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  1. 6 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)
  2. 4 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
  3. 4 points
    Haireball, you came so close to keeping all the ice conditions in the same place, and then that senior moment. Someone delete that Leavenworth thread... Both the skiing and climbing has been great over the last two weeks of awesome PNW winteryness, so here goes my attempt to recap recent waice conditions. The first legit cold snap of the winter hit from around Feb 10 to 17. The temps were decently cold enough to get lowland ice forming, but what was somewhat unique is the cold was accompanied by non-stop precip so tons of snow fell during this cycle. Avy conditions went through the roof so most of the ice that got climbed was the lowland variety (I assume). But this snap happened late enough in the season, that the higher sun will tear things down quickly. Based on daily drive-bys to Crystal, Skookum Falls looked climbable from maybe Feb 12 to 15 this year. Here is @moyboy 's Skookum TR from Feb 15th. The mighty and mysterious Snoquera did not form completely during this cold snap. By around Feb 17th, it became kind of game on at Banks. The lack of much snow on the ground limited which seeps were seeping when the cold arrived. Many of the usual climber suspects were out there over the last few days, but it was nice and empty as usual too. Tom and I had a successful quick hit visit on Feb 18-19, and like most Banks trips, things were the same and different than previous visits. For the first time I have seen, Children of the Sun was surprisingly in, not just a thin smear wilting in the sun; so that was our first climb. The golfing is not good now because of the recent snow, non-white golf balls recommended: Children was pretty wild and more three dimensional than it appeared from ground. Pic of Tom about 1/3 up - I built a belay about 2/3 up because I was not sure I could get to the telephone pole anchor (visible in pic above) at the top of the climb from the base, but it IS less than 60M from the base: The mega pillar on Clockwork Orange's P2 was still not touching, will someone please haul an extension ladder up there for future ascents: After such better-than-normal conditions to the south, I was excited to see the big boys on the Million Dollar Mile, but it was more hit or miss. The Cable's P1 was not touching: For the connoisseurs, check out P2 on Thursday (above) - probably climbable, but here is how it looked it looked the next morning: Based on the weather forecast, I assume P2's fate will befall most of Banks by Monday. Moving north, H202 was very in and very fun: With a name like H202, it was wet of course, but I have never climbed a dry Banks pitch: Moving north, Salt and Pepper - who wants to describe the beta for the approach, mixed pitch? This climb looks so cool: The spectacular Zenith not close to touching: The Pee Wee's Playground lines have never caught my eye before, but they looked all mostly climbable, depending on your tolerance for brush bashing topouts. We climbed this fun line, which I am calling Pee Wee 4: Shitting Razors does not deserve a picture, the ice was not there enough to even call it shitty. Maybe the most noteworthy formations and ascents during this cycle where two big lines up and right of the Punchbowl, I have never seen these form before and don't think they have names. To avoid and/or add to future confusion, I propose Twin Towers Left and Right for these climbs, with TTR being the right-most line pictured (the one that has it's own twin flows - confusing, huh). The pillar just right of the Punchbowl was not touching down and not climbed, I assume, and I've named it the Devils Deathcicle, AKA Trotsky's Terror (all Banks lines need at least two names). On the way home, we climbed the classic Champagne which was much less fat compared to my two previous ascents in years prior, and there was a surprisingly thick jungle to bushwack/ice climb through to top out (which either grew really fast or is usually much more buried), but I still love this climb, one of the best in WA because of it's Cody-like ambiance. As seen from the walk off: Starting up P2. This pic shows a close up the condition of most of the Banks ice we climbed (going, going, soon gone...): How long will Banks be in? Let's just say if you are not there now, I would hesitate heading out after the weekend without some very current beta. Some shorter climbs came in and were climbed near the Railyard crag rock area. Based on old tat I have seen stranded on the west facing wall, I have often wondered about how often these, or climbs around Merritt falls, or even some of the south facing gullies on Nason Ridge come in. The Hidden Lake ice on the north side of Nason was in a few weeks ago and is probably still good, but again, the avy conditions remain sketch so no one should be up there now. Haireball, please add these areas to your future ass-clamming missions.
  4. 3 points
    Eli S and I checked out Eightmile Buttress on Sunday per montypiton's note. It was nicely filled in and climbable in 35 °F conditions with the clouds occasionally spittin' on us. Added to MP, mellow 2P route: https://www.mountainproject.com/route/120322618/buttress-left
  5. 3 points
    I would've been better off. Not sure of the temps but the ice seemed to be insulated by the surface layer of slush. Longer screws or some excavation work led to some better placements. A 55mph inspection at 3pm today leads me to conclude that this is mostly a rock climb now.
  6. 3 points
    Typical Cascades character building conditions, which probably explains why there are so many characters here.
  7. 2 points
    I might have dropped a couple of BD screws at the base with green nail polish. I've made peace with this, but just in case someone finds them (maybe spring?) it'd be cool to have them back. Thanks to Brandon for climbing with me on short notice. It was a full Cascades adventure, start to finish! Showa gloves are on order...
  8. 2 points
    I found out what the units for the wind vane fletchings are... They are in knots (nautical mph) cause everyone knows knots! 1 knot = 1.15 mph A half line = 5 knots A full line = 10 knots A triangle = 50 knots So a wind vane arrow pointing from L to R at 700mbar with a triangle, a line, and a half line coming off its side means wind out of the West at 10,000ft with an average speed of 50+10+5=65 knots or ~75mph (so stay the F%$# home!)
  9. 1 point
    Trip: Mt Shasta - Avalanche Gulch Trip Date: 02/22/2021 Trip Report: https://imgur.com/gallery/2HQrTOd Followed tracks until they disappeared somewhere after the Horse Camp turnoff. Snow was varied as usual; some firm crust, some breakable, some soft and fluffy that required kicking in several times to get any support. The steeper section by the Heart was firm. Switched from snowshoes to crampons at Thumb Rock then down climbed and walked way around the crevasse / bergschrund. Rocks on Misery Hill had a thin rime coating making travel easy. Didn't sink in too deep on the summit plateau. Summit block had neat undisturbed rime formations. Gear Notes: Snowshoes, whippets, crampons, helmet, ice axe (used for little down climb from Thumb Rock) Approach Notes: Walk up the gulch
  10. 1 point
    Absolutely, often stop for a snack on the way or a beer/meal afterwards. Covid messed with that a bit but it’ll come back. You should set up a survey if you are looking for more data.
  11. 1 point
    Wise volcano climbers and skiers of this website and the PNW: Wondering if anyone can share their wisdom of forecasting good volcano ski conditions (winter/ pre-corn). I pretty much assume anything above treeline is wind blasted, golfball sized rime chunks, boilerplate ice, or sastrugi (usually a combo) during the winter. This sour grapes attitude has left me really surprised when friends report skiing (Mt. Hood in most cases) powder from the summit, or even on the Palmer during the winter (okay, maybe more like March-April, and given that it doesn't seem to happen that often!). I am not really talking about corn cycle, although any wisdom is appreciated. Mostly how to determine whether the skiing will be ice chunder or decent above timberline. It seems that most big storms are windy and rowdy, and just scour anything above timberline, with the exception of localized lee pockets of softer snow. Does it just take less windy storms? Better aspect/terrain choices? It also seems that given a few clear midwinter days, anything sunny gets icy or a nasty sun crust- yet I am surprised by the winter corn harvests I read about from such periods. Obviously my cynical mindset is holding me back from the goods, so can anyone walk me through their conditions forecasting process? Is it a matter of just hoping for the best or are you all semi pro meteorologists? Thanks and happy (ice) skiing! Max
  12. 1 point
    Nine out of ten times I go skiing it feels like survival skiing, except of course if I am climbing, then conditions are dreamy for skiing and crap for climbing.
  13. 1 point
    I always enjoy stopping for coffee/breakfast before and a celebratory dinner at local spots when going on climbs. It's a luxury I appreciate, especially when the cafe/restaurant feels welcoming and community-oriented. At the same time I skip it without much thought if timing is an issue, i.e. leaving early or getting back late. Usually 1-2 people but sometimes more if bouldering.
  14. 1 point
    No help for a specific answer to your question, but I think it can come down to quantity being greater than quality. I’ve lost count of the days I’ve expected terrible conditions and found great snow. Keep expectations low, go out there, poke around, see for yourself. With any luck you’ll find yourself ripping skins next to a caldera, with a wide open field of untouched fluff below you. lovely soft stuff days after the last real snowfall on the east side.
  15. 1 point
    Sick! Looks dreamy! Jason, the yellow pad does not signal “junk show”. It signals “seasoned vet of the cascades” ... or so I like to tell myself when I, too am carrying one on my back! 😏🤣
  16. 1 point
    Great, again! Thanks for doing my homework @bedellympian!
  17. 1 point
    I must be getting truly senile - I thought I had updated this thread twice already... anyway, here's the update I thought I promised yesterday: Haireball's ass clammin' report: Assicle Canyon: Hubba-Hubba Hill: the Funnel is as heavily loaded as I have ever seen it - looks like the chutes I used to ski at Stevens Pass in the nineties... I have been fortunate enough to actually witness this track run EXTREMELY big - D3or4. wait until it unloads Eightmile Butt-rest - flow at climbers' left edge is in, no hangfire because the buttress above is too steep to hold snow; a great alternative to Hubba-hubba. Park at the Eightmile campground turnout, walk a few hundred feet up the road, and follow my slowshoe track to where the flow is plainly visible Assicle Butt-rest - not much ass, but lotsa bare slabs with little crown-lines at their tops; avalanche debris has been plowed from the road. some assicling available along the road cut near Canadians-on-horseback. Dog Dome: enough visible ass to warrant re-establishing the ladder bridge.. I placed a bolt in a mid-river boulder over a decade ago to anchor the ends of two extension ladder sections; several seasons back, my ladder disappeared in a high-water event, and after that I never re-established the bridge, although in intervening years I had spoken with other groups who had done so. to my knowledge, no bridge has been established this season but the anchors are there if someone wants to go for it... Rainbow Gully - has had clammable ass, and at least one party has got on it -- but it's disappearing fast Candlestein columns (aka "Careno" - but long-time locals prefer the name Beckey applied to that cliff band in his earliest guidebook to the Icicle Canyon circa 1960?, and truth be told, these two flows are some distance upstream from Careno Crag) came close earlier this week, but are disappearing fast Entrance Exam - this flow, above & upstream from the Fridge Boulder, rarely comes in, but it is currently touched down - just barely. when its fat, its a short WI4 pillar, and in its current condition it still goes as a mixed climb chimneying between the fragile pillar climbers right and the rock climbers left. don't ask the m-rating, but understand its been easy enough that a crippled-up-old-fart like me has managed it. Tumwater Canyon:: Drury Falls is complete, but I wouldn't go near it at current temperatures the Pencil appears to be complete!?!? - doesnt' seem to have been cold enough long enough, and I'd worry about its integrity at these temps, but it appears to be there the Drip has not touched down Comic Book Hero - first two pitches look doable, the third would be a modern mixed pitch beyond what this old fart would consider, but some of you young studmuffins might be attracted... the Smear has ass, but private property owners object to climbers crossing their holdings to access this climb. I have accessed it by inflatable kayak in the past, but apparently even this tactic is considered legally questionable... Snow Creek - sorry, haven't had time to get up and look at Millenium Wall, Fourmile Falls, or Nada Falls lately. given the conditions at Hubba-hubba and Eightmile Butt-rest it might be worth checking out...
  18. 1 point
    The purpose of snowshoes is to carry them on your pack, so you will never use them. If you leave them at home, you will need them.
  19. 1 point
    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
  20. 1 point
    Fun read, thanks for all the gory details! And, you'll want a pair of these if you're going to climb PNW ice.
  21. 1 point
    Bless me Porter for I have sinned....
  22. 1 point
    If you go at the right time of year (late July?) there's a good chance you'll find a tarn with a great reflection, even if it's not the one in the photo. Maybe you'll find an even better one!
  23. 1 point
    I guess I gave up on this season too early!?!? Noodling around the Assicle canyon today, found enough to finally initiate Haireball's ass-clammin' coverage, so here it is, before my boots are even dry - apologize for lack of photos; I'm a digital dinosaur... Hubba-hubba: choked with four days worth of snow, the Funnel looks skiable!?!? It was raining as I was glassing it, so I'd expect it to run BIG sometime this week Eightmile Buttress - left edge flow is in. this is a safer alternative to Hubba-hubba -- no hangfire above it. two pitches of WI3. Park at Eightmile campground, walk up the road a couple hundred yards, and follow my slowshoe tracks to where you can plainly see the flow Assicle Buttrest: no ass but lotsa avalanche debris - enough to warrant some plow work Dog Dome: the Dog Nasty Dike chimney is in - this is a great clam because it's a bolt-protected summer clam, so if you're fortunate enough to find the bolts, you're one happy camper. After losing an extension ladder to a high-water event several years back, I no longer establish a ladder bridge there. I don't want to be the guy responsible for someone attempting to cross a damaged, ready-to-fail construction. If someone wishes to re-establish the bridge, there is a bolt (placed by yours truly about 15 years ago) on the mid-river boulder upon which your two extension ladder sections will sit, so that those ends can be anchored, and not just slammed into the snow hoping... without the bridge, most will consider the Dog Dome ass unacceptably inaccessible Rainbow Gully: at last! I really was afraid that it was too late for this to come in, but as of today I count at least four clammable lans, and a fifth if you want to try the horror show in the far left corner. It looks doable, but not leadable for me in its current condition. Bring stubbies and rock pro if you hope to protect anything. Assicling: there's a fun little "ass-bouldering" park immediately across the road from the Eightmile campground parking area, and more of the same along the Assicle Buttrest road cut. Get it while its here -- as I said, it was raining when I was out exploring... -Haireball
  24. 1 point
    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 spenddrift 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
  25. 1 point
    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
  26. 1 point
    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.
  27. 0 points
    this winter continues to claim lives in unexpected ways. Wednesday morning volunteers from King County SAR and Chelan County SAR retrieved the body of a snowboarder buried not far from the base area lodges at Stevens Pass Resort. the burial occurred near the bottom of the "Housewives" run, only about 50 feet from the edge of the groomed surface, within a few seconds ride to the loading station of either the Skyline Express or the Hogsback chairlift. The subject had apparently nipped into the trees for some fresh-snow turns, aired a small jump, and failed the landing. Searchers found him hanging upside down from his snowboard in a creek bed, under seven feet of snow. He had lived long enough to unbuckle one boot from his snowboard before expiring, It took fifteen shovelers forty-five minutes to complete the extrication. Over the past month, my ski-partners and I have encountered a frightening number of SOLO skiers and boarders at backcountry venues. One partner I ski with has developed a habit of taking the name and phone number of each soloist we meet, and phoning them at the end of the day. (this partner is a retired ER physician with nearly sixty years of high-standard alpinism under his belt). Every year, I read about needless snow immersion fatalities - and every report reiterates the absolute need to ski/ride with a partner and keep that partner within sight. And as this instance clearly illustrates, it's never overkill to ski/ride with a shovel, even in bounds at a lift-served resort. The mountains are fun, my friends, SERIOUS fun. Stay safe and take care of one another. -Haireball
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