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Showing most liked content on 07/08/20 in Posts

  1. 2 points
    Trip: Corax Peak - North Face Trip Date: 07/05/2020 Trip Report: Not a single TR for this route to be found anywhere; does everyone just do the scramble to tick off their Bulger lists? Rolf and I climbed the NF of Corax Peak this weekend, 6 pitches of 5.7 starting from the left side of the chimney above the crescent shaped snowfield in the photo, going up to the ridge and thence to the summit. Mostly fun blocky ridge climbing, though the first pitch was more "interesting" as Rolf would say, featuring lichen and some loose/suspect rock and excavation of placements and some thoughtful moves. It doesn't appear that it's gotten much traffic since Rick La Belle did the FA in 1991; though of course we could have been off route. Stellar day out though and only saw three people at camp and maybe five on the trail. Gear Notes: 60 m rope, single rack to #3 Camalot Approach Notes: Libby Lake trail
  2. 1 point
    Trip: Mt. Rainier - Tahoma Glacier Trip Date: 07/03/2020 Trip Report: The Tahoma Glacier piqued my interest the last couple seasons as I explored new routes for my next Mt. Rainier climb. The low starting elevation, long approach, and remoteness of the route was especially appealing to me. Covering that distance and elevation on a route that receives very little traffic would be a fun challenge and great test of mountaineering skills. I was also excited to experience the mountain up close from a different perspective since I had only been on the west side of the mountain once before during a Wonderland Trail hike. However, with the park shutdown due to COVID-19 we were uncertain if we would get a shot at the Tahoma Glacier before it was too late in the season. We planned the climb for the weekend of June 19th and were excited when MRNP announced they would reopen that very weekend. Unfortunately, as the date approached the weather was not looking too promising. Reluctantly, we postponed the climb to the 4th of July weekend when we both had time off work. This time the weather forecast was looking stellar: clear, light winds, and cold (~11000' freezing level). And we would have a full moon. Game on! Our plan, which we later learned would be a bit ambitious, was to reach high camp (~9600') on day 1 (Friday), summit Saturday morning, and either exit the same day or stay one more night and hike out Sunday morning. For the approach, we decided on the more direct Emerald Ridge/Tahoma Glacier approach over the St. Andrews Park/Puyallup Cleaver approach. We knew we were getting into the tail end of the season for the route, but with our good snowpack this year we were optimistic that we could navigate the lower Tahoma without too much trouble. Also, there seemed to be an option to bail to the Puyallup Cleaver shortly after gaining the Tahoma Glacier if we found the glacier to be too broken up. The two of us set off from the West Side Road parking lot (2850') at 10:30a with cool temps and a partly cloudy sky. After a short hike on the road we arrived at the beginning of the Tahoma Creek Trail, marked by a drum for disposing of blue bags and a "trail closed" sign not far off the road. The Tahoma Creek Trail follows the Tahoma Creek until it joins with the Wonderland Trail at the impressive suspension bridge across the creek at 4200'. From there, you continue on the Wonderland Trail to the top of Emerald Ridge where you can gain the lower Tahoma Glacier. We followed the Tahoma Creek trail and other tracks the best we could, but with parts of the trail washed out we eventually lost it and ended up hiking along the edge of the floodplain. We kept our eyes peeled and in time we saw some cairns and orange marking tape at around 3500' which led us back to the proper trail. From then on, the trail remained intact and joined up with the Wonderland Trail where we continued on to the top of Emerald Ridge, passing by the occasional Wonderlander. Consistent snow began around 5200' which is where we stashed our trail runners and booted up. Tahoma Creek Floodplain: We parted ways with the Wonderland Trail at 5600' and made the short scramble to the top of Emerald Ridge and the toe of the Tahoma Glacier (6000'). Here we took a break and donned our glacier gear while taking in the views of Glacier Island and the true size and length of the Tahoma Glacier. Getting onto the glacier was straightforward and the cracks were small and manageable all the way up to a flatter area of the glacier at 7200'. Top of Emerald Ridge, looking back at the Wonderland Trail: Toe of Tahoma Glacier, Glacier Island on the right: At 7200' we stopped to assess our progress. It was already 6:00p (7.5 hours from the car) and we still had a good amount of glacier to cover to get to high camp. We were also low on water so we would need to melt some snow to replenish our bottles before continuing. At our pace, it didn't seem feasible to reach high camp that night at a reasonable hour and be ready to summit the following morning. We discussed our options and ultimately decided to establish a low camp at 7200' for the night, move up to high camp the next day, and summit on Sunday morning instead. We were due back home Sunday night, so that would leave us with a long hike out after summiting Sunday morning, but this plan would give us the best chance for success and make the trip much more enjoyable. Luckily the weather for Sunday was supposed to be just as good as Saturday. We set up camp and called it a day. Lower Tahoma Glacier: View from Camp 1, looking toward Tokaloo Spire: Sunset from Camp 1: On Saturday we woke up to clear skies and a great view of the upper mountain that was covered in clouds the day before. We took our time getting going and scoped out a route up the lower glacier. It was definitely more crevassed than what we had already traveled and the best looking route was in the direction of the Puyallup Cleaver and the looker's left side of the glacier. We broke camp and set off around 10:30a. Morning view from Camp 1, looking toward the summit: On the way up to Camp 2: The crevasses we encountered on the way up to high camp were growing in size but were still easy to cross with a short hop or snow bridges. Nothing too sketchy even with the sun beating down and snow quickly softening up. Our route did meander a bit as we searched for the most efficient way up the glacier, so it did take longer than expected. We reached 9400' at 2:00pm where we thought about setting up camp. This is where we would have joined the Tahoma Glacier had we taken the St. Andrews Park/Puyallup Cleaver approach; however, the ramp to get off of the Puyallup Cleaver did not look to be in the best shape. There was likely a path off the ramp onto the glacier, but we were glad we chose the approach that we did. Ramp at 9600': After a long break we pushed on a bit further through ankle and shin deep slush up to 10400' where we found a good spot for a high camp. I had read about other parties camping at this location as well. It was 4:30p at this point, 6 hours after leaving camp 1. From here we finally got a really good view of the upper glacier and the potential routes. Earlier in the day we saw that the looker's right side of the glacier may be a good option, but now we could see right up the center of the glacier and the Sickle variation. The Sickle looked to be in good shape with not a lot of evidence of icefall, but the seracs at the top of the route were intimidating. We decided against the Sickle and to attempt one of the other routes. We would make that decision in the morning under the full moon light once we gained some more elevation. We set up camp, ate, melted snow, and tried to get to sleep as the sun was setting. I fell asleep to the very faint sounds of 4th of July fireworks way off in the distance. Upper Tahoma Glacier: Camp 2: Sunset Amphitheater: Tahoma Glacier: The next morning we set off at 2:00a under a very bright full moon that lit up the mountain. It was right around freezing with no wind and the snow had firmed up nicely. We were excited to start the journey up the main route, but less than 30 minutes out of camp we thought the trip was over. We found ourselves on an island of ice with a pretty sporty jump to continue on. We contemplated it for a while but just didn't want to risk it, especially on the descent when the snow would soften up. Damn! That jump seemed like the only way, but we backtracked some and skirted around where we got stuck and luckily found a crossing! Phew! We wondered if this was going to be the theme of the entire ascent. We continued on and at this point chose to continue right up the center of the glacier rather than traversing over to the far right side option we saw. Full moon: Contemplating the jump.: The snow conditions were great and took crampons very well which made for very efficient stepping. We took the path of least resistance and just crossed our fingers it would go. There had to be at least half a dozen times when we thought our luck ran out, but a lone and thinning snow bridge (which probably wouldn't last another week) was there to let us continue on. Besides the first obstacle we encountered we didn't have to do much backtracking, but we did have to snake our way around the crevasses to find acceptable crossings. We each carried a traditional axe and had a few screws and two pickets between us. We contemplated bringing a tool, but from all the beta we could gather a tool wasn't really necessary on this route. Turns out that was the right call. We did encounter a couple short sections of solid ice compared to the rest of the route which was a nice sun crust. Front pointing and a low dagger axe took care of the ice sections, but we did protect them with a screw and picket while simul climbing. Short ice section: Soon we found ourselves at the top of the glacier where the slope begins to ease up at around 13000'. With the main part of the climb behind us it was just a slog up to the summit! We ascended directly up the west side onto the summit plateau and reached on Columbia Crest at 8:30a, 6.5 hours after leaving camp. Sunrise: Liberty Cap: Summit Crater: Summit Headstand! After getting some pictures on the summit and saying hello to a party of 4 that came up the Kautz, we dropped off the summit for a break and then took off back down the mountain at 9:15a. Being western facing, the Tahoma Glacier doesn't get sun right away in the morning which is good since we wanted to be down off the bulk of the upper glacier before it started to warm up. The descent went well and we followed our tracks down. We did downclimb one of the ice sections with some protection, but other than that we moved fairly quick down the glacier. We returned to camp at 12:15p, 3 hours after leaving the summit. Tahoma Glacier, Puyallup Cleaver, St. Andrews Rock: Tahoma Glacier: Tahoma Glacier: It would have been nice to take it easy and stay another night, but we still had a long road ahead to get back to the car that day. We made some water and packed up camp, then took off down the glacier at 2:00p following our tracks from the day before. The hike out was uneventful and we covered the 9 miles and 7500' back to the car in 5.5 hours, descending a total of 11500' for the day. Success! What a climb! We both felt really proud to do this route. It was a true test of our endurance and mountaineering skills, especially with navigating the very crevassed glacier. Oh, and we had the entire glacier to ourselves...we didn't see a single person between leaving the Wonderland Trail and the Summit. Being on our own without any tracks to follow made the trip even better. Day 1, Car to Camp 1, 6.7 miles, +4400', 7.0 hrs Day 2, Camp 1 to Camp 2, 2.5 miles, +3200', 6.0 hrs Day 3, Camp 2 to Summit, 2.8 miles, +4000', 6.5 hrs Day 3, Summit to Camp 2, 2.8 miles, -4000', 3.0 hrs Day 3, Camp 2 to Car, 9.0 miles, -7500', 5.5 hrs Total Mileage = 23.8 miles Total Elevation Gain/Loss = 11500' GPX track can be found here: https://caltopo.com/m/7M3P Gear Notes: Light glacier rack, a couple screws. Used screw and picket on icy section. No need for a 2nd tool. Approach Notes: Approached via Emerald Ridge/Tahoma Glacier.
  3. 1 point
    Trip: Mount Formidable - South Route Trip Date: 07/05/2020 Trip Report: YouTube video (FYI - mistyped the date in the video splash screen - its July 4-6, not June) We had a Fri-Sun trip planned but switched to Sat-Mon due to the weather. Good call as one day either way would have been a no-go. We lucked out with the one day with sunny and calm weather for the summit day. Overall it was about 26 miles and pushing 10,000ft gain for the whole thing car to car. About 7 hours to camp, 19 hours for the climb day and 6 hours hike out. The climb day broke down to about 2.5 hours from camp to the col looking at Formidable. 5 hours col to summit, 8 hours summit to col (extra time due to an additional handline, softer snow coming down and rappels for 5 people), 3.5 hours col to camp. 5 of us took off from the gate 2 miles back from the Cascade Pass trailhead adding an extra 4 miles and 1000ft gain to the trip starting around 8:30am. From Cascade Pass 99% of the rest of the trip was on snow with only an occasional bit of trail or rock islands to cross. Steep snow with bad runout in places along the way to Cache Glacier but not bad. There is a huge cornice forming across the entire width of Cache Col. That will not be pretty when it collapses. We had to hit it on the far right and traverse under the cornice to the rocks on the other side and a loose scree/rock scramble up to the top of the col. From there its an easy snow walk to Kool-aid lake which is still under feet of snow. But the water is running at the stream there. The traverse around to Red Ledges is also an easy snow walk the entire way. The Red Ledges were a bit tricky. Getting onto them is straightforward traversing on steep snow but the last bit is a runout over the moat. Around the corner out of sight was another steep now patch about 20ft across covering the ledge with runout into the chasm that had to be side traversed. Then a steep snow climb out of the ledges, again with runout into the chasm. Everyone soloed it okay but its 3 no-fall steep snow sections to get through the ledges. We setup camp just around the corner near Arts Knoll and turned in early. 3:30am wakeup and walking around 4:45. We woke up to clear blue sky and calm weather. Made quick work of the Cascade Glacier, down Formidable/Spider col and across the basin to the final col in just over 2 hours. The drop from there was on a steep snow finger that was easy to get down. From there a walk across and backup to the rock ledge where we found a couple different paths to scramble up the ledges to the next snowfield. From there we went up to where the ledges scramble option starts but looking at our options figured there were too many snow patches on the ledges but it looked like snow went all the way up the chasm. So we decided to go straight up the middle of the chasm hoping to intersect the 4th class step across the chasm. Halfway up we hit a moat starting to form but was still enough left we were able to get around it and all the way to where we could step onto the other side of the chasm. The ledges had a layer of snow and ice but was easy to get into and made it to the cairn. From there the next trick was getting across the face which was mostly steep snow. We started going up about 40ft before starting to traverse over. (Photo of Albert, Rodica and I by Tim) One person was far enough out they soloed across to the rock island. The rest of us decided to run a handline so we got one anchored to rocks on both ends tying our twin 37m ropes together. Once across the first half we had a 2nd snow slope to get the rest of the way over so we repeated with a 2nd handline between two rock islands. The snow was firm enough on the way across we sped it up having more than one go across the handline at the same time. On the return trip with softer snow things slowed down when we only sent one person at a time across the handlines. Once over we had the last 300ft most of which was another steep snow slope which was starting to soften up. (Photo of Sean, myself, Rodica and Albert coming up the last 250ft snowfield from the base of the traverse to just below the summit block by Tim). We were able to all solo up and then the last 50 feet or so to the summit block was mixed snow and loose rock. On the way down we scrambled the rocks about half way down till we found a horn that seemed like it would hold a handline and backed it up with a cam and dropped down the rope as a handline for everyone to prussic down to the start of the traverse. Last person cleaned the gear and downclimbed with a couple pickets left in to protect the last person down. To get across the face we repeated the 2 handlines to the cairn at the top of the chasm. With the softer snow on the way back only one at a time went a cross each handline. That and dropping a line to prussic down part of the upper snowfield from the summit block and the rappel added a few extra hours to the trip down. Here we couldn’t find any rappel slings from other videos we’ve seen. Maybe they were still buried under the snow. So we tied 3 cordelletes together and slung the giant block the cairn is sitting on as a backup to rappel slings put around 2 smaller boulders. We rappelled off the smaller boulders with the backup in place in case they moved. The last person down retrieved the cordelletes and just left a sling behind. So, if anyone ever sees that sling wondering if someone rapped off the small boulders – it was backed up for the first 4 people. That rappel put us down past the moat forming in the middle. And had to jump across the side moat to get back onto the snow. From there a short face in downclimb and then back to the scramble down the ledges. By the time we hit Formidable/Spider col the sun was going down and headlamps came out. One person had a headlamp bulb go out so we had to slow down on the descent of the glacier and back to camp which added the extra hour on the return to camp. Great climb with a great group that worked well together figuring out some tricky options to protecting the climb in ways that are not normally done there that way. Signing the summit register the last people to have signed it were almost a year ago last August. Memorable Quotes Gathered by Sean: "We're crazy" ~ Rodica "Is that the Spider/Formidable col?" ~ Albert, deliriously pointing toward a snow finger nowhere near our exit col "I have some cord that I found and don't know the history of so we should rap off it because i'm tired of thinking about it, I just want to get rid of it" ~ Tim "Guys, we should really be protecting this. Right???" ~ Rodica "I don't mind if we bail on this picket because it's Albert's anyway...." ~ Ian "If I hike all night and go straight to work I probably still won't make it on time" ~ Sean "I'd love to come up here in tennis shoes sometime" ~ Tim "Would you consider this an intermediate climb?" ~ Albert "These are all the cams left?" ~ Ian "[ice axe falls down cliff]" ~ Ian "[glove falls down cliff]" ~ Sean [Blue Skies by Ella Fitzgerald comes on the radio when we're in a whiteout at camp] "I think the radio is taunting us" ~ Tim "I'm already committed." ~ Sean, as everyone else decides to stop and rope up. Gear Notes: Twin 37m ropes, light alpine rack (cams/nuts), 5 pickets, ice axes + 2nd tool
  4. 1 point
    I skied down that snowfield in very wind-blasted snow conditions. Steep but not insane!
  5. 1 point
    Sweet! Yeah, I've switched to TikTok for all my trip reports now.
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