +/-3 inches taller than the NE summit. This was valuable knowledge for a winter ascent since we wouldn’t have to bother making the sketchy traverse to the lower NE summit and could save time. Last winter, 2023, I had tried to bag these same three peaks, but was thwarted by law enforcement. Ryan and I drove up to MP 13 on cascade river road before we were stopped by blowdowns. We got out the saws and started clearing, but USFS law enforcement showed up and told us we couldn’t be there. They never came up with a clear reason why we had to leave, and seemed reluctant to stop us from clearing the road, but they still kicked us out. I’m still a bit confused about that encounter. Starting up This time I hoped would be different. Friday evening I drove up Cascade River Road, and logged out six new trees up to a foot diameter. I was a little disappointed there weren’t any bigger or more difficult trees to clear. As my friend Paul says, this is just a bad year for blowdowns. Surprisingly, the road was snow free all the way to the Eldorado gate! The NOHRSC model had been very inaccurate. I jogged up the road another half mile past the gate and there was still no sign of snow. This was a bit disappointing, since it meant I wouldn’t get to use the snowmobile and would instead have to walk that road section. My general rule of thumb is to not snowmobile more than about 1/2 mile on gravel loaded down with two people and overnight gear since the sled will overheat. A few big washouts Back at the trailhead another car pulled up and the climber was planning to snowshoe up Eldorado the next morning. I gave him my beta about where the good stream crossing was three weeks earlier. Francis soon arrived and we got to bed around 8pm. Saturday we were up and moving by 1am. The goal was to climb Horseshoe and Buckner that day, then Sahale on Sunday. We would prioritize Horseshoe since it was the only one previously unclimbed in winter and was the most difficult, with a short technical pitch at the summit. Skinning up in the twilight Amazingly the road was completely snow-free all the way to the Boston Basin trailhead at 3200ft! NOHRSC had predicted at least 3ft of snow at that elevation. There was a huge washout at Boston Creek, and I suspect that, as usual, that upper portion of road will stay gated well into the summer as they repair the road. Climbing up Sahale Arm with Johannesburg in the background Snow started just after Soldier Boy creek and we skinned up to the Cascade Pass trailhead. From there we followed the trail up to the last switchback before it traverses to the pass. The snow was icy but a thin dusting of snow started at that elevation and we were hopeful that it might be skiable higher up. We cramponed up a few hundred feet through open trees, then hit a clearing and continued skinning. We angled up and left around a cliff band and eventually popped out on Sahale Arm just at sunrise. The views were amazing of Johannesburg Mountain across the valley sticking up through and undercast. We could also see the Ptarmigan Traverse opening up to Dome Peak in the distance. Skiing down the SE face The snow got softer all the way to Sahale Camp, where we stopped to take a break. Here we had a few decisions to make. First, we decided to bring our overnight gear down to Horseshoe basin instead of leaving it at Sahale Camp. That way if the climbs took longer than anticipated we wouldn’t be obligated to make the 1000ft climb back up to camp at the end of a long day. Second, we decided to ski the SE bowl down to Horseshoe Basin instead of downclimbing the SE ridge. I’ve always downclimbed the ridge in summer and fall, but there would be one 4th class step that would be sketchy with big packs and skis sticking out. Nice views across to Ripsaw Ridge and Buckner On the shaded relief map we noticed a route down the bowl that appeared to avoid cliffs. I found that Tim Gibson had posted a video on Turns All Year of skiing this route in May a few years ago, so we knew it could work with enough snow coverage. We had intentionally timed our departure to hit this section after sunrise so we could assess the route before committing to it. We leap frogged each other skiing the bowl, and there was just enough powder on crust to make for fun and safe skiing. We cut down hard skiers right, found the weakness through the cliffs, and successfully made it to the base at 6500ft. Scrambling up to the base of Horseshoe There we traversed around to a flat sheltered area at the base of the SE ridge and ditched our overnight gear. Above us Ripsaw Ridge looked very intimidating with countless gendarmes plastered in rime ice extending all the way from Boston Peak to Buckner. Horshoe was one of those gendarmes, though luckily I knew it was easier than it looked from afar. We skinned across the basin, seeing lots of evidence of old avalanches from the atmospheric river the previous week. We cut through the old mining site, then zig zagged up to a bench at 8200ft below Horseshoe. There the snow turned icy so we ditched skis and put on crampons. Me leading up the summit block (photo by Francis) We kicked steps steeply up the snow, then scrambled over a small ridge to the gully at the base of the SE face of Horseshoe. This area is easy to get slowed down by route-finding issues, and I was happy to have already climbed Horseshoe twice before to have the route dialed. We kicked steps up the gully then ditched gear at the large notch just east of the summit. Here is where the ramp leads up and left to another notch just next to the summit. It looked a lot harder than I remembered, with a foot of rime ice plastering all the rocks. The first time I’d climbed Horseshoe I’d rope soloed it in the summer and it wasn’t too hard. But this time I was happy to have two tools, a partner, and a good climbing rack. On the summit (photo by Francis) There was a nice horn at the notch we rapped the rope around a few times for the anchor. Then Francis belayed me up. The ledge got narrower and narrower and I had a bit of trouble finding gear. I remembered some good cracks above me, but when everything was covered in rime ice they were hard to find. I kind of just gold-mined around, clearing rime ice off of everything until I eventually found a crack that worked. The cracks were all icy and I wanted to pound hexes in like I usually do in winter. This works well in vertical cracks, but not so will in horizontal cracks under an overhang. So I ended up just using cams. Both on the summit (photo by Francis) I was very careful with feet placement on the ledge since I didn’t want to kick all the snow off and be left with a thin slab, but I also couldn’t necessarily trust the snow on the slab. I managed to get solid hooks with the tools before trusting my feet. Finally I reached the last notch and hooked a good jug with the tool. I then pulled myself over and clipped onto the rap anchor. I went over and tagged the summit, then belayed Francis up by 2pm. We had great views all around of Sahale and Boston above an undercast and Lick of Flame looking intimidating covered in rime. We took turns rapping down, and I was happy to have brought the full 60m rope. It comfortably reached the gully below, but a 30m rope definitely would not have reached. Rapping back down We collected our gear, then returned to the skis. It looked like there would be plenty of time to climb Buckner before sunset, which would be a treat. The slope was icy so we strapped skis to our pack then traversed over to the SW face of Buckner. I had brought ascent plates for the climb, but we only sank in to our ankles in the snow so they weren’t necessary. There were a few isolated pockets of 6″ wind slab, so we stuck to the edge of the face climbing between flattish areas below cliffs and minimizing exposure. Climbing up Buckner We took turns kicking steps, then reached the SE ridge where we ditched our packs and skis. From there we scrambled up the thickly rime-encrusted summit block, topping out at 4:30pm. I peered down the steep north face and was happy to not be skiing that. We had talked about it, but I bet it was risky with wind slabs. The traverse over to the NE peak look tricky, and I was glad I’d put in the effort to measure that we were indeed on the true summit. On the summit We soon downclimbed back to the skis and started skiing down. The skiing was fun, and we hugged the side of the gully following our up tracks. We soon reached the base of the face and traversed back to our stashed climbing gear at the base of Horseshoe. From there it was more fun skiing down to the old mine, then skinning back to our stashed overnight gear by 6pm, just as the sun set enough to need headlamps. We were still feeling strong and that campsite seemed a bit windier than I would have preferred. We decided to do our future selves a favor and climb back up to Sahale Arm that night, to make our Sunday a bit easier. Campin at Sahale Camp The slope up the bowl was too steep for skinning, but the snow was too deep for booting. Luckily I had the perfect solution – ascent plates. They are like mini snowshoes specifically for going up steep snow faces. I have a strong aluminum pair and an ultralight carbon fiber pair I made. Francis took the lead with the aluminum pair and I followed. We made must faster progress with the plates than bare booting, and by 8pm we popped out on the Sahale Camp shoulder. We traversed over to a semi-sheltered area, then set up the mega mid and melted snow. It had been a 19-hour day and we appreciated the rest. Skinning up Sahale Sunday morning we just had to climb Sahale and ski out, which would be a much shorter day. So we decided to sleep in a bit so we could make the climb when it was a bit warmer. We were up and moving by 8:30am. We roped up for the Sahale Glacier and zig zagged up the slope. Once on the SE ridge we packed up the rope, ditched the skis, and cramponed up the icy slope. Climbing up Sahale I’ve previously climbed Sahale twice by two different routes, and appreciated this knowledge. One route goes directly up the south face and has a short bit of 5th class climbing. I recalled a good rap anchor at the top of this route on the summit. The other route raps around the east face the climbs the north ridge. This route is exposed 3rd class. We got to the base of the south face route and it looked easier than I remembered. But I suspected the rime was still masking the 5th class step, and it would be tricky. So we instead decided to go for the exposed third class route. The east face was covered in snow and rime now, with 2000ft of exposure to the Davenport Glacier below. We would definitely rope up. Even if the snow climb were easy, we didn’t want a small wind slab knocking us off our feet. Looking down the east face I built an anchor in a rock outcrop on the SE ridge and led out. I traversed across onto the face, got some gear in a rock outcrop, then kicked steps straight up. I hugged the cliff band to my left, getting in a few more pieces as the slope steepened considerably. As before, the rock was plastered in rime ice and it took me a while banging the ice off before I could find good cracks for gear. On the summit (photo by Francis) I eventually popped out on the North ridge, then made the final moves to the summit. I dug out the summit block, finding the “Boston Peak” USGS marker and then the rap anchor I remembered around the summit boulder. I could now see Francis directly below, and I yelled that I’d put him on belay. He soon climbed up and we spent a few minutes enjoying the view. Boston Peak popped up out of the clouds briefly, and we got great views of Forbidden and Eldorado in the distance. It was 11:45am and was not too cold or windy. We hung out taking pictures, then rapped down. The 60m rope just barely reached our lower anchor, and I was again happy to have brought the 60m instead of the 30m rope. Skiing out We cramponed down to our skis, than had an amazing ski down. We made dollar signs across our up tracks, then picked up our overnight gear and continued down. The snow got a bit icier down low, but was still skiable. In all we got a continuous ski run from 8500ft to 5000ft, which was fun and fast. Back in the trees we booted down the trail, then took a shortcut in an open snow slope to bypass the lower five switchbacks. Back at the road we skied down to our stashed boots at snowline near soldier boy creek, then hiked back down to the Eldo gate by 3:45pm. There were no other cars there, which meant the hiker climbing Eldo must have made it down safely. That was good news. As we were packing up a hardcore Jeep drove in, and this made me a little disappointed since it meant there wouldn’t be any fresh blowdowns to clear. We made it out no problem and got home at a reasonable hour. 67/100 Winter Bulgers Movie of the trip: Gear Notes: Single rack of cams to 2", nuts, hexes (very important), two tools, chainsaw Approach Notes: Road melted out/logged out to Eldo gate. Melted out to around 3000ft. Bad washout at Boston Creek (MP ~22). Road bikeable to MP 22. Note: I wouldn't advise going up cascade river road without a big chainsaw this time of year. A few weeks ago I got blocked in by a 3ft tree but was able to saw it out. There are always new blowdowns on that road every week.
    6 points
  4. Trip: North Side of Yak Peak - Humbled Beginnings Trip Date: 02/14/2024 Trip Report: “Humbled Beginnings” The North East Gulley of Yak Peak We had gone up to the back side of Yak Peak the Friday before, camped and did 2 pitches of ice the Saturday before. Upon doing so we noticed a line that goes for about 1000 feet on the north east side of yak peak. We had left Everett around 1130 pm Tuesday February 13th in Logan's 4runner after he got off work. Two minutes after getting on the road I realized I had forgotten my hardshell pants in my truck. We turned around grabbed them and officially started the drive. The plan was for me to drive up to the Falls Lake trail head while Logan slept in the back. I had managed 2 hours of sleep in the parking lot after work waiting for Logan. Thankfully had only worked 11-330 Tuesday because I had done a 19 hour shift that on Monday-tuesday morning 7am-2am. So I got to work a short day Tuesday but Logan got to do his long day the night before our climb. Clocking in 17 1/2 hours on Tuesday. Life in the emergency repairs world is like that. Most days are just 8's but if you have big plans count on a long work day right before hand because that's just how it goes haha. Anyways our first crux was an hour and a half into the drive at the border crossing. The Canadians made us park the car and come inside to tell them about our plan and then quizzed us on our insurance and whether or not it would cover an accident in Canada on a high risk activity. After some talking and telling them I had a Garmin high risk plan and showing them what that plan covered (a plan I do not actualIy have just happened to know about lol) they let us continue after a 15 minute delay. I drove for another hour and a half before I was almost falling asleep at the wheel and Logan finished out the last 30 minutes. We got to the trailhead at about 320 and both of us crashed in the back for an hour. We got up around 4 15 and double checked everything and got ready. Starting out an hour later than we had initially planned at 5 we started towards the north side of Yak Peak. We made good time and we were there in a hour. We stepped out of our skis and into crampons racked up and started out. Now something to keep in mind is we are NEWBS! We both started ice climbing last year which was a day at Bryant's buttress on top rope, and then a few days in ouray on top rope as well. I had done my first lead on Jan 14 this year. Logan had yet to lead. I started up the first pitch in much more brittle conditions than the weekend before. After the first pitch Logan did his first ice lead and took us up the second pitch. He kicked ass! After the second pitch we unroped and crossed the snowfield to the bottom of the gulley. At the base of our route we solo'd 50 meters of 60-70 degree snice before setting up a belay with a medium angle and a .75 cam behind a rock that protected the belayer (Logan) from spin drift and ice fall. I started up the first pitch with an m4-5 step protected by a #1 cam then traversed 15 feet up and left, placing a knife blade on the way to a 6 foot vertical rock with some ice bulges on the edge where I was able to get good sticks and pull up and over. Then 60 degree snice lead us towards the mouth of our gulley and just before our gulley I was able to get a #2 cam and then started up our gulley. The gulley began with a combo of 75 degree ice and since leading into WI3 ice just thick enough in most places to get a few 13s in. After placing a few ice screws I was about out of rope and made 2 19cm v threads one vertical and one horizontal backed up by a 13 cm screw. While building the belay a helicopter flew through the basin below us and must have seen us and circled around and came and looked at us for a few minutes. If anyone can get us info on how to get ahold of the helicopter that would be awesome because they have to have super cool pictures. After equalizing the v threads I brought Logan up. We were making terrible time and the first pitch of the gully took us almost 2 hours. The next pitch was the best of the route. 70 degree ice into some beautiful WI3. That went quick and I brought Logan up on a solid v thread and 22cm screw while getting heavily blasted by spindrift. Then Logan led a pitch of 75 degree snice then my lead up 65 degree snice then Logan finished out of the gully on 65 degree snice. With extreme winds blowing spindrift up into our faces. "Holy shit dude we did it. We finished it. We did the route." This was monumental for us. Logan and I have shot high and failed, a lot. This was our first full year of climbing. We had failed on Chair Peak last March after a fall and chest deep wallowing. We had both taken bad falls in the summer on rock. I fractured my L2 and L3. Logan fell 2 weeks later and had hurt a nerve in his back and cracked a helmet. We had attempted Early Winter Spires both of the last two weekends before the gate closed and bailed due to snow wallowing and running out of time, we had turned around two pitches up Triple Couloirs because we ran out of time, and those are just a few stories but we have been going for it repeatedly and just kept failing and we did it. We finished a route and the crazy and stupid thing is it wasn't even a known route. Now we did the 15 minute hike to the summit of yak peak hugged, screamed, high fived, and maybe shed a tear. It was 530 pm at this point. Then we started descending. Now if we were to do this again I'd climb with skis on my back and ski out down to the highway it would be an easy ski fast and relatively safe. This was Logan's first idea and I had shot it down because I was nervous about going into unknown terrain with skis on my back because I wanted to move unencumbered. We should have done it Logan's way. But we left our skis at the base so that was out. We talked about heading towards Nak Peak and descending the ridge that came off the sub peak between Yak and Nak, that may have been a better choice but we would be descending an unknown route in what was very soon to be darkness. So we ultimately decided to rap our route because it may suck but at least we know the evil. The first rap was on a single nut and 35 meters. The second rap was another nut and another 35 meters. Third rap was a knife blade and another 35 meters. At the bottom of the third rappel somehow my headlamp came off my helmet and went tumbling down the mountain, thankfully I had a backup in my pack. For the fourth rap it was another nut and the wind wasn't as bad now that we were deeper into the gully so we decided to start doing double rope rappels at this point. Typing this is fast but doing it took forever. We were battling winds on all the 35 meter rappels really bad. We rapped and set up a v thread. Pull rope. Rope stuck. Now here is more newb stuff. We had ran the rope through the wire of the nut. It was a big nut with a big wire that didn't seem to be a threat to cutting the rope, why not save cordage. Well while trying to pull the rope and realizing it was stuck I realized that that loop on the wire isn't rigid and when we're trying to pull it it's making the wire clamp the rope. So we decided that I would rope solo the pitch again so we cloved the rope to the anchor and put a micro Trax on then pulled out the second micro Trax to back it up, and I fumbled the second micro Trax, gone. Down the mountain she goes. Okay well I guess the first one will have to do. I climb the 75 degree snice, anchor myself untie the rope, put cordage and rap ring in, retie rope, reblock rope, rappel again and back at the anchor. Logan was just kinda on standby waiting for me to fix the rope so he ended up falling asleep sitting in his harness. Things are getting pretty real. It's about 9: 30 pm and we still have four more raps and a skin out. I guess that four raps seems like nothing now but things just took forever in that environment. Anyways Logan is in tough shape, so at this point it was just a juggle keep moving but make sure Logan keeps it together too. For the fifth rap I pulled the rope, ran it through the v thread to set up for another double length rappel, and then blocked it and rappel. set up another v thread for the anchor and after Logan came down we ran the rope through the v thread pulled the rope to set the 6th rap, another double rope rappel. This got us down to the fixed piton from the first belay and got Logan down. Logan is borderline hypothermic at this point I'm in the headspace of I have to keep us moving. That's my responsibility now is get us out and to our skis once we're on skis it's easy. Logan will get warm, we'll be moving, everything will be okay once we get to our skis. So Logan gets to the piton and goes "dude I left your tools up there." He says while shivering, scared,and in borderline tears. That sucked. I got those from the Wrights they were Pritis tools that she had pictured in Classic Cascade Climbs on Triple Couloirs. The Wrights are my heros they're cooler than Colin Haley or Honnold in my book so those tools had more than monetary value. But my friend is in bad shape and we need to keep going and leading that pitch took forever and it's almost 11 so I accepted the reality that they're just objects and we kept going. If anyone finds them I would love to have them back. They're probably in the snowfield below buried in powder. They're orange Cassin kinda old-school style tools with green cordage tied to the bottom. From the first belay station we did our seventh rap off the fixed piton which took us down the section we first solo'd and then walked across the snowfield down to the first two pitches of ice. Here we did our eighth rap which again was a double rope rap, off a tree. At the bottom of that rap we were back in good ice. I had forgotten to grab the 22 from Logan after the v thread above the fixed piton and so I put a couple 13s in and equalized them and then brought Logan down. Once Logan got to me I got the 22 and made a v thread which set us for our ninth and final rappel, again double rope,to our skis. Pulled my inreach out, texted my parents, we were back at our skis and then started skiing out. It was 12: 50 at this point. Skiing out was hellacious. The first mile wasn't so bad but the second mile was horrible. All of a sudden my heels hurt super bad from blisters so I sat down to adjust my boots. Fell asleep. Logan wakes me up after a minute and I realize I fell asleep. We keep skinning, on the lake Logan pukes. At the end of the lake we stopped to drink some water, we both fell asleep laying in the snow still in our skis in the fetal position. I wake up and realize what happened and wake Logan up and I kept skinning, we never drank water. I crashed hard on skis right onto my back. A few minutes later I hear Logan saying "Alex!" I woke up. I had crashed and I guess that was a comfortable enough place to sleep. He had turned around after waiting a few minutes for me so I guess I was out for 5-10 minutes. We finally got to the car at 2: 30 am making car to car 21 1/2 hours. Logan was a savage and drove us all the way back down to Everett to go to work. We got there at 5: 45 Where Logan slept for an hour and went in. I slept until 9 and was late. I think leading all the scarier bits and then leading and setting all the rappels in that head space of I just have to perform completely drained everything I had. Our boss noticed how bad of shape we were in and let Logan go out to the car and sleep around 10 and let me do the same around 12. Was it stupid? Yes it was, we should have not gone on such little sleep. I know I've been too eager to learn how to ice climb and while I'm definitely learning this was probably too much for us. Was it worth it? I mean we lived and to the best of my knowledge did the First Ascent of a new route in a cool area in Canada so that's pretty cool and feels good but it could have waited and we should have. Am I stoked? Yes but also humbled and my respect for the Wrights, Beckey, Wayne Wallace, Jim Nelson and numerous other alpinists, soared to new levels. They did such incredible things with much less and I have a deepened respect for all of them. Gear notes: Ice screws, knife blade pitons, nuts, cams to .5-#3 (BD's and the one black Totem), some smaller cams would have been nice. Smallest we had was a black totem. We ran half ropes, one 60m one 70m both Edelrid 8.2 which we really like for alpine stuff. Logan is making his own TR as well -Alex Cunningham Gear Notes: Gear notes: Ice screws, knife blade pitons, nuts, cams to .5-#3 (BD's and the one black Totem), some smaller cams would have been nice. Smallest we had was a black totem. We ran half ropes, one 60m one 70m both Edelrid 8.2 which we really like for alpine stuff. Approach Notes: Park at the Falls Lake trailhead, skin up to the falls lake campsite and across the lake, down through the basin and to the backside of yak peak. When the trees get less dense your basically there. There's a few good campsites.
    5 points
  5. Trip: Mount Angeles - Middle Peak East Gullies Trip Date: 02/03/2024 Trip Report: Decades ago, when I first started climbing, I would head over in the winter to scramble around on Mt. Angeles. The road is open all winter, the peak is close to the road, and the views grand from such an elevation at the edge of the range. Somehow though, I stopped going, seduced by harder, longer and higher winter objectives. But now that I am in my "mature mountaineer" phase some 22 years later, I went back with @cfire and @Kit (also in their mature climbing phase) for a civilized winter's outing. The weather wasn't quite as nice as on some of my earlier forays, and maybe the east gullies seemed shorter and less steep, but the charm of Angeles in winter remains. I'll try not wait another twenty years before I return! The road to hurricane ridge: The east gullies! @cfire getting to a narrow section @Kit topping out on the steeper section: Traversing the ridge to the main summit: Coming up a step in the ridge towards the main summit: More traversing: Cumbre! @Kit showing his pleasure at the views: Downclimbing to corkscrew around the summit to the SW and off: Almost off the steeper ground and back to mellow forest on the SW side of the summit: Gear Notes: Axe, crampons, helmet, 2nd tool handy if the gullies are icy Approach Notes: Switchback trail to ridge, up gullies to middle peak, traverse ridge to main summit and off the west side. Wrap around south side to hurricane ridge trail back to switchback trail.
    4 points
  6. Nice work Michael and Eli! Visionary to remove the need for the pesky Polish's dagger to be in. I'm giving you permission to upgrade it to WI4+++ but, this being Washington, no way can you call it WI5- 🙂 I fear for the aspiring moderate alpinists who attempt some of the WI4+/M5 routes put up in the last several years without knowing that WI4+/M5 is the new 5.9+/A2.
    4 points
  7. Trip: Wahpenayo Peak - West Ridge Trip Date: 02/23/2024 Trip Report: Alex and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and ventured out to an area that I've wanted to visit for a few years: Wahpenayo Peak, in the western part of the Tatoosh range. It was amazing and I will definitely be back! The basin was beautiful and held fantastic cold soft snow on the north facing slopes, we had clear views ranging from the Olympics to four volcanoes to other Tatoosh peaks, and what I think was Tookaloo Spire. The ridge travel was certainly engaging and the mountain let us pass safely to and from the summit -- and not another soul in sight all day! The tour starts at the Eagle Peak trailhead outside of Longmire (no pesky gate concerns) at a whopping ~2800'. We carried skis up to around 3800' and then were able to continuously skin the trail and then it was up the avalanche debris to the saddle south of Chutla Peak; still in the shade, we had great skinning conditions (soft debris but very supportable snow). Some of the first fantastic views Skinning up to the saddle Cool rock feature Other Tatoosh peaks (Lane and..?) Woohoo! Yahoooooo! Alex gets sick airtime With huge smiles, we made our way around and up... we weren't feeling much time pressure so took a sort of roundabout way, fully enjoying the scenery, to the NE ridge that one source suggested as the best (maybe with a ton more snow? ...it might have been easier to have just gone in with no beta for this one). After booting the ridge, using the trees to our advantage and an undercling, plus a short in-your-face steep snow climb, we decided that we'd reached an impassable notch for our gear and headed back down and around to the other ridge. This ridge did not go. That one was also engaging -- decided to go up a short gully after soft shallow snow on heather and rock seemed pushing the limits of what made sense. After a bit of large tree assistance, we were on the summit (6,231')! Amazing views.... From the summit looking west From the ridge looking east toward the summit We headed back down the ridge carefully to where we'd left our skis and skied more fantastic dry snow back into the basin, then headed back up to the saddle, and made a long traverse which resulted in only a short section of side stepping/shuffling to get back to the trail (felt like spring for sure), back to skis on packs, and back to the car, in base layers, vents open, no gloves. Felt so much like a spring day. Special place! I'll be back! Gear Notes: Skis. Brought sharp things but did not need them! Approach Notes: Enjoy!
    3 points
  8. Trip: Nak Peak - North side Up, South side Down Trip Date: 02/17/2024 Trip Report: @geosean and @thedylan and Mike (not sure if he is on here) already had a plan for this past Saturday, but they graciously let me tag along after I sent a flurry of texts trying to find a partner for the hills. Plan A was the North Couloir on Thar, then traversing up and over Nak to Yak, or maybe skiing the couloir. But a reactive windslab in the the couloir after digging a pit scuttled that idea right quick. And so we skittered down and around to the west, eventually booting and skinning up through every type of terrible snow to the Yak/Nak col. It is a great viewpoint! We had it to ourselves, but the afternoon was getting on and we had some windboard to schralp. We didn't relish the thought of going back the way we came and so we picked the devil we didn't know and headed off the south side of the Nak. The snow wasn't any better but it wasn't much worse either. More importantly, we were "Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis"! The snow was, however, a bit thinner on the south side of Nak, and soon everyone but @thedylan had their skis off and was thrashing down to the pipeline road. Once reaching this welcomed scar on the landscape, we had a bonus 500' of gain to end the day, but at least there was no brush and @thedylan was charged up and breaking trail out front. I was very pleased to not arrive at the car dead last, despite how worked I was. In the future with these fit, young bucks, I think I'll leave the dSLR at the car! Skinning across Falls Lake: North Couloir on Thar: @geosean in the North Couloir at about our high point: uhhhhh, run away? Plan B! North side of Yak: Yes, this is fun: @thedylan skinning up below Nak: Why not keep carrying these skis? And where are my sunglasses??: Needle Peak: Looking out to Silvertip, Outram, etc.: Booting up to Nak: Steinbok, Ibex, Chamois, etc.: Mike pulling up on the summit: @thedylan getting ready to have more "fun" "skiing": Gear Notes: Standard backcountry ski gear. Axe, helmet, and crampons helpful to get up Nak from the North if snow conditions are thin Approach Notes: Falls Lake TH and head up to the lake and past it
    3 points
  9. All of those Enchantments routes come in their best shape with repeated melt/freeze. Otherwise it is mostly just scratching around on cold snow and dry rock.....so it will all depend on the temps. Early March is typically pretty cold up high, even on a year like this so I wouldn't think that you'll find much in great climbing shape. That said, all will generally be climbable with the right weather and avy conditions. The good news is that if climbing conditions aren't great, ski conditions usually are a lot better, so maybe look at what is in store right before your trip and plan accordingly. And, if you are casting about all over the Western US, that is another story. I am sure you can probably find something, somewhere to climb. But I only really know our backyard....
    3 points
  10. https://craftmtn.com/features/above-alpine nice article about @John_Scurlock and the small hardcore group PNWers on cascadeclimbers.com
    2 points
  11. Trip: Mt Hood - South Face Steel Cliffs Trip Date: 02/10/2024 Trip Report: Went up the east side of the rock at the bottom of the cliff band of the South Face. Both little chutes prior to gaining the South Face were filled with deep unconsolidated snow. Not a ton of snow at the top of the face so avoiding the vents wasn't hard but I did frog over the flat area because it was obvious that there were holes lurking underneath. A hollow sounding crust, roller balls, wet unconsolidated snow on the Wy'East portion was unnerving. Hoping the snow events later this week will fill out some of the routes. A few more shots here https://imgur.com/gallery/mQ2vNxF. Gear Notes: Two tools, crampons, helmet Approach Notes: Walked up nice groomed trail to the top of Palmer lift
    2 points
  12. I've climbed Gerber-Sink end of March before in good conditions. I've also bailed off of a few things in there during that same time window. (End of March is my spring break, work in education.) I think the most important thing is to be flexible, as mentioned. You can get out in pretty marginal weather if avy hazard is low and you are prepared. Some other spots that should be on your list to check depending on budget/travel time available... Rogers Pass, Canadian Rockies, Glacier NP, Bitteroots, South-central Idaho Ranges, Tetons, Rocky Mtn NP, Oregon Cascades, Elkhorns, Sierra, Wasatch, Great Basin NP. I've had great luck in the Canadian Rockies that time of year. Ice is fat and sticky, huge variety of routes, alpine is just coming into condition depending on the year, cheap hostels and lots of partners to be had if you're solo or your buddy needs an extra rest day. One year I climbed 4 days of ice including routes up to 1,000 ft of climbing, then did an 800 ft limestone sport climb on a south aspect, then did a solo ski tour to scope an alpine face which wasn't in, so went mixed cragging the last day... pretty fun. Also, very different from the Cascades in-terms of rock, avy/snow, types of routes. A great contrast to what we get here.
    2 points
  13. What are your plans for 2024? Not looking to get details on your super secret project, but general details to get some psych going This year I just want to get out and do more with my fur climbing partner. Since my vacation time is likely already spoken for (25th wedding anniversary, hunting in AK, canoe trip to Canada, week at the ocean), it will all have to be weekend warrior stuff. 1. Warrior with @JasonG 2. Repeats of my 2-3 favorite yearly Olympic hikes with variations 3. Exploring more in the Cascades. Dog friendly scrambles up peaks, to waterfalls, lakes, alpine. 4. Go further. I'm in better shape than I have been in a while, so I want to use it before its gone.
    2 points
  14. I highly recommend a larch trip in the Sawtooths late September-ish. this year I cam in from the South and tagged N Navarre and Sunrise Peak en route to camp at Sunrise Lake, stayed the night there, then tried for Cheops (turned around maybe 50-100' from summit due to loose snow). In a previous year I hit courtney/star/oval as a 3 day.
    2 points
  15. Hell’s bells; since I’m officially a geezer, almost anything I do counts as an achievement. There are still a few bucket list trips that I’d like to tick; semi-rugged off trail stuff that would involve some minor scrambling. I’m going to be 90% or more retired, so hopefully more multi day outings. Lots of high lakes to explore. Maybe finally get up into the Chelan Sawtooths and/or central Pasayten.
    2 points
  16. My wife is due with our second in March and with the new Oregon law I have paid paternity leave for three months... ideally I'll get a little rock climbing in between changing diapers and taking care of the family before late July when I'm going to the Cirque of the Unclimbables for 2 weeks (my wife is so kind to put up with me, and my mother-in-law will come help out). After that I have no idea... maybe I'll get back into bouldering in the fall. There is plenty of easy access boulders near my house and it's easy with kids.
    2 points
  17. 1. Whatever subset of Curtis/Ptarmigan/Liberty Ridge/mixed climbs in the enchantments I can get done before Denali 2. Climb the West Buttress of Denali 3. Gannett Peak via Glacier Trail in a day 4. Consistently leading in the 11s on gear (at the crag) 5. Safely and consistently lead WI5 in Hyalite/Cody
    2 points
  18. 1. Finish the Smoot List. I have one left 2. Climb Challenger 3. Some cool multi-day trip starting at Cascade Pass - maybe the Ptarmigan Traverse
    2 points
  19. I haven't climbed Mailbox Peak, nor have I done Glacier Peak in a day or the Bulger List but I did climb some ice in Banks today. Most routes are not in but we found good ice on the Corner Route at MP 9. Left MBI 1 was also in. The cable and H2O2 are trying but not really close. We climbed U1 and U2 at MP 14. Peewee #1, 4, and 5 all looked in. Zenith wasn't even close although it is trying. Most other lines were either non-existent although a few of the brush routes were trying.
    2 points
  20. Trip: Columbia River Gorge - Various Ice Routes Trip Date: 01/19/2024 Trip Report: Snuck in some final pitches on Friday 1/19 and Saturday 1/20 with Damon and Angie before the rain came. See pics below... Starvation Creek area Archer Mountain area Ainsworth area? Rapping off trees to avoid tedious down climbing on hard rain ice. Climb near Archer Driving home was super fun... NOT! Gear Notes: screws... stubbies not needed! Approach Notes: AWD w/ chains
    2 points
  21. Trip: Winter Hard Mox and Spickard - West Ridge, South Face Trip Date: 12/29/2023 Trip Report: Hard Mox (8,504 ft) and Mt Spickard (8,979 ft) Winter Ascents Eric and Nick Dec 27 – Jan 2, 2023-2024 First Winter Ascent of Hard Mox, Second Winter Ascent of Spickard On the summit of Hard Mox Dec 27 – Double carry zodiac boat and gear from Ross Dam trailhead to Frontage road, drag boat to Ross Lake, motor to Little Beaver, hike to Perry Creek shelter Dec 28 – Bushwhack to upper Perry Creek basecamp Dec 29 – Climb Hard Mox via Perry Glacier to West Ridge route (M5 WI2 5-pitch), return to basecamp, 18 hours camp to camp Dec 30 – Bad weather day, rest in camp (rain all day) Dec 31 – Climb Spickard via south face Jan 1 – Bushwhack down Perry Creek, hike to Little Beaver, paddle 9 hours down Ross lake when motor doesn’t start, drag boat up Frontage road, triple carry up trail to truck by 3am Jan 2 – Drive home The route Hard Mox is considered the most difficult of the Washington Hundred Highest/Bulger peaks, and had previously never been climbed in winter. I’m working on climbing all the Bulgers in winter and this peak is the crux of that list. Hard Mox has numerous elements that make it uniquely challening in winter. 1. It is very remote. The nearest road on the US side of the border is 15 miles away line of sight (Hannegan Pass trailhead), and the second closest 18 miles away (Ross Dam Trailhead). Hiking mileage from these trailheads is close to 30 miles, and the trails are likely snowed-over and unbroken in winter. Note: I’m following a rule that ascents must be made legally, so I don’t count roads or trails on the Canadian side of the border. One way to shorten the approach is to take a water taxi run by the Ross Lake resort. These don’t operate in winter, though, so that isn’t an option. Detailed route view 2. The peak is technical. The easiest summer route is 4-pitch 5.6. It was unclear if this was the best winter route, though, since the peak hadn’t been climbed in winter. 3. The weather is unstable in winter. Hard Mox is in the West North zone of the cascades, which generally has more precipitation and less stable weather than other zones. This also means the avalanche conditions are more likely to be unstable in this zone in winter. 4. There are no trails to the peak (on the US side). Bushwhacking is required, and this can be very challenging in the North Cascades, especially in winter. Climbing Hard Mox in July 2018 (photo by Steven) I first climbed Hard Mox in July 2018 with Steven Song, and we entered and exited via Canada. We followed the standard Depot Creek approach, crossed the ridge of Gendarmes to the south face of Hard Mox, descended to the base of the south gully, then climbed up the gully and to the summit via the West Ridge. This is the route that nearly all climbers take to climb Hard Mox. In 2020 I started considering how to climb Hard Mox in winter. I’m following a rule that all winter ascents must be completely legaly (no sneaking in from Canada), so I needed to find an alternative approach. I considered three approach options, and made scouting trips to determine the feasibility of each in winter. Over the next three years I would make a half-dozen scouting trips and two unsuccessful winter attempts on Hard mox. Scouting the Ross Dam approach and paddling Ross Lake in November 2020 First, I considered the Ross Dam trailhead approach. This route is to start at the Ross Dam trailhead, hike up the lake to Big Beaver, then hike to Redoubt Creek and bushwhack up to meet the summer route. This route is 30 miles one way. It has the advantage that the first half is mostly low elevation and often snow-free in winter, though it requires crossing Beaver Pass, which would likely be snow covered. In mid November, 2020 I did a trip where I hiked this approach to Redoubt Creek, then continued to Little Beaver and packrafted back to Ross Dam in a big loop. That approach would probably take two days in good conditions in winter. Scouting the Hannegan Pass approach in December 2020 I next considered the Hannegan Pass approach. This would require hiking or skiing in from the Hannegan Pass trailhead to the Chilliwack River, bushwhacking up Bear Creek, then meeting up with the standard summer route at the Redoubt-Easy Mox col. It would be about 28 miles one way. In December 2020 I drove up the road towards the Hannegan Pass trailhead and found a sign that the road is groomed for skiing in winter and closed to snowmobiles. This meant there would be an additional 5-mile approach in winter, making the approach 33 miles. I skied up the trail to near Hannegan Pass, but progress was slow. That approach would probably take at least two days. Those approaches would be too long for me to squeeze Hard Mox in a regular weekend or even a 3-day weekend. Ideally I could find a one-day approach so Hard Mox could be possible in one of my two long holiday weekends of the winter (presidents day weekend and MLK day weekend). I’m a teacher so can’t take vacation days, meaning these holiday weekends are my options in winter. I next considered a boat approach on Ross Lake. I have a packraft, but I discovered it can take most of a day to paddle between Little Beaver and Ross Dam. I really needed that to take on the order of a few hours so the rest of the day can be used for hiking and bushwhacking in. For that to be feasible the boat really needed to be motorized. Ross Lake is in the unique situation that motorized boats are allowed on the lake, but there is no road access for the general public. It is possible for workers at the dam or at the Ross Lake resort to drive to the lake by taking a vehicle ferry from the town of Diablo to upper Diablo lake, then driving up Frontage road connecting the two lakes. This service is not available to the public, meaning Frontage road is not reachable by vehicle from other roads. There exists a road on the north end of Ross Lake – the Silver Skagit Road – and this theoretically allows the public to drive to the lake and launch private motor boats. However, that road was washed out in November 2021 and it is unclear when it will ever reopen. It is possible that the road might be passable to a snowmobile in the winter, and an intriguing option might be to drag a boat behind a snowmobile to access the north end of the lake. I haven’t been able to test this, though, and I’m not sure if it would technically be legal to come in from canada that way if the road is closed and there is no official checkpoint open at the border along the road. There are currently two options to get a personal motor boat to Ross Lake. The first is to carry it down the 0.6-mile trail from the Ross Dam trailhead to Frontage Road, and then take it 0.5 miles down the road to the lake. The other is to put the boat in at the boat launch at Diablo Lake, ride to Frontage Road, then somehow carry or drag the boat up Frontage Road (1.5 miles, 600ft gain). From talking to friends with experience boating I settled on two main options. The first was to use a canoe with an electric outboard motor. This could theoretically be carried down the trail in multiple loads. It could also theoretically be dragged up Frontage road on a dolly, though only if Frontage road were snow-free. However, the canoe has several disadvantages. First, it is not very stable. I have friends who’ve tipped over in canoes on Diablo lake. That would be dangerous in winter, and winter is when the weather is generally worse on Ross Lake. Also, the biggest motors I could find for canoes were electric trolling motors that would struggle to get 15 miles up to Little Beaver, even at a very slow speed. Plus, an electric motor is not as reliable in cold conditions as a gas motor. The zodiac boat’s maiden voyage on Stave Lake during a climb of Mt Judge Howay in BC The other option was a zodiac-style inflatable boat with gas or propane outboard motor. This vessel is much more stable than a canoe and very difficult to tip over. It is made of durable thick material with multiple chambers. It has a much higher capacity than a canoe, and can go much faster and farther with the gas or propane engine. It deflates, so is portable. They even come with retractable wheels that can be deployed to drag the boat along frontage road. This appeared to be the optimal solution. My friend Matt had such a boat and we went on a test trip together in September 2022 in British Columbia to climb Mt Judge Howay (which requires a boat approach up Stave Lake). The boat had a 4-stroke propane motor, which is very clean and reliable and meets the strict environmental requirements for personal motor boats on Ross lake. That trip went well, and I ended up buying the boat from Matt. The boat as a 5 horsepower motor that is about 60 pounds, the boat itself is 70 pounds, and a full 5-gallon propane tank is about 50 pounds. A duffle bag of accessories (wheels, oars, life jackets) weighs about 40 pounds. Each one of these items is manageable to carry, which makes this a good solution. The motor allows the boat to go a max speed of 5.7mph fully loaded, but this is actually a perfect speed for Ross Lake. Taking the boat for a test run on Lake Chelan with my dog Lily, October 2022 Through multiple tests I’ve found that a fully loaded boat and full tank of propane has a range of 40-50 miles. Little Beaver is a 30-mile round-trip journey, so the propane tank is just the right size with a little bit of safety factor. One problem with Ross Lake is that in the winter the lake level drops and submerged tree stumps stick out in seemingly random and unexpected locations. In winter it is likely that boating on Ross Lake to approach Hard Mox will need to be at night, and it is thus dangerous to go too fast in the dark for risk of hitting the stumps. That’s particularly risky in an inflatable vessel. A speed of 5.7mph is slow enough that stumps can most likely be avoided. To make a trip safer, though, I called the Ross Lake resort and had them mail me a map with general stump locations marked. I also found a fishing depth map of the lake and charted a GPS course to follow the deepest section and avoid known stump areas. I would load this track on my GPS watch before boating up Ross Lake in the dark. First test run of the boat in Ross Lake boating to Little Beaver, October 2022 In October 2022 I did the first test run of the boat in Ross Lake. The goal would be a thorough simulation of the entire Winter Hard Mox approach and climb. My friend Ryan Stoddard recommended the Perry Creek approach to Hard Mox based on his approach to the Chilliwacks the previous year. He said the bushwhacking was difficult, but it would give direct access to the south face – west ridge route without requiring a traverse from the ridge of gendarms that might be sketchy in winter. I first wanted to test the Diablo lake + Frontage Road method. Talon joined, and we decided to climb Hard Mox in a weekend. Saturday morning we put in at Diablo Lake, motored through zero-visibility forest fire smoke in the dark, then reached Frontage road. The takeout was tricky to get the boat up the dock, and dragging the boat and gear up Frontage road was very difficult and time consuming, even with the nice deployable wheels. On the summit of Hard Mox in October 2022 with Talon We made good time up Ross Lake moving at 5.7mph, and got to Little Beaver after 2.5 hours on Ross Lake. We then hiked to Perry Creek shelter. To get up Perry Creek I’d seen on an old quad that there used to be a trail up the north and east side of the creek in the 1940s, but it was long-abandoned. Other groups, including Ryans, had followed that side of the creek and it sounded tough. We decided on a different approach. We went straight up the creek, scrambling on boulders on the side. It was actually fun and basically no bushwhacking. Then we hit old growth forest and followed that on the south side of the creek all the way to the edge of treeline. This showed the Perry Creek bushwhack was actually not bad at all! That was valuable information for winter. In the basin below Hard Mox in October 2022 We camped at the basin below Hard Mox, then the next morning climbed up the Perry Glacier. We were unsure if there would be easy passage from the glacier up to meet the standard summer route, but were surprised to find an easy 3rd-class gully connecting to the route. From there we climbed the standard west ridge route, and it was useful to refresh my memory of which of the lower gullies is the correct one (many teams lose time route-finding in that area). We ended up topping out by 9am, then descended all the way back to the boat, rode out, and I got home Monday morning 4:45 am, barely in time to make it to catch a nap before my morning lecture. This scouting trip successfully showed that basecamp could be reached in a single day with the zodiac boat, as hoped for. I also was able to test my new custom offroading headlights with motorcycle battery that I’d velcroed to the front of the boat. This allowed for boating in the dark, which would likely be necessary in winter. Ross Lake was foggy, though, so visibility wasn’t perfect. However, the approach had the one disadvantage that if Frontage road were covered in snow, then dragging the boat up would likely be very difficult. So that approach might not be ideal. Carrying the boat and motor down the trail in late October 2022 Talon had a friend that worked at Ross Dam, but unfortunately they didn’t have anywhere I could store the boat securely for winter access. We contacted the Ross Lake resort, but they didn’t want to store the boat. So, I would have to get it to the lake on my own and store it at home. I next wanted to test the second option to get the boat to Ross Lake, via carrying it down from Ross Dam trailhead. In late October Nick and Talon joined for another mission. My main goal was to test that boat approach, but a secondary bonus goal was to go survey East Fury. I suspected it might be high enough to be a Washington Top 100 peak. To get the boat down the trail I researched different methods hunters use to transport animals on trails. One way is a single-wheeled device with handlebars and a brake, with racks on the side. I bought materials and hatched a design to modify my mountain unicycle into a boat-transporting device. Nick had another idea to strap the boat to his e-bike and wheel it down the trail then use power-assist to wheel it back up. The boat loaded up with survey gear and the new offroading headlights Saturday night we loaded up the bike and strapped the motor to a pack (upside down, since that seemed most stable). Unfortunately the trail was so rocky and uneven that the bike didn’t really work well. We decided that just carrying the gear in multiple trips made the most sense. With a double carry we got all the gear down to Frontage road and inflated the boat. We then slept a few hours back at the truck, then Sunday at midnight dragged the boat and survey equipment down to ross lake. We put in and boated to Big Beaver. We then hiked up to Luna peak with my theodolite and surveyed East Fury (which I discovered is tall enough to be a new WA top 100 peak). We returned to the boat, motored back, dragged it up the road, and double carried back to the truck. Carrying the boat back up the trail From this trip I determined that it is actually a bit faster and easier to get the boat to Ross Lake via the trail than via Diablo Lake. It also works even if Frontage Road is snow covered. So this would be my preferred method to get the boat to Ross Lake. I now had all the pieces in place to mount a winter attempt on Hard Mox. I had figured out an approach that could get me to basecamp in one day in winter, I had verified that the climbing route worked from my planned basecamp, and I had figured out the optimal method to get the boat to and from Ross Lake. Next, it would be a waiting game. I needed many stars to align for a winter Hard Mox trip to be successful, even with all the logistics already worked out. 1. I had to have a partner available on a holiday weekend (my only holiday weekends were MLK day and Presidents day three-day weekends) 2. Weather had to be stable on the Sunday of the weekend, with minimal precipitation 3. Snow had to be stable on the Sunday 4. Wind had to be low for boating on Ross Lake and for keeping snow stable 5. Ross Lake had to be ice-free 6. Snow conditions have to be manageable on skis if skiing 7. The lake level has to be high enough to cover submerged tree stumps if boating at night. Boating up Ross Lake in January 2023 In January 2023 it looked like all stars would align on MLK day weekend. Satellite images had shown ice a half mile south of Little Beaver on the upper end of Ross Lake, but it was forecast to be warm and rainy for the week leading up to the weekend. We expected the ice would melt then, but as a backup we decided we could walk a half-mile along the shore if needed to Little Beaver River, then cross the river one at a time in my packraft, towing it back with paracord or rope. We planned to ski to increase speed. To ensure we knew about up-to-date snow conditions on the route I wrote custom python software to scrape the NWAC avalanche forecast website every evening and send a message with the forecast to my inreach. This would ensure we had the most up-to-date forecast before deciding to go for the summit. Stopped short by ice, January 2023 Saturday morning we successfully got the boat to Ross Lake and boated up, but we discovered that the ice had not melted. We parked the boat on shore a half-mile line-of-sight from Little Beaver, but unfortunately the shore had many impassable cliffs. This was not obvious from the satellite images. We had to bushwhack around the cliffs, then packraft across Little Beaver, and it took us 6 hours to cover just 0.5 miles line-of-sight distance. The next morning we skinned up to Perry Creek shelter, but above that the snow was too icy and crusty for skiing to be safe. Postholing up Perry Creek would be too slow and difficult. Plus, the additional 6-hour deproach to the boat would leave us too short on time. We bailed back to Little Beaver. Crossing Little Beaver with packraft and skis, January 2023 To get back we were able to do what I call belayed packrafting to get around the cliffs in melted-out sections and avoid bushwhacking. The first person would packraft around trailing our climbing rope. Then once around the cliff they would yell and the second person would pull the packraft back, then paddle around the cliff. This way we could inch worm around the cliffs and avoid bushwhacking. We managed to make it safely back to the zodiac and get back to Ross Dam that night. From that trip we learned that the lake absolutely has to be ice-free the whole way in order to attempt the trip. We also decided that snowshoes are a better choice than skis. With snowshoes we wouldn’t really have to care about snow conditions in the Perry Creek basin. Speed might be slower in snowshoes, but it was more likely we could reach the basecamp than with skis. Packrafting back between the cliffs and ice, January 2023 In February it looked like all the stars would align over Presidents Day long weekend. Nick and I decided to try again. This time the satellite images showed no ice on the upper lake. We decided to go with snowshoes. The only marginal star was the weather. It looked like snow and conditions were stable Friday through Saturday late afternoon, but then a storm was supposed to come in. If we could summit and get back below treeline before the storm, we would be ok hiking out in the rain and boating back in stormy conditions. This time we first carried the boat down to Frontage Road Friday night, then slept back at the trailhead. Early Saturday we carried the gear down, inflated the boat, and dragged the boat down the road. We started boating just at sunrise. In February the lake level is lower and more stumps stick out, so it’s more important to boat in the daylight. Days are a bit longer than in January, though, so this is not as big of a problem to wait until sunrise to boat. Successfully reaching Little Beaver, February 2023 We made it all the way to Little Beaver in 2.5 hours, then hiked up to Perry Creek. We were able to bushwhack up Perry Creek in snowshoes. Snow coverage was good, and we could mostly stay in the creek on the lower sections. Once we reached the old growth we made quick progress, reaching basecamp just at sunset. The next morning we left camp at 2:30am following my GPS track from October on my GPS watch. Pit tests showed the snow was stable, though deep, and we made slow progress. By a bit after sunrise we reached the bottom pitch of the route. The wind started increasing then, almost knocking us off balance. Nick led partway up the first pitch, but my route from October was not the best winter route. It had required crossing one sloping slab down low, which was easy in rock shoes but tough in crampons. Bailing on the first pitch when the weather deteriorated, February 2023 Also, it was difficult to find any cracks to stick gear in. Nick tried a few variations, then lowered down. I gave it a go, but couldn’t find gear placements. By then the storm was intensifying and we decided to bail rather than keep trying. We were concerned the increasing wind might start forming dangerous wind slabs down low. Indeed, as we descended the Perry Glacier we triggered a few small slabs. They were no problem, but given a few more hours they would likely get dangerously deeper. We descended all the way down to the trees as it got windier and started raining. We bailed all the way out to Little Beaver that night. The next morning the storm was raging and we started boating out into whitecaps and heavy wind. The boat took on lots of water and I had to navigate through a stump forest in the waves to get to shore and bail it out with my helmet. We then hugged the shore and made it safely back to Ross Lake. Bailing out water with my helmet on the ride back after navigating through a stump forest and heavy wind and waves, February 2023 From that trip we learned that the stars of weather and snow conditions absolutely have to align with the weekend. High wind is not good on Ross Lake, even with a stable zodiac boat. In October 2023 I did one additional test trip on Ross Lake. I bought yellow fog lights to replace the off roading headlights to make it safer to boat at night, when it is usually foggy on Ross Lake. For that trip Matt Lemke and Mike Black joined me to bring survey equipment up Castle peak. We boated up and back in the dark 10-miles up lake, and the new lights worked much better in the fog. This increased my confidence about boating on Ross Lake in the dark on a future Hard Mox attempt. We ended up surveying that Castle peak is over 30ft taller than the quad-surveyed height, so is solidly on the WA top 100 list. In October I started strategizing about how to try for Winter Hard Mox again. With so many stars that needed to align it seemed like relying on only two long weekends the whole winter was not a high chance of success. That only gave two possible summit days all winter. My only longer break was the Christmas-New Years break. I usually leave the country to work on climbing country highpoints during that window, but decided to stick around this year and prioritize a winter hard mox trip. Testing the new yellow fog lights on Ross Lake, October 2023 I would be available for a full week between Dec 26 – Jan 2. In October Nick and I coordinated that we would both be available, and if all stars aligned we’d give Hard Mox another shot. It helped that enough time had passed since our last attempted that we had sort of forgotten all the hardships we’d encountered. That’s always important before attempting a difficult peak again after an unsuccessful attempt. For this third attempt we would try to make further improvements but stick with some methods and gear that had worked before. We would again go by snowshoes, and would carry the boat down from the Ross Dam trailhead. For the boat I would use an aluminum propane tank instead of a steel tank. I had previously gotten myself stranded on Blake Island in Puget sound when the motor wouldn’t start and I had to row back through 5 miles of ocean. I later took the motor to the shop and the issue was that the steel propane tank had rusted on the inside and debris had clogged the fuel system. Hopefully that wouldn’t happen with an aluminum tank. Dragging the boat up Frontage Road, October 2023 For the Perry Glacier we would bring ascent plates. These are small mini-snowshoes that sandwhich between the crampon and boot and are ideal for ascending steep snow slopes where postholing and snowshoeing are inefficient. This would have saved us time on our February ascent. We each machined custom carbon-fiber plates for the trip. For climbing gear, in addition to a single rack of cams and a few pitons and nuts we’d brought before, I’d also bring a set of hexes. I’ve found these can be hammered into icy cracks where cams and pitons won’t stick. Duncan and I had used hexes to protect Forbidden Peak during our winter ascent in January 2021 and they worked very well. We’d also bring a second set of cams up to 2 inches. For technical tools this time I would bring two BD vipers instead of a viper and a venom. The venom is a hybrid with a straight shaft that is good for plunging, but it’s a bit harder to use dry tooling than the curved shaft. The viper is a curved shaft and better for mixed climbing. I decided it was unlikely I’d need to plunge the tool for an anchor. Nick would bring a Beal Escaper device which would allow for full 60m single-strand rope rappels. This would increase efficiency descending. For crampons Nick converted his petzl Lynx to monopoint to make the mixed climbing easier. I intended to convert my Petzl Lynx to monopoint also, but forgot to do that. For boots I would again bring my Olympus Mons 8000m double boots. It’s important on a weeklong winter trip to have a double boot so the liner can be dried out overnight in the sleeping bag. It’s also important to have a built-in supergaiter, since a separate gaiter easily gets frozen with ice and snow and is difficult to deal with. My 8000m boots were a bit overkill with warmth, but those are the only double boot with built in gaiter that I have. Nick had a similar but lighter boot that was a bit more appropriate. For the tent we would bring a modified mega-mid. Nick sewed on special skirts along the edges to anchor down with snow and increase space on the inside. This would be lighter and more spacious than the ultralight 2-man mountaineering tent we’d brought previously. We would each bring vapor barrier liners for our sleeping bags. This would ensure the bags would stay drier than before over multiple nights in potentially wet weather. Nick would bring a dry suit for the boat ride. I already use one every boat ride and it is much warmer and safer than a rain jacket and snow pants in choppy conditions. I would bring a new SUP hand pump for the boat that would make inflation faster. Plus, this would give us a backup pump in case anything went wrong with the primary pump. In the fall we also got a bit more serious about training for mixed climbing. We did a practice trip together dry tool climbing at Wayne’s World crag off I-90, and Nick did a bunch of additional dry tooling sessions. By mid December it looked like the stars might finally align for the trip. December had been unusually warm and satellite images showed Ross Lake ice free. The weather forecast looked favorable and there was a good chance there would be a window of stable snow. Ross Lake was 15ft higher than it had been in January (based on publicly-available USGS height data), so stumps were unlikely to be problematic. The first potential summit window looked like Friday Dec 29. We decided to give ourselves two full days to get in, to give buffer time for having heavier packs with more days of food. Then we’d establish basecamp at upper Perry Creek as before. We’d have three or four potential summit days, then a day to get out. Hard Mox was the top priority, but if we somehow managed to climb it we’d use our other days to climb other Bulgers in the area. To make our plan completely legal we emailed North Cascades National Park and got a permit for the trip. I flew back from visiting family on Dec 25, then Dec 26 spent the day packing and preparing. I took the zodiac boat out for a short test run in Lake Washington and everything worked fine. Finally we were ready to give it another go. Dec 27 Carrying the boat down to Frontage Road, December 2023 (photo by Nick) I picked up Nick in the morning and we drove up to Ross Dam trailhead by 9am. In our first load I carried the boat motor and propane while Nick carried climbing gear. I think it’s important to bring the motor down in the first load since that is the item most likely to get stolen if left unattended at the trailhead. Next I carried the boat while Nick carried remaining boat accessories and climbing gear. We got the full load down efficiently in two hours. Once all the gear was at Frontage road we pumped up the boat, which went twice as fast with the new hand pump as with the old foot pump. I mounted the wheels, mounted the motor, then we loaded all the gear as far back as possible to be as directly over the wheels as possible. Nick rigged up the rope on the front, then we each put the rope over our shoulders and started dragging the boat. We made sure to keep our steps in synch to minimize bouncing of the boat. Dragging the boat down to the lake We soon got the boat towed down to the lake edge. As usual, a truck from one of the resort workers was parked at the edge of the water. Luckily there was just enough space to squeeze the boat around to get to the water edge. There we each changed into dry suits, water shoes, and put on our life jackets. We loaded the sharp objects wrapped up inside packs or duffles. We placed a tarp on the bottom of the boat, loaded two climbing packs and one accessory duffle on top, then wrapped the tarp over everything and bungied it to the boat. This would protect the gear from waves splashing over and filling the boat with water. Starting the motor (photo by Nick) I pushed off in the boat, wading slightly into the water, while Nick went to the nearby dock. I then retracted the wheels and rowed over to pick up Nick. This allowed him to keep his feet dry. He then pushed off, and I rowed a bit deeper into open water. I connected the propane tank, turned the motor to neutral, plugged in my key, pulled out the choke, turned the handle to start, and gave the pull cord a pull. On the fourth pull the motor started, which is really good for starting cold. Usually it starts on the tenth pull. I then depressed the choke and we started off by 11:45am. Boating up lake I went at half speed to the water gate, a small gap in the floating log fence that protects the resort buildings from waves. We found the gate at the far end of the lake, marked by green cones, Once through I cranked the motor to max speed and we cruised along at 5.7mph. I’d gotten pretty familiar with Ross Lake after all the scouting trips and attempts and knew all the landmarks. We cruised around Cougar Island to the east, avoiding the temptation to cut the corner in the gap with the coast, since I’ve found this can be deceptively shallow. We passed close to Roland Point, but not too close since I recalled a few stumps in that area. Taking out at Little Beaver After passing Pumpkin mountain we rounded rainbow point and on to Devils Creek. That’s the site of a big stump forest which was luckily submerged today. From there I crossed to the west side following my memory of the lane of deepest water. We passed tenmile island, which was still an island at this water level, and then passed Lightning Creek, which surprisingly had deeper water coverage than in October. Loaded up and hiking up the trail (photo by Nick) Cat Island was barely an island, and I hugged the west coast. I was careful, though, since I recalled a few rogue stumps across from Cat Island on the west side. This time they were submerged. The only issue we encountered was a big floating log just past Cat Island. That would have been hard to spot at night, but I easily steered around it in the daylight. By 2:15pm we cruised up to Little Beaver Camp. The upper lake was ice-free as expected. The water level was not ideal for docking, though. The regular dock was high and dry, and the lower bench of shore was submerged, so the whole shoreline was kind of steep. We found one boulder that was kind of flat and were able to deploy the boat wheels and drag it up there. We tied it off on a stump, raised the motor, raised one wheel so the boat could rest level, and removed the gear. At the Perry Creek shelter We double carried the gear all up to the Little Beaver Shelter and took a short food break. We then ditched the boat gear in a bear box, packed up our climbing gear, and started up by 3pm. The trail was snow-free so we started hiking in light hiking boots with extra gear strapped on the packs. After three miles we hit deep snow, and switched to double boots and snowshoes as it started to rain lightly. I was happy to have my waterproof hyperlite pack to keep the gear dry. We continued to the shelter shortly after sunset around 5pm. It was very nice to get out of the rain in the shelter and not have to set up the tent. We each threw out bivy sacks and sleeping bags, cooked up some dinner, and were soon asleep. Starting up Perry Creek (photo by Nick) Dec 28 We got up at sunrise the next morning and were moving by 9am. It seemed unwise to be bushwhacking in the dark, so we wanted to be sure to start the bushwhack in the daylight. We ditched our hiking boots in the cabin and proceeded in mountaineering boots and snowshoes. I had loaded my October GPS track on my garmin Fenix 6 watch to help with navigation, but I pretty much remembered the whole route since I’d already done it a few times. From the shelter we stayed on the left side of the creek, and the snow soon got thin enough that we ditched the snowshoes. In general we tried to stay as close to the creek as possible, only bushwhacking around cliffs and waterfalls. Often there are good open lines next to the creek that allow for fast progress. Scrambling up the creek (photo by Nick) This time the creek was flowing much higher than it had been in October, while the snow coverage on the side was much less than it had been in February. This seemed to be a sweet spot that made the creek as difficult to follow as possible. If the flow was lower and the sides drier, it would have been easy to walk on sloping slabs on the side. If the slabs had been covered in a foot of snow, it would also have been easier to walk on them. But this time they were usually covered in a thin sheet of ice. That meant we had to bushwhack around more often than my previous two times. Navigating a slide alder thicket One time the bushwhack around verglassed slabs required crawling up through steep slide alder with slippery mud underneath. I pulled up with my right hand at an awkward angle and slipped in the mud. Immediately I felt a painful pop and realized my shoulder became dislocated. Ever since I dislocated it in the Khumbu Icefall on Mt Everest last spring it’s been more vulnerable, and the heavy pack with awkward fall was enough to pull it out. I howled in pain, but luckily I knew a trick to get it back in on my own. I immediately clasped my hands, relaxed my right arm, and pushed my knee through my clasped hands and pushed. The shoulder popped right back in and the pain soon subsided. It had only been out for about 5 seconds. I vowed to be extra careful going forward with pulling with my right arm. Finally into the old growth forest (photo by Nick) This and a few other detours slowed us down a bit. Higher up we had to pass through one slide alder thicket I hadn’t remembered. I think in October I’d stayed in the creek, and in February it had been covered in snow. That was the only memorably tough section, though. By 3400ft after rounding the corner we hit the old growth forest, which was a welcome relief. I knew it would be smooth sailing from there all the way to basecamp. It had been drizzling all morning and we were both soaked, but at least there would be fewer bushes to brush against in the old growth and our body heat might start drying things out. We ascended steeply up into the forest, and soon the snow got deep enough to warrant snowshoes. From there the woods were nice and open and progress was fast. It was fast until we started having snowshoe issues, though. One by one each of the four snowshoes failed in some way. The metal supports under each of my feet cracked, making the rotating part of the snowshoe detach. I ended up using ski straps to strap the part back on, and the stretchiness in the straps allowed my foot to rotate. First view of Hard Mox (photo by Nick) For Nick almost every individual strap ripped off. He ended up using a long ski strap to strap one foot to the shoe, and some spare cord to tie the other shoe in. I guess this is normal for an expedition to improvise when gear inevitebly fails. Finally we resumed our fast pace through the old growth. I recalled in February we had strayed a bit too high to the south, which forced us into side hilling to maintain elevation. This time I made sure to stay closer to the creek, and the terrain was nice and flat. As we got closer we started looking for a good stick for the middle of the mega mid. Usually on single-night trips I strap to ski poles together for the middle pole. But if we were using the tent as a dedicated basecamp I would want those poles on day climbs. I had a separate carbon fiber pole for the middle support, but wanted to save weight so left it in the truck. Nick managed to find a perfect stick on the way, and we took turns carrying that up through the woods. Basecamp at 4500ft By 6pm we reached the edge of treeline at 4500ft on the edge of the talus field. The snow coverage was much lower than in February, and many more trees and slide alder patches were sticking out. This time the bushwhack took 9 hours instead of the 6 hours it had taken us in February. This slower time was likely because of the unfavorable creek level and snow conditions, necessitating more side bushwhacks. Also the heavy packs, shoulder injury, and broken snowshoes slowed us down. But we successfully reached camp approximately on schedule. We had considered the possibility of pitching camp at 6700ft on the Perry Glacier that night to make summit day shorter. But the snow conditions were not stable that day, and getting up to 6700ft required crossing avy terrain. So we decided to pitch camp at the same place as before at 4500ft. This had the advantage that we knew there would be running water there, which was indeed true. Moving up the next morning We leveled out a spot, mounted the stick, and pitched the mega mid tent. Nick’s skirts on the tent worked great for piling snow on the outside while maintaining space on the inside. We dug out a ditch for our feet and cooked up dinner. At 7pm I got my inreach messages with the updated avy forecast. Friday looked like stable snow conditions and dry weather, as expected. So we decided to go for it. We ideally wanted to get to the base of the rock climbing at sunrise to be able to climb in the light. We expected our speed to be a bit faster than in February with the more consolidate snow and the ascent plates. Also, sunrise was later (8am), so we decided to start up at 4am this time. Dec 29 Looking down to Perry Creek basin It drizzled into the evening but eventually ended. I was unfortunately still wet from the approach hike, and made the unwise decision of putting my wet socks and wet liners in my sleeping bag to dry them out for summit push. This indeed dried them out, but left me damp all night and I ended up getting very little sleep. The 3am alarm came way too early, and we reluctantly started nibbling on bars and getting out of our sleeping bags. The drizzle had stopped, the skies had partially cleared, and a nearly-full moon illuminated the sky almost enough to not need headlamps. This was much better than in February when it had been blowing snow and low visibility as we had ascended. This time was much warmer also, which would be nicer for climbing. On the upper Perry Glacier We were suited up and moving by 4am. I had my October track loaded on my watch, but navigation was easy even without that in the moonlight. The east face of Lemolo loomed above us, with the true summit of Hard Mox just hidden behind. We alternated leads breaking trail in 15-minute shifts up to the cliff below the Perry Glacier, then right into the lower-angle gully. We hiked up some old avy debris that had more consolidated snow underneath. After reaching the first shoulder we hooked left, then found a weakness in the upper steeper slopes. We eventually reached a flat area at the toe of the Perry Glacier. Switching to ascent plates At this point in October I had continued directly up slabs to avoid the glacier, and in February we had continued left onto the glacier with lower angle terrain. This time we decided to avoid glacier travel and ascended right of the slabs. The snow was well-consolidated and travel efficient with the heel risers lifted on the snow shoes. We crested the flat area above the slabs, then ascended higher onto the Perry Glacier. We soon reached a cliff at the top of the glacier and decided to ditch the snowshoes there. It was getting too steep for them to be efficient, so we switched into ascent plates. Looking up at the climb Nick led the way and travel was again very efficient. Each step required only one kick, unlike in February with snowshoes when we had to clear snow with hands, then knees, then double kick to make progress. We made it up the snow gully to the point where the summer route descends and traverses climbers right to the final gully. The terrain got briefly icy, but the ascent plates allow the crampon frontpoints to stick out, so this was not a problem. Nick leading up the first pitch We continued up with our whippets for protection until we reached the based of the first pitch. Here Nick put a cam in a crack, then we clipped in and kicked out a nice platform below the shelter of a rock wall by 10am. Nick is the stronger climber so he took all the gear while I took the pack with a little bit of food, water, and warm clothes. We ditched our remaining gear at the platform and pulled out the technical tools and clipped them to our umbilical cords. The summit was socked in the clouds, but it wasn’t very windy and this time the weather was predicted to improve throughout the day. I always like climbing into improving weather rather than racing to beat a storm that might come in early. Nick at the first crux Nick optimistically started up into the chockstone gully to try to climb directly up. This appeared to be full of ice, which might make it easier than the rock slab. However, he found the ice was hollow and not safe to climb, so backed off. He then climbed directy up the rock wall to the right, where I had climbed in October. He got a piece in down low, then got above the lip, reaching the same highpoint as before. This time he was able to excavate out a crack on the left that took a hex pounded in. That seemed to be the key to getting past this lower crux. He continued up to the bench above the chockstone, and made an anchor slinging horns. Me leading the gully pitch I soon followed, and manged to get decent sticks in thin neve above the lip, and a few good hooks. Of course, I had the advantage of a top rope, so felt much safer. At the anchor Nick handed over the remaining gear and belayed me up the gully. In October I had soloed the gully since it wasn’t too steep or exposed, but in winter it’s fully of ice and you wouldn’t want to fall. It’s kind of long, but not hard, so we decided to simul climb it. I got a few pieces in on each sided, including a good hex hammered in a crack that wouldn’t take a cam. I soon reached the col above and clipped on to the rap anchor at the horn. Nick leading out of the col I belayed Nick up, then handed the gear back over. I recalled the next pitch had been the crux in October, and I was happy Nick was OK leading it. Getting out of the col was a little tricky, and I pushed Nick’s back as he pulled on the lower moves. He got good pieces in going up and right on the face. The next move was to cross over to the right into a gully and ascend. That ended up being the crux. I suppose in summer I’d frictioned up slabby bits in my rock shoes with no problem, but that’s hard in crampons. Nick somehow managed to bang a hex in a crack and excavate out a key micro ledge for the front points. This allowed passage, and he climbed all the way up to the pedestal anchor above. I was yelling out directions from below since I was familiar with the route, having climbed it twice before. Me following the first pitch I followed, and was starting to get a bit nervous about our speed. We really wanted to top out by sunset, but the days were short and sunset was around 4:15pm, which wasn’t too many hours away. So I tried to climb up as fast as possible. Since Nick had already excavated out the good footholds and tool hooks I was able to make fast progress up to the pedestal. The pedestal anchor is kind of awkward since it requires a semi-hanging belay. To increase efficiency we decided to swing leads again. This was kind of nice that I didn’t have to stay at the awkward anchor, but the pitch above looked kind of tricky. I took all the gear and started up. Me leading up the next pitch above the col The rock was interesting since it was all plastered in tiny white rime ice feathers. This made it very slippery, but that wasn’t a problem with crampons and ice tools. I delicately hooked ledges and got a few cams in until I reached a vertical section. There I traversed up and left to a good ledge climbed on top. Above me I could see a nice bench on the ridge, but it looked like an unprotectable slab for 20ft to get to it. I optimistically started digging and clawing around with my tool and luckily found a few cracks under the snow. With cams in I continued up getting good sticks in the neve and hoooking ledges until I reached the bench. I recalled the next rap anchor was just above this bench, but it was a 15ft tall vertical wall that looked tricky. I was running low on gear and Nick was far enough below to not be able to see me there. It seemed like the kind of section where you want good pro and an attentive belayer, so I decided to make an anchor there and bely Nick up. Nick at the pedestal anchor Nick soon climbed up and said he was OK leading the next bit. I told him the anchor was just above, and this should be the last pitch up to the summit. Nick got in three solid pieces on the upper step, then pulled himself over. He made steady progress above that, topping out almost exactly at sunset. Meanwhile, I was admiring the amazing view opening up below me. The clouds were gradually clearing revealing the pickets to the southwest, Easy Mox and Redoubt to the west, and Custer and Rahm to the north. Climbing the last gully to the summit Nick put me on belay and I carefully surmounted the vertical bit. Luckily there were very solid hooks at the top I trusted to pull myself over. I walked past the rap anchor, brushing some snow off, then walked through the low-angle bowl section to the final gully. I was impressed to see nearly every piece of pro was a hex! I had brought six hexes and they all got used on that pitch! And to think, those hexes almost never get used on any other occasion. They really are the right tool for the job in icy cracks, though. Summit panorama I made the final pull over the upper chockstone and reached the summit ridge at 4:35pm. From the anchor it was On the summit a short walk over to the highest little pedstal, which we both did unroped. Our timing was perfect just around sunset with the last rays of sun lighting up the surround peaks, which were passing in and out of thin clouds. That was probably the most scenic time of the whole day. We took turns posing for summit pictures and taking videos and panoramas. It felt amazing to finally reach this point after so many scout trips and failed attempts. I spent a few minutes trying to dig around for the summit register, but couldn’t find it. That’s usually the case in the winter on peaks like this. Nick on the summit After 10 minutes on top we decided to head down. I recalled the main anchor is a small slung boulder on the edge of the cliff that doesn’t inspire much confidence. In October I’d backed it up to a bigger boulder, and saw that was still in place. We backed it up another time and I rapped down first to the next anchor. Nick soon followed by the time it was dark enough to need headlamps. Rapping off the summit At the next anchor I knew a 60m rap would reach the col. We rigged up Nick’s Beal Escaper and planned to do a single-rope 60m rappel. The device is kind of like a chinese finger trap wrapped around the rope. The way it works is once you’re at the bottom you do about 20 pulls and releases, and it gradually releaseas the rope from the trap. I was a little skeptical since I’d never used it before, so I went first and had it backed up. By now the wind really picked up and it was hard to lower the rope down without it blowing away to the side. The rappel is a little awkward to begin with too, since it kind of goes down a ridge. I somehow managed to keep the rope untangled and safely reached the col. I then tugged twice on the rope to make sure it would start passing through the escaper device. Rapping down Nick assessed that conditions were not good for the Beal Escaper to work properly, so he pulled the rope up and made a standard 30m rappel to the pedestal, then another 30m rappel to the col. The wind had really picked up and it was started to get pretty cold, so I was happy when he arrived down safely. At the col we attached the beal escaper and I made a full 60m rap down the gully. I had recalled seeing an intermediate rap anchor on a slung horn, but by the end of the rope I was still 15ft above that anchor. Maybe someone with a 70m rope made that anchor. Luckily I found some cracks in the wall and was able to make an anchor with a few nuts and a girth-hitched constriction. At the col Nick came down and we did 20 pulls and the beal escaper magically released. That was pretty nice to get the full 60m rappel in with the 60m rope and save some time. I next rapped off my anchor and easily reached our platform and gear. It felt great to finally be done with the technical section. Nick followed and did the same trick with the 20 pulls until the beal escaper released. This time, though, the rope got stuck on something just above the chokstone. We tried flicking the rope all directions, and finally pulling down as hard as we could. It was no use, though. The rope was officially stuck. Downclimbing to the snowshoes At that point we had two options. First, one of us could lead back up the lower crux on the other strand of rope and get the top end unstuck, then build another rap anchor and rappel down. That sounded dangerous. It would be tempting to just prussik up the stuck end, but that was also dangerous since we didn’t know how much weight it could bear. Second, we could cut the bottom of the rope off as high as possible and leave the remaining piece. Both of us were planning to return to Hard Mox the coming summer anyway (I wanted to take my differential GPS up to get an accurate elevation reading), so we decided to cut the rope and retrieve the other end in the summer. Descending the Perry Glacier That was the safe decision and felt like the correct decision. So we cut the rope at the middle marker and packed it up. We were soon all packed up and downclimbed back to our snowshoes. We then packed up the snowshoes and continued down our tracks in our crampons. The tracks were nice and visible and not drifted over, which was a good sign that no new wind slabs had formed. We made good progress all the way off the glacier and back down to camp by 10pm for an 18 hour day. Descending the Perry Glacier We checked the latest avy and weather forecast on my inreach and the next day was supposed to be stable snow also, but rain and snow and socked in all day. Sunday was supposed to be better weather, though. So we decided to take a rest day the next day. I definitely needed one anyways. Dec 30 I slept in to 10am, which felt great. It had started drizzling around 3am and would continue on and off throughout the day. Indeed, it looked like a bad day to be above treeline. I stayed drier that night by not putting any wet items in my sleeping bag and diligently staying inside the vapor barrier liner. Rainy rest day in camp We soon discussed objectives for the rest of the trip. Hard Mox had been the primary objective, but we wanted to Resting in the tent tag any other Bulgers nearby that made sense. From the summit of Hard Mox we realized that Redoubt and Easy Mox would be very difficult to access from our camp. We had optimistically hoped to be able to cross over col of the wild to access these peaks. But the glacier north of Hard Mox was heavily crevassed. It looked like steep slabs to gain the col, which had a huge cornice overhanging to the east. That option would not work. The only remaining Bulger accessible from our camp was Spickard. We decided to go for Spickard Sunday, then hike and boat out Monday and Tuesday as originally planned. Rain was supposed to end around 5am, so we would start up at 6am to give a bit of buffer time. Starting up Spickard We spent the rest of the day eating and drying out clothes and socks using body heat. Dec 31 The rain ended as schedule and we were up and moving by 6am. We had planned a route using shaded relief maps to minimize exposure to steep slopes. We took turns breaking trail, and now the once-slushy snow had firmed up with an icy crust on top. This was good news for stability. Good views of Hard Mox We followed the left-most and largest of four snow gullies to our north, soon reaching a low-angle shoulder at 6000ft. From there we traversed right to a big drainage, then hiked up to the toe of the Solitude-Spickard glacier. By then the sun came out and we were treated to great undercast views below. We met up with the standard Spickard route I recalled from my previous ascent, and traversed right on a ledge between two cliff bands to gain the south face of Spickard. Spickard started out socked in the clouds but they gradually cleared and we could see a route up. We ascneded low-angle slopes almost to the ridge, then traversed right below a steeper band. The snow was stable with only a thin unreactive wind slab in a few isolated places. Climbing Spickard Below a small saddle we ditched the snowshoes and switched to ascent plates. From there we easily marched straight up to the saddle, then continued along the ridge until we were blocked by gendarmes. There we noticed a nice snow traverse on the north face. We ditched the ascent plates and got out our ice tools. One by one we traversed the icy face, reaching the summit by noon. The undercast views were amazing, and with no wind and sunshine it was actually kind of pleasant. This was a rare treat to be able to spend more than a few minutes on a winter summit. We took tons of picture and admired the views. On the summit I recalled last year Stu Johnson and Max Bond had climbed Spickard via the NE ridge in what was likely the first winter ascent. I peered over the ridge and it looked way more difficult than what we had done. I think the south face is the easiest way to go in winter if the snow is stable. We soon dropped back down, traversed the north face, and took a food break in the sun on the south side. We downclimbed back to our snowshoes, packed them up, then cramponed back down of the face. We made excellent time retracing our route back down, reaching camp a bit before sunset. It felt great to get both Bulgers bagged from the Perry Creek drainage. I still have four left in the Chiliwacks in winter, but I’ll have to figure out a different way to access those. Summit panorama Leaving camp in the moonlight Jan 1 Our goal was to get all the way back to the trailhead the next day if possible, so we were up and moving by 6am. We made good time following our snowshoe tracks through the old growth, and switched to boots back at the creek at 3400ft. The bushwhack and scramble down went smoothly, and we reached the Perry Creek shelter by 11:30am for a 5.5 hr descent. There we switched into our stashed hiking boots and made fast time back to Little Beaver shelter. Nearing Ross Lake It felt really cold down there, and that may have been associated with the clear weather that day. By 3pm we were bundled up in dry suits and down jackets and soon had the zodiac boat loaded up and pushed off into the lake. For some reason, though, the motor wouldn’t start. I fought with it for 30 minutes before finally giving up. I suspect it was related to the cold. I’ve never taken it out in this cold of temperature, so some possible problems are that the propane was too cold or the motor oil wasn’t rated to the cold temperature. I’m working on debugging that issue still. Trying to get the motor running The boat has a set of oars as a backup, and we started rowing. It would be a 15-mile trip back to Ross Dam and we would try to be efficient. I’d previously packrafted from Little Beaver to Ross Dam and that had taken all day, even with a tail wind. This time luckily the wind was calm, though generally it comes from the south in the evening on Ross Lake. The zodiac oars seemed more efficient than packraft paddles, luckily. We measured that pulling hard and fast we could get up to 3.5 mph, but pulling at a comfortable pace was closer to 2mph. Broken oar lock fixed with bungee cord We took 10-15 minute shifts, rotating out when the person in the bow got too cold. Every shift I would play around with the motor trying to get it to start. We even dunked the propane tank in the water to try to warm it up, but that didn’t work. It soon got dark and we were paddling by starlight. Our strategy was the person in front would give directions until the heading was appropriate, while the roarer would pick a point in the distance to the north and keep the back of the boat pointed at that to maintain heading. Back at Ross Dam When we were near Rainbow Point, a bit over halfway, one of the oarlocks broke so that the paddle was no longer connected to the boat. This looked like bad news. It would be very tough and slow to row out with just one paddle, or even to detach both paddles and row out like a canoe. The oar orientation was way more efficient. Luckily I was able to jerry rig a solution with bungy cords to reconnect the oar to the boat, and we continued on at our normal speed. By 11:45pm we finally reached the takeout at Ross Dam. We pulled the boat out of the water, deployed the wheels, and dragged it up Frontage road. From there Nick immediately took a load of climbing gear up while I packed up the boat and motor. I then hiked up with the boat. Nick came down and got my climbing pack and the propane tank while I returned to get the motor. Finally, Nick made one more trip to get the boat accessories. So it was a 2.5-carry up while it had been a double carry down. I think if the propane tank had been empty as it would have been if the motor had worked, we could have gotten it up more easily in a double carry. By 3am we were loaded up back at the truck. We slept a few hours until sunrise, then drove back to Seattle. 62/100 Winter Bulgers Movie of the trip: Gear Notes: Technical tools, double rack to 2in, hexes (very useful), pitons (unused), 1 stubby screw (unused), ascent plates, zodiac boat, dry suit, double boots, NWAC-scraping-to-inreach python script, beal escaper, single 60m rope, avy gear Approach Notes: Carry boat to Ross Lake, boat to Little Beaver, hike to Perry Creek shelter, bushwhack up Perry creek
    2 points
  22. Looks like a great day! I need to retire.
    1 point
  23. Right, a space blanket! That saved @Trent and I from a potentially serious situation when we were caught out on the West Arete of Eldorado late season many years ago....great suggestion @Lostbolt. Same with light stove in the winter, esp. on routes expected to take most of a day.
    1 point
  24. WUT!!!! MT ANGELES TR????? Is "mature mountaineer" how you describe yourself on TInder? Looks like a good time Jason!
    1 point
  25. Great trip report, and thanks for writing it up in such an honest way! That's how you learn. We all did stupid stuff above our heads when we were younger, and those of us still posting made it out alive, but not everybody did. I advise you to do what I did. Take some of that money you are going to spend on new gear and invest it in getting some in-person instruction from a really well qualified guide. Get a little group together and the cost will be reasonable. or at least find an experienced ice climber who is also a good teacher, buy them a case of beer to take you out somewhere nearby and teach you as much as they can. Congrats on the probable FA. So I actually want to congratulate you on the decision to rap the route. I don't know the mountain or the descent options, but just going from the TR info, it appears you didn't also. so in my opinion, that was your best decision of the day and just might have saved your life. if you're not absolutely sure about alternative means of descent, it is ALWAYS better to go back the way you came. Well done. So many climbing accident reports begin with "they decided to seek an easier way down" or "they descended via _______, a route they were not familiar with." You can easily be cliffed out or find yourself in even more of an epic, and once hypothermia sets in, you start making stupid decisions without even realizing it. Others have commented on your rappel techniques. Trying to save 10 bucks by threading your rope through a wire made my shudder. You were lucky to survive that as well. You DO need to spend more time learning and PRACTICING rappelling in a safe environment. You can read great techniques in books but you need to dial that shit in at home before you try it in the field. (it's by far the most dangerous part of climbing as you probably know intellectually). If you haven't read through any of the "American climbing accidents" annuals, I highly recommend it. You can learn a lot from the mistakes others make, and it's a guaranteed injury-free activity, as well as being a pretty compelling read. One last complement- your willingness to keep learning is what will save you. Well done. Lots of people think they're invincible and aren't as self aware as you seem to be. It's great to see.
    1 point
  26. I appreciate the concern and the gear advice from both of you. I will definitely admit, and tried to make that known that we could have and should have waited to do this. I bit off more than I could chew and definitely acknowledge that. After talking to @JasonGa bit more it appears that there is a good walk off with maybe a few steeper tree rappels off the sub peak between Yak and Nak. I will definitely be looking more into descent options on future routes and planning to stay on established ones for a bit longer. We did back up most of those raps with a screw or picket while I went down as to not blindly trust it but I definitely can acknowledge that this is not ideal and not what we should do everytime. Also been reading "Down" this past week. It has been a great read for me and seeing how we can do better on rappels like this. Also went back into Marc Andres blog and was reading about his solo of Mt Robson (don't worry no desire to solo. I infact do not want to die and appreciate a belay) and noticed how he was tired at the top so dug a pit and crawled in his bivy bag for a bit. That was good insight for me that if you need rest figure out how to get it before going back into the rough terrain and environment. I appreciate your guys feedback. Feedback from people that know a thing or two because they've done a thing or two is much appreciated and remembered when we're in situations trying to figure out what to do I remember words of wisdom from more experienced climbers than myself. I'll pick up a couple more peckers next time I'm at the climbing shop.
    1 point
  27. Thanks for writing this up and sharing the stoke!
    1 point
  28. 1 point
  29. Your questions are flawed... need to be able to check multiple boxes. It's not always a one-or-the-other thing.
    1 point
  30. The snow pack is strange this year, very thin further north, more normal in the south. We skied at the Mt. Baker resort on Sunday and it was shocking to see how thin it was below 4,000', there's hardly any snow. This could all change with a couple of good storms but there's not much hope on the long term forecasts.
    1 point
  31. Maybe you're well aware of it, but that is exactly what lead to the demise of a few climbers from out of the PNW that flew in with a vacation window and tried to make it work despite the weather (see that famous Mt Hood incident, etc). Good on you for recognizing that! IMO there are things to do no matter what the weather, but sometimes they are just a little more mellow/less exciting... like going to crag at Mt Erie. Anyway it can make it more fun too as you can create a whole list of possibilities and research them all.
    1 point
  32. Ok, great. Thanks to both of you for the advice. I think I'm likely guilty of just looking at when I have off, and hoping that some of the routes I want to climb happen to be condition, so it probably makes the most sense to just evaluate conditions and decide where to head out to at the last minute.
    1 point
  33. March is historically difficult to line up stable weather windows in the Cascades as well.
    1 point
  34. Good to know look forward to a report when you get back and best of luck. I was planning on this spring but due to life have to push it out a year. Oly or Jason I hope I would be able to take you up on that offer when my planning phase gets closer.
    1 point
  35. I can loan you mine @geosean!
    1 point
  36. Congratulations!
    1 point
  37. Round 2 out Hyalite, hopefully Liberty Ridge, and the North face of Shuksan. Ideally Lincoln peak but I don't know if conditions will be favorable this year.
    1 point
  38. Cleaning out the basement, I'm giving away all my old climbing magazine back issues... except for these! Between Mar/Apr 1993 and July /Aug 1994, this short-lived British magazine attempted to do what Alpinist did a decade later in the USA: provide glossy, in-depth, high quality coverage of mountains, people, and issues. It was edited by Ed Douglas, also known for editing The Alpine Journal, and the author of 'Tenzing: Hero of Everest', amongst other works. As well as excellent coverage of new routing in the Alps and Himalayas plus elsewhere, plus the 'usual' inclusions of gear and book reviews, etc, Mtn Rev published 'big' articles, well researched, well written, and well illustrated. Issue 1 looks at Everest. Issue 2 focuses on the Grand Pilier d'Angle, Patagonia, and the Wendenstock. Issue 3 profiles Fred Beckey and Chamonix. Issue 4 delves deep into Russia. Issue 5 explores Cerro Kishtwar and Poles in the Himalaya. Issue 6 digs into Scotland and Yosemite. Issue 7 features Glen Coe, the Caucasas, Tomo Cesen, and Erhard Loretan. Issue 8 looks at K2 and the Antarctic. Issue 9 includes Cerro Torre, Sweden, and Shiprock. ...and then it was gone! All copies are in excellent condition. Issues were generally 90 or 82 pages. The per issue price 'back in the day' was US $4.95. The same seems more than fair for what are now undoubtedly quite rare 'collectables', so US$ 45. You pay postage, about 5 lbs shipping weight. Mountain Review complete set by Don Serl, on Flickr
    1 point
  39. And you still can @Steve McGee: https://www.chesslerbooks.com/item/10797-mountain-review-magazine-back-issues-4-8-1993-1994.asp I just ordered a couple, thanks for bumping this!
    1 point
  40. @Kyle M I'm offended that you would dare to make climbing recommendations to @Kayleighm or any Eastern Washington alpinist. Unlike their bougie, coddled, and techbro-centric Seattle counterparts, Eastern Washington alpinists are the real deal. Every morning, they wake up and do 10x hill repeats at 5k speed up Ingalls Peak as a warm-up to set the FKT on the Teanaway Traverse. For lunch, they head over to the North Cascades to do a one day push of the High Route using only huaraches and a compass because gear is aid. You think you're hard for doing Glacier Peak in a day? Think again; Eastern Washington alpinists lap Glacier Peak in the dead of winter as they prepare to do their yearly repeat of the Bulger List. Which acts as base-building for their ultimate yearly objective: setting the FKT on Mailbox Peak without the use of supplemental oxygen. All in all, I am flabbergasted that you think you have the mountain expertise or moxie to give guidance to climbers of that profile. Check your cardio privilege, porfavor.
    1 point
  41. Porter, your photo makes it look like we’re in a bowling alley. Here is the picture taken with my phone. Only 5 of us old timers showed up. And Tony bailed on us. Stale Toast. L to R: klenke, Olyclimber, MattP, ChrisW, AlpineK
    1 point
  42. Columbia Gorge Ice! Post your photos! Mist Falls 1/14/2024 Left a V thread and backup screw 80-90' up. Use at your own risk. Likely will be under a bunch of ice tomorrow. Have fun, be safe! -Kip
    1 point
  43. I climbed the Cassin Ridge in May of 1981, my first major climb in the Alaska Range. Prior experience had included several winter seasons in the Tetons, Colorado Rockies, Cascades. Preparation focused on climbing up to 5.10 in double leather boots and 30-40lb pack. While on route, my partner and I passed two other teams who were hauling their packs. Both teams had started the route two days ahead of us. One of them summitted two days after we did, the other team aborted. From my experience on this, and other big mountain routes (south face Aconcagua) I would recommend focusing on becoming comfortable/efficient climbing in big double boots and an expedition-size pack. If time to jump on full-on alpine routes is limited, at least go climb your favorite crag routes in full expedition gear, in snowy/icy conditions if possible. I stated above that we had trained to climb to 5.10 in expedition boots and packs. -- that was overkill. What i remember is thinking that there was nothing on the Cassin that would be rated harder than about 5.6 if you climbed it in rock-shoes and t-shirt at your local trad crag... mostly I remember the route as really FUN climbing on far-better-than-expected rock. My partner was relatively inexperienced at altitude, so we allowed generous time -- ten days on route, resting every other day. That worked well for us, and decades later Roger Robinson informed me that the NPS had taken to recommending our protocol to teams with limited experience. If your team has the opportunity to train and get comfortable/efficient at altitude, you could most likely cut our time in half with ease. I have to say, though, that hauling an abundance of food/fuel keeps me more mentally relaxed on a big route... climbing tired & hungry at altitude is a poor set-up. one further note; even at their coldest, the Cascades come nowhere near the Alaska Range. some time camping out in Montana/Wyoming/Colorado might be helpful in prepping for -30F...
    1 point
  44. 1 point
  45. That makes him perfect the example. Life is messy.....and you often don't die the way everyone expects you to. Most importantly, we are all going to die no matter what we do.
    1 point
  46. 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... 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.
    1 point
  47. Drive by Choss-Fest or "Did Somebody Call a Wahhhhmbulance?" Shredder and I enjoyed a fine day of choss climbing Saturday in the Gorge. We settled first on Rooster Rock, the pinnacle protecting the nude beach. We parked in the park lot and walked across a field past a culvert and down to the base of what we thought was the pinnacle. 20 minutes of thrashing around in blackberry vines made us reconsider. As we doubled back we saw a couple of what appeared to be climbers (you know the look) walking back towards the park. Well, maybe we didn't walk far enough along the highway. So we follow a small trail further west and bingo we find the 'trail' leading through the blackberry vines into a cool, shady grove of willows. The trail wound around and up steeply until ending at the base of the west side of the pinnacle. We put on our harnesses and decided to forego the rope on the lower section and ascended some easy 4th class terrain with packs. Above this was a bolt that marked a traverse over to the gully proper which Shredder led in fine style solo over 5.3-5.4 ground. We made the summit and enjoyed the outstanding views of the ambulances roaring to a stop just outside the park about where we had been thrutching around before finding the true trail. We kicked back, took a few hero shots and then set off on the scary ass rappell back down. We had to down climb some of the lower 4th class sections but nothing too serious. We then decided to climb Crown Point via the Alpenjager route. The Dodge guide describes this route in relatively favorable terms and hell, we're a couple of adventurers. Had we any idea what we were in for we might have left that one alone. We had to park alongside hwy 84 and hike along some railroad tracks to find a small trail leading towards the base. It soon waxed out and we were thrutching around through undergrowth again. We waded through lush fields of stinging nettles. Did I mention I was wearing shorts? Much groaning, crying and whining found us clinging to the rock with absolutely no sign of a trail and no route indications. We're both a bit sketched out as we don our harnesses while clinging to choss on 5.3 terrain. I get a feeling we're again in the wrong spot so traverse further east to discover, yes we are in the wrong spot again. While no trail existed, this gully leading up was clearly easier than where we had started from so I yell for Shredder to come and join me as I start off on the lower 5.4 sections. Before I know it the climbing has gotten harder and the exposure is crazy but I am committed. I see a piece of bail-off webbing and start to think about using it. Above me though I spy two pitons and what appears to be a relatively new bolt and hanger so I continue towards safety thinking I can at least rapell from here more safely. I clip in, say a few silent prayers and look over my shoulder to see how Shredder is doing. Oops--he's got the rope. He's coming along nicely and accept for one spot that has him stymied briefly he arrives at the belay without incident. We both agree we will never do anything like that again. Little did we know that was nothing compared to what lie ahead. We pulled out the rope, tied in and I grabbede rack. We were both climbing with packs on again. Shredder put me on belay and off I went. The route goes up directly from the belay then follows a series of fixed pins along an open book to a chimney where the real fun began. Dodge describes it as a stem fest in his book. We both agreed it was not only a stem fest but a scare fest. There was a number of fixed pins along the way and a full-on belay station with a rusty, spinning 1/4" bolt backed up with two pitons that ended the second pitch. Rockfall was unavoidable but not that bad on the second pitch. The third, exit pitch was another story. Alpenjager splits completely from the main Crown Point buttress and is seperated by a chimney that goes from fist sized at the bottom to big enough to accomodate my fat ass with a pack at the top. I followed the chimney up and as it arced back south I stayed inside of it stemming out the entire way. Pretty easy climbing but there was no more fixed gear and I saw nothing solid enough to take any passive gear. So I slung a chickstone and ran it out. When I reached the apex of the arc I tried to ascend to the true summit of alpenjager but it was not to be. It was covered in a thick pelt of moss over large stones that were no more secure than gravel. I got about 20 feet up this crap when it started peeling away and I was sliding backward clinging to that choss heap like a cat on a shower curtain. I slowly and very methodically downclimbed. Did I mention I was scared? As I did so I released a torrent of dirt and rocks that rained down the chimney but thankfully avoided shredder. Then I continued my stemming ways to the south side of the chimney and terra firma. Shredder followed but because of the rope catching on a piece of choss up above he was suckered into trying to climb the moss as I did until I yelled to him to avoid it. We gave up trying to achieve the true summit of alpenjager in favor of wading back through the nettles. All in all a great time and truly adventurous climbing. I highly recommend Rooster Rock as an easy outing but I would discourage anyone from trying Alpenjager unless they truly want to experience Columbia River choss at its finest. As a sidenote, apparently there was a shooting in the parking lot of Rooster Rock while we were climbing. Hence all the ambulances. Rooster Rock 2 pitches of 5.3 climbing Alpenjager 3-4 pitches of 5.4/5.5 climbing, one pair of ruined underwear. No rock pro used on Rooster Rock. A light rack would suffice for Alpenjager. I'll defer to Shredder's masterful computer skills for picture posting.
    1 point
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