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  1. 9 points
    Trip: Porcupine Creek Wall - Salad Days III 900' 5.10+ Trip Date: 08/20/2022 Trip Report: It did not go unnoted when Eric Wehrly moved to town. While our more noteworthy first ascents may be of a…umm…slightly different style, in my mind’s eye I generally enjoy any adventure far from the road particularly if it involves unclimbed terrain. Finding like-minded folks at a similar point in life, that is old, is not easy. So I assumed at some point we’d tie in together. It did not happen quickly. While phone numbers were exchanged and talk of getting out occurred, the years passed by. Maybe I came on too strong. During Covid there may have been a day at Mount Erie where I loudly berated Eric to be my “New Best Friend!” as he TR-soloed nearby. Clearly, I needed a better incentive than that. Halfway up the Pacific Crest Trail between Rainy and Cutthroat Passes a large wall of granite stands proudly above the trail. I first walked by it eighteen years ago with my then girlfriend. From a distance it had the obvious geometry and tone of good rock. A friend and I almost went to check it out but we made other plans and the idea was largely forgotten. This summer I strolled by it again, with my now wife and our two teenage children. Still there, still grey, still splitter. A week later I spent a solitary day circumnavigating Porcupine Peak. The summit was eventually attained, and, on the descent I found myself beneath this wall I had considered for decades. Carefully glassing it I became discouraged. As I walked away I thought “almost but not quite, the start may not go and the rest is just a bit too dirty and discontinuous.” However, it’s amazing what some grainy iPhone photos and a bit of selective memory can do. Furthermore I finally had the sort of incentive Eric might respond to. On Saturday August 20th we stood below “the start that may not go” and sure enough it didn’t. As this had been my idea, I felt obligated to get us rolling so I began a long circuitous pitch climbing easy terrain off to the side before a long downward traverse led to a committing mantle onto a vegetated slab above. Struggling with massive rope drag from the severely Z-shaped pitch, I encountered a recurring theme of frantically hacking away a clump of heather to find a small cam placement. Eric quickly downrated my estimated grade and then scrambled up more heather covered corners to the base of a steep, relatively clean layback flake. Perfect edges made the otherwise intimidating flake go quickly. Unfortunately, the intended route up a long “hand crack” above the flake turned out to be 100 feet of 4”-6” offwidth. The scale of the wall was turning out to be a bit larger than anticipated. Instead, Eric made a delicate leftward traverse before committing to a steep, broken crack formed in part by some precariously hollow fridge-sized blocks. Easy terrain led to the base of what had appeared to be a splitter from the base of the wall. Above I could only see a slammed shut seam covered in a thick crust of lichen, moss, and dirt. Eric proclaimed it to be a finger crack. I was highly skeptical. But on new ground there’s nothing worse than being the person who forfeits your partner's last proud lead by bailing off into indirect, unappealing terrain. I spent several minutes pawing at the start, muttering random negativities. After a few minutes I finally committed to the initial moves into the corner then rapidly hung on a nut. But it was started and despite my deep pessimism about there actually being a climbable crack under the filth I found myself inching upwards. Sand and pulverized lichen poured into my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my shirt. Aiding up in 8mm dyneema slings progress was dispiritingly slow as I cleaned out every single placement. Time oozed on and hours later I finally pulled the singular hand jam at the very top of the 150-foot crack and flopped onto a good ledge. Now relatively cleaned out, Eric rapidly followed the crack free proclaiming it 5.10+. Having climbed three pitches in five hours and 45 minutes, simple math suggested that our rate of ascent was significantly slower than the sun's rate of descent. While I did not yet suggest bailing, I did point out this obvious observation. Yet Eric confidently proclaimed that the “walk off” would in fact be a walk and that we would only need headlamps once we were within spitting distance of our packs. Regardless of attitude at this point, the wall kicked back a bit and the next pitch looked easier. No reason to bail yet so Eric headed out, moving quickly across a thankfully clean hand crack before moving out of sight into the corners above. Progress slowed, the rope stopped moving, I almost nodded off. The clouds continued to build as the rope made halting progress. A random inquiry on my part was met with a stern “Not Now”. Eventually Eric reappeared above having navigated some sketchy 5.10 face climbing to avoid an impossibly munge-filled corner. Moving left and right, up and down he eventually retreated to a blocky alcove from which we could reappraise the options above. With the rack refreshed the obvious direction was through an overhanging V-shaped corner. Chimney moves, flared jams, wide stemming and possibly some tension left me once again above my gear, hanging off a sloping rail, feet stemmed out on small dishes, surrounded by thick mats of grass and heather pasted in corners. With my ancient Chouinard north wall hammer wedged into a hummock, a brief struggle ensued between which would be pried off first, the hummock or myself. Thankfully the hummock released, revealing a perfect hand crack. The climbing relented and the rate of progress discernibly increased. As I neared the end of a lead the sky finally cracked open with a brief squall and a lovely rainbow filling the valley. Despite the weather I finally felt committed to the climb. Going over the top was now the path of least resistance. Almost every challenging climb you undertake has that beautiful inflection point, when hours, days or even years of uncertainty just melt away leaving you relaxed and in the moment. Eric climbed another beautiful corner with sustained finger cracks under the hummocks and dirt. The final pitch was a perfect finale. Shockingly clean granite with delightful climbing up to and around a large roof followed by easy, clean slabs to the top of the wall. The Cascades were bathed in a beautiful soft glow and views extended from Dome in the far distance to the sun setting off the shoulder of Mesachie Peak. The walk off was anything but, and had it been dark we would have been in for a genuine epic. Yet much as predicted headlamps only came out as we finally exited the talus onto delightful heather meadows not far from our packs. If you're familiar with Eric’s and Rolf’s first ascents on massive walls of less than stellar rock I’m sure you’ve wondered what makes them tick. My simple observation would be an extremely positive mental attitude with a surprisingly conservative aversion to potential loose rock. My successes have largely been built off an ability to separate the negativity of my dumb brain from the mechanical motions of moving upwards. It’s worked but doesn’t seem nearly as efficient as Eric's approach. I’d like to think I might adopt some of his positive mindset in the future. That said I’m pretty sure we influenced each other, as we headed out down wet talus with heavy packs Eric could be heard muttering “If you added a few bolts...”. Hour and twenty minutes from parking Lot Enter the Drag-On (forever) In my happy place (after the rain) Exiting the wall Views South and North Old Dirty Bastard and Mr. Clean Topo - buffed out (red) vs original line (blue) Postscript After Eric graciously spent another day of his life reclimbing and fixing the first four pitches with me I went back for the Labor Day weekend and put in thirty hours of cleaning, creating fixed anchors and adding several variations to avoid indirect, loose or excessively dirty terrain. Rock is excellent and clean throughout. Rappelling is quick and efficient vs. the unsavory walk off. There is a pile of good climbing up there. Topo/Gear/Approach Notes: MtnProject - Salad Days
  2. 8 points
    Trip: Johannesburg - “Flight of the Bumblebee” FA of the sit start to the NE Buttress of J Berg TD 5.9+R 1500’ Trip Date: 08/27/2022 Trip Report: This weekend, Kyle and I climbed the sit start to the NE buttress of J-Berg. We ended up rappelling due to injury after linking into the ‘57 route on the NE buttress. We added about 1500’ of steep and challenging climbing. The sit start climbs a tower with a bit of a distinct summit, so I don’t feel too bad claiming an FA. Becky likely wouldn’t have given us credit for anything, so judge it how you will. If linked to the summit, it would likely be one of the biggest monolithic climbs anywhere. TD+… ED…? Only one way to find out. This is likely a one and done for me, when we topped out the lower buttress I thought to myself “the climb we did so no one else had to”, but rapping where we did leaves the door open for at least one suitor to up the ante. The lower buttress in moody, morning fog We had a late start sat morning. The uncertain weather had us sleeping in and waiting. Lani and I had attempted the line a couple years ago and ultimately bailed because the climbing looked like it was going to be far more time consuming than our 2 day itinerary would have allowed. This time around, kyle and I packed a couple taco portaledges in case we had to bivy on the steeper lower wall. The approach involves a good bit of blueberry and devils club laybacking in high exposure. We came prepared this time and had leather garden gloves to grab the clubs… Kyle on the approach The approach is a bit of foreshadowing for what to expect on the rest of the buttress, but simply steeper… The first pitch was a long moss gully with difficulties that felt about like 5.7. For the second pitch, we discovered a sick splitter hand crack. Too short and too easy… Starting up the second pitch The third pitch was ledgy and mossy hand crack steps that fed into the main gully/corner that defines the route. This was the previous high point. starting up the third pitch The fourth pitch is what intimidated Lani and I off the route before. Steep, mossy overlapping roofs and steep corners loom above. This time around we were prepared to aid if needed and had a good bit of iron and a real hammer. We didn’t end up using the ladders and battled the moss with a nut tool and clawed our way up the slightly overhanging corner past a roof to a sloping ledge. We decided to start hauling the leaders pack at this point and ended up needing to tag the iron up for this belay. Kyle on the traverse above the P4 roof pitch 5 was more of the same, but with a chimney. Pulling through the chimney made me happy about the decision to haul packs. I ended up climbing a steep crack on the face to diverge from the main corner. To make faster upward progress, Kyle ended up climbing the thorn bush corner. He ended up unintentionally releasing about a ton of gravel when he stepped in the wrong spot. That reinforced the decision to take the spicy looking face. We ended up setting up a bivy at the top of this pitch. Glad to have the tacos as it was completely hanging. heading into the chimney on P5 kyle following the choss corner at the end of P5 chilling at the bivy in a super taco looking up at the upper corner from the bivy The next few pitches were actually pretty fun. Steep face and corner climbing on surprisingly solid rock. starting up P7. 5.7R up to the roof. kyle following the roof at the top of P7 The 8th pitch was the start to the sting in the tail. We climbed a runout face to the right of the corner. This took us up to the edge of the wall. The wall pinched off to a blunt, knife edge arete. A 5.8 downclimbing traverse into a rock scar was probably the most dangerous point on the climb. The last piece was maybe about 60 ft away and around the arete. A fall would likely chop the rope along the arete. Strong R. The rock scar was overhanging 5.9 stemming on less than ideal rock but with good gear. climbing up near the arete on pitch 8 kyle finishing up pitch 8 Once on the prow of the wall we had a few options. None of them looked good. The chimneys above looked truly awful, so we opted to traverse the arete to the right and found a mossy ramp that took us out onto the NW face. I belayed short for communication and to help make decisions. The next pitch was bleak, dead vertical terrain everywhere and so much munge. We ended up making a huge S shaped traversing pitch to work our way up moss covered 5.8 sketch blocks. We named this pitch “Phil’s Traverse” as we were intending on calling the route “the land of confusion”. The sting in the tail continues… kyle following the zag on Phil’s Traverse A long pitch of overhanging 5.7 tree climbing spat us out on a decent ledge where we transitioned out of rock shoes to prepare for the Forrest. I was nearing the end of the rope on a classic J-Berg tree pitch and grabbed a tuft of moss, as you do. This particular tuft was a bees nest. I felt stinging and saw a few on my right hand and about 100 bees shot out of the hole, dead set on face fucking me off the mountain. I let go in a knee jerk reaction and went for a slow motion, sports action highlight style whipper. I kind of wish I had a video camera on as it had to have been funny to watch. I ended up grabbing, and swinging off a tree on the way down, making a single rotation tomahawk and falling onto my feet as the rope caught me. Glad I took a lead belay. I ended up rolling my ankle and was otherwise unscathed. I belayed Kyle up and we weighed our options. We decided to find a place to bivy and wait until the morning to make any decisions. We ended up climbing up another 300’ of forest munge to the top of a heather slope. The top of the slope was a comfy knoll that marked the summit of the lower tower, and an awesome bivy! This was our summit and the first point where it was obvious we had linked into the ‘57 line. kyle rapping a steep section of the wall Waking up, my outlook was pretty grim. I could barely hobble around, so we decided to descend our route. I couldn’t really put weight on my ankle so I ended up glissading the last 100’ of 35 degree heather. Once back at the tree line we began rapping. We ended up rappelling about 1800’. Primarily rapping on trees and using an escaper we were able to get away with only leaving a couple gear anchors along the way. Traversing the talus back to the car was kind of miserable, but manageable. My ankle is starting to feel better already, crossing my fingers for a minor sprain. For the aspiring munge warrior, here’s pitch notes P1 5.7 180’ head up moss gully on the left to a big ledge with trees. P2 5.7+ 180’ traverse to left edge of ledge. Head up good hand crack. Traverse slab to the right and climb a nice finger crack up to a large ledge on the ridge crest. P3 5.8 150’ head up into the large mossy corner. Climb up to a distinct roof with hands to fists gear for anchor. P4 5.9 100’ continue up the corner. Mossy crack climbing leads to a rightward roof traverse. Pull past the roof onto the large sloping ledge. Two beaks in place for anchor P5 5.9 100’ continue up main corner on clean slab. Past a short chimney and a crack on the right face (5.9+). Belay at uncomfortable stance below a striped roof in a good crack in the main corner. P6 5.9+ 85’ continue up main corner past a small roof (crux) to an alcove at the base of the massive looming roof above. #4 critical for belay. P7 5.9+ 70’ climb the face to the right of the corner (5.7R). Up past an off width section to a section of steep crack/stemming on good rock. Belay in a cave. P8 5.9+ 160’ traverse out of the cave. Climb the face on the right up to a knife edge arete (5.8R). Traverse the slab rightward into a steep rock star (5.9+ spicy). Continue up past low angle broken terrain. Belay by a bush on a small ledge. P9 5.7 60’ head up and around the arete to the right. Traverse over on mossy ledges and build an anchor P10 5.8R 100’ “Phil’s traverse” traverse right. Up mossy blocks to trees. Traverse back left to a big tree for a belay. Heinous drag. P11 5.7 150’ climb the belay tree. Then continue up until rope drag stops you. P12 5.6 200’ trees up to the ridge crest to join ne butt route. Gear Notes: Double Rack .2 - 1 Singles 2 - 4 no nuts placed. Pins in place. Approach Notes: Park at cascade pass. Traverse talus to the base of the “munge cone”. Traverse to the right up steep ferns. Gain a steep ramp that cuts up and left on 4th class devils clubs. Mandatory devils club laybacking. We brought leather gloves for this. Traverse the ledge to an exposed perch by a steep gully.
  3. 7 points
    Trip: Mt. Temple North Face, Banff NP, Alberta - Greenwood/Locke Trip Date: 08/06/2022 Trip Report: I have really only written up one TR before and there doesn't seem to be whole lot of TR's on this route so I figured it would be fun/useful to write up some info on Evan's and my ascent of the Greenwood/Locke on the north face of Mt. Temple. Plus it is currently smokey in the mountains in Washington so there isn't a whole lot else to do. On July 16th, Evan and I embarked from Bellingham on a 3+ week climbing trip aiming to climb mountains in Canada. And that we did. After warming up on wet rock in Squamish, we moved to the Bugaboos and spent a week in the East Creek Basin, getting to climb the Beckey/Chouinard and All Along the Watchtower. We then drove to Banff in search of progressively more chossy rock. After spending some time in the Banff area getting used to the Canadian Rockies limestone and glacier ice, and climbing Mt. Fay, Yamnuska, limestone routes in Banff, and getting turned around on Mt. Athabasca from rock fall, we felt ready to try the Greenwood/Locke with impending colder conditions in the forecast. The day before we climbed the route, Evan and I hiked half of the approach to the north face of Mt. Temple from the Lake Annette TH to get a look at the face. We brought binoculars, and scoping the route was incredibly useful for our ascent the next day. A view of the face from our scouting mission. The approximate route we took from Lake Annette. On August 6, we left the trail head early in the morning to make sure we got through the "Dolphin" snow/ice gully's before the sun hit any aspect of the upper wall since there is significant rockfall hazard throughout these gully's low on the route. We climbed much of the Dolphin and several hundred feet of loose 4th and low 5th class rock steps before it got light out. Evan low on the Dolphin Lots of chossy low 4th-5th class steps. Evan climbing the final bit of AI2 up to the base of the "wet chimney pitch". The upper headwall looming above receiving the only bit of sun all day. There was a decent amount of rock fall as soon as the sun hit the upper headwall. Get here early! The "wet chimney" pitch directly above the snow/ice field in the center went at about M5. At the base of the chimney at the top of the final snow/ice field, we broke out the rope and began the "real" climbing. It was necessary to climb this pitch with crampons and tools. We then simuled a long pitch still in our mountain boots up to the big traverse left. The traverse was incredibly loose, and there were a couple fixed pins. We traversed the ledge for just under 200ft until the ledge went around a sharp corner and the wall above undercut right above the ledge. From here, we switched to rock shoes and climbed around 8 more long pitches to the top of the headwall. Evan on one of the early pitches off the long leftward ledge traverse. Many of these pitches were severely runout around 5.8, with several 5.10 pitches. Gear was tricky but usually there were ok cams, pins, and stoppers where it mattered. Nearing the "trickey slab" pitch One of the pitches that is supposedly the crux says to step right into a 10c crack. We found this pitch to be significantly easier and better protected than many of the other pitches on the route. The "ice hose" pitch was thankfully dry, and involved engaging climbing. Enjoying the exposure. A final long pitch of steep rock brought us up to the last ledge traverse and the top of the upper headwall. A chossy but easy traverse right brought us to the top of the wall. Great position! Psyched to be done with the scary climbing. Classic summit selfie. Some sort of fossil I found on the final ledge traverse. The route from the base of the first gully to the top of the upper headwall took us 14 hours. The route is very serious and engaging with significant loose rock. The harder pitches in general had better rock and enjoyable climbing. Gear Notes: We brought a single rack from #000 to #3 with doubles in .4 and .5, a small set of nuts, 1 LA, 2 KB's, 1 Bugaboo, an angle, and two screws. We didn't use the angle and only used 1 screw. We also could have ditched the doubles in .4 and .5 as there are only so many placements per pitch. We each took two technical tools, boots and crampons, rock shoes, and a piton hammer for the leader. Approach Notes: The approach is straightforward and mostly on a trail. Scoping the face the day before made finding our way up the scree and into the correct gully easy in the dark. The descent is also very straightforward. Once topped out, traverse a long scree field maintaining elevation, and then descend a trail on the SW ridge. We hiked to Moraine Lake and then hitchhiked back to our car at the Lake Annette TH.
  4. 7 points
    Trip: The Triad - East Ridge to Main Summit Trip Date: 08/06/2022 Trip Report: All the hardman FA glory on the site is pretty amazing this summer, but what is the blue collar climber to aspire to, you might ask? Well, the Triad of course! Nothing worse than low fifth (or old skool 4th) and an energetic approach separate mere mortals from the club of North Cascadian summits. It didn't take much to convince @Trent and @Kit to join me on an 11 hour ramble in the alpine a few weeks ago (even though Steve had already climbed it), following this excellent topo drawn by @Stefan: We started the morning watching a bear....get shot....in the meadows above the trail. I have to say that it was a bit surprising to hear a shot ring out and watch it tumble down the slope toward us! A first for me. But the MBSNF is the "land of many uses" and who am I to judge? I like meat as much as the next chossdawg. Just maybe wear orange after 8/1, eh. Regardless, we made good time to the pass above the trail and began the sound of music ridge run towards the Triad. Not much to report on the traverse to the peak that isn't included in the excellent topo. My thumb was still pretty buggered so @Trent was on the hook to lead the technical bits, which he dispatched without trouble. Difficulties were short-lived (1 pitch) and soon we rambled our way to the highest of the three dicks (read Green Fred for the full story). The day was perfect, without a soul around, so nice on an August Saturday in the increasingly busy North Cascades. And it remained quiet (no other parties) until we were back on the trail, close to the car. There are still lonesome weekend day trips out there! Gear Notes: Crampons, helmet, axe, light 60m rope, very small rack if you want to belay 4th class bits. Approach Notes: Sibley Creek Trail. Watch out for bear hunters!
  5. 6 points
    Trip: Eldorado + Dorado Needle - N ridge on Eldo, NW ridge on the needle Trip Date: 09/08/2022 Trip Report: Plans with a partner fell through again, so I took off on another last minute solo. I’ve had a lot of these this summer. It’s not a real complaint because I’ve been having a lot of fun. I feel fortunate to have some many great options near home. I hiked toward the Inspiration with several options in mind for the day, which turned out to be much smokier than I expected from the forecast I saw. I entered a pretty bad layer by the boulder field and abruptly popped out just past the E ridge campsites. The fact that only Eldorado was above the smoke made it an easy choice for the first objective. I climbed the N ridge. What little I found online about it tends to oversell it IMO. I think it’s a stretch to call it a cool route. While the rock quality is quite good, I found that difficulties were too short, usually only one or two moves at a time. It’s also devoid of exposure, at least the way I climbed it (on or just left of the crest) making it feel like a long V0 boulder problem. Slightly disappointing, but I contrived some fun moves here and there. At the top I wrapped around the NW side of the mountain, went up and over the summit and descended the E ridge. Partway down I split off and started traversing towards the pass leading to the McAllister. Klawatti was still enveloped in smoke so I headed down onto the McAllister towards Dorado Needle. My first time on this awesome glacier. The route up to the NW ridge looked intimidating from afar, especially solo. But it was never very steep and there was a pliable layer of snow the whole way, so my steps felt secure. At the notch I put rock shoes on and left everything else behind. I enjoyed this route more than the N ridge of Eldorado. Though short, it feels more like real climbing. The stone is pretty good, and there are some memorable sections, like an easy arete traverse with a piton at your feet trying to trip you, and a cool top out. At the summit I saw two pairs of climbers nearing the top of the E ridge route. Their profiles on the skyline looked cool when I was back down on the glacier. Climbing down was just as fun as climbing up, and the McAllister descent went without incident. I was visited by a bird before returning to the pass. By now Klawatti was finally out of the smoke but I was running a little short on time. Seemed like a waste to climb it on such a hazy day anyway. Couldn’t see Moraine lake at all, and Forbidden was barely visible. So I headed back to the car, with a long break to pick berries above the boulder field until I started to feel a little crazy. Despite that delay I avoided headlamp time, reaching the bottom around dusk. Took a ritual dip in the creek and headed back to civilization. Gear Notes: Approach and rock shoes. Axe and crampons Approach Notes: Inspiration glacier
  6. 6 points
    Trip: Bear’s Breast + Summit Chief - SE Face on Bear’s Breast; E to W ridge traverse on Summit Chief Trip Date: 09/01/2022 Trip Report: On Thursday I climbed the slab on SE face of Bear’s Breast (BB). From a bivy at Shovel creek, the next day I hiked to Chief creek and followed it to a lake below Summit Chief (SC), climbed the east side of the massif, traversed the ridge to the summit, descended south back to the lake, then went back down Chief creek to trails leading eventually back to the car. This involved tons of hiking but the mega slab on BB was really fun and the process of discovery made the SC excursion especially rewarding. Early Thursday morning I had driven an hour in the direction of the N cascades before I remembered to check the forecast one last time. I didn’t like what I saw. I had somewhat bold plans for 3 days in the Eldorado area. It seemed like a fair bit of smoke was forecast. The area’s main draw for me is the view, so I shelved that plan for another day. The smoke forecast looked clearer further south so I turned around and headed that way. Jason’s mega slab TR came to mind. I took screen shots of his unusually detailed beta before leaving service. Neighboring SC was also in the back of my mind. I didn’t know anything about it, but was pretty sure it had a scramble route. To make up for the comically long drive I did a mix of fast walking and slow jogging on the trail to Waptus lake, reaching it in 2.5 hours. I kept going until I found the Shovel creek campsite. I put my harness on to save space in my tiny summit sack and headed to the wall, reaching it about 4.5 hours from the car. I got water at the base, but partly due to the tiny pack I deluded myself into thinking 2L water would be enough for the climb. I would have probably run out even if it took 3L. It was a hot day and the route was in full sun. And the climbing, though easy, was pretty physical. The movement was close enough to hiking that I would invariably go too fast and have to stop to catch my breath. I found mostly class 4 (felt like 3 as long as you didn’t look down) and felt like I had to go out of my way to find low 5th bits, which I did seek out. High up on the face I found a repeating pattern of perfect horizontal foot/hand rails that I used to traverse right, trying to find a little shade. I eventually reached a crest and continued on to its apex, but cliffed out there. I backtracked a little and downclimbed suspect choss to the west side of the ridge, finding a gravelly path leading to the notch by the summit block. I was bonking pretty badly at this point and still hadn’t realized that I was becoming massively dehydrated. I put my rock shoes on at the the notch N of the summit block. I found the climbing just barely difficult enough to justify bringing these, my harness, and some rap cord this far. The chimney pitch might be cruxy if you’re a wide person. I’m pretty slim and I managed to wedge my torso quite snugly. The summit views weren’t great. It was hazy enough that I couldn’t make out much of the Chimney rock area. To the east I saw a landscape comprised mainly of dirt. On the descent I climbed down past the first rap to the station above the chimney pitch. It took me forever to set up my rap due to my growing exhaustion. After the rap I downclimbed exposed ledges to the skier’s left of where I began the climb. Back at the notch I had no choice but to sit and rest for a while despite noticing that I was beginning to fall behind schedule. The snow was firm coming down the E side of the mountain, so I used my axe. Crampons would have been nice but they didn’t fit in my tiny summit sack. At the first seeps I found I took another long rest and began guzzling water. As I drank and drank I finally realized how dehydrated I was. A few liters later I started to come back to life and picked up the pace. The scrambling on this side had pleasant solid slabs and ledges. I was racing the fading light. The darkness won but by the time I had resort to headlamp I had less than 200 feet to descend to reach Shovel lake. I did a bit of controlled veggie assisted sliding down the final slope, stumbling out at the exact spot where a single big river shoe sat. Descending Shovel creek in the dark turned out to be nontrivial. It wasn’t terrible but there was a little bit of everything, from dry log jams to bushes to gravel bars to boulder fields. The highlight was running into a small patch of berries that I wasn’t familiar with. Seemed to be delicious small red salmon berries, cap-like, almost as thin as thimble berries. I reached my bivy near 10pm, about 13 hours after leaving the car. It was a longer and more difficult day than I anticipated. I tried to eat and continue rehydrating. I slept poorly and felt physically and mentally sluggish the next morning. I considered hiking back early, or the grim prospect of relaxing by Waptus lake for a couple hours Instead I adopted a low commitment mindset to exploring for a way to Summit Chief. I crossed Waptus river and hiked to the junction with the DMG trail. Maybe I could take up the hill for while, and then traverse west at around 3600’. I’ll probably never know how that works because I was enticed by Chief creek. When I reached it I saw that it was perfect for rock hopping. Given the hour and the unknown, a summit seemed unlikely, so I decided to just go up the creek for fun and see what happened. It felt good to explore with this low commitment mindset, but it also weighed heavily on my mind that every step forward was a step further from pizza. I used some dry open ground to the left of the creek but mostly hopped rocks for 15 minutes until I reached a waterfall. I bypassed it with a bushwhack up to the side then rejoined the creek. More waterfalls followed. One bypass on the S side took me high above the creek and I went for a while through the forest there, trying to find the driest ground I could. I may have crossed the creek once or twice more, I’m already forgetting. At one point on the S side of the creek I realized I was entering a mile long stretch of impenetrable alder, but saw mature forest on the N side, so fought my way down to the creek and crossed again. There is another creek running S and E from a 5200’ knoll down to Chief creek. After crossing this I gradually moved several hundred feet uphill from Chief creek with relatively reasonable shwacking. This path reached a drainage leading N into the alpine. The huckleberries were out of control here. I contoured around another knoll and reached a beautiful unnamed lake SE of SC only 3 hours after I started up river. From there I saw appealing rock on the east side of the mountain and took high quality white ledgey slabs adjacent to a water course. I reached a shoulder and found that the nice slabs continued up a broad, barely convex gully-face. I rapidly ascended from the lake to near the top of this face. The wide face was narrowing to a point and the rock transitioned to blocky choss. The large blocks formed a fun hand crack system that I climbed at 5.5ish for around 40 feet to the first false summit. The false summit wasn’t too surprising given the topo, but I failed to notice how far away the true summit was. I kept expecting the next tower or blob to the west to be the summit. I was fooled about 3 times before I got a view of the real summit, still quite a ways off with several more notches in between. I began to feel concerned about my exit strategy should I encounter a gap too steep to climb. I could downclimb the way I came, but it would be more time consuming and mentally taxing than I would like. Continuing on I did one short low 5th downclimb on the S side to get around a small tower. I was able to traverse on dirty but sufficiently wide and flat ledges on the N side to bypass a couple more bumps nearing the summit block. At the base of the real summit block I took a ~5.0 left trending ramp to top out. The ridge traverse had been an exciting and interesting way to go, with some pretty fun climbing. I’m really glad it worked out the way it did. I think it took about a half hour from the false summit. The day was much clearer than the day prior, so I enjoyed the summit views more than the last one. I could see that descending S looked pretty smooth. Going that way I reached more great slabs which led to snow. Even in the warm sun it was firm enough that I had to find a low angle entry (didn’t bring traction on this day) to keep it safe. I glissaded with sharp rocks for brakes then kept down climbing fun ledgy slabs. I gradually trended skiers left to meet my ascent path near the bottom. I gorged myself on more huckleberries past the lovely lake and found minor improvements to my path traversing slopes above Chief creek. At the creek’s junction with another creek, I found that I could keep my bypasses to the S shorter and nearer the creek, and did more rock hopping between waterfalls than I had on the way up. This was probably a little slower than traversing in the forest but it was downright delightful. I reached my overnight pack 9.5 hours after I left it where DMG trail crosses Chief creek. I was very happy with the way the river travel turned out, with all the nice solid rock, with ‘onsighting’ a ridge I knew nothing of, and all those berries. It was a strange contrast to the day before, which felt a little like the mountain was working against me. This day it felt like the mountain gave way, continually drawing me upward with a steady rhythm of dissolving riddles. There was the small matter of being I don’t know, 14 miles or so (? I didn’t record it) from the car. I packed up and hiked to Waptus lake. Had a short swim at dusk then marched on through the night. I passed many tents but shared the trail only with nocturnal insects, toads of unusual size, and ridiculous amounts of horse shit. Autopilot worked well until about 2 miles from the car, when I started to get drunk legs. I finally arrived at the car a little before midnight for a 15.5 hour day. If anyone has been up Chief creek or traversed the SC ridge I’d be curious to know how you liked it. I rarely set off exploring with no beta. I found it very engaging and rewarding to do so. Easy to say, but I think it was mostly just good fortune that Chief creek ended up being relatively sane and that I wasn’t forced by terrain to settle for some sub-summit on SC. Gear Notes: Axe, rock shoes, rap for BB (crampons would be useful) Approach shoes for SC. Traction for snow is useful but didn’t seem mandatory. Approach Notes: Follow the creek . . . ?
  7. 6 points
    Trip: Mt. Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys and SE Ridge Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Background Back in May of this year (2022) I had offered to start up a 'climbing club' for my coworkers, to offer people a chance to get into the sport with minimal cost and also to continue maintain my own climbing instructional skills. We got together early every Thursday and worked on rope skills, gear selection, and other academic type content that was workable in a classroom setting, with the intent of 'graduating' with two weekend climbing trips in August. I had some field trips in July planned to practice snow and glacier skills, some conditioners up mailbox peak, and had booked campsites near Mazama for the first weekend, intended to be 'rock practical skills'. I left the second weekend open, not knowing what routes would be in the best condition that far ahead. Although I started out with 4 people, life and work chipped away at each person’s schedule so by the time the first weekend in August came around we had not yet gotten to do our practical snow skills. Additionally, only one person (Joe) was available for that weekend. In any case, we made the most of it, headed up to Klipchuck campground after work on Friday Aug 12th and had a great weekend, doing some cragging on Saturday and sent Spontaneity Arete on Sunday. Not a bad considering it was Joe’s first ever climbing experience of any kind! Not a bad first-time multi-pitch and alpine climb for Joe and my first alpine climb lead on my own! With the second weekend rapidly approaching I had to figure out what our objective would be. One of the other group members (Rob) was available for this weekend, making it a party of 3. Unfortunately, he hadn't been on the previous trip, so he had yet to do any sort of real-world climbing at all. Joe had some snow experience from a couple winter scrambles we had done in Japan, but Rob had none and neither of them had been on a glacier, used snow and ice protection, or done a climb with a bivy on-route. I also had never led a complex alpine route or led anything glaciated before. I was close to just planning a repeat of the alpine rock weekend in Mazama. However, while browsing rec.gov I noticed that previously unavailable permits for Price XC zone on Shuksan had become available, probably a cancellation due to the weekend only having a 2-day window of splitter weather. I wanted to get a complex route with glacier travel and technical rock under my belt this summer, so I decided to grab the permit and make Fisher Chimneys with SE Ridge our objective. There were no recent trip reports to cue me in to the condition of route, as well as tons of unknowns regarding Joe and Rob's comfort level on unprotected scrambles, steep snow, possible AI2-3 slopes and down-climbing. I don't think many people did Fisher Chimneys and SE Ridge as their first ever alpine climb, let alone first time literally climbing anything at all in Rob's case. However, Spontaneity Arete was also not normally a person’s first ever alpine rock climb and Joe had kept it together and followed me up that without issue. I knew that physical endurance wouldn't be an issue, we had all the gear, and the weather was going to be acceptable at a minimum. While not ideal, I also knew that I had enough tools in my mental toolbox that with a few extra ounces of gear I could problem solve our way through any alpine shenanigans and/or any hang-ups should someone decide they couldn't handle scrambling/down-climbing a given section and needed to be lowered, raised, given a hand-line or rope to ascend etc. I didn’t want to overburden myself so I made some judicious cuts to my clothing kit, accepting the fact that if the weather window collapsed it would be immediate cause to turn back. This left enough space to pack extra climbing gear just in case I had to build bail anchors, climb technical ice, or raise/lower us out of a situation. I also wanted to ensure I packed my mirrorless camera with a couple lenses this time; I’d skimped on photos my last few trips to focus on pushing my climbing grades but I missed the documentation aspect of the outings. I had us pack 2 ropes, a 60m 9.5 and a 50m 8.9, for redundancy and in hopes that we would be able to link some rappels on the way down for efficiency. In retrospect 2x 50m 8.9s would have been equally as effective and much lighter. There were two moments when the extra 10m was needed, but only because we were pitching everything out – both instances would have been overcome if we had been down climbing or simul climbing. Minus the ropes, what I packed for the trip. HMG Prism was just about perfect for this trip - gypsy camp with everything packed but perfect slimmed down on summit day. Of course, this would all add up to more time, so I planned to give ourselves every chance at success by leaving Friday early from work and hiking to Lake Ann that night to give us a full 48 hours to get from Lake Ann to high camp, the summit and back to the cars. Little did I know that we would use every second of it. Day 1 I listed Rob as the alternate trip leader on the permit since he would have an easier time skipping out of work early on Friday to make it to the ranger station in time to grab the permit. We all hit the road by about 2pm and by 6:30 we were all sitting at Chair 9 in in Glacier with permit in hand eating our last civilized meal before hitting the trail. We got to the Lake Ann trailhead a bit after sunset, welcomed by swarms of biting flies. As we headed downhill into the darkness, the flies seemed to dissipate, and we made good time to Lake Ann. It was somewhat difficult to find good spots, most of the great ones were already taken but we each had packed small bivy tents so we were each able to find somewhere tuck ourselves into for the night. Day 2 Approach We all woke up to a hefty layer of internal condensation in the tents, as Lake Ann was practically in a cloud of fog all night and into the morning. We did our best to keep our bags dry as we packed up and hit the trail by around 8am to tackle the chimneys. Misty morning at Lake Ann Previous GPS tracks had both a high and low route around the cliff bands leading into the chimneys proper. I didn’t realize at the time, but the low route was certainly the least used….and by least, I mean probably almost never. Unfortunately, we were a good 15 minutes into it before I realized this, so we continued to route find our way up to the chimney’s entrance on what was probably a less efficient path. The fog was still quite thick, and the combination of exertion and humidity had us all soaked. Off Trail but can't complain about the dramatic view hiking over the Lower Curtis glacier. Heading up the final slope to the start of the chimneys. Scramble It didn’t take long, and we arrived at the entrance of the chimney itself. Both Joe and Rob looked at the first section of class 4 and seemed like they wanted to ask if we were going to rope up, so I quickly started scrambling to keep the momentum going and show that it wasn’t as intimidating as it looked. Top of the dihedral that everyone likes to take pics of. Solid holds all over the chimneys make for fun scrambling. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the rock in the chimney. Certainly, there are loose pieces here and there, but most of the true class 4 sections had fantastic holds and in-between there were minimal patches of unstable dirt/kitty litter/rubble. The experience of more sustained rock scrambling with full packs was new for Joe and Rob but they kept at it steadily. About halfway up, where you make a traverse from the lower to upper chimneys we broke through the cloud cover and were rewarded with beautiful views of Mt. Baker…..and a very abrupt climate change from cool and damp to hot and dry. I was certainly hoping that the supposed running water at the bivy sites would be present and plentiful. Thus far we hadn’t seen anyone this day, until we finally ran into some people downclimbing near the top of the chimney. Rob's trial by fire scrambling with an overnight pack on his first day climbing a mountain. Joe finally soaking up some sun once we got above the cloud layer Rob taking in the elevation gained so far, looking down at the Lower Curtis glacier. At the top, the transition to snow was simple, the moat was not an issue. We hopped on the snow and continued un-roped to the base of Winnies Slide. At the base of the slide, the bivy spots were full, but we were told by the previous party that everyone up there had summited that day and were coming down. It wasn’t late, so we had some time to decide. We busted out the stoves and had a hot lunch at the lower bivy section while we waited for the occupying party to come down. When they arrived, they told us that the upper bivy was emptying out as well and had running water. I made the call to head up to the higher bivy. Winnie’s is steep but also had a great boot pack, so I used it as a good teaching moment to let Joe take lead and put in a running belay with pickets. It was a good spot for it, and I figured this might be a useful skill later in the trip; plus, it gave me an excuse to have everyone practice roping up, coiling the rope, using their ice axes etc. in daylight where I could see them, knowing that the next day we would be doing this on higher consequence terrain in the dark. Mt. Baker comes into view on the mid-chimney traverse. Passing the time with a lunch below Winnie's Slide to let descending parties clear out of the Bivy site. Joe heading up to the base of Winnie's Slide Practicing running belays using pickets on Winnie's Slide The Upper Curtis glacier comes into view nearing the higher bivy site The hadn’t seen pictures of either bivy site before the trip, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find a gorgeous site sitting alongside the seracs of the Upper Curtis glacier with incredible views of Mt. Baker. The cloud layer pushing up against the mountain made for a dramatic sunset. A couple parties came through the upper Bivy, including some climbing rangers who did their usual permit checks. We ate and organized our packs for summit day, finishing up around 6:30pm. We all tried to get to sleep early since our plan was to get up at 2am and be moving between 3am and 3:30, but I set another alarm for sunset to get a few pictures before fully going to bed for the short night. The Upper Curtis glacier was shedding ice and rock all evening into the night, an excellent reminder of the ever present objective hazards and motivation to stay efficient moving under the cliff bands to the left the next day. My Tarptent ProTrail Li has never been that easy to set up but perfectly, but it was great for this trip; light, well ventilated and with a compact footprint. The thin floor still always makes me nervous on rocky terrain. Sunset was worth interrupting my sleep for a half hour for photos Day 3 The Climb It wasn’t exactly enjoyable or easy to wake up so early, but it had to happen, so we pushed through and were moving by 3:40am. My goal was to be back at high camp by noon, a little over 8 hours later. This put my summit time goal 9am. I knew we had much more time than that, so I wasn’t going to consider truly turning around until noon. The boot pack from the parties coming down was still faintly visible so we made decent time in the dark across the Upper Curtis glacier. Despite the fact that Hell’s Highway was steeper than Winnie’s slide, the darkness helped mask the sense of exposure so I was able to just keep our party moving up the slope without needing to pull out pickets and do a running belay. We reached the Sulphide glacier just as morning twilight was beginning. The Sulphide was cruiser, very straightforward and direct path up to the summit. The boot pack was obvious once it joined with the more popular Sulphide glacier route. Tail end of the milky way over Mt. Baker was the consolation prize for having to be awake far too early in the morning. Shadows cast, I presume, by the Mox-Spickard-Redoubt mountain cluster blocking sunrise against a high-altitude haze as we moved up the Sulphide glacier. We encountered a number of parties once we got onto the main trade-route of Mt. Shuksan. There was no boot pack to the SE ridge so I had to somewhat guess where it started. As we neared what I thought was the beginning of the ridge, another party arrived, and we let them pass us given my expectation to be pitching everything out. This party had the same intentions so in the end they never really got ahead of us. This initially caused some delays waiting for them on the first couple pitches, however by the last pitch they were fully ahead, and we were our own limiting factor. The ridge was fun, had exciting but not intimidating exposure on both sides, and the rock was solid enough. I can see why most experienced parties would simul or solo the ridge, as the ‘crux’ 5.3-5.4-ish moves weren’t always protectable anyways. I think that the standard pitched climbing approach gave Joe and Rob a chance to relax at the belays though, which helped keep our pace consistent even if it was a little slow. The last pitch was long, and I hit the end of the 50m rope I was on; however by the time I got to the end it was just class 3 so I put a micro-traxion on a piece near the top and had Rob, who was belaying me, just start climbing to make it the last 15-20 feet to the top anchor. I got him on belay, had him remove the micro-traxion when he got to it, and then bring up Joe. We made the short scramble to the summit. Rob scrambling up to the start of his first ever rock climb (of any kind!), wearing mountain boots no less. Joe making his way up the ridge. This was his first time climbing in mountain boots as well. Rob belaying Joe up. We used both ropes in a caterpillar manner for the ridge climb. It wasn't super fast but I wanted to have them learn to manage the multi pitch transitions and system as their own 'second rope team'. This was also a great opportunity to show them how to build a releasable anchor using the second rope to be efficient with our anchor materials and get Joe climbing quickly without needing to tear down a separate anchor at each station. Me leading up the final (I think) pitch of the ridge just behind the party ahead of us. This photo courtesy of Joe. The combination of the other party and eventually our own pace resulted in us being at the summit around 11am; I hadn’t imagined being so close to our turnaround time. The summit register was in terrible condition, full of scraps of loose paper, we had to just squeeze our names into a space in-between the other entries. If I would have known, I would have brough a new one. We ate some snacks, enjoyed the expansive views of the North Cascades as the cloud layer was starting to break up and reveal the smaller peaks around us. After a short time, we began the descent Me signing the rapidly disintegrating summit register. I might start keeping at least a few sheets of 'write in the rain' paper on me for future climbs. Photo courtesy of Joe. Joe and rob looking a little tired......considering that Rob had never climbed even a single pitch of anything before today, Joe had never been on a glacier before, and I had was leading my first ever glacier-rock combination alpine route this was a huge success! Descent It was Rob’s first time ever rappelling on a real mountain. We had gone over the basic system in the ‘classroom’ at work, but he hadn’t had the previous rock trip to practice in a single pitch setting. I decided to go with a pre-rigged rappel with clove hitches between each climber on the anchor to make it as stress free as possible. After getting both of them set up with extended rappels, I would rap with coils to get the ropes down to the next station and set up. Having two ropes was great, but the 55m limitation from having a 60m and a 50m resulted in slightly imperfect linkups between “every other” rap station. I found the downclimbing easy to make up the difference, however for the Joe and Rob this improvisational transition and the end of each rappel added some extra time. Overall, however, these micro transitions to downclimb the last few feet after each rappel were faster than if we had doubled the number of rappels using just the single 60m rope. Joe coming down the first rappel from just below the summit. The 50/60m double rope setup reached the '3rd' rap station no problem. Here, the 50/60m rope setup did not quite reach the '5th' rap station. Here, Rob is at the last good stance to unrope at the end of the rap. This short traverse from the end of the ropes to the final rap station was not that difficult though. We moved quickly down the Sulphide without crampons as the snow was very soft by now. At the top of Hell’s Highway, we put the crampons on evaluated the slope. It had softened significantly, and we had been moving about 10 hours at this point, so I didn’t think Joe and Rob wanted to solo downclimb at this point. I put in a pair of pickets, had everyone remove their glacier rope setup, and set up a fixed 60m single strand rappel. Joe and Rob rapped down the steep section. Then I pulled the rope for them, packed up the picket anchor and downclimbed Hell’s Highway while they reconfigured the rope for glacier travel down below. After I tied back in for glacier travel, we made the very hot slog across the Upper Curtis back to high camp. While we packed up the tents another party arrived, happy to snag our spots for their evening bivy. After some snacks and refilling our water, we set off for the descent. We all downclimbed Winnie’s Slide and were happy to make our last steps off snow as we reach the top of the chimney. At the top, we ran into a guided group being short roped up the chimneys. Me, crampons on getting ready to go check out the snow conditions on Hell's Highway. Photo from Joe. The HMG camera holster bag worked really well, I had it rigged up with some carabiners, a cord directly to the camera and a bag strap so there were a couple redundant points to prevent the camera from going free - which actually came into play once, saving the rig from smashing on the rocks and/or rolling off the mountain. Considering Rob and Joe had spent over 13 hours doing a very large list of “firsts” on a tough mountaineering route, I knew that trying to force everyone to solo downclimb the entire chimney section wasn’t going to be a great idea. Although it took more time, I set up rappels on the tough sections of the chimneys. We reached the bottom of the final class 4 section around 7:30pm, a solid 16 hours since we set off that morning. It was a huge relief to transition back to trekking poles and take off the helmets. I made sure to follow the main upper route on the way down, which involved more 3rd class down climbing than I expected. Regardless, we just barely made it to the bottom of the very last scramble as evening twilight faded to true nighttime. Headlamps on, we started the monotonous trail slog back to the cars. Joe and Rob putting on the crampons at the high bivy site to make the final snow descent down Winnie's Slide to the chimneys. Rapping the 'dihedral'. There is some exposure to the bottom right, and in this instance the backed-up rappel was definitely a good choice for tired climbers pushing through a very long summit day. Joe getting ready to do the fun little 'au cheval' exposed step over on the chimney traverse section Very happy to be done with the chimney scrambling and have the helmets off. Little did we know, some class 3 sections lay ahead of us. Last light as we exited the chimneys proper and continued on our descent. We had a solid 4 hours of effort ahead of us back to the cars, but the respite from the sun was a welcome change of climate for the hike out. 6-ish miles and a few hours later, after digging deep into our energy reserves, we arrived back at the cars at 12:30am; 20 hours and 42 minutes after we had stepped onto the Upper Curtis Glacier that morning. This was a fun climb, and a huge confidence booster. My goal for the summer of 2022 was to reinvigorate my goal of leading alpine climbs; the last time I had led anything was back in 2016-2017; and at that time, I had led a few multi-pitch rock climbs to 5.7 but nothing truly alpine. Not only did I climb my two hardest alpine routes to-date over these back to back weekends but led them, and led them while teaching two brand new climbers overcoming a variety of alpine climbing challenges. Gear Notes: Put some pics in there. Approach Notes: Straightforward
  8. 6 points
    Jon! May I rudely interject some other perspectives in (slightly hijack) your TR? We saw your name in the summit registers just a few days after you signed them. It sounds like you had an awesome adventure!! We did too, and although our adventure visited the same summits, we took some slightly different approaches.....(I debated posting this but some people convinced me.) Thanks, @JasonG for the inspiring original BB TR! - Kat, Micah, and I biked from Dingford Creek TH to Dutch Miller Gap TH on Saturday at a humane hour: - We thoroughly approved of the Dutch Miller Gap trail. We camped at Lake Ivanhoe and did a good amount of hangin' at The Cove. I did not catch any fish but it's OK: - In the morning, we took the trail down and then tromped around and had some B1- open forest schwack for a bit, crossed Shovel Creek, then started up...I agree: the mega slabs were awesome!! So fun! That foot-then-handrail crack you describe/have a photo of was definitely memorable. I feel like none of these photos really do this route justice: - We scrambled the first bit of the summit tower, pitched out the chimney, then scrambled up to the summit of BB: - I agree the summit views were not the most amazing, Hinman and Daniel south sides in late summer... oof, so dry! Hinman cradling Lake Rowena and tiny part of Rebecca: Slightly more solid views: - We descended the SW face route. Happily, my partners nailed the complex descent while I attempted to keep up. Shout out to @Hoo for great chossy gully and cliff navigation. No one knocked rocks on each other and no one slipped on exposed 4th class. Hurray! We rapped the summit block (3x) and then down lower did two raps off cedars. Kat led, quite vocally, this memorable one: - The next morning we walked down the trail, stepped into the "timber" and did some B1+/B2- schwacking, then took a high traverse over to the notch and then up to Summit Chief. Summit Chief Lake basin was spectacular! - Glaciers around Chimney Rock from the summit: - The Cove delivered yet again that afternoon with blueberries and swimming and eating some of our last foods (so hungry): The ride out was awesome on my 2.25" tires until I learned some important life lessons about tubeless tires, sealant, and friends carrying the tire levers. (/snaffled) I felt lucky to have this adventure with Kat and Micah. Two very skilled, ridiculously fast climbers. Great people even if they do Strava...
  9. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Triumph - Memento Mori Trip Date: 08/29/2022 Trip Report: On Sunday, Duncan and I hiked out to Triumph with an open mind, and not quite enough food. We planned to repeat @rat & @lunger's east face route Memento Mori, but were open to more adventure if another line spoke to us. Turns out those jerks swiped the good one. The route was overall pretty high quality, with a good ratio of solid to portable holds. As far as we can tell, we followed their existing route except for pitch 5. Duncan build his belay at Tom's frayed rope (a single pink tricam girth hitched to a sling with the remains of a rope clove hitched to a non locker... yikes dude), which set me up for the hanging corner above. This roof went at probably 10- R due to an enormous moss clump that I had to face climb around on good, but unprotecable rock. The rest of the pitch offered little for pro, but enjoyable face climbing when the rock was good. My understanding is that Eric and Rolf belayed lower and face climbed up and right? Having pins made this belay feel comfortable, but are not necessary. Pitches six and seven are easy to follow and fun! Again, I used a beak to beef up the pitch six belay, but it was probably not necessary. Pitch Eight is the only one that didn't quite make sense. The FA description said to "Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge". I walked left and scrambled around to said ledge at fourth class. However to the right is a short corner that looks like it goes at 5.9ish. I'm assuming that was just a typo, but would love to hear if we missed something. We chose to skip the alpine experience and descend the NE ridge sans shiver bivy, getting back to the car around 9pm for a full day out in the mountains. Approaching up P1 4th/low5th It's a big imposing wall! Pitch 2 is pretty spectacular Starting up P3 Starting up our P5 "Bet ya can get a turf stick with the alpine hammer" -Duncan Ralph I climbed hard right, up the face and back left into the corner. Can't say I recommend this variation. Duncan cleaned Tom's remaining gear. Future parties shouldn't rely on this for routefinding. Pitch 6 low angle corner P7 is straight up fun climbing! @rat & @lunger, did you climb this corner to the right? What a wall! Gear Notes: Double rack very small to #1 and single #2-#4, Full range of nuts incl. brass We used a long knife blade and #2 beak. I was glad to have them, but Duncan was indifferent. 70M rope would give you more anchor flexibility Crampons Approach Notes: Standard NE ridge approach. Access the glacier from top left and traverse over to the base of the route.
  10. 6 points
    Trip: K2 - Abruzzi Spur Trip Date: 07/28/2022 Trip Report: K2 (28,261ft) Highpoint of Pakistan Second highest Mountain in the world July 28, 2022 Eric Gilbertson and Andreas Frydensberg No supplemental oxygen, independent unguided climb K2 as seen from basecamp June 13 – July 19 – Acclimate by climbing Broad Peak (26,414ft) July 20 – 22 – rest in broad BC after climbing Broad Peak July 23 – move to K2 BC in afternoon July 24 – climb to C2 6700m (I got hit by a big rock on the way up dislodged by descending climbers and was limping for next few days) July 25 – move to c3 7200m, evening summit plans thwarted by 20cm new snow so slept there in friends tent with only one sleeping bag July 26 – more unexpected snowfall, spend another night in c3 with no sleeping bags. We found an abandoned tent to shiver in all night. Food basically zero since we were delayed and ran out. July 27 – move to C4 7800m after weather cleared, then start up bottleneck 11pm in snow squall. July 28 – reach summit 8611m around 8am. We kept up with oxygen climbers most of the way. On descent I helped rescue two climbers near the bottleneck. Descend to c1 6000m in dark before a snow storm hit so stayed there for the night. July 29 – descend to K2 Basecamp 5000m July 30 – Aug 7 – hike out, drive back to Islamabad. Location of K2 K2 has a reputation as being the hardest mountain in the world. It is nicknamed the “savage mountain” and the “killer mountain”, and before this year it reportedly had a death rate of around 25%. K2 was first climbed in 1954, and by 2021 had only seen around 500 ascents. Many factors make K2 difficult. It is nestled deep in the Karakorum and takes nearly a week of trekking just to reach its base. In fact, it is so remote that there did not exist a local name for it. Surveyors gave it the name K2 for Karakorum 2, and the name stuck. It is the second tallest mountain in the world and the oxygen content is low enough at that height that most climbers will need to breath supplemental oxygen. Our route from Skardu The easiest route, the Abruzzi Spur, is very technical. The weather is notoriously bad with cold temperatures and extreme wind. I’m working on climbing the highest peak in every country on earth and K2 is the highpoint of Pakistan, so I needed to climb it. I’ve been working my way up increasingly higher and more difficult peaks over the years in preparation for a climb like this. Closer view of the route My first big peak was Denali in 2010. I gained more experience at high altitude and cold peaks with Mt Logan in Canada and a bunch of 6000m peaks in South America like Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Sajama. I’ve gained technical experience over the years putting up a new 30 pitch rock route on Mt Nirvana in NWT, climbing a mixed route on Noshaq (7492m) in afghanistan, and a long ice route at altitude on Shkhara in Russia. Last summer, 2021, I started climbing 7000m peaks in Kyrgyzstan. I climbed Lenin, Khan Tengri, and Pik Pobeda via the Abalokov route. All this experience of technical climbing at altitude gave me confidence I could give K2 a try, though success would be uncertain. The Abruzzi Spur route on K2 The biggest unknown for me would be how my body would perform at altitude. The highest I’d been was 7492m on Noshaq in Afghanistan. I did fine then, and I’ve never really gotten altitude sickness before, but K2 was significantly higher and I’ve heard things get much more difficult above 8000m. Of course, I could always use supplemental oxygen on the summit, like most other climbers, but that feels a little like cheating to me. The major difficulty of a mountain that tall is the height and lack of oxygen on the summit. By breathing supplemental oxygen you basically get around that difficulty and make the peak significantly easier. It’s similar to doping in my mind. I definitely wanted to climb K2 without supplemental oxygen. Some climbers higher a high altitude porter to accompany them to the summit carrying an oxygen canister to use just in case they need it. But this is unappealing to me compared to climbing without that porter and canister. To me it sounds almost like the difference between top roping and lead climbing. With top roping you can always weight the rope if you want and it is much easier but leading is more authentic and difficult. Similarly with oxygen there is significantly more commitment and difficulty to the climb if you are on your own, and I would consider the gold standard as not having any porters or sherpas supporting you with oxygen canisters. The team in Skardu I also wanted to climb it unsupported above basecamp. People have recently started climbing K2 with sherpas carrying all their gear and setting up their tents and guides leading the way and making all decisions. I definitely did not want to get guided up and didn’t want anyone else carrying my gear up. Acclimation hike to Mazur Rock overlooking Skardu Of course, I still wanted a reasonable chance of success, and that meant climbing the standard route, the Abruzzi Spur. This meant climbing with a bunch of other climbers. Inevitably they would help break trail, and I was ok with that. Also, because there would be guided groups they would of course fix ropes on crux sections for the clients. I was ok with paying to use fixed ropes on the mountain, as this is very standard practice on peaks like this. It would be silly to climb next to a fixed rope and not use it. I had previously used fixed ropes twice before – on Denali near 14 camp and on the upper slopes of Khan Tengri. Rough jeep track past Askole For acclimation we decided to climb Broad Peak first. Broad is one of the easier and lower 8000m peaks and made sense as my first 8000er. We would climb the standard west ridge route without supplemental oxygen and with no support above basecamp. We could see how our bodies reacted above 8000m and hopefully learn lessons to apply later on K2. We planned to acclimate very slowly and thoroughly on Broad to give us the best chance of success on K2. I know I often get impatient and want to tag a summit quickly, but the goal on Broad was complete acclimation, not a quick summit. Hiking in to Paiju I found a conservative Broad peak itinerary listed on the summitclimb guided group website, and we planned to use this as our baseline itinerary. We would do three rotations progressively higher to 7000m before a final summit push. If everything went well on Broad then we would request a K2 permit and go for K2. If for some reason we had a lot of trouble with breathing above 8000m on Broad then we could always skip K2. Passing trango towers near urdukas camp Acclimating on Broad would also be much safer than acclimating on K2. For some reason this year many more climbers planned to climb K2 than in any previous year. Around 400 permits were issued for K2 and in the past at most around 60 climbers ever climbed K2 in one season. I’m not sure what caused the increased popularity this year. This many climbers makes K2 dangerous. Rockfall below c2 is notoriously bad, and more climbers means more rocks. Also, c1 and c2 are very small and there’s no way this many climbers can fit at once. By acclimating on Broad we would only have to go up K2 once instead of doing multiple acclimation rotations. This would minimize rockfall exposure and time fighting for campsite space. Concordia Finally, it was likely that whenever we summitted Broad would coincide with the first summits on K2 (they are right next to each other and would likely have the same weather windows). We hoped that a majority of climbers would summit K2 in this first weather window and soon leave the mountain. Our strategy would be to wait for the next weather window ( if it occurred) and push for the summit then. Hopefully then the mountain would be free of climbers, rockfall danger would be minimal, campsites would be available, and there would be no waiting in line behind inexperienced guided climbers. Me at broad basecamp, looking back at k2 For logistics we wanted to go as cheap as possible to get our permits and get ourselves and our gear to basecamp. We went with Alpine Adventure Guides with Ali Saltoro and I could not have been more pleased. He is the cheapest operator for 8000ers in the Karakorum as far as I can tell and takes care of everything from the time you land in Islamabad to basecamp. He organizes all the permits and porters and transportation and you get a basecamp staff to cook meals down in basecamp. But you are completely on your own above basecamp. Ali is very well-connected with people in government and the military and if you need anything done he is the best man to talk to. He also knows tons of information on climbing history in the area and which peaks and routes are unclimbed. Some climbers pay up to $95,000 (Madison Mountaineering) for a guided climb up K2, but we paid just $4,800 for permits and service for Broad peak plus $2,000 for a K2 permit. One final piece of logistics is we needed reliable weather forecasts. In the past I’ve had friends inreach message me forecasts from online sites like mountain-forecast.com, but this is not super reliable. If our weather forecast is wrong it can cost a lot of time in failed summit attempts. This year and the past few years we’ve paid a professional meteorologist, Chris Tomer, to give us daily forecasts. Chris gave us forecasts last year on Pik Pobeda and Khan Tengri and was extremely accurate. He also previously forecast for the successful first winter ascent of K2 (by Nims and team in 2019) so we knew he knew the area well. He would send daily forecasts to my inreach as with last summer. Looking over camp towards Concordia With all the logistics sorted out I made one final decision, and that was to not tell anyone I was planning to climb K2. I know many climbers spread news about their plans far in advance to try to get sponsors and increase publicity, but I’m a fan of the climber mantra “send before you spray”. It seems weird to me to get publicity for something you haven’t yet done but are only planning to do. But more importantly, I didn’t want any external pressure to affect my decision making on K2. If I told a bunch of people in advance I was planning to climb K2, then I might feel pressure to push for the summit in dangerous conditions to not disappoint them. If nobody knew I was trying for K2, then I would have no reservations turning around if conditions weren’t right. Broad peak from camp So I said my plan was just Broad peak. If I didn’t do well at altitude on Broad I could always skip K2 with no shame and nobody knowing. The only people that knew about the possible K2 plans were my climbing partners Andreas and Marie and Ali Soltoro so he could get the permit if we needed it. I departed for Pakistan June 13 a few hours after submitting my final grades for Seattle University. Between June 14 – July 8 we flew to Skardu, took jeeps to past Askoli, trekked in to Broad basecamp, and did several rotations. Cramped camp 1 on Broad On July 8 we tried to summit Broad peak, and Andreas and I broke trail by ourselves all the way from c3 at 7000m to the col at 7900m. But then a storm rolled in and we had to retreat. We had felt ok at 7900m, even breaking trail, and thought that was enough data to convince us we could attempt K2 without oxygen. So back at basecamp we contacted Ali to complete the paperwork and payment for K2 permits for us. I hadn’t realized previously, but it is not normal to request a last minute K2 permit like this and is not easy. Most climbers get this permit months or a year in advance. The government wanted to send in a new liason officer from Islamabad for this, but that would take much too long. Ali made lots of calls and pulled strings, and our liason officer Zishan was also instrumental in helping us out. In the end we got the permit in just 5 days, as Ali had told us would be the case. Looking down from C2 on broad peak One day while waiting for good weather we walked up to K2 basecamp and talked to a few climbing teams. We talked to Marie’s Estonian friend Krisli at Madison Mountaineering and she said they were looking to go for the summit July 22. Interestingly, Madison had a ratio of two guides and 11 sherpas per client! I think they were on one end of the support spectrum and we were on the other. We heard Elite Expeditions led by Nims was guiding up the princess of Qatar, but she was kind of reclusive and we never saw her. I bet she had the absolute highest level of support. First summit attempt on broad looking down from c3 We also talked to Dawa at Seven Summit Treks and he was super friendly. I knew they had fixed a lot of rope on the route but he said we could use it without paying. He gave us a bottle of coke and we talked for a while until he needed to get back to work coordinating clients. On July 18 in the next weather window we summitted Broad peak, the fourth and fifth climbers of the season (since there were no fixed ropes at the top the guided groups had all turned around without summitting.) We made it back to basecamp July 19 and started our rest. We had essentially done five rotations up Broad peak, twice tagging near or above 8000m, and it seemed like our acclimation was very thorough. It was perhaps even more helpful for our K2 attempt that we had required two summit attempts on Broad, since this gave us another rotation. Second attempt on broad, approaching the false summit I was coughing a lot, but I knew from recovering from our first Broad attempt that it was not serious and would gradually go away. Climbers call this the Karakorum cough, and both Andreas and I had it. I think it was a result mostly of the dry air at altitude and me being dehydrated from the climb. Unfortunately for us there had not yet been any K2 summits, and we really needed to wait for the main wave of climbers to go up and down so the peak could clear out and be safer. We definitely did not want to get tangled up in a 400 person stampede for the summit. On Broad it had just been me, Andreas and our friend Bartek on the summit with three friends later reaching the top. Six people total summitting all day was a safe and reasonable number. Andreas on the summit of broad with k2 in the background We rested for a few days reading, sleeping, and eating a lot. Fidali and the cook team prepared tons of excellent food for us every day. The weather was great those first few days and I felt a bit bad sitting in basecamp, but I knew rest was important. After dinner july 21 just as it was getting dark I noticed headlamps high up on K2 above c4 on the shoulder. This was the highest I’d seen headlamps all summer. Later after 10pm we saw them progress above the bottleneck and we figured it must be a rope fixing team. This was great news since that meant the first wave would be going up soon. Me, Andreas and Bartek on the summit of broad Indeed, we later learned a team of five strong sherpas from Madison Mountaineering and Seven Summit Treks fixed lines from c4 that night, reaching the summit around 10:30pm. I was surprised they would go completely at night, but I suppose this was so clients would have time to follow and summit by sunrise. As the sherpas neared the summit the rush was on. Clients from Madison Mountaineering started up just before the sherpas finished, trying to be at the head of the pack. They ended up summitting at 230am, well before sunrise. Behind them was a huge lineup of between 150-200 climbers (I heard different estimates based on who I talked to). Apparently everyone was using supplemental oxygen except three climbers – Nims, a pakistani porter, and one more person. Everyone I heard of was part of a guided trip. Descending to basecamp The guided climbers with oxygen could get by doing just one acclimation rotation in advance up to 6800m before doing a summit push while climbers without oxygen would have to do at least three rotations to properly acclimate like we did. Thus climbers using oxygen could more easily summit in the first wave since they didn’t really need to acclimate as much while climbers not using oxygen generally had to go in a later weather window like us. I heard many climbers started using oxygen at c2 at 6700m, which means they had to have many oxygen containers hauled up for them by sherpas and porters to cover the rest of the climb. I later saw a video (by Mingma G) of a traffic jam just above the bottleneck and it looked agonizing. I’m very happy we weren’t tangled up in that. It sounded dangerous to be stuck in the lower section of that traffic jam in the bottleneck below a hanging glacier. The safest thing to do in that zone is to move as fast as possible. But, it was excellent news that most climbers would soon clear out from the route. We soon started making plans for our summit bid. We figured if everyone summitted on the 22nd, then they should be able to make it down to basecamp by the 23rd. So by the 24th the mountain should have cleared out. Chris said there was a little bit of snowfall expected on the 25th but there would be a second weather window the 26-28. Then by the 29th the jet stream would hit the summit with heavy snow and the climbing season would likely be over. From talking to guided clients it sounded like the standard summit push itinerary is to climb to c1 and sleep, then c2, then c3, then c4, then summit. This sounded way too slow, though. On our Broad peak summit push we had climbed directly BC to c3 (4800m to 7000m) then left for the summit directly that night. So almost a single push. A helicopter evacuation from BC. These were surprisingly common. I heard rumors some climbers faked injuries to get a free flight out. Otherwise the flight is $30k usd. Some rich climbers just paid to fly out. I’ve found that I generally don’t get a good sleep above 7000m, so we thought maybe we could skip camps and also avoid sleeping up high on K2. We were used to skipping camps on high peaks (for instance on Pobeda last summer on the Abalokov route we skipped every other camp). So our plan was to climb BC to c2 (5000m to 6700m) the first day, then leave the overnight gear at c2 and climb to c3 at 7300m the next morning, rest a few hours in a friends tent, then push on for the summit at 8pm. This would allow us to go fast and light above c2 and not try to sleep above 7000m where its difficult to sleep anyways. It would put us at c4 at 7600m around 11pm, which is the time our friends recommended starting up for the summit anyways. Then after the summit we would descend back to c2 to sleep. This meant in total we would just need to pack three days of food. The weather was supposed to be clear the morning of the 26th, so it seemed like a reasonable schedule. From my experience on Broad I knew I would have trouble eating anything above 8000m. So summit day we would likely not need to bring much food. But I still needed calories to function. To solve this problem I would put gatorade in both my nalgenes. Then I could ingest calories without throwing them back up like I had when I tried to eat hard food on Broad peak. From talking to Dawa we knew a guided team from SST (Seven Summit Treks) was also planning to summit the 26th, so there would be other climbers on the mountain to help with trail breaking if needed. But they were the only remaining guided team still planning to summit, and they were only five sherpas and five clients, so it would not be crowded. With 200 climbers already summitting and only a small amount of new snow forecast for the 25th, it seemed like we wouldn’t need to break any trail and could just march up in the existing track. So even if it were just us two we could make it up. Our plan seemed like it could work, assuming the forecast held, and we had the added benefit that the 27th and 28th could be backup summit days since they were also forecast to be dry. Moving to k2 basecamp With logistics hashed out and our permit in order we started packing up on the 23rd. Our basecamp at Broad peak was an hour hike from K2 basecamp, and we had three friends also with Alpine Adventure Guides who had a basecamp set up at K2 basecamp. So we planned to sleep with them that night to let us start our climb the 24th a little closer to the mountain. After lunch Andreas, I, and Marie set out in nice clear weather and hiked up to K2 basecamp. We had dinner with Serge, Mauritz and Corinne, who were resting after their last rotation on K2 and getting ready for their own summit bid. K2 basecamp. Much bigger than broad BC. Our cook, Honey, cooked up some excellent rice and dahl. Honey actually works as a cook for former prime minister Imran Kahn when he’s not on expeditions, and I can see why Imran Kahn hired him! That night I tried to get to sleep early in preparation for a big day the next day, but it was difficult. At 8pm our neighbors at the Madison Mountaineering camp started playing loud music and setting off firecrackers to celebrate the successful ascent and return of their two clients Krisli and Nelly. This lasted until 10pm, when our other neighbors in the Elite Expeditions camp started their own celebrations with even louder music and, of course, more firecrackers. I thought I had packed my earplugs but I had unfortunately left them in broad BC. That was a huge mistake. Also, unfortunately, Marie hadn’t fully recovered yet from Broad peak and was coughing all night. We were all sleeping on the floor of the cook tent, so it was impossible for me to sleep. At 11:30pm after three hours of unsuccessfully trying to sleep I picked up my sleeping bag and walked outside far away from our tent. I laid the bag directly on the ground and tried to fall asleep there. By this time Nims team at Elite Expeditions had finally run out of firecrackers and were merely blasting loud music. I was far enough away from our mess tent that this was the only noise I now had to contend with. Finally by 2am I managed to doze off, but was awoken by my alarm at 3am that it was time to move. Elite Expeditions was still partying hard with music blasting. They would continue until nearly sunrise. Marie was still coughing and we convinced her to take another rest day. It didn’t seem wise to start up K2 when still feeling sick. So it would be Andreas and I going up as a team and Marie following up independently. We had heard ropes were fixed up the whole route, so going up solo would be doable and reasonably safe. The weather window was supposed to be long enough that Marie should be able to summit a day or two after us. After eating some porridge and chapati we headed up around 4am. Mauritz, Corinne, and Serge had said they usually started up around 4am on their rotations and this seemed reasonable. We started out in our light hiking boots carrying our mountaineering boots on our packs, since the first stretch of the route was on rocky morrain. This made our packs heavy, but not as bad as on Pobeda last year (we made many comparisons between K2 and Pobeda, ultimately concluding K2 was easier). That time we needed to carry a 60m rope, a week of food, rock and ice racks and two tools each. But since K2 had fixed lines we could get by with just one ice ax each (to use just in case ropes got cut), with no rope or rack, and half as much food. We had considered taking a light rope for the bottleneck in case the ropes got cut by icefall while we were at the summit and we needed to rappel. This had happened in the 2008 accident on K2, when some climbers had to downclimb. But we figured there would be plenty of fixed line above the bottleneck and worst case we could cut that and use it to rappel if needed. We brought a few ice screws and v thread tool in case we needed to simul climb across the traverse section and make some anchors going down. If the ropes got cut before we ascended we could borrow some lower fixed rope and re fix the cut section while taking turns climbing with our two tools. This allowed us to save a bit of weight and move faster. Hiking up to advanced basecamp The trail out of BC was poorly defined but we roughly stayed on the rocks between the icy sections. By sunrise we reached the end of the rocks and started following occasional flags in the ice. We gradually gained elevation, and as we neared advanced basecamp we encountered more and more slippery icy sections. Finally we stopped and put on our olympus mons boots and crampons, and that made progress much easier. We eventually followed flags off the glacier on the left side and took the crampons off. Amazingly, I saw one patch of grass on the side in the dirt! That was the highest vegetation I saw on the whole route, at nearly 5300m. Looking back from ABC towards basecamp We reached ABC around 6am just as a sherpa and client were hiking down. There were two tents set up but nobody was in the camp. We carefully hid our light hiking boots under some rocks and put our crampons back on. Above us was a huge wide icy snow slope on the right bordered by a rock slope on the left. There were no obvious fixed lines but we could vaguely see old tracks on the snow on the rock snow border. Our friends had told us the route hugged this border, with the rope fixed on rock while the route followed the snow. Starting up the snow slope We started kicking steps up the snow and soon reached the start of the fixed lines sheltered behind a big cliff. A handful of hiking poles and other gear items were stashed in the rocks and we added our poles to the pile. It was unlikely they would be useful any higher. I was a bit disappointed that the fixed lines were the white Korean rope we had come to know from Broad peak. This is cheap static line that is sold in 200m sections in every mountaineering shop in Skardu. It is thin, frays easily, and does not inspire confidence. But as long as it just takes body weight statically it somehow works. I wasn’t complaining, though. Some other climbers had spent a lot of time and effort putting it up and it had apparently held for 200 climbers going up and down during the first summit wave. Looking back down the route Fortunately there were two independent lines, so I could put my ascender on the strongest-looking one and clip my backup to the other line. In general there would usually be at least two lines up the whole route. I clearly wasn’t the only climber mildly sketched out by the Korean line. To increase my confidence I would generally try to not weight the rope and only use it as backup. We slowly started up the route with Andreas in the lead, but it would soon get very dangerous. After 30 minutes we rounded a corner and heard a loud noise up above. Soon a big green oxygen canister came blasting down the slope like a missile! Then a second one blasted down just behind it! We frantically swung as far to the left as possible, with the missiles passing 15 ft to our right. We hung out sheltered behind a rock band watching amazed as a backpack, then sleeping bag, then pad rocketed down. Fortunately no person fell down, but it appeared a sherpa had somehow managed to lose the entire load of him or his client! Heading up After the slope settled we cautiously started up, very rattled. We would sprint from safe zone to safe zone, nervously glancing above us every few seconds. Frequently we would here mini helicopter noises and then rocks would zip by at lightning speed. Clearly a group of climbers above was being extremely careless. I think this is one dangerous consequence of guiding inexperienced clients up a major peak like this. They don’t necessarily have the mountaineering background to know the importance of being extremely careful with rockfall. As we got higher we had to cross one particularly long and risky section. At some point I heard yet another helicopter noise as a grapefruit size rock came hurdling down. I jumped to the side but at the last minute the rock took a wild turn and hit me directly in the calf! It went between my legs from the right, hitting me in the left leg. I bent over in pain and swore at the top of my lungs at the climbers above. I hoped they understood english, but I doubt it caused them to change their behavior. My calf was throbbing but miraculously the rock had missed my shin. It might have broken my leg if it had hit bone, it was going so fast. I had a huge black and blue mark but luckily no bleeding. I had to limp to keep going, but it seemed like the kind of injury that would gradually improve. We seriously considered turning around, but it looked like we were almost at the end of the snow slope and the rocky terrain above looked like it provided more protection. Up was safer than down at that point, so we continued up. Soon some sherpas and clients descended down, and I warned them to be more careful about rockfall. They said we shouldn’t be ascending so late in the morning, but that’s no excuse for sending rocks down! If we had ascended in the dark it might be more dangerous since we couldn’t see oncoming rocks to avoid them! Descending climbers really need to be more careful. It’s not difficult on that route to avoid dislodging rocks I now know. Camp 1. Not my favorite place to hang out We passed about 15 sherpas and clients coming down and they had all summitted in the July 22 wave. We had expected them to all descend on the 23, but I guess many were slower than we expected and were taking two days to descend. By 10am we finally reached camp 1 and stopped for a break. That was the first flat spot since ABC. The camp was deserted, with just a few tents still standing, likely abandoned. The camp stunk of excrement and had trash and flattened tents everywhere. There were perhaps 20 platforms created in the rocks and, precariously, in the snow at the edge of camp, but nearly all were empty. I was very happy to not have to camp there, especially when it was full. Looking up from c1 I was surprised how much trash was in this camp given that the camps on Broad were generally clean. Both peaks had a similar number of climbers registered for permits and c1 and c2 on Broad were also small. The only difference I can think of is K2 has almost exclusively guided groups while Broad had a high percentage independent groups. Perhaps independent groups clean up after themselves better and don’t leave old tents on the mountain? I’m not sure. It was actually a bit sketchy walking around in crampons through all the trash and discarded tents, but we found a place to sit and eat a snack. Heading up to c2 Soon two sherpas from Seven Summit Treks descended to camp and stopped to talk. They said there were only a few other climbers left above us on the route and they were coming down. That was great to hear the route would soon be empty and the rockfall danger would be much less. They confirmed the group of ten from SST was on their way up from ABC and were planning to summit on the 26th just like us. They also said the fixed rope up the bottleneck was high quality thick dynamic rope just put up July 21, and this boosted our spirits. Climbing to c2 They soon headed down and we continued up. I decided to power through the pain in my calf since it would likely improve with time. Just as we were leaving camp another rock whizzed down past us! It appeared camp 1 was not a totally safe zone, surprisingly. There must be a climber above us still, and we stayed vigilant watching above for projectiles. Many ropes to choose from! We followed more korean line up the rocks, and this was soon replaced by higher quality black rope. We were ultra vigilant not to dislodge rocks, and I’m pretty confident we were successful. It wasn’t very difficult. Heading up At one point we traversed through a small waterfall, then climbed a short snow slope and returned to rock scrambling. One solo Pakistani climber descended by us, and I think he was a porter ferrying a load down. At some points the fixed rope situation was almost comical. One anchor had literally 15 different unique strands of rope coming off! The trick was always to find the two strands that looked the newest and clip one with the ascender and the other with the backup line. Interestingly, in some places it looked like a Climbing the house chimney brand new 10mm orange dynamic line had been placed next to older Korean static line. But often the orange line was core shot while the Korean line was still holding together. Perhaps the Korean line was stronger than I gave it credit for. Though there were still plenty of places where it had been cut and tied back together. We eventually reached a small flat area with a single yellow Kailas tent pitched. Just above this we encountered the infamous house chimney. Looking down the chimney This is the first technical section of the abruzzi spur route, and is a 30m tall vertical chimney that goes at around 5.7. Long ago climbers left a metal cable ladder strung in the chimney, and there were two new fixed ropes in the middle (one was placed by our friends Mauritz, Corinne and Serge.) I’ve heard horror stories of climbers waiting hours in line for a chance to go up or down this section, but luckily we had it all to ourselves. I started up first and it was tricky squeezing through and up with a big pack but still pretty fun. I generally used the ladder rungs as handholds and stepped on ledges on the side. Looking down from c2 I didn’t notice it at the time but my friends later showed me pictures of a big loose boulder balanced above the chimney. Climbers have wrapped ropes around it to hold it up but they don’t look very effective if it actually got dislodged. It kind of reminds me of chain rock in Kentucky. Maybe it’s for the best we didn’t notice the boulder as we were climbing. Once I topped out Andreas started up while I waited. Above the chimney we passed a solo climber going down. He looked very tired and said he had summitted on the 23rd and was trying to make it to basecamp. We congratulated him, then made the last short climb up to c2 by 3pm. Tent platforms made from old tents Like c1, c2 was completely deserted. Four tents remained and they were all in tough shape and very likely abandoned. The trash situation in c2 was much worse than in c1. Most of the tent platforms were literally piles of old tents. There would be 10 flattened old tents, then a platform with a pile of trash on top. Empty fuel cans were everywhere, as well as food wrappers and all kinds of random junk. It’s as if climbers come down from the summit exhausted and decide they’d rather leave their gear and trash there and go down light and buy new gear later instead of carrying their gear down. This is terrible! All future climbers have to then deal with the trash! My LNT instructors from boy scouts would be appalled at this situation. Nice views down from camp Luckily I later learned a cleaning team is scheduled to go up and remove the trash if there’s a weather window. Hopefully this is what our $200 environmental fee is helping to fund. We looked around for a spot sheltered from the wind and the calmest spot ended up being on a pile of old tents. I cleared off some trash from the top and then we pitched Andreas’ ultralight MSR tent. We tied it off to some pickets on the surrounding platforms and threw our sleeping bags inside. Looking up towards the black pyramid I was quite concerned about finding clean snow, but luckily there was a good patch above the highest platform where I was quite confident nobody had pooped. There was actually a shovel there which appeared to be used to harvest clean snow. We carefully filled up a stuff sack of snow and brought it down to our tent. By that time one sherpa from SST made it up and he started setting up a big tent he had stashed there. Then he went to two of the abandoned tents and threw gear inside. The ethics about tent usage on K2 is interesting. The camp locations are so small that they can’t possibly sleep all climbers at the same time. But climbers generally leave tents set up in camp to claim spots. So the ethics are generally that you are allowed to sleep in a tent if it is empty, since there may be no spots available to pitch your own tent. This was formally agreed upon by all the major expedition leaders at a meeting in K2 BC at the beginning of the season to cope with the unprecedented crowds on the mountain. If you sleep in another person’s tent you obviously should leave everything inside undisturbed and zip it back up when you leave. But, unsurprisingly, many climbers are not very considerate. On Broad peak some climber slept in my tent in c2 (even though there were empty sites available they could have pitched their own). Then they left the door and vestibule unzipped right before a storm. When I found it the vestibule was ripped off, sides were ripped, and snow had filled the inside! In the future I will will lock the entrance of my tent on 8000m peaks. In c2 the abandoned tents all had their doors unzipped. This appeared to again be from inconsiderate climbers, unfortunately. But the SST sherpa had claimed a few and I knew they would be well taken care of that night at least. We soon cooked up some backpackers pantry freeze dried lasagna and settled in to the tent. We had a great view that evening of the Goodwin-Austin glacier 2000m below extending from BC down to Concordia. We could see Broad peak across the valley and could see the black pyramid looming above us. The sherpa soon went back down and returned with a pink backpack from a client. Later a few other sherpas and then a few clients made it up to camp. We talked to one client, a friendly lady from Poland. She had already climbed Nanga Parbat, Broad, and some 8000ers in Nepal. She said she was trying to climb all 14 8000ers this year and was going with Seven Summit Treks for all of them. Interestingly, by my count this year at least four women are each trying to climb all 14 8000ers (all guided using oxygen and heavy sherpa support). There’s the Polish lady with SST, a Norwegian lady with 8k, a Taiwanese lady, and an American. I suspect they were inspired by Nims’ amazing push in 2019 to climb all 14 8000ers in around 6 months. I was thrilled to hear this, since the Polish lady would be very motivated to reach the top of K2, meaning the sherpa guiding her would very likely push for the summit and be able to help us break trail if needed. By sunset the last few SST members reached camp and we went to bed. July 25 Heading up in marginal weather The tent was quite small but we stayed very warm and had a good sleep. We intended to sleep in with no alarm to try to catch up on sleep from our sleepless previous night in basecamp. I think the SST crew was similarly in no hurry since they had gotten to camp late the previous day. I poked my head out the door around 8am and unfortunately the weather was socked in with snow showers. Chris had predicted an inch of snow, so this wasn’t too surprising. I hoped maybe the system had just come in early and would then clear out early for our evening summit push. Amazingly, the night of rest had done wonders for my calf and it was feeling much better (still sore but not enough to cause me to limp). This was excellent news for continuing up the mountain. The black pyramid We took our time eating breakfast and at 9am it was still snowing. We got a morning update from Chris and he said there was considerable uncertainty in the days forecast. I didn’t like how things were looking but the sherpas said they were still heading up, and the Polish lady soon left camp going up. We considered spending another day in camp to wait out the weather. But it seemed like a huge advantage if we could go up the same day as the sherpas. I figured a bigger group would increase safety and give a better chance of success on the route if there was any trail breaking. The weather was supposed to clear that evening, so it seemed like our original plan was still good as long as we were ok walking through some snow showers and low visibility. But there were ropes on the route to follow, so visibility wasn’t concerning. And the predicted snowfall, one inch with low wind, shouldn’t be enough to increase stability concerns. The vertical rock step So we quickly packed up. We left the tent set up with sleeping bags inside, since we would go directly for the summit and come back to c2 to sleep. We also left a bit of food to eat when we came back. Once packed we headed up, with the Polish lady ahead of us and the rest of the SST crew still getting ready. Looking up the rock step The ropes were mostly newer, thick dynamic rope instead of the white Korean rope. We soon started climbing the black pyramid and it was pretty fun. There were steep scramble sections interspersed with snow slopes. At times the wind picked up, blowing snowing and decreasing visibility, but it didn’t last long. The trickiest part was another vertical rock section with two metal cable ladders and fixed lines hanging down. The rock was loose and wet, and it was a bit tricky climbing. Like in the House chimney I generally used the rock for footholds and pulled on the ladder for handholds. Andreas coming up At the base two climbers descended, then at the top I met three climbers coming down. One happened to be Sara Strattan, and she was also getting forecasts from Chris Tomer! She had summitted on the 24th when the weather was great. She said she had hired a high altitude porter to help carry gear and oxygen and she had used oxygen on summit day. I half wondered if I should have done that to increase chance of success, but I was still happy giving it a try unsupported without supplemental oxygen, even if we ended up bailing before the summit. The snow picked up then and stayed hard for a while. We caught up to the Polish lady at camp 2.5, where there were platforms for about six tents. Two empty tents were set up and I suspect they were abandoned. We passed the Polish lady and continued up. There were a few steep sections with core shot rope but generally the scrambling was fun and easy as before. Climbing the snow slope below c3 Eventually we reached the last rock, which signaled the top of the black pyramid. I let Andreas take over then and he led up a gentle snow slope with some light trail breaking. We passed the body of an Afghan climber who had died there a few weeks early from complications related to altitude sickness. Before long the slope leveled out and we were at camp 3, 4.5 hours of climbing up to 7300m. There were five tents set up and we quickly spotted the tent of our friends Serge, Mauritz and Corinne. The tent situation had a bit of confusion. Serge didn’t want us planning to sleep in their tent in case they needed to sleep in it the same night. That was understandable and we agreed. But Mauritz said it was ok to rest in it a few hours on our way up for the summit bid. And that was our plan. Camp 3 They had locked their door but we had the combination and went inside. There were no pads but we found some laying around outside and brought those in. For some reason c3 was much cleaner than the other camps with no obvious piles of trash or flattened tents. But I suspect this is because c3 is on the glacier and is a lot snowier than the other camps. The trash is likely just buried under the snow and not visible. We soon started melting snow and cooking up dinner in preparation for our evening summit bid. Before long one of the sherpas came up and threw some gear in a big SST Kailas tent. Then he threw more gear in an Elite Expedition tent. I think most of the tents were abandoned and he just started claiming the biggest ones for his team. Elite Expeditions had already summitted July 22 and wasn’t sending any more teams up, so they had clearly just abandoned their tent. Looking up from c3 It was still snowing by mid afternoon and I went over to talk to the sherpa. He said they were still planning to head up at 6 or 7 pm but he shook his hand like there was some uncertainty. The rest if his team still hadn’t made it up. I was feeling uncertain about the weather. With all this new snow the old tracks and fixed lines would be covered up. Navigation would be difficult in the dark and I was starting to worry about stability. There was a steepish snow slope above c3 (the camp itself appeared safe though). The old snow had had a week to stabilize but the new snow was starting to be enough to maybe slide. If it were just me and Andreas I would delay by a day and maybe go up in the daylight if the snow stopped soon. If the team of ten SST climbers went up that night, though, I would be tempted to follow since the route would be found, trail broken, and stability tested ahead of us. Camp 3 I radioed Zishan at basecamp and interestingly he said BC was hot and sunny and he could see the summit of K2 in the clear most of the day, but there was a middle layer of clouds stuck on the mountain. It appeared it was only snowing on mid elevations of K2, and we were stuck in the snow. A few more hours passed and it continued snowing. The rest of the SST crew trickled in. By 7pm I got an evening update from Chris and he said it would dry out at 10pm. That sounded too late to wait. We wanted to hit the summit the next morning when the wind would be low. By afternoon it was forecast to increase. I told the sherpa our forecast and he agreed it was best to delay. So the plan was to go up the 26th in the afternoon and summit the 27th. This put us in a bit of a dilemma. We’d only brought enough food to summit the 26th, and hadn’t brought sleeping bags to spend the night at c3. For better or worse our appetites get suppressed a lot at altitude, so we figured we could stretch our food another day. We weren’t supposed to be sleeping in the tent that night, but since it wasn’t conflicting with our friends sleeping plans that night we decided to sleep there instead of descending all the way to c2. We would just wear all our down jackets and down pants. The temperature for the summit was supposed to be around -10f/-2f, which was much warmer than normal, and we figured it would be above 0f down at c3. So it could probably work. Luckily we even found one sleeping bag in our friends tent, which we could use as a blanket. I thought back to early July when our friend Nico was alone at c3 on Broad peak on a summit push and had accidentally dropped his sleeping bag down the mountain. We had let him sleep in our tent using my down jacket stashed there as a blanket. He made it through the night ok so we figured we’d be ok too. It kept snowing hard until 10pm, then stopped just as Chris had predicted. I saw stars outside and hoped things would stay cleared out and stabilize. In total it had snowed about 8 inches, much more than expected. The night was chilly but we managed to stay warm enough to get some good sleep. Clear views in the morning July 26 The next morning dawned sunny, but it didn’t last long. By late morning it started snowing again and I started getting nervous about our summit chances. The forecast was for high sun and low clouds, but it appeared we were stuck in the low clouds and they had unexpectedly high moisture content. We stayed resting in the tent and early afternoon started melting snow. Looking towards China from camp Soon more climbers started showing up. A handful were more SST clients and a few independent climbers showed up. Flor from Peru and Iman from Iran were independent climbers and had left the tent next to ours, which they crawled into. Soon Serge came up and he was not happy to see us in his tent. I quickly got out with all my gear so he wouldn’t get more angry. I gave him my fresh nalgene of boiling water to warm his cold fingers and I think this smoothed things over. We hopefully just needed to hang out a few more hours before moving up, and shouldn’t need to sleep another night. The plan was to move up at 7pm with SST again. But since it was snowing it would be nicer to rest in a tent. Views toward broad peak Our sherpa friend saw me getting out and motioned to an abandoned tent at the bottom of camp. He said it was nobody’s and I was free to use it. I went over but then a client started eying it. He clearly had his own tent brought up by the sherpas but just didn’t want to set it up. I told him we just needed to rest a few hours in a tent before heading up and were hoping to use that one. He looked annoyed but reluctantly acquiesced and let me go inside. The tent was nice and big, but the snow underneath had collapsed under half of it so the space was actually small. More views towards broad I threw my gear inside and Andreas soon joined. I went outside to melt snow and soon met Mauritz climbing up. He said Corinne had gotten hit by a rock below c1 and decided to turn around. It wasn’t serious, but she didn’t want to risk getting hit again. Their plan was to move to c4 the next day and summit the 28th. I told them we planned to move up that night if the weather cleared, but it wasn’t looking good yet. Inside the tent we made some interesting discoveries. The owner had left two freeze dried meals, a pair of small women’s down pants, and a fuel bottle with a little bit of fuel. This was perfect for us! The sherpa said the tent was abandoned so I felt ok using these items. We were short on food and fuel so they would potentially be useful. If we hadn’t found these we would still have managed with our food and fuel, but they were nice to have. We cooked the food for dinner with the extra fuel. Then Mauritz was kind enough to give us a little extra of their food they didn’t need since Corinne had turned around. So we had sufficient food for that day. The snow continued and by 6pm we talked to the SST sherpas and agreed it was wise to delay another day. But based on our forecast and food supplies that was as long as we could hold out. We had to either move up for the summit the next day or move down to our gear at c2 or lower. Plus, the jet stream was supposed to move over K2 on the 29th, so really the 28th appeared to be our last shot. The SST client appeared now to be annoyed at us that we weren’t moving up after all. I think his main annoyance was that he had to pitch his tent! I told him it was just snowing too much to be safe and we had to delay. I promised we’d help break trail for him if we were moving up together. That night would prove to be rougher than before. We really wanted to stay at c3 so we could move directly up for the summit push. But we didn’t have sleeping bags, not even one to use as a blanket. If we descended to c2 to retrieve our tent and bags and extra food it would likely take too much energy for us to be able to make a summit bid. So we reluctantly decided to spend the night without sleeping bags in that abandoned tent. It was supposed to be a similar temperature as the previous night, probably around 0F, and seemed marginally tolerable. For reference, last summer we had attempted a single push ascent on Khan Tengri but at midnight my partners got tired out and needed to sleep at 5500m. So I gave them all my spare clothes and backpack to sleep on in an open bivy while I did jumping jacks and melted snow all night without sleeping. I made it through that night no problem, and this night looked to be considerably more comfortable, so I was not concerned. We removed two of our scavenged pads from Mauritzs tent (and left them one to be nice) and placed these in our tent. We put on all our layers – down jacket and down pants- and wore our boot liners. We then each put one leg up to our shin in the small down pants we’d found and the other leg in our packs. We huddled onto the pads and got close. The floor space wasn’t big enough for us to lay on our backs so we laid on our sides. The night started out ok but later it got windy and cold. I had to force myself to shiver every once in a while to warm up and occasionally had to wiggle my toes so they didn’t freeze. We had to adjust the pads some so we each had two underneath. Eventually, amazingly, I fell asleep. Improving weather on the 27th July 27 Somehow we each managed to get several hours of sleep in and seemed sufficiently rested by morning. I think it helped that we had napped a bit the previous day when it was warmer out. By morning my remaining food was a bag of gatorade and four bars. I gave Andreas a bar, ate one for breakfast, and saved the last two for summit push. We had to make a summit attempt today with or without the sherpas and I went outside to rally some help. By now the weather seemed to finally be clearing. Preparing for the summit push I knew from trail breaking on Broad peak that if it were just me and Andreas it would be a lot of work and go very slowly. But Serge and Mauritz said they would join at 10am. Then Flor and Iman said they would also join. So we had six oxygenless independent climbers planning to join forces for trail breaking. If we rotated often that might just work. I talked to the three Italians going without oxygen and supported by SST. However, they would only go if the sherpas went. I’m not sure why. I then went to the the sherpas and told them the six of us were going up at 10am. I think this might have pushed them over the edge and convinced them to go. They said they would also go up at 10am. Leaving camp This was great news! A bigger group of climbers, including sherpas with oxygen who were familiar with the route, would definitely increase our chance of success. By then the sun disappeared and we were back stuck in the clouds. I radioed basecamp and Zishan said the summit was in the sun, though. So it appeared we were just stuck in a middle cloud layer that we might be able to pop out of. If we were lucky the upper mountain might have gotten significantly less snow than we had gotten. The sherpas got ready fast and some started up at 9am with clients, all wearing oxygen masks. We took our time more and headed up closer to 10am as planned. I felt a little bad not being at the head if the pack breaking trail, but they had a huge advantage breathing supplemental oxygen and trail breaking would be much easier for them. Starting up the snow slope By the time we started up visibility was again low. We followed the other climbers up slowly. The fixed line was back to the old Korean rope, but it didn’t really matter on the gentle snow slope. Higher up as the slope angle decreased we eventually popped out above the clouds as expected! Mauritz was having trouble with a cough and stopped for a break as we passed. The weather finally clearing At one point I found a lone crampon laying in the trail. Somehow it had fallen off a climbers boot. I picked it up and carried it up to give it back to its owner. I figured it was probably a careless client but it turned out to be from Andreas! I would now be nervous the rest of the climb. He had lost a crampon descending from Pobeda last summer and that was very dangerous. I did not want that to be repeated on K2. The route near camp 3.5 We soon passed a group of Polish climbers without oxygen stopping to take a break. Then we reached camp 3.5 on a small flat slope and we had caught up with the sherpas. A team of five sherpas was working hard to break trail and I commend them for their effort. It seemed futile for us without oxygen to try to help them so we took a break with the other climbers. Nice views towards china The views were great across the valley to broad peak and up the Goodwin-Austen glacier into China. Down glacier we could see Chogolisa and Concordia in the distance. Eventually the clients with oxygen joined back up with the sherpas and we followed behind. The route steepened up another snow slope to another small flat area below a serac. There were two tents here (abandoned) and I guess you could call this camp 3.7. Just above camp 3.7 Above this we climbed and traversed one final snow slope and at last popped out at c4 on a broad flat shoulder. The bottleneck and the famed hanging glacier loomed above, though far enough away not to be dangerous. I was amazed to have read so much about this area and seen so many pictures and now finally I was seeing it in person. It looked less intimidating than I expected, but of course I hadn’t yet climbed it. The bottleneck seen from camp 4 My watch read 7600m and I was feeling great. It was only early afternoon and we didn’t plan to head up until 11pm (to put us on top in the morning when the wind was supposed to be low). So we had a lot of hours to hang out. In retrospect we should have brought a tent. We had originally planned to start up from c3 in the evening and pass quickly through c4, but that hadn’t happened. There were three Kailas tents that SST clients were using and two 8k tents other climbers jumped in. Closeup view of the bottleneck I found a flattened Kailas tent and our sherpa friend said I could use it if I could repair it. I went over and started excavating it, but then one of the Italians rushed over and started trying to dig inside it while i was working on it! “What are you doing?!” I asked. He said he was taking a pad from it. But SST sherpas had already provided a tent and gear for the Italians! It seemed pretty mean for him to come steal gear from us. I didn’t want to start a fight so I just asked that he please leave us a pad if there were two (even though it wasn’t his gear in the first place). Luckily there were two pads and he quickly took the bigger one and left without saying anything more. I guess for some mountaineers it’s every man for himself on 8000ers. It took me a while to dig out the tent and put it up, and I spent some time trying to fix the poles. There was a partly full fuel tank, reactor stove, and a bag of nuts inside which I salvaged. Meanwhile Flor and Iman watched me working hard and offered that Andreas and I could just rest in their tent. They had gotten permission from 8k to use one of the big 8k four-person tents already up there and they had plenty of room for us inside. Plus it would be warmer with four people instead of two. That was extremely nice of them and we accepted their offer. We brought over our pad and hung out inside melting snow and telling stories. It turned out the reactor stove I found worked a lot better than Andreas’s stove for some reason so we ended up just using that. We munched on the nuts I found and my last handful of trail mix but saved our remaining few bars and gatorade for the summit push. We all planned to start up at 11pm, though the sherpas wanted to start earlier around 8pm or 9pm. They wanted to get the clients all the way back down to basecamp after summitting the next day. We were told it would take around ten hours to reach the summit without oxygen and I wanted to be passing through the bottleneck after sunrise when it wasn’t quite as cold. I’d had trouble keeping my fingers and toes warm on Broad peak, and had previously gotten frostbite on Pik Pobeda last summer, so I wanted to be extra careful on K2. I’d heard the lack of oxygen makes you more susceptible to frostbite if you go without supplemental oxygen. Luckily the forecast temperatures for K2 were actually slightly warmer than the temperature had been on Broad peak so I suspected I would be ok. Though less oxygen on K2 could complicate things. By sunset we decided to take a nap to rest up before pulling an all nighter summit push. By now we were getting used to sleeping without sleeping bags, though I really wish the Italian hadn’t stolen the other pad. We put our pad down but it wasn’t quite big enough for both Andreas and I to fit. So I had to lay down half on and half off the pad. We wore all our clothes but I was still cold. I put a boiling nalgene between my legs and one on my chest and that helped a bit. Forced shivering also helped. Somehow I managed to doze off and get at least an hour of sleep. But by 830pm there started to be a lot of commotion outside as the guided group headed up. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, and by 10pm our alarms finally went off to get started. I ate my second to last bar for “breakfast” and waited while Flor and Iman heated up water and cooked food. There wasn’t a whole lot for me and Andreas to do to get ready since we didn’t really have food to eat, we’d already heated up water before bed and added gatorade to it, we were already wearing all our clothes, and we didn’t have sleeping bags to pack up. Finally 11pm rolled around and we thanked Flor and Iman for their hospitality and said we would start up. We slipped our boots on, strapped on our crampons, and started up. Just as we were leaving camp, though, we saw a light coming up from below. It was Serge! He and Mauritz had camped at camp 3.5 but Mauritz was coughing a lot and couldn’t continue. So Serge was going up solo. He asked if there was a tent he could rest in and we directed him to rest in our spot in Flor and Iman’s tent, which they graciously allowed. We then started up. It was unfortunately snowing then but we could faintly see lights from the guided group up ahead. Andreas led the way with me following. I took my time trying to maintain a constant heartrate while Andreas moved faster. After an hour we broke above the clouds and snow and I could at last see stars overhead. Maybe it would clear after all! I also saw flashes of lightning in the distance, and later learned our friends Jeff and Priti on K7 Central got caught in a thunderstorm that day. We were lucky it wasn’t over K2! I was surprised there was no fixed line on the route for navigation, but the slope was very low angle at the beginning. It soon steepened, though, and I took out my ice ax. As I got closer to the bottleneck and the slope steepened more I eventually encountered a good fixed line which I clipped to. Looking up the bottleneck towards the traverse I was comforted that I didn’t see any signs of debris even though we were under a massive hanging glacier. I’ve heard that there haven’t been any major accidents under the hanging glacier since the 2008 incident. This makes me think the bottleneck isn’t quite as risky as people make it sound. For sure it’s a high consequence area but I think there’s still a low probability of icefall. The bottleneck was mostly a snow climb with short sections of rock (though this changes from year to year). It never got very steep, probably less than 50 degrees, and wouldn’t be a big deal to climb unroped with an ice ax if needed in those conditions. Interestingly there were a handful of intermediate rock outcrops that would provide shelter from icefall, and I felt ok taking short breaks there to catch my breath. Halfway up I noticed a headlamp approaching rapidly and I stopped to let a sherpa with oxygen pass. I later learned he would summit in around 12 hours BC to summit, which is now the speed record with supplemental oxygen. At the top of the bottleneck I finally caught up to Andreas, who had caught up to the three Italians. They had started two hours before us but I think the lack of oxygen was affecting them more than it affected us since we were moving much faster. Sunrise starting I scrambled up a last rock step and was at the base of the hanging glacier. From there the route traverses a narrow snow and rock ledge to the left end of the hanging glacier before cutting steeply up. I waited to give the Italians a head start on the traverse so we could spread out a bit. It was still dark then and we hadn’t quite stuck to the plan of doing the bottleneck after sunrise. But I guess it was hard to predict we would move that fast above 8000m. After the Italians made it across I started over carefully. There were two fixed ropes and I clipped both. The snow track was only 10″ wide and very exposed, so I took my time to avoid slipping. One section was a rock slab covered in a dusting of snow, and that was a little sketchy, but I soon made it across. After the tesverse the route went up very steeply, but I felt relieved to no longer be under the hanging glacier. It must have been cold if my exhale was freezing to my face I recalled reading a report from famous professional mountaineer Adrian Ballinger who climbed K2 without oxygen (with three sherpas supporting with oxygen) and he said it took six hours to get through the danger zone. I had assumed this would be a lower bound for us amateur mountaineers of time in the danger zone. However, somehow we had gotten through in just three hours. I was very pleased to have beaten my expectations and reduced time in that risky area. Around the corner I noticed the sun was finally starting to rise. This meant it would soon warm up, but was currently the coldest part of the night. A steep section after the traverse It was about then I noticed my fingers and toes starting to go numb. I could easily warm my fingers by making a fist in my BD trigger finger mitts and doing the “penguin dance” trick to send a surge of blood to my finger tips. It was harder to warm my toes, though. I’ve never had a problem with cold toes before this summer. I’ve climbed big cold peaks like Denali and Logan where it was -20F on top but my toes were always warm. More snow slopes This summer on Broad peak near the summit ridge I started having trouble keeping my toes warm and now I had the same problem on K2, even though the temperature was probably closer to -10F. My only thought is it must be an affect of so little oxygen in the air and me going without supplemental oxygen. To warm up my toes I ended up kicking my feet out in various directions and curling my toes back and forth quickly for a few minutes. This would generally rewarm them, but after ten minutes I would need to do it again. Still, I caught back up to the Italians at a steeper section and continued up the rope. Surprisingly they got very angry at me and told me not to touch the fixed rope. They said I needed to use my ice axe. This was perplexing. The whole point of a fixed rope is that you use it to help your ascent. You don’t need your ice ax if a rope has been fixed. I touched the rope anyways and they yelled furiously to get off. They were really mean. My only thought is the lack of oxygen was affecting them psychologically. I felt the safest strategy was to stay far away from them. So I spent the next ten minutes standing at the anchor warming my toes and fingers. When it looked like they were safely away I yelled up to ask if they were off the rope and they said yes. Then I cautiously started ascending. This section got very icy, but so many people had climbed on the 22nd that many places had steps kicked into the ice. But the sections without steps were somewhat awkward. Higher up there were often several ropes to choose from and I made sure not to touch any ropes the Italians might be on. Around 8400m I passed a dead climber curled up and tied to a rope. I later learned he was an Icelandic climber that had died on a 2021 winter attempt. I think it was too risky to remove the body from that altitude. The final slope to the summit Above the body the slope gradually eased and got snowier. I briefly lost focus and touched a rope one of the Italians was on, and he yelled back at me, furious again. “Calm down, it’s a fixed rope. You’re touching it and I’m also allowed to touch it” I said back to him. He turned around and continued climbing up. At this point I could see the group of oxygen climbers ahead and I had nearly caught up to them. But it seemed like my pace started to slow a bit above 8500m and they started pulling away. I wanted to go faster to catch up to Andreas and I had the energy, but now I was stuck behind the Italians. I was worried I would really piss them off if I tried to pass or asked to pass, and I didn’t want to find out the consequence. So I maintained a safe distance behind going at a slow pace. Soon a sherpa started descending rapidly and it was the one that had passed me in the morning on the speed ascent. Then I noticed another climber coming up behind rapidly. Andreas coming down He closed the distance between us amazingly quickly and soon passed me. He had oxygen, of course, and was from Elite Expeditions (not Nims though). He had also started in basecamp last night and would get a time of 14 hours to the summit. Shortly later the guided SST crew started their descent down from the summit. I thanked the sherpas for their hard work breaking trail. Amazingly, going at the modest speed behind the Italians I didn’t really have any trouble breathing. I was always able to catch my breath by taking in a big gulp if needed and didn’t need to do pressure breathing. I didn’t have a headache and was feeling ok. Of course, I’m sure that would have changed if I was breaking trail or pushing to go faster, but it seemed like I was doing ok overall at that altitude. On the summit Soon I neared the summit and passed Andreas on his way down. He had managed to pass the Italians and make it up earlier but was now eager to descend. Around 8am I popped put on the summit ridge and met the fast sherpa taking a video. We exchanged fist bumps and then I marched the last few steps to the highest point, a cairn covered in prayer flags. I was amazed to make it the whole way with no supplemental oxygen and no adverse altitude effects. It had taken nine hours from c4, though if I could have gone my own speed I could have shaved off some more time and summitted with Andreas. The Italians and I were the only ones at the summit cairn, and I appreciated the lack of crowds. By now they were in good spirits and all my past infractions seemed to have been forgotten. Summit panorama One of them was nice enough to take a few summit pictures of me and I returned the favor taking pictures of them. I think they had a lot of sponsors since they had a lot of flags to get in different pictures. It seems like Andreas and I were some of the only unsponsored climbers I heard of to make the summit, but that’s fine with me. Unfortunately the summit was stuck in the clouds and I didn’t get any views. I imagined the views would be similar to those I got on the summit of Broad, and those had been spectacular. I radioed Zishan to tell him we made the summit and he congratulated us and told us to be careful on the descent. I spent a little time looking for a summit rock (no luck) then a bit more time taking pictures of the whiteout. Last look up at the summit I was soon getting antsy to head back down, though. In my experience it’s a bad idea to spend too much time on a high altitude summit. Eventually bad altitude effects start kicking in. So I soon started my descent. The angle was low enough that it was most effective to do an arm wrap descent instead of rappelling. I made quick progress down, and met a few climbers on their way up. Flor and Iman were looking strong and Iman gave me a fist bump and congratulations. I caught up to Erix and Dorje from SST and got slowed down a bit. Erix was rapping down each section while Dorje and I descended with arm wraps. We soon reached the steep icy bit and one Polish climber was still ascending. I worried he would be topping out pretty late. He told me a French climber wearing purple was in trouble down below and I should help if possible. Lower down just above the dead body I saw Erix and Dorje stopping and taking a while to descend. I waited until they unweighted the rope so I could rappel. I later learned that the French climber in trouble was Benjamin, from our group! He had told us he would try to climb from basecamp to the summit in one push without oxygen that day to try to break the speed record. He had already set an amazing new Broad peak speed record (7.5 hrs bc to summit) a few weeks earlier so I had assumed he would have no trouble on K2. But in fact he had passed out near the dead body due to effects from altitude. He would later tell us he lost his memory of that time. Dorje graciously gave Ben his own oxygen container and mask. This brought Ben back to life and he started down slowly. Meanwhile I started rappelling down once the rope got unweighted. I made it a few more rope lengths, always being careful to choose the newest-looking rope. But then there was a traffic jam below and I had to wait at a sketchy anchor with a small stance. It appeared Serge was coming up and we had to wait to let him pass. There wasn’t any room at the anchor for anyone else and I yelled up for the descending Italians to wait a minute until the jam cleared. They said ok bit still continued rappelling down! So I pulled one of the ropes taught like a fireman belay to force them to stop. “There’s no room at this anchor, just wait a minute until climbers clear below me and you can come down,” I said. Starting the traverse back They said ok, so I released the rope. But then they just continued rapping to the anchor anyways! I was very frustrated with them. They got to the anchor and it got very sketchy trying to balance with them there. Maybe their judgement was still being effected by lack of oxygen. Eventually Serge passed and I made a few more raps to the start of the traverse. There I saw Erix and Dorje waiting while another climber in purple was standing the middle of the traverse not moving. Eventually the climber made very slow progress across and I started across the traverse. On the other side the slow climber slipped and fell, sliding 10 ft down the snow slope before the rope caught him! At that point I recognized his helmet, pack, and jacket and realized it was Ben moving down slowly. The italians coming across I made it across the traverse and Ben had gotten back up and climbed up to the anchor. By then the Italians also made it across. The Italians then revealed that one member of their group, Pietro, had snow blindness and needed help getting down. So we had two climbers in need of assistance getting down the bottleneck. I suspected Dorje would need to help Erix get down since Erix was a client, so it was unlikely they could help. Francois, one of the Italians, volunteered to help Ben down while I would help Pietro. We were figuring this out standing in the danger zone below the hanging glacier and I was very eager to speed things up and get moving quickly. So I told Dorje and Erix to start down immediately. They soon cleared out and there were two ropes heading down. Ben started down one under Francois’ supervision and I went down the other. I made sure Pietro was attached to the correct rope first then I put him on a fireman belay when I got to the bottom. Rapping the bottleneck In general there were two ropes on every pitch, which was very helpful. I would generally go down first then yell up instructions for the other guys. (Some rope rigging was not standard and required us to do things differently). We generally moved quite efficiently, and soon reached the end of the fixed rope and the end of the steep section. By then Bem seemed to be doing much better and Pietro said he would be ok unassisted from there. We followed our tracks down and eventually were low enough that I considered us out of the danger zone from the hanging glacier. By then we were in a whiteout and the tracks below had mostly drifted over. Descending in the whiteout We soon caught up to Andreas and two other climbers sitting and resting. They had lost the tracks and were waiting for other climbers to help. I had recorded the ascent on my watch GPS and noted our up tracks were a bit to the right. I was about to start down when two sherpas came from behind. Without hesitation they continued breaking trail down. It was an easy choice to follow them since they seemed so confident. Back to c4 The trudge back took a while and balance was a bit difficult without hiking poles, but by noon we arrived at camp 4, 13 hours after leaving. I was amazed that I still had plenty of energy. The only things I’d eaten all day were a cereal bar at 10pm and 1.5 liters of gatorade during the climb. But that was enough to keep me going and I hadn’t thrown up the gatorade or the bar. My remaining food was just some more gatorade powder and one bar, though. There was plenty of daylight left and we decided to make it down as far as possible. But first we needed to melt some snow to rehydrate. Descending to c3 We stopped off at Flor and Iman’s tent and melted a few liters of water. I put in some aqua tabs and we waited the 30 minutes for it to kick in. We needed a rest anyways since we hadn’t really rested the whole climb except for a few minutes on the summit. Once the water was ready I chugged half a liter and ate my last bar while Andreas ate some leftover nuts. Then we were ready to head down, with our food officially reduced to zero. Descending to c3 We made quick progress rappelling and arm wrap descending down towards camp 3. Just above camp we passed a solo climber going up and it turned out to be Dennis Urubko ( though I didn’t know this at the time). I asked when he planned to summit but he didn’t want to tell me. I was confused why he was so secretive but I wished him good luck. Shortly below we passed Marie climbing up. We told her Chris had forecast good weather the next morning but bad in the afternoon so a summit was possible if she was quick. She sounded kind of sick and we were a bit concerned but she was determined to give it a shot so we wished her luck. Descending to c3 Back at camp 3 we met back up with Ben. He had just unfurled his paragliding wing and was getting ready to fly back to basecamp. That would surely cure any altitude sickness symptoms quickly! I wished I could fly down, but I think it seems a little too risky to me. I’m sure Ben is experienced enough to be safe, though. Once packed he pulled up the wing, ran downhill, and then was airborne. It looked very fun and I think he was back to BC within 20 minutes. Descending to c2 We took a short break and then continued our descent. We soon caught up to a sherpa and client moving slowly and they kindly let us pass. In general we rappelled the steep sections and arm wrapped the low angle sections with our safety backup clipped on. The weather occasionally cleared to give views of the glacier below but was usually in the clouds. By 5pm we reached camp 2, which was deserted. Unfortunately the front of Andreas’s tent was ripped open, possibly by the wind. Luckily our sleeping bags inside were undamaged, though. At c2 This made camping at c2 kind of unappealing, especially if the weather turned bad. We could always crawl in one of the abandoned tents or just repair ours with a lot of duct tape, but we started thinking it might be best to just descend all the way to basecamp. That way we wouldn’t have to sleep in the dirty c2 or c1 and we could maybe avoid rockfall since it was unlikely any other climbers would be descending at night. It was a tough call, though, since if any rocks fell at night we couldn’t see them to avoid them, but it was very unlikely rocks would be dislodged with no climbers to dislodge them. Looking down from c2 We quickly packed up and headed down around 6pm. We rapped the House chimney and worked our way down the scramble section. I led the way and the trickiest part was usually finding the most trustworthy looking rope to rap down. Once I found it then Andreas would follow the same one. At least going down I knew the rope wasn’t core shot since I could inspect it starting from the anchor. When ascending I would have no ide of the rope quality above me. Darkness soon set in and we descended by headlamp. But we could always follow the ropes so navigation was no problem. Darkness setting in We eventually neared c1 but by then the wind picked up and it started snowing. Conditions were actually pretty nasty. We took a short break at c1 and considered our options. If we continued we were basically committed to descending the whole way since there weren’t really any more flat campable spots. But the weather could get worse. While descending I had actually heard one or two rocks whiz by and in the dark I was kind of nervous I couldn’t see to jump out of the way (they were likely dislodged from a client and two sherpas I later learned were descending above us). Rapping the house chimney But if we camped we’d have to try to repair the broken tent. However, we did see one big abandoned tent in c1. I poked my head inside and it was in good condition and snow free. So we decided to ride out the storm there. We threw out our sleeping bags and crawled inside them around 1030pm. It felt kind of weird sleeping in a sleeping bag after the previous three nights of shivering without bags. But I soon got used to it. We had a small bit of food now that we’d stashed in c2 but for some reason I wasn’t really hungry, despite eating basically nothing the past 24 hours. I figured I’d make up for it back in basecamp. Camp 1 We soon went to bed amidst the loud howling wind and blowing snow. July 29 The next morning I was awoken by talking outside around 6:30am and it sounded like the client and sherpas had also spent the night at c1 and were now heading down. At first I was delighted that they would below us and couldn’t knock rocks down on us. Looking down towards basecamp We quickly packed up and started down. After 10 minutes we caught up to them and I recognized them as SST sherpas and client. I thanked the sherpas for their hard work breaking trail. Descending from c1 Unfortunately they were very slow though. The client did not look very confident rappelling and one sherpa would go next to her on a parallel strand each rappel while the other sherpa stayed up high. It was agonizing for Andreas and I to be going one third of our normal speed and wait so long at the anchors. Soon rockfall started coming down around us and we knew more climbers were descending. The safest action was to get down as soon as possible to leave the danger zone. We cursed ourselves for not waking up earlier. At the end of the fixed ropes. Fortunately the sherpa said it was ok if we passed, and I went around and arm wrap descended for speed. The lower ropes had all gotten cut (probably from rockfall) and retied so they were too tight to rappel, so I ended up arm wrap descending most of the rest of the way. Looking down at ABC I would look up every ten seconds for rockfall and had to jump out of the way a few times but we eventually made it safely to the end of the fixed line behind the rock buttress. I found my whippet where I’d stashed it but someone had stolen my other hiking pole! I cursed the unknown thief. Why would a climber do that? The same thing happened on Pobeda where we stashed our poles at the base of the climb and someone stole Andreas’ poles. At least they left the whippet, which is more valuable. Looking back up from ABC. Me with K2 in background (photo by Andreas) We hiked down the slushy snow, still looking up every few seconds to check for rockfall. Finally we made it to ABC and were out of the danger zone. Sadly, I later learned that a few days earlier two dead climbers were found right there at the base of the route. It appeared they fell down from c1 or c2 and were killed in the fall. A team went to recover the bodies, but while they were resting drinking tea an avalanche came down the snow face and covered the bodies. I think they are still buried. Hiking out We walked over the avy debris and found our stashed boots, luckily not stolen. We then purified some water in a stream and continued down. Miraculously, I found my missing pole leaning against a rock next to the stream! It appeared the person had just used it to descend the snow slope then left it. But it was still mean of them to take it. I would have certainly appreciated using my own pole on the snow slope also. Hiking out Below ABC the glacier was more melted out than before and most of the flags had fallen over. We soon put crampons on and had trouble following the route. At one point we made a tricky stream crossing and found fallen flags on the other side. But then a trekker on the other side waved over to us that the route was there. It appeared there were two flagged routes, but the trekkers were coming up from BC so we knew theirs worked. So we crossed back over. Back to k2 basecamp From there it was easy following the route. We met one guy coming up who congratulated us on our climb and handed us each a chocolate bar. At first I thought he was being nice but then he asked for money. So we gave him back the bars. We were only 30 min from BC and decided to hold out. By late morning we made it to K2 BC and stopped for a break. Mauritz, Corinne, Ben and Zishan were all there and we had a nice celebratory lunch. Looking back up towards broad peak That afternoon we learned on the radio that Serge had turned around before summitting the previous day and Marie had turned around that morning around 8200m. Only she and Dennis Urubko had pushed for the summit that morning. The snowstorm had apparently wiped out our tracks and Dennis broke trail up to the summit by 7:30am. Marie had started feeling the altitude so turned around. Then she texted that she likely had HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and needed help down. Fresh snowfall in the morning Flor and Iman had spent the night in c4 and were luckily able to help give Marie a Dexamethasone injection and help her get down to c2 that evening. Andreas and I spent the night at K2 BC. July 30 The next morning it was snowing hard in BC and I felt bad for the descending climbers. But Serge and Marie made it down to ABC and Mauritz and Corinne met them there to help carry their gear. Meanwhile Andreas, I and Ben hiked down to Broad BC. On the way we stopped at Celebration cake back in broad BC. Lela camp and ate some cake with Dennis Urubko to celebrate his birthday. He said he was planning to climb Broad peak (again). He’s trying to break the record of the most ascents of 8000m peaks, which is currently somewhere around 27 (including repeats). I think dennis is close to that now since he climbed Broad, G2, and K2 this summer. We later returned to our own camp and had another cake, this time a K2 summit cake. Marie and Serge later made it to K2 BC that afternoon so our whole team was finally off the mountain. July 31 Final view of k2 on the hike out The porters came in the morning and we packed everything up to give them. Marie hiked down to Broad BC but was still feeling bad effects from the HACE. So we decided to try to get her a helicopter rescue. Zishan stayed to coordinate that while Andreas, Ben and I started trekking out. We hiked through Concordia then up to Ali Camp by evening. We would take a shorter route out directly to Hushe instead of the longer route to Askoli. Ali camp This Hushe route went over a sketchy 5500m pass, Gondokhoro Pass, and is generally not used for the approach to BC because this is difficult if unacclimated. Unfortunately the porters don’t take this route out since it is too steep and icy. In fact, there is a rescue crew stationed near the pass to help climbers across. Sunset at ali camp We reached Ali camp at sunset, ate some dinner, and went to bed. Aug 1 That night we got up at midnight and one member of the rescue crew started leading us up the pass. There was a lot of fresh snow and it was actively snowing so trail breaking was tough. Descending the south side of the pass There were fixed ropes near the top and we reached the pass around 3am. Our leader jumped in a waiting tent at the pass and then we were on our own. The south side was extremely steep with a few inches of snow on loose rocks and slabs. We arm wrap descended down fixed lines but still slipped a lot. The snow continued all morning, changing to rain down lower. By sunrise we reached a Chuspang camp and stopped to eat some chapati and eggs. Almost back to Hushe We then continued down, eventually reaching Hushe village by early afternoon. We were at last back to civilization after six weeks in the mountains. We stayed at the only hotel in town, eating a big meal and taking a nice shower. Over the next few days we would make our way back to Skardu, wait for porters to bring our gear our, then drive to Islamabad and fly out. Celebration cake in skardu, with pictures of broad and k2 Marie ended up taking a horse down to Askoli since the weather was too bad for helicopters to fly. After July 29 the whole K2 basecamp cleared out, and the season basically ended. It appeared the jet stream had returned with heavy wind and snow that covered the route. From what I’ve heard, approximately 200 climbers summitted K2 this season, mostly on July 22, of which approximately 15 were without oxygen including us. A vast majority of the climbers were with commercial guided groups using supplemental oxygen and heavy support from sherpas. This total at least triples the previous record for ascents of K2 in a season. Link to more pictures: http://www.countryhighpoints.com/k2/ Gear Notes: Standard 8000m gear Approach Notes: Jeep from Skardu to Jhula, hike to basecamp with donkeys carrying gear
  11. 6 points
    A high level of tolerance and stupidity mixed in with a short term memory are staples for the cascades climber.
  12. 5 points
    Trip: Good and Storm King - NE Butt, SW Route Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Me, @MGraw and Dave did the NE buttress on Goode Mountain and the SW route on Storm King over four days from August 19 to 22. BTW, that’s “gud”, not “gu·dee”, I don’t know what mountain some of you are climbing. Its named for Richard U Goode of the USGS, and the mountain is pronounced like the name. I’m just writing a quick report to get the info out there. We used beta from Steph Abegg, Climber Kyle, and occasionally Fred Beckey and it went great, so I wont post too much of that. The route finding was generally very straight forward the whole trip. We started out at the permit line. It was waaaay better than in years past, but still long. Then we cheated and drove to the Bridge Creek Trailhead for the hike in. I used trail runners to the junction with North Fork Bridge Creek Trail to save my feet 20 mile of hiking in approach shoes… worth it! Trail after Grizzly Creek (short): The creek crossing of North Fork Bridge Creek was easy but cold, then straight up from there per Kyle worked amazing. Literally NO brush to get out of the valley bottom. Wow. Approach From North Fork, just go up: We took the wrong buttress up the last portion of the approach and missed the two established bivy spots. The “5400’” bivy at 5500’ or so was occupied, but I looked down and saw the 5700’ site from above. We made a new spot on a slab and gravel at 5970 on a different rib. For next time, you have to scramble up the obviously easiest rib two or three left of the prow that the path leads you up to. This was our only real route finding hiccup on the trip with somewhat minimal research. All of Goode is amazingly complicated sounding, but is really just follow your instinct from North Fork Bridge Creek to the summit. It took us 8.5 hours car to camp I think. Just up from camp: The next morning we walked like 100’ up to the glacier were we easily walked on on low angle firm snow. We had only snow the whole way, no proper ice. The glacier was pretty easy to navigate from there, one big zig zag to get above the cracks at 6700’. The feared moat was just a couple of steps down on blocks to 3rd class rock. We got lucky hear I guess. I think this wat at 6730’. On route: We scrambled a 3rd class ramp to near the crest, then started simul climbing. Mike lead out and lead a 1200’ simul pitch to a 5th class step where Dave took over. Dave missed a move to the right of the ridge and lead up a tough 5.7 spot with no pro (except our now fixed nut above the difficulty). Stout lead in hiking boots dude! Me and Mike followed in approach shoes, wondering the whole way why he didn’t move off the ridge crest, it was aesthetic though. As much as its tempting to lead the crest, any time it gets tough you can break off. The climbing was great the whole way, never hard (except that one spot) but interesting always, all the way to the summit. I clipped my last sling to the summit rap station to finish my simul block. It was hazy so we didn’t stay too long. 3 raps to some shenanigans to the notch (I’m not sure if there is a good way to do the last rap, but it involved a quick belay for us from the bottom of the rap). Then 2 more raps in the gulley. Skiers right side of the gulley was much better than down the gut, not bad at all. Soon we were in camp on an awesome slab amongst heather at 7600’ just left of the rib. I highly recommend this spot, the slab was perfect for victory lounging. 10ish hours this day. Camp: Brief shower in the evening: The next day we traversed to Storm King and followed the standard beta to the notch. Scree slog, up the gulley to the right of the one with the obvious horn. The one with the horn had a rope that appeared to be fixed for a rap. I’m not sure why you would do this unless you just didn’t want to carry it out. Please don’t do this, it’s just trash now that no one want to take out. Descend your ascent route and take everything home with you. I really hope there was some extenuating circumstance here, but I can’t think of what. We scramble traversed the obvious ledge from the notch for 200’ – 300’ horizontal then scrambled up 3rd -4th class to the summit. The beta here was complicated but the route very simple. Ledge: Reversing the traverse to Storm King, Goode behind: Then down, down, down. There is a path from the little 7440’ knob just SW of Goode leading down the rib to the valley bottom, it comes in and out, but just stick on the crest next to the creek. We hiked out to Park Creek Camp for about 9 hours on the move. Up very early the next morning to beat the heat for 6ish hours to cover the 15 miles to the car and beer that was still as cold as the Rockies! Wow! An amazing trip with way more down time than I am used to. Glad I had good friends to share it with! A classic for sure, though not enough brush for it to be truly a Cascade classic in my book. Nor enough loose rock. OK, so not so quick a report, but it was a really great trip. Gear Notes: 2 30m rope, aluminum snow gear, approach shoes, single rack 0 metolius to #2 C4, like 15 slings Approach Notes: Long but easy. The trail was brushed out except for a little bit after Grizzly Creek.
  13. 4 points
    Trip: BOWAN MOUNTAIN (7895') - South Ridge / Southwest Face Trip Date: 09/03/2022 Trip Report: BOWAN MOUNTAIN (7895') – Rainbow Ridge Traverse Approach – SEPT. 3-5, 2022 (Sat, Sun, Mon) Another perfect weather weekend for climbing and a long holiday weekend to boot. Dan O texted and wanted to know what I was doing. I said planning a climb. He said can I go, I said sure. So I had company for this trip, which was a nice change. Saturday: We started from Bridge Creek Trailhead at 6:45am. We headed down the Bridge Creek Trail to McAlester Creek Trail arriving at McAlester Pass (6000’) at 12:00 noon. There is water at McAlester Pass at a lake at the end of the meadow, not the best looking water, but water nonetheless. Distance was about 9.5 miles to the pass and the trails were in excellent shape. 5 minutes down the trail past McAlester Pass was the bootpath for Rainbow Ridge. The bootpath went along a shelf at the base of a boulder field. We walked past it the 1st time and doubled back. The bootpath was well defined with a few sections requiring some searching. The ridge was nice traveling with views of McAlester Mountain. There was some smoke coming up the valley from Lake Chelan, not bad, but enough to make the views hazy. We made it to the main lake on Rainbow Ridge (6100’) at 1:15pm. The lake was very nice and would make a great camp. We made our way up the ridge above the lake, the path was faint at times going up the slope. We made it to another set of lakes on the ridge (6750’) at 2:45pm. Along the way I jumped on top of a rock for a better view and noticed a bush shaking about 50’ away down slope. Out of the back side of the bush came a Grizzly Bear running down the slope heading toward Lake Chelan. I’ve heard of Grizzly Bear sightings in the North Cascades but I had never seen one for myself in the wild. The Grizzly was medium sized and looked pretty young, classic chocolate brown color with the blonde tipped punk rock hair hump between the shoulders. We were both a bit stunned. Holy shit, there are Grizzlies out here! There were several sets of fairly fresh bear tracks in the mud at the second set of lakes. It seems we had worked our way into a bear utopia. We headed up to the summit of Rainbow Ridge (7200’) that offered a great view of Bowan Lake and Mountain. The bootpath ended at the summit. We headed down the ridge toward Bowan Lake. The travel was a bit steep and loose in sections but doable. We arrived at Bowan Lake (6500’) at 5:15pm and decided to make this our camp for the evening. There were also a fair amount of bear tracks around Bowan Lake but they looked to be a day or two old. Sunday: We were up and moving at 6:30am. We headed up the valley toward the south col of Bowan Mountain. We arrived at the south col (7400’) at 7:45am. Our plan was to go up and over Bowan and drop over the summit and follow the ridge down to the Rainbow Lake Trail. One of the maps we had with us made this look like a good option. We started up the south ridge of Bowan, mostly Class 3 rock. We reached a deep gully on the ridge that we could not cross up high, so we headed down looking for a better crossing area for the gully. We found one probably 100 feet down from the ridge. The gully crossing was Class 3 with a little Class 4 depending on your route. We continued across the slope angling up on Class 2 rock. We crossed a couple more gullies using shelf systems along the way that were Class 3. We reached the summit of Bowan at 9:30am. I climbed over to the other side of the summit to check out the route down the ridge and it looked a lot more difficult than expected. Mostly Class 4-5 rock that would require a rope and gear. We had neither so we headed back down the way we came up. Once back at the south col we headed southwest down the slope toward a heather shelf. Once at the heather shelf we headed down and diagonal trending northwest. The hill side was steep heather and rock cliffs all the way down. When we would cliff out we would head across the slope until we found a down route. This pattern was repeated the whole way down. We finally reached the bottom of a deep gully that spit us out on the Rainbow Lake Trail. We headed down the trail to Rainbow Lake arriving at 2:45pm and setup camp for the night. The camps at Rainbow Lake are very nice with a pit toilet. I had planned on climbing McGregor Mountain on this trip along with Bowan. After figuring the amount of time it took to climb Rainbow Ridge and Bowan Mountain, I figured I’d need an extra day to complete the trip over to McGregor and back. I didn’t have an extra day to spare so we settled on summiting Bowan alone. Monday: We were up and moving at 6:45am, heading for home. It was a bit chilly in the morning, Fall was definitely in the air. We headed down Rainbow Lake Trail to Bridge Creek Trail back to the trailhead arriving at 2:15pm. The trails were in excellent condition. On the way back to the trailhead we passed a few people holding a sign about a get together at the trailhead. They said there was a bunch of food for us at the trailhead. We thought OK, we’ll check it out. Little did we know there was a church group that had setup a fantastic spread of food complete with chairs and a shelter. They had hot dogs, chili, beans, cornbread, cookies, brownies, lemonade and more. Coming off the trail dirty and tired, we felt like kings. It was the best ending to a climb I’ve ever had. The people were very friendly and we left with a bag full of food, a homemade cross and a prayer. With so much going wrong in the world today, it was uplifting to experience such great people doing good for total strangers. Some Tips and Notes: 1. There is a lot of bear activity on Rainbow Ridge right now. 2. It requires a lot of work and route finding to get up or down Bowan Mountain from the Rainbow Lake area. 3. Water access was pretty good the whole loop. Travel Time for reference: Saturday: Trailhead to Bowan Lake Camp (6500’) – 10:30 hours. Sunday: Camp to Summit to Camp 2 – 8:30 hours. Monday: Camp 2 to Parking Area – 7:30 hours. Total Mileage: around 28 miles Total Elevation Gain: around 5800’ Gear used: Trekking Poles, Helmet. Lake at McAlester Pass. Rainbow Ridge Bootpath. Dan O climbing out of the 1st Rainbow Ridge Lake area. Bear utopia party on the beach at the 2nd set of lakes along Rainbow Ridge. On the way down to Bowan Lake. On the way up to the south col of Bowan Mountain from Bowan Lake Camp. Heading up the South Ridge of Bowan Mountain. On the South Ridge of Bowan Mountain, Lake Chelan Valley in the background. 1st Gully Crossing on Bowan. Class 3-4. Final gully exit coming down from Bowan, popping out on Rainbow Lake Trail. Bowan Mountain from Rainbow Lake. View of McGregor Mountain on the way down Rainbow Lake Trail. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles, Helmet. Approach Notes: Entered via McAlester Creek Trail, did the Rainbow Ridge Traverse, Exited via Rainbow Lake Trail
  14. 4 points
    Trip: Glacier Peak - Cool Glacier Trip Date: 09/03/2022 Trip Report: Me and @MGraw and figuratively everyone else did Glacier Peak over the long weekend. To avoid most of the crowds we did it on Saturday as a run. We started at 4:50am, summited at 12:30, and hit the TH again at about 6:45 for a c2c of just under 14 hours. We thought that was pretty good but it's 2.4 times the FKT. More importantly for those interested... The conditions update!: The trail has ample water sources everywhere until about .5 miles past glacier gap, then none except on the ice of the glacier if you want to hunt for it. The trail is in excellent shape, recently brushed and re-graded to White Pass. The Cool Glacier has a tough entry with some blue ice walking through a serac field. It's low tech (no overhead hazard, you're on top of the seracs). But not really protectable and probably best avoided if you've never walked on solid ice. Several parties turned abck at the look of it. We found it very doable in runners and aluminum crampons. After that there are some bridges, but it's grade 1 glacier wlaking. Personally I thought the boot pack was kind of unnecessary sketchy, crossing very close to exposed ends of cracks where, from a different angle, you could see it was overhung. We took the far climbers left edge of the glacier immediately next to the rocks of the east ridge of Disappointment Peak. It was quite safe. The whole route is really pretty with great meadows, straightforward route finding, and a nice summit. A good time was had by all. Now my legs hurt. The boot pack goes from the farthest point of rocks about halfway from Mike's head to the ridgeline angling up left: Gear Notes: Aluminum crampons and axes, sneakers, Salomon advanced skin 12 packs. Approach Notes: Good water access all over, great trail, beautiful.
  15. 4 points
    Trip: Mt Stuart - West Ridge Trip Date: 08/20/2022 Trip Report: What a classic route, total type 1 fun climbing at its best. My wife and I climbed it over two relaxing days last weekend. Beta is plentiful, so here’s pics. Headlight basin, one of my favorite approaches in the Cascades. Ingalls Lake, last flowing water until the next day. We’re going here! Starting up the super fun 3rd/4th class Staircase. Looking across to Long John’s Tower. Intimidating to look at, easy to scramble up on the right. Settled in for a high bivy above LJT notch. The alpenglow from the setting sun was incredible. We stayed up late enjoying the ambiance and watched the stars and Milky Way come out. Then the weirdest thing, a long string of lights moving steadily across the night sky then disappearing made us question our reality. UFO? Turns out it was the same thing Oly saw over on the peninsula: https://westseattleblog.com/2022/08/heres-what-that-bright-streak-in-the-sky-was/ Lazy start in the morning. Snow available for water near the West Ridge Notch. Somewhere on the summit block, maybe pitch 3? It all seemed pretty mellow follow-your-nose easy 5th climbing. Summit! Saw several folks up top, one soloist who started from the car about the time we were waking up (an impressive 4 hours up the WR), two guys attempting the Stuart Range Traverse to Asguard in a day, and several scramblers up & down the Cascadian. The descent was less enjoyable, Katie's first time experiencing the Cascadian and she said she wants to downclimb the WR next time. Finally the slog up to Longs Pass gave us a parting view of Stuart and the route. Back at the truck, tired but mentally refreshed as always. Gear Notes: Rope and minimal rack. No axe or crampons necessary. Approach Notes: This field is required?
  16. 3 points
    The real question is whether Sasquatch is an inter-dimensional traveling super intelligent alien, or is he just another shy earthbound critter?
  17. 3 points
    I led all of The Nose off the couch this spring (a point of pride, but not particularly sure what that means) and Sam just ate this F---ing climb for breakfast. At this point in my life I am balancing on the knife-edge between adult responsibilities and still finding Ramen delicious. The mirror is reserved for mornings where I have not eaten too many carbs, and think that I may finally be ready to onsight Godzilla. What younger people need to understand is you can ADD stuff to Ramen, but not mashed potatoes. And not in a Nalgene bottle. These are beginnings of a story that are never meant to be written, but find their way into the lexicon of a few and create legends.
  18. 3 points
    From Calder Bressler as told to Harvey Manning. “Climbing over Cache Col we dropped down to Cascade Pass and leaving our packs at a good campsite south of the pass set out for the peak we called Elsbeth, now named Johannesburg. We traversed the talus beneath the Triplets gaining altitude gradually, traversed and climbed most of the north face of Cascade Peak, arriving at last on the col between Cascade and Johannesburg. By now it was late in the afternoon, but any qualms we might have had were dispelled by the mountain goat which appeared suddenly to guide us. Climbing the cliff west of the col we followed the goat, who kept at a uniform distance of 200 feet, leading us to the summit at 6 p.m. Though now we had a few second thoughts, and moved with all possible speed it was dark before we regained the col. Rather weary and desperate we attempted to descend the hanging glacier that drops away on the north side of the col, and none of us came away from that evening with any love for clawing around on steep ice by flashlight. We were finally stopped by a gaping crevasse that spanned the entire width of the narrow ice torrent, and gave it up as a bad job. Back over the col we groggily struggled, and bivouacked in a sparse meadow on the south slope, huddling all night over a small twig fire, scorching our hands and faces while other portions of the anatomy froze. At first light we carefully conducted our stiff bones the long way to Cascade Pass, circling on the south side of Triplets and descending a snow finger between Triplets and Mixup to our camp.”
  19. 2 points
    Thanks Jon for the beta. Respect for soloing that glacier; that would have made me nervous. We went in loaded up for the SW Buttress but it was so dang cold on Saturday night that we opted for Maximum Enjoyment and did the NW Ridge instead. Never have I had such a lackadaisical alpine day; we left camp at 10 AM! This turned out to be perfect as we were in the sun all day except for a few minutes in the notch. Even so I was wearing two jackets on the whole climb. Summer's over. Note: while we were out, some tweaker broke into all the vehicles at the Eldorado trailhead and apparently was siphoning gas from them—all had gas caps off. The climbing rangers came up while we were at Eldo camp and let us know that Ken's was the only vehicle without a window broken; possibly because his gas cap didn't lock. Evidently this has been happening quite a bit at Eldorado, Boston Basin, and Thornton Lakes trailheads. Be warned.
  20. 2 points
    Trip: Northern Olympics - Northern Olympic High Route Trip Date: 09/03/2022 Trip Report: Over Labor Day, I did really fun three day route from Deer Park to Tyler Peak. We camped the first night in Lillian Basin. Day 2 brought us over the summits of Cameron, through the basin above Cedar Lake, and to the ponds near Grey Wolf Pass. On Day 3, we made our way around Walkinshaw and then along Grey Wolf Ridge to Tyler Peak. Lots to explore in this area! https://climberkyle.com/2022/09/03/northern-olympic-high-route/ Gear Notes: Standard backpacking equipment. Two trekking poles recommended for all the choss. Approach Notes: 2 hour car shuttle between Deer Park and Tyler Peak.
  21. 2 points
    After asking 15+ people to go climbing with me and getting no takers (best excuse: "I'm having a heart procedure on Monday"—whoa), I soloed this over Tues/Wed since the Olympics were just about the only place in the state not on fire/right next to something on fire and with a decent forecast. I used Kuato's excellent trip report above for beta along with the guidebook description and was astounded to discover my times were more or less in line with his. I assume that's because he took lots of breaks and I took almost none. High points: 1. On the ferry I parked next to a NOAA vessel with this stupendous name: 2. They played December 1963 on the radio on the way in and Brick House on the way out, allowing me to indulge in dancing while driving. 3. Chilling out and reading Luis Sagsti's Fireflies at the 4300' bivy was stellar. Though if you haven't read Sagasti yet, I recommend starting with A Musical Offering. So good. 4. I found a fun 4th class way up the last bit to the ridge. 5. I saw lots of sooty grouse, though never could get a decent photo of one. I did get one of my bivy companion however. Low points: 1. South Brother is a choss pile—it would be way better earlier in the year when snow covers all that scree. 2. I failed to stop in Kingston for food, resulting in a breakfast that consisted of a moderately disgusting gas station bear claw. 3. I realized somewhere between 3600' and 4300' that I also failed to pack a pot, which meant no hot water, which meant a few handfuls of trail mix and an envelope of "lemon pepper tuna" for dinner. I thought I had grabbed an envelope of "zesty lemon pepper" chicken, so doubly disappointing. Don't pack and talk on the phone at the same time. Useless: Medium point: 1. Summitting is always nice, but the views pretty much sucked: Highest point of all: 1. Coming home to my sweetie who made garlic & olive oil pasta for dinner. yum.
  22. 2 points
    Trip: LITTLE JOHANNESBURG (7945') - East Col / South Face Traverse Trip Date: 09/10/2022 Trip Report: LITTLE JOHANNESBURG (7945')– Fisher Creek Basin Approach - SEPT. 10-11, 2022 I’ve been eyeballing this peak for years from all the other peaks I’ve climbed around the area. From Easy Pass it just stares at you looking steep and nasty. On maps it doesn’t have a name, like a forgotten step child. Climbers refer to it as Little Johannesburg. There’s not much information about this climb, if you can find anything at all. I’ve taken pictures of this peak from almost all sides over the years. From my pictures, it looked like the east side of the mountain would offer the least difficult summit route. Since this area seemed to have the least amount of smoke from the various fires burning around the region, I decided this weekend was the time to make the attempt on Little Johannesburg. Saturday: I started from the Easy Pass Trailhead at 9:00am. I arrived at Easy Pass at 11:00am. I followed Fisher Creek trail down to the base of the switchbacks to the beaten up sign post (5140’) and turned left heading up the Fisher Creek Basin. The climbers trail is in pretty good shape at the start but disappears and reappears as you travel up the basin. I reached the camp on the bluff at the top of the Fisher Creek Basin at 1:45pm. I setup camp and heemed and hawed whether I should go for the summit or wait for the next day. The weather was looking good and the smoke was light so I decided to go for the summit and left at 2:50pm. From camp I could see directly up the talus and heather shelves to the East Col at the top that was to the left of the spire. I figured it would take me about 3 hours up and 2 down which would put me back at camp at dark. Most of the route up to the East Col was loose talus side hilling. There was two or three heather and rock plateaus separated by loose talus sections. I climbed on solid rock as much as possible heading up as the talus was not too fun. Most of the rock was Class 2 with a few sections of Class 3 depending on route. The final ramp to the East Col looked pretty steep from a distance, but the closer I got the less steep the ramp appeared. I reached the East Col (7500’) at 4:10pm. From the col I traveled across and diagonal on a rising traverse across the South Face. There was a pretty good shelf system that would work around the several gullies on the way. All the rock was loose so I made sure of all holds before moving through. I aimed for what appeared to be the highest peak from the col, which was the farthest away peak that I could see. Once I made it to the final peak ridge I climbed up on decent rock (Class 3) to the summit arriving at 5:10pm. The summit registry was in an old aluminum can with a screw top lid. The registry was the original from 1968 and was in good shape considering its age. I looked over the summit entries and was surprised how few entries there were. The first entry was 1968 and the second was 1974. There are several years between entries. The more recent entries average about 2 parties per year. I was the second this year. The views were excellent even with the smoke. I started back down at 5:30pm and reached camp at 7:25pm. It was nice to have the summit knocked out on day 1 so I could sleep in the next day. Sunday: It got pretty windy overnight. I woke to a fair amount of smoke in the valley, it had finally caught up to me. I was very happy that I had summited on day 1 as the views on day 2 would not have been that great. I broke down camp and was on my way back at 9:00am. I was back at Easy Pass at 11:15am and I was back at the trailhead at 1:00pm. Overall this was a good climb that has seen very little attention over the years. A hidden gem in plain sight. Some Tips and Notes: 1. Easy Pass Trail is pretty dry right now. The best place for water is the creek crossing with the small logs placed side by side for crossing around 4400’. The next water supply is at the Fisher Creek Basin. 2. The bluff camp (5960’) at the top of the Fisher Creek Basin has lots of water and two defined camp spots. 3. Be ready for extended time on loose rock for this summit. There is not much traffic to clean the route. Travel Time for reference: Saturday: Trailhead (3700’) to Camp (5960’) to Summit (7945’) to Camp – 10:30 hours. Sunday: Camp to Trailhead – 4:00 hours. Total Mileage: around 19.5 miles Total Elevation Gain: around 7200’ Gear used: Trekking Poles, Helmet. Little Johannesburg (Front) Arriva (Behind) taken from Katsuk Camp in late July. Little Johannesburg from Easy Pass. Looking up the talus and heather plateaus to the East Col from upper Fisher Creek Basin. Looking down and toward camp on my way back from the East Col. Looking up to East Col. View across the South Face from the East Col, the summit is the farthest peak in the back. Summit Registry. Summit View straight to Easy Pass. Summit View looking back over route traveled. Mount Arriva, Fisher Peak and Black Peak views. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles, Helmet. Approach Notes: Easy Pass to Fisher Creek Trail to Fisher Creek Basin
  23. 2 points
    Trip: Chikamin Peak - Dog Route Trip Date: 09/05/2022 Trip Report: Me and fuzznut climbed Chikamin Peak yesterday via the Mineral Creek trail. We camped at the trailhead (busy as you can imagine being the holiday weekend). This approach to Chikamin also uses a little bit of the PCT, and at this time of year the people who will complete the whole thing are coming through, so saw a number of them including a woman with norovirus who was going to take a break from the trail too recover and then hoped to finish it....I guess there was a norovirus outbreak at one particular location on the trail. It is a really beautiful area back in there, especially when you get off the PCT and go over that little pass....all the mountains and lakes. Spectacle, Stuart, Glacier, Pete, Lemah, Chimney, Big and Little Chief, Hinman, Bears Breast, Daniel, etc. There were two cruxes for us, one down low by Glacier Lake when you go past that dramatic boulder that is stuck on end. The boulder field there has big rocks, and one of them I had to lift Kiba up so he could make it, but he cruised the rest, leaping from boulder to boulder. Then up on the third class section near the top of Chikamin I had to lift him again to get past the one step. Our time on the summit was in a swirl of clouds with views that came and went quickly. Shortly after we left it totally cleared off to a bluebird day. Up high the views were even better, that is a great summit up there. My GPS watch said 17.5 miles and 5.5k elevation for the day, but @JasonG tried to tell me it wasn't all that. I definitely wasn't feeling challenged on the way up after all my Olympic Mountain fishing trail hikes this summer, but man my legs are sore this morning! Kiba fell asleep almost immediately after getting into the truck, don't think I've ever seen him so tired. Photo dump, a few out of order: Gear Notes: trail running pack, cordelette and full harness to lower the dog (didn't use) Approach Notes: via Mineral Creek....wow what a job they did brushing that out! You could drive a Mack truck on it.
  24. 2 points
    When Jim proposed the NE Rib late one night at the bar at Ballard's Hattie's Hat (for inclusion in his Vol. II, then in progress), I don't recall discussion of '57 vs. '51. I do recall that he had beta from Rowland Tabor to the effect that Rowland and party summited by noon or early afternoon on their FA in '57. I was drunk enough to sign on for the trip but the third guy wisely said nope. We later lured Bob Davis to join and ultimately proved that Rowland et al. were the better men. I still have fond memories of snuggling with Big Jim at our unplanned shiver bivi. =;-)
  25. 2 points
    Trip: Joffre Creek - Mighty Mouse Trip Date: 07/25/2022 Trip Report: A brief TR for old times sake. Mighty Mouse fully lives up to the hype. The loveliest splitters you’ll ever climb, in a scenic alpine setting with a straightforward approach. the logging road, while getting a bit grown in, is in great shape and mercifully short. The approach trail, though frequently obscured by lush undergrowth, is a wonder. Could use some brushing and flagging but in amazing good shape. Approximately 2 hrs car to base at middle aged pace. the climb is stout. The first pitch is in your face and felt as challenging as the remainder of the climb. 10d/11a pitches all had short, hard cruxes with amazing crack climbing throughout. Excellent ledges for almost every belay with bolted rap anchors. The hand crack eats #2/#3 Camalots. Never climbed a better granite splitter. bring very small rps. We bailed off pitch 8 when partner took a fall and ripped gear. 11 hrs car-to-car. Something to go back for. was 98 degrees in Pemberton and tolerable on the climb in the sun thanks to a breeze. Shade after ~ 2 pm. Gear Notes: Very Small nuts and micro cams. Double rack with at least 3 #3s. Approach Notes: See Mtn project. Would be hard to follow in dark and you’ll get soaked in the am if temps hit the dew point.
  26. 2 points
    I don't have anything to add other than that is amazing history, thanks @pms! And you too @Juan Sharp, though I've heard your stories already. And, of course @JonParker, for living to tell the tale!
  27. 2 points
    Trip: The Pickets for the Old and Slow - McMillan Spires Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Reading the internet makes it seem like everyone who goes into the Pickets is a total badass doing FAs or enchaining the whole damn range in record time, so here’s a TR for the AARP-eligible among us who perhaps were never all that fast or talented to begin with. Don't expect any useful information. I harangued my friend Gordy into committing to a Pickets trip this summer but he was too busy to go until late season, so mid-August it was. We made a leisurely approach on Wednesday, sweating buckets as we slogged up the hill in the high 80s. Terror Basin was gorgeous in the sunshine. (Note nearly all the photos in this are Gordy’s; he has an iPhone and I have a digital camera from 2009, so his pics are way better.) After a ridiculously civilized wake-up time of 6:30 the next day, we wandered up the slabs to start our day’s objective: East and West McMillan Spires by their SE Faces. This was made more interesting by the necessity of making a free hanging rappel off a snow bollard to access the rock on East Mac. Quoth Gordy, who has at least one FA in Alaska to his name: "I've rapped off a snow bollard twice in my life, and both were in the Pickets." The climbing went quickly as the majority of it was unroped fourth class, and soon we were snacking on the summit looking over at West Mac. We can’t climb enough peaks in a day to make it even remotely necessary to count our summits, so I held up fingers for letters instead. E is for East Mac. We saw a rap sling at the gendarme between East and West Mac, suggesting we should rap down the moat between the snow and gendarme and traverse low, but explored higher and it was easy climbing to get around the gendarme and arrive at Beckey’s “200 feet of fourth class” up the corner, then as I was pulling around the “5.7 bulge” up onto the ridge proper, I looked up and saw this gorgeous local denizen. I didn’t have my camera accessible but he was still hanging around when I brought Gordy up, who snapped this shot. Gordy made me pose for this shot: “Now turn your hips a little that way….” W is for West Mac. The next day we woke to intermittent light sprinkles, which turned to flat-out rain a little before noon. Before it started raining in earnest, we roamed around the basin a bit and spotted the elusive seal of the Pickets. The wildlife there is truly not to be believed. (My photo, you can tell by the crappy quality.) After all the rain on Friday, we decided to just go for Little Mac on our last day as neither of us had done it before and we already had the approach dialed. We made it more interesting by (1) not having any descent beta other than “rap to the col and continue traversing East McMillan spire” and (2) convincing ourselves that the lower vegetated ramp was probably just as good as the higher one and soloing increasing sketchy fourth class until a bit past the point where we should have roped up. I scored the money pitch, which was the nice crack straight up from the ramp. It even had a good spot for a rap anchor, which eased our minds a bit about how we were going to get back down. Gordy following the crack: Gordy led up the final pitch to the top, where we took our last summit shot. L is for Little Mac. At least in this case. We made our way down, adding two rap anchors in the process, packed up and got the crap gully up to the notch behind us before dark, in order to make the last day a tiny bit shorter and so we wouldn’t be above or below anyone else on Sunday when we assumed the other parties would be leaving. A nice camp by a waterfall up in the meadows gave us a stellar view of the Chopping Block in the sunset and rounded out the trip nicely. Gear Notes: Should have taken alcohol. Did take a book (a slender volume), which was nice for the rain day. Approach Notes: The trail to Terror Basin is a highway now, it would take serious effort to lose it.
  28. 2 points
    Glad to see that Doug's Direct is still is use. Doug would just smile and say that it "seemed pretty trivial, don't ya think" with his South Carolina accent. The last time we had lunch together he picked my brain about our trip and my trip report (from 2004?) where we christened the ridge crossing. As I recall, the Mounties had asked Doug to describe Doug's Direct for a revised version of green Fred. For what it's worth, I still think Doug's Direct is objectively safer than down-climbing the CJ Couloir. Jim Nelson, Bob Davis and I nearly got the chop in the couloir after climbing the NE Buttress in July 1999. And of course we were "overdue," there was a helicopter with Kelly Bush following "congressional involvement," blah, blah, blah. My Kingdom for a Cell Phone. In any event, RIP Doug.
  29. 1 point
    Trip: Picket Range - Southern Pickets Enchainment Trip Date: 8/4-7/2022 Trip Report: It's Pickets season folks! Kurt and I were supposed to be in the Bugaboos last week, but unstable weather encouraged us to stay local and sample a little bit of what the Pickets have to offer. Between weather and work on Monday, we had a pretty tight schedule that was surely going to be a challenge. On Thursday we slept in and got a casual start. AM rain was forecasted, and "all" we had to do was hike in to the base of little Mac spire. As we drove north, the rain poured down. By the time we reached the trailhead there was blue sky poking through, but all the brush was thoroughly soaked. The hike up went on for an eternity, and I was beginning to understand why the Pickets see so little traffic. By the time we made it to the alpine, we were drenched from head to toe, and the cold wind made for some rather uncomfortable slogging up to camp. Thankfully by the time we arrived, we were mostly dried out apart from our feet, which wouldn't fully dry out for another day. Day 2: Little Mac, East Mac, West Mac, Tower 1, Tower 5, Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt. A cold and windy night brought us to a cold and windy morning, but the clouds had finally cleared and we could see our first peak. The brush and soil on little mac was still wet from the day before which made for some pretty unnerving scrambling up the first half of the mountain, but once the sun hit things began to dry out. Little Mac and East Mac went pretty smoothly with mostly scrambling and a couple pitches of roped climbing to the summits. West Mac however provided a little more adventure as Kurt tried to quest up some roofs in the middle of the east face but was thwarted and had to downclimb half a pitch. Thankfully we found the easy way and were off to the races. The East Towers sucked up so much time, and honestly I don't remember what we did to get through them. Huge props to Jeff Wright for remembering all the beta and writing such a detailed trip report. I wish I had that good of a memory.... or maybe I'd rather forget. Surfin' the East Towers Inspiration was Classic! By far the best climbing on route. Super straightforward, fun and engaging crack climbing. A large panel of the west face of Inspiration fell off some time recently, taking one or more of the rap anchors with it. This involved some downclimbing between stations and lots of loose rock on the rappels. At least one new station would be needed to fully rap the face. Rapping through the rock scar "Hey Kurt, I found the anchor!" Low on water, we brewed up below Pyramid and rested for the rest of the climbing ahead. Kurt took the leads up Pyramid and quested us up into some hard 5.10 roofs that ended up bring the crux of the entire traverse. We still have no idea where that 5.8 chimney is. Or where we were for that matter. We forgot to take a picture on top of Pyramid, so here's number 7! Summit 8! Having lost a fair bit of time, we raged up Degenhardt at sunset. Racing the fading light, we traversed along the ridge over to the base of Terror and the supposed "excellent" bivy. We didn't have to climb with headlamps! A cold wind howled up the north side, sending morale plummeting. The only somewhat flat spots were on the frigid windy side of the ridge so after an unsuccessful attempt to rig up my tarp to block the wind, we opted to engineer our own spots to the south. We were both somewhat successful in digging out our own bivys, and went to bed late and exhausted. Day 3: Terror, The Rake, The Blip, East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, Dusseldorfspitz, Himmelhorn The next morning came too soon and we started with Terror for breakfast. The east ridge went quickly and the mountain most definitely didn't live up to the name. Summit of Terror for the actual ninth summit. The Rake, similar to the East towers sucked up an incredible amount of time. We went too high on the first gendarme and had to downclimb the ridge to get to the 5.7 traverse. The rest was just slow route finding up along over and below the ridge. Low on water and with a lot of climbing still ahead of us. We brewed up again below The Blip, four more towers standing between us and camp, two of which being the 5.10 cruxes of the route. Summit 10! Wonderful rap anchor off The Rake. We cruised over the Blip and up the lower pitches of East Twin Needle. A little intimidated by the 5.10 crux, I took the lead up the spectacular knife edge ridge to where it kicks back to a slight overhang. With my pack feeling heavy, I sized up the moves above me, poked my head around to the left and balanced my way around the corner. Skipping the crux. With that out of the way, we raced down up and over West Twin Needle and over to the base of the intimidating East ridge of Himmelhorn. As the only one who brought rock shoes, I took this crux pitch as well. Pulling around the corner I was greeted by a fixed nut, and wild face climbing on hollow sounding rock. It wasn't all too hard, but by feet and calves were pumping out from the heavy pack and everything we had done up to that point. Thankfully I pulled it off without a hitch, and all the hard climbing was behind us. This pitch is probably only around 10a/b, but I absolutely would have called it 10+ if I had climbed it as an onsight first ascent. The overnight pack certainly doesn't help. Summit 13 and the east ridge of Himmelhorn trying to intimidate us. Dusseldorfspitz! Gipfel 14! Day 4: Ottohorn & Frenzelspitz The next morning at the Himmelhorn-Ottohorn col I woke up to sunlight casting off the mountains around us. I must have turned off my alarm at some point and fallen back asleep without realizing it. Kurt forgot to set one as well. Neither of us were upset by the extra half hour of sleep, but knew we needed to get things moving if we wanted to get out at a reasonable hour. Don't roll over! A quick jaunt up and down Ottohorn started day four. The effort of the last three days weighted on our legs, but the lack of overnight packs made it feel less like a chore. We carried a rope and rack up for the supposed 5.6 summit block, but they never saw any use. Once back down at the col, we scrambled down to the north and around the east face of Ottohorn to reach Frenzelspitz. I don’t think we took the same route as Priti and Jeff, but regardless it got us where we needed to go at loose 4th class with tiny bits of low 5th. Continuing this trend, we scrambled up to the base of the last pitch of Frenzelspitz where Kurt took the sharp end and led us up a short pitch to our final summit. We have a serious problem. This was summit 16. Someone teach us how to count. The descent went pretty much as expected. Lots of knee pain and schwacking took us around Crescent Basin, down stump hollow and out along Goodell creek. Huge thanks to Wayne, Jeff and Priti for all the beta. I can’t imagine how much longer everything would have taken without those detailed topos for every climb and descent. Both Kurt and I were blown away that the FA team of three did it in almost the same timeframe as us, and even tacked on the Chopping Block! Gear Notes: Single rack .1-2 doubles .4-1, One rack "nice" nuts and a half rack leaver nuts, 10 single runners & 4 doubles, 30 feet 5mm cord for rap anchors, 60m 8.5mm rope, Light Axe and Crampons Approach Notes: Over the river and through the woods, then up up up and some more up through more forest until you're finally in the alpine oh god.
  30. 1 point
    well thanks for this! I have all next week off and am suddenly partnerless, so definitely filing this away as an option...
  31. 1 point
    Trip: Guye Peak - A slightly more improbable than usual ascent of the Improbable Traverse Trip Date: 07/22/2022 Trip Report: Late last Thursday Joe and I made the questionable decision to try and dawn patrol the Improbable Traverse. Neither of us had climbed the route before, nor did we do much research, which in hindsight may have saved us a headache or two. At the time we were blissfully unaware of the massive rockfall event that happened last November. A quick search here would have informed us. However lately CC isn't the place I go for up to date condition reports, being that i'm often one of three users logged on at any time . A quick mountain project browse provided no info other than it hadn't been climbed this year. Long story short the route has been obliterated, and it would take a heroic amount of trundling and sweeping to revive it. All the pitches up to the traverse got bombed and are absolutely plastered in dirt and loose rock. We'd heard it the route was loose, but this seemed a little extreme. The flexing pin at the start of the traverse is still there, and the only reason I knew where to go. The pictures and beta I had weren't quite lining up. It was at this point that I realized what had happened, and made the decision to try and top out rather than bail with our short 40m rope. Traversing out I came across a large 40x40ft rock scar where the routes 5.8R crux used to be. Already 20ft out, I snaked my way over and down some insecure sloping edges which provided the routes new crux at somewhere around 5.9+ downclimbing. Once on a larger foot ledge I was able to keep traversing to the end of the rock scar and onto the original route. All told it was somewhere around a 50+ foot mandatory runout off the old tied off flexing pin. If it was R before, it's likely X now. The worst part by far was the top of the left trending ramp that exits the main face. This section cuts straight through the middle of the main rockfall zone and is now composed of the loosest unstable blocks held in by dirt I have ever climbed. It's hard to state exactly how nasty it was without sounding terribly dramatic, but It was bad. I was worried the entire slope was going to fall away around me. This pitch had no acceptable protection. Basically what I'm trying to say here is don't be dumb and climb this like we did. The lower pitches are right beneath an active rockfall zone and we are lucky we didn't get taken out. We were both late for work. Gear Notes: Just don't. But if you do, a few KB's might be useful on the new traverse. Approach Notes: Same as is ever was
  32. 1 point
    Well, my watch is pretty fancy. It tells me stuff like this: 5987 ml Est. Sweat Loss
  33. 1 point
  34. 1 point
    Climbing ropes are not biodegradable, so when they get thrown out, they end up sitting in a landfill for at least 30 years before they start to break down. One way to prevent this is by making them into another good, which they actually lend themselves to due to their strength. I am trying to do this by starting a business that turns them into belts that actually look really cool, so if anyone wants to support this effort, here is my website: https://fitzoutfitters.com/
  35. 1 point
    Woah, what a way to start the morning! Great photos, as usual. Love a good ridge run and some easy rock, will have to add this to my list
  36. 1 point
    This part really got my attention. We climbed it unroped with our axes in low dagger, wearing crampons. Blue collar good times! Thanks for the backstory on the various routes in your books @pms!
  37. 1 point
    Same here, had a pair for a couple of years, the uppers are holding up great. I really prefer leather non-goretex approach shoes.
  38. 1 point
  39. 1 point
    I like my La Sportiva tx guides if I need an approach shoe. Or I just use one of my eight pairs of old trail runners.
  40. 1 point
  41. 1 point
    What an incredible achievement, and in the best style! I firmly believe from my experience, and try to convey in my writing, that mountaineering is a smooth slope that can be climbed from hiking to... wherever your drive, time, and resources take you. I also believe that many famous mountains have built up intimidating auras that need to be dispelled, with the process of climbing them related back to normal people's experiences. This trip, and the ones building up to it, demonstrate both in spades.
  42. 1 point
    It certainly rolls off the tongue a little easier than Ptarmigan Direct.
  43. 1 point
    Good to know this bit of history, Jim. Those guys were animals. We described the crossing to the best of our ability and gave it a name in jest, which for whatever reason has stuck. Those cairns we found must have been from your pals in 1938. Glad your new guidebook recommends this as Option 2, versus Vol. II of your first book, which suggested the scary Gunsight Notch as Option 2. I see now that green Fred (3rd ed., fourth printing 2020) describes "Doug's Direct" by name, as well (see pgs. 274-275). This is the way. [TR] Johannesberg Mtn. - E. Ridge 7/12/2004 By Juan, July 14, 2004 in North Cascades Posted July 14, 2004 (edited) Climb: Johannesberg Mtn.-E. Ridge Date of Climb: 7/12/2004 We set a date many months ago, and the weather cooperated. We left Seattle Sunday morning (7/11) and left the car at the gate on the Cascade River Road (Eldo trailhead) at 8:45 or so. We reached Gunsight Notch in a few hours, and were bummed out when we looked down the steep gully on the other side. We knew the Gunsight Traverse is considered "tedious," but it also looked damn dangerous to descend. So we opted to try "Doug's Direct." This was an unproven means of getting over Mix Up Peak, and it worked like a charm. To do this (and we know from cairns on the back that we are not the first to have done so), proceed on the Cache Glacier to the upper climbers' right on the snow as if starting the Rowland Tabor route on Mix Up (the N. Ridge). Scramble straight up to the ridge crest instead of bearing left per the N. Ridge route (class 3-4). Don't go to the deep notch on your right, but rather look straight over the top. If you've hit it right, you'll see more class 3 on the other side, then a long passage of heather heading down to the alp slope that separates Mix Up from the Triplets. Descend on the path of least resistance. If you look at Beckey's green guide, the drawing that covers J'Berg to Cache Col has the words "alp slope" in the middle. Our camp was just above the word "slope." Room enough for two bivi sacks plus running water. Beautiful view spot with sun until late. We drank a pint of whiskey, took Ambien, and slept well.
  44. 1 point
    That place is cool! I was there a handful of years ago for Labor Day weekend and there were hundreds of toads everywhere. Alpine to forest. EVERYWHERE! So cool! can’t beat the rock either.
  45. 1 point
    Normally don’t allow “spam”, but this is kinda relevant and not some megacorp nor does it seem scammy…
  46. 1 point
    I can't comment on that glacier, but based on observations of glaciers in the Forbidden/Sahale/Eldorado zome a bit further South - and phtos from the Pickets a bit further East, I would say you should expect seasonal snow is almost all gone and there will be bare glacial ice to contend with. FWIW, the Price glacier is one that most people stay away from due to the objective hazards of falling seracs. That's not my cup of tea, so perhaps others will have comments to add.
  47. 1 point
    Wow! An amazing effort to climb in a style that respects the mountain and yourself. I guess all those winter ascents in Washington paid off! The state of Himalayan mountaineering is certainly depressing with all of the commercialization and associated trash left on the peaks.
  48. 1 point
    Trip: West Fury - Mongo Ridge 5.9 ED1 (second ascent of the Pole of Remotenesses) Trip Date: 07/14/2022 Trip Report: Hello all, Lani and I got out of the pickets a few days ago. We repeated Mongo Ridge and got the second ascent of the pole of remoteness. Lani wrote a solid trip report on our blog with tons of photos and more beta which is linked below. For now here are some important cliff notes on the route… https://www.theclimbingguides.com/post/mongo-ridge-and-the-pole-of-remoteness-7-09-2022-7-14-2022 1- we did not do the rooster comb. This feature is awesome looking and deserving of being climbed if you have the time. The bypass doesn’t seem to detract from the aesthetic of the line too much, you are about 100-150’ from the roosters comb the whole way as you traverse the south face. 2- we did not encounter any 5.10 terrain. After seeing photos from Wayne’s trip we climbed slightly different terrain than he did on tower 3. 3- everyone seems concerned with the commitment grades thrown at this thing. I would argue that an American commitment grade makes little sense on a climb like this. I would like to propose Mongo as the benchmark ED1 for the cascades. It is a considerable step up in length, commitment and general alpine involvement over NE butt of slesse, and I’ve always understood that climb as the benchmark TD. There was 3500’ of climbing done in 30 pitches without any simuling. we chose not to simul as there really wasn’t enough solid gear to make it feel like we weren’t just soloing. 4- this was my first technical climb in the pickets, so I don’t have much to compare it to but I felt the rock was pretty damn good and the route was fucking awesome. The route was similar in nature to the west arete, but longer and with better rock, and almost no overhead hazard. I would highly recommend the route. 5- the sit start to the ridge is a logical evolution of the route. For those interested, it looked improbable to gain the lower ridge anywhere other than toe. This would ultimately add about 1200’ to the climb. Once seasonal snow is gone, it may be easier to trudge up the depths of goddell creek… Gear Notes: Single rack .1-2, doubles .3-.75 Approach Notes: Long
  49. 1 point
    Trip: Red Mountain - the dog route Trip Date: 07/10/2022 Trip Report: Hey! I went outside the other day. Kiba and I scrambled up Red Mountain this past Sunday. Was going to go on a hike up Denny Creek but there were hundreds of cars down there. Hundreds. Left the trailhead at like 1pm, and back to the car around 6:30, dawdled the whole way. Pretty cool position up there, like you're in the Alps looking back down at a European village (Snoqualmie Summit). Great views up there of Lundin and Thomson, etc. Kiba really had a great time, but maybe the best time when we got back down to the snow as he just loves that stuff. He rolls around in it and zooms around. Fun hike, would make a great early morning or after work trail run. Gear Notes: picnic spirit Approach Notes: pacific crest trail
  50. 1 point
    Trip: Dorado Needle - NW ridge Trip Date: 07/03/2022 Trip Report: The old Cascade River crossing by the parking lot at Eldorado is gone. Newer river crossing is available ~100' downstream from the parking lot with two logs that intersect from the road side with another log leading to the island in the river. Flow was high and there are strainers downstream of the crossing so be careful. Another party mentioned finding a log crossing upstream from the parking lot ~200 feet, upstream from where Eldorado creek hits Cascade river and then crossing Eldorado creek back to the climber's trail. Multiple parties on Eldorado. One party skied off the summit! (DM me if that was you and I'll send video!) Dorado Needle snow ramp was in great condition. Good boot steps all the way to shoulder. No crampons needed for the entire trip. Eldorado, Inspiration, and McAllister glaciers all had soft snow. Multiple parties on Dorado Needle. Really cool route with fun blocky climbing and cool rock needles. Able to make two rappels back down the route from summit with one 40m rope. Everyone kept mentioning a "new forecast" with "bad thunderstorms" coming in. Didn't listen to them and camped on the McAllister glacier near the Marble/McAllister col and didn't sleep through the big boom / big flash show. Should have listened. One party didn't like the lightning either and ditched their gear scattered on the glacier. We recovered it the next morning. If you're looking for it, please DM me and let me know where you left it and what you left and I can get it back to you. A true cascades experience with hail and rain all day on the way out. As always, stay east on the boulder fields and suffer less. Snow begins at top of boulder fields. Eldorado stream crossing below basin and above boulder field still under snow currently, but not for long. Gulley to Eldorado glacier quickly becoming post-hole city. lower Eldorado glacier Eldorado Forbidden and Moraine lake Alpenglow Traffic on Eldorado summit ridge Klawatti Dorado Needle and McAllister glacier North Face Eldorado Cascade river stream crossing "Rock!" Gear Notes: pickets, gear to 2", 40m rope Approach Notes: cascade river stream crossing 100' downstream from parking lot