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  1. 13 points
    Trip: Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4) Trip Date: 01/18/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday @Doug_Hutchinson and I skied out to the west face of Chair with low expectations and too much weight on our backs. As far as I can tell, this face has seen little to no winter climbing activity and was completely off my radar until @Kyle M showed me some photos. Our route started by slogging up ~700ft of steep firm snow with a couple easy ice chokes along the way. Nothing worth roping up for. The sun starts hitting the lower snow slopes around 10am, so I would recommend timing things so you start climbing no later than 10:30. After the slog we arrived at the head of a small alcove where we kicked out a platform and roped up. Gear for a belay is hard to come by, take what you can get. I took the first pitch which ended up being a tricky 20m M4 left facing corner system. Nothing was ever really that hard, but protection was difficult, and the rock quality left something to be desired. A really cool looking super direct mixed pitch can be found just to the right and would probably go at M7. Doug then took the lead on the money pitch. While only about WI4+, this pitch proved to be a pretty serious lead. The crux required climbing into an alcove behind a detached curtain, grabbing a rock hold with your right hand and swinging over a bulge above your head. Not your usual WI4. This pitch took good 10 and 13cm screws, but not always where you want them. One could probably bail back to the snow from here with 2 ropes. Moving forward we climbed a full 65 meters of scrambly snow/rock/ice up to a scottish looking headwall, and up a ramp to the left. Belay off a small tree that may be buried in different conditions. I have a hunch you can go either right or left, not sure which is easier. A short sketchy mixed pitch took us up to the false summit. Not hard, just tenuous and poor pro. ^Placing the only piece on the pitch ^The piece The route finished with a classic Au Cheval alpine ridge traverse with snow and ice on the north side, and warm dry rock on the south. This traverse is VERY poorly protected, and definitely not straight forward. Descent: There are two good options for the descent. The best option by far, is to do this route as a carryover, foregoing the skis and descending the normal route to the east. This requires very firm conditions, but would be much shorter. Since we left our skis in the Melakwa valley, we were forced to descend that direction via a long snow gulley opposite of the standard rappel anchor. The first rappel shares the piton anchor with the standard descent, just in the opposite direction. We left a piton and nut anchor 60M down to the left for future parties. This rappel only got us half way to the next worthy tree, luckily the snow was good for down climbing, but we were well aware of the exposed cliffs below. Two more raps off trees took us to the schrund. Ski back over Bryant col, or for bonus points, continue out via the second half of the Chair peak circumnav in the dark. Link to my Strava track can be found HERE for approach and descent help. Get on this climb! We thought it was pretty classic, and likely not in good condition very frequently. Reach out to me with any beta needs! Thanks to Kyle M for this photo! Green is the route, Red is the descent, and the Yellow dots are rap anchors. The last rap is in a bushy tunnel that may be difficult to find for future parties. Gear Notes: Single rack .2-2, stoppers, KB's and Bugaboos. 6-10 Screws 10-16cm most useful. 2 Pickets brought but never used (per usual). 60m twin ropes. Approach Notes: Ski or boot up and over Bryant/Chair col via pineapple basin. Descend over to Melakwa lake, and up to the base of the wall.
  2. 12 points
    Trip: Snoqualmie Mountain - [FA] The Snostril and Post Nasal Drip Trip Date: 01/29/2021 Trip Report: Since it took three attempts to send this climb, this TR will take the insufferably long form, written in the “how-the-sausage-is-made” and “what-I ate-for-breakfast” style in homage to the golden days of cc.com. Had I more time, I would have written a more concise TR. The hipster TL/DR version goes: “Major Tom, Christian, and I ran a quick Snostril lap the other day, condis were all time.” 12/4/2020 – Background and first attempt. The seasonal stoke to bash metal into ice seemed much stronger than usual this fall, corresponding to the collective increase in strength of the local crew, many of whom I am only recently met. These guys had been spending months training in a dimly-lit, south Seattle pain cave, and outside at the new Exit 38 dry crags - Wayne’s World and the Road House, and they were burning to get on the real thing. When Tom Beirne and Christian Junkar called and asked me for ice climb ideas and if I wanted to join their early season Alpental Valley ice hunting exhibition; I knew it would be futile, way too early and way too warm still. But I had only taken the tools for walk once this season, so I signed up for their second day. On their first day, they scratched their way up Chair’s NE Butt, so we decided to see how things were coming along on the NW face of Snoqualmie. I had never seen this face so early in the season and it was what I expected – some thin smears, towering walls of bone dry rock, and none of the usual mixed lines had enough ice to launch up. The best looking “ice” I spotted was a continuous smear between the Snot and Thunder Basin exit shoulder, just left of a cave, which we marched under heading to the bigger but unformed mixed lines on the middle of the face. I have skied below this western aspect of Snoqualmie’s backside too many times to count but no ice ever caught my eye in this area before, probably because it is usually covered by a heavy snow blanket. The ice that grabbed my attention, would not be called ice in most other places but we take what we can get around here. Much discussion and indecision ensued as the team pondered the best of a lot bad options to attack. Not being known for my patience, I dramatically kept looking at my watch and stomping my feet until Tom agreed to belay me on my route pick. The climbing wasn’t exactly cruiser, but was thin aerated ice, not much more than one inch thick, with front points searching for rock divots, not thick enough for stubbies but just enough pin and poor cam placements to bring it down to around PG13. After about 40M of tenuous climbing, I was ready to be done and pulled into an alcove on the left with a faded of piece of tat around a chockstone (buried now). Tom lead up another 20 M of thin ice with some rock gear to a four inch diameter tree (buried now) with old tat up and right of an icy couloir above. The next pitch looked even thinner with more rock and less ice, but we could see a huge chockstone roof with a steep smear barely visible on the right which set the hook for a return visit after the ice got a little chubbier. Christian’s video of our first attempt: 12/26/2020 Second attempt, one pitch higher. A desired high pressure system proved elusive but Christian and I went back for round two anyway based on my stupidly optimistic read of the forecast. I saw a potential 12-hr window between one low exiting and another, more vigorous low, arriving. We skinned up marveling at the magnificent ski conditions (deep and soft) and knowing a serious effort today may not be a good idea. When we left skis at the top of the exit chute's shoulder, it was obvious that even our descent into Thunder Basin would put us on a potentially loaded slope, so instead of booting down this slope I have skinned up so many before, I rapped off a tree for some insurance against the millennial snowpack (i.e., easily triggered). Pitch one got about 5M shorter compared to our first attempt due to growing snow fan at the route’s base. With a higher base and thicker, more mature ice, I was able to quickly combine our two previous pitches into one 55M lead to our highpoint on the small tree out right. Christian led the next pitch which went around WI4- and was a 60M rope stretcher into a huge cave formed by a gigantic roof chockstone. He had already endured a nearly continuous spindrift shower following P1 but that was just the warm up for his P2 lead as the snowfall intensified. The conditions turned pretty full on, and it was hood up, zip up, and don’t look up because there was no respite from the parade of sloughs from the chute above. After some more thin ice with marginal rock gear on the left wall, Christian topped a final bulge and cruised some steep snow into the huge cave - the Snostril’s nostril had been entered. I really wanted to lead us out right and up to what could only be an easier slope above, but the problem was a short, overhanging rock wall had to be breached to exit the cave. Up and down I went to try to find a way through or around this wall. Straight across on dry powder over rock, or on some ice smears up high just below the roof, or down and around perhaps? I kept getting stopped due to either the lack of gear, the lack of tool/’pon placements, the lack of ice to stick, or perhaps the lack of big enough balls. Way up at the top of the cave above the belay, there even was an invisible nasal cavity which was snorting out wind and snow that I considered trying to access and squeeze through, but the rock up there looked too overhanging to explore. The view of the crux from the belay: Meanwhile, if I could climb out from the cave, the reward would be swimming in the fire hose of snow pouring down now, so our yellow light was clearly turning red. Time to flee to fight again another day… I built an anchor by slinging a boulder with my cordelette (love love love the much maligned cordelette) and equalizing a knifeblade in the upper left side of the cave and we rapped. All the new snow made the ski back to the car as fun as skiing with a heavy pack gets. Just climbing these first two pitches, rapping, and skiing down would qualify as a pretty rewarding day. The Snostril cave may not be as high and wild as Supercave’s cave, but it is still a really cool piece of mountain architecture - a sheltered room with a great view, and even a Covid-friendly icicle shield if you end up sharing this belay cave with climbers from another pod. 1/29/2021 – Third attempt and send. If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to leave the PNW for one month every winter, I would pick January. The jet stream's snow machine typically shifts south or north, the ice is typically anemic, and I typically flee north to Canuckastan for one of my two favorite playgrounds: the Powder Highway and/or the Icefield’s Parkway. Due to the current northern border wall, I left WA in early January for American’s best substitutes – Cooke City and Cody. Upon my PNW return in mid January, temps were still on the warm side but the continued dirty ridge of weak high pressure with occasional rain events started to open alpine possibilities. @Michael Telstad and I enjoyed a splitter day climbing a new mixed climb on the Upper West Side and Mik Metzler and I climbed the NF of Index under cruiser conditions, which was quickly repeated by Michael and Sean @sfuji Not able to come up with another inspiring ice objective (this simply has not been a good ice season in the PNW), I signed on as wing nut/belayer to Michael’s idea of climbing Goat Wall’s next gen, multipitch, dry af route - Mazama Queen. We spent another half day on Mazama ice before beginning the long drive home. I was completely ice satiated and really looking forward to giving my tools a few weeks off and spending some quality time with my skis. As I was bludgeoning Michael with another loud listen to the new Avalanches' record, ring ring goes my phone as Tom calls in while driving back from competing in the Ouray Ice Comp with Christian. We trade stories from our recent adventures and I proudly proclaimed my ice retirement plans that I have repeated one too many times to Michael already. My ice rat was stuffed, fat, and happy. Well, after nine days straight of climbing, Tom and Christian’s rats were still surprisingly hungry, borderline ravenous even; so Tom starts grilling me for beta on the two new climbs next on my list; one being pushing our Snoqualmie line higher. I nonchalantly provided some vague details and didn't think much about it because they have a long drive and I am just settling into ice retirement, so I tried to steer Tom to the other FA that didn’t really speak to me by texting some photos. As the conversation was winding down, Tom causally mentions that they will probably drive through the night and try to finish the Snostril before the weather window slams shut the following evening. Well, I’m here to tell y'all that retirement is a myth, a fallacy, nothing to strive for. “Can you drive a little faster Michael? I’ve gotta get home and start drying gear.” The three of us left the Alpental lot at 6am, this time without skis. Arriving home the previous evening, Tom had just enough time to remove the camper from his truck but not enough time to sharpen tools so Christian graciously arrived late to afford Tom some parking lot maintenance time. The drier and warmer recent weather made it relatively easy to boot up what is usually the 5.11 Phantom skin track. Because of our prior knowledge of the route, the good conditions and weather, and our collective stoke and fitness levels; I felt zero anxiety, today was going to be straight up fun in the hills. Better yet, we divvied up the leads on the approach so that everyone would get a new pitch, and Tom would get the crux. The send was almost guaranteed. Christian led P1. The ice was fat and straight forward, great screws everywhere, fun WI3+. The stoke was high. The belay tree we used previously was buried, so Christian built a belay on horizonal dead branch and gear just right of the P2 couloir. I took P2, which was mostly good ice with a short crux of rotten egg shell which fooled me into swinging picks into rock way too many times until I got smart and used a few rock footholds on the left wall to gain some higher sticks into better ice out right. Pulling over the bulge put me high enough to see the crux cave exit wall I backed off a month ago and fuck yeah, yeah, oh yeah! Lots of new snow accumulation had made the rock step shorter and there was ice everywhere now. This was going to go down! Tom and Christian quickly followed up into the cave and Tom got busy doing what he does best. Tom is not only the strongest and best technical mixed climber of our crew (and our second best freestyle MC), he just placed third in the Ouray ice speed comp so this thing was probably going to go down fast. As I belayed, Christian scurried around the cave like a rabid snafflehound, shooting video. Tom placed a .75 cam up high and left, tried to force the direct rock traverse that previously stopped me, but then climbed down and right onto a snow step above a small moat. This enabled him to climb up a body length, scratch and sniff for some decent sticks, place a stubby and then a #3 cam, and turn the corner out of the cave and onto some thin ice up and right. Tom vs the crux: He exited on some more barely-stubby-thick ice to the bottom of the upper couloir, and built an anchor on the left rock wall to make this a 30M pitch. This was not straightforward climbing and not an easy crux to figure out, but Tom is one those climbers that you watch and can’t determine how hard or easy something really is because he climbs fast and makes everything look chill. I went next and tried to avoid committing to a thin icicle mono foot placement he used because it seemed unlikely it would hold body weight, but once I did, the crux went pretty quickly but was definitely not a gimme. There was just enough ice for decent feet but it was still balancely and insecure in places. I robotically removed all the gear without thinking so Christian got to follow with no directionals in place. We agreed on a grade WI4, M5 but pitches like this are difficult to grade because it was not the ice or the mixed that was the specific crux, it was moving from one to the other and back again, balancing on so-so feet, while taking any gear you could get. (To keep this under ten pages, I'll spare everyone my recent rant where I ponder out loud if we are beginning to sandbag the grades of our new mixed routes.) We were now in the bottom of a 100M long, mostly snow couloir that is reminiscent of the Snot proper, below the steep entrance at the top. Christian was up next and the agreed plan was he would run out the rope and Tom and I would start simuling to the trees we could see at the top of the couloir. After 55M of snow up to about 50 degrees, Christian stopped and spent a decent amount of time playing around on the right vertical wall. We thought he was bootying an old anchor but then he yelled off belay. It seemed strange for him to decide not to simul to the top since the last part of the couloir looked so low angle. Looking past Tom to Christian at the P4 belay. Royal Robbins, in his masterpiece of snark and self-awareness, Tis-sa-ack, about his and Don Peterson’s ascent of the NW face of Half Dome described feeling his younger partner’s impatience “running up the rope like a continually goading electric current.” When I reached Christian, I could feel his overflowing stoke running down the rope to me like a positive electric current, he was almost jumping up and down for a reason I did not yet understand. (I encourage you to click that Tis-sa-ack link, for no other reason than to see the best Glen Denny best ever photo of Robbins and Peterson after they topped out. I'll never be able to write that good but I have a chance of maybe equaling Peterson's disdainful sideways glare). OK, OK already, back to the Snostril... Christian had stopped and built an anchor because he could not just walk by an aesthetic pitch of mixed ice steps leading left out of the couloir, which he knew was a better finish compared to the easy snow finish if he kept going straight. This should have been my lead but Christian wanted this lead so bad he was almost vibrating. I can be pretty selfish with taking the sharp end especially on a money ice pitch, but there was no way I was going to assert my lead rights and take this pitch from him. This season I have really enjoyed roping up with new partners who are so strong and stoked that sitting back and watching has been almost as rewarding as leading. Tom belayed and I shot video while Christian entered his happy place cleaning loose rock from behind a flake for gear placements and working out the opening mixed moves. Christian getting ready to plug gear: He fired a lower mixed crux and pulled over an ice budge leading to thicker and better ice – definitely the best water ice of the day. The pitch ended with a 10M vertical ice curtain leading to a big tree belay and an easy walk off. This was 30M of fun mixed awesomeness which makes for the preferred alternative finish to what would be the P5 final snow slog of the Snostril. Christian taking us to the top: It was such a cool pitch, we gave its own name, and Post Nasal Drip, and we graded it WI4/M5. (Note - copy and paste sand bag rant here.) An easy snow slope walk-off brought us down to our packs, and walking down Snoqualmie did not bother this skier one bit today. (My notes here say something about Tom going down the most on the descent and owing us many beers, but my hand writing is hard to read at this point). I have become used to getting back to the car hours after sunset lately (or, in the case of Index, a few hours before sunrise) and we still had over an hour of daylight to spare. The Snostril is a great introduction to the mixed playground that is Snoqualmie’s NW Face and is a nice addition to face's previously established routes, especially if you are not in the mood for a long day. By leaving the anchor in the cave, one can retreat easily after the first two moderate ice pitches if not feeling the mixed crux above. As the snowpack deepens, this crux will become easier. If this route sat above Cham, it would have gotten a ski descent by now. I made you slog through this narrative so your reward is viewing Christian’s video of the Snostril’s second attempt and send: Excitement is building for the ClimbSkiRip Post Nasal Drip edit, soon to drop... Here is the route as seen from John Scurlock's plane, image used by permission (note - the original name of Post Nasal Drop was Temres and I aint gonna attempt editing this photo, I paid way too much to my 6 yo nephew to create the original): I am still waiting for some retired hardman to reset his cc.com password to let us know that he hiked this route back in the early 80s, but the wifi may not work that good in his assisted care facility. Gear Notes: Single rack to #4, knifeblades, short screws, Temres 282-02s Approach Notes: Up and over
  3. 12 points
    Trip: Skookum Falls - Far Right Side Trip Date: 02/15/2021 Trip Report: On President’s Day I finally got to climb my first pitches of ice in Washington and I got the full PNW experience. After skiing the Cascade concrete for the last three of months I found that the Cascade ice is quite the opposite. We left Seattle at 6:15 that morning, raining. Heading south through Auburn, raining. As we joined the line up in Enumclaw to Crystal Mountain (9 inches, who could blame them), raining. We started making backup plans to head up to Snoqualmie but kept our fingers crossed. Even heading into Greenwater, raining. By some stroke of luck, as the GPS struck 5 minutes ETA, the rain turned to snow. When we pulled into the Skookum Falls Viewpoint (47.0529, -121.5721) we found the ice to be in pretty good shape. Dark blue - our pitch 3 Orange - our rap route - rap 1 through v-thread down to a large tree, rap 2 down to a second set of trees, rap 3 to ground Light Blue - Skookum Falls (courtesy of Justin Sermeno) Green - Skookum Falls Right (courtesy of Justin Sermeno) We made our way to the river working with vague beta of a crossing made of fallen trees. We basically flipped a coin and decided to head north along the river hoping to find this fabled bridge. Less than ten minutes in we stumbled onto it. (47.0539, -121.5754) Excited to have found the crossing, we jumped onto the trunk and gingerly walked across not knowing if the fresh snow had covered a solid step or a slip into the river. In our excitement, we failed to notice that the other side of the tree was a boulder problem of roots and frozen dirt. Luckily for us someone had placed a precarious crash pad (log) on the other side. Having successfully down climbed the root system, we made our way in a general south-west heading completely ignoring the beautifully tracked in Skookum Flats Trail opting instead for the ankle breaking snow-covered scree field. Red - not recommended Yellow - recommended As we geared up at the base of the climb (47.0523, -121.5763), we noticed the occasion slough. There was minimal overhead hazard and that the ice was decently fat we didn’t make a big deal of it. James offered to take the first lead and I happily conceded as I hadn’t swung a tool since my mid-December Hyalite trip. As James started off, he bottomed out his first 16cm screw. Oops. Finding a better place for it he continued on his way and made quick work of the first 45m pitch. As I belayed, I noticed the falling snow getting fatter and wetter. It wasn’t long before the falling snow melted as soon as it hit me. I followed up, happy to get back into the groove on top rope. As I took over for the second pitch the reality of WA ice set in. Every swing planted my hands in the wet snow. By mid-pitch, my gloves were completely saturated. I was pretty stoked with my new tape job but I may as well have taped cold, wet sponges to my handles. As I swung my tool back I could hear the *squish* of my soaked gloves as the tool passed my ear. The ice softened as the day went along and I was happy to have the horizontal front points of my Snaggletooths. At a certain point though horizontal or vertical didn’t matter, I was really just smashing through the slush and stomping down a foot hold. This was my first multi lead and my first realization that bringing 13 screws actually means you have 7 screws for the climb. 3 screws at each anchor. I had to call it quits at 35m. I set up my station, put my climbing gloves in my jacket and put my belay gloves to bring James up. Throughout the belay I watched as my fancy Goretex jacket slowly wetted through from the inside. This picture was taken with a very wet and slippery iPhone. James made it to the belay and we make the call to go or no go. Despite the moderate temperatures we are both shivering from the wetness, but enticed by the gorgeous sheet of ice above us we decide to keep at ‘er. It was only noon anyway. James throws down and takes the line of best protection. 35m. As James set up to belay me, I was shivering and my layers were saturated. I start climbing with reckless abandon, moving without testing my sticks and kicks until I reach a short section of dripping icicles. It was at this point that I learned that my layers weren’t saturated and could actually take in more water. Kicking it up a gear, I ran through this short section and met James at the belay. Now we were done. James built the V-thread and rapped a short section to a tree we had been eying all day. We pulled the rope and...fuck… it’s frozen in the V-thread. It took some hard negotiating but the rope eventually came through. I made sure to keep the rope moving back and forth as James cleared some tangles in the rope. At the tree we clear the old tat get ready to head down. Stepping over a branch, James heads toward the obvious gully (beta from not this section of Skookum Falls) climber’s left. Passing through the gully it’s clear that our 60m doubles aren’t going to hit the ground and James cuts back right to build an anchor at another tree. Cold and wet, I quickly followed over the branch not knowing that he had zigged and then zagged. As I got to the anchor and started the pull, the rope was stuck again. It was the orange rope wasn’t it? Or was it blue? No amount of forceful pulling would even budge the rope. This was the rock rescue moment we all say that we’d practice but never actually do. It was time to jug the rope. PNW lesson number I don’t know anymore, wet Prussiks are extremely catchy. Jugging up 35m on Prussiks was not happening. For the second time in my life and was supremely glad that I brought a Ti-Bloc with me. James fixed one end of the rope and I was able to jug up the other strand. Left quad cramping, right shoulder burning, I got up to the station to find this mess that I am almost too embarrassed to post. I cleared the tangles, rerouted the rope around the branch and un-zigged the zag. The remainder of the rappels went without a hitch and I thought to myself that I’m glad to be done. Mistake. We reverse the yellow arrows (see above) and find the trail. As we returned to the river crossing I am extremely unmotivated to climb what must now be a partially melted mud boulder problem. Recalling that there were other fallen trees that crossed the river I decided to pick the wrong one. We shimmied across another trunk trying not to fall in the river and we landed on an island that did not connect to the other side. Me yelling expletives at the river At this point we were less than 10 minutes from the car and the only thing that wasn’t wet were my socks so why not make it a royal flush. Gear Notes: A load of 13cm screws. Probably should've brought up more 16cms. 60m doubles. Approach Notes: Parking (47.0529, -121.5721) Crossing (47.0539, -121.5754) Base of climb (47.0523, -121.5763)
  4. 11 points
    Trip: Mount Index, North Peak - North Face Trip Date: 01/29/2021 Trip Report: @Michael Telstad and I have a wonderful climbing partnership. He sniffs out all the beta and nails down logistics, while I tell bad jokes and ensure the ropes get hopelessly tangled at least once on-route. When I heard about his FA on Chair and adventures in Mazama with @Doug_Hutchinson, in the throes of FOMO and inspired by Doug and Mik's report of 'cruiser alpine conditions', I sent him a text on Tuesday asking if he wanted to climb the North Face of North Index. Between the Scylla of the work-week and the Charybdis of storms for the next month, we decided on Friday as our best and only shot at the beast. Fortunately Doug was stuck with Michael on the long winter drive from Mazama to Seattle, so there was plenty of time to shake him down for beta. There is not too much information about the route out there, so Doug’s info was invaluable. (Another useful source is Jim Nelson’s Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Vol. 1) We decided to meet in the parking lot at 2:45am on Friday. After a few hours of fitful rest I rolled into the Lake Serene parking lot my traditional 15 minutes late at 3:00am (Michael was 10 minutes early). We exchanged groggy greetings and set off by moon and head light. Easy trail hiking in approach shoes to the north end of the lake led to the base of a slide path and some tedious steep snow climbing to the saddle of the northeast rib. (We changed into boots at the end of the trail before stepping onto the lake, and put on crampons partway up the snowfield) Some unexpected light snow gave us pause but we decided to climb until it became problematic. I set off on the first lead, simul-climbing ~3 pitches mainly steep snow with sparse slung trees, with a few short mixed steps protected by cams and nuts. I tried placing ice screws in aerated flows while extremely runout on steep snow, but they were just too marginal to bother. Runout snowfields for the first ~2 pitches took me to a left-leaning gully. At the top of the gully I looked down and gulped at the sheer exposure below me to the east. Wild. A moderate and short but annoyingly snow-covered mixed step took me to the slung blocks marking the ‘hidden ledge’ traverse. (It’s not very well-hidden if you’re looking for it.) I belayed Michael up from here since I would’ve liked a belay on the mixed step below and I believe in the golden rule. At this point I made the inconceivably foolish decision to try scooping up the stacked double ropes and walking them across the hidden ledge. I made it about 15 feet before realizing the error of my ways and setting up an intermediate anchor. Fortunately it only took 15 minutes of cursing and thrashing to untangle the ropes. Michael then belayed me on a short, fun, and confusing simul block through a slide alder grove. I followed my nose through a steep groove of alders to a lower-angle mixed ramp. I wandered around trying to find an easy way up, but eventually gave up and belayed Michael to the top of the alder grove. He decided to down-climb to search for a lower continuation of the traverse, but found only improbable cliffs. He climbed back up and cruised the mixed ramp around whose bushes I’d beaten earlier. We simuled over the ramp and up the awesome snowbowl pitch to an obvious large tree. From here we simuled up ~2 pitches of very fun AI3- (mediocre screws, great sticks) to yet another grove of trees at the base of yet another snowfield. I led a short snowfield to the base of the crux mixed pitches. Michael led us up two cruxy snow-covered mixed pitches, first a narrow ridge-traverse and then a funky slab to a short steep corner protected by a fixed piton. The climbing wasn’t so hard, but it felt tres insecure and poorly protected. I took over the lead and we simuled across a wild knife-edge ridge, up a snowfield, over and around several false summits (with some tricky mixed steps and brutal rope-drag), and finally to the base of the true summit. (From a distance I thought it was the Middle Peak of Index. ) Michael took us to the top, and we mustered the happiest faces we could for some summit pics. As we prepared to descend, a raven floated next to us cawing a blessing. I felt glad then, that the spirit of the mountain was with us. We thanked the raven and began the slog down. Michael led us back to the base of the summit ridge snowfield, and we followed Doug and Mik’s rappel stations for a seemingly interminable, mind-numbing descent. We finally reached a snowfield at the base of the north face. We unroped and contoured around to the base of the route. Unfortunately they added about 3 miles to the Lake Serene trail while we were on the mountain, so the hike out was a bit more tedious than expected. We finally arrived back to our cars alone in the parking lot at 11pm, just as we’d left them 20 hours and many lifetimes before. I grilled up a couple celebratory beyond burgers and we drove off into the night, grateful and dead exhausted. Many, many thanks to Doug and Mik for all the beta, and for setting up so many rap stations! This route is highly condition dependent. This winter and weather window has yielded easy snow climbing, thin and poorly protected but easily climbed gully ice, and snowy but manageable mixed climbing. I think significant time would be saved on the mixed pitches if there were no snow. Suitors should be prepared for sporting runouts on steep snow, tenuous mixed climbing, and a tricky descent after a long physically and mentally tiring day. Descent: Reverse climb along summit ridge to trees at base of the snowfield which leads up to summit ridge, i.e. just after the knife-edge ‘last pitch’ of the climb. Make 4-5 plumb-line rappels (60m double-rope) to large trees atop snow-bowl pitch. Rappel trending east (climber’s left) to small trees near base of snow-bowl. Continue for 5-6 raps along this slightly east trajectory, following shrub and block rap stations to base of the north face. Some of these are rope-stretchers with 60m ropes, 70m would help a lot. Once down contour easy but exposed snowfields to the east until reaching the saddle where the route begins. We mostly used Doug's webbing and carabiner stations, but added green tech cord to the station at the top of the snowbowl. Cut all the other tat there but unfortunately couldn't extract it from the ice. (it was late and we wanted to move fast) Lecture time: Knot both your ropes (and untie one end before you pull the other). Double-check your tether and rap setup every time before you commit your life to them. Pics: Setting sail, snowflakes like shooting stars Michael just after the first cruxy mixed step, taken from the hidden ledge blocks moments before the sun rose The sun also rises Michael heading up the gully at the top of the snowbowl Michael starting the first mixed ridge pitch with the false summit ahead Looking down at me from above first mixed ridge pitch Michael at the mixed crux Selfie from snowfield before summit ridge with Michael on the knife-edge False summit after false summit Moody Sky from summit Happy to be halfway home Classic pose on summit block (might not be there next year, the summit ridge seems to be mainly loose blocks glued together by ice) Index Traverse looking intimidating and appetizing Reversing the summit ridge traverse Possibly the worst rap anchor, but not by much Arriving at the large tree atop the snowbowl as headlights trace out Highway 2 below The result of bounce-testing the rap anchor at the large tree Rope stretcher with 60m ropes Dave Summers got a photo of our headlamps on the descent Gear Notes: Ropes: 2x 60m 7.5mm half/twins (70M recommended) Slings: 15 singles, 4 doubles, 1 quad. (good amount, but bringing more would allow for longer simul blocks. Had 2 carabiners per single sling and 1 per double and quad) Ice screws: 2x 10cm, 2x 13cm, 1x 16cm, (1x 22 for v-threads) (good selection, even though some placements were marginal due to conditions) Cams: single rack .1-2 (perfect, every cam was useful but didn't want any bigger) Nuts: About a dozen from small to large (didn't use too often but glad to have) Tricams: Pink and red (clutch) Pitons: selection of 3 small knifeblades, 1 short Lost Arrow, 1 beak (didn't place any, clipped one fixed pin) Cord/webbing: 20 foot 5mm tech cord useful for slinging large blocks. 40+ft of rap tat highly recommended Microtraxions: 2x for simul-climbing insurance Tools: Less aggressive quark style tools (Thanks to Michael's partner Tess for letting me borrow her quarks so I didn't have to haul the nomics up) Crampons: Dual point preferable, lots of snow Emergency gear: Inreach (+cell service most of the way up), lightweight emergency bivy sacks, small isobutane stove, hardwarmers and dry warm socks in case of epic. Climbing tape for in-situ surgery. We didn't bring any pickets and never wanted to place any, but if you desire protection on <60 degree snow you should bring one. Approach Notes: Took the Lake Serene Trail all the way up, skirted around on the NE shore of the frozen lake to the obvious slide path, ascended to saddle, stashed approach packs in small tree grove and racked up. ~1.5 hours car to base
  5. 10 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Gully Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: With the long period of sunshine after the rain event, @thedylan and I figured it would be lousy skiing but should be great for climbing... we were right! (This time). Earlier this fall we had made a list of possible winter climbing objectives, but then it started snowing, and snowing, and snowing; so we gave it up and went skiing. But this was our opportunity. Emboldened by some beta from this 2009 trip report, and this extra beta from Kyle M we decided to go for the East Gully route on Sperry Peak. It turned out to be an awesome route for easy ice and snow. Typically crappy ice climbers (like us) are left out in the cold (see what I did there?) when looking for alpine routes. You ask on a forum for east ice routes and everyone suggests Colonial, Eldo, Graybeard, etc. Or else North Twin and east snow routes. There never seems to be a happy medium or real climbing but not AI4. This was it! We nailed the conditions on route, except for a little sugary snow shenanigans on the ridge. The Mountain Loop Highway is closed for the winter at Deer Creek at 1600' so we opted for bikes. After a TH bivy on Friday night we started off at 5am. To our surprise we made it to the summer trailhead with only minimal biking through crusty snow, arriving there at 6:30 with 7.6 miles under our belts already. We brought snowshoes but ditched them at 2400' where the trail breaks out into the open and we got a good view of how crusty the snow was going to be. We did not regret this. The approach is short but was seriously aided by the high elevation snowpack and firm crust. We easily booted to the approach scramble at 3600'. First view: Route from where we left the summer trail: From the trail the route is obvious, up the gully that splits the face. All the photos make it look like there is a notch between two high points, but the right point is just a flat spot on the ridge. At about 3400' the approach scramble begins that shut down Kyle M and party. Fortunately, we had an easy snow gully, the ice step was wet and thin but there is a right variation that worked with an easy scramble section. The climbing begins at about 4400' with the money pitch right off the batt. If there was a way to build a rap anchor I might have been tempted to give up here and just lap the first pitch, there were several variations possible and it was awesome easy ice and hero snice, the kind of conditions to make you feel like a good ice climber! This didn't last and after maybe 100' it turned to snow over rock with no pro and a rock step looming, I built a crappy anchor and belayed Dylan up. He took the rock step that turned out to be an easy scramble move aided by the shockingly warm sunshine (I climbed it without gloves or a jacket). Then we were back into the snow gully. From here it was simul-soloing moderate snow and snice for several simul blocks with one great snice and ice step in the mix for Dylan to lead. First pitch: Second pitch rock step with spindrift: I lead again up to the ridge, as I approached it I realized I was climbing up to a cornice so had to bear left onto some insanely steep sugary snow with no pro and terrible axe plunges. I wallowed upward somehow making decent footholds and trusting that it seemed to be working. After probably 30 minutes for what was realistically probably 50' but felt like 200 I topped out on the ridge at a flat safe spot at 5500' and started burying everything metal I had for a crappy anchor in the sugar snow. I was psychologically done from the insecurity of it. You don't train for those conditions. The climbing worked, somehow, but it felt awful. Dylan, naturally, made it look easy on second. Dylan's photo looking back down to my belay with the NE ridge behind: Dylan lead the next simul block through the same place mentioned in the 2009 report: " the physical crux of the climb on such a move that required hooking a tree and pulling up with disintegrating footholds above a near vertical flute that dropped into the north face." Second that! The summit was close but the cornice looked daunting, fortunately, it was mostly fatigue talking and it was an easy 4' vertical step onto the summit! Summit slope: We had a good snack break in the sun and felt much rejuvenated. The descent went smoothly, some front pointing and careful walking on crusty snow, mostly NW near the scramble route to the head of the cirque and across the lake to the trail route and out to Headley Pass. We hit the summer TH at 6pm making it an 11.5 hour day on foot, just under 14 car to car. This was a fantastic route, if we could figure out a better way to do the NE ridge part I would definitely go back. There was an ice line to the left a few hundred feet below the ridge crest that I think the '09 party took, but it looked hard compared to the snow I did... in retrospect... Gear Notes: bikes, sneakers, boots, axe, ice tool, helmets, 60m 1/2 rope, 3 screws, some nuts and cams (placed 2 rock pieces all day, minimal options), 2 pickets (3 maybe useful?) Approach Notes: Bikes! Crust made for awesomely fast travel on the low angle stuff. The climb is very accessible from the summer TH.
  6. 10 points
    Trip: North Norwegian Buttress - Jötnar VI 5.9 A3 Trip Date: 08/01/2020 Trip Report: Whaddup maggots. The crew of vagrants and miscreants just got down yesterday from north Norwegian round 2. We completed our line to the top of the buttress. We spent 1 day fixing back to the high point then 6 days on the wall climbing in capsule style to complete the route. We are naming the line “Jötnar”, the race of god-like giants in Norse mythology. We unofficially started calling the Norwegian cirque Jötunheim, “the realm of the giants”. While only having one line up there might not give us “authority” to name something, I’m enamored with the zone and like the name, and no one else has to call it that... anywho, here’s a brief report of our experience, hopefully this inspires someone to follow in our footsteps, as it’s an incredible route. In June, we made our first foray onto the wall and found soggy conditions as our route runs through a water streak for a good portion of the lower buttress. Poor weather lead to poor conditions, if you read my previous trip report, you’ll remember we did not get far. In 4 days of climbing we completed about 700’ of the line. We left gear stashed with the intent on returning. Our window of time off about 3 weeks away. Prep for the route started a few days before our departure date. I headed over to kyle’s studio (For his gear business “high mountain gear and repair”) in Ballard to make some various things. One of those being an inflatable big wall hammock that we had been discussing in recent weeks. Kyle would test it out on this wall, likely the secret weapon for big wall alpine routes in the cascades. Kyle came up with the name “Taco” as a mockery of conventional portaledges. After making various things for the wall we set out on our own errands the next day then reconvened to shuttle a load up to lake serene. Fetching water was considerably easier than last time, the moat had opened enough to walk inside, being a whiteout day we decided it was safe enough to brave for 15 min to get water (better than hiking back to the lake!!) After unwrapping our gear stash we discovered a snafflehound gnawed on a rope! The backup lead line nonetheless. Another rope was needed, the volume of rope was becoming absurd. We told Lani to pick one up on her way down from Bellingham. Logistics here got weird. Kyle had commitments in the form of a bike packing trip during the start of the window we had to climb. So when Lani and I started climbing we would have to leave lines fixed to the ground for Kyle to use to join us two days into the climb! On the first day we got a ride to the trailhead early morning and moved with motivation all Day to fix lines the the high point on our route. The line climbed substantially better because of the cleaning we were able to do previously. Fixing high on the wall we descended to the base that evening to sleep on the ground and prep the load to haul. We woke up early again and started the manual labor. Moving faster that expected we were able to haul to the high point and get camp set up around mid afternoon. Plenty of time to start up new terrain. Lani started up the next pitch which would prove the steepest on route. She got about halfway up the pitch before deciding it was time for dinner. On day 3 she headed up the pitch and pulled through the massive steep band that blocked our view of the upper buttress. This would prove to be the only pitch that requires a fixed line for descent. I took over the lead on the next pitch and found cool expanding beak cracks that lead up to a surprise! We pulled into a band of bulletproof skagit gneiss that would run the whole middle part of the route, immaculate stone. I climbed up into a massive right facing corner and up an amazing #2 crack through the second massive roof on the route “the fang” as we had pre named it. Continuing up an easy flare I found a good stance at the base of a large slab. Lani was still feeling mega tired from the steep lead and told me to keep going, I quested upwards on the slab utilizing a mixture of hooks and rivets to reach a dike that proved discouragingly shitty. The dike however led to a good flake that rapidly turned not so good, the whole corner was a Jenga stack. Being on lead I reluctantly bat hooked the face around the choss. These bat hooks could maybe be avoided post cleaning, still chossy and expando in there though. I eventually put a bolt in to reach far and tension to the next small corner, which proved to be cruiser C1 to a good stance for a belay, post dirt removal this would likely be sweet 5.9-10. Here I called off belay while placing the anchor bolts and Lani zipped down to camp to start dinner. Meanwhile Kyle had started up the wall hauling the second half of the load solo, having to haul twice he only got to the bivy at pitch 3 and would camp here. Day 4 started with shenanigans to situate the ropes where they needed to be in order to fix higher. After we were able to snag an independent rope Lani and I again began the commute up the fixed lines to push the line higher while Kyle hailed up to camp. From the high point, Lani led up Inobvious but moderate aid to the crest of “the dude”. The biggest roof on north Norwegian, and an intimidating mega overhang. Incipient and creative low angle A3 led up and left under the roof and around the bushy corner to a small ledge. Reaching this ledge we figured we were far enough up to move camp, and thus Lani went down to assist Kyle in starting to haul while I started soloing the next pitch to the intended next camp. About halfway up my pitch I got a call saying there were technical difficulties at camp, we decided to reestablish camp and fix to the top my pitch. Day 5 would start super early with the big move. Myself and Lani would double counterbalance sky haul the pigs while Kyle cleaned the line below and brought up fixed lines. A few hours of hot manual labor brought us to the high point ledge. A grassy inset which seemed suboptimal for two portaledges, we spotted a good spot left of the buttress crest and concocted a creative plan to swing the bags over. I free climbed up to the top of a flake and put a good bolt in and lowered down (clipping the haul line to the bolt) to the intended spot. I drilled while Kyle and Lani prepped the bags. Once ready I took tight on the haul line with my gri gri and they kicked the bags over top rope style to me where I lowered them in place and docked them at the anchor. Shenanigans. After setting camp up I hugged up to my high point on the pitch and continued my lead. “The head wall” proved to be wicked exposed but I had to fight the features pulling us left into the chossy chasm and drill my way to a stunning corner on the buttress crest. Kyle and Lani came up to join me and Kyle started up the next pitch. Moderate free and aid led up through a tree to a roof. An inobvious ramp cut out left through some chossy bush. Kyle bulldozed his way up eventually running out of patience and drilling around some dangerous choss. Running low on daylight Kyle threw in a belay and called it a day. Day 6 started with a poor decision, only one gallon of water came up the wall... after jugging we were already dehydrated but didn’t think too much of it. We started on the e face and got good afternoon shade but the upper part of the route climbs the crest of the se ridge, and gets blazing sun all day. I got the the high point first and in the spirit of decluttering the tight stance I started free climbing. 50 ft up I hit an awesome ledge too good to pass up, so I added an anchor and moved the team up. Kyle in the mean time cleaned the previous bit to a state of being semi pleasant climbing!! At this belay our peril became evident, we were already spiraling into gnarly dehydration. Kyle was getting loopy, Lani unstoked, and myself crankerous. I would continue up with inobvious route finding. A long circuitous pitch of steep 5.9 led to another good albeit sun exposed ledge. We were closing on the summit, Lani encouraged me to keep leading while Kyle cleaned the route. A blueberry filled corner provided passage to the next tier, a pitch likened to the tree climbing on j berg!! One more mega ledge and we could smell it! A casual pitch of 5.7 led up to a short bit of heather clawing onto the summit of the buttress. We had read that it was easy climbing to the summit of middle index from here and it looked so. It also looked like a bunch of cascadian bush mank that seemed like it would taint our experience in our state of dehydrated madness. We descended to camp to smoke the joint we found in the parking lot and contemplate our descent. One or two puffs in I had this idea to lower Kyle with the bags down the whole face. We all became (mostly) convinced it would work and put wheels in the motion the next day. After wranglin the bags back to fall line we descended two pitches to the intended “drop zone”. We delicately stacked 1000’ of rope joined with edk’s, we would would bump em all through a munter. Kyle and the bags were probably closing on 400 lbs, we needed a gri and munter to control the load. The lower went smooth, and we were amazed! Bags were down!!!! So myself and Lani dropped all but two ropes down the face and Kyle started managing the clusterfuck. Our new friend River had responded to a Facebook call for porter help and met Kyle at the lake to take down 50-60 lbs of our load while me and Lani rapped the face and cleaned our gear. We touched down not too long after and started the soul crushing hike down, we had about 70-80 lbs a piece. I had called my parents again as it seems like all our friends are busy this time of year, they met us at the parking lot with a cooler of cold bubbly, fucking great climb. Shoutout to Lani for stoke, Kyle for his undying willingness to suffer and commitment to the manual labor and route creation, and River! For being willing to come up and help total strangers hump our stinky clusterfuck around. This route was certainly the effort of a village, and a wonderful big wall line that I hope people enjoy. Gear Notes: Double Rack micro to #4, Single 5, Single set of offset nuts (didn’t use rp’s), 4-5 each beaks, 2 small lost arrows, 10 rivet hangers. All bolts and rivets are stainless, one or two bolts didn’t take well in the wet mud, but could potentially be reset with a funk and tightented (all anchors have at least 2 good bolts). Some may need to be tightened up again after initial loading. No ledges big enough even for 1 to sleep, good portaledges camps at the top of pitch 3,6,9, and 12. Do not haul above 12. Bivies at 3,6, and side of 11 take 2 ledges well. Rap the route, some directionals need to be placed on a handful of pitches to get down, pitch 7 needs to remain fixed with an extra 35-40M rope (it could be possible to down aid the roof on rappel to get back to the previous anchor) Approach Notes: Scamper to Lake Serene while the tourons ask about your “paraglide” or “boats”. Easy talus walking to near the waterfall between the buttresses. Enjoy your stay in Jötunheim!
  7. 9 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - DKH- Elliot HW linkup Trip Date: 04/03/2021 Trip Report: Unable to secure a partner for Saturday, I opted for some soloing on Hood over the less preferable slog-to-climb ratio in the Three Sisters. Drove up from Bend at 3am and was skinning by 5 from Timberline. Ok skinning to Palmer, complete trash above that. Should've ditched the skis there, or booted the whole thing. Looking up DKH1: Looking down above the crux: DKH1 was spewing a near constant stream of little rime pebbles despite the freezing temps and there's a considerable debris field at the base. The main couloir itself was in pretty gross shape, lots of exposed rock and thin plastered ice, but not too steep. However the crux was a bit fatter and better ice than when I climbed it in late January. I climbed it carefully, anticipating being hit in the arms or head at any moment, but went off without a hitch. At the fork I headed right for a couple more fun moderate ice sections. There was a fork about 200ft below the ridge, went left, looked more fun, delicate move over a little rock and ice bulge then more easy ice and snow. I had to make a couple awkward, catwalk like moves to bust out left from the top of the couloir onto the very upper Wyeast face. Here I found the least consolidated snow of the day. Easy walk to summit from there. The weather had been looking marginal, cloudy with chance of increasing winds, but at the summit it was calm and the clouds seemed unthreatening and happy to remain pretty high. I figured I'd head over to check out the Elliot, taking a look at the exit options from the summit ridge. Looked steep! The leftmost exit in Mullee looked like very steep snow and shitty ice to gain the ridge, the rightmost exit looked nicer. Elliot from the base. I took the flow just left of the rock center of photo: I sat at the little saddle above Horseshoe rock to have a bite and look at the route. The amount of ice back there is incredible! Go get it folks, it's fat, and it's good. I traversed in and down on steep snow, above the schrund, to the base of a pretty fat WI3 ish flow that seemed like a logical way to start. From there I trended slightly left, then back right, aiming for the obvious "Wallace 5.7 chimney" exit described in Mullee. Many more WI2 ish sections followed, all on bomber ice, interspersed with some steep snow. It's truly a pick-your-own-adventure headwall! The exit looked steeper and steepr as I got closer and I could feel the adrenaline starting to pump through my veins; thankfully it was filled in with a nice little WI3/3+ ribbon. There seem to be lots of fun mixed exit options all over up there on half decent looking rock. I plugged a couple screws at the base of the last pitch and took a breather, psyching myself up. It was surprisingly steep, but was able to get good stems up it with the occasional pon-on-rock stem. The exposure was a little heady, I took my time, and soon enough was on epic easy ice and a few feet of steep snow back onto the ridge, a nice cornice-free top out. The cloud cover kept the snow above Palmer nice and rimey all day, so I had to take the walk of shame back to Palmer where I could finally ski back to the car. Pretty psyched on the linkup possibilities on Hood! It's go time in Oregon! Gear Notes: 3 screws, 3 alpines, 4 pins and 60m x 6mm tagline for bail options (not used) Approach Notes: Standard
  8. 9 points
    Trip: Pakistan - K6 Central Trip Date: 10/09/2020 Trip Report: Dear CC friends, Sorry we haven't been on here much, but we've been working a lot on our blog. It's more of a diary for us since we don't care about hits or ad content. We really don't want to just post a link to our blog TR and leave it at that. We want to see CC thrive and grow! So we've copied our latest TR from Pakistan below. If you are interested in other TR's from our 2020 year of traveling and climbing, like our ascent of all Six of the Great Alps North Faces and Cerro Torre in Patagonia, check out our blog or Vimeo page. https://alpinevagabonds.com https://vimeo.com/user37304873 Stats Location: Masherbrum Range, Karakoram Mountains, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan K6 West, 7,140m, 3rd ascent, October 8, 2020 K6 Central, 7,155m, 1st ascent, October 9, 2020 Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Trip Report K6 Central Summit Selfie (7,155m) We climbed K6 West (third ascent 7,140m) and K6 Central (first ascent 7,155m) this October. We summited West on Oct 8th and Central on Oct 9th. We had been planning to climb K6 from the Nangmah valley side for over two years. When COVID struck, we held on to the hope of going but delayed our trip from the original June-August until late September-October when the country announced they were allowing tourists to enter with a valid COVID test. A week before we departed, Colin Haley decided to join our trip to climb various objectives solo. Colin has been a hero to us, and was a major inspiration for us to start Alpine Climbing over six years ago. In fact, we modeled our Sabbatical Year on a typical year in Colin’s life (Patagonia – Chamonix – Pakistan). It was a real treat for us to have him join us at Base Camp, and he provided us with a wealth of knowledge and advice in this new game (for us) of high altitude Alpinism. Jeff on K6 Central’s summit This was a difficult year for climbers, world-wide, due to COVID. Nearly all serious expeditions canceled their plans, so when we continued with our planned Karakoram expedition to K6, we were quite alone in the whole range. Certainly no one expected us to make a first ascent of K6 Central, a 7,000m peak, in late season. K6 has three major summits along its summit ridge: West (7,140m), Central (7,155m), and Main (7,281m). K6 Main was first climbed by an Austrian Expedition in 1970 led by Eduard Koblmueller. Before the expedition, we were lucky enough to get in contact with one of the original expedition members of the young Austrian team, Fred Pressl, who graciously shared pictures and stories from his 1970 expedition. In 2013, Ian Welsted and Raphael Slawinski became the first ascensionists of K6 West via a highly technical route from the North (Charakusa) side (for which they won a Piolet d’Or). Then in 2015, Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett became the second ascensionists of K6 West from the South (Nangmah) side. But an impending storm forced them to retreat without continuing the traverse to K6 Central, and it remained unclimbed. Priti with K6 West on the left, Main in the middle and Central on the right The first hurdle to overcome was getting to Pakistan. We kept in contact with Ali Saltoro, our expedition tour operator, who kept us informed on the COVID status there. We delayed our trip a month and a half, but when he told us that tourism had opened up in Pakistan, we dusted off our Visas from December 2019, bought plane tickets and got the fresh COVID tests required for entry. We had heard of no expeditions traveling this season, and we didn’t know what to expect. We arrived in Islamabad on August 23rd, Ali met us at the airport, and hours later we flew to Skardu, without even leaving the airport. We arrived smoothly and safely at basecamp in the Nangmah valley on Aug 26th, with zero hassle. Advanced Base Camp, with the South Face of K6 behind Once we got to basecamp, we started acclimatizing on nearby Kapura Peak and had a full view of K6’s SW Ridge and West Face from what’s called Alam’s Col (a route first climbed by Portugese Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo in 2013). From this vantage point, we could see that there were several options for climbing the West Face. After acclimatizing on Kapura Peak (no summit attempt) located on the West Nangmah Glacier, we moved over to the East Nangmah Glacier and made an Advanced Base Camp. We continued acclimatizing, exploring two of the three alternative lines that would bypass nearly all of the technical mixed climbing found by Graham and Steve. We climbed up to 6200m and slept above 5700m for 5 nights, before determining that Graham and Scott’s descent line would be the ideal line of ascent as well. Bivy high on K6, with the East and West Nangmah Glaciers below We descended back to Base Camp (4,400m), upon learning that Colin had fallen ill. Colin ended his trip and returned to France, but we made plans for a summit attempt when we received a promising weather forecast. We were well acclimatized, and poised for attack, despite the dropping temperatures and rapidly shortening days. Paragliding near base camp, Shingu Charpa behind On October 2nd, we headed back up to ABC at 5,150m. From there, the route starts on a major ramp on the southwest flank of the peak, following up to 60 degrees ice/snow to the SW ridge for about 600m to the southwest ridge. We then traversed for 300m across the West Face, across the bergschrund, then straight up the icy 900m West Face. When Graham and Scott descended by this line in 2015, they made 19 Abolokov’s to get below the bergschrund. The 900m ascent of the West Face was a strenuous, calf-burning, 12hr day to reach 6,600m on the southwest ridge. The West Face consisted primarily of a few inches of névé over solid, very hard ice (~70deg for 900m), which we simul-climbed. The West Face of K6 The upper slopes consisted of deep snow, and we wallowed the last 400m to the summit ridge at 7,000m. Our weather forecaster warned us that we would encounter the jet stream above 6,500m with sustained winds of at least 45km/hr and a morning low of -21C; he was correct. This late season ascent meant climbing in cold, clear, windy weather, and especially short days and cold, long nights. We climbed new terrain along the traverse from K6 West to K6 Central. The West Face of K6 Central was up to 80 deg ice/snow including a bergschrund and a tenuous cornice to overcome. Final slopes to K6 Central The North side of the sharp, rocky summit ridge of K6 Central precipitously dropped dead vertically into the Charakusa Valley. When we finally reached the highest point of the fan-shaped crest of K6 Central’s summit, we sat on the knife-edge ridge with one leg over the Lachit Valley and one leg over the Charakusa Valley. Strangely, climbing an unclimbed peak did not feel any different from climbing any other peak. However the clear weather gave us great views of the enormous 7,000 and 8,000 meter peaks that spread out around us in a vast panorama in all directions, and we felt exuberant and humbled. But our elation was short-lived because we had a long way to descend. Priti’s foot dangling from the summit of K6 Central, over the Charakusa glacier We owe many thanks to Steve Swenson, Graham Zimmerman, and Ian Welsted for their helpful beta, to Colin Haley for his great advice and wonderful company, to the rest of our base camp crew, Ishaq our basecamp manager, Azhar our cook, Captain Zohaib our liaison officer, and of course Ali Saltoro, our expedition tour operator. We couldn’t have done it without them! Our basecamp crew: Jeff, Priti, Colin, Azhar, Ali, Captain Zohaib, Ishaq Gear Notes: 6 Ice Screws, 6 Alpine Draws, 60m Beal Opera, 60m tag line, two tools each, dual points. Gear brought but not used (bummer!): 5 cams, extra Alpine Draws, small rack of nuts Approach Notes: Approach via East Nangmah Glacier
  9. 9 points
    Trip: Storm King Mountain (8515’) - North Ridge Route Trip Date: 09/05/2020 Trip Report: Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route Trip Report – September 5-7, 2020 I climbed Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route. I tried this route last year at the end of July but under estimated the amount of time, effort and amount of route finding required to do the route and had to turn around before making the summit. This year I still under estimated the time and effort required but was able to make the summit due to better beta from my previous attempt last year. It took me 3 days. I started at the Bridge Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20 just east of Rainy Pass. It was an out and back trip using Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail into the North side of Goode and Storm King. The trail is in excellent shape all the way to Grizzly Creek Camp. After Grizzly Creek Camp the trail gets overgrown but is not hard to follow. The adventure starts when you cross the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Down low, after crossing the creek (3100’-3200’elevation), heading up the rocky brushy slope I almost walked into a large Wasp nest in the middle of the faint climbers trail. I got lucky and made a detour around the nest without incident. I followed a faint trail up the tree lined ridge between Goode and Storm King. The ridge tops out at 4700’ on a nice wide fairly flat plateau that would make a great camp, no water though. I continued up the ridge to about 5100’ and started my traverse over to the bottom of the North Ridge of Storm King (5000’). This is the easiest spot to gain the North Ridge of Storm King, right at the base of the glacier. The rock is a mix of Class 3, 4 and low 5th in spots heading up. On either side of the ridge it is steep, sheer rock so you will know if you are off route. It took me 5 hours to go from the base of the North Ridge to the Summit. I summited late at 6:00pm so I headed down to find a place to bivy at about 7200’ next to the snow field separating the upper and lower mountain. I got up early the next morning and started down at 6:30am. Once back at the bottom of the North Ridge I headed straight down and diagonal toward the creek valley below. On the map it looked like the easiest way down (contour line wise). Even though it was the easiest way down to the main creek, it still involved coming down several 10’ vertical drops that required careful Vege-Belaying technique. I usually hate Slide Alder, but in this case, I was very happy it was on the down route as it was very useful. Overall the North Ridge of Storm King is a tough climb. The approach is difficult, the exit is difficult, and the ridge requires your full attention. The trail into the area is long and you will need comfortable shoes to save your feet. There was a search and rescue helicopter flying all over the creek valley and up to the base of Goode on Sunday the 6th. Looks like they were doing a rescue. They spent some time parked on an island in the middle of the creek below. It was a good reminder to keep my shit wired tight doing this route. Hopefully all went well for the rescue operation. Some Tips and Notes: 1. This is a long trip. I should have spread the pain more evenly over the three days. Day 1 go as far up as you can to camp. I thought Grizzly Camp was far enough on Day 1, it wasn’t. 2. The climbers trail up the tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King is steep and hard to follow. Mostly just look for skid marks from animals and humans to stay on route. 3. There are good camping options at 4700’ on the tree covered ridge and above. The 7200’ bivy spot on the side of Storm King is pretty good, If I had more of my gear with me it would have been very pleasant. There was water all along the route where there was melting snow/glacier. 4. A rope would probably be a good idea to bring along. Rappelling would have been nice in several spots but you would definitely have to watch for loose rock coming down on you as you rappel. A didn’t bring a rope to save weight and it worked out fine for me. 5. I brought an Ice Axe & Crampons and didn’t use them. Maybe early in the season they would have been needed. Travel Time for reference: Day 1 (TH to Grizzly Camp), 4.5 hours – Day 2 (Grizzly Camp to Summit to 7200’ bivy), 12.5 hours – Day 3 (7200’ bivy to TH), 14 hours. Gear used: Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves Wasp nest down low after crossing North Fork Bridge Creek around 3100-3200' Climbers Trail up tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King View from 4700' ridge plateau Potential camp at 4700' ridge plateau Full view of North Ridge of Storm King. Start of ridge is the at the bottom right where the heavy shadow is (5000'). North Ridge start location (5000'). Get used to this view for the next several hours. View off to the side of the North Ridge. Storm King - "Where Echoes Go To Die" - I believe it, must have been climbing the North Ridge. Goode looking sexy like usual. Wish I had more time on the summit to enjoy the view, it was stunning. End of the Exit route. Farewell Storm King - North Ridge. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hands. Gear Notes: Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves - Didn't need the Ice Axe or Crampons Approach Notes: Bridge Creek Trailhead - Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail & back
  10. 9 points
    Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge C2C Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Kyle Tarry @ktarry and I climbed Ptarmigan Ridge round trip from Whitewater Campground July 11/12. We originally planned to climb it 12/13 with a bivy at the standard location, but increasing winds and cloud forecast for Saturday night convinced us to just do it in a push starting the evening of the 11th. I think we benefitted in our late season climb from the conditions resulting from this more cloudy and cold summer. We drove up after Kyle got off work and left the car at 8:30pm, did the St. Elmos-Winthrop-Curtis-Carbon approach in the dark and arrived at the start of the route at dawn (water drip on the Curtis and brew stop near the normal bivy spot). The route was in thin conditions compared to other pictures I've seen but the glacier crossings were pretty easy and direct. We climbed a small (20m) ice/mixed step that was pretty gross to cross the schrund, a little L of the typical start, which saved some elevation loss. Firm and sun-cupped/rock-smashed snow made for relatively easy movement above this. There was some low angle ice that took good screws starting the ramp towards the rock step variation, but even this did not require much sustained front-pointing. The rock step seemed longer/steeper due to the low snow there (again compared to other pictures I've seen, and based on the fact that I was past the crux when the fixed pin appeared). We topped Liberty Cap and descended the Emmons (good condition for this time of year, I hear). Visibility dropped significantly as we reached Camp Schurman and it even snowed a bit as we descended the Interglacier. We were back at the car by 7:10pm on Saturday and slept about as well as you would think. Pros of the single push strategy: cool/dark glacier approaches, day packs don't weigh much, we nailed the weather window Cons: we were pretty tired (cons win) Gear Notes: one picket (not used), 3 screws (used a few places), 4 nuts (not used), 1 knife blade (used on rock step), 30 m half rope Approach Notes: standard White River approach to N Side routes
  11. 8 points
    Trip: Mt. Index - Lake Serene photo trip Trip Date: 03/23/2021 Trip Report: I did a morning hike up to Lake Serene last week to fly my drone and get some new views of Mt. Index. Thought some of you might enjoy a couple images. Gear Notes: DJI Mavic 2 Pro Approach Notes: I thought there would be a good boot pack but the last traverse was snowshoed and I punched through a bit.
  12. 8 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Full Richardson Trip Date: 04/05/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday my partner Artem and I got up close and personal with the slog to climb ratio in the Three Sisters. Spoiler alert: it was worth it. I’d soloed the North Buttress of Broken Top the week before and had seen the Full Richardson in fat shape. The amount (for Central Oregon) of ice back there is spectacular; the potential for harder/ bolder mixed and smear lines is exciting. I knew I’d be back very soon. It’s a special thing to be able to sleep in your own warm bed before an alpine climb, and I met Artem at Dutchman Flat at a leisurely 4:30am. A long but pretty flat and beautiful approach ensued, taking us down to the Todd Lake area before heading up to Ball Butte and eventually dropping onto the benign Bend Glacier. We saw a group camped out below the glacier but they sadly didn’t echo our hoots and hollers. Sad day. The Richardson and the North Buttress couloir are obvious once on the western end of the Bend Glacier. We soloed the first optional step in the couloir, easy WI2, easily avoidable but more fun and a good warmup. Steep snow ensued, and the second WI2 step was similarly short and easy. I went ahead to slam a picket and screw to belay Artem on the money pitch. Artem wrapping up the first ice step: Artem headed up, carefully working his way up the steep and blobby ice, looking cool and poised. It was silent other than the rhythmic thuds of kick kick, swing swing that echoed through the amphitheater. He decided to belay 3/4’s of the way up the ~35-40m flow. I was glad to move again after cooling off severely in the shaded amphitheater below; fighting off the barfies proved to be the crux of the pitch! I climbed through his belay and topped out, finding another bomber screw and picket belay a few feet above the flow. I put the rope away and we headed up the snow slope to the northwest ridge. The week before, the summit eluded me as I was turned around by bottomless sugar snow on the snow ramp option on the east side of the summit block. Not wanting to down-solo the regular summer route, I called it good. But this time, armed with a rope and a partner, I was determined to get er’ done. We followed my tracks up the snow ramp. The snow hadn’t gotten better above my dead-end, so Artem put in a picket in the somewhat hardened snow in our tracks. I traversed a few feet right to where I could hook some “rock,” slung a partially detached horn of choss, and climbed a few pretty moderate mixed moves to get us on top! From there we slung a block, unable to find tat, and rapped off to the west, joining the NW ridge walk off. We down climbed some steep snow back onto the glacier and back to our packs. I finished my last sip of water (suffer mode engaged!) and we prepared for the 8-ish mile ski out. We were pretty psyched to find the Cascades Lake highway freshly groomed for us as we skinned back out. The golden hour light and the calm of the evening faded some of the fatigue as we stumbled back to the car. Overall this took us about 14hrs round trip from Dutchman’s at a pretty relaxed pace all day. The grade of WI4/4+ feels about right; the climbing is sustained on the pitch, and while not dead vertical, the blobby ice made it interesting. We are both pretty psyched on the potential of at least repeating some of the burlier looking lines back there; any additional info on other routes would be appreciated! For now though I need a bit of a break from that approach! Gear Notes: 11 screws, 1 picket, 60m half rope Approach Notes: Slog from Dutchman's
  13. 8 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - NW Couloir Trip Date: 03/10/2021 Trip Report: I've been wanting to do this route for years; this was my fourth attempt, all others ending ridiculously far from success (although on one we did summit and ski the summit pyramid instead, so how can that really be a failure. Last weekend me, @MGraw, and @thedylan got the idea that conditions would likely be just right for a real try at the NW Couloir mid-week this week. After many weekend storm days skiing near the resort we had a pretty good read on conditions. We decided to play hooky on Wednesday and go for it. Everything worked out great, the warmup on Monday even mysteriously held off trashing the powder down low in the White Salmon valley. We were patting ourselves on the back pretty good when we topped out the north shoulder at 11:30, 5.5 hours after starting out. Then for the hard part... The route is pretty straightforward so I don't need to say much. It rocked! It was scarry getting in and across the traverse; when I took the photo of the traverse from above my hands were shaking. We had all watched the Cody Townsend video the day before where they make it sounds really scary. After doing it there is the possibility that they are playing it up a bit for the camera. Althogh the pucker factor is actually a million-bajillion as stated. Especially with the traverse fairly thin and rocky as we had it. Gear Notes: Axes for the upper S-curves & traverse. Approach Notes: Travers into the White Salmon Valley
  14. 8 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Black Spider - Center Drip Trip Date: 03/17/2021 Trip Report: @Nolan E Arson and I climbed Center Drip on Wednesday. I usually write overly detailed trip reports but am going to keep this brief and possibly vague because 1) I'm busy/tired, and 2) I feel it's important to preserve the mystique of this route. Here's the quick Cliff Notes version with some pictures. - We started stupidly early because the forecast looked warm and I had a work meeting at 3 (you can guess how that worked out). - We reached the top of Palmer 1:12 after leaving Timberline. I compared our packs when we stopped and mine was about 20 pounds lighter. Sorry dude! - Traversed the White River around 9000' where the big ramp always is and tried to maintain this elevation across the Newton Clark. Uneventful. - From below the face looks barren, dry, uninspiring and crumbly: - But the following very zoomed-in aerial photo had me fantasizing about a vein of climbable ice on the upper mountain: - There's some serious bergschrund action at the bottom. We delicately tiptoed between two massive cracks and then almost stumbled into a third (really, who expects there to be 3???): - First rock band at the base of the couloir = covered with snow. Walked over it. - Second rock band is exposed, we belayed a short pitch. There's a smear of ice that's maybe not actually ice, thankfully it's not that steep because the anchors were probably not actually anchors either. - Below is a picture of the (very thin) ice that matches the line drawn on Wayne's original topo. We did not climb this but instead continued up the couloir to the right maybe 30 meters, for a variety of mundane reasons. - We pulled out of the couloir on this short curtain which basically follows the line on the Mullee topo. Not sure why Mullee's line doesn't quite match Wayne's but they eventually intersect part way between the couloir and the upper snowfield. - Above that there was a bunch of fun, moderate ice climbing! It was a bit hard to believe but I was beginning to think the whole idea wasn't totally stupid. - @Nolan E Arson led into the snow field and somehow recognized one of the rocks or something (??????) from Wayne's trip report. The ice was super thin and I wasn't convinced that this was actually the line, but eventually I traversed out and committed since there weren't any more appealing options. It's not really visible in the pictures but there was a consistent 1-2' wide smear of protectable ice weaving its way up through the rocks. - A ways up I lost the thread and I think took a wrong turn when the ice disappeared under some snow. I climbed a few meters of improbably steep, unsupportive snow, and then did a couple traversing mixed moves to get back on the route, while being ferociously blasted in the face with spindrift of course. I placed a decent cam and a really bomber nut. - Looking down on the upper pitch: - @Nolan E Arson led the last short but very mixed pitch up to the summit snowfield. Delightful crampon-on-slab action: Other notes and thoughts: - I found this route quite stressful simply because we were never really sure what we'd find or if we'd be able to finish it. Rapping off always would have been possible but a giant pain in the ass. The ice on the upper pitch, seen in the aerial photo, is not easily visible from below. - But overall it was pretty reasonable, I'd hesitantly say "safe," even in these thin conditions. There were ample opportunities to place short screws and the anchors were actually pretty confidence inspiring above the first pitch. There was seemingly decent rock pro in the two spots where it was needed. And the climbing was never hard. - I agree with the WI3 grade, though of course it's a bit weird and funky. We had to do a small amount of mixed climbing but it was never very steep, just balancy. - It took us a long time to climb the route but thankfully it remained very cold and there was no rock or icefall. I stayed in my belay parka the entire time. - Fric-Amos is still icy. The lower pitch from the previous trip report is totally buried and ramp-like. Gear Notes: Many screws, 1 picket, a few cams and nuts, a few pitons (not used). Approach Notes: Started from Timberline.
  15. 8 points
    Trip: Tahoma / Mt. Rainier - Gibraltar Ledges Trip Date: 03/13/2021 Trip Report: @aikidjoe and I hiked / climbed Gibraltar Ledges on Saturday, March 13th. Left the parking lot Friday evening about 5:30pm and returned about the same time Saturday. Skinned to Muir with a great track(s) and easy snow conditions. Had our fingers crossed that the hut would be open - alas, four to six folks had set up in there. Given we're not done with the plague quite yet, we elected to dig a little double-wide snow coffin and settle in for an open bivy. Thankfully the wind was light and our 20 degree bags were sufficient. I want to thank the gentleman who came out of the hut and insisted we stay in there, the gesture was appreciated! We felt good sleeping out despite the insistence that there was 'no covid' in the hut. After a solid 6+ hour sleep, we left Muir about 6am. A superb bootpack led all the way up to, across, and out of the ledges. Roped up at the shoulder of Gib Rock (~12,500), shortly after Joseph put his whole left leg in a hidden crack. Wands on the upper mountain were helpful in navigating crevasses and led pretty nicely to the top. We ran into three skiers who got to enjoy some chalky, not really icy snow on the upper mountain. There was also one set of ski tracks in Gib Chute which appeared to be in great shape. Looking down the Ingraham, it was clear no one was descending that way and getting down it would be a pain with how broken up the glacier was. We hit the summit crater about noon and decided to call that good, based on having to re-cross the ledges in the afternoon sun, as well as some threatening clouds gathering on the other side of the summit zone. Descending was made easier by whoever left the wands up there. Not to let Joseph be outdone, I also managed to put a whole leg in a crack that was thinly covered by some wind transported snow. Getting back across the ledges after noon was a tad stressful, fortunately no rockfall occurred on the way through. The nice snow we had skinning up the night before had transformed into a crusty nightmare just below Muir. It got softer and more consistent by Pan Face, which made for some fun turns on tired legs. No trip to Rainier is complete without a wildlife sighting - this parking lot fox was pretty tame and hardly wild. Can't believe it had been almost 4 years since my last time up Rainier, almost forgot how much fun the slog can be! It helps to have great weather, a solid partner, and nice folks ahead to break all the trail. To paraphrase a dear friend, the mark of a good weekend is whether or not one's soul was refreshed. By that measure, it was certainly a soul refreshing weekend. Spring is here and the mountains are calling! Gear Notes: 60m skinny cord, glacier gear, sunscreen, warm layers, splitboard w/ ski boots Approach Notes: Well established trail all the way
  16. 8 points
    Trip: Little Liberty Bell - (Partial New route) Narcos, 5.9 600ft Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Yesterday I went up to try and do a new route solo on little liberty bell. It’s entirely possible that some or all of this route has been climbed before, I know for sure that the first and last pitch have been climbed, but I really couldn’t tell about the rest of the route. With that being said, I’m calling what I climbed Narcos. I’ll explain the name at the end. You may be able to approach straight up the basin from the road and cut off some distance but add some gain. P1, 5.7+—Start up the clean cracks up the big left trending ramp to the tree. If there is still snow you can climb up small corners and overlaps to the left that meet up about half way. This is what I climbed to avoid snow. Build a gear belay in a 1” horizontal below the tree, this is a much better stance. There were slings on this tree when I got there and some placements seemed to be cleaned out. On the last rappel. P1 follows the cool looking cracks up the ramp on the left. I ended up climbing the flakes to the left of the ramp to avoid the snow. P2, 5.9—Follow the horizontal straight right and up a bit. Follow good edges and cracks until you reach a nice looking finger crack, climb it up to some good ledges. From there follow ledges back left past a small tree (your last pro) and two large loose looking blocks sitting on the ledge, maybe don’t pull on them. Once you reach a good belay ledge, climb up a little further to a solid horizontal. Build your belay here and extend it down to the ledge if you can. There seems to be a more vertical option going straight up and right to a nice looking LFC. I didn’t climb this as I had intended on climbing new ground. It may have been climbed before. It is marked in blue on the topo. Looking up the improbable traverse on pitch 2. There is much more pro than in the picture. This is after cleaning the pitch. The 5.9ish finger crack, it's steeper than it looks. P1 visible below. The blocks I traversed across and tree I slung at the top of P2. P3, 5.7+ PG13—Go up the bush choked corner for about 15 feet until you can step left into good flakes that parallel the larger right facing corner. Follow these up to a series of ledges and a large chimney/flake. Chimney up the outside edge of this flake to avoid lots of pine needles and bushes until you can reach a cleaned out .75 crack, place something there. Down climb a little bit until you can step right onto a series of ledges/ramps. Follow these up the slab passing one Piton (my first pin placement on a route) and up the sharp arete. From the top of this climb back down left to a ledge below an arching right facing corner. Belay here on finger sized gear. This pitch could avoid the runout chimney and arete climbing in the future if the cracks were cleaned out. I had originally tried going straight up some solid cracks on this pitch, but after the cracks petered out and encountered some very hollow rock I left a nut and bailed on this option. Looking up P3. I only followed the bushy corner for a few moves before stepping left. This is after cleaning the pitch on the way down, the red c3 is a directional, not the only piece. Looking down the good flakes in the middle of P3 on the way back down. The runout chimney on P3 My very first pin placement, I had to document. There is no rope drag in the rope solo system, hence my sketch "quick draw" P4, 5.8+ —Climb up the fun arching corner and then right via hollow sounding but fun flakes (place nuts here not cams). Step right around an arete into a nice right facing corner, you are now on the Wright-Pond. Follow this up to a bolted belay. P5, 5.8, 45m—Same as P4 of the Wright-Pond. Description taken from MP. Climb the blocky corner/chimney up past a tree until you gain a low-angled slab. Head left across the slab to a wide hand and fist crack hidden in a left-facing corner. Exit the corner up and right on blocky but easy ground to low-angled ledges. Belay on a tree with slings. From here you can scramble to the summit. Descend via the Wright-Pond with 4 double rope rappels on bolted anchors. Good views of Silverstar & co! I think this route could clean up nicely and be a good 5.9ish option up the feature. It is hard for me to grade it accurately as the dirt, lichen, and self belay results in things feeling harder and scarier at times. I tried to grade it for someone who knew where they were going and had a hand on the break strand of their grigri. On the hike down I got a little off route (there is no route) and ended up in some pretty damn thick brush. While trying to force my way down the hill I stumbled upon a pile of white crystals under a small tree. My first thought was “wow, that’s a weird Fungus”, then I took another step and saw black canvas in the bush in front of me. My heart stopped as my first thought was I had found a dead body of a missing hiker, or murder victim. I got a better look and realized that it was a large black duffle bag, unzipping it I finally realized what it was. A 35lb duffle of crystal meth, street value of about $350k give or take. I dragged the bag to a slightly more visible location and marked the spot on my phones GPS. I drove down to Mazama the next morning to report what I’d found. I ended up leading some heavily armed cops up and helped them carry out the “package”. It’s possible that I made a very big mistake. I could have bought so many new skis! It was either a recent air drop with intent to pick up, or one of the bags from THIS event that happened last year. I will provide a topo/overlay soon if I get permission to use Chris’ photo. I'd be very curious to hear if anyone knows some history of ascents on this feature. Gear Notes: Double rack micro to #2, single #3 and 4. Single set of med nuts. 2 60m ropes. Crack Pipe. Approach Notes: Start as for Cutthroat wall by walking down the old road bed for 1/4 mile until you see an obvious double cairn on the left side of the trail. Enter the woods here and point it straight up until the terrain lowers a little in pitch. At that point you can start arching left to get to the ridge next to the wall. I highly recommend using the slope angle shading map feature on caltopo and trying to stay on lower angle terrain. it’ll make things a little more pleasant. From the ridge it is pretty self explanatory where to go.
  17. 8 points
    Trip: Twin Sisters - Obscurities Redux Trip Date: 08/23/2020 Trip Report: It's been a long time since I posted a trip report and even longer since I've gone explorer-ating in the Twin Sisters Range. Twelve, twelve! years ago Dave and I pushed, pedaled and slogged our way into the basin between the Twin Sisters to climb some nice rock on the obscure Block Tower. Obscurities The block is split clean through by a hand size crack, and while we had climbed the very short east face, the west side was much larger and steeper. I always wanted to go back but the approach-to-climbing ratio is pretty excessive and that logging road is just a soul sucking grind, particularly loaded down with a full rack. But in twelve years the world changes and e-bikes, well if not invented, at least became far more ubiquitous and I reached the point in life where one ended up in my garage. Plenty nice around town but it fundamentally transforms the experience of these long logging road approaches. The dreaded grind now feels like a casual ride to Sunday Farmers Market. Once you ditch the bike your legs are still fresh. Climbing the North Twin has become a casual afternoon jaunt. Highly recommended! So with a different friend we rolled in less than 45 minutes. The path into the basin seems far more beat in than it was ten years ago and people were scattered around in ways I had never seen. Really it's rather insane how busy everywhere has gotten, but I digress. As for the climb. The west face of Block and Arrowhead Towers are somewhere between 350'-400' tall and the rock quality is generally very good. We climbed two pitches (red) of low 5th-class ramps leading up and right to the much steeper upper half of the route. The first pitch was marred by a very chossy and unavoidable 3rd class gully. A far better start would be up clean north-facing slabs to the right of the tower (blue) to where you could scramble back left to below the headwall. The head wall was probably slightly less than 200' tall. You could do it in a single pitch but there's a perfect belay ledge at the base of the final splitter if you want to share the goods with your partner. The third pitch started out easy and a bit brittle. Fortunately rock quality improved as the angle increased. I stayed left of a very large detached block and climbed slightly overhung jugs with intermittent gear into the left of two parallel crack systems. It was heady but adequately protected. The final pitch is probably 40' in length but has absolute hero jamming through overhanging bulges. Both were maybe 5.9? Good stuff. A short rappel (make sure to TR the rap line) and a steep but easy scramble led down onto the glacier. From the col a series of 3 well-established raps led back down to the base of the climb. A nice climb, I'd go back. Other potential still abounds. Pitch 2 Pitch 4 From the Basin - Arrowhead Left & Block Tower Right Gear Notes: Doubles of small cams, single set #1=#4 maybe an extra #2 Approach Notes: E-bikes
  18. 7 points
    Trip: Jack - Nohokomeen Headwall Trip Date: 05/30/2021 Trip Report: Ever since this route has become popular, I've wanted to check it out. Jack is hard to ignore from anywhere, but especially from Ross Lake, where my family and I typically like to camp for a week each August. While I have climbed Jack from the east side, the north side is the show stopper from Ross, with the giant Nohokomeen Glacier dominated the view from the north end of the lake. In the words of @Trent (though he couldn't join @therunningdog @sparverius @kmfoerster and I), "It must be climbed!" And so we did. But it wasn't fast. We spread our effort over three days, with one full day for the summit and associated lounging, and another day on either end for approaching and running away. We waited until the highway was open, so there was none of that uncivilized biking stuff you might have seen on nwhikers. No way! We were, uh, civilized. And very serious- so serious this mountain climbing business. No joking, no laughing, no resting, and certainly no campfire or whiskey... It was all business and very professional. That's how we roll. Gear Notes: Snowshoes were handy for portions....ice axe, light 2nd tool, aluminum crampons, helmet, light glacier gear. We soloed the headwall up and down Approach Notes: East Bank trail and then up by May Creek. East bank trail is mostly cut out, only one log to hop over. Light brush and pretty straightforward travel and routefinding up the hill, based on where it looks best on the map. Nohokomeen Headwall is to about 50-55 degrees and the summit ridge is exposed.
  19. 7 points
    Trip: Wyeast (Mt. Hood) - Linkup Trip Date: 04/11/2021 Trip Report: Hood Headwalls: For a long time I've been thinking about linking a route on each of Wy'east's 6 headwalls in a day. Black Spider, North Face, Eliot Headwall, Sandy Headwall, Reid Headwall and DKH. I gave it a shot today and got 5/6. I figured I'd share to inspire others. Obviously someone needs to be fit, but this is only about 12k' of vert, not crazy in the scheme of things. The real challenge is finding conditions that leave all routes climbable and allow fast movement. I had intended to start with Center Drip but the orange avy forecast had my partner sketched out. For those concerned with doing my risk assessment for me I will say that those watching the time-heights this week will have noticed that 90% of the weather happened below 7k' (NWAC does not forecast for the upper mountain). Also worth noting: the wind loading was from the W, and even if this hadn't scoured the approach up the S Side to check the upper mountain, the S side is not steep enough to classify as avalanche terrain until well above Palmer. But I digress... With no partner for Center Drip, and a small chance of pocket slabs on that aspect anyway, I changed plans to start with Reid. @zaworotiuk was also partnerless for the same reasons and joined last minute for the start. 2:15am hiking start from T-line, had us at Illumination saddle at 4am. The Reid was the usual post hole for the first couple hundred feet and then changed to nice neve. Unfortunately high winds were still hitting the upper mountain and caused quite a bit of rime shedding. I managed to take a blob to the face mid way up but it was luckily not bad. We reached the summit ridge (could have traversed lower) and Matt took off for DKH and meeting other friends for a possible Eliot route. I turned down Cathedral and descended until I could down climb to the Sandy. I hadn't been on Cathedral or Sandy before so I had to back track and down climb some ice through a rock band to reach the glacier. Sandy itself was chill (its a ski run, not sure how the guidebook called it AI3). Once I topped out I walked over to the Queen's Chair and traversed into Eliot, climbing a middle-right line (starting a little L of Adrien's from earlier in the week and finishing with the same steep section). I traversed over the summit and took a break before down climbing Cooper Spur (very good conditions for this) and using Timmy B's beta to trend skier's L and get onto the Eliot glacier. The L hand sneaker ramp past the gaping schrund is still in and R gully went smoothly (except slowly cause I was feeling a little tired at this point). Once back on the summit I took a long water break to slurp awkwardly from my bladder (I somehow thought it would be warm enough for a hydration pack setup and it froze in the hose so at this point I'd probably had ~1/2 L in 8-9hrs of exertion). I then descended Pearly and met Matt again (he had soloed DKH and Elliot and done some PMR rescue practice during all this) and we climbed next to each other up DKH #1 for my last route. I had thought about looking at the Spider after all this, but I was too bushed to safely consider soloing Center Drip and my friends Lindsey and Riley had tried it earlier that day and bailed due to lack of ice. Wy'east could have been subbed as an alternative but, that is more of a ridge climb and just a lot of snow slogging after so much good ice, so I declined and plodded back down to our cars. Matt topping out Reid Coming up Sandy Looking down Leutholds Eliot Summit views Down Cooper R gully Summit again DKH w/ Matt Final summit Strava map Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/5111832990 Gear Notes: pointy things and a helmet Approach Notes: Palmer
  20. 7 points
    I am preemptively (and prematurely) starting this thread in an attempt to consolidate ice conditions beta here. As the seasonal stoke is building, I have been involved in many offline conversations about the best way to share condition info. My vote is to not reinvent the wheel, and do it here; solely or in addition to any of the numerous (and ephemeral) Facebook forums. Since I am aware that posting to an internet-based forum is way too time consuming for many, next best would be to strongly encourage that you tag your local social media ice posts with #WAice. Last we talked, Kyle M was redesigning the internet to create a better ice conditions mousetrap. Even if he dazzles and amazes again, this can be the repository for unpolished beta that he later shines and geocodes up. To not be a complete tease, here is all I got now: Mt Baker seracs and the lower flows on Heliotrope have received a decent amount of activity in late Oct/early Nov. I don't think Cosley Houston fully formed and was climbed before the snow switch flipped ON the second week of November and access become challenging, but the early season skiing has been the best in years. My #WAice season began on Nov 13. Tom and I were hoping for some semi-alpine ice in the WA Pass zone but the deep, unconsolidated snow pack (21" fell the day we were there) meant cross country travel, even with skis, was nearly impossible and the pass closed for the season (very early) a few hours after we left. The consolation was getting the rust off on the practice roadcut ice along the highway below the Liberty Bell group: This morning (Happy Thanksgiving), I skied around Alpental Valley (can you say concrete) and as expected there was nothing/nada, nary a drip or drab to be seen. The snow is deep but the temps have been consistently too warm to get anything more than a few icicles forming. Based on the long term forecasts, it will be several weeks before any pick dulling may be possible in the Alpental zone. Mazama is reportedly all dry now too. It is still very early. Happy ice hunting.
  21. 7 points
    Trip: Guye Peak - South Gully Trip Date: 01/30/2021 Trip Report: After a sad, failed Terror attempt last summer, @Hoo and I were in desperate need of getting onto the send train. What better objective than a barely-5,000' peak right next to I-90 with a recent hope-inspiring TR? We got a rough alpine start at 9:30 from the car -- the Summit parking lot was full so we parked on the side of the road -- and skinned up to near the beginning of the route, which maybe took us a half an hour from the car or so? We started booting when we got sick of the steeper avy debris skinning. We heard hexes (we think) up above and saw a party coming down from a variation to the start that they weren't happy with. Coincidentally, one of them was a someone from the TAY forum who'd just posted a TR for skiing Preacher -- recognized her by her sweet purple Voile skis. A third party was in front of us so we got kind of sandwiched. The weather was great: overcast but no precip or wind, not cold at all. We soloed up through alternating sections of steeper and more moderate snow with a good bootpack, through a couple of short steps with actual water ice, some bare rock, and super solid snow sticks. A fair amount of spindrift made for a good ambiance. I requested we rope up after that and I was glad for the toprope for the next few steps that were harder for me -- but Micah led them handily. The chockstone steps were not bad, with good protection, easy mantels, some good root grabs, a couple solid turf sticks. The snow was awesome, did I mention that? Secure everything. Up toward the top it became a little wallow-y with the fresh (super light) snow, no windslab. Finally we got to the current crux of the route: the final corner/chimney pitch, with thin and nonexistent ice, a lot of bare, downsloping slabby feet, and very little pro to be found. Luckily Micah was game and went for it. After a bit of hemming and hawing, hammering in the two pins, finding a passive cam placement, sending lots of precious but shitty ice down, he developed major ovaries and sent it without incident! Yesss! Impressive. Many partner points. We think it would be called M4 as it is now. It's mind-blowing that this is on the easy end of mixed climbing... By this time, one party was behind us, and the other had bailed early on. Half of Party #2 had watched most of Micah's lead and told her partner when he came up that uh, maybe I could just tag their rope up and give them a belay? He was interested in leading it. So I started up with my toprope. It was SO HARD and I was seriously worried I would need Micah to set up a haul system to get my ass up. At one point a pick popped off and I got to see how stretchy the rope was, blowing my toprope onsight. Noooo! All of the ice throughout the route is rapidly delaminating and falling apart. Until we get a new cold snap, don't count on getting any screws on route. Micah claims hexes might be worthwhile for the crux bit. After all that, the second half of Party #2 requested I leave a pin in for him. Of course! Then after watching my next flailing with desperate scratching and weird attempt to use some chimney technique, they asked for us to throw our rope down for them to get a belay. We'll try! Luckily the nature of the route allowed for that to happen, and we brought him up tagging his line. At this point we were more exposed to the wind, and it had started snowing lightly. We walked up toward the top and took a much-needed but way too short break, completely forgetting about the supposed mandatory rappel, taking off our harnesses. I think it was about 2:30pm? Very few views, unfortunately, but a new-to-me summit! The other party arrived and told us they weren't able to clean the piton, so there's some fixed pro to use at your own risk...and/or maybe booty. We all set off up and down the ridge. Micah spotted the tree with tat and rapped down. Toward the end, he called to us that the rap was unnecessary in current conditions. I downclimbed the secure snow, we made the short traverse, and continued up the gully to get around the north peak. Thanks Micah for the steps.... We transitioned and got some of the driest powder I've skiied this season for a couple hundred feet. I was sad to be on my skinny skis (80 underfoot) and my legs were feeling shot. Still got a faceshot though, so all good! Some fast-running dry sloughs on the steeper stuff. Micah made it look easy on his splitboard. Down below, the snow turned to some of the worst skiing I've ever had on all the ice and avy debris in the trees. Definitely slow and cautious skiing on tired legs, trying not to screw up a knee. Micah really savored the flat and rolling terrain as we exited the Commonwealth, transitioning between split-ski and splitboard and skinning and splitboard an unfortunate number of times. We got back to the car around 5pm, our calves worked and feeling deserving of the beer. Overall a great day out in Snoqualmonix with a cool route, a lot of fun/comfortable snow/ice, a spicier crux than expected, way better pow turns than expected, a longer day and more tired legs than expected, and a solid backcountry partner! I also figured out a new way to carry my skis vertically on my pack using ski straps and it worked really well. On the fantastically short drive back to Seattle, I saw a license plate: that caught my eye: "SKI TAY" .. I wonder who that is?! Gear Notes: Rack brought: 5 screws of varying lengths 0.75 BD, yellow and orange Metolius Two knifeblades Four or five small nuts A picket (I know...) Handful of single-length alpine draws Handful of double-length alpine draws Used: Screws 0.75 Yellow Metolius Knifeblades Nuts Didn't use the picket (I know) Approach Notes: Summit West parking lot to Commonwealth trail
  22. 7 points
    Trip: Middle Sister - Emde/Ablao Trip Date: 03/06/2021 Trip Report: Probable second ascent of the Emde/Ablao with Adrien Costa. This is the ice smears and columns to the L of the Direct NE Face route from Oregon High. Perhaps some other people know of someone who has climbed it? Steep snow above the schrund (currently covered) leads to a varied and engaging 60m pitch (difficult to protect) with a couple overhanging bulges. Above this we traversed L on snow to join the E Rib. AI4/4+ R/X seems about right. Me approaching the route, NE Face Direct's couloir is to the R. Photos of me by Adrien (obvs). Me starting the crux. Approaching the crux bulge. Adrien topping out the crux pitch. Adrien leading easier terrain above between spindrift pulses. Coming up the E rib. Adrien approaching the summit. The thing you do when you top out. North Sister with sun setting. Still got a few miles back to the car. Road conditions beta. Gear Notes: screws, cams, pins, nuts Approach Notes: long skin from before Pole Creek TH (17 miles and 4k' round trip from where we got the truck stuck)
  23. 7 points
    Trip: Morning Star Peak - Beyond Redlining (Rope Solo) Trip Date: 08/04/2020 Trip Report: Preface: I just got back from a long weekend at Smith to escape the hot pow and persistent weak layer. Drytooling is fun and all, but I wanted to remind everyone how much more fun summer rock climbing is than winter climbing. Anyways, on to the long overdue TR. I like to climb a lot. With a 4 days on, 3 days off work schedule, I have a lot of time to do so. I also like to spend some time alone in the mountains moving at my pace and enjoying the little things. Over the last several years I have dabbled and somewhat perfected my rope soloing system. It all really started with a sketchy half belayed, half solo ascent of a seeping Ground Hog Day out in Leavenworth in 2017. After numerous other climbs, I finally came up with a system that worked for me, and in early April 2019 I rope soloed Outer Space in just around 4 hours base to top. Pitching everything out and reclimbing every pitch on TR solo. Two months later I came back and soloed everything except the crux pitch and the 3 other 15ft insecure cruxes which I pitched out. That hand crack pitch without a rope is an incredible experience. Jump forward to last August and I am as driven as ever. The thought of another lockdown pushing me to eek every ounce of adventure out of my days off. Then the news came out about a new 11 pitch 10+ alpine sport route. It seemed like the perfect route to test myself on. On August 4th I grabbed a stupid number of draws and loose krabs and drove up to the Sunrise Mine trail. The approach was nice, but brushy and wet from the morning dew. As I passed a few parties of hikers in the upper basin, it was looking as if I was going to have the route, if not the whole wall to myself! Once near the base of the wall, I was very glad to discover that the spring at the base of MHC was still running. For weights sake I had brought a total of 0 ounces of water for the hike up, fully relying on a recent report that the spring was alive and well. The route was easy to find from the spring, I simply walked back along the wall keeping my eye out for some shiny new bolts marking the start of the route. The first pitch was fun! A long 55ish meters of engaging varied climbing that gets you on your toes right off the bat. By the end of that pitch, I was feeling rusty and my feet already hurt. This was going to be a great day. Blurry picture of P1 In an effort to move efficiently I had decided to try and link as many pitches as possible. For some reason at the time 35m+40m=65m, meaning I would have just enough rope to link pitches two and three. As it turns out it actually equals 75 meters, and Rad’s pitch lengths are spot on. This left me tugging at my rope a couple feet above the last bolt, trying to pull every last bit of rope stretch the rope would give me. To no avail, I backed off and downclimbed back to the final bolt. I then proceeded to assess and bounce test the fuck out of that bolt. The rock is good, and the bolt is well placed. I decided to call it my belay and continue as normal, rapping down to clean the pitch. The next two pitches linked without issue, and honestly while writing this several months later I can’t remember anything about them. Now below the first crux pitch with the cobwebs dusted off I was feeling good and moving fast. Following the most obvious bolt line took me up to a steep corner system. While trying to suss out the moves from below I happened to glance over and notice a couple bolts far to my left. Much to my annoyance I had inadvertently started up the 11+ unfinished direct line. Luckily I was still at a point where I could downclimb back on route and finish the correct pitch. It went off without a hitch. This was the first pitch that I did not clean “cleanly”. I did not jug any of the pitches, instead I would repeat the pitch on TR solo, pulling on the rope or draws to use as little energy as possible. It seemed to work well, and was by far the fastest option. The headwall pitches now loomed above, a long line of bolts weaving their way through corners, roofs and overall blocky complex looking terrain. I somehow managed to link both pitches together cleanly, making for a single mega 65m pitch through the headwall. By the time I reached the crux corner of pitch 8 I was already pretty pumped, but discovered a tricky stem/drop knee right in the middle that allowed me to rest, figure out the moves and futz with my grigri. The climbing is 3 stars, but the position is all time! Looking down the headwall pitches, the rope showing the way. The routes crux IMO Looking back up the pitch(s) One more time looking down the headwall to show steepness. The next two pitches offered some more excellent climbing, but also some of the worst. There comes a spot on P10 where the rock gets incredibly dirty and friable, with the next bolt just out of view above a bulge. I damn near pitched off this section trying to figure out if I was on route or not. I was, and it all worked out just fine. At the base of pitch 11 I finally took a real “shoes off” break and sat on a really nice flat ledge in a desperate attempt to depump. Having taken no real breaks up to that point, the constant climb-rap-reclimb had started to take its toll. Too antsy to get to the top, I saddled up and kept climbing. Much to my relief, the final crux was an awkward slab move! No forearms required. It took a bit of ups and downs, but my sore toes stayed where I wanted them, and it was all over in a move or two. The hardest part of the day was by far leaving the summit to clean and reclimb that last pitch. It’s over! JK no it’s not. Now at the summit I ran into a sneaky team who had just topped MHC. They were very confused how I got up there. I filled out the register, high fived myself for a good climb and started over to the raps. It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten both my ATC, and the rap beta. Having climbed MHC ~4 years ago I had assumed I’d remember. A couple raps, one damn near stuck carabiner block, and some totally botched routefinding later I was safe and sound on the ground. I then hiked out and blah blah blah it's pretty up there. Overall I really enjoyed this route. It had a little bit of new route funk, but was really quite clean for how long it is. Good looking mountain! I’m sure someday I’ll whip, my grigri will explode and I will fall to my death. Will someone please sell me a Silent Partner for a reasonable price? I’m a poor gear shop employee that doesn’t want to die. Gear Notes: I brought something like 15 draws and 10 loose carabiners. Normal people not linking pitches should bring 17 draws. Beal Escaper just in case, 70m rope. I now own an 80m rope for stuff like this. Approach Notes: It's pretty obvious. If you have any questions check out the MP listing
  24. 7 points
    Trip: Trappers Peak - South Ridge Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: The incredible weather window on Saturday (1-23-2021) coupled with low avalanche danger inspired @Alisse, Silvia, Rio, and myself to aim for something with a little more adventure than the ski tours we'd been enjoying around the passes for the last few weekends. Trappers Peak seemed to offer a good taste of all the requirements- Questionable forest service road, icy creek crossings, crusty tree skiing, steep enough snow to be fun, and incredible summit views. We found the forest road to be generally easy going despite recent wind events. Instead of blowdown it was snow on the road that stopped us about a mile from the trailhead. With one steeper section on the road and a few modest ruts to navigate I'd recommend a vehicle with more than a few inches of clearance though I'm sure @Alisse could have made it up with her off-roading Civic. We took off from the car in ski boots, carrying skis to the trailhead where we decided to start skinning. Of course this was short lived to the first of the creek crossings. The first two were a bit icy taking some care to not dunk the boots. A nice bridge got us over the third. After crossings to the north side of the valley we were forced to pack up our skis and start booting due to the inconsistent snow on the southern aspect. At about 3,500' we started skinning again on firm and at times icy snow. Conditions and terrain were a bit less consistent than expected and we ended up transitioning more times that I'd like admit before reaching the ridge proper. Continuing up was generally easy going. We followed the summer trail pretty close all the way to the ridge. The first bit of steep snow was encountered at about 5,200'. This open, south facing slope had old avalanche debris towards the bottom and on a warmer day could be a concern, especially on the descent. We topped out that slope to be greeted with ever improving views of the final stretch to the summit and beyond. The ridge was basically all corniced to the east and required some consideration and a little bit of route finding as to not creep too close to the edge. The snow was not too difficult to boot, postholing was generally minimal. Around 5,800' the ridge chokes up for less than 20'. The snow here felt shallower than in previous sections, we bottomed out down to rock on a few steps. The final step to the summit offered some fun moderate snow that steepened up enough that daggering the axe felt good for a little over a body length. The snow here had great purchase, solid footing. Summit! Mount Triumph Southern Pickets On the descent Trip Details: 13 miles, 3,800' gain, 10 hours Gear Notes: Skis, ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe. A whippet or second tool could be useful for the final summit step if not super comfortable on steep snow, however it climbed fine with just an axe. Approach Notes: Typical forest road. Winter route generally follows summer trail.
  25. 7 points
    Definitely good in the alpine now, really good. Mik and I climbed the NF of N Index yesterday and found excellent, firm conditions - hard to imagine it in much better shape. Despite its pedestrian grade, the NF is a mega route, even in a cruiser conditions, it is about 8x harder than Chair despite being "only" 5300' tall. Some pics: The hidden ledge traverse: Upper north bowl with tons of real ice everywhere: Mik leading the upper N Ridge: Final pitch:
  26. 7 points
    Trip: MT HOOD - Reid glacier HW Trip Date: 01/09/2021 Trip Report: We climbed Reid HW yesterday. Taking the longer 8a variation. CURRENT ROUTE CONDITIONS: Deep snow from IR over to the base of the route with a bit of snow swimming as you approach the base of the route. Most of the ice steps/ramps consist of hollow ice right now and are much shorter than normal. We did manage to find one steep 60-70M AI3 full value rime/hollow ice pitch. This could be avoided by going farther left up a short ramp. Overall the route right now is mainly steep deep snow, hollow ice and good old MT. Hood rime. Gear Notes: Two tools Approach Notes: IR and over to route
  27. 7 points
    Trip: Cutthroat Wall - One Piece at a Time, 5.10d Trip Date: 09/20/2020 Trip Report: This past weekend (9/20) Tim Foster and I wrapped up what may be a new route on Cutthroat Wall, climbing a bit left of the two established lines on the face. We enjoyed 5 pitches of fun climbing on good stone, with difficulties up to 5.10d. There were no signs of previous traffic on route, but it’s possible that someone (maybe one of you?) climbed the thing back in the day. Our first foray up the wall was over Labor Day weekend. We originally planned to climb an obscure route in the area, but after about 30 seconds of walking from the Cutthroat Lake trailhead, our eyes were drawn to nice looking corners on the left side of Cutthroat Wall. Tim ran back to his truck to grab the bail rack (a set of nuts and a couple rigid-stem cams) plus some gardening implements, and we tromped up the valley. On our first go, we climbed the route in 6 pitches, bypassing the two best corners because the gear looked tricky and the climbing looked hard. The initial line we took goes in the mid-5.10 range, and offers a decent, slightly mellower variation to the crux pitch two, described below. While we were excited about the climb, we clearly had to come back for the money pitches $. We returned the following weekend to discover that the direct corner on pitch two does in fact take small gear (these placements were inadvertently tested with a couple whips—our only falls on route). We climbed to the top and scrubbed/trundled our way back down to prepare for a “clean” ascent the following weekend. On Sunday, we finished the job with a party send by Tim, me, and our friends Milk and Conrad. Pitch by pitch breakdown: P 1: 5.8, 55 meters. Start just left of the main buttress of the wall, ~ 150 yards left and a bit uphill of Easy Getaway. Climb a short, broken corner right for 30 feet, then follow the obvious twin-crack system to a belay below the flare of pitch 2. P 2: 5.10d, 25 meters. Climb to the treed ledge, then move up and left into the flare. Get gear where you can as it’s small (.1's and rp's) and can be finicky to place. Some granite trickery required. There is a chockstone block at the top of this pitch that feels solid enough, but shouldn’t be pulled on, and may need to go at some point. Belay from a tree on the ledge above. Alternatively near the beginning of the pitch, you can climb straight up the narrowing crack from the treed ledge, past a slightly committing 5.10 boulder problem, then cut left up a hidden ramp to rejoin the corner and bypass the pitch's hardest climbing. P 3: 5.9, 40 meters. Climb up the wide hand crack to a treed ledge, battling a few bushes along the way. Continue up and right on the featured face and in the thin corner to a mossy ledge out right. P 4: 5.10, 25 meters. Move left, back into the corner system, and launch up the perfect tips crack (visible from the parking lot!). Pull a juggy bulge and exit right through a short layback section to a good tree belay. P 5: 5.9, 45 meters. Walk right, past a tree, to the awesome splitter hand crack/layback corner that traverses right. Continue up and over a bulge, then move up and right through blocky terrain until the angle eases. From here, scramble up 4th – very low 5th class terrain to the top of the wall. Descend via the gulley described in Cascade Rock, or head down the route with a little down climbing and three full 60m rappels from trees. Tim and I both think the climbing is pretty darn fun, and it’s certainly worth the hike in. The ledgey nature of the wall does make for some shorter pitches and a lack of great exposure up high, but the movement is enjoyable and unique. It could be a worthy linkup with other climbs on the face. While the rock is generally quite good, there is certainly some looseness and lichen remaining. Be careful, as the standard approach sits in the line of fire of anything coming off the wall. As for the name, we figured we would stick with the crime theme (ahem, Johnny Cash), and the route took a few iterations to get just right. If any of you get up to the climb, let us know what you think! Gear Notes: Doubles from tips (bd .1) to wide hands (bd #3), and a set of nuts. Small offset nuts/RP’s are handy for pitch 2. Approach Notes: We never took the same route twice. If you keep walking, you can do it in ~ 1 hour.
  28. 7 points
    Trip: West Mcmillan Spire/Elephant Butte - West ridges via Stetattle Ridge Trip Date: 09/06/2020 Trip Report: Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting back into the Southern Pickets with @JasonG and @Trent. We took the eastern high route/approach via Stetattle Ridge. I outlined the route in the approach notes, this will be more for a general itinerary/thoughts/photo dump. Hiking along Stetattle was extremely panoramic and quite pleasant. We setup camp the first night just north of North Stetattle (pt. 6728). There were abundant tarns for water and flat spots to setup at. Not long after unpacking the guys pulled out the whisky and chocolate, a ritual I'm not familiar with having spent most of my time trying to be as ultralight as possible. We shot the shit for hours and listened to tunes on Steve's little speakers. I'm sure now that theres a little room in my pack for some whiskey. I slept really well until the (full?) moon was dead center over the sky and woke me up with its brightness. We got up decently early for the big day of tagging Elephant Butte and and a plan of making it to the summit of West Mac for the nights bivy. We were a bit above an awesome sea of clouds down in the valley. The drop down to the notch above Torrent creek is fairly straight forward and to get up out of it toward the benches at 6200' above the small lake east of Elephant Butte is just a bit more involved, but not too bad. We dropped packs at the notch at the base of the west ridge of Elephant Butte. Was a quick romp to the summit and we were surprised how many entries in the register there were as of late. We toyed with the idea of staying on the ridge crest and tagging the next two high points west of the Butte (Hippo, Rhino). But some hairy climbing/scrambling, lack of inspiration to tag them, and a concern for having enough time to deal with the ridge to get into Terror basin pushed that idea to the side. I'm glad we spent the effort on the more important task of getting into Terror Basin safely and efficiently. We stayed more or less at 6200' from Elephant Butte until we got to the notch just west of pt 6455. From there it was staying very close to the ridge crest. At this point, the route gets very exposed, serious and committing. Scrambling on 4th class rock, heather benches, veggie pulling. It was not too far removed from what you'd experience on the NEB of Jburg. It finally eases off just before Little Mac. A small sandy notch allows entry into Terror Basin. From there we traversed down across snow to get to the base of West Mac, we were able to go up a dry mossy waterfall on the rib extending down from West Mac which cut out quite a bit of travel. We scrambled up the west ridge and made our way up to the summit. Theres now currently three one-person bivy spots up there now. We made dinner, drank whiskey and waited for the sunset. It was an awesome sunset, highlight of the trip for sure. But after every calm, comes a storm. We settled in for the night in really pleasant weather. At some point the winds picked up dramatically and Steve and I got sand blasted all night. Meanwhile Jason was locked in mortal combat with the snaffles. He said they were trying to take his headlamp off his head. They had told me the night prior that the snaffles really like him. I think the wind that Steve and I were experiencing were keeping the snaffles at bay, leaving Jason as easy prey. Didn't sleep a much that night as you'd guess. Got up and made breakfast and a big pot of coffee in a spot on the summit mostly out of the wind. The sunrise was fantastic and made up for the night we had. Packed up and made out way down West Mac and out Terror basin without issue. This was an incredible trip and thanks to Jason for inviting me on this, I cant say I would've thought to do this kind of trip myself. It was the kind of trip I have been meaning to have for some time now though. And big thanks to Jason and Steve for being SOLID partners. It was really cool being around two guys that have been climbing with each other for as long as you both have. I won't be caught without whiskey on the next Choss Dawgs trip. Myself as we make our way up Sourdough Creek. Jason Photo. Jason and Steve looking at the next two days. North Stetattle. Sunset, Elephant Butte and The Southern Pickets Sunrise, Snowfield group and Davis Peak Sea of Fog. Jason up on Elephant Butte About to make our way into the business end of the traverse. Steve Photo. Steve with the veggie belays. End of the hairy stuff. Jason photo. Into Terror Basin. Headed up West Mac. Up on West Mac preparing for battle with snaffles and wind. Steve photo. Dinner time. Jason photo. Sunset on Mt. Fury Morning light on Inspiration, The Pyramid, Degenhardt and Terror. Kulshan in the distance. Ray of light on Azure Lake. Hopefully Jason and Steve will drop off more of their photos! Gear Notes: Ice Axe, Crampons, Whiskey, Chocolate, Van Halen Approach Notes: Start at Sourdough Lookout Trail, go up along Sourdough creek, Stay on the crest of Stetattle Ridge. From pt. 6154 follow game trails down ramps and ledges to the notch above Torrent Creek. Ascend more ramps and ledges with a bit of steep schwacking up to ~6200'. Traverse westward around that elevation, Elephant Butte is a quick jaunt from the notch west of it. Gain the ridge proper from a notch just west of pt. 6455 (just east of the Mcmillan Spires). This is where the scrambling gets extremely exposed. Traverse mostly solid rock and heather benches toward East Mcmillan, occasional goat trails and veggie belays. Aim for a small notch to the left of where the ridge meets Little Mac.
  29. 7 points
    Trip: Valhallas-Olympus - Woden, Hugin, Frigga, Athena, Olympus Middle Peak, Olympus West Peak Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Valhallas and Beyond - An Up and Down Trip Across the Olympics Including Many Ascents and Adventures and an Unfortunate Helicopter Ride Out The Valhallas, a name that strikes fear, curiosity, or just a confused brow wrinkle on to the faces of northwest mountaineers. Many don’t know about the small range to the south of Mt. Olympus in the Olympics while others have just heard stories of terrible bushwhacks and horrible loose rock. If you have stood on the summit of Mt. Olympus on a clear day they may have caught your eye, or maybe you saw an old photo that made them look vaguely like the Bugaboos. As a teenager I tried to get up Mt. Tom creek a couple of times so I knew what it might be like to get there. For all those reason this range has been on my list for a very long time, but also never made it to the top of the list for the next objective. It was a bit out of the blue when my friend Chad called me up after not having adventured together for several years (kids n stuff) and suggested it and said he already had a third person too. Normally I have to lie, con, bribe, and threaten friends into bushwhacks of this nature but here he was dropping it in my lap. Plans were made and dates were set. We aimed for mid-July in the hopes of good weather, low river levels, and enough snow up high still for good travel. The Chads and I all smiley at the start: Our chosen weekend approached with rain so we decided to car camp near the trailhead Saturday night and start Sunday to avoid the wettest forecast hours. This was a wise choice and avoided almost all the wet brush. We headed up the South Fork Hoh trail and made quick work of the ~4 miles of maintained trail. We were surprised to pass a group of five locals coming out from their own adventures about five miles past the trail end. They were the last people and footsteps we’d see. There was some mild brush crashing following a faint trail for another mile or so from the end of the real trail and then we enjoyed relatively easy travel along sand bars and gravel beds. The satellite view on Gaia Maps felt like cheating from my teenage adventures in allowing us to pick the clearest path or side of the river in many spots. Crocs and shorts were super handy for several crossings but there were a fair amount of mostly easy log bridges as well. We stayed on the north side generally but it was easier on the south for a few spots. Towards the end of the day we tackled what we called the “restriction”, one of the worst places for whacking, where the canyon narrows and one must take on steep vegetated river bank travel. The locals had referred to this as “box canyon” where they had turned around. We used the “think like an elk” mantra of previous parties and did find some helpful trails to follow. Kind of like when you second guess your traffic app driving through town and run into a jam, there is generally a good reason why the elk head so far up hill and we often paid in blood for not wanting to gain or lose elevation. We made it about 12.5 miles from the car before settling/crashing on a beautiful riverside meadow campsite for the night below Hoh Peak past our first big barrier. It was exhausting but great to be in what felt like virgin wilderness and far from any other human sign. Night one camp site and view up towards Hoh Peak: Day 2 we had about a mile of easy travel before again having to head up hill into the brush on the north side of the river. We struggled with ups and downs, hugging the river and not, occasionally pulling some 4th class tree root moves, until eventually reaching the mossy boulder field mentioned in the Olympics climbing guide. We continued on until reaching Valkyrie Creek and forded the river there finding no tree bridges. We had initially aimed for this for day one but our earlier campsite was much nicer. Here we detoured from several other trips and the guidebook and decided to carry on up river to the next creek (Geri-Freki as it drains the glacier). We walked up the sand bar on the south side from Valkyrie Creek and soon found the most amazing elk trail. The river valley constriction and thousands of years of hoof travel have created a network of trails that almost appear like they were man made and travel was far easier than earlier. If we could just teach elk to use chainsaws it would be even better but they either break the branches off or make detours around the worst logs. In no time at all this trail came to Geri-Freki Creek which we crossed and then continued up on the NE side of the creek. We made an error and lost the trail in a swampy bit where things start to steepen. We should have continued left away from the creek (NE) to find the trail again but instead chose to head up hill through relatively open ground keeping just climbers left of the growing cliffs. We ended up in some ridiculous steep brush and unpleasant travel only to pop back on to the amazing trail at the top of the worst of the climb. We continued on the trail as it transitioned to alpine parkland and eventually broke out into Geri-Freki basin. We broke right and dropped into the basin then climbed to a beautiful shoulder camp next to a waterfall around 3900’. This was a truly amazing place with wildflowers and waterfalls galore and the Valhalla Peaks just a stones throw away for our adventures the next day. We enjoyed fine weather that evening with few bugs, had some sips of whiskey and basked in the accomplishment of just having made it there after two hard days or travel! Fun fourth class tree roots: Looking up Valkyrie Creek with Frigga and Baldur tantalizingly close: Beautiful Elk Trail: Success! What a camp! Day 3 we woke to a cloudless sky and headed up to the toe of the Geri-Freki glacier via easy scrambling past several beautiful waterfalls. Our first objective was Woden, the highest peak of the Valhallas. We took a fairly direct line up the glacier to the Woden-Hugin saddle where we dropped our packs and racked up for the “4th class” climb. I lead up the obvious “jam crack” at the top of the snow field on the NE side finding fun climbing and surprisingly good rock. I brought the two Chads up and then we scrambled another pitch along the ridge line to a notch and the final diagonaling pitch to the top. This pitch started with a brief chimney behind a block and then followed a left trending crack up which again had mostly good rock and protection. We enjoyed the airy summit and amazing views for a while and then made two ~20 meter rappels back down. There was a piece of webbing at each anchor already but otherwise no human sign. I left a small summit register here as I couldn’t find one. This was a great climb to a fantastic high point with amazing views all around. Chad C claimed this as his first Olympics summit which is pretty amazing (although he later remembered an early climb of the Brothers). Mt. Tom: The Valhallas, Woden is just left of center: First pitch on Woden follows the 4th class jam crack on good rock Pitch 2 View towards Olympus and the route we would take for the next couple days. Green dots show the next two camps. Dotted line does not convey difficulties. Returning to our packs Chad C. and I then scrambled up Hugin for the heck of it, then we all dropped down and traversed along the glacier towards the Frigga-Baldur col. I wanted to climb all the peaks along the way but knew there wasn’t time and it was hot so we set our sights on Frigga as another cool perspective on the area (although it was actually Freya that dominated our campsite view). Frigga was a disappointing change in rock after Woden with a lot of loose crap. Although he was suffering from the heat a bit I talked Chad B. into joining me and we simulclimbed to the top. There were good trees for pro but crappy rock and slippery vegetated corners which made this feel just as difficult as Woden despite the 3rd class rating. We made a few raps back down and then headed back to camp to relax in the sun and wash some clothes in the creek. Climbing up towards the Frigga-Baldur Col, Hugin and Woden are on the left: Frigga from the Col: Thor and Loki and the toe of the Geri Freki glacier: Freya and waterfall on the way back to camp: Scenes from near camp: Map of the first couple days: We slept in a bit the next morning (too long) before packing up and heading out. It was difficult to leave such an amazing valley and camp. We retraced our steps of Day 2 back to the elk trails and began climbing up a ridge (follow the elk) breaking out of the remaining trees and then following that ridgeline up to the main ridge that connects the Valhallas to Olympus. We had continued to debate the route from here, either dropping down to the toe of the Hubert Glacier and then up to Olympus as several other parties have done, or dropping off towards the Queets and trying to connect snow fingers up towards the top of the Hubert Glacier and Athena. With some more observations we decided to roll the dice and try to get up towards Athena. We had only Bremerton John’s NWMJ trip report mentioning this route which included warnings about insanely steep vegetation and a team rope rescue at one point. That’s exactly what we found! We followed the ridge towards Olympus until it began to get steep and rocky and then dropped off the Queets (east) side around 5500 ft. We lost only a few hundred feet then climbed back up a snow finger to get over a steep rocky rib blocking our northward progress. From here we dropped again on easy snow slopes down from around 5300’ to 4800’ and then continued to traverse north toward the snow fingers we planned to ascend back up. The way seemed easy until we ran into an incredibly narrow and deep gully not obvious on the topo. At first this looked impassable but I was able to shimmy down some tree branches to the bottom of the gully and then make a rather exposed and steep vegetated traverse back out the other side. The others followed without incident and we continued onwards only to once again be stopped short by another very steep and deep gorge. I scouted up the hill and down and could not find an easy bypass to this obstacle. It seemed we only need to get across this 20’ wide gorge but there was no good route. We began dropping down into the basin until we were eventually forced to make one rappel in the very steep and cliffy trees to get to mellower ground. This and the heat was certainly taxing our morale and may have been a low point of the trip so far. It was well into the afternoon and we were nowhere near our goal for the night. In hindsight we should have continued dropping down the earlier easy snow to benches around 4500 feet before traversing since we ended that low anyways. This would have avoided the sketchy gullies and green rappel. Once we made it in to that basin though the way was clear over the snow we had been eyeing for so long from a distance and we began a very long ascent back up the ridge in the now evening light. We gained nearly 2000’ feet up this soft snow, taking multiple safety breaks along the way and contemplating some potential desperate crappy sloping bivy rocks. The snow was soft in the late hours but a slip would have been unpleasant as least. Fortunately we persevered upwards to a good last break spot and with some scouting decided to make the push. We roped up for the last steeper bit of snow to a notch in the ridge around 6400’. Tired and a bit demoralized we slowly pushed through (placing our one picket) and popped out in to the sun at the notch finding a flattish spot in the snow for our tents and a nice bit of rock to chill out and cook dinner on. We pitched tents in the last few minutes of sunshine and made dinner around 9pm. It actually was an amazing campsite as we got both sunset and sunrise with amazing vistas all around. Looking back at the Valhallas: Easy ridge walking! Having dropped down it looks like a cake walk to the snow slope. It was not. Looking back we should have cut left in the this photo and dropped to the low benches instead of taking the high one to the secret gullies: Finally climbing the snowslope in the evening light: Traversing to the final steep pitch back to the ridge: Finally, camp sweet camp! Our exit the next day visible on the right where the snow goes up to a notch: We slept in again that next morning but we had earned it. Once we packed up we roped up again to climb another snow finger to a notch at the top of the Hubert Glacier that allowed for an easy short scramble to the snowcap at the top of the Hoh Glacier. We celebrated this success with snacks and then headed packless for the short scramble to the top of Athena. The clouds were now swirling about so we knew this might be the last view we had for a while but it was again awesome and new. Athena: We now followed the west edge of the upper Hoh Glacier as our world shrank to a few hundred feet wide. We had hoped to traverse all of the Olympus summits but soon East Peak was entirely gone from view and dropped out of our consciousness and off the list. Although the least elevation gain option would have been to go between East and Middle Peaks we knew from earlier views that snow went almost all the way to the top of Middle Peak so we chose to just keep following the snow up with easy navigation in the white out cloud. Climbing up without reference we were at least thankful for the cooler temps on the glacier and eventually made it to the final scramble to the top of Middle Peak. We signed the nice register there noting most signed summits were coming from Bailey Range traverse folks. We made a single rappel off the NW side of the peak back to the snow and then continued towards Olympus West Peak. We reached Five Fingers and then dropped down into the scree gully on the west (left) side to scramble up to the Five Fingers-West Peak notch. Again we racked up for and evening summit planning to camp at the saddle afterwards. Scrambling up Middle Peak: West Peak of Olympus emerges from the cloud: We headed up the steep snow pitch of the standard route and soon realized that the way was blocked by a huge crevasse at the top. Regrouping I took the sharp end and led over the east ledges traversing up the ramp until I felt like climbing up towards the summit. I could have traverse farther and made it easier but the line was fun and I was able to protect it. We hung out on top in the cloud for a bit and then rapped off back to camp at the notch happy to have completed this leg of the journey even if we didn’t get the views this time. On top of the Olympics! We had started to set up camp when there was a faint clatter as we turned to watch Chad B’s sunglasses slide off a boulder into the gap between rock and snow. Here began a fruitless quest of digging trying to get arms and eyes down into the hole, and otherwise fighting the forces of nature charging us for our passage. Although we all tried to get down in the hole and dig we failed to find the wayward specs. Fortunately I had some emergency “Rollens” sunglasses like you get when the eye doctor dialates your pupils that he could sport the next day to avoid snow blindness while being ultra-stylish. Despite that mishap we enjoyed another whiskey toast for our three summit day and slept well that night. Digging for sunglasses: Day 6 started bright and clear. It was the coldest night by far and I woke to ice on my boots. I had just poured my coffee when the first people we had seen for nearly a week popped up on top of Five Fingers and shouted hello. Shortly after they joined us at the saddle and we chatted and shared our current beta for the summit block. We finished breakfast and packed up for our next goal, finding a way down to the White Glacier and then up to Mt. Tom. The Fourth of July route looked closed by seasonal crevasses but offered a much more direct route in our intended direction. I had earlier spotted an old rap anchor to allow dropping to the north so I went down into the bergschrund to inspect. I cleaned the worn corded nut and instead found a solid horn and we rapped down as far as we could and then made a second rap from another horn to get to the base of the difficulties. From down low it looked like we could have done an end run but the early morning hard icy snow would have made that quite scary with our limited gear. We continued roped across the top of the Blue Glacier following the Mt. Tom route description to what seemed to be the appropriate descent gully to the White Glacier. Previous trip reports had mentioned anything from a loose scramble to a hand line to rappels to get down. We began scrambling down the very loose and crappy gully trying hard not to drop rocks on each other. Mt. Tom and the White Glacier: The Valhallas emerge from the clouds before we start descending to the White: I was in the lead and eventually got down to the top of a snow finger that I could see reached down to the glacier. I wanted to get down and out of the line of rockfall so I quickly put my aluminum crampons back on and went to step down onto the hard shady snow. This is where things (me and my pack) went downhill in the least favorable manner. I’m not sure exactly what happened because it was so fast but I may have had a large rock shift as I stepped down to the snow, or I may have bumped something with my pack knocking me off balance, but I never got established on the slope and the next thing I know I am sliding down the surprisingly hard and icy slope I tried to dig my aluminum ice axe in but failed to get it to bite before my tumble/rotation pulled me out of position. For a brief moment I tried to relax into the fall and then found suddenly myself at the bottom of bergschrund/crevasse. I somehow slithered out of my backpack into a half fetal position and froze. I knew immediately from the pain in my back that I was somewhat screwed. I could move all my limbs but really couldn’t change my position much due to the pain. My breathing was shallow also with pain (broken ribs) but I weakly shouted up to my partners that I needed help. I doubted they could hear me but in my condition there wasn’t much to do but settle in and wait. I knew I wasn’t walking out. I had slid somewhere around 200 feet down the mountain and come to a sudden stop in a 15 foot deep hole. Chad C. arrived first having seen the end of my slide and scrambled down as quickly and safely as he could trying not to knock anything on top of me. Chad B. was not too far behind having chosen the safest option of rappelling from rocks on the edge of the snow finger. They did an amazing job of staying focused over the next couple of hour, assessing me and determining the possible severity of my back injury but no other immediate threats. I had some gurgling in my shallow breaths but it wasn’t getting worse. They managed to get a sleeping pad mostly under me and all the sleeping bags over me. I asked for a gu to keep my blood sugar up and a few sips of water but didn’t want too much else so as not to interfere with future medical treatment. We had a satellite phone but actually had cell service so the call was made for a rescue. Olympic National Park rangers coordinated to get the Mt. Rainier National Park rescue crew and helicopter on the way. Chads got the stove going and got me some life saving hot water bottles as I edged towards shock in the cold and damp hole. I am forever grateful for my excellent partners keeping me as comfortable as possible in this terrible and unexpected situation. In a bad spot (I asked them to take this photo): It only took four hours or so from the phone call until we heard the sounds of a helicopter. Time was a strange element in my state and it seemed faster but we did have time to sort out some possible options and make sure I didn’t leave with the car keys. Soon enough we were waving (well everyone but me) towards the rescue crew as they assessed our situation and location from the air. Relaying text messages with ONP we learned the crew was landing at the IGY research hut on Snow Dome to remove the helicopter doors and set up for a long line operation. A marine cloud layer remained in the valley and they were worried it could rise a bit and ground us all so they chose not to land on the White Glacier. A little while later they returned with Rescuers Tim and Seann dangling underneath. They talked with all of us and quickly realized the initial plan of a rescue sling would not be good with my back injuries so back the helicopter went with Chad B dangling to configure their vacuum litter. They brought this back and carefully finagled this fantastic device underneath me and pumped the air out conforming the litter to my position and firmly holding me there. Tim secured himself and me to the long line and they carefully coordinated a gentle angled extraction from my icy rocky confinement. A short flight later (during which I had a great view of red nylon and straps) they landed us at snow dome and returned to also extract Chad C, Seann, and our gear. They landed the helicopter again and loaded me inside for the flight to Port Angeles where I was transferred to an ambulance to the PA Hospital and then further transferred to Harborview. Thus ended our Olympics trip a little early. I probably would have preferred the bushwhack exit but this one was certainly faster. Our path from the Valhallas to Olympus: Afterward: The amazing rescue crew was able to refuel and return to snow dome to pick up the rescuer they left as well as the two Chads and our gear who they were able to drop off in Port Angeles. I know Chads were grateful to not have to do the long hike out the Hoh to the wrong trailhead as they weren’t motivated to continue our traverse over Mt. Tom and Hoh Peak on without me. I’d like to think the rescue crew was willing to do that due to the great work and preparation of Chad B. and C. to stabilize me and clean up gear and prepare things well in advance for the operation but I know there were other considerations as well for the party. They were able to rent a car the next day to retrieve mine from the trailhead and then return home. I had x-rays that night identifying three compression fractured thoracic vertebrae, two cervical vertebrae fractures, several broken ribs and a mild pneumothorax (punctured lung). I endured a long ground ambulance ride to Harborview for which I was fortunately well drugged. Due to the possibility of a bone fragment damaging my spinal cord I had an operation there to clean things up and fuse the damaged thoracic vertebrae. And I get to wear a fun neck collar for three months until the cervical ones heal. Overall my prognosis is for a full recovery and eventually regaining my range of motion. The hospital cheeseburger at Harborview after well over 24 hours of no food was amazing. I am so very lucky that I had great partners, a skilled rescue team, and injuries that were not more severe. I know that people took great risk to get me out and am grateful that they were able to do so and keep my back immobilized until treatment. Things could have gone much worse in my fall and extraction. With 25 years of technical climbing experience I was overly confident in my footsteps in this no-fall zone especially given my ultralight gear choices. The snow was harder than anything encountered on the trip due to the deep shaded gully and coldest weather night. I should have sheltered in the gully and waited for my partners (who were carrying the ropes) to rappel this section. We make choices in the mountains all the time between moving fast and light and being roped and anchored 100% of the time. I have been lucky and have developed some skill in movement here but in this case I failed. The heavy pack and taxing traverse took their toll and I was lax in my assessment of the conditions and the run out below. I was a little worried about our speed and late camps and this probably colored my choices as well. This time I got lucky (relatively). With the amazing help I received I am thankful that I will be able to return to the hills again next season and maybe even get to ski this winter. Even more photos and some video here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/eXzGgsweVE6zKS5s5 Gear Notes: We took a 30m half/twin rope and a 48 meter half/twin (meant to be two 30s, oops, but we did do some 39 meter rappels with a knot pass in broken terrain). We packed one picket, two link cams, and a half dozen nuts as well as 4 trad draws and several assorted other slings and prussics. CAMP ultralight harnesses worked great for all of us. We all had aluminum crampons but Chad B and C had steel ice axes. I figured they could lead any icy ascents but I didn’t think about the descent problem with my lightest of light axes. We took a two person and one person tent figuring we might have bugs to deal with but amazingly didn’t have many. An MSR Reactor with small pot worked great for our occasional snow melting and mostly freeze dried food. Helmets are always needed for Olympics rock. Our packs started at a hefty 50 lbs or so each but 8 days of food and whiskey accounted for much of that. I am slightly disappointed I didn’t get to the end just to see how good I was at my food estimating. We had planned to continue over Mt. Tom and Hoh Peak and drop back to the South Fork two days later. Approach Notes: S. Fork of the Hoh and go!
  30. 7 points
    Trip: Blum - North ridge Trip Date: 08/15/2020 Trip Report: A few thoughts from our climb of Blum’s north ridge last weekend. Arrived at the ranger station around 10:30 on Friday, with a budget of about an hour for waiting for permit. I started about 30 places back in line and made it to about 24 places behind in that hour. Doing the math it was an easy call to just head out to the unpopular Blum zone sans permit rather than wait another 2+ hours. Would be nice if NCNP got their shit together with the permit situation someday. The approach hike is short on views but it’s a beautiful forest. Its shade was much appreciated this hot weekend. It’s very difficult to keep on the climbers trail. A lot of it is pretty faint but distinct enough, but it seems to abruptly disappears in several spots only to reappear later. Especially during the relatively flat traverse around 4400-4800’ I never noticed a path. At least the forest is more open in that part. Impressed by the determination and passion of those who found their way up these hills without gps or any trail. I was glad to have screenshots of tracks here for reference https://www.nps.gov/noca/blogs/mt-blum-north-glacier-july-12-2016.htm Bivy at the lake was lovely except for the voracious mosquitoes. We got an early start next morning in the hopes of avoiding groping around the bush in the dark on the way back to the cars. Headed off a little before 6am. Passed a beautiful reflection lake and what looks like a remnant of an antenna or something? This, one piton, 1 chewed up piece of tat, and the summit register were the only evidence of humanity that we saw past the bivy lake. I had assumed the start of the N ridge would be more obvious. There were actually 3 distinct ridges coming down the the glacier. The first one furthest west was clearly not the right one. We took the second one but there was more further left that we didn’t really explore. I took the first lead up and diagonally right. There was one long runout but plenty of jugs in that area. I encountered a difficult move with a wide crack roof just above and right of a finger crack. There was a piton nearby and the crack took cams well, so this crux seemed like it could be on route and was reasonably well protected. It could be 5.9, maybe harder, especially if you’re short. Anchored off a boulder up and right after nearly a full 60m. After this it was some scrambling up the ridge, ending in a dirty gully. We started to wonder if we were off route then. But this led to a really nice low 5th ridge traverse that we sailed up. We passed a nearly flat polished section of rock and arrived at a tower that seemed too tall and featureless to down climb (10-15’). So we backtracked past the flat spot and took an exposed traverse climber’s left into another gully. The traverse ended with a handrail into a low angle wide crack right facing corner. Pretty sure this wasn’t standard because it would take a #3 to protect it. We didn’t have a #3 but the crack wasn’t very long. Including it we did 2 short meandering pitches up and left to gain another ridge, which we took to its end. There was another tower that seemed to block the way and we surveyed a sketchy looking down climb left into another gully but found instead that the tower could be bypassed on its right. Cresting here we took off the rock shoes for the last ridge section leading to the summit. The summit views are . . . Real nice. We were the 4th party to sign the register this year. Always nice to descend without having to do any raps. More beautiful scrambling on the way down, passing a jade lake still holding some snow, and rusty polished granite slabs everywhere. The first gully after that lake’s outlet stream was unappealing so we continued west but found uglier options. One at a time we picked our way down a rotten sandy gully before crossing back over into a better one to get back to the bivy lake. We cooled off in the lake and hit the ‘trail’ a little before 5, which didn’t leave much time to get back before dark. Route finding was generally a little better on the way back, but my phone died at the last inscrutable section after I pocket dialed a long video of the inside of my pocket. So we no longer had a track to follow. We thrashed down and right after the trail disappeared at a flag around a little cliff and stumbled upon a faint path again. We could follow this down to Blum creek before it vanished again and we traded back and forth between boulder hopping adjacent to the creek and being forced back into the bushes. We reached the wooden bridge and gravel path that marked the end of difficulties. Well, almost. From here back to the car seemed so much longer than the day before. The last hour of hiking down the hills in fading light had sapped all my energy. It took 4 hours from the bivy to the cars. And although it wasn’t a terribly long day as far as these things go, I was truly spent. Worth it? Yes, amazing scenery and plenty of good rock. In no rush to repeat that hike though. Gear Notes: Crampons (didn’t use due to laziness but would be useful) Ice ax Cams in the .4-.75 range were most useful. Single #1, #2 was fine Approach Notes: Good luck
  31. 6 points
    Trip: Ruth Gorge - Kuriositeten and Mount Bradley plus others Trip Date: 04/26/2021 Trip Report: I am a little late in posting this because I had a 3 week Denali expedition right after this trip. So I am just now getting back into the swing of regular life and unpacking. Anyway I figured I would post up a trip report from the Ruth Gorge. We flew in on April 26 to the Ruth Glacier just below the East Face of Dickey. Man that is a face to dream about!! We were a team of 4 that functioned as 2 teams of 2. We just changed up partners a few times based on people’s route choice. The Ruth Gorge was Plan B and we didn’t know we were going to the Ruth until about 4 days prior to flying in. So we were pretty ill prepared with route research and overall beta (with the exception of the classic lines). Grosvenor, Johnson, and Wake (left to right), from the flight in. Talkeetna Air Taxi on the Ruth Glacier with Peak 7400 and London Towers in the background. April 27 - Our first full day on the glacier. It was warm and sunny and I teamed up with Robbie to head for Cobra Pillar and just see how the climbing was. We got up to the top of pitch 5 when the sun disappeared behind the mountain and it started to get cold. We were also less than impressed by the first 5 pitches. When the guidebook says “C1+ rotten or 5.11” you should probably just avoid that pitch! I led it and was literally kicking new footholds into the large granite crystals and hoping they wouldn’t crumble under my bodyweight. Needless to say we had no desire to go back with so much other good looking rock. Robbie on the 2nd pitch of Cobra Pillar. Robbie just after the traverse on Cobra Pillar April 28 - We scoped several lines and tried to generally figure out what lines had been done. Thankfully we had used our phone to screen shot several AAJ articles so we were able to figure out some of it. Our efforts were mostly focused on Dickey and Peak 7400 since they were the closest to camp. Scoping a potential ice line. April 29-30 - weather days. Snowed about 18 inches. May 1 - We scoped lines going south on the Ruth Glacier. Looked at stuff on Bradley, Wake, Johnson, and London Towers. We were starting to get a good sense of snow conditions based on aspect and finally figuring out where everything is. We did climb the opening 2 pitches of The Escalator on Mt Johnson. It was really fun alpine ice and it gave us a good excuse to use the ice tools and screws. There were a couple of steeper smears to the left that we hoped to climb but the ice was only about 2-3 inches thick and there wasn’t any rock pro available. Scoping "The Escalator" on Mount Johnson. Climbing up the first couple ice pitches on The Escalator on Mount Johnson. Great alpine ice! May 2 - Based on the conditions we found yesterday we deemed it prudent to give the mountains one more day to shed snow and get some freeze/thaw going so it wouldn’t be a postholing nightmare. We had brought a telescope so we looked very closely at a couple of lines that interested us and talked about what line to do tomorrow. A couple people of our group went over to check out the first couple pitches of “The Wine Bottle” on Mt. Dickey. Man that is an inspiring looking line! We watched them through the telescope. May 3 - I teamed up with Duncan to climb Kuriositeten (AI5, M3+, 800m). It is a “smaller route” that was first put up in 2008 on peak just left of 747 Pass. At 2500ft it isn’t really a small route but when you see how it looks sitting between the giants of Dickey and Bradley it appears small. The route follows a couloir splitting the east face of the peak. It is a lot of snow climbing but also contains some mixed steps and 3 distinct ice steps ranging from 15m to 70m tall. Honestly it reminded me of some of the climbing in Cody, WY, where you follow a twisting canyon/couloir always excited about what might be around the next corner. The crux is the final step. It is about 70m+ and the first half is pretty dead vertical. Thankfully the ice quality was great and we throughly enjoyed the position deap inside the slot. We had very little beta about this route so had only brought 7 screws. We were able to find rock gear for the beginning belay and then I just ran it out as far as I dared between screws. We still had to break it into 2 pitches as I found myself with only 2 anchor screws left after 35m. Duncan took the upper half and soon we found ourselves on the snow slopes above. This is a fantastic route in the Ruth and should see more traffic! One of the reasons we wanted to climb this route was to recon the decent from Bradley. One of the reports we had regarding Bradley, was to descend the “standard west ridge” but that party bailed down a face after not being able to descend the west ridge. Another report talked about descending to the Backside Glacier and walking way back around through 747 pass. Another report talked about descending the Bradley/Wake Col. To complicate matters CalTopo and Gaia both showed some weird topography anomalies on their topo maps. In fact both showed a 800-1000ft cliff coming off the back side of Bradley that looked very complicated to navigate around. The problem was the topo lines didn’t seem to match what we had heard in reports. Needless to say we were very interested in looking at the descent from the top of Kuriositeten. In the end we discovered that both Gaia and CalTopo were very wrong in their topography. In places it was off by 1000ft. What appeared to be a huge cliff was just a small snow slope that was easily walkable. We couldn’t see the whole decent but we felt much better about things after this day. Skiing over to Kuriositeten. It climbs the big gash on the peak in the middle back. Even though the line is 2500ft tall it looks small in comparison to Bradley (left) and Dickey (right). Duncan starting up Kuriositeten. Looking up from the belay at the top of the first ice step. Approaching the 3rd ice step crux. It is the narrow looking ribbon of ice way up in the slot. Duncan climbing up through the crux pitch on Kuriositeten. A fantastic route in the Ruth. From the summit of Kuriositeten looking over towards Mount Bradley. Descending the back side of Kuriositeten in the late evening light. May 4 - Rest day. May 5 and 6 - For the big goal of the trip we picked Mount Bradley. A couple of our party had started up the East Ridge of Bradley the day I had climbed on Cobra Pillar. They found deep unconsolidated snow on all northern aspects. Even though it is called the East Ridge the first 1/3 of the route is mostly on the north side of the ridge. So with no desire to go up that unconsolidated snow we searched for a new route. While looking through all of our screenshots from the AAJ we found John Frieh’s report about a linkup on Mt. Bradley. He and Dylan Johnson had also found bad snow on the start of the regular East Buttress. So with high hopes we set our eyes on their Link of “Season of the Sun" and the “East Buttress”. They rated it M5/6 and the route is 4500 feet tall. It was warm so our plan was to leave camp in the late afternoon and start the route in the evening. We were hoping that by this time the snow might start freezing back up from the day and we could avoid some nasty postholing by climbing through the night. We left camp at 4pm and but 5:15pm we were in crampons working our way up the initial snow slopes. The Season of the Sun route climbs on the right side of the SE face of the mountain and was originally put up by the Giri-Giri Boys. We were a little concerned about the reported M6 offwidth crux but figured we would take it one step at a time. After about 1000 ft of snow with short steps of rock and ice we arrived at the “crux”. We were pleasantly to find it full of ice (AI3). So after a quick romp up great ice and another pitch of low angle rock we arrived at the 2nd couloir. From here route goes up right then back left across snow slopes and around the end of a big buttress. This leads you into the big central gully about mid height on the face. The original Seasons of the Sun route cuts up and back left to stay on the face while we followed Frieh/Johnson’s variation back towards the East Buttress proper. It was somewhere in here that it got dark. Not pitch black but dark enough to warrant a headlamp when technical climbing. Several mixed pitches in the dark brought us to the East Buttress proper. From here another 2 long fun mixed pitches deposited us underneath a huge boulder. By this time it was getting light again and we were out of water. So we spent an hour brewing up and resting. The rest of the east buttress went by in a blur of simul-climbing including one section where I ran out of carabiners and slings and literally clipped the carabiner with all my nuts to a piton just so I could clip the rope in. We topped out on the summit about 10am. The decent was pretty straight forward although with more uphill than we liked. We just followed the main ridge to the west and then cut down and south to follow a different ridge line back towards the Bradley/Wake Col. Unfortunately this led us to wallow up several northern aspects of unconsolidated powder snow. Nothing like trenching in the afternoon sun when you have been up all night! We finally reached the col and took a short break to drink the last of our water and finish up our food. Then it was 2000ft of easy walking down to the last obstacle…the icefall between Wake and Bradley. From the top of the col it appeared to be less broken up on skiers left. But when we arrived skiers left there was only sagging “snow bridges” and open crevasses. We were able to end run everything far left and then rappel over the last bergshrund by leaving a bomber fixed nut in the rock. Finally home free we trudged wearily back towards the base of the route. The snow was like a trap door. Most steps you were fine but every few steps the door would open and suddenly you would be postholing to your thigh. We were excited to be back to our skis were the going suddenly got easy! Rolled back into camp at 7:30pm for a 27.5hr RT time. Starting up Seasons of the Sun. The M6 offwidth crux....we got lucky with fat ice conditions and easy climbing. Typically route conditions...soloing steep snow. About 1/4 of the way up the route now. Nearing the top of the East Buttress proper......during one of the long simul-blocks. The route up Bradley's 4500ft face. This is a linkup of Seasons of the Sun and the East Buttress first done by John Frieh and Dylan Johnson. Descending back down from the Bradley/Wake Col after climbing Mt. Bradley. May 7 - Weather day. Snowed off and on all day. May 8 - Snowed a bit then cleared up in the afternoon but wasn’t enough time for much more than a casual ski. It was warm again. We watched several ice lines we had been looking at fall off the walls. Our camp below the east face of Mount Dickey. Mount Bradley is just to the left of center in behind. May 9 - With the warm weather we opted for rock climbing. But the sun didn’t burn the clouds off until noon so we got a late start. We decided on Goldfinger which is on the Stump. We started climbing and were happy to find good quality rock. The rock quality was WAY better than the first few pitches of Cobra Pillar. Unfortunately due to our late start we lost the sun and our warmth about the top of pitch 6. We contemplated going a few more pitches but opted to just call it since it was unlikely we would top out anyway with such a late start. The climbing was very good though and it would be a classic anywhere in the lower 48. Coming up to the belay at the top of Pitch 2 of Goldfinger. Climbing pitch 6 of Goldfinger. It is fantastic climbing on very good quality rock! May 10 - With bad weather in the forecast for the next several days we opted to fly out. Several of the team members had flights out of Anchorage on the 13th so we didn’t want to be stuck on the glacier and miss flights. TAT here to pick us up. The ever changing clouds giving Mt. Bradley a moody look as we departed. Gear Notes: Alpine rack, heavy on screws for ice routes, heavy on cams for rock routes. Approach Notes: Fly in with Talkeetna Air Taxi, then ski/hike to climbs.
  32. 6 points
    Trip: Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Moses Tooth - Ham and Eggs Trip Date: 04/23/2021 Trip Report: http://www.gorobets.com/TRs/Ham_and_Eggs_2021_04_23.html Gear Notes: 2 ropes 60 m x 8.2 mm. A pair of ice tools each. 8 ice screws. 4 pickets. A set of cams from 0.2” to 3”. A set of nuts. Not used. 4 pitons. Not used. BD Spectra. Not used. V thread cord. Not used. Webbing for rappel. Not used. Approach Notes: From Root Canal air strip ascend snow slopes.
  33. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Cathedral Ramp - FA Trip Date: 04/17/2021 Trip Report: Today a group of us (@Nolan E Arson, @ktarry, @The Real Nick Sweeney) did what we believe is the first ascent of Cathedral Ramp off of the Eliot glacier. Of course I’m half-expecting someone to show up and post photos of a previous climb of the route, but we don’t have any reason to think it’s been done before and it’s listed as unclimbed in Mullee’s guidebook. We approached by racing the hoards up the South Side. @Nolan E Arson and I simul soloed DKHW 1, which is becoming quite mixed, to reach the summit, and then dropped down to the Queen’s Chair, with @ktarry and @The Real Nick Sweeney close behind. We continued down to near the top of Horseshoe Rock and traversed across, staying underneath the large bergschrund at the top of the glacier. The whole Eliot Headwall area, with lots of ice and lots of footprints from the last couple weeks: @Nolan E Arson and I approached the lower left ice flow that leads up and right to near the bottom of the upper snow ramp (orange line in photo below). @ktarry and @The Real Nick Sweeney approached the slightly higher streak of ice that forms a straight line with the upper ramp (yellow line). Perhaps one of them can chime in here to describe their first pitch. We started by doing a little mini pitch, still in our glacier travel setup, to get above the frighteningly undercut/moated area right up against the rock: From here we could see that there was ice leading all the way to the upper ramp. @Nolan E Arson led a nice fun pitch of WI3 (photo below), eventually meeting up with @ktarry who had traversed in from our right. While following I got a good view of @The Real Nick Sweeney coming up the other line: I started up the snow ramp, which is easy at first and then progresses to a few steeper mixed moves: Above this was the big unknown part of the climb. Some random photos we’d found online seemed to show easy, fairly flat snow wrapping around from the top of Cathedral Ramp to meet up with the top of the Pencil. Every time I’d looked across from the Queen’s Chair recently, however, the top out looked dry and steep and kind of scary. After the brief section of mixed climbing I reached a ledge where I could see that I was around 10-15 meters from the top of the Pencil. Of course I’d hoped to see an easy way across, but instead I was confronted with a few meters of climbing on absolutely atrocious, crumbling rock, up on to a previously invisible little ridge: Thankfully things weren’t that steep and I proceeded through this section without too much trouble. The rock was so loose and shitty that I didn’t even consider placing any gear, though I think perhaps @The Real Nick Sweeney found a decent cam placement on his way through? From on top of the little ridge there was a clear way to traverse, mostly on ice, to gain the main part of the North Face Cleaver, near the top out of the Pencil. I was hoping to climb the additional ice pitch to the top of Cathedral spire from the Pencil trip report, but at this time it’s completely melted. Maybe it's only there in the winter? Instead, @Nolan E Arson led around to the left on a series of icy ramps and snowy ledges: We were eventually deposited in the North Face right gully directly above the upper ice pitch. From here we unroped and soloed back to the summit. I'll add some concluding thoughts at a later time, once I've slept! Gear Notes: Took a lot of stuff. Mostly used screws with just an occasional piece of rock pro. Approach Notes: South Side
  34. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Curtis Gilbert - West Route Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: The catch up from last summer continues.....We're in early July at this point. Most all the federal lands are back open, the snow is melting fast, and the high alpine is calling! And, of course, there are still Smoots to be ticked. Luckily for me @Juan Sharp isn't too picky so it didn't take much arm twisting to get him to make the drive way south to the Goat Rocks and Mount Curtis Gilbert. We opted for the short and sweet approach via the Snowgrass Flats TH, thence to the PCT and Cispus Basin. It was all very short and civilized with great weather and views. First look of Gilbert (R) and Goat Citadel (center) Klickitat from the hike in Juan crossing a scenic stream just before Cispus Basin The man, the myth, the Juan at camp. The blown out hulk of Loowit to the south (R). We kept it Covid friendly and slept in two tents. Shortly after I took this picture, I busted the filter and ring on my go-to lens. Oops. Both my lens, and wrist, though unrelated to one another. The next day dawned clear, earlier than either of us would have liked, and so we had no excuse to stay in camp, starting the engaging slog/scramble using goat paths and steep snow to the mellow area near the summit. Crampons, axe, and helmet kept it reasonable, but there was certainly a lot of loose rock and steep snow to keep your attention. And the views! A rare photo of me (R), thanks Juan! Without too much trouble or head scratching we reached the summit in a few hours, having it to ourselves this glorious day. Views were expansive, from well north of Tahoma way down past Wy'east into central Oregon. It was a great day to tick a Smoot with a good friend. I can't really say much more. Maybe because it was 6 months ago and my memory isn't what is used to be! We must have descended and hiked out at some point, but my memory of the details are hazy. Suffice to say that it was smooth and we got home all in one piece. Another great weekend in the Cascades! Gear Notes: crampons, axe, helmet Approach Notes: PCT to Cispus basin. Good camps above and below the trail
  35. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Jupiter - East Ridge (standard) Trip Date: 05/08/2020 Trip Report: My trip down 2020 memory lane continues! We've moved up to May now. The pandemic is still slowing unfolding but people are going back to work and the lockdowns are easing. Public land is open in some instances (Olympic National Forest) but closed in other (MBSNF, national parks, etc.). Your friends were likely in two camps- those still locked down and those that were straining for the freedom of the hills. Quietly, I rallied @therunningdog and @Trent, two of the chossdawgs who were straining at their tethers. It didn't take much cajoling to convince them to launch across the sound for a quick strike to the east side of the Peninsula. Growing up around Seattle you can't ignore ol' Jupe, it is right there on the Olympic skyline, standing proud at sunset like an Olympic version of Mt. Pilchuck. Jupiter is small, beautifully shaped, and larger looking than it really is, sitting at the edge of the range like it does. We were all smitten, or at least mildly interested. Beggers can't be choosers! The Brothers (L) and Jupiter (R) from the Edmonds Kingston ferry We drove up to the trailhead from the ferry the night before, finding an excellent spot to throw down our gear in the dirt for the night The next morning dawned clear and crisp and we climbed on the bikes for the punishing grind up to the normal TH. Recent logging has made this section view rich, but also has meant that the public is no longer allowed to drive the few thousand vert to the proper trailhead (which has been logged over anyways). We opted to take the road a bit further to the ridge crest then go cross country to the trail. It might not have saved much on the way up but meant for a longer descent on the bikes. And so we began the long hike to the summit. A former lookout site, Jupiter has a well graded trail all 7 miles to the summit. It was just what we needed after many weeks of limited mountain access. Steve hiking the scenic trail with the Brothers beyond Another great look at the Brothers It was a glorious day with 360 views of the Olympics, Puget lowlands and Cascades. You could easily see from Canada to well south of Rainier! A long break was called and observed with some well earned R&R. Way sooner than we would have liked (we had a ferry to catch) we began the descent back to the bikes. We hadn't seen anyone all day and that theme continued on the exit. I think many are scared off by the long distances involved in doing this in a day, but bikes make is quite reasonable with a trailhead bivy. Just make sure you have disc brakes and suspension! It was an adventure on my bike.... This view is just leaving the summit, looking down the ridge that is ascended. The trail roughly follows the ridge east, all the way to the clear cut in the distance. From there bikes will take you steeply down to your car deep down in the trees. Now, when I watch the sunset from the park by my parents house, I can look Jupiter in the eye and tip my hat to a fine peak. And to the memories of a perfect day in the alpine with good friends. May is coming soon, best be ready! Gear Notes: bikes are key since the road is gated low these days. Approach Notes: Follow the descriptions and drive as far up the road as you can
  36. 6 points
    Hello all, Recently a bunch of nice gear popped up for sale on Facebook with a suspiciously low price, and an even more suspicious description (including references to "cleats" and "hooks"). Long story short, I bought it, in hopes of reuniting it with its original owner. There are some distinguishing things not pictured here, so describe those and it's yours. Hoping to recoup my $80 outlay. Best to email me: jlawrence10 (a t) mac (d o t) com. Portland, OR. Josh
  37. 6 points
    Trip: Wind River Range- Cirque of the Towers - Pingora, Wolf's Head, Overhanging, Warbonnet, Warrior, Bollinger Trip Date: 07/22/2020 Trip Report: And so the catch up continues from last year....We're up to July 2020 and the annual week long climbing trip with @Trent and whatever other partners in crime we can dredge up from the dark corners of the Skag. For 2020 it was JP and not only did he bring the gun show, but also the van that carried us in style to the TH. The destination last year was the mythical Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming's Wind River range, and it did not disappoint! But first we had to get there. It is a long drive! But we had JP's trusty steed and three drivers to blunt the trauma. Still, we were all surprised how busy the West was last summer. People were everywhere! Including at least 100 cars at the TH. The Cascades aren't the only busy place these days, but the skies are still pretty dark... Gearing up for the hike in before we get to the madhouse of the TH The hike in was quick and relatively painless by Cascadian standards, despite our big packs. The altitude was noticeable, however. We scored a great site as you first descend into the Cirque, which afforded great views of the popular peaks/routes. We were advised to bring a pair of binoculars for the inevitable epics that unfold wherever 50 Classic Climbs are located. Great advice! The weather was forecast to be great for the first few days, without the thunderstorms that are common in the range. We immediately hatched a plan to do the Cirque Traverse in two days. Day one would be the South Buttress of Pingora into the East Ridge of Wolf's head followed by a return to camp. Day 2 would be Overhanging Tower to Warbonnet, saving us from carrying bivy gear. The whole thing was supposed to be quite reasonable (~5.8) for a competent party, spread out over two days. We went to bed early, pretty psyched for the next couple days. And sure enough it dawned clear and we off early to Pingora, getting on it first. What a great, straightforward climb! The K-cracks especially were clean and super fun. Looking across to the East Ridge of Wolf's Head: Soon we were on top and looking at the next objective for the day. The storied East Ridge of Wolf's Head! We rapped into the Tiger Tower notch, climbed over Tiger and rapped into the start of the route. It gets wild right off the bat and stays aesthetic and exposed the whole way. A deserved classic! But not exactly straightforward routefinding, and very old school ratings. It felt harder than the 5.8 on Pingora! Hmmmmmm. But we figured it out, and made it all the way to the top in the end. We felt like we had really done something. Now, how do we get down to the Overhanging Tower col? A few raps, some choss, head scratching, and exposed scrambling, and we eventually found our way, pleased to have the first part of the traverse under our belts and supposedly the technical crux behind us. We chossed our way back to camp and prepared for a long day. We started before dawn again and made our way back up to the unsavory choss that guards the Overhanging col. Overhanging tower went down quickly with just a bit of exposed scrambling and we were left staring at the intimidating North Face of Shark's nose. How the hell? We had only brought a half rope and light rack, expecting to simul everything on this day (supposedly to 5.6 with careful routefinding- "act accordingly"). Hmmmmmm. Steve, descending towards Shark's Nose from Overhanging Tower. Careful!: You're supposed to corkscrew around this face, we made it about 2/3rds height before getting lost and intimidated. Both Steve and JP took turns on the sharp end trying to find a reasonable way up the Shark's Nose for three guys without much gear all moving together. Nothing felt casual enough to them and I politely declined to try myself. It all looked way harder than "5.6"! Turns out, we were right on route, just needed to have set up a proper belay and done a real pitch. Oh well....and so we retreated back to the col and camp and went fishing! The fishing is quite good at Lonesome Lake, if you bring a spinning rod. I didn't have hardly any luck with my fly rod, either at the surface or dredging the depths with buggers and a sinking line. A first for me in an alpine lake. JP absolutely slayed them, however! And then we had to come up with a new plan. JP and @Trent were gunning for the other 50 Classic, the NE face of Pingora, but I was worried about slowing them down if I tagged along. And so I came up with a plan to scramble Warbonnet and Warrior (the other end of the Cirque Traverse) while they went and climbed the very good looking rock of Pingora again (no photos from me of their day, maybe they'll add them?). I think we both had fun the next day, but I admit that I probably should have slowed them down instead. The scramble routes on Warbonnet and Warrior and super chossy and not that aesthetic! But great views nonetheless.... Up on the high summits I had good cell coverage so got a forecast. It was trending wet and cold for the next couple of days, especially the next morning. So, reconvened back at camp we thumbed through the guide and stumbled on Bollinger and the "Class 3" route up the NE ridge. By this point we knew to expect 4th class! The next day dawned stormy and wet so we lazed around camp until it looked more promising. Just in case we brought our fishing gear and cached it down at the lake on our way around Pingora to Bollinger. And, as expected, it wasn't straightforward 3rd class, but still good fun nonetheless and recommended if you have iffy weather in the Cirque. Afterwards, it was back to the lake for more fishing! We had one more possible day left to climb, but we also realized that if we left a day early we would have a day at home with our families before heading out to work. And so, satisfied, we enjoyed one last night in the Winds, drinking the rest our whiskey, watching Neowise, and spotting headlamps of tardy climbers on Pingora and Wolf's Head. The next day we slowly packed camp and sauntered out of the range, joining the masses on the trail and merging into the scrum of the parking lot and busy western highways. Where will next year take us? Gear Notes: Bug net and repellent! Standard rack. 60m rope, helmet. Binoculars for late evening "Must see TV" Approach Notes: Follow the herd
  38. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - DKHW Variation 2.5, Flying Buttress Direct, Men of Steel Trip Date: 02/28/2021 Trip Report: I climbed Hood on Sunday 2/28 and again on Wednesday 3/3 and explored a couple lesser-known parts of the Devil's Kitchen Headwall/Steel Cliffs area. @Nolan E Arson and I went up on Sunday with the intention of checking out Devil's Kitchen Headwall variation 1, but were drawn over to the east side of the crater where there was an impressive amount of new rime and more wind-scoured surfaces to walk on. We started by heading up the system of gullies between the normal DKHW 2 and DKHW 3 routes (red line in the photo below; "DKHW 2.5"?). It's very hard to see how or if these connect to the crater rim from below, but the lower climbing looked pretty moderate and reversible. Where the red line turns to the left we found a small section of exposed rock, however it was pretty low angle and all of the rime we had touched so far seemed exceptionally solid so we continued up. Above this the angle increased and there were two obvious options separated by a large overhanging rime fin (center of the photo below). Rather than squeeze through the shadowy slot on the right we climbed a 25-foot near-vertical rime chimney on the left. This turned out to be a mistake. From up higher we could see that we wanted to continue climber's right, but getting back on route by climbing over the rime fin seemed too sketchy as we couldn't tell if it was solid or undercut on the far side and the moves looked pretty committing. Thankfully there was some legitimate ice, we got in a v-thread (initially backed up with almost every screw we had), and rapped back down. We continued by squeezing through the slot to climber's right, which was actually pretty fun climbing despite my leashes and draws snagging the rime literally every time I tried to move. Above this the angle eased off a bit and it was normal rambling rime climbing up to the east crater rim. I'd say this line is totally worth doing, in these conditions at least, mostly just for the fun of squeezing through the steep rime chimney. It's totally possible that with different rime formations it would be a lot harder. We messed around on the crater rim for a few minutes, scouted our next line, and then downclimbed the Flying Buttress (variation 3) variation (orange line in first photo). Flying Buttress is currently pretty rampy and only felt like serious downclimbing for maybe 10 feet at the top, mostly because we were cleaning off a lot of sun-affected rime. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back in the crater we went a few feet climber's right of the normal Flying Buttress route and started climbing up the big cleft in the rock (yellow line in first photo). I'd been eyeing this line for a while and it seemed like the solid state of the rime made it a good time to try. First photo below is the bottom part of the route. There were very solid sticks despite the obviously thin rime in places. From below it looked like the angle immediately eased off but this was not actually the case. We soloed up to a very small but relatively restful ledge where I was able to place a decent ice screw and chill out for a couple minutes (photo below). Continuing above the first screw: Above this the route curves a bit to the right and the climbing started to become somewhat stressful. The right side of the gully was shaded with patches of good ice, but was mostly exposed rock, and looked way too hard to solo and way too thin to protect with the minimal gear (screws) we had. The left side had a thick coating of rime, so I climbed there, but it was obviously sun-affected and seemed barely weight-bearing. Eventually I traversed back into the shade, managed to get in another decent screw, and kicked a small platform (photo below). Eventually I bumped myself up on top of the next big rock in order to make space: At this point I'd had enough soloing and we got out the rope. @Nolan E Arson hammered one of his tools into a crack to belay, and I led up one final section of steep unstable rime. Of course, as soon as the rope was on, the climbing felt chill and easy, even though the anchor and couple screws I placed were probably complete trash. I stopped at a big ledge that we had previously seen from the top of the crater rim, belayed from there, and then it was easy rambling to the top. Curiously there is a fumarole on this ledge which is maybe not visible from anywhere else on the mountain (photo below). Also near the top out was a completely enclosed, Patagonia-style rime tunnel. I decided not to squeeze through since I would've had to remove my pack. Overall this line was quite challenging. It's consistently steep and exposed with minimal opportunities for protection and is clearly a step up in difficultly from, say, DKHW variation 1. I would climb it again but I would probably bring a variety of light rock pro and do it first thing in the morning before the sun starts to soften any of the rime. We downclimbed Flying Buttress again and descended. On the descent we found about 15 dead Northern Pintails (ducks) that looked like they had smashed into the side of the mountain during the last storm. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I went back up on Wednesday with Kyle hoping to get a quick climb in before I had to work. We climbed some variation of the Men of Steel route. Perhaps we were supposed to start lower on climber's right but I'm not sure because someone stole my guidebook. There were a couple steep moves to get off the ground, but I couldn't take any pictures as I was struggling with the barfies. Traversing to the right required some thought but was generally not too steep or difficult. The crux of the route is where it slants left (where the red line disappears in the photo). There is an exposed slab of rock here that's visible from the crater. I think we both made one move with our left crampon on the rock, though it's possible the previous people to climb this had to deal with more exposed rock (@Nolan E Arson? Alex?). Kyle coming up a bit more steep stuff, with the big slab visible on the mid-right part of the photo: Above this was one set of rime towers/gullies to get through: Eventually Kyle took a gully to the right, cleaning off a ton of rime in the process (action shot below). While waiting for him and trying to stay out of the way I went up to the left a bit and ended up climbing a different rime chimney since there were a few reasonable but fun-looking options. We topped out and then followed the rest of the Wy'east route to the summit. The crux traverse of the Wy'east route was consolidated and not very scary. The rest of the slopes up to the summit were typical deep postholing bullshit. Gear Notes: Various Approach Notes: Skinned to top of Palmer where it became the normal sea of rime, cramponed from there.
  39. 6 points
    Thanks for writing this Sean! It's an honor to be apart of the first full N-Index winter trip report. This route is so much bigger than I could have imagined. In it's current condition there is a direct ice line that bypasses the N-rib mixed climbing and goes straight up some sweet looking alpine ice. I wish we would have taken this, as it would have shaved probably an hour or more off of our climb. I would probably give the route in these conditions AI3- M5. Strava Track HERE And the only decent photos I got from my camera. Racking up at the base The belay below the N-rib Sean leading across the gendarmes
  40. 6 points
    Trip: Wy'east (Mt. Hood) - Fric-Amos Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: I went up to the Black Spider last weekend with Lindsey and Riley. We found the Fric-Amos in very nice condition but were too late on a warm day and bailed up an easy mixed pitch to the L of the main pitch. Thankfully the weather granted me another opportunity and I came back this weekend with Kyle to get it done. Noah and Matt saw my Insta story from the first weekend and jumped on the send train. They acted as true gentlemen, coordinating with us and giving us a head start. The route is currently in good condition (but don't expect a straightforward WI4). We used an approach pitch to the R of the original both times that follows an easy ice slot (the original would probably go but is discontinuous ice blobs up a vertical cliff). The crux pitch is a full 60m or could be broken up, expect tricky and sustained climbing but with good ice. Above this snow slopes take you through one more short ice step and up to the summit ridge. This may be one of the more frequently formed ice routes on the Spider given that it is in a shaded cleft, unlike most of the other routes. Though you are basically going for one mega pitch, it is very good and I would recommend it! I talked to Bill Amos the next day and he believes ours was the 3rd (and Noah and Matt the 4th) ascent of the route (2nd was Marcus and Marsha, go figure). Awesome sunrise approaching on first attempt... Lindsey and Riley below the face, clearly too late... The face... Closer view of the Fric-Amos (original approach pitch is on the L, our approach pitch was on the far R of the hanging snow field)... Riley following the approach pitch, classic slot... Our escape pitch... The crux pitch (taken during from 1st attempt)... Kyle booting up to the face on attempt 2 (much earlier)... Kyle's pic, me below the face... Kyle's pics, me on the crux... Looking down from top of crux... Kyle leading above crux... Looking down from ropes off... Summit selfiez... Gear Notes: Screws: 2xstub, 4x13, 2x16, 1x22 (used for the belay but not any good) Rock gear: nuts, cams 0.4-0.75, pins (not used), 2 med hexes (not used) Plenty of slings if you're going to do the crux as one pitch. Approach Notes: Boots from Timberline, crossed White River ~8,800ft.
  41. 6 points
    Trip: Constance - South Chute Trip Date: 08/10/2020 Trip Report: With a weird forecast this week my son and I decided to convert our planned five-day trip to the North Cascades to a more modest 2-3 day summit of Constance. We headed over to the peninsula moderately early Sunday morning, arriving at a full road-end parking area with cars backed up the street for maybe 1/4 mile. We found a recently vacated gap for our truck, unloaded the bikes and headed up. Just over an hour later we arrived at the TH, did a gear adjustment and started uphill. We were amused by the signage warning that the trail is not just a "hike", and by the party of three that started up it only to bail within 5 minutes. We then powered through the worst part (the bottom) only to see that around 4000' it got stiff again. We arrived at camp after 4 hours or so, a bit hot and tired. We had plenty of time to wade in the lake, and enjoy the lack of insects. Most people were gone already except one guy floating on the lake fishing (catch and release) Lake Constance after sunset: The next day we were up at 4:15 and headed up Avalanche Canyon. There is almost no snow whatsover left there so we suffered through the tedious boulder hopping followed by endless scree up the S chute, down its other side, and up to the notch crossing the E-W trending spur ridge. All scree and no snow makes the S chute a dull boy: On the far side of the notch there was still a snow patch melted back from each rock wall, and we walked along the one skier's left until it got too moated out, then got onto the snow (now flat with no bad runout), crossed it to rock, and worked our way to the finger traverse. Once there we opted for the bypass on the way in, planning the FT if time and will-power cooperated on the way out. Moat shenanigans (taken on return to camp): The FT bypass After the bypass we scratched our heads a bit about what to do. A really nasty gully led down and we didn't like it, so we traversed a bit, then found a still unsavory, but slightly better gully down to snow, crossed it and then started up the ledge system towards the summit block. The next talus field was also devoid of snow, but not too tedious. Then we were on the summit block and doing a corkscrew to get to the N side of the summit block. View back to the Terrible Traverse and FT: Working the cool ledges on this climb: The final moves seemed a bit high end to solo for my taste. After looking at a few options, I pulled out the rope to lead it. But I ended up just placing one piece maybe 8 feet off the ledge, then topping out. There was a new summit register dated 7/4/20 with a new rap anchor, but the webbing was shredded and we ended up carrying it down, putting new slings in (which may get devoured by rodents over the next days or weeks as well). Olympic Mountain p0rn: Another Smoot in the books! One short rap led us back to regular scramble terrain and we began retracing our steps down. At this point the fog rolled in. We could see enough to get back to finger traverse. Due to the time we spent getting to the summit, including getting gear out already for a short lead and rappel, we opted to just climb the bypass (super chill) then continued to the col on the E-W trending ridge. The skies cleared for us here and we enjoyed some serious scree-surfing down to the basin below the S chute, topped the col, then did more scree-surfing into Avalanche Canyon. Then and there the fun ended and we proceeded to tedious boulder hopping back to camp. Arriving at 7:15 we decided to stay the 2nd night we had reserved on the permit, and hiked out early Tuesday morning. The steep Lake Constance trail went by quickly thanks to fresh legs and Iron Maiden. And the bike ride was a pure pleasure (about 30 min of coasting). Retun to lake: Gear Notes: Ice axe, helmet, 40m rope, small rack Approach Notes: Talus, scree, more scree
  42. 6 points
    Trip: Forbidden - E Ridge Direct Trip Date: 08/26/2020 Trip Report: Deb and I climbed the E Ridge Direct route on Forbidden on Wednesday. It was an absolute blast, a perfect day of climbing! We were able to get Boston Basin permits, and although sure, you can do these climbs car to car without issues, why not camp in such an amazing place if you can? Deb hadn't been up the Boston Basin trail before and I was SHOCKED at how much more defined the trail was and how much easier it was this time than last May carrying my skis up. Who woulda thought?! We got up there in a little over 2 hours and enjoyed the sunset light and drank some beers I'd packed up. No skeeters! And so little snow. In the dark, we watched as SIX headlamps slowly made their way down... wow. I stayed up to see what had happened. Turns out, nothing! "Just a lot of parties on the west ridge, traffic jams on rappels..." Dang. We got moving a bit before 7 the next day and although we brought aluminum pons and light axes, the super hard snow gave us reason for finding a more creative route around the snowfields up to the choss and notch where the route starts. It took us about an hour and a half or so to get from camp to the notch and soon we were simulclimbing on excellent rock along an amazing ridge in such an incredible place. SO FUN! I took us as direct a line as possible, over the 5.7 stuff, some awesome knife-edge type ridge walking, and then we stopped to belay the 5.8 (it was just a couple bouldery moves) final gendarme bit. It's cool that most of the little towers can be downclimbed; it's too bad there is the one mandatory short rappel. I was happy that I was able to lead everything in my approach shoes without a problem. Deb took the rack and we simuled the rest of the ridge to the summit! It took us about 4 hours from notch to summit, which was definitely on the longer side of what I expected, but fine! Summit views were of course amazing.... The East Ledges descent was not a problem at all and Deb and I were both scratching our heads about how it has such a nasty reputation. Maybe if you got seriously off route it could be scary? I guess it all depends on experience, exposure to exposure, etc. etc. but for us, it was no problem. All the raps pulled cleanly and nary a pebble fell upon us. We got back to the notch approximately 2 hours from leaving the summit. The snow was soft at this point, so we took a snowfield down, and then avoided 4th class terrain by descending further to the west and then onto slabs. On the way out, we came around a corner to see a BEAR which was super awesome. He looked young to me, maybe 1-2 years old? Cutie pie. He was startled and trotted off, then we watched him cross Morning Star Creek and then on the other side, paw some boulder off and dig around. A fantastic way to end our time in Boston Basin.... Camera came out a bit late...can you spot the bear? I enjoyed this climb much more than the West Ridge. I think I will definitely be back to repeat it. And we got it ALL TO OURSELVES! Thank you, Deb, for being a fantastic climbing partner Gear Notes: Lots of double-length slings! We brought a 60m single rope which we shortened for the simulclimbing -- I think this was actually the right choice for us, over doubling a 60m twin/half. Medium rack to keep the simuling going... but lots of horns and towers and things on the ridge, so I felt like a lot of the terrain was providing protection! Approach Notes: Up, over, up, over, up.
  43. 6 points
    Trip: Stuart Range Traverse - SRT Trip Date: 08/10/2020 Trip Report: Should maybe be titled Stuart Range Traverse* because there's always some disclaimer in there, good style is just about doing it with as few asterisks as possible. My main asterisk is I didn't actually summit Sherpa. I'm also no Peter Croft, but based off all the TRs that are out there for this thing, none of us quite are. Anyway, I've had a weird relationship with climbing this year. There have been a lot of other things going on (perhaps an understatement in this wild year) that demand more attention. I came back from a full season deep down south feeling absolutely on top of my game, a feeling which quarantine somehow morphed into a sense of burnout, fear, overanalysis and a general loss of motivation for big objectives. I've wondered if maybe I've finally developed a frontal lobe in my brain. Seeking comfort and sticking close the ground, I've focused on running and bouldering. While the Stuart Range Traverse is neither of those things, I did feel a certain motivation to get it done before I move to Colorado (I know) for a bit, and all it really boils down to is a nice long run with some V0 highballs. Plotz told me it's kind of a slog. He was right. But I still had fun, and given enough time I might even consider doing it again, with fewer asterisks. lovely little garden below Stuart. The first bit of excitement came on the slabs below the Stuart Glacier, where I felt my pack suddenly lose a lot of weight. I turned around to see one of my two liters of water careening down towards the snowy gully where it shall spend the remainder of eternity. Somehow my pack had come unzipped, and I almost lost a lot more kit than I did. I kinda thought my plans for the traverse tumbled down into the moat along with it, as I had just passed the last water source and I couldn't bank on finding anything between the ridge and Argonaut. But I still had one liter infused with electrolyte-whatever, and I could bail at Sherpa Pass if I had to. Not much to be said about the North Ridge of Stuart, other than the fact it's phenomenal. I had never climbed it, or Stuart for that matter, until yesterday. It was worth the wait. Was on route for about 2 hours. stuart summit selfie. that's what everyone likes about TRs, right? selfies? As soon as I was on the south side of the crest the wind was gone and it was hot. I was really worried about running out of water. I also made the classic rookie mistake and got suckered down the wrong gully (not ulrich's) while searching for water. I did find some, but also found myself well below Sherpa. I had already had a few routefinding snafus early on and was a couple hours behind schedule, doing the math I figured if I tagged Sherpa's summit I'd most likely bail at the pass - which turned into a cost-benefit analysis of what I valued more, another summit or a more solid chance at the traverse? I chose the traverse. There was an excellent ledge system below Sherpa, complete with a goat highway, that got me to Sherpa Pass quickly. If it wasn't chest deep in the boonies, the south-facing slopes between Sherpa and Argo would host excellent cragging - I spied numerous perfect cracks and checkerboard patina reminiscent of Red Rock's Brownstone Wall, all on perfect red granite. And if you keep your eyes and ears open, water can be found in small springs that quickly dive underground. Overall, I didn't think this section was as bad as people say. I mostly stayed just barely below the ridge crest. I stayed hydrated, stayed psyched, and speaking of sweet crags, soon found myself at the base of the S Face of Argo. choose your own adventure! knobs and splitters galore! s face of argo from the right margin. This was also my first time on Argonaut's summit, which was quite nice. Great view, and fun, easy climbing. I had brought a skinny half rope to use as a rap line if I needed it - not totally necessary in hindsight, but I was glad to have brought it as it did give me a little nicer sense of security, which like I said, I haven't really had that feeling of security with climbing lately. Well, turns out that shiny new half rope came all this way just to be put under the knife on some short rappel I ended up soloing up and down anyway. Getting it stuck on the rap pull was a result of my own negligence and it cost me a lot of time - so if you're trying to descend into Argo's east gully and find a well-used rap station above a splitter looking dihedral, just downclimb. There's maybe one section of 5.6 to get you down to a big ledge. As you jam the perfect hand crack (seriously, why didn't I just downclimb this from the get go), take a moment to admire the remains of about 3 or 4 different ropes stuck deep inside. Mine's one of them. Hooray! But ultimately, I can't really blame myself for taking an extra precaution when I was already tired and clumsy. From there, it's loose third and fourth class down the east gully. man, I wish I had a better phone camera. Once at the shelf between Argo and Colchuck, I put the headphones in and motored up and over Colchuck and Dragontail, arriving at Aasgard in the dark. Pop Tarts and Prince carried me to the finish. 22.5 hrs C2C. Gear Notes: an extra liter of water so you can jettison the first one into the void Approach Notes: there is one, yes.
  44. 6 points
    Trip: Glacier Peak - Frostbite Ridge Trip Date: 08/09/2020 Trip Report: Glacier Peak, Frostbite Ridge 8/9/20 (descending Cool Glacier) Anna B and I chose Frostbite Ridge route on Glacier Peak since it would offer us more technical challenges, but we devised a route that would take us down the Cool Glacier standard route and make a 4 day loop of the climb. One reason for choosing a loop was that we were doing it in early August and as 2020 was an above average snow year and a cooler than normal summer I anticipated that the ice steps just below the summit might have snice and not be melted down to the glacial ice. If this was true (it mostly was), descending on the Frostbite Ridge with several rappels on the ice steps could mean spending a lot of time and energy clearing away the snice to get to the glacial ice to build v-threads for the rappels. Something I wanted to avoid. A loop also is just more appealing anyway. The normal route for Frostbite Ridge starts at the Suiattle Pass Trailhead up the PCT and then to the Vista Glacier. We started our loop at the North Fork Sauk trailhead and so this would require many extra miles to get to where the standard Frostbite Ridge route peels off the PCT. Luckily, I found some old trip reports where, in years past, climbers used the now decommissioned White Chuck river road and trail to attain the either the Kennedy Ridge and up to the Kennedy glacier or one trip report that cited a bivy at 6,200 feet near the base of the Kennedy glacier. This would save us time and miles and turned out to be the best choice for our route. We started at the North Fork Sauk River trailhead, the starting point for the Cool Glacier approach. Day 1 we hiked from the trailhead up to the PCT and covering over 3,000 feet in a short distance. At the PCT we went left to Red Pass and down the other side. After passing several good campsites just as the PCT started heading north we found a nice flat campsite at around 5,000 feet just off the trail before it descended steeply in a small gorge. We chose wisely as this was the last campsite for a few miles. Total distance was about 13 miles with 5,000 feet of gain and 2,200 feet of loss. Day 2 we continued on the PCT for about 7.5 miles, going past Kennedy Creek and up onto Kennedy Ridge. The PCT had a lot of overgrown bushes/ small trees wet from the recent rains and fog and parts of the trail had small streams diverted on them. We got soaked and our boots were wet for the entire remaining days of the climb. There is a PCT camping area with a sign for a toilet just before the PCT crosses Glacier Creek and makes a sharp turn left. Opposite the entrance to the PCT campsite is a small drainage that flows into Glacier Creek (not the actual Glacier Creek) where we could see a climbers trail (5,300 feet). We followed this up and within a few hundred feet the trail mostly disappeared. We continued with not too difficult bushwhacking up the drainage and stayed right to gain a small ridge just above the base of the Kennedy Glacier where we found the bivy site mentioned in the old trip reports at approximately 6,100 feet (48.131760, -121.140130). Running water nearby made this ideal for our summit bid the next day. Day 3 we got an early start and headed up the Kennedy Glacier staying on the climbers left (north side) portion of the glacier but not too close to the cliffs below Kennedy peak as there was plenty of evidence of rock fall. From 7,400 feet to about 7,700 feet we had to find our way around open crevasses and crossed on several bridges that looked fairly thick and strong but still made us a bit nervous to cross over the gaping crevasses blow our feet. I believe that in a few weeks time the route finding through this crevassed area may pose some difficulties. At 8,200 feet we joined the standard Frostbite Ridge route just after the Kennedy and Vista glaciers col. From base of Kennedy Glacier. Frostbite Ridge in the alpenglow. There are plenty of trip reports out there and the Cascade Climber report from 8/2/2015 has the best information and photos of the route that I can’t really improve upon. For us, we went up the ridgeline which was pumice and dirt and included a short narrow catwalk that was a bit nerve wracking but doable. At the first large rock gendarme (named the rabbit’s dick in the aforementioned trip report) we went right and stayed on a rock ramp since we felt the steep snow was icy and the runout was long. This probably got us a bit off course, we followed the ramp and then headed up where there was a short 4th class section with some exposure so Anna B put in a few stoppers and a short belay and we climbed back to the left side of the gendarme, dropping onto the top of the snow pitch on the left side and went through a notch to descend back on route. After this first rock pinnacle we got to the rabbit ears and went up on the right side (we thought we were going through the middle of the ears) and once beyond the “ears” we had to traverse left to gain the ridge that was an easy class 3 scramble down to the base of the upper portion of the Kennedy Glacier climbing section. This looked rather steep when we looked down on it from the rabbits ears, but it was probably not much more than 45 degrees at the base and then quickly mellowed out a bit to around 40 degrees. The snow was perfect and we climbed up solo getting through this glacier portion quickly. After the glacier climb, there was a quick little downclimb into the snow covered crater where we got to the base of the ice steps at 10,200 feet. The steps were still mostly covered in snice which, as I expected, had not melted out yet. The first step is maybe a pitch at maybe 55+ degrees. The snice was perfect enough that an easy wrist flick sent the pick into the snice a ½ inch or more. We felt comfortable on this and soloed up the pitch. There was one small section where there was water ice though it was maybe 15 feet or so and didn’t pose a problem for us. The second step is longer (2 pitches of 60 m rope?) but a bit less step so we also soloed on this portion. At last the summit! The ice steps starting at 10,200. It was a couple hours to descend Glacier Peak on the opposite side, mostly on snow, down to Cool Glacier and we camped at Glacier Gap with awesome views. Day 4 we left Glacier Gap and descended on the former glacier known as White Chuck (not much of the glacier is left now, just to prove science deniers wrong) and back to our car at the North Fork Sauk trailhead. This is a great way to do Glacier peak, offering a loop instead of an out and back, providing more challenging glacier travel on the lower Kennedy, semi-technical rock scramble and ice steps at the top of the route, and an easier descent via the Cool Glacier route. It took us 4 days and I doubt we could have done it quicker but possibly for a fit team traveling light and fast it could be done in 3 days. But why rush if you’re in Glacier Peak Wilderness, enjoy the experience. Gear Notes: 40m rope (if descending and planning on rappels a 60m is better) 4 ice screws (not used) 4 pickets (not used) a few stopers to 2" (used 2 but not totally needed) Approach Notes: Starting at North Fork Sauk River trailhead
  45. 6 points
    Trip: Chimney Rock - E Face Trip Date: 07/18/2020 Trip Report: Low 5th solos came to mind as an option given the pandemic and I thought I’d check out chimney rock. Hit the road on Friday later than intended so I didn’t start the hike until 6:30pm which didn’t leave a lot of time to get to the bivy before dark. Even so, scratching up the climbers trail in the fading light, which is at points extremely steep, wasn’t too bad. Made it to the bivy area as the stars were coming out (about 3.5 hours?) found a reasonably flat rock and enjoyed fantastic star gazing as I drifted off. I’ve seen singular bright flashes a couple times while star gazing recently. What is that? Took my time in the morning, left around 8am. Proceeded to nearly lose my phone in a crack between a rock and snow while putting on crampons. Luckily was able to blindly excavate it with my axe. Glacier approach was uncomplicated but once at the rock I checked 3 or 4 different options twice each before picking a way onto the rock that was just barely tolerable solo. A trip report from a week earlier mentioned snow straight onto rock but this seemed to already be deteriorating. By now the block of snow I stepped on is probably gone. Sometimes these things have a way of getting worse but then improving again depending on how snow melts and how the rock is. So I wouldn’t rule out getting onto to the rock now, but assume it will not be trivial. The route was pretty easy to follow. I had screenshots of the copious internet beta to help (good thing I rescued my phone ). I wore climbing shoes for extra security. All the 4th + 5th seemed pretty reasonable to me, managed to almost entirely avoid sketchy rock. There are cuts everywhere in the rock which keeps things low stress. No committing slabs or down sloping sections that I can remember. The most insecure part was the snow on the 2nd pitch, which was quite steep and exposed, had to switch back to approach shoes and crampons and axe for that. Treated to great views from the summit. I hadn’t got around to climbing anything in the area before. Stuart and Thomson are the closest I had yet been. It’s a worthwhile summit, I was pleased to be there. The descent wasn’t very fun, no surprise there. I could have paid more attention to the rap anchor locations on the way up. Had to do some wandering and down climbing less than clean exposed 4th to find a couple of them. I’ve been spoiled by steeper routes where one rap glides smoothly into the next. Packing the rope and scrambling between raps I kept tangling the rope. Finally made it back to the glacier, I think on the 7th rap, which easily got me over the moat. Things went smoothly from there and my spirit was high until near Pete lake. By this time the evening was getting on, around the same time as my approach the previous day. For some reason the bugs the day before were pretty annoying but not horrible, but this day they were absolutely insatiable and soul crushing. I ran as much as I could (good thing the trail is flat), threw my bag in the car, flailed my arms and legs around for a minute, jumped in the car and sped away. Gear Notes: 60m rope for raps Approach Notes: Most of climbers trail easy to follow once you find the log crossing but https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1424334 gps track was appreciated. No issues on glacier, moat was just starting to get complicated.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 5 points
    Trip: Three O'Clock Rock - Big Tree 2000, pitch 6, 5.8 Trip Date: 07/18/2020 Trip Report: A New Pitch on an Old Favorite Crag The decision to explore the area above the Big Tree was rooted in my desire to finish my Magic Bus Variation route. Yale Lewis and I are in the middle of its final pitch, with two bolts in, bolted on lead, and a long, cool ramp ahead. I wanted to find out if there is a good way to get on top of it to discover the perfect place for the anchor. As this will help to get the pro bolts just right, I'm settling for bolting the rest on top-rope. Since Robin Taft was a willing and dedicated partner for some new adventure, I teamed up with her to do the initial investigation. She leads sport, bolts only, so I had to find ways to keep her interested in the climbing approach. We got there in June to do Shake, Rattle and Roll which ends at an anchor one pitch above the Big Tree. It is a fine slab route, one pitch of which has 12 bolts and no gear placements—perfect for Robin! On the descent, I looked around and noted I have to go one pitch higher to get atop Magic Bus. Also, there is an old pitch up there, ending at roughly the same place, which has rusty quarter inchers and Leeper hangers! So, next time up I came loaded for bear and bolt replacement. Later in June, I chose an unusual method to get back up to the same spot: two pitches of Cornucopia, step right for two pitches of Big Tree 1, then the new connector pitch to Shake, Rattle and Roll, and then the last pitch of that climb. We did all that, and I got out the drill and hammer. Robin was patiently enjoying the sunny day while I rapped and removed four split-shank inch long goobers and hand-drilled them out for modern stainless steel. That is pitch 5 of Big Tree 2000, as described in David Whitelaw's book, Weekend Rock. It looked very cool, but I hadn't led it yet. In early July I returned with my rope solo gear to replace the last two old bolts on P5. To continue, the steeper hump on the left from the belay looked not bad, and the slab above it looked like a continuation of the great slab below. I replaced the last old bolt and top-roped the pitch. Having secured the permission of one of the FA party, David Whitelaw, I added three bolts to the pitch to make sense of it. Two at the bottom to connect to the first bolt, and one before the final bolt. Finally, the stage was set for another pitch. On July 18, Brian Young and I climbed Big Tree 1 to get up there, and the exciting work began. From my journal: "Goal focus is narrow. Launch upward from the Big Tree 2000 top anchor with full drilling gear. Try to get above the Magic Bus line. Brian took the odd pitches, but then declined the 5.9 P5. I led that, the new bolts are good. The pitch bolting seems perfect to me. Brian could not believe that the third bolt was the original first." Brian and I set up at the P5 top anchor. Hammer, drill, six bolts, a single rack and the blow tube. I left the anchor and bolted left around a large loose plate, eight feet in diameter. Trying not to touch it, once on top of the new level I found perfect waves of clean slab just as on Pitch 5. I put in three bolts in a row using the transverse ripples, connected with easy friction moves. Then I had to reach left to a thin ledge with no pro, so I put in the fifth bolt. Cracks led up and left, keeping on the verge of the drop to the Tidbits side of the buttress. I dug out a perfect fingerlock hold in a vertical 1" crack, to a ledge. The final 3" crack is clean and secure to a mossy ledge above a tree. I drilled a two-bolt chain anchor for a restful belay stance. From this new anchor, one can look above and see the bolts called out on Matt Perkins' topo labeled, "Project". As it stands, this 40 meter pitch ends at just the right level for a Magic Bus exploration rappel. My field notes for Pitch 5. For the original topo, see "Weekend Rock", by David Whitelaw Four of the five bolts replaced on Big Tree 2000, pitch 5 My first topo, before I realized this was Big Tree 2000, not Big Tree 1 A later version of the topo In the process of bringing the lines into Photoshop, the feature lines were traced in ink on mylar The final topo Cruising the slab on the FA Brian Richter coming up past the Big Tree to help The start of the new pitch. There is now a bolt to help avoid the hollow-sounding plate above the little overlap One of the 5.8 crux moves is to step left and get pro in the pocket shown Robin at the new anchor Thanks to Brian Young for the long belay session while I worked out the pitch. And to Robin Taft for multiple trips to rebolt and clean it. And also to Brian Richter for belaying another trip up the new pitch to clean and refine it. And special thanks to the slab masters who went first, Matt Perkins and David Whitelaw, whose vision found it and got them a long way up there. Gear Notes: Light single standard rack to 3". Approach Notes: Eight Mile Trail to the South Buttress of Three O'Clock Rock. Climb any route to the Big Tree. Climb Big Tree 2000, pitch 5, 5.9. For a way that is only 5.8, climb Shake, Rattle and Roll and then take a very short rappel to the Big Tree 2000 pitch 5 top anchor. See Matt Perkins' overall topo for the Big Tree Area.
  49. 5 points
    Trip: Triumph - NE Ridge Trip Date: 08/23/2020 Trip Report: Soloed the route c2c yesterday. Driving up Saturday night I passed cars at many pullouts near the trailhead so I was shocked to roll into an EMPTY PARKING LOT. Approach was smooth and shaded until the glacier crossing. Nearing the notch I heard voices up ahead. I thought I’d try to catch up with them at the base of the 5.7 pitch and check if they’d be willing to trail my rope and give me a quick belay from above that crack. Since they didn’t sound very far up the route that gave me some time for exploration. My first diversion was trying to take the snow tongue as a short cut to the notch, but it ended up being quite tall and steep on all sides, so I descended back the way I came, carefully stepping down into the west side near the start of a granite ramp. Several years ago I had made it as far as the bivy ledge with a friend who succumbed to some minor heat stroke (very hot day). We spent the night there and headed back the next morning instead of climbing the route. I remembered the start of the route being crappy, so this granite ramp caught my eye. Maybe a better bypass route could be found along it. I traversed along it for quite a ways, passing an anchor (maybe for bailing?) until it petered out. Tried a few spots to get up towards the ridge but it just didn’t quite go, everything seemed to have 1 or 2 sketchy 5.7-5.8 face moves to get off the ledges. So I backtracked to that anchor. I tried climbing above it, initially on good low 5th knobs but again hit a dead end. I went down and East again, almost back to the start of the route. After all this wandering for an hour or so I was able to bypass the first pitch, but no more. Back on route I quickly caught up with the pair ahead just as they were nearing the 5.7 pitch, as planned. I asked about the belay but it was a guide and client and they were planning to bypass it to the right. Thin face traversing + route finding didn’t sound safer to me than a straight forward obvious crack, so I passed them there and climbed up to the crack. I hope I didn’t freak them out too much climbing it. People don’t usually mention taking a #4 on this route so I had hoped a #3 would be big enough. It wasn’t, really. You can protect this part with smaller pieces by sticking them deeper in the crack, but doing so feels a little insecure, especially while soloing (there’s was a fixed .75 that I automatically starting trying to free for 3 seconds before remembering where I was and what I was doing ). For those inclined to solo the route, plan on about 15 ft of 5.5ish to start, then another 12 ft or so of 5.7. And bumping up a #4 as you go might decrease your risk. Near the summit I spied a corner with hand and finger cracks that looked more appealing than the loose and heathery ledges surrounding it. It was probably 15 ft, 5.6. There was a loose microwave at the top of it that I took care to step over. Such good summit views there. Downclimbed what I could, with 5 raps along the way. Like many have noted, it usually takes longer to descend than ascend this ridge and that was the case for me if you don’t count the granite ramp exploring I did at the start. About 20 minutes longer, I think. Had a very nice plunge at the upper lake (2nd one, not the third one higher up). It was too cold to swim for more than a few seconds. Very refreshing though! Smooth sailing from there. Made it to the car at 830 just as it was getting dark. So it was 14.5 hours including time for exploring, enjoying the summit, and a dip at the lake. Gear Notes: #2 (unused), #3 (used) wish I had a #4 instead 60m for raps Approach Notes: Straightforward
  50. 5 points
    Trip: Abernathy Peak - Northwest Ridge Trip Date: 08/22/2020 Trip Report: Abernathy Peak 8321’ Trip Report – August 22-24, 2020 I climbed Abernathy Peak, the Northwest Ridge Route, over the weekend. This route can be done in 2 long days, I started late so I stretched it into a third day. The weather was perfect all weekend 70’s – 80’s. I started at the Cedar Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20 about 5 miles West of Mazama. I went up Trail 476 (Cedar Creek Trail) about 8.5 miles. At 5600’on the trail I took a hard left off the trail heading East along the 5600’contour line heading toward the South Fork of Cedar Creek. The bushwacking on this approach is pretty nice by Cascade standards. Most of the brush is waste deep and not super thick, so navigation was pretty easy. Once to the South Fork of Cedar Creek, I follow up the East side of the creek to Lamont Lake (6640’). Getting up to the lake requires some work, either a loose rock gully or some Class 3 rock. The camping along Lamont Lake is fantastic, lots of room and flat areas for tents. Just before heading out in the morning from the lake I was serenaded by a pack of coyotes for about 30 seconds from somewhere on the other side of the lake. They must have felt that it was a glorious morning too. I climbed up a gully on the Southwest side of the lake that lead to the Northwest Ridge leading to Abernathy Peak. The gully is loose rock and steep up the middle but there is a goat trail off to the right side which is a better route. Once on the Northwest Ridge to Abernathy the travel is very nice, lots of potential for camping. About halfway to Abernathy Peak you will start hitting 2nd & 3rd Class rock that will take you to the summit. Some of the rock on the ridge is exposed but fairly solid. There are a couple plateaus along the way up that you could camp on. Overall the climb is very nice with decent views and you get to checkout some history in the old mining area. The trail approach is nice with several camping options along the way. Most people on this trail are day hikers, I was the only climber in the area this weekend. Some Tips and Notes: 1. There are several camp spots along the Cedar Creek Trail & great camping at Lamont Lake. 2. The bushwacking to Lamont Lake is not bad compared to the Westside of the Cascades. 3. There is about 600’ vertical of steep gully or Class 3 rock to get to Lamont Lake by way of the South Fork of Cedar Creek. There may be an easier way but this was fine for me. 4. There is no water on the Northwest Ridge to Abernathy so bring what you need from the lake. Travel Time for reference: Day 1 (TH to Lamont Lake), 7 hours – Day 2 (Summit & back to lower camp off trail), 11 hours – Day 3 (back to car), 1 hours. Gear used: Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves. The camping at Lamont Lake is very nice, worth the bushwack! Gully climb up from Lake Lamont to the Northwest Ridge of Abernathy Peak. I climbed the gully closest to the 1st pointy peak, you can see the goat trail at the base of the peak. Northwest Ridge to Abernathy Peak. Nice relaxing ridge climb. Some old mining equipment along the route. Summit View - A good peak to plan other climbs from. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves. Approach Notes: Trail 476 (Cedar Creek Trail). Bushwacking to Lamont Lake.
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