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  1. 1 point
    Trip: Bear Mountain - North Buttress: Beckey Route Trip Date: 07/15/2018 Trip Report: Bear Mountain: Two new dads trying to keep a 10 year dream alive For me, mountains can become obsessions, sometimes to the point of irrationality. In my life, no mountain, or route has been more indicative of this than the North Buttress of Bear. I stumbled upon Bear in 2007 in my early days of climbing WA by devouring each page of the Beckey guides like they were some gripping novel. Trip reports from this site only further set the dream of someday ascending this monster objective. Being nothing but a budding sport climber at the time, this peak seemed out of my grasp. As the years went on, I honed my mountain skills. I learned to trad lead, sent my first few alpine rock routes, got on my first glaciers, and began developing the mind for the rigors of schwacking in the cascades. By 2011, I began thinking this dream could possibly become a reality for me. I even found a climbing partner, Andrew, who shared my dream. Each year we'd talk about making our dream a reality but each Summer would come and go without an attempt. For 5 years in a row we'd try to make plans only to see them fall through. Timing, schedules, obligations, weather, forest fires, and work all conspired against us. Fast forward to 2016, and each of us became fathers of our first children. Yet another reason to push Bear farther from our grasps. During the first year of fatherhood I discovered, although not surprised, that being a father does not easily co-exist with committing alpine objectives. My fit physique, lead head, and drive for summits began to recede like the glaciers surrounding the peaks I had grown to love so much. Over trail runs, occasional crag days, and family outings, Andrew and I still spoke of our mutual dream contrasted with our diminished abilities. One thing was clear from these conversations: the dream, and our stoke was still alive for our beloved Bear. Spring of 2018 came around. It had been a dismal Winter of training. Trips to the crags confirmed, family obligations and our lack of training over the Fall and Winter had left both of us less than prepared to crush in the coming Summer, but we began to discuss plans for Bear as we did every year. We settled on the dates of July 13-15 and began attempting to play catch up with our training. As the dates drew closer, one thing became certain, neither of us felt strong. But the week of July 4th came and still nothing looked to foil our set plans. So early July 13th we made the early morning drive to the end of the Chilliwack road along Chilliwack Lake in British Columbia. The bushwhack across the border and out to bear camp lived up to its dreaded hype. Six hours of magical, rarely touched old-growth forest contrasted with the torturous efforts required to navigate and move through said forest left us bewildered and uncertain. This uncertainty as well as the contrast of beauty and torture would be a reoccurring theme over these 3 days. From bear camp to the bivy on the western shoulder of bear is 4000 vertical feet up. A quarter of the way up, late afternoon, and we were beat. I am on liter 5 of water, schwacking in my underwear due to the heat and effort. Both of us are bonking and cursing ourselves for thinking we could pull this objective off. We were not fit. We had not trained enough. Doubt began to dominate our thoughts. It has already been 8 hours of this shit and we still had 3,000 feet of trail-less hell ahead of us. Who were we kidding? There was no way we were going to make it to camp before dark. We sat, uncomfortably, on a steep slope, in the middle of nowhere and began talking of retreat. "Squamish isn't too far away, is it?" "I guess we could always just crag at Mt. Erie on our way back to Seattle." Inside, a voice screams at my exhausted brain, "MT. ERIE!!!!???? Are you fucking serious!!?? I am never coming back into this valley again. It is now or never for Bear. The dream either lives or dies on this shitty, viewless, insignificant slope." My senses kicked back in. Remember, anything too big to fathom all at once needs to be broken into digestible chunks. The decision to push on grew from this and we decided to at least try to make it to the lake for the night and we would make the next decision from there. Two hours later, after 1,000 feet of extremely steep blueberry bush pulling, we broke out into the alpine and our spirits began to soar like a vulture in a thermal updraft. It’s amazing how something as simple as alpine views can change the mindset and determination of a climber. I began to feel rejuvenated. Maybe we could make the bivy site before dark. A heather-strewn meadow on a gentle shoulder gave us the first real physical break of the day. Panoramic views of remote North Cascade summits rose all around us. A mother Ptarmigan and her brood of chicks sprinted out of the bushes, snapping me from my alpine daze. Discussions of a potential closer bivy site gave us a closer goal. Running on fumes, past the lower bivy spot, and we still have light. Must, keep, moving. At last, 12 hours after leaving our car, we collapsed at the col. We had made it. I promptly gave the double middle finger to the valley below, clearly showing the shit-show we just wallowed through. We promised ourselves we would not make a decision about what to do about the next day until after we ate. Dinner went quick. As we crawled into our bags, we listened to the cacophony of a thousand tiny flying vampires trying desperately to find a way through our netting and into our skin. Twilight lit the sky with a rainbow of color. We both agreed that since we had overcome the uncertainty and brutality of what many, including us, consider the hardest approach in the Cascades, we felt obligated to throw ourselves at the North face the next morning even as our bodies screamed in opposition. We awoke with the sunrise. I shook the heaviness of last nights sleep from my head and felt somewhat shocked that yesterday wasn't some dream/nightmare. I was here. We were about to start our summit day. A day we have both been dreaming of for at least 10 years. With each sip of coffee, my stoke began to rise. We strapped on our crampons and make a quick and pleasant descent onto the north side of the mountain. We turned a corner to catch our first glimpse of Bear's north buttress. Ominous, glorious, stunning, perfection on ice. Words cannot really describe the feelings I had, but these are close. Upon seeing both the direct north buttress and the north buttress couloir, we checked in. The direct looked safer as the couloir looked broken up near the top, but our energy levels and dismal cumulative rock pitches for the year had us thinking that the extra rock pitches might not be reasonable. We settled on following the couloir and Beckey's footsteps. In hindsight, this might this might have been a bad idea, but I am pretty sure I would have said the same thing if we had taken the other option. Either way we felt the collective weight of our dreams, the debilitating approach that we vowed never to do again, and the sheer power of what we were trying to accomplish. I felt as if every step upwards tightened the grip of the vice we were in. Committed, for better or worse, to move upwards. We switched back and forth from approach shoes to crampons a few times and quickly found ourselves in irreversible territory. There is terror and clarity in realizing the only way out of a predicament is forward. We broke out the rope to lead our first pitch out of the couloir. A shit show of snow, poor pro behind detached blocks, and slopey ledges littered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. My rope skirted across a ledge and sent a microwave down towards Andrew. Our years of work together in the mountains gave us the foresight to expect such events and was glad Andrew had set himself out of harm’s way before I led. We had reached the 4th class ledge system that would get us up to the North buttress proper. Kitty litter, slopey ledges, and the exposure below made for careful, calculated movements while simuling, often without adequate gear between us. Trust in each other became paramount and again I found myself thinking that I was thankful to be climbing with such a trusted partner. At last, we reached the first real quality pitch of the route. Beckey's glorious left facing 5.8 corner. Andrew led and we both laughed at the idea of "5.8" at the top. It felt like index 5.9+ but would be an instant classic if situated at the lower town wall. We were finally finding some type 1 fun. I linked the next two pitches of fun and deposited us at the base of the infamous 10a offwidth. DE8DD876-06ED-4585-BEE2-4CF80B5ED29B.MOV It was at this point that we began to feel the efforts of the pat 36 hours. Dehydrated, low on energy, and stoke, Andrew reluctantly agreed to lead the next pitch and quickly made the decision to take the 5.8 bypass pitch. We ended up breaking this pitch into two because the lower portion of the offwidth took most of our small cams and the upper 5.8 portion looked to take nothing bigger than a .75 BD. Crap. We swapped leads under the only stance Andrew could find conveniently under a car sized detached block. I was tasked with leading over it and him without touching it. Yikes. I led to a nice ledge and brought up my partner. Both of us feeling both physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, we began to flounder. Neither felt the desire to lead the next pitch. Bonking hard, I finally took the sharp end. Staying on the crest I mantled to the base of a steep featured, but unprotect-able face. I began to lose my cool. 15 feet above a ledge and my last piece and seeing committing climbing and no cracks above me, I retreated. Reversing the mantle had me nearly hyperventilating but I, somehow, safely made my way back to the anchor. We discussed our predicament, spied a horn with rap slings 30 feet down to our right and consulted our beta. We both thought that this was the Beckey rappel that would take us to a 4th class gully exit but our position would not allow us to confirm it. Below us, the gullies looked vertical, smooth, and crack-free. Committing to the rappel felt serious. Andrew rappelled at a diagonal across ribs, at times placing gear as directionals to reach the farthest gully. Upon reaching the first gully, Andrew looked up. There is no way that is 4th class. Second gully. Sweet baby jesus! It goes! Relief washed over us like a warm caribbean breeze. I rappelled down and we quickly began to lead. We both just wanted to be done with this endeavor. How quickly a dream becomes dread. My mind screamed, "Get me the fuck off this mountain!" After two rope stretching pitches and some mid fifth climbing (another sandbag) the Sun hit our darkened spirits and the tomb I'd climbed myself out of was no more. A few hundred feet of 3rd class was all that separated us from the summit. Elated, exhausted, and emotional, we hugged. I looked over the edge, down the north face and wept. Tears of joy, relief, and sadness fell hundreds of feet down the alpine face of my dreams. I always pictured myself feeling triumphant at this moment, but instead all I felt was relief and the intense desire to hug my wife and two year old son. We had done it. We had fought through constant moments of fear and uncertainty to obtain our dreams, but I felt far from dreamy. As we began the descent, I turned around and gave one last look at the summit of my dreams and gave it the double middle finger. I was done. I could close this chapter of my climbing pursuits. Fatherhood has changed my drive, my dreams, and my abilities. I am unsure if I will ever climb anything like this again, but much like any overwhelming obstacle, I will take it one decision at a time. Who knows how I will feel about such commitment and risk taking in the future. We hit a mellow snow slope and just like any decision we made that day, we assessed the terrain and made the best choice for moving forward. The joy in the glissade took me by surprise and I burst out into a giggle fit. Type 1 fun!!!! What a wild ride of emotions. We reached our bivy a half an hour before sunset. We smiled and laughed as we recapped the day. Feeling thankful and shocked to have pulled the ascent off, we crawled into our bags, passed a joint back and forth and fell into philosophical ramblings about life and reality. What a life we live. The next morning we made the long march back down to bear camp and through what felt like endless old growth shenanigans pushed by the thought of a dip in Chilliwack lake and the beer stashed there. Upon reaching the lake we found the beer gone, hoards of people on what I thought would be a secluded beach, and leash-less dogs aggressively charging us while the owner continued to flirt with some bikini-clad girl. WTF. I thought that was the shit-cream on top of a long and miserable day, but oh no. Upon reaching the trailhead I saw my car in the distance but somehow it did not look like my car. The back window was missing! Someone had broken into my car! Son-of-a-bitch! As we got closer, the horrific reality set in. My car had not only been broken into, it had been set on fire. The tires, the windows, the interior. Everything that could have burned did. My car was a hunk of metal and nothing more! I was in disbelief. How was this possible!?? How are we going to get out of here? Is this a nightmare? Am I still in the mountain sleeping in my bag and this is some horrid hallucination fueled by the joint and exhaustion? Nope. This was reality. Whoever did this also nearly set the entire forest on fire based on the completely burnt cedar behind my car. Jesus Fucking Christ! We could have been trapped in that valley if they had succeeded in doing so! As my mind swirled with the gravity of our situation, the last car in the parking lot approached us and gave us a ride into town dropping us off at the Chilliwack police. After reporting what had happened, expecting surprise, they just smiled and said, "Yep, this has been happened a lot this Summer and there was little they could do about it. They gave us our police report number and directed us to a local bar and motel. I called the border to confirm they would let me back into the states without my passport (burnt in the car) and made arrangements for a friend to come pick us up. ”the urban mountaineer” This trip will live in my mind till the day I die and will hopefully entertain many. Journeys like this are great reminders for what is important in your life and just how lucky I am to be apart of this amazing planet. Get after what fuels your soul people! Gear Notes: 60 m rope Double rack tops to fist. Single 4 and a set of stoppers. Lots of alpine slings Approach Notes: Follow the tape till you can’t then turn on your zen and be one with the forest.
  2. 1 point
    Trip: Inspiration Peak - South Face Trip Date: 09/02/2018 Trip Report: Before last weekend I hadn't been to Terror Basin in almost 10 years. Back then we had spent a week in the Southern Pickets, only seeing one other party in Terror Basin. How times have changed! This past weekend there were three other parties for a total of a dozen people in Terror Basin. Thankfully all the others were headed for West McMillan Spire so we had the decidedly unpopular South Face of Inspiration all to ourselves. However, like Alan Kearney, I really think it should be more popular. It is quite a route! But it is also not for the faint of heart. Steep, intimidating, with a bit of scruffy rock and so-so pro - it would have been a challenge back when I was in good rock climbing shape. And I am most certainly not in good rock shape these days! Luckily I had @therunningdog to gun my sorry ass up it. And gun he did, leading all the gash pitches. But there was plenty to keep my mind humming below- a chaotic glacier with some delicate bridges, slabby rock right off the glacier (should have put on rock shoes earlier), and an increasingly exposed 4th/low 5th class ramp that terminated in the intimidatingly steep "Great Gash". And thenn once you are on the summit, the involved descent awaits. 4-5 raps down the West Ridge, some ridiculously exposed scrambling, and then more steep rappels down the south face. It was about 12 hours camp to camp. But what a place. Even more beautiful than I remembered, perhaps due to the changing weather and swirling mists? The best pictures are never during the best weather, perhaps the same is true of our memories? I'll be back, but I won't wait another 10 years this time. Looking down into Terror Basin from the "trail" in: Looking out to Triumph, Despair, and the Chopping Block (L-R): Despair and the Chopping Block: Thornton Peak and Triumph at sunrise: The Southern Pickets!! Morning light on the South Face of Inspiration: Ptarmigan and grown chick: I should draw the line on this but basically you climb up the buttress to the left of the face to the prominent ramp that is followed right a long ways to the start of the "Great Gash", which shoots steeply up and left to the upper West Ridge. A pitch on the ridge finishes the climb. The Descent follows the left skyline to the col then down the steep face/buttress to the glacier: The glacier approach proved challenging, but we found a way that will go into the fall this year: No super dad friendly. Scrambling a lot of 4th and low 5th to the belayed pitches up the gash. I should have taken more photos but I was pretty focused on not screwing up! @therunningdog in his element! Did I mention that the South Face of Inspiration is steep? @therunningdog coming up the final bit to the summit: It is an exposed descent as well. Rapping the West ridge: On the first set of raps, before you drop off the South Face: Whew. Down on the ice! Or should I say gneiss? TEEBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE! Despair in the mists: Triumph: Despair: This felt good after the punishing descent: Gear Notes: 60m half rope, medium rack to 2", ice axe, crampons, helmet Approach Notes: Terror Basin trail from Goodell Creek. 6 hours to camp. From camp follow the climber's path toward Inspiration and West Mac, picking the best line up the glacier to the toe of the buttress just west of the South Face. We roped up here for a bit until we gained the prominent ramp where we packed the roped and scrambled. It seemed about 5.6-5.7 for one ptich to gain the ramp, with low fifth below that. The "Great Gash" is about 3, 30m pitches, to ~5.8. I think we did about 12 rappels down the west ridge and west edge of south face right back to our boots. Stations are established for a single 60m rope. Bring tat since the route isn't climbed regularly.
  3. 1 point
    Trip: Washington Pass, Liberty Bell - Thin Red Line Trip Date: 09/01/2018 Trip Report: My buddy Andy Traylor and I had set this as a goal route to free for the summer season. Neither of us had really approached a bigger route like this with a redpoint mentality before and weren't sure exactly how to do it. With many different ways to consider an ascent "free," we settled on what we believe is a pretty commonly followed set of rules. We wanted to swing leads, and either redpoint or follow cleanly on every pitch, lowering back to the belay if necessary. Our plan was to spend one day and check out the first six pitches to get a feel for the moves and the gear then try and send the next day. On day 1 we took our time climbing the first six pitches, with no real pressure or time crunch. We TR'd the cruxes a couple times and feeling pretty good about going for it the next day, rapped off and headed down for a big dinner. The next day we set out a little nervous, but also feeling good about our chances. Once we were on the route we were moving and climbing well. Thoughts on the pitches for anyone that cares (some gear beta here so purists need not read on): P1. Straightforward crimping and edging straight up to the anchor. I actually headed right after the last bolt, going more directly to the anchor on day 2 and thought that was slightly better. Andy getting all artsy with the iPhone on P1 P2. Short pitch. Boulder problem over the bulge through the mini changing corners. Good pro and the pin at the end of the crux seemed in good shape, not tested. Belay on gear. P3. Awesome and memorable pitch I thought, shorter than it looks in photos. Super thin edging and stemming in the dihedral leading to a roof with wet holds that allow you to exit the corner and gain a stance. I basically punched myself in the face popping out of the wet locks first go round. Pin in the corner seemed good, I tested it and it held. Mostly finger sized cams. Belay at full on hanger. Andy in the corner/roof that ends the crux on P3 P4. Fixed gear in the roof seemed only ok, hard to tell with the tat and I didn’t spend much time examining it, but you probably won’t come off under the roof anyway, clip and go. Andy exiting the roof on P4 The last bit traversing back toward the anchor we both found a little awkward and harder than it seemed it should be. On the traverse back to the belay on P4 P5. Business #1. Super fun 5.10 traversing and edging to the corner. Corner gets progressively harder with the real business starting at the bolts. I will say on my initial go I was not super happy to have left basically all the rack at the belay, expecting only a few pieces then bolts. I'd take mostly finger sizes, but I was happy to have a black Metolius and a #2 C4 (certainly not necessary but provided me with some mental fortitude to try hard). Bring lots of slings, I think I had like 14 and ran out somehow, placed too much gear I guess. The crux moves are technical, a little powerful, desperate and amazing. The last move, while not the hardest, has the potential to be a heart breaker and I can only imagine being very desperate if you’re under, say, 5’9. Belay on medium sized gear above the bolts, significantly better stance. Andy sticking the last move, he never fell once climbing this pitch over the 2 days. P6. Business #2. No picture. First roof is super casual. Leading up to the second roof the climbing gets less secure but good small finger gear is there between pins. The boulder problem is powerful, but pretty straightforward cranking (V4ish?) on pretty good holds. We were a little confused by all the talk about a necessary and specific red C3 placement. We couldn’t find anywhere by the beak, or below the roof for that matter, where this would go. Any clues? However that piece or a blue Metolius or equivalent went in bomber just above the lip. If that’s the placement everyone is talking about, then there is no need to scavenge around for a red C3 if you don’t have one. We left it out in favor of a blue Metolius on round 2. Climb past the bolts (if not rapping from here) and belay on the better sloping ledge with hand sized pieces. P7. Only dog pitch on the route. Thought the rock was poor quality, basically a connector pitch. Ends on the scary looking “how is it still hanging there” block creating the ledge. P8. Another techy and pretty thin 11+ pitch. Really really good. Looks super thin but there is gear to be had and both the head and pin are in good shape, Andy tested both and approved. Some small hand sized gear higher. P9. Excellent and fun 10+ climbing again builds as you get higher. Looks like the seam dies out at the top, but keep going up instead of traversing left. That’s probably super obvious but I was getting tired and moving more timidly by this point. P10-12. Progressively easier climbing. Nice to have Scott's topo for P10 to know where to get started. The last belay sits basically on the arête between the east and north face, we came back into the sun here. There are brand spanking new bolts here instead of the pin/fixed wire combo some guide mentions. Maybe it’s obvious, but the climbing heads left up the lighter colored dihedral. This looked too steep to us to be the 5.7 climbing, so Andy headed out right on the lower angle terrain and we had a bit of an epic on the easiest and last pitch of the route. The rock quality deteriorated into kitty litter, so Andy tried to sling a chockstone to lower back to me, only to get the rope got stuck forcing even more shenanigans (face palm). All in all we wasted some hours and all hopes of pizza. Once corrected we soloed to the top without further incident. Don't go this way. Why is this photo so big? All in all, neither of us fell following any of the pitches. On lead, some of the pitches took a try or two, but in the end we pulled it out and nabbed a free ascent. We learned a lot about climbing in this style and really enjoyed the process. Thanks to Mikey Schaefer for figuring this out, it provided one of my all time favorite experiences in the mountains so far. Psyched for the next one! Gear Notes: Doubles from purple Metolius to .75 BD, singles to #3 BD. Our second set of cams were Metolius offsets. They worked amazing (as always for granite) and I always carry them as doubles, but far from necessary. Nuts. Placed 1 RP but probably not necessary. Lots of slings, like ~16. We used a 40M tag line and hauled the bag on most pitches. Approach Notes: Most casual "alpine" approach ever. Like 25min from the car.
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