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  1. 13 points
    Trip: Bear Mountain - North Buttress: Beckey Route Trip Date: 07/15/2018 Trip Report: Bear Mountain: Two new dads trying to keep a 10 year dream alive For me, mountains can become obsessions, sometimes to the point of irrationality. In my life, no mountain, or route has been more indicative of this than the North Buttress of Bear. I stumbled upon Bear in 2007 in my early days of climbing WA by devouring each page of the Beckey guides like they were some gripping novel. Trip reports from this site only further set the dream of someday ascending this monster objective. Being nothing but a budding sport climber at the time, this peak seemed out of my grasp. As the years went on, I honed my mountain skills. I learned to trad lead, sent my first few alpine rock routes, got on my first glaciers, and began developing the mind for the rigors of schwacking in the cascades. By 2011, I began thinking this dream could possibly become a reality for me. I even found a climbing partner, Andrew, who shared my dream. Each year we'd talk about making our dream a reality but each Summer would come and go without an attempt. For 5 years in a row we'd try to make plans only to see them fall through. Timing, schedules, obligations, weather, forest fires, and work all conspired against us. Fast forward to 2016, and each of us became fathers of our first children. Yet another reason to push Bear farther from our grasps. During the first year of fatherhood I discovered, although not surprised, that being a father does not easily co-exist with committing alpine objectives. My fit physique, lead head, and drive for summits began to recede like the glaciers surrounding the peaks I had grown to love so much. Over trail runs, occasional crag days, and family outings, Andrew and I still spoke of our mutual dream contrasted with our diminished abilities. One thing was clear from these conversations: the dream, and our stoke was still alive for our beloved Bear. Spring of 2018 came around. It had been a dismal Winter of training. Trips to the crags confirmed, family obligations and our lack of training over the Fall and Winter had left both of us less than prepared to crush in the coming Summer, but we began to discuss plans for Bear as we did every year. We settled on the dates of July 13-15 and began attempting to play catch up with our training. As the dates drew closer, one thing became certain, neither of us felt strong. But the week of July 4th came and still nothing looked to foil our set plans. So early July 13th we made the early morning drive to the end of the Chilliwack road along Chilliwack Lake in British Columbia. The bushwhack across the border and out to bear camp lived up to its dreaded hype. Six hours of magical, rarely touched old-growth forest contrasted with the torturous efforts required to navigate and move through said forest left us bewildered and uncertain. This uncertainty as well as the contrast of beauty and torture would be a reoccurring theme over these 3 days. From bear camp to the bivy on the western shoulder of bear is 4000 vertical feet up. A quarter of the way up, late afternoon, and we were beat. I am on liter 5 of water, schwacking in my underwear due to the heat and effort. Both of us are bonking and cursing ourselves for thinking we could pull this objective off. We were not fit. We had not trained enough. Doubt began to dominate our thoughts. It has already been 8 hours of this shit and we still had 3,000 feet of trail-less hell ahead of us. Who were we kidding? There was no way we were going to make it to camp before dark. We sat, uncomfortably, on a steep slope, in the middle of nowhere and began talking of retreat. "Squamish isn't too far away, is it?" "I guess we could always just crag at Mt. Erie on our way back to Seattle." Inside, a voice screams at my exhausted brain, "MT. ERIE!!!!???? Are you fucking serious!!?? I am never coming back into this valley again. It is now or never for Bear. The dream either lives or dies on this shitty, viewless, insignificant slope." My senses kicked back in. Remember, anything too big to fathom all at once needs to be broken into digestible chunks. The decision to push on grew from this and we decided to at least try to make it to the lake for the night and we would make the next decision from there. Two hours later, after 1,000 feet of extremely steep blueberry bush pulling, we broke out into the alpine and our spirits began to soar like a vulture in a thermal updraft. It’s amazing how something as simple as alpine views can change the mindset and determination of a climber. I began to feel rejuvenated. Maybe we could make the bivy site before dark. A heather-strewn meadow on a gentle shoulder gave us the first real physical break of the day. Panoramic views of remote North Cascade summits rose all around us. A mother Ptarmigan and her brood of chicks sprinted out of the bushes, snapping me from my alpine daze. Discussions of a potential closer bivy site gave us a closer goal. Running on fumes, past the lower bivy spot, and we still have light. Must, keep, moving. At last, 12 hours after leaving our car, we collapsed at the col. We had made it. I promptly gave the double middle finger to the valley below, clearly showing the shit-show we just wallowed through. We promised ourselves we would not make a decision about what to do about the next day until after we ate. Dinner went quick. As we crawled into our bags, we listened to the cacophony of a thousand tiny flying vampires trying desperately to find a way through our netting and into our skin. Twilight lit the sky with a rainbow of color. We both agreed that since we had overcome the uncertainty and brutality of what many, including us, consider the hardest approach in the Cascades, we felt obligated to throw ourselves at the North face the next morning even as our bodies screamed in opposition. We awoke with the sunrise. I shook the heaviness of last nights sleep from my head and felt somewhat shocked that yesterday wasn't some dream/nightmare. I was here. We were about to start our summit day. A day we have both been dreaming of for at least 10 years. With each sip of coffee, my stoke began to rise. We strapped on our crampons and make a quick and pleasant descent onto the north side of the mountain. We turned a corner to catch our first glimpse of Bear's north buttress. Ominous, glorious, stunning, perfection on ice. Words cannot really describe the feelings I had, but these are close. Upon seeing both the direct north buttress and the north buttress couloir, we checked in. The direct looked safer as the couloir looked broken up near the top, but our energy levels and dismal cumulative rock pitches for the year had us thinking that the extra rock pitches might not be reasonable. We settled on following the couloir and Beckey's footsteps. In hindsight, this might this might have been a bad idea, but I am pretty sure I would have said the same thing if we had taken the other option. Either way we felt the collective weight of our dreams, the debilitating approach that we vowed never to do again, and the sheer power of what we were trying to accomplish. I felt as if every step upwards tightened the grip of the vice we were in. Committed, for better or worse, to move upwards. We switched back and forth from approach shoes to crampons a few times and quickly found ourselves in irreversible territory. There is terror and clarity in realizing the only way out of a predicament is forward. We broke out the rope to lead our first pitch out of the couloir. A shit show of snow, poor pro behind detached blocks, and slopey ledges littered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. My rope skirted across a ledge and sent a microwave down towards Andrew. Our years of work together in the mountains gave us the foresight to expect such events and was glad Andrew had set himself out of harm’s way before I led. We had reached the 4th class ledge system that would get us up to the North buttress proper. Kitty litter, slopey ledges, and the exposure below made for careful, calculated movements while simuling, often without adequate gear between us. Trust in each other became paramount and again I found myself thinking that I was thankful to be climbing with such a trusted partner. At last, we reached the first real quality pitch of the route. Beckey's glorious left facing 5.8 corner. Andrew led and we both laughed at the idea of "5.8" at the top. It felt like index 5.9+ but would be an instant classic if situated at the lower town wall. We were finally finding some type 1 fun. I linked the next two pitches of fun and deposited us at the base of the infamous 10a offwidth. DE8DD876-06ED-4585-BEE2-4CF80B5ED29B.MOV It was at this point that we began to feel the efforts of the pat 36 hours. Dehydrated, low on energy, and stoke, Andrew reluctantly agreed to lead the next pitch and quickly made the decision to take the 5.8 bypass pitch. We ended up breaking this pitch into two because the lower portion of the offwidth took most of our small cams and the upper 5.8 portion looked to take nothing bigger than a .75 BD. Crap. We swapped leads under the only stance Andrew could find conveniently under a car sized detached block. I was tasked with leading over it and him without touching it. Yikes. I led to a nice ledge and brought up my partner. Both of us feeling both physically, mentally, and emotionally drained, we began to flounder. Neither felt the desire to lead the next pitch. Bonking hard, I finally took the sharp end. Staying on the crest I mantled to the base of a steep featured, but unprotect-able face. I began to lose my cool. 15 feet above a ledge and my last piece and seeing committing climbing and no cracks above me, I retreated. Reversing the mantle had me nearly hyperventilating but I, somehow, safely made my way back to the anchor. We discussed our predicament, spied a horn with rap slings 30 feet down to our right and consulted our beta. We both thought that this was the Beckey rappel that would take us to a 4th class gully exit but our position would not allow us to confirm it. Below us, the gullies looked vertical, smooth, and crack-free. Committing to the rappel felt serious. Andrew rappelled at a diagonal across ribs, at times placing gear as directionals to reach the farthest gully. Upon reaching the first gully, Andrew looked up. There is no way that is 4th class. Second gully. Sweet baby jesus! It goes! Relief washed over us like a warm caribbean breeze. I rappelled down and we quickly began to lead. We both just wanted to be done with this endeavor. How quickly a dream becomes dread. My mind screamed, "Get me the fuck off this mountain!" After two rope stretching pitches and some mid fifth climbing (another sandbag) the Sun hit our darkened spirits and the tomb I'd climbed myself out of was no more. A few hundred feet of 3rd class was all that separated us from the summit. Elated, exhausted, and emotional, we hugged. I looked over the edge, down the north face and wept. Tears of joy, relief, and sadness fell hundreds of feet down the alpine face of my dreams. I always pictured myself feeling triumphant at this moment, but instead all I felt was relief and the intense desire to hug my wife and two year old son. We had done it. We had fought through constant moments of fear and uncertainty to obtain our dreams, but I felt far from dreamy. As we began the descent, I turned around and gave one last look at the summit of my dreams and gave it the double middle finger. I was done. I could close this chapter of my climbing pursuits. Fatherhood has changed my drive, my dreams, and my abilities. I am unsure if I will ever climb anything like this again, but much like any overwhelming obstacle, I will take it one decision at a time. Who knows how I will feel about such commitment and risk taking in the future. We hit a mellow snow slope and just like any decision we made that day, we assessed the terrain and made the best choice for moving forward. The joy in the glissade took me by surprise and I burst out into a giggle fit. Type 1 fun!!!! What a wild ride of emotions. We reached our bivy a half an hour before sunset. We smiled and laughed as we recapped the day. Feeling thankful and shocked to have pulled the ascent off, we crawled into our bags, passed a joint back and forth and fell into philosophical ramblings about life and reality. What a life we live. The next morning we made the long march back down to bear camp and through what felt like endless old growth shenanigans pushed by the thought of a dip in Chilliwack lake and the beer stashed there. Upon reaching the lake we found the beer gone, hoards of people on what I thought would be a secluded beach, and leash-less dogs aggressively charging us while the owner continued to flirt with some bikini-clad girl. WTF. I thought that was the shit-cream on top of a long and miserable day, but oh no. Upon reaching the trailhead I saw my car in the distance but somehow it did not look like my car. The back window was missing! Someone had broken into my car! Son-of-a-bitch! As we got closer, the horrific reality set in. My car had not only been broken into, it had been set on fire. The tires, the windows, the interior. Everything that could have burned did. My car was a hunk of metal and nothing more! I was in disbelief. How was this possible!?? How are we going to get out of here? Is this a nightmare? Am I still in the mountain sleeping in my bag and this is some horrid hallucination fueled by the joint and exhaustion? Nope. This was reality. Whoever did this also nearly set the entire forest on fire based on the completely burnt cedar behind my car. Jesus Fucking Christ! We could have been trapped in that valley if they had succeeded in doing so! As my mind swirled with the gravity of our situation, the last car in the parking lot approached us and gave us a ride into town dropping us off at the Chilliwack police. After reporting what had happened, expecting surprise, they just smiled and said, "Yep, this has been happened a lot this Summer and there was little they could do about it. They gave us our police report number and directed us to a local bar and motel. I called the border to confirm they would let me back into the states without my passport (burnt in the car) and made arrangements for a friend to come pick us up. ”the urban mountaineer” This trip will live in my mind till the day I die and will hopefully entertain many. Journeys like this are great reminders for what is important in your life and just how lucky I am to be apart of this amazing planet. Get after what fuels your soul people! Gear Notes: 60 m rope Double rack tops to fist. Single 4 and a set of stoppers. Lots of alpine slings Approach Notes: Follow the tape till you can’t then turn on your zen and be one with the forest.
  2. 13 points
    Trip: Inspiration Peak - South Face Trip Date: 09/02/2018 Trip Report: Before last weekend I hadn't been to Terror Basin in almost 10 years. Back then we had spent a week in the Southern Pickets, only seeing one other party in Terror Basin. How times have changed! This past weekend there were three other parties for a total of a dozen people in Terror Basin. Thankfully all the others were headed for West McMillan Spire so we had the decidedly unpopular South Face of Inspiration all to ourselves. However, like Alan Kearney, I really think it should be more popular. It is quite a route! But it is also not for the faint of heart. Steep, intimidating, with a bit of scruffy rock and so-so pro - it would have been a challenge back when I was in good rock climbing shape. And I am most certainly not in good rock shape these days! Luckily I had @therunningdog to gun my sorry ass up it. And gun he did, leading all the gash pitches. But there was plenty to keep my mind humming below- a chaotic glacier with some delicate bridges, slabby rock right off the glacier (should have put on rock shoes earlier), and an increasingly exposed 4th/low 5th class ramp that terminated in the intimidatingly steep "Great Gash". And thenn once you are on the summit, the involved descent awaits. 4-5 raps down the West Ridge, some ridiculously exposed scrambling, and then more steep rappels down the south face. It was about 12 hours camp to camp. But what a place. Even more beautiful than I remembered, perhaps due to the changing weather and swirling mists? The best pictures are never during the best weather, perhaps the same is true of our memories? I'll be back, but I won't wait another 10 years this time. Looking down into Terror Basin from the "trail" in: Looking out to Triumph, Despair, and the Chopping Block (L-R): Despair and the Chopping Block: Thornton Peak and Triumph at sunrise: The Southern Pickets!! Morning light on the South Face of Inspiration: Ptarmigan and grown chick: I should draw the line on this but basically you climb up the buttress to the left of the face to the prominent ramp that is followed right a long ways to the start of the "Great Gash", which shoots steeply up and left to the upper West Ridge. A pitch on the ridge finishes the climb. The Descent follows the left skyline to the col then down the steep face/buttress to the glacier: The glacier approach proved challenging, but we found a way that will go into the fall this year: No super dad friendly. Scrambling a lot of 4th and low 5th to the belayed pitches up the gash. I should have taken more photos but I was pretty focused on not screwing up! @therunningdog in his element! Did I mention that the South Face of Inspiration is steep? @therunningdog coming up the final bit to the summit: It is an exposed descent as well. Rapping the West ridge: On the first set of raps, before you drop off the South Face: Whew. Down on the ice! Or should I say gneiss? TEEBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE! Despair in the mists: Triumph: Despair: This felt good after the punishing descent: Gear Notes: 60m half rope, medium rack to 2", ice axe, crampons, helmet Approach Notes: Terror Basin trail from Goodell Creek. 6 hours to camp. From camp follow the climber's path toward Inspiration and West Mac, picking the best line up the glacier to the toe of the buttress just west of the South Face. We roped up here for a bit until we gained the prominent ramp where we packed the roped and scrambled. It seemed about 5.6-5.7 for one ptich to gain the ramp, with low fifth below that. The "Great Gash" is about 3, 30m pitches, to ~5.8. I think we did about 12 rappels down the west ridge and west edge of south face right back to our boots. Stations are established for a single 60m rope. Bring tat since the route isn't climbed regularly.
  3. 13 points
    Trip: Washington Pass, Liberty Bell - Thin Red Line Trip Date: 09/01/2018 Trip Report: My buddy Andy Traylor and I had set this as a goal route to free for the summer season. Neither of us had really approached a bigger route like this with a redpoint mentality before and weren't sure exactly how to do it. With many different ways to consider an ascent "free," we settled on what we believe is a pretty commonly followed set of rules. We wanted to swing leads, and either redpoint or follow cleanly on every pitch, lowering back to the belay if necessary. Our plan was to spend one day and check out the first six pitches to get a feel for the moves and the gear then try and send the next day. On day 1 we took our time climbing the first six pitches, with no real pressure or time crunch. We TR'd the cruxes a couple times and feeling pretty good about going for it the next day, rapped off and headed down for a big dinner. The next day we set out a little nervous, but also feeling good about our chances. Once we were on the route we were moving and climbing well. Thoughts on the pitches for anyone that cares (some gear beta here so purists need not read on): P1. Straightforward crimping and edging straight up to the anchor. I actually headed right after the last bolt, going more directly to the anchor on day 2 and thought that was slightly better. Andy getting all artsy with the iPhone on P1 P2. Short pitch. Boulder problem over the bulge through the mini changing corners. Good pro and the pin at the end of the crux seemed in good shape, not tested. Belay on gear. P3. Awesome and memorable pitch I thought, shorter than it looks in photos. Super thin edging and stemming in the dihedral leading to a roof with wet holds that allow you to exit the corner and gain a stance. I basically punched myself in the face popping out of the wet locks first go round. Pin in the corner seemed good, I tested it and it held. Mostly finger sized cams. Belay at full on hanger. Andy in the corner/roof that ends the crux on P3 P4. Fixed gear in the roof seemed only ok, hard to tell with the tat and I didn’t spend much time examining it, but you probably won’t come off under the roof anyway, clip and go. Andy exiting the roof on P4 The last bit traversing back toward the anchor we both found a little awkward and harder than it seemed it should be. On the traverse back to the belay on P4 P5. Business #1. Super fun 5.10 traversing and edging to the corner. Corner gets progressively harder with the real business starting at the bolts. I will say on my initial go I was not super happy to have left basically all the rack at the belay, expecting only a few pieces then bolts. I'd take mostly finger sizes, but I was happy to have a black Metolius and a #2 C4 (certainly not necessary but provided me with some mental fortitude to try hard). Bring lots of slings, I think I had like 14 and ran out somehow, placed too much gear I guess. The crux moves are technical, a little powerful, desperate and amazing. The last move, while not the hardest, has the potential to be a heart breaker and I can only imagine being very desperate if you’re under, say, 5’9. Belay on medium sized gear above the bolts, significantly better stance. Andy sticking the last move, he never fell once climbing this pitch over the 2 days. P6. Business #2. No picture. First roof is super casual. Leading up to the second roof the climbing gets less secure but good small finger gear is there between pins. The boulder problem is powerful, but pretty straightforward cranking (V4ish?) on pretty good holds. We were a little confused by all the talk about a necessary and specific red C3 placement. We couldn’t find anywhere by the beak, or below the roof for that matter, where this would go. Any clues? However that piece or a blue Metolius or equivalent went in bomber just above the lip. If that’s the placement everyone is talking about, then there is no need to scavenge around for a red C3 if you don’t have one. We left it out in favor of a blue Metolius on round 2. Climb past the bolts (if not rapping from here) and belay on the better sloping ledge with hand sized pieces. P7. Only dog pitch on the route. Thought the rock was poor quality, basically a connector pitch. Ends on the scary looking “how is it still hanging there” block creating the ledge. P8. Another techy and pretty thin 11+ pitch. Really really good. Looks super thin but there is gear to be had and both the head and pin are in good shape, Andy tested both and approved. Some small hand sized gear higher. P9. Excellent and fun 10+ climbing again builds as you get higher. Looks like the seam dies out at the top, but keep going up instead of traversing left. That’s probably super obvious but I was getting tired and moving more timidly by this point. P10-12. Progressively easier climbing. Nice to have Scott's topo for P10 to know where to get started. The last belay sits basically on the arête between the east and north face, we came back into the sun here. There are brand spanking new bolts here instead of the pin/fixed wire combo some guide mentions. Maybe it’s obvious, but the climbing heads left up the lighter colored dihedral. This looked too steep to us to be the 5.7 climbing, so Andy headed out right on the lower angle terrain and we had a bit of an epic on the easiest and last pitch of the route. The rock quality deteriorated into kitty litter, so Andy tried to sling a chockstone to lower back to me, only to get the rope got stuck forcing even more shenanigans (face palm). All in all we wasted some hours and all hopes of pizza. Once corrected we soloed to the top without further incident. Don't go this way. Why is this photo so big? All in all, neither of us fell following any of the pitches. On lead, some of the pitches took a try or two, but in the end we pulled it out and nabbed a free ascent. We learned a lot about climbing in this style and really enjoyed the process. Thanks to Mikey Schaefer for figuring this out, it provided one of my all time favorite experiences in the mountains so far. Psyched for the next one! Gear Notes: Doubles from purple Metolius to .75 BD, singles to #3 BD. Our second set of cams were Metolius offsets. They worked amazing (as always for granite) and I always carry them as doubles, but far from necessary. Nuts. Placed 1 RP but probably not necessary. Lots of slings, like ~16. We used a 40M tag line and hauled the bag on most pitches. Approach Notes: Most casual "alpine" approach ever. Like 25min from the car.
  4. 13 points
    Trip: North Cascades - Southern Pickets - Southern Pickets Enchainment (Traverse) – Second Ascent Trip Date: 08/17/2018 Trip Report: Climbers/Scribe/Photos: Jeff and Priti Wright Priti and I completed the Second Ascent of the full Southern Pickets Enchainment (Traverse) between 8/12/2018 and 8/17/2018 via the first ascensionists’ agenda (VI 5.10+, ca. 3 miles). Thirteen peaks in four days staying on technical terrain enchaining every peak in the Southern Picket Range from East to West. The Chopping Block was our 14thpeak on the last day à la Bunker-Haley-Wallace. We were lucky to have splitter weather the whole time except for our approach day which was non-stop drizzling and kept us from jumping on the rock right away. We had previously attempted this climb during the July 4thweek earlier this summer but were stormed off at the base of Mount Terror. View of the entire Southern Pickets from Mount Triumph. Photo Credit: James Blackmon (1) Little Mac Spire, (2) East McMillan Spire, (3) West McMillan Spire, (4) Tower 1 summit of the East Towers aka "Don Tower", (5) Tower 5 summit of East Towers, (6) Inspiration Peak, (7) Pyramid Peak, (8) Mount Degenhardt, (9) Mount Terror, (10) The Rake aka "The Blob", (11) The Blip, (12) East Twin Needle, (13) West Twin Needle, (14) Dusseldorfspitz, (15) Himmelhorn, (16) Ottohorn, (17) Frenzelspitz, and (18) The Chopping Block The Chopping Block is on the left. History: FA: In 2003, this visionary line of 13 summits (Little Mac Spire to Frenzelspitz) was first completed by Mark Bunker, Colin Haley, and Wayne Wallace in an incredibly speedy 4 days car-to-car. http://c498469.r69.cf2.rackcdn.com/2004/34_wallace_pickets_aaj2004.pdf https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/15094-walking-the-fence/ 2011: Dan Hilden, Jens Holsten, and Sol Wertkin completed 12 of the Southern Pickets summits (Little Mac Spire to Ottohorn), but were halted by an impassable moat under the South Face of the final bookend peak, Frenzelspitz (a lesson we borrowed to not take the snow approach). https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/article/chad-kellogg-jens-holsten-tackle-complete-picket-range-enchainment http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web15s/wfeature-never-ending-holsten-kellogg https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/82900-tr-picket-range-complete-enchainment-attempt-922011/?tab=comments#comment-1029444 2013: Jens Holsten and Chad Kellogg traversed 11 of the Southern Pickets summits (Little Mac Spire to Himmelhorn), and carried on to the Northern Pickets to do a mind-blowing Southern and Northern Pickets traverse. Even though Jens humbly calls their climb an “attempt” since they left out three minor summits, their ascent was easily one of the greatest alpine achievements in the lower 48. https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/92032-they-made-it/?tab=comments#comment-1101276 http://jensholsten.blogspot.com/2013/07/desperate-country-seven-day-enchainment.html https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/article/chad-kellogg-jens-holsten-tackle-complete-picket-range-enchainment Legend In the topos below, note the following color codes -Blue circle: belays that we chose to take (all are optional, obviously) -Yellow arrows: Bail options, or ways to enter/exit shorter segments of the Enchainment -Green tent: bivy sites (note the comments) -Red lines: Ascent -White circles: Rappels -White lines: Descent Day 1 With our packs each weighing in at 28lbs, we hiked in to Terror Creek Basin via Goodell Creek through wet bushes and a light drizzle and bivied at the Terror Creek Basin High Camp. Day 2 As we roped up at the base of the start (Little Mac Spire) on Day 2, Priti glumly pulled two left-footed red Moccasym rock shoes out of her pack, but decided to keep going like the hardcore badass that she is! We climbed from Little Mac Spire (5.8) through East McMillan Spire (5.6), West McMillan Spire (5.8), the East Towers (5.8) summiting Don Tower and Tower 5, and finishing the day with Inspiration Peak (5.9). We had to climb up 1/3 of Pyramid to find a small snow patch for water and dinner. On our last trip in early July there was a lot of snow at the cols, so it was easy to find water. There was a lot less snow in the cols in August, making finding water along the traverse very tricky, to say the least. We filled our dromedary up every time we found snow. The smoke made the views hazy, but we could tell how far away the later peaks were, and how far we had to go. The base of Little Mac Spire The start of the technical climbing (5.7) on the face of Little Mac Spire The upper ridge of East McMillan Spire View looking West in July View looking West in August Upper face of West McMillan Spire Starting up Tower 1 Priti is belaying below Pitch 2 (5.8 with a hand/fist overhang) Inspiration Peak Summit is the impressive overhang on the left Day 3 On Tuesday (day 2 of climbing, day 3 of the trip), we started out on Pyramid (5.8), and traversed over Degenhardt (3rd class). We chose a steep face crack for the first pitch on Terror to start. This may be the 5.8 start Jens and Chad did. Starting further out left might go at 5.6. After finding the piton rappel off Terror, we downclimbed about half of the Rake-Terror col before starting up a loose gulley on The Rake (skier’s right). The climbing didn’t feel too hard, and we must have avoided the 5.9 R climbing described by previous parties. However we didn’t make it to the nice bivy at the summit, instead hunkering down on a slopey grassy ledge for the night. Snafflehounds poked me in the face and jumped on my feet to start the night out. The meteor shower sparkled above us. In the morning, Jeff found his helmet strap had been gnawed through, his crack gloves stolen and the nut butter munched. Nothing a little duct tape won’t fix! Starting up the technical climbing on Pyramid Peak Inside the crux chimney Day 4 On Wednesday (day 3 of climbing, day 4 of the trip), we only climbed for a few hours doing lots of fun ridge climbing on the Rake (5.8) which took us to the best bivy spot of the trip: on top of the West Rake Summit. It was so nice, we decided to relax the rest of the day and camel up for the next day. The choosy 4th class gully which exits the Terror-Rake col (about halfway down) on climber's right The entire Rake ridgeline is pictured here. Priti is on the initial ridgeline, heading to the Rake's deep, major notch (right of center). Stay high on this initial ridge to get to a 5.6 traverse about even with the notch to get over to the notch. Starting the traverse too soon may result in 5.9R climbing. The vertical ridgeline just left of the major notch is the technical crux. The technical crux of The Rake. This is the second pitch after getting to the major notch which takes you to the The Rake's ridge proper. 5.8+ ledges with small gear. Starting out on the Rake's ridge proper. Looking back at the Rake (Eastward) from the summit Guns out! Amazing bivy site! Don't stop at the col (aka "Ice Station Dark Star"), but continue to this bivy after a short pitch. Day 5 Thursday morning we woke up stoked for the Twin Needles and Himmelgeisterhorn. The Blip between the Rake and the Needles was a quick jaunt (5.6). In the descent gulley, Priti kicked a small rock down, which tipped a precarious car-door sized boulder over and core-shot our rope. She literally had two left feet! We just climbed the rest of the way with 40m of rope out. East Twin Needle (5.10a) had some of the best climbing on the trip, following an aesthetic line up the knife edge ridge, that looks like a gothic tower. There was a TCU that the previous party stuck behind a flake, and was reminded of the giant footsteps we were following. The last couple moves were extremely dirty though. The left variation of the crux is much easier than sticking right. West Twin Needle was chill 3rd Class. Then came Himmelgeisterhorn (5.10), the “Horn of the Sky Spirit”. The climbing was fantastic: engaging, with great position, and unique au chevaling! We climbed over Düsseldorfspitz, on the way to the summit of Himmelhorn. We rappelled down the North Face of Himmelhorn with our 60m rope which worked out perfectly. Ottohorn took about an hour to summit and get back down to the Himmel-Otto col. The 3rdclass route that Bunker-Haley-Wallace took is gone due to some fresh rock fall. Instead of taking the 2 pitch 5.7 variation that Hilden-Holsten-Wertkin took, we attacked the fresh rock scar directly which was splitter 5.6 hand cracks for maybe 15 m to the ridge and summit. In the fading light, we then headed over to Frenzelspitz (the final peak of the Enchainment) from the Himmel-Otto col, traversing along rock on the north side of Ottohorn. The ledge/gulley traverse had the most heinous, scary, exposed choss. Luckily the climbing on Frenzel was pretty great 5.7ish. We made four fresh rappel anchors, starting with a runner on the summit block, two double-nut anchors, and another slung horn. 5.8 ridge (vertical blocks) The fantastic climbing on the technical crux of East Twin Needle. Priti leading out onto the technical crux (and I mean technical!) - face climbing on crimps with small gear Looking up and over Dusseldorfspitz. Priti is belaying between Dusseldorfspitz (foreground) and Himmelhorn (background). The crazy outcropping (Dusseldorfspitz) just East of the summit of Himmelhorn Looking back down from the Himmelhorn summit at the belay. Left to right: Dusseldorfspitz (the small spire along the ridgeline, just below the summit), Himmelgeisterhorn ("Horn of the Sky Spirit", also a small suberb of the German city of Dusseldorf), Ottohorn, and Frenzelspitz...three names taken from the label of a mustard bottle brought along by Joan and Joe Firey (kindred spirits and personal heroes of ours) during their first ascent of these peaks in 1961. Ed Cooper, also on the trip, was "aghast" at the names chosen! The magnificent Northern Pickets Frenzelspitz, a perfect pyramid Day 6 The last day we climbed the Chopping Block via the NW Route (4thClass) and hiked out via “Stump Hollow” to Terror Creek. Mega thanks to Wayne, @solwertkin, and @jensholsten for their great beta, inspiration, and support. Priti and I have been dreaming of this climb for years now since reading Alpinist 47 magazine’s expansive article on the Picket Range and being inspired by Jens Holsten and Chad Kellogg’s 2013 Pickets Traverse (of both the Southern and Northern Pickets, 10 miles) after we had just taken the @boealps Basic Climbing Class. The next level of alpinism in the Southern Pickets may be to complete the entire enchainment in a day! This seems like an entirely reasonable feat (especially for a soloist) given enough familiarity and speed. Bivy Beta: Primo bivies (East to West) base of West McMillan Spire descent (snow through the summer, nice bivy walls) base of Mount Terror, cross over ridge to North side - late season snow available on top of the Rake sub-peak (1 pitch past the “Ice Station Dark Star”) – lots of snow just a short scramble distance away along the Rake descent. Himmel-Otto col (if no snow on the col, make one rappel toward Crescent basin to find snow) Terrible bivies (East to West) base of East McMillan Spire descent (sloping ledges, snow early season) slabby ledge about 1/4 the way up the Inspiration West Ridge (exposed) Pyramid-Inspiration col (no snow late season) grassy ledges down and climbers left when you first gain the ridge proper at the start of the Rake “Ice Station Dark Star” (as coined by Hilden-Holsten-Wertkin) which is the col after just rappelling from The Rake summit (snow early season, but rappel north late season to find snow down a heinous choss gully)…if no snow just at the col, then recommend continuing on to the Rake descent to find tons of easily accessible snow in late season Himmelhorn summit (no snow) Gear Notes: small set of nuts and some brassies doubles BD UL Camalots .4-2 single BD UL Camalot 3 (for Inspiration East Face) singles BD C3 000-1 (extra green 0) single BD Camalot X4 Offset 0.1/0.2 single BD Camalot X4 0.3 singles Metolius Mastercam 0-3 4 double-length runners with 2 Camp 22 biners each 3 double-length runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each 9 single-length runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each (can’t have too many runners) 30L Patagonia Ascensionist pack (for him) and 30L Black Diamond Speed pack (for her) Patagonia Micro Puff jacket (each) Patagonia Alpine Houdini jacket (each) Patgaonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket (for him) 2L MSR DromLite (essential!) Garmin inReach Mini (love this little guy!) Beal Escaper (for emergency bails) Petzl Leopard FL crampons (each) Petzl Sirocco helmets Petzl Sitta harness (for him) and Arc’teryx harness (for her) Metolius Feather Nut Tool (each) Camp Corsa Nanotech 50cm (each) chalk bag, each (didn’t use) tape gloves (for her) and OR Splitter gloves (for him) x2: Mammut Smart belay device (not the Alpine Smart) + Grivel Sigma Wire D carabiner 3 lockers for group: Grivel Tau K12L, Grivel Lambda HMS, Grivel Plume 60m 8.5mm Beal Opera rope 15m 5mm cord (did not use ever) 1 medium fuel canister 1 small fuel canister (did not use) Jetboil Sol stove Safety ‘biner (each) – Edelrid 19g caribeener, Petzl Micro Traxion, short Sterling Hollowblock, Trango Piranha knife Bivy setup (each) – Short Thermarest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad, Exped Air Pillow UL, Feathered Friends Vireo UL sleeping bag 8.5ft^2 tarp by Hyperlite Mountain Gear TC Pros (for him) and Moccassyms (for her) La Sportiva TX2 (for her) and TX4 (for him) approach shoes Petzl Reactik headlamps (each) + 3 extra AAA batteries + Petzl e+LITE headlamp Other things: 1 long spoon to share, chapstick to share, small Joshua Tree sun stick to share, Kenu iPhone tether, lighter, whistle, duct tape, Thermarest repair patches, Voke tabs, Nuun, pain killers, 1L Platypus soft water bottle (for her) and 750mL HydraPak Stash (for him), warm headband, glove liners, 1 pair thick long socks (each), sunglasses, ear plugs, WRFA emergency form, small pencil Dinner: 2 AlpineAire meals, 3 Near East Couscous boxes repackaged with small olive oil packets in ziplock bags, salt Day food was mostly bulky, yummy snacks: vegan jerky, dried mango, nuts, Cheese-Its, sesame sticks, Gu, nut butter, etc Approach Notes: Excellent Approach trail Goodell Creek to Terror Basin. The descent from Crescent Basin is tricky The luxurious tree marker where one descends from the ridge below "Stump Hollow" towards Terror Creek Log crossing Terror Creek on descent
  5. 12 points
    Trip: Dragontail Peak - North East Couloir Trip Date: 11/23/2019 Trip Report: I got out for a stellar day with Kyle and Daniel on Saturday (November 23, 2019). Following a few weeks of mostly high pressure and moderate temps, but with a storm front moving in, we were curious about conditions in the Stuart Range. Kyle brought this route to my attention, as I hadn't even heard of it. We found a TR on here from November 2008 and this inspired us to go give it a look. Be sure to check the trip from Kyles perspective at https://climberkyle.com/2019/11/23/dragontail-peak-ne-couloir-wi2-m5-r/ After leaving the trailhead around 5 am, we found more snow on the surrounding peaks than expected, which was promising considering the lack of recent precip, except for a day or two the week leading up to this. We knew the weather was supposed to deteriorate and winds were supposed to pick up throughout the day so we hurried to Aasgard Pass. We switched to boots and crampons where the creek down the pass was frozen and flooded over the boulders. At around 8 we started soloing up easy little water ice flows toward the base of the couloir. At the base of the couloir, we could see the first dry section that leads into the couloir and it didn't look too hard. We opted to rack up but solo up it. It was a tad techy so I fixed a cordelette as a hand line in a few spots for extra security. Above this, we were on variable steep snow. Throughout the couloir, we found everything from thigh-deep wallowing, to firm neve front pointing. About a third of the way up the couloir, there was a steep/overhung chockstone with a thin ice/snow flow on the right. I led up and over this with some mediocre gear (a tied off 10cm screw and a cam lower). Above this, we soloed a bunch more steep snow until our gully ran out of snow and we did a pitch traversing 30ft right over rock slabs to a different snowy gully. Now we were approaching the top of the couloir and it was starting to open up and become drier. Just 2 more pitches took us to the top but, wow, they were seriously full-on. The first pitch was a series of near-vertical granite steps with steep snow in between. This was perhaps the technical crux as there were quite a few delicate moves but also some dark brown ice that took good sticks, as well as generally good gear. I belayed off a horn, looking up at the last pitch, which appeared to be 100% dry. I was tempted to ditch the crampons but kept them on since the only bomber feet I had gotten on the entire last pitch were in the few small patches of ice and I was still hopeful that there would be ice above that I couldn't see. Once Kyle and Daniel got to me, I mentally prepared to take the sharp end for hopefully the last time of the day. There had been a lot hard and sketchy climbing already, and the hardest/scariest was still yet to come. I started up the pitch, immediately finding that the rock quality was deteriorating. I was mostly climbing with both my axes racked since the rock was so bad. It seemed like the majority of holds could be pulled off and gear was sparse. When I finally got good gear halfway up the pitch I yelled "take" and sat back for a sec to breath. I took a few photos, looking both up and down. From then on, I didn't get another piece of gear. Eventually, I could see the ridgeline 20ft above me and was eager to get there. All that stood in my way was a steep kitty litter chimney, devoid of any gear of course. At this point, I had my gloves off since I was just rock climbing with crampons and its nice to be able to feel all the holds that will inevitably crumble in your hands. I started up the chimney, with my pack pressed against the right wall, my crampons finding edges in the left wall, my arms finding chicken wings and armbars, and cursing like a sailor. Thankfully my gopro had already died. I wouldn't mind forgetting this pitch. Down below, Kyle and Daniel were experiencing a constant flow of gravel filling their hoods. I remember throwing one hand up over the ridge onto a jug and letting out a sigh of relief before mantling up and finding an extra bomber belay. The wind up here was absolutely ripping and I got cold quickly while belaying. I was wearing all my clothes and had sweated a bit on the previous lead. The forecasted winds (60mph) had arrived and there were now intermittent clouds, but the sky was still mostly clear. Our weather window was certainly closing. Kyle and Daniel enjoyed the pitch far more than I did and both arrived at the belay with big grins, especially since they could climb near each other and watch all the holds break off. Since I was cold and antsy to move I let them break down the belay and sort out the ropes while I looked for the "traverse to the notch." I found it, but accessing the notch looked just a bit spicy. I wanted to solo it but realized I was just cold and anxious to get down and out of the blasting wind and gravel so I lead it with one rope and gave each of them a terrain belay up to the rap station where a single 60m rap got us out of the wind and to a point which we could walk from. We were out of the wind and off the technical terrain. It was a big relief for me. However, the light was fading and Aasgard pass is never fun to head down. There was a set of tracks up to the summit proper of Dragontail which we followed downhill and down the pass. As the light faded I snagged a photo of the route from across the pass. It looked pretty impressive, I was briefly proud but mostly humbled. We talked briefly about the climb. Perhaps there were mistakes. It would have been possible to bail down the route once we saw how dry the upper pitch was. I was enticed to just climb it since the ridge was practically 80 or 100ft away and bailing down the route would have meant leaving gear and taken a lot of time. Hard choices. Of course, you will never know exactly how it will be until you're in the thick of it, but perhaps we/I made too bold of a choice and got lucky (on the other hand, down climbing the snow would have also been tricky). Food for thought for anyone who has made it this far through the trip report. I try to stay safe and climb hard, but its a tricky balance. Anyway, we got back to the car around 8 pm and headed to McDonald's. All in all, it was a very fun day with 3 competent 22-23yr old Washington born and raised climbers. And for anyone curious about this route right now, I would steer clear! In the coming days, I'll post some first-person climbing video on my insta @porter.mcmichael First, a photo of the route, taken on the descent. Looking up at Dtail Approach ice Still on Asgard Dry pitch to access the couloir Fun steep snow! Chockstone in the middle of the couloir Looking down on the last pitch (I think) Looking up in the middle of the last pitch From the ridge looking down the chimney Looking North from near the top Kyle on the last pitch Daniel on the last pitch Down the rap Gear Notes: 3 screws (placed 2), 4 pins and a bulldog (surprisingly didn't place any), nuts (placed a few), cams .2-2, some doubles in the smaller sizes (placed them all), 60m doubles. Approach Notes: On your right, halfway up Asgard, hard to miss it. The slabby approach pitch is the first obvious way to access the gully (farthest climbers right)
  6. 11 points
    Via dei Ragni: Grade VI, 95deg snow/rime/ice, M4, 1000m Scribe/Photos/Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Google Street View: Cerro Torre Summit 360 Panorama We’ve had a picture of Cerro Torre on our desktops, phone wallpapers, and posters above our bed for the past 5 years. It was the reason we took up ice climbing in the first place. In February 2016, we made our first attempt on this route, hoping to at least get a glimpse of the scale of the mountain and understand what it took to climb it. The weather was too hot by then for the climb, and after three days, our high point was below the hard technical climbing. Previous trip report: The road to El Chaltén The Fitz Roy Massif These past two months were our fourth (and longest) climbing trip to the Chaltén Massif, and sixth year of watching the Patagonian weather patterns. We wanted to return to attempt Cerro Torre again, but the next two seasons were not possible because of bad weather. Last year, at the beginning of February, we saw a fantastic weather window, and the stars aligned. We flew down to Patagonia in a 9-day magical whirlwind of constant movement, and summited Fitz Roy via the Franco-Argentina route. While on the summit of Fitz Roy, looking down at the surreal summits of the Torre, we were determined more than ever to come back the following season. Day 1. We arrived in El Chaltén on New Years Eve, the last day of a 4-day weather window (brecha)…we missed it! Since then, January was filled with short stints (8-12hrs) of good weather in the mountains, and the arrival of a 6-day mega window in early February sent an electric buzz throughout town. We were a couple of bats out of hell with our 40lbs packs each as we set towards Laguna Torre. The plan was to pass through the Niponino base camp in the Torre Valley and bivouac at the higher Noruegos (Norwegian) bivouac, which would put us closer to Col Standhardt (the next day’s objective)…the passageway to the West Face of Cerro Torre where the Via dei Ragni route begins. Our bivy site at Noruegos Day 2. From the Noruegos bivy site high on the slopes of the Torre Valley, we traversed near the base of the Torres, under the celebrated SE Ridge (perhaps the greatest climb in the world) and also the 1959 Maestri line to the triangular snowfield where so much history and controversy took place. From the East, all of the Torres stand impossibly steep and impassable. To get to the Ragni route on the West side, we would climb up and over the Col Standhardt where an implausible car-sized chockstone sits interminably between the col’s steep walls. From the col, one gets the first glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap (Hielo Continental), a massive expanse of ice 200mi long. On a rare, clear day such as this day, we could see green Chilean fjords across the Ice Cap between large, snowy volcanos. A Lighthouse Several rappels deposited us down to the Circo de los Altares (Cirque of the Alters), an impressive crescent of white-capped peaks and toothed spires. From there we headed up another glacial ramp on Cerro Torre’s West Face to a high camp, 150m below the Col de la Esperanza (Col of Hope), first reached by Walter Bonatti in 1958 who hoped that this col would one day blaze a path to the summit. It wasn’t until 1974 that a team of Italians from the Ragni di Lecco (thus the name “Via dei Ragni”) completed Bonatti’s vision. Circo de los Altares Steep snow climbing and easy mixed terrain led us towards the camp at Col de la Esperanza, the camp we hadn’t reached on our last attempt. As we hiked past our previous high point, our hearts soared. This time around, the climbing felt much easier with 4 more years of climbing experience under our belts. Day 3. This day was a rest day of sorts. To set ourselves up for success on summit day, we were moving to the highest camp a few hundred meters up: El Elmo (“Helmet”), a prominent plateau below the steep, technical climbing. Those who were faster and stronger than us had gone straight to the highest camp the day before and were now going to do the hard work of battle-axing the bullet-hard blue ice and cleaning the cotton candy mushrooms of the summit. As we came over the Col of Hope, we entered an otherworldly expanse of mangled rime towers and precarious exposure. These deformed blobs of ice towers with icicle branches and feathery leaves seem like something only God or Dr. Seuss could conjure. It’s something so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. We were face to face, looking up at thisbeastly Tower. A spectacular nightmare. Day 4. Summit Day! We were pretty antsy to get going on the summit push. Falling snow greeted us when our alarms went off at 2:00AM as the mountain was enveloped in a cloud. All over camp, alarms went off and were snoozed as the precipitation discouraged movement. When the stars finally came out again, we were the first to muster our strength and get to work. Walking up to the base of El Elmo in the darkness, the first overhanging rime ice mushroom of the route, we gave a sigh “ah, breakfast!” The last 10m didn’t actually have any good protection (besides maybe a horizontal picket), and it was a sequence of cutting the feet loose, campus’ing from questionable tools, and shoving knees into the soft rime to make upward progress. Once at the top of El Elmo, a crowd had formed at the base, chomping at the bit. All of camp was finally up. The snooze button had proved an epic failure of our collective, strategically staggered alarms. We all watched in awe and gave whooping shouts from this low perch as our friend, Fabi Buhl, paraglided from the summit in the wee hours of the morning, slowly swirling in front of the spectacular sunrise over Lago Viedma. He was the first ever to fly off the summit of Cerro Torre having climbed the mountain first (and not dropped off via helicopter). After El Elmo, the mixed pitches zig-zag through a maze of rock and ice up to the base of The Headwall. Two pitches of blue, overhanging, bullet-hard ice. The final pitches mount three tiers of giant rime mushrooms facing the Ice Cap. This high ridge gets pummeled by the wet, freezing storms that race around the Southern Ocean to create these crazy rime formations. The first and second rime mushrooms had formed spectacular, natural blue-ice tunnels created by vortices of wind spiraling up the ridge, clearing a path through the thick outer layer of soft rime ice. Climbing into this vertical subway tunnel for 60 meters felt like entering a portal into another world. It eventually funneled up to an elevator shaft and spat us out of a squeeze tube. For the second and third mushrooms, we attached Petzl prototype “wings” to our ice tools to make purchase in the soft, overhanging, cotton-candy rime. These wings are horizontal plates that bolt onto the picks of our ice tools like Dilophosaurus gills. The Final (Summit) Mushroom was a beast. The previous day, it had taken the other parties many hours to clear a natural half-pipe, then dig a tunnel through the steepest part for many hours. Their line then exited their manufactured tunnel out onto the overhanging summit lip. Walking up to the steepest point on Cerro Torre on a perfectly still, clear day was absolutely surreal, basking in the bright orange-red glow of the sunset. The 200 miles of the Continental Ice Cap stretched before us and the Pacific Ocean now clearly visible. Behind, on the other side of the Torre Valley, small, wispy clouds hovered over the summit of Fitz Roy. We were lucky to get perfect lighting to fly our drone around for 30 minutes alone before we headed back down to our tents at El Elmo for the night. Days 5 and 6. To get back to town, you can reverse your way up Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans), or take one of two trekking passes along the Ice Cap. We had experience taking the Northern pass (Paso Marconi) which was now in really bad shape. We opted for the Southern pass (Paso del Viento) to try something new, and hopefully be able to turn our brains off for a few days (sadly, this was not the case). The Hielo Continental spans 50mi across and crawls 200mi north to south across Southern Patagonia. It looked so beautiful and serene from our climb. Now, face to face with this beastly crocodile, it was the stuff of horrors. Canyons after canyons of impassable crevasses, we zig-zagged our way in no logical direction under a bright, unhelpful, full moon. From the air, our tracks must have looked like the random scribbling of a toddler on a massive, blank white floor. A sun dog greeting us after our descent. Finally reaching the pass and seeing people again after such a mental test of sanity was nothing short of jubilant. A popular trek is to take the pass South to Lago Viedma: the Huemul Circuit. We were now on a delightful trekking path and could now…finally… turn our brains off and just put one foot in front of the other for a mere 14 miles back to ice cream and showers and safety. Thanks: We had good confidence in the forecast and the length of the window, but it’s still important to have daily weather updates to anticipate the inconsistencies between each day. We’re so grateful for our weathermen who sent us updates to the inReach and gave us both confidence and peace of mind each day that we spun ourselves further from civilization: Dan Berdel, Devin Monas, and Rolando Garibotti. We’d also like to thank Dave Burdick (Alpine Dave!) for his support, inspiration and beta on the route. Also thanks to the American Alpine Club Live Your Dream Grant for supporting this trip. Recommended Reading: The Tower, Kelly Cordes Patagonia Vertical, Rolando Garibotti Enduring Patagonia, Greg Crouch Gear Notes: 13 ice screws (including 3 stubbies) 1 Picket (to place horizontally in vertical rime!) small set of nuts (Wildcountry Superlight) small rack of cams (Black Diamond Ultralight cams .4-1, Metolius Mastercam 1-3) 2 Petzl Nomic Ice Tools + Petzl prototype wings (rented from Viento Oeste gear shop in town) Petzl V-link Umbilicals 2 stuff sacks (gear management in pack, and also to leave for snow anchors) The North Face Phantom 50 backpack 4 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 2 Camp 22 biners each 2 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each 7 single-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each (can’t have too many runners) Patagonia R2 Jacket Patagonia Micro Puff jacket Patagonia Macro Puff jacket Patagonia Kniferidge hardshell jacket (didn't use)...also, it's now the "Ascensionist Jacket". Mainly wore the Micro Puff for outer layer Patagonia Nano Air Pants Patagonia Softshell pants (bibs) Patagonia base layer (top+bottom) Platypus 2L soft bottle Garmin inReach Mini (love this little guy!) Petzl Dart Crampons 2x Mammut Twighlight Twin Rope (7.5mm) Petzl Sirocco helmets Petzl Sitta harness (for him) and Arc’teryx harness (for her) Metolius Feather Nut Tool (each) Mammut Smart belay device (not the Alpine Smart) 3 lockers for group: Grivel Tau K12L, Grivel Lambda HMS, Grivel Plume 2 medium fuel canisters Jetboil Sol stove Safety ‘biner (each) – Edelrid 19g caribeener, Petzl Micro Traxion, short Sterling Hollowblock, Trango Piranha knife Bivy setup – Full Length Thermarest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad, Exped Air Pillow UL, Feathered Friends Spoonbill sleeping bag MSR Advance Pro 2 Tent (amazing!) La Sportiva TX4 Approach shoes La Sportiva G2SM boots Petzl Reactik headlamps (each) + 3 extra AAA batteries + Petzl e+LITE headlamp Other things: 1 long spoon to share, chapstick to share, small Joshua Tree sun stick to share, Frog's Tung phone leash, lighter, whistle, duct tape, Thermarest repair patches, Voke tabs, Nuun, pain killers, 1L Platypus soft water bottle (for her) and 750mL HydraPak Stash (for him), warm headband, glove liners, 1 pair thick long socks (each), sunglasses, ear plugs, WRFA emergency form, small pencil, cotton handkerchief, wad of toilet paper, ID, Credit Card 1 Swix alpine pole (with snow basket) Arcteryx ball cap Adidas Sunglasses (with nose sun guard), no longer available iPhone 11 Pro (with route beta downloaded) GoPro HERO 5 Session (with helmet mount) DJI Mavic Mini Drone (remote and drone stored in USPS Tyvek bag) Dinner: 2 AlpineAire meals, 3 Near East Couscous boxes repackaged with small olive oil packets in ziplock bags, salt Day food was mostly bulky, yummy snacks: vegan jerky, dried mango, nuts, Cheese-Its, sesame sticks, Gu, nut butter, etc Approach Notes: Approached via Col Standhardt. Also possible to approach via Paso Marconi (currently in difficult/sketchy conditions) or Paso del Viento (long). We came back via Paso del Viento, but it's also possible to climb back over Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans with old fixed ropes here and there).
  7. 11 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - FA: Superalpine (WI3-4, 1000') Trip Date: 02/28/2020 Trip Report: On February 28th, 2020, @PorterM and I made what we believe to be the first winter ascent of the West Face of Sloan Peak. We climbed an incredible line approximately 1000 ft long of WI3-4 and steep snow climbing before our route joined the final 600 ft of snowfields to the summit. On the very final ice step, I suffered a short fall on rotten ice and a heinous top out and broke a few bones in the right side of my face. We bailed down the route and skied out. So technically, I guess we didn't finish the route, so say what you want about it. Our route started with a WI4ish pitch followed by hundreds of feet of stellar WI3 rambly flows in a gully just to the climber's right of the true west ridge spur on Sloan Peak. In our eyes, this was the only way up the true west face under WI4+/5. The whole face is loaded with huge free hanging daggers and wild lines. A competent WI6/M6 climber in the right conditions could send some absolute world class lines up there. I shared a lot more details, reflections on the accident, and route beta on my blog: https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/. Hopefully some others can get up there and finish this magnificent climb or poach some of the other unclimbed lines. Our route. up to where I fell. We were about to join the corckscrew route and head out. We climbed the gully on the right side of the photo. First pitch crux. Moving into the wonderful ice gully. Porter leading on that fat, fun, rambly WI3. The climbing in the gully was generally easy, sustained, and super fun! Incredible flows on the west face. Some helpful beta. Gear Notes: Screws, maybe a few small rock pieces and a picket. Approach Notes: Skin/hike forest service road 4096, then meander up Bedal Creek to the base of the west face.
  8. 11 points
    Trip: Patagonia - Fitz Roy Smash 'n' Grab 9 Days Seattle-to-Seattle Trip Date: 02/03/2019 Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Location: Patagonia - Chaltén Massif - El Chaltén, Argentina Peak: Monte Fitz Roy (Cerro Chaltén) Route: Franco-Argentina 650m, 55deg 6c (6a C1) High-Res Video (turn up the volume!): Google Street View Photo Sphere: https://goo.gl/maps/nLvcGHAQTqu Trip Report: Feb 3, 2019 Priti and I summited Monte Fitz Roy in Patagonia near El Chaltén, Argentina via the Franco-Argentina Route. We had been watching the weather every day each season for the past three years and finally saw a good enough window to buy last-minute flights and make use of the beta sheets we made four years ago. The trip was 9 days Seattle-to-Seattle. We climbed the Franco-Argentina link-up which is a variation on the first ascent route and is the "normal" route up and the standard rappel line for all routes on the mountain. Franco-Argentina is a highly aesthetic line combining glacier travel, steep snow, mixed terrain, and hard/pure rock climbing. The technical portion of the route is 650m long containing 14 (or so) rock/mixed pitches up to 5.11b (or 5.10b/C1...heavy emphasis on the C1) and many hundreds of meters of 45-55deg hard snow/ice. Starting from the town of El Chaltén which sits at roughly 1,300 feet, you ascend 9,710 vertical feet over 10.5mi to reach the summit of Cerro Fitz Roy (Cerro Chaltén) which towers over all the surrounding granite spires of the Chaltén Massif. The upper summit slopes require crampons, boots, and ice tools which were carried in a single pack by the follower. We were four days and four nights away from town which included bivouacs at Paso Superior, La Brecha de los Italianos, the summit (for a 1hr sit-rest waiting for sunrise pictures), then hiking all night back to town on the fourth/final night. From La Brecha, we woke on the third day and moved sleeplessly for 48 hours to get back to town so we could make our bus for our flight back (and we had 20min to spare!). We were lucky to experience rare, cloudless, windless, perfect weather in this harshest and otherwise unforgiving land. We've suffered so much in these mountains on our previous two trips; this was a welcome change. For those of you who don't know, the Patagonia (r) logo (tm) is an actual range, called the Fitz Roy range which is located in the Chaltén Massif. The big peak in the center of the logo is Fitz Roy. The founder, Yvon Chouinard, was a member of the Fun Hog Expedition in 1968 who road trip'd from California to Argentina, surfing and skiing along the way. They completed the third ascent of the mountain and established a new route, Californiana (or the "Fun Hog Route"). Note: whenever I mention "the topo", I'm referring to the topo as found in the 2nd edition of Patagonia Vertical, by Rolando Garibotti and Dörte Pietron, published by Sidarta Guides, which can be purchased online or in the States at most Patagonia retail stores. Rolo has a companion website to the book, PATAclimb.com, which is an equally invaluable resource. All pictures below are high resolution. Click on the pictures to open them in a new tab and zoom in. The adventure begins from the town of El Chaltén where you hike the popular trail approximately 10km to Lago de los Tres. Then scramble up the left (Southern) slopes of the lake to find a fixed line. The fixed line is hidden away from tourists and is very difficult to find. Stay low as you scramble up the slopes, maybe 30m until you find an obvious, lone, random bolt along a ledge. If you were to continue from here, you would see a smattering of 4 more random bolts which (I assume) make a rappel anchor for guided parties. Instead, go straight downhill from the first bolt to a large cairn and another bolt with the fixed line. 3rd class down climbing will take you back to the shores of the lake where you will soon see the second fixed line which ascends the 4th class hillside to a scree field. Cross the moraine (bivy options here) between the larger and smaller lakes to the glacier (Gl. de los Tres). Ascend the glacier to find yet another short (15m) fixed line on a low-angle rock or mixed corner (shown below). Ascend the ridge on the North side (climber's right) and make your way back to the South side (climber's left) to gain the upper snow field. Follow easy snow to Paso Superior (high camp). A very snow Mermoz and Guillaumet Paso Superior is a popular advanced base camp from which most objectives in the Massif may be accomplished in a push. It is relatively sheltered in a snow bowl, but may be exposed in high winds. On the back (North) side, there is a fixed rope down 20m of 4th class terrain to get down to the glacier (Gl. Piedras Blancas). Ascend the glacier to get to the bergshrund (1-2hrs). According to the guidebook, there are three ways to gain the ridge: the rappel couloir (just below the Brecha de los Italianos), the rock spur just left of the couloir, and the steep snow further left. Approximately 100% of all parties (give or take) approach via the steep snow (the third option), as we did. From the bergshrund just below the toe of the rock (usually just a step-across, but may go "out" in late season), we harnessed up with rock and ice gear, ascending steep snow and ice (up to 60deg) for 250m. We stayed close to the rock and protected with rock gear since the angle was steep enough and the consequences fatal enough, but many parties solo the snow/ice, roping up for the last rock portion. Since the steep snow was endless, calf-burning front-pointing, we were glad to have steel, hybrid, horizontal crampons here and also on the summit slopes, although many climbers just wear strap-ons (of the aluminum variety). Once near the ridgeline, there are likely a few ways to ascend the rock from 3rd class to low 5th but rock shoes are not necessary. Choose your adventure. The entire technical portion of Franco-Argentina is shown in red, above, which starts at the end of the snow bench ("la Silla"). Once over the ridgeline and on the West side, you are rewarded with views of Desmochada, Cerro Torre, and Aguja de la Silla. There are a couple bivy spots where a tent can be set up just under Brecha de los Italianos (shown above). From here, in order to gain the ridgeline from la Brecha to la Silla, there are many possible low-5th class routes. However, the best way is to find a 45m fixed line on the right, just past la Brecha and climb 4th class terrain to a 3rd class walkway just under the ridgeline (still on the West side) until you get to the snow. You can also climb various 4th/low-5th class gullies (seen below). La Silla is usually always icy but is low angle (and exposed!) to the base of the route and may be protected with ice screws if you like. Crossing la Silla to the base of the route. Looking back down at Glaciar Piedras Blancas. Our tracks from Paso Superior can be seen, faintly. Pitch 1, finally!! 5.10c diagonal hand crack. There is a rappel anchor just at the end of the pitch, over the edge, but there is a comfortable belay if you go up on top of the ledge. Approximate pitch layout shown side-by-side with original photo (open picture in new tab to zoom in). The lines in yellow are the two options for the actual Franco-Argentina route as shown in the topo. We diverged (on purpose) where the actual route is in yellow. Priti high on Pitch 1. Above: Looking back down Pitch 2 which takes a corner then goes out on an easy crack system on the face (5.10b). Priti leading Pitch 3. Looking up at the 5.11a corner system (Pitches 6-7) while on Pitch 5. Another view of the corner system (Pitches 6-7) while on rappel. Above: Priti starting up Pitch 6 corner system (5.11a). We swapped leads after Pitch 7, and I started up the 5.10a corner/chimney system on blocky terrain. Pitch 9 was harder corners and chimneys (5.10b) and the cracks started to get icy up here! Looking down the blocky Pitch 9. This view is just nuts! Crazy granite monoliths that look like a cluster of orange crystal formations. Looking down, you can see the swirly line of snow on La Silla which separates Aguja Poincenot from Fitz Roy. Pitch 10 (5.9) and looking up at the remaining 4-5 pitches on the upper headwall. It was during this pitch that the cracks became prohibitively icy on the standard route which would have required two tools and crampons for the leader, so I chose to explore off-route. Just above where you see me in the picture above is a long roof. There is a rappel anchor (off-route) out left of the corner system. This anchor is shown in the topo with three pitons on a ledge and is normally only used as a rappel anchor. I bailed to this anchor, then continued left (left of the prominent arête as shown on the topo) and found icy, mid-5th class ledges. The final 5 pitches were off-route from the topo but made for a fine alternative if the cracks are too icy on route. The final pitch! In yellow on the right, the 6c (5.11b) variation as shown in the guidebook topo. This overhanging crack was chock full of weak ice when we rappelled it and would have been nearly impossible to climb free or even get any pieces in to French Free it. We took the variation in red (left), not shown on the topo, which has many fixed pieces and pitons from previous parties and probably also goes free at 5.11a, although we climbed it French Free due to the icy cracks, darkness, and weak climbing abilities! Priti followed in the dark, jugging with two Petzl Micro Traxions. I would recommend following the zig zag in red (as we did) and not going straight up as that would be much harder. This is a good alternative if the rest of the route is icy, although you have to get off route during Pitch 11 (much earlier) to get to the base of this variation. Note: two more pitches of low-to-mid 5th class were required above this pitch before getting to the snow field. Rappel ropes shown going down the 6c variation. For reference, the line we took (red) is also shown again. Once past the technical climbing, you reach 250m of hard snow/ice up to 50deg (more endless front-pointing). This leads to the summit mound, which looks intimidating, but we went hard left to the left-most rocky ridge which was easy 3rd class scrambling to the final summit ridge. There is a small bump along the summit ridge which is not the actual summit although appears to be the high point! Continue to the end of the horizontal-ish summit ridge to reach the actual summit. There is an AMAZING bivy site for 1-2 with a roof and walls just under the summit block. Advertising for our awesome hostel, Aylen-Aike, from the summit. Cerro Torre behind. The first rappel down the upper snowfield. After 3-4 rappels down the upper snow field, we couldn't find the rappel anchor that's shown in the topo which is just (climber's) left of the prominent prow/arête at the top of the route. Instead, we rappelled straight down the 6c (5.11b) variation from the topo with no difficulty. If in doubt, just rap down this 6c corner. The next rappel (shown above) is from a ledge just to the left of the prominent prow/arête. You can see a giant block jutting out in the photo above. To the right of this block is the 6c (5.11b) variation. This is generally the most popular way to finish the technical portion of the ascent. The 5+ variation is further right (out of view) from the prow. In general, the rappel lengths and locations of anchors were spot-on on the topo. There are so many anchors everywhere, so be sure to follow the topo guidance for rappel lengths if you want to skip some anchors and have longer rappels. The rappel block above "La Araña" snow patch, which looks like a spider halfway up the route. A particularly harrowing rappel just below La Araña which goes down the shear, overhanging wall which is above the dihedral (Pitches 6-7). The leader has to make sure not to miss the belay ledge and do some free-space swinging to catch the ledge. The first rappel down the East side of la Brecha de los Italianos. The second to last rappel. Stick to the (skier's) right in this photo and hug the wall. There was an anchor just above the bergshrund where you make the final rappel. The Chaltén Massif from the air. Tracks: https://caltopo.com/m/CVF0 More info: https://pataclimb.com/climbingareas/chalten/fitzgroup/fitz/french.html#franco https://pataclimb.com/climbingareas/chalten/fitzgroup/fitz.html https://www.summitpost.org/fitzroy/153622 Gear Notes: Double Rack to 3 with triples .4-1, single #4, 4 ice screws (1 shorty), 1 picket each (approach only), 60m single rope, 60m Esprit pull cord, steel hybrid crampons, 2 tools each on approach (we brought two tools total on route, although many parties bring three tools total on route). On route, the follower carried a single 40L (Patagonia Ascensionist) pack with both of our boots, crampons, pull cord, 1 sleeping bag, one therm-a-rest pad, water/food for both, summit jackets, summit mittens, and two tools (total). For the upper slopes, each person had a single tool, but two each would have been luxurious. Approach Notes: Approach on steep snow left of serac ('S2c' from the guidebook)
  9. 10 points
    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 since March 19 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 Mittellegi 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 of the Nordwand 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 a Nordwand route called 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 simul 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
  10. 10 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
  11. 10 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.
  12. 10 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - North Face Right Gully, Reid Headwall, Wy'East, Pearly Gates Enchainment Trip Date: 12/29/2019 Trip Report: I'm back in Oregon after my first semester of college in Canada! Over the last few months I have spent too much time ice and mixed climbing, not enough time in the mountains. Since I'm back home I figured it would be fun to do a bigger objective on Hood. The coolest thing I could think of was doing a link up of all four faces of the mountain in a push. For the routes, I decided to do the North Face Right Gully, Reid, Wy'East, and the Pearly Gates. I chose the North Face gully because it was the most striking line on the face, Reid because Leuthold looked lame, Wy'East because I didn't want to solo the Black Spider, and Pearly Gates because it was the route that got me into climbing. Link ups are new too me so I thought the whole trip would take around 30 something hours. After watching the weather carefully, a window appeared and I knew it was go time. At 4:00 am I started the hike up to the north face. Cool temps and no wind made the approach go by quickly and comfortably. There's a good trail all the way to the shelter and the snow on the glacier was pretty firm. Cooper 30 is in fat and some of the other drips on the glacier look good too. At around 7:30 I geared up and started up the bergshrund. To my surprise, the shrund was almost completely filled in. I just walked across some stable snow and the bergshrund was over. Climbing the first ice pitch was some of the best ice I've encountered on Hood. The sticks were solid and there wasn't much dinnerplating. First ice pitch Slogging up some more snow brought me to one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The second ice pitch was in interesting shape which made for such fun climbing! I'll let the picture of the pitch speak for itself. . More neve took me to the cloudy summit by 10:30. I was pretty surprised in how quickly the route took. In my head I had planned for it to take somewhere around 10 hours. Although it was exciting to finish the north face, I still had a long day ahead of me. I had the choice of doing either the Reid or Wy'East next. Initally, I thought I would do Wy'East because I have never been on the route and it had more vert. I have been up the Reid a couple of times now, each one uneventful. As I was descending I asked a few people if they knew the condition of a few routes. The group said the Reid wasn't in which immediately piqued my interest. Now it was settled, Reid first, Wy'East second. I walked down to illumination saddle and got my first look at the west face in the winter. It was so beautiful. Yocum demanded a solemn respect and a thin veil of clouds gave the face a sense of wonder. Looking up at the West Face I charged up the Reid with some mixture of apprehension and excitement. The first 1000 feet or so was simple snow climbing. As I got higher, I developed a rhythm where I would take 50 steps and then rest. Sometimes I would get gassed after 20, sometimes I would push and lose count. When the clouds broke, the Reid got interesting. Simple snow climbing turned into an exhausting swim as the snow turned warm. Quickly, my 50 step rhythm diminished into 5 or 6 steps of making little to no progress. It was no big deal though, I missed the simple joys of effort in the hills. Things got really fun when I reached some ice steps. Firstly, my feet were uncomfortable and my socks were approaching soggy from all the sweat I was making. Secondly, the "ice" was basically rock with some rime over it. I pulled some cool stemming moves and swung for the fences into the choss. My Grivel picks took it like a champ. After pulling a short but steep ice step, I climbed a mixture of alpine ice and snow to the ridge and then summit. By 3:00 I was on the summit for the second time. With the clouds now gone, I was rewarded with the typical Mt. Hood panorama. Now time for round 3. Snow early on the Reid Suns out guns out On top for the second time that day I was pretty stoked at this point. I felt like the hardest climbing was behind me and I knew I was well ahead of schedule. As a reward, I took another sip of my water supply and ate another GU. On the way down I ran into Walter Burkhardt who gave me some more stoke and energy to get the project done. Instead of walking to Palmer to get up to Wy'East, I traversed across the White River glacier. Traversing the glacier allowed me to save a some vert see a little more of the route in the last hour of sunlight. Walking up to the ridge on Wy'East was good snow climbing. When I gained the ridge, I encountered thin layers of snow and ice over rocks. Sometimes I would step on a seemingly normal spot of snow only to have the snow collapse and hit some rocks. Annoying but non-lethal. Climbing on the steel cliffs brought a whole new perspective to me. The sheer size and steepness of the cliffs is especially noticeable when you're on top. The traverse was easy and by around 7:45 I was back on top for the third time. Cool rime formation on the White River On the ridge Last steps before the summit I was feeling so great by now. All I had to do was run up the southside and the four faces of the mountain would be complete. Going up the Pearly Gates brought back the memories of climbing for the first time. So much had changed in the past few years except for the feeling I have in the mountains. Finishing the trip on the route that started it all just felt right. Ice step on Pearly Gates. I reached the summit for the fourth and final time at 8:40. What a trip it had been. I called my mom and she came to pick me up at Timberline an hour and some change later. (I have the best mom ever). Car to car, the trip took 18 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds. I still had a bunch of food left and about half a liter of water. Reflecting on the trip brought me mixed feelings. I wanted it to be longer. I had envisioned some feat of endurance that would bring me to the depths of my inner self. Instead, I got home in time for (late) dinner. I'm happy that I got it done and thankful the mountain was kind to me that day. All in all I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested. I would love to see someone beat my time or do different routes. Happy new year everyone. Gear Notes: 2 liters of water, 1200 calories, hardshell, synthetic jacket, and that's pretty much it Approach Notes: Approach to the North side is good and crevasses are easily manageable
  13. 10 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - Corkscrew Trip Date: 11/17/2018 Trip Report: Fred and I took a romp up Slan Peak on Saturday. It had been a while since I had summited anything so it was great to get on top, plus there was a bit of early season adversity that made it just hard enough to be sweet. We expected slogging through powder on the north side, but there was a nice rain crust above about 5300'. The east face traverse across the "heather ledges" was also better than anticipated with fairly good step kicking snow. Some rime ice on the scramble made it pleasantly spicy. Rain crust on the approach to the glacier, photo by Fred: Me in the rain crust, on the descent, photo by Fred: Fred on the traverse on the east face, on the descent: Fred near the summit: Fred looking smug on the summit: Me descending, photo by Fred: Gear Notes: Axe, crampons, glacier gear, snowshoes for training. Approach Notes: Bedal approach, it was a bit brushy, seems worse than the Sauk if the river crossings are OK.
  14. 9 points
    Trip: North Norwegian Buttress - Jötnar VI 5.9 A3 Trip Date: 08/01/2020 Trip Report: Whaddup maggots. The crew of vagrants and miscreants just got down yesterday from north Norwegian round 2. We completed our line to the top of the buttress. We spent 1 day fixing back to the high point then 6 days on the wall climbing in capsule style to complete the route. We are naming the line “Jötnar”, the race of god-like giants in Norse mythology. We unofficially started calling the Norwegian cirque Jötunheim, “the realm of the giants”. While only having one line up there might not give us “authority” to name something, I’m enamored with the zone and like the name, and no one else has to call it that... anywho, here’s a brief report of our experience, hopefully this inspires someone to follow in our footsteps, as it’s an incredible route. In June, we made our first foray onto the wall and found soggy conditions as our route runs through a water streak for a good portion of the lower buttress. Poor weather lead to poor conditions, if you read my previous trip report, you’ll remember we did not get far. In 4 days of climbing we completed about 700’ of the line. We left gear stashed with the intent on returning. Our window of time off about 3 weeks away. Prep for the route started a few days before our departure date. I headed over to kyle’s studio (For his gear business “high mountain gear and repair”) in Ballard to make some various things. One of those being an inflatable big wall hammock that we had been discussing in recent weeks. Kyle would test it out on this wall, likely the secret weapon for big wall alpine routes in the cascades. Kyle came up with the name “Taco” as a mockery of conventional portaledges. After making various things for the wall we set out on our own errands the next day then reconvened to shuttle a load up to lake serene. Fetching water was considerably easier than last time, the moat had opened enough to walk inside, being a whiteout day we decided it was safe enough to brave for 15 min to get water (better than hiking back to the lake!!) After unwrapping our gear stash we discovered a snafflehound gnawed on a rope! The backup lead line nonetheless. Another rope was needed, the volume of rope was becoming absurd. We told Lani to pick one up on her way down from Bellingham. Logistics here got weird. Kyle had commitments in the form of a bike packing trip during the start of the window we had to climb. So when Lani and I started climbing we would have to leave lines fixed to the ground for Kyle to use to join us two days into the climb! On the first day we got a ride to the trailhead early morning and moved with motivation all Day to fix lines the the high point on our route. The line climbed substantially better because of the cleaning we were able to do previously. Fixing high on the wall we descended to the base that evening to sleep on the ground and prep the load to haul. We woke up early again and started the manual labor. Moving faster that expected we were able to haul to the high point and get camp set up around mid afternoon. Plenty of time to start up new terrain. Lani started up the next pitch which would prove the steepest on route. She got about halfway up the pitch before deciding it was time for dinner. On day 3 she headed up the pitch and pulled through the massive steep band that blocked our view of the upper buttress. This would prove to be the only pitch that requires a fixed line for descent. I took over the lead on the next pitch and found cool expanding beak cracks that lead up to a surprise! We pulled into a band of bulletproof skagit gneiss that would run the whole middle part of the route, immaculate stone. I climbed up into a massive right facing corner and up an amazing #2 crack through the second massive roof on the route “the fang” as we had pre named it. Continuing up an easy flare I found a good stance at the base of a large slab. Lani was still feeling mega tired from the steep lead and told me to keep going, I quested upwards on the slab utilizing a mixture of hooks and rivets to reach a dike that proved discouragingly shitty. The dike however led to a good flake that rapidly turned not so good, the whole corner was a Jenga stack. Being on lead I reluctantly bat hooked the face around the choss. These bat hooks could maybe be avoided post cleaning, still chossy and expando in there though. I eventually put a bolt in to reach far and tension to the next small corner, which proved to be cruiser C1 to a good stance for a belay, post dirt removal this would likely be sweet 5.9-10. Here I called off belay while placing the anchor bolts and Lani zipped down to camp to start dinner. Meanwhile Kyle had started up the wall hauling the second half of the load solo, having to haul twice he only got to the bivy at pitch 3 and would camp here. Day 4 started with shenanigans to situate the ropes where they needed to be in order to fix higher. After we were able to snag an independent rope Lani and I again began the commute up the fixed lines to push the line higher while Kyle hailed up to camp. From the high point, Lani led up Inobvious but moderate aid to the crest of “the dude”. The biggest roof on north Norwegian, and an intimidating mega overhang. Incipient and creative low angle A3 led up and left under the roof and around the bushy corner to a small ledge. Reaching this ledge we figured we were far enough up to move camp, and thus Lani went down to assist Kyle in starting to haul while I started soloing the next pitch to the intended next camp. About halfway up my pitch I got a call saying there were technical difficulties at camp, we decided to reestablish camp and fix to the top my pitch. Day 5 would start super early with the big move. Myself and Lani would double counterbalance sky haul the pigs while Kyle cleaned the line below and brought up fixed lines. A few hours of hot manual labor brought us to the high point ledge. A grassy inset which seemed suboptimal for two portaledges, we spotted a good spot left of the buttress crest and concocted a creative plan to swing the bags over. I free climbed up to the top of a flake and put a good bolt in and lowered down (clipping the haul line to the bolt) to the intended spot. I drilled while Kyle and Lani prepped the bags. Once ready I took tight on the haul line with my gri gri and they kicked the bags over top rope style to me where I lowered them in place and docked them at the anchor. Shenanigans. After setting camp up I hugged up to my high point on the pitch and continued my lead. “The head wall” proved to be wicked exposed but I had to fight the features pulling us left into the chossy chasm and drill my way to a stunning corner on the buttress crest. Kyle and Lani came up to join me and Kyle started up the next pitch. Moderate free and aid led up through a tree to a roof. An inobvious ramp cut out left through some chossy bush. Kyle bulldozed his way up eventually running out of patience and drilling around some dangerous choss. Running low on daylight Kyle threw in a belay and called it a day. Day 6 started with a poor decision, only one gallon of water came up the wall... after jugging we were already dehydrated but didn’t think too much of it. We started on the e face and got good afternoon shade but the upper part of the route climbs the crest of the se ridge, and gets blazing sun all day. I got the the high point first and in the spirit of decluttering the tight stance I started free climbing. 50 ft up I hit an awesome ledge too good to pass up, so I added an anchor and moved the team up. Kyle in the mean time cleaned the previous bit to a state of being semi pleasant climbing!! At this belay our peril became evident, we were already spiraling into gnarly dehydration. Kyle was getting loopy, Lani unstoked, and myself crankerous. I would continue up with inobvious route finding. A long circuitous pitch of steep 5.9 led to another good albeit sun exposed ledge. We were closing on the summit, Lani encouraged me to keep leading while Kyle cleaned the route. A blueberry filled corner provided passage to the next tier, a pitch likened to the tree climbing on j berg!! One more mega ledge and we could smell it! A casual pitch of 5.7 led up to a short bit of heather clawing onto the summit of the buttress. We had read that it was easy climbing to the summit of middle index from here and it looked so. It also looked like a bunch of cascadian bush mank that seemed like it would taint our experience in our state of dehydrated madness. We descended to camp to smoke the joint we found in the parking lot and contemplate our descent. One or two puffs in I had this idea to lower Kyle with the bags down the whole face. We all became (mostly) convinced it would work and put wheels in the motion the next day. After wranglin the bags back to fall line we descended two pitches to the intended “drop zone”. We delicately stacked 1000’ of rope joined with edk’s, we would would bump em all through a munter. Kyle and the bags were probably closing on 400 lbs, we needed a gri and munter to control the load. The lower went smooth, and we were amazed! Bags were down!!!! So myself and Lani dropped all but two ropes down the face and Kyle started managing the clusterfuck. Our new friend River had responded to a Facebook call for porter help and met Kyle at the lake to take down 50-60 lbs of our load while me and Lani rapped the face and cleaned our gear. We touched down not too long after and started the soul crushing hike down, we had about 70-80 lbs a piece. I had called my parents again as it seems like all our friends are busy this time of year, they met us at the parking lot with a cooler of cold bubbly, fucking great climb. Shoutout to Lani for stoke, Kyle for his undying willingness to suffer and commitment to the manual labor and route creation, and River! For being willing to come up and help total strangers hump our stinky clusterfuck around. This route was certainly the effort of a village, and a wonderful big wall line that I hope people enjoy. Gear Notes: Double Rack micro to #4, Single 5, Single set of offset nuts (didn’t use rp’s), 4-5 each beaks, 2 small lost arrows, 10 rivet hangers. All bolts and rivets are stainless, one or two bolts didn’t take well in the wet mud, but could potentially be reset with a funk and tightented (all anchors have at least 2 good bolts). Some may need to be tightened up again after initial loading. No ledges big enough even for 1 to sleep, good portaledges camps at the top of pitch 3,6,9, and 12. Do not haul above 12. Bivies at 3,6, and side of 11 take 2 ledges well. Rap the route, some directionals need to be placed on a handful of pitches to get down, pitch 7 needs to remain fixed with an extra 35-40M rope (it could be possible to down aid the roof on rappel to get back to the previous anchor) Approach Notes: Scamper to Lake Serene while the tourons ask about your “paraglide” or “boats”. Easy talus walking to near the waterfall between the buttresses. Enjoy your stay in Jötunheim!
  15. 9 points
    Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge C2C Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Kyle Tarry @ktarry and I climbed Ptarmigan Ridge round trip from Whitewater Campground July 11/12. We originally planned to climb it 12/13 with a bivy at the standard location, but increasing winds and cloud forecast for Saturday night convinced us to just do it in a push starting the evening of the 11th. I think we benefitted in our late season climb from the conditions resulting from this more cloudy and cold summer. We drove up after Kyle got off work and left the car at 8:30pm, did the St. Elmos-Winthrop-Curtis-Carbon approach in the dark and arrived at the start of the route at dawn (water drip on the Curtis and brew stop near the normal bivy spot). The route was in thin conditions compared to other pictures I've seen but the glacier crossings were pretty easy and direct. We climbed a small (20m) ice/mixed step that was pretty gross to cross the schrund, a little L of the typical start, which saved some elevation loss. Firm and sun-cupped/rock-smashed snow made for relatively easy movement above this. There was some low angle ice that took good screws starting the ramp towards the rock step variation, but even this did not require much sustained front-pointing. The rock step seemed longer/steeper due to the low snow there (again compared to other pictures I've seen, and based on the fact that I was past the crux when the fixed pin appeared). We topped Liberty Cap and descended the Emmons (good condition for this time of year, I hear). Visibility dropped significantly as we reached Camp Schurman and it even snowed a bit as we descended the Interglacier. We were back at the car by 7:10pm on Saturday and slept about as well as you would think. Pros of the single push strategy: cool/dark glacier approaches, day packs don't weigh much, we nailed the weather window Cons: we were pretty tired (cons win) Gear Notes: one picket (not used), 3 screws (used a few places), 4 nuts (not used), 1 knife blade (used on rock step), 30 m half rope Approach Notes: standard White River approach to N Side routes
  16. 9 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
  17. 9 points
    Trip: Denali - Cassin Ridge (Alaska Grade V, 5.8, AI4, 8,000ft), Alpine Style* Trip Date: 06/09/2018 Video: Between June 2 and June 11, Priti and I climbed the Cassin Ridge on the South Face of Denali approaching via the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (the “Valley of Death”), spending 6 days on route (including 1 rest/weather day at 17,700ft), summiting on June 9, and descending the West Buttress route. The whole trip was 10 days 7 hours door-to-door from Seattle. The Cassin Ridge is the second most popular route on Denali, with an average of 9 successful climbers each year, compared to an average of 584 successful climbers each year on the West Buttress route over the past decade. We carried everything up and over, climbing Ground-Up, with 38lbs packs each at the start, no sleds, and moving camp as we climbed, without caches. It was a Smash ’n’ Grab, meaning we decided to go at the last minute when we saw a good weather window. We watched Denali weather every day since early May until there was about a week of good weather. It took 24 hours from being at work on a Friday afternoon deciding to pull the trigger to being at Kahiltna Base Camp (including packing, Ranger orientation, flights, etc). We climbed Rainier 3 times the month and a half before our trip (Gib Ledges, Kautz, and Liberty Ridge), sleeping in the summit crater the weekend before. Still, we took Diamox while on Denali and had 2 weeks of food/fuel in case we felt altitude on route. Luckily, we had no altitude issues, and were only bounded by our own fitness, weather, and desire to move only when the sun was on us. Overall, weather was windless, clear, and sunny during the days with a few flurries at night. It was an “old-school” style of climbing, slow and heavy, while most folks nowadays opt to acclimatize on the West Buttress and climb the Cassin Ridge starting from 14,000ft camp on the West Buttress, then climb light-and-fast via the Seattle ’72 ramp or the West Rib (Chicken Gully) in a few days — this was our plan for our attempt last year with Ilia Slobodov, but didn’t get the weather window. Overall, a very successful trip, and we’re so excited to have pulled it off, after 3 years of dreaming of this route. *Alpine Style: The route was completed Alpine Style with the following exceptions: -Snowshoes were cached at Camp 1 in case the lower Kahiltna Glacier was sketchy on the way back. Didn’t really ever need snowshoes. The NE Fork was boot-able. There weren’t tracks going up the NE Fork, but it was wanded to the base of the West Rib. -We clipped into the existing fixed lines on the West Buttress descent above 14k, but this was unnecessary since it was basically a staircase. We didn’t clip into the existing pickets on the Autobahn above 17k. Google Street View: Apparently, nobody had done a 360 Photo Sphere Google Street View of the summit of Denali, so we obliged https://www.google.com/maps/@63.0690675,-151.0060278,3a,75y,78.91h,50.18t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sAF1QipOR4OLfMm5iBn15nn4OdiMbVTWa7lwk40pPUlnH!2e10!3e12!7i8704!8i4352 Itinerary: -June 2: Arrived at Kahiltna Base Camp at 3:00PM and moved to “Safe Camp” in the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (“Valley of Death”). We cached snowshoes at Camp 1 and took a right turn up the NE Fork. This “Safe Camp” is the widest part of the NE fork, where you are least threatened by avalanches and serac-fall sweeping the entire valley floor. -June 3: Hiked from "Safe Camp" halfway down the Valley of Death and climbed the Japanese Couloir and camped on Cassin Ledge with a sweeping view of Kahiltna Peaks and the entire NE Fork. -June 4: Climbed the 5.8 crux, Cowboy Arete, and Hanging Glacier, camping at the Hanging Glacier Bergschrund at the Base of the First Rock Band -June 5: Woke up to Colin Haley strolling by our bivy site on his 8hr7min speed ascent of the Cassin Ridge (he approached via the East Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier). This was a total surprise and very inspiring see him up there! We climbed the First Rock Band that day and bivied between the First and Second Rock Band just next to the rib. -June 6: Climbed the Second Rock Band and found the crux to be the sustained "Hidden Rock Couloir" at the entrance, which is sustained mixed 70-80deg for about 50m. At the end of the Second Rock Band, a Chilean Team of 2, plus Colin Haley, plus our team of 2 all took the wrong (harder) exit. From the overhanging triangle, we all traversed right about 40ft then went straight up, finding difficulties to M4-M5. We should have traversed right another 40ft or so to find the 5.6 slab pitches and the 5.6 dihedral as described in Super Topo. This ended the technical difficulties of the route. That night, we bivied at Mark Westman’s “excellent bivy site” at 17,700ft. This turned out to be very hard to find and we spent several hours looking around for it. It is way further up and right on the col than expected. -June 7: Lots of snow! So we decided to sleep all day, acclimatize and waiting out the weather. -June 8: So much snow accumulated on the upper mountain the previous day that it took us over 12 hours to ascend the final 2,500ft to Kahiltna Horn. We were knee to waist deep almost the entire day. Mark Westman told us later that he was watching us all day through the high-powered scope from Kahiltna Base Camp and he could see the long trench we left in our wake. Presumably, many day-tourists at Base Camp watched us in our embarrassing slog to the top. This was by far the hardest day of the trip! When we reached Kahiltna Horn at 10:30PM, we had no energy to go to the summit, so we slept on the “Football Field” at 20,000ft. The night was beautiful, calm, and cold! -June 9: Went back up to tag the summit, then descended 12,500ft to Camp 1. -June 10: Got to Kahiltna Base Camp from Camp 1 at 10:00AM but it was overcast all day so TAT could not come and pick us up. -June 11: TAT finally picked us up around noon, after we endured the most miserable and wettest night of the entire trip! Left to Right: Sultana (Mount Foraker), Begguyya (Mount Hunter), Denali Denali, the High One Heading into the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier (the "Valley of Death"), the West Rib visible up the center of the peak The West Rib in the Center, The Cassin Ridge roughly up the right skyline Closer up view of the Cassin Ridge. The Japanese Couloir is the gash on the right. The Cowboy Arete (Knifedge Ridge) is above, followed by the First and Second Rock Bands Looking back at the West Rib and the Chicken Couloir Looking up the Japanese Couloir and the bergschrund at the base of the Cassin Ridge Looking back at the NE Fork Looking up at the crux of the Japanese Couloir (AI4) The Cassin Ledge. Razor thin, great views fo the whole NE Fork, Kahiltna Peaks, and Sultana! The 5.8 Crux just off the Cassin Ledge The Cowboy Arete The Base of the Hanging Glacier, the Cowboy Arete behind A short overhanging step to get over the bergshrund Colin Haley approaches! The crux of the First Rock Band, just above the M-rocks Somewhere near the top of the First Rock Band The South Face! Looking up at the "Hidden Rock Couloir", the beginning of the Second Rock Band, and the crux of the route, in my opinion Just below the V-shaped overhang in the Second Rock Band Slog to the top Denali Summit Ridge Summit Marker The Football Field on the West Buttress Route and our bivouac Heading down the Autobahn, 17k camp below on the West Buttress The Cowboy Arete Base Camp with Moonflower Buttress behind (North Buttress of Begguyya, Mount Hunter) Gear Notes: -6 screws (1x21cm, 2x17cm, 3x13cm) -40m rope -Small Rack of nuts -5 cams (.3-1) -2 pickets (didn’t use on route; just for glacier travel) -5 single alpine draws, 2 double alpine draws (no cordalette) -2 ice tools each (Nomics for him, X-Dream for her) -Monopoint crampons -Boots: Olympus Mons for him, G2SM+overboots for her -MSR AdvancePro2 Tent -Feathered Friends Spoonbill Sleeping Bag -2x Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm + 1x shorty closed cell foam pad (for emergency) -MSR Reactor + hanging kit + 3 medium cans of isopro Approach Notes: Approached via the NE Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier
  18. 8 points
    Trip: Little Liberty Bell - (Partial New route) Narcos, 5.9 600ft Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Yesterday I went up to try and do a new route solo on little liberty bell. It’s entirely possible that some or all of this route has been climbed before, I know for sure that the first and last pitch have been climbed, but I really couldn’t tell about the rest of the route. With that being said, I’m calling what I climbed Narcos. I’ll explain the name at the end. The approach. You may be able to approach straight up the basin from the road and cut off some distance but add some gain. P1, 5.7+—Start up the clean cracks up the big left trending ramp to the tree. If there is still snow you can climb up small corners and overlaps to the left that meet up about half way. This is what I climbed to avoid snow. Build a gear belay in a 1” horizontal below the tree, this is a much better stance. There were slings on this tree when I got there and some placements seemed to be cleaned out. On the last rappel. P1 follows the cool looking cracks up the ramp on the left. I ended up climbing the flakes to the left of the ramp to avoid the snow. P2, 5.9—Follow the horizontal straight right and up a bit. Follow good edges and cracks until you reach a nice looking finger crack, climb it up to some good ledges. From there follow ledges back left past a small tree (your last pro) and two large loose looking blocks sitting on the ledge, maybe don’t pull on them. Once you reach a good belay ledge, climb up a little further to a solid horizontal. Build your belay here and extend it down to the ledge if you can. There seems to be a more vertical option going straight up and right to a nice looking LFC. I didn’t climb this as I had intended on climbing new ground. It may have been climbed before. It is marked in blue on the topo. Looking up the improbable traverse on pitch 2. There is much more pro than in the picture. This is after cleaning the pitch. The 5.9ish finger crack, it's steeper than it looks. P1 visible below. The blocks I traversed across and tree I slung at the top of P2. P3, 5.7+ PG13—Go up the bush choked corner for about 15 feet until you can step left into good flakes that parallel the larger right facing corner. Follow these up to a series of ledges and a large chimney/flake. Chimney up the outside edge of this flake to avoid lots of pine needles and bushes until you can reach a cleaned out .75 crack, place something there. Down climb a little bit until you can step right onto a series of ledges/ramps. Follow these up the slab passing one Piton (my first pin placement on a route) and up the sharp arete. From the top of this climb back down left to a ledge below an arching right facing corner. Belay here on finger sized gear. This pitch could avoid the runout chimney and arete climbing in the future if the cracks were cleaned out. I had originally tried going straight up some solid cracks on this pitch, but after the cracks petered out and encountered some very hollow rock I left a nut and bailed on this option. Looking up P3. I only followed the bushy corner for a few moves before stepping left. This is after cleaning the pitch on the way down, the red c3 is a directional, not the only piece. Looking down the good flakes in the middle of P3 on the way back down. The runout chimney on P3 My very first pin placement, I had to document. There is no rope drag in the rope solo system, hence my sketch "quick draw" P4, 5.8+ —Climb up the fun arching corner and then right via hollow sounding but fun flakes (place nuts here not cams). Step right around an arete into a nice right facing corner, you are now on the Wright-Pond. Follow this up to a bolted belay. P5, 5.8, 45m—Same as P4 of the Wright-Pond. Description taken from MP. Climb the blocky corner/chimney up past a tree until you gain a low-angled slab. Head left across the slab to a wide hand and fist crack hidden in a left-facing corner. Exit the corner up and right on blocky but easy ground to low-angled ledges. Belay on a tree with slings. From here you can scramble to the summit. Descend via the Wright-Pond with 4 double rope rappels on bolted anchors. Good views of Silverstar & co! I think this route could clean up nicely and be a good 5.9ish option up the feature. It is hard for me to grade it accurately as the dirt, lichen, and self belay results in things feeling harder and scarier at times. I tried to grade it for someone who knew where they were going and had a hand on the break strand of their grigri. On the hike down I got a little off route (there is no route) and ended up in some pretty damn thick brush. While trying to force my way down the hill I stumbled upon a pile of white crystals under a small tree. My first thought was “wow, that’s a weird Fungus”, then I took another step and saw black canvas in the bush in front of me. My heart stopped as my first thought was I had found a dead body of a missing hiker, or murder victim. I got a better look and realized that it was a large black duffle bag, unzipping it I finally realized what it was. A 35lb duffle of crystal meth, street value of about $350k give or take. I dragged the bag to a slightly more visible location and marked the spot on my phones GPS. I drove down to Mazama the next morning to report what I’d found. I ended up leading some heavily armed cops up and helped them carry out the “package”. It’s possible that I made a very big mistake. I could have bought so many new skis! It was either a recent air drop with intent to pick up, or one of the bags from THIS event that happened last year. I will provide a topo/overlay soon if I get permission to use Chris’ photo. I'd be very curious to hear if anyone knows some history of ascents on this feature. Gear Notes: Double rack micro to #2, single #3 and 4. Single set of med nuts. 2 60m ropes. Crack Pipe. Approach Notes: Start as for Cutthroat wall by walking down the old road bed for 1/4 mile until you see an obvious double cairn on the left side of the trail. Enter the woods here and point it straight up until the terrain lowers a little in pitch. At that point you can start arching left to get to the ridge next to the wall. I highly recommend using the slope angle shading map feature on caltopo and trying to stay on lower angle terrain. it’ll make things a little more pleasant. From the ridge it is pretty self explanatory where to go.
  19. 8 points
    Trip: Big Bear! - Brushtissima Trip Date: 11/11/2019 Trip Report: With all this attention on the NW couloir on Eldorado the past few weeks, Kit and I succeeded on a smash and grab ascent of BIG BEAR! last weekend. @Kit is in the midst of a noble mission to climb all the Cascadian peaks visible from his office in Everett and I'm well, I'm just a bit "special". We happened to catch it in "near perfect" conditions, I am happy to report, and suspect others may be lining up during the next fine weather spell this week. The ankle biting huckleberry have shed their leaves, leaving them only 50% as annoying as they are in high summer. And, most all the snow is gone, meaning one shouldn't worry about tiring themselves out kicking steps up straightforward snow slopes. To top it off, all of the flagging has been eaten by deer, meaning that a "fair means" ascent is nearly guaranteed. Why this brushy beast isn't more popular, I'll never know. Or, maybe it is popular? There is no register so it is tough to figure how many people are as "savvy" as us. All I know is that the 4130 isn't going to get less brushy in the next few years, so if you want either Liberty or BIG BEAR! in the next lifetime or two, you'll want to go now. Just don't expect flagging or the Instagram hordes to show you the way. The Brushtissima on BIG BEAR! (actually not that bad): @Kit working up the ridge above the "Moffitt Step": I just needed an eagle: Typical terrain: Liberty: Tahoma, but you knew that: Interesting angle on Hall, Big Four, Columbia, etc: The air was exceptionally clear, Everett and Kit's office standing out: The final few feet to the summit of Big Bear: East to Dakobed and Pugh above Exfoliation Dome: Anybody home on 3 Fingers? Jumbo, the slabbage patch, and Ulalach: Liberty from the summit: Squire Creek valley and its namesake walls: Gear Notes: eye protection, leather gloves, whiskey. Ice axe, crampons, and helmet some part of the year. Approach Notes: I somehow deleted my GPX track, not that it will help you much. Just look at the image in the TR for an idea of where to go. Just make sure you don't miss the Moffitt Step!
  20. 8 points
    Trip: Monte Cristo Area - Columbia, Kyes, Monte Cristo & Cadet Peaks Trip Date: 07/21/2018 Trip Report: Last Friday evening and Saturday I explored the Monte Cristo area by connecting four of the major peaks in a big full value alpine loop. I left the office early afternoon on Friday and found myself biking the old Monte Cristo road around typical quitting time. First view of Columbia set my spirits sailing: Couple hours later below the upper mountain: I made quick work of the scramble up Columbia and scouted Saturday's peaks. I wasn't sure if Kyes was going to be on the itinerary tomorrow, but the 5400' west face snow ramp was mostly connected and it all looked like it would go. Better yet, it looked as though their would be a snow traverse to Monte Cristo Peak high on the west side of Kyes: After descending down to 6000' on the west shoulder of Columbia I settled into my bivy for the night: I was up and moving across the 76 glacier towards Wilmans Pass and then Monte Cristo Pass early on Saturday morning. Looking down the Columbia glacier and Blanca Lake from Monte Cristo Pass: I descended to the glacier and on towards a large right facing gully and made my way up to the South Ridge of Kyes. Cresting the ridge gave this view of Kyes summit: Class 3 scramble on the left got me to the top. View towards the next course, Monte Cristo Peak: I descended the Kyes summit block back to the south ridge and found a short cliff leading down to the west face snow slopes. Two loose 15m raps got me over the cliff and traversing the steep snow of the west face, eventually leading to some rock scrambling and finally to the Kyes/MC col and then the north side of Monte Cristo Peak. From there I found the short fifth class pitch leading to class 3 scrambling above. A large moat blocked access to the rock, but the moat had caved in ~100' north of the rock pitch and I was able to scramble down in the moat and get to the rock pitch, now an extra 20' tall out of the icy hole. I self belayed the short fifth class pitch: And scrambled to the top. Immediately looking forward to my next peak, Cadet: Another couple raps and I was back on the snowy north face of MCP. Traverse to the north col, descend towards Glacier Basin. At ~EL 5800 I started a hard traverse towards the south face of Cadet. A perfect goat path led me across the bottom of the face where I eventually picked up the climbers trail to the top. The first trail of any kind I'd seen since Friday evening on the way to Columbia. Up the trail to the summit of Cadet, then reversing the trail down and into Glacier Basin with a view back up towards Monte Cristo Peak: Finally hustling back to the ghost town, my bike, and my truck, my home, and my family. Passing this on the way out. James Kyes was an interesting man. His memorial deserves some maintenance: The Monte Cristo area is a great compact alpine playground! Gear Notes: 30m rope, a couple pieces for Monte Cristo Peak Approach Notes: Bike the Old Monte Cristo road with the log crossing. I took the new old Wagon Road on the way out and it just adds extra mileage and worse, extra elevation gain.
  21. 8 points
    Trip: North Howser Tower - All Along the Watchtower Trip Date: 08/06/2019 Trip Report: Climb Date: August 4-6, 2019. Summit August 6, 2019 Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Climb: All Along the Watchtower (Grade VI, 3000ft, 32 pitches, 5.10/C2- or 5.12) Style: Follower jugged every pitch in the Dihedral with micro traxions and runners. Heavy French/Aid utilized by the leader in the Dihedral. Two packs brought. Leader climbed with light pack, except in the Dihedral (where follower jugged with one pack on, trailing the other). Two bivouacs (one at base of Dihedral and one on the Summit ridge). With so little beta out there on the route, we found the route finding tricky. This post is intended to be a beta sheet to help with route finding. All Pitch numbers are per Jenny Abegg's topo which was very useful (https://jennyabegg.com/climbing/trip-reportsbeta/all-along-the-watchtower-north-howser-tower/). Pitches 2 and 3 were confusing and we split each of these into two pitches. If you stay on route and watch rope drag, you can avoid splitting these up. They are both full-length pitches. Pitch 3 is so wander-y that rope-drag might be unavoidable - recommend splitting this into two pitches. Pitch 16 (5.12 crux roof) in the Dihedral was only pitch where we thought it was mandatory to disobey Jenny and split into two pitches. Topos Jenny's topo was pretty spot on. Pitches 8-11 on Jenny's topo are the dyke variation that Westman/Haley did (on accident) which ascends directly up from the bivy ledge. Jenny's topo does not show the original route option, which splits off 30m below the bivy ledge. If you wanted to get snow at the bivy ledge and continue on to the original route, you have to rappel or down climb 30m 5.7 to meet back up with the original route. The party behind us did the dyke route and we did the original route. After talking to the party who did the dyke route, it's very safe to say that the dyke is better way to go. The Mountaineer's guidebook (the green book) topo shows both the original route and also the dyke route options, but the High Col topo shows only the original route. The High Col topo is not accurate at all, so be careful. Keep a copy of Jenny's and the Mountaineer's topo on you. Bivy sites: -We didn't see any good bivy sites until atop Pitch 7 (flat, walled, snow in early season). Some descriptions said there was one atop Pitch 3, but it's more of a sitting bivy. -Another good bivy site is out-of-the-way, about 20m left of the base of the Dihedral (flat, walled, no snow). Some descriptions said this was 4-person, but it fit the two of us pretty snug. To get from here back to the base of the dihedral, you have to down-climb 10m (5.7) then ascend 10m (5.7) to the base of the Dihedral. -Some bivy options along the ridge (four of us stayed at one, very snugly, about halfway on the summit ridge above the seventh rifle gully). -A flat, walled bivy spot on the summit (lots of snow throughout the season). When we saw it, it had thick snow/ice on it, so you'd be sleeping on top of snow. Photo Credit above: Tim Banfield Descending down to East Creek from the Pigeon-Howser Col. Left to Right: North, Central, South Howser Towers, Minaret. Priti is just below the Beckey-Chouinard Route From East Creek descend until you can scramble up to the ridge. Stay low on ledges if you want to cross over into the gully ("B" in picture, not recommended, loose scree and hard ice). Recommend staying on the ridge (climber's right side, "A" in picture) as if approaching for Beckey-Chouinard on South Howser Tower. From the base of Beckey-Chouinard, it is easy to scramble down to the snow to traverse high over to the North Howser Bivy Rock. This is a big, obvious boulder just at the next ridgeline. There is a luxurious, sheltered, covered bivy cave here (recommended instead of East Creek if you only have bivy gear and you want to get an early start for the route in a push). Four rappels (two hangers, chains, rap rings) take you to the snow below. The first rappel is heavily cairned and easy to find (even in the dark), requiring a bit of down-scrambling to get to the lip of the ridge. The rappel line is straight down. Each rappel is easy to find and on obvious ledges. You'll want crampons and ice axe for the snow below, on the way to the base of Watchtower. We used a Beal Escaper for the rappels which worked like a charm... we did not bring a pull cord on this trip. Note: rappels shown in picture above are approximate (just use cairns to find the first one, then take the plumb line). The picture is not intended to help you find the rappels. The first rappel. Crossing the moat. Another party of rappelers above. The approach snow after the approach rappels. You're committed now! Looking up North Howser Tower. Approach at the base all the way left to big ledges just before the large, obvious gully. Take ledges all the way left to dihedrals. Pitch 4 (above), 5.10, full 60m: a striking dihedral (protect on the face on the right) which starts as an easy stem/chimney and ends in an overhanging, difficult off width. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Bivy site along ridge. Looking down the ridge from the summit. Photo credit: Dane Steadman "Hand crack on the right side of crest". Party on the summit. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Simul Rappelling over the bergshrund. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Joining up with the Beckey-Chouinard steps. Photo credit: Dane Steadman Gear Notes: Double Rack to #3. Single #4. Triples in finger sizes for dihedral. Offset nuts, brassies. Did not bring offset cams (did not think they were necessary). No aid gear. 1 sleeping bag to share. 1 bivy sac to share. 1 Jetboil. Beal Escaper for rappels. We did not bring a pull cord. Recommend a pull cord to 1:1 haul packs in the Dihedral. Approach Notes: Started from Kain Hut, ended at car.
  22. 8 points
    Trip: South to North Pickets Traverse- Goodell to Access Crks - Wild Hair Crack, East and West Fury, Luna Trip Date: 07/24/2019 Trip Report: Images stick with me. So much so that often I'll plan a trip around a specific place that I've seen either on a screen, a print, a slide, or in just my mind, after looking at a map. Frenzel camp is such a spot, its draw powerful enough to compel a 7 day traverse from Goodell Creek to the Big Beaver just to spend a few hours (well, a few more hours than planned) looking all around in wonder. The yin and yang of such trips, at least for me these days, is that they aren't getting any easier. Some of that is age, some of that is self-induced suffering from my own stubbornness of carrying a full frame dSLR and several lenses, NO MATTER WHAT. I cursed this decision more than a few times on this trip, but when I slip that card into my desktop and get to work, it all melts away. I know I was heard saying that I'll never do another 7 day Pickets trip, but....... This one started like most- swatting bugs, dividing up group gear, and taking swigs from a bottle of Hunter stashed in the car. Hey, this isn't the Olympics, and a whiskey morning jacket can do wonders for morale. My pack was way too large, as usual, but it turned out I did an even worse job than normal of packing food. This would be apparent on day 7 as I packed probably 4 lbs of extra food out of the Big Beaver AFTER spending the week trying to give it away. I really should be better at this by now. Anyways, the pain began.... and continued. By the time we reached the Chopping Block col I was thoroughly wrung out and cramping, trying to look as carefree as Tyler (who had climbed J'berg THE DAY BEFORE). I wasn't fooling anybody though, especially myself. So, I went off to get water for the group and have a good cry (Well, maybe on the inside, a little). Recomposed, I came back and guzzled some whiskey. Much better. Next, through the wonders of modern technology, I cheerily texted my wife to tell her how much fun I was having and that it was just an easy stroll over the ridge the next day. Oh, and maybe she could move the boat to a day later? I was going to need it. The easy stroll the next morning started with some talus side-hilling and steep snow traversing that led to more boulder hopping and a general team mutiny as we all sought a line that was superior to our teammates. Somewhere in there we spooked a bear (surprising for all involved), met a party of ladies headed to Terror ("The Terror Twins"- not actually twins), and had some fun ascending the the steep snow and "loosey goosey" rock to the Ottohorn-Himmelgeisterhorn col. Whew. Gearing up, we joked about who was going to lead the first pitch. "Not I" came the reply from General Weakness (AKA me). Tyler gamely stepped up and promptly gunned us all to the the false summit before we knew what happened, including a sparsely protected section of off-width that he exclaimed was "fun" as we all clenched our butts in solidarity. It is quite a climb though, and my hat's off to John, Silas and Russ for establishing such a gem on probably the best rock in the Pickets. Highly recommended! Next stop was Frenzel camp after the usual moaty rappel shenanigans off the col. Suffice to say, the camp didn't disappoint, it truly is a remarkable spot. I'll leave it at that. Listening to the weather radio that evening, General Weakness declared that the next day the team would remain in Frenzel camp to wait out a squall coming through. Coincidentally, it also meant that the General's load, which had to be carried over Outrigger and to the summit of East Fury, would get a tad lighter. Post dinner activities that first night included feeling sorry for the Terror Twins who we could see having an unplanned(?), open bivy on the NF of Terror (photo below). Tough ladies! The next day was spent lounging at one of the best camps I've had the pleasure of staying in, watching the weather deteriorate, and keeping tabs on the Twins as they ascended up into the mists. Packs were lightened, whiskey stores reduced, and tired legs rested. It was a great spot to spend a weather day. That night, the forecasted rain and wind arrived and we were all glad that we weren't up on the summit of East Fury. This was especially true the next day as the weather continued to linger into the afternoon. Fearing that our chances for West Fury were fading, we opted to pack up in the mist and grope our way over to the the summit of Outrigger just as the weather began to improve. It was still harder than it should have been to get off Outrigger and ascend to the summit of East Fury. The General arrived crabby and didn't relish carving out a platform in the snow, melting snow, and generally having to pretend to be a tough alpine climber. Thankfully I had one of those bourgeois NeoAir mattresses to insulate my sorry ass from the snow and provide some much needed rest. I can't imagine spending THREE DAYS up here in a flapping megamid. West Fury. Why? Well, why not? We were here, we had the time, and in the words of @Trent, "It must be climbed!". And so we did. It is actually a lot better than it looks from East Fury, but still takes some time and a rope (if you're partial to such things, as I am). I think it was about 7 hours RT East Fury to East Fury, including about an hour on the summit. We were the 20th party to sign in, I believe, but I don't think I saw @wayne in there? So maybe it was the 21st ascent? Anyway, always cool to see the complete ascent history in a register. And then it was down, down, up, down, and over, over to Luna col and the comfortable camps there. At this point a weight was lifted from the team since it was all pretty much downhill with the pigs and we were on friendly and familiar ground. Watching the sunset, listening to tunes, and chatting with a team from Salem headed to East Fury the next day was a very civilized end to a few days of ruggedness. The last few drops of whiskey sealed it- tomorrow we would set the alarms and watch sunrise from Luna. Because, why not? Well, I could think of a few reasons when my alarm went off the next morning. But I gamely tried forget all of them and keep @tylerhs01 in my sights as he streaked for the summit like a well-chiseled alpinist fired from a cannon. I failed, of course, but arrived on the false summit in time to capture the scene pretty well. Like most places along our trip, though, pictures really don't do it justice. But no matter, the summit of Luna has 4G now (??!!) so you can pretend that the pictures you're sending everyone are EXACTLY HOW IT IS, RIGHT NOW. No wonder the Luna XC zone is full most weekends in high summer. Listening to the weather radio again at Luna col, more rain was on the horizon so we broke camp and headed down into the head of Access (Axes? Pickaxes?) Creek. Again, this turned out to be a good move, driven home our final morning when I awoke to find my mattress floating in a bass pond while rain pounded on the fly. D'oh! Access creek is brushy, but at least it was going to be wet. We were long out of whiskey as well, so it was going to be a character building descent which, in the case of General Weakness, might actually be a good thing. But that extra character was never beaten into the weak General since Tyler had a gpx track that he had recorded a few weeks prior WHEN HE CLIMBED LUNA (??!!) on a casual three day romp with some family friends (a record for shortest time between Luna ascents?). We even found bits of a trail! And a couple large logs across the Big Beaver! And a freshly logged and brushed Big Beaver Trail! It was all just so reasonable, right down to the customary dip in the lake while waiting for the water taxi. I guess there is always hope that the General will get some character beat into him on the next one. Until then.... (Captions refer to the photo(s) below the words- seems to work for scrolling? Let me know if not) The Mac Spires: John approaches camp: Der Shuksan: "Has the General always been this weak?": @tylerhs01 photo of us headed up to the O-H col, on the fun part (it ended in less fun when the snow ran out): Wild Hair Crack!! Tyler gunning us up the crazy good rock: Almost at the summit of the Himmelgeisterhorn... @tylerhs01 and @Trent contemplate the drop off each side: @Trent on the way to Frenzel camp I think this is the West Peak of the Southern Pickets? I could be wrong: The top of the "Thread of Gneiss" remains unclimbed to the summit of the East Twin Needle. Will you be the one?: For the full story behind this photo (and you really need the full story, trust me), read THIS: The Terror Twins building character: While the General fluffs his pillow: Looking past Terror to the NF of the Mac Spires: Frenzel Camp: Jack as the weather comes in: Frenzelspitz: Watching the storm brewing on Fury. Glad we aren't up there!: But this is the next day and it wasn't a lot better. Getting wet and wild on the way to the summit of Outrigger: Figuring out how to get off Outrigger as the weather begins to clear. Luna behind: The team approaching the summit of East Fury: (L)Uh, does this really need to be climbed? "West Fury MUST BE CLIMBED!" Summit camp lyfe on East Fury: Well, I guess it is time to climb this thing: Auspicious start to the day, looking east from the summit of East Fury: @Trent photo of @tylerhs01 and the General leaving the summit of East Fury heading west: @tylerhs01 posing effectively: The FA party carried a brass can and this register up there. Impressive!: Much of the way to and from West Fury is better than it looks, but still requires care: I was much faster back then: Larrabee and American Border Peaks: @tylerhs01 on the true summit of Luna at sunrise: Fury at first light: Terror: McMillan Spires: Worth waking up early for every 12 years whether I want to or not: You really should go climb both North and South Hozomeen: The Big Beaver pointed right at Jack: West Fury (L) and the team walking towards Elephant Butte (R): I think I saw an old Crowder or Tabor photo from this vantage many years ago. The hook was set: Luna: Last Camp: Dark Eyed Junco with a good meal: Mount Prophet. The prominent rib on the right is known as Jacob's Ladder : Good times crossing the Big Beaver. PM me for a GPS point if you need one: Gear Notes: The full kit- ice axe, Al crampons, helmet, whiskey, etc. One 70m half rope sufficient for Wild Hair. Medium rack to 2" Approach Notes: Crescent Creek climber's path to Access Creek Climber's path. Both are getting more defined by the year. Expect Shenanigans between the two.
  23. 8 points
    Trip: Mt Stuart - Stuart Glacier CouloirTrip Date: 04/05/2019 There is no bergschrund, the ice pitches are so minor that we barely slowed down. The top West ridge was full value, ice & mixed conditions were fantastic with cracks open to take gear, but accumulation in the backs of cracks in the top pitches making the best mixed conditions I've ever had in the Enchantments, but I would say that since Danny lead the technical jazz. No photos up there as we were hauling ass & cold. Very scary avi conditions on the descent with propagating cracks on the Sherpa Glacier & enough slabs peeling off to make a guy very happy to be down. Also white-out & nuclear winds on summit were unforgettable. We climbed straight up the west ridge after the tiny notch on exit from the north. I thought this was great, but the ledge ~30 below the tiny notch may be a better route.. 14 hours tent to tent (in the 5400vf meadow) Photos are not in order..... Looking down N face exiting to tiny notch:Exit top of couloirIce pitches...minor Gear Notes:Small cams 0.3 -2", rack offset wires, pins: LA, KB, beak, didn't use screws except one shit one.Approach Notes:Snowshoes from 1/2 way up road & to camp. No snowshoes above 5400vf. Very bad avi conditions on descent on Sherpa Glacier. GPS (or solid previous knowledge) essential to get off summit in nasty storm.
  24. 8 points
    Trip: Washington North Cascades - West Ridge of Colfax Peak Trip Date: 10/06/2018 Trip Report: With a minor storm dumping snow and quite a few days with sub-zero temperatures, Paul and I headed from Squamish down to Baker to try the Cosley-Houston Route on Colfax. We endured the Friday evening traffic to Sumas and then blasted on to the Heliotrope Ridge TH and bivvied in the back of the truck. Our alarm went off at 0500 and we were on the trail at 0545 by headlamp. We transitioned to boots at the toe of the glacier and immediately started dodging thinly bridged crevasses up to the football field and beyond. One major detour and a pitch of steep neve climbing and we found ourselves at the base of Colfax. The crux on the CH looked a bit too thin for our bravery levels and we weren’t sure how the snowfields above would be - we were a bit worried we'd find fresh pow over kitty litter. So, feeling a bit dejected, we decided to go have a look at the view towards Lincoln Peak from the col and get a photo of Ford’s Theatre. Crevasses were well hidden and a hassle: We noticed the West Ridge looked pretty chill and that aside from a rock step, it might give a reasonably quick access to the snowfields above the CH crux. So we decided to go for it. One mixed snow/rock simul-pitch took us onto the ridge crest (amazing views of Lincoln Peak). A second pitch got us up the ridge to a rock step. It seemed unlikely but a 10m downclimb on the E side dropped us into a perfect SW facing snow couloir with super cool rimed up rock walls. One pitch to the top of this and back onto the ridge crest and we were at another difficult looking rock step. Instead of taking the step, we delicately traversed to a snow ramp and a 20m downclimb to the top of the ice of Ford’s Theatre. From here we followed the route and simuled up perfectly crunchy snow to the top of the CH. Paul doing the downclimb into the convenient SW facing couloir: Descent was via the normal route with one rappel and a MAJOR detour around a full width crevasse on the Coleman at 2650m. More photos attached at the bottom. It would be hard to believe the W Ridge hasn’t been climbed before but I have no idea. Seems pretty unlikely that no-one has wandered up like we did. It would be interesting to find out if anyone had finished the W Ridge directly without bumping left over to the CH snow slopes as the rock walls above us looked serious enough that we didn't give them a serious look. There's probably a way through though! Route: Gear Notes: We used one stubby screw in rime ice, a handful of cams and pins and, actually for the first time in my life, used a picket as pro (and was kinda glad to have it). Approach Notes: Standard Heliotrope Ridge/Coleman Glacier
  25. 8 points
    Trip: Johannesburg - NE Rib 1957 Trip Date: 13-14 October 2018 Trip Report: started 715 Sat AM from the parking lot. took the lowest start posible, scrambling a few hundred feet before a 100m roped pitch into the trees. lots of unroped climbing before realizing we were too far right. we did another roped pitch thinking we'd be out - wrong. a single 30m rappel down and skiers right put us back in business. a long stretch of unroped climbing into a gullet. roped back up for a few of the moves and that deposited up on the main ridge's shoulder. this was the large climbers right trend in the topos. lots of steep vegetated climbing and steep exposed climbing brought us to a short (10m) knife edge ridge crossing - officially out of the shit. this is where you could drop into the gulley to climb up to the bivy or stay on the rope. gulley obviously looked nasty in October. we scrambled another short distance to where we needed a rope. either the ugly offwidth or the steep face up and right. not entirely sure if the face is what others had chosen, but it's what we opted for. it was a little hard down low, but opened up nicely. we hauled packs on this particular pitch. from that beltway we were a 150m pitch then a 45m pitch to the bivy site. arrived around 530pm - just under 10 hrs on the route. no running water for us, so we went ultraconservative with fuel only melting water and saving some fuel just in case. we were treated with an awesome sunset and sunrise. we were nestled between the snow and the rock and stayed protected from the wind. next morning we were moving by 745am and summited around 920am. glacier was very simple all things considered. snow arete was very cool and truly unique. started to descent around 10am, opting to downclimb vs rappel. some serious exposure on sometimes pretty delicate climbing. we were pretty close to the top, only dropping to maybe 100 feet below occasionally and not for very long. we reached the main descent around noon. on the main descent we made one anchor for a belayed downclimb relatively high up, then lots of downclimbing snow and rock until an obvious rappel station. this was a real rope stretcher (full 30m) to a subtle ledge skiers left of running water, we loaded about 1.5 liters knowing we'd get more soon - it was euphoric to get nice cold water. more snow and rock brought us to a second obvious station, going skiers left. another 30m with some downclimbing and we were onto a broad apron. traversing skiers left, going more directly to C-J Col, we found three more rap stations, plus a lot of downclimbing. we reached the col around 230pm. we were moving quite slow. after quickly adjusting layers we were off to Doug's direct and searching for water. we were at the top around 5pm and made fast work down to the 6k foot level. here is where were made our only route finding mistakes: dropping too low too early twice. this cost us probably a at least an hour. we then got back on track and were to cascade pass by 8pm and the TH by 930pm. all in all, full value route that was surprisingly straightforward. I'd do it again. Gear Notes: single rack to 3in was nice to have, 60m rope was shortest we would have wanted Approach Notes: short, or long, depending on your perspective
  26. 8 points
    No matter where one stands on the issue of risk, this thread is an important and necessary conversation for climbers of all ages and skills. Like many climbers, I believe, my relationship and outlook on risk versus reward in climbing has been complicated from the very beginning. That relationship spans 26 years, more than half of my life. My view of risk has had many faces through the years, and it continues to be complex and fraught with contradictions. Which it should, if we are being honest with ourselves and continuing to play the game for the longhaul. Perhaps the most consistent element of it for me is that even in my younger age when I thought myself more 'bulletproof', I've always gone into every serious alpine climb with a very clear-eyed attitude as to the danger I was willingly embracing. "I could die on this trip", is something I silently recited to myself, as the plane lifted off in Talkeetna, or I stepped off the pavement in El Chalten, or I began traipsing up some Rockies drainage towards my objective. While just verbalizing these words didn't change the objective risks I would be facing, it allowed me to proceed with commitment and decisiveness into that zone, and to fully accept the potential consequences. It also served as a reminder of the responsibilities I had at home, the responsibility I had to get back home, which means that aforementioned commitment was not without conditions or limits. I don't regret any of the adventures I've undertaken over the years, nor my lifelong commitment to climbing. Yet in some respect, today I have an increasingly difficult time reconciling my desire to celebrate these memories, with a nagging question of why I have survived, when so many others I knew have not. My wife and I never had children, but I know that if we had, I would have done much less than I have. My wife is a saint for having tolerated so much time away, so much of our money spent, and so much worry that I have subjected her to, in what has been inarguably a selfish pursuit. We have been able to navigate it successfully out of a mutual recognition that a passion for something is what makes a person who they are. I think she has been simultaneously admiring of and appalled by my dedication. I became friends with Marc Leclerc a few years ago in Patagonia, where we shared a number of dinners and trips to Domo Blanco together. He seemed an astonishing soul to me, and someone who was extremely kind, humble and unassuming, especially considering the wavelength on which he was operating in his climbs. When I have observed some of the achievements and risks that he and others like him have taken, I am certainly impressed by the athleticism and the mind control they exhibit. And I've also just shaken my head in a manner that represents neither condemnation nor unbridled approval, but rather, an honest acknowledgement that these sorts of achievements are so far outside of my own abilities and comfort zones that I simply don't understand what they are. It is almost as though I'm watching an entirely different sport. It's tempting to frown on extreme risks, and yet as I myself have taken more than my own share, I'm not in a strong position to judge. In fact, I think we must recognize that their propensity and ability to take such risks is an intrinsic part of their character, the very thing for which we love those of this group that we know personally. And so if Bob's concern about applauding high risk has any merit- and I think that it does- I think it's that the community needs to be brutally honest with themselves about what we are witnessing, even if we choose to admire it. The brutal and honest truth for me is that I have ceased to even feel shock, much less surprise, by each one of these successive tragedies. Ryan, in fact was a good friend. Last fall as we unsuccessfully tried to synch up for some rock climbing in the Cascades, he glowingly told me how he didn't want to be away from his 2 year old son for very long, and that he no longer needed climbing to fill a void in his life. So heartbreaking to think back on this exchange now. But I fear that I've become so accustomed to these accidents as to be desensitized, out of a simple need to protect myself from a total meltdown. I have a photo from my own wedding, in 2006. In it, Lisa and I are surrounded by 7 of my closest friends. Three of them have since died in the mountains. A photo from one of the happiest days of my life now causes pain. Amidst the deaths of numerous casual friends through the years, the loss of Lara Kellogg, Joe Puryear, and Chad Kellogg, leaves a hole in my heart that can't ever be repaired. The widespread wreckage left behind from incidents like these can't be understated. A friend of mine here in Alaska who used to do some cutting edge stuff likes to remind me of why he scaled back the big alpine. "My wife says, you won't care when you’re gone, but I will". The losses that have touched me, my work commitments, being well over 40, and most recently, having a serious illness have all conspired to blunt the sharp edge of my formerly insatiable motivation for the mountains and big adventures. And yet I still do it, and I still hold ambitions on which I plan to execute in the near future. Amidst the flood of mixed emotions and out of a cloud of darkness, certain things have become clear. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with the ultra rare and very lethal adrenal cortical cancer. At the time, I thought that if I somehow survived it, getting a second chance on life, I could never justify taking serious risks for recreation anymore. Two years, two major surgeries, and a month of radiation treatments later, I'm somehow not only still here but cancer free, and throughout much of this time, I've been able to climb at full speed. I have so far gotten off easy. But I've deep dived into the world of this disease and what I've seen is neither pretty nor dignified. And I'm not out of the woods by a longshot. I know who I am and what has taken me to this point in my life. I've wrestled over and over again with how sustainable this activity is. I've simultaneously envied those like Marc who at a young age had the vision and heart to become committed in every fiber of his being to climbing mountains, and also had the talent to be one of the very best; but also guys like Simon McCartney, who at age 24, with Jack Roberts, established the hardest route ever done on Denali at the time, the massive southwest face. It was the zenith of what had been a meteoric few years of serious and groundbreaking alpine ascents for him. But high on this climb, Simon nearly succumbed to altitude illness in a harrowing ordeal, and afterwards, quit climbing cold turkey, moved to Australia, got married and started a successful business. Simon told me: "I knew what I needed from climbing at the time, each climb had to be harder and more audacious than the next. I could see exactly how that was going to end. I didn't want to die, not at that age". Simon is now 62 and has had a happy life. I've come to realize that as long as I have a chance of dying of cancer, and that if I could choose the manner of my death between that or climbing, I'll take the mountains. Ultimately, between the all or nothing of the above examples, I hope to walk a fine line right down the middle on my way out of this life, whenever and however that happens. Onward, and upward-
  27. 7 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!
  28. 7 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - White Salmon Gl. Trip Date: 02/20/2020 Trip Report: The paper says we are 7 inches ahead for rainfall right now in the Skagit Valley. Probably why last week I did everything I could to break free of work and get out in the sun, high on Mount Shuksan. I have to thank @dberdinka for organizing the hooky and @Trent for sharing in the enthusiasm. We weren't alone in our thinking- a few dozen others were seen out on the White Salmon, and even when we were descending after a run over by the North Face, more were coming. Even the (in)famous Jason Hummel was out showing pro Cody Townsend around the mountain. It was quite a day to soak up some rays and earn a few turns, so I can't blame anyone for joining in the fun. I hope you were out somewhere too..... Gear Notes: two sticks for the up, one or two for the down Approach Notes: I would drop thru the clear cut to the creek rather than try and stay high. Not bad turns to the valley bottom.
  29. 7 points
    This forum needs some ACTION!!! Got lots of freshies around Herman Saddle on Sunday. Headed there after running into a party that triggered a storm slab/partial burial on a steeper slope in Mazama Bowl. Stay safe out there! I know he's on a splitboard, but he's still a good guy: Sweet animation of someone wiping out: Beautiful: Big smiles:
  30. 7 points
    Trip: Mt Cleator - Tubby Needs Cheese 5.8+, 9 pitches, 1,000'+ Trip Date: 09/01/2019 Trip Report: It's been a spell since my last report; I offer a tale of an ascetic and a hedonist climbing yet another irrelevant obscurity in their quest for entertainment and raw truth. The weather forecast pointed them east, and Mt Cleator appeared to fit the bill. After a pleasant trail tramp past Buck Mtn and establishing camp, the dialectic duo scouted and debated a number of lines available, and provisionally settled on the cleanest looking one. The line emanates from near the main summit (not the N tower), and is a NW jutting rib that appears to share the granitic character of the pluton on nearby Berge--very little schist encountered. (Other options abound on the N side of this peak up to the N tower, but even these impaired codgers reckoned unappealing the primarily grubby schist on these longer lines toeing down more directly to Buck Cr. They agreed to buy beer for any whippersnapper climbing one of these lines.) For the full Cascades sub-alpinism experience, approach directly from a camp near Buck Creek, where the trail passes close to the creek. Romp up pleasant alp slopes to a band of cliffy terrain, then bunk-jungle up steep alder to pass a waterfall. This approach grants access to the upper basin and the several lines available on the northwestern quadrant of the mountain. For the descent enjoy the scenic trail tour return via Buck Creek Pass. Lots of wildlife encountered--bear, coyotes calling at each other (probably about the bear), deer, etc. The climb's more-technical and mental challenges are concentrated in pitches 2, 3, 8 and 9. (Unfortunately, not many climbing pics taken.) Pitch 2: while the self-styled epicurean showered his pathetic self with sod digging for pro and holds, the wannabe stylite laughed derisively. Pitch 3: the ascetic got his come-uppance, "I wanna go home", but eventually pieced together a lead to the crest of the rib. The middle pitches were more scrambly, mostly mid-fifth and easier. Pitch 8: a sweet, relatively steep and juggy corner. Pitch 9: interspersed short splitters and varied climbing, beautiful and exposed ridge rambling with steeper steps. P1: P3: P6(?), climber low center: On average, the over-indulger and the self-depriver make for a balanced human. In an alternate universe the roles could be switched, and maybe the pair would climb splitter cracks on impeccable stone; but in this one, they reconcile themselves to seeking new lines on inconsistent rock with their mercifully impaired memories. On this climb, a somewhat dirty beginning becomes more enjoyable higher (and with distance). It's difficult to get a well-defined shot of the line. Here's a flavor: Tubby Needs Cheese begins to the left of the shaded red streak on far right, a few hundred ft below that tiny spot of sunshine on the ridge, and continues up to and then on the right skyline. Tubby tops out in the horizontal strip of sunshine, or perhaps just out of view behind the pyramidal feature to the left of it. (The sunlit tower is in the foreground relative to the main summit.) Beckey's CAG vol 2 (2nd ed.) has a good pic of it along with Buck on page 160, swooping down from the main summit clearly marked MT CLEATOR. And from the west, hiking toward Buck Pass: A shot on the way home on Labor Day, TNC in the shade on right toeing down just left of the snow in the basin: More pics (recommend click on 'info' to see descriptions for many): https://photos.app.goo.gl/P2U5SJgB8jU1eQBo8 Gear Notes: Double rack through 3, a 4, some nuts. We didn't use our pins, but some folk might want to. Approach Notes: Park at Trinity. Buck Creek trail, etc. -- see above.
  31. 7 points
    Trip: Mount Prophet - "Jacob's Ladder" (AKA full SW rib...FA?) Trip Date: 06/24/2018 Trip Report: "And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." - Genesis 28:10-12 KJV Grunting our way up the prominent rib on the SW side of Mount Prophet (above, in photo taken from Luna Peak by Martin Shetter), nobody would have mistaken Kit Moffitt and I for angels. Although the summit of Prophet this past Sunday was certainly much closer to heaven than the bug infested forests back at Luna Camp, our home for two nights as we investigated the directissima up the SW rib. Our aim was to explore above 5450' on the feature, where everyone seems to traverse off the rib into a typically crappy talus basin (via 4th class down climb). Given the ominous warning on SummitPost, Kit and I went in with a rope, rack, and even a pair of rock shoes: "The rib has cliffs on either side and no one has yet explored the possibility of climbing it directly to the summit. That could prove to be a bad idea."- SP We were a little disappointed that the gear stayed in the pack the entire time, however (long way to carry it!), but pleasantly surprised to find fairly clean and exposed class 3 climbing for ~1500 vertical feet to the summit. There really is no reason to leave the SW rib for future parties, until it is time to descend. We did go down the "SW rib" route (south of actual SW rib, described well on SP and found it to be your typical mix of scree, talus,and pain). We also found a way back on to the rib at about 5600' that only involved a bit of exposed class 3 (seems easier than how the lower access is described on SP?). Given the obvious difference in quality between the two scramble routes, I suspect that future parties will follow the loop that Kit and I did this past Sunday. However, I wouldn't be surprised if someone has ascended the full SW rib before we did this past weekend. Does anyone have info of previous parties, before Kit and I go claiming this massive, 3rd class, FA?? It is quite prominent as you descend out Access (Axes? Pickaxes?) Creek, and I noticed it back in 2007 on the exit from my first Pickets trip. It was fun to come back and explore something that has not been documented before- our very own backyard adventure! Just goes to show that there are still plenty of blanks on the (climbing) map, even for the blue collar set.... Calling the resort for the boat pickup, saving 12 miles RT: Luna Peak: Mac Spires, Inspiration, The Pyramid, Degenhardt: Blue collar! Nearing the summit as the rib fades: Jack: "Jacob's Ladder" from the summit Old habits die hard. Hanging out with the ghosts at Good Food, post trip: Gear Notes: Helmet, axe, crampons (early season). We brought gear in case it was technical, but found nothing over exposed class 3. Approach Notes: Big Beaver trail to just before Luna camp, then head uphill a steep vertical mile to the summit. It goes from hiking to scrambling at about 5800' The slope turns into the SW rib which is followed religiously to the summit. Descend on the south side of the rib until you can regain it about 5600'
  32. 7 points
    Trip: Stuart/Enchantments - The Enchanted Enchainment Trip Date: 06/30/2019 Trip Report: On Sunday June 30th, I managed to complete a whirlwind tour of the Enchantments' 9 tallest peaks. I think "enchainment" is the right word, since I did not stay true to the ridge crests like a "traverse" would imply. Ever since my route through the Core zone last summer, ticking off the 7 major peaks from Mclellan to Cannon to Argonaut (and also Prusik), I’ve been pondering the feasibility (and stupidity) of adding Stuart to the list. I'm no Peter Croft, so I'd start with Stuart's west ridge. Much route-planning was done. At first I was considering an approach from the south side, to facilitate an easier romp up Stuart, but I think the mileage for that route would be too much for my non-trail-runner legs. So I settled on the Stuart Lake approach and hoped I would be able to find a shortcut to Stuart’s West Ridge (since the West Ridge is almost always approached from the south). Jake Robinson and his buddies did a 3 day trip, ticking the same peaks and provided helpful beta. The ridge from Stuart to Sherpa is fairly straightforward, but I knew from them and others that Sherpa to Argonaut was gnarly. I considered dropping all the way down to the valley trail after Sherpa, but decided I would try a high-ish traverse to save some calf-burn. The only other route-planning decision was to drop straight off Cannon to the car. It is just so friggin alluring!! Cannon is such a slog via the normal route, and the fact that it is geographically so close to the trailhead was too much for me to pass up. Future Tyler be fucked, I suppose. I created an illustrated route overlay of what went down (with actual gpx data), using fancy color-coding and dashed lines to indicate difficulty and tediousness of terrain. (gpx file here). Cause information and maps are fun. I started my pilgrimage at 1:30am, in order to have some light once it got steep on Stuart. I pandered my way through the burned stuff past Stuart Lake and managed to ascend the slopes toward Long Pass without too much difficulty in the dark. I encountered some steep snow to get up to the 7950’ notch on Stuart’s NW face. From the notch I dropped down a bit and traversed some more snow to get to the shortcut gully. The gully had continuous snow, but I was sick of the hard snow in my cramponed approach shoes, so I scrambled up class 3 rock to the right. All in all, shortcutting the west ridge was pretty straightforward and required no technical climbing whatsoever. ^ the view back toward the 7950 notch Everyone and their uncle has posted their version of the west ridge, so I won’t dive into that. I reached el primero cumbre at 7:40am, a bit behind my self-prescribed schedule. From Stuart I meandered down the Cascadian and stepped off toward the Stuart-Sherpa Col. I encountered a short 4th class downclimb, and didn’t reach the col until 8:40am. ^ Fun clouds from the top of Stuart Sherpa’s west ridge was great fun, and I was almost suckered into a beautiful splitter crack before I more responsibly found easier terrain off to the left. I reached Sherpa summit around 9:10am, looked auspiciously at the balanced rock, and decided to save it for another day. The descent off Sherpa was quite straightforward after reading beta on folks descending from the north ridge. A short 4th/5th downclimb followed by trending skier’s left into a scrambly gully until I reached a big-ass vegetated ledge at about 8100 ft, and then more leftward traversing to a broader gully, which I took all the way down to 7200 ft. From here I began the long, much-not-looking-forward-to traverse to Argonaut. In actuality, it was not bad at all, and perhaps even vaguely enjoyable! There are some huge swaths of granite on these high slopes, many of which are littered with fun knobs for easy scrambling. The rest of the terrain was quite straightforward goat-trail meandering. Time-consuming, but not god-awful by any means. I eventually reached Argonaut’s southern gullies and ascended easy terrain until right below the east ridge where I climbed a probably unnecessary section of easy-5th. From there I scampered to the summit (at 12:30pm), with a bit of apprehension as storm clouds began rolling in. From Argonaut, I descended a rap route on the east face, which I had done the summer before. I had found some unused webbing/rings on Sherpa, and used the rings as a nut placement to aid down a somewhat tricky section near the base of Arg (for the next party wondering what the heck is going on there). From here, spirits were high, as I knew I had completed most of the tedious stuff and would be on fairly well-traveled terrain for the rest of the day (not including the hail-mary off Cannon at the end of my route). ^ Looking back at Argonaut A few splits: Colchuck – 2:30pm Dragontail – 3:40pm Little Anna – 4:30pm Mclellan – 6:20pm Enchantment Peak – 8:10pm (I only tagged the NE summit, which may be lower than the SW?) Cannon Peak – 9:40pm ^ Into the core... ^ Stuart & friends from the Enchantment Peaks ^ Stuart & Enchantment Peaks & friends from Cannon Managed to top out on Cannon with a bit of light to admire a hard day’s work (damn Stuart looks so far away!) From Cannon I was feeling pretty good about making it down before my 24 hour goal. After all, the car was only 2 miles away… In the weeks prior, I had done some route-planning using satellite imagery and a topo to figure out the least-bushy way off Cannon. This was helpful but not a perfect solution to the hell-hole that is the 5000 vertical feet of bush, dirt, rock, bush, scree, and bush. Maybe I’m exaggerating, as I was quite delirious at the time and it was dark. The first 3,000 ft were fairly straightforward, with a few cliff-bands to avoid but mostly loose dirt/talus. The next 2,000 ft of vert went from bad to worse. Many cliff-bands were not hinted at by my topo map, and where I had previously plotted a viable line through rocky terrain (while comfortably sipping tea in front of a computer at work), was not actually viable terrain. So into the bushes I went and I didn’t arrive at the trail until around 1:00am. From the trail it was a short, but damn-did-my-feet-hurt, hike to the car. Roundtrip was 23 hours and 35 minutes, 16,865 ft of gain, and 27.4 miles. Frankly, those numbers seem pretty small considering, which I attribute to all the little (and big) shortcuts I connected to make quite an aesthetic loop through some beautiful country. I hope some of this beta is helpful for those looking to enchain some peaks out there or just get some damn good exercise. Gear Notes: Axe, crampons used. Approach Notes: Stuart Lake
  33. 7 points
    Trip: North Cascades- Boston Basin - The Boston Marathon Trip Date: 07/10/2018 Trip Report: This is super delayed, but i was looking though old pics and thought this trip was worth sharing with y'all. Kyle was most certainly the brain-child behind this absurdity. I think it was sometime in the summer of 2017 he mentioned this idea of solo circumnaving boston basin. I was a bit suspicious that things might be a little more involved than was anticipated so told him i'd join in for a recon mission. We trail ran the sahale glacier route one day and gawked at the rest of the ridge, reading the unknown v known terrain and looking at the way the ridges tended to run. It was clear we were going in the wrong direction. For one, we would have to do the tft backwards, which would have honestly been the most chill weirdness. Downclimbing the ridge to sharkfin looked damn near suicidal. So we regrouped and planned a 2 day mission from the other end. We decided to start at the hidden lakes th and start on the triad via the sibley pass approach. When we hit the triad it was clear the "triad traverse" approach as described for marble creek basin didn't really let on to how gnarly the scrambling would be if one were to stay true to the ridge. We estimated summiting the triad sometime before 10 am, somewhere around mid afternoon we finally were running up the eldorado glacier. After tagging eldo via the east ridge, we ran over to the torment col while the sun was setting. After soloing the s ridge of torment in the morning, we realized we again had underestimated our objective, so we bailed down b basin and gorged on berries. One last attempt that summer would be thwarted by an overuse injury. And the september rains came, and boston basin stood like that itch you just cant reach all friggin winter long. Summer came around again and we were racking up at our first opportunity. Sometime in early July. looking back towards eldo and the triad on an early recon We Again set up the car shuttle, but this time the road was closed at the eldo th, and we had 4 days off, so we figured we'd tentatively plan on just tossing the triplets, cascade and j-berg in on the final day (our plan was to scramble the j berg summit ridge and bushwack down the gnar forrest straight back to the eldo th.). Weather ultimately meant this final link would not go, but its certainly something to aspire to. We set off from the trailhead for the triad. This time, we were prepared for the choss. early scrambling Kyle down-soloing some 5.6 choss on the triad Some 4th class funk on the triad 100ft tower we climbed along the way, 5.7 nothing on top suggested we were the first to visit such a bizzare place some more down climbin w face of w triad 5.6 R super aesthetic The first time we visited the triad we stayed true to the ridge crest east of the eastern summit and down-climbed somewhere about a third or half way down the east ridge. This proved to be an extremely dangerous experiment in natural jenga. We pushed off multiple oven to mini cooper sized blocks that impeded safe passage. We ended up bailing down some 500 ft 5.4-5.7 wall to the glacier. This was the boldest down-soloing i've ever committed to and would never be recommended. Remembering this experience, we opted to drop off the ridge after the eastern summit of the triad. A quick jaunt accross the glacier brought us over to eldo. We decided the truest line would be to climb the south ridge of eldorado. We found info on the south face, but none on the south ridge. We thought this odd, but the ridge looked quite reasonable. It ended up providing 4-6 epic and high quality pitches of easy rock climbing. A worthy stand alone mission and my second favorite (second to the west arete) way to summit the mountain. the first pitch gaining the s ridge of eldo second pitch some good ol' fashioned knife ridin good conditions meant a casual walk down the e ridge From the summit of eldo we decided to stop and rest at eldo camp rather than push through the dark to the torment col. I mean, there is a toilet there, thats pretty darn good motivation. We woke up early the next day and scurried across the feint climbers path leading over to torment. The torment col is always a neat place to hang out and fill up water. The true line here is the NW ridge of torment. We quickly glanced at the beckey bible the first time, and saw that it had gone. But when we got to the base of the ridge the gnar choss was quite strong, and we weren't entirely sure if we had the beta memorized, so we bailed back around the mountain to the south ridge. This time around we had taken some photos of the guidebook and decided to turn reason off. Getting on the ridge was the crux, purely mental, it turned out to be fairly easy going. There was one exposed and runout 5.8ish knife-edge pitch somewhere in there, but it all kinda blurred together. Soon enough we found ourselves on the summit of torment and in familiar terrain. The TFT awaited, finally some classic easy ridge travel! A classic b basin white out slowly creeped up as we reached the w ridge notch. It became apparent a storm was comming in so we scrambled to get the tarp up. We knew we were in for a wet night. looking over at the nw ridge of torment the entrance to the ridge, what looked like 5.10 from afar turned out to be 5.6 some more ridge scrambles on torment topping out the crux pitch of the nw ridge looking back at the entrance to the tft. getting on the glacier required a 20ft pendulum, then we had to rap down that high bergshrund. our first overhanging rap off a snow bollard. things were wet and snowy on the "3rd class rock" bypass variation We woke up on day 3 soaked (i say woke up, but there wasn't that much sleep). Rain stopped around 1 pm. The whiteout however persisted. We eventually got restless and started up the w ridge of forbidden. Neither of us had been down the east side of the mountain before, so we knew we were in for a good challenge when the whiteout lingered, but we knew we had to keep going if the traverse was going to go down. Finding the raps down the east ledges was tricky, but not unreasonable, we eventually got onto the e shoulder of the mountain below the start of the east ridge route. and knew that we had no clue what layed ahead, so we tucked tails and pitched the tarp. west ridge with a fog break another little break in the whiteout while descending the east ledges our bivy the next morning, j-berg looking classy as ever We awoke on day 4 with the sun and our first view of the nw ridge of boston. And we were decidedly a little concerned. Nonetheless we packed up and found our way down to the end of the e shoulder of forbidden. if ya think boston peak is choss, try scrambling around out here, it will change your understanding of the word. We reached the end, and the large cliff that would feed us to the the notch below the sharkfin ridge. this was truly un-rappellable terrain. So we backtracked to a low 5th class gully. A very stressful hour of downclimbing and rappelling spat us on the edge of the Qiuen Sabe. Another gully by the notch led us up to the steep hanging snowfield below the sharkfin ridge. We were short on time because of weather and opted to leave the subsummit west of sharkfin for another time. We quickly found ourselves at sharkfin. We climbed something on the sw ridge of the tooth, hard to remember exactly what we did. It was solid, exposed and 5.8. Had a hanging belay and no other signs of climbers. Not sure what we climbed, but it was fun. After some victory food on the summit we rapped off and set sail into a sea of virgin choss. I think there was maybe 1 more rappel to access boston, then we started up the ridge. We soloed about 1500 ft of low 5th class before hitting a vertical section and roping up. A circuitous combination of rappeling and ridge climbing brought us to the famous "ore" describing boston. A knife edge ridge guarded the easier looking summit headwall. The prospect of bailing at that point seemed worse than climbing the ridge, so i pushed up. The rock was best described as feta cheese. And i had to mow about a foot of the surface rock off as i au chevaled to ensure the entire ridge wouldn't collapse with me on it. I fabricated a belay half way across this called "off-belay". Kyle didn't look convinced i had found gear. Climbing delicately through the remaining pitches we found ourselves in unprotectable low 5th. So we soloed to the summit. The register up there is pretty rad, its a neat summit and the regular route doesn't look that bad. A few rappels and we knew we had done it, sahale was like the icing on the cake. And a 2000 ft boot ski down to the sahale arm was the reward. We blasted obscene music and trudged down to the cascade pass th. Overall we pitched out 26 pitches, rappelled 26 times and the gps read 26.2 miles back at the eldo th. A proper cascades test-piece. Some day we might go back and add j-berg. Maybe when memory fails us. "The Boston Marathon" VI 5.8R scouting the downclimb to the qiuen sabe looking over at the nw ridge of boston starting up sharkfin the final approach to boston. We ended up climbing just under the ridge crest for good 4th and low 5th class traversing until the gendarme right before the ridge starts gaining elevation, thats were we roped up the first roped climbing on boston finishing up on the first pitch of the au cheval Heres the track i took of the traverse loaded into caltopo, my phone died for about half of boston peak, so there is a straight line through that section. Gear Notes: Single Rack to 2, 50m half rope Approach Notes: We approached via the hidden lakes th with a car shuttle to the eldo th
  34. 7 points
    Trip: MT. HOOD - Wy'East Face Trip Date: 01/26/2019 Trip Report: With the warm inversion taking place and fairly certain most other routes would be full of falling ice Mike and I decided to climb the Wy'East. We left the car at 4:30am with the temperature in the mid 40's, but the surface/snow temps fairly reasonable. Mike and I left the car with the intention of getting to the top of palmer in under and hour but unfortunately for the 5th time so far this year we just missed it and managed to hit the top of palmer right at 5:36am. Once at the top of palmer we traversed slightly up as we made our way over to the White River glacier. We did rope up to cross the glacier although everything is pretty covered up right now. From here we had a quick look at the South face of the steel cliffs just to see if it might be in condition and it definitely was not so we continued down and around to the standard Wy'East route. This was our first time climbing the full Wy'East route and overall we think that the conditions were pretty good. The guide book is pretty spot on with the description although the traverse really inst that exposed and the overall climbing is extremely straight forward and mellow. With surface temps being a lot better than we had planned we topped out and then decided to run down to illumination rock and see if we might be lucky enough to hit one of the south west side routes before they became ice/rockfall funnels. Unfortunately once we got there and started to head down we quickly realized that we might be a dollar short and a day late as ice was just screaming down. Overall it was a great day with stellar spring like conditions. Gear Notes: 2 x pickets (didn't use them and not really any need for them on this route) Approach Notes: Standard south side route up to Palmer then traversed up and over to the White River Glacier. We roped up for this crossing although everything is pretty closed up right now.
  35. 7 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - North Face Right Gully Trip Date: 01/02/2019 Trip Report: New year new objectives! Plans, partners, and conditions finally aligned for the north face of Hood. I parked at Timberline and my friend drove us to Tilly Jane. 12am sharp we were on the trail. The approach to the A-Frame was super mellow and took us slightly over an hour. From there we followed a well compacted path to the carin on Cooper Spur. The snow on the glacier was boot deep most of the way. Not bad conditions at all. By 4:20 we stopped at about 8500 feet to nap because none of us got any sleep the day before. Sleeping at the base of Cooper 30 At 5:50 my partner woke me up. I'm pretty sure I was hypothermic but that nap felt soooo good. The slog up to the base of the route uneventful but the sunrise was well worth it. We crossed to the right of the bergschrund. The snow was kind of spooky but it went with ease. After some more slogging we got on the first ice step. It felt WI2-3ish overall. After about 50 meters of climbing I made a belay with a screw and picket. First ice step Me leading up the step The snow between the ice steps was quite pleasant. We comfortably soloed through it, kicking in deep if we needed to rest. Here's the second ice step. It felt pretty easy as well. WI2 probably. A few hundred more feet of slogging brought us to Cathedral Spire. It looked like a fun climb for another day. Climbing up one of those cracks looked compelling and fun. What the snow looked like Summit pyramid. At the summit pyramid we faced the first alpine ice we had seen on the entire route. Opting not to simu-solo, we unroped for the last stretch. Pulling the summit cornice was bittersweet. Throughout the entire route we faced no wind, relatively mild temperatures, and perfect visibility. When we got to the summit, it was a different story. It was a total whiteout, icy wind made everything freeze, and things got pretty damn cold. We decided to descend the old chute because the pearly gates were iced up. We made it down in record slow time, mistaking ice formations for buildings and people a number of times. The descent to Palmer had very little snow, it was mostly these ice rock things. Our lack of sleep was finally catching up to us. When we got to the car, I began seeing imaginary hot air balloons and large apartment buildings. Overall though, it was an exceptional trip. The snow was great. The ice was great. Even the approach was pretty mellow and fun. All in all it took us about 15 hours including the impromptu nap time. I honestly have no idea when we got to the summit. It was a fun but relatively easy romp up the mountain. here's what the descent conditions looked like Gear Notes: 4 Screws 2 Pickets Approach Notes: Follow the trail, descent at the carin
  36. 7 points
    Trip: Lundin - Southeast Ridge Trip Date: 11/17/2018 Trip Report: Ahhhhhhh......... Smooting. Is there ever a better fall activity? Wait, don't answer that. Just look at the photos below and don't feel so sad that the ski season hasn't really started yet (have you bought your Smoot copy yet?). And get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that @cfire, @genepires, @Kit, and myself all had a very nice friendship hike to the top of a snowy ridge. "Congratulations! it wasn't terrible."- @cfire #moderatealpinism Gear Notes: half rope, ice axe, crampons, helmet, light rack (this time of year). When the rock is dry you can probably scramble it all at a grade of exposed Cl. 4. Snow and ice made it a bit more exciting. Approach Notes: Commonwealth Basin trail to the end and then follow the ridge up.
  37. 7 points
    Trip: Mt. Rainier - Sunset Ridge Trip Date: 05/25/2018 Trip Report: Geezers on the Go or Fading into Sunset Ridge. Having done routes from Carbon River, White River, and Paradise I have always wanted to do a west side route. Two of my partners from many years joined in on the fun. The average age was 62 with a combined over 120 years in the hills. We did the usual hike from the West Side Road via the no longer maintained Tahoma Creek trail. From the along Emerald Ridge which we never saw cause we ascend into the clouds we gained the terminus of the Tahoma and crossed it somewhere. Eventually we broke out of the clouds and camped below Puyallup Cleaver at around 6800 feet. In the morning we gained the cleaver and followed it to around 8500 at which point we bailed left and crossed until the South Mowich. We roped up but the crossing was very straight forward and we headed up initial lower slope to 9500 feet. At this point there is a bergshrund across the whole of the lower apron/ridge. We crossed more to the left. Again straight forward but sloppy snow. We bivied at the bergshrund. The next morning hoping to have an overnight freeze which did not occurred we launched upwards. The climbing was at around 45 degrees. The higher up the firmer the snow got. We pretty much side stepped the vast majority of the route. We stayed mostly to the climbers left and found several places to rest. Including one great spot with 60-70 foot high conglomerate walls just waiting to pitch bowling ball sized rocks down. From here a few hundred feet more of climbing and we gained the ridge proper and had great views of Sunset Amphitheater. Until this point we had climbed roped or unroped sans any gear. Once on the ridge proper we followed it until we need to down climb around a short 30 foot section of bare rock (by passed via snow). This lead to the finial pinnacle which forces one out on to the Mowich Face. Here again the climbing was straight forward we stayed more climbers right (two pitches), traversed left (~one pitch), then gained the ridge (~one pitch). Overall 45-55 degree climbing with pickets. My one partner did most all of the leading, my excuse for not contributing was being tired having climbed S. Sister a few days before. Our other partner is just a geezer. After that we traversed the ridge to Liberty Cap which was good fun cause we could see where in the past we had topped on either the Central or North Mowich headwalls, Ptarmigan (including an infamous bivy), Liberty and Curtis Ridge. So it was a bit of nostalgia for all. Especially for me since Sunset Ridge was my 10th different route on the hill and exactly 35 years to the weekend since my first attempt on Rainier. Overall conditions were a bit soft at the mid elevations. The approach was manageable even in the clouds. Route finding was straigtforward. On the other hand, we slept warm - including the last night less than 100 feet below Columbia Cap. I'll add some photos soon. Oh, being from out of the area we stayed at Gateway Inn and Cabins which is right before the Park entrance before and after our climb. The folks are very accommodating so I'll give them a plug. Gear Notes: 3 Pickets and 3 screws (the later not used). Two tools 60cm axe and 50 cm hammer. Approach Notes: West Side Road via Tahoma Creek
  38. 7 points
    Trip: Moose's Tooth - Shaken, Not Stirred Trip Date: 04/15/2018 Summary: Ascent of Moose's Tooth to the summit via the route "Shaken, Not Stirred" 19 hours camp to camp with Doug Shepherd April 15th 2018. Details: Alaska. Finally. After multiple trips to Alaska every year since 2009 life priorities had forced me to take a "leave of absence" since my last trip in March of 2016. It was nice to finally return and with Doug Shepherd, someone who I've done numerous trips with including my very first trip to AK in 2009. Various existing commitments limited us to a 3 day trip but weather and temps the week leading up suggested we would likely find something we could climb during the short window. I grabbed Doug at ANC early Saturday morning and we blasted for Talkeetna. After the usual shenanigans (weight in, repack) Paul zipped us in. After looking at possible objectives on the flight in we settled on Shaken, Not Stirred on the Moose's Tooth. Though I had climbed the Moose's Tooth in 2010 it was via Ham and Eggs. I'd always wanted to climb Shaken but had never seen it in. A SLC team was coming out at the same time we were getting dropped off and had attempted it the day prior. They had bailed at the crux due to lack of ice but after quickly looking at their pictures we thought we should at least give it a try as it appeared like it would go with some mixed climbing. We departed camp later than normal on Sunday (~6 am) to allow temps to warm slightly; this allowed us to wear single boots. I took the first simul block to just below the narrows where Doug took over. Doug fired a few amazing pitches that took us to the crux which was ice free but Doug was able to safely protect and find a mixed way through the crux. Following the pitch I have to say it was a very impressive lead. Some more climbing took us to the Englishman’s Col where we enjoyed an extended hydrate + coffee break before heading to the true summit. I will say the terrain between the Englishman’s Col and the true summit is a lot of up and down with at least two rappels and nearly constant crevasse and cornice danger. "Enjoy" We tagged the summit sometime after sunset but before dark; Doug's first time and my second. We managed to start the rappels down Ham and Eggs before it got truly dark so at that point it was just hitting rap anchors and/or making naked threads as needed. We arrived back at camp ~19 hours later and flew out the following day, Monday, before heading back to the lower 48. Good times. Gear Notes: partial set of nuts, single set 00-2 c3, double set 0.4 -> 4 ultralights, 10 laser speed light ice screws, 3 micro trax, single + tag line Approach Notes: Talkeetna Air Taxi is the best
  39. 7 points
    My name was mentioned above (I think). It seemed in reference to my ability to stay alive and climb in the mountains. Just to be clear: I’m alive because I’ve been lucky. No more, no less. Sure, I try to mitigate risk as much as possible, but when you are going for it in the mountains on a regular basis, the odds of an accident increase. Climbing is a dangerous sport. It always has been. Life is dangerous too. I know that for me, climbing and skiing in the mountains is absolutely worth it. That said, the pain is crushing when someone is lost. Absolutely crushing. I still don’t know how to make sense of it, but I’ve accepted that there are many things I’ll never wrap my head around in this lifetime.
  40. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Stuart - Direct North Ridge Trip Date: 06/22/2020 Trip Report: I finally ticked off this crown jewel of the Cascades! We did deal with some tough early season conditions, including snow and ice on the "Slab with Crack" as well as the section between the gendarme and the summit. I've included the text of my report below. Full report with photos can be found at https://spokalpine.com/2020/06/29/mt-stuart-direct-north-ridge/ John and I climbed the Direct North Ridge of Mount Stuart on a “leisure” schedule from June 21-23, 2020. It was the culmination of years of honing my mountain craft in the Cascades and abroad; this one meant a lot! The journey started in 2016, when I saw Stuart in person for the first time from Colchuck Peak. I was spellbound by the rugged beauty of the mountain with its springtime coating of snow and ice, making the North Ridge even more dramatic as it soared directly to the summit. It is possible to climb the North Ridge using an “abbreviated” start, gaining the ridge crest at half-height via a rocky gully rising from Stuart Glacier – this version of the route is included as one of the “50 Classic Climbs of North America” and some say it is the most commonly climbed version. To me, a direct start climbing directly from the toe of the ridge creates a much more pure, aesthetic and logical line to the summit. The Direct North Ridge instantly became my goal. Three months later after I first laid eyes on it, John and I made the Southern approach via Ingalls Creek for an attempt on the route. Cresting Goat Pass, we stopped to stare at the route in profile. The scale of the climb was jaw-dropping; we quickly turned around and went home. We were not ready and we knew it, but we made other excuses. Four years and many climbs went by before John and I decided that it was time to put this project to bed. This time, we trudged up Mountaineer’s Creek to Mount Stuart. Swarming insects, brutal heat, boulder hopping and a off-trail bushwhacking brought us to our plush back country campsite below Stuart’s Northern aspect. A few other climbers passed by our camp on their way out; they were the last people we would see for two days. We had the entire valley, and mountain, to ourselves. Cheers to weekday alpinism! With the Summer Solstice only two days prior, we had a long day of daylight on our side. Planning to blast the route and descent in a single push from camp, the route was already in full sun as we started hiking up the moraine at 5:30am. John volunteered to lead the first pitch, which was a great warmup for the day. The “slot” on this pitch is as awkward as people say… hang the leader’s pack off of a cam below the slot and belay just above. The leader can lower a loop of rope to the follower and haul the packs past the slot. I took point on the uneventful second pitch and John fired the 5.9+ third pitch, the hardest pitch on the climb. After a fourth belayed pitch (perhaps 5.7), we changed gears to simulclimbing mode. This part of the climb was truly a gift, featuring moderate climbing and unbeatable alpine ambiance. Rock and ice thundered down Ice Cliff Glacier every few minutes, reminding us that the mountain is always in charge. Our staircase of clean granite carried us 1600 feet higher into the cobalt sky. After a few hours, I lead over a high point in the ridgeline and felt my stomach drop. I was looking at the well-known and typically easy “slab with crack” pitch, but it was partially covered in snow and ice. There were no signs of prior passage and I questioned whether or not I would be able to climb it in these conditions. I quickly realized that I had to give the pitch my absolute best effort – bailing from this high on the ridge would be an absolute nightmare. The mountain was testing us even more than I expected. I cautiously led up the pitch, placing a solid cam a few feet below the snow patch before strapping my pathetic, worn-down aluminum crampons on my approach shoes. Evaluating the snow patch, I realized that it consisted of about 1 inch of ice against the rock with a couple of inches of snow on top. My ultralight ice axe would not be able to excavate the crack to place protection. The first few feet were the thinnest, and I willed the snow patch to stay attached to the mountain. With full commitment, I stepped onto the ice and quickly power-stepped my way up, trying to maintain my upward momentum. Racing to the top, I slapped my hands on the lip and mantled to a perfect belay stance. The final section of mid-fifth class climbing was still very snowy. Several miserable pitches with snow blocking the easiest route cost us a lot of time. Since it was dark already, we chose not to hurry, shifting our focus to finding the safest route among the snow and loose rock. Several times, I found myself at a dead-end, requiring me to reverse the last few moves and find another way. This was crushing in my exhausted state! We pulled onto the summit just at 11:30pm as the temperatures dropped. Regardless, I was incredibly happy and felt no stress about our situation, just focus and joyful resolve. We could handle this. The night sky was ablaze with stars and I was living my ideal atop this massive, complex peak. We began toiling our way down the East Ridge on snow, then 4th class rock, and then a lot more snowy rock. It was extremely slow going in the dark and we settled in for a short bivouac once we found a good platform. Bouts of violent shivering and continual harassment from the local snafflehounds provided entertainment until the sun rose again. In the morning, we continued traversing the East Ridge and descended the Sherpa Glacier, which was a tedious but straightforward descent option. The hike out to the car was quite the death march, but it always seems that way! Gear Notes: Doubles from fingers to #3. Approach Notes: Approach via Mountaineer's Creek and descent via the Sherpa Glacier.
  41. 6 points
    Trip: Cerro Aconcagua - Ruta Normal Trip Date: 02/02/2020 Trip Report: Back when the world was more normal, I took a solo two week trip to Argentina to climb Aconcagua: Day 1 (Thursday January 23rd): Fly out of Seatac – Santiago - Mendoza Day 2: Land in Mendoza, get permit & supplies, drive to Penitentes (el ~8500) for the night at Hotel Ayelan Day 3: Start of climb. Hike to Confluencia (el ~11,100) Day 4: Side trip to Plaza Francia at the base of the South Face for acclimatization, second night at Confluencia Day 5: Move to Plaza de Mulas (el 14,100) Day 6: Scramble nearby Cerro Bonete (el 16,417), second night at Mulas Day 7: Carry water & gear to Camp Canada (el 16,600), third night at Mulas Day 8: Carry gear to Nido de Condores (el 18,200), fourth night at Mulas Day 9: Move to Nido, skipping over Camp Canada Day 10: Acclimatization hike to Camp Colera (el 19,700), second night at Nido Day 11 (Sunday February 2nd): Summit (el 22,841), return to Nido for the night Day 12: Descend to Mulas Day 13: Hike out, return to Mendoza, rearrange flight home Day 14: Fly out of Mendoza - Santiago – LAX - Seattle Day 15 (Thursday February 6th): Land back in Seattle It’s hard to capture two weeks in limited pictures, but here goes. The park entrance off the main highway between Mendoza and Santiago, Chile has a great view of the mountain with the summit visible as the bump on the right. With limited vacation time, I increased my time efficiency (and fuel inefficiency) by renting a car at the airport in Mendoza and driving myself around. This meant I didn’t have to faff around with bus schedules and figuring out transport to/from the trailhead, and also allowed me to get my permit in Mendoza, get some last minutes supplies of fuel, lighters, meat & cheese, and drive up to Penitentes all in the first day so I could spend my first night at elevation. As an added bonus, I drove up to the Christo de Redeemer statue on a winding mountain road to a pass at El 12,572 where I spent 30 minutes walking around at altitude. The start of the hike to Confluencia was beautiful on wide trails through grassland with the mountain dominating the view in front. Confluencia, home for my first two nights on the mountain. My North Face Assault-2 tent is barely visible near the big yellow and white domes on the lower right. The first night at Confluencia when my appetite was high, I splurged a bit and bought a nice dinner from my mule service provider. From then on out it was lots of ramen, rice, and freeze dried. To help my acclimitization, I took a side trip up to Plaza Francia and the massive South Face of Aconcagua on my second day of the climb: Heading up to Plaza de Mulas on the third day. Helicopters were a common sight shuttling gear & supplies & the occasional climber up the valley. Even more common were the mules who do the bulk of the heavy lifting. I used Grajales Expedicions mule service to carry ~50lbs worth of gear from the trailhead straight to Mulas. I was relatively cheap and well worth it. Along with shuttling your gear, it comes with filtered drinking water and toilets and trash service at Confluencia and at Mulas. Plaza de Mulas is a bustling place with tons of climbers from all over the world. There are rangers and doctors at Plaza de Mulas checking on climbers from both independent and guided climbs. I brought a pulse oximeter to periodically check my SpO2 which hovered in the 70's for much of the trip. The rangers also posted a weather report every couple days. Mulas has cell reception (Verizon) so I was also able to check mountainforecast and other websites, but invariably the ranger forecasts were more accurate. My ideal itinerary had me planned to summit on the 4th or 5th, but forecasted high winds had me push the envelope a bit and go for the summit a couple days earlier. Summit day! I got up at 2AM and was hiking by 3AM. I hiked relatively fast early on, but as I got higher my pace slower considerably. First light right below Independencia: Traversing the Gran Acarreo. By this time my pace had slowed to about 5 second rest steps. Resting at La Cueva below the Canaleta. The summit looked SO close from here, but was still over an hour away. On the summit ridge: On top about 1pm in the afternoon. I spent all of two minutes on top. I had severely rushed my acclimatization schedule because of the weather forecast, and my hypoxic addled brain was well aware that I needed to get down quickly. Looking back a couple months later and summit day is definitely a fuzzy memory. A day later back at Plaza de Mulas I splurged on the best pizza I've ever had. Mules once again carried the bulk of my gear down from PdM to the park entrance, and I had a pleasant hike out enjoying the thick air and satisfaction of a climb well done. And finally beer in Mendoza! Gear Notes: Carried an ice axe and crampons but never used either since it was an incredibly dry year. For footwear I wore trail runners all the way to Nido. For the upper mountain I used La Sportiva Baturas with Mountain Tools Supergaiters. Approach Notes: Grajales Expedicions is top notch for mule service A rental car can save a few days on the trip total if you don't have three weeks of vacation. Easy free longterm parking at the trailhead.
  42. 6 points
    Trip: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Mt. Daniel via Snoqualmie Pass (The Alpine Lakes Crest Traverse) Trip Date: 06/30/2019 Trip Report: Over the weekend, Logan and I completed a high route from Snoqualmie Pass to the summit of Mt. Daniel, traversing the remote 7,000 ft+ peaks we call the "Alpine Lakes Crest". We started at Snoqualmie, took the PCT to Chikamin, went over Chikamin, down to Iceberg Lake, up to the Overcoat Glacier, across to Summit Chief Pass, down to the Dutch Miller Gap Trail, up to La Bohn Gap, over Hinman, across to Pea Soup Lake, up Mt. Daniel and down to the Cathedral Pass Trailhead. 37 miles, 14-15k ft gain. The meat of the the trip is a spectacular 20 miles of nearly continuous off trail, above treeline travel. We didn't see a single other soul in those 20 miles. The crux was definitely traversing from the Overcoat Glacier to Summit Chief Pass. Stay high on the ridge and aim for the "key ledge" an obvious sloping ledge about 100 ft below the ridgetop that gets you through the obvious vertical cleft that splits the ridge. The scramble up to the Overcoat Glacier from Iceberg Lake was also a little cruxy near the top on the wet 2nd and 3rd class ledges. On a side note, we figured out a great alternate route up the Lynch Glacier. Climb the ridge on the west side of Pea Soup Lake to a snow finger and ascend this to the Upper Lynch Glacier. This gets you by the lower icefall, which is difficult to even access once the lake melts out. This region may not have any Bulgers, permits, or a national park to its name, but we think it is as raw, rugged, and stunning as any other part of the Cascades we have visited. We crossed four glaciers, passed dozens of sparkling lakes, and danced across remote summits. The terrain was huge: everything we dreamed of and then some. There were so many special spots I don't know where to start. And the line felt so pure and alpine. We did the traverse comfortably in two days, having to route find along the way. Our first day was 11 hours and second was just over 9, so it is definitely doable in one big push, but it is also worthy of 3 or 4 days to enjoy the marvelous spots along the way or maybe bag some more summits. If you want to get it, I'd recommend sooner rather than later because the snow cover makes all the boulder and talus less painful. For more details and beta, see: https://climberkyle.com/…/…/the-alpine-lakes-crest-traverse/ Descending Chikamin. Nice tarns on the backside of Chikamin. Iceberg Lake. Looking up to Overcoat Peak. Crossing the Overcoat Glacier. Chimney Rock. Summit Chief Pass. Little Big Chief. Williams Lake. Chain Lakes. Shoulder of Hinman. Lepul Lake and Baker in the distance. Hinman Summit views. Descending to Hinman Tarns. Hinman Tarns. Alt route: Ascend the ridge and snow finger on the right up to the Lynch Glacier. Pea Soup Lake. High on the Lynch Glacier. Daniel Summit! Daniel summit views. Racing down before the storm hits. Gear Notes: Waterproof running shoes, crampons, ice axe. Didn't bring a rope but some might want to for the Lynch Glacier. Approach Notes: PCT to Chikamin, then straight up the face.
  43. 6 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - Infinity Loop Trip Date: 06/21/2019 Trip Report: After a hard day and a half in the mountains, I'm stoked to report the Mt. Hood infinity loop goes! The past few weeks I was busy with graduation stuff and couldn't get on the mountain. Finally, on the 20th, the weather looked alright and I decided to head up to attempt the loop. My plan was to climb up Cooper Spur, run half of the Timberline trail, climb Cooper Spur again, and then run the other half of the Timberline trail. Knowing how much gear I needed, I cached some food, water, and clothes by Timberline Lodge before I started up. The rest of the supplies I would hike up with and stash at Cloud Cap Campground. At around 4 or so I arrived at the trail head to go to Cloud Cap Campground. The gate was still closed so I hiked up the trail to camp in about an hour and half. The weather was pretty nice despite some wind and clouds surrounding the summit of the mountain. I was all alone at camp which is always welcome. After eating some dehydrated pad thai, I was asleep before the sun set. The beautiful approach hike 4 am rolls around and my alarm goes off. I throw some food in my small pack and head up trail. Everything is going pretty good until I start the switchbacking up to the route. Visibility could have been better, the wind was howling, and I was pretty cold. The tee shirt plus R1 was probably not the best clothing choice for the conditions that day. When I got to tie in rock, I hid behind it and warmed up for a few minutes. Having never been on Cooper Spur before, I was surprised at the type of climbing. The first few thousand feet were basically a moderately steep snow slope, however, the last 600 or so involved thin ice climbing, mixed moves, and lots of exposed rock. I was glad I decided to bring 2 tools. After about 3 and a half hours I was on the summit. There still wasn't any visibility but the wind was gone. I cruised down the old chute and was at Timberline by the early afternoon. Part of the trail up Summit selfie When I got to my cache, I put on running shorts, ditched the boots, crampons, and stocked up on more GU and water. I decided to take the west side of the Timberline Trail first, the west side was longer and would provide less down time before the second summit. The first few miles of the trail were pretty snowy but after Paradise Park it was largely dry. It was pretty wet and fog obscured any scenic view. I think I made it to camp around 7 pm that night, the first climb slowed down my pace on the trail significantly. At camp, I was no longer alone. Apparently the gate opened that day! I was stoked because I could hitch a ride down after my trip instead of hiking back out. After eating some apples and changing into climbing stuff again, I was off on the second lap. This time conditions were absolutely perfect. Clear skies and no wind allowed me to enjoy the stars and see the lights of the city. That view will never get old. This time it took me about 6 hours to reach the summit. I took liberal breaks because I didn't want to be tired for the mixed section. At 2:30, I was on the summit for the second time in 24 hours. It was quiet, clear, and very enjoyable. This time, the descent was harder. The hard snow put a number on my knees during the descent. At this point, the lack of sleep was catching up to me. Cool rock I saw The stunning, but haunted Ramona Falls Creek crossing with huge carin Enjoying better conditions later in the day When I made it back down to Timberline, I had 16 more miles to go. My legs felt surprisingly fresh when I headed out. The first 6 miles or so were cruiser, however, intermittent snow slowed me down on the last little bit. I made it back to the parking lot after 32 hours, 28 minutes, and 8 seconds. This trip was one of my favorites in recent memory. I hope the infinity loop catches on on Mt. Hood. I would love to see some hardmen knock down the time. In total it was 56.65 miles and 20,445 feet of elevation gain. Get after it Gear Notes: Tee shirt and R1 Approach Notes: Road to Cloud Cap is now open
  44. 6 points
    Trip: Bolivia - Cordillera Real - Pequeño Alpamayo, Cabeza de Condor, Huayna Potosí, Illampu, and Illimani Trip Date: 05/26/2019 Trip Report: I just returned from a 3-week climbing trip to Bolvia and figured some folks here would be interested in hearing about the climbing down there. We stayed mostly healthy, had perfect weather and conditions, and the logistics went smoothly, which made it possible to pack in a lot of climbs: May 26 - Arrive in La Paz May 28 - Pequeño Alpamayo (17,618') - West-Southwest Ridge (III, AD) May 30 - Cabeza de Condor (18,530') - Southwest Ridge (III, AD+) June 2 - Huayna Potosí (19,974') - French Direct Route (III, AD+) June 6 - Illampu (20,892') - Northwest Headwall to Southwest Ridge (III, AD/AD+) June 12 - Illimani (21,125') - West Spur / Normal Route (II, PD) June 15 - Depart La Paz My partner and I had previously done similar trips together to Patagonia and Peru, so we felt comfortable designing our own itinerary and climbing alone without guides. I'd recommend this for experienced climbers who appreciate a "faster and lighter" mentality (and only if you have at least one person who can speak enough Spanish to get by). We bought Yossi Brain's 1999 Bolivia Climbing Guide and found enough beta online as well. We did a healthy amount of Google Earth scanning to identify camps and approach trails too. In my trip reports linked above, I've included Strava links with our GPS tracks to save others some trouble (just ignore if you want more suspense : ). In terms of logistics, we flew into La Paz, which is crazy city of nearly a million people in a valley with another million or so on the sprawling altiplano called El Alto. The city is an interesting experience in contrasts, with everything from folks living in dirt-floored huts to a shiny cable car system. La Paz is about 12,000' depending on where you stay and El Alto is about 14,000'. We opted to rent an Airbnb in La Paz for the whole trip as a basecamp (at ~$30/night, this was pretty economical). We started in La Paz for 3 days / 2 nights to acclimate before our first objective, which we deliberately chose to be one of the shorter peaks (Pequeño Alpamayo at 17,618'). This worked well for us. We slowly ratcheted up the elevation over the course of the trip and never felt worse than headaches and throwing up breakfast once. You can hop into the links above to hear more about our experiences and the routes. I've put a few pictures in here to whet your appetite! - Jeff Gear Notes: We brought 5 pickets, 8 ice screws, some nuts, and some pins, just in case. We ended up placing pickets only once or twice on the trip and simul-climbed or simul-soloed almost all of the terrain. Approach Notes: See each trip report for some details on how we got there and a GPS track.
  45. 6 points
    Trip: Three Fingers Lookout - Meadow Mountain Trail Trip Date: 01/26/2019 Trip Report: Me and Fred took advantage of the prolonged crappy skiing to do some mountaineering for a change. We had thought about biking the closed road to the summer trail, but it didn't look that much shorter and I remembered the lower portion of the trail as being pretty crappy from years ago when I did it. With the high snow line it seemed like a good choice... not too sure now. We shouldered our snowshoes and walked from the road closure to 3900' on the Meadow Mountain Trail before we needed to put on snowshoes. The abandoned trail was in great shape, better than some maintained trails I've been on. The snow was pretty soft in the old growth and icy in clearings, so side-hilling was tough with snowshoes on, but we toiled upward. The route it turns out is circuitous in three dimensions... up and down, side to side, all around the map we went, mostly upward. At Saddle Lake we were astonished to learn it was 1 pm. Thoughts of camping early flashed through my mind - and oh yeah, I forgot a pot for the stove, so anywhere but the lookout means no tea, coffee, or mountain house dinners. Bummer. We assumed there would be some kind of pot at the lookout... If we can get in. The north side traverse was thought-provoking on firm sun crust. No-fall terrain for sure. We missed most of the sunset traversing on the north side. At dark we were within 600' of the summit. The rimed rocks of the summit area threw perspective out the window in the headlamp's beam. We seemed to fly upon rocks that seconds earlier appeared hundreds of feet above. It would have been eerie if it hadn't been for the tiredness and the ever-present thoughts of what if. What if we can't get in? What if there is no pot? We had watered up so there was little chance of death by thirst, but it would have been decidedly unpleasant. We dug for an hour and a half through multiple hard ice layers interspersed with sugary snow. It was hard work, and we didn't really know where we were digging. For future reference, the door is on the far lookers left of the building, not near the middle. In short, we figured it out, got in, and spent a lovely night lying about in luxury. Thanks to all the volunteers that keep this place together. Sadly one of the window panes in the door was broken out which let in a bunch of snow that piled behind the door. This made our entry tricky. We removed all the snow, but it will just come back. We couldn't figure out a way to block up the window with the supplies we had. If you go there take a bunch of duct tape or something. The hike out was uneventful, though footsore with wet socks. Next time I'll try the shortcut listed in the comments here: Fred checking out a huge log across the road: Our entry into the lookout: The view from the front door in the morning, photo by Fred: Tricky downclimbing for the first steps of the day, photo by Fred: Looking back at the summit from Tim Can Pass in the morning. The lookout is on the middle peak in the photo: We hiked down into the sea of clouds we saw from the summit: Gear Notes: Axe, crampons, snowshoes. Approach Notes: Meadow Mountain Trail from road closure.
  46. 6 points
    Trip: Kulshan - Coleman-Deming Trip Date: 01/15/2019 Trip Report: I want to give thanks and raise my hands to the Lummi Nation for this safe, successful and amazing trip into their territory and for the company of Kulshan. Drove fairly high up near the trail head with a Subaru WRX, hardly within a 10 min. walk in fact. Super awesome, just need to navigate a thick berm roughly 3 miles down from trailhead. This short distance probably saved us an hour, so starting by 0345 looked super good. Skinned maybe 15 minutes on road before reaching trailhead, transitioned into walk mode on some thin forest coverage. Trail was 95% clear until it wasn’t. Walked for around 40min – one hour before switching into touring. Gained the bottom of Heliotrope Ridge. I was able skin directly up in Magic Carpets, sadly my buddy was forced to carry with his set of mole-hairs. Upon gaining a lower terrace of the ridge, we encountered two gentleman who were super stoked on their coming attempt on Cosley-Houston route on Colfax. After stoking each-others’ fire, we parted. Shortly after we threw on ski crampons, which turned useless as I fell about 5m about hitting their tent. Sorry guys, it hurt my pride than anything. So thus, started the stair-master climb for about 1,000’ up to around 6,8000’ where we returned to the sweet skinning life. Gliding out towards the far skiers’ right of the ridge, after examining the route we pressed on maintaining a high traverse along the flanks of Coleman-Deming. Moving towards the center of the football field, encountered possible wind deposited snow, was harmless but still there. From there navigated through football field, opting for a middle-ish route, towards gaining a small hump parallel to a fatty which was slowly filled in. Containing only one real bridge crossing, it appeared to be filled in more to the right (skiers’ left) and surely with quick movement – or luck – it held, providing no gut-wrenching moments for either of us. Moving forward, the glacier turned more into terraces featuring zigzagging crevasses, although small, daunting and thinner than expected. The decision prior to the climb was to not bring crevasse kits in expectation of a larger snowpack, it will be there after this storm cycle this week but not thick enough for my taste. Thus, below the serac directly skiers’ left, we turned around. Switching back to ski mode, careful navigation down was required. Once reaching 500’ lower, we encountered the two men from around 5am – they were not so stoked this time as they were death marching along our path in boots. Anyway, continued back our ascent path, but opting for gaining the top of Heliotrope for a small photoshoot. Enjoying the clear skies and beautiful company of Kulshan, we had not failed at the end of the day. The ski down, for me, was alright. Not the best with weight on my back, it looked quite more enjoyable for my buddy though. Seems like the route would be much better all-around after a good cycle. Followed ascent path down, was able to ski a solid distance into the forest before carrying skis for maybe 20-30 min. Upon reaching the trailhead, the forest service was delightfully groomed. Back to car around 12, Bellingham 1330. Drove out to Bellingham for a fat burrito lunch and beer – highly recommend, their Mexican food options were superb. Photos courtesy of my awesome homie, Billy K., he's da man Gear Notes: Ski crampons, whippet, crampons, ice axe Approach Notes: Forest walk was alright, just bring some music.
  47. 6 points
    Trip: Noisy Diobsud/Stephen Mather Wilderness - Bacon-Hagen-Blum High Route Trip Date: 07/20/2018 Trip Report: From July 20th-23rd Dave, Darren, Matt and I traverse from Anderson Lakes to Blum Creek summiting Bacon, Hagen and Blum along the way. The route is characterized by excellent views of the Baker and Sister Range to the west the the National Park to the east. Awesome camp sites and outstanding alpine lakes make this a most memorable route. Brush bashing wasn't all that severe save the walk down Blum Ridge to Baker River. You won't find me walking up that route anytime soon. I have been doing trips with these guys for nearly 20 years and I am ever thankful for the friendships and the adventures over the years. I would like to have an intense conversation with the douchbag that left a pile of trash shoved under a rock and shitty TP strewn about at the high camp SW of Bacon. Beer cans and mountain outhouse bags don't decompose and it doesn't seem that difficult to pack out your trash. Alpine eye candy Gear Notes: Ice axe, light crampons, and glacier rope. Approach Notes: Anderson Lakes to north side of Mount Watson.
  48. 6 points
    Hey CC.com! I'm proud to announce the release of Snoqualmie Rock. After 5 years of research, writing, and review, this comprehensive guidebook for the I-90 corridor is finally complete. It covers well over 700 routes from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass at over 60 crags. You'll find it in stores this June, but you can pre-order your own copy now at www.snoqualmierock.com See you all at the crags!
  49. 6 points
    Trip: Chair Pk - NW Ridge Trip Date: 02/11/2018 Trip Report: More fun in winter I thought, especially with the amazing conditions. More alpine ice well adhered to the rock than I've ever seen in the Snoq area, neve even! Don, my long time climbing partner, and I had a blast in this puppy yesterday. The last 10' of the first pitch gaining the ridge was a good opener. The second pitch we traversed on the south side of the ridge up to a small notch with a chockstone, then up a short runout slab then a downward traverse to a small tree belay on the right. The third pitch went straight up to a steep hard (for me anyway) chimney topping out on the crest. Fantastic hooking! Running belay along the sharp crest and on to the top. I hope folks got out and got some in these incredible conditions! Left side of N face (yep, that's all good alpine ice and neve!): N Face route: 1st pitch top out: Don on runout slab (red dot), belay tree barely visible down and right: 3rd pitch: Looking down 3rd pitch top out: Running belay toward top: Gear Notes: Rock rack, no pins or screws needed Approach Notes: Casual, no floatation needed/wanted
  50. 6 points
    Trip: Morocco, South Africa - multiple Trip Date: 12/30/2017 Trip Report: Africa Sampler Got a chance to do two Africa climbing trips this past year: two weeks in Morocco in May and two weeks in South Africa over Christmas. Polar opposites and not just in their location on the continent; the climbing in the two places could not have been any more different: bolted cracks vs. trad protected faces; well-traveled limestone vs. overgrown sandstone; easy approaches vs. steep bushwhacks; lots of climbers vs. none; sweet tea vs. booze. In Morocco, we checked out Taghia (pretty place but the really stunning lines were too hard for us) and Todra (less dramatic but with more moderates); in South Africa, we stuck to the Western Cape Province. We knew that Morocco had big walls with long climbs but were surprised to find 500 meter tall faces in the Western Cape. Morocco was easily self-organized. South Africa would’ve been as well until I stumbled onto a website describing some long traditional climbs in places I’ve never heard of. Ended up hiring the admin of that site and longtime local climber, Ross, to be our “fixer” – take us to those obscure gems but let us climb them on our own. Both places represent the easier shade of Africa travel – no coup d'etats, no jihadists. Though a community Facebook page called “Snakes Of South Africa” – where the good folks share their serpent run-ins – had us paranoid to the point of buying “snake gaiters”. People do get bitten and some die every summer in SA, particularly in rural areas. No mambas in Western Cape but almost everything else on the list. More spray and more photos on our site. Morocco South Africa Some Pics: Arriving in Marrakesh: Roadside eatery. Key beta: bring Tabasco sauce (family sized bottle is best). From Marrakesh, you drive 3ish hours into the Atlas Mountains where the road ends in the village of Zaouia Ahansal. From here, you hike 2 hours into the village of Taghia while a donkey carries your gear. First views of the climbing. Hiking through Taghia village to the climbing. Next day we climbed what is probably the easiest route there (6 pitch, 6a+) called La Reve d’Aicha. Looking up at Paroi des Sources (left) and Taoujdad. Did the first 4 (of 8) pitches of this l’Allumeur Du Reve Berbere route. Bailed off as it was baking in the sun and already plenty hard for us. Berber bridges. Some light canyoneering on a rest day. Views of Taoujdad. An 8 pitch line called El Geonauta on Taoujdad. Which features some spelunking. Arriving on the summit of Taoujdad Weren’t super thrilled with climbing in Taghia (hard) and so we decided to relocate to Todra Gorge. Apparently the scenic way to do this is to hike across the Atlas Mountains (35+km or about 12ish hours) which then puts you within a 2hr taxi ride of Todra. This unlucky donkey got to carry our junk on this little hike. A Berber family doing their own high mountain crossing. I woke up feeling sick the morning of the hike and so was dragging ass behind the donkey, his owner, and Shirley…have not suffered like that in a while. Village of Oussikis on the far side of the hike…Alhamdulillah!! Storks nesting atop a minaret of a mosque was a common sight. Town of Boumalne on the drive to Todra. We stayed in a guest house outside the gorge in Todra. The owner’s son is a climber and actively putting up new routes. But we were the only guests. An aqueduct at the mouth of Todra Gorge. Starting up a route called Tiwira, 6 pitch 6a+. Some views. Hiking off. Checking out the local Kasbah. Voie Abert climbs this pillar inside the gorge in about 8 or 10 pitches (6a+). High on the route. A large and old Kasbah Ait Benhaddou near the city of Ouarzazate. More Kasbah sights. At a roadside café. Maybe I cannot onsight Taghia’s 6b+, but I can sure put away watermelon like a mother… Souk in Marrakesh. Cat selling gold in the souk. Animal abuse at the Jamaa el Fna square in Marrakesh. Welcoming alcohol back in our lives during an overnight layover in Amsterdam. Amsterdam. And Amsterdam (man, those black shoes totally clash with the outfit). Shirley looking for a toilet during a long layover in London on the way to Cape Town. Arriving in Cape Town with Table Mountain in background: Final portion of a 3h approach to a route called Mooloo Face the following day – prow of the buttress visible at the head of the gully. 20+ pitches per description but easily linked into <10. Stretching our 70 meter cords and linking the first handful of pitches. I’m near the top & Shirley is belaying below. Photo by our “fixer” Ross. Arriving on top. Jonkershoek Twins (home of Mooloo Face). Freshly shed Cape cobra skin seen on approach. Hiking into Duiwelskloof with 500 meter walls towering above. We’d spend two nights there and climb a long (18 pitch) route called Lucifer the following day. Low on Lucifer the following morning. Shirley on Lucifer with Devil’s Tooth in the background. Crux of Lucifer. Note the 2 micro cam belay anchor. Very trad: ~500 meters of climbing and only fixed shit we saw were 2 ancient pins (2 more than on Mooloo). Money traverse pitch high on Lucifer. Shirley on the upper third. Hike off from the top was loooong but scenic. Kind of like Resolution Arete but with more time spent on top of the wall traversing rolling summits to access the descent gully. Ready for a beer. Snakes were never far from our minds. Did a bit of sightseeing during a 2 day break over Christmas. African penguin at Boulders Beach. Table Mountain from Cape Town. Some cragging at a place called Paarl Rocks – a collection of large granite domes sitting on top of a large hill. This is an area classic called Sands Of Time (4 pitches and about 5.9). Shirley and I on pitch 3. Photo by Ross. Did 2 routes in this here Yellowwood Amphitheater of Du Toits Kloof Mountains. Crux of a route called Lekker Time. Photo from the base by Ross. One more from Lekker Time (Afrikaans for Good Time). Four evening’s worth of sending. For the final climb, we hiked up to one of the Apostles (buttresses) of Table Mountain to climb Slangooli Frontal route. Morning approach. Ho-hum climbing mostly but with great views. A bit of vertical bushwhacking. The scenic hike down. Cape Town sights. Gear Notes: Bring Tabasco esp. for Morocco. No trad in Morocco (where we went); Mostly trad in Western Cape. Approach Notes: A mixed bag.
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