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  1. 12 points
    Trip: Dragontail Peak - North East Couloir Trip Date: 11/23/2019 Trip Report: I got out for a stellar day with Kyle and Daniel on Saturday (November 23, 2019). Following a few weeks of mostly high pressure and moderate temps, but with a storm front moving in, we were curious about conditions in the Stuart Range. Kyle brought this route to my attention, as I hadn't even heard of it. We found a TR on here from November 2008 and this inspired us to go give it a look. Be sure to check the trip from Kyles perspective at https://climberkyle.com/2019/11/23/dragontail-peak-ne-couloir-wi2-m5-r/ After leaving the trailhead around 5 am, we found more snow on the surrounding peaks than expected, which was promising considering the lack of recent precip, except for a day or two the week leading up to this. We knew the weather was supposed to deteriorate and winds were supposed to pick up throughout the day so we hurried to Aasgard Pass. We switched to boots and crampons where the creek down the pass was frozen and flooded over the boulders. At around 8 we started soloing up easy little water ice flows toward the base of the couloir. At the base of the couloir, we could see the first dry section that leads into the couloir and it didn't look too hard. We opted to rack up but solo up it. It was a tad techy so I fixed a cordelette as a hand line in a few spots for extra security. Above this, we were on variable steep snow. Throughout the couloir, we found everything from thigh-deep wallowing, to firm neve front pointing. About a third of the way up the couloir, there was a steep/overhung chockstone with a thin ice/snow flow on the right. I led up and over this with some mediocre gear (a tied off 10cm screw and a cam lower). Above this, we soloed a bunch more steep snow until our gully ran out of snow and we did a pitch traversing 30ft right over rock slabs to a different snowy gully. Now we were approaching the top of the couloir and it was starting to open up and become drier. Just 2 more pitches took us to the top but, wow, they were seriously full-on. The first pitch was a series of near-vertical granite steps with steep snow in between. This was perhaps the technical crux as there were quite a few delicate moves but also some dark brown ice that took good sticks, as well as generally good gear. I belayed off a horn, looking up at the last pitch, which appeared to be 100% dry. I was tempted to ditch the crampons but kept them on since the only bomber feet I had gotten on the entire last pitch were in the few small patches of ice and I was still hopeful that there would be ice above that I couldn't see. Once Kyle and Daniel got to me, I mentally prepared to take the sharp end for hopefully the last time of the day. There had been a lot hard and sketchy climbing already, and the hardest/scariest was still yet to come. I started up the pitch, immediately finding that the rock quality was deteriorating. I was mostly climbing with both my axes racked since the rock was so bad. It seemed like the majority of holds could be pulled off and gear was sparse. When I finally got good gear halfway up the pitch I yelled "take" and sat back for a sec to breath. I took a few photos, looking both up and down. From then on, I didn't get another piece of gear. Eventually, I could see the ridgeline 20ft above me and was eager to get there. All that stood in my way was a steep kitty litter chimney, devoid of any gear of course. At this point, I had my gloves off since I was just rock climbing with crampons and its nice to be able to feel all the holds that will inevitably crumble in your hands. I started up the chimney, with my pack pressed against the right wall, my crampons finding edges in the left wall, my arms finding chicken wings and armbars, and cursing like a sailor. Thankfully my gopro had already died. I wouldn't mind forgetting this pitch. Down below, Kyle and Daniel were experiencing a constant flow of gravel filling their hoods. I remember throwing one hand up over the ridge onto a jug and letting out a sigh of relief before mantling up and finding an extra bomber belay. The wind up here was absolutely ripping and I got cold quickly while belaying. I was wearing all my clothes and had sweated a bit on the previous lead. The forecasted winds (60mph) had arrived and there were now intermittent clouds, but the sky was still mostly clear. Our weather window was certainly closing. Kyle and Daniel enjoyed the pitch far more than I did and both arrived at the belay with big grins, especially since they could climb near each other and watch all the holds break off. Since I was cold and antsy to move I let them break down the belay and sort out the ropes while I looked for the "traverse to the notch." I found it, but accessing the notch looked just a bit spicy. I wanted to solo it but realized I was just cold and anxious to get down and out of the blasting wind and gravel so I lead it with one rope and gave each of them a terrain belay up to the rap station where a single 60m rap got us out of the wind and to a point which we could walk from. We were out of the wind and off the technical terrain. It was a big relief for me. However, the light was fading and Aasgard pass is never fun to head down. There was a set of tracks up to the summit proper of Dragontail which we followed downhill and down the pass. As the light faded I snagged a photo of the route from across the pass. It looked pretty impressive, I was briefly proud but mostly humbled. We talked briefly about the climb. Perhaps there were mistakes. It would have been possible to bail down the route once we saw how dry the upper pitch was. I was enticed to just climb it since the ridge was practically 80 or 100ft away and bailing down the route would have meant leaving gear and taken a lot of time. Hard choices. Of course, you will never know exactly how it will be until you're in the thick of it, but perhaps we/I made too bold of a choice and got lucky (on the other hand, down climbing the snow would have also been tricky). Food for thought for anyone who has made it this far through the trip report. I try to stay safe and climb hard, but its a tricky balance. Anyway, we got back to the car around 8 pm and headed to McDonald's. All in all, it was a very fun day with 3 competent 22-23yr old Washington born and raised climbers. And for anyone curious about this route right now, I would steer clear! In the coming days, I'll post some first-person climbing video on my insta @porter.mcmichael First, a photo of the route, taken on the descent. Looking up at Dtail Approach ice Still on Asgard Dry pitch to access the couloir Fun steep snow! Chockstone in the middle of the couloir Looking down on the last pitch (I think) Looking up in the middle of the last pitch From the ridge looking down the chimney Looking North from near the top Kyle on the last pitch Daniel on the last pitch Down the rap Gear Notes: 3 screws (placed 2), 4 pins and a bulldog (surprisingly didn't place any), nuts (placed a few), cams .2-2, some doubles in the smaller sizes (placed them all), 60m doubles. Approach Notes: On your right, halfway up Asgard, hard to miss it. The slabby approach pitch is the first obvious way to access the gully (farthest climbers right)
  2. 11 points
    Via dei Ragni: Grade VI, 95deg snow/rime/ice, M4, 1000m Scribe/Photos/Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Google Street View: Cerro Torre Summit 360 Panorama We’ve had a picture of Cerro Torre on our desktops, phone wallpapers, and posters above our bed for the past 5 years. It was the reason we took up ice climbing in the first place. In February 2016, we made our first attempt on this route, hoping to at least get a glimpse of the scale of the mountain and understand what it took to climb it. The weather was too hot by then for the climb, and after three days, our high point was below the hard technical climbing. Previous trip report: The road to El Chaltén The Fitz Roy Massif These past two months were our fourth (and longest) climbing trip to the Chaltén Massif, and sixth year of watching the Patagonian weather patterns. We wanted to return to attempt Cerro Torre again, but the next two seasons were not possible because of bad weather. Last year, at the beginning of February, we saw a fantastic weather window, and the stars aligned. We flew down to Patagonia in a 9-day magical whirlwind of constant movement, and summited Fitz Roy via the Franco-Argentina route. While on the summit of Fitz Roy, looking down at the surreal summits of the Torre, we were determined more than ever to come back the following season. Day 1. We arrived in El Chaltén on New Years Eve, the last day of a 4-day weather window (brecha)…we missed it! Since then, January was filled with short stints (8-12hrs) of good weather in the mountains, and the arrival of a 6-day mega window in early February sent an electric buzz throughout town. We were a couple of bats out of hell with our 40lbs packs each as we set towards Laguna Torre. The plan was to pass through the Niponino base camp in the Torre Valley and bivouac at the higher Noruegos (Norwegian) bivouac, which would put us closer to Col Standhardt (the next day’s objective)…the passageway to the West Face of Cerro Torre where the Via dei Ragni route begins. Our bivy site at Noruegos Day 2. From the Noruegos bivy site high on the slopes of the Torre Valley, we traversed near the base of the Torres, under the celebrated SE Ridge (perhaps the greatest climb in the world) and also the 1959 Maestri line to the triangular snowfield where so much history and controversy took place. From the East, all of the Torres stand impossibly steep and impassable. To get to the Ragni route on the West side, we would climb up and over the Col Standhardt where an implausible car-sized chockstone sits interminably between the col’s steep walls. From the col, one gets the first glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap (Hielo Continental), a massive expanse of ice 200mi long. On a rare, clear day such as this day, we could see green Chilean fjords across the Ice Cap between large, snowy volcanos. A Lighthouse Several rappels deposited us down to the Circo de los Altares (Cirque of the Alters), an impressive crescent of white-capped peaks and toothed spires. From there we headed up another glacial ramp on Cerro Torre’s West Face to a high camp, 150m below the Col de la Esperanza (Col of Hope), first reached by Walter Bonatti in 1958 who hoped that this col would one day blaze a path to the summit. It wasn’t until 1974 that a team of Italians from the Ragni di Lecco (thus the name “Via dei Ragni”) completed Bonatti’s vision. Circo de los Altares Steep snow climbing and easy mixed terrain led us towards the camp at Col de la Esperanza, the camp we hadn’t reached on our last attempt. As we hiked past our previous high point, our hearts soared. This time around, the climbing felt much easier with 4 more years of climbing experience under our belts. Day 3. This day was a rest day of sorts. To set ourselves up for success on summit day, we were moving to the highest camp a few hundred meters up: El Elmo (“Helmet”), a prominent plateau below the steep, technical climbing. Those who were faster and stronger than us had gone straight to the highest camp the day before and were now going to do the hard work of battle-axing the bullet-hard blue ice and cleaning the cotton candy mushrooms of the summit. As we came over the Col of Hope, we entered an otherworldly expanse of mangled rime towers and precarious exposure. These deformed blobs of ice towers with icicle branches and feathery leaves seem like something only God or Dr. Seuss could conjure. It’s something so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. We were face to face, looking up at thisbeastly Tower. A spectacular nightmare. Day 4. Summit Day! We were pretty antsy to get going on the summit push. Falling snow greeted us when our alarms went off at 2:00AM as the mountain was enveloped in a cloud. All over camp, alarms went off and were snoozed as the precipitation discouraged movement. When the stars finally came out again, we were the first to muster our strength and get to work. Walking up to the base of El Elmo in the darkness, the first overhanging rime ice mushroom of the route, we gave a sigh “ah, breakfast!” The last 10m didn’t actually have any good protection (besides maybe a horizontal picket), and it was a sequence of cutting the feet loose, campus’ing from questionable tools, and shoving knees into the soft rime to make upward progress. Once at the top of El Elmo, a crowd had formed at the base, chomping at the bit. All of camp was finally up. The snooze button had proved an epic failure of our collective, strategically staggered alarms. We all watched in awe and gave whooping shouts from this low perch as our friend, Fabi Buhl, paraglided from the summit in the wee hours of the morning, slowly swirling in front of the spectacular sunrise over Lago Viedma. He was the first ever to fly off the summit of Cerro Torre having climbed the mountain first (and not dropped off via helicopter). After El Elmo, the mixed pitches zig-zag through a maze of rock and ice up to the base of The Headwall. Two pitches of blue, overhanging, bullet-hard ice. The final pitches mount three tiers of giant rime mushrooms facing the Ice Cap. This high ridge gets pummeled by the wet, freezing storms that race around the Southern Ocean to create these crazy rime formations. The first and second rime mushrooms had formed spectacular, natural blue-ice tunnels created by vortices of wind spiraling up the ridge, clearing a path through the thick outer layer of soft rime ice. Climbing into this vertical subway tunnel for 60 meters felt like entering a portal into another world. It eventually funneled up to an elevator shaft and spat us out of a squeeze tube. For the second and third mushrooms, we attached Petzl prototype “wings” to our ice tools to make purchase in the soft, overhanging, cotton-candy rime. These wings are horizontal plates that bolt onto the picks of our ice tools like Dilophosaurus gills. The Final (Summit) Mushroom was a beast. The previous day, it had taken the other parties many hours to clear a natural half-pipe, then dig a tunnel through the steepest part for many hours. Their line then exited their manufactured tunnel out onto the overhanging summit lip. Walking up to the steepest point on Cerro Torre on a perfectly still, clear day was absolutely surreal, basking in the bright orange-red glow of the sunset. The 200 miles of the Continental Ice Cap stretched before us and the Pacific Ocean now clearly visible. Behind, on the other side of the Torre Valley, small, wispy clouds hovered over the summit of Fitz Roy. We were lucky to get perfect lighting to fly our drone around for 30 minutes alone before we headed back down to our tents at El Elmo for the night. Days 5 and 6. To get back to town, you can reverse your way up Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans), or take one of two trekking passes along the Ice Cap. We had experience taking the Northern pass (Paso Marconi) which was now in really bad shape. We opted for the Southern pass (Paso del Viento) to try something new, and hopefully be able to turn our brains off for a few days (sadly, this was not the case). The Hielo Continental spans 50mi across and crawls 200mi north to south across Southern Patagonia. It looked so beautiful and serene from our climb. Now, face to face with this beastly crocodile, it was the stuff of horrors. Canyons after canyons of impassable crevasses, we zig-zagged our way in no logical direction under a bright, unhelpful, full moon. From the air, our tracks must have looked like the random scribbling of a toddler on a massive, blank white floor. A sun dog greeting us after our descent. Finally reaching the pass and seeing people again after such a mental test of sanity was nothing short of jubilant. A popular trek is to take the pass South to Lago Viedma: the Huemul Circuit. We were now on a delightful trekking path and could now…finally… turn our brains off and just put one foot in front of the other for a mere 14 miles back to ice cream and showers and safety. Thanks: We had good confidence in the forecast and the length of the window, but it’s still important to have daily weather updates to anticipate the inconsistencies between each day. We’re so grateful for our weathermen who sent us updates to the inReach and gave us both confidence and peace of mind each day that we spun ourselves further from civilization: Dan Berdel, Devin Monas, and Rolando Garibotti. We’d also like to thank Dave Burdick (Alpine Dave!) for his support, inspiration and beta on the route. Also thanks to the American Alpine Club Live Your Dream Grant for supporting this trip. Recommended Reading: The Tower, Kelly Cordes Patagonia Vertical, Rolando Garibotti Enduring Patagonia, Greg Crouch Gear Notes: 13 ice screws (including 3 stubbies) 1 Picket (to place horizontally in vertical rime!) small set of nuts (Wildcountry Superlight) small rack of cams (Black Diamond Ultralight cams .4-1, Metolius Mastercam 1-3) 2 Petzl Nomic Ice Tools + Petzl prototype wings (rented from Viento Oeste gear shop in town) Petzl V-link Umbilicals 2 stuff sacks (gear management in pack, and also to leave for snow anchors) The North Face Phantom 50 backpack 4 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 2 Camp 22 biners each 2 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each 7 single-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each (can’t have too many runners) Patagonia R2 Jacket Patagonia Micro Puff jacket Patagonia Macro Puff jacket Patagonia Kniferidge hardshell jacket (didn't use)...also, it's now the "Ascensionist Jacket". Mainly wore the Micro Puff for outer layer Patagonia Nano Air Pants Patagonia Softshell pants (bibs) Patagonia base layer (top+bottom) Platypus 2L soft bottle Garmin inReach Mini (love this little guy!) Petzl Dart Crampons 2x Mammut Twighlight Twin Rope (7.5mm) Petzl Sirocco helmets Petzl Sitta harness (for him) and Arc’teryx harness (for her) Metolius Feather Nut Tool (each) Mammut Smart belay device (not the Alpine Smart) 3 lockers for group: Grivel Tau K12L, Grivel Lambda HMS, Grivel Plume 2 medium fuel canisters Jetboil Sol stove Safety ‘biner (each) – Edelrid 19g caribeener, Petzl Micro Traxion, short Sterling Hollowblock, Trango Piranha knife Bivy setup – Full Length Thermarest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad, Exped Air Pillow UL, Feathered Friends Spoonbill sleeping bag MSR Advance Pro 2 Tent (amazing!) La Sportiva TX4 Approach shoes La Sportiva G2SM boots Petzl Reactik headlamps (each) + 3 extra AAA batteries + Petzl e+LITE headlamp Other things: 1 long spoon to share, chapstick to share, small Joshua Tree sun stick to share, Frog's Tung phone leash, lighter, whistle, duct tape, Thermarest repair patches, Voke tabs, Nuun, pain killers, 1L Platypus soft water bottle (for her) and 750mL HydraPak Stash (for him), warm headband, glove liners, 1 pair thick long socks (each), sunglasses, ear plugs, WRFA emergency form, small pencil, cotton handkerchief, wad of toilet paper, ID, Credit Card 1 Swix alpine pole (with snow basket) Arcteryx ball cap Adidas Sunglasses (with nose sun guard), no longer available iPhone 11 Pro (with route beta downloaded) GoPro HERO 5 Session (with helmet mount) DJI Mavic Mini Drone (remote and drone stored in USPS Tyvek bag) Dinner: 2 AlpineAire meals, 3 Near East Couscous boxes repackaged with small olive oil packets in ziplock bags, salt Day food was mostly bulky, yummy snacks: vegan jerky, dried mango, nuts, Cheese-Its, sesame sticks, Gu, nut butter, etc Approach Notes: Approached via Col Standhardt. Also possible to approach via Paso Marconi (currently in difficult/sketchy conditions) or Paso del Viento (long). We came back via Paso del Viento, but it's also possible to climb back over Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans with old fixed ropes here and there).
  3. 11 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - FA: Superalpine (WI3-4, 1000') Trip Date: 02/28/2020 Trip Report: On February 28th, 2020, @PorterM and I made what we believe to be the first winter ascent of the West Face of Sloan Peak. We climbed an incredible line approximately 1000 ft long of WI3-4 and steep snow climbing before our route joined the final 600 ft of snowfields to the summit. On the very final ice step, I suffered a short fall on rotten ice and a heinous top out and broke a few bones in the right side of my face. We bailed down the route and skied out. So technically, I guess we didn't finish the route, so say what you want about it. Our route started with a WI4ish pitch followed by hundreds of feet of stellar WI3 rambly flows in a gully just to the climber's right of the true west ridge spur on Sloan Peak. In our eyes, this was the only way up the true west face under WI4+/5. The whole face is loaded with huge free hanging daggers and wild lines. A competent WI6/M6 climber in the right conditions could send some absolute world class lines up there. I shared a lot more details, reflections on the accident, and route beta on my blog: https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/. Hopefully some others can get up there and finish this magnificent climb or poach some of the other unclimbed lines. Our route. up to where I fell. We were about to join the corckscrew route and head out. We climbed the gully on the right side of the photo. First pitch crux. Moving into the wonderful ice gully. Porter leading on that fat, fun, rambly WI3. The climbing in the gully was generally easy, sustained, and super fun! Incredible flows on the west face. Some helpful beta. Gear Notes: Screws, maybe a few small rock pieces and a picket. Approach Notes: Skin/hike forest service road 4096, then meander up Bedal Creek to the base of the west face.
  4. 10 points
    Trip: Eiger North Face - 1938 Heckmair Route Trip Date: 03/18/2020 Trip Report: First off: I'd be remiss not to mention the extenuating circumstances we're all in right now. Priti and I have been at home in Chamonix since March 19 now, and we'd encourage everyone to do so as well. This climb occurred prior to the French, Swiss, and US lockdowns. We returned home to quarantine with the rest of France just after this trip. I hope this trip report will entertain and inform you so you can start your own Eiger Training Plan and trip planning! Don't FOMO, we're not doing anything right now either! Your friends, J&P “Anyone who returns from the Eigerwand cannot but realize that he has done something more than a virtuoso climb: he has lived through a human experience to which he had committed not only all his skill, intelligence and strength, but his very existence.” -Lionel Terray, Conquistadors of the Useless “Yes, we had made and excursion into another world and we had come back, but we had brought the joy of life and of humanity back with us. In the rush and whirl of everyday things, we so often live alongside one another without making any mutual contact. We had learned on the North Fae of the Eiger that men are good, and the earth on which we were born is good.” -Heinrich Harrer, The White Spider The 1938 Heckmair Route. Photo Credit: @eiger_daily (Instagram)...the best overlay we found. Posted here with permission. Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Luckily (or not), our ascent of the 5,000ft Eiger North Face (or ‘Eigerwand’ or ‘Eiger Nordwand’) in mid-March 2020 may have been on the quietest days in the face’s history of climbing since its first attempt in 1934. No summertime cow bells ringing in the rugged hillsides of Alpiglen above the town of Grindelwald, no cars and honks were noticed, no sounds of ski lift machinery, no joyous skiers on the hillsides of the Jungfrau ski resort which sits at the foot of the Eiger, few trains were in operation (and solely for construction workers). Not even any sounds came from the sky as we climbed in perfect, bluebird weather for three days. Frankly, I could’ve used more cow bell. Among the reasons I climb, isolation is not one of them. I appreciate the sights and sounds of civilization from a climb which provides significant psychological aid. We did, however, see several helicopters fly by delivering goods and construction materials to the future site of a new lift within the resort, along with several Swiss Air Force F-18’s practicing formations through the beautiful Berner Oberland valley. Jon Krakauer wrote in Eiger Dreams: “I didn’t want to climb the Eiger, I wanted to have climbed the Eiger.” This is a sentiment I think most climbers can understand at some level. For years this quote has haunted me. There are many climbs to which I could solidly attribute this feeling. I knew, however, that whenever I would finally step out onto the snowy slopes of the Eiger, I didn’t want to have this feeling. The Eiger is just too dangerous; too big; too bold. I always knew that if I felt this way, I would simply turn around. I wanted to be in it, and enjoy my time wrestling with the alligator. Luckily, both Priti and I were itching to attack, having fun the whole way. Left to right: Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau We arrived in Grindelwald, Switzerland from Chamonix the day before our intended climb and took an overpriced 1hr train ride to Kleine Scheidegg, the central hub of the Jungfrau Ski Resort. Kleine Scheidegg is crowned by the historic and elaborate alpine resort, established in 1840: Hotel Bellevue des Alpes (where ‘The Eiger Sanction’ and ‘Nordwand’ were filmed). Many of the more well-sponsored Eiger climbers throughout history have stayed here. But not all. You would have thought that the Third Reich could have at least put up Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer up for a few nights! Many climbers discreetly bivy near the foot of the Eiger within the ski resort, or on the floor of the restaurant at the Eigergletscher complex (the uppermost hub of the Jungfrau ski resort). However, we were expressly denied permission to sleep on the restaurant floor. Furthermore, we also found the Women’s and Handicapped restrooms permanently locked. All of the construction workers are male, and the proprietor must have caught on to the unexpected guests of the Women’s restroom from recent Eiger Conquistadors. If a climber wants to step up their bivouac accommodations slightly above a bathroom stall or a restaurant floor, they can stay at the Eigergletscher Guesthouse (hostel). However, with the ongoing construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art gondola which will link Grindelwald directly to Eigergletscher by the end of 2020, the guesthouse is exclusively housing construction workers until the end of the project. There is another hostel at Kleine Scheidegg (Hotel Bahnhof), but it had already been closed for a few weeks due to Coronavirus precautions. Staying at Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg is ideal so that you can start your first day of climbing as early as you like (however, many climbers do start their first day from the 7:00AM train in Grindelwald). During summer months, climbers might also base camp in pastures beneath the face, as Mehringer and Sedlmeyer did for their attempt in 1936, however the train is so expensive that base camping in Grindelwald is now the norm while waiting for weather and conditions. The thing about the Eiger is that even if the forecast looks splitter, you never know when the semi-mythical and unexpected ‘foehn’ will show up. These are southerly winds that blow on the north side of the Alps in winter. The foehn (literally meaning ‘hair dryer’) frequently surprises climbers bringing sudden bursts of warm air and stormy weather. The Jungfrau ski resort is unusual in that its primary artery is a 128 year old railway: the “Jungfraubahn”, highest railway in Europe. A climb of the Eiger usually begins with an expensive 1hr train ride from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, then a change of trains for another 10min ride up to Eigergletscher. Exiting the Eigergletscher deposits one out onto the lower slopes of the North Face. The train, however, does continue on, burrowing up through the depths of the Eiger and on to a high saddle (the “Jungfraujoch”) between two of the Alps’ most impressive 4000m peaks: Jungfrau and Mönch. From Kleine Scheidegg, one gets an incredible vantage point for the skyline of these three behemoths: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Modern folklore has it that the Monk (Mönch) guards the Virgin (Jungfrau) from the Ogre (Eiger). The actual German word for Ogre is “Oger”, and the true etymology of the word ‘Eiger’ stems from a curious and long-forgotten amalgam of middle high German, Swiss vernacular, and Latin for something like “high peak”. There is a multi-use, groomed run which connects Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher. Trying to save some money, we skinned up this run instead of buying a train ticket to reach Eigergletscher (only 30-45min of easy skinning). Then, we skied down an amazing groomed run for 6 miles and 4500ft of descent from Eigergletscher all the way down to our hostel next to the train station in Grindelwald. All day, the ski resort was bustling and vibrant, and no one at the resort or the train station expected any disruption of service any time soon due to Coronavirus precautions. With the Eigergletscher Guesthouse closed due to construction, Hotel Bahnhof closed due to health precautions, and the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes open but too ritzy, we planned to discreetly bivouac near Eigergletscher. Upon arrival back at Grindelwald, however, we got word that the entire resort (lifts) and the trains would discontinue operation that evening for the indefinite future due to Switzerland’s precautions against Coronavirus. A final and devastating setback. Hotel Bellevue des Alpes with (left to right) Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau behind We had originally come to Grindelwald due to a large high pressure system which was bringing a week of unusually phenomenal weather to the otherwise grim mountain. We’d planned to at least visit in order to understand the approach, logistics and start to observe the conditions on the mountain. The lack of train meant an extra 6 miles and 4500ft gain of approach to the mountain…a mere “sit-start”. We were not yet about to give up and call it quits. Back home, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc lifts were still running under normal operations and both France and Switzerland were not under lockdown, so there was no urgency to leave; no compelling ethical reason to begin self-quarantine. As luck would find it, we found a companion for our laborious day of skinning our heavy load up to Kleine Scheidegg. Another BOEALPS veteran happened to be in Grindelwald at the same time: Fabien Mandrillon. He is revered within the club for his years instructing classes and for being Head Instructor of the Basic Rock Class (as we had also been). He had emigrated to Zurich before we joined the club, and we had hoped to meet him at some point on our Sabbatical. Having pleasant company under these unfortunate circumstances was certainly a delightful way to start our adventure. Surprisingly, we saw only a few other backcountry skiers on the hike up from Grindelwald. The resort had even groomed the track from Grindelwald that morning expecting the closures would not to keep people off the slopes. It was a beautiful day after a light dusting of fresh snow the day prior. If this situation were in Washington, the trail would have been packed with backcountry skiers! Priti and Fabien enjoying a lovely day of skinning Eiger North Face, West Ridge, and West Flank (descent route) Once we were back up at Kleine Scheidegg, under full expectation of sneak-bivouacking within the resort, we were delighted to find one set of accommodations still open (under extenuating circumstances). The grand Hotel Bellevue des Alpes had remained open a few extra days because of a few VIP guests which they were unwilling to expel. Thus, we took a sizable chunk from our Sabbatical budget to fork over to one night of luxury before we took on the Eigerwand. The evening was reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. The entire establishment glistened with immaculate, Old World luxury. Only the remaining handful of guests were being served the magnificent 4-course meal (indeed, one of the greatest in my life) within the halls of the elaborate dining rooms. At dinner, the guests were seated segregated by an optimal number of empty tables so as to assuage our newfound distaste for social interactions. Under strict orders of “No sports attire during dinner”, we sheepishly dined wearing our Eigerwand armor and our complimentary, fuzzy bathroom slippers while the other guests wore formal wear of suits, ties, dresses, and formal shoes. As we found out later, the few guests remaining were elderly patrons going back decades, one of whom had lost her husband of 47 years the week prior, escaping to a memory of their life together. Feeling the rush to appreciate our accommodations with the clear acknowledgement of our pre-dawn start, we spent a few minutes alone in each of the exquisite rooms of the establishment, excitedly recollecting the various scenes filmed there for The Eiger Sanction: the billiards room, the parlor, the bar, the lobby, even the concierge desk. The tolerant bartender with an immaculately groomed beard and pencil-long mustache, served us some truly delightful concoctions ginger ale, tonic water, and citrus: no summit, no party. We wryly noted that whenever we expressed our intent on climbing the Eigerwand, nobody would bat an eye. Naturally expecting some expression of praise (“vanity is one of the prime movers of the world”), we were taken aback at the utter apathy to which the world judged our sepulchral pursuit. We were not special! “Eiger-birds” (hopeful climbers) were a dime a dozen, and we were to receive no accolades before or after our adventure. From our bedroom that evening, we watched winter’s shy sun set early on the North Face of the Eiger, and the nocturnal eyeball of the “Stollenloch” wake up to illuminate the lower slopes. At the turn of the 20th Century, enterprising Swiss railway Engineers blasted an impressive tunnel through the heart of the Eiger, from which two windows were poked through Eiger’s North Face about a third of the way up. One upstream (the “Eigerwand Station”) on the looker’s left side of the face, and one downstream (the “Stollenloch”) on the right side. The Stollenloch (“Door 38”) is a small, purely utilitarian window which was used to jettison debris from the early railroad construction over a century ago and was never a tourist observation window. Some climbers have approached by walking up the railroad tracks and exiting the Stollenloch to bypass the lower snow slopes of the face. Approaching via the Stollenloch is generally considered taboo, while nearly all climbers take the train up to Eigergletscher (and down as well). We have to start somewhere, and it’s not Bern! Still, it’s worth noting that Kurz and Hinterstoisser biked from Berchtesgaden, Germany, nearly 400miles away…perhaps the true sit-start for the Eigerwand! When there is enough snow, climbers stash skis up high for a victory ski lap back down to Grindelwald to top off the climb. Train entering the depths of the Eiger tunnel The Heckmair route goes very near the Stollenloch which has given this window quite a reputation through the climbing history of the face. The other gallery (the Eigerwand Station) is not near any other popular climbing route and is on the far left side of the face. The Eigerwand Station is an engineering feat, clearly visible from the valley floor, consisting of a series of several large balconies (later converted to glass windows) that mar this limestone sculpture. Since the Jungfraujoch extension opened in 1912, tourists have been able to lean over the vertiginous parapets to marvel at the face’s dizzying slopes. The balconies were even outfitted with paper bags in the event that a tourist experienced any physiological discomforts! The Eigerwand Station was a 5 minute train stop solely for tourist observation from 1912 until 2016, when newer, faster railway vehicles were incorporated, and this renowned observation point was put out of service. Interestingly, since the Eigerwand Station’s closure, “much of the publicity material fails to acknowledge that this viewpoint station ever existed” (Wikipedia). Quizzically, the iconic and celebrated Eigerwand station was axed in order to add one more train and reduce travel time to Jungfraujoch. The smaller, unassuming window, the Stollenloch, on the other hand, still plays just as an important role as it ever has. In 1936, after his other partners perished on the face, Tony Kurz froze to death in front of the Stollenloch while rappelling in free space, unable to pass a knot in the rope, just out of reach from rescue workers (recounted in the German film ‘Nordwand’). Clint Eastwood was rescued through this window in The Eiger Sanction. A window which has always served as a trap door for climbers to miraculously transport themselves from the unforgiving alpine face to the civilized world. The window from which many climbers escaped storms including Mugs Stump, who in 1981 after finding this shelter and bounding down the tunnel towards Eigergletscher was only to realize the true horror of trying to plaster his body within the 1-foot clearance of the rocky walls while the immutably time-conscious Swiss train rolled past him (Source: Krakauer’s “Eiger Dreams”). I made sure to have a copy of the train’s timetable in case we had to Gooney our way down this escape-chute/death-trap! While climbing this route, we were most impressed at the abilities of the early climbers 80 years prior being able to climb on such difficult terrain with such rudimentary equipment: Karl Mehringer, Max Sedlmeyer, Andreas Hinterstoisser, Toni Kurz, Ludwig Vörg, Anderl Heckmair, Louis Lachenal, and Lionel Terray. These climbers were total badasses. Their efforts boggle the mind. Many of the cruxes on this route are no-shit overhangs on brittle rock, downsloping ledges, and poor protection (if any at all). With a pre-dawn start from our comfortable beds at the foot of the Eiger, we stepped out into a frozen darkness. We walked the extra 45min from Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher on a deserted ski run, passing by several early-morning construction workers who were less-than-enthusiastic about our presence as we tip-toed through the construction site onto the lower snow slopes of the Eigerwand. A recent blog post by an Italian team had us hopeful that their steps in the snow would pave the way. But alas, we found no steps and instead had to make our path and kick our own steps (later deeming that the blogpost was not clearly dated and was actually from earlier in January). Since much of the route is snow travel, the existence (or not) of another party’s snow steps can drastically alter your timeline in terms of both physical exertion and time spent routefinding. It is important to intimately know the features on the face, the names of the pitches, the condition of the cruxes. The route was so meticulously memorized as we quizzed each other on the drive up, that it felt as though we were executing a victory lap of versed, choreographed sequences of movements through Nintendo’s Mario Bros (with a princess waiting on top). First, traverse across easy snow slopes towards the First Pillar, zig-zagging across snowed-over limestone ledges up to the Shattered Pillar, and finally the ‘Difficult Crack’, the crux-y start of the actual climbing. Memorize This! Sadly, we never even saw the Stollenloch. The route passes nearby, but not directly over the Stollenloch, and is very much out-of-the-way. A party behind us on the same day purposefully started late so that they could spend their first night inside the Stollenloch (requiring a good amount digging). The Difficult Crack is still truly difficult (and also hard to find)! The Difficult Crack is the start of the technical part of the climb. If there is low snow coverage, you’ll have an extra pitch much lower down, before The Difficult Crack (just above the bergschrund and next to ‘the plaque’) which is a straight up rock corner. However, we were able to easily bypass this pitch with an easy snow ramp. Many parties don’t even find The Difficult Crack and instead pick their way up much harder variations to get up to the Hinterstoisser Traverse. It’s especially important to know what the Difficult Crack looks like (keep pictures on your phone) and how to get there (a traverse about 10-15m long heading right and slightly downhill). After that, the rest of the routefinding on the Heckmair is relatively trivial. The Hinterstoisser Traverse is infamous for its very difficult climbing with snow/ice over blank slabs situated under the impressive overhang of the massive blank face of the Rote Fluh. The Rote Fluh is one of two major obstacles on the face (the other is the Gelbewand), and they are both seriously impressive overhanging faces. Shown above: start of Hinterstoisser (low angle snow) which then turns into steep slab with fixed ropes (no picture) A permanent rope is affixed to the Hinterstoisser Traverse due to its incredible difficulty (everybody pulls on them!) but also as an homage to the 1936 tragedy when the entire team perished while trying to retreat down the face but were unable to reverse the traverse (likely due to fresh verglas plastered to the slabs). Our feeble notion of “free-ing” the Heckmair route quickly evaporated in our minds almost at the very first move of technical climbing. This route is longer and more difficult than we could have imagined, but we were prepared for every obstacle. The mixed climbing is seemingly never-ending and the overhanging steepness of the cruxes were shocking for a route completed 80 years ago. After the Hinterstoisser Traverse, more fixed lines lead up through a short chimney (‘Swallow’s Nest’) to the First Icefield, which had good névé and offered good step-kicking. A narrow gully connects the First and Second Icefields with the only pure ice climbing pitch on the route: the Ice Hose. If you’re unlucky, the pitch is bone-dry and makes for extremely difficult rock climbing (a variation on its left). Lachenal and Terray opted for the rock variation on the second ascent of the route in 1947, deeming that the WI3 Ice Hose would take too long to chop steps! Nowadays, with modern ice climbing technique, climbers are truly blessed if they find it was we did: in WI3 conditions, heavily featured, and easily accepting “stubby” ice screws. The start of the ice hose is just visible in the middle (sorry I didn't get a better pic) The Second Icefield is a long, snowy traverse on low-angled ground to get to mixed corners (Bügeleisen, or ‘Flatiron’ buttress) and finally to the wall’s first and only decent bivouac: the ‘Death Bivouac’ (aka ‘Karl-Max Bivouac’ where Mehringer and Sedlmeyer froze to death in 1935). It was dark by the time we got to the mixed corners of the ‘Flatiron’ and the climbing was terribly difficult with long runouts and poor protection at about M5. The corners were bare of snow and ice. While leading the pitch, I recalled a story from Barry Blanchard in The Calling of his and Kevin Doyle’s ascent of the Grand Central Couloir on Mount Kitchener where Doyle took off his mitts and licked his fingers so that they would stick to the rock and help his purchase. I took off my beefy climbing gloves in the cold darkness and found the extra stickiness of my bare fingers also provided excellent aid on the downsloping ledges! I could withstand the pain for a few minutes (it was probably 15F outside) if it helped prevent me from falling from my precarious perch. We finally made it to the Death Bivouac and we had been moving much slower than anticipated all day with only 12hrs of sunlight. Knowing that it was improbable that we would make the summit the next day, we planned to have a short day and bivouac again at the route’s only other decent bivouac: the ‘Traverse of the Gods’. Here at the Death Bivouac, we had to dig out a platform under a narrow overhang. Surprisingly, our ledge was just wide enough to sleep side-by-side… a welcome and unexpected luxury. We had each brought a thin, lightweight sleeping bag and a short, inflatable ‘summer’ sleeping pad. While brewing up dinner, I was horrified to discover that my sleeping pad had a hole which prevented it from staying inflated. I therefore had to sleep three nights in sub-freezing temperatures on narrow ledges with only ropes and backpacks under my ass! Every morning was difficult. We woke with the sunlight and made coffee with very little urgency. The entire climb felt rather like a holiday with a very leisurely itinerary and perfect weather. Ashamedly, we spent more time on the face than the first ascent in 1938 and the second ascent in 1947. The face doesn’t receive sun until late in the evening where you are lucky to get 30-60min of direct sunlight on your face. After the Death Bivouac, a short traverse across the Third Icefield leads to ‘The Ramp’, several pitches of easy mixed ground which funnels up to the ‘Waterfall Chimney’ (possibly the crux of the entire route). The Ramp (much like the Hinterstoisser) crawls timidly under another massive overhanging face, the Gelbewand. The ‘Waterfall Chimney’ is a genuine overhanging chimney of few holds which gushes with water in the summertime. Luckily, being in winter there was no water (good) but also no ice (bad). Usually when climbed in colder parts of the night, the spring/summer thaw freezes and makes the pitch much more palatable. Above here, the route splits into another chimney on the right (not advised) and a tenuous traverse above a head-spinning overhang on the left. The chimney above looked so well protected with fixed ropes and pitons everywhere, but every topo told us to go left around the corner instead. This leftward traverse spits the climber above a dizzying overhang, balancing on delicate, unprotectable limestone discs. A fall would mean a giant pendulum into space, dangling thousands of feet above the concave of the face below. Luckily, a multitude of pitons after a long runout help surmount a final bulge to a short, stout icefield cirque. Above: the Waterfall Chimney, overall crux of the route (in our opinion). Other contenders: Difficult Crack, Crystal Crack, Exit Chimney Above this icefield is a steep wall which you traverse on the ‘Brittle Ledges’. In Conquistadors of the Useless, Lionel Terray describes the Brittle Ledges as “tottering, piled up crockery”, which is as best a description as I can surmount. Luckily those piled up crockery are surprisingly solid, making for very interesting traversing on impossibly protruding discs. One final crux to reach our next bivouac: the Brittle Crack. From a hanging belay, you surmount a sizable bulge via perfect hand/fist cracks. This may have been the most fun pitch of the route, gleefully taking off my gloves and jamming my way up solid cracks in sub-freezing temps. Above: Traverse of the Gods bivouac Here, one finds a final bivouac at the beginning of the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, so named because it miraculously provided passage to the final major feature (the White Spider) for the first ascensionists. This accommodation was much narrower than the Death Bivouac and we were forced to sleep narrowly in a line, head-to-toe (with feet dangling off the sides). A typical timeline is to do the route in 2 days with one bivouac here at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, making for a VERY big first day from Eigergletscher. The ‘Traverse of the Gods’ takes easy mixed ground rightward to the lower-left appendage of the ‘The White Spider’, a large snow/icefield high on the face. The White Spider is an obvious concave weakness in the wall spotted from the valley floor which was more black-and-blue this time of year than “white”. In winter, the snow/hail sloughs off immediately and the upper part of the face does not get above freezing during the day. Therefore, the White Spider was hard ice for us (instead of easy névé of the late spring and summer). This made for strenuous front-pointing on bullet-hard ice to the final left-trending ramp (the ‘Exit Cracks’) which led to the summit slopes. Above: Start of the Traverse of the Gods. Just before the next belayer in the background, the traverse goes up slightly, then back down. Above: Further along the Traverse of the Gods (the lower end of the White Spider just visible) Above: The White Spider, with Exit Cracks (ramp) above Moderate mixed terrain up this ramp ends at a final crux, the 15 meter long ‘Quartz (or Crystal) Crack’ (due to the splotches of Quartz on the limestone face). Sometimes there can be ice in this off-width overhang, but we found it dry. Steve House calls this pitch “Enjoyable when dry”. Priti led this pitch brilliantly, employing virtually every tool in the kit. Another mixed corner leads to a short traverse/rappel on a fixed line to the left-most couloir: the ‘Exit Chimney’. Above: Quartz Crack (technical crux, but short) It was my turn to lead on what looked like an exceptionally fun pitch of easy 5.6 terrain in a wide, hamstring-stretching chimney, of which all three walls resembled a washboard of downward-sloping holds. The crux here is not so much its difficulty as is its headiness. If you’re lucky, there is ice in this chimney (for climbing on and not for placing ice screws in!), but we found it dry as is expected in winter. The limestone is so compact in this chimney that protection does not exist for about 20ft. Your first piton is visible from the bottom of the pitch and you eye it up ravenously as you climb higher. Wide stemming and outward bare-handed palming are more valuable than pure dry tool technique. Here, mono points find value in the corners of the shallow chimney as you try not to look down. A fall would mean cheese-grating on this washboard slab onto a narrow snowy ledge over an overhang into space. The final moves to the first piece of protection were some of the headiest of my life as I made a dynamic (admittedly ungraceful) throw with my ice tool to the weathered cord hanging from a doubtful piton. After this point, another 100m of much lower-angled couloir climbing takes you to the ‘Summit Snowfields’. Above: Exit Chimney (psychological crux) This pain-in-the-ass route never ends! Above: 200m low-angle mixed just before summit snow/icefield You still have 200m of easy, mixed terrain followed by another 200m of bullet-hard low-angle ice to finally reach where the summit ridgeline meets the Mittellegi Ridge. We knew the summit was flat enough for a bivy site, but we found a luxuriously wide flat spot earlier, at this juncture with the Mittellegi Ridge. Here, this comfortable bivouac overlooked the Bernese Oberland down to the North and the Ischmeer Glacier (‘Ice Sea’) down to the South, with a brilliant sunset and sunrise. Above: Our final bivouac, just where the Mittellegi Ridge meets the summit ridgeline. The next morning was a casual stroll on an easy, snowy ridgeline to the summit as we enjoyed finally being showered in sunlight. Earlier, at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’ a French team of two and a Swiss team of two passed us as we made coffee. We were glad to have people pass us so they would blaze a descent trail down the West Flank of the Eiger. In summer, the descent can be an annoying affair with rappels and down climbing. But in winter, it’s easy snow all the way down to Eigergletscher, and we were glad to have tracks going down the slopes. Above: looking down at Grindelwald and the Berner Oberland Above: Looking down the Eiger's West Flanks (Eigergletscher and Kleine Scheidegg are visible below) Above: View from Eigergletscher up the Eiger's West Flanks. Check out (Instagram) @eiger_daily post (Feb 5, 2020) for a good overlay and description of the descent. We picked up our cached skis at Kleine Scheidegg and enjoyed the victory ski lap down to Grindelwald on yet another perfectly sunny day in a deserted ski resort. As soon as we got back to Grindelwald, we got an automated text from the French government (sent to all French phone numbers) that France was now in lockdown. The next morning, we high-tailed it back to Chamonix to commence 4 weeks of mandatory lockdown. Selected History of the Eigerwand: 1935 - Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer established a line to the First Icefield (much further left on the face from the Heckmair route) and established the path to the ‘Death Bivouac’ where they perished. Their line to the First Icefield is not often climbed and has much more sustained difficulty and objective hazard. 1936 - Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser established a new line to the First Icefield which then met up with the Mehringer-Sedlmeyer route up to the ‘Death Bivouac’ before retreating in a storm. This new line went up through ‘The Difficult Crack’ and across the ‘Hinterstoisser Traverse’. Hinterstoisser masterfully crossed this difficult slab with a series of strenuous tension traverses. Nowadays, most climbers just pull on the fixed lines across the Hinterstoisser Traverse, although with enough snow and skill, the Traverse can be free’d. Kurz, Hinterstoisser, and two other climbers (Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer) perished on retreat during a storm, as recounted dramatically in the German movie Nordwand. 1938 - Anderl Heckmair, Heinrich Harrer, Fritz Kasparek and Ludwig Vorg complete the first ascent via the Kurz/Hinterstoisser variation (reference Harrer’s book The White Spider). 1947 - Second Ascent by Lionel Terray and Louis Lachenal (reference Terray’s book Conquistadors of the Useless). 1957 - Two Italians (Claudio Corti and Stefano Longhi) and two Germans (Franz Meyer and Gunther Nothdurft) epic on the Heckmair Route in bad weather (scathingly recounted in Conquistadors and White Spider). Only Corti survived. Corti sat for four days on a narrow ledge near the top of the face at the base of the Exit Chimney before a 52-person rescue operation unfolded, finally rescuing him with the use a summit-mounted winch and steel cable. Topo maps still point out this “Corti Bivouac”, however the term “bivouac” is more tongue-in-cheek since this tiny protrusion would no place to spend a night. 1961 - First winter ascent, Walter Almberger, Toni Hiebeler, Toni Kinshofer, and Anderl Mannhardt. 1963 - First solo ascent, Michel Darbellay, in 18hrs. 1964 - Daisy Voog first female ascent. 1971 - First helicopter rescue from the face. Today, the company ‘Air-Glaciers’ regularly plucks climbers off the face with reliable mastery. 1987 - Christophe Profit free-solo’s an enchainment of the North Faces of the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses (the “Alps Trilogy”) in a single push (with paraglider and helicopter transport) in under 42 hours. Many say this event marked the beginning of the era of the “fast and light” style in mountaineering. 1991 - Jeff Lowe put up the Metanoia route straight up the middle of the face (solo and in winter) with unparalleled, visionary madness. 2007 - Roger Schaeli (“Mister Eiger”, with 52 ascents of the Nordwand at the time of this writing) belayed by Christoph Hainz establish the route “Magic Mushroom” (so named for the iconic mushroom-shaped pillar on the West Ridge on which the route tops out), rated 7c+ (5.13a) 2008 - Dean Potter free-BASE’s a Nordwand route called Deep Blue Sea (5.12+) then jumps from the top. 2015 - Sasha DiGiulian first female to free “Magic Mushroom”, along with Carlo Traversi 2015 - Ueli Steck solos the Heckmair Route in 2 hours 22 minutes 50 seconds 2016 - After 25 years, Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia route sees a second ascend by phenoms Thomas Huber, Roger Schaeli, and Stephan Siegrist. Beta side-note: Bring a pocket full of Swiss Franc coins! There are large lockers at the Kleine Scheidegg train station to store ski boots (5 Swiss francs), ski lockers (2 Swiss francs per pair of skis), and a high-powered viewing telescope at the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes to look at conditions on the face (1 Swiss franc). Special Thanks to @eiger_daily for your incredible hospitality, support, and beta; you are truly fostering a wonderful community in the Berner Oberland. Resources: Aside from browsing blog posts and Google Images for route overlays, Eigertopo.com is the best route description we found. This little pamphlet provides pitch-by-pitch descriptions as well as informative overlays. This little book is literally all you need!! Also check out @eiger_daily (Instagram) for recent pictures of the face and also scroll through the post for the best overlay and gear beta. More important beta from Steve House: https://www.uphillathlete.com/climb-eiger-north-face/ Uphill Athlete Training Plan: https://www.uphillathlete.com/eiger-north-face-training-plan/ The Italian topo here is VERY descriptive and shockingly accurate. Take belay locations with a grain of salt. Link or simul as many pitches as you can: https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/189333/en/eiger-n-face-heckmair-route Gear Notes: Single rack #.3-1 (5 cams), nuts, 1 piton (didn't use), 5 ice screws (2 stubby's), 2 technical ice tools each, monopoint crampons, light (summer) sleeping bags, puffy pants, big-ass belay parkas, short 3/4 length (summer) inflatable sleeping pad, 60m 8.7mm rope, 6 quickdraws, 4 single-length alpine draws, 4 double-length alpine draws, cordalette, 3 micro traxions for the team (for simul climbing) Approach Notes: Normal approach from Eigergletscher
  5. 10 points
    Trip: Mt Rainier - Central Mowich Face (IV, AI2, 60 degrees) Trip Date: 07/13/2019 Trip Report: @nkimmes and I climbed the Central Mowich Face on Rainier July 13 - 14, 2019. We left the skis at home for once and sent it in a two day push from Mowich Lake to White River. Approach from the Mowich Lake campground was straight forward for the early miles. The trails winds up through wooded hills toward spray creek and eventually gains a large, open alpine landscape. The trees gave way to alpine brush and small talus that undulated with the movement of glaciers long gone. After a fairly long cross country section we reached the benign Flett Glacier. This permanent snowfield is situated low on the flanks of the mountain under Echo and Observation Rocks. Our path took us between them, close to the east side of Observation. Visibility was not good. Low hanging clouds roiled over the rocks and the landscape around us. The glacier seceded to loose volcanic rock. Our footsteps sank with each stride to gain Ptarmigan Ridge. This point marked the end of the easy terrain. From this point we knew that previous parties had found a fairly heinous down climb/scramble over steep, loose rock to the glacier below. Some beta also indicated that there might be a permanent snowfield. Ultimately we decided to drop off the side of the ridge at just over 8200 ft. It was loose as promised, but overall the slope was not treacherous. Eventually we did run into a snowfield that made downhill travel a bit easier until we reached the outer edge of the North Mowich Glacier at 7200 ft. We roped up for the first time and travelled through a beautiful jigsaw of monster crevasses. We took a direct line toward the base of the route, instead of circumventing the core of the glacier out toward the Edmund Headwall as described in the guidebook. One crevasse was crossed by down climbing the wall on one side to access a depressed, knife edge bridge about ten feet below the lip of the crevasse. We tiptoed across and climbed back up the other side. After 12 hours on the move we reached a rock band at 10,200' above the double bergshrund guarding the route. We pitched the tent, melted snow and attempted to drink sand filled water and made funny videos condemning Jet Boil for being shit in the wind. Sleep did not come easy. The wind had picked up substantially and after a brief 30 minutes in my sleeping bag, heard a large crash from up high on the mountain. Seconds later, from the darkness of the tent, my heart sunk as a massive boulder plummeted past our perch to the glacier below. Sleep didn't come at all. The alarm went off at 1am and we started up at 3am. Conditions were perfect. We rolled out of the tent to clear skies, no wind and cruiser neve except for a small vein of AI2 near the top, at the start of the grade IV variation that leads out onto a ramp above the EH instead of traversing left through the rock band at the top of the CMF. We felt secure and free solo'd the entire 3000' face to 13,200'. From there it was slow going as we slogged through high wind up Liberty Cap and over the plateau to summit on Columbia Crest. After an involuntary nap looking out over the top of the DC, we traversed the mountain with a descent dow the Emmons Glacier. It had been a big trip. We were wrecked and stoked that it had gone so smooth, especially since i was supposed to catch a flight to Boston the next day. Cheers! The route as seen from the road to Mowich Lake. The early part of the North Mowich Glacier after the descent from Ptarmigan Ridge. Monster crevasses that could eat a semi-truck. 10,200' bivy sunset was something else. @nkimmes on the main face as the horizon started to get light. Perfect other than my crampon kept falling off. Near the top of the face at the AI2 vein. No words necessary. Stoked! Summit! Gear Notes: Pickets, couple screws Approach Notes: Mowich Lake TH
  6. 10 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - North Face Right Gully, Reid Headwall, Wy'East, Pearly Gates Enchainment Trip Date: 12/29/2019 Trip Report: I'm back in Oregon after my first semester of college in Canada! Over the last few months I have spent too much time ice and mixed climbing, not enough time in the mountains. Since I'm back home I figured it would be fun to do a bigger objective on Hood. The coolest thing I could think of was doing a link up of all four faces of the mountain in a push. For the routes, I decided to do the North Face Right Gully, Reid, Wy'East, and the Pearly Gates. I chose the North Face gully because it was the most striking line on the face, Reid because Leuthold looked lame, Wy'East because I didn't want to solo the Black Spider, and Pearly Gates because it was the route that got me into climbing. Link ups are new too me so I thought the whole trip would take around 30 something hours. After watching the weather carefully, a window appeared and I knew it was go time. At 4:00 am I started the hike up to the north face. Cool temps and no wind made the approach go by quickly and comfortably. There's a good trail all the way to the shelter and the snow on the glacier was pretty firm. Cooper 30 is in fat and some of the other drips on the glacier look good too. At around 7:30 I geared up and started up the bergshrund. To my surprise, the shrund was almost completely filled in. I just walked across some stable snow and the bergshrund was over. Climbing the first ice pitch was some of the best ice I've encountered on Hood. The sticks were solid and there wasn't much dinnerplating. First ice pitch Slogging up some more snow brought me to one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The second ice pitch was in interesting shape which made for such fun climbing! I'll let the picture of the pitch speak for itself. . More neve took me to the cloudy summit by 10:30. I was pretty surprised in how quickly the route took. In my head I had planned for it to take somewhere around 10 hours. Although it was exciting to finish the north face, I still had a long day ahead of me. I had the choice of doing either the Reid or Wy'East next. Initally, I thought I would do Wy'East because I have never been on the route and it had more vert. I have been up the Reid a couple of times now, each one uneventful. As I was descending I asked a few people if they knew the condition of a few routes. The group said the Reid wasn't in which immediately piqued my interest. Now it was settled, Reid first, Wy'East second. I walked down to illumination saddle and got my first look at the west face in the winter. It was so beautiful. Yocum demanded a solemn respect and a thin veil of clouds gave the face a sense of wonder. Looking up at the West Face I charged up the Reid with some mixture of apprehension and excitement. The first 1000 feet or so was simple snow climbing. As I got higher, I developed a rhythm where I would take 50 steps and then rest. Sometimes I would get gassed after 20, sometimes I would push and lose count. When the clouds broke, the Reid got interesting. Simple snow climbing turned into an exhausting swim as the snow turned warm. Quickly, my 50 step rhythm diminished into 5 or 6 steps of making little to no progress. It was no big deal though, I missed the simple joys of effort in the hills. Things got really fun when I reached some ice steps. Firstly, my feet were uncomfortable and my socks were approaching soggy from all the sweat I was making. Secondly, the "ice" was basically rock with some rime over it. I pulled some cool stemming moves and swung for the fences into the choss. My Grivel picks took it like a champ. After pulling a short but steep ice step, I climbed a mixture of alpine ice and snow to the ridge and then summit. By 3:00 I was on the summit for the second time. With the clouds now gone, I was rewarded with the typical Mt. Hood panorama. Now time for round 3. Snow early on the Reid Suns out guns out On top for the second time that day I was pretty stoked at this point. I felt like the hardest climbing was behind me and I knew I was well ahead of schedule. As a reward, I took another sip of my water supply and ate another GU. On the way down I ran into Walter Burkhardt who gave me some more stoke and energy to get the project done. Instead of walking to Palmer to get up to Wy'East, I traversed across the White River glacier. Traversing the glacier allowed me to save a some vert see a little more of the route in the last hour of sunlight. Walking up to the ridge on Wy'East was good snow climbing. When I gained the ridge, I encountered thin layers of snow and ice over rocks. Sometimes I would step on a seemingly normal spot of snow only to have the snow collapse and hit some rocks. Annoying but non-lethal. Climbing on the steel cliffs brought a whole new perspective to me. The sheer size and steepness of the cliffs is especially noticeable when you're on top. The traverse was easy and by around 7:45 I was back on top for the third time. Cool rime formation on the White River On the ridge Last steps before the summit I was feeling so great by now. All I had to do was run up the southside and the four faces of the mountain would be complete. Going up the Pearly Gates brought back the memories of climbing for the first time. So much had changed in the past few years except for the feeling I have in the mountains. Finishing the trip on the route that started it all just felt right. Ice step on Pearly Gates. I reached the summit for the fourth and final time at 8:40. What a trip it had been. I called my mom and she came to pick me up at Timberline an hour and some change later. (I have the best mom ever). Car to car, the trip took 18 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds. I still had a bunch of food left and about half a liter of water. Reflecting on the trip brought me mixed feelings. I wanted it to be longer. I had envisioned some feat of endurance that would bring me to the depths of my inner self. Instead, I got home in time for (late) dinner. I'm happy that I got it done and thankful the mountain was kind to me that day. All in all I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested. I would love to see someone beat my time or do different routes. Happy new year everyone. Gear Notes: 2 liters of water, 1200 calories, hardshell, synthetic jacket, and that's pretty much it Approach Notes: Approach to the North side is good and crevasses are easily manageable
  7. 9 points
    Trip: Cabinet Mountains - Multiple Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: I just wanted to share some photos and descriptions from the last couple ice seasons in the Cabinet Mountains. Anyone who got the 2019 AAJ or Alpinist 64 might have already seen pictures of the area. There have been a handful of Spokane area climbers putting up routes over the last couple seasons. All the climbing has been done out of Granite Lake which is near Libby, MT in the Cabinet Mountains. The climbing is quite varied, from single pitch WI3 to 1000ft hard ice and mixed routes. The area has been divided up into 3 big areas….A Peak, The Thunderdome, and Three Tiers. A picture is worth a thousand words so I will just resort to numerous pictures instead of more text……let the stoke begin for next season!! Looking across Granite Lake with A Peak towering 4000 feet above. The Thunderdome is the large sub dome in the center of the picture. The Thunderdome!! Some of the best ice routes anywhere around. Scott Coldiron and Matt Cornell on the first ascent of Mad Max, WI5+ (8 pitches). Nate Kenney climbing a steep skinny pillar called War Boys, WI5+. Scott Coldiron climbing a crazy pitch called Underworld, WI3. This route is 20m long and entirely inside an ice cave 500 feet up the Thunderdome! Another view of the spectacular A Peak and the upper wall of the Thunderdome. The big ice in the center of the wall is Road Warrior, WI5, M5 (8 pitches). Looking up the huge gash on A Peak. Scott Coldiron and Jess Roskelley put up the route Canmore Wedding Party AI5, M7, 750m, which ascends this central gash. The climb got nominated for a Piolet d'Or in 2019. Note: the large sheet of ice on the bottom rock band is still unclimbed as of 2020. Looking up the wide start to the "Blaster Routes". Blaster, WI4 is five pitches of ice while Master Blaster WI4, M5, (10 pitches) continues to the top of the Thunderdome. Looking up from the lake at the "Three Tiers". These cliffs have about 20-25 ice and mixed routes that have been done. A closer view of the the ice (during a fat season) on the center of the 2nd Tier with the 3rd Tier above. Scott Coldiron on the first ascent of Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. Zach Turner leading The Dag, WI3 on the 2nd Tier......a super fun mellow corner. A shot of some of the 3rd Tier routes. Gyro Captain, WI4, goes up the ice on the right while Pig Killer, WI3, takes a line up some of the ice on the left. Multiple possibilities exist for mixed routes connecting the lower ice flows in the center up through the rock to the hanging ice above. Zach Tuner rappelling off Max's Bloodline, WI4, with the impressive routes on Thunderdome in the background. Jonathan Klaucke climbing funky ice on Cheedo, WI3-4, on the 2nd Tier. Looking across at the right hand end of the Three Tiers from the Thunderdome. The wide flow in the center is the start of Tomorrow Land, WI3+, 3 pitches, while the ice up on the right is Devil's Brownies, WI4, 2 pitches, and then farther right is Scales of Justice, WI4/5. Zach Tuner on the skinny pillar start to Splendid Angharad, WI5. The flow farther left is called Capable, WI4. Looking up the 2nd pitch of Tomorrow Land, WI3+ on the first ascent. This fat climb called Nightrider, WI4, 3 pitches, is on the far left of the Thunderdome. It is a bit longer of a hike from the lake but the route is a stellar moderate! Scott Coldiron climbing the crux 2nd pitch of Nightrider, WI4. Brian White starting up the classic Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. The ice beyond him is the route Cheedo, WI3-4. Zack Turner on the sharp end during the first ascent of Grease Rat, WI4....a really fun route on the 3rd Tier. Matt Cornell working through the crux of Sarcophagus of Lies, M6. The route continues up and left until you can stem between the rock and the ice dagger above. This is a stellar line on the 3rd Tier with "quality climbing as good as Come and Get It" according to Matt. Brian White putting up a short route called Mystery Gas, WI3 on the 3rd Tier. Syd Atencio and Nate Kenney climbing up Devil's Brownies, WI4, on the Three Tiers. Granite Lake and the surrounding basin in the background. I think one of my favorite things about the climbing here is the views....it just never gets old!! Every time I walk across Granite Lake I have to pause and just look up. Hopefully this will get some people stoked about climbing up there because it is a beautiful spot with fantastic climbing. Happy to answer any beta questions or run them through Scott. Gear Notes: Ice screws......rock gear for mixed routes. Approach Notes: All climbs are best accessed from the Granite Lake trailhead. In winter it is a 9 mile hike/skin into the lake with about 2000 ft of elevation gain. Count on 4-9 hours depending on conditions. From downtown Libby, take Highway 2 east one mile to Shaugnessy road. Take a right and follow this for .7 miles before turning left onto Snowshoe road. After 1/2 mile take a right turn onto Granite Lake road. In .8 miles stay left on Granite Lake road and continue for 4 miles. This is the end of the pavement and where the snowplows stop in the winter. The Granite Lake trailhead is still another 3 miles but you will have to walk/skin/snowmobile that distance in the winter. There is usually plenty of room to park several cars just be mindful not to block the road or any of the neighbor’s driveways. From here follow the snow covered road for 3 miles to the actual Granite Lake trailhead. The road is mostly level with a few gradual climbs (400 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles). From the trailhead hike/skin the trail 6 miles up to the lake.
  8. 9 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - Yocum Ridge Solo Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: "It's not my imagination, I've got a gun at my back!" -Revenge, Black Flag Yocum Ridge is the first route I ever thought about climbing. I remember looking at the striking line from the bus stop in my elementary school. Even though I knew nothing about climbing at the time, the sheer beauty of the route captivated me. As I have accumulated some knowledge about climbing, I learned the route wouldn't go down so easy. Something about the jagged ridgeline dulled by rime gives Yocum a special sense of beauty. Today I set out to realize a childhood fantasy of mine. 3:00 and I'm starting the slog up the mountain. My morale is already low because I forgot my headphones. This damn climb is going to make me absorb the sounds of nature! Two hours or so of walking takes me up to Illumination Saddle. Here I lay eyes on the silhouette of Yocum ridge by headlamp. Nerves turn to excitement as the clock strikes 5:00. The glacier crossing was easier than I expected thanks to all the action the route has seen over the past few weeks. The footprints take me to a headwall a little to the right of where the guidebook says to go. The squeaking and ringing of my ice tools puts me into a trance. After about 150 feet of steep-ish climbing, I gain the ridge. Yocum starts off with a tease. An easy and welcoming rime stepped staircase obscures the rest of the ridge from view. I'll play your game. When the first gendarme comes into view, I have to fight thoughts of doubt coming into my head. At first sight, the rime covered sentinel looks steep and unforgiving at every point. The closer I get however, the clearer the line becomes. My cold helmet feels like a gun against the back of my head. I know it's time. I start to the right of a cave and quickly cut left. The ice feels solid and I flow through a steeper gully. 30 meters or so in, I arrive at the crux. Solid snow and ice turn to dead vertical swiss cheese. Through delicate movement and prayer, I fire through the crux. Each stick felt like a weak handshake. The section required commitment to tools placed in an unknown mixture of snow/ice with dubious feet. Finally, I reach the top of the first gendarme. My blood pressure drops slightly as I soak in the beauty of the bladed ridge that lies in front. Here I am extremely grateful for the groups before me who did the heavy rime clearing and bollard building. From the bollard at the end of the gendarme, I downclimb while on rappel to traverse across an exposed section to a big ledge. This beta worked well for me and seemed to alleviate problems some other groups were having. As I started the traverse pitch to the second gendarme, I felt something fall out of my pocket. I turn my head just in time to see my phone fly down the snow slopes and disappear into the glacier below. Perhaps my phone was the sacrifice the route required. Better phone than blood. Then, like clockwork, a raven swoops by me and perches itself on the tip of the first gendarme. We stare at each other for a minute and I thank him for allowing me to experience this route today. I know that I'm just a guest in the mountains. From here on I felt as if I had permission to continue my journey, hopefully my dues were already paid. The ridge widened the further I traversed down it. Passing the second gendarme was the most secure I felt since getting on route. More slogging took me to another bollard (this time with tat!) off of the third gendarme. I chose to rap north to avoid more thin ridge fuckery. Walking along the steep snow slopes took more energy than I thought. My calves burned and cursed me for bringing two single ropes to rap with. More training I guess. Even though some exposure was still present, I began to meditate with the route. Every swing, foot placement, and movement just felt right. As crawled back over to west side, the sun reared its ugly face, and I began to sweat my ass off. I followed more good tracks around to the right of the final buttress. The last buttress is like a fortress full of impassible walls and sneaky gullies. The first gully I started up took me about 150 feet and ended with impassible rime towers. I downclimbed and again, moved right. Here I could see tracks going to Leuthold from Yocum Ridge. Now I knew I was no longer under the gun. One of the rightmost gullies brought success. I tormented my calves up a few hundred more feet until I topped out the buttress at around 12:30. From the top of the buttress, one final ridge traverse took me to the Queen's Chair. 6 year old Landon would be proud. Looking down the ridge I could see all the minute details that made this route special. Negotiating the route was digging into the alpine bag of tricks and executing. I chose not to tag the summit because I wanted to search the base of the route for my phone (spoiler alert: the phone disappeared into a different dimension). Hiking down Leuthold gave me time to absorb the mountain more. Striking blue accents on rime towers, weird ice formations on the glacier, and the forest just miles away all presented themselves. Days like this make me question the future. I'm sure one day I'll find something that will bring me peace. I often think about Mark Twight saying that climbing can be "too much but never enough." Yocum Ridge was one of, if not the best alpine routes I have experienced. Although it wasn't technically difficult, the sheer volume of spectacular movement truly makes this one of a kind. On the way down I wept. For some reason this route had a different impact on me. Maybe it was the feeling of complete peace and isolation, maybe it was the sheer beauty of it all. Maybe I'm just emotional. I stumbled into the Timberline at around 4:00 and unlocked my car. With the clicking of the lock, my reality had become just a memory. Gear Notes: Basically a sport climb Approach Notes: Attack the ridge at about 8800ft
  9. 8 points
    Trip: Big Bear! - Brushtissima Trip Date: 11/11/2019 Trip Report: With all this attention on the NW couloir on Eldorado the past few weeks, Kit and I succeeded on a smash and grab ascent of BIG BEAR! last weekend. @Kit is in the midst of a noble mission to climb all the Cascadian peaks visible from his office in Everett and I'm well, I'm just a bit "special". We happened to catch it in "near perfect" conditions, I am happy to report, and suspect others may be lining up during the next fine weather spell this week. The ankle biting huckleberry have shed their leaves, leaving them only 50% as annoying as they are in high summer. And, most all the snow is gone, meaning one shouldn't worry about tiring themselves out kicking steps up straightforward snow slopes. To top it off, all of the flagging has been eaten by deer, meaning that a "fair means" ascent is nearly guaranteed. Why this brushy beast isn't more popular, I'll never know. Or, maybe it is popular? There is no register so it is tough to figure how many people are as "savvy" as us. All I know is that the 4130 isn't going to get less brushy in the next few years, so if you want either Liberty or BIG BEAR! in the next lifetime or two, you'll want to go now. Just don't expect flagging or the Instagram hordes to show you the way. The Brushtissima on BIG BEAR! (actually not that bad): @Kit working up the ridge above the "Moffitt Step": I just needed an eagle: Typical terrain: Liberty: Tahoma, but you knew that: Interesting angle on Hall, Big Four, Columbia, etc: The air was exceptionally clear, Everett and Kit's office standing out: The final few feet to the summit of Big Bear: East to Dakobed and Pugh above Exfoliation Dome: Anybody home on 3 Fingers? Jumbo, the slabbage patch, and Ulalach: Liberty from the summit: Squire Creek valley and its namesake walls: Gear Notes: eye protection, leather gloves, whiskey. Ice axe, crampons, and helmet some part of the year. Approach Notes: I somehow deleted my GPX track, not that it will help you much. Just look at the image in the TR for an idea of where to go. Just make sure you don't miss the Moffitt Step!
  10. 8 points
    Trip: North Howser Tower - All Along the Watchtower Trip Date: 08/06/2019 Trip Report: Climb Date: August 4-6, 2019. Summit August 6, 2019 Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Climb: All Along the Watchtower (Grade VI, 3000ft, 32 pitches, 5.10/C2- or 5.12) Style: Follower jugged every pitch in the Dihedral with micro traxions and runners. Heavy French/Aid utilized by the leader in the Dihedral. Two packs brought. Leader climbed with light pack, except in the Dihedral (where follower jugged with one pack on, trailing the other). Two bivouacs (one at base of Dihedral and one on the Summit ridge). With so little beta out there on the route, we found the route finding tricky. This post is intended to be a beta sheet to help with route finding. All Pitch numbers are per Jenny Abegg's topo which was very useful (https://jennyabegg.com/climbing/trip-reportsbeta/all-along-the-watchtower-north-howser-tower/). Pitches 2 and 3 were confusing and we split each of these into two pitches. If you stay on route and watch rope drag, you can avoid splitting these up. They are both full-length pitches. Pitch 3 is so wander-y that rope-drag might be unavoidable - recommend splitting this into two pitches. Pitch 16 (5.12 crux roof) in the Dihedral was only pitch where we thought it was mandatory to disobey Jenny and split into two pitches. Topos Jenny's topo was pretty spot on. Pitches 8-11 on Jenny's topo are the dyke variation that Westman/Haley did (on accident) which ascends directly up from the bivy ledge. Jenny's topo does not show the original route option, which splits off 30m below the bivy ledge. If you wanted to get snow at the bivy ledge and continue on to the original route, you have to rappel or down climb 30m 5.7 to meet back up with the original route. The party behind us did the dyke route and we did the original route. After talking to the party who did the dyke route, it's very safe to say that the dyke is better way to go. The Mountaineer's guidebook (the green book) topo shows both the original route and also the dyke route options, but the High Col topo shows only the original route. The High Col topo is not accurate at all, so be careful. Keep a copy of Jenny's and the Mountaineer's topo on you. Bivy sites: -We didn't see any good bivy sites until atop Pitch 7 (flat, walled, snow in early season). Some descriptions said there was one atop Pitch 3, but it's more of a sitting bivy. -Another good bivy site is out-of-the-way, about 20m left of the base of the Dihedral (flat, walled, no snow). Some descriptions said this was 4-person, but it fit the two of us pretty snug. To get from here back to the base of the dihedral, you have to down-climb 10m (5.7) then ascend 10m (5.7) to the base of the Dihedral. -Some bivy options along the ridge (four of us stayed at one, very snugly, about halfway on the summit ridge above the seventh rifle gully). -A flat, walled bivy spot on the summit (lots of snow throughout the season). When we saw it, it had thick snow/ice on it, so you'd be sleeping on top of snow. Photo Credit above: Tim Banfield Descending down to East Creek from the Pigeon-Howser Col. Left to Right: North, Central, South Howser Towers, Minaret. Priti is just below the Beckey-Chouinard Route From East Creek descend until you can scramble up to the ridge. Stay low on ledges if you want to cross over into the gully ("B" in picture, not recommended, loose scree and hard ice). Recommend staying on the ridge (climber's right side, "A" in picture) as if approaching for Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser Tower. From the base of Beckey-Chouinard, it is easy to scramble down to the snow to traverse high over to the North Howser Bivy Rock. This is a big, obvious boulder just at the next ridgeline. There is a luxurious, sheltered, covered bivy cave here (recommended instead of East Creek if you only have bivy gear and you want to get an early start for the route in a push). Four rappels (two hangers, chains, rap rings) take you to the snow below. The first rappel is heavily cairned and easy to find (even in the dark), requiring a bit of down-scrambling to get to the lip of the ridge. The rappel line is straight down. Each rappel is easy to find and on obvious ledges. You'll want crampons and ice axe for the snow below, on the way to the base of Watchtower. We used a Beal Escaper for the rappels which worked like a charm... we did not bring a pull cord on this trip. Note: rappels shown in picture above are approximate (just use cairns to find the first one, then take the plumb line). The picture is not intended to help you find the rappels. The first rappel. Crossing the moat. Another party of rappelers above. The approach snow after the approach rappels. You're committed now! Looking up North Howser Tower. Approach at the base all the way left to big ledges just before the large, obvious gully. Take ledges all the way left to dihedrals. Pitch 4 (above), 5.10, full 60m: a striking dihedral (protect on the face on the right) which starts as an easy stem/chimney and ends in an overhanging, difficult off width. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Bivy site along ridge. Looking down the ridge from the summit. Photo credit: Dane Steadman "Hand crack on the right side of crest". Party on the summit. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Simul Rappelling over the bergshrund. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Joining up with the Beckey-Chouinard steps. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Gear Notes: Double Rack to #3. Single #4. Triples in finger sizes for dihedral. Offset nuts, brassies. Did not bring offset cams (did not think they were necessary). No aid gear. 1 sleeping bag to share. 1 bivy sac to share. 1 Jetboil. Beal Escaper for rappels. We did not bring a pull cord. Recommend a pull cord to 1:1 haul packs in the Dihedral. Approach Notes: Started from Kain Hut, ended at car.
  11. 8 points
    Trip: South to North Pickets Traverse- Goodell to Access Crks - Wild Hair Crack, East and West Fury, Luna Trip Date: 07/24/2019 Trip Report: Images stick with me. So much so that often I'll plan a trip around a specific place that I've seen either on a screen, a print, a slide, or in just my mind, after looking at a map. Frenzel camp is such a spot, its draw powerful enough to compel a 7 day traverse from Goodell Creek to the Big Beaver just to spend a few hours (well, a few more hours than planned) looking all around in wonder. The yin and yang of such trips, at least for me these days, is that they aren't getting any easier. Some of that is age, some of that is self-induced suffering from my own stubbornness of carrying a full frame dSLR and several lenses, NO MATTER WHAT. I cursed this decision more than a few times on this trip, but when I slip that card into my desktop and get to work, it all melts away. I know I was heard saying that I'll never do another 7 day Pickets trip, but....... This one started like most- swatting bugs, dividing up group gear, and taking swigs from a bottle of Hunter stashed in the car. Hey, this isn't the Olympics, and a whiskey morning jacket can do wonders for morale. My pack was way too large, as usual, but it turned out I did an even worse job than normal of packing food. This would be apparent on day 7 as I packed probably 4 lbs of extra food out of the Big Beaver AFTER spending the week trying to give it away. I really should be better at this by now. Anyways, the pain began.... and continued. By the time we reached the Chopping Block col I was thoroughly wrung out and cramping, trying to look as carefree as Tyler (who had climbed J'berg THE DAY BEFORE). I wasn't fooling anybody though, especially myself. So, I went off to get water for the group and have a good cry (Well, maybe on the inside, a little). Recomposed, I came back and guzzled some whiskey. Much better. Next, through the wonders of modern technology, I cheerily texted my wife to tell her how much fun I was having and that it was just an easy stroll over the ridge the next day. Oh, and maybe she could move the boat to a day later? I was going to need it. The easy stroll the next morning started with some talus side-hilling and steep snow traversing that led to more boulder hopping and a general team mutiny as we all sought a line that was superior to our teammates. Somewhere in there we spooked a bear (surprising for all involved), met a party of ladies headed to Terror ("The Terror Twins"- not actually twins), and had some fun ascending the the steep snow and "loosey goosey" rock to the Ottohorn-Himmelgeisterhorn col. Whew. Gearing up, we joked about who was going to lead the first pitch. "Not I" came the reply from General Weakness (AKA me). Tyler gamely stepped up and promptly gunned us all to the the false summit before we knew what happened, including a sparsely protected section of off-width that he exclaimed was "fun" as we all clenched our butts in solidarity. It is quite a climb though, and my hat's off to John, Silas and Russ for establishing such a gem on probably the best rock in the Pickets. Highly recommended! Next stop was Frenzel camp after the usual moaty rappel shenanigans off the col. Suffice to say, the camp didn't disappoint, it truly is a remarkable spot. I'll leave it at that. Listening to the weather radio that evening, General Weakness declared that the next day the team would remain in Frenzel camp to wait out a squall coming through. Coincidentally, it also meant that the General's load, which had to be carried over Outrigger and to the summit of East Fury, would get a tad lighter. Post dinner activities that first night included feeling sorry for the Terror Twins who we could see having an unplanned(?), open bivy on the NF of Terror (photo below). Tough ladies! The next day was spent lounging at one of the best camps I've had the pleasure of staying in, watching the weather deteriorate, and keeping tabs on the Twins as they ascended up into the mists. Packs were lightened, whiskey stores reduced, and tired legs rested. It was a great spot to spend a weather day. That night, the forecasted rain and wind arrived and we were all glad that we weren't up on the summit of East Fury. This was especially true the next day as the weather continued to linger into the afternoon. Fearing that our chances for West Fury were fading, we opted to pack up in the mist and grope our way over to the the summit of Outrigger just as the weather began to improve. It was still harder than it should have been to get off Outrigger and ascend to the summit of East Fury. The General arrived crabby and didn't relish carving out a platform in the snow, melting snow, and generally having to pretend to be a tough alpine climber. Thankfully I had one of those bourgeois NeoAir mattresses to insulate my sorry ass from the snow and provide some much needed rest. I can't imagine spending THREE DAYS up here in a flapping megamid. West Fury. Why? Well, why not? We were here, we had the time, and in the words of @Trent, "It must be climbed!". And so we did. It is actually a lot better than it looks from East Fury, but still takes some time and a rope (if you're partial to such things, as I am). I think it was about 7 hours RT East Fury to East Fury, including about an hour on the summit. We were the 20th party to sign in, I believe, but I don't think I saw @wayne in there? So maybe it was the 21st ascent? Anyway, always cool to see the complete ascent history in a register. And then it was down, down, up, down, and over, over to Luna col and the comfortable camps there. At this point a weight was lifted from the team since it was all pretty much downhill with the pigs and we were on friendly and familiar ground. Watching the sunset, listening to tunes, and chatting with a team from Salem headed to East Fury the next day was a very civilized end to a few days of ruggedness. The last few drops of whiskey sealed it- tomorrow we would set the alarms and watch sunrise from Luna. Because, why not? Well, I could think of a few reasons when my alarm went off the next morning. But I gamely tried forget all of them and keep @tylerhs01 in my sights as he streaked for the summit like a well-chiseled alpinist fired from a cannon. I failed, of course, but arrived on the false summit in time to capture the scene pretty well. Like most places along our trip, though, pictures really don't do it justice. But no matter, the summit of Luna has 4G now (??!!) so you can pretend that the pictures you're sending everyone are EXACTLY HOW IT IS, RIGHT NOW. No wonder the Luna XC zone is full most weekends in high summer. Listening to the weather radio again at Luna col, more rain was on the horizon so we broke camp and headed down into the head of Access (Axes? Pickaxes?) Creek. Again, this turned out to be a good move, driven home our final morning when I awoke to find my mattress floating in a bass pond while rain pounded on the fly. D'oh! Access creek is brushy, but at least it was going to be wet. We were long out of whiskey as well, so it was going to be a character building descent which, in the case of General Weakness, might actually be a good thing. But that extra character was never beaten into the weak General since Tyler had a gpx track that he had recorded a few weeks prior WHEN HE CLIMBED LUNA (??!!) on a casual three day romp with some family friends (a record for shortest time between Luna ascents?). We even found bits of a trail! And a couple large logs across the Big Beaver! And a freshly logged and brushed Big Beaver Trail! It was all just so reasonable, right down to the customary dip in the lake while waiting for the water taxi. I guess there is always hope that the General will get some character beat into him on the next one. Until then.... (Captions refer to the photo(s) below the words- seems to work for scrolling? Let me know if not) The Mac Spires: John approaches camp: Der Shuksan: "Has the General always been this weak?": @tylerhs01 photo of us headed up to the O-H col, on the fun part (it ended in less fun when the snow ran out): Wild Hair Crack!! Tyler gunning us up the crazy good rock: Almost at the summit of the Himmelgeisterhorn... @tylerhs01 and @Trent contemplate the drop off each side: @Trent on the way to Frenzel camp I think this is the West Peak of the Southern Pickets? I could be wrong: The top of the "Thread of Gneiss" remains unclimbed to the summit of the East Twin Needle. Will you be the one?: For the full story behind this photo (and you really need the full story, trust me), read THIS: The Terror Twins building character: While the General fluffs his pillow: Looking past Terror to the NF of the Mac Spires: Frenzel Camp: Jack as the weather comes in: Frenzelspitz: Watching the storm brewing on Fury. Glad we aren't up there!: But this is the next day and it wasn't a lot better. Getting wet and wild on the way to the summit of Outrigger: Figuring out how to get off Outrigger as the weather begins to clear. Luna behind: The team approaching the summit of East Fury: (L)Uh, does this really need to be climbed? "West Fury MUST BE CLIMBED!" Summit camp lyfe on East Fury: Well, I guess it is time to climb this thing: Auspicious start to the day, looking east from the summit of East Fury: @Trent photo of @tylerhs01 and the General leaving the summit of East Fury heading west: @tylerhs01 posing effectively: The FA party carried a brass can and this register up there. Impressive!: Much of the way to and from West Fury is better than it looks, but still requires care: I was much faster back then: Larrabee and American Border Peaks: @tylerhs01 on the true summit of Luna at sunrise: Fury at first light: Terror: McMillan Spires: Worth waking up early for every 12 years whether I want to or not: You really should go climb both North and South Hozomeen: The Big Beaver pointed right at Jack: West Fury (L) and the team walking towards Elephant Butte (R): I think I saw an old Crowder or Tabor photo from this vantage many years ago. The hook was set: Luna: Last Camp: Dark Eyed Junco with a good meal: Mount Prophet. The prominent rib on the right is known as Jacob's Ladder : Good times crossing the Big Beaver. PM me for a GPS point if you need one: Gear Notes: The full kit- ice axe, Al crampons, helmet, whiskey, etc. One 70m half rope sufficient for Wild Hair. Medium rack to 2" Approach Notes: Crescent Creek climber's path to Access Creek Climber's path. Both are getting more defined by the year. Expect Shenanigans between the two.
  12. 7 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - White Salmon Gl. Trip Date: 02/20/2020 Trip Report: The paper says we are 7 inches ahead for rainfall right now in the Skagit Valley. Probably why last week I did everything I could to break free of work and get out in the sun, high on Mount Shuksan. I have to thank @dberdinka for organizing the hooky and @Trent for sharing in the enthusiasm. We weren't alone in our thinking- a few dozen others were seen out on the White Salmon, and even when we were descending after a run over by the North Face, more were coming. Even the (in)famous Jason Hummel was out showing pro Cody Townsend around the mountain. It was quite a day to soak up some rays and earn a few turns, so I can't blame anyone for joining in the fun. I hope you were out somewhere too..... Gear Notes: two sticks for the up, one or two for the down Approach Notes: I would drop thru the clear cut to the creek rather than try and stay high. Not bad turns to the valley bottom.
  13. 7 points
    This forum needs some ACTION!!! Got lots of freshies around Herman Saddle on Sunday. Headed there after running into a party that triggered a storm slab/partial burial on a steeper slope in Mazama Bowl. Stay safe out there! I know he's on a splitboard, but he's still a good guy: Sweet animation of someone wiping out: Beautiful: Big smiles:
  14. 7 points
    Trip: Mt Cleator - Tubby Needs Cheese 5.8+, 9 pitches, 1,000'+ Trip Date: 09/01/2019 Trip Report: It's been a spell since my last report; I offer a tale of an ascetic and a hedonist climbing yet another irrelevant obscurity in their quest for entertainment and raw truth. The weather forecast pointed them east, and Mt Cleator appeared to fit the bill. After a pleasant trail tramp past Buck Mtn and establishing camp, the dialectic duo scouted and debated a number of lines available, and provisionally settled on the cleanest looking one. The line emanates from near the main summit (not the N tower), and is a NW jutting rib that appears to share the granitic character of the pluton on nearby Berge--very little schist encountered. (Other options abound on the N side of this peak up to the N tower, but even these impaired codgers reckoned unappealing the primarily grubby schist on these longer lines toeing down more directly to Buck Cr. They agreed to buy beer for any whippersnapper climbing one of these lines.) For the full Cascades sub-alpinism experience, approach directly from a camp near Buck Creek, where the trail passes close to the creek. Romp up pleasant alp slopes to a band of cliffy terrain, then bunk-jungle up steep alder to pass a waterfall. This approach grants access to the upper basin and the several lines available on the northwestern quadrant of the mountain. For the descent enjoy the scenic trail tour return via Buck Creek Pass. Lots of wildlife encountered--bear, coyotes calling at each other (probably about the bear), deer, etc. The climb's more-technical and mental challenges are concentrated in pitches 2, 3, 8 and 9. (Unfortunately, not many climbing pics taken.) Pitch 2: while the self-styled epicurean showered his pathetic self with sod digging for pro and holds, the wannabe stylite laughed derisively. Pitch 3: the ascetic got his come-uppance, "I wanna go home", but eventually pieced together a lead to the crest of the rib. The middle pitches were more scrambly, mostly mid-fifth and easier. Pitch 8: a sweet, relatively steep and juggy corner. Pitch 9: interspersed short splitters and varied climbing, beautiful and exposed ridge rambling with steeper steps. P1: P3: P6(?), climber low center: On average, the over-indulger and the self-depriver make for a balanced human. In an alternate universe the roles could be switched, and maybe the pair would climb splitter cracks on impeccable stone; but in this one, they reconcile themselves to seeking new lines on inconsistent rock with their mercifully impaired memories. On this climb, a somewhat dirty beginning becomes more enjoyable higher (and with distance). It's difficult to get a well-defined shot of the line. Here's a flavor: Tubby Needs Cheese begins to the left of the shaded red streak on far right, a few hundred ft below that tiny spot of sunshine on the ridge, and continues up to and then on the right skyline. Tubby tops out in the horizontal strip of sunshine, or perhaps just out of view behind the pyramidal feature to the left of it. (The sunlit tower is in the foreground relative to the main summit.) Beckey's CAG vol 2 (2nd ed.) has a good pic of it along with Buck on page 160, swooping down from the main summit clearly marked MT CLEATOR. And from the west, hiking toward Buck Pass: A shot on the way home on Labor Day, TNC in the shade on right toeing down just left of the snow in the basin: More pics (recommend click on 'info' to see descriptions for many): https://photos.app.goo.gl/P2U5SJgB8jU1eQBo8 Gear Notes: Double rack through 3, a 4, some nuts. We didn't use our pins, but some folk might want to. Approach Notes: Park at Trinity. Buck Creek trail, etc. -- see above.
  15. 6 points
    With some time on my hands with the quarantine and all, I decided to compile some research. Here's a list of "forgotten" Cascade alpine testpieces (ice focused) or FACTs. Feel free to add some others I left out! Who's gonna be the first to tick the entire list? I apologize for all the weird formatting. I just copied this post from my blog https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/22/forgotten-cascade-alpine-ice-routes/. I90 I90 climbs offer the best access and easiest conditions to predict. There are undoubtedly many more climbs to be discovered in this area with easy access, generally good rock, and surprisingly rugged little mountains. Mt. Kent, North Face (multiple variations): the greatest north face in the Snoqualmie region with many long 1000 ft lines. Bonus: you can see conditions from I90 near exit 42 while driving west! This has been super high on my list to explore. Snoqualmie Mt, North Face (multiple variations): an abundance of mixed ice lines like the classic New York Gully and the lesser known Pineapple Express and Blue Moon. Abiel Peak, North Face (multiple variations): the “Ben Nevis” of the PNW has many shorter alpine ice and mixed lines. Bryant Peak, Hot Tubbs: Maybe this route hasn’t been around long enough since Jacob and I published it, but it reportedly hasn’t seen much action, so I think it’ll be forgotten soon enough… Summit Chief Mountain, North Face: Colin Haley said this line had “more ice climbing than any other Cascade ice climb” he had ever done at the time. Big compliment. The North Face is much like Dragontail, just fatter. Peak 3964, False Idol: An incredible 10 pitch ice route off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie that needs very cold temps to form. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the ice potential in the Middle Fork. US2 US2 offers some hotspots like the Stuart Range, with its steep granite peaks, and a sprinkling of other incredible routes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Weather is generally colder and drier on the east side, which is good for ice. Chiwawa Mountain, Intravenous: Cutting edge Colin Haley mixed route deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Buck Mountain, Buckshot: Another bold line in a wilderness setting. One of the great underrated north faces in Washington. Mt. Index, North Face: Steepest peak in Washington, visible from the highway. Always an involved matter for a sub-6000 ft peak. Another huge route is Murphy's Law. Dragontail Peak, NE Couloir: This route feels much more full on than Triple Couloirs next door, and seems to be difficult to get in proper (fall) conditions. Colchuck Peak, NE Buttress Couloir: Often overlooked with Triple Couloirs and the North Buttress Couloir next door. Ends with a cornice-tunnel! Argonaut Peak, NE Couloir: Also a rock/snow route in early summer, this can be a fantastic mixed/ice route in late fall. Mt. Stuart, Ice Cliff Glacier: a technically easy but deceptively committing and full-on climb in a wild setting. Argonaut Peak, Chad Kellog Memorial Route: Challenging new age mixed route in the heart of the Stuart Range. Mt. Stuart, Lara Kellog Memorial Route: Climbs the incredible NE Face of Stuart above the Ice Cliff Glacier. Looks directly across to the Chad Kellog Memorial Route. Mt. Stuart, Stuart Glacier Couloir: A classic route where the crux is arguable climbing the west ridge in mixed winter conditions. Nason Ridge, Alpine Dropout: A fantastic looking ice route that sits just above Lake Wenatchee. Mountain Loop Close to Seattle but tragically overlooked, the peaks of the Mountain Loop are as rugged as anywhere in the North Cascades but with surprisingly decent winter access. The myriad of big climbs in this little region speaks volume to the incredible terrain. Big Four Mt, North Face (multiple variations): multiple routes, including the famous Spindrift Couloir. This is a mighty north face, and routes often take multiple days. Hall Peak, North Face: little brother to Big Four supposedly has some ice routes. Three Fingers, NE Face: This is a big route on a surprisingly big mountain. I believe there’s much more potential on the east side of Three Fingers. Whitechuck Mt, E Face Couloir: A very aesthetic couloir ice/mixed route. Access can be challenging unless it is a very low snow year. Whitehorse Mt, E Couloir: This steep route splits the Squire Creek Headwall for a fantastic line. I think it might even be visible from Darrington?! Sperry Peak, E Face Gully: Another beautiful, long, moderate ice/mixed route that likely varies in technicality from fall to spring. Sloan Peak, Full Moon Fever: This route climbs the weakness on the NW Face of Sloan. Having been at the base, I can say there is HUGE potential all over the place near the route. Sloan Peak, Superalpine: I certainly hope this climb isn’t forgotten, as Porter and I believe it is truly the best moderate alpine ice route we have climbed in the Cascades (better than Cosley Houston or the NW Couloir of Eldorado), but I know how things go around here… Lake 22 Headwall: who would think that one of the greatest alpine walls in the Cascades was just a short hour drive and hike from Seattle? There are so many unclimbed 2000 ft lines up this face, and you can get conditions updates by searching Instagram! Highway 20 Highway 20 undoubtedly has many huge ice lines, but difficult winter access has limited exploration. During lower snow years, the Cascade River Road could be a great area for exploration and development. Eldorado Peak, NW Ice Couloir: This route was sort of “remembered” in Fall 2019 when probably 20 parties climbed it (me included), but it’s a fantastic easier route, so I’ll leave it here. Colonial Peak, North Face (multiple routes): The mega line Watusi Rodeo offers 4000 ft of front point terrain and is “easily” accessible all winter. First Date is another attractive route. Pyramid Peak, NE Face (multiple routes): Home to some challenging mixed/ice routes on a wonderfully aesthetic peak. Graybeard, North Face: Everyone seems to report this deceptively big route deepened their sense of mortality. Davis Peak, No Milkshakes: the north face of Davis Peak is supposedly the steepest vertical mile drop in Washington. Silver Star, West Face Couloir: Originally planned as a ski descent, it actually turned out to be a huge ice climb! Visible from the highway, but you probably need a sled to get up there. Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn Wilson: Gaining popularity lately, can be climbed right before the highway closes or after it opens. Early Winters Couloir: This one is sort of a classic and can be climbed in both fall and spring. Highway 542 The areas around Baker and Shuksan are generally well explored, but still offer great adventure. The Black Buttes are one of the centerpieces for hard alpine ice climbing. Lincoln Peak, Wilkes-Booth: A huge, challenging route on one of the hardest peaks in Washington. Assassin Spire, NW Face: Considered by many to be the toughest summit in Washington, this was also the first peak where the first ascent was made in winter. Colfax Peak, Ford’s Theater: The “forgotten” next door neighbor of the ultra classic Cosley Houston. Mt. Rainier / Tatoosh This area is dominated by the mountain, but I’m guessing the Tattosh have good stuff and certainly easy access. Rainier, Mowich Face: A long moderate route on the “quiet” (NW) side of the big hunk-a-hunk. Rainier, Ptarmigan Ridge: A steeper, more sustained route than its next door neighbor, the world-renowned Liberty Ridge. Mt. Hood I don’t know much about Hood, but I’m sure there are some great routes that are infrequently climbed, so I’ll take suggestions here!
  16. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Stuart - Direct North Ridge Trip Date: 06/22/2020 Trip Report: I finally ticked off this crown jewel of the Cascades! We did deal with some tough early season conditions, including snow and ice on the "Slab with Crack" as well as the section between the gendarme and the summit. I've included the text of my report below. Full report with photos can be found at https://spokalpine.com/2020/06/29/mt-stuart-direct-north-ridge/ John and I climbed the Direct North Ridge of Mount Stuart on a “leisure” schedule from June 21-23, 2020. It was the culmination of years of honing my mountain craft in the Cascades and abroad; this one meant a lot! The journey started in 2016, when I saw Stuart in person for the first time from Colchuck Peak. I was spellbound by the rugged beauty of the mountain with its springtime coating of snow and ice, making the North Ridge even more dramatic as it soared directly to the summit. It is possible to climb the North Ridge using an “abbreviated” start, gaining the ridge crest at half-height via a rocky gully rising from Stuart Glacier – this version of the route is included as one of the “50 Classic Climbs of North America” and some say it is the most commonly climbed version. To me, a direct start climbing directly from the toe of the ridge creates a much more pure, aesthetic and logical line to the summit. The Direct North Ridge instantly became my goal. Three months later after I first laid eyes on it, John and I made the Southern approach via Ingalls Creek for an attempt on the route. Cresting Goat Pass, we stopped to stare at the route in profile. The scale of the climb was jaw-dropping; we quickly turned around and went home. We were not ready and we knew it, but we made other excuses. Four years and many climbs went by before John and I decided that it was time to put this project to bed. This time, we trudged up Mountaineer’s Creek to Mount Stuart. Swarming insects, brutal heat, boulder hopping and a off-trail bushwhacking brought us to our plush back country campsite below Stuart’s Northern aspect. A few other climbers passed by our camp on their way out; they were the last people we would see for two days. We had the entire valley, and mountain, to ourselves. Cheers to weekday alpinism! With the Summer Solstice only two days prior, we had a long day of daylight on our side. Planning to blast the route and descent in a single push from camp, the route was already in full sun as we started hiking up the moraine at 5:30am. John volunteered to lead the first pitch, which was a great warmup for the day. The “slot” on this pitch is as awkward as people say… hang the leader’s pack off of a cam below the slot and belay just above. The leader can lower a loop of rope to the follower and haul the packs past the slot. I took point on the uneventful second pitch and John fired the 5.9+ third pitch, the hardest pitch on the climb. After a fourth belayed pitch (perhaps 5.7), we changed gears to simulclimbing mode. This part of the climb was truly a gift, featuring moderate climbing and unbeatable alpine ambiance. Rock and ice thundered down Ice Cliff Glacier every few minutes, reminding us that the mountain is always in charge. Our staircase of clean granite carried us 1600 feet higher into the cobalt sky. After a few hours, I lead over a high point in the ridgeline and felt my stomach drop. I was looking at the well-known and typically easy “slab with crack” pitch, but it was partially covered in snow and ice. There were no signs of prior passage and I questioned whether or not I would be able to climb it in these conditions. I quickly realized that I had to give the pitch my absolute best effort – bailing from this high on the ridge would be an absolute nightmare. The mountain was testing us even more than I expected. I cautiously led up the pitch, placing a solid cam a few feet below the snow patch before strapping my pathetic, worn-down aluminum crampons on my approach shoes. Evaluating the snow patch, I realized that it consisted of about 1 inch of ice against the rock with a couple of inches of snow on top. My ultralight ice axe would not be able to excavate the crack to place protection. The first few feet were the thinnest, and I willed the snow patch to stay attached to the mountain. With full commitment, I stepped onto the ice and quickly power-stepped my way up, trying to maintain my upward momentum. Racing to the top, I slapped my hands on the lip and mantled to a perfect belay stance. The final section of mid-fifth class climbing was still very snowy. Several miserable pitches with snow blocking the easiest route cost us a lot of time. Since it was dark already, we chose not to hurry, shifting our focus to finding the safest route among the snow and loose rock. Several times, I found myself at a dead-end, requiring me to reverse the last few moves and find another way. This was crushing in my exhausted state! We pulled onto the summit just at 11:30pm as the temperatures dropped. Regardless, I was incredibly happy and felt no stress about our situation, just focus and joyful resolve. We could handle this. The night sky was ablaze with stars and I was living my ideal atop this massive, complex peak. We began toiling our way down the East Ridge on snow, then 4th class rock, and then a lot more snowy rock. It was extremely slow going in the dark and we settled in for a short bivouac once we found a good platform. Bouts of violent shivering and continual harassment from the local snafflehounds provided entertainment until the sun rose again. In the morning, we continued traversing the East Ridge and descended the Sherpa Glacier, which was a tedious but straightforward descent option. The hike out to the car was quite the death march, but it always seems that way! Gear Notes: Doubles from fingers to #3. Approach Notes: Approach via Mountaineer's Creek and descent via the Sherpa Glacier.
  17. 6 points
    Trip: Cerro Aconcagua - Ruta Normal Trip Date: 02/02/2020 Trip Report: Back when the world was more normal, I took a solo two week trip to Argentina to climb Aconcagua: Day 1 (Thursday January 23rd): Fly out of Seatac – Santiago - Mendoza Day 2: Land in Mendoza, get permit & supplies, drive to Penitentes (el ~8500) for the night at Hotel Ayelan Day 3: Start of climb. Hike to Confluencia (el ~11,100) Day 4: Side trip to Plaza Francia at the base of the South Face for acclimatization, second night at Confluencia Day 5: Move to Plaza de Mulas (el 14,100) Day 6: Scramble nearby Cerro Bonete (el 16,417), second night at Mulas Day 7: Carry water & gear to Camp Canada (el 16,600), third night at Mulas Day 8: Carry gear to Nido de Condores (el 18,200), fourth night at Mulas Day 9: Move to Nido, skipping over Camp Canada Day 10: Acclimatization hike to Camp Colera (el 19,700), second night at Nido Day 11 (Sunday February 2nd): Summit (el 22,841), return to Nido for the night Day 12: Descend to Mulas Day 13: Hike out, return to Mendoza, rearrange flight home Day 14: Fly out of Mendoza - Santiago – LAX - Seattle Day 15 (Thursday February 6th): Land back in Seattle It’s hard to capture two weeks in limited pictures, but here goes. The park entrance off the main highway between Mendoza and Santiago, Chile has a great view of the mountain with the summit visible as the bump on the right. With limited vacation time, I increased my time efficiency (and fuel inefficiency) by renting a car at the airport in Mendoza and driving myself around. This meant I didn’t have to faff around with bus schedules and figuring out transport to/from the trailhead, and also allowed me to get my permit in Mendoza, get some last minutes supplies of fuel, lighters, meat & cheese, and drive up to Penitentes all in the first day so I could spend my first night at elevation. As an added bonus, I drove up to the Christo de Redeemer statue on a winding mountain road to a pass at El 12,572 where I spent 30 minutes walking around at altitude. The start of the hike to Confluencia was beautiful on wide trails through grassland with the mountain dominating the view in front. Confluencia, home for my first two nights on the mountain. My North Face Assault-2 tent is barely visible near the big yellow and white domes on the lower right. The first night at Confluencia when my appetite was high, I splurged a bit and bought a nice dinner from my mule service provider. From then on out it was lots of ramen, rice, and freeze dried. To help my acclimitization, I took a side trip up to Plaza Francia and the massive South Face of Aconcagua on my second day of the climb: Heading up to Plaza de Mulas on the third day. Helicopters were a common sight shuttling gear & supplies & the occasional climber up the valley. Even more common were the mules who do the bulk of the heavy lifting. I used Grajales Expedicions mule service to carry ~50lbs worth of gear from the trailhead straight to Mulas. I was relatively cheap and well worth it. Along with shuttling your gear, it comes with filtered drinking water and toilets and trash service at Confluencia and at Mulas. Plaza de Mulas is a bustling place with tons of climbers from all over the world. There are rangers and doctors at Plaza de Mulas checking on climbers from both independent and guided climbs. I brought a pulse oximeter to periodically check my SpO2 which hovered in the 70's for much of the trip. The rangers also posted a weather report every couple days. Mulas has cell reception (Verizon) so I was also able to check mountainforecast and other websites, but invariably the ranger forecasts were more accurate. My ideal itinerary had me planned to summit on the 4th or 5th, but forecasted high winds had me push the envelope a bit and go for the summit a couple days earlier. Summit day! I got up at 2AM and was hiking by 3AM. I hiked relatively fast early on, but as I got higher my pace slower considerably. First light right below Independencia: Traversing the Gran Acarreo. By this time my pace had slowed to about 5 second rest steps. Resting at La Cueva below the Canaleta. The summit looked SO close from here, but was still over an hour away. On the summit ridge: On top about 1pm in the afternoon. I spent all of two minutes on top. I had severely rushed my acclimatization schedule because of the weather forecast, and my hypoxic addled brain was well aware that I needed to get down quickly. Looking back a couple months later and summit day is definitely a fuzzy memory. A day later back at Plaza de Mulas I splurged on the best pizza I've ever had. Mules once again carried the bulk of my gear down from PdM to the park entrance, and I had a pleasant hike out enjoying the thick air and satisfaction of a climb well done. And finally beer in Mendoza! Gear Notes: Carried an ice axe and crampons but never used either since it was an incredibly dry year. For footwear I wore trail runners all the way to Nido. For the upper mountain I used La Sportiva Baturas with Mountain Tools Supergaiters. Approach Notes: Grajales Expedicions is top notch for mule service A rental car can save a few days on the trip total if you don't have three weeks of vacation. Easy free longterm parking at the trailhead.
  18. 6 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Face Gully Attempt Trip Date: 11/29/2019 Trip Report: Sorry I didn't post this for a few months, but basically I was scared of others going up there, turning around and seeing the massive ice flows on Sloan, and poaching our prize. But what's done is done so now I want to share what I learned from an attempt of the East Face Gully of Sperry over Thanksgiving 2019. This trip report (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7980139) caught my attention and Sperry became the focus of my fall alpine efforts. The east face is a beautiful 3000 ft wall with just an hour approach! This gully looked absolutely sweet, like some moderate mixed/snow/ice route. This was the only report I could ever find, so it was hard to know what to expect. Fall 2019 was very dry for us. At elevations below 5000 ft, there was no snow come mid November. Then, right before Thanksgiving, it dumped about a foot down to 3000 ft and got extremely cold (highs in the 30s in the lowlands). Good for ice right? Sperry. Approach slabs on the left. Gully obvious in the middle. Daniel and I drove up to the trailhead and hiked into Wirtz Basin around sunrise. We could immediately tell we were in trouble. The 3rd to 4th class approach slabs looked like they were covered in thin verglass and fresh powder. We started up them, but decided we wouldn't be soloing them (Daniel was pretty new to ice climbing at this point) so we tried going through the dense trees to the right. This was impossible, running into steep cliffs and powder on no base. We bailed back to the slabs. Typical climbing in the approach slabs. We broke out the rope and I led up the right side of the slabs on WI1-2 R where sometimes your crampons would bust through to the rock. It was very insecure, albeit easy. Just not what Hyalite prepares you for. I belayed Daniel off a small bush and then we scrambled up higher. Then to the right there was a little WI3 near vertical step for 20-30 ft that might have taken 6 cm screws. I now realize this was the "little icy step" Jim referred to in his trip report. Damn, those guys were tough. Another veggie belay brought Daniel up. The next section involved climbing atop branches while getting soaked in powder. Then we traversed across more 3rd class slabs covered in fresh powder in crampons. My crampons were brand new and suffered dearly. Finally, we were staring up the gut at the gully, around 4000 ft. It was near noon and the strong sun was causing snow to constantly cascade down the gully. It looked absolutely icy and beautiful! Certainly one of the most beautiful gullies I've ever seen, but we were too late to continue. The powder would have been heinious. We stopped here. But the ice looked so good! Sloan, with the lines already forming. We rapped off trees back down to the valley floor. We took a walk further up Wirtz Basin and admired the incredible geometric features of Sperry. It is truly one of the underrated great mountains of the North Cascades. There were all of these cutting edge mixed ice routes that went 1000 ft up the SE face in the deep chimneys and cuts, but then they just petered out into nothing. There were even some chimneys like hundreds of feet deep and perfectly angular. I could just imagine Colin Haley deep in the darkness, climbing some great new route. I'd love to come back in the summer and climb one of the huge 2000 ft rock routes Beckey mentions that never get climbed anymore. I think the east face gully could be a great summer scramble, 3000 ft of scrambling with basically no approach. This is an incredible mountain. This looks like an incredible route. We'll be back! Inspiring SE side of Sperry. I've seen another mountain like it. Serious ice potential further up the valley. Cool easier ice potential up on Morning Star. Great north face of Sperry. Wonder if that route has seen a repeat? North face Big Four. Lessons learned: * this is a tricky route to nail in proper conditions. If that low snow hadn't fallen, the approach slabs would've been dry (like they were for Jim), but would the gully had been filled in? Probably not this year. We needed more snowfall above 4000 ft. Or if just a bunch of snow falls to 3000 ft and consolidates, but you can still drive to the trailhead, that'd work also. Or just climb this route in mid winter consolidated conditions with a sled access. * The approach slabs are really the only way to go. Don't try to go around. * those old timers are tough mothertruckers. Gear Notes: A few screws, some rock gear. Approach Notes: Short, probably one hour if you can drive to the trailhead. But the slabs can be cruxy...
  19. 6 points
    What do we need during quarantine? More lists! So I recently did a mind dump and listed a bunch of high routes, technical traverse, peak linkups, and ski traverses. Many of these are just unearthed from the grave of CC itself. Here's the content copied from my website: For the purpose of this article, I have color coded routes by four different categories: High Route: These routes are non-technical, meaning no 5th class climbing. However, they may have glacial travel. The purpose is to cover great distance over rugged terrain, not necessarily to summit. Linkup: These routes combine peakbagging, scrambling, and high routing (is that even a verb?). Technical Traverse: These routes have 5th class travel. A rope and protection is commonly used. Ski Traverse: These routes are most commonly done as a ski traverse during winter or spring. Categories can overlap. For example, the Ptarmigan Traverse is both a fantastic ski traverse and high route, but I refer to it as a high route simply because more parties complete it on foot. Additionally, there are many peaks to bag along the way so it could be a linkup. Preface: I apologize for my superfluous use of “classic”. Update: Sam put in an incredible effort to convert the list into a caltopo map! I90 P3 to Defiance Traverse: A ridgewalk, close to Seattle, that involves more bushwhacking than scrambling. Can be extended all the way to Granite. TR. Roosevelt Kaleetan Traverse: An aesthetic ridge, possibly the best low-5th terrain in the Snoqualmie Backcountry, as people say. TR. Chair Bryant Traverse: Begin with the north ridge of Chair, continue all the way to the Tooth or even Denny for bonus fun. TR. Commonwealth Ultimate Ridge Linkup: Incredible bang for you buck with literally miles of 3rd to 5th class terrain. TR. Melakwa Pass Loop: In the winter it would be known as the Chair Peak Circumnavigation. The summer form is a little longer, starting and ending traditionally at the Denny Creek trailhead. TR. Snoqualmie Haute Route: This creative multi day ski traverse wraps around the major peaks of the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River. TR. Alpine Lakes Crest Traverse: Similar to the Haute Route in terrain, but more similar to the Ptarmigan Traverse in character, this route crosses the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness from Snoqualmie Pass to Mt. Daniel. TR. Mt. Daniel Circumnavigation: Mt. Daniel is a deceptively large mountain, holding many glaciers and lakes. TR. Bears Breast Traverse: This remote peak is also home to the “mythical mega slabs”, 3000 ft of sustained 4th and low 5th. TR. Paddy-go-easy High Route: This route covers some beautiful terrain between Paddy-go-easy pass and the Robin Lakes, visiting many tarns along the way. TR. Teanaway Ten: Peakbagger’s delight! The main idea is to bag some amount of peaks (10 is nice and tidy) around the Beverly and Bean Creek basins. TR. Stunning exposure on the Commonwealth Ultimate Ridge Linkup. US2 Persindex Traverse: This was the very first traverse I attempted long ago. It travels through surprisingly alpine terrain between two of the steepest peaks in Washington. TR. Index Traverse: The three summits of Mt. Index compose this huge, committing undertaking, a classic. TR. Alpine Lakes High Route: Perhaps the most classic high route in Washington, with stunning lakes and vistas. TR. Thunder Robin High Route: The logical extension of the Alpine Lakes Crest Traverse to US2 covers some beautiful, forgotten terrain near some very overpopulated terrain. TR. Rock Howard Mastiff Traverse: Three high peaks just east of Stevens Pass. Good access, good skiing. TR. Chiwaukum Traverse: A “new-age” classic ski traverse. The Chiwaukum Range has some huge, open, non-glaciated alpine terrain and is perfect for a ski traverse. TR. Icicle Ridge Traverse: Lots of opportunities along Icicle Ridge and Big Jim and Big Lou to run broad, open ridges. TR. Stuart Range Traverse: The steep couloirs of this range lend themselves to a ski traverse of more ups and downs than sideways. TR. Enchantment Enchainment: Some variation of 9 or 10 Bulgers in the Stuart Range. Many ways to skin this cat. TR. Carne High Route: This popular route is basically a trail, or a good introductory high route. TR. The Entiat 9ers: Maude, 7 Fingered Jack, and Fernow all lie on a ridge together. All are above 9000 ft and in one of the most beautiful settings in the Cascades. All have terrible rock. You get the idea. TR. Little Giant High Pass Loop: 90% of this route is on a trail of some sort, but it’s simply too beautiful to leave out. Add in the Louie Creek High Route to Buck Mountain for a bonus. Great peak bagging opportunities near High Pass. TR. Dakobed Range Circumnavigation: Stunning, remote scenery in the heart of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. If you can tolerate the brush, this is solitude well spent. TR. Dakobed Range Traverse: It also works on skis! Or a splitboard… TR. An Alaskan glacial cirque on the Dakobed Range Circumnavigation. Mountain Loop Highway Three Fingers Traverse: Visible from the Seattle/Everett area, this simply makes sense. TR. Pilchuck Loop: An accessible, introductory high route with some nice lakes along the way. TR. Monte Cristo Linkup: Another underrated area of the Cascades with high alpine peaks and glaciers. TR. Painted Traverse: One of those classic steep-heather sidehilling traverses in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. TR. It also makes for a fantastic ski traverse. Suiattle River Road Bath Lakes High Route: Perhaps THE KING OF STEEP HEATHER high routes. Stretch out your ankles. Get ready. TR. Gunrunner Traverse: Some of the best and most remote alpine rock in the state. Can it be matched? TR. Lime Ridge High Route: Beautiful lake after lake on this lovely high route just north of Glacier Peak. TR. Green Buckindy High Route: The quiet little brother of the Ptarmigan Traverse, this one might be more rugged actually. TR. Dominatrix Traverse: This route travels between Snowking and Chaval, very obscure. TR. The Bath Lakes Peaks in alpenglow. Highway 542 Twin Sisters Traverse: Fun fact – the peaks in the logo of Kulshan Brewing are not Kulshan, but rather the Twin Sisters. TR. Green Creek Circuit: This linkup might be the king of all scramble / low 5th routes in all of Washington. TR. Watson Traverse: Cody Townsend really doesn’t like this one, but others say it’s pretty good. TR. Nooksack Traverse: From Shuksan to Ruth, this traverse crosses some of the most rugged terrain in all of the North Cascades. When will someone link it up with the Watson? TR. Cascade River Road Ptarmigan Traverse: The granddaddy of all Cascade high routes. Keep going over Dome for the best terrain. TR. Torment Forbidden Traverse: Ultra classic traverse in one of the wildest settings in the lower 48. TR. Boston Basin Marathon: An incredible “true ridge traverse” of the Triad, Eldo, Tormet, Forbidden, Boston, and Sahale. TR. Isolation Traverse: An incredible ski traverse. Not sure what else to say. I really want to do this one. TR. Inspiration Traverse: This can be combined with the Isolation Traverse for an incredible loop across some massive glaciers and lofty peaks. TR. Forbidden Tour: Arguably the classic ski loop in the North Cascades. TR. Magic S Loop: While not as well known as the Forbidden Tour, this is also an excellent ski loop. TR. Buckindy Traverse: An incredibly rugged loop on the quiet side of the Cascade River. TR. Teebone Traverse: Another beautiful ridge line in the North Cascades. The descent into Newhalem is legendary… for bad reasons. TR. Morning at the White Rock Lakes on the Ptarmigan Traverse. Highway 20 Watson Blum Traverse: A beautiful traverse across surprisingly glaciated peaks in a remote area. Bring your bacon. TR. Pickets Traverse: Well, we could write a whole article on this alone. There are so many variations: technical, non-technical, north, south, skis. To start, I’d recommend Steph Abegg’s excellent Picket’s page. Try Wayne Wallace’s complete Southern Picket’s Traverse or Dr. Dirtbag bagging the Northern Pickets in a little over 24 hours! Or even a COMPLETE PICKETS TRAVERSE (VII 5.10+)!!! Mystery Ridge – Northern Pickets Traverse: Legends Steph Abegg and Tom Sjolseth say this is the greatest high route they have ever completed, and I don’t doubt them. TR. The Grand Tour: an incredible linkup of the Whatcom High Route, the Pickets Traverse, the Isolation Traverse, and the Ptarmigan Traverse. TR. Ragged Ridge Traverse: Bagging the Bulgers on this high Cascade ridge. TR. Fisher Outpost High Route: A unique route through some very seldom-visited terrain. TR. Logan Goode Buckner Traverse: Everyone knows about the Thunder Slam (Goode Logan Stormking) so here is a fun variation. TR. Logan NW Ridge: Wayne calls this the single longest ridgeline in the lower 48. He soloed it, of course. TR. Goode Megaladon Ridge: NE Buttress isn’t long enough for your tastes? Try this massive ridge traverse on the highest peak in NCNP. TR. Triple Rainbow High Route: Best done as a larch march, this route will make you forget you are in the North Cascades entirely. TR. Liberty Bell Traverse: Likely the shortest approach of any of these. Classic. TR. The Washington Pass Traverse: This incredible route (VI, 5.9+) might be the longest unbroken technical traverse in the state. TR. The Birthday Tour: It might be stretch to call this a ski traverse considering it only takes a few hours. TR. Yearning larches on the Triple Rainbow High Route. Chelan / Methow Pasayten Peakbagging: 8 Bulgers all relatively close together, only separated by miles of choss. TR. Raven Ridge Hoodoo Traverse: A very fun little traverse on surprisingly good rock. Best done during larch season. TR. Switcback – Bigelow Traverse: More larch madness! This can actually be combined with Raven Ridge and Hoodoo for a massive day and 5 Bulgers. TR. Dark Bonanza Traverse: It’s a long ways out there, but it looks really good. Blake says it’s really good. I believe him. TR. 3 Peaks of Bonanza Traverse: This overlaps some with the Dark Bonanaza Traverse, but is huge in its own right. TR. Larch Madness on Raven Ridge from Hoodoo Peak. Southern WA Tatoosh Traverse: A fine adventure that will look particularly impressive when you’re skiing the Muir Snowfield with friends next time. TR. Rainier Ski Circumnavigation: Does it count as a ski traverse if it ends back where it started? TR. Goat Rocks Peakbagging: It would be incomplete to not acknowledge this beautiful wilderness area. TR. Adams Traverse: Up over, and around. More of a trail run than anything. A fun way to experience a volcano. TR. Olympics Tyler – Grey Wolf – Needles Traverse: A huge ridgewalk followed by some decent Olympic alpine rock? Very cool route. TR. Bailey Range Traverse: The classic Olympic high route ending with Olympus itself. TR. Tour of the Gods: An awesome ski trip nailing all the glaciers in the Olympus massif. TR. Brothers Traverse: The classic skyline peak from Seattle, done right. TR. Sawtooth Ridge Traverse: Another massive, obscure ridge traverse from Wayne. TR. The Olympic Ski Traverse: Another rad Jason Hummel ski traverse through the center of the Olympics, north to south. TR. Ellinor Washington Traverse: Classic beginner traverse in the SE corner of the Olympics. Don’t get attacked by a goat. TR. Bonus: Oregon Three Sisters Traverse (plus Broken Top): Looks like a super fun ski traverse with lots of corn and even a little bit of ice climbing! TR. Hurwal Divide Traverse: A high ridgewalk between 9000 ft peaks in Oregon’s greatest mountain range, the Wallowas (not trying to stir any controversy here – I’ve admit I’ve never even been to the Wallowas, but really want to visit). TR. Bonus: British Columbia Spearhead Traverse: Possibly the most famous ski traverse in North America. It’s been done in something like 4 hours, but also has some big new fancy hotels – I mean huts – along the way. TR. Garibladi Neve Traverse: A long, lower elevation, less crowded alternative to the Spearhead. TR. Tantalus Traverse: This athletic, rugged traverse crosses the famous range clearly visible from Squamish. Eric Carter did it in an incredible 18 hours. TR. Bonnington Traverse: Fluffy powder, cozy cabins, this one is a real treat. TR. Jon catches some sunset pow on the Bonnington Traverse. If you read this far, you are obviously interested in exploring and passionate about the mountains of Washington. I hope you found this article informative and can use it as a launching pad for your own explorations!
  20. 6 points
    There was a good bit of wind that morning on the approach but it stopped when I got to the saddle. I didn't find a breeze on the approach to be significant compared to the rest of my day out. Going down Leuthold I didn't experience any significant icefall. Both of the bollards were solid and I thoroughly inspected them beforehand. I brought a picket and some bags to make deadmans if the bollards were shit. My tracks going to Yocum were there, along with a bunch of other parties. I went to an elementary school in Gresham with a great view of Hood. I have some sick tan lines and a new iPhone if you doubt those too. If you want more details you can message me. I don't lie about my climbs and am as open as I can be. The sunrise that morning was beautiful!
  21. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge Trip Date: 03/08/2020 Trip Report: Climbed Yocum on Sunday along with @nkimmes. We left Timberline at 3:30am. At illumination saddle we encountered two other climbers also heading for Yocum. The four of us crossed the Reid unroped until the other two took a slightly lower line and both went waist-deep into a crevasse. We quickly threw on the rope and headed for the obvious ramp leading up to the ridge, gaining it without too much trouble. We reached the base of the 1st gendarme at 7:30am. At this point the other group was in front of us as we had accidentally gotten into some steep stuff on the southern side of the ridge while they took a gentler ramp to the north. First gendarme: The angle increased quite a bit towards the top (perhaps 70 degrees?) and both our groups belayed a short pitch here, though there wasn't much gear placed other than the initial, questionable anchor screws: This led to a small ledge. Noah excavated a bunch of crap and managed to place two cams in the underlying rock. I came up and led through a final 15 feet of bulgy vertical rime to the top of the gendarme. I didn't see what this part looked like before the first two went through but from below it sounded like it required about 1000 pounds of rime to be hacked away (thankfully it all went down a gully to the south, off of the ridge). Last part to gain the top of the gendarme: Above this we proceeded up a bit to the final, highest, most narrow point: The first group had rapped on a rime bollard (and survived) so we used it as well. Here is Noah getting ready to rap: Once he was down to a flat-ish spot Noah lowered me and then I led past him. Getting around the next tower involved very exposed traversing on the north side of the ridge on vertical rime/exposed rock. The ridge in this spot was basically just a pile of loose rocks that has somehow, improbably, remained vertical. I was happy to basically be on top-rope as the rope was still looped around the 1st gendarme. I got to a large, flat ledge where I could brace myself against a rime wall, took in all the slack, and then lowered Noah who came to join me. Around this time I looked at my phone and noticed that it was 9:30, meaning it had taken us a full two hours to get up and over the first gendarme. Photo below: Me, on top of the gendarme. Noah on the small ledge he rapped to. Ye on the large ledge I ultimately lowered Noah from. I'm not sure how they got down there. I'm guessing they did it more efficiently but maybe we get extra points for cleverness? From there Noah led a full 60m pitch of knife edge ridge, placing two pitons, three pickets, and an ice screw: This took us to the large mushroom in the above picture where the ridge changes direction and heads to the left. Here we unroped and walked up, under the 2nd gendarme, to the top of the 3rd. Coming up by the 2nd gendarme: The other group had been at the top of the 3rd gendarme for a while but we caught up in the time it took them to build another bollard. They did the short rap directly onto the ridge crest and we opted for the 60m rap to the north. The rap onto the ridge looked good but we were trying to make up some time and figured we could move faster traversing the snow slope below rather than negotiating more knife-edge ridge. Bollard on top of 3rd gendarme: The slope we rapped onto, with someone in the other group still visible up on the ridge: We quickly traversed up and right to get back on the ridge, passing the other two. This brought us to the base of the upper buttress: I was feeling pretty good/relieved here as I knew we could now safely retreat down the ramp into Leuthold's if needed. Neither of us knew what to expect from this part of the climb as there just isn't a lot of information out there. I knew that the original Beckey route traversed to the right before heading up a gully (but the guidebooks show it being in different gullies) and that the Wickwire variation was more direct. We started up the narrow, rambling rime slot in the center of the above picture, which I think must be the Wickwire variation: Our path dead-ended in an unclimbable rime amphitheater and we decided to rap down to a large, visible gully, which we guessed was the Beckey route. Maybe in the above photo we could have continued climber's left up the ramp rather than come up onto the rime fins? It's hard to know but in hindsight that seems to be the only other reasonable option. I didn't expect the route-finding in this area to be problematic but the buttress is huge and seems like a never-ending maze when you're on it. Getting ready to rap on another rime mushroom/bollard: The other two about to follow our (possibly poor) route choice: After some typical rappelling shenanigans (tried to be lazy and use 1 half rope, which of course wasn't quite long enough) we found ourselves on the southern flank of the buttress. There are a lot of appealing looking gullies up to the ridge crest but they're all quite long and it's impossible to see what you're getting into. I believe we were in the largest gully that appears the most prominent from the south (looks like the Beckey route in the Mullee book). It started with a short WI3 step. The ice was surprisingly great so we didn't bother to get the rope back out. Above that conditions alternated between rime and sugar snow. At one point I wasted about 5 minutes when Noah's steps in a sugar snow chimney collapsed and I found myself digging a hole rather than climbing upwards. Around this time I was beginning to fully bonk and just wanted to get up to the Queen's Chair. Probably the reason there are no photos of this part of the route anywhere is that everyone is completely wasted by the time they get here. At the top of the gully there was a slightly longer, steeper ice step, with a lot of non-weight-bearing crap and exposed rock mixed in. Noah soloed it and after a small amount of pleading put me on toprope. Noah at top of upper ice step: Above that the gully curved to the right and we came out onto the top of the ridge, about level with the Queen's Chair. The fun wasn't quite over as of course we still had to climb up and down a few rimey bulges in the ridge, which weren't serious but required full concentration in my tired-ass state. We got to the Queen's Chair and it was about 5:30 - we had been on the ridge for a full 10 hours. We plodded up to the top, then down the old chute. I wanted to write this as soon as possible while the memory is still fresh. I will come back and add some more details and general thoughts later. EDIT: Adding a few more thoughts now: I think we got very lucky with conditions. With a couple annoying exceptions the rime was solid and supportive. It was quite cold and there were some thin, high clouds, so everything remained solid throughout the day. At first I was annoyed that there was another group on the route, but it was actually quite nice. The exposure is mentally taxing and it was really helpful to be able to use their two bollards without expending much time or effort of our own. Going directly over the 1st gendarme is committing. Bailing off the ridge after that point would be difficult and require multiple rappels into uncertain terrain. Having the misfortune of encountering bad weather or unclimbable conditions after the gendarme would be a real nightmare. Pickets seem like the most reasonable protection. We carried too many screws and only placed two. The upper buttress is large and interesting with multiple possible lines. The short ice steps we found would be worthwhile objectives on their own if approached from Leuthold's and the Retreat Gully. Gear Notes: 3-foot pickets, screws, pitons, cams, a spectre, bring all the weird stuff and hope that at least some of it is useful. Approach Notes: Normal Hood south side stuff. Crashed a Silcox party on the way down and drank a lot of their beer.
  22. 6 points
    Super job! Doesn't matter if you summitted, only that you accurately report what you did and have fun with it all!
  23. 6 points
    Trip: Summit Chief - Standard Scramble Trip Date: 09/21/2019 Trip Report: I'm normally not one to hike in and out in the rain, but desperate times call for desperate measure and the end of summer is one such occasion. So, armed with a glimmer of hope in the forecast we marched in to Vista tarns last weekend with our sights set on Summit Chief and Little Big Chief. The former was a Smoot and the latter, well, it looked cool. Spoiler alert, we got the Smoot (straightforward Cl. 3 once you deciphered the description correctly) but not the little one, which proved to be more time consuming in late season than we had the desire for. Still, the area has much to recommend, as you'll see in the photos below. It isn't nicknamed Snoqualmonix for nothing- probably the most rugged terrain south of Hwy 2 is found in this area, and not a lot of peak baggers....yet. Judging by the summit register on Summit Chief, this area is rapidly becoming popular. Going from 1-2 parties a year to 11 this year. So, I guess, I'm part of the problem. And so it goes. Lucky shot: East Face of Chimney Rock: Summit Chief on the left and Middle Chief on the right: Stuart and Waptus Lake: Rainier, Chimney Rock, Overcoat Peak (L-R): Summit of Summit Chief: RIP Franklin: Glacial recession is a bitch: Little Big Chief: We opted to scramble up here and enjoy the afternoon, rather than rushing to climb LBC and arrive at camp after dark: Last dip of summer in an unnamed lake on the way back from LBC : This one: LBC: Three Queens: Bear's Breast (L) and Mount Daniel behind on the right: Overcoat: Chimney Rock and Overcoat in early morning light: Chicken of the Woods: Cooper River in the rain on the way out: Gear Notes: helmet, ice axe, crampons Approach Notes: Pete Lake Trail to PCT to Vista Tarns. We cam out the Escondido ridge "trail" but I wouldn't recommend going up that way.
  24. 6 points
    Trip: Glacier Peak Wilderness - Dakobed Range Circumnavigation Trip Date: 07/13/2019 Trip Report: Did a nice two day solo circumnavigation of the Dakobed Range. Started at the White River TH, went up the Indian Creek Trail (completely overgrown, nearly impossible to follow) and took the PCT to White Pass. Then went into the Whitechuck Basin, over Kololo Peaks, down the Honeycomb Glacier, beneath Tenpeak into the Napeequa Valley. Bivied this pass before tagging Neyah Point in the morning. Took the brushy trail through the Napeequa and up over Boulder Pass and back to the trailhead. It totaled about 50 miles and 12k ft gain. All but four miles (PCT section) of this route were either off trail or on brushy trail, so the mileage was a little more difficult than one might think. The terrain from Kololo Peaks to the Napeequa was pure magic, some of the most remote, stunning scenery I have ever seen in the Cascades. Nothing about this route is too difficult, but there is substantial low angle glacier travel and a bit of tiring side hilling beneath Tenpeak. https://climberkyle.com/2019/07/13/dakobed-range-circumnavigation/ The off trail section of my route. 8 ft tall brush on the Indian Creek "Trail". Deer near the PCT. Nearing White Pass. Tarn in the Whitechuck Basin. On the Whitechuck Glacier. Honeycomb Glacier. Honeycomb Lake. Tenpeak Tarn. Butterfly Lake and Neyah Point. My bivy at Butterfly Pass. Sunset on Glacier peak and Butterfly Lake. Marine layer flowing over Butterfly Pass into the Napeequa. Dakobed and Tenpeak from Neyah Point. Following the stream into the Napeequa. Cirque of the Butterflies - a truly magical place. The Napeequa River. Grassy meadows don't tell the truth... slide alder! Boulder Basin. Gear Notes: Trail runners and poles. You might want crampons, ice axe, helmet, glacier gear depending on conditions and your safety levels. Approach Notes: Terrible, terrible bushwachking. The Indian Creek Trail was miserable.
  25. 5 points
    Trip: Mt Index - Hourglass Gully Trip Date: 06/05/2020 Trip Report: "The struggle of man against man produces jealousy, deceit, frustration, bitterness, hate. The struggle of man against the mountains is different. Man then bows before Something that is bigger than he. When he does that, he finds serenity and humility, and dignity too." - Northwest local & former Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas Seeking some serenity in these nationally troubled times, last Friday I headed up Mt Index via the aptly named Lake Serene. Spent the night in my truck at the trailhead and headed out under headlamp at ~2AM. Reached the lake in a couple hours, then another hour around the west side of the lake as dawn broke. From the snowy saddle above the lake at ~3050’, it’s a choose your own adventure up the brushy east ridge with two distinct class 4 slabby steps the way I went. After the ridge leveled out, I traversed to the left for a bit, turned the buttress at 4200’, and then had continuous well consolidated snow all the way up the hourglass gully to the ridgetop below the summit. From there an easy walk to the summit going somewhat clockwise to avoid cliffs and cornices. Some moats are developing at the hourglass constriction, and in the center/left couloir immediately above. They were well bridged, but could get difficult getting in/out/over when they melt out. Looking down at Lake Serene from near the 3050' saddle: Looking up the first slabby 4th class step on the East Ridge: Upper East Ridge, hourglass gully on the left, mostly out of sight : Good snow conditions inside the gully: Looking down from partway up the gully: Summit views! The descent took almost as much time as the ascent, mostly due to copious breaks enjoying the scenery, but also some downclimbing in the couloir and the hourglass constriction, and two rappels on the east ridge. After not seeing a soul all day, I ran into TONS of hikers on the trail to Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene. Lots of younger and diverse folks enjoying nature. I think that’s a good thing, and look forward to this new generation getting bored with the trail hikes and venturing further and higher into the mountains to find some serenity and humility, and dignity too. Back to the truck early afternoon feeling very mentally refreshed. Gear Notes: Crampons, axe, 60m rope for 2 raps on the east ridge Approach Notes: Lake Serene
  26. 5 points
    Trip: Mt. Baker - North Ridge Trip Date: 05/01/2020 Trip Report: Baker's North Ridge has been one of the many climbs on my mind in the past couple weeks. I saw a weather window this Thursday night/Friday morning so I asked for Friday off from work and left Seattle as soon as I got off Thursday afternoon. The weather on the drive there was iffy. I saw clouds in every direction, but with little tiny pockets of blue sky and thin gold light. Somewhere just after Bellingham the rain came down hard and no mountains were visible and my expectations of getting on the ridge were dwindling. Then the rain stopped in an instant, and in front of me was the most stunning rainbow I've ever seen. Everything leading up to this point, the packing, the driving, the missing work, was all worth it just to see this. I kept driving, through the rainbow and into the clouds still unsure what was going to happen in the next 12 hours. I was nearing Glacier, about a mile outside of it, when all those dark stormy clouds lifted just enough to reveal Baker. I knew it was on now. It was go time. Glacier Creek Road was in mostly good condition for the first 6.5 miles until the snow became too much for my Forester. It was 9:45 pm when I started skinning up the road. I took with me a pair of Irvis Hybrid crampons, Quark tools, extra puffy, 2 bars, 4 gels, and. a liter of water. I arrived at the outhouse at 10:20 and was able to skin all the way up Grouse Creek without boot packing. Made it to the Coleman Glacier by midnight and tried to make out a route to the base of the north ridge but the darkness was deceptive. I ended up having to retrace my skin track to go higher up on the glacier before cutting across underneath the headwall. Snow was plentiful and the pack was firm on the glacier so route finding was pretty straight forward. Made it to the base of the ridge (upper right start) at about 2 am and swapped skis for crampons. The snow was about mid-shin deep with a layer of crust so it was slow going. Just before gaining the ridge proper I did encounter some ice and firm neve that helped speed things up and add some flavor to the climbing. As the crux ice pitch came into view the darkness started to lift and I could put my headlamp away. Instead of climbing left or right as suggested by other trip reports I decided to go straight up the "arete" which went at about AI 2+/3. There was some good dinner plate chunks of ice coming off but for the most part the climbing was secure and really fun. The sun was really coming out now and I could see the summit. I navigated to the right and through the upper serac section with a few AI 2 moves. Once on flatter ground I put skis back on and skinned to the true summit. After eating some food and taking in the view I started my journey down the Roman Headwall at about 7 am. The upper portion was wind blown and icy but I was able to get through it and found fantastic turns in the middle section. It turned icy once more at the bottom but wasn't too bad. The last steep section dropping onto the Coleman glacier was pure bliss with neve topped with 6-8 inches of fresh snow. The rest of the ski down was probably the best skiing I've had on Mt. Baker out of the 4 other times I've been up there. Made it back down Grouse Creek and to the car by 8:30. I'm really glad the weather held and I was able to find some good ice up there. I think the ski down was the best part though Gear Notes: Ice tools and crampons Approach Notes: 1.5 mile skin up Glacier Creek Rd to outhouse.
  27. 5 points
    Hi Doing a youtube live talk about trying to climb Denali in Feb 2019 this Wednesday at 8 pm (GMT), and imagine there might be people here interested in the cold stuff. Big focus of the talk is how to stay safe in extreme temperatures and live for extended periods in nasty places, as well as planning and psychology. See you there!
  28. 5 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Oh to be young and dumb - Crater Trip Date: 02/16/1985 Trip Report: For fun I thought I would post a trip report that happened 35 years ago. A friend recently sent me scanned versions of his slides so I thought I would post them up with the story. We were both in college at OSU, me finishing my undergrad, and Andy finishing his masters. My girlfriend had an invite to spend the weekend skiing at Mt. Bachelor so we decided to go along and climb Broken Top as neither of us had been on it before. So that Friday night we left Corn Valley for Bend, she dumped us off at the end of the road that evening and we skied in a ways and camped. The next morning we skied in into the Broken Top crater. Andy and I discussed various ways to gain the rim. We finally decided on a route up but not one that I was to my liking as I wanted to take a less direct but I felt safer route. But I deferred to Andy as he was more experienced than me. At this point I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Mt Bachelor in the background. Hmm, 30" crown and well we are still on top. I think walking down is the preferred option. Hmm, nice debris field and damn near wall to wall. WTF were we thinking??? The dot in the middle of the debris field is me putting my skis back on. Epilogue: As our ski tracks are visible, we had nearly gained the ridge when we set off the avalanche. We were both on the same cut when the ground went out from under us and we dropped a couple of feet to the bed surface. Both of us just stood there and watched as the avalanche ripped down the crater. Had either of us been caught we would have been dead. Not withstanding the fact that back then few people had transceivers or could we afford them as students. I saw Andy a few years ago when he gave me these images. He admitted that his decision making that day was not the best. Oh to be young and dumb. Gear Notes: A functioning brain Approach Notes: Go long from Mt. Bachelor
  29. 5 points
    I'm a little too busy to worry about climbing right now. I wonder if they designed the PAPR hood around the Ecrin Roc. They sure fit the same. Stay safe and practice social distancing.
  30. 5 points
    Signing in to cash in my .02 I respect Kyle's POV and think that his perspective has it's place in this discussion - but I wanted to counter and speak in favor of Landon. 1) Marc Andre Leclerc died while rappelling (likely swept). Guy Lacelle was swept by an avvie. So were Hansjorg Auer and David Lama. So was Ueli Steck. It is rare that a soloist dies on a technically challenging solo. It happens (Austin Howell, Jean-Chirstophe Laifelle, Ryan Jennings) but isn't the leading cause of death in the mountains for high end soloists, and it isn't clear if they would have survived (with the exception of Howell) had they been partnered. The greatest general risk factor in climbing is simply mileage in the mountains, the terrain traveled, and its associated cumulative probability. It stands to reason that we should shame people who get out and climb constantly, but we don't, because that isn't quite as scary to imagine as being on the Yocum ridge without a rope - the gear+roped risks are more familiar to us and are less obvious. It would also force us to question if we should be climbing at all in the first place - which is something that we are reluctant to do. 2) The amount of risk taken on a solo is generally most obvious to the soloist themselves (assuming that the soloist is prepared and lucid). The rest of us can only assume, given that we do not know how solid the soloist is and how favorable conditions were at the time of the solo. I know Kyle climbed the Yocum ridge this season as well, so he has an idea of the risk that was taken by Landon (which is likely why he made his post) - however, it is entirely possible that Kyle took on more with the rope (given the poor nature of the gear on Yocum, Kyle's specific skillset + experience relative to Landon's and the mental blanket that gear can offer in otherwise fatal fall scenarios). That being said, it is impossible to know - we can only assume since we do not know the minutiae of both ascents and both climbers. 3) Generally speaking, if you make a habit of soloing, your risk of dying while climbing is much higher than that of a casual climber. This has likely more to do with your threshold of acceptable risk + mileage in high consequence terrain than it does with the specific act of soloing. Our willingness to take on risk correlates greatly with what we have to lose, our cumulative experience, and our personalities. Our relationship with risk changes with age, and I have to say that I there are risks that I personally took as a younger person that I would not take today. I have also gotten in over my head before and survived - how much of that I can attribute to luck rather than innate skill, I will never know. If you make a habit of soloing, it is less likely you will survive to learn a lesson from your mistakes due to the thin margin of error that is allowed. I think Landon's accomplishment is incredible given that he has survived it. It is certainly an experience he will never forget. I also think that it is best to solo rarely and to have 99% of your climbing experience be with a rope, so that your odds of surviving a marginal scenario and learning from it are greater. Ultimately though, soloing is a very personal activity and is something that I would only criticize if I honestly believe that the ascent was sketchy. I have not climbed with Landon (or the Yocum ridge) so I cannot form an opinion about his judgement or skill. Landon is young, so he will inherently get more flak from the community - such is the nature of talking about your solo ascents. Consider it a rite of passage, every public soloist has gotten this reaction in the face of their accomplishments. The fear of this kind of reaction is also the chief reason there are also many mind bending solos that do not get reported first hand. That being said, I think that the spirit of his post is to share something that was deeply personal with a community that he admires (rather than spray to us) and I respect it for that reason. I would also lie if I said that I do not feel a chill to my core when hearing of other's solo ascents. We inherently struggle with accepting the certainty that comes with many solos (i.e. "you send or you die"). Anyway, also getting off of my soapbox - congrats if you made it through this wall of text. Good job Landon - this is a first class achievement.
  31. 5 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - Superalpine Trip Date: 03/15/2020 Trip Report: This past Sunday, Tavish and I climbed Superalpine on the west face of Sloan. After the incident last time I wanted to get back and climb the route to the top. We didn't quite tap the top due to wind slabs on the upper face. I'm going to mix up the order of this one and put all the route details first so those who are looking at climbing the route can use this page for reference. Kyle also has a great page about our first climb of this route with excellent photos and maps. https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/ Approach: Both times I've climbed this route we parked at the spot where 4096 merges from Mountain Loop Highway. 4096 had deadfall and snow which made it undrivable but if you can drive up a bit before there's too much snow or deadfall then that will cut off some distance. Follow the road (easy skinning or walking) to where the Bedal Basin trail forks off to the left. Take this trail through the trees for a few miles to where a slide path up to the left becomes obvious. This slide path leads to the base of Full Moon Fever. Skinning up this path is straight forward and takes you to the base of the West Face. A long traverse to the south will bring you to a ridge that leads to Superalpine. Here, options exist. Assuming you're on skis, I recommend leaving them at the base of the route and descending the route. There is also the option of descending the corkscrew route and wrapping around the south side to meet that ridge (it would be heinous to boot) or carry skis and descend the glacier to the North East that will eventually allow you to meet back up with road 4096. The ridge can be tricky. Once you decide your strategy, the ridge will still be engaging. It's not scary, just steep with deep snow. The Route: However you opt to get to the base of the route, you are first presented with 2 (or 3) options for pitch 1 to access the couloir itself. The first time Kyle and I climbed a WI4 step on the climbers left. It was vertical for 2-3 body lengths and fairly thin. This past time Tavish and I thought it looked even thinner so we scrambled the ridge further up (M2-3) then did one pitch that wrapped around to the second step of the first pitch and ended at the same place. Either way, you need to get to the bench at the base of the obvious weakness in the wall. A third option may exist to the climbers right of the ridge. Perhaps it's even easier (if so it would bring down the grade of the route to Wi 3-3+). Pitch 2: This money pitch leaves from the bench and provides a full 60m of steep sustained Wi3. Protection was generally good for this pitch. Make sure to go a full 60m if you are planning on simul-climbing higher on the route. Pitch 3: This middle section of the route was lower angle and about half snow and half low angle ice (wi2) for us. We found good pro every hundred feet or so. This section makes a lot of sense to simul-climb. Both times we did a 100-150m block. There was good ice at the top of a chimney-like feature, or, if you've saved enough screws, the next step had good ice on the right for us. Utilize rock gear to conserve screws through this section. Pitch 4: From the end of the last pitch, this is the last section before exiting to the face. Depending on where you belayed, you’ll either have a steep snow slope to a curtain or be climbing right onto the curtain. This curtain is where Kyle fell on our first attempt. This past time, I found a sub-vertical weakness (wi3/3+) on the right side of the curtain (not the smear further right which provides a good belay). However, when Kyle fell, there was spin drift blasting the section I climbed so he went further left where it is more like Wi4 with a heinous top out with sugar snow and hollow ice over sugar. I found good protection in the weakness but Kyle didn’t find good pro further left. Approach this pitch with caution, don't be afraid to back down. I found a great ice screw belay on the right about 20ft above the curtain. Another option to avoid this pitch if it is unclimbable is a snow ramp to the left. See photos to spot this snow ramp. This would avoid all of the upper curtain and put you on the upper face, however, it is steep and exposed and unprotectable. As with the whole route, use your judgment. This isn't just alpine climbing…. It's Superalpine! The steeps above: Look at photos of the big face above the route (and have them with you). There are a variety of options that exist to climb this large feature (700 vertical feet). When I climbed it most recently, we found deep unconsolidated snow, wind slabs, alpine ice, and rime features. This section is shared with the corkscrew route and is very committing. There are a lot of ways to get lost, falling is never an option and it's mostly unprotectable. Very reminiscent of the upper slopes of the Cosley-Houston on Colfax. If the snow is consolidated and secure, it would be a total blast to climb, if not, then maybe it should be avoided. On the first attempt we bailed due to injury, and on the second attempt, we bailed halfway up the face, after converging with the corkscrew route, due to thick cohesive wind slabs. The descent: Descending should be straight forward. Downclimb the steep snow, and rap the route. We took 5 or 6 raps to get down the whole route each time. There is no down climbing once you’re back down to the top of the curtain pitch. Each rap is a full 60m and ends at good ice, providing plentiful V-thread options. Other descent options exist as mentioned in the approach section but this option is quick and straightforward. Ski out the way you skinned in. Rack: In the conditions we found, 8 or 9 screws including a 10cm or two makes sense. Rock pro isn’t super plentiful and there is a lot of ice so we took 4 cams, 4 nuts, and a pin or two. This is probably what I would recommend. If you try it earlier, then beef up the rock gear side of things, the rock is quite solid in places. Hopefully, people get out and climb this thing! It is like the NW Ice Couloir on Eldorado but way bigger. Lots of ice, great setting, not too heinous of an approach. Tavish and I did 17hrs c2c. We were not rushing but we weren't lollygagging either and we were ~350ft from the top. Kyle made this topo with the options. My opinion remains to descend the route. Good to know your options. Here is a topo I made on a John Scurlock photo of Sloan from February 2005 (low snow/ice year). Red dots show the route (note the three options for the first pitch). Yellow is the tricky ridge. Green is an approach that could avoid the tricky ridge. Aerial photo from Shane in February 2020. The ramp to avoid the curtain is obvious in this photo. Now, onto the story from yesterday. Tavish picked me up at midnight in Bellingham after an hour or two of restless sleep. We drove through Darrington and onto Mountain Loop. His Prius handled the road like a champ and by around 2 am we were packed up and walking up the road. I was in crocs since I forgot running shoes, they did the trick (they're the next big thing in climbing for sure! Breathable, waterproof, sorta, ultralight, cheap, comfy, and climb 5.12 with ease.) Anyway, we started skinning after about a half-mile and cruised up to the Bedal Basin Trail in about 90 minutes. There was a fresh half-inch of snow showing bobcat (?) tracks following the existing impression of skin track. From there we encountered a mix of booting and skinning in the trees, mostly skinning but lots of skis on skis off. There was a slight impression of the existing skin track (probably from Michael Telstad, thanks!) that we followed and got us where we wanted to go. We skinned up the slide path below Full Moon Fever and the snow transitioned from a few inches on a crust to a nasty wind board. I knew it would be bad since I skied the white salmon the day before but I was hoping to find wind scraped, not wind loaded terrain on this aspect since it would be indicative of the upper slopes. We continued to the tricky ridge as it got light, left our skis there and put on actual boots (last time I climbed in ski boots, this was better). While we transitioned, we got pretty cold. We brought big puffys since the freezing level was 0ft and it was probably 5 or 10 degrees. Fortunately, the sky was clear and there wasn't a breath of wind. We hurried through that transition and started booting up the ridge in all our clothes. Bobcat? Not a dog, not very big... It was slow going and I punched through to my hips or deeper at several points. We were toasty warm by the time we were at the base of the route. The left-hand variation Kyle and I took last time looked much thinner so we opted to climb the ridge above us and see if that would go. We soloed up easy rock to an impassable wall. Luckily we could traverse left and rejoin the first pitch from last time. Tavish led that and gave me a meat belay to the first bench. I led the next pitch which provided a full 60m of sustained ice. Very fun! Tavish took off from there and we simuled around 150m. It's so fun to move quickly, especially when it's that cold! We got further on this simul pitch than last time and I got worried that Tavish was going to get to the spot Kyle fell before I could warn him of the dangers. Luckily, he didn’t. He belayed from a thick clear smear, right of the curtain. I led the curtain up a weakness on the right and it wasn't too bad. Above that, there was an ideal ice bulge on the right to belay from. This was great because it provided an easy spot to transition from climbing to soloing and eventually to rappelling. I rigged a V-thread while Tavish soloed up the snow above. After threading the ropes, I took off after him. I caught up and he looked concerned. I could also feel the snow was not ideal. We could see snow plumes ripping over the ridge above us and the snow we were on was a cohesive wind slab. We downclimbed a bit and then went up further left through some tight constrictions and ice. Above that, there was another wide-open snow slope and we found two distinct layers in the snowpack. The top here was about 6in thick styrofoam-y feeling wind slab. Bellow that was another 4in thick older windslab, and below that was sugar. We had probably already gone too far but we decided to call it here and started down. Me on the second pitch (SO GOOD) Tavish getting to the top of pitch 1. Tavish taking off into the simul section. Tavish on the upper slopes It's hard to turn around so close but we were certainly riding a fine line with zero margin for error, given what was below our feet. Down climbing steep snow isn't fun but we got it done and got to the ropes. The raps went smoothly and we found great ice at the base of each 60m rap. The last pitch had to be broken into two raps last time, both off pretty small trees, so this time we tried another option. We went off a little more south off a slightly bigger tree and did an exactly 60m rap down rock that got us on to snow. We post holed in wet sun affected snow to our skis, and the rest of the descent went smoothly, albeit, pretty slow since we were tired. We got to the car before dark for 17hr c2c. Tavish on the final rap. Lots of ice above Full Moon Fever... Anyone interested?? That's it for now! Feel free to reach out with more questions! Sorry, I don't have more photos from on the route it's self. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Gear Notes: See Rack Section Approach Notes: See Approach Section
  32. 5 points
    Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley Houston Trip Date: 12/09/2019 Trip Report: Andrew Dyer and I boarded the last car on the Cosley Houston train this fall and climbed it on a beautiful December day. The route was in good shape, it seemed. 60m pitch of easy ice and snow to the crux. The crux was probably 15 feet of near vertical and then 15-20 feet of vertical to slightly overhung, pretty real for an ice newb like me. It was definitely the hardest lead of my life. I played it safe and placed 6 screws, increasing the pump greatly but at least I felt safer. I stopped a few feet short of the end of the ice so I could build a solid belay with screws. We bypassed the second ice crux, instead taking AI2 to the right. Overall, the snow conditions we quite good on the route, boot top pow with firm snice beneath. The descent down the Coleman was a little tricky. We had to go far skier's right to find some key bridges across some huge crevasses. Skis from 8000 ft down to the Heliotrope Trail made things rather pleasant. My first turns of the season were pow turns! Thanks to Andrew for a rad day in the alpine. It took us 12 hours, but we definitely lost time booting in the pow, my super slow crux lead, and wandering down the Coleman, looking for bridges. Obviously, conditions will be changing very rapidly with the storm currently, but at least we found no real signs of instability up there. Let the snow begin! https://climberkyle.com/2019/12/13/colfax-peak-cosley-houston-wi4/ Colfax, Polish route looks good to go. That infamous pillar. Snowfield above the crux. Final steps, Lincoln in the background. Sunset pow! Much wow! Gear Notes: 10 screws, 60 m single rope. I would do a 60 m twin rope next time and just double it over for the crux. Approach Notes: Hiked to the top of the Hogsback, skinned to 8000 ft, booted to the start of the route. It would definitely not be worth it to carry skis over at this moment, too many zig zags and ups and downs on the descent.
  33. 5 points
    I agree about the quality. Eric Sweet and I made what I believe to be the second ascent in November 2002, in 'sportier' conditions than currently and it is one of my all time favorite mixed winter alpine climbs. Up there with NE Buttress of J'berg in winter. I have some photos of our ascent on summitpost.org: https://www.summitpost.org/northwest-ice-couloir/688985 for comparison. The cruxes were climbing steep, thin ice past big chockstones. I even belayed in a cave formed by one. We were both climbing on Black Diamond Shrikes and Charlet-Moser S-12s, which did not fit Eric's first gen Scarpa Freneys. He lost a crampon below the the last steep ice pitch below the summit. Rather than surrender the fantastic lead, he climbed the rig with one crampon on the ice, the other boot scumming the rock.
  34. 5 points
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  35. 5 points
    Trip: Snoqualmie Pass - Commonwealth Ultimate Ridge Linkup (CURL) Trip Date: 07/28/2019 Trip Report: Anthony and I did a fun enchainment of Guy Peak (south side), Snoqualmie, Lundin, Red, Katwalk Peak (north of the Katwalk), and Kendall. There was some exceptional scrambling, hours of exposed "Beckey 4th class". We tried to stay on the ridge proper as much as possible except for when it was simply too sketchy in trail runners or it was too vegetated. Here's some beta: - Guye Peak: approached from underneath the west face, we climbed a rib to the left of the South Gully, this offered some amazingly steep, hero juggy scrambling. - Snoqualmie to Lundin: There is an incredible knife edge just after Snoqualmie. West ridge of Lundin is cruiser, bypassed the impassable gaps on the left with some low 5th. - Lundin to Red: There is an optional gendarme (which we took) partway down the ridge which was probably the crux of the entire route for us. We left the Red Pass trail and the talus field and climbed a gully system to the summit. - Red to Katwalk Peak: The descent off Red was nowhere near as bad as people describe. Partway along the ridge, we ran into "The Cleft", a vertical impasse that splits the ridge. We had to descend a few hundred feet before finding a fourth class weakness through it, then climb back up to regain the ridge. - Katwalk Peak to Kendall Peak: mostly vegetated at first, but with some fun knife-edge right before the Katwalk. Kendall North Ridge is cruiser. It totaled 12 miles, 6.5k ft gain, and took us 8:23. Apparently it has been done in four hours . https://climberkyle.com/2019/07/28/commonwealth-ultimate-ridge-linkup-the-curl/ Scrambling steep terrain up the south face of Guye. More fun higher on Guye. Full view of the CURL. The middle summit of Guye. Awesome knife edge after Snoqualmie. West Ridge Lundin. Red mountain and the ridge. Crux gendarme. Some loose scrambling on Red. Fun slabs on the downclimb of Red. The 4th class weakness through the Cleft. \ Above the Kendall Katwalk. Red mountain with the Cleft visible on the right. Nearing summit of Kendall Peak. Gear Notes: Helmet, running vests, approach shoes. Approach Notes: Start up the neighborhoods beneath the west face of Guye, climb talus to the base, then curve right to the south face.
  36. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Stuart - Upper North Ridge via Stuart Glacier Trip Date: 07/23/2019 Trip Report: On Tuesday, July 23, my friend Alex and I climbed the Upper North Ridge of Stuart via the Stuart Glacier and notch, car to car in 18.5 hours. I've never posted a trip report before, but I thought I would now that I've climbed the ridge twice and learned a few things - the first time climbing the complete North Ridge two years ago. We made all kinds of mistakes on the complete North Ridge at that time, spending an extra day on the mountain. I wanted to climb the ridge quicker and smarter with a good idea of what to expect. Although Alex doesn't have a lot of alpine experience, he's an endurance machine and a great climbing partner. We left the car at 3:20 a.m. after spending the night in Alex's cozy Honda Element. Topping off our water at Lake Ingalls, we could see lightening flashes in the distance to the south. As we crested Goat Pass it looked like Rainier was getting blasted. We hit the Stuart Glacier a little over four hours in. Almost at the end of the glacier traverse, the thunder and lightening were very close together and we were getting hailed on. We huddled together on a flattish scoop to let the hail pass, weighing our options. Before too long it looked like things were clearing so we headed up the gully to the bivy notch, arriving there at about 9:45 in good spirits and with more blue sky. Alex and I mostly simul-climbed to the gendarme with a few belays set up. We climbed the gendarme in two pitches, as normally done, and hauled packs up both pitches. There were some issues with the axes getting jammed, but we were able to free the jams pretty easily. I was feeling worked at the upper section of the first gendarme pitch and pulled through on a few pieces (the mental crux for me). I find the second gendarme (off-width) pitch much more enjoyable. The right forearm jams feel secure and the exposure on that pitch is exhilarating. There are two fixed pieces on that pitch - one on the initial steep face climb and the #4 that's been there forever. After the gendarme we passed the spot where my friend Gabe and I had to bivy two years ago. Glad to move past that! There's an airy traverse shortly after which looks way harder than it is (two years ago we used the rappel slings to go into the gully and picked our way back up some less enjoyable pitches to the top). The traverse led to a fun 5.7 hand-crack that felt super secure, then one more airy traverse a little above that and the summit at 4:00. It felt great to put our sore feet into tennies as we picked our way down to the false summit and Cascadian Couloir. (Two years ago I started heading down the first couloir - what a dumb mistake that was!). Make sure you use caution on the top entrance to the couloir. Everything is pretty unstable but then leads to some easy plunging through dirty scree. Scree trails eventually disappear, and then come and go through the couloir. After making it out of there we finally found a solid water source at the first creek crossing on the Ingalls Creek Trail. After a brief rest there my body started to rebel. It's amazing how, when the body doesn't have to be on guard anymore, it can start to bonk. I had a hard time controlling my heart rate even on the flat trail and tried to get calories and water down. It was a slow slog for me back up to Longs Pass, which we hit around sunset, and our adventure culminated in a windy, tired cruise back to the car, clocking in at 9:50. Alex still had enough energy to drive all the way back to Bellingham while I passed out. A few lessons I've learned on this ridge (one of the best alpine climbs I've ever done): Do not underestimate the scale of this mountain. The approach is long, the ridge is long, the accumulation of a lot of fun climbing moves starts to wear you down, and it takes a lot of mental concentration over a sustained period of time (including all the way down the couloir where there are opportunities to slip or cause rock fall, and it would not be fun to descend that in the dark). It's a committing route. Once you get high on the ridge, up and over is the way down. I've bivvied high up with very little food and water, and it wasn't a fun experience. A lot of parties find themselves with unplanned bivies. Respect the mountain! If you don't bring a stove, you may not have any water sources until the bottom of the couloir. That's a long stretch (for me, it was a little over two liters from Lake Ingalls, all the way up and all the way down the couloir to the first creek crossing). Be thoughtful about water. Don't forget to pause along the way and enjoy your setting on the ridge, which is one of the most spectacular places I've ever been. Attached pictures include Alex looking at distant storms, Alex on ridge between notch and gendarme, Kevin on slab with crack just below gendarme, summit photo. Gear Notes: One 60m rope folded in half for simul-climbing and hauling packs over gendarme, rack: singles to 3" with an extra .75 and small set of wires and hexes, 9-10 slings, ice axes, crampons Approach Notes: Southern approach from Ingalls Creek Trailhead
  37. 4 points
    I recently found my hard copy of this guide and seeing it has not been posted up (at least I could not find it) I thought for fun I would post it. It was written probably 25 plus years ago by Make Dale. The Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System by Mark Dale For years there has been something sadly lacking in the climbing world. Something necessary to help describe the total mountaineering experience in those areas blessed with challenging peaks surrounded by primeval forest. That something is a brush and bushwhack rating system. After years of the hand-to-limb combat encountered in below-timberline approaches, one comes to realize that this part of an ascent can be half or more of the battle. (Notice the use of fighting terms.) And yet, just how does one accurately relate this important facet of a climb in words? "It was ugly, real ugly," "Brutal," "A freaking flail," "Oh, not too bad, but I did lose a pint of blood." Well, these are pretty good subjective descriptions, but what's missing here is something more definitive. What we need is a way to portray in a more precise manner those endearing struggles with the brush. Therefore I propose the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System. This system is so named because most of my experience in the past ten years of climbing has been in the Washington Cascades. It's perfectly applicable, though, to other ranges of a similar nature, e.g. the Olympics, Northern Selkirks, British Columbia Coast Range, Alaska Range or any mountain group where below-timberline approaches necessitate brush-beating and bushwhacking. This system rates both difficulty and grade much like the technical climbing ratings in use today. Before defining system nomenclature here are a few guidelines for describing your favorite flail: 1. Conditions described must be when the approach is snow-free, since snowpack greatly affects most bushwhacks, reducing their difficulty considerably. 2. More demanding terrain, e.g. cliffy or steep, will increase a bushwhack's difficulty and grade as compared to one with the same vegetation on level ground. 3. Both the density and the type of brush are important factors. I'll take an open area of mature devil's club over a dense stand of slide alder any day. 4. Grade is determined by both time and distance involved in completing the approach, as well as the duration of the difficulties. 5. Since creek and river crossings play an important part of many approaches, a special sub-rating has been devised for these. 6. When a mechanical device such as a machete is used the bushwhack is no longer "free," and an aid sub-rating must be used. Difficulty Ratings These apply to the "free" difficulties (no aid used) and range from BW1 to BW5, where BW stands for "bushwhack." Difficulty ratings apply to those areas of worst brush that can't be avoided. BW1 Light brush. Travel mostly unimpeded, only occasional use of hands required (e.g. mature open forest). BW2 Moderate brush. Occasional heavy patches. Pace slowed, frequent use of hands required. BW3 Heavy brush. Hands needed constantly. Some loss of blood may occur due to scratches and cuts. Travel noticably hindered. Use of four-letter words at times. BW4 Severe brush. Pace less than one mile per hour. Leather gloves and heavy clothing required to avoid loss of blood. Much profanity and mental anguish. Thick stands of brush requiring circumnavigation are encountered. BW5 Extreme brush. Multiple hours needed to travel one mile. Full body armor desirable. Wounds to extremities likely, eye protection needed. Footing difficult due to lack of visibility. Loss of temper inevitable. Aid Ratings When artificial means are used to penetrate brush, then an aid rating should be used to describe the device required. These ratings range from BA1 to BA5, where BA stands for "brush aid": BA1 Machete or sickle BA2 Gas-powered weed-eater BA3 Chainsaw BA4 Agent orange BA5 Bulldozer Creek and River Ratings These ratings are used to describe the difficulty in crossing watercourses. The range is WA1 to WA5, where WA stands for "water": WA1 A dry crossing is possible by using rocks or logs. WA2 Possible wet crossing, but a dry crossing can be accomplished with some finesse. WA3 Wet crossing, ankle- to calf-deep. WA4 Wet crossing, calf- to knee-deep. WA5 Wet crossing, greater than knee-deep, possibility of getting swept downstream. WA6 Water deep enough to require swimming. WA7 Water temperature, current velocity, to factors make an attempt to cross potentially lethal. (Frequently a factor in Alaska and New Zealand, for instance). Grades Grades range from I to VI and follow the same general guidelines as climbing grades: I Brush beating can be done in a few hours or less. II Generally will take less than half a day. III Could take most of a day, but hardened parties will be able to complete in a short day. IV Will take a long day and involve continuous battle. V A 1+ to 2-day bushwhack, difficulty rarely less than BW4, large quantities of bandaids and wound dressings will be needed unless properly attired. VI The most extreme of bushwhacks, requiring over 2 days to complete with probably a BW5 encountered along the way. Epic Ratings E1 Unplanned delays require explanations to significant other. E2 Same as E1, but with companion of opposite sex (not significant other). E3 Overnight bivy required. E4 Same as E3, but with companion of opposite sex. ... E10 Whole party vanishes. Following are some examples of rated bushwhacks: Picket Range, Goodell Creek approach -- Grade III - IV, BW4 Mt. Shuksan, White Salmon approach -- Grade I - II, BW4- Mt. Spickard, Silver Creek approach -- Grade V, BW4+ Mt. Blum, Blum Lakes approach -- Grade III, BW3+, WA5 Devils Peak, Coal Creek approach -- Grade I, BW2 Monashees, Thor Creek approach -- Grade VI, BW4, BA1 Chimney Rock, standard approach -- Grade II, BW2 And there you have it. No longer must one try to decipher the deranged mutterings of a victim of jungle warfare. A person needs only to apply the appropriate brush ratings to relate his brutal experience to others. And who knows? With advances in bush technology and the competitive nature of climbers, we'll probably see difficulties pushed to BW6 and beyond. And there just HAVE to be some Grade VII's out there! So come on, folks! The next time you report a mountaineering trip that involves green hell, use the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System to tell others about it. They'll be glad you did!
  38. 4 points
    Trip: Monte Cristo - Standard Trip Date: 06/22/2020 Trip Report: After another disappointing weekend weather forecast my son and I opted for a one day trip up Monte Cristo on Monday. We had previously been in the area last September on a one day trip up Columbia Peak. From the latter summit we had discussed a return visit for either Monte Cristo or Cadet, and it's the right time of year now for either. We drove up to Barlow Pass Sunday night, arriving at dusk and setting our alarms for 4 am. We had our bikes with us to speed up our approach. We biked into town at dawn, locked our bikes at the rack and headed up the trail to Glacier Basin. The trail was in mostly good shape and snow free until you approach the basin above 4000'. We took a quick rest break just beyond and above Ray's Knoll, opting to put on crampons then. We ascended continuous snow from there to the v notch. The snow conditions were great - not icy but not too soft either. View up Monte Cristo in the morning: Ascending good snow From the col we roped up knowing there could be moat issues and that we needed to do one technical pitch anyways. As I approached the snow to rock transition, I could see it was already non-trivial. I downclimbed about 4 feet onto a snowy block and then tried to work my feet up to a higher snow block, but slid down and crushed the snow below me. I then tried to get into the moat higher up the slope, but it was worse there. I returned to my original spot and made several attempts to climb up 8 feet or so before finally succeeding, then made a low 5th move past a piton onto a belay ledge and brought up my son. We then got out the rock pro and I took a try at the short technical pitch. There was snow melting from above right into the crack I wanted to use. The pre-placed sling above was soaking wet and when I grabbed it water ran down my arm. Footing was not good with boots in the wet crack. I backed down and put on rock shoes so I could try to stay on dry holds on the right side of the crack, got up a few feet, then grabbed the wet sling to pull the lip. from there one more 5th class move got me to the rappel anchor. From this spot, we could see the source of the running water - a large snow patch right on top of the slabs. Fortunately the left side was dry and we were able to scramble past the snow on dry rock. Above that we also avoided snow by staying on blocky 3rd class terrain on ribs and eventually got to the finale- breccia rock on the summit block. Factoring in the moat shenanigans and wet crack for the rock pitch, we were satisified with our 8.5 hour time from cars to summit. Blocky class 3 scrambling below the summit: Kyes Peak from the summit: We downclimbed to the rappel anchor, rapped first to the belay ledge to retrieve gear, then into the moat. From there we roped up again (just to protect the moat exit) and returned to the v notch. From here we unroped and downclimbed the steep snow slopes face-in, using an ice axe and picket each for more security. The snow conditions were still good with not much more softening up since we had climbed. Once slopes moderated the hike out was cruiser. Gear Notes: Ice axe, crampons, small rack. Approach Notes: Snow in glacier basin up to base of route.
  39. 4 points
    Message from Olympic Mountain Rescue I had high hopes of ticking off some climbs this spring and summer but decided to forego technical alpine climbing for the time being. With the crisis overloading our healthcare system, we all really need to be staying well within our skill set and not taking any unnecessary risks. You do not want to be taken to a hospital full of Corvid-19 patients. Stay safe out there.
  40. 4 points
    Trip: The Bugaboos - Pigeon Spire - W Ridge / South Howser Tower - Beckey-Chouinard / Bugaboo Spire - NE Ridge Trip Date: 08/02/2019 Trip Report: Aug 2-8, 2019 Our initial plan was to head down to The Bugaboos a week earlier, but according to a weather forecast, a storm was coming, so we decided to wait it out. Luckily, several days later we saw another window of good weather. I’ve heard some people plan a trip months ahead only to sit in a wet tent with snow all around . We used https://www.meteoblue.com/ for the weather forecast. Itinerary: Aug 2: Meet after work. Drive as far as we could. Spend a night at a campground along the way. Aug 3: Drive the rest of the way. Hike to the Applebee campground and setup tents. Aug 4: Leisure morning. Climb Pigeon Spire W ridge. Aug 5: Alpine start. Climb South Howser Tower. Aug 6: Rest day. Aug 7: Alpine start. Climb NE ridge of Bugaboo Spire. Aug 8: Hike down and drive home. We did not bring chicken wire. There will be plenty. I’m not sure if it helps – I saw porcupines walking behind it, or make sure it's solid and there are no holes between the wire and ground. TH to the Applebee campground – 2.5h. The campground has tap water and plenty of toilet paper. The place is swarming with rodents. Don’t leave any food in a tent or a backpack – there are metal boxes and hangers for it. Pigeon Spire - W Ridge The route is longer than I anticipated. I’d call it three-summit traverse (the last is the true). We simul-climbed on the way up. On the way down, we did two rappels from the summit and down-climbed the rest unroped. I was wearing mountaineering boots. Timeline: 9:25 – Start 10:25 – Top of Snowpatch col 11:20 – Base of the climb About 13:15 - Summit 14:30 – Back to the base Pigeon Spire on the right as seen from the summit of South Howser Tower: South Howser Tower – Beck-Chouinard route I did wear boots until Pigeon col, then switched to approach shoes. For the rest of the approach we had one pair of crampons and an ice axe for both of us. There was stream water after descending the col. We were lucky to have only three parties total on the mountain and we left the first at the base. We simul-climbed until the forth (5.10-) pitch. First few pitches after the bivy site seemed shorter, and watch for loose rock. For rappels, we used 60m and followed instructions from Steph Abegg supplemented by @JeffreyW’s comments. Here are my additional comments: #3 - stay on the ridge, at the end where will be a step down with a small ledge. When standing on the ledge bolt anchor is about climbers 1pm o’clock. Silly I were standing on the ledge, did not see bolts, swung left, and had to ascent a rope after. #6 – after finishing #5 use nearby bolts. Rappel (walk) left (climbers) along the ledge, i.e. what Jeff describes as “rappel parallel to the handline down the scrambley ledge”, until find next bolts: #last – the first person got lowered and extended rappel with a cordelette just in case. Timeline: 3:40? – Start 7:10 – Base of the climb 11:15 – Big ledge 18:10 – Short rappel 19:40 – Summit Shortly after pitch-dark – Finished rappels 1:20 – Back to the campground Not as big, huh: Standing on the summit: North and South Hoswer towers: Bugaboo Spire – NE Ridge Scrambling up Bugaboo-Crescent col was fine, but there was one insecure move, that made my back chill. I tried to link first two pitches with 60m, but end up short 3-5m. Make sure to well extend the third pitch, because of its nature. Left variations and 5.10 to gain South summit were great. Scrambling down Kain route was endless. There are multiple paths, generally marked with cairns, do not drop down too fast and keep traversing skiers right. I can see why parties descending in the dark often get in trouble on this route. Timeline: 5:00? – Start 5:50 – Base of Bugaboo-Crescent col 6:20 – Top of Bugaboo-Crescent col 7:00 – Base of the climb 11:00 – North summit 12:30 – South summit 15:40 – Top of Snowpatch col 17:00 – Back to the campground Traverse from N to S summit (looking forward): Traverse from N to S summit (looking backwards): Bonus 1. On the way home, we stopped by Kinsmen Beach at Windermere Lake to wash off all sweat and dust. It was delightful. 2. Below is my food plan. All food was portioned into zip-lock bags. What worked well: none left with no starving. Instant potatoes with tuna was the best meal. Egg noodles and cheese was the worst. Fri Dinner Grocery/Restaurant take out Sat Breakfast Buy a sandwich Lunch Buy a sandwich/etc Dinner Couscous 363 cal Turkey Jerky 105 cal Pita bread 140 cal Chocolate 150 cal Sun Breakfast Instant oat + powdered milk 300 cal + dried blueberries (oatmeal) Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Gummy bears 180 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Snickers 250 cal Tailwind 400 cal Dinner Instant potatoes 392 cal Tuna 160 cal Pita bread 140 cal Garlic oil Mon Breakfast Oatmeal 300 cal Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Couscous 320 cal Salami 200 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Dinner Egg Noodles 381 cal Cheese 170 cal Chocolate 150 cal Tue Breakfast Oatmeal 130 cal Granola bar 300 cal Lunch Gummy bears 180 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Snickers 250 cal Dinner Mountain house? Wed Breakfast Oatmeal/Bars/leftovers 300 cal Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Stash some food at the car Gear Notes: A tent, two 8 oz fuels (we ended up using only one), jetboil, water filter. 8 singles, 6 doubles, 2x cordelette, BD cams .1-.3, doubles in .4-4”, 60m rope, grigri, set of BD nuts. Approach Notes: Some comments in TR
  41. 4 points
    Congrats nonbasketless on the dumbest post of COVID-19. May no one surpass it.
  42. 4 points
    Although I've never met him, I am pretty sure that @landoclimb isn't doing it because of any encouragement online. The first swing into that rimey swiss cheese will bring that into clear focus. There is a long climbing tradition of the young and the keen soloing where the consequences are clear and unforgiving- much to the vexation of parents everywhere. Doesn't make it right or wrong, it just is. I don't think that is lost on anyone, let alone this young man. And, we've been around this bush with the likes of @Colin, @marc_leclerc and many others over the years. They didn't listen either.
  43. 4 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Sunshine from Timberline Trip Date: 03/19/2020 Trip Report: ~33 F, clear and no wind to start. Only a few gusts heading up to Palmer. Even though it was forecast to be 14 F at night on the summit and fairly cold below, the puffy stayed in the pack. So nice not having 20+ MPH winds, first time for me this year. The traverse over was about expected, crappy but not horrible with a good amount of foot wrenching and wondering how much longer I’ll do these kinds of routes. The foot and a half of unconsolidated snow on part of the Newton Clark was concerning. Instead of following the normal climbing route up to the Spur I stayed a bit lower. This worked out fine, the climb up to the spur wasn’t too steep. Found the approximate spot to start the downclimb to the Eliot, https://imgur.com/a/dgOh8hj, that I’d spied on my previous Cooper Spur climb. The top part was fairly solid but became less so further down. About 30 feet from the bottom, my right foot poked through a hole. I could see a rock and a little bit of black down there – not horrible but not good either. Got the leg out and put knees and feet above the snow and froggied down the rest. My original plan was to head up the left side and cross the Eliot on the top shelf above the ice fall. Given that there was a bunch of unconsolidated snow on Newton Clark and I’d never crossed the Eliot, I decided to stay low and headed toward the lower ski circumnavigation route. To my surprise, the Eliot seemed mostly featureless and safe – yay. I altered my course a bit and just headed mostly straight across and up which took me to the ski route not far below the Sunshine route. Caned from there all the way up to below Anderson Rock. There looked to be a small bergschrund on the left below Snowdome but I didn’t investigate. Anderson Rock was guarded by a mess of small bergschrunds. I got up the first one and had to search to get over the second. Someone else was up there previously but I only saw their steps heading back from where I came. The second one was worse / sketchier. Climbing through the rocks and ice was fun but definitely not something for a solo beginner. The bergschrund below Horseshoe rock, at first glance, looked like it went from the Headwall all the way over to Cathedral. I figured I may as well get closer and to my surprise, just to the left of a big snow wall / formation, there was a small decent ramp that led directly up through Horseshoe Rock. The ramp was short, 10 feet probably but the climbing above it was challenging. Earlier in the year I accidentally did the Reid Headwall and popped out above the West Crater Rim route. That was challenging, but this section was harder, maybe not quite as steep but there was no place to rest. Thanks to all the climbers that have put in the boot pack from above the Queen’s chair to the summit ridge. So much easier than post hole-ing through the unconsolidated snow on the right or me doing a crappy job of navigating through the ice on the left. https://imgur.com/gallery/LkUPX3C 8:50 PM Climber's Lot 10:45 PM Top of Palmer 12:00 AM On a ridge past White River Canyon 3:00 AM Start heading down to Eliot Glacier from Cooper Spur 4:45 AM At intersection of the ski circumnavigation and Sunshine route 6:20 AM Below Anderson Rock 7:15 AM Above Anderson Rock 8:00 AM Start up ramp over bergschrund on Horseshoe Rock 8:50 AM Over Horseshoe Rock 9:50 AM Summit ridge 10:20 AM Summit 1:40 PM Car Gear Notes: Helmet, axe, 2 tools, crampons Approach Notes: Crappy but not horrible
  44. 4 points
    I'm often asked "what happened to Helmy?" or about the whereabouts of Helmy, Fred Beckey's brother. I was able to spend time with Helmy on two lengthy visits to Munich: the first in 2014 and then in 2018. This is a link to his obituary, on the Mountaineers website: https://www.mountaineers.org/blog/remembering-helmy-beckey . . . . . . . . . . . *Note: The climb of Index's North Peak was originally made by Lionel Chute & "company" in the late 1920s - exact year and partner's names unknown. It was later climbed by Otto Trott and Eric Larson in 1941. It's likely that Trott & Larson actually made the first "complete" summit, but that the specifics were not entirely documented, as could have Chute. It was proposed in later years by Harry Majors that Fred & Helmy made the first "complete" ascent of the North Peak, as the write-up by Fred in the 1946 AAJ made mention of continuing to the true summit; Chute's homemade-metal match summit register was found at the "false" summit. Fred never made the FA claim himself.
  45. 4 points
    Trip: Chair Peak - NE Buttress Trip Date: 12/09/2019 Trip Report: Went out to Chair peak yesterday in search of mixed conditions and found exactly what we were searching for. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day, but would have preferred a few more clouds to shade us and the route from the blazing sun. Overall I would describe the route as "in" mixed climbing condition. Out as a snow or ice climb P1: We took the right variation. Very fun and good mixed climbing practice. little to no ice but I did place one 10cm screw. P2: was a simul block across snow covered slabs and ledges over to the base of the ice step. Not many options for belays but it's hard to fall with much force on those slabs. P3: Sweet neve up to the narrow, thin and unfortunately short ice step. The step consists of a narrow column just barely wide enough to both protect and climb. I placed two rater than one stubby to help protect the belay anchor. I placed my spectre for fun in some turf after the step and belayed off two pins and a slung pinch point up and right. P4: cruiser snow simul to the top. Sean slung a tree for pro. Both rap anchors for the couloir rappel are currently out of reach. In order to reach the bolts I had to stand on my toes and hook the bottom rap ring, with my tool, then do a pull up and clip in direct to my tool in order to thread the rappels. The piton rappel is another 20ft higher. I'm 6'2 and could barely reach, anyone shorter would likely need to tie their tools together or use a probe. The skis pictures spent the day under a tree somewhere on the approach. Gear Notes: Gear we brought: Cams .4-1, many nuts, 1 Spectre, 4 kb's, 2 10cm, 1 13cm, and 2 16cm screws, 1 picket, 9 single slings 2 doubles. Gear we used: all the cams, the KB's, the 10cm, 13cm and one of the 16's, 6 singles 2 doubles. Approach Notes: Currently the summer approach seemed to be the best option. Pray for snow.
  46. 4 points
    I love that the cc.com effect is back. Many moons ago it was a common thing to see a crowd the next weekend on whatever had a bunch of online traffic during the week.
  47. 4 points
    of all the trip reports i've read, this is one of them!!!
  48. 4 points
    Trip: Pickets - E & W Fury, Luna - Standards Trip Date: 08/15/2019 Trip Report: @Albuquerque Fred and I teamed up again... West Fury as the main event, East Fury happened to be in the way, Luna was convenient. Day 1: We took the water taxi to Big Beaver, leaving pretty late at 10:30am on Thursday. In about 4 hours of really good trail we were at the good log crossing right where it was supposed to be. A GPS was clutch here as there is no indication along the trail of where to turnoff and really no trail to the log. After thrashing some brush on the other side of Big Beaver Creek we wound up on the wrong (south) side of Access Creek. It is misplaced on the map by about .1 mile, shown to the south of reality; there is a tiny creek about where Access is shown on the map. After some bushwhacking upward we eventually found the climber's trail which was surprisingly good. I guess people heard about the 4G on the summit. We walked into Luna Col camp at 8pm, just in time to get one picture of the northern Pickets before they dissapeared for the next 3 days. Water is acceptably ample on BB trail and the traverse to Luna Col, lacking at the Col however. There is snow in the col and a tarn below the snow patch a 10 minute walk to the north of the col. Obligatory boat ride photo: The lake was a little low: Only good view of the southern Pickets, from the traverse to Luna: Our best view of the Furys: Day 2: We awoke at 4:45 am to lots of clouds. Onward to the Furies! Over 3 major humps and down into the basin SE of E Fury. It was all snow free which made for tedious travel. We found a ledge system at 6800' to round the SE buttress of Fury, then turned right and scrambled a talus and slab slope near a stream (last water!) We gained the east edge of the glacier at about 7400' due south of point 7820'. Crampons were required for the bare ice and moderately steep firm-ish snow ascending the east ridge of E Fury. There seems to be some mixed scrambling required at both the east and west approaches to the snowfield just below the summit. (We went up the east and down the west). Onward to West Fury! Down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up. Three towers and the summit block with loose crappy gullies between each. Tower 1: on a tip, we descended 100' on snow to a talus ledge, then scrambled up, left and up some more, then left again (you'll figure it out) to wrap around the tower not quite summiting. We soloed this. Oh, by the way, I should interject that since the lower glacier we were in total whiteout conditions and would remain so all day. This made route-finding challenging and despiriting. Tower 2: we climbed directly. Descending was trickier; scramble down an eroded dike/gully, when you approach a notch and a filthy gully on skier's right take to the arete and downclimb into the filthy gully. Legend has it descending the dike to the bottom leads to 5th class no holds traversing to get around the arete. Soloed all this. Tower 3: climb directly up a chimney just right of the obvious one. Easy soloing by now. Then we scrambled to the summit! Three times in fact; the whiteout kept making us think we were there just long enough to get excited, then another rise would loom in the white. Eventually we did make it and signed in as #22 in the register. We descended by rapping all 3 towers. Tower 1 required a 60m rope. Long and tedious trip back over E Fury, multiple basins, and many towers and rises back to camp. 12 hours round trip going hard, but with slow route finding. Morning right out from camp: Outrigger Peak and the south Fury Glacier: Mixed step on the east side of the summit of E Fury: Fred on the final summit ridge: Me descending somewhere between the Furies: Fred descending somewhere between the Furies: Gloruous summit photo on West Fury! Worth it for the views!!: Register: What, you dont mountaineer with manhattans? I left the shaker at home so we had to drink them warm, but it was pretty chilly out anyway: The rest is history. Sleep, lounge, climb Luna. We descended to Luna Camp day 3, then hiked all the way to the car day 4. Victory pose on Luna summit: Lots of this on the way out: The summit register on Luna was totally full, please replace it if you go there. 3 summits 49 miles 14,000' 12oz of manhattans Gear Notes: 60m rope for rappels Crampons Axes We took some rock gear but didn't use it. Manhattans Approach Notes: Big Beaver to Access Creek, cross Big Beaver Creek at 2520', cross Access Creek to south side at 3900'. Trail was great, trail into Access basin was decent climbers trail, good even, in places.
  49. 4 points
    Very sad news. I'll miss Chuck's sarcastic sense of humor, his brotherly teasing, his intelligence, and his adventurous and ready spirit. I spent one of my all-time favorite mountain climbing days with Chuck when we climbed the full North Ridge of Mt. Stuart in a day, which was his idea and turned out great. It was one of those days of alpine perfection. We didn't see another human the whole day and we flowed up the route in the glittering sunshine. I can close my eyes and recall a dozen moments from that day. Memories that I have cherished to this day, but are now a bit heavier. Thank you for that day! I will miss you my friend.
  50. 4 points
    Trip: Sinister Peak / Dome Peak - West Ridge Trip Date: 07/21/2019 Trip Report: 3ish day trip to climb Sinister and Dome. Hiked in the first 6 miles on Fri night to 6 Mile Shelter. Saturday hiked the 8 miles in just over 7 hours to Iswoot Ridge (thick wet bushwacking for a mile, hornets and a bit of off-route travel here and there). 21 hour day on Sunday. The route to Sinister is just about out and we weren't even sure it the glacier would be passable. So we considered it a bonus if we could get there. Had to do a much longer downclimb and side traverse around the bergschrund and over another lower crevasse just to get started from the Dome saddle. There were faint previous tracks that went down a shorter downclimb and over a snow bridge that has now collapsed (you can see that 2 pictures down). Only had to backtrack from one path that was a dead end, then the final crevasse leading to Sinister had one small snowbridge left we could cross. Other than that the navigation was pretty straight forward even if it did involve some weaving around a number of large crevasses. Burned most of our time getting there and only had an hour before our turn around time to climb. We figured if we could do a quick run up we could make it in time to get back for Dome. After re-reading the route beta we had printed out that it was some 3rd class with a + move and then to easy 2nd class and no mention of gear or ropes we went up without rope and gear, which in hindsight wasn't a good idea. Turned out the people who had written that trip report had pitched it out and rappelled and one thought it was 4th class. Found that out after we got back. With approach shoes I thought the climbing wasn't bad, just 4th class exposure in a couple places. But everyone else had heavy boots which made those moves more thought provoking. The first 3rd+ moves after getting up the gully turned back half our group and the other 2 of us up higher had to descend a 2nd parallel gully that had a 4th class move to get down into. Plus I had to poach rappel slings off a couple rap anchors to use as makeshift handlines to lower down a couple moves on longer slab to get people down a move on each of the gullies. So if anyone sees a couple free hanging pieces of webbing, that was us... The gully that is snow filled that could be scrambled down early season was melted out to the point it cliffed out about 15 feet above a moat. So, we burned another couple hours getting a rope up to rappel down. The other half of our party walked back around to where we dropped the gear and was able to lead up about 20 feet next to the gully and tossed the rope over to us and we rapped back down. After doing some exploring where the right gully cliffed out and scrambling up climbers left and out of it and moving left about 10 feet its possible to get out of it without a rope, but would involve about 10 feet of kitty litter angled slab with questionable holds. We didn't have to resort to trying that as by then we had the rope to rap down with. In hindsight double checking what we did we were on route but it was confusing and didn’t match up with the beta we had. Plus 2 different gps devices showed us in different places which added to the confusion. Finding 4 rappel stations and 4th class climbing when we were expecting 3rd class made us wonder if we were on a different route. We could have done a better job digging around for more beta on this one. Busted back to Dome as fast as we could and barely had time to summit that just at sunset which was an awesome view. Spent the next 3 hours navigating back to camp in pitch dark. Halfway there 2 rechargable headlamps without spare batteries had died and we were navigating back with cell phones. Late dinner at 1am. Slept in late on Monday and had a more relaxed day with a long hike out with dinner at Taco Bell in Arlington at midnight. Good times. This one throws a lot at you. Might be one of our favorite trips so far - except for that getting cliffed out part. We'll be back but for the North Face next time. We got the best and hardest parts of that route, good enough for the first try on this peak. The concerning part turned out at the end of the trip. Back at the cars the next day ran into a guy who had the next morning summitted Dome right after us who had met a 20 something year old with little glacier experience and wearing tennis shoes with crampons and an ice axe doing the Ptarmigan Traverse who he saw following our boot tracks solo over to Sinister. And he had made it past the first bergschrund. No idea what the rest of his skills are or what he knew about Sinister. Gonna have to keep our eyes open for any reports on if he made it back and how far he got. If anyone hears about a kid soloing Sinister this weekend drop us a note how he faired. Gear Notes: 40m rope, light rack, ice axe, crampons, stuff Approach Notes: Heavy wet brush on the way in, dry and fairly beaten down on the way out.
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