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  1. 18 points
    Trip: North Cascades - Sloan Peak - Superalpine (WI3-4, 1000') 04/17/2022 Trip Date: 04/17/2022 Trip Report: Fabien and I climbed Superalpine this past Sunday and topped out on Sloan peak. History: This route was attempted on 02/28/2020 by Kyle and Porter and on 03/15/2020 by Porter and Tavish We left Saturday afternoon, got the car to about 2000ft on FS 4096 just before the snow became continuous. We skinned in with overnight gear and setup camp near a small accessible stream feeding Bedal Creek at 3600ft. Sunday we woke up at 4:00 a.m. and we're breaking trail soon after. We found an easy crossing across the creek at 3950ft and stayed climber's right of the moraine to avoid being in an avy path until we were forced back in the forest. We started seeing the route peeking through the trees and reached the large snow field below the West face of Sloan peak. We approached up to the base of a left leading couloir and stashed the skis there (A). Route: We booted up the couloir, encountered a small step (B) and roped up at (C). (C-D) Short WI4 followed by easier climbing. Careful with rope drag on the rock if the belayer is in the sheltered area before the ice. (D-E) Short ice steps separated by snow. Setup an anchor on the right side at (E) (E-F) Left leaning ice staircase in what looks like a dihedral. (F-G) Snow up to a belay stance in a 5ft step. (G-H) Small ice step then snow up to belay in thin ice. (H-I) Mostly snow with some good ice screw placements. Belayed off a snow anchor. (I-J) 30ft of Easy mixed climbing. Placed cams 0.5 to 1 and made a snow anchor on a wind hardened snow fin: (J-K) Snow bowl. This can have a lot of sluffing and is dangerous if the snow is unstable. We were able to follow a path up that had already sluffed away. It was mostly the top 2in of snow that had fallen the previous night. (K-L) Snow bowl up to a notch on the ridge slightly climbers right (L-M) About 200ft of ridge traverse to the summit. Descent: (J-N) We decided to go down the snow ramp on the other side of the mountain that the corksrew follows for a bit. We aimed for a gendarme (Below the N). From there we did one 30M rappel off and traversed under the gendarme to the corkscrew route (O). By then the East side of Sloan Peak was in the shade and we found good snow to front-point sideways and down a ramp for almost 1000ft. (650ft elevation loss) There was a moat at the bottom which we negotiated skier's right. We had brought two poles up for the next section that involved wallowing across the bottom of the SE face to reach the South ridge of Sloan at 6750ft. (P) From there, we headed back to the W ridge near where the route starts (Q). It doesn't look like it can be traversed easily a first but there's a passage around 6100ft. At this point, we could see our skis and felt like it was in the bag. The chute skied amazingly well but once we reached the snow field, the snow had started to crust making it quite hard to turn. We arrived back at camp at dark pretty tired. Since we both had engagements on Monday, we slept until 4:00 a.m then skied most of the way back and made it home by 11:00 a.m. Overall, this is a fun route when the conditions are there. The snow bowl at the top is probably the most dangerous part of the route when the snow is unstable. It may be possible to bypass by staying on the ridge (Probably from J). Strava GPX Enjoy! Gear Notes: Gear: 11 ice screws (Used all) 8 draws 2 pre-rigged quads 0.3 - 2" cams 1 picket (2 would be better) Small Nuts (Unused) Approach Notes: Drive from Darrington while Bedal pass is closed. High clearance vehicle recommended for FS 4096
  2. 13 points
    Trip: Forbidden Peak Winter Ascent - West Ridge Trip Date: 01/23/2022 Trip Report: Forbidden Peak (8,815ft) via West Ridge Jan 22-23, 2022 Duncan and Eric On the summit (photo by Duncan) Forbidden Peak is a classic peak in the North Cascades and a very popular summer climb. All routes to the summit are technical, and glaciers flank the cliffs at its base. The West Ridge route is listed in the 50 classic climbs of North America and can be quite crowded in the summer. But winter is a different story. In the winter the approach road, Cascade River Road, is generally snowed over and unplowed, adding many miles to the approach just to get to the trailhead. Snow and rime covers the route, with potential cornices on ridges, cracks filled with ice, and more challenging weather. Forbidden Peak was first climbed in winter by Catellani and Corriveau in February 1981 via the west ridge. There was also an ascent to the false west summit via the west ridge in March 1968 by Sumner, Bertulis, and Williamson. I haven’t been able to find accounts of winter ascents since the 1981 FWA, though. (I would be very interested to hear about other winter ascents). The route I’m working on climbing the Bulgers in winter and Forbidden is one of the toughest peaks on the list this time of year. I’d previously climbed it via the west ridge in August 2018 with Katie, and remembered it being fun but crowded, even mid week. Duncan was also interested in climbing Forbidden in the winter, and we started planning for the ascent in December 2020. The first question was which route to take. We looked over aerial photos from John Scurlock on various winter dates and it looked like the west ridge was generally less corniced than the north or east ridges. This made sense, since the winds generally come from the west which means the west ridge would be windward and the north and east ridges leeward. The south face was another option, though the routes there are more technical. Given that the only winter ascent we knew about was via the west ridge, and we had each already climbed that route in summer, we decided that was the route to try in the winter. The approach involved climbing some steep snow slopes, so we needed to wait for stable snow conditions and stable weather. Those stars seldom align west of the crest in winter, but in late December the window arrived. Our highpoint on the ridge in December 2020 On December 27, 2020 we were able to drive to milepost 16 on cascade river road. From there we mountain biked to just past the Eldorado lot, then skied up to Boston Basin. The next morning we climbed the snow couloir variation to the notch on the west ridge. Duncan then led a ropelength along the ridge, but couldn’t get any gear in. The cracks were too full of ice and rime for cams or pitons to stick. We reluctantly bailed and skied and biked out. We hadn’t given up on Forbidden in winter, though. With time and reflection we decided we could return with different gear and hope for better conditions. In late January, 2022 conditions again aligned for an attempt. The snowpack had been reset with warm temperatures followed by stable weather, and we were optimistic about fast and safe travel conditions. However, getting to the trailhead might be difficult. The approach on Cascade River Road can be tricky in the winter. We’d gotten lucky in December 2020 that we could drive so far in. But in my experience in winter, snow generally starts around the hidden lakes lookout turnoff. It is not always continuous, though. The road goes up to 1800ft beyond this turnoff, then drops to 1400ft afterwards before climbing again. The snow can be deep on the hill and then the road can be completely melted out after the hill. This was the case when I skied in with Matthew in early March 2020 up to the Cascade Pass area. The problem with these conditions is the snow can be too deep to drive through, but the melted out portion can be tough to get through with a snowmobile. So it’s not clear what the best way through is. NOHRSC snow coverage prediction map for the weekend This time there had been a lowland snow event from early January that apparently hadn’t yet melted out, meaning we could maybe snowmobile to the trailhead to make for a quick road approach. Recent satellite images and NOHRSC snow coverage maps showed nearly continuous snow all the way from Marblemount. A friend had told me in mid January deep snow started at milepost 5 on the road. In theory that sounded like it would be possible to snowmobile in on continuous snow all the way to the trailhead. But I still wanted to be cautious. Unlike east of the crest, on the west side roads often see less snowmobile traffic and aren’t necessarily groomed or cleared in winter. I remembered in March 2020 Cascade River Road had tons of blowdowns on it. That could derail the approach if the road was covered in blowdowns. Just the previous weekend I’d snowmobiled up a road near Winthrop (to climb Cathedral and Amphitheater) and been blocked by blowdowns that would take too long to axe out. Just to be safe, this time I bought a chainsaw I’d plan to bring for cascade river road to supplement my ax. I’ve actually spent a summer on trail crew cutting out trees in the Sierras in 2006, so hoped I could put those skills to use if needed. Most recent available clear satellite image from sentinal hub Melted out road sections could still be problematic, since they would cause the snowmobile to overheat and could break the skis. NOHRSC was showing trace amounts of snow in some low-elevation sections. I had previously installed retractable wheels on the skis on my snowmobile so I could get through long pavement sections without damaging the carbides (I had one of those break off last November). I also installed two sets of ice scratchers (tunnel and rail) to help with overheating if it was patchy ice on melted out sections. It looked like the weekend of Jan 22-23 was finally time to pull the trigger on the trip again. This time we planned to do gear a little differently than our previous winter attempt. We decided to bring snowshoes instead of skis since it appeared conditions would be very icy and firm below treeline. I’ve broken a ski in half in conditions like this in the past, and wanted to avoid that. For the route we would bring pickets, screws, cams, nuts, hexes, and pitons. Hopefully this would allow us to protect the route somehow. Instead of one mountaineering ax I would bring a technical ax with hammer and a hybrid ax with adz, then use umbilicals instead of leashes. I’d used the hybrid ax on Pik Pobeda last summer and it had an adjustable pinky rest and straight shaft. This meant I could ice climb up to WI3 and hook ledges for mixed climbing, but I could also slide the pinky rest up and plunge the straight shaft in the snow if needed. I would use water proof insulated Showa gloves for climbing, but also brought a backup pair of BD guide trigger finger mittens. Last summer I’d gotten frostbite on my fingers climbing Pik Pobeda, and a K2 guide I’d met in basecamp recommended these gloves for cold technical routes. It had been 5 months since my frostbite and my fingers had done fine on a short technical bit on Cathedral Peak the previous weekend, so I figured they’d be ok on this trip. Friday evening we left town after rush hour and met up at the Marblemount NCNP office. I filled out a permit, which was amazingly easy to do compared to summer time. There’s no competition in the winter. Then we loaded up in Duncan’s Tacoma to scout the road. Camping out with the sled at the edge of snowline on Cascade River Road I pulled my snowmobile on a trailer with my Forester and was nervous about turning it around. Usually I park at sno parks where turning around isn’t an issue, but this time we’d just be starting wherever the snow started, which could be on a narrow section of road. I was worried about driving up to snow, then having to back up a long distance to find a pullout. Backing up the trailer at night on a narrow rough road can be tough. We drove past the last house on the road, then it started getting full of blowdowns that were luckily sawed out. At about MP 4 we encountered patchy snow and by MP 5 it was bottoming out the Tacoma. There was a wide patch of melted-out pavement there wide enough for our purposes, so we turned around and I marked the coordinates on my phone. We then drove back to Marblemount to my forester. I drove in front this time to the scouted place and pulled over. This was my first time turning the trailer around on a narrow road in practice, though I’d planned it out in theory. I first rode the snowmobile off and parked it in the snow. Then I unhooked the trailer, then Duncan and I both picked up the front and turned the trailer around. I then turned the forester around and hooked the trailer up to it. It all worked very smoothly and I’m now less worried about turning around on a narrow road. As we were going through these shenanigans another truck pulled up. Two guys got out and said they were also planning to climb Forbidden. I was very surprised. What are the odds that a peak that hasn’t been climbed in winter in the past 40 years now has two teams going for it at the same time? It was actually great news for chances of success. They had a snowmobile and a chainsaw also, so there was increased chance of getting to the trailhead and more climbers to help break trail. All of that was very good news. Chainsawing out trees Their truck was much more capable than my forester so they said they’d continue driving a bit farther before unloading the sled. We said we’d meet them sometime in the morning. Probably whoever started second would eventually catch up to the first team sawing out trees or breaking trail anyways. By 10pm we were asleep. Saturday We optimistically assumed it would be a relatively easy day, so got a non-alpine start at 5am. We loaded up the sled, strapped the chainsaw on top for easy access, then got started. It was tough getting through the deep wheel ruts in the snow with two people on the sled, and I drove cautiously. We soon passed the other guys, who were still sleeping. After two miles we hit our first big tree across the road and I whipped out the chainsaw. I made quick work of the tree, and we pushed through. Now I realize why people don’t cut the full tree out when they are clearing a road. There’s uncertainty how many trees will be down farther along the road, and it makes sense to make the minimum cuts to get through to save time. This often means one cut and ride over the fallen tree, or two cuts where the tree is narrowest. Lots of minor blowdowns to saw out We encountered a dozen or so more places where I needed to pull out the chainsaw. I got pretty good at riding over logs, and appreciated the tips of the snowmobile skis being angled up so high to get over the logs. For a few I hopped off and squeezed the snowmobile under, flexing the windshield a bit, and for some Duncan helped lift so I could squeeze under. Progress was slow, and we were only averaging about 5mph with all the blowdown clearing. We eventually passed the hidden lakes turnoff and realized we still had a ways to go. Interestingly, the ascent up to the crest of the road at 1800ft was completely melted out down to gravel. I knew the sled was working hard taking two people and gear up the steep bare slope, and I was very worried about overheating. I swerved to hit any small patch of mud or ice, and amazingly we reached the snowy crest without overheating. The tree we couldn’t ride past In flat snowy patches I tried to gun the engine to prevent spark plug fouling and clogging, though this was probably uncomfortable for Duncan in the back. Snow was mostly continuous from there, but at milepost 15, after two hours and 10 miles riding, we hit a major obstacle. There was a massive 5ft diameter old-growth tree across the road. My 10in chainsaw had no chance. We stopped to consider our options. There was a steep mud bank on the right and a melted out steep dense forest on the left. Riding around was not an option with such little snow cover (and my limited snowmobile skills). The only way to get the snowmobile past was to build a ramp. Unfortunately, snow cover was very thin, so it would have to be mostly with debris. That sounded like it could potentially take an hour or two. We could do it, and it would be kind of fun, but there was a risk that there would be more massive trees like that farther along the road. We still had eight miles left to the trailhead, and it appeared the January storm had been capable of bringing down lots of trees. If there were more large trees like that, it could take all day to get the sled to the trailhead. Snowshoeing to the national park boundary We really needed to get to the bivy site below the climb that night, though. Back in December 2020 it had taken us seven hours to skin up from the trailhead to the bivy site below the climb. We reasoned if we snowshoed the road from there, it would be four hours to the trailhead, plust seven to the bivy. That would put us there a bit after dark, which would still work. If we spent two hours building a ramp and got the snowmobile across, but then encountered more trees like that, it was likely we wouldn’t make it to the bivy that night and would have to abandon the climb. Views near the Eldo lot We decided to park the snowmobile there and continue on foot. That sounded like it gave us the highest chance of success on summitting. I unloaded gear, turned the sled around, and packed back up. We climbed over the tree and continued down the road on snowshoes. There was another tree just behind the big one that would have taken a lot of work to saw through. And then another big tree had fallen on the bridge near the Mineral Park campground. That would have been another project to get the sled past. I think we made the right call with ditching the sled. We hiked up the road after the campground, going across melted-out south-facing sections and more blowdowns, and soon reaching the park boundary. They had installed a new gate since last time I was there (May 2021) and it was left open, though half buried in snow. There were a dozen or so more blowdowns between there and the Eldo lot, though they all would have been manageable. Hiking up with views of Johannesburg We took a break at the Eldo lot and decided to ditch a few items of gear at the outhouse to pick up on the return. It seemed important to conserve energy if at all possible given so much extra distance we had to cover. The gate was closed at the Eldo lot and a semi-permant looking sign installed that said “Gate Closed Ahead”. I wonder if it was closed all last summer. Interestingly, past the Eldo Lot there were zero blowdowns and we made quick time on the firm snow. Though there was one avy slide that would be tricky to sled past. We had great views of Johannesburg above as we climbed higher. Looking up at Boston Basin Morning Star Creek we saw the huge washout that closed the road last spring. It looks like it’ll take more work still to clear all the debris from that. In December 2020 we had skied directly down from Boston Basin down that drainage, but it involved a lot of dense bushwhacking and cliff avoidance and we decided to avoid that route. Finally by 12:30pm we reached the Boston Basin trailhead and stopped for a break. In the summer that tiny lot is always overflowing, but not in the winter. It appeared we had the whole zone to ourselves. We started up the Boston Basin trail, and snow conditions were nice and firm. We zigzagged up the old mining road, then directly up an open slope and traversed to cross Midas Creek. That appeared to be the last flowing water of the trip so we each topped off our water bottles. We then traversed across Morning Star Creek and went directly up the open slopes from there. Johannesburg at sunset By 3:30pm we popped out above treeline and were treated to amazing views of Boston Basin, the Quien-Sabe Glacier, and Johannesburg across the valley. Above treeline around 6,000ft the snow got more powdery and we actually started sinking in a bit. But we had made excellent time up to there and it looked like we would beat our 7 hour time from before. We alternated breaking trail and soon made it to the typical summer campsite in Boston Basin. This is where we’d camped in December 2020, but there was still daylight left and we recalled a flat bench higher up. Somehow we had cut our time prediction in half, likely because the snow was much more consolidated this time. We decided we wanted to minimize our ascent on summit day, so we would continue and bivy as high as possible. We wrapped around some hills and then snowshoed up the south face. The sun was setting by then and we had amazing views of Johannesburg across the valley. By 6pm we crested a small bench at 7,600ft and stopped there for the night. Sunset near the bivy site I set up my mega-mid ultralight pyramid tent and we threw out our bivy sacks inside. I like this tent since I can use hiking poles as the middle pole, and the bottom is open so I can dig it out to make lots of room. We melted a bit of snow, cooked some dinner, and were sleeping by 8pm. Sunday We wanted to get as early a start as possible with the constraint that we needed daylight for climbing on the west ridge. The snow couloir could be done in the dark, though. So we planned to climb to the col on the west ridge by sunrise and start the ridge climb then. Sunrise from the couloir We got up at 4am and left camp soon after. We snowshoed up for the first 15 minutes but then it got too steep and icy so we transitioned to crampons. I led the way kicking steps up to the rocks on the left edge of the base of the couloir. In summer I had climbed the cat scratch rock rib variation to gain the west ridge, but now that was covered in rime and snow and looked tricky to climb and protect. The snow couloir was well filled-in and worked for us last time, so we decided to go for it this time. Sunrise from the couloir In December 2020 we had wallowed up deep snow in the gully and progress was slow, but now the snow was much more consolidated and travel was quick. We decided to rope up in the gully for a few reasons. First, there were occasional bits of rime chunk falling off the rocks into the gully, and we wanted to be roped up in case a bigger chunk happened to fall. Second, it could get icy up higher as it got steeper, and a rope seemed wise. At the notch (photo by Duncan) I put in a cam and sling on the wall and we roped up. I led up kicking steps. I hugged the left wall as much as possible to stay away from the rime chunks falling down. I got a cam and nut in, but when the gully curved left it seemed like no more gear options. I pounded a picket in at the end of the rope length and we simul climbed from there. I traversed to the right edge of the couloir and was able to get gear in on the rock wall. Then at the top I traversed left under a cliff band and climbed a very steep snice section up to the crest of the cat scratch route. I was happy to have already done this part of the climb before, since I was able to avoid a dead-end variation I had taken in 2020 that had cost a bit of time. From there the slope angle eased and I marched up to the notch. I cleared out a crack in the notch, got a red cam in, and belayed Duncan up. Duncan starting up the west ridge The sun was just rising and we were still on schedule. The view was amazing of colorful snowy mountains in all directions. I peered over at Primus, Austera, and Jack to the north and over at Johannesburg, Sahale, Gunsight, and Rainier in the distance to the south. Duncan soon arrived and we stopped to take a break. I put on my big orange puffy jacket and scarfed down some food while Duncan warmed up his feet. On one of the au cheval sections (photo by Duncan) We looked up at the route and it looked almost identical to the conditions in December 2020. Luckily there were no cornices, and the false summit looked tantalizingly close. Duncan is a very strong mixed climber and we agreed he’d lead the ridge to the summit. Our plan was to simulclimb as much as possible for speed, but perhaps pitch out a few steep steps. In the summer time I recalled staying generally close to the ridge crest but often venturing onto the north face to wrap around obstacles. The north face is steep but still lower-angle than the south face. That strategy wouldn’t necessarily work in the winter, though. It looked like there were more rocks poking out on the direct ridge crest, and we would need exposed rocks to find gear options. So we would try to stay on the crest as much as possible. I belayed Duncan up and the first ropelength started on gentle snow slopes, which soon gave way to a more narrow snowy ridge crest. Near the end of the rope Duncan found an exposed rock and hammered a hex in a crack. Hexes or pitons that can be hammered in generally hold better in icy cracks than cams, and I was happy we had gear in. This was already an improvement from the last attempt. Starting up the crux tower The rope ran out, I took down the anchor, and started up. The crest stayed mostly low-angle and we slowly simul-climbed up. Duncan was generally able to get at least two pieces in per rope length, and the terrain was easy enough that this was sufficient. As we got higher the crest got narrower until it was less than a foot wide. I actually scooted au cheval in several sections, with one leg hanging off to the very exposed south face, the other on the snowy and steep north face. Sometimes if a bit of rock was exposed I’d step down onto the north face, hold onto the rock, and traverse. Me approaching the crux tower (photo by Duncan) After the au cheval stretch Duncan built an anchor and belayed me over. We were below the big step that I recalled was the crux in the summer. In the summer I recalled stepping across a gap and walking over some friction slabs below this crux, but this was all covered in snow and rime now and the friction slab was no problem. Duncan leading the crux tower I handed over the gear, flaked the rope, and put Duncan on belay. I was happy to not be leading this section in mixed conditions. Duncan got two solid pieces in and quickly made it up over the step. Then the rope ran out and it was my turn. I followed his steps in the rime, but the vertical part was tricky. I had to hook my right tool on a narrow slanting ledge while leaning left, then delicatly step left around a rock bulge onto a sloping ledge. This got me to the base of a small corner. I banged out a piton there and clipped it on my harness. Above me I was able to hook a small ledge with both tools then pull up and get my foot on an ice bulge. Above that I reached my left tool up as high as possible and could just barely hook an invisible edge of rock. I then hooked my right crampon up onto the rime and pulled myself up. The final bulge was loose snow but I jammed both picks in and pulled my way up. The crux was over. The terrain leveled out briefly and then steepened again. Duncan belayed me over to a small rock overhang and we exchanged gear again. Now I could see the false west summit and we were close. Duncan led up, kicking steps briefly on the north face to get around the bulge and continuing out of site. I started up when the rope reached me. The north face snow was pretty insecure and I was happy to have gear in above. I eventually climbed back up to the crest and noticed the south side snow was much more secure. It had likely gone through melt-freeze cycles that the north face had not. Summit panorama There were a few more au cheval sections, and then the terrain eased at the base of the false summit. In the summer I had climbed up to the false summit and downclimbed a 10ft step on the other side. But in the winter that downclimb was too sketchy. So we traversed around the false summit on the north face. This was our longest foray onto the north face and made me appreciate the ridge crest. The snow was very insecure. Some footholds held, but on others I’d break through to powder and sink down a foot. Luckily there were rocks exposed and Duncan got a piton in to protect the traverse. Me on the summit (photo by Duncan) On the other side we regained the ridge, then climbed a short narrow snow ridge to the summit. We topped out at 11am, three hours after leaving the notch, and approximately on schedule. It looked a lot different than in the summer. The summit was a steep snow pyramid and we tapped the top of it. Duncan was belaying me on the other side off two tools in the snow. The wind had picked up from the north and it was blowing spin drift all around. Luckily the air temperature wasn’t too cold (maybe upper teens), but it wasn’t a good place to hang out for too long. Duncan on the summit The views were amazing of snowy cascade peaks in all directions. To the southeast Boston and Sahale were plastered in rime ice, and the ragged ridge spread out to the north. Interestingly, there was a fairly large cornice just past the summit on the East Ridge. The north ridge looked heavily corniced also, and I think our route up the west ridge is the best way in winter. We hadn’t encountered any cornices en route (though that could change in other years). Starting the descent Looking back at me on the summit (Photo by Duncan) We stayed about 5 minutes, but wanted to get out of the spindrift and soon started heading out. I pounded in a picket and my ice ax as an anchor and belayed Duncan down. Our plan was to simul downclimb as much as possible, with a few raps on the steep steps. Duncan climbed around to the false summit and got a picture of me on the summit before heading down. I took my time on the sketchy north face traverse, then on the ridge crest on the other side I faced in and downclimbed. Downclimbing the low-angle but sharp ridge was kind of tricky. I had to face up so couldn’t easily see below me, and there wasn’t a whole lot of gear in between us so I had to be extra careful not to slip. But I had our up tracks to follow which helped. Looking for anchors We found an old rap anchor exposed at the top of the highest step, so we backed it up and clipped in. Duncan rapped first and made it to above the crux and I followed. I’m sure there is a good anchor somewhere there to rap the crux, but we couldn’t find it under all the rime and snow. So we slung a small horn sticking out toward the north face and were careful to just weight it towards the step. Duncan rapped down and I followed and we met at another gear anchor. From there I recalled in the summer rapping again down the north face and traverseing back to the ridge, but we wanted to avoid traversing the north face in the insecure snow conditions. So Duncan climbed back down the ridge to the au cheval section and started digging around for anchors. The spin drift was pretty bad with the north wind but he found a small horn that we could use to diagonally rappel back to the crest below. Duncan excavating the last rap anchor horn I climbed over and we were very careful to weight that anchor only straight down. It was fine straight down, but I suspect the wind would probably blow it away if unweighted. We rappelled diagonally down, which was tricky in the north face snow. Then Duncan got a piton in back on the ridge crest and we clipped in. It looked the ridge was lower angle from there and we decided to simul downclimb. I belayed Duncan down, but when the rope got to me I struggled to get the piton out. The snow was sliding out from under my feet and I had to swing my hammer at full arm extension to reach the piton. I banged on it for 10 minutes, but then gave up. I recalled we hadn’t used pitons below that point, so wouldn’ be necessary for the remaining climb, and was too risky to get out since once it popped out I would be far above the next piece. Final look up at the ridge from the notch I carefully unclipped the beaner and started downclimbing. There were some tricky steep snice sections and I took my time, making very careful and deliberate pick and crampon placements. I extracted the next piton no problem, and soon reached the easy snow slopes that were a short march away from the notch. We reached the notch at 2pm, so it had taken the same time up as down. The west ridge is tricky that way, since you can’t just rap the whole route and be off quickly. You have to do some climbing on the descent also. Looking up at the couloir from the bivy site We decided the fastest way down the couloir would be to simul downclimb again. I led the way, placing gear in the exact places as on the way up. This time, though, the afternoon sun was hitting the rime above the gully and even more ice chunks were falling down. The right side of the gully was like a shooting gallery, so I stayed on the left out of the danger zone. This meant fewer gear options, but I got a few intermediate pickets in. We soon reached the bottom, found our stashed snowshoes, and quickly hiked out of the danger zone and back to camp by 3pm. I breathed a big sigh of relief that the roped portion of the climb was over. But we were still a long ways from the cars. Hiking out into the sunset We spent some time melting snow, breaking down camp, and packing up. By 4pm we were hiking back down, and got to enjoy another amazing sunset over Johannesburg mountain. Our tracks had drifted over on the upper mountain, but down lower we regained them. The sun set as we descended below treeline, and conditions got steeper. I was happy not to have skis, though, since the icey breakable crust would have been challenging. In the trees the slope steepened and we took off the snowshoes to posthole down. But back at Morning Star Creek we changed back to snowshoes and followed our up tracks. By 6pm we reached the road and stopped for another break. It was much colder down in the valley, and it may have been an inversion. Hiking out looking back at Forbidden (photo by Duncan) We made good time walking down the road in snowshoes, and even remembered to pick up our stashed gear at the Eldo outhouse. I sort of expected to see tracks from someone else in there, maybe someone going into the Eldo zone, but it appeared we had been the only ones in there all weekend. Conditions hiking out were much firmer now in the dark, and we made good time. The south facing aspect of the road was more melted out around MP 16.5, but down in the valley the snow was still deep. By 9:30pm we finally reached the snowmobile and stopped for another break. We saw one other set of snowmobile tracks that got to the old growth tree and turned around. Those must have been from the other two climbers that were planning on climbing Forbidden with us. It’s understandable that they’d turn around there since it was still such a long ways from the climb. Back at the sled We strapped everything down and the sled started no problem. This time I expected a much quicker ride since we’d already chainsawed out a bunch of trees, but I was a bit concerned about the road melting out more. That could cause delays if the sled overheated. Progress was smooth in general, and I weaved around, under, and over all the familiar trees from the way in. The melted out sections had gotten a bit bigger on the west side of the 1800ft crest, but now we were going downhill and the motor didn’t overheat. Finally we got to within a few miles of the starting point and encountered deep fresh ruts in the road. That made it very difficult to balance, and at one point the sled tipped enough that Duncan jumped off. I vowed to be more careful. We soon found the culprit of the ruts – a jeep that was stuck in the snow with boot tracks heading back down. I was happy to be on a snowmobile, which seemed like the right tool for the job in those conditions. Heading home at midnight Below the jeep the melted out sections got even larger, with long sections of bare pavement. I deployed my retractable wheels and was able to steer no problem while saving the carbides. I would swerve to hit any snow patch possible, and the wheels automatically retracted on deeper snow. Somehow we made it the whole way back to the Forester without overheating at all. We were soon unloaded and had the sled back on the trailer by midnight. Unfortunately the patchy pavement/gravel conditions had worn down my ice scratchers, but I know if I didn’t have the scratchers deployed the whole time I would have overheated. They were critical when I would swerve to hit the occasional ice patch on the pavement to cool the engine. Duncan pitched a tent to camp out but I needed to get back home to give a lecture the next morning. So I headed out at midnight, and made it home by 3am. Link to more pictures Gear Notes: Pickets, pitons, hexes, nuts, cams, one screw, snowshoes Approach Notes: Snowmobile from MP 5 on Cascade River Road
  3. 11 points
    Trip: Mount Torment - North Ridge Trip Date: 08/09/2020 Trip Report: If anyone's noticed, I am not so regular at posting TRs any longer. New job, older kids, a lack of anything new to say.....the list of excuses is long. But, to be honest, this is still my favorite place in cyber-land to post vignettes of my life in the hills. So here I am, slowly plugging away at catching you all up on the riveting adventures of an aging alpine "lifer". In this installment, we pick back up in August of 2020 and on an adventure close to home for both @dberdinka and myself. Jokingly, we said that we would go on a trip wherever arcs drawn in a 60 mile radius from our homes converged. This was not absolutely true for Torment, but pretty darn close. We have an embarrassment of riches right in our own backyards! We typically only ski a few times a year together and had been talking of an alpine climb for far too long. This may have been our first time summer climbing together? But first we had to get a permit! We weren't worried about the Torment Basin zone being full, but we WERE worried about the line at the ranger station. As you all surely must know by now, a August Saturday morning at the ranger station is only slightly less crowded than Mecca during the Hajj. Since it was misting, and we only had to hike to camp, we didn't get there early, probably about 0830. We pulled number 114(??!!) and settled in for the wait. There really must be a better system than what is currently being used. I'll let you tell me exactly what in the comments below. Permit in hand we struck out in the increasingly heavy "mist" for the TH. This is the first hurdle. It isn't marked, and there isn't a lot of traffic up it to make where the trail leaves from the Cascade River Road obvious. Look for it on the left, just after the 2nd bridge over the Cascade River, past the Eldo TH. Space for one car on the right and the trail takes off steeply just across the road. It starts out vague and gets better as you get higher. Decades ago this sounds like it was a major thoroughfare, but it has fallen into obscurity. Yes, you heard me. This is a route in the Cascade River corridor where solitude on an August weekend is possible! I'll let you figure out where the trail is and where it goes, however. Good things come to those who investigate. So I'll skip ahead to arriving a few hours later in the basin. It had stopped raining but was still damp, cool, and cloudy. We wandered for a decent amount of time, looking for established camps. Finding none (obscurity!), we found a flatish slab of rock and cleared the loose stones for an OK night. It didn't help I forgot my pad at the car. D'oh! Nevermind that, I certainly couldn't complain. I was with the one and only @dberdinka on an honest to goodness climb! I was also nervous. You all know how fast, competent, and technically savvy Mr. Berdinka is- I had to buck up and look tough. The alarm went off quite early (did I expect anything else?) and @dberdinka was immediately ready, or so it seemed. I fumbled around the tent for a bit but eventually got it together and we set off in the dim mists for the col that would take us around to the North side of Torment. Be warned that you will need to do one 30m rap to get past an imposing gully of doom along the way. There is a horn for an anchor, but I'll let you find it. Obscurity! And then, you'll need to expeditiously move under and away from a non-daddy friendly ice cliff. Channel your inner Ueli: But don't worry, alpine glory aspirants, at this point you've reached the promised land! Firm rock (4th and easy 5th), outrageous position, and no other parties to ruin your wilderness experience. It really is worth the price of admission. It is an Ed Cooper climb, after all. The only downside to climbs like this, of course, is that they are over too soon. But, we have wives and kids that want us to come home at a reasonable hour, so all good things in moderation. @dberdinka looking fashionable on the summit: As with most North Cascadian summits, there was then the question of which way down? We hemmed and hawed, ultimately eschewing the standard SE face descent (how would the moat be? Would we end up like Craig Luebben?) for the wandering South Ridge (standard approach to TFT). While this isn't a terrible way up, it isn't a great way down. Lots of insecure scrambling between raps where a fall would most likely be fatal. Again, not exactly daddy friendly. But, we survived to reach our camp and the delightful meadows of Torment Basin a couple hours later. And you probably will too. So, next August, don't complain that there are crowds on "all" the classic climbs in NCNP. Go do some exploring! Gear Notes: 60m half rope, light rack, helmet, axe, crampons, etc. We used rock shoes, but you probably don't need them (we didn't know what to expect). The full alpine kit! Approach Notes: The "excellent" Torment Basin route. Green Fred details it nicely. It needs some traffic, however!
  4. 11 points
    Trip: Mount Goode - Megalodon Ridge Trip Date: 07/19/2021 Trip Report: “Hey bear!” I shout, followed by a convincing monkey call from Sean. We are only a couple hundred yards away from the trail, but swallowed deep in the eight foot tall slide alder of the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Maybe we’re off route, maybe there is no route. A couple days prior Sean and I had been throwing around ideas for the weekend. Sean was interested in something hard on CBR, while I was craving some choss and adventure. Being the great friend and partner that he is, Sean agreed to my idea of Goode, and adjusted his schedule to fit mine. Meeting at the parking lot on Sunday, I ask Sean how comfortable he is soloing most of the ridge. He’s psyched on the idea, and I’m psyched to slim down the rack. I ditch the 4 and a few other pieces. With that I grab a couple bubbly waters to stash in a creek along the way and we’re off. In classic fashion, Sean takes off jogging almost immediately, it feels so good to be moving. The hiking flies by and we soon find ourselves stumbling down an alder infested hillside down to Bridge Creek. With no obvious entry point on the other side, we start hiking upstream along the river bank until the alder overtakes us, and we’re forced to wade up stream in the biting glacier melt water. Just in time for my feet to go fully numb, I find a narrow tunnel through the brush and out of the river. After a brief bout of screaming barfies we’re off and moving again. From this point, things got a little weird. All previous reports of this route seemed intentionally vague about how to gain the ridge. The alpine basin that looked like steep meadows on the map proved to be alder choked waterfalls. After re-reading Dan’s TR, I’m pretty sure we cut up the hill too early and endured some hellish bushwacking. Following the waterfall a little further seems like a better idea. Once re-birthed from the thicket, we followed a loose low 5th class gully up to the ridge crest. Freedom at last! The trudge up the treed ridge felt like it went on for eternity. Every roll, followed by another buttress and so on. It was at this point in the day that the true enormity of Jens and Dan’s single push effort set in. We were tired, and the idea of continuing up the ridge did not appeal. Maybe with tiny packs and perfect approach beta, but even then... As we tucked in for the night, a small plane flew circles around the summit. I assumed it could only be John Scurlock. After a nice night nestled into a bed of heather, we woke with the sun and enjoyed a warm pot of coffee to start the day. The initial part of the ridge proper was phenomenal. Highly textured white stone flowed up the mountain in a stunning spine feature. This section up to the first point would be a classic route on it’s own. I can not overstate how good the rock was through this section. Just perfect scrambling. Now atop point 8200, a cold wind ripped from the shady south side, adding to the intimidation of the ominous drop off ahead. Rather than onsight down-solo into the abyss, we opted to rope up here and simul down to the notch. This section did not boast the same quality rock, but made for comfortable down climbing with adequate protection. Once down, we again unroped and began back up to SE peak. Scrambling across this ridge was an incredible experience. I found myself falling into a flow state unlike much other. The climbing isn’t too hard, nor very sustained, so you are really able to enjoy the movement. Finally below the headwall, we roped up again. I lead a long somewhat loose and scary pitch of 5.9 slightly to the right of the FA party’s route. It went, but I can’t say I recommend it. Sean then took the lead, and after bailing on a N-side option, led an incredible 55m pitch up and left through splitter corners and up a striking arete feature. This pitch onward is definitely the same route that the FA party took. The last ~70m pitch took me up a very poorly protected arete composed of brick sized loose blocks up onto the ridge. As Blake says, “no lifeguard on duty here”. Sean questing the wrong way. Now with the biggest obstacle behind us, we basked in the sun before unroping and scrambling down to the snow patch, and top of the ski line. Things had gone very smoothly up to this point, so we took our time hanging out and brewing up. Sitting there looking at the steep grey ice, and rotten gendarmes was making me nervous. We only had one chintzy light axe between the two of us and no crampons. If there wasn’t a way around, we would be in a pretty bad spot. As we scampered further up the ridge, I theorized how we could dead-man some rocks to rap down the snow and swing over to the other side. Once over the ridge, I was relieved to find a casual (albeit shitty) scree slope taking us around the back side. More scrambling took us through looser and more convoluted gendarmes up towards the Black Tooth notch. Roping up one last time, I lead down and around the final gendarme into black tooth notch. I found this pitch to be easier than the proposed 5.10 grade, probably 5.8 or 5.9 and truly well protected. Maybe after 11 hours of FA questing with big packs this could feel like 10-. A short simul block took us to the summit and nap time! Having mentally prepared for an epic 12+ hour day, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive on the summit in the early afternoon with plenty of day to spare. We had full water bottles and a full seven hours to nap and enjoy the views. Life is Goode! The descent sucked, and the hike out only sucked for the last hour. Too many good photos to share in this TR. Our full photo album can be found HERE Gear Notes: If Simuling/pitching out most of the ridge Double rack .1-2 Single 3&4. If scrambling all but the cruxes, a single rack .1-3 should be fine. Small cams in the .1-.2 range are most useful. Fish themed snacks. Approach Notes: IDK, try and gain the ridge as soon as possible? Follow the waterfall? Maybe someone who has done it right will chime in.
  5. 10 points
    Trip: Northern Pickets - Mt. Challenger Middle Peak & FA of SW Ridge of Challenger 5 (Peak 7,696) Trip Date: 08/18/2021 Trip Report: Northern Pickets, image pulled from publicly accessible Google Book Preview of Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol. 3. The SW Ridge of Peak 7,696 is the righthand skyline. Fair use intended. TL;DR: Climbing partners Joe Manning (manninjo) and Joseph Montange ventured up the wild and rugged Baker River valley in mid-August 2021, seeking a shortcut into the Northern Pickets. After several days of travel, we climbed a very fun, new, five pitch, 750', 5.7 route on the Mount Challenger massif, the Southwest Ridge of Peak 7,696 (aka Challenger 5). Baker River Mandatory wading on day 1 starts several miles upriver Time to go to the beach! It’ll be fun: miles of sandbars and loads of deep blue swimming holes. Wading up the river in tennies. Getting to curl our toes in the sand. Sounds promising as a way to approach the remote and reasonably inaccessible Picket Range. Relaxing, beachy-type vacations are not my norm, so the Baker River seemed like the best of both worlds. Get the summertime water fix AND have an adventure scoping out the “direct” route into the Northern Pickets. The approach, documented in the 1968 Tabor and Crowder guide, has no record of folks actually going all the way in that way in the last 50 years. I’m sure some folks have, only to be swallowed by brush and never seen again. Mike Layton wrote in 2006 that John Roper “thoroughly sandbagged” him and Wayne Wallace on their approach to Spectre Peak by suggesting the Baker River. Following “six hours to travel a mile and a half along the Baker River we bailed. Ahead were three more miles of rain, brush, and swift water followed by a 5000-ft climb to the ridge… after our eight-hour false start, we dragged our soggy asses and 25-lb packs to the Hannegan Pass parking lot to restart the trip.” Pioneer Ridge (center-right) and the confluence of Bald Eagle Creek and Baker River For our part, we wanted to push beyond the Pioneer Ridge version of the Baker River approach and continue up the river, to the confluence of Picket and Mineral Creeks. From here, a spur ascending all the way to the Mt. Challenger massif would provide an escalator into the alpine. In fact, after all the beach time, we’d probably need to burn off some of those beach-induced calories. In all seriousness, there’s really no easy way into the western side of Northern Pickets. For a fit and competent party, stocked with full climbing kit and several days of food, Easy Ridge, Whatcom Pass and Peak, Eiley Wiley, even carrying over Fury all take at least two days. Sometimes fast and light parties get to Perfect Pass in a day for a two-night blitz of Mt. Challenger. But if you want to do something on the west side of Spectre, Phantom, Ghost, Crooked Thumb, anything on the south side of Challenger, it's two days just to get there (and two more to hike out). It was with this knowledge that we set off up the Baker River, hoping to find the equivalent of the Northwest Passage into the Northern Pickets. While we may not have found quite that, we did get to spend several days in one of the most rugged, wild, untrammeled and primeval wilderness areas this side of Alaska. The fact that access started less than a 90-minute drive from home was remarkable. The sheer quantity and apparent quality of the granite cliffs spilling off the sides of Pioneer and Mineral Ridges is mind boggling. It’s a beautiful looking mix of Index town walls, Squamish, Darrington, Yosemite, name any notable granite bigwall area. Were it not for a lack of trails and fixed anchor ban in the park, this zone would be a serious destination. As it exists today, it's worth admiring the incredible views every step of the way in. Just don’t forget to watch your step along the way. For folks who find off-trail travel “not so bad,” the stats are compelling. It's less than half the distance of any other way into the range, and less than half the elevation gain. There is no penalizing elevation loss. The approach lacks the objective hazards (e.g. icefall traversing around Whatcom Peak) and subjective hazards (e.g. exposed, loose scrambling over Whatcom or across the Imperfect Impasse) one would find coming in from other directions. The Baker River is a late season approach - the river needs to be low enough to regularly ford and wade. Most of the river walking we did was shin to knee deep. A pair of low top mesh approach shoes worked perfectly to hike in and out of the river. We got waist deep in the river once or twice, though that may have been avoidable. Make sure you line your pack with a garbage bag or other waterproofing. Sections of mandatory bushwhacking punctuate the river walking There is unavoidable brush, including some that registers as “BW5” on the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack scale. As with most off-trail approaches, the bushwhacking was far worse going in than coming out. Only a handful of times did patience grow thin and tempers flare due to frustrating travel conditions. Another dead end in the brush led Joseph to remark that “it wouldn’t be an adventure if there were no doubts.” At this point, with the hour growing late on the first day, we were having some serious doubts about the viability of the approach. After a breather and channeling the power of positive thinking, we made it through the worst of the brush and found ourselves a mossy camp in open forest next to a brook and several large boulders. With full packs loaded for climbing out of a base camp, it took about the same amount of time to go in this way compared to past experience with the more-frequently documented approaches. The crux of the approach, encountered on day two for us, was the wooded spur above the confluence of Mineral Creek/Baker River and Picket Creek. The wooded spur with approximate line and color showing slope angle It starts out innocuously enough. Low angle, brush-free walking past ancient cedars the size of skyscrapers, some well over 15 feet in diameter, soon gives way to steeper and steeper hillside. In what could be the toughest 2,000 feet of elevation gain anywhere, you’ll fight insanely thick brush, mostly saplings and huckleberries, all at a gradient of over 30 degrees, while dodging cliffs including a significant band at about 4,000 feet elevation. Helmets and dirt-ponning may feel necessary to descend safely. Steep huckleberry Typical brush thickness on the wooded spur Several cliff bands are hidden in the brush of the wooded spur Perhaps the effort overall is greater going off trail, though that is going to vary individual to individual. Climbers with their brushmaster degrees, good route finding skills and smaller, lighter packs could conceivably make it to the Challenger 4/5 col or Phantom alp slope camp (or pretty close) in a single big day via Baker River. We broke out of treeline on the afternoon of our second day, hiking into a thickening misty fog. Wonderful camping exists there on grass patches among the heather fields next to perfect 250 gallon tarns. Bring a water filter for the tarn water. Camping on a natural grass tent pad next to water around 4,900 ft Our third day, we woke up to driving rain - not the forecast we hiked in with. It broke into a light drizzle by midmorning and up the alp slope ridge we went, reconning for a higher camp. By midday, an updated forecast gave us a limited window to climb the next day only, August 18th. Chance of showers returned the afternoon of the following day, August 19th. Being well provisioned for several days of rock climbing, the change in weather was disappointing but we’d have to make due. Resigned to the revised forecast; Mineral Mt. in background As I’ve learned in the Pickets, 20 or 30% chance of showers is pretty much 100% chance of rain and low-to-no visibility. We ended up moving camp on day three just a half mile further up the ridge, to a larger patch of grass with an even deeper little tarn and mystifying views of Whatcom Peak, Mineral, Shuksan, Baker/Kulshan and numerous other mountains. We elected to leave base camp there on the ridge around 5,200 ft and go light above. Camp 2 on the ridge, Whatcom Peak in the mist and Perfect Pass at center right We had big (for us) ambitions for our week, yet somehow even the best-laid plans seemed to get waylaid by weather and slowed down by river crossings, vine maple, cliffs, huckleberry, and route finding. Southwest Ridge of Challenger 5 (Peak 7,696), 5.7, 5 Pitches, 750’, Grade II Rock climbing can be just plain Type I fun. You’re outside, with good company, in good weather, using your brain and body to briefly overcome gravity, dancing with the minerals, having a jolly ‘ol time. For whatever reason, granite especially lends itself to this kind of climbing. Joseph contemplating existence on the summit of Mt. Challenger's Middle Peak After scrambling Mt. Challenger’s Middle Peak on day four, Wednesday morning, August 18th, and considering different options for more climbing, we circled back to the south face of Challenger 5 to scope out some pretty neat looking rock. The granite was white to dark with a golden burnt orange in places, peppered with blocks, flakes, and large chicken heads. Fun scrambling to contour back west under Challenger 5's south face Anywhere else these cliffs would be stacked with moderate trad lines. We contoured all the way around the south face until there was nowhere left to go. The southwest ridge dropped off down the imposing west face. Above, a distinct ridgeline ambled up towards the summit. Belay at start of route The route started from a broad, jumbled, and blocky ledge system roughly where the seasonal snow line of the SW ridge ends and the more black, lichen-stained rock begins. If you were hiking directly up the ridge from below, it might be possible to add another pitch for fun, but we cast off from the highest “scramble accessible” point. Climbing on pitch 1 The first pitch went up slabs, followed by a left-facing corner with a laughably fun 5.6 hand crack. Above the corner, a good stance on a ledge set up a short finger crack to another ledge. The rock was exceptionally solid and remarkably splitter, with bomber gear exactly where you might want it. Topping out pitch 1 Starting pitch 2; camp, approach ridge, and Baker River all lower left The climbing went for four more pitches like this, ledgy yet exposed ridge climbing punctuated by fun crack segments. Every roughly 40 - 45m pitch ended at a spacious belay ledge with a slingable horn or solid crack for gear. Views and position on the peak were something to behold. Climbing on pitch 2 Pitch four was the standout, with an improbable and slightly intimidating step right onto the exposed face after a short offwidth pillar. A horizontal traverse with a few hundred feet of exposure led to a straight up crack system culminating in another perfect hand crack, which started at red camalot and ended with a good little stretch of near-vertical number 3 jamming. A final mantel ended on a flat ledge big enough to park a bus on. Awesome exposure and jamming on pitch 4 Huge belay ledge at top of pitch 4 The final 60m pitch cut hard left, off the ridge and onto the west face via an unmissable ledge system. A blocky and slightly loose gully led directly to the summit, with the headwaters of the Baker River 4,000 feet below nipping at our heels and Shuksan and Kulshan swirling in the clouds to the west. Final climbing to the summit As soon as it came in, our weather window was on the way out. Within 15 minutes of arriving on top we were getting engulfed in the mist. We’d left our axes and crampons at the base of the route, and not knowing there was a scramble route off the peak, we elected to rap the south face from the summit and contour back to our gear. In hindsight, had we carried glacier travel gear, we could have descended to the north and potentially gotten back on the glacier, climbed back up to the col, and returned that way. In any case, two raps with two ropes got us off the steep terrain. We retrieved our gear from the base and headed back down the ridge to our 5,200 ft camp, arriving just in time for an incredible sunset as the clouds broke once again. A view of our route from the approach ridge Descending on the approach ridge Back at camp Deproach With the chance of showers in the forecast, we felt good about two summits, a new route, and three nights camped out on an incredible ridge. Now all that was left to do was to reverse miles of steep, trailless wilderness back to civilization. 40 degree huckleberries on the descent Finding the "secret passage" through a major cliff band; we were prepared to rappel, yet managed to avoid it on the way down We camped at the beach for our final evening, near the confluence of Bald Eagle Creek and the Baker River. There was enough sand to walk around barefoot and relax, taking in views of Scramble Creek falls and the North Ridge of Mt. Blum. Surprisingly, someone had camped there in the days we were up high and had left a fire pit, complete with charred logs. One might think the novelty of wading down a river would wear off by the last day of the trip, but surprisingly it didn’t. Out the way out, we knocked over a handful of cairns we made for ourselves on the way in. The only other sign of people we saw was the fire scar and some fishing line at the final campsite, which we packed out. It'd be great to keep it that way for the future. My opinion is this approach is destined to remain in obscurity when “easier” approaches exist, but it is a truly direct and viable way in to the Pickets. Having the right attitude about brush would help immensely. Walking in the river beat the heck out of the alternative Take only pictures, leave only footprints In the days since, I’ve been dreaming about the walls back there, packrafting part of the deproach, scheming about another trip back into the wilderness of the great nearby. It’s adventures like these that, for me, climbing in the Cascades are all about. Many thanks to Joseph for the great company, partnership, use of photos, and willingness to try something different. Gear Notes: Extra shoes for wading, rock climbing gear to #3 camalot, crampons/ice axe for glacier travel Approach Notes: Starts from the Baker River Trailhead. See Tabor and Crowder's "Routes and Rocks in the Mt. Challenger Quadrangle" and Beckey's "Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol. 3" for more approach details.
  6. 10 points
    Trip: Phantom Peak, Northern Picket Range - West Ridge IV 5.7+ aka "WHAP" Trip Date: 07/30/2021 Trip Report: "We have a problem" stated the leader of pitch 6. He had encountered an airy and cruxy 4’+ gap in the ridge and simultaneously observed a fresh plume of wildfire smoke erupting in the distant valley that marked the return home. His partner – who could not see him or his immediate problem, but could see the smoke – shouted “What?”, seeking clarification regarding which of many possible problems they had. The leader re-shouted “WE HAVE A PROBLEM”, apparently as if over intervening seconds, a realization intensified that perhaps this was a more general statement, one readily applied to anybody that comes to this place. The first step is acceptance... They quickly concluded that bailing halfway up the ridge would not really impart any advantage to dealing with the new (to be named) Bear Creek Fire, so continued tackling the climb. The pitch 6 problem, a long span across a hundred-plus-foot gap in the ridge, was easily the hardest technical move on themostly 5.7+ route—bound to be a “classic of the range”, as oft proclaimed at each belay. The route takes the right hand skyline to the summit spike well left of center (link to an album w/ annotated pic): The leader used a nut and a sling to create a handhold for tension and a more certain move across the gap. The second on this pitch cleaned the gear, and with the benefit of long legs and a top-rope, made the balance-y stem across the gap and the next move across – probably a V0 or V1 boulder move (5.10ish), depending on leg length. Two pitches later the duo topped out on a tower and rappelled approx. 100' into a notch. Pitches 8 through 10 were on generally solid rock with a pleasurable position. A total of 10 pitches of roped climbing gave way to ~400' of soloing to the summit ridge and traversing a sharp ridge to the summit -- exhilarating. The untimely arrival of the Bear Creek fire compelled us to forego other plans for the area and head homeward. As it turns out, a rainy afternoon through the next morning would have largely scuttled those plans anyway. That same weather pattern allowed us to exit via our entry route, as the fire was a bit north of our return route--thankfully, as the other exits would have involved an even more unsavory amount of distance and logistics. Folks with a certain taste might opine that we picked a plum with this route, as it offers mostly solid rock, modest vegetation, and enjoyable movement. Some high-hanging fruit is rotting on the vine, but this one was perhaps only a little overripe. More pics below. Looking up at part of pitch 1 and a fair bit of the rest: Rolf on pitch 4: Looking down pitch 6 at a chimeric rat-beaver, a fin on the ridge, and Mt Despair in background left: From the summit ridge, a nice view of Crooked Thumb and its subpeak Ghost, w/ the many peaks of Challenger in near background: Invigorating soloing on the summit ridge: From Perfect Pass, the fabulous Baker River drainage, filled with smoke: One in the party -- not gonna say who -- repeatedly urged a fire exit of the northern pickets via the brushy Baker River, convinced that his charm and/or good looks (yeah, after two days of bushwhacking) would score us a ride back to our car. The other was deeply skeptical of this strategy. The return along Easy Ridge under an increasingly smoke-veiled sun; don't worry, if you tire of loose talus and scree, many more paranormal modes of travel await: Here's a link to an album with more pics. Summary: Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly establish a new route on Phantom via its West Ridge, aka We have a problem IV 5.7+. 10 pitches plus soloing. An obligatory John Scurlock photo of the ridge, extending toward the viewer: Gear Notes: Standard alpine rack. Also made use of tri-cams from fingers (black, pink) to thin hands. Approach Notes: Find the larger truth of the Easy Ridge approach – easy only in the middle – or take other long options. Making liberal use of granny gear with heavy-ish packs, over Wed/Thurs we took roughly 20 hours from Hannegan Pass TH to a moraine camp under Crooked Thumb/Ghost Peak. Generally budget 2 days, +/- a half day.
  7. 9 points
    Trip: Mount Torment - Moraine Lake Couloir, NW Glacier Trip Date: 04/16/2022 Trip Report: Me and the boys (@Albuquerque Fred, @thedylan, @MGraw) had a great time in the sun for the chilly weekend of April 16-17 on Mount Torment. We skied the Moraine Lake Couloir and most of the NW Glacier on Mount Torment. We were able to drive to .5 miles past the gate at the park boundary on Cascade River Road before we hit snow. We booted for about a half mile past that, then skinned to the Eldorado Trailhead. We again booted to the boulderfield at 4k as per usual, then we skinned up, crossing the ridge into Torment Basin, and to Torment Col (west of Torment). The skiing down from there was good but I was too interested in what was to come to really think much about it. The plan was to climb Torment, then ski the couloir to Moraine Lake and camp. When we got to the entrance to the couloir though the exit onto the glacier looked tough. Dylan gamely started to lead with only pickets for pro, 1 aluminum axe, and aluminum crampons, plus skis and overnight gear on his back. Just out of the belay we realized we would never have time to climb all this and make camp at a reasonable hour so Mike suggested a new plan , we would fix the line and finish the route tomorrow. Dylan got the rope up, rapped, and we skied the AMAZING couloir down to the lake. As in most features like this, the snow being good wasn't the most important part. The setting, the purity of the line, the adventure was made it rock. But the skiing was also good. Making camp at like 4pm in April was full on cushy, plenty of time to build a monster wall around the tent, drink whisky, and lounge. The next morning we booted the couloir, climbed the fixed line, and ascended the NW Glacier on Torment. We had limited beta on this but Tom Sjolseth's report said "we skinned to within 50' of the summit", easy right. Well, not so much. We ran into another short rock step, which, though easy would involve another two transitions to get past. We figured it would be after 10pm by the time we got to the car, so we bailed at 7300'. The ski was epic. Top 5 ski runs ever for sure. We will be back for the summit. The crew: Thanks for the shot Mike: Dylan scouted the scary roll over: Dylan rapping after the lead: I'm sure Fred didn't just fall: Mike and Dylan working the lower couloir: The whole thing: Dylan slays it, even in camp: If you have to boot it might as well be into the sunshine: Mike following the fixed rope: Topping out: This sucked: We should have lapped this one. Classic Cascdes: Gear Notes: 1 axe, crampons, glacier gear, avy gear, camping gear. not enough. Approach Notes: Eldo worked well, I've done Torment Basin and didn't want to do it with skis on my back.
  8. 9 points
    Trip: West Fury - Mongo Ridge Trip Date: 07/05/2021 Trip Report: In our relentless pursuit to ride the coattails of THE Wayne Wallace, Priti and I made the second ascent of Mongo Ridge (the SW Ridge of West Fury in the Northern Pickets of the North Cascades). It is a Stegasaurus ridge which rises 4,000ft over a mile from Goodell Creek punctuated by thick clusters of gendarmes that look like they’re straight out of the Karakoram. We first heard about Mongo when Wayne came to speak for a BOEALPS - Boeing Employees Alpine Society Banquet in 2015 and regaled a captive audience with his bold adventures. We warmed up Wayne's feature presentation with a talk on our trip to Patagonia climbing Aguja de l'S. Then Wayne came on stage talking about Mongo, making de l'S look like a mole-hill. Wayne climbed this route in 2006 SOLO, like a boss, questing into unknown terrain that easily could have landed him into mandatory hard free climbing. With vertiginous cliffs on both sides, he knew that bailing from the route was not an option and that he had to climb whatever the mountain presented. The difficulties on the route were up to 5.9, with an additional 5.10b pitch (a routefinding error), but the towers presented possibilities up to 5.11 if we weren’t lucky enough to have Wayne’s beta. The first ascent is one of the legendary, mythical ascents of the Cascades and even of the climbing world. After 15 years, only a handful of folks to my knowledge have even considered attempting it again. The bottom half of the ridge has four narrow towers which require you to summit and rappel in order to make vertical progress on the ridge. Long, double-rope rappels and hard technical climbing discouragingly makes it take hours just to ascent 100ft at times. Above these four towers are the “Rooster Comb” and the “Pole of Remoteness” (named by John Roper who figured it was the hardest place to get to in the lower 48). After Tower 4 and before the Rooster Comb, we scramble traversed low around each of these features and did not summit the Pole of Remoteness since it was getting dark and we did not bring bivy gear. At Wayne’s suggestion, we planned to climb camp-to-camp which was situated at the summit of East Fury. This means that while we did ascend the topographic feature of Mongo Ridge to the summit of West Fury, we did not truly climb “Wayne Wallace’s Mongo Ridge” in the manner that he climbed, including many more pitches of technical terrain. When we talked to Wayne in 2019, I told him that “Somebody needs to repeat this route, just so the world can understand what you accomplished.” It’s impossible to understand the scale of this route without being on it, competing as “one of the largest features on any mountain anywhere.” “You have to climb a major mountain [East Fury] just to start a most major climb.” Even with Wayne’s pictures and descriptions, we were still filled with dread as we attempted to route-find up each tower. While I am proud of what we did accomplish, I am still shaken at the boldness and audacity of the first ascent. Our tale should be considered a celebration of that event. Wayne called it Alpine Grade VI, but Beckey downgraded it to V deeming it (incorrectly imho) similar in commitment to Slesse NE Buttress (ref. Cascade Alpine Guide Book 3, pg. 118). We concur with Wayne's Grade VI rating, although I won't be even slightly offended if anyone wants to challenge the grade while ensconced in sofa cushions. Our itinerary: -7/3/21: 2PM boat ride from Ross Lake Resort to Big Beaver TH. Bivy in Access Creek basin. -7/4/21: Access Creek Basin to East Fury Summit. Left summit bivy in situ. -7/5/21: 23hr day camp-to-camp including Mongo Ridge and the traverse from West Fury to East Fury. -7/6/21: East Fury to Access Creek Basin -7/7/21: Access Creek Basin to Big Beaver TH. 2:30PM boat back to RLR. Here are collected links regarding Wayne's FA, for reference: https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2014/05/ http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP19/climbing-note-fury https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/21/sports/othersports/21outdoors.html http://www.alpenglow.org/nwmj/07/071_Mongo.html http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200713002?fbclid=IwAR0iS9vNBvJ1XUQPOTPIXy8eymiTsuWFHI5TJtuAvLJUNb5LknfgeYgTriI Scurlock Picture: https://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/65948954 I won't go through too much detail on our approach to Luna Col and East Fury, since it is detailed well in many other places: https://onehikeaweek.com/2020/08/02/mount-fury/ http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8021967 (specifically useful here is the traverse from East Fury to West Fury) Since we planned to do the route camp-to-camp (situated on the summit of East Fury), we studied the traverse from West Fury to East Fury in detail since we figured we'd be onsighting it in the dark to get back to camp. I will point out the "Red Ledge" (pictured above) just past Luna Col is reached by staying directly on the ridgeline from the col to begin the traverse over to East Fury. Past the Red Ledge, the next tower (called "Crux Tower" in some reports) is ascended directly via 4th class ledges and short 5.4 steps. A rope and gear would not be useful here. There is significant foreshortening here, as the route looks much more accessible as you get closer. Unless you're climbing in Winter or Spring, you will not be able to get across the bergshrund (as shown in the Beckey overlay), but instead will traverse left then right to reach the summit arête. Furthermore, the approach to the base of Mongo Ridge from East Fury's summit as discovered by Wayne is the easiest approach. While it is possible to reach Mongo's base via Picket Pass (either by navigating over Outrigger Peak "Southeast Peak" or Otto-Himmel Col), these approaches would be significantly more effort...or bushwhack for days up Goodell Creek. As you approach, notice the grey washboard streak with an overhanging gully. The route will start to the right of this feature. The 4,000ft descent from East Fury's summit may involve a lot of slab if the snow levels are low. We regret not bringing bivy gear on route. An alternative itinerary could be: -Day 1: Big Beaver TH to Luna Col -Day 2: Luna Col to Mongo Ridge Tower 1. Option to leave stove and tent on East Fury Summit as you pass by. There are no good bivouac sites on route. Just bring a sit pad and a sleeping bag and open bivy if splitter forecast. -Day 3: Tower 1 to either East Fury or Luna Col. A note on weather: The Pickets have notoriously unpredictable weather. Even with a splitter forecast, you can still have rain or even storms. Consider a tarp as backup shelter. Crossing the moat is the first crux. The moat is huge! Only found one place where it touched the rock slightly. On the approach, don't come down anything you can't go back up! Here I had to cross a giant moat (unprotectable compact snow), using both Gully tools (then passed the tools down to Priti). A picket here would have been very useful...but that's a big cost. Might have to bury a tool and rap/swing across the moat. Tower 1 was a TIME KILLER! Wayne reported a 5.8 overhang crux which we did not find. Instead we got suckered into a runout 5.10b overhang in the grey washboard gully. Recommend future parties to avoid this gully completely, and instead stay on the face to its right. Our second mistake was getting suckered into a difficult 5.8 grassy gully. Wayne later clarified that he immediately captured the ridge first, then went straight up the ridge (recommended). We started in an obvious chimney (5.6), gaining the face on the left then going right (many variations). After the chimney, we went left to the 5.10b overhanging grey gully instead of going up. It looked harder to gain the face above, but it is 5.8 if you can find Wayne's Way. The slopes to gain the ridge are all STEEP. We breathed a sigh of relief once we were on situated on the upper slopes of Tower 1, but route finding continued to be a challenge. A 30m rappel took us down to the notch between Tower 1 and 2. It seems possible to bail here back down the glacier and back up to East Fury. Perhaps the last legitimate bail option, so we considered the time and knew we would be climbing through the night. Tower 2 is only 2 pitches of 5.7 with no real route finding difficulty and went pretty quickly. The rock is REALLY loose however, so I was careful not to knock anything down on my belayer. Route lines are all approximate by the way! The first double rope rappel from Tower 2 led to the notch between Tower 2 and Tower 3. Tower 3 is the technical crux of the route and another TIME KILLER! It takes hours just to gain 100ft elevation. Once atop, it's demoralizing to look down and see the top of Tower 2 so close. Wayne reported a 5.10a bulge which I think we avoided by staying on and just right of the ridgeline. From the notch between Towers 2 and 3, a 5.4 traverse gains a grassy belay with 5 more pitches above ( 5.9 30m, 5.9 30m, 5.9 30m, 5.9 50m, 5.6 65m). Priti stopped whenever she found a good belay spot. We also hauled packs on 4 pitches expecting 5.10a climbing at any moment. It was real 5.9 climbing, consistently on decent rock for four pitches. Next time, instead of hauling just load everything into the follower pack and leave the leader with a mostly empty backpack instead. We took two backpacks on this climb to evenly distribute weight and bulk while simul-climbing. This was a good method. We consistently trended right above the belay. Higher Hiiiiiigher Hiiiiiiiiiigher Another 60m rappel deposited us to the notch between Towers 3 and 4. Finally, we got through the technical crux and we were losing sun fast! We knew we were in for an open bivy or a heartbreaking omission of the Pole of Remoteness. Tower 4 is another quick one. Two pitches, 5.9 then 5.7. It looks like really hard climbing going straight up! Instead we followed Wayne's advice and traversed out right for ~20m on 5.9 terrain with decent protection, then up following flakes and grass to a good belay. As you start climbing up, the climbing doesn't ease up, but instead is engaging, fun 5.9. Then 65m simul-climb to the summit. A final 50m rappel down to the base of the Rooster Comb. We were a bit confused here since the terrain opened up into a minefield of gendarmes. The Pole of Remoteness was indistinguishable among all of the towers. We knew we had to boogie so we took all the shortcuts that we could find. We noticed that the Rooster Comb could be bypassed on the right on low-5th terrain by taking another 30m rappel, then down climbing and traversing its Eastern flanks to a grassy gully. Wayne went up and over the Rooster Comb, not realizing there was a bypass. The Rooster Comb is very complex with several small flagpoles that required rappels. Wayne describes the final rappel off the rooster comb as a "diagonal rappel" that you can redirect off of horns, after which he flicked the rope to retrieve. There are at least two more intermediate gendarmes between the Rooster Comb and the Pole of Remoteness that we skirted around. Wayne found himself on their left side while we were on their right side. Wayne captured the upper 4th class slopes via a grassy gully (shown above). From here it's all 4th class to the "False Fury" summit. I coin the label "False Fury" because we stared at this point almost along the entire route thinking it was the West Fury Summit, but instead is fairly far from the true West Fury summit. Above is pictured our Rooster Comb bypass route which required an additional 30m rappel (or easy down climb). This was the first time we encountered snow on route, but don't count on it being there! Bring 4L water each. Southern Pickets in all their glory. Wayne traversed around the right side of the Pole of Remoteness to reach the col and summit it from the backside. To climb it directly would probably be 5 pitches of hard, loose climbing. From the notch between "False Fury" and the Pole of Remoteness, Wayne reported 1 pitch of 5.7 to reach the summit of the PoR. There is no anchor on top, so he threw a rope around a loose block and solo downclimbed, using the rope as a backup. If you are a team, consider downclimb-belaying. We sadly felt the need to skip the pole since it was total darkness by the time we got to the notch with a lot of traversing left to go. Once atop "False Fury", we couldn't find the summit register and realized that the real West Fury was maybe .25miles away separated by 4 more gendarmes, first downclimbing (or rappelling) down and right and traversing around the first gendarme, then weaving up, over, and around the others to finally reach the real West Fury summit. Glad to have put in the time to memorize the traverse beta between West and East Fury, it went off slowly but smoothly. One piece of key beta was at the end of Tower 1 (the last tower between the Fury's), you can find a secret 4th class ramp around to the North (climber's left) to find the rappel station that leads to the final push up the slopes back to East Fury. This is a 30m rope stretcher rappel, by the way! Thanks to Wayne for all of your support and encouragement! I think this route is more of a classic in the way that Hummingbird Ridge is a classic. We should really just sit back and marvel at the first ascent. It's a true Picketeering adventure, but loose rock, lack of bail options, and lack of bivy sites is pretty discouraging. The Pole of Remoteness still needs a second ascent, however! But it would a pretty doable day to get to PoR in-a-day from your East Fury bivouac by traversing high along the ridge and scrambling down from "False Fury", then reversing the route. Gear Notes: Single Rack .1 to 2, doubles .3-.75, small cams (TCU 00, TCU0). We like small cams in the Pickets! Small rack of nuts. 1 screw and 1 V-threader for glacier (didn't use). 60m single rope, 60m pull cord (three long rappels + optional pack hauling), 1 Petzl Gully (technical light ice axe) each, 10 single alpine draws, 3 double alpine draws, 1 quad, 50ft 5mm cord for rap anchors (used it all), left three caribeeners on rappel stations, steel horizontal front-point crampons. Approach Notes: Boat from Ross Lake Resort to Big Beaver Creek - Access Creek - Luna Col - East Fury - 4000ft descent on South side - Mongo Ridge - West Fury - Easy Fury
  9. 8 points
    Hey there I just put a little lipstick on this pig and moved a few things around. The site has some bigger issues, but I need @jon to help me with some of them...I just don't even have access/rights to a few things that need fixing. If you know him and love him like I do, I think it would help to reach out to him personally and let him know you still love this place . I know Jon still does too, but life is pretty crazy and can send you off different directions and cliffs...I know he has his hands full, but any psych we can send his direction will help I'm sure. But please send him some love, I know that dude loves attention! To me this place represents a lot of things, but most important to me is that it is a site/community that is not trying to suckle every last bit of personal information off you. It is free, and you are actually not the product. This place is like the early days of the internet, which has now become a weird and terrible place in my opinion (the internet, cc.com was always weird, and sometimes terrible, but in a lovable way.). This place is a throw back to the exciting times of possibility, before the corporations and criminals took it over. So as the arc of time passes, and social media sites rise and fall, I don't know what the future holds...but it has always been my goal to keep the lights on with this site. They are still on. And whilw there are less visitors than in the past (and i'm not counting the bots, nor Dru's or his 50 avatars), we still have high quality trip reports rolling in, people finding climbing partners, and great info being shared. So a huge thank you to those continuing to contribute to the site. We have had some big ballers roll through here, and we still do...and they definitely inspire. But also just the modest and "average" TRs are also awesome. The ones that make you think "I need to go check that out". I would love to get this site tuned up and upgraded and off of shit lists. I don't use Facebook myself, but if you want to share there you should be able to. Keep things simple and running and continue to be a safe place on the Internet way from the data gathering monsters. I think if we can do that, this site will thrive off that alone. I think at some point adding back to local shop advertising to help pay for the servers and forum software, but that is it. I hope you're missing this virus, and if you're not, that you recover quickly. Happy Holiday's and New year. /p.
  10. 8 points
    Trip: Mount Despair - southeast face/east ridge Trip Date: 08/14/2021 Trip Report: This is essentially the standard route for Mt Despair, approaching from the south via the Thornton and Triumph Creek basins, then traversing a third drainage (a west fork of Goodell Creek) before finally reaching the objective. Despite being such a well-known landmark, I was somewhat surprised by the scant route details I found in guidebooks or online, and wanted to post a few helpful or clarifying details for others headed this way, particularly in late-season conditions. Mount Despair was among my original list of North Cascades objectives, yet languished more than 20 years untried --- largely due to an approach sounding somewhere between grueling and grim. In particular, the travel from Triumph Creek's rim to valley bottom, somehow traversing along or across the steep lower buttress of Mount Triumph's southwestern "rampart", retained an evil mien -- and spiced the prospect with an atmosphere of morbid speculation. In the end Paul and I found a line that, while challenging, did not have the dire character we were fully expecting, and may warrant noting. [Imagery notes: we had the misfortune to venture here during a peak period of forest fire smoke, which shrouded the northern Cascades in a dry gray-brown pall and greatly diminished the scenic value of this outing; you have the misfortune to read a trip report illustrated with pictures in such conditions. Most of the route pictures that follow were taken on the last day on our way out, when the smoke-haze finally began to dissipate. I actually heightened the contrast in many of the other images, but still couldn't bring much detail out of the murk. Finally, note that in all the route images the yellow trace represents the more favorable line of travel we found in this season/conditions, whereas the pink trace are other route options that we either didn't attempt, or shouldn't have.] On prior trips I had tried both the south ridge (dividing Thornton and Damnation Creeks) and trail approaches to the 6120' col west of upper Thornton Lake, and found their times comparable. Since we were starting out amid another heat wave, we opted for the Thornton Lakes trail and its greater watering opportunities. (First view of Thornton Lakes basin on way in. Note spectral Triumph lurking faintly beyond the col leading to its celebrated NE Ridge route.) Between the lake outlet and the Thornton Lakes campsite, an obvious climbers trail departs to the right, contouring above the west shoreline of the lower lake and northerly toward the middle lake before bending hard west and ascending a forested ridge to and above timberline. (Note: On our return, we tried a more direct tread toward the Thornton Lakes camp, but after crossing some open granite barrens, the tread diverged and disappeared into a warren of trail-like runnels of sand fed by the decaying granitic hummocks above... so we didn't confirm whether/where that boot path goes through.) The climbers tread continues west well up the spur ridge, but before the final high point we departed the ridge rightward -- traversing northwest across a snowfield, then north through blocky terrain to the 6120' col on the divide between Thornton and Triumph Creeks. (this is section of traverse out of sight in view above) At 6120' saddle/col: view into next (Triumph Creek) drainage, and first glimpse of Mt Despair looming in the background. The descending traverse across talus and heather slopes of upper Triumph Creek drainage (with one hidden, raw ravine/water supply midway), toward the timbered rampart of Triumph's lower SW buttress. We aimed to take open talus as far as possible toward the stream course before the buttress, but ended up dipping unnecessarily into a few yards of dense slide alder/yellow-cedar thrash before reaching the stony streambed. In dry conditions, at least, one can stay higher and avoid that unpleasantness by contouring north through thinner alder before entering and downclimbing more of the broad, slabby stream bed. (view up stream along rampart, near top of timber at roughly 5100' elevation) (view down stream course to Triumph Creek valley bottom, ~1000' below) The uppermost timber was a bit thin on cliffy footings, so we crossed the stream and carefully downclimbed its dry slabs a couple hundred feet before entering more continuous timber. From here descending through the forest was steep but straightforward, initially straight downhill (W or SW) paralleling the stream, then angling more rightward lower in timber where the forest widens beneath a face of the buttress. The bottom (~W) edge of this rampart timber seems to end in steep drops and slabs, so we worked further to right to the far side (NW) of the timber band, where toward the downhill end we found a walk-off exit onto steep meadowy slopes leading to valley bottom. Nothing about this line was particularly difficult, but as several accounts of this traverse left us expecting something more harrowing, I wanted to add that at least in these late-season and dry conditions, that isn't necessarily one's experience here. (bottom of forest rampart, where we were finally able to exit to valley floor of Triumph Creek) (Given the reputation of the timbered rampart approach, the principal alternate I had identified was Kearney's early-season (June) route, which descends a timbered rib ~directly W/downhill of the 6120' col before traversing northward lower in Triumph Creek valley. This is my estimate of that line, which we did not attempt in the present snow-free condition, but I include here for general interest or those planning earlier-season trips.) It was evening by the time we exited the timbered rampart, and we decided to camp in the valley bottom rather than re-ascend 1000' to Triumph Pass as planned. We were able to quickly clear debris for a couple of sleeping spots next to the snout of this lingering snowfield, whose cool breath and running water made for a comfortable bivy. The next morning we continued up to Triumph Pass. This line is actually the way we descended that evening... ... but not knowing better [yet], in the morning we tried following the easy stream ravine west of the larger timber patch midway to the pass. around the corner the ravine steepened at a bedrock gorge, and it took some class 3+ scrambling--both dirty and airy--to exit the chasm and regain reasonable terrain above. From there up it was just steep heather with stringers of dry stream rocks (at this date flowing surface water vanished at least 500' below Triumph Pass). At the pass we noted several established bivy sites, though we didn't look in the timber patch camp Beckey noted just south of/below Triumph Pass (background). No water here, though it is available in the form of snow a few yards down on north side of pass. Speaking of, we found the snow on the remnant glacier (or perennial snowfield? - no sign of crevassing anywhere) to be in excellent condition--hard but not icy, and were able to quickly work down toward lake. (view north from Triumph Pass of traverse route and waiting objective) Exiting the lake basin, we immediately turned up-ridge and regained 500-600' to easily cross a gully high on good bedrock... not far below the same stream course quickly unravels into a messy, raw defile. This is also a good elevation for the continuing northward traverse above timberline. (view south from Despair over the ~2 mile approach from Triumph Pass) From the outlet of the pocket lake beneath Despair we initially ascended the timbered ridge northward out of the cirque-like basin. Where the continuous rock face on the rib to our left ended, we immediately crossed leftward over that rib to a parallel meadow-gully, which we ascended until it forked beneath an odd, oval headwall, where we again went left and followed a meadowy stream-course a short distance to coarse talus, which we ascended the remaining 800-1000' to base of the summit pyramid. We found the escarpment band below the upper face guarded by variable cliffy ramparts; we picked the most favorable looking section near center, where an area of slabby ledges promised a potential line through, but ultimately involved some exposed class 3-4 and pack-hauling before gaining the steep heather leading into the shallow boulder and bedrock basin of the upper SE face (finding our way up through the stony escarpment guarding access to Despair's upper SE face) In this season the snow-free upper face appears to offer lots of route latitude among the slabby rock outcrops, blocks, and heathered interstices. However, the right (E) side of face nearer the East Ridge looked likely to exceed scrambling terrain; we found a central line more promising, which eventually converged with and reached the East Ridge next to a conspicuous axehead step. Here we found a broad ledge wrapping around the backside of the ridge--roomy enough for a bivy site (at least for those who don't roll in their sleep). From here the route took an excursion on the shadier NE face for the better part of the remaining couple hundred feet and 15 minutes to the summit. (Initial part of route across slabby terrain of upper NE face, class 3-4 with some exposure. Note there is a hidden, narrow chimney-gully near center of image.) After down climbing a few yards from the ridgecrest ledge and crossing the hidden slot-chimney, the route bears upward and right across the blocky terrain of the NE face, till eventually regaining the crest. Here I opted to step back through to the sunnier south side, where the final crux was a 12-15' chimney-crack back up to the crest (and past a weathered rap station), then easier scrambling terrain to the summit just beyond. (view down final chimney-crack on S side of ridge) Happy to finally be on top! Since getting here already pushed beyond our turnaround time, it was a very brief summit stay, abetted by the near-absence of views. (A previously-reported summit register was not found in/around the large cairn there.) View NE past past Despair's North peak (and saddle joining the E & NE glaciers) toward shadowy hints of the snowfields in the Mt Crowder/Northern Pickets area. Descending the summit pyramid we tried the lower East Ridge and found a much more reasonable class 2-3 line that we should have taken on the way up. (This route is right on Despair's lower skyline, reaching/starting from the 6600' notch next to a distinct haystack pinnacle.) Once off the upper mountain we began the long traverse back down and around (west-) Goodell's headwater basin... in the late afternoon sun we noted that Triumph's classic features were beginning to emerge through the thinning haze. It would be twilight by the time we regained Triumph Pass, and full darkness overtook us partway down. Fortunately we'd the foresight to leave out an enormous white pointer, which guided us back to camp without incident (and once more provided cool breeze and colder water). As a final note, despite the appreciable cumulative elevation gains and losses of this approach across/through three drainages, the route described is essentially brush-free -- an uncommon pleasure for a remote objective in the North Cascades. The nearest to brush along this line is where the climbers tread around lower Thornton Lakes is somewhat overgrown, a bit (mostly avoidable) when reaching the slabby streamcourse below Triumph's rampart, and a trifle of brush amid timber on the rampart, and again on the rib leading from the pocket lake up toward Despair -- each and all notable only for their paucity. Gear Notes: ice axe, crampons, scramble rope (we only used for pack-hauling when essentially off-route) Approach Notes: south approach via Thornton Lakes and Triumph Pass
  11. 7 points
  12. 7 points
    Trip: Challenger, Crowder, N Despair - Eiley Wiley to Thornton Lakes Trip Date: 08/09/2020 Trip Report: This trip was an apex experience preceded by years of planning and dreaming. We took nine days. Thanks to Steph, Tom, and Jason for all the trip reports. Thanks to Eric and Jason for the beta. My climbing partner conceived the idea of our abbreviated traverse. The plan seemed favorable, but included two major unknowns. The first was our plan to climb over Crowder. Others had descended our climbing route (in general) and reported it as not recommended. The second was the descent from N Despair. Climbing Crowder was adventurous, loose, and included a couple pitches of 70 degree heather/moss climbing. Perhaps there is a deluxe solid line we did not find. We took the path of least resistance. I would not repeat it. The descent form N Despair was much less difficult than we imagined. Downclimb to the first notch south. One short rap, downclimb rock, then snow. Any less snow in gully would probably make it more tricky. South side of Challenger Southern Pickets and Crowder Crowder Spectre! Departing Jasper Pass for North Despair Triumph! Gear Notes: (2) 30m 8mil Approach Notes: Oof!
  13. 7 points
    Trip: Sherpa Peak - East Ridge Trip Date: 02/05/2022 Trip Report: Sherpa Peak (8,605ft) via East Ridge Feb 5-6, 2022, Eric and Nick 10 miles Snowmobiling, 18 miles skiing/climbing On the summit (photo by Nick) Sherpa Peak is an interesting technical mountain in the Enchantments area east of the Cascade crest. It is probably most famous for the huge balanced rock perched along the summit ridge. The mountain is fairly popular to climb in the summer, but becomes much more difficult in the winter. Roads to the standard trailheads on the north (stuart lake trailhead) and to the south (Esmeralda or Beverly Creek) are unplowed, adding many additional miles to the approach. Rroutes to the summit are technical, and they become much more difficult when covered in snow and ice. The route Nick and I were looking to climb Sherpa in winter, and I tried to research previous winter ascents to see what was the best winter route. I found reports of people climbing up snow couloirs on the north side in winter, but I couldn’t find reports of anyone reaching the summit, so it was unclear what the optimal route would be (I’d be very interested to hear about other winter ascents). The main routes are the west ridge and east ridge. We had both already climbed the west ridge route in summer, and it involves five or so pitches of 5th class rock. Nick had also climbed the east ridge route, which involved mostly 4th and some low 5th class climbing. Those seemed like our best options. I’ve found it’s very important for success on a winter ascent to have already done the route at least once in summer. Some people claim the balanced rock is the true highpoint of Sherpa, and this seems somewhat controversial. The balanced rock is a more difficult climb than the western summit, and most reports I’ve seen of people who have climbed the balanced rock claim it is the true highpoint. But people who don’t climb the balanced rock generally claim it is lower. In my experience the only way to know for sure is to measure the elevation difference with a sight level. Measuring the balanced rock shorter in 2017 In 2017 Katie and I climbed the west ridge route to the western summit and I brought a surveyors sight level. From the western summit I measured a 0.5 degree declination down to the top of the balanced rock, meaning the balanced rock is 2ft lower than the true western summit. Thus, I’m 100% confident the western summit is the true summit. This meant Nick and I didn’t have to worry about climbing the balanced rock on this trip (though Nick has already climbed it in summer). Our route choice then depended on the conditions. Friday there were supposed to be strong winds from the west and southwest, which might load leeward sides. This meant our best bet was to avoid the couloirs on the north and east side and access the routes from the south side. From this approach, the route to the base of the west ridge route was all low angle or southwest facing, meaning it would likely be scoured. So the west ridge would likely be very safe for snow conditions. But it would also take longer to climb with more technical pitches. Loading up at the sno park (photo by Nick) The east ridge route was accessed by climbing a south facing gully, which could potentially be cross loaded. But if snow conditions were safe the route would be faster since it had less technical climbing. Friday night we saw there had been much less snow transport than forecast, and it appeared the east ridge route might be doable. But we packed and prepared for either. We decided to bring a 60m half rope that we could double up to simul climb either route. This would let us do 30m rappels. We each brought two tools and a bunch of rock, ice, and snow protection. We would climb in ski boots and crampons. Previously this winter I climbed Forbidden in mountaineering boots, and I hadn’t done much mixed climbing in ski boots, but it seemed like it might not be that much more difficult. At the Beverly Creek trailhead To approach the route we had two options – start at Esmeralda trailhead and ski over Longs Pass, or start at Beverly Creek trailhead and ski over to fourth creek. I have a snowmobile so either trailhead is equally accessible. The Longs Pass route is slightly shorter mileage skiing, but requires dropping into some steep northeast facing terrain. The Beverly creek route is 1.5 miles longer, but doesn’t cross any avy terrain to get to the base of Sherpa. I had just done the Longs Pass approach last weekend to ski Stuart, and it was fine then when the snow was stable. But we were still a bit worried about wind loading, so opted for the Beverly Creek approach. It was the same elevation gain as Longs Pass, and I had previously done this approach in December to ski Colchuck, so I knew it would work well. The snowmobile approach is also 5 miles instead of 10, so there was a bit of time savings there. Crossing Bean Creek (photo by Nick) We planned to do an overnight trip to give ourselves the option of climbing Argonaut Sunday if the conditions were good and we weren’t too tired out from Sherpa. Friday night we drove to the 29 Pines sno park and slept a few hours in the car. By 3:30am we had the sled packed up and were cruising up the road. We hoped this would be an early enough start to tag the summit mid afternoon and get back to camp. I brought a chainsaw and ax just in case there were blowdowns on the road. Skiing down Fourth Creek before sunrise We made quick progress to the Beverly Creek turnoff on groomed track, then I broke trail with the sled up the ungroomed road to the Beverly Creek trailhead. Shortly after 4am we were suited up and started up the trail. We followed ski tracks to Bean Creek, but then they diverged. We carefully crossed Bean Creek on a crumbling snow bridge and then started breaking trail up Beverly Creek. Crossing Ingalls Creek We alternated trail breaking and travel was efficient. By 7am we reached the pass and were soon skiing down the other side. The snow was generally fun powder. We stayed on the west side of Fourth Creek, trying to stay high enough and avoid getting too close to open water holes. Down near Ingalls Creek the snow got icier and we sideslipped down to the edge of the water. Last weekend I had crossed Ingalls Creek a few miles upstream en route to Mt Stuart and it was only ankle deep and trivial to walk across. But here it was shin deep and nontrivial. We scouted around a bit, and I made a short fouray walking into the creek but turned around when I slipped and dunked a foot in. Luckily there was a 1ft diameter log across the creek nearby. We took turns scooting across au cheval style, and made it to a flat spot on the other side by 8am. Skinning up the southeast facing gully We ditched our overnight gear there, took a break, then headed upstream. Around 4,600ft we left the trail and started zig zagging up the southeast-facing gully that leads to the Stuart-Sherpa col. The gully is mostly low angle all the way to the col, and travel went smoothly. Lower down in the gully the powder snow was heating up in the sun and starting to glop on the skis, but when we got into the trees it improved. Climbing up the south gully As we neared 7000ft we noticed the southwest facing slope at the base of the west ridge was scoured to talus, as expected. So there were no stability concerns there. The south gully to gain the east ridge was still partially in the shade. We found only about 6″ or less fresh snow on the late January crust on the south aspect, and it hadn’t softened up yet in the sun at that elevation. So we decided it would be safe and most efficient to go for the east ridge route. Worst case, if we were worried about it heating up later in the afternoon we could wait around til dark to descend once it iced over. At the notch (photo by Nick) The base of the gully had a few short cliff bands, and we decided to ditch our skis at the base of the cliffs so we didn’t have to worry about skiing down above cliffs. Climbing would also go much faster if we didn’t have to carry skis on our backs. We took out our tools and started kicking steps up around the cliff band through some bushes and up the gully. Nick found a short ice pitch to climb in one of the cliff bands while I went around up a steep snow ribbon. Higher in the gully the snow was nice and firm on top of some old avy debris, and we soon popped out in a notch on the east ridge at 8,200ft. There we were able to lighten our loads a bit more. I ditched avy gear since that was the end of the avy terrain, and I ditched my ascent plates which I hadn’t ended up needing. Climbing the first 30m step (photo by Nick) Interestingly, the wind was coming from the northeast and had formed some small cornices overhanging the south side. There was some blowing snow as we marched up the ridge, but it eventually died as we moved onto the south side. We scrambled and front pointed up to the base of a cliff below the balanced rock on the south side of the ridge. From there we soloed up some fun mixed fourth class rock to a slung horn on the ridgecrest. Traversing on the north face (photo by Nick) Nick had actually done this route before in summer so volunteered to lead from there. We would simulclimb for efficiency and doubled up the rope. I recalled Beckey says to traverse onto the north face to get around the balanced rock, so that’s where we went. Nick led across, and after 30m I followed. The traverse might be class 3 or 4 in summer, but it feels much more difficult than that in mixed conditions. I traversed across the top of a slab with pretty big exposure beneath on the north face. There was a lip I could hook my tools on, but the feet were thin snow dust and ice on slab. It was quite insecure and I was happy Nick had gone first to find the route. I carefully inched my way across, and then started diagonalling up and right. I followed Nick’s tracks in the snow, and occasionally hooked ledges to pull myself over steps. Climbing on the ridge Nick belayed me back up to the ridge crest between the balanced rock and the true summit, and then I belayed him back out. We wove back onto the north face, then kicked steps up to the ridge crest and scrambled along the crest. We then reached a cliff face below the summit and moved back onto a ledge on the north face, then climbed steeper mixed terrain to the ridgecrest just past the summit. Nick on the crux slab We had now at least reached the crux pitch. The last 30m to the summit were a downsloping slab with big exposure on the north side. This is the point where the east and west ridge routes meet, and I remember this section not being too hard in the summer. I had just relied on friction to walk on the slab. But you can’t really rely on frictioning a slab like that in crampons. Nick after reaching the summit The slab had an inch or so of light powder on top which wasn’t bonded at all. It looked pretty sketchy, and there were no obvious features to hook with the tools. Nick bravely volunteered to give it a shot. I slung a horn and we flicked the rope around a bulge on the ledge so he’d at least be protected from a slip to the north side. Nick got farther along, and wasn’t able to find any gear, and it was looking grim. But then the powder changed to verglass and he was able to barely stick his front points in. That was enough to make it across to the other edge of the slab and sling a nub on the top. That was the crux, and Nick made it across a gap and over a ridge on the other side. I belayed him all the way to the summit, which was about the end of the 30m of rope. I then belayed him back partway and he found an anchor. I then started across. It was still unadvisable to slip since I was traversing but I had more protection from the rope than Nick had had. The best technique seemed to be to try to balance my frontpoints on micro features in the slab until I got to the verglass, and then I could delicately stick them in. I was able to barely hook micro nubbins above me with my tools and eventually balanced my way across the slab. Summit panorama On the summit I then crossed the ridge and downclimbed to a good ledge. I really didn’t want to downclimb that slab on the return, and vowed we’d leave whatever gear was necessary to rap off another way. Luckily underneath the snow we excavated an existing rap anchor. Nick clipped in to that and belayed me the short remaining slab to the summit. I found the register, but it was frozen shut. This seems to be common in the winter. Either the register is buried too deep under snow, or if you find it it’s frozen shut. I think I’ve only been able to sign a few registers in winter. The view towards the balanced rock I took a few pictures on the summit and got an amazing sunset view. Rainier and Adams were basking in dark orange and red sky with undercast to the west. Sunsets and sunrises are always great in the winter. We really wanted to be done with the rappels before dark, so I soon retreated back to the anchor. Nick went first, and rapped directly down the north face. I followed, and then we simulclimbed back. We definitely didn’t want to repeat the traverse on the north face below the balanced rock, so agreed to find an alternative rappel back. We simulclimbed directly to the balanced rock, and I briefly looked up at it. Sunset at the last rappel (photo by Nick) That would have been very difficult in crampons to get up the friction bit at the top. Perhaps if we had brought rock shoes and had been there a few hours earlier we could have tried it. But it wasn’t the summit, so we skipped it. We followed the ridge down to the east of the balanced rock and came across a good rap anchor. Maybe this is the standard way down after all. Nick went first, but unfortunately the rope was a few meters short of reaching a good ledge on the bottom. Nick untied and downclimbed, but I instead rapped to an intermediate anchor I saw, then did another rappel down. By then we needed to turn on headlamps, which was good timing since we had just finished the last rappel. Scrambling down the ridge We scrambled back down to the notch, then I packed up my stashed gear and we descended the gully. By now the gully was icy and there was no concern about loose wet slides. We marched down to the top of the icy rock cliff, then downclimbed the steep snow ribbon to the side. By 7pm we were back to the skis. Downclimbing to the skis (photo by Nick) At that point I really wished it was still daylight and the snow was soft. By the time we started skiing the snow was all ice. We carefully sideslipped and skied down, but it eventually turned to breakable crust. We made some jump turns, but that was tiring with all the climbing gear in our packs. So we reluctantly put the skis on our packs and booted down. Back in the trees the snow turned back to powder and we put skis back on. From there the skiing was pretty fun. We occasionally broke out into open terrain and icy snow, but then returned to powder in the trees. Finally we reached our camp and set up the tent and cooked some dinner. Leaving camp Sunday morning Sherpa had taken longer than anticipated. I think I had been estimating time based on climbing Stuart last weekend. But the snow was all firm then and travel fast, while for Sherpa it was much slower going in the softer snow. We talked about whether to still go for argonaut the next morning. Sunday was supposed to be much warmer, meaning the south side up argonaut would be prone to loose wet slides. Our plan had been to climb it at night while the snow was icy, topping out at sunrise and descending before it heated up. But based on our speed on Sherpa we figured we’d have to wake up around midnight for that to work. We didn’t make it into the tent til 10pm, and 2 hours of sleep was unappealing after the tough 16 hour day. We also didn’t want to be racing against the clock while sleep deprived to hustle up argonaut before the sun hit. That seemed risky. Back to the sled So we decided to save argonaut for another trip and just sleep in. Sunday morning we rolled out of bed at 8:30am after what seemed like just the right amount of sleep. We took our time getting ready and had an interesting scoot back across the log over Ingalls Creek. We skinned back up Fourth Creek and the snow was glopping pretty bad in all the heat. At the top of the pass we transitioned and had a fun ski back. Travel was fast zipping along our up tracks, and it looked like nobody else had been up in the valley all weekend. We reached the snowmobile by early afternoon, and soon loaded up and rode back to the sno park. Link to more pictures: http://www.countryhighpoints.com/sherpa-peak-winter-ascent/ Gear Notes: 60m rope, two tools, light rock rack, skis, (brought but didn't need pitons, screws, picket) Approach Notes: Snowmobile to Beverly Creek TH
  14. 7 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - Arachnophobia Direct Trip Date: 01/25/2022 Trip Report: @Michael Telstad and I did Arachnophobia Direct on the Black Spider Wall. In fat (i.e. no mixed) conditions, we found it to be a very easy, enjoyable romp. There was a lot of sustained AI2-3 with some neve, snice, and snow mixed in. We found the ice in the upper half of the route to be a little worse for the wear due to all the sun and warm temps recently but still secure for climbing, just worthless for screws. Incredibly, almost nothing fell on us the entire time we were on the wall. We credit this to good luck, three weeks of high pressure leading up, and moderate temps with a nice breeze. It is definitely an intimidating face, but the climbing is pretty chill in the current conditions. https://climberkyle.com/2022/01/25/mt-hood-arachnophobia-direct-ai3/ Thanks to @wayne and Matt Z for the beta! Gear Notes: 10 screws. Definitely not use for the 22cm and should have brought another stubby. Brought rock gear but place none. Single 60m rope. Approach Notes: Crampons all the way from the Timberline parking lot. Crossed the White River Glacier Canyon around 8600 ft to 9k. Definitely not worth bringing skis in the current condition, mega icy.
  15. 7 points
    Trip: 9 Days in the Chiliwack Range - SE Mox, Lemolo. Redoubt, Spickard, NW Mox Trip Date: 06/24/2021 Trip Report: 9 Days in the Chilliwack Range - North Cascades National Park Climbers: Jake Johnson - Fort Collins, CO Adam Moline - Sacramento, CA Emilio Taiveaho - Chapel Hill, NC Summary: Days 1 & 2 - Boat ride and bushwack up Perry Creek Basin Day 3 - SE Mox and Lemolo Day 4 - Move to Camp 7200 at head of Redoubt Glacier Day 5 - Redoubt Day 6 - Spickard and NW Mox Day 7 - Rest / Weather Day Day 8 - Attempt at West Buttress of W Subpeak of NW Mox, return to Perry Creek Day 9 - Hike out and Boat back to civilization A pilgrimage to the North Cascades has become an annual tradition and with climbing partners like Adam and Emilio, the draw to more remote and chossier locations grows steadily with each visit. This trip to the Chilliwack Range marked our first climbs in the Cascades outside of the Pickets. With Covid restrictions complicating entry from Canada, we were stoked about likely having the peaks of this range to ourselves for the week, which it appeared we did. Day 1: The first day of our adventure started as many good adventures do: on 3 hours of anxious sleep. Adam and Emilio had driven up from California on I-5 the day before and picked me up in Seattle in the late evening, not allowing much time for slumber. An early boat ride across Ross Lake to Little Beaver gave us plenty of daylight to trudge up the trail-less Perry Creek valley, but with 10 days worth of food and gear and virtually no sleep, we recognized it wouldn’t be an easy day. Emilio stretching out: The boat ride: 4.5 miles of maintained trail walking provided some early views, and then a comfortable forested grind to the Perry Creek Shelter. Views of Ross on the first mile of the Little Beaver trail: After some initial route finding and stream crossings up the valley, the real schwacking began, and I would agree with all statements of parties that have come before us - some of the densest growth that I’ve forced my body through. A classic North Cascades stream crossing: The best picture I could find of the dense growth sections: A few hours later we were blessed with some talus and space to breathe and refill on water from the creek before plunging back into some older growth for several less abusive miles. A tattered and needle-covered Emilio: Talus relief from the dense brush bushwhacking: By mid afternoon the towering summit of Lemolo was in sight, but the lack of sleep and pounds of pine needles accumulating under our clothing started taking a toll and we found some large boulders in the talus to call home for the evening. Upper Perry Creek Basin: Day 2: The next morning we were faced with a decision: to push hard to the top of the valley and ascend the snowpack to the ridge (our original plan), or to take it a bit easier and settle for camp at the top of the valley. With over a week remaining in the backcountry we opted for the later, and in retrospect this was the right decision. Bushwhacking in the upper portion of the valley: The schwacking re-intensified a bit higher in the valley and we were happy to take the evening to wash our clothes and bodies at the head of Perry Creek. Dinner and a bath at the headwaters of Perry Creek: Some underwear bouldering: Day 3: With an early start, we had the opportunity to make back some time in our schedule. We trudged up the glacier slowly and steadily, gaining the elevation to the ridge with heavy packs over several hours. Steady progress climbing up out of Perry Creek Basin: By midday we were standing at the base of the gully that marks the start of the route up SE Mox (aka Hard Mox). Leaving the packs behind, we quickly soloed the loose but easy pitches to the summit. The initial gully on SE Mox: More exposed climbing on the upper pitches: From here we eyed our primary objective of the trip: a deliciously exposed ridge connecting SE Mox to its sub peak - known as Hardest Mox until Eric Wehrly and Rolf Larsen summited it via the East Face in 2007. They dubbed it Lemolo, and the lack of visitors to such a wild and untamed peak was too intriguing for us to resist. Eric was kind enough to share some beta for the region and encourage us to attempt the climb to the summit of Lemolo via the ridge (their descent route after their first ascent of the summit). Looking from SE Mox across to Lemolo: Navigating the first portion of the ridge: After about 2.5 min of admiration and intimidation, we began moving along the ridge and found it to be exactly what we had hoped for; exposed choss with just enough relief to keep me pressing forward. Some sections actually did have some solid stone, and made for some of the most fun 5.fun climbing I’ve done in my life. Adam and Emilio making moves on the traverse: Shot of me on the ridge - This is probably the best photo to demonstrate scale and position of the route: Upon reaching the summit tower of Lemolo, we found Eric and Rolf’s tat from 2007, and we enjoyed the views in all directions, especially savoring the view looking back at SE Mox which few have had the privilege of soaking in. In the event that this traverse to the summit is a new route to the peak, we’d call it “Process and Reality” 5.4 X. Old rappel tat on the Summit of Lemolo: Group summit selfie: “Solo for safety” was the motto of the day, as we avoided roping up and placing gear for all the climbing due to all the loose blocks. The theme was confirmed as we rappelled the SE Mox route - falling rock from pulling the rope provided the most apparent danger we experienced all day. Rappel on SE Mox A bit of caving beneath the upper glacier provided the evening’s water, and we settled onto a steep scree slope for the night. The layers of sky at dusk after a full day of mountain moving brought a smile to my chapped lips as we drifted into dreamland. Bivy just below the route on SE Mox: Day 4: Emilio and I sipped some coffee and enjoyed the morning as Adam descended the upper part of the glacier to retrieve a Croc that had escaped in the night. The versatile footwear was far too valuable to leave behind until our descent back into the valley later in the week. Additionally, the risk of failing to recover it later and littering the most pristine place any of us had ever been was unacceptable. When we finally got moving around midmorning, the going was slow, and our route finding was unimpressive. Most beta for the area assumes an approach from the West, so crossing the Ridge of Gendarmes from the East was a bit of a trick. Convinced that the “canon hole” described by Becky was the intended route, Adam and I waited as Emilio loaded himself into the tight gully only to be shot back out along with some airborne scree. Some failed route finding in unstable gullies: Looking back at SE Mox: We eventually found the correct route and slid and rambled and postholed our way to Camp 7200 beneath the impressive SE crown of Redoubt. View of the long and sunny trudge from Ridge of Gendarmes to Camp 7200: Gnarly broken snow and ice: Camp 7200': Day 5: With the assumption that Mt. Redoubt would probably be an easy 3rd class venture, we prepared ourselves accordingly and set off around midmorning. The glacier walking was smooth and enjoyable without the weight of the packs, and we gleefully scampered up the steeper sections on the south side of the mountain, often stopping to look back and eye lines on Bear Mountain. Climbing towards Mt Redoubt: A wild Emilio and Bear Mountain: I found the towering buttresses of Redoubt to be super impressive, and our gully of choice took us deep within the heart of the mountain. We found ourselves beneath the summit block with a couple of options, all appearing to be 5th class. After making some mental adjustments and reframing the level of focus that would be required, we made the few easy moves without issue. Exploring the low 5th class options to the true summit: Knowing our return to camp would only require an hour or so, we spent the better part of the morning on top of the mountain, hanging in the shade just off the summit and traversing across the buttresses and subpeaks on the summit ridge. A morning spent on the summit of Redoubt: Downclimbing off the summit block required some focus again, but then it was smooth sailing down the gully and joyful plunging on the glacier back to camp. Downclimbing the 5th class: Enjoying views on the slide down: Relaxing in camp: Milky Way: Day 6: After some discussion about how we wanted to spend the remaining days of the trip, it was determined that we would try to double up and hit Spickard and NW Mox on day 6. Again, leaving the packs behind made for smooth glacier walking, and Adam and I were soon following Emilio’s charge up the firm snow of Spickard’s SW couloir in the early morning. SW Couloir of Spickard (taken later in the day): Following Emilio and Adam up Spickard: Views of Silver Lake, a quick stop on the summit, and a descent via the south slopes made for a nice tour of the mountain. Silver Lake as seen from Mt Spickard: It’s worth noting that the prize for “Chossiest Gully” of the trip might go our chosen route back over the ridge from the south slopes of Spickard into the Ouzel Basin. Descending snow beneath the angry gully: Back on the main glacier. NW Mox up next (top left of photo): Next up was NW Mox (aka Easy Mox). Our intent was to ascend via the North Ridge and descend via the West Ridge for variety, so the crampons and axes came along for the ride as we hopped off the snow and onto the long but easy scramble up the ridge. Easy Walking up NW Mox. Spickard in background: Lemolo and SW Mox from NW Mox: The summit block was steep, but in the time it took for me to consider roping up, Emilio and Adam had soloed half of the route with ice axes in hand. Solid rock led to the summit, where we realized that a West Ridge descent might have been more than bargained for. The choices were steep and intimidating downclimbing or more rappels than we had tat for. We reluctantly returned to the glacier via the North Ridge and stumbled back to camp, out of water and a bit delirious. Returning to the shade and water of camp was a dream, but the mountain continued to provide magic to the evening as a Wolverine appeared over the col just yards from camp and charged past us on the snow, clearly startled by our presence. Wolverine on Redoubt Glacier: By the time I grabbed the camera it was a ways off on the Redoubt glacier, but I feel fortunate to have witnessed it. Likely a once in a lifetime encounter for me. Day 7: We awoke to zero visibility. The truth is that we really didn’t have plans for the day, so the weather just confirmed that it would be a rest day in camp - washing of clothes and bodies, yoga, and naps. Watching the fog ride over the rock and ice of these mountains will always be awe inspiring to me, and the lazy day flew by quicker than most. Day 8: After a full week of aggressive calorie deficit, I was feeling lean, mean, and ready to climb. We returned through some thick fog, towards the Ridge of Gendarmes, but stopped at an impressive buttress on the subpeak west of NW Mox. Trekking through the fog: A little break in the fog, revealing the buttress: I had seen several references to this buttress being unclimbed, and we gave the weather some time to stir in hopes of making an attempt. A short break in the fog and a glance up the tower was all it took, and we roped up and moved upwards. I led the first pitch, which was primarily 4th class starting at the right base of the buttress and trending left towards the giant flake. P1, 4th class up a chossy chimney: I brought up Adam and Emilio and then sent upwards again on some steeper climbing. Thankfully the guys had a slight overhang to shield themselves from all the rubble I sent down on them. For about an hour and a half, Adam and Emilio discussed life and risk at the belay as I shouted “rock!” and tried to calm shaking calves. The featured sections I had identified from the ground were typically too loose to be useful, but I was impressed with some fun sections of face climbing that I would call somewhere around 5.8. However, an overhanging section of loose blocks turned me back on my first line. My second choice involved a massive chimney leading far left to the giant flake, but I deemed it unprotectable and not for that day, despite Emilio’s vocal desire to take the lead on it. I worked up again but further to the right sticking more true to the buttress, and this route - despite initially looking the most intimidating - seemed to have the most potential once I was in the thick of it. Again I worked up, 50-100 ft or so, but when I set a nut behind a giant block and the whole thing moved, my remaining stoke for the day was drained. Looking up at the second pitch options: Emilio on rappel: We rappelled back down into the clouds below. Upon reviewing some photos, it appears the steepness of the climbing eases a bit just beyond my high point, and with that knowledge to haunt me, I’m sure we’ll be back to give it another go at some point. A shot of the buttress taken earlier in the week: The remainder of the day included ascending the quicksand up Col of the Wild, and scrambling out of the clouds over Ridge of Gendarmes. Then plunging down the now-much-smaller glacier back to the top of Perry Creek Basin. Day 9: Exiting the long and remote and savage valley was a bit easier than entering it, since we knew what we were up against. We geared up for a long day and plugged away at it. We were surprised to find a jetboil and nalgene perched on a boulder in a talus field, midway down the valley. We certainly didn’t expect to see any signs of recent human activity in the valley, and finding these two items with no other clues left us puzzled. We made note to include it in this trip report to see if we were perhaps not the only party in the Perry Creek valley on 7/3/21. An open section in the Perry Creek jungle: Mystery Jetboil and Nalgene The densest sections of growth towards the bottom of the valley ravaged us as expected, swimming through trees, with many meters of continuous travel without feet contacting ground. Finally - relief as the forest opened up, we crossed the creek, and met the Little Beaver trail. Walking the maintained trail felt like floating and we were at Ross lake in no time. A boat ride across Ross Lake with beautiful dogs on board, and then, with no time to waste, we hauled up to the car to race into Marblemount before the diner closed. Final Thoughts: I believe a successful trip involves a couple things: coming back in one piece, strengthening the bond between friends, completing some objectives, but also - leaving something to be desired. For every objective I complete in these mountains, I come home with at least a dozen more to add to my list. I cannot unsee the dark and intense north faces of Bear Mountain, and I cannot help but think that if I was just a little stronger - mentally and physically - that we might have seen success on our attempt of that buttress. These thoughts will consume me and drive me to be better until I inevitably return again to test myself. Gear Notes: Light rack and too much rope Approach Notes: Type 2 fun
  16. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Hunter - West Ridge Trip Date: 05/31/2022 Trip Report: I climbed the west ridge of Mount Hunter from May 29 - June 1 just last week with a summit on May 31st. The route has changed drastically from the days of old, here is a good beta overview of the ridge if anyone is interested. We took 3 days on route with two nights at the 10650 col for a big 4k foot summit day. Weather has been fantastic in Alaska this season making for a carefree, worry free ascent (mostly lol). I'll get to writing a detailed trip report on my website soon...just figured I'd share these route notes for now. Conditions were mostly good, but afternoons on the lower ridge started getting scary when the stepp snow softened considerably in the hot sun. Summit temps were in the mid teens with very little wind. Photos at the link below. Photo Gallery Gear Notes: Two 7.3mm twin ropes, 4 cams 0.5 - 2, set of DMM nuts, 5 UL screws, 3 pickets, 20 degree sleeping bag, 6 single slings and 1 double. Extra TAT Approach Notes: Snowshoed to base of ridge from landing - 1.5 hours.
  17. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Stuart - Stuart Glacier Couloir Trip Date: 04/24/2022 Trip Report: http://gorobets.com/TRs/Stuart_Glacier_Couloir_2022_04_24.htm Gear Notes: 1 single ropes 60 m A pair of ice tools each 2 short screws on ice steps 2 pickets to belay 1st ice step Single rock rack from #.3 to #3 Carried pitons, nuts, smaller cams, but not used Approach Notes: Used snowshoes
  18. 6 points
    Trip: Patagonia - Torre Egger Smash 'n Grab - Huber-Schnarf Trip Date: 01/21/2022 Trip Report: Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Location: Patagonia - Chaltén Massif - El Chaltén, Argentina Traverse of 3 peaks: Aguja Standhardt - Punta Herron - Torre Egger Climb Date: January 18, 2022 - January 21, 2022 Full Trip Report: https://alpinevagabonds.com/torre-egger-traverse-a-smash-n-grab-story/ Climbs/Rappels Aguja Standhardt Climb via the North Ridge route Festerville (400m 90° 6c) in 15 pitches (14 pitches of rock and 1 pitch of rime ice) from Col Standhardt Aguja Stanhardt Rappel via South Face (7 Rappels) Punta Herron Climb via North Face route Spigolo dei Bimbi (350m 90° 6b) in 9 pitches (5 pitches of rock and 4 pitches of snow+ice+rime ice) Punta Herron Rappel via South Face (1 Rappel) Torre Egger Climb via North Face route Espejo del Viento (200m 80° 6a+, often referred to as the “Huber-Schnarf” route) in 5 pitches (3 pitches of rock and 2 pitches of snow+rime ice) Torre Egger Rappel via Titanic (countless Rappels, two downclimbing snowfields, and one 30m downclimb from the summit) In January of 2022, we completed another Patagonian “Smash ‘n Grab”, summiting three of the four peaks in the Torre Range via previously established routes (11 days Seattle-to-Seattle): Aguja Standhardt, Punta Herron, and Torre Egger. Including our ascent of Cerro Torre in 2020, we have now climbed all four summits of the Cerro Torre skyline, making Priti the first female to summit all four peaks. 2022 marked our fifth climbing trip to El Chaltén. In 2019, we completed a 10 day Smash ‘n Grab of Cerro Chaltén (Fitz Roy). In 2020, we spent two months in El Chaltén, during which time we climbed Cerro Torre on the route Via dei Ragni. Urgency and several parties in line behind compelled us to accept a top-rope on the final pitch of the summit mushroom of Cerro Torre, joining the conga line. Pink: The accidental line we took on wet, grimey terrain....oops (not recommended); Blue: the original route Festerville on golden granite Their 2022 traverse from Aguja Standhardt to Torre Egger enchained three distinct climbing routes (all established by different parties), climbing for four days and three nights, bivying twice on Standhardt and climbing through the third night up-and-over Torre Egger. After arriving in El Chaltén, we cached a tent at the standard Niponino Base Camp, carrying a tarp and a double sleeping bag for the traverse. We started on the route Festerville (400m 90° 6c) which follows the spine of the North Ridge of Aguja Standhardt for approximately 13 rock pitches. Another team of two (Michał Czech from Poland and Agustín de la Cerda from Chile) started up the route ahead of us and the four effectively joined forces, climbing symbiotically, each team helping the other along the way. After summiting Cerro Standhardt via 30 meters of 90° ice and rime, Michał and Agustín rappelled the Exocet route back to Base Camp while we (Jeff and Priti) made seven rappels down the South Face of Cerro Standhardt, continuing the traverse. The South Face rappels end 30 meters below the Col de los Sueños (the col between Standhardt and Punta Herron), requiring climbing the final 30m of the route Tobogán to reach the col. The traverse continued up to Punta Herron via the route Spigolo dei Bimbi (350m 90° 6b) climbing 5 pitches of rock and another two pitches of beautiful, vertical ice and rime to the summit. A single rappel from the summit of Punta Herron led down to Col de la Luz under the North Face of Torre Egger. Spigolo dei Bimbi included some of the most fantastic rock climbing that we have ever climbed in Patagonia! From Col de la Luz, we continued up the route Espejo del Viento (200m 80° 6a+, often referred to as the “Huber-Schnarf” route) in the dark of night for three rock pitches which ends in a long, run-out, wet, technical slab traverse under Torre Egger’s overhanging summit mushroom. We continued through the night, climbing two more moderate pitches up the mushroom on easier 70 degree snow and ice to the summit of Torre Egger at 2:00AM, the most difficult summit in the Chaltén massif. We continued through the night without a bivouac, descending 27 rappels and down-climbing along the route Titanic which follows the East Pillar of Torre Egger. Upon reaching the tent at Niponino in the Torre Valley after 44 hours of constant movement, we collapsed in the tent realizing we were too late to catch their planned flight home. Unfortunately, we neglected to notify anyone that we were missing our early-morning airport taxi. When the taxi arrived at our hostel Aylen-Aike, the driver woke up Korra Pesce who was sleeping in the room where we had previously slept. Korra notified the hostel owner Seba and Rolando “Rolo” Garibotti who were all quite worried and proceeded to notify rescue teams. Later that morning, Rolo successfully contacted us on our inReach before any rescue efforts began, teaching us a valuable lesson: let people know if you're going to be late! A week later, a team of bold volunteers attempted an unsuccessful rescue of Korra Pesce, the legendary French-Italian Alpinist, on the North Face of Cerro Torre who will be sorely missed by his friends, family, companions, and fans. Being back at home in the US by the time the accident occurred, we wished that we had been present to aid the operations. The 2021/2022 Patagonia season was marked by several notable deaths and rescues in the mountains as well as several celebrated new climbs. Patagonia continually demands of its visitors the humility that this place deserves. We really want to thank Rolando Garibotti and Colin Haley for their beta, support, and encouragement; Agustín and Michał for being a great team to partner with as we shared the same objective on Cerro Standhardt; Aylen-Aike for putting us up at the last minute in El Chaltén; Hector Tito Soto Nieto and Andrew Reed for loaning us your cams (we decided what route to do while on the airplane); our bosses and work colleagues for letting us go for a week with hardly any notice; Ilia Slobodov for the awesome weather updates while on route; and Kelly Cordes for the rad Patagonia gear. Priti on the summit of Torre Egger, 2:00AM. Time to rappel. Gear Notes: 2x Camalots to #1, 2x TCUs, 1x Camalots to #3, 6 ice-screws, a set of stoppers, and deadman stuff sack (substitute a jacket instead?) to rappel off of Torre Egger (or a retrievable ice tool anchor or downclimb) Approach Notes: Approach as for Col Standhardt
  19. 6 points
    I decided to create a map of Banks Lake ice climbs to help fellow climbers out. It is through Cal Topo and has all the routes marked from where you can see them on the road. With the exception of a couple that you need to hike up to see (those are marked where the climb is). All the mileposts are marked as references. You should be able to turn those off on the left hand side if they get annoying. Also I added a link to a picture of the route. So if you click on any of the routes you have to copy/paste the link and it should take you to the picture. Basically it can kind of serve as a guide to help people figure out what they are looking at. Anyway let me know what you guys think. I would be happy to try and add or change things as people see mistakes or have good ideas. https://caltopo.com/m/G61HV
  20. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Reid Glacial Headwall Trip Date: 01/28/2022 Trip Report: Blown away at the coolness of the left variation of Reid Headwall, Mullee 8a. Bergschrund at the bottom of the glacier was easy to get over. I tried to skirt the first garbage chute at the bottom by staying right of the big runnel but had to down climb back and go directly up it. Ice fall wasn't bad and winds on route were low. Daggered most of the way though there were at least a couple of steep ice ramps that necessitated swinging. There was 10 - 15 feet of unconsolidated deep snow on the leftward traverse around 10200 before heading into more rock towers. The last pinch point required several minutes of rime removal to make it wide enough to get through. Probably spent over 1/2 an hour gawking and taking pictures of the towers and surrounding ridges. For me, the route is definitely worth a repeat in the future. Gear Notes: 2 tools, helmet, crampons Approach Notes: Icy above Palmer
  21. 6 points
    Trip: Pik Pobeda, Kyrgyzstan - Abalakov Trip Date: 08/09/2021 Trip Report: Pik Pobeda (24,406ft) via Abalakov route (VI,5.6,WI2/3,60 deg snow) Pik Pobeda viewed from South Inylchek basecamp (note the big avalanche on the north face) Highest Mountain in Kyrgyzstan Aug 9, 2021 Eric Gilbertson and Andreas Ritzau Aug 6 – leave bc climb glacier in snowstorm to 5200m Aug 7 – climb left side of triangle over massive 50ft cornices, 5.6 mixed rock ice pitch and ice pitch to 5800m passing Russian team on their descent Aug 8 – climb more huge cornices, rock pitch, ice pitch, dig platform under serac at 6600m Aug 9 – tough steep trailbreaking in snow then ice climb to summit ridge and true east summit. Descend to 6600m camp in wind and whiteout Aug 10 – rap and downclimb to 6000m in extreme wind Aug 11 – rap, downclimb cornices, descend all way to BC by 10pm Aug 12 – helicopter out, ride to Bishkek Our route I originally posted a call for partners on cc for this trip, so figured I'd put up a report for it now that I'm back. Pik Pobeda is considered the northernmost 7000m peak in the world and the most difficult of the famous snow leopard peaks (the five 7000m peaks of the former soviet union). Pobeda has notoriously bad weather and all routes to the summit are technically difficult and dangerous. The peak lies on the Kyrgyzstan-China border near the Kazakhstan tri-border point and is affected by the weather of the Taklamakan desert to the south and glaciers to the north. The normal route on Pobeda requires climbing over technical terrain to 7000m on the west ridge and then following the ridge for a full 6km to the summit, then returning the same way. The technical sections up to the ridge are usually fixed each year so don’t pose problems. But the 7000m ridge is quite dangerous because it could take all day or multiple days to move along the ridge and back if snow conditions are bad. If the weather deteriorates, which is common, retreat is very difficult. Route overview (photo by Markus Gschwendt, summitpost, some camp locations different than ours) An alternative route, and the route of the first ascent, is the Abalakov route. This route follows a steep and more technical ridge up the north face directly to the col between the west and east summits and allows nearly direct access to the true east summit. This route has two main advantages. Most important is it does not require a long and dangerous ridge traverse because it is so direct. Thus, if the weather turns bad on the summit it is easy and quick to bail to a lower elevation. Second, it allows direct access to the true eastern summit, with no temptation to bail early on the false summit. Helicoptering to basecamp Andreas and I were in Kyrgyzstan climbing snow leopard peaks and our top priority for the summer was Pobeda. Pobeda itself is not a great peak to use for acclimation so we started the summer with a three-week climb of Lenin Peak, a relatively easy 7000er. Next we helicoptered to south Inylchek to climb Khan Tengri, another 7000m peak and the highest mountain in Kazakhstan. By climbing two 7000m peaks with low altitude Russian rests in between we hoped to be very well acclimated for an attempt on Pobeda. We arrived in south Inylchek base camp in late July and by August 2 had climbed Khan Tengri and made it back to base camp. By then the first few teams of the season had just started up Pobeda. Interestingly the season for Pobeda tends to be very short. Teams generally don’t start up til early August (having spent July acclimating on other peaks), but then by late August the season ends with the last scheduled helicopter flights out. Good views of Khan Tengri from the other side of camp We talked to lots of other climbers over a few days at the dinner tent and I came away with the impression that almost everyone there is some sort of elite athlete. There were Piolet D’or winners going for a new route on Topographers Peak, the president of the Moscow Alpine Club who’d already climbed Pobeda twice, K2 guides, the owner of Summitclimb guiding company, Swiss guys who’d skied Dhalguiri, and I’m sure everyone else had crazy mountaineering resumes too. We spent some time hanging out with an Iranian team planning to climb the normal route on Pobeda, and a Hungarian team working to fix lines up Dicky Pass. Over the next few days while resting we watched two teams on the Abalakov route through a telephoto lens and saw them get above 6000m on the ridge. All teams are required to check in with Dima every two hours on the radio for status updates. I could listen in on my own radio but unfortunately all other teams generally speak Russian so I couldn’t understand what was going on. But we talked to Dima and he said the teams on the Abalakov route reported stable snow and they planned to summit on Thursday Aug 5. The teams on the normal route were a bit lower still at 6400m. We planned to take the Abalakov route, given the safe snow conditions reported. Our meteorologist friend Chris Tomer was sending us daily weather forecasts and it looked like Monday morning would be clear with low wind. That could potentially be perfect timing if we left soon. Hiking up the Zvezdochka Glacier looking back towards basecamp Aug 6 Friday morning we were packed and moving by7:30am. Out of camp we followed a decent trail through the moraine marked by cairns and flags. Our packs were pretty heavy since we were carrying our big Olympus mons 8000m boots and hiking in our smaller hiking boots plus a week of food. After a few hours we reached the edge of the glacier ice and stopped for a break. We switched into our Olympus mons boots and glacier gear and our packs got a bit lighter. We hid our small hiking boots under a rock and were soon moving on the glacier. The route was icy and a bit tricky to follow. Unfortunately the fresh snow from a few days earlier had melted so it was hard to see tracks, and the occasional flags en route had all fallen over. In general we crossed to the west side of the Zvezdochka glacier, then followed it due south. We wove around quite a few crevasses and eventually climbed high enough to reach fresh snow and find some tracks to follow. We soon reached a flowing meltwater stream to top off our nalgenes, and then the intersection where our route diverged from the normal route. Looking towards the apron on the left From there we headed towards the northwest corner of the big apron at the bottom of the Abalakov ridge. I could actually barely make out the tracks from the Russians on that corner. That was kind of surprising since it had been a week since they’d gone up, but I guess it hadn’t really snowed much in the past week. I could also make out an old avy crown on the broad north face of the apron, but the route avoided the face and looked safe. We stuck to the icy melted out section of the Zvezdochka glacier for a while, then jumped a melt stream. From there we postholed a short ways then met up with the Russians tracks. The tracks were badly melted out and in the heat of the afternoon we still sunk through them but they at least provided a little support and helped us navigate. It looked like they must have triggered the top few inches of snow to slide off from there tracks but it was very stable by now. Climbing up to the pedestal in a snow storm We marched up steeply with Andreas breaking trail first then me taking over. As predicted by mid afternoon the clouds rolled in and it started snowing. Our progress was a bit slower than hoped for with the soft conditions but finally by 5pm we crested the flat plateau (the “pedestal”) at 5200m that is the traditional camp location. We found a flat spot that looked like it was the sight of the Russians camp and pitched our tent there. At 6pm I radioed Dima and asked if he knew where the Russians were. I was surprised we hadn’t seen them coming down. But he just said “problem” and wanted us to get off the radio so he could talk to other teams. (I would later learn the Iranian team on the normal route had lost a climber around this time and the Russian team had had an accident and Dima probably wanted to hear updates from them – see article with full details on Iranian climber accidents https://explorersweb.com/2021/08/12/pobeda-peak-fatalities-timeline/.) Camp 1 at 5200m the next morning, looking up at the triangle Aug 7 The next morning we started up at 8am under sunny skies. From 5200m there are two options – you can either go up the right or left edge of the giant triangle to gain the narrow Abalakov ridge in the middle. Markus on summitpost recommends the right side but this is steeper and looks more prone to slide. The Russian tracks went up the left (east) side, which looked narrower and more technical but probably safer from avalanches. We followed the Russians route, reasoning that they reached the summit so their route must work. As we wound onto the ridge the tracks soon disappeared, covered by the previous night’s snow, and trailbreaking became difficult. We also started to get a bit more intimidated by the route above us. The ridge was covered in massive cornices bigger than I’d ever seen before. Some were at least 50ft tall and must have taken years (decades?) to form. Climbing the left side of the triangle One section was so steep, though, no cornices covered it and it looked like a rock cliff we’d need to climb. This looked a lot tougher than the right side but we continued, reasoning it must go and be safe if six climbers just made it up a few days earlier. They would certainly have implicitly tested snow and cornice stability by their passage, so following their route was probably one of the safest ways up the mountain. We took turns breaking trail steeply up the cornices, trying to stay in the faint traces of the old track. It’s a tricky balance – we wanted to be far enough from the left edge to not risk breaking it off, but far enough from the right edge not to slide off the steep slope. We were generally able to find a safe balance and eventually climbed to the base of the rock cliff. Breaking trail up the cornices (photo by Andreas) There it looked like two tent platforms dug out on the ridge. Maybe the Russians had had even more challenging trail breaking conditions than we did if they had only made it there after camp 2. We stopped at the platforms to assess the cliff. It was about 30m high, nearly vertical rock, luckily with plenty of cracks for me to get gear in. There was a rotten ancient fixed rope in the middle that likely wouldn’t even hold body weight which I didn’t plan to touch. At the top of the cliff was a small broken cornice and what looked like a thin, unprotectable snow climb about 30m more back onto a deeper snow ridge. Climbing the rock pitch (photo by Andreas) It looked doable, probably around 5.6, and I was encouraged by the gear options, so I decided to give it a go, but it would be tough. I’d be climbing around 18,000ft in crampons and gloves in single digit temperatures, carrying an ice ax in one hand and a week of supplies on my back. And the exposure was about 3000ft. I decided to first lighten my load and give Andreas a few heavy items since he’d be on toprope for the climb. Then I pounded Andreas’s ice axe and picket into the snow to make an anchor and he put me on belay. I tiptoed out on a small snow finger then reached my left frontpoints out to balance on a narrow ledge. I quickly got in a small cam before looking down at the immense exposure under my legs. From there I delicately worked my way up, balancing frontpoints on thin ledges and hooking other ledges with my ice tool. I got three solid cams in before reaching the ridgecrest and the end of the rock. There I crossed to the other side and carefully made my way up the thinly snow-covered rock. Luckily there was a patch of ice I could get a screw into, but that was my last gear option. Near the top I made a tricky move over a rock bulge then finally reached lower angle deeper snow. I was at the end of the 60m rope by then so dug down to firm snow and made an anchor with my picket and ice ax. Approaching the mega cornice I belayed Andreas up and we were soon both on flatter ground. The terrain eased considerably above the rock step and Andreas took the lead breaking trail. The cornices soon ended and we spent the next few hours working our way up to 5700m. We eventually reached the top of the triangle where the east and west routes converge, and then the route got difficult again. A mega cornice blocked the route with a wide vertical ice cliff spanning the width of the ridge. The one weakness was a steep snow ramp led up to the left to meet the wall where the vertical section was only about 10ft tall. We kicked steps 2/3 of the way up the ramp, then I had Andreas pound his ice tools into a solid snow section for an anchor to belay me up higher. I kicked steps up to the wall but then realized the wall was actually dense snow, not ice. Camp 2 at 5900m This made things a bit more difficult. I couldn’t get ice screws in and tool and crampon placements would be less secure. I managed to get a solid picket placement halfway up the wall but it was so steep and my pack so big that I kept rotating off whenever I stepped up. Finally I just pulled out 15ft of rope, tied a bite in it, then took my pack off and clipped it to the bite. I then wriggled and kicked my way up the wall without wearing the pack. There was a ton of slack in the rope but that was the only way it would work. Once over the lip I dragged the pack up, then kicked steps a bit higher in the low angle deep snow. I then built an ice ax and picket anchor and started belaying Andreas up. I looked up then and saw the team of six russians coming down. This was great news for us since it meant a freshly broken trail above us. The first man built an anchor near mine and started belaying the others over. I asked him about the problem Dima mentioned and he just said one person had fallen but there was no problem. Everyone seemed to be doing fine so I guess there was no problem. We continued up and made camp at 5900m. Good views towards Khan Tengri the next morning Aug 8 We hoped we were past the technical crux of the route but knew there was still some rock and ice climbing above us. Our goal for the day was to skip one more camp and make it to the highest camp at 6600m to put us within striking distance of the summit for the monday window. Breaking trail up more cornices Unfortunately it had snowed and been very windy overnight, and the russians tracks had filled back in, so we had more tough trailbreaking on cornices to a rock step at 6200m The ridge soon narrowed and we were in a similar situation of traversing massive cornices. We stayed on the traces of the russians tracks, striking a balance not getting too close to the cornice edge but also keeping distance from the steep snow slopes to the right. We occasionally had to kick steps and use ice axes on steeper sections, but then the ridge broadened and flattened again as we reached a big rock step at 6200m. I decided to scramble to the edge of the rocks to meet the russians route halfway, then climb the snow slope. Trail breaking was tough, but I eventually reached the rocks. I scrambled a brief 4th class section to the snow above, then belayed Andreas up on an ice ax anchor and broke trail to the top. The ice step I knew there was no rock climbing above this point so clipped my rock rack to the anchor to retrieve on the descent. We broke trail a bit higher and soon reached the base of the serac ice climbing section. Unfortunately I’d only brought four ice screws and hoped it would be enough. I started kickng steps in the steep snow, then soon got to continuous ice. I got my first screw in there, then climbed up another 20ft for my second. The grade was WI 2/3 ice and it was very brittle since it was glacier ice. I made it up higher and the difficulty dropped as snow started mixing with the ice. I had to run it out a ways on steep snow before getting another screw in, then traversing hard left. By the time I ran out of rope I’d reached continuous snow and dug down to make a solid picket – ice ax anchor. Camp 3 at 6600m above the ice step I belayed Andreas up and the terrain looked much easier above us. Andreas broke trail up varied snice and powder terrain to around 6600m. It was apparent there was no level terrain anywhere, as Markus reported, so we stopped below a big serac to look for camp. I noticed the wind was generally out of the west, but that if we went to the side of the serac we could find some shelter. We ended up digging out a big platform in the leeward side of the serac and pitching our tent there. We went to bed early that evening in anticipation of a big summit push the next morning. Aug 9 Based on our trailbreaking speed the previous few days we estimated a pace of about 100m elevation gain per hour. The wind was supposed to be lowest (15-20mph) in the morning increasing by late afternoon (30-40mph) and the temperature at the summit starting at -13F rising to around 0F by early afternoon. We decided to leave at 4am to reach the summit around noon to have a compromise of navigating mostly in the light and not too cold summit temperatures and not too strong winds. We were up at 3am and soon moving under clear starry skies. I would end up leading the way most of the day on the ascent. I picked up a faint trace of the russians tracks going up the left side of the serac but it soon got into steep ice climbing terrain. So I backed down and found a lower angle route on the right side. The route still briefly required climbing with two tools but was short enough we didn’t bother pitching it out. Looking back towards Khan Tengri Above the ice the skies got brighter and we could see a very long but gradual snow slope above us. I broke trail slowly and meticulously, saving my energy in anticipation of many hours of that. I would sometimes sink to my shin and sometimes to my knee and it was quite tiring. There was no trace of the track from the russians. I eventually hooked right around a serac and kicked steps left to a weakness in the s-shaped rock band at 7000m. There we easily crossed over to the left side and took a break. It had been five hours of challenging trail breaking to then with me in the lead the whole time. Andreas took over as the slope steepened. We generally hugged the left side of the narrow rock band kicking steps steeply up the snow towards the summit ridge above. It was amazing getting a brief break but after 30 minutes I took over again. As we got higher the slope got steeper and I was comforted that the russians had tested its stability just a few days earlier. Crossing over the rock band At the steepest section we found traces of the russians tracks and followed those up. That steep section at 7200m was some of the most difficult trailbreaking I’ve ever done in my life. I was basically swimming uphill with no purchase on my feet. It didn’t help that I was totally worn out and there was hardly any oxygen in the air. When I finally crested a small ridge I found a small flag left by the russians and laid down to pant like a dog. It was surprisingly difficult to catch my breath but I eventually relaxed enough to get back up. From there we could see tracks all the way to the summit ridge and the snow looked firm enough to require minimal trailbreaking. We could even see a small flag planted at the ridge. It looked like we were almost there! Andreas took over the lead and we decided to ditch our second ice tools there to save weight. We continued up toward the ridge, but after an hour I noticed the route was just a thin layer of snow on top of ice, with decent exposure below. The terrain sketched me out and I didn’t feel comfortable proceeding without pitching it out and climbing with two tools. We regretted leaving our tools but we couldn’t proceed without them. We turned around to see if we could find a way around the ice patch but it appeared to span the whole face. The thought of bailing crossed my mind but there was still plenty of daylight left, so we decided to go get the tools and continue the route. We dropped back down, picked them up, and returned to the edge of the ice. We’d lost two hours from that error but hoped we could still beat the wind. I put a screw in and clipped Andreas in, then he belayed me as I led up. I got two more screws in as I did a rising traverse, then I reached the end of the ice and hit continuous snow and snice. I belayed Andreas up on a picket ax anchor, then he led an easy section to a boulder and body belayed me up. Hiking to the east/true summit Andreas then body belayed me up another rope length as I kicked steps up the steepening slope. Then I belayed him from an ice ax anchor as he crested the summit ridge at the flag. We soon both made the ridge at 4pm and luckily it wasn’t too windy. It was also still sunny and we were poised to tag the summit. We had topped out at the col between the east and west summits and luckily we had had done our homework to know which one to tag. The east summit is the true summit. Most climbers on the normal route stop at the west summit simply because that’s the first one they hit and it is significantly farther to get to the east summit. But the east summit is slightly higher and thus the true highest point in Kyrgyzstan, so we turned east. (We had read that famous mountaineer Denis Urubko made sure to go out his way to tag the true east summit after his Piolet D’or – winning climb of the dollar rod route on Pobeda in 2011.) Andreas led the way staying clear of the cornices on the north side of the ridge. Luckily the snow was firm and travel fast. We were walking directly on the Kyrgyzstan-china border and I noticed the slope looked much gentler on the china side. But I’m sure it got more difficult lower. The ridge eventually got very narrow and rocky, and we passed what looked like a jumbled up old tent on a ledge. By 4:45pm we crested the summit. It had been a tough morning and I immediately laid down. The skies were sunny, wind low, and views were amazing to china to the south and kygyzstan to the north. We could see basecamp way below on the south inylchek glacier. We quickly snapped a few pictures and videos. I had planned to send an inreach message and take out my sight level to measure the height difference between east and west summits, but it was just too cold to want to take my hands out of my mittens. We were also much later than hoped for and wanted to get down as soon as possible to beat the incoming wind and darkness. Heading back So after about 3 minutes we started down. We carefully followed our up tracks back to the place we’d gained the ridge. It was steep enough to warrant rappelling off the ridge but I didn’t really want to leave any gear. I already had plans to leave our pickets lower down for other rappel anchors. So I ended up belaying Andreas as he downclimbed, then he built an anchor and belayed me down. We inch wormed down this way, then simul downclimbed the ice section until we were back to snow. Light was fading and clouds rolling in and we were happy to have our tracks to follow in the waning visibility. As a backup I had also recorded a GPS track on my watch in case our tracks got blown over. We quickly simul downclimbed the snow, reaching the rock band at sunset. By then we were engulfed in clouds and stuck in a whiteout. Unfortunately the wind had filled in our tracks below there with snow and navigation became difficult. I was able to follow our rough route, verifying on my watch every few minutes that we were still on track. By the time we reached the ice section just above camp we finally needed to turn headlamps on. We each got our tools out and very carefully downclimbed the ice. It seemed more challenging this time and we probably should have rappelled it, but we were soon down and back to the tent by 9pm. We radioed Dima and he sounded relieved we were back at camp. It was my turn to melt snow that night so I stayed outside another hour. I think we were both dehydrated that day and appreciated chugging a bunch of warm water. Aug 10 The wind picked up significantly soon after we got to camp and didn’t relent all night. This made sleeping difficult. To save weight we had brought Andreas’s tent, which lacked a vestibule. But this meant to get any ventilation we needed to unzip the door. With all the wind , snow invariably blew in all night. The result was I got hardly any sleep. Another consequence of the wind was snow was drifting up against the tent all night, and even on the slope above the tent. By 7am a small sluff released above the tent and slid into the side of the tent. It wasn’t dangerous, but I was still startled enough to immediately jump out of the tent and start digging it out with my bare hands. It was still extremely windy as I was digging and this would not have good long term consequences for my fingers. With the continuing wind we didn’t feel safe staying where more snow could accumulate and slide. It would have been great to just ride out the storm in the tent, but we reluctantly started packing up. We then roped up and started looking for a new spot. Unfortunately there was zero shelter up there at 6600m. Behind the serac had been the only sheltered spot, but that likely contributed to the snow drifting there. We knew it would likely be sheltered lower below the ice pitch, so we started descending. We made it to the top of the ice but then I noticed Andreas was missing a crampon! This had happened on Khan Tengri and I’d fashioned an extra strap to keep it on but it had fallen off again anyways. This was a big problem with so much ice to descend. We started back up to look for it but with so much deep snow we’d descended through we eventually decided it was futile. Andreas would just have to try to get down with one crampon. That meant I’d have to lead the way making good steps and setting good rappels on the icy sections. At the top of the ice I found a V-thread anchor left by the russians and backed it up with a screw. I belayed Andreas down to the anchor, then I rappelled first. Luckily the doubled 60m rope was just barely long enough to get down to continuous snow. Andreas followed and we were soon roped back up descending the steep snow. We descended through deeper snow, needing to break trail in many places. We soon reached the top of the rock step and I retrieved my stashed rock rack. I then rigged up another rappel at the slung horn and descended 30m down the steep snow slope. At the bottom I slung another horn as Andreas followed. From there we rapped over the rocks to a boulder sticking out of the snowfield. We then roped back up to downclimb the snow. With all the wind overnight I was a bit concerned about shallow fresh windslab on the slope, though, so I looped the rope over a rock to belay Andreas. Indeed, once he got 10ft out he triggered the top 6″ of slab to slide off. He managed to jump out of the way and I also had him on belay so there was no real danger, but it was certainly startling. With the slope now stable we easily marched across. At the bottom of the slope around 6100m we found a broad flat area far from any snow slopes and decided to pitch camp there. The weather was supposed to improve the next day and we thought it best to ride out the wind in the tent and save the big descent for better weather. We quickly got the tent up and started melting snow. Once in the tent I realized I had been neglecting my hands all day and my fingers were all numb. I guess I had been so concerned with setting up good rappels quickly and making sure Andreas could get down safely with one crampon that I had just ignored my cold hands. I knew there was a risk of them getting cold again the next day, and refreezing is the worst thing you can do to cold hands. But leaving them cold all night seemed like a bad idea. So I stuck them in my arm pits to rewarm them and vowed to keep them warm the next day. The wind picked up that afternoon and night and we had a lot of trouble keeping the stove going outside. I really wished we had a vestibule. As a result we probably didn’t make as much water as we should have. And, like before, snow was blowing into the tent all night through the small opening we needed for ventilation. As before, I got very little sleep that night. The forecast was for dry weather the next day, but then storms rolling in the next day. We definitely wanted to make it the whole way back to basecamp Wednesday if possible. Aug 11 By morning my hands were mostly warm though still a little numb. The morning was clear but cold and we got moving by 9am. Unfortunately I needed to lead to kick Andreas good steps, and needed to hold onto my cold ice ax since the terrain was very steep. I found it very difficult to keep my hands warm and for the most part they just got cold again. Unfortunately this would have bad consequences later. Below the rappel down the mega cornice We downclimbed the steep cornices, vaguely seeing our old tracks sometimes but mostly I had to break trail again downhill. This was surprisingly difficult. We soon reached the mega cornice we’d need to rappel, and unfortunately couldn’t find any anchor from the russians. I suspect they rapped off a picket, but it had since been buried in new snow. So near the lip I built a picket – ax anchor, then rapped over the edge. Andreas then removed the ax and rapped off the picket, which we left there when we pulled the rope. I had my email written on it so maybe someday someone will return it to me (but not likely). Downclimbing the cornices (photo by Andreas) We belayed each other down the rest of the snow slope in case of a slide, then I continued breaking trail down the ridge. We soon reached the top of the rock step, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a fixed rope there! I was prepared to leave a picket and sling a horn to make multiple rappels down, but apparently the russians had decided to leave a 60m rope there for all 6 of them to make a single full rappel. We backed up the anchor with a picket and I went down first. Unfortunately the rope was about 5m too short, so at the bottom I had to detach myself and downclimb the final snow arete unprotected. But then I made an anchor and when Andreas reached the bottom I threw him the end of my rope and belayed him to safety. Downclimbing the last of the big cornices From there I led the way across the final lower cornices. I tried to follow the vague hints of the russians tracks though mostly I couldn’t see them. As before it was a balance staying as far from the edge of the cornice as possible without getting on too steep of a snow section on the left. There were a few steep downclimbing sections but we eventually made it below the triangle at 5300m. We then breathed a huge sigh of relief because we were finally below the danger zone and could rest easy for the remainder of the descent. Since it was no longer steep and didn’t warrant crampons I finally took a break from leading and let Andreas lead. It was then I realized how truly worn out I was. I think breaking trail 90% of the way on summit day had taken a lot out of me, and leading the way and breaking trail all of yesterday and all of today had zapped my remaining energy reserves. I really needed a break. It was great to have Andreas breaking trail down, but by then I was only moving half his speed at best. We made slow progress down, by now following the visible tracks of the russians. By 4pm we reached the flat icy section of the Zvezdochka glacier at 4500m. We radioed Dima and he told us congratulations. He knew we were past the danger zone and now had a relatively easy walk back. Interestingly, the russians tracks seemed to simply disappear in the middle of the glacier. Unfortunately we later learned they had had an accident up on the cornices Aug 8 and a helicopter had to come evacuate them there lower on the glacier (see full account here https://explorersweb.com/2021/08/19/how-valentin-mikhailov-died-on-pobeda/). I led the way on the ice weaving around crevasses until we met up with the normal route. It was pretty hard to stay on the route since most of the flags were missing, but I eventually found it and followed it back to the moraine. In the last few hundred feet I had to belay Andreas a few times on ice screw anchors so he could get through sections without a crampon, but we eventually got off the glacier. We found our stashed hiking boots but someone had stolen Andreas’s stashed hiking pole! I’m not sure what would possess someone to do this. I suspect it is the same person who stole the crampons a hungarian team stashed nearby also. We were soon changed into our hiking boots with our Olympus mons strapped to our pack and started hiking out. In general it was straightforward following the cairns out, but got more difficult when darkness set in. I was still moving extremely slowly, and I can never remember ever being that worn out from a mountain. Luckily Andreas was nice enough to slow down and hike with me. We actually got passed on the way by the Piolet D’or team coming back from stashing gear for topographers peak. By 930pm we finally staggered back to camp and let Dima know we were back. Luckily the generator was still on and the cooks had saved some mushroom pasta and corn for us. Some of our friends – Paul and Felix – were still in the dinner tent, along with two new climbers Jon and Rob. They all congratulated us for our climb. At dinner I finally dared take off my gloves to survey the damage to my hands. It was bad. Most of my fingers had blistered and they were all numb and tingly. I knew I had frostbite. I kicked myself for taking such bad care of myself. I’d been so focused at having efficient safe rappels and getting down quickly that I hadn’t bothered to take care of myself when I was doing so much cold ropework in my liner gloves. It had also been very cold and windy at high altitude, which certainly didn’t help. Luckily everyone at the dinner table had experience with frosbite and gave me good advice what to do. Jon was nice enough to bring me to the basecamp doctor, who gave me some medicine and had me soak my hands in warm water. Then Paul, Rob, and Felix helped me bandage up my fingers to protect them. I talked to Dima and he said there was a helicopter the next morning we could get on so I could visit a hospital as soon as possible. We all went to bed soon after. Aug 12 The next morning we had breakfast and Dima said we were officially the 13th and 14th summitters of Pobeda this season. (I think 6 russians did the abalakov route, then 3 Iranians and 3 ukrainians did the normal route before us). Afterwards we hung out with Rob and Jon, who had just arrived to basecamp after guiding K2 and were waiting for a window to climb Pobeda via the normal route. Pobeda is Jon’s last snow leopard peak so I hope he makes it! The helicopter came on schedule at 10am and we had a spectacular ride out to karkara, then shuttle back to Bishkek that night. Link to more pictures: http://www.countryhighpoints.com/peak-pobeda-kyrgyzstan-highpoint/ Gear Notes: Rock rack to 1", four screws, two pickets, two tools, overnight gear Approach Notes: Helicopter to South Inylchek basecamp
  22. 6 points
    Trip: Goode Mountain - Megalodon Ridge Trip Date: 08/29/2021 Trip Report: Megalodon Ridge. An evocative name for an evocative climb on Goode Mountain, the tallest peak in the North Cascades National Park. Priti and I have been struck by its lore ever since we were students learning to alpine climb. It is another one of those mythical Cascades test pieces that rarely sees ascents (although it really should get more attention). Megalodon Ridge is the East ridge of Goode, joining with Memaloose Ridge and Goode Ridge from the Southeast before it reaches the summit. The climb ascends with foreboding views out onto Goode’s impressive North Face and the highly aesthetic, classic NE Buttress. Put up in 2007 by local legends Blake Herrington and Sol Wertkin over three days with recon by Dan Hilden, we were maybe the sixth known ascent. Dan and Jens Holsten made the second ascent in 2010 over a blistering 27 hour single push. FA TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/53892-tr-mt-goode-megalodon-ridge-iv-510/?_fromLogin=1 Second Ascent TRs: - http://jensholsten.blogspot.com/2010/09/sound-of-goode.html - https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/76094-tr-mount-goode-megalodon-ridge-932010/ Other folks who have successfully put their hat in the ring include local heroes of ours: Alex Ford, Laurel Fan, Austin Siadak, Michael Telstad, and Sean Fujimori…all people we have no business having our names in the same sentence…which added to the improbableness of this climb. With new standards in moderate 5th-class choss tolerance, however, I think it’s time to lift the veil on this elusive climb. Named after the prehistoric behemoth of the ocean, fish-themed snacks are a must. 33.5miles and 8,500ft vert round trip make this climb a relatively chill 3-4 day outing, an ambitious 2 day outing if you’re a pro climber, and an unfathomable single push outing if you’re a demi-god. Being mere mortals, we did this as a casual 3-day outing with lots of time to spare. Since its inclusion in Blake’s 2015 “Cascades Rock”, those pages went unconfronted for six years until Michael and Sean posted of their adventure this past July, reigniting its possibility. Michael TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/104101-tr-mount-goode-megalodon-ridge-07192021/ Michael had an amazing trip report that helped us immensely. The purpose of this TR is to sprinkle in some more micro beta if you choose to have less of an adventure. Strategy Tips The route could feasibly be done in 2 days by a very fast team of folks who are used to covering many miles of trail quickly. But it is actually a very moderate outing when done in 3 or 4 days. I'll outline all bivy options. You never really need to carry much water with you unless you plan to bivy on the summit. We chose to carry less water on the route, and skip the summit bivy, since it's just an hour or two down the SW Couloir to flowing water. The Goode Mountain summit bivy is truly remarkable and a destination in and of itself. There are two ledges at the very top which can fit four, then two more ledges 60m below the summit which can fit four more. Sleeping on top is REALLY COLD, however, and you can get away with bringing less clothes if you don't sleep on top. You really don't need to have a stove on this trip either since there is enough flowing water (unless the daily high's are below freezing in early season). We regret bringing a stove. Save every ounce In all of my anecdotal polling data, nobody has taken the alternate wraparound descent as described in Cascade Rock. Seems to be generally difficult and sketchy, requiring gnarly glacier travel and crampons. Most parties who do the NE Buttress go down the SW Couloir to Park Creek, and it's kind of nice to just take the normal descent and avoid any extra shenanigans. So...recommend just taking the normal descent. There is still some weirdness going down to Park Creek, however, and we had to check our tracks frequently. Many tracks are available on Peakbagger.com You can probably skip crampons and ice axe. The SW Couloir doesn't really require it, although you will find chill snow travel on descent. There is a snow ridgeline along Megalodon Ridge (the ski descent). Depending on the time of summer, you may be on top of the snow, in a moat, or in choss. If you're on top, you can probably get away with just belaying across if you're worried about the exposure. Pair down the weight!! We brought light glacier harnesses and loved it! We clipped gear onto our backpack waist straps and all draws went around the neck. There is really only 4 roped pitches. The descent is between 2 and 6 rappels depending on how much down-climbing you're comfortable with, so you don't really need a regular harness, unless you're bringing more than a single rack. A single rack .2-3 and a few small nuts is more than enough if you plan to solo <5.6 terrain. Bring more gear if you plan to simul. You can even skip the #3 if you are really confident at 5.9. Less is more. Headphones and downloaded podcasts make the 20 mile hike out go faster. Skip the chalk bag. Maybe bring a tiny tube of liquid chalk. If you're confident in climbing 5.8 in techy approach shoes, you could maybe skip rock shoes altogether. Cache beverages at Maple Creek on the way in so you have it on the way out! There are really just 3 mandatory pitches of climbing all stacked on the headwall, and two additional optional pitches (the rest is 4th class and low 5th). To start off, I personally highly recommend roping up at the top of Tower 1 for the downclimb to the first notch since it is megaloose 5.6 downclimbing with mega exposure (Note: the FA party rappelled 50m to the south, not recommended). Then unrope for the traverse up/over/around gendarmes until the headwall pitches (4th class and low 5th). Bypass gendarmes logically via lines of least resistance (sometimes up and over, sometimes around). Rope up for the three headwall pitches to the summit of the SE summit: 1) 35m of LOOSE 5.7-5.10 (depending on which variation you chose), 2) 30m of 5.9 (technical crux of route) with many hand cracks, 3) 70m (simul) of LOOSE 5.7 to the SE summit (you can stop before summit if you don't want to simul). Then unrope again, pass over the "ski descent" snow ridge, downclimb talus Gain the rocky ridgeline again and pass a prominent col (not to be confused with Black Tooth Notch) Continue on the rocky ridgeline, passing a piton and an old sling (5.6), continuing mostly on top of the ridgeline to the final gendarme just before the Black Tooth Notch. Blake describes it as "a pitch of well-protected 5.10 climbing on the north side of the crest down into the notch" (Michael down-graded it to 5.9). We found a 4th class route on the South side (climber's left) which bypassed the gendarme entirely, if you want to lose cool points. Cross over the Black Tooth Notch (the SW Couloir), notice the rap stations, then an exposed traverse (cairn here) meets up with the NE Buttress. Three 30m pitches of exposed and quality 5.6 (angling severely up and right) take you to the summit. We downclimbed the 5.6 back to the Black Tooth Notch, skipped the first rappel at the notch, scrambled down 15m to the next rappel, then made two raps (30m then 15m). I highly recommend not trying to downclimb these two rappels...just take them, it's steep, loose terrain. Approach Start from Bridge Creek Trailhead (just East of the Rainy Pass Trailhead) and take the PCT south, leaving it for the North Fork Bridge Creek trail (this is also the approach for the NE Buttress of Goode). Starting from the Bridge Creek TH instead of Rainy Pass saves an extra mile of hiking. Our downloadable tracks once you leave the North Fork Bridge Creek Trail and getting up on to the ridge are here: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765 Pictured above is the turnoff from the North Fork Bridge Creek trail which matches the tracks. It's an obvious boot pack that quickly turns into easy bushwhacking through alder. This turnoff is approximately when the trail is closest to the creek. Pictured above is the minor bushwhacking (knee to waist) over the creek (hidden) to gain Megalodon Ridge (right side of the frame). The bushwhacking will be much harder if it's just after a rain. When you get close to the creek the bushwhacking goes over head just for a little bit. We took lessons that Michael and Sean learned and stayed on land through the dense brush, heading upstream for ~50ft along the creekbed instead of attacking the creek directly and wading upstream in the icy water. When you pop out onto the creek, don't get in the creek until you confidently see your egress point. You don't want to spend more time in the creek than necessary. I got screaming barflies just from our straight-line crossing. If you don't see the super obvious exit point (circled in red above), keep plowing upstream through the dense brush. Once on the other side of the creek, a little more bushwhacking takes you to a rocky stream bed which you follow for a ways until you reach a chockstone waterfall (get water here). You have 2-4hrs until you reach water again (approximately 1/4) up the ridge, so you don't need to carry too much. Chockstone Waterfall. Follow ledges high and right until it opens up. Follow the stream until you get to the chockstone waterfall (where the green track diverges). Cross the creek over to the North (Megalodon) side and skirt the the top of the canyon wall until it opens up...don't go straight up the ridgeline. Follow open slopes up to the top of the ridgeline until you get to a small saddle and a 5.4 buttress. This 60m buttress is super loose and scary, so spend some extra time looking for a safe route up. Above the buttress is a few more hours of 4th class hiking and scrambling to the top of Tower 1. There is mild exposure on the final ridge to the top of Tower 1, but it's easy climbing. From the top of the buttress to the water are several really good bivy sites. At the water source is flat snow and boulders (not really a good, dry bivy site), so find something lower down on the ridge and hike up to retrieve water. This is the last flowing water until the Goode High Camp basin below the SW Couloir (1-2hrs after reaching the summit), so fill up a day's worth or more if overnighting on the summit. You also have the option to melt snow at "ski descent" along the way if you chose (no flowing water here). 4th class ridge to the top of Tower 1. Looking over onto the North Face and the awesome NE Buttress route. Neat pic. Pano of Memaloose Ridge as it meets up with Megalodon at Tower 1 on the right. From the top of Tower 1. The "headwall" is on the left (SE Summit) which contains three roped pitches. The FA party rappelled 50m to the South then traversed to the notch (not recommended). Other parties since have downclimbed. The downclimbing is loose, exposed 5.6...highly recommend roping up! You can unrope again down at the notch (~2 rope lengths). Unroped, easy scrambling up/over/around several gendarmes to reach the headwall. The traverse from Tower 1 to the SE Summit Headwall. Once at the headwall, choose your own adventure. The first pitch is 30-60m (depending on how high up you start belaying) of 5.7-5.10 climbing. Belay under an obvious corner on a ledge. The second pitch is quality 5.8 or 5.9 (the technical crux of the route) hands and fists for 30m to a ledge below the final ridgeline to the summit. The third pitch is 70m of unprotect able 5.7 ridge climbing (stacked, loose blocks) to the SE summit. You can stop short of the summit if you don't want to simul. Blake suggested the SE summit as potentially a good bivy, but I didn't see anything that looked mildly comfortable. Press on to the summit or the Goode High Camp. Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 1. You can see the ridge traverse down to Tower 1 (center), Megaladon Ridge (left), and Memaloose Ridge (right). Could be a neat trip to take Memaloose into Megalodon Ridge! Looking up at pitch 2. Start in the corner and traverse left. From here we unroped for the rest of the way (and we're not very good rock climbers either). You can also put on your approach shoes for the talus. Cross over the snow (it is all choss now). Melt snow here if needed, no running water. Downclimb talus and start back up the ridge, staying mostly directly on the ridge. The final obstacle is a gendarme guarding the Black Tooth Notch. Go right (North) for the 5.10 original route (5.10 or 5.9) or downclimb and go around left (South) for our 4th class cheater-bypass route to gain the Notch. Once at the Black Tooth Notch, traverse right (North) to join the NE Buttress. Climb 3x 30m pitches of quality, exposed 5.6, trending right to reach the summit. You can then make 3 traverse-y rappels back down to Black Tooth Notch or downclimb. Recommend taking two rappels down Black Tooth Notch (30m, then 15m) since it is very loose and steep. Here is a really good description of the descent: https://engineeredforadventure.com/goode-mountain-northeast-buttress/ Looking back at the final gendarme before the Black Tooth Notch at the two route options (photo taken from Black Tooth Notch looking East). Photo of the entire Megalodon Ridge! By now, you should be able to pick out "Tower 1", "SE Summit", and "final gendarme". I'm not going to overlay them for you . The photo is taken from the ledge traverse on the North side looking back at Black Tooth Notch. Another view of the "final gendarme" and the 5.9/5.10 downclimb on the North (shady) side that we did not do. Fish-themed snacks are mandatory. Looking up from the normal descent towards the SW Couloir. A long, but straight-forward descent down to Park Creek Trail and 20miles on trail back to the car. There is a good High Camp bivy site with water in the basin below the couloir: N 48.48025° W 120.91991° Gear Notes: single rack .2-3, few nuts, 8 single alpine draws, 3 double alpine draws, light glacier harness Approach Notes: Tracks: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765
  23. 6 points
    Watched it for the first time too. What struck me most was just how Marc lived. He could have been anything, but the way he lived and his focus on what was important to him. Living in a stairwell, a tent, in a snow cave. Ignoring the pressures other put on him that didn't fit with the pure vision that he had, of what he was trying to obtain. All the while just just presenting a face of goofy kindness to anyone he interacted with. Thats what I admire most about him, and wish that I could better implement into my own life....and also what I wish for my son or anyone. The level and type of climbing he was doing is something foreign to me that I can't begin to understand, and I'm sure I never will. But I can understand and admire the example that he lived outside of that.
  24. 6 points
    Trip: Esmeralda Peaks - [FA] Moonlight Serendipity (WI2 M5+ 1,200ft) Trip Date: 11/21/2021 Trip Report: Last Sunday @Kyle M, Kurt Ross and I set out to investigate rumors of early season ice in the Esmeralda Basin area. A couple sizable blowdowns stopped our drive early, diminishing any hopes of even making it to our intended climb. With zero expectations, we decided to go for a walk up the road and see if we could get eyes on anything cool. We took our sweet time walking up the road, stopping to look through binoculars at everything that vaguely resembled ice. We nearly dropped all our climbing gear at the trailhead, but decided to keep it for “training weight”. Luckily we did, as we shortly got eyes on the NE face of Esmeralda’s NE peak. A discontinuous series of ice smears, chimneys and ramps seemed to form a potential route up the face, but we figured it was still too early. Possibly against our better judgement, we decided to “go scout the approach” and soon found ourselves scrambling up fun WI2 smears on the lower flanks of the face. Our route followed easy terrain that angled left and then traversed hard back right to where the face steepens abruptly. A very convenient dike feature splits the face for almost its entire height, and proved to be the key to our success. I kept leading, and scratched my way up a fun albeit poorly protected section of chimney. From here I had my fill for a little bit, and let Kurt take over the sharp end. An easy connector pitch took us up to a decision point. The chimney/dike feature continued above us, but seemed to hold ever steepening iced up rock climbing. With the little amount of daylight we had left, we opted to bypass this to the left via a tricky and somewhat loose chimney that seemed like it would take us to easier terrain, and the summit. Kurt casually lead the pitch, seemingly unfazed by the toaster oven sized block he dropped on his head. The sun set on us as we were following this pitch, and brought us to another decision point. We hadn’t prepared for a day of this magnitude and were running out of food and water fast. We could either bail now and call it a good scouting mission, or keep going in hopes of the summit, and a quick walk off. We opted to push onward into the night. From this point the climbing was largely on snow, apart from the odd rock step, or awkward bit of shallowly buried slab. Two more pitches brought us to an imposing headwall we hadn't seen from below. I was starting to worry that our climb was done there. While we could have likely found a route up the steep dry rock, it was far too late in the evening to start such drytooling shenanigans. Our last option was to keep traversing right to search for a way around it. Much to our surprise, a perfect rock ramp cork screwed around the summit block, taking us to the top of the wall. Once atop our little summit, we saw a long complex rock ridge that unfolded in front of us. Continuing to the true summit would have taken us several long pitches, and more hours than we had. We had climbed to the top of the wall we intended, and were more than happy with how things unfolded. The descent involved a couple pitches of down leading and about six or seven double rope rappels off trees and bushes. We hiked out hungry under the almost full moon, and got back to Seattle at two in the morning the next day. Kyle will likely write a more in depth blog post in a couple days. While clearly not representative of the conditions we encountered, the topo below shows more of the wall than is visible from below. Gear Notes: Single rack .1-3, nuts, beaks, KB's and a Spectre came in handy. Screws were not required for the conditions we encountered. 10's and 13's would be best. Approach Notes: Walk, drive or sled to the Esmeralda Basin TH. Hike up the trail for a little under a half mile before crossing the creek and picking your way straight up to the face. If you can drive to the trailhead, this climb is VERY easily accessible.
  25. 6 points
    Trip: Les Drus, Chamonix - American Direct/Classic north face finish Trip Date: 08/14/2021 Trip Report: The nearest big peaks to me are those above Chamonix (I am aware of how lucky this makes me), and from the valley floor, none call quite so strongly as the Drus. When I first went to Chamonix in November 2019 for some skiing, I was actually in a pretty bad mental state, tired and depressed. The initial views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Aiguilles kind of failed to light my internal fire, but once we reached La Praz, the almost overwhelming view of the Drus rocketing above their surroundings snapped me out of my stupor (I'm doing better these days). The seed was planted. This summer in northwestern Europe has been pretty much the opposite of the summer in the northwestern US, unusually cool and wet. I'm certainly not complaining, but it's made climbing a lot harder to do and I have done a lot fewer pitches of climbing this summer than last, which has not been good for my fitness. At the same time, this is the last summer of my work contract in Geneva, and the knowledge that I would have to make the absolute best of any weather windows that I could get only served to swell my ambitions, admittedly a bit of a dangerous combination. I'd engaged in semi-serious talk with an American I met last summer via Mountain Project named Jared about getting after the Drus via the proudest line we could think of, the American Direct. By late last July, the above factors put me in the psychological position where I was willing to put all of my chips down and try to go as big as possible on the Dru if I could get the point, and I let Jared know. The start of August sucked in the mountains, and I had a few climbing trips in a row get canceled by high winds, snow and avalanche danger, or more high winds. Suddenly, things cleared around August 10, with the promise of a long period of high pressure that might melt some of the snow and ice covering basically all of the rock above 10,500' or so. The long awaited weather window had arrived. I arrived at the Montenvers train station and hotel early afternoon on Friday, August 14. It was super hot, so once Jared met me we decided to wait until a bit before 5PM to start the supposedly roughly 3 hour approach hike to the base of the wall. This left plenty of time to stare at the wall and get intimidated. The route, as planned, starts from basically the lowest part of the face and heads up trending right in the orange-gray rock, until encountering the gigantic light gray rock scar left behind by the collapse of the Bonatti Pillar in huge landslides in 2005 and 2011. Here we would diverge from the original Hemmings and Robbins route via an aid pitch to scoot left onto the shady north face, and then follow the classic 1935 Allain-Leininger north face route to the top. From the base of the rock to the summit is about 3300' of wall. The near-catastrophic retreat of the Mer de Glace has exposed hundreds of feet of blank slabs that were buried under ice just 200 years ago. Luckily, guides have installed ladders to overcome this obstacle. After crossing the Mer de Glace, a series of exposed 4th class scrambles protected by fixed ropes (no ladders on the far side, not enough traffic heading to the Petit Dru to justify them, I suppose, which makes sense) lead to a barely-there climbers trail that traverses a lot of nice meadows. It's kind of like the North Cascades, but with much bigger mountains in the background. Approaching the objective, can you spot the trail? Actually it wasn't too hard to follow, there were cairns and occasional ribbons in trees. Eventually the trail kind of petered out into the sort of loose moraine that we all know and hate, and at the point I made two key fuck ups. First, in the last vegetated area, we stopped to refill our water. This required me to empty my pack in thigh-deep vegetation in order to access my Camelbak. More on that later. Second, Jared and I kind of naturally drifted apart as we picked our was through the shitty moraine mixed with pools of water. The complexity of the terrain meant that we lost visual track of each other, but we weren't concerned because we were pretty experienced with this kind of slog. Eventually I picked up a faint trail and followed it up a long, loose moraine crest to a good rest spot, and waited for Jared, who had been behind me, to catch up. When he failed to appear or answer my calls, a bunch of highly unrealistic but very worrisome scenarios started to creep into my brain, and I dropped my pack and hiked hundreds of feet back down the loose crap. Eventually, I managed phone contact with him and learned that he had opted to contour around the moraine and then climb up the other side of it from where I was. When I described my location, it turned out that my little hike down looking for him had managed to give him a solid 30-40 minute lead on me. Oops. View from the top of the moraine. Finally, we reached the bivouac sites atop the Rognon des Drus, shortly after sunset and nearly an hour later than we'd hoped for. Exhausted and hungry, we started to prepare for dinner. It was then that I discovered, to my horror, that the gas canister I'd been carrying was gone. I can only assume it was lost in the vegetation below the moraines from where I'd refilled my water. This was clearly a pretty bad mistake, and made me really upset and embarrassed. After some thought, we still had running water, and cold food is still edible, so no plans were changed. Dinner was cold, crunchy pasta in a freeze-dried bag meant for boiling water but with snowmelt instead. Oops. Also, I realized that in the chaos of our separation and my abandoning and hiking back to my pack while trying to look for Jared, I'd lost my expensive glacier goggles. Oops. We awoke by 4AM under an astoundingly starry sky and got moving under what I hoped was a fresh start from the previous day's amateurishness on my part. We had vague ambitions of reaching the summit bivouacs but mostly wanted to get high up the wall before the Niche des Drus started dropping big rocks on the start of the route, which is probably the most dangerous part of the route for rockfall. The snow moat at the base of the wall was thankfully minimal, but the start of the route itself was a bit harrowing. It consisted of 5.4ish slabs and grooves with a literal waterfall running down it, enough that water would run down my sleeves as I tried to climb through it. It was also pretty much entirely unprotected save for a single shallow 0.2 X4 placement I found behind a flake, and we were moving together, so a slip by either or us would have been a catastrophe. After this exceptionally rude awakening, we reached a dry ledge with a bolted anchor, changed into rock shoes, and got the first dawn light to see where we were going. We simul-climbed the next 6 pitches of 5.7 to 5.9 in 2 blocks, which felt honestly great and we kept moving along at a good pace. I did notice I was sipping on my hydration hose worrisomely fast, probably a result of my lack of acclimatization (the bottom of the route is at 9000'), but this didn't feel like an enormous problem yet, as we were climbing in the early morning on a west face in the shade. By 8AM we reached the golden rock of the headwall and the climbing quality went from really good to spectacular. This is the first money pitch (pitch 11), the 40m dihedral, which is probably about 5.10d. It is as fun as it looks. Our strategy was to climb with our packs on unless the climbing was hard enough to make it really impractical. For us, that meant the packs were pretty much always on, but we hauled the 40m dihedral, which Jared found to be fairly miserable experience between the weight of the packs and how thin the 6mm tag line was that we used for the task. After that, we stopped hauling. I started slowing down between the increased difficulty of the climbing and mounting fatigue. We largely stopped simul-climbing, and I was also beginning to become acutely aware of my dwindling water supplies, as there was no snow or water available anywhere on the wall, it was just too steep to hold moisture. I also wasn't eating enough because of how dry my mouth was, which further cut into my energy levels. Jared following pitch 14, another nice 5.10 corner. We kept moving upwards with very few breaks (Jared had to coax me to adhere to this) until we reached the very nice jammed block bivy site atop pitch 20 at about 1:30PM, at about the same time that the sun did. As things tend to do when the sun comes out, it got a lot warmer really fast and I finished off my water. I was very dehydrated, so I wasn't able to get much food down, so my energy levels were a bit shit. Grateful to be climbing with a stronger partner, I told Jared he'd have to lead the crux pitches to come, which he was fine with. This is the crux of the route and it's crowning jewel, the so-called 90 meter dihedral. It's a long, smooth-sided finger crack dihedral in very smooth and top-quality granite. After an approach pitch up the start of 5.9+ or so, it gets broken into two long and pumpy pitches of 5.11b or so. Jared led the first pitch with no pack on and then hauled his pack up in a fine effort. To save him some suffering, I kept my pack on as the follower and commenced one of the hardest fights I've done on rock in a long time. A full pitch of fingerlocks, smearing, painful toe jams, and palm presses got me to just a few moves below the anchor when I needed to take. The 2nd pitch, if anything, is even cooler, but probably harder. Hauling again was miserable, so Jared tried to lead with his pack on, which proved very difficult-looking when the climbing turned into 5.11 laybacking off of a finger crack with smears for feet. After quite a few hangs and some pulling on gear, he made the anchor. At this point, I was completely gassed and I basically aided the pitch, standing in slings, pulling on whatever gear I could, the works. I regret this, but it's hard for me to feel too bad about being unable to climb 5.11 granite 23 pitches up with a big overnight pack on. After the 90m dihedral, the original route heads right towards the rockfall zone via a pendulum. Instead, we opted for the "German Rescue Traverse," which follows a bolt ladder to the left over the void towards the junction with the classic north face. Jared on the aid pitch. This one is just as much fun for the follower, and I was sloooow on it. The fixed rope is apparently pretty new, as are a couple of the bolts, since some of the horrifying old bolts that used to comprise the traverse appear to have broken. Reaching the comfortable bivy spot at the end of the traverse was a relief, and we decided to stay there for the night. Luckily there was snow and a bit of dripping water, though without gas it was definitely still a deprived situation. I ended up sleeping with a camelback full of snow in my sleeping bag with me to melt it for the next day, though not before realizing I'd forgotten my wag bag and shamefully pooped on the ledge and then flung it off the cliff into the abyss as far away from the standard north face route as I could manage (I swear that's the first time I've ever done that). Oops. The sunset from the bivy site was divine. My "cozy" little spot. I definitely woke up and checked to make sure I wasn't sliding towards the edge a couple of times in the night. We awoke at 5AM in order to get moving again, I was still pretty tired from the previous day but had grim determination to see it through. Ahhh. Alpine starts. It was extremely cool to get to climb on the historic 1935 route up the north face of the Drus. The face was considerably less chossy than its reputation and appearance from afar had led me to believe, and the rock was generally good. We started by simuling a couple of pitches, then I led the Fissure Martinetti bypass to the original crux, figuring getting to the top by the path of least resistance was challenge enough. We immediately canceled out this energy-saving measure, however, by getting a bit off route, with Jared leading a thin finger crack in a slab that felt like 5.10c or so, but it was hard to tell because it was a bit wet and I stood on a piton to get past the snowy start. Once back on route, we quickly pushed to the upper face via a couple of blocks of simul climbing, with ever expanding views. As we got higher, the rock got wetter and the ledges had more loose rock and snow on them. Near the top of the face, there was a bit of easy chimneying kept interesting by ice in the back and water running down one side. Classic north face stuff, I presume. Never hard enough to be a big problem though. North face ambiance. Yes, I was kicking steps up the snow in my TC Pros towards the end. Eventually we found the fabled hole through the mountain towards the south face, and opted to pass through it to finish up, mostly because climbing in the sun on drier rock again sounded nice. A couple rope lengths and a couple of route finding errors later, and I found myself with no higher to go. The summit of the Petit Dru! I had expected catharsis, but felt mostly mild relief that I could stop going up (at least for a moment). It's hard to relax much on a summit like that with such a long descent ahead. Nonetheless, I scrambled down to pay my respects to the summit Madonna. Can't imagine dragging that thing all the way up there. The next task was to traverse over to the Grand Dru with it's rappel descent. This consisted of a short scramble down followed by a few short, wandery bits of crack climbing up to 5.9 that culminated in a wet squeeze chimney. Entering the chimney, I very briefly considered taking my pack off and committing to the free grovel, but quickly decided that the knotted rope in the back looked more appealing, so an aid pitch it was. Finally, we found ourselves on the summit snowfield of the Grand Dru. Jared on the highest point of the Drus. Summit panorama. Not a bad view at all. Amazing spires all around. Not much can be said about the rappel descents on the south face of the Grand Dru other than that they were long, wet, and tiresome. The rope got hopelessly stuck on the pull after the very first 45m rappel, forcing Jared to lead 2 pitches to get it out of the flake that had eaten it, which definitely soured the mood. Mercifully, there were no more incidents for the next 10 rappels down to the Charpoua Glacier. The glacier was in decent shape, but the snow was incredibly soft and repeated post holing got my socks quite wet. Once we neared its bottom though, we were confronted with a small ice cliff of about 40 degrees that we had to front point down. I'd compare it to a short version of the first pitch of the Kautz. The mountains refused to just let us go easily. Steep wet snow. The small ice cliff we had to downclimb. The two summits of the Drus on the left from once we were finally below the glacier. The Aiguille Verte is on the right. Finally we were able to unrope and a short hike brought us to the Charpoua Hut, where we were able to get a nice dinner. It was clear that the weather was taking a turn for the worse and also that our plans to hike out that day had been thwarted by general slowness. The decision was made to get as low as possible before finding a place to bivy. Sunset from the Charpoua Hut. The next few hours were quite unpleasant. The trail followed easily enough until it got completely dark, and it became clear that my Swiss map app that I had on my phone did not have the right trail positions marked for these very French mountains (go figure). We wasted lots of time, energy, and patience with each other repeatedly losing and refinding the trail, including a big detour following a trail that petered out. It later turned out that the trail we tried to go down had been abandoned because it was exposed to serac fall from the Charpoua Glacier and in the dark we didn't really realize the danger. Oops. Finally, however, we got on the correct trail and things were going pretty well, except for the increasingly frequent but still silent flashes of lightning coming from the west. At about 11:30PM, we figured we were getting pretty close to where the trail descended steeply to the Mer de Glace and not wanting do deal with that, we looked for a place to sleep. Jared quickly found a very inviting-seeming cave with a nice flat floor formed by a large boulder. I crawled in to the back (the ceiling was pretty low) and Jared set up his bivy closer to the entrance. All seemed well. A mere hour later we were brought to attention by several very loud and very close thunderclaps, followed by a quick start to what sounded like an impressive downpour. In the back of the cave, I felt a bit of mist in the air, but Jared gave a cry of alarm. Close to the mouth of the cave, the wind was blowing rain on him, and water running across the roof was dripping on him and to a lesser extent on me. I moved to shove myself farther back to give him room to seek more shelter. Jared, however, sounded increasingly frantic, followed by cries of "there's a hole, there's a hole!" Not understanding, I turned on my light, only to see to my horror that my inflatable groundpad was surrounded by a flood of water between 1 and 2 inches deep, making it basically a life raft in our flooding bivy cave. I grabbed a rock and started digging a trench to drain some of the water out and prevent myself from being overtopped. Jared's situation was much worse. When scooting his ground pad towards me, he had popped it on something underneath him (the "hole"), causing it to rapidly deflate and drop both him and his down sleeping bag into a pool of freezing cold water. Luckily, the rain slowed and stopped as quickly as it began, and we managed to spend the rest of the night partially sharing my sleeping mat (though I must confess I took more than an even share) and huddling for warmth. The water drained away once it was not being replenished. Once their was light at about 5:30, we packed up our things, I silently thanked the weather gods that it wasn't raining, and got ready to move out. I'd been in the back of the cave between Jared and the entrance, so I remarked "at least that little breeze was nice," thankful for the ventilation. Clearly irritated, Jared snapped back that the breeze had kept him up all night shivering, and I remorsefully realized he'd had a much rougher night than I had. Despite that, he again put me to shame by setting a strong hiking pace out that I struggled to match, which is worthy of all respect. The cave as seen the morning after. We slept down and to the right in the slot. The south face of the Drus from the morning wet hike out. There were lots of ladders, both in the morning and all over the trail the previous night while we hiked in the dark. Morning on the Mer de Glace. Almost at the end of our hike out, the clouds parted one last time to give us a final view of the Dru, a source of a great adventure I'll remember for a long time. Writing this TR 5 days after that morning hike out, I can safely say that I'm still pretty tired and sore, and some of my toes are still a bit numb from all the jamming, but despite the low points and many small screw ups, it felt like a good experience worth doing. As of June 2013, the Old Chute route on Mount Hood was probably the most intense alpine climb I'd ever done. It's been wild to progress to a climb like this and I'm definitely interested to find out what the future holds, but I'm pretty sure at this point the remainder of my summer will be dominated by low altitudes and beers in the sun more than north faces and cold bivouacs. Once that bad alpinist memory kicks in though, well, I guess we'll see. Gear Notes: All the alpine stuff Approach Notes: straightforward by alpine standards
  26. 6 points
    Trip: Chiwaukum Range - Chiwaukum High Route Trip Date: 09/09/2021 Trip Report: This definitely isn't alpine climbing, and nothing exceeded class 3, but I think it is kinda interesting... John Berude and I completed a high traverse of the Chiwaukum Range in a single push. We started at the Lake Ethel Trailhead and ended at Hatchery Creek, summitting Big C, Big Lou, and Big Jim along the way. It was definitely the hardest high route thing I have onsited in a day and one of the best days I have had out there with the scenery and fall colors. It measured 32 miles and 14k ft gain, mostly off trail, and took us 16 hours. Full TR: https://climberkyle.com/2021/09/09/chiwaukum-high-route/ The most interesting part was getting between the Glacier Creek and South Fork Chiwaukum drainages. We utilized the pass to the east of Pt 7955. The south side of the pass looks improbably on a topo map, and there is indeed a cliff there. But one can follow ledges westward and through the cliff band miraculously. A beautiful morning in the Chiwaukum. Above Cup Lake. Some exposed scrambling on Big C. The beautiful Glacier Creek drainage. Looking back on the key ledge that gets you through the cliffs near Pt 7955. Vibrant orange near Cape Horn. On the summit of Big Lou. Nearing the summit of Big Jim. Gear Notes: Running shoes, poles, running vests. Approach Notes: Leave Lake Ethel Trail right before going down to the lake and enter the alpine! Hatchery Creek has over a hundred blowdowns.
  27. 6 points
    Trip: Dragontail Peak, NE Towers - This, My Friend Trip Date: 09/12/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday Kat and I climbed "This, My Friend" on the east aspect of Dragontail Peak. The route is only a year old at this point and is getting alot of attention, for good reason. Hats off to the FA party for the vision and the work cleaning this thing up. Its five pitches and all but a short connector pitch are 55m of clean, fun climbing. We got moving at the trailhead around 5am Sunday morning and reached the base of the route around 8am. I lead the first pitch which is also the crux of the route. The general consensus of this pitch so far is that its 5.10-. It starts with really easy climbing then heads straight up a shallow, flaring thin hands and ring lock crack followed by slightly easier terrain. Pro is tricky on this pitch, but I found three bomber #1 placements. From there Kat lead pitch 2, THE money pitch and an absolute gem. A full rope length of 5.9 awesome finger locks and perfect hands. Stupid good. After that, Kat lead the 5.meh connector pitch to the base of the headwall so I too could have a money pitch. Thanks again Kat. Pitch 4 goes up a clean headwall split by a 5.7 varying crack, mostly hands. Awesome jams peppered with knobs all around it. Pitch 5 is wandery 5.7 crack and face climbing to the summit of the East Pinnacle. From there we followed the descent description trending southwest down ramps and ledges to the Dragontail trail. We found a way that stayed in 3rd or 4th class terrain with only one spicy no falls allowed section. I built some cairns along the way. Its a quick hike back to the base following the Dragontail southside trail to Asgard. We got back to the base around 2pm. We both climbed with little packs to carry our shoes, puffies, and a little water. That all could fit on your harness if you want but I liked my harness being a bit less crowded. None of the climbing felt cumbersome with a small pack. The hike out went just fine and got back to the car around 5:30pm. This is an awesome route that will no doubt become a crowded classic due to the quality moderate climbing. Me starting the first pitch. it veers left from here: Part way through the first pitch: Kat on the 2nd pitch: Me starting up the pitch 4 headwall. Kat photo of the headwall cracks: Kat coming up the final moves of the Pitch 4 headwall: Last Pitch: Me coming up the last pitch: Coming down the steepest part of the descent: Gear Notes: 60m rope. At least a double rack of cams .2-2 and one #3. Metolius 00-1 proved quite useful too. With this route triples of certain sizes would not go unused. We had triples of .4-2, which we thought was just a bit overkill. If doing it again I'd bring triples of .75-2 instead. Selection of small to medium stoppers. 10 alpine draws and 2 double length slings. Seasonally dependent snow gear. Approach Notes: Colchuck Lake to Asgard pass. Cut over headed west on scree and talus at approximately 7300-7400'.
  28. 6 points
    Trip: Stuart Range - Stuart Range Traverse Trip Date: 08/30/2021 Trip Report: I was Initially a little hesitant to write this report as it was certainly nothing groundbreaking, I don’t really have any super helpful beta and it just kinda felt like I was stroking my ego. Anyhow, here is a short report of beta I wish I had for the traverse. I'd also like to echo that this is basically a long dry sidehill. If you are expecting a bunch a great climbing, think again. It felt like a dangerous hike. The other day I climbed the Stuart Range Traverse over about 31 hours, including a 7ish hour nap near Prusik. I decided to start on the W-ridge of Stuart via Ingalls and out to the Snow Lake Trail. This is the straightest line on the map, and that appealed to me for some reason. Thankfully my friend Alastair was generous enough to shuttle me back to my car the next day. Thanks bud! The first crux for me was getting over to the east side of Sherpa. It seemed that one with a rope could easily rap over the other side of the summit and continue on their way, unfortunately I didn’t have that luxury. I chose to down climb the S couloir a little ways, and then follow a ledge system around the mountain to the east. This worked out in the end, but was time consuming and a bit circuitous. The next crux for me came at Argonaut. In classic fashion, I had only gathered just enough beta (literally just a picture looking up the S-face) to not fully epic, but not quite enough to know where I was going. I opted for the first gully (pictured below) up to the ridge, hoping for straightforward traversing to the base of the S-face. I encountered anything but. This side of the mountain consists of an incredible grouping of gullies, towers and fins. While striking, it makes for slow arduous travel. I later learned that other solo travelers had dropped low down to approach the face straight on. This would probably be faster/less stressful, but not nearly as cool. I eventually got where I needed to go. Getting off of Argo was definitely the most stressful part, and the spot that I really wish I had a rope. I ended up walking down to a 2-bolt 1-pin rap anchor, and down climbed from there. This bit was loose, slabby and just no fun. While not necessary, a rope here would be really really nice, especially after all the terrain you’ve already covered for the day. This spot also seems to seep earlier in the season, so a rope might be required most of the year. I believe there is a rap/downclimb route to climbers left that may skip it. More downclimbing on better rock took me down to the basin. A small snow patch below Argo provided a tiny trickle of water for me to fill up with. If It wasn’t for this, I would have only had one liter for the rest of the traverse. The rest of the traverse is mostly walking unless you stick to the ridges. The snow free walk off of D-tail is chill and cairned right now. I’ll certainly be taking this route in the future for getting off D-tail late season. There is a small glacier at the pass between Boola Boola Buttress and Lil A. When I hiked by, there was standing water between the dirt and ice. This may be a spot to fill up, but I didn’t look too closely at how nasty it was. GPS track found HERE Here's a photo dump for inspiration Gear Notes: 60m 6mm tag line, Dyneema sling for harness, Reverso + Locker would be a perfect rap kit. Minimum 3L water storage. Good music to keep you company. Brought rock shoes but never used them. Trail gaiters are $$$! Approach Notes: Choose your own adventure
  29. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Index - North-Middle-Main Traverse Trip Date: 07/10/2021 Trip Report: The weekend of the 10th and 11th of July Bobby, Chad, and I spent 2 days climbing the North, Middle, and Main peaks of Mount Index. Done as a traverse from north to south this route offers amazing exposure, complex route finding, and engaging climbing. Most interestingly is the proximity to civilization; the remote feeling you get high up on the peaks in juxtaposition of the ever present crowds of Lake Serene and the thrum of the weekend traffic is a dynamic I have not found elsewhere in the Cascades. I have stared at this mountain many times over the years, but always put off the traverse due to timing, lack of solid parters, or lack of physical ability. Fortunately all of the pieces fell together this summer and I had no reason not to do the climb, besides the well deserved reputation of the mountain and the route. It is a big route indeed with over 4k feet of technical scrambling and climbing. Long sections of steep sometimes loose rock on the way up and committing rappels on the way down keep you from gaining each peak. Also for any normal person, it takes an overnight bivy on the middle peak that may or may not have water. For us it was two 14+ hour days, but they were rewarded with one of the most amazing bivies I have slept at and stunning ridge climbing with views not only of Glacier Peak, but Seattle and Bellevue as well. Information on this route was a little hard to come by and it was one of the first times in a while I found the Becky book to have the most reliable route description. We also used trip reports from Tom Sjolseth and Jason Griffith found on this site. Both were helpful. I have added some beta to this trip report for those interested as there were some definite holes in the becky description. We left the parking lot about 6:30 am and enjoyed a talking pace up to the lake on the steep trail. The first views of the route come just before the lake when you can see the traverse in its entirety. As we got to the lake we got fresh water. We did not know when we would be able to get water next as the N face appeared basically dry. Bobby pondering what he had gotten himself into. We skirted the trail along the west side of the lake until the talus slope then headed up to the base of the North Face. The North face of the North Peak of Index is about 2500 feet of technical climbing and scrambling. None of it is extremely hard, but protection can be poor and belays hard to come by at times. While we climbed we passed many rappel station of various quality as well as old fixed pins so it was not too difficult to know we were on route. Route overlay of North Face of North Peak of Index. From the toe of the NNE rib we started up very brushy trees until you could gain the rib. We followed the rib straight up for about 100' then cut left at a bushy section to get into an open book. Climb up this before trending back right onto a long slabby section. Ascend the slab until reach a small roof feature. There is an anchor here made form a pin and nut just under the roof. From here we began simul climbing off left trending around overhanging roof features. The steep walls will kept pushing us left until we gained a treed ledge with an open book above. This is the crux of the route. I climbed an open book, that is more of a face, up about 50-60 feet until it forces you off right on a sharp traverse to gain a long gully system. There were 2 fixed pins at the point of the traverse right that I clipped for pro. The gulley system can't bee seen from the lake or trail as it is facing north. We went up the gully for 300-400 feet until we were able to traverse right into the open bowl of the north face. This put us in about the middle of the bowl at this point. Once there we went left into the obvious large gulley system. Most climbing was done on the right of the gulley until you can traverse right to the notch at the start of the North RIb. The North Rib is pretty obvious once you are there. It is great exposed climbing for 2-3 pitches. Looking down from above the North RIb. Once above the North rib the climbing is below 5th class with mostly exposed moved of 4th class. The false summit is gained via steep heather gullies on the east. We were able to find a patch of Snow just below the False summit and refreshed our water supply. From the false summit you scramble through a series of steep gendarmes. While the climbing is technically easy the exposure it insane. The final climb to the true summit is on the North face and is mostly heather and loose rock. Nothing too difficult, just very exposed. Exposed scrambling along the ridge from the North False Summit to the North Summit. More Insane exposure along the ridge to the North Peak. North peak at top of picture. View toward Main Peak from North Summit. We summited the North peak at about 3 pm. This is where the real choice is made. It is still possible to descend the North face, but once you head down to the North-Middle notch coming back becomes much more difficult. Of course we didn't do all that climbing with overnight packs to not at least try to find our way. At this point it seemed very unclear from the becky description as to where to go. He illiterates to descending to 4880' in a gulley to the west, which is not at all what we did. We descended the south side of the peak to the first gendarme and rappelled to the west about a rope length down a gulley from a block that is kinda hidden behind the gendarme. HFrom the end of the rappel we traversed back up the east side under the gendarme and descended down a gulley to the east about 150'. We did one rappel down the gulley to the east, but could have easily down-climbed. From here you climb back west and up to a notch between the second and third gendarme and rappel down to the west side of the ridge. Traverse down along the ridge on the west side until you get just above the North-Middle notch then do one rappel down to the notch. Not too complicated right? North Peak as viewed from the Middle peak. One can see pretty well how the descent from the North Peak to the North-Middle notch is done from here. This is the second rappel shown in the picture above. The block with all the slings is a pretty obvious point to get to and know you're on the right track. Chad and I getting ready to rap off the block down to the west side of the ridge. Once down to the North-Middle notch it is a simple matter of getting up onto the ridge then climbing this up and over the false summit of Middle to a bivy site we were hoping would have a patch of snow near it. Exactly where to ascend up to the ridge from the notch was unclear. We ended up traversing left about 50' and ascending a shallow east facing corner, which I think is what becky describes in his guide. We could not see that the corner was shallower until we got right underneath it. Once we gained the ridge we were treated with some of the best climbing of the trip. Gorgeous views all around on a knife edge ridge that went on for about 3-4 pitches. We continued this up and over the Middle false summit to one slightly overhanging rappel down to the notch between the Middle Peak false summit and Middle Peak. And just as luck had it there was still a small snow patch to get water from for the night. Amazing ridge climbing in route to Middle Peak. Almost to the Middle Peak false summit. Chad hoping for the long day to be over along the North Ridge of Middle Peak. We got the bivy about 8:30 PM. We melted snow, drank a little Jim Beam, and settled in for the night. The bivy is first class given what else is on the route. Plush and flat with plenty of room for 3, and perfectly located to split the climb into 2 relatively equal days of work. Celebrating getting to the bivy and a good night of sleep. Beautiful sunset over Mt. Persis. The next morning we got going around 7:30 AM and began the ascent to the Middle peak true summit. Most of the mornings travels were fairly easy given yesterdays work. The Middle peak is gained by the east face. Traverse to the east side and ascend broken slabs and heater until the summit is gained. Bobby excited to get up the Middle Peak of Index, one of the most difficult to reach in the state. Sunset falls can be seen in the middle of the photo in the background. From here Becky describes getting to the Middle-Main notch in one sentence. "Descend easily to the Middle-Main Peak notch". I am gonna have to disagree with Becky on this one and say it was a bit more involved then that. We did 2 rappels on the way there and switched from one side of the ridge to the other multiple times. We started mainly on the crest until steep rock forced us down to a gulley to the east. After passing this first gendarme we were forced back onto the west side with a short rappel down to a ledge system. We traversed the ledge system until we went back east onto a broad series of light colored slabby ledges. These ledges had snow for water. From here we went down the slab until we cliffed out and had to cross back to the east side down a steep series of steps leading directly toward the notch. From here one can see the notch. A steep red colored gulley trends back east and we set up a rap anchor on a tree above this gulley then rappelled down it under a chockstone. At the end of the rappel we traversed into the notch. In all parts there was basically only one way to go or it cliffed out. During this whole descent we were treated with the view of the impending north face of the Main Peak. It is very ominous looked at straight on. Foreshortening can be a real mind killer, but it is all there and the climbing is moderate, if not loose and sketchy in places. Technical crux of Main Peak north face coming out of the Middle-Main Notch. We climbed a short chimney out of the notch that lead to more low 5th class climbing. overall the idea was to climb the initial steep wall out of the notch, then trend left until the main ridge emanating from the South Norwegian buttress can be gained. This is climbed until the Wedge gendarme is reached. The climbing involves sections of trees and exposed ridge as well as a cool left facing corner to gain the upper ridge. Once at the Wedge gendarme we down climbed a short section then up the main face until we found a suitable place to traverse across the giant red gash through the middle of the face. View of the North Face of Main Peak from the descent down to the Middle-Main notch. High quality rock we had to traverse to get out of the north face and onto easier terrain. Once across the gulley we traversed ledges until you can pass through a notch and onto the west side of the Main peak. From here the technical climbing is over and it is a short trip to the summit. We continued traversing south from the notch past 3 gullies until we could ascend a heather and dirt gully up to gentle slopes near the summit. Walk SE toward the broad summit of the Main Peak of Index. We were excited to reach the summit. 3 peaks in 2 days of 1 mountain and still we were only half way there. Index does not give up the goods easily and we still had the arduous descent of the Hourglass gulley to get done. None of us had crampons and I only had approach shoes on, so the idea of descending steep snow was questionable at best. The trip to the top of the gulley was a quick easterly traverse from the summit. At the top of the gulley system we stayed skiers left and did one initial rappel off a tree to get onto a snow field. We made a gingerly descent of the snow field to a band of rocks and trees and did two more rappels from here to get down below the hourglass feature. At the time we passed it there was a 5-8 foot wide moat at the bottom of the hourglass that was very deep. Tedious down climbing of snow and a few good snow bollards got us down to the talus slope and most of the difficult descent behind us. We headed down until we got to the top of the ridge visible from Lake serene. We followed the ridge along its crest and did one rappel along the ridge where it got very steep. Talus down to the lake and traverse along the south side until we got to the main trail. It was a long day to get down and we didn't get back to the parking lot until 10:30 pm. It was well worth it though to be able to do such a big adventure so close to home. I am pretty sure I could see my house from the bivy. I would recommend this climb to anyone looking for a big adventure. If you have honed your alpine climbing skills and wish to test them all then Index provides as it always has. Gear Notes: single 60 or 70m rope will work double rack to 2" and set of nuts Long slings for trees and horns. Extra tat for rapel anchors as necessary Approach Notes: Lake serene trail is pretty nice given some of the approaches to climbs in this state.
  30. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys Trip Date: 08/23/2021 Trip Report: At around noon on Monday the 25th of August, my friend Matt and I began our two-day summit attempt of Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys. Faint hopes of blue skies and dry rock, dampened somewhat by our cloudy arrival at the Lake Ann trailhead, were dashed completely as we descended into the valley between Shuksan Arm and Kulshan Ridge. Drizzle turned to shower as we hiked along the valley floor. With miles to go before the entrance to the Chimneys, we were both already fretting over steep scrambling on slippery rock. At one point, Matt replied to a hiker that we “were” going to climb Shuksan, a slip of the tongue that indicated our growing pessimism. But, we hiked on through Ann Lake and up through the switchbacked entrance to the Chimneys, determined to at least see the rock for ourselves. Around two and a half hours in by this point, the rain had died down, but visibility remained poor. The first of the Chimneys went smoothly. We had trouble figuring out where the second Chimneys began at the end of the last talus field you cross. Beckey anchors the entrance at a “large boulder”, so through the fog we warily traversed the talus to what looked like, at least to us, a pretty big rock at the mouth of a large gully. The rock in the second Chimneys had fortunately been mostly guarded from rain and appeared to be climbable, so we began ascending. The climbing through the beginning was mostly 3rd class with the occasional awkward and exposed move. The way was much less obvious than we had expected, but we eventually reached a position that allowed us to look back on a well-defined trail that had gained elevation much closer to the entrance. Had we sidestepped the entrance to the second Chimneys? Confused but relieved to find better-trodden trail, we continued in a more straightforward manner up 3rd class rock. Both of the Chimneys had taken us a little more than two hours. We then hopped over to Winnie’s Slide, which this late in the season was now mostly ice topped with a thin layer of snow that had been deposited the night before. Being novice ice climbers, both Matt and I expected this to be another crux in our approach, but our combinations of a hybrid ice axe and an ice tool each proved to be more than adequate, though we didn’t break any speed records gingerly soloing up the steep ice. We camped just past the top of Winnie’s slide at the western edge of the Upper Curtis beneath a towering rock wall after around six hours on the move. There were at least four good tent spots in that general area, and runoff from a small glacial pool just ten yards away provided crystal clear water. The clouds began to clear, and patches of blue gave way to broadening swaths of green and red and orange, yielding beautiful views of Baker and the Upper Curtis bathed in sunset light. We woke up before dawn to a clear and moonlit sky and took our first step onto the Upper Curtis at around 6:20. The snow had frozen into a grippy crust overnight and allowed for easy traversing around clearly visible crevasses to the entrance to Hell’s Highway. Having talked to a guide we had camped close to the previous night, we already knew that the standard ascent towards the left was too riddled with gaping crevasses to go, so we instead gained a windblown, sharp-edged ridge that stood to the right and above these huge rents in the ice. There was a small bridge we were able to cross to get to the bottom of the ridge, but I suspect that this will soon melt out and make Hell’s Highway impassible. We soloed this moderate pitch of ice, which was about as steep as Winnie’s but shorter, though the runout was a little more unnerving. Once we gained the Sulphide, navigation over the lightly dusted bare glacier looked like it would be a piece of cake, and we decided that we could leave our 48m twin rope in the bag. In no time, we had meandered through the large crevasses on fresh bootpack up to a notch at the Southeast Rib of the Summit Pyramid. We took our boots and crampons off and donned rock shoes. The Rib itself went smoothly, and with the exception of one deviation down into a gully climber’s left, we ascended the rocky spine, which was mostly 4th class with perhaps one or two low-5th moves that made me pause for a second. We had decided we would rope up if things got too spicy, but before we knew it it was 9 o’clock and we had reached the summit, rope still stowed away. The views of Baker under a now nearly cloudless sky and the setting moon were stunning, and I also enjoyed looking upon Ruth Mountain, whose early-season ascent I made last summer I consider to be the true start of my mountaineering adventures. We didn’t spend much more time on the summit, and after just a few minutes we began downclimbing one of the large south gullies. After an uneventful downclimb and descent off the Sulphide, we were back at Hell’s Highway. We soloed the descent of the sharp, icy ridge, with every step and stick being made very carefully to ensure our first ice downclimb wouldn’t potentially be our last. Two and a half hours after our summit, we were back at the campsite. We packed up and soloed yet another slow but secure downclimb of Winnie’s Slide, passing a guided group who were making their way up. At the bottom, we encountered yet another party, one of whose members had taken a spill and sprained their ankle. Soon we were at the upper exit of Fisher Chimneys, and the bright sun and bone-dry rock made for a descent much more cheerful than the ascent, though the rhythmic thumping of nearby helicopter blades reminded me to keep paying attention. After running into three more parties on their way up, we eventually reached the point where the day before we had joined what looked like a much clearer trail through the Chimneys. Taking the well-traveled trail down to an unfamiliar steep dihedral corner, it was clear that we had bypassed a large chunk of the second Chimney the day before. For the only time during our trip, we pulled out the rope, deciding to rappel down the feature rather than downclimb. Soon we had reached the bottom of the second Chimneys, and without the fog of the previous day, it was clear that the “large boulder” south of us on the rock field that we thought we had entered by before was a pipsqueak compared to the massive unit we now stood by. We made our way across the talus field on what was now a clear trail, and as the adrenaline wore off making our way down the mellow first Chimneys and the switchbacks back to Lake Ann, the fatigue began to set in. At around ten hours in, we made it to Lake Ann and took a quick breather, relishing in our success and overall luck with the weather, but ready to zip through the remaining four miles of trail back to the car. The next couple of hours flew by as we chatted and took in the expansive views we had missed the day before, and after a brief 800ft climb at the end were back at the trailhead, content with our completion of the diverse and stimulating Fisher Chimneys route. Gear Notes: Helmet, crampons, hybrid ice axe and an ice tool each, single 48m twin rope, rock shoes, standard climbing gear (harness, belay device, carabiners, slings for rappel extension, etc.) Approach Notes: The boulder that stands guard over the entrance to the second Chimneys is marked with a white arrow. There is also a cairned trail that leads to it across the talus field. There should be pretty clear trail almost immediately upon entry into the second Chimneys. If you doubt that you are in the right gully at the beginning, you probably aren’t. There is ample water up to the top of Winnie’s Slide. We did not see any water past the small pond at the campsite here, so fill up here before you make your bid for the summit. Winnie’s Slide and Hell’s Highway are pretty much all ice this late in the season, especially with it being such a hot summer. Two ice tools felt necessary to us, though your mileage may vary. The standard climber’s left ascent of Hell’s Highway was crevassed and wouldn’t go; gaining the sharp ridge to the right (beta we got from the guide at our campsite) was the move. To get onto this ridge, we had to descend onto and then climb off a small snowbridge that may be difficult to cross soon. Rock shoes were great for the Southeast Rib. Like the two ice tools, they may have not been necessary, but they gave us some additional security that we might have otherwise sought with a rope.
  31. 6 points
    Trip: Mox Peaks - NW Peak (Easy Mox) - NE Ridge Trip Date: 07/24/2021 Trip Report: It's been a long journey tackling the Bulger list. And what a way to end it - with a long journey! A long fucking journey! In 2019 I was committed to slaying the beast, tackling 14 of 16 remaining Bulgers only to get blocked in late August in the Chilliwacks when we cut the trip a day - and a Mox - short due to an injury. Oh, well, that just left me with just two peaks to clean up in 2020 - Buckner and Easy Mox. Easy enough. Then there was COVID. As the border closure continued into June 2020, I began researching approaches from the US side for Easy Mox. No option seemed appealing, but two stood out as viable options: a high traverse via Whatcom or approaching via Silver Creek. I procrastinated, hoping the border would reopen, then finally tried each - and failed - in late summer. I utterly underestimated what these approaches would take, and despite being in great shape by that time of year, fell short. Oh well, I could just do the standard approach in July 2021, right? When it was obvious the border would not reopen in July, I began planning again. I coaxed and wheedled friends to try to join me for weeks - after all, who wouldn't jump on such an opportunity, especially to take multiple days off of work for a death march? The amazing weather we have seen in July held and held and held. The stars aligned on climbing partners. I pulled the trigger. There were three of us: my son, Jorge, and me. Applying lessons from my failed attempt in August 2020, I split this trip into a 5.5 day itinerary, which went as follows: Day 1: Evening hike to camp at Hannegan Pass. Not much to say here except we arrived later due to traffic and started up at 8 pm. So glad I built in buffer to my itinerary! Day 2: Got up early-ish and hiked trails to Whatcom Pass, then took by-trail towards Middle Lakes, camping by a small tarn with awesome views of Challenger and Whatcom. The tarn was warm and we even got to clean up before dinner. (7:15am - 5:15pm). Day 3: Got up early and did the high traverse, camping on slabs above Bear Lake, SW of the saddle extending below the SW-trending ridge extending from the SE peak of Redoubt (6 am to 7:30 pm). We had a small pool with running water *at* camp. The high traverse was inspired by a TR from a few years ago. In summary, we summitted Taps mountain, then traversed ridges NE-ly to the lake below Cave Mountain (Pass Lake?). We then traversed NW towards Bear, then NE towards Redoubt. Our biggest time sink on this day was due to bush-whacking through hideous, thick trees on steep slopes getting to the upper basin above the Pass Creek drainage. We took 3 hours in this section. Day 4: Long fucking day (6 am to midnight). This involved traversing to the ridge on the Depot-Redoubt Divide, traversing the Redoubt glacier, climbing the route, then doing it all in reverse. Some detail on our long climbing day: We ascended the SW ridge of the SE peak of Redoubt until about 7200', then downclimbed about 100-200' to talus and traversed to the first point we could cross on the E ridge of the SE Peak of Redoubt, roped up, then walked the glacier over to a fine snow ramp leading towards the low point on the NE ridge of Easy Mox. I led a full 60m pitch up the slabs above the snow ramp, only to be stopped about 30 feet short of scramble terrain, and then led a very short second pitch to the top rap anchor. We then scrambled the ridge. Holy shit, what an amazingly exposed, improbable ridge! We found the gully off the ridge easily and scouted out the final pitch and settled on two options. I tried the easier one (we had a picture from an online TR that made it look like the right start) but it dead-ended on the ridge so I downclimbed. Jorge then led the other option (which was correct) and set up a belay at the bottom rap sling. We then solo'd the final 25 feet or so (up to the higher rap anchor). We did two rappels, downclimbed the ridge, then did two more rappels. We were super careful to not get any ropes stuck on our pulls! It was now around 8 pm. We roped up and crossed the glacier which was very soft after a full-day of sun exposure. We essentially retraced our boot path, but punched through opening crevasses twice (on the eastern lobe of the glacier). As we rounded the rock spur to get to the W part of the glacier, the sun set and we unroped by headlamp. We then miraculously scrambled boulders, talus, and scree back to camp with minimal issues. Day 5: Slept in (8 am) and did the traverse back to our camp from Day 2. We got a late start due to the previous long day. It was hot and sunny - the hottest day so far, and we were grateful for lingering snow patches and fresh running water in many places. We followed a much better contour from the upper Pass Creek drainage back to the NE ridge of Peak 6874 which took us less than half the time to do. Bugs were bad at camp - noticeably the worst of the trip so far. (10 am to 8:30 pm) Day 6: Got up early and did the full 17.5+ mi hike out to Hannegan Pass. Bugs were hideous in the final few miles to Hannegan Pass. (6:30 am to 6:30 pm). Bulgers done. 100/100. Now for the pics! View of high traverse from the summit of Taps Mountain. Redoubt looks *far* from here: Views South from Taps Mountain. We were surrounded by these amazing views above treeline continuously for four days: Looking back at the first part of the high traverse from near and below Peak 6874 Indian Creek Drainage from the traverse. Bear Mountain on left: Traversing the lake above Pass Creek and below Cave Mountain. I believe it is called Pass Lake: Nearing the end of our traverse and camp. Redoubt is finally close! Summit Day taken just above our camp. The Moxes still look far. We had a lot of talus to traverse just to get to the glacier! Finally on the Redoubt Glacier! Looking down P1: Hard Mox as viewed along the N ridge of Easy Mox. The exposure and views are unbelievable! Summit views from Mox back towards our traverse: Spickard, Custer, Rahm. Been there, done those: Shuksan, Baker. Ruth looks far! TBH, I was not looking forward to the long walk back to Hannegan when I took this pic: Jorge on the summit: My son and I on the summit. KK rappelling. This, along with one I have from Storm King are my two favorite rap photos ever! Redoubt as the sun got lower in the sky and we downclimbed. The sidewalk in the sky: Longer view up the NE ridge: At camp on day 5, getting ready to traverse back to Middle Lakes: Looking down the Indian Creek drainage. Taken on the traverse back to Middle Lakes: Taken from a point about 6400' - the high point on the NE ridge of Peak 6874 that we climbed after the traverse above the Pass Creek drainage (right of frame, mostly out of view, blocked by the ridge): East Lakes as viewed on the traverse, near Taps Mountain: Descending to upper Middle Lake: Gear Notes: 60m rope, mid-sized rack, helmets, glacier climbing gear Approach Notes: Long, brutal, epic.
  32. 5 points
    I hope Instagram dies a swift and fiery death..... Until then, you all will be subject to my obsession with publicly posting images. Sorry! Kulshan last Saturday afternoon:
  33. 5 points
    Trip: The Tetons! - Complete Exum, CMC, Teewinot Trip Date: 07/21/2021 Trip Report: I broke my thumb last weekend mountain biking with my boys, so I may as well add a TR to the database while I wait to meet with a surgeon. Keep your wheels on the ground people, and don't believe your kids if they say "Don't think Dad, just send it!" But I digress from the telling of the 2021 summer climbing road trip to the Tetons.... Frequent visitors to this site will know that I have been going on week long climbing trips with @Trent for about 15 years. The last few years our friends John and @cfire have joined us, and last year was no exception. John has a sweet van and so we piled in for the loooooong drive to Jackson Hole, stopping for some free roadside camping along the Snake enroute: The next day we finished the drive and sussed out the permit situation in the park that week (not bad for walk-ups, much better than NCNP in high summer). We had car camping reservations in the park for those days that we weren't on the mountain, which helped to limit the shenanigans before and after climbs. We just got those from people dropping out the week before on recreation.gov. Then it was to bed early for a proper alpine start for the classic scramble route on Teewinot. And what a great route! Direct, solid, and scenic- we were beginning to see why the Tetons were so hyped. And also surprisingly quiet. I think we only saw two other parties all day. For how jammed the roads are in the park, the climbing crowds are pretty mellow. I would highly recommend the Tweewinot scramble as a good warm up/ acclimatization for early in the trip: And then it was back to the van, after locating a couple canoes for the next day's approach to Mount Moran's CMC route. This route was a first for me, since I had never used a canoe to approach a mountain, nor even portaged once in my life. And the CMC camp was really in a great spot, with airplane wing views across the Jackson environs. Just don't expect it to be a casual 5.6 route, we were pleasantly surprised by the challenging route finding and scrambling. As with many Cascades routes, the crux isn't always when you have the rope on. Oh, and we had the mountain and camp to ourselves, in July! The Grand: The dramatic East and West Horns on Moran: one of the best 5.6 pitches anywhere, high on the CMC: The Beast that is Moran. CMC right up the middle: And then we took a rest day in some dispersed camping outside the park, preparing for the main event- The Complete Exum on the Grand Teton. I was a little nervous with actual climbing at altitude, but I had the three rope guns of @Trent, @cfire, and John do do the heavy lifting. I just needed to make sure that I didn't miss the shot. We opted for the civilized approach of hiking to the Lower Saddle on day 1 (upper saddle was full), then an alpine start to climb and descend on day 2. We saw more people in these two days, but it was still pretty chill and totally reasonable once on route. And what a route! It is absolutely classic start to finish and deserving of it's "50 Classics" status. Completely solid, long, with a great position and straightforward descent. I won't be able to add anything that hasn't already been said of the route (plus, broken thumb, remember?) and so I will leave it to the photos..... I have no idea: Descent via impressive rap down O-S route: Which way? The end. Thanks much to @Trent, @cfire, and John-the older I get the more I value my climbing partners. The mountains are just an excuse to spend time with these solid dudes! Gear Notes: Approach shoes and climbing gear. Not much snow or ice to get to these routes in high summer Approach Notes: Follow the masses
  34. 5 points
    Trip: A Peak - Knickerbocker and the Bull Moose (FA) Trip Date: 04/25/2022 Trip Report: With a short good weather window and high hopes Earl and I set off into the Cabinets to see what we could find on the North Face of A Peak. We left the trailhead under warm and sunny skies and enjoyed the dirt trail and glacier lily's for the first couple miles. It was definitely spring and we wondered if maybe we were too late in the season already. But about halfway in on the Granite Lake Trail we started hitting snow and by the time we arrived at Granite Lake there had been multiple postholes. Thankfully we arrived an hour before dark so we had time to scope the face of A Peak with binoculars. There was still ice on the Thunderdome and 3 Tiers but it was looking warm and rotting. The north face of A Peak looked good however and we soon decided on our line. The goal was to climb up a main couloir that slices up the face and then follow the corner system above to the summit ridge. After a short night we were hiking out of camp by 3:15am. A couple hours later as the sun rose, we had crampons on and were booting up mostly neve snow in the entrance couloir. The couloir climbing was steep but easy and I was surprised at how good the ice flows were that poured in from the left wall. My partner Earl had climbed these ice features to the snow field above and then connected a line to the summit ridge 3 weeks ago as a solo first ascent (Bull River Prowler, M4, AI3, 600m). At the top of the couloir the real climbing began. We followed the corner system above mostly containing mixed rock with a few patches of ice in the corners. The gear was generally good but the climbing slow and tedious cleaning snow off the rock or testing holds for loose rock. On the 3rd pitch Earl was cleaning some loose rocks when the snow mushroom he was standing on collapsed. He was suddenly left dangling from one hand on a great steinpull. Somehow he kept his composure and reestablished his feet on the rock before taking the fall. After 4 pitches of engaging climbing we reached a saddle in the buttress that had been on our right. From here the obvious line continued another 4 pitches up the corner systems above. These pitches were all easier in difficulty and had more ice. The 6th pitch was probably the most aesthetic if only because it started on a thin ice traverse that allowed for some great pictures. By this point on the face we had an incredible view of the basin below and even across the ridges towards the town of Libby. The last pitch ended with a chimney, then a "birth canal" squeeze to some cornice digging to reach the summit ridge. All in all it was a proper adventure. We were 12hrs climbing the 8 pitches and 18hrs camp to camp. The decent was pretty straightforward because we could see. We hiked the ridge to the south towards Snowshoe Peak until we found a steep slope between cliff bands to descend back down into the basin to the east. From there it was a couple miles and several thousand feet of postholing down the basin and back around to Granite Lake. We called our line Knickerbocker and the Bull Moose in reference to both the Wool Knickers that Earl wore on the ascent as well as the moose that continually likes to post hole and destroy our trail into granite lake. It was an awesome experience to be able to put up such an amazing line on A peak. The climbing is quite good and in my opinion on par with many of the classic climbs I have done in the Ruth Gorge of AK (in terms of difficulty and quality). Knickerbocker and the Bull Moose, IV, M5, AI4, 600m. Looking up at A Peak from Granite Lake in the fading light. Roughly the route we took. Passing by the route that Earl had put up 3 weeks before called Bull River Prowler. Our route continued up the couloir and then the corner system above. Looking down the couloir from the top as we rack up for the mixed pitches. Earl starting up pitch 1. Looking up the top half of pitch 2 which turned out to be the crux. Looking down from the top of Pitch 2. Earl starting up Pitch 3. Earl starting up pitch 5 where the climbing got easier. Enjoying some thin ice on the beautiful Pitch 6. Me looking up Pitch 7 before starting out. The upper half of the route was mostly this terrain...fun moderate mixed climbing. Looking up the beginning of pitch 8 with the cornice looming overhead. Earl and I on the summit ridge while on the decent with the true summit directly behind us. Gear Notes: We had double set of cams from .4 to #2 with single #3, 8-10 pins (heavy on the LAs and KBs), set of offset nuts, set of tri-cams(doubles in the 2 smallest sizes) and 5 screws (all short). We placed a lot of pins and the tri-cams came in very useful as well. In addition we wished we had a couple more small cams below .4. Approach Notes: Hike the Granite Lake Trail to Granite Lake in the Cabinet Mountains. From the lake hike up 2000ft to the base of the North Face.
  35. 5 points
    Post-accident threads quickly move from condolences to incident analysis, and I think a signifcant part of that is to identify an error so that the reader can say "Oh, I would never make THAT mistake." This joins the parade of little white lies we tell ourselves to justify the risks of climbing. The reality is that bad things can happen in the mountains no matter how good or careful you are. Sometimes the only error was being there in the first place. Regarding the original post, we don't know the exact conditions at the time of the incident nor the Dr's abilities or risk tolerance, so I don't think we can objectively question his judgment. Part of the beauty of life is that we each get to make our own choices on this journey.
  36. 5 points
    Trip: North Twin Sister - West ridge Trip Date: 02/25/2022 Trip Report: Hey everybody! A week and a bit ago I noticed questionable avy conditons but decent weather. Without a partner to go out with I was looking for something not to gnar. I had heard the west ridge of the north twin was a decent winter objective. In my mind with questionable conditions the worst case is a good workout! I drove up thursday evening and slept at the trailhead for a little bit more sleep. Up by 4 moving by 5. following the road up a few switch backs then getting ontop of the west ridge almost directly after the road ends to aviod as much avy terrian as possible. Leaving my skis and ski boots behind once skining became less favorable I head up the ridge by 8 am. I carried but didn't end up using crampons rope and rock pro. The ridge itself was slow going due to about 6"-1' of snow covering most of the rock on the ridge. Not having much beta on the ridge itself I found a line that stayed mostly in 4th - low 5th class terrian and the best climbing was found mostly on the ridge propper. Staying on the ridge proper meant lots of up and downs making movement even slower. IMG_7044 (2).MOV After a few false summits I popped up onto the real top at around 1pm! On top I met two guys who had just come up the north face. They offered to let me rap off the picket they were placing and I accepted happily not wanting to rap and downclimb the more complicated west ridge decent. So much for staying out of avy terrain haha. After a short run down the north face and a traverse over to the base of the ridge I was reunited with my skis. Right down the ridge from where I left my skis I found someone had left a treat directally on the route. A little bit of etticite please don't poop directally on a popular route on an even more popular mountain. Btw I dropped one of my ice tools directally below the notch on the false summit in the second picture. It was on my harness with a wiregate and somehow it unclipped. I'm sure this summer it will be found, lunch is on me for whoever returns it! After skiing down the road I met up with my new friends from the summit and they offered me a ride out to where I left my car. Apparently they have the gate key and permits to drive up there! Who knew! Didnt get many pictures but it was a fun solo mission! Gear Notes: Rock pro I probably should have used but I didnt find anything to challenging Approach Notes: Even if the gate is open don't drive past the bridge over the nooksack apparently the gate gets closed and people get there cars stuck!
  37. 5 points
    Trip: Axis Peak - South Gully Trip Date: 02/19/2022 Trip Report: @Albuquerque Fred and I were at it again. We really felt the need to climb Axis Peak this time, it just calls to you from every vantage... note the sarcasm. I was foolish enough to say "I'm up for anything". Fred thinks is cool to climb lists, I don't; but then I'm not opposed to it on principle either. So off we went on Friday night to TH bivy on Icicle Creek Road at the gated and snowed in 8-Mile road. Fortunately, Eminem was not present. We were up early but it was stupid warm in the morning (tomorrow would bring a fast moving cold front). We knew we had to get out early as a big storm was moving in and we didn't want to be in the mountains, plus we still had the drive back west over the pass. The road went easy but the Bellevue crowd had been slacking as the trail was super not packed out (I assume it is Instagram that causes the normal luge chute and not Leavenworth locals, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't travel here often). We skinned ice crust with occasional post holes and snowshoe crampon scratches to within 1/4 mile of Lake Stuart, then ascended the fan up the gully on the south side of Axis peak. I had a bad experience the previous weekend with ice crust skiing so I was adamant that skis were only for that approach today and we left them at the fan at around 5300'. It was super icy here with about half a dusting of snow from throughout the morning. The gully was a dream, perfect secure cramponing on moderate slopes with some dirt and moss to remind you that you're in the cascades. The gully actually served to focus the sun and block the wind as well so it was amazingly pleasant. The weather called for intense ridgecrest winds. We tagged the summit, signed in, and bailed down a couple hundred feet out of the gale to eat lunch. The descent was amazing, but firm enough the I was still glad we ditched the skis. I got to try out my new skis on frozen avy debris, and sun crust, plus dirty, thin forest on the way out, so that's a plus. We only skied down to 4660' then skinned again, all the way to the road. At least I did, Fred insisted on shuffling in walk mode with no skins despite it obviously being slower and sketchier. Oh well, at least I was proven right. Photos: Oh yeah, in case you are not aware, Axis Peak is the next ridge north of Stuart. Before you ask... North side of Dragontail. Approach skinning: Argonaut: Not the best coverage out there these days: Up the gully, it's better than it looks: There is no summit photo that doesn't look cheezy is there? Gear Notes: Axe, crampons, helmet, skis for the approach. Approach Notes: Road was easy, trail was terrible.
  38. 5 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Wallace-Olson/Eliot Headwall Trip Date: 02/18/2022 Trip Report: My partner and I climbed the Wallace-Olson Route on the Eliot Headwall and found fantastic conditions on the route. It was either alpine ice, snice, or very hard neve from top to bottom. We departed from Timberline, went up the Old Chute, and descended via the Sunshine to approach the route. This took about six hours to the base of the climb. There was some knee-deep wallowing approaching the Hogsback that slowed us down. The coverage on the Eliot is relatively thin, proved when I punched a leg through a crevasse on the traverse to the route. There were only about 18 inches of hard snow covering the crack. I could tell from high on the route that there was some sag indicating its presence, but it was not evident from the glacier. We climbed the route in four pitches to a point just above the exit chimney and then did a short pitch to the summit. The total time on the route was about 3.5 hours. Pitch one had about 30 meters of AI3 which was fat and took screws well. Pitch two had a variety of options. We took an AI3-bulge to steep neve but you could have skirted it and climbed lower angle ice. Pitch three was more steep neve and AI2 with some protection options where blobs of ice stuck through. The final exit pitch up the chimney was not protectable with screws because the ice was very aerated, so it was about 10 meters steep, no-fall-zone climbing. It went at AI3. We were able to get solid screw belays all the way up and plenty of protection options, minus the final chimney. In the photos, you can see this feature just right of the obvious tower. There were many variations that one could have taken on the route. The mixed exit ramps were all iced up and looked tempting as well, but we chose to take the steep line. The route as a whole was nearly a perfect plumb line from bottom to top and well worth the approach. It was a stellar day in the alpine with near-perfect conditions. Photos: Pitch One (there is a little camera trickery happening here. It was not that steep). Pitch two. Looking up pitch three. Exit pitch Gear Notes: 10 screws: I was able to place 16cm's and in one case a 22cm at the belays. Stubbies were not necessary as there was almost always ice for at least a 13cm. We brought a small rock rack, pins, and a picket but didn't use any of it Approach Notes: Via the South Side Route and down the Sunshine. Keep an eye out on the Eliot Glacier for weak spots. I was not the first to recently bust through.
  39. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Sefrit - NW Route - Wall Street Couloir Trip Date: 01/22/2022 Trip Report: I've been eyeing Sefrit for years, really looking to ski the NW route and the "Wall Street" couloir. I did the peak on my first try from the NE and the Bloody Head Couloir (colorful names on this peak), but I've failed more times than I care to remember due to various snow condition excuses. This time we had an outrageous skunking the weekend before which effectively served as a scouting trip. Me, @MGraw, and @thedylan skied in on the super frozen crusty road bed knowing the ski conditions would suck but that the cramponing in the couloir would be all the better for it (this was the plan). We eventually found the log after some awful wallowing in the barely covered brush and began cramponing up the avalanche debris on the couloir fan. I have tried most different types of conditions on this route and this is the only way I can see to make it work safely except for the very rare low snow dump with great stability. One is very vulnerable in the couloir with tons of hanging slabs over your head and 1000' couloir to feed into you. We made quick work to 5000' and last year's high point at the bottom of the upper basin. From here we skinned on crust with occasional thin powder patches all the way to the summit ridge at ~7000'. We took a look into the upper couloir on the NW flank of the summit pyramid, but we had set our hopes on fast and light, so didn't bring climbing gear. It looked too sketchy to try with no rope and only one axe apiece. Sadly this means we have to come back. We ditched the skis at 7000' on the ridge in the amazing warm sun after climbing in the shade all day. At this point it was already pretty late and we were worried (not Dylan). Then we hit a dead end on a tower on the summit ridge and had to backtrack. We climbed on the south side below the crest on mostly steep snow with a couple of rocky moves thrown in. I was worried we would run out of time with so minimal daylight. We persevered however and with Dylan leading some just barely solo-able moves on snowy rock and lots of step kicking we made the summit. I spent all of 30 seconds enjoying the efforts and accumulated knowledge of like 8 failed trips, then turned tail and headed down. The views are great, but the best was toward Shuksan's north side which we had been seeing all the way up from the ridge. Getting down to the skis was surprisingly easier than the way up. The snow was already re-freezing by about 3pm. We skied down, enjoying some of it anyway, booted the couloir, cramponed across the frosty log over Ruth Creek, then back to the skis for a super fast icy ski and skate down the road. 19 miles, about 5800' in 12.5 hours. I think this is the best way to get the route since it is super hard to find powder in a couloir at 3000' and stable conditions. Typical fun getting through the woods, sorry Mike: Ruth Creek: Fun conditions in the lower couloir, easy cramponing though: Upper basin skinning: Loving the alpine: Probably time to ditch the skis. Mike skied off this for his first turns of the year; nice work: Working up the ridge: Shuksan: Let's get out before dark. 10' off the summit: So worth it for the turns... I wanted to die. It never felt so good to take skis off and walk: Gear Notes: skis, helmet, axe, crampons, Bison Grass Vodka for the skate out. Approach Notes: ski from the highway
  40. 5 points
    Trip: Buck Mountain - Northeast face Trip Date: 08/11/2021 Trip Report: Summary: I climbed Buck via the seldom-used northeast face above King Lake, then descended via the long standard route to Buck Pass, tagging Berge, Cleator, and Rally Cap along the way. This isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's an interesting line on a peak whose standard route(s) can be a bit of a slog. 26 miles, 10,000 feet of climbing, ice axe and probably crampons required. And if your dad left his axe up there, you're welcome to it: (Original TR here: http://www.drdirtbag.com/2021/08/12/buck-loop-ne-face-to-buck-pass/) Summitpost describes Buck as "one of the man-mountains of the Washington Cascades." Though only three miles from the Trinity trailhead to its southeast, and only class 2-3 from the southwest side, a high and rugged ridge extends north and south from Buck, and there is no road or even trail up the lower Napeequa River to the west. The "normal route" is therefore shockingly roundabout, approaching the peak's west side either over Little Giant Pass to the south, or on a high route from Buck Pass to the north. There is also a direct class 3 route from the east near Alpine Creek, involving a river ford and a savage bushwhack through steep and brushy forest, that is recommended for descent but can of course be done both ways. The Summitpost page also mentions that the northeast ridge is "class 4 or 5," which sounds like my kind of route. With these options in mind, I made the long drive up the Chiwawa River Road to Trinity, and started off around dawn planning to do at least one of these routes. Passing the place for the Alpine Creek route, I decided that I did not want to do that to myself. I continued after the split toward Buck Pass, finding that the bridge was not "out" as advertised, but was probably no longer suitable for my horse. Nearing the turnoff for King Lake and the northeast face, I entered the burn area for the 2016 Buck Creek fire. The forest was in a near-perfect state for cross-country travel, with the trees and underbrush incinerate, but the nasty things that follow a fire not yet established. The main type of plant was fireweed, a bush that is easy to whack. I contemplated the route while I ate a sandwich, then took off across the wasteland. The first obstacle was crossing Buck Creek, but I found a perfect log bridge almost exactly where I needed it. There was even a sort of tunnel through the otherwise-impenetrable alders. Beyond, I followed various deer tracks up the burn, staying on the left side of the drainage and well away from the unburnt alders to the right. I eventually entered steep woods above the burn, and the deer trail faded. Not sure what to aim for, I decided to traverse right to reach open terrain I had seen from below. This turned out to be a savage hell-schwack, variously fighting my way through alders, steep scrub pines, and cliff bands littered with fallen burned trees. After avoiding some of these cliffs, I realized that the rock was fairly solid with a grain that worked well for climbing this way, and simply headed up some class 3 crags, grateful to finally be making upward progress again. Reentering the woods higher up, I found myself on the left side of a deep cleft with a healthy cascade running through it. This was rocky enough to discourage the plants somewhat, so I stayed near the edge as I made my way upward, hoping I could cross the cascade easily higher up. I saw what I thought was a cairn in an open, slabby section, then a few cut branches and a bit of boot-pack higher up. Success! I lost and re-found the ancient fisherman's trail a couple of times, taking my time and eventually ending up in an open, grassy ravine leading easily almost to the east side of King Lake. I have no idea what this "trail" did lower down, and that part has been obliterated by the fire, but I was grateful for what I found. King Lake proved as spectacular as I imagined it would. Buck's small northeast glacier sits perched in a bowl above the lake, sending cascades of milky melt-water down the cliffs that ring the lake to its southwest. I found a couple of fire rings with fresher-than-expected ashes in them, but I can't imagine this cirque sees much traffic. Making my way around the lake's north side, I climbed rubble and easy slabs to the toe of the glacier, putting on crampons to cross one hard snowfield. I avoided the snout and broken-up lower glacier to the right on decent rock that became grittier as I progressed, then returned to the glacier where it was a bit more continuous. The travel was mostly easy, but it was surprisingly possible to fall in a crevasse if one were oblivious, as opposed to having to find one and jump in it. The top of the glacier is separated from the mountain's east ridge and south face by another wall of cliffs, the only potential exit being at the upper right side. I made my way for the highest tongue of snow, passing someone's father's ice axe on the way. This tongue probably used to extend into the gully above, but it was now separated by an expanse of steep dirt and scree. I sketched my way up this, aiming for the obvious gully to the left. The gully was made a bit more obvious by an ancient piece of tat, originally yellow and now bleached completely white. I was once again annoyed at Cascades mountaineers for leaving garbage on routes (who would rap this?!), and at myself for not bringing a knife to remove it. There was a bit of easy fifth class to pass the webbing, but above it looked like the angle eased. If only... Earlier in the season this would probably be a steep snow climb to the summit ridge, but now it was wet gravel, choss, and gritty slabs that often angled in the wrong direction. I worked my way up the right side of the gully, using the wall for handholds or to stem against the dirt. After a failed attempt to exit early to the right, I exited out the top, making a few wide stems against some reddish rock. Above that, I finally managed to traverse right on improving rock, and soon popped out between the north and south (true) summits. The south summit looks incredibly imposing from this saddle, showing only its narrow east-west profile. I scrambled up the layered slabs to the summit, where I quickly pulled the register out of a cairn guarded by flying ants, then sat a safe distance below to look around in the remarkably clear air. To the west were recently-climbed Clark and Luahna, along with the rest of the Dakobed Range, showing the glaciers that clearly make them a better ski than scramble. North was Berge, across a weirdly broad and flat saddle. I also had great views of the Entiat peaks, Bonanza, and even Baker and Rainier at the far ends of the range. Descending from the summit, I crossed the small, flat glacier nestled between Buck's summits, then descended toward the saddle with Berge, entering a surreal landscape of pumice and larches. As this region demonstrates, the Cascades' geology is incredibly complex. Between Buck's ancient dark rock (schist?) and Berge's Sierra-esque white granite lies a small region of pumice reminiscent of a recent volcano. This is presumably from the same event that created Glacier Peak, but does not seem to connect in an obvious way. Through this section I began picking up bits of use trail, leading more or less where I wanted, toward Berge's northeast summit. Most maps incorrectly label Berge's southwest (easier) summit as higher, but as seems clear to the naked eye, and as Eric Gilbertson demonstrated with a surveyor's level, it is not the highpoint. I tagged both for good measure, finding the northeast no harder than class 3 and reminiscent of the Sierra except for the green things between the granite boulders and the deposits of black lichen on some aspects. Berge's north and west sides are cliffy, so it is necessary to circle southwest to a saddle and descend west before circling back around north. Fortunately I had downloaded some other climbers' tracks, as otherwise I would have dropped all the way to the valley bottom instead of making the improbable high traverse. I finally reached a trail in this Sierra-like basin, with its clear, shallow lake and white granite, and from there it was a short hike to High Pass. The trail from these lakes to Buck Pass is one of the most scenic and runnable I have found in my years in the Cascades, reminiscent of nearby White Pass but lacking the PCT hordes. I had miles to go before home, but they were all downhill and easy trail, with clear views of the glacier-y sides of the Dakobeds and Glacier Peak. With time and energy to spare, I decided to tag a couple of easy peaks along the way. The first was Mount Cleator, named for Trinity local Cletus McCoy's tabletop D&D character. Cleator met his untimely end when Cletus' cousin Brigitte "Berge" Hatfield made him promise to give up his boozy Friday gaming sessions as a condition of their engagement. Despite its unfortunate genetic consequences, the union was a key step in reconciling their feuding branches of the family. Mount Cleator has two summits, a grassy walk-up separated from a fierce crag by a steep notch. The grassy one looks a bit higher and has a register, and I did not have enough curiosity or energy to try to reach the other. I returned to the trail after Cleator, then took a side-trip to Rally Cap on the way down to Buck Pass. I pulled out my map to find my way through the mess of trails here, but eventually got on the popular Buck Creek trail. I am not a trail runner, but I had been enjoying my jog from High Pass, and the Buck Creek trail was pleasant in its own way, smooth and gently-graded, with good shade and frequent water sources. I started to feel pretty run-down once the trail reached the valley bottom, but managed to mostly hold it together and maintain a jog back to the car. According to my phone, the whole excursion was about 26 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain, all in a bit under 12 hours. It was a satisfying use of what may be my last (smoke-free) day in the Cascades this year. Gear Notes: Ice axe and crampons for short glacier crossing Approach Notes: There's a fisherman's trail leading to King Lake, but you probably won't find it until quite a ways up. The 2016 fire has made travel easy lower down as of 2021, but it will only get worse.
  41. 5 points
    Right place, right time....looking at the Southern Pickets from Teebone Ridge:
  42. 5 points
    You thought I was joking? EVERY DAY! Here is White Chuck, Sloan, and the Monte Cristo Group from Sauk:
  43. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Lago (8745'), Mount Carru (8595') & Osceola Peak (8587') - Shellrock Pass Approach Trip Date: 10/02/2021 Trip Report: Mount Lago (8745'), Mount Carru (8595') & Osceola Peak (8587')– Shellrock Pass Approach – October 2-4, 2021 (Sat, Sun, Mon). I climbed Mount Lago, Mount Carru & Osceola Peak over the weekend. I started the climb from the Slate Pass Trailhead off Hart’s Pass Rd. outside Mazama, WA. I planned for a 3 day trip. The weather was looking like perfect fall conditions. Mostly crisp and clear. I drove to the Slate Pass Trailhead Friday night and slept in the vehicle. Saturday: I was up and moving down the trail at 7:30am. Starting at 7000’, it was cold and crisp. I arrived at Shellrock Pass Trail (5000’) at 11:00am, 9 miles in. The trail in was almost all downhill with a little uphill here and there, overall a very nice trail. I started the trail climb towards Fred’s Lake reaching a pass above the lake (7100’) by 1:30pm. The trail dropped down to Lake Doris. Lake Doris looks to be very popular with lots of camping areas and a spider’s web of trails all around the area. I found it difficult to find the correct trail out of the Lake Doris area heading towards Shellrock Pass. The trail out of the Lake Doris area to Shellrock Pass is much less traveled and a little overgrown in sections. There are several downed trees across the trail to navigate on the way to the Shellrock Meadows. I made it to Shellrock Meadows for camp at 4:30pm, 15 miles total for the day. The Shellrock Meadows is well worth the trip just to camp. The fall colors are in full display with the Larches gold color everywhere. The head of Eureka Creek begins in this meadow. It was like walking into a painting. Sunday: Some cloud cover had moved in overnight. I left camp at 7:45am reaching Shellrock Pass at 8:45am. The clouds started breaking up and the views started opening up. I could now see the long ridge climb ahead for the 3 summits. The ridge climbing is mostly loose rock and lots of it, class 2 with some class 3 mixed in. I made it to Mount Lago summit (8745’) at 11:15am. The views were really kicking in now. I dropped down to the Lago/Carru Col (7600’) by 12:45pm. I needed to drop down to 7500’ to hit a diagonal ledge system to gain the Carru ridge. I made it to the Mount Carru Summit (8595’) at 2:30pm. The climb down Carru to the col below (7700’)was loose and steep, careful movement was necessary. There are a couple of rounded peaks between Carru and Osceola. I climbed up and diagonal across the rounded peaks until I needed to drop down to the col below Osceola. This took more time than I was expecting. I was very happy to find a fantastic camping area at the base of the Osceola ridge with a little lake for water supply and great views. I arrived at the camp at 4:50pm (7200’) and called it a night. Monday: I left camp at 7:00am heading up the ridge to the summit of Osceola. I reached the summit (8587’) at 8:30am. The summit registry was frozen shut, so no sign in. There was a rock engraved on the summit in memoriam of Robert William Metlen, very cool. I headed down towards Lake Doris, lots of loose rock along the way. I was very happy to be back on trail again at the lake. I was back at the base of the Shellrock Pass trail by 11:30am. I climbed the trail back to the Slate Pass trailhead arriving at 4:30pm. This was a great fall season trip in a beautiful area with lots of excellent camping options. I didn’t see the cliffs off the side of Hart’s Pass road on the way in but I did on the way out. It was like something out of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you go off the side you will die a fiery death for sure, but it would be one hell of a ride. Some Tips and Notes: 1. Bring comfortable boots, there is a lot of walking on this trip. 2. The trail after Lake Doris is hard to find due to the network of trails around the area. The trail to Shellrock Pass angles down toward the valley. 3. The trail after Lake Doris is lightly travelled with several downed trees and faint trail sections. 4. Shellrock Meadow is awesome for camping. 5. Climbing these peaks from Shellrock Pass is a long ridge climb but the views are great. 6. There is a great camp area at the base of Osceola Peak ridge on the east side at 7200’ with a small lake water source. Travel Time for reference: Saturday: Trailhead to Camp – 9 hours, 15 miles, 3000’ vert. Sunday: Camp, over 2 Summits, to Camp#2 – 9 hours, 8 miles, 3800’ vert. Monday: Camp#2 to Summit to Trailhead – 9.5 hours, 14 miles, 3700’ vert. Total Mileage: about 37 miles Total Elevation Gain: about 10,500’ Gear used: Trekking Poles & Helmet. Mount Rolo from Pass above Fred's Lake. Osceola, Carru, Lago from Pass above Fred's Lake. Trail to Shellrock Pass after Lake Doris. Valley to Shellrock Pass. Mount Lago from Shellrock Meadow. Osceola Peak from Shellrock Meadow. Route View from Shellrock Pass. Carru & Osceola from Lago Summit. Osceola Col Camp 7200'. Osceola Peak Memorial. Another glorious fall day on the trail. Heading back up to Slate Pass. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles & Helmet. Approach Notes: Slate Pass Trailhead, Shellrock Pass Approach
  44. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Goode - Northeast Buttress Trip Date: 07/11/2021 Trip Report: David and I are highly skilled at turning classic, moderate alpine routes into masochistic adventures. You'd think we'd learn, particularly since we have over a century of outdoor experiences between us, but maybe the truth is that we like to suffer. Like many alpine routes, conditions on the NE Buttress of Goode are everything. Too early and the creek crossings are treacherous. Too late and the moat at the top of the glacier can be hard to cross safely. There's a third factor we didn't realize was important: water sources high on the route. That turned out to be the most memorable part of our trip, as you'll see. My biggest worry was the crossing of the N Fork of Bridge Creek. A week before our trip, during our record-breaking heat wave, a friend and his girlfriend had found the creek impassable and bushwhacked a mile upstream to find a safe way across, adding two miles of cross country travel to their trip. A day later, another party turned around entirely in the face of a raging torrent. But temps had dropped. Was the crossing better? I remembered there's a flow gauge on the StehekinIn River, downstream of the North Fork. The data were encouraging: the river was at 6500 CFS when multiple parties found the N Fork crossing impassable, and it had dropped to 2500 CFS at the time we were going. We were a go! The first ten miles on the Pacific Crest Trail went smoothly. It was fun to chat with PCT thru hikers just starting South on their journey. Just before the North Fork junction, we ran into four friendly climbers who'd just come off of Goode. They allayed my concerns about the crossing and gave us a key piece of beta for the descent. They gestured at my splinted thumb, which I'd jammed in the gym a couple of weeks earlier: "Can you hand jam with that?" "Should be OK", I said. Starting off the trip with an injury wasn't ideal, but I didn't think it would affect us much. Grizzly Creek was easily crossed on a log, and then the trail got a bit brushy. It was a warm day, but nothing too bad. When we emerged from the brush at the traditional crossing point, I was relieved to see that it looked pretty mellow. The whole route - 6000 feet from river to summit.- stretched up in front of us. Skies were clear, most of the seasonal snow had melted, and it was getting hot just in time for our steep ascent to camp. The river was just over knee deep. So far so good, but a hidden dragon was about to rear its head. David had spent the previous day on the Snoqualmie River with friends. He'd gotten quite dehydrated and hadn't really recovered. The afternoon heat was taking its toll on him, and his energy was waning just as we were about to start up 2500 feet of fairly steep terrain to our intended camp. Usually, David carries more shared gear as he's faster than me. Not today. He handed me the rope and we started up. There were a few sections of steep scrambling where a fall would be bad. My tolerance for high consequence terrain has waned in recent years, but this was still just third class. Lots of lovely waterfalls. Then there were two sections of holdless, licheny fourth class scrambling where a fall would be fatal. Being tired and having a heavy (for me) pack didn't help my confidence. David kindly trailed the rope on the second section and gave me a hip belay. Then the "Magical alder tunnel" began. The tent caterpillars had eaten almost every leaf in a long section, so there was no canopy to protect us from the afternoon sun. Eventually, we emerged onto a small ridge next to a snowy creek. It looks flat, but it's definitely not. The skies were mostly blue except for a funny looking cloud to the north...more on that later. We would head up to the sun/shade line and veer up and left to the 5600 bivy. In the hall of giants. I like to imagine Fred coming up this way on the first ascent in 1966, before North Cascades became a National Park in 1968, before the North Cascades Highway was completed in 1972, and before the Pacific Crest Trail was completed in 1993. Storm King David is a master of micro naps. If he gets 15 minutes ahead on the trail I'll find him fast asleep. I kept going, with the summit of Goode looming over us. We reached the bivy, ate, admired the sunset, and settled down for the night. No rodent visitors. A bright meteor flashed across my dreams. We were lucky. At dawn, it smelled like smoke. That funny cloud was smoke from a fire that would close Highway 20 during our trip. Would our egress be cut off? Who knew? For now, there was only one way to go: up. Smoky sunrise with a few mosquitoes photo bombing above my head. Paintbrush We moved right below a steeper section of glacier. The seasonal snow was mostly gone, and the glacier crossing was trivial. This three inch iridescent beetle was out for a walk, probably looking for tasty critters to eat. Approaching the toe of the buttress. l The moat, which can be treacherous late season, was very straightforward, thank goodness. Everything was going great... And then we had a kerfuffle trying to get over to the crest of the buttress. We knew the goal was to angle up and right to the crest, but we were turned back by several steep dead ends with absolutely atrocious rock. We backed off two lines before finally finding one that felt OK. No one else ever mentioned this section as a significant obstacle in the reports we'd read, so there was no beta. Oh well. Just keep trying. At the final lip, I was mantling over onto the crest, both hands pointed down, feet in the air, when I couldn't move. Something was holding me back. My last gear was 15 feet behind me. A fall would be ugly. Apparently a tricam on the rack dangling from my shoulder had lodged in a crack at the height of my knees. It cammed perfectly and set itself to prevent upward movement. Grrrr. I tried fiddling with it, blindly, with one hand while balancing on the other. No bueno. I had to reverse the mantle, find a stance, use the nut tool to clean it, and complete the mantle to gain the crest. F$%^ing hell! I was beginning to think the mountain was sending us a signal. We had finally gained the crest of the buttress after three hours of poking around on the choss in the sun. That certainly wasn't part of our plan. David and I both are very rational when it comes to sunk costs, and we had both internally come to the same assessment of our situation: Yes, it's a bummer that it's noon instead of 9AM, but we're here, we have plenty of water and gear, retreat would be very unpleasant, and we might as well just climb. So we put three hours of frustration behind us and started climbing. The route flowed pretty smoothly. We simul-climbed most of it, only stopping to belay three fantastic pitches that I got to lead. One was this nice arete feature. Shortly before the large bivy ledge, I looked down and saw a piton that Fred may have placed on the first ascent in 1966. We reached the bivy ledges in the late afternoon and decided it was best to stop as we didn't want to climb by headlamp, and we weren't sure if there was snow we could melt near the summit. As it turned out, there was only one small patch of snow left. It was about six feet long and a foot thick. We would melt most of it, but it wasn't as pure or tasty as we imagined. Step 1: bring snow over to our melting pot. Hey what are those black specks? Probably just lichen or dirt.... There sure are a lot of those black specks. We poured the water into my nalgene and David took a long drink. Hey, those black things look like pine needles - but there are no trees up here. They also kind of look like tiny worms. David looked down into the nalgene and the black bits swam away from him toward the bottom. AAAGGHHHH!!!! They're alive! And there sure were a lot of them. It's one thing to drink a pine needle or a piece of dirt. It's quite another to gulp down dozens of tiny, writhing worms eager to burrow into your brain. Actually, we reasoned that if they lived in snow they'd probably die quickly in our guts, but I didn't really want to test out that theory. David was patient zero. I've seen our local glacier worms. These were shorter. Maybe a larval stage? Or a different organism? My glasses and camera were not powerful enough to reallly see them, and I wasn't sure I wanted a clear picture of these critters anyway given that we'd be drinking this water in any case. I imagine that as the snow patch got smaller they packed tighter and tighter into the last remaining section. They seemed to sink. We tried decanting them and then wiping off the sides of the pot with a clean corner of my sock. Not very effective. So we filtered the melt water through a clean shirt as best we could. The host of worms that piled up was impressive. The filtrate was mostly clear, but it tasted like shrimp soup. I added Nuun and protein powder, but it still tasted absolutely vile. I almost gagged, and I'm not squeamish. This would be our only water until almost noon the following day. Drink up! We could only laugh. I laid out the rope for a nice nighttime nylon nest. Added my pad Testing. Testing. And ready! I really hoped we wouldn't spend the night fighting off a packrat (aka bushy-tailed woodrat). They are notorious for stealing belay devices, cups, lighters, and anything that might look nice in their midden, which is typically a huge pile of petrified poop and pee build up over decades under a large rock. I saw what looked like the main midden entrance and stacked some blocks in front of it in hopes of distracting the beast. We never saw hide nor hair of the vermin. The smoky sunrise was stunning. And some spectacular flowers caught the light just right. And then it was time to head for the summit. The last section was steeper than we expected but still quite moderate. Here is David coming up the last section to the summit, with our river crossing visible 6000 feet below. The views were great, except for the pesky smoke. We hoped we were heading away from it rather than toward it, but it was hard to tell. We'd heard there might be a snow patch in a notch just North of the summit. We found the notch, but it was bone dry. Good thing we stoped at the bivy ledge. It would have been a very thirsty night up on the summit. Wormy water is better than no water. We rapped down off the summit and belayed a short section of exposed scrambling on the way to Black Tooth notch. And then we could see our destination far below: Park Creek. Only a vertical mile to go. And now the beta the four climbers gave us came in handy: on the second rappel, go straight down a full 30 meters. If you angle skier's left, as the terrain seems to suggest, you then have to pendulum along steep terrain to get to the right spot. After that it was several hundred feet of choss gully scrambling to a small trail veering out of the gully to the left. The South Face loomed above us. We finally reached snow around 7500 feet. A short bit of boot skiing ensued. Then we found water that was far, far better than that nasty shrimp soup we'd been drinking. I found some mysterious tracks. Five distinct toes with claws - so not a cat. Probably too small for wolverine. Probably too big for pine marten. ermine, or mink. Maybe a fisher? I don't know. You tell me. Here's the North Cascades mammals list: https://irma.nps.gov/NPSpecies/Reports/SpeciesList/Species Checklist/NOCA/1/false l Another alpine micronap with the Ptarmigan traverse on the horizon. Looking back toward the summit. Sporadic flower snapshots help fend off the double vision I sometimes get from relentless downhill pounding. The heather was stunning. But we were about to enter the dreaded burn zone. We made our way straight down the ridge but never saw a climber's trail. It got more and more unpleasant as we got lower. David's dehydration was catching up with him. By the time we reached a small creek a half mile above Park Creek, David was stumbling nearly every other step. The burn zone and eroding creekbed was the worst terrain he could remember, with rocks moving under him with almost every step. My experience wasn't quite that bad, and I know we've done worse together, so we decided his dehydration was turning into heat stroke, a potentially serious issue. The trail seemed to move further away as we drew closer, a cruel jest. Finally, we reached the Park Creek trail. David was spent. We poured a liter and a half of cold water in him, and he took a nap in the shade. That helped. I carried as many heavy things as possible on the last section down toward Stehekin. The Park Creek trail had some blow downs that were not fun. Several times I took off my heavy pack and dragged it on the ground while I crawled under a log. Once clear, I'd hoist it onto my back and start walking, only to see the next ball buster log just down the trail. I wasn't dehydrated or suffering from heat stroke, but I was pretty spent, and my lower left leg had some pain with each step. It was starting to swell. My pants didn't survive the trip. We crashed at the Park Creek campground near the Stehekin River and wrapped my rapidly swelling calf in a compression bandage. I slept with it elevated up on my pack, hardly notcing the few mosquitoes flying around. The long but easy march back to the car began at 6AM. Here we are tightening the bandage on my leg for the final few miles. Side note: on the first trip David and I did together, Slesse, we had some heinous bushwhacking, and I came away with a swollen lower leg. It didn't go down after a week, so my wife, who is a physician, convinced me to have it scanned to see if it was deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can spin off clots that can bump up to your heart and kill you. It wasn't DVT, but ultrasound showed a three inch laceration inside my leg that was bleeding internally. It would take a month to heal. I wasn't sure what was up with my leg this time, but I could walk just fine. I made sure to get ahead of the swelling by compressing it during our hike. As usual, good conversation made the miles move faster. Flowers, butterflies, and views don't hurt either. Back at the junction between PCT and North Fork. The North Cascades in their summer glory. Seeds ready to ride on the wind. Distant peaks. The final stretch of trail. And the end of our adventure. Highway 20 was closed just East of us, but we could drive West. Beers were cooled. And we swam in the lake. Another moderate masochistic march in the books. As sometimes happens on our trips, the hard parts were easy and the easy parts were hard. My thumb and leg have healed, but I'm still traumatized by the shrimp soup we had to drink. I'll never again hear "pure as the driven snow" without thinking of those mysterious worms. Gag. Gear Notes: 60m rope, rack Approach Notes: Hwy 20 via Pacific Crest Trail
  45. 5 points
    Trip: Olympic National Park - Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak Trip Date: 08/01/2021 Trip Report: Mt. Olympus Traverse: East Peak, Middle Peak, West Peak Climbers: Adam “Mo” Moline - Sacramento, CA Emilio Taiveaho - Saxapahaw, NC Gregorio “Brosi” Scott – Minneapolis, MN Summary: Day 1 – Hike to Lewis Meadows Day 2 – Hike to Glacier Pass Day 3 – Summit Push: East, Middle, and West Peaks Day 4 – Restorative climbing/Choss worship at Glacier Pass Day 5 – Hike out Seeking sweet sweet choss, a return to the Olympic Peninsula was in order. In 2020, Adam and I (emilio) climbed the West Peak in a three-day push—an adventure that left us hungry to explore more remote areas of the park and spend some time on the dense and complicated glacier system skirting Mt. Olympus. As this trip marked Gregg’s first backcountry experience, we pursued a comfortable line full of loose rock and crevasses, giving him a delightful taste of the proverbial “freedom of the hills.” Day 1: Our pilgrimage to Sunh-a-do began at the airport, as Adam and Greg picked me up from Seattle on Monday morning. Running low on sleep, I was full of nervous anticipation having just completed a run up Gannet Peak a couple days prior, climbing the South-East Couloir in a twenty-two-hour push. Although my legs were tired, my spirits were at all time high and I was eager to rest my legs by walking alongside the mossy delights of the Hoh River. We made good walking and camped at Lewis Meadows, this being the only site with open campsites along the developed trail. We had a leisurely afternoon spent reading Deleuze and Guattari by the river and beginning to contemplate how to make ourselves bodies without organs. Day 2: After a full night of rest, we began our hike up to Glacier Pass. Soaking in the sights and feeling healed by the forest we had no trouble getting up to Glacier Meadows. Auspiciously, on our way up a smiling mustached old-time climber yelped: “The Ice is great! You won’t even need a rope!” Once at the Blue Glacier, the leisurely walking continued. Crevasses were easy to spot and the ice was solid, so there was no need for crampons. After a good day of walking, arriving at our camp felt like a true treat—we were welcomed with open arms by the mountain. The afternoon was spent staring at Hermes and the Hoh Glacier, basking like lizards under the Washington sun. Day 3: On our third day, we woke up early with our objectives in mind. Descending class 3 rock to the glacier, we put on our crampons and headed up the Hoh towards the East Peak. The Hoh Glacier was in lovely form and we heeded the old climber’s advice, seeing no need for ropes, and made good time negotiating crevasses. Once at the rock, climbing was straightforward, class 3 and 4 to the top. We all took slightly different routes to the top, but found no summit log there. We descended the way we approached, getting back on to the Hoh Glacier in order to approach Middle Peak. The route up Middle Peak was marked by solid snow and heavenly sights. Getting onto the rock was straightforward. The route up was chossy class 3, maybe 4, with a couple cerebral moves. Here, we found a true summit register with a handful of entries—mainly from groups traversing the Bailey Range, which will be an objective in the future. Looking over at the West Peak and getting hungry for more climbing, we decided it was a good idea to rap from the top in order to make good time, traversing onto the Blue Glacier. We were moving fast now, downclimbing class 4 choss after a 30 m rap, when I was frozen by the sound of falling rock and the sudden mushrooming of a cloud of pure dust. This was Gregg’s first time climbing in the Alpine and he had expressed some fear, so my mind immediately rushed to the worst: he had fallen and broken a limb… or worse. Rushing to see what happened, both Adam and I found Gregg suspended by his fingers and toes, having caught himself on a solid jug after a bloody, chossy, bruising rock slide. Seeing he was okay—just a little shook up—made me think of Jean Afanassieff’s legendary words “This is the fucking life! No?” Thanking our lucky stars and bowing to the greatness of Mount Olympus, who humbled us yet kept us going, we made quick time across the Blue Glacier and arrived at the West Peak, troubled only by our own internal agitations and “what if” scenarios. Needing a respite, Gregg waited for Adam and I at the base of the climb as we scampered up the back. It was easy, class 4 climbing with a couple class 5 moves for good taste. At the top, we came across some mountaineers who had spent the last hour watching us cross the glacier. After some good conversation about the beauty of the Picket Range and this summer’s adventures, Adam and I headed down to Gregg, whose nerves were calmed and mood once again elevated. We followed our tracks on the way back and found climbing Middle Peak from the west a welcome breeze. A single rap brought us back to the Hoh Glacier and with soulful bounding leaps, we navigated our way back to Glacier Pass. It’s true what Japhy Ryder says in The Dharma Bums, “You can’t fall off a mountain!” There are times when this adage is felt and its truth shines through—this is something that can only be experienced, description lacks what only the body relates. Food tasted particularly tasty back at camp, where we were greeted by water and the sight of a fleeting hummingbird, attracted to our prayer flags and the vibrant colors of our jackets. That night was filled with a spilling milky way, stars as choss populating my deep sleep. Day 4: The next day we awoke to make coffee and stretch, having carved out a day to rest and recover. Soaking in Glacier Pass without determinate plans we ate a meal of morels and other dried mushrooms, and decided to have a day full of turmeric, ginger, and meditative bouldering. Devotees of the lazy lizard school of hedonism, we worshipped the choss and spent a day on the rocks, singling out Hermes just across the glacier, and living on Big Rock Candy Mountain. That evening, a small black bear crested Glacier Pass not realizing we were there. Upon hearing and seeing us, the Bear raccoonned down the Blue Glacier, moving quickly and lightly back down the glacier. The night was filled with signs of inclement weather—it was clear we were going to be greeted by rain in the morning. Day 5: After another night of deep sleep, we woke up to morning rain and shifting clouds at our Glacier Pass Eden. We packed our gear and a steady glacier walk brought us back to the trail. Our boots guided us back to the trailhead, adorned by a couple water breaks. Near the end of our hike we came across a beautiful flush of Chicken of the Woods, and Adam gathered some for dinner. We are thankful, and will be back for you, Hermes. Gear Notes: Light rack, some cams and nuts. Approach Notes: Smooth Big Rock Candy Mountain Walkin'
  46. 5 points
    Trip: Darrington - Squire Creek Wall -> Buckeye -> Whitehorse Trip Date: 06/19/2021 Trip Report: @jenny.abegg and I did a linkup of Skeena26 on Squire Creek Wall, Buckeye Peak, and Whitehorse. It was a full value 16 hour day, even with nearly everything going "right". Super fun, if you don't mind some jungling and adventure climbing. The MP approach beta for Skeena26 is spot on. We did not find the bolts until the top of P3, and from there on it was still hard to follow the route as the bolts hide in the shade. The upper section of the buttress above the route is pretty blue collar, as is the top of Squire Creek Wall. We were happy to be on snow climbing up to Buckeye Peak. The ridge heading north from Buckeye was very aesthetic, featuring mid fifth class climbing over steep gendarmes with wild exposure. We did a few pitches and a few rappels and then ended up at the SE Ridge of Whitehorse. The SE Ridge definitely felt a bit fifth class to us for a few hundred feet, but we were definitely pretty tired. It is "Beckey 4th class" after all. The rock is ok. Rappel over the bergschrund, then long hike out. https://climberkyle.com/2021/06/19/the-darrington-rodeo/ D-Town is cool! Skeena26 is definitely worth checking out! Gear Notes: Single 60 m rope was enough. A few moderate sized cams, lots of long runners. Approach Notes: About 6-8 minutes after the official Squire Creek Trail sign, there is a white rock cairn. This marks the trail, which leads down to Squire Creek. Found a log crossing just downstream. Then hike up the trail on the other side.
  47. 4 points
    Trip: Mesahchie Tour - JGAP LLC Trip Date: 05/21/2022 Trip Report: One of the things I enjoy most about rambling around in the hills is figuring out the "best" way or time of year to do trips. This often takes repeated visits to a route or area, in several seasons, and maybe over as long as 10 years or more. Of course "best" is entirely subjective, but it typically means (for me) when/how the outing the the most "fun" (or, TBH, easiest). I'm not getting any younger, so I need to use all the tricks I can. It also helps to bring strong, competent, younger partners along. @geosean ably fit that role on the Mesahchie Tour yesterday and helped it all click. In the case of this tour, it took three times and ignoring some of the advice you'll find online or in a guidebook. But despite my stubborness, we were rewarded with fun turns, spectacular views, and solitude. We also had the full mix of weather, from spring to winter and back again in the span of a few hours. And the full mix of snow conditions as well, including some of the stickiest snow either of us has had the "pleasure" of skiing. But we had a great time overall, with minimal shenanigans. But just remember, "best" is in the eye of the beholder. You might hate the way we went so I'll let you figure it out for yourself. That is the part of the allure of the North Cascades, no matter the weather or season. Oh, and if you were the one who stole the catalytic converter from my '91 Civic while it was parked for a few hours at the Easy Pass TH (in broad daylight!), I hope you really needed that hit of meth. Sheesh. NF of Graybeard: Golden Horn and Hardy: Hardy: NF of Arches: The one and only @geosean Look at that, a nice path through the cornice! How civilized: My favorite view of the trip, NF of Goode: Glamour shotz by JGAP: North side of Ragged Ridge: Probably the best turns of the day, fast and smooth and in the sun: NF of Katsuk: NF of Mesahchie: Then we had some winter: Minimal shenanigans getting over Granite creek on a nice jam: Look at that footwork!: Gear Notes: leave the snowshoes at home! Approach Notes: Follow Volken or your own nose. There are options
  48. 4 points
    His body was first spotted from a helicopter, said to have been at the base of the climb, which I assume means the snow fan beneath the first couloir. The coroner's report indicated catastrophic injury, consistent with being struck by something heavy falling from a good distance above, or striking hard rock or ice after free falling a significant distance. Could have been either of these. Fall seems more likely to me but it's impossible to know which, unless the rescue team saw clear evidence of a large mass of rock or ice debris that traveled down with him. I am somewhat curious to know if the team saw such debris, but not curious enough to seek them out and ask. I appreciate the tone of respect and concern in the posts. Haven't posted here in years but this brings back fond memories of many intense discussions about this heavy subject, almost all of which left me impressed with the character of the CC.com community. I don't perceive any tone of judgment, rather an effort to keep the discussion reasoned and respectful, including those who dispute with JeffreyW about length of WI sections or ability to self arrest on steep snow. One thing I'm sure of: Rick was fully aware of the risks he took. He was training for a 2nd attempt of K2, after all.
  49. 4 points
    Dreaming of the Spearhead....
  50. 4 points
    Trip: Crescent Creek - Terror W ridge, wild hair crack, chopping black NE Trip Date: 07/15/2021 Trip Report: Went to the crescent creek area 7/15-18 with Alex. Shwack before terror creek is confusing at times but not exactly heinous. The creek crossing (ford) was easy for us. Trail on the other side is superb, possibly the steepest I’ve hiked, and very beautiful too. Not as enjoyable going down though. Once at the crest the path becomes ambiguous again. Didn’t have any trouble on the way up but somehow kept losing it on the way back. It took a while to reach the 6400’ notch and weather was coming in so we opted to just rest in the evening. We could see only the lower portions of the basin, and the going looked tough from afar. The spires were still a mystery at this point. Top priority for the trip was Wild Hair Crack, and Stoddard was 2nd. We needed two full days of good weather on days 2-3 to pull them both off. Waking to very low visibility on the morning of the 2nd day we called off Stoddard (next time) and planned to push wild hair to day3. We caught up on sleep for a while, finally getting going after noon towards the west ridge of terror as consolation, because the weather didn’t seem to be getting any worse. Traversing the basin ended up not being as bad as it looked. Took an hour to reach the base of the gully leading to Terror. Crux of the day was in the middle of the gully where a break in the snow forced a tenuous step down onto slabby choss and a few moves up from there before returning to snow. On the way back we chopped back snow to excavate an anchor at that spot. If I’m not mistaken the chockstone flexed when I tested it, but we rapped anyway. Poor visibility made it hard to find the start of the route but eventually we did one diagonal pitch from a notch to a slung rock. We unroped and scrambled from here in the mist. Some of the rock on the route is quite nice, more like the granite in the basin than the crap in the gully. Just as we were reaching the summit the cloud layer thinned out. I was remarking that this was glory weather and sure enough, a large white ring formed behind Terror. We got flashes of clear views to Fury and MacMillan. Saw our own halos for a minute then headed back. The climb was done to pass the time during poor weather, but a glory sighting took it to another level, validated the whole day. The weather finally cleared mid morning day3 and we were soon at the Otto Himmel col. The chockstone had fun looking moves on its right side, but probably 5th class so we kept it simple with ledges on the left a little ways below the stone. WHC did not disappoint. I mostly took small cams and they were mostly useless. The first good spot I noticed above the runout chimney is a thin horizontal crack, so some small pro helps. Other than that it seemed like most pro opportunities were in #2-3 range. The climbing was easy and solid enough that I was fine with long run outs. We relished the views up top, calling to the tiny figure over on the summit of Terror, our neighbor for a couple days. Descending with 60m rope worked fine, there are probably more anchors around now than in the past. On our last day we went to the NE side of chopping block, doing some exposed scrambling before roping up at a rap anchor. To my surprise I reached the summit in one 60m from there. This is another great vantage a place to mull over various traverse schemes deep in the backcountry. As we were packing up for the hike back, someone arrived at our spot. It was not his face but his lack of a backpack that helped me correctly guess his identity. Not a lot of people do day trips in the pickets. At least one who does has posted some insane reports here. My suspicion was confirmed and it was nice to meet and chat with dr dirtbag himself A dip in Terror creek and another in Goodell at the end of the trail helped wash away the grind of the descent, literally and metaphorically. Gear Notes: Axe and crampons for gullies Try to keep it light but mostly large in the cams Approach Notes: Useful gpx are out there
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