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    Trip: Eiger North Face - 1938 Heckmair Route Trip Date: 03/18/2020 Trip Report: First off: I'd be remiss not to mention the extenuating circumstances we're all in right now. Priti and I have been at home in Chamonix for over 18 days now, and we'd encourage everyone to do so as well. This climb occurred prior to the French, Swiss, and US lockdowns. We returned home to quarantine with the rest of France just after this trip. I hope this trip report will entertain and inform you so you can start your own Eiger Training Plan and trip planning! Don't FOMO, we're not doing anything right now either! Your friends, J&P “Anyone who returns from the Eigerwand cannot but realize that he has done something more than a virtuoso climb: he has lived through a human experience to which he had committed not only all his skill, intelligence and strength, but his very existence.” -Lionel Terray, Conquistadors of the Useless “Yes, we had made and excursion into another world and we had come back, but we had brought the joy of life and of humanity back with us. In the rush and whirl of everyday things, we so often live alongside one another without making any mutual contact. We had learned on the North Fae of the Eiger that men are good, and the earth on which we were born is good.” -Heinrich Harrer, The White Spider The 1938 Heckmair Route. Photo Credit: @eiger_daily (Instagram)...the best overlay we found. Posted here with permission. Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Luckily (or not), our ascent of the 5,000ft Eiger North Face (or ‘Eigerwand’ or ‘Eiger Nordwand’) in mid-March 2020 may have been on the quietest days in the face’s history of climbing since its first attempt in 1934. No summertime cow bells ringing in the rugged hillsides of Alpiglen above the town of Grindelwald, no cars and honks were noticed, no sounds of ski lift machinery, no joyous skiers on the hillsides of the Jungfrau ski resort which sits at the foot of the Eiger, few trains were in operation (and solely for construction workers). Not even any sounds came from the sky as we climbed in perfect, bluebird weather for three days. Frankly, I could’ve used more cow bell. Among the reasons I climb, isolation is not one of them. I appreciate the sights and sounds of civilization from a climb which provides significant psychological aid. We did, however, see several helicopters fly by delivering goods and construction materials to the future site of a new lift within the resort, along with several Swiss Air Force F-18’s practicing formations through the beautiful Berner Oberland valley. Jon Krakauer wrote in Eiger Dreams: “I didn’t want to climb the Eiger, I wanted to have climbed the Eiger.” This is a sentiment I think most climbers can understand at some level. For years this quote has haunted me. There are many climbs to which I could solidly attribute this feeling. I knew, however, that whenever I would finally step out onto the snowy slopes of the Eiger, I didn’t want to have this feeling. The Eiger is just too dangerous; too big; too bold. I always knew that if I felt this way, I would simply turn around. I wanted to be in it, and enjoy my time wrestling with the alligator. Luckily, both Priti and I were itching to attack, having fun the whole way. Left to right: Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau We arrived in Grindelwald, Switzerland from Chamonix the day before our intended climb and took an overpriced 1hr train ride to Kleine Scheidegg, the central hub of the Jungfrau Ski Resort. Kleine Scheidegg is crowned by the historic and elaborate alpine resort, established in 1840: Hotel Bellevue des Alpes (where ‘The Eiger Sanction’ and ‘Nordwand’ were filmed). Many of the more well-sponsored Eiger climbers throughout history have stayed here. But not all. You would have thought that the Third Reich could have at least put up Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer up for a few nights! Many climbers discreetly bivy near the foot of the Eiger within the ski resort, or on the floor of the restaurant at the Eigergletscher complex (the uppermost hub of the Jungfrau ski resort). However, we were expressly denied permission to sleep on the restaurant floor. Furthermore, we also found the Women’s and Handicapped restrooms permanently locked. All of the construction workers are male, and the proprietor must have caught on to the unexpected guests of the Women’s restroom from recent Eiger Conquistadors. If a climber wants to step up their bivouac accommodations slightly above a bathroom stall or a restaurant floor, they can stay at the Eigergletscher Guesthouse (hostel). However, with the ongoing construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art gondola which will link Grindelwald directly to Eigergletscher by the end of 2020, the guesthouse is exclusively housing construction workers until the end of the project. There is another hostel at Kleine Scheidegg (Hotel Bahnhof), but it had already been closed for a few weeks due to Coronavirus precautions. Staying at Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg is ideal so that you can start your first day of climbing as early as you like (however, many climbers do start their first day from the 7:00AM train in Grindelwald). During summer months, climbers might also base camp in pastures beneath the face, as Mehringer and Sedlmeyer did for their attempt in 1936, however the train is so expensive that base camping in Grindelwald is now the norm while waiting for weather and conditions. The thing about the Eiger is that even if the forecast looks splitter, you never know when the semi-mythical and unexpected ‘foehn’ will show up. These are southerly winds that blow on the north side of the Alps in winter. The foehn (literally meaning ‘hair dryer’) frequently surprises climbers bringing sudden bursts of warm air and stormy weather. The Jungfrau ski resort is unusual in that its primary artery is a 128 year old railway: the “Jungfraubahn”, highest railway in Europe. A climb of the Eiger usually begins with an expensive 1hr train ride from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, then a change of trains for another 10min ride up to Eigergletscher. Exiting the Eigergletscher deposits one out onto the lower slopes of the North Face. The train, however, does continue on, burrowing up through the depths of the Eiger and on to a high saddle (the “Jungfraujoch”) between two of the Alps’ most impressive 4000m peaks: Jungfrau and Mönch. From Kleine Scheidegg, one gets an incredible vantage point for the skyline of these three behemoths: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Modern folklore has it that the Monk (Mönch) guards the Virgin (Jungfrau) from the Ogre (Eiger). The actual German word for Ogre is “Oger”, and the true etymology of the word ‘Eiger’ stems from a curious and long-forgotten amalgam of middle high German, Swiss vernacular, and Latin for something like “high peak”. There is a multi-use, groomed run which connects Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher. Trying to save some money, we skinned up this run instead of buying a train ticket to reach Eigergletscher (only 30-45min of easy skinning). Then, we skied down an amazing groomed run for 6 miles and 4500ft of descent from Eigergletscher all the way down to our hostel next to the train station in Grindelwald. All day, the ski resort was bustling and vibrant, and no one at the resort or the train station expected any disruption of service any time soon due to Coronavirus precautions. With the Eigergletscher Guesthouse closed due to construction, Hotel Bahnhof closed due to health precautions, and the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes open but too ritzy, we planned to discreetly bivouac near Eigergletscher. Upon arrival back at Grindelwald, however, we got word that the entire resort (lifts) and the trains would discontinue operation that evening for the indefinite future due to Switzerland’s precautions against Coronavirus. A final and devastating setback. Hotel Bellevue des Alpes with (left to right) Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau behind We had originally come to Grindelwald due to a large high pressure system which was bringing a week of unusually phenomenal weather to the otherwise grim mountain. We’d planned to at least visit in order to understand the approach, logistics and start to observe the conditions on the mountain. The lack of train meant an extra 6 miles and 4500ft gain of approach to the mountain…a mere “sit-start”. We were not yet about to give up and call it quits. Back home, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc lifts were still running under normal operations and both France and Switzerland were not under lockdown, so there was no urgency to leave; no compelling ethical reason to begin self-quarantine. As luck would find it, we found a companion for our laborious day of skinning our heavy load up to Kleine Scheidegg. Another BOEALPS veteran happened to be in Grindelwald at the same time: Fabien Mandrillon. He is revered within the club for his years instructing classes and for being Head Instructor of the Basic Rock Class (as we had also been). He had emigrated to Zurich before we joined the club, and we had hoped to meet him at some point on our Sabbatical. Having pleasant company under these unfortunate circumstances was certainly a delightful way to start our adventure. Surprisingly, we saw only a few other backcountry skiers on the hike up from Grindelwald. The resort had even groomed the track from Grindelwald that morning expecting the closures would not to keep people off the slopes. It was a beautiful day after a light dusting of fresh snow the day prior. If this situation were in Washington, the trail would have been packed with backcountry skiers! Priti and Fabien enjoying a lovely day of skinning Eiger North Face, West Ridge, and West Flank (descent route) Once we were back up at Kleine Scheidegg, under full expectation of sneak-bivouacking within the resort, we were delighted to find one set of accommodations still open (under extenuating circumstances). The grand Hotel Bellevue des Alpes had remained open a few extra days because of a few VIP guests which they were unwilling to expel. Thus, we took a sizable chunk from our Sabbatical budget to fork over to one night of luxury before we took on the Eigerwand. The evening was reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. The entire establishment glistened with immaculate, Old World luxury. Only the remaining handful of guests were being served the magnificent 4-course meal (indeed, one of the greatest in my life) within the halls of the elaborate dining rooms. At dinner, the guests were seated segregated by an optimal number of empty tables so as to assuage our newfound distaste for social interactions. Under strict orders of “No sports attire during dinner”, we sheepishly dined wearing our Eigerwand armor and our complimentary, fuzzy bathroom slippers while the other guests wore formal wear of suits, ties, dresses, and formal shoes. As we found out later, the few guests remaining were elderly patrons going back decades, one of whom had lost her husband of 47 years the week prior, escaping to a memory of their life together. Feeling the rush to appreciate our accommodations with the clear acknowledgement of our pre-dawn start, we spent a few minutes alone in each of the exquisite rooms of the establishment, excitedly recollecting the various scenes filmed there for The Eiger Sanction: the billiards room, the parlor, the bar, the lobby, even the concierge desk. The tolerant bartender with an immaculately groomed beard and pencil-long mustache, served us some truly delightful concoctions ginger ale, tonic water, and citrus: no summit, no party. We wryly noted that whenever we expressed our intent on climbing the Eigerwand, nobody would bat an eye. Naturally expecting some expression of praise (“vanity is one of the prime movers of the world”), we were taken aback at the utter apathy to which the world judged our sepulchral pursuit. We were not special! “Eiger-birds” (hopeful climbers) were a dime a dozen, and we were to receive no accolades before or after our adventure. From our bedroom that evening, we watched winter’s shy sun set early on the North Face of the Eiger, and the nocturnal eyeball of the “Stollenloch” wake up to illuminate the lower slopes. At the turn of the 20th Century, enterprising Swiss railway Engineers blasted an impressive tunnel through the heart of the Eiger, from which two windows were poked through Eiger’s North Face about a third of the way up. One upstream (the “Eigerwand Station”) on the looker’s left side of the face, and one downstream (the “Stollenloch”) on the right side. The Stollenloch (“Door 38”) is a small, purely utilitarian window which was used to jettison debris from the early railroad construction over a century ago and was never a tourist observation window. Some climbers have approached by walking up the railroad tracks and exiting the Stollenloch to bypass the lower snow slopes of the face. Approaching via the Stollenloch is generally considered taboo, while nearly all climbers take the train up to Eigergletscher (and down as well). We have to start somewhere, and it’s not Bern! Still, it’s worth noting that Kurz and Hinterstoisser biked from Berchtesgaden, Germany, nearly 400miles away…perhaps the true sit-start for the Eigerwand! When there is enough snow, climbers stash skis up high for a victory ski lap back down to Grindelwald to top off the climb. Train entering the depths of the Eiger tunnel The Heckmair route goes very near the Stollenloch which has given this window quite a reputation through the climbing history of the face. The other gallery (the Eigerwand Station) is not near any other popular climbing route and is on the far left side of the face. The Eigerwand Station is an engineering feat, clearly visible from the valley floor, consisting of a series of several large balconies (later converted to glass windows) that mar this limestone sculpture. Since the Jungfraujoch extension opened in 1912, tourists have been able to lean over the vertiginous parapets to marvel at the face’s dizzying slopes. The balconies were even outfitted with paper bags in the event that a tourist experienced any physiological discomforts! The Eigerwand Station was a 5 minute train stop solely for tourist observation from 1912 until 2016, when newer, faster railway vehicles were incorporated, and this renowned observation point was put out of service. Interestingly, since the Eigerwand Station’s closure, “much of the publicity material fails to acknowledge that this viewpoint station ever existed” (Wikipedia). Quizzically, the iconic and celebrated Eigerwand station was axed in order to add one more train and reduce travel time to Jungfraujoch. The smaller, unassuming window, the Stollenloch, on the other hand, still plays just as an important role as it ever has. In 1936, after his other partners perished on the face, Tony Kurz froze to death in front of the Stollenloch while rappelling in free space, unable to pass a knot in the rope, just out of reach from rescue workers (recounted in the German film ‘Nordwand’). Clint Eastwood was rescued through this window in The Eiger Sanction. A window which has always served as a trap door for climbers to miraculously transport themselves from the unforgiving alpine face to the civilized world. The window from which many climbers escaped storms including Mugs Stump, who in 1981 after finding this shelter and bounding down the tunnel towards Eigergletscher was only to realize the true horror of trying to plaster his body within the 1-foot clearance of the rocky walls while the immutably time-conscious Swiss train rolled past him (Source: Krakauer’s “Eiger Dreams”). I made sure to have a copy of the train’s timetable in case we had to Gooney our way down this escape-chute/death-trap! While climbing this route, we were most impressed at the abilities of the early climbers 80 years prior being able to climb on such difficult terrain with such rudimentary equipment: Karl Mehringer, Max Sedlmeyer, Andreas Hinterstoisser, Toni Kurz, Ludwig Vörg, Anderl Heckmair, Louis Lachenal, and Lionel Terray. These climbers were total badasses. Their efforts boggle the mind. Many of the cruxes on this route are no-shit overhangs on brittle rock, downsloping ledges, and poor protection (if any at all). With a pre-dawn start from our comfortable beds at the foot of the Eiger, we stepped out into a frozen darkness. We walked the extra 45min from Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher on a deserted ski run, passing by several early-morning construction workers who were less-than-enthusiastic about our presence as we tip-toed through the construction site onto the lower snow slopes of the Eigerwand. A recent blog post by an Italian team had us hopeful that their steps in the snow would pave the way. But alas, we found no steps and instead had to make our path and kick our own steps (later deeming that the blogpost was not clearly dated and was actually from earlier in January). Since much of the route is snow travel, the existence (or not) of another party’s snow steps can drastically alter your timeline in terms of both physical exertion and time spent routefinding. It is important to intimately know the features on the face, the names of the pitches, the condition of the cruxes. The route was so meticulously memorized as we quizzed each other on the drive up, that it felt as though we were executing a victory lap of versed, choreographed sequences of movements through Nintendo’s Mario Bros (with a princess waiting on top). First, traverse across easy snow slopes towards the First Pillar, zig-zagging across snowed-over limestone ledges up to the Shattered Pillar, and finally the ‘Difficult Crack’, the crux-y start of the actual climbing. Memorize This! Sadly, we never even saw the Stollenloch. The route passes nearby, but not directly over the Stollenloch, and is very much out-of-the-way. A party behind us on the same day purposefully started late so that they could spend their first night inside the Stollenloch (requiring a good amount digging). The Difficult Crack is still truly difficult (and also hard to find)! The Difficult Crack is the start of the technical part of the climb. If there is low snow coverage, you’ll have an extra pitch much lower down, before The Difficult Crack (just above the bergschrund and next to ‘the plaque’) which is a straight up rock corner. However, we were able to easily bypass this pitch with an easy snow ramp. Many parties don’t even find The Difficult Crack and instead pick their way up much harder variations to get up to the Hinterstoisser Traverse. It’s especially important to know what the Difficult Crack looks like (keep pictures on your phone) and how to get there (a traverse about 10-15m long heading right and slightly downhill). After that, the rest of the routefinding on the Heckmair is relatively trivial. The Hinterstoisser Traverse is infamous for its very difficult climbing with snow/ice over blank slabs situated under the impressive overhang of the massive blank face of the Rote Fluh. The Rote Fluh is one of two major obstacles on the face (the other is the Gelbewand), and they are both seriously impressive overhanging faces. Shown above: start of Hinterstoisser (low angle snow) which then turns into steep slab with fixed ropes (no picture) A permanent rope is affixed to the Hinterstoisser Traverse due to its incredible difficulty (everybody pulls on them!) but also as an homage to the 1936 tragedy when the entire team perished while trying to retreat down the face but were unable to reverse the traverse (likely due to fresh verglas plastered to the slabs). Our feeble notion of “free-ing” the Heckmair route quickly evaporated in our minds almost at the very first move of technical climbing. This route is longer and more difficult than we could have imagined, but we were prepared for every obstacle. The mixed climbing is seemingly never-ending and the overhanging steepness of the cruxes were shocking for a route completed 80 years ago. After the Hinterstoisser Traverse, more fixed lines lead up through a short chimney (‘Swallow’s Nest’) to the First Icefield, which had good névé and offered good step-kicking. A narrow gully connects the First and Second Icefields with the only pure ice climbing pitch on the route: the Ice Hose. If you’re unlucky, the pitch is bone-dry and makes for extremely difficult rock climbing (a variation on its left). Lachenal and Terray opted for the rock variation on the second ascent of the route in 1947, deeming that the WI3 Ice Hose would take too long to chop steps! Nowadays, with modern ice climbing technique, climbers are truly blessed if they find it was we did: in WI3 conditions, heavily featured, and easily accepting “stubby” ice screws. The start of the ice hose is just visible in the middle (sorry I didn't get a better pic) The Second Icefield is a long, snowy traverse on low-angled ground to get to mixed corners (Bügeleisen, or ‘Flatiron’ buttress) and finally to the wall’s first and only decent bivouac: the ‘Death Bivouac’ (aka ‘Karl-Max Bivouac’ where Mehringer and Sedlmeyer froze to death in 1935). It was dark by the time we got to the mixed corners of the ‘Flatiron’ and the climbing was terribly difficult with long runouts and poor protection at about M5. The corners were bare of snow and ice. While leading the pitch, I recalled a story from Barry Blanchard in The Calling of his and Kevin Doyle’s ascent of the Grand Central Couloir on Mount Kitchener where Doyle took off his mitts and licked his fingers so that they would stick to the rock and help his purchase. I took off my beefy climbing gloves in the cold darkness and found the extra stickiness of my bare fingers also provided excellent aid on the downsloping ledges! I could withstand the pain for a few minutes (it was probably 15F outside) if it helped prevent me from falling from my precarious perch. We finally made it to the Death Bivouac and we had been moving much slower than anticipated all day with only 12hrs of sunlight. Knowing that it was improbable that we would make the summit the next day, we planned to have a short day and bivouac again at the route’s only other decent bivouac: the ‘Traverse of the Gods’. Here at the Death Bivouac, we had to dig out a platform under a narrow overhang. Surprisingly, our ledge was just wide enough to sleep side-by-side… a welcome and unexpected luxury. We had each brought a thin, lightweight sleeping bag and a short, inflatable ‘summer’ sleeping pad. While brewing up dinner, I was horrified to discover that my sleeping pad had a hole which prevented it from staying inflated. I therefore had to sleep three nights in sub-freezing temperatures on narrow ledges with only ropes and backpacks under my ass! Every morning was difficult. We woke with the sunlight and made coffee with very little urgency. The entire climb felt rather like a holiday with a very leisurely itinerary and perfect weather. Ashamedly, we spent more time on the face than the first ascent in 1938 and the second ascent in 1947. The face doesn’t receive sun until late in the evening where you are lucky to get 30-60min of direct sunlight on your face. After the Death Bivouac, a short traverse across the Third Icefield leads to ‘The Ramp’, several pitches of easy mixed ground which funnels up to the ‘Waterfall Chimney’ (possibly the crux of the entire route). The Ramp (much like the Hinterstoisser) crawls timidly under another massive overhanging face, the Gelbewand. The ‘Waterfall Chimney’ is a genuine overhanging chimney of few holds which gushes with water in the summertime. Luckily, being in winter there was no water (good) but also no ice (bad). Usually when climbed in colder parts of the night, the spring/summer thaw freezes and makes the pitch much more palatable. Above here, the route splits into another chimney on the right (not advised) and a tenuous traverse above a head-spinning overhang on the left. The chimney above looked so well protected with fixed ropes and pitons everywhere, but every topo told us to go left around the corner instead. This leftward traverse spits the climber above a dizzying overhang, balancing on delicate, unprotectable limestone discs. A fall would mean a giant pendulum into space, dangling thousands of feet above the concave of the face below. Luckily, a multitude of pitons after a long runout help surmount a final bulge to a short, stout icefield cirque. Above: the Waterfall Chimney, overall crux of the route (in our opinion). Other contenders: Difficult Crack, Crystal Crack, Exit Chimney Above this icefield is a steep wall which you traverse on the ‘Brittle Ledges’. In Conquistadors of the Useless, Lionel Terray describes the Brittle Ledges as “tottering, piled up crockery”, which is as best a description as I can surmount. Luckily those piled up crockery are surprisingly solid, making for very interesting traversing on impossibly protruding discs. One final crux to reach our next bivouac: the Brittle Crack. From a hanging belay, you surmount a sizable bulge via perfect hand/fist cracks. This may have been the most fun pitch of the route, gleefully taking off my gloves and jamming my way up solid cracks in sub-freezing temps. Above: Traverse of the Gods bivouac Here, one finds a final bivouac at the beginning of the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, so named because it miraculously provided passage to the final major feature (the White Spider) for the first ascensionists. This accommodation was much narrower than the Death Bivouac and we were forced to sleep narrowly in a line, head-to-toe (with feet dangling off the sides). A typical timeline is to do the route in 2 days with one bivouac here at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, making for a VERY big first day from Eigergletscher. The ‘Traverse of the Gods’ takes easy mixed ground rightward to the lower-left appendage of the ‘The White Spider’, a large snow/icefield high on the face. The White Spider is an obvious concave weakness in the wall spotted from the valley floor which was more black-and-blue this time of year than “white”. In winter, the snow/hail sloughs off immediately and the upper part of the face does not get above freezing during the day. Therefore, the White Spider was hard ice for us (instead of easy névé of the late spring and summer). This made for strenuous front-pointing on bullet-hard ice to the final left-trending ramp (the ‘Exit Cracks’) which led to the summit slopes. Above: Start of the Traverse of the Gods. Just before the next belayer in the background, the traverse goes up slightly, then back down. Above: Further along the Traverse of the Gods (the lower end of the White Spider just visible) Above: The White Spider, with Exit Cracks (ramp) above Moderate mixed terrain up this ramp ends at a final crux, the 15 meter long ‘Quartz (or Crystal) Crack’ (due to the splotches of Quartz on the limestone face). Sometimes there can be ice in this off-width overhang, but we found it dry. Steve House calls this pitch “Enjoyable when dry”. Priti led this pitch brilliantly, employing virtually every tool in the kit. Another mixed corner leads to a short traverse/rappel on a fixed line to the left-most couloir: the ‘Exit Chimney’. Above: Quartz Crack (technical crux, but short) It was my turn to lead on what looked like an exceptionally fun pitch of easy 5.6 terrain in a wide, hamstring-stretching chimney, of which all three walls resembled a washboard of downward-sloping holds. The crux here is not so much its difficulty as is its headiness. If you’re lucky, there is ice in this chimney (for climbing on and not for placing ice screws in!), but we found it dry as is expected in winter. The limestone is so compact in this chimney that protection does not exist for about 20ft. Your first piton is visible from the bottom of the pitch and you eye it up ravenously as you climb higher. Wide stemming and outward bare-handed palming are more valuable than pure dry tool technique. Here, mono points find value in the corners of the shallow chimney as you try not to look down. A fall would mean cheese-grating on this washboard slab onto a narrow snowy ledge over an overhang into space. The final moves to the first piece of protection were some of the headiest of my life as I made a dynamic (admittedly ungraceful) throw with my ice tool to the weathered cord hanging from a doubtful piton. After this point, another 100m of much lower-angled couloir climbing takes you to the ‘Summit Snowfields’. Above: Exit Chimney (psychological crux) This pain-in-the-ass route never ends! Above: 200m low-angle mixed just before summit snow/icefield You still have 200m of easy, mixed terrain followed by another 200m of bullet-hard low-angle ice to finally reach where the summit ridgeline meets the Mittelegri Ridge. We knew the summit was flat enough for a bivy site, but we found a luxuriously wide flat spot earlier, at this juncture with the Mittellegi Ridge. Here, this comfortable bivouac overlooked the Bernese Oberland down to the North and the Ischmeer Glacier (‘Ice Sea’) down to the South, with a brilliant sunset and sunrise. Above: Our final bivouac, just where the Mittellegi Ridge meets the summit ridgeline. The next morning was a casual stroll on an easy, snowy ridgeline to the summit as we enjoyed finally being showered in sunlight. Earlier, at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’ a French team of two and a Swiss team of two passed us as we made coffee. We were glad to have people pass us so they would blaze a descent trail down the West Flank of the Eiger. In summer, the descent can be an annoying affair with rappels and down climbing. But in winter, it’s easy snow all the way down to Eigergletscher, and we were glad to have tracks going down the slopes. Above: looking down at Grindelwald and the Berner Oberland Above: Looking down the Eiger's West Flanks (Eigergletscher and Kleine Scheidegg are visible below) Above: View from Eigergletscher up the Eiger's West Flanks. Check out (Instagram) @eiger_daily post (Feb 5, 2020) for a good overlay and description of the descent. We picked up our cached skis at Kleine Scheidegg and enjoyed the victory ski lap down to Grindelwald on yet another perfectly sunny day in a deserted ski resort. As soon as we got back to Grindelwald, we got an automated text from the French government (sent to all French phone numbers) that France was now in lockdown. The next morning, we high-tailed it back to Chamonix to commence 4 weeks of mandatory lockdown. Selected History of the Eigerwand: 1935 - Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer established a line to the First Icefield (much further left on the face from the Heckmair route) and established the path to the ‘Death Bivouac’ where they perished. Their line to the First Icefield is not often climbed and has much more sustained difficulty and objective hazard. 1936 - Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser established a new line to the First Icefield which then met up with the Mehringer-Sedlmeyer route up to the ‘Death Bivouac’ before retreating in a storm. This new line went up through ‘The Difficult Crack’ and across the ‘Hinterstoisser Traverse’. Hinterstoisser masterfully crossed this difficult slab with a series of strenuous tension traverses. Nowadays, most climbers just pull on the fixed lines across the Hinterstoisser Traverse, although with enough snow and skill, the Traverse can be free’d. Kurz, Hinterstoisser, and two other climbers (Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer) perished on retreat during a storm, as recounted dramatically in the German movie Nordwand. 1938 - Anderl Heckmair, Heinrich Harrer, Fritz Kasparek and Ludwig Vorg complete the first ascent via the Kurz/Hinterstoisser variation (reference Harrer’s book The White Spider). 1947 - Second Ascent by Lionel Terray and Louis Lachenal (reference Terray’s book Conquistadors of the Useless). 1957 - Two Italians (Claudio Corti and Stefano Longhi) and two Germans (Franz Meyer and Gunther Nothdurft) epic on the Heckmair Route in bad weather (scathingly recounted in Conquistadors and White Spider). Only Corti survived. Corti sat for four days on a narrow ledge near the top of the face at the base of the Exit Chimney before a 52-person rescue operation unfolded, finally rescuing him with the use a summit-mounted winch and steel cable. Topo maps still point out this “Corti Bivouac”, however the term “bivouac” is more tongue-in-cheek since this tiny protrusion would no place to spend a night. 1961 - First winter ascent, Walter Almberger, Toni Hiebeler, Toni Kinshofer, and Anderl Mannhardt. 1963 - First solo ascent, Michel Darbellay, in 18hrs. 1964 - Daisy Voog first female ascent. 1971 - First helicopter rescue from the face. Today, the company ‘Air-Glaciers’ regularly plucks climbers off the face with reliable mastery. 1987 - Christophe Profit free-solo’s an enchainment of the North Faces of the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses (the “Alps Trilogy”) in a single push (with paraglider and helicopter transport) in under 42 hours. Many say this event marked the beginning of the era of the “fast and light” style in mountaineering. 1991 - Jeff Lowe put up the Metanoia route straight up the middle of the face (solo and in winter) with unparalleled, visionary madness. 2007 - Roger Schaeli (“Mister Eiger”, with 52 ascents at the time of this writing) belayed by Christoph Hainz establish the route “Magic Mushroom” (so named for the iconic mushroom-shaped pillar on the West Ridge on which the route tops out), rated 7c+ (5.13a) 2008 - Dean Potter free-BASE’s Deep Blue Sea (5.12+) then jumps from the top. 2015 - Sasha DiGiulian first female to free “Magic Mushroom”, along with Carlo Traversi 2015 - Ueli Steck solos the Heckmair Route in 2 hours 22 minutes 50 seconds 2016 - After 25 years, Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia route sees a second ascend by phenoms Thomas Huber, Roger Schaeli, and Stephan Siegrist. Beta side-note: Bring a pocket full of Swiss Franc coins! There are large lockers at the Kleine Scheidegg train station to store ski boots (5 Swiss francs), ski lockers (2 Swiss francs per pair of skis), and a high-powered viewing telescope at the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes to look at conditions on the face (1 Swiss franc). Special Thanks to @eiger_daily for your incredible hospitality, support, and beta; you are truly fostering a wonderful community in the Berner Oberland. Resources: Aside from browsing blog posts and Google Images for route overlays, Eigertopo.com is the best route description we found. This little pamphlet provides pitch-by-pitch descriptions as well as informative overlays. This little book is literally all you need!! Also check out @eiger_daily (Instagram) for recent pictures of the face and also scroll through the post for the best overlay and gear beta. More important beta from Steve House: https://www.uphillathlete.com/climb-eiger-north-face/ Uphill Athlete Training Plan: https://www.uphillathlete.com/eiger-north-face-training-plan/ The Italian topo here is VERY descriptive and shockingly accurate. Take belay locations with a grain of salt. Link or combine as many pitches as you can: https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/189333/en/eiger-n-face-heckmair-route Gear Notes: Single rack #.3-1 (5 cams), nuts, 1 piton (didn't use), 5 ice screws (2 stubby's), 2 technical ice tools each, monopoint crampons, light (summer) sleeping bags, puffy pants, big-ass belay parkas, short 3/4 length (summer) inflatable sleeping pad, 60m 8.7mm rope, 6 quickdraws, 4 single-length alpine draws, 4 double-length alpine draws, cordalette, 3 micro traxions for the team (for simul climbing) Approach Notes: Normal approach from Eigergletscher
  2. 9 points
    Trip: Mt Rainier - Central Mowich Face (IV, AI2, 60 degrees) Trip Date: 07/13/2019 Trip Report: @nkimmes and I climbed the Central Mowich Face on Rainier July 13 - 14, 2019. We left the skis at home for once and sent it in a two day push from Mowich Lake to White River. Approach from the Mowich Lake campground was straight forward for the early miles. The trails winds up through wooded hills toward spray creek and eventually gains a large, open alpine landscape. The trees gave way to alpine brush and small talus that undulated with the movement of glaciers long gone. After a fairly long cross country section we reached the benign Flett Glacier. This permanent snowfield is situated low on the flanks of the mountain under Echo and Observation Rocks. Our path took us between them, close to the east side of Observation. Visibility was not good. Low hanging clouds roiled over the rocks and the landscape around us. The glacier seceded to loose volcanic rock. Our footsteps sank with each stride to gain Ptarmigan Ridge. This point marked the end of the easy terrain. From this point we knew that previous parties had found a fairly heinous down climb/scramble over steep, loose rock to the glacier below. Some beta also indicated that there might be a permanent snowfield. Ultimately we decided to drop off the side of the ridge at just over 8200 ft. It was loose as promised, but overall the slope was not treacherous. Eventually we did run into a snowfield that made downhill travel a bit easier until we reached the outer edge of the North Mowich Glacier at 7200 ft. We roped up for the first time and travelled through a beautiful jigsaw of monster crevasses. We took a direct line toward the base of the route, instead of circumventing the core of the glacier out toward the Edmund Headwall as described in the guidebook. One crevasse was crossed by down climbing the wall on one side to access a depressed, knife edge bridge about ten feet below the lip of the crevasse. We tiptoed across and climbed back up the other side. After 12 hours on the move we reached a rock band at 10,200' above the double bergshrund guarding the route. We pitched the tent, melted snow and attempted to drink sand filled water and made funny videos condemning Jet Boil for being shit in the wind. Sleep did not come easy. The wind had picked up substantially and after a brief 30 minutes in my sleeping bag, heard a large crash from up high on the mountain. Seconds later, from the darkness of the tent, my heart sunk as a massive boulder plummeted past our perch to the glacier below. Sleep didn't come at all. The alarm went off at 1am and we started up at 3am. Conditions were perfect. We rolled out of the tent to clear skies, no wind and cruiser neve except for a small vein of AI2 near the top, at the start of the grade IV variation that leads out onto a ramp above the EH instead of traversing left through the rock band at the top of the CMF. We felt secure and free solo'd the entire 3000' face to 13,200'. From there it was slow going as we slogged through high wind up Liberty Cap and over the plateau to summit on Columbia Crest. After an involuntary nap looking out over the top of the DC, we traversed the mountain with a descent dow the Emmons Glacier. It had been a big trip. We were wrecked and stoked that it had gone so smooth, especially since i was supposed to catch a flight to Boston the next day. Cheers! The route as seen from the road to Mowich Lake. The early part of the North Mowich Glacier after the descent from Ptarmigan Ridge. Monster crevasses that could eat a semi-truck. 10,200' bivy sunset was something else. @nkimmes on the main face as the horizon started to get light. Perfect other than my crampon kept falling off. Near the top of the face at the AI2 vein. No words necessary. Stoked! Summit! Gear Notes: Pickets, couple screws Approach Notes: Mowich Lake TH
  3. 9 points
    Trip: Cabinet Mountains - Multiple Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: I just wanted to share some photos and descriptions from the last couple ice seasons in the Cabinet Mountains. Anyone who got the 2019 AAJ or Alpinist 64 might have already seen pictures of the area. There have been a handful of Spokane area climbers putting up routes over the last couple seasons. All the climbing has been done out of Granite Lake which is near Libby, MT in the Cabinet Mountains. The climbing is quite varied, from single pitch WI3 to 1000ft hard ice and mixed routes. The area has been divided up into 3 big areas….A Peak, The Thunderdome, and Three Tiers. A picture is worth a thousand words so I will just resort to numerous pictures instead of more text……let the stoke begin for next season!! Looking across Granite Lake with A Peak towering 4000 feet above. The Thunderdome is the large sub dome in the center of the picture. The Thunderdome!! Some of the best ice routes anywhere around. Scott Coldiron and Matt Cornell on the first ascent of Mad Max, WI5+ (8 pitches). Nate Kenney climbing a steep skinny pillar called War Boys, WI5+. Scott Coldiron climbing a crazy pitch called Underworld, WI3. This route is 20m long and entirely inside an ice cave 500 feet up the Thunderdome! Another view of the spectacular A Peak and the upper wall of the Thunderdome. The big ice in the center of the wall is Road Warrior, WI5, M5 (8 pitches). Looking up the huge gash on A Peak. Scott Coldiron and Jess Roskelley put up the route Canmore Wedding Party AI5, M7, 750m, which ascends this central gash. The climb got nominated for a Piolet d'Or in 2019. Note: the large sheet of ice on the bottom rock band is still unclimbed as of 2020. Looking up the wide start to the "Blaster Routes". Blaster, WI4 is five pitches of ice while Master Blaster WI4, M5, (10 pitches) continues to the top of the Thunderdome. Looking up from the lake at the "Three Tiers". These cliffs have about 20-25 ice and mixed routes that have been done. A closer view of the the ice (during a fat season) on the center of the 2nd Tier with the 3rd Tier above. Scott Coldiron on the first ascent of Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. Zach Turner leading The Dag, WI3 on the 2nd Tier......a super fun mellow corner. A shot of some of the 3rd Tier routes. Gyro Captain, WI4, goes up the ice on the right while Pig Killer, WI3, takes a line up some of the ice on the left. Multiple possibilities exist for mixed routes connecting the lower ice flows in the center up through the rock to the hanging ice above. Zach Tuner rappelling off Max's Bloodline, WI4, with the impressive routes on Thunderdome in the background. Jonathan Klaucke climbing funky ice on Cheedo, WI3-4, on the 2nd Tier. Looking across at the right hand end of the Three Tiers from the Thunderdome. The wide flow in the center is the start of Tomorrow Land, WI3+, 3 pitches, while the ice up on the right is Devil's Brownies, WI4, 2 pitches, and then farther right is Scales of Justice, WI4/5. Zach Tuner on the skinny pillar start to Splendid Angharad, WI5. The flow farther left is called Capable, WI4. Looking up the 2nd pitch of Tomorrow Land, WI3+ on the first ascent. This fat climb called Nightrider, WI4, 3 pitches, is on the far left of the Thunderdome. It is a bit longer of a hike from the lake but the route is a stellar moderate! Scott Coldiron climbing the crux 2nd pitch of Nightrider, WI4. Brian White starting up the classic Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. The ice beyond him is the route Cheedo, WI3-4. Zack Turner on the sharp end during the first ascent of Grease Rat, WI4....a really fun route on the 3rd Tier. Matt Cornell working through the crux of Sarcophagus of Lies, M6. The route continues up and left until you can stem between the rock and the ice dagger above. This is a stellar line on the 3rd Tier with "quality climbing as good as Come and Get It" according to Matt. Brian White putting up a short route called Mystery Gas, WI3 on the 3rd Tier. Syd Atencio and Nate Kenney climbing up Devil's Brownies, WI4, on the Three Tiers. Granite Lake and the surrounding basin in the background. I think one of my favorite things about the climbing here is the views....it just never gets old!! Every time I walk across Granite Lake I have to pause and just look up. Hopefully this will get some people stoked about climbing up there because it is a beautiful spot with fantastic climbing. Happy to answer any beta questions or run them through Scott. Gear Notes: Ice screws......rock gear for mixed routes. Approach Notes: All climbs are best accessed from the Granite Lake trailhead. In winter it is a 9 mile hike/skin into the lake with about 2000 ft of elevation gain. Count on 4-9 hours depending on conditions. From downtown Libby, take Highway 2 east one mile to Shaugnessy road. Take a right and follow this for .7 miles before turning left onto Snowshoe road. After 1/2 mile take a right turn onto Granite Lake road. In .8 miles stay left on Granite Lake road and continue for 4 miles. This is the end of the pavement and where the snowplows stop in the winter. The Granite Lake trailhead is still another 3 miles but you will have to walk/skin/snowmobile that distance in the winter. There is usually plenty of room to park several cars just be mindful not to block the road or any of the neighbor’s driveways. From here follow the snow covered road for 3 miles to the actual Granite Lake trailhead. The road is mostly level with a few gradual climbs (400 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles). From the trailhead hike/skin the trail 6 miles up to the lake.
  4. 8 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - Yocum Ridge Solo Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: "It's not my imagination, I've got a gun at my back!" -Revenge, Black Flag Yocum Ridge is the first route I ever thought about climbing. I remember looking at the striking line from the bus stop in my elementary school. Even though I knew nothing about climbing at the time, the sheer beauty of the route captivated me. As I have accumulated some knowledge about climbing, I learned the route wouldn't go down so easy. Something about the jagged ridgeline dulled by rime gives Yocum a special sense of beauty. Today I set out to realize a childhood fantasy of mine. 3:00 and I'm starting the slog up the mountain. My morale is already low because I forgot my headphones. This damn climb is going to make me absorb the sounds of nature! Two hours or so of walking takes me up to Illumination Saddle. Here I lay eyes on the silhouette of Yocum ridge by headlamp. Nerves turn to excitement as the clock strikes 5:00. The glacier crossing was easier than I expected thanks to all the action the route has seen over the past few weeks. The footprints take me to a headwall a little to the right of where the guidebook says to go. The squeaking and ringing of my ice tools puts me into a trance. After about 150 feet of steep-ish climbing, I gain the ridge. Yocum starts off with a tease. An easy and welcoming rime stepped staircase obscures the rest of the ridge from view. I'll play your game. When the first gendarme comes into view, I have to fight thoughts of doubt coming into my head. At first sight, the rime covered sentinel looks steep and unforgiving at every point. The closer I get however, the clearer the line becomes. My cold helmet feels like a gun against the back of my head. I know it's time. I start to the right of a cave and quickly cut left. The ice feels solid and I flow through a steeper gully. 30 meters or so in, I arrive at the crux. Solid snow and ice turn to dead vertical swiss cheese. Through delicate movement and prayer, I fire through the crux. Each stick felt like a weak handshake. The section required commitment to tools placed in an unknown mixture of snow/ice with dubious feet. Finally, I reach the top of the first gendarme. My blood pressure drops slightly as I soak in the beauty of the bladed ridge that lies in front. Here I am extremely grateful for the groups before me who did the heavy rime clearing and bollard building. From the bollard at the end of the gendarme, I downclimb while on rappel to traverse across an exposed section to a big ledge. This beta worked well for me and seemed to alleviate problems some other groups were having. As I started the traverse pitch to the second gendarme, I felt something fall out of my pocket. I turn my head just in time to see my phone fly down the snow slopes and disappear into the glacier below. Perhaps my phone was the sacrifice the route required. Better phone than blood. Then, like clockwork, a raven swoops by me and perches itself on the tip of the first gendarme. We stare at each other for a minute and I thank him for allowing me to experience this route today. I know that I'm just a guest in the mountains. From here on I felt as if I had permission to continue my journey, hopefully my dues were already paid. The ridge widened the further I traversed down it. Passing the second gendarme was the most secure I felt since getting on route. More slogging took me to another bollard (this time with tat!) off of the third gendarme. I chose to rap north to avoid more thin ridge fuckery. Walking along the steep snow slopes took more energy than I thought. My calves burned and cursed me for bringing two single ropes to rap with. More training I guess. Even though some exposure was still present, I began to meditate with the route. Every swing, foot placement, and movement just felt right. As crawled back over to west side, the sun reared its ugly face, and I began to sweat my ass off. I followed more good tracks around to the right of the final buttress. The last buttress is like a fortress full of impassible walls and sneaky gullies. The first gully I started up took me about 150 feet and ended with impassible rime towers. I downclimbed and again, moved right. Here I could see tracks going to Leuthold from Yocum Ridge. Now I knew I was no longer under the gun. One of the rightmost gullies brought success. I tormented my calves up a few hundred more feet until I topped out the buttress at around 12:30. From the top of the buttress, one final ridge traverse took me to the Queen's Chair. 6 year old Landon would be proud. Looking down the ridge I could see all the minute details that made this route special. Negotiating the route was digging into the alpine bag of tricks and executing. I chose not to tag the summit because I wanted to search the base of the route for my phone (spoiler alert: the phone disappeared into a different dimension). Hiking down Leuthold gave me time to absorb the mountain more. Striking blue accents on rime towers, weird ice formations on the glacier, and the forest just miles away all presented themselves. Days like this make me question the future. I'm sure one day I'll find something that will bring me peace. I often think about Mark Twight saying that climbing can be "too much but never enough." Yocum Ridge was one of, if not the best alpine routes I have experienced. Although it wasn't technically difficult, the sheer volume of spectacular movement truly makes this one of a kind. On the way down I wept. For some reason this route had a different impact on me. Maybe it was the feeling of complete peace and isolation, maybe it was the sheer beauty of it all. Maybe I'm just emotional. I stumbled into the Timberline at around 4:00 and unlocked my car. With the clicking of the lock, my reality had become just a memory. Gear Notes: Basically a sport climb Approach Notes: Attack the ridge at about 8800ft
  5. 6 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Face Gully Attempt Trip Date: 11/29/2019 Trip Report: Sorry I didn't post this for a few months, but basically I was scared of others going up there, turning around and seeing the massive ice flows on Sloan, and poaching our prize. But what's done is done so now I want to share what I learned from an attempt of the East Face Gully of Sperry over Thanksgiving 2019. This trip report (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7980139) caught my attention and Sperry became the focus of my fall alpine efforts. The east face is a beautiful 3000 ft wall with just an hour approach! This gully looked absolutely sweet, like some moderate mixed/snow/ice route. This was the only report I could ever find, so it was hard to know what to expect. Fall 2019 was very dry for us. At elevations below 5000 ft, there was no snow come mid November. Then, right before Thanksgiving, it dumped about a foot down to 3000 ft and got extremely cold (highs in the 30s in the lowlands). Good for ice right? Sperry. Approach slabs on the left. Gully obvious in the middle. Daniel and I drove up to the trailhead and hiked into Wirtz Basin around sunrise. We could immediately tell we were in trouble. The 3rd to 4th class approach slabs looked like they were covered in thin verglass and fresh powder. We started up them, but decided we wouldn't be soloing them (Daniel was pretty new to ice climbing at this point) so we tried going through the dense trees to the right. This was impossible, running into steep cliffs and powder on no base. We bailed back to the slabs. Typical climbing in the approach slabs. We broke out the rope and I led up the right side of the slabs on WI1-2 R where sometimes your crampons would bust through to the rock. It was very insecure, albeit easy. Just not what Hyalite prepares you for. I belayed Daniel off a small bush and then we scrambled up higher. Then to the right there was a little WI3 near vertical step for 20-30 ft that might have taken 6 cm screws. I now realize this was the "little icy step" Jim referred to in his trip report. Damn, those guys were tough. Another veggie belay brought Daniel up. The next section involved climbing atop branches while getting soaked in powder. Then we traversed across more 3rd class slabs covered in fresh powder in crampons. My crampons were brand new and suffered dearly. Finally, we were staring up the gut at the gully, around 4000 ft. It was near noon and the strong sun was causing snow to constantly cascade down the gully. It looked absolutely icy and beautiful! Certainly one of the most beautiful gullies I've ever seen, but we were too late to continue. The powder would have been heinious. We stopped here. But the ice looked so good! Sloan, with the lines already forming. We rapped off trees back down to the valley floor. We took a walk further up Wirtz Basin and admired the incredible geometric features of Sperry. It is truly one of the underrated great mountains of the North Cascades. There were all of these cutting edge mixed ice routes that went 1000 ft up the SE face in the deep chimneys and cuts, but then they just petered out into nothing. There were even some chimneys like hundreds of feet deep and perfectly angular. I could just imagine Colin Haley deep in the darkness, climbing some great new route. I'd love to come back in the summer and climb one of the huge 2000 ft rock routes Beckey mentions that never get climbed anymore. I think the east face gully could be a great summer scramble, 3000 ft of scrambling with basically no approach. This is an incredible mountain. This looks like an incredible route. We'll be back! Inspiring SE side of Sperry. I've seen another mountain like it. Serious ice potential further up the valley. Cool easier ice potential up on Morning Star. Great north face of Sperry. Wonder if that route has seen a repeat? North face Big Four. Lessons learned: * this is a tricky route to nail in proper conditions. If that low snow hadn't fallen, the approach slabs would've been dry (like they were for Jim), but would the gully had been filled in? Probably not this year. We needed more snowfall above 4000 ft. Or if just a bunch of snow falls to 3000 ft and consolidates, but you can still drive to the trailhead, that'd work also. Or just climb this route in mid winter consolidated conditions with a sled access. * The approach slabs are really the only way to go. Don't try to go around. * those old timers are tough mothertruckers. Gear Notes: A few screws, some rock gear. Approach Notes: Short, probably one hour if you can drive to the trailhead. But the slabs can be cruxy...
  6. 6 points
    There was a good bit of wind that morning on the approach but it stopped when I got to the saddle. I didn't find a breeze on the approach to be significant compared to the rest of my day out. Going down Leuthold I didn't experience any significant icefall. Both of the bollards were solid and I thoroughly inspected them beforehand. I brought a picket and some bags to make deadmans if the bollards were shit. My tracks going to Yocum were there, along with a bunch of other parties. I went to an elementary school in Gresham with a great view of Hood. I have some sick tan lines and a new iPhone if you doubt those too. If you want more details you can message me. I don't lie about my climbs and am as open as I can be. The sunrise that morning was beautiful!
  7. 6 points
    With some time on my hands with the quarantine and all, I decided to compile some research. Here's a list of "forgotten" Cascade alpine testpieces (ice focused) or FACTs. Feel free to add some others I left out! Who's gonna be the first to tick the entire list? I apologize for all the weird formatting. I just copied this post from my blog https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/22/forgotten-cascade-alpine-ice-routes/. I90 I90 climbs offer the best access and easiest conditions to predict. There are undoubtedly many more climbs to be discovered in this area with easy access, generally good rock, and surprisingly rugged little mountains. Mt. Kent, North Face (multiple variations): the greatest north face in the Snoqualmie region with many long 1000 ft lines. Bonus: you can see conditions from I90 near exit 42 while driving west! This has been super high on my list to explore. Snoqualmie Mt, North Face (multiple variations): an abundance of mixed ice lines like the classic New York Gully and the lesser known Pineapple Express and Blue Moon. Abiel Peak, North Face (multiple variations): the “Ben Nevis” of the PNW has many shorter alpine ice and mixed lines. Bryant Peak, Hot Tubbs: Maybe this route hasn’t been around long enough since Jacob and I published it, but it reportedly hasn’t seen much action, so I think it’ll be forgotten soon enough… Summit Chief Mountain, North Face: Colin Haley said this line had “more ice climbing than any other Cascade ice climb” he had ever done at the time. Big compliment. The North Face is much like Dragontail, just fatter. Peak 3964, False Idol: An incredible 10 pitch ice route off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie that needs very cold temps to form. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the ice potential in the Middle Fork. US2 US2 offers some hotspots like the Stuart Range, with its steep granite peaks, and a sprinkling of other incredible routes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Weather is generally colder and drier on the east side, which is good for ice. Chiwawa Mountain, Intravenous: Cutting edge Colin Haley mixed route deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Buck Mountain, Buckshot: Another bold line in a wilderness setting. One of the great underrated north faces in Washington. Mt. Index, North Face: Steepest peak in Washington, visible from the highway. Always an involved matter for a sub-6000 ft peak. Another huge route is Murphy's Law. Dragontail Peak, NE Couloir: This route feels much more full on than Triple Couloirs next door, and seems to be difficult to get in proper (fall) conditions. Colchuck Peak, NE Buttress Couloir: Often overlooked with Triple Couloirs and the North Buttress Couloir next door. Ends with a cornice-tunnel! Argonaut Peak, NE Couloir: Also a rock/snow route in early summer, this can be a fantastic mixed/ice route in late fall. Mt. Stuart, Ice Cliff Glacier: a technically easy but deceptively committing and full-on climb in a wild setting. Argonaut Peak, Chad Kellog Memorial Route: Challenging new age mixed route in the heart of the Stuart Range. Mt. Stuart, Lara Kellog Memorial Route: Climbs the incredible NE Face of Stuart above the Ice Cliff Glacier. Looks directly across to the Chad Kellog Memorial Route. Mt. Stuart, Stuart Glacier Couloir: A classic route where the crux is arguable climbing the west ridge in mixed winter conditions. Nason Ridge, Alpine Dropout: A fantastic looking ice route that sits just above Lake Wenatchee. Mountain Loop Close to Seattle but tragically overlooked, the peaks of the Mountain Loop are as rugged as anywhere in the North Cascades but with surprisingly decent winter access. The myriad of big climbs in this little region speaks volume to the incredible terrain. Big Four Mt, North Face (multiple variations): multiple routes, including the famous Spindrift Couloir. This is a mighty north face, and routes often take multiple days. Hall Peak, North Face: little brother to Big Four supposedly has some ice routes. Three Fingers, NE Face: This is a big route on a surprisingly big mountain. I believe there’s much more potential on the east side of Three Fingers. Whitechuck Mt, E Face Couloir: A very aesthetic couloir ice/mixed route. Access can be challenging unless it is a very low snow year. Whitehorse Mt, E Couloir: This steep route splits the Squire Creek Headwall for a fantastic line. I think it might even be visible from Darrington?! Sperry Peak, E Face Gully: Another beautiful, long, moderate ice/mixed route that likely varies in technicality from fall to spring. Sloan Peak, Full Moon Fever: This route climbs the weakness on the NW Face of Sloan. Having been at the base, I can say there is HUGE potential all over the place near the route. Sloan Peak, Superalpine: I certainly hope this climb isn’t forgotten, as Porter and I believe it is truly the best moderate alpine ice route we have climbed in the Cascades (better than Cosley Houston or the NW Couloir of Eldorado), but I know how things go around here… Lake 22 Headwall: who would think that one of the greatest alpine walls in the Cascades was just a short hour drive and hike from Seattle? There are so many unclimbed 2000 ft lines up this face, and you can get conditions updates by searching Instagram! Highway 20 Highway 20 undoubtedly has many huge ice lines, but difficult winter access has limited exploration. During lower snow years, the Cascade River Road could be a great area for exploration and development. Eldorado Peak, NW Ice Couloir: This route was sort of “remembered” in Fall 2019 when probably 20 parties climbed it (me included), but it’s a fantastic easier route, so I’ll leave it here. Colonial Peak, North Face (multiple routes): The mega line Watusi Rodeo offers 4000 ft of front point terrain and is “easily” accessible all winter. First Date is another attractive route. Pyramid Peak, NE Face (multiple routes): Home to some challenging mixed/ice routes on a wonderfully aesthetic peak. Graybeard, North Face: Everyone seems to report this deceptively big route deepened their sense of mortality. Davis Peak, No Milkshakes: the north face of Davis Peak is supposedly the steepest vertical mile drop in Washington. Silver Star, West Face Couloir: Originally planned as a ski descent, it actually turned out to be a huge ice climb! Visible from the highway, but you probably need a sled to get up there. Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn Wilson: Gaining popularity lately, can be climbed right before the highway closes or after it opens. Early Winters Couloir: This one is sort of a classic and can be climbed in both fall and spring. Highway 542 The areas around Baker and Shuksan are generally well explored, but still offer great adventure. The Black Buttes are one of the centerpieces for hard alpine ice climbing. Lincoln Peak, Wilkes-Booth: A huge, challenging route on one of the hardest peaks in Washington. Assassin Spire, NW Face: Considered by many to be the toughest summit in Washington, this was also the first peak where the first ascent was made in winter. Colfax Peak, Ford’s Theater: The “forgotten” next door neighbor of the ultra classic Cosley Houston. Mt. Rainier / Tatoosh This area is dominated by the mountain, but I’m guessing the Tattosh have good stuff and certainly easy access. Rainier, Mowich Face: A long moderate route on the “quiet” (NW) side of the big hunk-a-hunk. Rainier, Ptarmigan Ridge: A steeper, more sustained route than its next door neighbor, the world-renowned Liberty Ridge. Mt. Hood I don’t know much about Hood, but I’m sure there are some great routes that are infrequently climbed, so I’ll take suggestions here!
  8. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge Trip Date: 03/08/2020 Trip Report: Climbed Yocum on Sunday along with @nkimmes. We left Timberline at 3:30am. At illumination saddle we encountered two other climbers also heading for Yocum. The four of us crossed the Reid unroped until the other two took a slightly lower line and both went waist-deep into a crevasse. We quickly threw on the rope and headed for the obvious ramp leading up to the ridge, gaining it without too much trouble. We reached the base of the 1st gendarme at 7:30am. At this point the other group was in front of us as we had accidentally gotten into some steep stuff on the southern side of the ridge while they took a gentler ramp to the north. First gendarme: The angle increased quite a bit towards the top (perhaps 70 degrees?) and both our groups belayed a short pitch here, though there wasn't much gear placed other than the initial, questionable anchor screws: This led to a small ledge. Noah excavated a bunch of crap and managed to place two cams in the underlying rock. I came up and led through a final 15 feet of bulgy vertical rime to the top of the gendarme. I didn't see what this part looked like before the first two went through but from below it sounded like it required about 1000 pounds of rime to be hacked away (thankfully it all went down a gully to the south, off of the ridge). Last part to gain the top of the gendarme: Above this we proceeded up a bit to the final, highest, most narrow point: The first group had rapped on a rime bollard (and survived) so we used it as well. Here is Noah getting ready to rap: Once he was down to a flat-ish spot Noah lowered me and then I led past him. Getting around the next tower involved very exposed traversing on the north side of the ridge on vertical rime/exposed rock. The ridge in this spot was basically just a pile of loose rocks that has somehow, improbably, remained vertical. I was happy to basically be on top-rope as the rope was still looped around the 1st gendarme. I got to a large, flat ledge where I could brace myself against a rime wall, took in all the slack, and then lowered Noah who came to join me. Around this time I looked at my phone and noticed that it was 9:30, meaning it had taken us a full two hours to get up and over the first gendarme. Photo below: Me, on top of the gendarme. Noah on the small ledge he rapped to. Ye on the large ledge I ultimately lowered Noah from. I'm not sure how they got down there. I'm guessing they did it more efficiently but maybe we get extra points for cleverness? From there Noah led a full 60m pitch of knife edge ridge, placing two pitons, three pickets, and an ice screw: This took us to the large mushroom in the above picture where the ridge changes direction and heads to the left. Here we unroped and walked up, under the 2nd gendarme, to the top of the 3rd. Coming up by the 2nd gendarme: The other group had been at the top of the 3rd gendarme for a while but we caught up in the time it took them to build another bollard. They did the short rap directly onto the ridge crest and we opted for the 60m rap to the north. The rap onto the ridge looked good but we were trying to make up some time and figured we could move faster traversing the snow slope below rather than negotiating more knife-edge ridge. Bollard on top of 3rd gendarme: The slope we rapped onto, with someone in the other group still visible up on the ridge: We quickly traversed up and right to get back on the ridge, passing the other two. This brought us to the base of the upper buttress: I was feeling pretty good/relieved here as I knew we could now safely retreat down the ramp into Leuthold's if needed. Neither of us knew what to expect from this part of the climb as there just isn't a lot of information out there. I knew that the original Beckey route traversed to the right before heading up a gully (but the guidebooks show it being in different gullies) and that the Wickwire variation was more direct. We started up the narrow, rambling rime slot in the center of the above picture, which I think must be the Wickwire variation: Our path dead-ended in an unclimbable rime amphitheater and we decided to rap down to a large, visible gully, which we guessed was the Beckey route. Maybe in the above photo we could have continued climber's left up the ramp rather than come up onto the rime fins? It's hard to know but in hindsight that seems to be the only other reasonable option. I didn't expect the route-finding in this area to be problematic but the buttress is huge and seems like a never-ending maze when you're on it. Getting ready to rap on another rime mushroom/bollard: The other two about to follow our (possibly poor) route choice: After some typical rappelling shenanigans (tried to be lazy and use 1 half rope, which of course wasn't quite long enough) we found ourselves on the southern flank of the buttress. There are a lot of appealing looking gullies up to the ridge crest but they're all quite long and it's impossible to see what you're getting into. I believe we were in the largest gully that appears the most prominent from the south (looks like the Beckey route in the Mullee book). It started with a short WI3 step. The ice was surprisingly great so we didn't bother to get the rope back out. Above that conditions alternated between rime and sugar snow. At one point I wasted about 5 minutes when Noah's steps in a sugar snow chimney collapsed and I found myself digging a hole rather than climbing upwards. Around this time I was beginning to fully bonk and just wanted to get up to the Queen's Chair. Probably the reason there are no photos of this part of the route anywhere is that everyone is completely wasted by the time they get here. At the top of the gully there was a slightly longer, steeper ice step, with a lot of non-weight-bearing crap and exposed rock mixed in. Noah soloed it and after a small amount of pleading put me on toprope. Noah at top of upper ice step: Above that the gully curved to the right and we came out onto the top of the ridge, about level with the Queen's Chair. The fun wasn't quite over as of course we still had to climb up and down a few rimey bulges in the ridge, which weren't serious but required full concentration in my tired-ass state. We got to the Queen's Chair and it was about 5:30 - we had been on the ridge for a full 10 hours. We plodded up to the top, then down the old chute. I wanted to write this as soon as possible while the memory is still fresh. I will come back and add some more details and general thoughts later. EDIT: Adding a few more thoughts now: I think we got very lucky with conditions. With a couple annoying exceptions the rime was solid and supportive. It was quite cold and there were some thin, high clouds, so everything remained solid throughout the day. At first I was annoyed that there was another group on the route, but it was actually quite nice. The exposure is mentally taxing and it was really helpful to be able to use their two bollards without expending much time or effort of our own. Going directly over the 1st gendarme is committing. Bailing off the ridge after that point would be difficult and require multiple rappels into uncertain terrain. Having the misfortune of encountering bad weather or unclimbable conditions after the gendarme would be a real nightmare. Pickets seem like the most reasonable protection. We carried too many screws and only placed two. The upper buttress is large and interesting with multiple possible lines. The short ice steps we found would be worthwhile objectives on their own if approached from Leuthold's and the Retreat Gully. Gear Notes: 3-foot pickets, screws, pitons, cams, a spectre, bring all the weird stuff and hope that at least some of it is useful. Approach Notes: Normal Hood south side stuff. Crashed a Silcox party on the way down and drank a lot of their beer.
  9. 5 points
    I'm a little too busy to worry about climbing right now. I wonder if they designed the PAPR hood around the Ecrin Roc. They sure fit the same. Stay safe and practice social distancing.
  10. 5 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - Superalpine Trip Date: 03/15/2020 Trip Report: This past Sunday, Tavish and I climbed Superalpine on the west face of Sloan. After the incident last time I wanted to get back and climb the route to the top. We didn't quite tap the top due to wind slabs on the upper face. I'm going to mix up the order of this one and put all the route details first so those who are looking at climbing the route can use this page for reference. Kyle also has a great page about our first climb of this route with excellent photos and maps. https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/ Approach: Both times I've climbed this route we parked at the spot where 4096 merges from Mountain Loop Highway. 4096 had deadfall and snow which made it undrivable but if you can drive up a bit before there's too much snow or deadfall then that will cut off some distance. Follow the road (easy skinning or walking) to where the Bedal Basin trail forks off to the left. Take this trail through the trees for a few miles to where a slide path up to the left becomes obvious. This slide path leads to the base of Full Moon Fever. Skinning up this path is straight forward and takes you to the base of the West Face. A long traverse to the south will bring you to a ridge that leads to Superalpine. Here, options exist. Assuming you're on skis, I recommend leaving them at the base of the route and descending the route. There is also the option of descending the corkscrew route and wrapping around the south side to meet that ridge (it would be heinous to boot) or carry skis and descend the glacier to the North East that will eventually allow you to meet back up with road 4096. The ridge can be tricky. Once you decide your strategy, the ridge will still be engaging. It's not scary, just steep with deep snow. The Route: However you opt to get to the base of the route, you are first presented with 2 (or 3) options for pitch 1 to access the couloir itself. The first time Kyle and I climbed a WI4 step on the climbers left. It was vertical for 2-3 body lengths and fairly thin. This past time Tavish and I thought it looked even thinner so we scrambled the ridge further up (M2-3) then did one pitch that wrapped around to the second step of the first pitch and ended at the same place. Either way, you need to get to the bench at the base of the obvious weakness in the wall. A third option may exist to the climbers right of the ridge. Perhaps it's even easier (if so it would bring down the grade of the route to Wi 3-3+). Pitch 2: This money pitch leaves from the bench and provides a full 60m of steep sustained Wi3. Protection was generally good for this pitch. Make sure to go a full 60m if you are planning on simul-climbing higher on the route. Pitch 3: This middle section of the route was lower angle and about half snow and half low angle ice (wi2) for us. We found good pro every hundred feet or so. This section makes a lot of sense to simul-climb. Both times we did a 100-150m block. There was good ice at the top of a chimney-like feature, or, if you've saved enough screws, the next step had good ice on the right for us. Utilize rock gear to conserve screws through this section. Pitch 4: From the end of the last pitch, this is the last section before exiting to the face. Depending on where you belayed, you’ll either have a steep snow slope to a curtain or be climbing right onto the curtain. This curtain is where Kyle fell on our first attempt. This past time, I found a sub-vertical weakness (wi3/3+) on the right side of the curtain (not the smear further right which provides a good belay). However, when Kyle fell, there was spin drift blasting the section I climbed so he went further left where it is more like Wi4 with a heinous top out with sugar snow and hollow ice over sugar. I found good protection in the weakness but Kyle didn’t find good pro further left. Approach this pitch with caution, don't be afraid to back down. I found a great ice screw belay on the right about 20ft above the curtain. Another option to avoid this pitch if it is unclimbable is a snow ramp to the left. See photos to spot this snow ramp. This would avoid all of the upper curtain and put you on the upper face, however, it is steep and exposed and unprotectable. As with the whole route, use your judgment. This isn't just alpine climbing…. It's Superalpine! The steeps above: Look at photos of the big face above the route (and have them with you). There are a variety of options that exist to climb this large feature (700 vertical feet). When I climbed it most recently, we found deep unconsolidated snow, wind slabs, alpine ice, and rime features. This section is shared with the corkscrew route and is very committing. There are a lot of ways to get lost, falling is never an option and it's mostly unprotectable. Very reminiscent of the upper slopes of the Cosley-Houston on Colfax. If the snow is consolidated and secure, it would be a total blast to climb, if not, then maybe it should be avoided. On the first attempt we bailed due to injury, and on the second attempt, we bailed halfway up the face, after converging with the corkscrew route, due to thick cohesive wind slabs. The descent: Descending should be straight forward. Downclimb the steep snow, and rap the route. We took 5 or 6 raps to get down the whole route each time. There is no down climbing once you’re back down to the top of the curtain pitch. Each rap is a full 60m and ends at good ice, providing plentiful V-thread options. Other descent options exist as mentioned in the approach section but this option is quick and straightforward. Ski out the way you skinned in. Rack: In the conditions we found, 8 or 9 screws including a 10cm or two makes sense. Rock pro isn’t super plentiful and there is a lot of ice so we took 4 cams, 4 nuts, and a pin or two. This is probably what I would recommend. If you try it earlier, then beef up the rock gear side of things, the rock is quite solid in places. Hopefully, people get out and climb this thing! It is like the NW Ice Couloir on Eldorado but way bigger. Lots of ice, great setting, not too heinous of an approach. Tavish and I did 17hrs c2c. We were not rushing but we weren't lollygagging either and we were ~350ft from the top. Kyle made this topo with the options. My opinion remains to descend the route. Good to know your options. Here is a topo I made on a John Scurlock photo of Sloan from February 2005 (low snow/ice year). Red dots show the route (note the three options for the first pitch). Yellow is the tricky ridge. Green is an approach that could avoid the tricky ridge. Aerial photo from Shane in February 2020. The ramp to avoid the curtain is obvious in this photo. Now, onto the story from yesterday. Tavish picked me up at midnight in Bellingham after an hour or two of restless sleep. We drove through Darrington and onto Mountain Loop. His Prius handled the road like a champ and by around 2 am we were packed up and walking up the road. I was in crocs since I forgot running shoes, they did the trick (they're the next big thing in climbing for sure! Breathable, waterproof, sorta, ultralight, cheap, comfy, and climb 5.12 with ease.) Anyway, we started skinning after about a half-mile and cruised up to the Bedal Basin Trail in about 90 minutes. There was a fresh half-inch of snow showing bobcat (?) tracks following the existing impression of skin track. From there we encountered a mix of booting and skinning in the trees, mostly skinning but lots of skis on skis off. There was a slight impression of the existing skin track (probably from Michael Telstad, thanks!) that we followed and got us where we wanted to go. We skinned up the slide path below Full Moon Fever and the snow transitioned from a few inches on a crust to a nasty wind board. I knew it would be bad since I skied the white salmon the day before but I was hoping to find wind scraped, not wind loaded terrain on this aspect since it would be indicative of the upper slopes. We continued to the tricky ridge as it got light, left our skis there and put on actual boots (last time I climbed in ski boots, this was better). While we transitioned, we got pretty cold. We brought big puffys since the freezing level was 0ft and it was probably 5 or 10 degrees. Fortunately, the sky was clear and there wasn't a breath of wind. We hurried through that transition and started booting up the ridge in all our clothes. Bobcat? Not a dog, not very big... It was slow going and I punched through to my hips or deeper at several points. We were toasty warm by the time we were at the base of the route. The left-hand variation Kyle and I took last time looked much thinner so we opted to climb the ridge above us and see if that would go. We soloed up easy rock to an impassable wall. Luckily we could traverse left and rejoin the first pitch from last time. Tavish led that and gave me a meat belay to the first bench. I led the next pitch which provided a full 60m of sustained ice. Very fun! Tavish took off from there and we simuled around 150m. It's so fun to move quickly, especially when it's that cold! We got further on this simul pitch than last time and I got worried that Tavish was going to get to the spot Kyle fell before I could warn him of the dangers. Luckily, he didn’t. He belayed from a thick clear smear, right of the curtain. I led the curtain up a weakness on the right and it wasn't too bad. Above that, there was an ideal ice bulge on the right to belay from. This was great because it provided an easy spot to transition from climbing to soloing and eventually to rappelling. I rigged a V-thread while Tavish soloed up the snow above. After threading the ropes, I took off after him. I caught up and he looked concerned. I could also feel the snow was not ideal. We could see snow plumes ripping over the ridge above us and the snow we were on was a cohesive wind slab. We downclimbed a bit and then went up further left through some tight constrictions and ice. Above that, there was another wide-open snow slope and we found two distinct layers in the snowpack. The top here was about 6in thick styrofoam-y feeling wind slab. Bellow that was another 4in thick older windslab, and below that was sugar. We had probably already gone too far but we decided to call it here and started down. Me on the second pitch (SO GOOD) Tavish getting to the top of pitch 1. Tavish taking off into the simul section. Tavish on the upper slopes It's hard to turn around so close but we were certainly riding a fine line with zero margin for error, given what was below our feet. Down climbing steep snow isn't fun but we got it done and got to the ropes. The raps went smoothly and we found great ice at the base of each 60m rap. The last pitch had to be broken into two raps last time, both off pretty small trees, so this time we tried another option. We went off a little more south off a slightly bigger tree and did an exactly 60m rap down rock that got us on to snow. We post holed in wet sun affected snow to our skis, and the rest of the descent went smoothly, albeit, pretty slow since we were tired. We got to the car before dark for 17hr c2c. Tavish on the final rap. Lots of ice above Full Moon Fever... Anyone interested?? That's it for now! Feel free to reach out with more questions! Sorry, I don't have more photos from on the route it's self. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Gear Notes: See Rack Section Approach Notes: See Approach Section
  11. 4 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Oh to be young and dumb - Crater Trip Date: 02/16/1985 Trip Report: For fun I thought I would post a trip report that happened 35 years ago. A friend recently sent me scanned versions of his slides so I thought I would post them up with the story. We were both in college at OSU, me finishing my undergrad, and Andy finishing his masters. My girlfriend had an invite to spend the weekend skiing at Mt. Bachelor so we decided to go along and climb Broken Top as neither of us had been on it before. So that Friday night we left Corn Valley for Bend, she dumped us off at the end of the road that evening and we skied in a ways and camped. The next morning we skied in into the Broken Top crater. Andy and I discussed various ways to gain the rim. We finally decided on a route up but not one that I was to my liking as I wanted to take a less direct but I felt safer route. But I deferred to Andy as he was more experienced than me. At this point I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Mt Bachelor in the background. Hmm, 30" crown and well we are still on top. I think walking down is the preferred option. Hmm, nice debris field and damn near wall to wall. WTF were we thinking??? The dot in the middle of the debris field is me putting my skis back on. Epilogue: As our ski tracks are visible, we had nearly gained the ridge when we set off the avalanche. We were both on the same cut when the ground went out from under us and we dropped a couple of feet to the bed surface. Both of us just stood there and watched as the avalanche ripped down the crater. Had either of us been caught we would have been dead. Not withstanding the fact that back then few people had transceivers or could we afford them as students. I saw Andy a few years ago when he gave me these images. He admitted that his decision making that day was not the best. Oh to be young and dumb. Gear Notes: A functioning brain Approach Notes: Go long from Mt. Bachelor
  12. 4 points
    Message from Olympic Mountain Rescue I had high hopes of ticking off some climbs this spring and summer but decided to forego technical alpine climbing for the time being. With the crisis overloading our healthcare system, we all really need to be staying well within our skill set and not taking any unnecessary risks. You do not want to be taken to a hospital full of Corvid-19 patients. Stay safe out there.
  13. 4 points
    Congrats nonbasketless on the dumbest post of COVID-19. May no one surpass it.
  14. 4 points
    Signing in to cash in my .02 I respect Kyle's POV and think that his perspective has it's place in this discussion - but I wanted to counter and speak in favor of Landon. 1) Marc Andre Leclerc died while rappelling (likely swept). Guy Lacelle was swept by an avvie. So were Hansjorg Auer and David Lama. So was Ueli Steck. It is rare that a soloist dies on a technically challenging solo. It happens (Austin Howell, Jean-Chirstophe Laifelle, Ryan Jennings) but isn't the leading cause of death in the mountains for high end soloists, and it isn't clear if they would have survived (with the exception of Howell) had they been partnered. The greatest general risk factor in climbing is simply mileage in the mountains, the terrain traveled, and its associated cumulative probability. It stands to reason that we should shame people who get out and climb constantly, but we don't, because that isn't quite as scary to imagine as being on the Yocum ridge without a rope - the gear+roped risks are more familiar to us and are less obvious. It would also force us to question if we should be climbing at all in the first place - which is something that we are reluctant to do. 2) The amount of risk taken on a solo is generally most obvious to the soloist themselves (assuming that the soloist is prepared and lucid). The rest of us can only assume, given that we do not know how solid the soloist is and how favorable conditions were at the time of the solo. I know Kyle climbed the Yocum ridge this season as well, so he has an idea of the risk that was taken by Landon (which is likely why he made his post) - however, it is entirely possible that Kyle took on more with the rope (given the poor nature of the gear on Yocum, Kyle's specific skillset + experience relative to Landon's and the mental blanket that gear can offer in otherwise fatal fall scenarios). That being said, it is impossible to know - we can only assume since we do not know the minutiae of both ascents and both climbers. 3) Generally speaking, if you make a habit of soloing, your risk of dying while climbing is much higher than that of a casual climber. This has likely more to do with your threshold of acceptable risk + mileage in high consequence terrain than it does with the specific act of soloing. Our willingness to take on risk correlates greatly with what we have to lose, our cumulative experience, and our personalities. Our relationship with risk changes with age, and I have to say that I there are risks that I personally took as a younger person that I would not take today. I have also gotten in over my head before and survived - how much of that I can attribute to luck rather than innate skill, I will never know. If you make a habit of soloing, it is less likely you will survive to learn a lesson from your mistakes due to the thin margin of error that is allowed. I think Landon's accomplishment is incredible given that he has survived it. It is certainly an experience he will never forget. I also think that it is best to solo rarely and to have 99% of your climbing experience be with a rope, so that your odds of surviving a marginal scenario and learning from it are greater. Ultimately though, soloing is a very personal activity and is something that I would only criticize if I honestly believe that the ascent was sketchy. I have not climbed with Landon (or the Yocum ridge) so I cannot form an opinion about his judgement or skill. Landon is young, so he will inherently get more flak from the community - such is the nature of talking about your solo ascents. Consider it a rite of passage, every public soloist has gotten this reaction in the face of their accomplishments. The fear of this kind of reaction is also the chief reason there are also many mind bending solos that do not get reported first hand. That being said, I think that the spirit of his post is to share something that was deeply personal with a community that he admires (rather than spray to us) and I respect it for that reason. I would also lie if I said that I do not feel a chill to my core when hearing of other's solo ascents. We inherently struggle with accepting the certainty that comes with many solos (i.e. "you send or you die"). Anyway, also getting off of my soapbox - congrats if you made it through this wall of text. Good job Landon - this is a first class achievement.
  15. 4 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Sunshine from Timberline Trip Date: 03/19/2020 Trip Report: ~33 F, clear and no wind to start. Only a few gusts heading up to Palmer. Even though it was forecast to be 14 F at night on the summit and fairly cold below, the puffy stayed in the pack. So nice not having 20+ MPH winds, first time for me this year. The traverse over was about expected, crappy but not horrible with a good amount of foot wrenching and wondering how much longer I’ll do these kinds of routes. The foot and a half of unconsolidated snow on part of the Newton Clark was concerning. Instead of following the normal climbing route up to the Spur I stayed a bit lower. This worked out fine, the climb up to the spur wasn’t too steep. Found the approximate spot to start the downclimb to the Eliot, https://imgur.com/a/dgOh8hj, that I’d spied on my previous Cooper Spur climb. The top part was fairly solid but became less so further down. About 30 feet from the bottom, my right foot poked through a hole. I could see a rock and a little bit of black down there – not horrible but not good either. Got the leg out and put knees and feet above the snow and froggied down the rest. My original plan was to head up the left side and cross the Eliot on the top shelf above the ice fall. Given that there was a bunch of unconsolidated snow on Newton Clark and I’d never crossed the Eliot, I decided to stay low and headed toward the lower ski circumnavigation route. To my surprise, the Eliot seemed mostly featureless and safe – yay. I altered my course a bit and just headed mostly straight across and up which took me to the ski route not far below the Sunshine route. Caned from there all the way up to below Anderson Rock. There looked to be a small bergschrund on the left below Snowdome but I didn’t investigate. Anderson Rock was guarded by a mess of small bergschrunds. I got up the first one and had to search to get over the second. Someone else was up there previously but I only saw their steps heading back from where I came. The second one was worse / sketchier. Climbing through the rocks and ice was fun but definitely not something for a solo beginner. The bergschrund below Horseshoe rock, at first glance, looked like it went from the Headwall all the way over to Cathedral. I figured I may as well get closer and to my surprise, just to the left of a big snow wall / formation, there was a small decent ramp that led directly up through Horseshoe Rock. The ramp was short, 10 feet probably but the climbing above it was challenging. Earlier in the year I accidentally did the Reid Headwall and popped out above the West Crater Rim route. That was challenging, but this section was harder, maybe not quite as steep but there was no place to rest. Thanks to all the climbers that have put in the boot pack from above the Queen’s chair to the summit ridge. So much easier than post hole-ing through the unconsolidated snow on the right or me doing a crappy job of navigating through the ice on the left. https://imgur.com/gallery/LkUPX3C 8:50 PM Climber's Lot 10:45 PM Top of Palmer 12:00 AM On a ridge past White River Canyon 3:00 AM Start heading down to Eliot Glacier from Cooper Spur 4:45 AM At intersection of the ski circumnavigation and Sunshine route 6:20 AM Below Anderson Rock 7:15 AM Above Anderson Rock 8:00 AM Start up ramp over bergschrund on Horseshoe Rock 8:50 AM Over Horseshoe Rock 9:50 AM Summit ridge 10:20 AM Summit 1:40 PM Car Gear Notes: Helmet, axe, 2 tools, crampons Approach Notes: Crappy but not horrible
  16. 4 points
    Trip: Mount Snoqualmie - New York Gully Trip Date: 03/15/2020 Trip Report: http://www.gorobets.com/New_York_Gully_2020_03_25.html Gear Notes: 2 half ropes 2 pairs of tools per climber A set of cams from 0.2” to 3” wth doubles in small range. Used most of them. A set of nuts. Not used. 10 runners. We should take 12 in retrospective. I almost run out of runners on pitch 3. 4 pitons. Used 1. BD Spectra. Used. 4 ice screws – not used. 2 pickets –1 would be enough. Approach Notes: No flotation used.
  17. 3 points
    This is all so incredible. A climb of a lifetime, plus a book-length TR with movie. Very well-done write-up and nice video, thanks a lot. We need good things to read these days. The first, and only, mountaineering book I read was Harrer's "White Spider". I was in high school and my friend Jon Carpenter told me it was good. Our school library had it, so I read it. Ever since, the face has a deadly mystique about it for me, unmatched by any other face. Still looks super scary.
  18. 3 points
    You guys stumbled upon a little known rule built into the new software - the first Eiger North Face TR in the database gets automatic "Best of CC.com"! Enjoy your time in Cham and the views @Priti & @JeffreyW, we'll look forward to more radness later in the year!
  19. 3 points
    Sounds like an amazing adventure. I'm not one to tell you what to do or not to do. As Jimi Hendrix said, "I'm the one that's going to have to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my own life the way I want to" (If 6 was 9). Risk is an essential part of climbing for many of us, and we all have to find the level that suits us best. However, with maturity most of us come to realize that the pain our death or disability would inflict on our families, friends, partners, and communities is greater than we would experience ourselves. Read this thoughtful piece from Colin Haley, a local legend who did a lot of soloing in his younger years.... https://www.colinhaley.com/a-brief-visit-to-patagonia-and-reflections-on-hard-solo-climbing/
  20. 3 points
    I bet that's why he has a professional instagram account and the post about this climb includes 30 hashtags... I know what decisions I made when I was 20 years old, and I know the stories that I told myself to justify them. I also know how they look now, with 15 years more accumulated wisdom. I don't think pointing to Marc-Andre is a very convincing argument either, considering he left this world before his 30th birthday and left behind a grieving community. I will now depart my soapbox and won't bring any more negativity to this significant achievement, but I am out of patience for seeing young/new climbers hanging it way out there and getting nothing besides "atta boy!" from this community.
  21. 3 points
    Although I've never met him, I am pretty sure that @landoclimb isn't doing it because of any encouragement online. The first swing into that rimey swiss cheese will bring that into clear focus. There is a long climbing tradition of the young and the keen soloing where the consequences are clear and unforgiving- much to the vexation of parents everywhere. Doesn't make it right or wrong, it just is. I don't think that is lost on anyone, let alone this young man. And, we've been around this bush with the likes of @Colin, @marc_leclerc and many others over the years. They didn't listen either.
  22. 3 points
    With more of life, most eventually find that peace you're searching for- but then the climbs (if one still climbs) tend to involve partners and are pedestrian, predictable, and safe. Now, you are in your storm years- raging, full on! Good luck and stay as safe as you can.
  23. 3 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge Trip Date: 03/12/2020 Trip Report: Got on Yocum Ridge with one of my most solid partners on Thursday, March 12 2020. You can read my full trip report and blog post on my site, Spokalpine. Here's some additional notes for potential suitors: This is a wild climb! Sustained moderate technical difficulties from bottom to top with a few cruxy sections means that you need calves of steel. Nerves of steel certainly help too, because protection is very limited on the hard pitches. Being able to comfortably solo AI3/WI3 is a huge asset and probably necessary to get up this thing. I'm not talking about what gets passed for WI3 in the PNW, either... think legit WI3 with bulges and vertical sections. I've talked to a few people who think the route could earn an AI4 rating but I don't think there was anything sustained enough to earn that grade. Not that it matters, because it seems impossible to grade rime ice on the typical waterfall/alpine ice scale. It's so unstable and difficult to protect... this isn't the place to use your perfect A-frame technique that works so well on waterfall ice. Distributing weight between your tools and foot placements is required. If you swing more than once or twice into a placement, the whole placement likely disintegrates and you're left trying to find somewhere else to swing. As I was placing a screw on the first crux, the tool I was hanging off of pulled 4 inches through the shitty ice before it hit a blob of blue ice that would support me. This was especially hair-raising considering the massive exposure on either side of the first gendarme. My experience on Yocum Ridge was intense and satisfying. After the climb, Kyle hit the road back to Portland and I drove to Hood River to stay the night. After a good dinner and some galavanting with new friends from the local bar, I sat alone in a park along the river. 24 hours earlier, Kyle and I had left Timberline for our climb. The famous Nietzsche quote "...if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you" bounced around my mind. After staring into the very literal abyss on either side of Yocum Ridge, I was more focused on the figurative. Yocum Ridge took most of what I had to give - and in return, it gave back to me. The mark of a truly challenging and worthwhile climb. Gear Notes: Three pickets, six screws (3x 10cm, 2x 13cm, 1x 17cm), pitons, small cams (used up to .75), nuts (tiny to medium sizes). I would not get on this route without a rope system that enables long rappels. We did one rappel that was 55 meters. Approach Notes: Easy as it gets
  24. 3 points
    Trip: Marble Creek Cirque - Lost Marbles Couloir Trip Date: 03/09/2020 Trip Report: Wow, what a feature! And what an outrageous setting! But just be sure that the avalanche danger is reasonable, and expect that the snow in the couloir will likely be the worst on the entire tour. Be thankful if it is, actually. Because if it isn't, there is a much greater chance that you will have a quick trip into the cirque. So much hanging over your head! Thanks to @skykilo for bringing this gem to the masses and to @geosean for jogging my failing memory. Lastly, thanks to @therunningdog for being a true friend and breaking trail for my sorry ass most of the way in and out. If you have ever gotten out with him you know that his fitness is legendary and remarkable. Fun to be the beneficiary, yet again. All I can provide are these photos..... Early Morning Spire and Dorado Needle above @therunningdog It has to begin somewhere. And here it is. Oops. Not off to an auspicious start. Not a place to be in considerable or higher avy danger Whew! 20 mins down and 3 hours up! North side of Triad I still care that you tele @therunningdog Gear Notes: don't you dare bring snowshoes Approach Notes: Parked at ~1900' on HLL road. Plan for a 10 hour day with stops.
  25. 3 points
    Strong work Matt and Noah! A serious accomplishment. Intimidating pictures! Bold and heady climbing, and creative problem solving. Thanks for sharing! A shot of you guys as ants on the first gendarme. Goddamn that’s a lot of complicated terrain!
  26. 2 points
    wow. thank you for sharing! my cheeks were clenched just looking at those pictures.
  27. 2 points
    Alright I know I'm not the only one who tinkers with my clothes or gear for climbing.... Let's see what you've done to improve a particular piece or what you've made on your own! I'll start with some easy mods I've done and if this thread gains traction I'll add some more along with gear I've made myself. Shock cord keeper on a pair of Raab pants that where lacking grommets or anything to attach the shock cord to. Posted in a glove discussion thread but here they are again. Added cinch collars to a pair of Showa TEMRES. Soon we won't have to do this ourselves though. Small detail that makes a HUGE difference. Bigger pull tabs on a pair of Patagonia Pant's zippers. Nothing worse than being at an anchor and struggling to get your fly unzipped with gloves on.
  28. 2 points
    Looks like a whole lot of insecure, scary climbing! I cringed reading the part about the exit chimney. Awesome work, as always!
  29. 2 points
    So awesome to have an Eiger TR on the site considering how many of us were influenced by the historic ascents!
  30. 2 points
    Congratulations! Just reading this was a fantastic experience. Sincere thanks for sharing—and for all the time and effort you obviously invested in this write-up. Your pictures, and your detailed personal experiences of the climbing really bring the challenges of the route, its history, and the whole of the place itself to life.
  31. 2 points
    Amazing climb. Good to hear that it went safely despite the difficult and consequential climbing. You guys are going to have a hell of a lot of stories to tell your grandkids.
  32. 2 points
    So, are you guys Chamoniardes for the forseeable future? Or does it just happen that you are "stuck" in Chamonix?
  33. 2 points
    I had several close friends express concern about choice of objective when I climbed it, and one potential partner opted out because he felt the hazard was too high. I think that feedback on risk is really valuable, and important to get from outside sources, because our own ability to assess risk is screwed up by all kinds of built-in biases. They talk about this regularly in avalanche education ("heuristic traps"), but for some reason it's much less discussed with regard to climbing (too much history of punk rock and macho attitudes, maybe). Here's some info from the avy side of things: http://www.sunrockice.com/docs/Heuristic traps IM 2004.pdf
  34. 2 points
    I rigged up an old phone cord for my nut tool tether. It allows a long reach but retracts so it doesn't get in the way. I can't claim it as original as I got it from John Godino's website. He has quite a list of cool DIY mods. https://www.alpinesavvy.com/diy-gear-making-and-modification
  35. 2 points
    I took some more time to reflect on the whole experience with Sloan: the mistakes, the aftermath, the criticisms, and ultimately, what this climb means to me. If you want to get real deep: https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/25/life-after-sloan/
  36. 2 points
    Just to jot down a few more routes while they are in my head: Mount Hood: (Much info on Wayne Wallace's blog: https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/?s=hood) North Face Left Gulley North Face Right Gulley Black Spider https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/the-black-spider/ Three Little Monkeys: The Pencil Arachnophobia: Elliot Glacier Headwall Reid Glacier Headwall Yocum Ridge Illumination Rock (Topo from Wayne Wallace) Johannesberg Peak NEB NE Face Mixup Peak West Face The Misunderstanding Sahale Peak East Face Couloir
  37. 2 points
    I would love to rope up with Landon ... yeah he is young but reading his posts there is some good stuff there that this well aged alpinist sees. Besides being young, he can carry the rope and the rack. Though he does seem a bit pre-occupied with Mt. Hood, I am sure that will change :-).
  38. 2 points
    The social media game is shitty for sure. Unfortunately in this era, social media opens up opportunities. I would have to be a sad human to risk my life for a heart on the bottom of a post. You can come climbing with me if you want to know why I do these things. We both live in Portland.
  39. 2 points
    I recorded a podcast trip report for this climb. For those interested: http://thefirnline.com/episodes/fast-times-at-yokum-ridge/
  40. 2 points
    Trip: South Sister - Prouty Headwall Trip Date: 03/19/2020 Trip Report: Feeling grateful to have days like these right in my (new) backyard. I parked at Dutchman Flat, therefore having about 6 miles of pleasant road skinning to get to the usual Devil's Lake trailhead. The day started out cold and humid, but there were no winds and by the afternoon things felt like spring. I was able to skin to about 9000 feet (without ski crampons), traversing all manners of frozen mank along the way. Booting to the summit involved rime, a little blue ice, and icy hardpack that didn't even pretend like it would soften into corn. The summit was clear and beautiful, and a raven greeted me when I arrived. Wanting to avoid the ice I climbed up, I dropped into sheltered ENE facing slopes above the Prouty Headwall. Though it at times threatened to get icy, I was mostly skiing shallow, creamy, windbuffed pow. The standard lines through the headwall (that I had seen detailed elsewhere) were all out, with low tide and large rock bands. I couldn't see the exit, but a steep couloir directly below Hodge's Crest tempted me. I dropped in on the same soft snow as above, which soon became less and less edgeable. Below, I could see it transitioning to water ice and rock at the couloir's exit. Fortunately, a mellow ramp cut left at this time, dropping me perfectly onto the broad, powdery lower headwall. Hero turns ensued. I've been in Patagonia since December, so this was day 3 on skis for me this year and my legs were burning as I skied through the seasons from high alpine pow all the way down to a warm spring snowpack at Green Lake. I found the perfect spot to lay in the sun, doing my best not to think too much about the long, flat walk out. Back at the car a few hours later, I saw the first other humans I'd seen all day. Social isolation achieved. Gear Notes: someday I need to actually purchase ski crampons. Approach Notes: aerobic.
  41. 2 points
    Okay the third time will be the charm. Get Kyle when he is healed and git the damn thing done to the top!!
  42. 2 points
    Good attempt! Hope you heal up! I had a pretty good attempt up the middle a few years back. Ran out of time on a car to car attempt. Some very thin unprotecable climbing to be had!
  43. 2 points
    I agree on the bastards part but I think you just have other priorities with your $ and enjoy crushing the deskjockys like me who have the latest and greatest gear.
  44. 2 points
    Nice attempt, get better and get back on it.
  45. 2 points
    @Michael Telstad exactly, that's why we waited until the face had not seen fresh snow in 4-5 days before going up. Hard to get sometimes. We waited all winter for it. There was still a lot of spindrift. The other (ideal) condition would be a high rain event, then hard freeze to lock everything up. Then you'd be able to boot everything.
  46. 2 points
    Trip: Dragontail & Prusik - Triple Couloirs to Solid Gold Date: 5/15/2014 Trip Report: There are probably only a few weeks each year where you can easily take full advantage of all the various amazing mountain sports in the Cascades, and combine them into single days. I spent last week hounding various friends and partners. Want to go skiing? Want to go ice climbing? Want to get on some alpine granite? When asked those 3 questions, my friend Matt said "yes" and that was that. We started off by climbing Triple Couloirs on Dragontail. The snow and ice on Colchuck was good enough to ski across, especially if one stayed on the west side of the lake. We found the route to be thin but well-protected with bomber rock gear. I placed (and left) 1 short LA, but our three ice screws were a total waste of energy to carry. We didn't find anything close to ice which would take a screw, but there was an occasional veneer of slush atop wet slabs and muddy flakes. The crux pitch: It had been so warm last week that the snow was isothermic and we were post-holing pretty badly, especially with heavy packs laden down with rock and ski gear. I had completely forgotten gloves, and I lead the first pitch on Triple Couloirs with bare hands and in a single light shirt. Did I mention it was warm? The step right into the final couloir: After a few more short pitches and much soft snow wallowing, we lunched atop Dragtonail and assessed our options. Aasgard Sentinel and CBR rock routes are both looking primo, but we decided there was still plenty of time to head over to Prusik. The ski to Prusik, we made it to within 100 yards of the route before switching out of skis: A triple-couloir/Der-Sportsman linkup ("The Triple Der!") crossed our minds, but it was late in the day by the time we racked up beneath Prusik's south face. We settled on Solid Gold, which is about as good as it gets for 5.10 alpine granite. Amid darkening clouds and Mordor-style wind and rain vortexes, we skinned back to Aasgard and made a nearly continuous ski descent back down and across the lake, where we re-donned our tennis shoes for the final few miles to the car. Gear Notes: Gear to #2 camalot, used 1 pin on TC. Approach Notes: No snow on the trail until you turn off toward Colchuck, then it's 1/2 packed snow and 1/2 mud to the lake. I would expect Colchuck Lake is no longer crossable. The ski down from the Aasgard Sentinel (Acid Baby, Valkyrie) is so rad right now, it makes the knee-destroying summer slog look pretty bad.
  47. 1 point
    On March 22, 2019 Frank Fickeisen passed away at the age of 93. Frank was President of the Seattle Mountaineers when I was born. As a climber he was part of the 6th ascent of Mt. Waddington in 1960. A few years ago I posted a Trip Report that describes the climb https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/53596-tr-mt-waddington-bravo-glacier-7281960/ There were no helicopters in those days, so they flew from Campbell River into a small lake south of the mountain. In addition Frank and friends flew in a ski plane into the St. Elias Range and ascended a few surrounding peaks in 1961 https://www.mountaineers.org/about/history/the-mountaineer-annuals/indexes-annuals-maps/the-mountaineer-1961?fbclid=IwAR1Pu914woYJGO_NkVi8bhdUJPdR99HXYt09-gxvcw6BZGZTKfK8JJALsL8 In addition to serving as President of the Mountaineers, Frank was also President of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs. For work Frank was employed by Boeing and worked on planes including the 707, 727, 747, and 767. In addition he was involved with Boeing's discarded plans to build an SST. In later times Frank was a major player in Extended Range Operations for Twin Jet planes. In the old days only 3 or 4 engine planes were allowed to make long flights (typically over oceans). The work benefitted both Boeing and Airbus https://www.nap.edu/read/6265/chapter/1 After retiring Frank took part in lots of hiking trips with friends and one multi day ski trip in Montana. He also taught me how to ski and took me on a few mountaineering trips. Attached photo of Frank on top of Mt. St. Helens in 1967
  48. 1 point
    That makes him perfect the example. Life is messy.....and you often don't die the way everyone expects you to. Most importantly, we are all going to die no matter what we do.
  49. 1 point
    Nice one. Glad my tat was still in place for you! The part about the tool placements feeling "like a weak handshake" is giving me flashbacks.
  50. 1 point
    His is newer than mine. Ha! We are quite the pair with old gear. My boots are 15+ years old and my skins 18 years strong! I would like to say that we are saving the earth, but really we are poor, cheap bastards.
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