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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. 14 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. 12 points
    Trip: West Fury - Mongo Ridge 5.9 ED1 (second ascent of the Pole of Remotenesses) Trip Date: 07/14/2022 Trip Report: Hello all, Lani and I got out of the pickets a few days ago. We repeated Mongo Ridge and got the second ascent of the pole of remoteness. Lani wrote a solid trip report on our blog with tons of photos and more beta which is linked below. For now here are some important cliff notes on the route… https://www.theclimbingguides.com/post/mongo-ridge-and-the-pole-of-remoteness-7-09-2022-7-14-2022 1- we did not do the rooster comb. This feature is awesome looking and deserving of being climbed if you have the time. The bypass doesn’t seem to detract from the aesthetic of the line too much, you are about 100-150’ from the roosters comb the whole way as you traverse the south face. 2- we did not encounter any 5.10 terrain. After seeing photos from Wayne’s trip we climbed slightly different terrain than he did on tower 3. 3- everyone seems concerned with the commitment grades thrown at this thing. I would argue that an American commitment grade makes little sense on a climb like this. I would like to propose Mongo as the benchmark ED1 for the cascades. It is a considerable step up in length, commitment and general alpine involvement over NE butt of slesse, and I’ve always understood that climb as the benchmark TD. There was 3500’ of climbing done in 30 pitches without any simuling. we chose not to simul as there really wasn’t enough solid gear to make it feel like we weren’t just soloing. 4- this was my first technical climb in the pickets, so I don’t have much to compare it to but I felt the rock was pretty damn good and the route was fucking awesome. The route was similar in nature to the west arete, but longer and with better rock, and almost no overhead hazard. I would highly recommend the route. 5- the sit start to the ridge is a logical evolution of the route. For those interested, it looked improbable to gain the lower ridge anywhere other than toe. This would ultimately add about 1200’ to the climb. Once seasonal snow is gone, it may be easier to trudge up the depths of goddell creek… Gear Notes: Single rack .1-2, doubles .3-.75 Approach Notes: Long
  4. 11 points
    Trip: Crescent Creek Spires, Southern Picket Range - East Twin Needle - North Buttress 5.9 D+ 2,000’ Trip Date: 07/31/2022 Trip Report: Sam Boyce and I climbed the North Buttress (aka the Thread of Gneiss, as coined by John Roper), on July 31, 2022. The buttress rises 1,800 vertical feet and our route took 9 pitches, the majority of which were ~250’ due to simul-climbing–we estimate around 2,000’ feet of roped climbing. Some of you might be curious about this (probable FA) given there are no reported ascents, although a couple parties have reportedly tried. I had tried and failed on this line before, and it had really got under my skin. This time Sam and I started the line in a more sensible place, and it went smoothly. Here's some art by John Scurlock showing the E and W Twin Needles from the north. Our line begins lower right and works its way up the north buttress trending left, eventually squeaking by the sub-summit spire on its left to hit that highest left skyline: The lingering snowpack made the approach relatively easy, for the Pickets. From our camp near the Chopping Block, after traversing the snow, slabs, and talus of Crescent Cr basin, we cramponed up to Otto-Himmelhorn col. From there, the descent of the Mustard Glacier required only one single-rope rap from an established station ~150’ below the col. Gawking up at the very steep and intimidating looking summit spires, we figured that we would need a lot of time to reckon a way to summit. As a result, our route-finding choices generally favored efficiency, as we wanted to be as expedient as possible to save time for expected difficulties up high. As it turns out, our concerns were largely needless. We started climbing a little below the outlet of the gully splitting the E and W Twin Needles (aka, the Thread of Ice), gaining E Twin Needle on its right-hand side, not far up from the buttress toe. A pitch-plus of glacial-flour-covered mid-fifth was followed by a pitch-plus of nasty gully travel with some mid-fifth work-arounds, and that landed us at a notch above the first pillar/tower on the buttress. Future parties should take the rib to the left of the gully on pitch 2 for better climbing, and top out on the pillar—an approx. 20’ rap to the notch might be required, but this would be much better than the loose gully. Our start, from near the buttress’s toe: In the above pic, we gained the rock left of the gaping 'schrund, up to the brownish left-slanting gully, up that thing to the notch between the indistinct pillar and the next tower at the sun-shade line. (Again, likely better to stay on the rib to the left of the gully.) From there, Sam led through some blocky 5.7 terrain that backed off to more low-fifth scrambling. For pitch-plus 4, I continued on pleasant rock at low-fifth class, nearly to the top of another gendarme. For pitch-plus 5, Sam then easily gained the next notch and continued on some solid and fun 5.8 that relented to mid-fifth. For pitch 6, I led an airy 5.7 traverse left of another tower. This was one of the few pitches that did not stretch beyond a rope length. Going up and over this tower would probably be just as fun. Sam’s lead of pitch 7 was a long simul affair involving grassy ramps for about 400’ with difficulties up to 5.7. He finally pulled up to belay at a spot that gave us options for tackling the summit block. My lead of pitch 8 involved a chimney, a leftward-rising traverse of a face, and then working around and up an exposed and somewhat insecure arête to near the summit. This long pitch was the proverbial sting in the tail, requiring some careful and sometimes licheny 5.9 moves. Fun and spicy. (There were certainly more spicy options to gain the striking sub-summit, but we leave that for future parties and variations.) From my belay Sam scrambled to the summit, at perhaps 5.6. Descent: We descended the south face. From the summit, there is a short down climb to an established rap station with a fresh sling from the Wrights’ traverse a few years back. This was a full 30M rap that took us to Eye Col (the notch between E and W Twin Needles). From Eye Col we scrambled down the main south gully, exiting rightward when it got steep and traversing skier's right over 2 or 3 minor ridges to find easier terrain to down climb. After a bit of sandy 4th class, we identified a convenient point to rappel from (cord now in situ) that landed us back into the main gully with its (currently) hanging snowfield. This was a full 60M rap. After downclimbing and traversing right off the snow, we found ourselves at a notch that splits the two main gullies described in the Beckey guide. We decided the gullies looked unpleasant and scrambled the ridge between the two, trending rightward as we went down–our route traversed above the skier’s right gully. This was straightforward 4th class. When the ridge got steeper near another notch we made another rap. This was another ~60M rap down lower angle terrain, which could probably be downclimbed somewhat reasonably with a couple steep steps. From here we continued downclimbing to the moat below the ridge. There was not a comfortable-looking transition to the snow so we rigged one more single-rope rap to clear the moat and get back onto the snowfields in Crescent Creek basin. Once in the basin, it was a quick romp back up to our camp at the Chopping Block col. A handful of pics: Sam on pitch 3, E Twin Needle's sub-summit spire lurking behind immediately left: Me on pitch 4, with the Eye of Sauron menacing behind: Here I'm following pitch 5, Fury and Luna background: For pitch 6, at this point I decided to head left for an airy traverse versus the up-and-over (that's W Twin on the right): Sam shot this pic of me on pitch 8, about to swing around to the exposed arete: A couple of Sam following, first the chimney, then on the arete, obviously having fun: Sam and I really enjoyed this climb. While Sam had impressively climbed three Pickets routes in under two weeks, for me it had been too long since I'd climbed alpine rock, and this was a much-needed alpine shot in the arm. Except for the uncharacteristically somewhat-heady last pitch, we'd recommend this as a "Pickets moderate". Parties comfortable with alpine 5.9 should take a ride on this climb. The Crescent Creek Spires from our camp; the Twin Needles are the pointy ones next to last on the left, and the upper gully snowfield that we rappelled and downclimbed as part of the descent (before veering looker's left on a ridge) is visible dropping down below Eye Col: Gear Notes: Double cams fingers to 1", single 2 and 3, supplemented by tri-cams and nuts. Double/twin 60M ropes. Approach Notes: Crescent Creek basin approach to Chopping Block col.
  5. 11 points
    Trip: Whatcom Peak - “Castle in the Sky” FA of the South Buttress of Whatcom 5.10b TD Trip Date: 08/06/2022 Trip Report: Yeeehaw! What a weather window it’s been! From Aug 5-7th Lani and I climbed the first ascent of the south buttress of Whatcom. This route came as a suggestion from Wayne. Thanks! It was excellent climbing on great rock in the most perfect of settings. I would say it’s one of the finer alpine routes I’ve had the pleasure of climbing in the cascades! We would highly recommend the route! There is certainly some choss and some runout but it is the pickets. I have to start work today so a hasty trip report will have to do. Here’s a link to the report I wrote up. Sorry for the forced click through, I’m rolling out the door and don’t have time to format photos for CC. Thanks for the stoke y’all! Go get it while the gettins still there! https://www.theclimbingguides.com/post/castle-in-the-sky-first-ascent-of-the-south-buttress-of-whatcom-peak-iv-5-10b-td Gear Notes: Single rack .1-3 doubles .2-1 full set of nuts. Optional #2 and 3 KB’s. Single 60M rope Approach Notes: We took easy peak to the imperfect impasse.
  6. 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!
  7. 10 points
    Trip: K2 - Abruzzi Spur Trip Date: 07/28/2022 Trip Report: K2 (28,261ft) Highpoint of Pakistan Second highest Mountain in the world July 28, 2022 Eric Gilbertson and Andreas Frydensberg No supplemental oxygen, independent unguided climb K2 as seen from basecamp June 13 – July 19 – Acclimate by climbing Broad Peak (26,414ft) July 20 – 22 – rest in broad BC after climbing Broad Peak July 23 – move to K2 BC in afternoon July 24 – climb to C2 6700m (I got hit by a big rock on the way up dislodged by descending climbers and was limping for next few days) July 25 – move to c3 7200m, evening summit plans thwarted by 20cm new snow so slept there in friends tent with only one sleeping bag July 26 – more unexpected snowfall, spend another night in c3 with no sleeping bags. We found an abandoned tent to shiver in all night. Food basically zero since we were delayed and ran out. July 27 – move to C4 7800m after weather cleared, then start up bottleneck 11pm in snow squall. July 28 – reach summit 8611m around 8am. We kept up with oxygen climbers most of the way. On descent I helped rescue two climbers near the bottleneck. Descend to c1 6000m in dark before a snow storm hit so stayed there for the night. July 29 – descend to K2 Basecamp 5000m July 30 – Aug 7 – hike out, drive back to Islamabad. Location of K2 K2 has a reputation as being the hardest mountain in the world. It is nicknamed the “savage mountain” and the “killer mountain”, and before this year it reportedly had a death rate of around 25%. K2 was first climbed in 1954, and by 2021 had only seen around 500 ascents. Many factors make K2 difficult. It is nestled deep in the Karakorum and takes nearly a week of trekking just to reach its base. In fact, it is so remote that there did not exist a local name for it. Surveyors gave it the name K2 for Karakorum 2, and the name stuck. It is the second tallest mountain in the world and the oxygen content is low enough at that height that most climbers will need to breath supplemental oxygen. Our route from Skardu The easiest route, the Abruzzi Spur, is very technical. The weather is notoriously bad with cold temperatures and extreme wind. I’m working on climbing the highest peak in every country on earth and K2 is the highpoint of Pakistan, so I needed to climb it. I’ve been working my way up increasingly higher and more difficult peaks over the years in preparation for a climb like this. Closer view of the route My first big peak was Denali in 2010. I gained more experience at high altitude and cold peaks with Mt Logan in Canada and a bunch of 6000m peaks in South America like Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Sajama. I’ve gained technical experience over the years putting up a new 30 pitch rock route on Mt Nirvana in NWT, climbing a mixed route on Noshaq (7492m) in afghanistan, and a long ice route at altitude on Shkhara in Russia. Last summer, 2021, I started climbing 7000m peaks in Kyrgyzstan. I climbed Lenin, Khan Tengri, and Pik Pobeda via the Abalokov route. All this experience of technical climbing at altitude gave me confidence I could give K2 a try, though success would be uncertain. The Abruzzi Spur route on K2 The biggest unknown for me would be how my body would perform at altitude. The highest I’d been was 7492m on Noshaq in Afghanistan. I did fine then, and I’ve never really gotten altitude sickness before, but K2 was significantly higher and I’ve heard things get much more difficult above 8000m. Of course, I could always use supplemental oxygen on the summit, like most other climbers, but that feels a little like cheating to me. The major difficulty of a mountain that tall is the height and lack of oxygen on the summit. By breathing supplemental oxygen you basically get around that difficulty and make the peak significantly easier. It’s similar to doping in my mind. I definitely wanted to climb K2 without supplemental oxygen. Some climbers higher a high altitude porter to accompany them to the summit carrying an oxygen canister to use just in case they need it. But this is unappealing to me compared to climbing without that porter and canister. To me it sounds almost like the difference between top roping and lead climbing. With top roping you can always weight the rope if you want and it is much easier but leading is more authentic and difficult. Similarly with oxygen there is significantly more commitment and difficulty to the climb if you are on your own, and I would consider the gold standard as not having any porters or sherpas supporting you with oxygen canisters. The team in Skardu I also wanted to climb it unsupported above basecamp. People have recently started climbing K2 with sherpas carrying all their gear and setting up their tents and guides leading the way and making all decisions. I definitely did not want to get guided up and didn’t want anyone else carrying my gear up. Acclimation hike to Mazur Rock overlooking Skardu Of course, I still wanted a reasonable chance of success, and that meant climbing the standard route, the Abruzzi Spur. This meant climbing with a bunch of other climbers. Inevitably they would help break trail, and I was ok with that. Also, because there would be guided groups they would of course fix ropes on crux sections for the clients. I was ok with paying to use fixed ropes on the mountain, as this is very standard practice on peaks like this. It would be silly to climb next to a fixed rope and not use it. I had previously used fixed ropes twice before – on Denali near 14 camp and on the upper slopes of Khan Tengri. Rough jeep track past Askole For acclimation we decided to climb Broad Peak first. Broad is one of the easier and lower 8000m peaks and made sense as my first 8000er. We would climb the standard west ridge route without supplemental oxygen and with no support above basecamp. We could see how our bodies reacted above 8000m and hopefully learn lessons to apply later on K2. We planned to acclimate very slowly and thoroughly on Broad to give us the best chance of success on K2. I know I often get impatient and want to tag a summit quickly, but the goal on Broad was complete acclimation, not a quick summit. Hiking in to Paiju I found a conservative Broad peak itinerary listed on the summitclimb guided group website, and we planned to use this as our baseline itinerary. We would do three rotations progressively higher to 7000m before a final summit push. If everything went well on Broad then we would request a K2 permit and go for K2. If for some reason we had a lot of trouble with breathing above 8000m on Broad then we could always skip K2. Passing trango towers near urdukas camp Acclimating on Broad would also be much safer than acclimating on K2. For some reason this year many more climbers planned to climb K2 than in any previous year. Around 400 permits were issued for K2 and in the past at most around 60 climbers ever climbed K2 in one season. I’m not sure what caused the increased popularity this year. This many climbers makes K2 dangerous. Rockfall below c2 is notoriously bad, and more climbers means more rocks. Also, c1 and c2 are very small and there’s no way this many climbers can fit at once. By acclimating on Broad we would only have to go up K2 once instead of doing multiple acclimation rotations. This would minimize rockfall exposure and time fighting for campsite space. Concordia Finally, it was likely that whenever we summitted Broad would coincide with the first summits on K2 (they are right next to each other and would likely have the same weather windows). We hoped that a majority of climbers would summit K2 in this first weather window and soon leave the mountain. Our strategy would be to wait for the next weather window ( if it occurred) and push for the summit then. Hopefully then the mountain would be free of climbers, rockfall danger would be minimal, campsites would be available, and there would be no waiting in line behind inexperienced guided climbers. Me at broad basecamp, looking back at k2 For logistics we wanted to go as cheap as possible to get our permits and get ourselves and our gear to basecamp. We went with Alpine Adventure Guides with Ali Saltoro and I could not have been more pleased. He is the cheapest operator for 8000ers in the Karakorum as far as I can tell and takes care of everything from the time you land in Islamabad to basecamp. He organizes all the permits and porters and transportation and you get a basecamp staff to cook meals down in basecamp. But you are completely on your own above basecamp. Ali is very well-connected with people in government and the military and if you need anything done he is the best man to talk to. He also knows tons of information on climbing history in the area and which peaks and routes are unclimbed. Some climbers pay up to $95,000 (Madison Mountaineering) for a guided climb up K2, but we paid just $4,800 for permits and service for Broad peak plus $2,000 for a K2 permit. One final piece of logistics is we needed reliable weather forecasts. In the past I’ve had friends inreach message me forecasts from online sites like mountain-forecast.com, but this is not super reliable. If our weather forecast is wrong it can cost a lot of time in failed summit attempts. This year and the past few years we’ve paid a professional meteorologist, Chris Tomer, to give us daily forecasts. Chris gave us forecasts last year on Pik Pobeda and Khan Tengri and was extremely accurate. He also previously forecast for the successful first winter ascent of K2 (by Nims and team in 2019) so we knew he knew the area well. He would send daily forecasts to my inreach as with last summer. Looking over camp towards Concordia With all the logistics sorted out I made one final decision, and that was to not tell anyone I was planning to climb K2. I know many climbers spread news about their plans far in advance to try to get sponsors and increase publicity, but I’m a fan of the climber mantra “send before you spray”. It seems weird to me to get publicity for something you haven’t yet done but are only planning to do. But more importantly, I didn’t want any external pressure to affect my decision making on K2. If I told a bunch of people in advance I was planning to climb K2, then I might feel pressure to push for the summit in dangerous conditions to not disappoint them. If nobody knew I was trying for K2, then I would have no reservations turning around if conditions weren’t right. Broad peak from camp So I said my plan was just Broad peak. If I didn’t do well at altitude on Broad I could always skip K2 with no shame and nobody knowing. The only people that knew about the possible K2 plans were my climbing partners Andreas and Marie and Ali Soltoro so he could get the permit if we needed it. I departed for Pakistan June 13 a few hours after submitting my final grades for Seattle University. Between June 14 – July 8 we flew to Skardu, took jeeps to past Askoli, trekked in to Broad basecamp, and did several rotations. Cramped camp 1 on Broad On July 8 we tried to summit Broad peak, and Andreas and I broke trail by ourselves all the way from c3 at 7000m to the col at 7900m. But then a storm rolled in and we had to retreat. We had felt ok at 7900m, even breaking trail, and thought that was enough data to convince us we could attempt K2 without oxygen. So back at basecamp we contacted Ali to complete the paperwork and payment for K2 permits for us. I hadn’t realized previously, but it is not normal to request a last minute K2 permit like this and is not easy. Most climbers get this permit months or a year in advance. The government wanted to send in a new liason officer from Islamabad for this, but that would take much too long. Ali made lots of calls and pulled strings, and our liason officer Zishan was also instrumental in helping us out. In the end we got the permit in just 5 days, as Ali had told us would be the case. Looking down from C2 on broad peak One day while waiting for good weather we walked up to K2 basecamp and talked to a few climbing teams. We talked to Marie’s Estonian friend Krisli at Madison Mountaineering and she said they were looking to go for the summit July 22. Interestingly, Madison had a ratio of two guides and 11 sherpas per client! I think they were on one end of the support spectrum and we were on the other. We heard Elite Expeditions led by Nims was guiding up the princess of Qatar, but she was kind of reclusive and we never saw her. I bet she had the absolute highest level of support. First summit attempt on broad looking down from c3 We also talked to Dawa at Seven Summit Treks and he was super friendly. I knew they had fixed a lot of rope on the route but he said we could use it without paying. He gave us a bottle of coke and we talked for a while until he needed to get back to work coordinating clients. On July 18 in the next weather window we summitted Broad peak, the fourth and fifth climbers of the season (since there were no fixed ropes at the top the guided groups had all turned around without summitting.) We made it back to basecamp July 19 and started our rest. We had essentially done five rotations up Broad peak, twice tagging near or above 8000m, and it seemed like our acclimation was very thorough. It was perhaps even more helpful for our K2 attempt that we had required two summit attempts on Broad, since this gave us another rotation. Second attempt on broad, approaching the false summit I was coughing a lot, but I knew from recovering from our first Broad attempt that it was not serious and would gradually go away. Climbers call this the Karakorum cough, and both Andreas and I had it. I think it was a result mostly of the dry air at altitude and me being dehydrated from the climb. Unfortunately for us there had not yet been any K2 summits, and we really needed to wait for the main wave of climbers to go up and down so the peak could clear out and be safer. We definitely did not want to get tangled up in a 400 person stampede for the summit. On Broad it had just been me, Andreas and our friend Bartek on the summit with three friends later reaching the top. Six people total summitting all day was a safe and reasonable number. Andreas on the summit of broad with k2 in the background We rested for a few days reading, sleeping, and eating a lot. Fidali and the cook team prepared tons of excellent food for us every day. The weather was great those first few days and I felt a bit bad sitting in basecamp, but I knew rest was important. After dinner july 21 just as it was getting dark I noticed headlamps high up on K2 above c4 on the shoulder. This was the highest I’d seen headlamps all summer. Later after 10pm we saw them progress above the bottleneck and we figured it must be a rope fixing team. This was great news since that meant the first wave would be going up soon. Me, Andreas and Bartek on the summit of broad Indeed, we later learned a team of five strong sherpas from Madison Mountaineering and Seven Summit Treks fixed lines from c4 that night, reaching the summit around 10:30pm. I was surprised they would go completely at night, but I suppose this was so clients would have time to follow and summit by sunrise. As the sherpas neared the summit the rush was on. Clients from Madison Mountaineering started up just before the sherpas finished, trying to be at the head of the pack. They ended up summitting at 230am, well before sunrise. Behind them was a huge lineup of between 150-200 climbers (I heard different estimates based on who I talked to). Apparently everyone was using supplemental oxygen except three climbers – Nims, a pakistani porter, and one more person. Everyone I heard of was part of a guided trip. Descending to basecamp The guided climbers with oxygen could get by doing just one acclimation rotation in advance up to 6800m before doing a summit push while climbers without oxygen would have to do at least three rotations to properly acclimate like we did. Thus climbers using oxygen could more easily summit in the first wave since they didn’t really need to acclimate as much while climbers not using oxygen generally had to go in a later weather window like us. I heard many climbers started using oxygen at c2 at 6700m, which means they had to have many oxygen containers hauled up for them by sherpas and porters to cover the rest of the climb. I later saw a video (by Mingma G) of a traffic jam just above the bottleneck and it looked agonizing. I’m very happy we weren’t tangled up in that. It sounded dangerous to be stuck in the lower section of that traffic jam in the bottleneck below a hanging glacier. The safest thing to do in that zone is to move as fast as possible. But, it was excellent news that most climbers would soon clear out from the route. We soon started making plans for our summit bid. We figured if everyone summitted on the 22nd, then they should be able to make it down to basecamp by the 23rd. So by the 24th the mountain should have cleared out. Chris said there was a little bit of snowfall expected on the 25th but there would be a second weather window the 26-28. Then by the 29th the jet stream would hit the summit with heavy snow and the climbing season would likely be over. From talking to guided clients it sounded like the standard summit push itinerary is to climb to c1 and sleep, then c2, then c3, then c4, then summit. This sounded way too slow, though. On our Broad peak summit push we had climbed directly BC to c3 (4800m to 7000m) then left for the summit directly that night. So almost a single push. A helicopter evacuation from BC. These were surprisingly common. I heard rumors some climbers faked injuries to get a free flight out. Otherwise the flight is $30k usd. Some rich climbers just paid to fly out. I’ve found that I generally don’t get a good sleep above 7000m, so we thought maybe we could skip camps and also avoid sleeping up high on K2. We were used to skipping camps on high peaks (for instance on Pobeda last summer on the Abalokov route we skipped every other camp). So our plan was to climb BC to c2 (5000m to 6700m) the first day, then leave the overnight gear at c2 and climb to c3 at 7300m the next morning, rest a few hours in a friends tent, then push on for the summit at 8pm. This would allow us to go fast and light above c2 and not try to sleep above 7000m where its difficult to sleep anyways. It would put us at c4 at 7600m around 11pm, which is the time our friends recommended starting up for the summit anyways. Then after the summit we would descend back to c2 to sleep. This meant in total we would just need to pack three days of food. The weather was supposed to be clear the morning of the 26th, so it seemed like a reasonable schedule. From my experience on Broad I knew I would have trouble eating anything above 8000m. So summit day we would likely not need to bring much food. But I still needed calories to function. To solve this problem I would put gatorade in both my nalgenes. Then I could ingest calories without throwing them back up like I had when I tried to eat hard food on Broad peak. From talking to Dawa we knew a guided team from SST (Seven Summit Treks) was also planning to summit the 26th, so there would be other climbers on the mountain to help with trail breaking if needed. But they were the only remaining guided team still planning to summit, and they were only five sherpas and five clients, so it would not be crowded. With 200 climbers already summitting and only a small amount of new snow forecast for the 25th, it seemed like we wouldn’t need to break any trail and could just march up in the existing track. So even if it were just us two we could make it up. Our plan seemed like it could work, assuming the forecast held, and we had the added benefit that the 27th and 28th could be backup summit days since they were also forecast to be dry. Moving to k2 basecamp With logistics hashed out and our permit in order we started packing up on the 23rd. Our basecamp at Broad peak was an hour hike from K2 basecamp, and we had three friends also with Alpine Adventure Guides who had a basecamp set up at K2 basecamp. So we planned to sleep with them that night to let us start our climb the 24th a little closer to the mountain. After lunch Andreas, I, and Marie set out in nice clear weather and hiked up to K2 basecamp. We had dinner with Serge, Mauritz and Corinne, who were resting after their last rotation on K2 and getting ready for their own summit bid. K2 basecamp. Much bigger than broad BC. Our cook, Honey, cooked up some excellent rice and dahl. Honey actually works as a cook for former prime minister Imran Kahn when he’s not on expeditions, and I can see why Imran Kahn hired him! That night I tried to get to sleep early in preparation for a big day the next day, but it was difficult. At 8pm our neighbors at the Madison Mountaineering camp started playing loud music and setting off firecrackers to celebrate the successful ascent and return of their two clients Krisli and Nelly. This lasted until 10pm, when our other neighbors in the Elite Expeditions camp started their own celebrations with even louder music and, of course, more firecrackers. I thought I had packed my earplugs but I had unfortunately left them in broad BC. That was a huge mistake. Also, unfortunately, Marie hadn’t fully recovered yet from Broad peak and was coughing all night. We were all sleeping on the floor of the cook tent, so it was impossible for me to sleep. At 11:30pm after three hours of unsuccessfully trying to sleep I picked up my sleeping bag and walked outside far away from our tent. I laid the bag directly on the ground and tried to fall asleep there. By this time Nims team at Elite Expeditions had finally run out of firecrackers and were merely blasting loud music. I was far enough away from our mess tent that this was the only noise I now had to contend with. Finally by 2am I managed to doze off, but was awoken by my alarm at 3am that it was time to move. Elite Expeditions was still partying hard with music blasting. They would continue until nearly sunrise. Marie was still coughing and we convinced her to take another rest day. It didn’t seem wise to start up K2 when still feeling sick. So it would be Andreas and I going up as a team and Marie following up independently. We had heard ropes were fixed up the whole route, so going up solo would be doable and reasonably safe. The weather window was supposed to be long enough that Marie should be able to summit a day or two after us. After eating some porridge and chapati we headed up around 4am. Mauritz, Corinne, and Serge had said they usually started up around 4am on their rotations and this seemed reasonable. We started out in our light hiking boots carrying our mountaineering boots on our packs, since the first stretch of the route was on rocky morrain. This made our packs heavy, but not as bad as on Pobeda last year (we made many comparisons between K2 and Pobeda, ultimately concluding K2 was easier). That time we needed to carry a 60m rope, a week of food, rock and ice racks and two tools each. But since K2 had fixed lines we could get by with just one ice ax each (to use just in case ropes got cut), with no rope or rack, and half as much food. We had considered taking a light rope for the bottleneck in case the ropes got cut by icefall while we were at the summit and we needed to rappel. This had happened in the 2008 accident on K2, when some climbers had to downclimb. But we figured there would be plenty of fixed line above the bottleneck and worst case we could cut that and use it to rappel if needed. We brought a few ice screws and v thread tool in case we needed to simul climb across the traverse section and make some anchors going down. If the ropes got cut before we ascended we could borrow some lower fixed rope and re fix the cut section while taking turns climbing with our two tools. This allowed us to save a bit of weight and move faster. Hiking up to advanced basecamp The trail out of BC was poorly defined but we roughly stayed on the rocks between the icy sections. By sunrise we reached the end of the rocks and started following occasional flags in the ice. We gradually gained elevation, and as we neared advanced basecamp we encountered more and more slippery icy sections. Finally we stopped and put on our olympus mons boots and crampons, and that made progress much easier. We eventually followed flags off the glacier on the left side and took the crampons off. Amazingly, I saw one patch of grass on the side in the dirt! That was the highest vegetation I saw on the whole route, at nearly 5300m. Looking back from ABC towards basecamp We reached ABC around 6am just as a sherpa and client were hiking down. There were two tents set up but nobody was in the camp. We carefully hid our light hiking boots under some rocks and put our crampons back on. Above us was a huge wide icy snow slope on the right bordered by a rock slope on the left. There were no obvious fixed lines but we could vaguely see old tracks on the snow on the rock snow border. Our friends had told us the route hugged this border, with the rope fixed on rock while the route followed the snow. Starting up the snow slope We started kicking steps up the snow and soon reached the start of the fixed lines sheltered behind a big cliff. A handful of hiking poles and other gear items were stashed in the rocks and we added our poles to the pile. It was unlikely they would be useful any higher. I was a bit disappointed that the fixed lines were the white Korean rope we had come to know from Broad peak. This is cheap static line that is sold in 200m sections in every mountaineering shop in Skardu. It is thin, frays easily, and does not inspire confidence. But as long as it just takes body weight statically it somehow works. I wasn’t complaining, though. Some other climbers had spent a lot of time and effort putting it up and it had apparently held for 200 climbers going up and down during the first summit wave. Looking back down the route Fortunately there were two independent lines, so I could put my ascender on the strongest-looking one and clip my backup to the other line. In general there would usually be at least two lines up the whole route. I clearly wasn’t the only climber mildly sketched out by the Korean line. To increase my confidence I would generally try to not weight the rope and only use it as backup. We slowly started up the route with Andreas in the lead, but it would soon get very dangerous. After 30 minutes we rounded a corner and heard a loud noise up above. Soon a big green oxygen canister came blasting down the slope like a missile! Then a second one blasted down just behind it! We frantically swung as far to the left as possible, with the missiles passing 15 ft to our right. We hung out sheltered behind a rock band watching amazed as a backpack, then sleeping bag, then pad rocketed down. Fortunately no person fell down, but it appeared a sherpa had somehow managed to lose the entire load of him or his client! Heading up After the slope settled we cautiously started up, very rattled. We would sprint from safe zone to safe zone, nervously glancing above us every few seconds. Frequently we would here mini helicopter noises and then rocks would zip by at lightning speed. Clearly a group of climbers above was being extremely careless. I think this is one dangerous consequence of guiding inexperienced clients up a major peak like this. They don’t necessarily have the mountaineering background to know the importance of being extremely careful with rockfall. As we got higher we had to cross one particularly long and risky section. At some point I heard yet another helicopter noise as a grapefruit size rock came hurdling down. I jumped to the side but at the last minute the rock took a wild turn and hit me directly in the calf! It went between my legs from the right, hitting me in the left leg. I bent over in pain and swore at the top of my lungs at the climbers above. I hoped they understood english, but I doubt it caused them to change their behavior. My calf was throbbing but miraculously the rock had missed my shin. It might have broken my leg if it had hit bone, it was going so fast. I had a huge black and blue mark but luckily no bleeding. I had to limp to keep going, but it seemed like the kind of injury that would gradually improve. We seriously considered turning around, but it looked like we were almost at the end of the snow slope and the rocky terrain above looked like it provided more protection. Up was safer than down at that point, so we continued up. Soon some sherpas and clients descended down, and I warned them to be more careful about rockfall. They said we shouldn’t be ascending so late in the morning, but that’s no excuse for sending rocks down! If we had ascended in the dark it might be more dangerous since we couldn’t see oncoming rocks to avoid them! Descending climbers really need to be more careful. It’s not difficult on that route to avoid dislodging rocks I now know. Camp 1. Not my favorite place to hang out We passed about 15 sherpas and clients coming down and they had all summitted in the July 22 wave. We had expected them to all descend on the 23, but I guess many were slower than we expected and were taking two days to descend. By 10am we finally reached camp 1 and stopped for a break. That was the first flat spot since ABC. The camp was deserted, with just a few tents still standing, likely abandoned. The camp stunk of excrement and had trash and flattened tents everywhere. There were perhaps 20 platforms created in the rocks and, precariously, in the snow at the edge of camp, but nearly all were empty. I was very happy to not have to camp there, especially when it was full. Looking up from c1 I was surprised how much trash was in this camp given that the camps on Broad were generally clean. Both peaks had a similar number of climbers registered for permits and c1 and c2 on Broad were also small. The only difference I can think of is K2 has almost exclusively guided groups while Broad had a high percentage independent groups. Perhaps independent groups clean up after themselves better and don’t leave old tents on the mountain? I’m not sure. It was actually a bit sketchy walking around in crampons through all the trash and discarded tents, but we found a place to sit and eat a snack. Heading up to c2 Soon two sherpas from Seven Summit Treks descended to camp and stopped to talk. They said there were only a few other climbers left above us on the route and they were coming down. That was great to hear the route would soon be empty and the rockfall danger would be much less. They confirmed the group of ten from SST was on their way up from ABC and were planning to summit on the 26th just like us. They also said the fixed rope up the bottleneck was high quality thick dynamic rope just put up July 21, and this boosted our spirits. Climbing to c2 They soon headed down and we continued up. I decided to power through the pain in my calf since it would likely improve with time. Just as we were leaving camp another rock whizzed down past us! It appeared camp 1 was not a totally safe zone, surprisingly. There must be a climber above us still, and we stayed vigilant watching above for projectiles. Many ropes to choose from! We followed more korean line up the rocks, and this was soon replaced by higher quality black rope. We were ultra vigilant not to dislodge rocks, and I’m pretty confident we were successful. It wasn’t very difficult. Heading up At one point we traversed through a small waterfall, then climbed a short snow slope and returned to rock scrambling. One solo Pakistani climber descended by us, and I think he was a porter ferrying a load down. At some points the fixed rope situation was almost comical. One anchor had literally 15 different unique strands of rope coming off! The trick was always to find the two strands that looked the newest and clip one with the ascender and the other with the backup line. Interestingly, in some places it looked like a Climbing the house chimney brand new 10mm orange dynamic line had been placed next to older Korean static line. But often the orange line was core shot while the Korean line was still holding together. Perhaps the Korean line was stronger than I gave it credit for. Though there were still plenty of places where it had been cut and tied back together. We eventually reached a small flat area with a single yellow Kailas tent pitched. Just above this we encountered the infamous house chimney. Looking down the chimney This is the first technical section of the abruzzi spur route, and is a 30m tall vertical chimney that goes at around 5.7. Long ago climbers left a metal cable ladder strung in the chimney, and there were two new fixed ropes in the middle (one was placed by our friends Mauritz, Corinne and Serge.) I’ve heard horror stories of climbers waiting hours in line for a chance to go up or down this section, but luckily we had it all to ourselves. I started up first and it was tricky squeezing through and up with a big pack but still pretty fun. I generally used the ladder rungs as handholds and stepped on ledges on the side. Looking down from c2 I didn’t notice it at the time but my friends later showed me pictures of a big loose boulder balanced above the chimney. Climbers have wrapped ropes around it to hold it up but they don’t look very effective if it actually got dislodged. It kind of reminds me of chain rock in Kentucky. Maybe it’s for the best we didn’t notice the boulder as we were climbing. Once I topped out Andreas started up while I waited. Above the chimney we passed a solo climber going down. He looked very tired and said he had summitted on the 23rd and was trying to make it to basecamp. We congratulated him, then made the last short climb up to c2 by 3pm. Tent platforms made from old tents Like c1, c2 was completely deserted. Four tents remained and they were all in tough shape and very likely abandoned. The trash situation in c2 was much worse than in c1. Most of the tent platforms were literally piles of old tents. There would be 10 flattened old tents, then a platform with a pile of trash on top. Empty fuel cans were everywhere, as well as food wrappers and all kinds of random junk. It’s as if climbers come down from the summit exhausted and decide they’d rather leave their gear and trash there and go down light and buy new gear later instead of carrying their gear down. This is terrible! All future climbers have to then deal with the trash! My LNT instructors from boy scouts would be appalled at this situation. Nice views down from camp Luckily I later learned a cleaning team is scheduled to go up and remove the trash if there’s a weather window. Hopefully this is what our $200 environmental fee is helping to fund. We looked around for a spot sheltered from the wind and the calmest spot ended up being on a pile of old tents. I cleared off some trash from the top and then we pitched Andreas’ ultralight MSR tent. We tied it off to some pickets on the surrounding platforms and threw our sleeping bags inside. Looking up towards the black pyramid I was quite concerned about finding clean snow, but luckily there was a good patch above the highest platform where I was quite confident nobody had pooped. There was actually a shovel there which appeared to be used to harvest clean snow. We carefully filled up a stuff sack of snow and brought it down to our tent. By that time one sherpa from SST made it up and he started setting up a big tent he had stashed there. Then he went to two of the abandoned tents and threw gear inside. The ethics about tent usage on K2 is interesting. The camp locations are so small that they can’t possibly sleep all climbers at the same time. But climbers generally leave tents set up in camp to claim spots. So the ethics are generally that you are allowed to sleep in a tent if it is empty, since there may be no spots available to pitch your own tent. This was formally agreed upon by all the major expedition leaders at a meeting in K2 BC at the beginning of the season to cope with the unprecedented crowds on the mountain. If you sleep in another person’s tent you obviously should leave everything inside undisturbed and zip it back up when you leave. But, unsurprisingly, many climbers are not very considerate. On Broad peak some climber slept in my tent in c2 (even though there were empty sites available they could have pitched their own). Then they left the door and vestibule unzipped right before a storm. When I found it the vestibule was ripped off, sides were ripped, and snow had filled the inside! In the future I will will lock the entrance of my tent on 8000m peaks. In c2 the abandoned tents all had their doors unzipped. This appeared to again be from inconsiderate climbers, unfortunately. But the SST sherpa had claimed a few and I knew they would be well taken care of that night at least. We soon cooked up some backpackers pantry freeze dried lasagna and settled in to the tent. We had a great view that evening of the Goodwin-Austin glacier 2000m below extending from BC down to Concordia. We could see Broad peak across the valley and could see the black pyramid looming above us. The sherpa soon went back down and returned with a pink backpack from a client. Later a few other sherpas and then a few clients made it up to camp. We talked to one client, a friendly lady from Poland. She had already climbed Nanga Parbat, Broad, and some 8000ers in Nepal. She said she was trying to climb all 14 8000ers this year and was going with Seven Summit Treks for all of them. Interestingly, by my count this year at least four women are each trying to climb all 14 8000ers (all guided using oxygen and heavy sherpa support). There’s the Polish lady with SST, a Norwegian lady with 8k, a Taiwanese lady, and an American. I suspect they were inspired by Nims’ amazing push in 2019 to climb all 14 8000ers in around 6 months. I was thrilled to hear this, since the Polish lady would be very motivated to reach the top of K2, meaning the sherpa guiding her would very likely push for the summit and be able to help us break trail if needed. By sunset the last few SST members reached camp and we went to bed. July 25 Heading up in marginal weather The tent was quite small but we stayed very warm and had a good sleep. We intended to sleep in with no alarm to try to catch up on sleep from our sleepless previous night in basecamp. I think the SST crew was similarly in no hurry since they had gotten to camp late the previous day. I poked my head out the door around 8am and unfortunately the weather was socked in with snow showers. Chris had predicted an inch of snow, so this wasn’t too surprising. I hoped maybe the system had just come in early and would then clear out early for our evening summit push. Amazingly, the night of rest had done wonders for my calf and it was feeling much better (still sore but not enough to cause me to limp). This was excellent news for continuing up the mountain. The black pyramid We took our time eating breakfast and at 9am it was still snowing. We got a morning update from Chris and he said there was considerable uncertainty in the days forecast. I didn’t like how things were looking but the sherpas said they were still heading up, and the Polish lady soon left camp going up. We considered spending another day in camp to wait out the weather. But it seemed like a huge advantage if we could go up the same day as the sherpas. I figured a bigger group would increase safety and give a better chance of success on the route if there was any trail breaking. The weather was supposed to clear that evening, so it seemed like our original plan was still good as long as we were ok walking through some snow showers and low visibility. But there were ropes on the route to follow, so visibility wasn’t concerning. And the predicted snowfall, one inch with low wind, shouldn’t be enough to increase stability concerns. The vertical rock step So we quickly packed up. We left the tent set up with sleeping bags inside, since we would go directly for the summit and come back to c2 to sleep. We also left a bit of food to eat when we came back. Once packed we headed up, with the Polish lady ahead of us and the rest of the SST crew still getting ready. Looking up the rock step The ropes were mostly newer, thick dynamic rope instead of the white Korean rope. We soon started climbing the black pyramid and it was pretty fun. There were steep scramble sections interspersed with snow slopes. At times the wind picked up, blowing snowing and decreasing visibility, but it didn’t last long. The trickiest part was another vertical rock section with two metal cable ladders and fixed lines hanging down. The rock was loose and wet, and it was a bit tricky climbing. Like in the House chimney I generally used the rock for footholds and pulled on the ladder for handholds. Andreas coming up At the base two climbers descended, then at the top I met three climbers coming down. One happened to be Sara Strattan, and she was also getting forecasts from Chris Tomer! She had summitted on the 24th when the weather was great. She said she had hired a high altitude porter to help carry gear and oxygen and she had used oxygen on summit day. I half wondered if I should have done that to increase chance of success, but I was still happy giving it a try unsupported without supplemental oxygen, even if we ended up bailing before the summit. The snow picked up then and stayed hard for a while. We caught up to the Polish lady at camp 2.5, where there were platforms for about six tents. Two empty tents were set up and I suspect they were abandoned. We passed the Polish lady and continued up. There were a few steep sections with core shot rope but generally the scrambling was fun and easy as before. Climbing the snow slope below c3 Eventually we reached the last rock, which signaled the top of the black pyramid. I let Andreas take over then and he led up a gentle snow slope with some light trail breaking. We passed the body of an Afghan climber who had died there a few weeks early from complications related to altitude sickness. Before long the slope leveled out and we were at camp 3, 4.5 hours of climbing up to 7300m. There were five tents set up and we quickly spotted the tent of our friends Serge, Mauritz and Corinne. The tent situation had a bit of confusion. Serge didn’t want us planning to sleep in their tent in case they needed to sleep in it the same night. That was understandable and we agreed. But Mauritz said it was ok to rest in it a few hours on our way up for the summit bid. And that was our plan. Camp 3 They had locked their door but we had the combination and went inside. There were no pads but we found some laying around outside and brought those in. For some reason c3 was much cleaner than the other camps with no obvious piles of trash or flattened tents. But I suspect this is because c3 is on the glacier and is a lot snowier than the other camps. The trash is likely just buried under the snow and not visible. We soon started melting snow and cooking up dinner in preparation for our evening summit bid. Before long one of the sherpas came up and threw some gear in a big SST Kailas tent. Then he threw more gear in an Elite Expedition tent. I think most of the tents were abandoned and he just started claiming the biggest ones for his team. Elite Expeditions had already summitted July 22 and wasn’t sending any more teams up, so they had clearly just abandoned their tent. Looking up from c3 It was still snowing by mid afternoon and I went over to talk to the sherpa. He said they were still planning to head up at 6 or 7 pm but he shook his hand like there was some uncertainty. The rest if his team still hadn’t made it up. I was feeling uncertain about the weather. With all this new snow the old tracks and fixed lines would be covered up. Navigation would be difficult in the dark and I was starting to worry about stability. There was a steepish snow slope above c3 (the camp itself appeared safe though). The old snow had had a week to stabilize but the new snow was starting to be enough to maybe slide. If it were just me and Andreas I would delay by a day and maybe go up in the daylight if the snow stopped soon. If the team of ten SST climbers went up that night, though, I would be tempted to follow since the route would be found, trail broken, and stability tested ahead of us. Camp 3 I radioed Zishan at basecamp and interestingly he said BC was hot and sunny and he could see the summit of K2 in the clear most of the day, but there was a middle layer of clouds stuck on the mountain. It appeared it was only snowing on mid elevations of K2, and we were stuck in the snow. A few more hours passed and it continued snowing. The rest of the SST crew trickled in. By 7pm I got an evening update from Chris and he said it would dry out at 10pm. That sounded too late to wait. We wanted to hit the summit the next morning when the wind would be low. By afternoon it was forecast to increase. I told the sherpa our forecast and he agreed it was best to delay. So the plan was to go up the 26th in the afternoon and summit the 27th. This put us in a bit of a dilemma. We’d only brought enough food to summit the 26th, and hadn’t brought sleeping bags to spend the night at c3. For better or worse our appetites get suppressed a lot at altitude, so we figured we could stretch our food another day. We weren’t supposed to be sleeping in the tent that night, but since it wasn’t conflicting with our friends sleeping plans that night we decided to sleep there instead of descending all the way to c2. We would just wear all our down jackets and down pants. The temperature for the summit was supposed to be around -10f/-2f, which was much warmer than normal, and we figured it would be above 0f down at c3. So it could probably work. Luckily we even found one sleeping bag in our friends tent, which we could use as a blanket. I thought back to early July when our friend Nico was alone at c3 on Broad peak on a summit push and had accidentally dropped his sleeping bag down the mountain. We had let him sleep in our tent using my down jacket stashed there as a blanket. He made it through the night ok so we figured we’d be ok too. It kept snowing hard until 10pm, then stopped just as Chris had predicted. I saw stars outside and hoped things would stay cleared out and stabilize. In total it had snowed about 8 inches, much more than expected. The night was chilly but we managed to stay warm enough to get some good sleep. Clear views in the morning July 26 The next morning dawned sunny, but it didn’t last long. By late morning it started snowing again and I started getting nervous about our summit chances. The forecast was for high sun and low clouds, but it appeared we were stuck in the low clouds and they had unexpectedly high moisture content. We stayed resting in the tent and early afternoon started melting snow. Looking towards China from camp Soon more climbers started showing up. A handful were more SST clients and a few independent climbers showed up. Flor from Peru and Iman from Iran were independent climbers and had left the tent next to ours, which they crawled into. Soon Serge came up and he was not happy to see us in his tent. I quickly got out with all my gear so he wouldn’t get more angry. I gave him my fresh nalgene of boiling water to warm his cold fingers and I think this smoothed things over. We hopefully just needed to hang out a few more hours before moving up, and shouldn’t need to sleep another night. The plan was to move up at 7pm with SST again. But since it was snowing it would be nicer to rest in a tent. Views toward broad peak Our sherpa friend saw me getting out and motioned to an abandoned tent at the bottom of camp. He said it was nobody’s and I was free to use it. I went over but then a client started eying it. He clearly had his own tent brought up by the sherpas but just didn’t want to set it up. I told him we just needed to rest a few hours in a tent before heading up and were hoping to use that one. He looked annoyed but reluctantly acquiesced and let me go inside. The tent was nice and big, but the snow underneath had collapsed under half of it so the space was actually small. More views towards broad I threw my gear inside and Andreas soon joined. I went outside to melt snow and soon met Mauritz climbing up. He said Corinne had gotten hit by a rock below c1 and decided to turn around. It wasn’t serious, but she didn’t want to risk getting hit again. Their plan was to move to c4 the next day and summit the 28th. I told them we planned to move up that night if the weather cleared, but it wasn’t looking good yet. Inside the tent we made some interesting discoveries. The owner had left two freeze dried meals, a pair of small women’s down pants, and a fuel bottle with a little bit of fuel. This was perfect for us! The sherpa said the tent was abandoned so I felt ok using these items. We were short on food and fuel so they would potentially be useful. If we hadn’t found these we would still have managed with our food and fuel, but they were nice to have. We cooked the food for dinner with the extra fuel. Then Mauritz was kind enough to give us a little extra of their food they didn’t need since Corinne had turned around. So we had sufficient food for that day. The snow continued and by 6pm we talked to the SST sherpas and agreed it was wise to delay another day. But based on our forecast and food supplies that was as long as we could hold out. We had to either move up for the summit the next day or move down to our gear at c2 or lower. Plus, the jet stream was supposed to move over K2 on the 29th, so really the 28th appeared to be our last shot. The SST client appeared now to be annoyed at us that we weren’t moving up after all. I think his main annoyance was that he had to pitch his tent! I told him it was just snowing too much to be safe and we had to delay. I promised we’d help break trail for him if we were moving up together. That night would prove to be rougher than before. We really wanted to stay at c3 so we could move directly up for the summit push. But we didn’t have sleeping bags, not even one to use as a blanket. If we descended to c2 to retrieve our tent and bags and extra food it would likely take too much energy for us to be able to make a summit bid. So we reluctantly decided to spend the night without sleeping bags in that abandoned tent. It was supposed to be a similar temperature as the previous night, probably around 0F, and seemed marginally tolerable. For reference, last summer we had attempted a single push ascent on Khan Tengri but at midnight my partners got tired out and needed to sleep at 5500m. So I gave them all my spare clothes and backpack to sleep on in an open bivy while I did jumping jacks and melted snow all night without sleeping. I made it through that night no problem, and this night looked to be considerably more comfortable, so I was not concerned. We removed two of our scavenged pads from Mauritzs tent (and left them one to be nice) and placed these in our tent. We put on all our layers – down jacket and down pants- and wore our boot liners. We then each put one leg up to our shin in the small down pants we’d found and the other leg in our packs. We huddled onto the pads and got close. The floor space wasn’t big enough for us to lay on our backs so we laid on our sides. The night started out ok but later it got windy and cold. I had to force myself to shiver every once in a while to warm up and occasionally had to wiggle my toes so they didn’t freeze. We had to adjust the pads some so we each had two underneath. Eventually, amazingly, I fell asleep. Improving weather on the 27th July 27 Somehow we each managed to get several hours of sleep in and seemed sufficiently rested by morning. I think it helped that we had napped a bit the previous day when it was warmer out. By morning my remaining food was a bag of gatorade and four bars. I gave Andreas a bar, ate one for breakfast, and saved the last two for summit push. We had to make a summit attempt today with or without the sherpas and I went outside to rally some help. By now the weather seemed to finally be clearing. Preparing for the summit push I knew from trail breaking on Broad peak that if it were just me and Andreas it would be a lot of work and go very slowly. But Serge and Mauritz said they would join at 10am. Then Flor and Iman said they would also join. So we had six oxygenless independent climbers planning to join forces for trail breaking. If we rotated often that might just work. I talked to the three Italians going without oxygen and supported by SST. However, they would only go if the sherpas went. I’m not sure why. I then went to the the sherpas and told them the six of us were going up at 10am. I think this might have pushed them over the edge and convinced them to go. They said they would also go up at 10am. Leaving camp This was great news! A bigger group of climbers, including sherpas with oxygen who were familiar with the route, would definitely increase our chance of success. By then the sun disappeared and we were back stuck in the clouds. I radioed basecamp and Zishan said the summit was in the sun, though. So it appeared we were just stuck in a middle cloud layer that we might be able to pop out of. If we were lucky the upper mountain might have gotten significantly less snow than we had gotten. The sherpas got ready fast and some started up at 9am with clients, all wearing oxygen masks. We took our time more and headed up closer to 10am as planned. I felt a little bad not being at the head if the pack breaking trail, but they had a huge advantage breathing supplemental oxygen and trail breaking would be much easier for them. Starting up the snow slope By the time we started up visibility was again low. We followed the other climbers up slowly. The fixed line was back to the old Korean rope, but it didn’t really matter on the gentle snow slope. Higher up as the slope angle decreased we eventually popped out above the clouds as expected! Mauritz was having trouble with a cough and stopped for a break as we passed. The weather finally clearing At one point I found a lone crampon laying in the trail. Somehow it had fallen off a climbers boot. I picked it up and carried it up to give it back to its owner. I figured it was probably a careless client but it turned out to be from Andreas! I would now be nervous the rest of the climb. He had lost a crampon descending from Pobeda last summer and that was very dangerous. I did not want that to be repeated on K2. The route near camp 3.5 We soon passed a group of Polish climbers without oxygen stopping to take a break. Then we reached camp 3.5 on a small flat slope and we had caught up with the sherpas. A team of five sherpas was working hard to break trail and I commend them for their effort. It seemed futile for us without oxygen to try to help them so we took a break with the other climbers. Nice views towards china The views were great across the valley to broad peak and up the Goodwin-Austen glacier into China. Down glacier we could see Chogolisa and Concordia in the distance. Eventually the clients with oxygen joined back up with the sherpas and we followed behind. The route steepened up another snow slope to another small flat area below a serac. There were two tents here (abandoned) and I guess you could call this camp 3.7. Just above camp 3.7 Above this we climbed and traversed one final snow slope and at last popped out at c4 on a broad flat shoulder. The bottleneck and the famed hanging glacier loomed above, though far enough away not to be dangerous. I was amazed to have read so much about this area and seen so many pictures and now finally I was seeing it in person. It looked less intimidating than I expected, but of course I hadn’t yet climbed it. The bottleneck seen from camp 4 My watch read 7600m and I was feeling great. It was only early afternoon and we didn’t plan to head up until 11pm (to put us on top in the morning when the wind was supposed to be low). So we had a lot of hours to hang out. In retrospect we should have brought a tent. We had originally planned to start up from c3 in the evening and pass quickly through c4, but that hadn’t happened. There were three Kailas tents that SST clients were using and two 8k tents other climbers jumped in. Closeup view of the bottleneck I found a flattened Kailas tent and our sherpa friend said I could use it if I could repair it. I went over and started excavating it, but then one of the Italians rushed over and started trying to dig inside it while i was working on it! “What are you doing?!” I asked. He said he was taking a pad from it. But SST sherpas had already provided a tent and gear for the Italians! It seemed pretty mean for him to come steal gear from us. I didn’t want to start a fight so I just asked that he please leave us a pad if there were two (even though it wasn’t his gear in the first place). Luckily there were two pads and he quickly took the bigger one and left without saying anything more. I guess for some mountaineers it’s every man for himself on 8000ers. It took me a while to dig out the tent and put it up, and I spent some time trying to fix the poles. There was a partly full fuel tank, reactor stove, and a bag of nuts inside which I salvaged. Meanwhile Flor and Iman watched me working hard and offered that Andreas and I could just rest in their tent. They had gotten permission from 8k to use one of the big 8k four-person tents already up there and they had plenty of room for us inside. Plus it would be warmer with four people instead of two. That was extremely nice of them and we accepted their offer. We brought over our pad and hung out inside melting snow and telling stories. It turned out the reactor stove I found worked a lot better than Andreas’s stove for some reason so we ended up just using that. We munched on the nuts I found and my last handful of trail mix but saved our remaining few bars and gatorade for the summit push. We all planned to start up at 11pm, though the sherpas wanted to start earlier around 8pm or 9pm. They wanted to get the clients all the way back down to basecamp after summitting the next day. We were told it would take around ten hours to reach the summit without oxygen and I wanted to be passing through the bottleneck after sunrise when it wasn’t quite as cold. I’d had trouble keeping my fingers and toes warm on Broad peak, and had previously gotten frostbite on Pik Pobeda last summer, so I wanted to be extra careful on K2. I’d heard the lack of oxygen makes you more susceptible to frostbite if you go without supplemental oxygen. Luckily the forecast temperatures for K2 were actually slightly warmer than the temperature had been on Broad peak so I suspected I would be ok. Though less oxygen on K2 could complicate things. By sunset we decided to take a nap to rest up before pulling an all nighter summit push. By now we were getting used to sleeping without sleeping bags, though I really wish the Italian hadn’t stolen the other pad. We put our pad down but it wasn’t quite big enough for both Andreas and I to fit. So I had to lay down half on and half off the pad. We wore all our clothes but I was still cold. I put a boiling nalgene between my legs and one on my chest and that helped a bit. Forced shivering also helped. Somehow I managed to doze off and get at least an hour of sleep. But by 830pm there started to be a lot of commotion outside as the guided group headed up. I couldn’t get back to sleep after that, and by 10pm our alarms finally went off to get started. I ate my second to last bar for “breakfast” and waited while Flor and Iman heated up water and cooked food. There wasn’t a whole lot for me and Andreas to do to get ready since we didn’t really have food to eat, we’d already heated up water before bed and added gatorade to it, we were already wearing all our clothes, and we didn’t have sleeping bags to pack up. Finally 11pm rolled around and we thanked Flor and Iman for their hospitality and said we would start up. We slipped our boots on, strapped on our crampons, and started up. Just as we were leaving camp, though, we saw a light coming up from below. It was Serge! He and Mauritz had camped at camp 3.5 but Mauritz was coughing a lot and couldn’t continue. So Serge was going up solo. He asked if there was a tent he could rest in and we directed him to rest in our spot in Flor and Iman’s tent, which they graciously allowed. We then started up. It was unfortunately snowing then but we could faintly see lights from the guided group up ahead. Andreas led the way with me following. I took my time trying to maintain a constant heartrate while Andreas moved faster. After an hour we broke above the clouds and snow and I could at last see stars overhead. Maybe it would clear after all! I also saw flashes of lightning in the distance, and later learned our friends Jeff and Priti on K7 Central got caught in a thunderstorm that day. We were lucky it wasn’t over K2! I was surprised there was no fixed line on the route for navigation, but the slope was very low angle at the beginning. It soon steepened, though, and I took out my ice ax. As I got closer to the bottleneck and the slope steepened more I eventually encountered a good fixed line which I clipped to. Looking up the bottleneck towards the traverse I was comforted that I didn’t see any signs of debris even though we were under a massive hanging glacier. I’ve heard that there haven’t been any major accidents under the hanging glacier since the 2008 incident. This makes me think the bottleneck isn’t quite as risky as people make it sound. For sure it’s a high consequence area but I think there’s still a low probability of icefall. The bottleneck was mostly a snow climb with short sections of rock (though this changes from year to year). It never got very steep, probably less than 50 degrees, and wouldn’t be a big deal to climb unroped with an ice ax if needed in those conditions. Interestingly there were a handful of intermediate rock outcrops that would provide shelter from icefall, and I felt ok taking short breaks there to catch my breath. Halfway up I noticed a headlamp approaching rapidly and I stopped to let a sherpa with oxygen pass. I later learned he would summit in around 12 hours BC to summit, which is now the speed record with supplemental oxygen. At the top of the bottleneck I finally caught up to Andreas, who had caught up to the three Italians. They had started two hours before us but I think the lack of oxygen was affecting them more than it affected us since we were moving much faster. Sunrise starting I scrambled up a last rock step and was at the base of the hanging glacier. From there the route traverses a narrow snow and rock ledge to the left end of the hanging glacier before cutting steeply up. I waited to give the Italians a head start on the traverse so we could spread out a bit. It was still dark then and we hadn’t quite stuck to the plan of doing the bottleneck after sunrise. But I guess it was hard to predict we would move that fast above 8000m. After the Italians made it across I started over carefully. There were two fixed ropes and I clipped both. The snow track was only 10″ wide and very exposed, so I took my time to avoid slipping. One section was a rock slab covered in a dusting of snow, and that was a little sketchy, but I soon made it across. After the tesverse the route went up very steeply, but I felt relieved to no longer be under the hanging glacier. It must have been cold if my exhale was freezing to my face I recalled reading a report from famous professional mountaineer Adrian Ballinger who climbed K2 without oxygen (with three sherpas supporting with oxygen) and he said it took six hours to get through the danger zone. I had assumed this would be a lower bound for us amateur mountaineers of time in the danger zone. However, somehow we had gotten through in just three hours. I was very pleased to have beaten my expectations and reduced time in that risky area. Around the corner I noticed the sun was finally starting to rise. This meant it would soon warm up, but was currently the coldest part of the night. A steep section after the traverse It was about then I noticed my fingers and toes starting to go numb. I could easily warm my fingers by making a fist in my BD trigger finger mitts and doing the “penguin dance” trick to send a surge of blood to my finger tips. It was harder to warm my toes, though. I’ve never had a problem with cold toes before this summer. I’ve climbed big cold peaks like Denali and Logan where it was -20F on top but my toes were always warm. More snow slopes This summer on Broad peak near the summit ridge I started having trouble keeping my toes warm and now I had the same problem on K2, even though the temperature was probably closer to -10F. My only thought is it must be an affect of so little oxygen in the air and me going without supplemental oxygen. To warm up my toes I ended up kicking my feet out in various directions and curling my toes back and forth quickly for a few minutes. This would generally rewarm them, but after ten minutes I would need to do it again. Still, I caught back up to the Italians at a steeper section and continued up the rope. Surprisingly they got very angry at me and told me not to touch the fixed rope. They said I needed to use my ice axe. This was perplexing. The whole point of a fixed rope is that you use it to help your ascent. You don’t need your ice ax if a rope has been fixed. I touched the rope anyways and they yelled furiously to get off. They were really mean. My only thought is the lack of oxygen was affecting them psychologically. I felt the safest strategy was to stay far away from them. So I spent the next ten minutes standing at the anchor warming my toes and fingers. When it looked like they were safely away I yelled up to ask if they were off the rope and they said yes. Then I cautiously started ascending. This section got very icy, but so many people had climbed on the 22nd that many places had steps kicked into the ice. But the sections without steps were somewhat awkward. Higher up there were often several ropes to choose from and I made sure not to touch any ropes the Italians might be on. Around 8400m I passed a dead climber curled up and tied to a rope. I later learned he was an Icelandic climber that had died on a 2021 winter attempt. I think it was too risky to remove the body from that altitude. The final slope to the summit Above the body the slope gradually eased and got snowier. I briefly lost focus and touched a rope one of the Italians was on, and he yelled back at me, furious again. “Calm down, it’s a fixed rope. You’re touching it and I’m also allowed to touch it” I said back to him. He turned around and continued climbing up. At this point I could see the group of oxygen climbers ahead and I had nearly caught up to them. But it seemed like my pace started to slow a bit above 8500m and they started pulling away. I wanted to go faster to catch up to Andreas and I had the energy, but now I was stuck behind the Italians. I was worried I would really piss them off if I tried to pass or asked to pass, and I didn’t want to find out the consequence. So I maintained a safe distance behind going at a slow pace. Soon a sherpa started descending rapidly and it was the one that had passed me in the morning on the speed ascent. Then I noticed another climber coming up behind rapidly. Andreas coming down He closed the distance between us amazingly quickly and soon passed me. He had oxygen, of course, and was from Elite Expeditions (not Nims though). He had also started in basecamp last night and would get a time of 14 hours to the summit. Shortly later the guided SST crew started their descent down from the summit. I thanked the sherpas for their hard work breaking trail. Amazingly, going at the modest speed behind the Italians I didn’t really have any trouble breathing. I was always able to catch my breath by taking in a big gulp if needed and didn’t need to do pressure breathing. I didn’t have a headache and was feeling ok. Of course, I’m sure that would have changed if I was breaking trail or pushing to go faster, but it seemed like I was doing ok overall at that altitude. On the summit Soon I neared the summit and passed Andreas on his way down. He had managed to pass the Italians and make it up earlier but was now eager to descend. Around 8am I popped put on the summit ridge and met the fast sherpa taking a video. We exchanged fist bumps and then I marched the last few steps to the highest point, a cairn covered in prayer flags. I was amazed to make it the whole way with no supplemental oxygen and no adverse altitude effects. It had taken nine hours from c4, though if I could have gone my own speed I could have shaved off some more time and summitted with Andreas. The Italians and I were the only ones at the summit cairn, and I appreciated the lack of crowds. By now they were in good spirits and all my past infractions seemed to have been forgotten. Summit panorama One of them was nice enough to take a few summit pictures of me and I returned the favor taking pictures of them. I think they had a lot of sponsors since they had a lot of flags to get in different pictures. It seems like Andreas and I were some of the only unsponsored climbers I heard of to make the summit, but that’s fine with me. Unfortunately the summit was stuck in the clouds and I didn’t get any views. I imagined the views would be similar to those I got on the summit of Broad, and those had been spectacular. I radioed Zishan to tell him we made the summit and he congratulated us and told us to be careful on the descent. I spent a little time looking for a summit rock (no luck) then a bit more time taking pictures of the whiteout. Last look up at the summit I was soon getting antsy to head back down, though. In my experience it’s a bad idea to spend too much time on a high altitude summit. Eventually bad altitude effects start kicking in. So I soon started my descent. The angle was low enough that it was most effective to do an arm wrap descent instead of rappelling. I made quick progress down, and met a few climbers on their way up. Flor and Iman were looking strong and Iman gave me a fist bump and congratulations. I caught up to Erix and Dorje from SST and got slowed down a bit. Erix was rapping down each section while Dorje and I descended with arm wraps. We soon reached the steep icy bit and one Polish climber was still ascending. I worried he would be topping out pretty late. He told me a French climber wearing purple was in trouble down below and I should help if possible. Lower down just above the dead body I saw Erix and Dorje stopping and taking a while to descend. I waited until they unweighted the rope so I could rappel. I later learned that the French climber in trouble was Benjamin, from our group! He had told us he would try to climb from basecamp to the summit in one push without oxygen that day to try to break the speed record. He had already set an amazing new Broad peak speed record (7.5 hrs bc to summit) a few weeks earlier so I had assumed he would have no trouble on K2. But in fact he had passed out near the dead body due to effects from altitude. He would later tell us he lost his memory of that time. Dorje graciously gave Ben his own oxygen container and mask. This brought Ben back to life and he started down slowly. Meanwhile I started rappelling down once the rope got unweighted. I made it a few more rope lengths, always being careful to choose the newest-looking rope. But then there was a traffic jam below and I had to wait at a sketchy anchor with a small stance. It appeared Serge was coming up and we had to wait to let him pass. There wasn’t any room at the anchor for anyone else and I yelled up for the descending Italians to wait a minute until the jam cleared. They said ok bit still continued rappelling down! So I pulled one of the ropes taught like a fireman belay to force them to stop. “There’s no room at this anchor, just wait a minute until climbers clear below me and you can come down,” I said. Starting the traverse back They said ok, so I released the rope. But then they just continued rapping to the anchor anyways! I was very frustrated with them. They got to the anchor and it got very sketchy trying to balance with them there. Maybe their judgement was still being effected by lack of oxygen. Eventually Serge passed and I made a few more raps to the start of the traverse. There I saw Erix and Dorje waiting while another climber in purple was standing the middle of the traverse not moving. Eventually the climber made very slow progress across and I started across the traverse. On the other side the slow climber slipped and fell, sliding 10 ft down the snow slope before the rope caught him! At that point I recognized his helmet, pack, and jacket and realized it was Ben moving down slowly. The italians coming across I made it across the traverse and Ben had gotten back up and climbed up to the anchor. By then the Italians also made it across. The Italians then revealed that one member of their group, Pietro, had snow blindness and needed help getting down. So we had two climbers in need of assistance getting down the bottleneck. I suspected Dorje would need to help Erix get down since Erix was a client, so it was unlikely they could help. Francois, one of the Italians, volunteered to help Ben down while I would help Pietro. We were figuring this out standing in the danger zone below the hanging glacier and I was very eager to speed things up and get moving quickly. So I told Dorje and Erix to start down immediately. They soon cleared out and there were two ropes heading down. Ben started down one under Francois’ supervision and I went down the other. I made sure Pietro was attached to the correct rope first then I put him on a fireman belay when I got to the bottom. Rapping the bottleneck In general there were two ropes on every pitch, which was very helpful. I would generally go down first then yell up instructions for the other guys. (Some rope rigging was not standard and required us to do things differently). We generally moved quite efficiently, and soon reached the end of the fixed rope and the end of the steep section. By then Bem seemed to be doing much better and Pietro said he would be ok unassisted from there. We followed our tracks down and eventually were low enough that I considered us out of the danger zone from the hanging glacier. By then we were in a whiteout and the tracks below had mostly drifted over. Descending in the whiteout We soon caught up to Andreas and two other climbers sitting and resting. They had lost the tracks and were waiting for other climbers to help. I had recorded the ascent on my watch GPS and noted our up tracks were a bit to the right. I was about to start down when two sherpas came from behind. Without hesitation they continued breaking trail down. It was an easy choice to follow them since they seemed so confident. Back to c4 The trudge back took a while and balance was a bit difficult without hiking poles, but by noon we arrived at camp 4, 13 hours after leaving. I was amazed that I still had plenty of energy. The only things I’d eaten all day were a cereal bar at 10pm and 1.5 liters of gatorade during the climb. But that was enough to keep me going and I hadn’t thrown up the gatorade or the bar. My remaining food was just some more gatorade powder and one bar, though. There was plenty of daylight left and we decided to make it down as far as possible. But first we needed to melt some snow to rehydrate. Descending to c3 We stopped off at Flor and Iman’s tent and melted a few liters of water. I put in some aqua tabs and we waited the 30 minutes for it to kick in. We needed a rest anyways since we hadn’t really rested the whole climb except for a few minutes on the summit. Once the water was ready I chugged half a liter and ate my last bar while Andreas ate some leftover nuts. Then we were ready to head down, with our food officially reduced to zero. Descending to c3 We made quick progress rappelling and arm wrap descending down towards camp 3. Just above camp we passed a solo climber going up and it turned out to be Dennis Urubko ( though I didn’t know this at the time). I asked when he planned to summit but he didn’t want to tell me. I was confused why he was so secretive but I wished him good luck. Shortly below we passed Marie climbing up. We told her Chris had forecast good weather the next morning but bad in the afternoon so a summit was possible if she was quick. She sounded kind of sick and we were a bit concerned but she was determined to give it a shot so we wished her luck. Descending to c3 Back at camp 3 we met back up with Ben. He had just unfurled his paragliding wing and was getting ready to fly back to basecamp. That would surely cure any altitude sickness symptoms quickly! I wished I could fly down, but I think it seems a little too risky to me. I’m sure Ben is experienced enough to be safe, though. Once packed he pulled up the wing, ran downhill, and then was airborne. It looked very fun and I think he was back to BC within 20 minutes. Descending to c2 We took a short break and then continued our descent. We soon caught up to a sherpa and client moving slowly and they kindly let us pass. In general we rappelled the steep sections and arm wrapped the low angle sections with our safety backup clipped on. The weather occasionally cleared to give views of the glacier below but was usually in the clouds. By 5pm we reached camp 2, which was deserted. Unfortunately the front of Andreas’s tent was ripped open, possibly by the wind. Luckily our sleeping bags inside were undamaged, though. At c2 This made camping at c2 kind of unappealing, especially if the weather turned bad. We could always crawl in one of the abandoned tents or just repair ours with a lot of duct tape, but we started thinking it might be best to just descend all the way to basecamp. That way we wouldn’t have to sleep in the dirty c2 or c1 and we could maybe avoid rockfall since it was unlikely any other climbers would be descending at night. It was a tough call, though, since if any rocks fell at night we couldn’t see them to avoid them, but it was very unlikely rocks would be dislodged with no climbers to dislodge them. Looking down from c2 We quickly packed up and headed down around 6pm. We rapped the House chimney and worked our way down the scramble section. I led the way and the trickiest part was usually finding the most trustworthy looking rope to rap down. Once I found it then Andreas would follow the same one. At least going down I knew the rope wasn’t core shot since I could inspect it starting from the anchor. When ascending I would have no ide of the rope quality above me. Darkness soon set in and we descended by headlamp. But we could always follow the ropes so navigation was no problem. Darkness setting in We eventually neared c1 but by then the wind picked up and it started snowing. Conditions were actually pretty nasty. We took a short break at c1 and considered our options. If we continued we were basically committed to descending the whole way since there weren’t really any more flat campable spots. But the weather could get worse. While descending I had actually heard one or two rocks whiz by and in the dark I was kind of nervous I couldn’t see to jump out of the way (they were likely dislodged from a client and two sherpas I later learned were descending above us). Rapping the house chimney But if we camped we’d have to try to repair the broken tent. However, we did see one big abandoned tent in c1. I poked my head inside and it was in good condition and snow free. So we decided to ride out the storm there. We threw out our sleeping bags and crawled inside them around 1030pm. It felt kind of weird sleeping in a sleeping bag after the previous three nights of shivering without bags. But I soon got used to it. We had a small bit of food now that we’d stashed in c2 but for some reason I wasn’t really hungry, despite eating basically nothing the past 24 hours. I figured I’d make up for it back in basecamp. Camp 1 We soon went to bed amidst the loud howling wind and blowing snow. July 29 The next morning I was awoken by talking outside around 6:30am and it sounded like the client and sherpas had also spent the night at c1 and were now heading down. At first I was delighted that they would below us and couldn’t knock rocks down on us. Looking down towards basecamp We quickly packed up and started down. After 10 minutes we caught up to them and I recognized them as SST sherpas and client. I thanked the sherpas for their hard work breaking trail. Descending from c1 Unfortunately they were very slow though. The client did not look very confident rappelling and one sherpa would go next to her on a parallel strand each rappel while the other sherpa stayed up high. It was agonizing for Andreas and I to be going one third of our normal speed and wait so long at the anchors. Soon rockfall started coming down around us and we knew more climbers were descending. The safest action was to get down as soon as possible to leave the danger zone. We cursed ourselves for not waking up earlier. At the end of the fixed ropes. Fortunately the sherpa said it was ok if we passed, and I went around and arm wrap descended for speed. The lower ropes had all gotten cut (probably from rockfall) and retied so they were too tight to rappel, so I ended up arm wrap descending most of the rest of the way. Looking down at ABC I would look up every ten seconds for rockfall and had to jump out of the way a few times but we eventually made it safely to the end of the fixed line behind the rock buttress. I found my whippet where I’d stashed it but someone had stolen my other hiking pole! I cursed the unknown thief. Why would a climber do that? The same thing happened on Pobeda where we stashed our poles at the base of the climb and someone stole Andreas’ poles. At least they left the whippet, which is more valuable. Looking back up from ABC. Me with K2 in background (photo by Andreas) We hiked down the slushy snow, still looking up every few seconds to check for rockfall. Finally we made it to ABC and were out of the danger zone. Sadly, I later learned that a few days earlier two dead climbers were found right there at the base of the route. It appeared they fell down from c1 or c2 and were killed in the fall. A team went to recover the bodies, but while they were resting drinking tea an avalanche came down the snow face and covered the bodies. I think they are still buried. Hiking out We walked over the avy debris and found our stashed boots, luckily not stolen. We then purified some water in a stream and continued down. Miraculously, I found my missing pole leaning against a rock next to the stream! It appeared the person had just used it to descend the snow slope then left it. But it was still mean of them to take it. I would have certainly appreciated using my own pole on the snow slope also. Hiking out Below ABC the glacier was more melted out than before and most of the flags had fallen over. We soon put crampons on and had trouble following the route. At one point we made a tricky stream crossing and found fallen flags on the other side. But then a trekker on the other side waved over to us that the route was there. It appeared there were two flagged routes, but the trekkers were coming up from BC so we knew theirs worked. So we crossed back over. Back to k2 basecamp From there it was easy following the route. We met one guy coming up who congratulated us on our climb and handed us each a chocolate bar. At first I thought he was being nice but then he asked for money. So we gave him back the bars. We were only 30 min from BC and decided to hold out. By late morning we made it to K2 BC and stopped for a break. Mauritz, Corinne, Ben and Zishan were all there and we had a nice celebratory lunch. Looking back up towards broad peak That afternoon we learned on the radio that Serge had turned around before summitting the previous day and Marie had turned around that morning around 8200m. Only she and Dennis Urubko had pushed for the summit that morning. The snowstorm had apparently wiped out our tracks and Dennis broke trail up to the summit by 7:30am. Marie had started feeling the altitude so turned around. Then she texted that she likely had HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and needed help down. Fresh snowfall in the morning Flor and Iman had spent the night in c4 and were luckily able to help give Marie a Dexamethasone injection and help her get down to c2 that evening. Andreas and I spent the night at K2 BC. July 30 The next morning it was snowing hard in BC and I felt bad for the descending climbers. But Serge and Marie made it down to ABC and Mauritz and Corinne met them there to help carry their gear. Meanwhile Andreas, I and Ben hiked down to Broad BC. On the way we stopped at Celebration cake back in broad BC. Lela camp and ate some cake with Dennis Urubko to celebrate his birthday. He said he was planning to climb Broad peak (again). He’s trying to break the record of the most ascents of 8000m peaks, which is currently somewhere around 27 (including repeats). I think dennis is close to that now since he climbed Broad, G2, and K2 this summer. We later returned to our own camp and had another cake, this time a K2 summit cake. Marie and Serge later made it to K2 BC that afternoon so our whole team was finally off the mountain. July 31 Final view of k2 on the hike out The porters came in the morning and we packed everything up to give them. Marie hiked down to Broad BC but was still feeling bad effects from the HACE. So we decided to try to get her a helicopter rescue. Zishan stayed to coordinate that while Andreas, Ben and I started trekking out. We hiked through Concordia then up to Ali Camp by evening. We would take a shorter route out directly to Hushe instead of the longer route to Askoli. Ali camp This Hushe route went over a sketchy 5500m pass, Gondokhoro Pass, and is generally not used for the approach to BC because this is difficult if unacclimated. Unfortunately the porters don’t take this route out since it is too steep and icy. In fact, there is a rescue crew stationed near the pass to help climbers across. Sunset at ali camp We reached Ali camp at sunset, ate some dinner, and went to bed. Aug 1 That night we got up at midnight and one member of the rescue crew started leading us up the pass. There was a lot of fresh snow and it was actively snowing so trail breaking was tough. Descending the south side of the pass There were fixed ropes near the top and we reached the pass around 3am. Our leader jumped in a waiting tent at the pass and then we were on our own. The south side was extremely steep with a few inches of snow on loose rocks and slabs. We arm wrap descended down fixed lines but still slipped a lot. The snow continued all morning, changing to rain down lower. By sunrise we reached a Chuspang camp and stopped to eat some chapati and eggs. Almost back to Hushe We then continued down, eventually reaching Hushe village by early afternoon. We were at last back to civilization after six weeks in the mountains. We stayed at the only hotel in town, eating a big meal and taking a nice shower. Over the next few days we would make our way back to Skardu, wait for porters to bring our gear our, then drive to Islamabad and fly out. Celebration cake in skardu, with pictures of broad and k2 Marie ended up taking a horse down to Askoli since the weather was too bad for helicopters to fly. After July 29 the whole K2 basecamp cleared out, and the season basically ended. It appeared the jet stream had returned with heavy wind and snow that covered the route. From what I’ve heard, approximately 200 climbers summitted K2 this season, mostly on July 22, of which approximately 15 were without oxygen including us. A vast majority of the climbers were with commercial guided groups using supplemental oxygen and heavy support from sherpas. This total at least triples the previous record for ascents of K2 in a season. Link to more pictures: http://www.countryhighpoints.com/k2/ Gear Notes: Standard 8000m gear Approach Notes: Jeep from Skardu to Jhula, hike to basecamp with donkeys carrying gear
  8. 10 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.
  9. 9 points
    Trip: Picket Range - Southern Pickets Enchainment Trip Date: 8/4-7/2022 Trip Report: It's Pickets season folks! Kurt and I were supposed to be in the Bugaboos last week, but unstable weather encouraged us to stay local and sample a little bit of what the Pickets have to offer. Between weather and work on Monday, we had a pretty tight schedule that was surely going to be a challenge. On Thursday we slept in and got a casual start. AM rain was forecasted, and "all" we had to do was hike in to the base of little Mac spire. As we drove north, the rain poured down. By the time we reached the trailhead there was blue sky poking through, but all the brush was thoroughly soaked. The hike up went on for an eternity, and I was beginning to understand why the Pickets see so little traffic. By the time we made it to the alpine, we were drenched from head to toe, and the cold wind made for some rather uncomfortable slogging up to camp. Thankfully by the time we arrived, we were mostly dried out apart from our feet, which wouldn't fully dry out for another day. Day 2: Little Mac, East Mac, West Mac, Tower 1, Tower 5, Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt. A cold and windy night brought us to a cold and windy morning, but the clouds had finally cleared and we could see our first peak. The brush and soil on little mac was still wet from the day before which made for some pretty unnerving scrambling up the first half of the mountain, but once the sun hit things began to dry out. Little Mac and East Mac went pretty smoothly with mostly scrambling and a couple pitches of roped climbing to the summits. West Mac however provided a little more adventure as Kurt tried to quest up some roofs in the middle of the east face but was thwarted and had to downclimb half a pitch. Thankfully we found the easy way and were off to the races. The East Towers sucked up so much time, and honestly I don't remember what we did to get through them. Huge props to Jeff Wright for remembering all the beta and writing such a detailed trip report. I wish I had that good of a memory.... or maybe I'd rather forget. Surfin' the East Towers Inspiration was Classic! By far the best climbing on route. Super straightforward, fun and engaging crack climbing. A large panel of the west face of Inspiration fell off some time recently, taking one or more of the rap anchors with it. This involved some downclimbing between stations and lots of loose rock on the rappels. At least one new station would be needed to fully rap the face. Rapping through the rock scar "Hey Kurt, I found the anchor!" Low on water, we brewed up below Pyramid and rested for the rest of the climbing ahead. Kurt took the leads up Pyramid and quested us up into some hard 5.10 roofs that ended up bring the crux of the entire traverse. We still have no idea where that 5.8 chimney is. Or where we were for that matter. We forgot to take a picture on top of Pyramid, so here's number 7! Summit 8! Having lost a fair bit of time, we raged up Degenhardt at sunset. Racing the fading light, we traversed along the ridge over to the base of Terror and the supposed "excellent" bivy. We didn't have to climb with headlamps! A cold wind howled up the north side, sending morale plummeting. The only somewhat flat spots were on the frigid windy side of the ridge so after an unsuccessful attempt to rig up my tarp to block the wind, we opted to engineer our own spots to the south. We were both somewhat successful in digging out our own bivys, and went to bed late and exhausted. Day 3: Terror, The Rake, The Blip, East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, Dusseldorfspitz, Himmelhorn The next morning came too soon and we started with Terror for breakfast. The east ridge went quickly and the mountain most definitely didn't live up to the name. Summit of Terror for the actual ninth summit. The Rake, similar to the East towers sucked up an incredible amount of time. We went too high on the first gendarme and had to downclimb the ridge to get to the 5.7 traverse. The rest was just slow route finding up along over and below the ridge. Low on water and with a lot of climbing still ahead of us. We brewed up again below The Blip, four more towers standing between us and camp, two of which being the 5.10 cruxes of the route. Summit 10! Wonderful rap anchor off The Rake. We cruised over the Blip and up the lower pitches of East Twin Needle. A little intimidated by the 5.10 crux, I took the lead up the spectacular knife edge ridge to where it kicks back to a slight overhang. With my pack feeling heavy, I sized up the moves above me, poked my head around to the left and balanced my way around the corner. Skipping the crux. With that out of the way, we raced down up and over West Twin Needle and over to the base of the intimidating East ridge of Himmelhorn. As the only one who brought rock shoes, I took this crux pitch as well. Pulling around the corner I was greeted by a fixed nut, and wild face climbing on hollow sounding rock. It wasn't all too hard, but by feet and calves were pumping out from the heavy pack and everything we had done up to that point. Thankfully I pulled it off without a hitch, and all the hard climbing was behind us. This pitch is probably only around 10a/b, but I absolutely would have called it 10+ if I had climbed it as an onsight first ascent. The overnight pack certainly doesn't help. Summit 13 and the east ridge of Himmelhorn trying to intimidate us. Dusseldorfspitz! Gipfel 14! Day 4: Ottohorn & Frenzelspitz The next morning at the Himmelhorn-Ottohorn col I woke up to sunlight casting off the mountains around us. I must have turned off my alarm at some point and fallen back asleep without realizing it. Kurt forgot to set one as well. Neither of us were upset by the extra half hour of sleep, but knew we needed to get things moving if we wanted to get out at a reasonable hour. Don't roll over! A quick jaunt up and down Ottohorn started day four. The effort of the last three days weighted on our legs, but the lack of overnight packs made it feel less like a chore. We carried a rope and rack up for the supposed 5.6 summit block, but they never saw any use. Once back down at the col, we scrambled down to the north and around the east face of Ottohorn to reach Frenzelspitz. I don’t think we took the same route as Priti and Jeff, but regardless it got us where we needed to go at loose 4th class with tiny bits of low 5th. Continuing this trend, we scrambled up to the base of the last pitch of Frenzelspitz where Kurt took the sharp end and led us up a short pitch to our final summit. We have a serious problem. This was summit 16. Someone teach us how to count. The descent went pretty much as expected. Lots of knee pain and schwacking took us around Crescent Basin, down stump hollow and out along Goodell creek. Huge thanks to Wayne, Jeff and Priti for all the beta. I can’t imagine how much longer everything would have taken without those detailed topos for every climb and descent. Both Kurt and I were blown away that the FA team of three did it in almost the same timeframe as us, and even tacked on the Chopping Block! Gear Notes: Single rack .1-2 doubles .4-1, One rack "nice" nuts and a half rack leaver nuts, 10 single runners & 4 doubles, 30 feet 5mm cord for rap anchors, 60m 8.5mm rope, Light Axe and Crampons Approach Notes: Over the river and through the woods, then up up up and some more up through more forest until you're finally in the alpine oh god.
  10. 9 points
    Trip: Porcupine Creek Wall - Salad Days III 900' 5.10+ Trip Date: 08/20/2022 Trip Report: It did not go unnoted when Eric Wehrly moved to town. While our more noteworthy first ascents may be of a…umm…slightly different style, in my mind’s eye I generally enjoy any adventure far from the road particularly if it involves unclimbed terrain. Finding like-minded folks at a similar point in life, that is old, is not easy. So I assumed at some point we’d tie in together. It did not happen quickly. While phone numbers were exchanged and talk of getting out occurred, the years passed by. Maybe I came on too strong. During Covid there may have been a day at Mount Erie where I loudly berated Eric to be my “New Best Friend!” as he TR-soloed nearby. Clearly, I needed a better incentive than that. Halfway up the Pacific Crest Trail between Rainy and Cutthroat Passes a large wall of granite stands proudly above the trail. I first walked by it eighteen years ago with my then girlfriend. From a distance it had the obvious geometry and tone of good rock. A friend and I almost went to check it out but we made other plans and the idea was largely forgotten. This summer I strolled by it again, with my now wife and our two teenage children. Still there, still grey, still splitter. A week later I spent a solitary day circumnavigating Porcupine Peak. The summit was eventually attained, and, on the descent I found myself beneath this wall I had considered for decades. Carefully glassing it I became discouraged. As I walked away I thought “almost but not quite, the start may not go and the rest is just a bit too dirty and discontinuous.” However, it’s amazing what some grainy iPhone photos and a bit of selective memory can do. Furthermore I finally had the sort of incentive Eric might respond to. On Saturday August 20th we stood below “the start that may not go” and sure enough it didn’t. As this had been my idea, I felt obligated to get us rolling so I began a long circuitous pitch climbing easy terrain off to the side before a long downward traverse led to a committing mantle onto a vegetated slab above. Struggling with massive rope drag from the severely Z-shaped pitch, I encountered a recurring theme of frantically hacking away a clump of heather to find a small cam placement. Eric quickly downrated my estimated grade and then scrambled up more heather covered corners to the base of a steep, relatively clean layback flake. Perfect edges made the otherwise intimidating flake go quickly. Unfortunately, the intended route up a long “hand crack” above the flake turned out to be 100 feet of 4”-6” offwidth. The scale of the wall was turning out to be a bit larger than anticipated. Instead, Eric made a delicate leftward traverse before committing to a steep, broken crack formed in part by some precariously hollow fridge-sized blocks. Easy terrain led to the base of what had appeared to be a splitter from the base of the wall. Above I could only see a slammed shut seam covered in a thick crust of lichen, moss, and dirt. Eric proclaimed it to be a finger crack. I was highly skeptical. But on new ground there’s nothing worse than being the person who forfeits your partner's last proud lead by bailing off into indirect, unappealing terrain. I spent several minutes pawing at the start, muttering random negativities. After a few minutes I finally committed to the initial moves into the corner then rapidly hung on a nut. But it was started and despite my deep pessimism about there actually being a climbable crack under the filth I found myself inching upwards. Sand and pulverized lichen poured into my eyes, my nose, my ears, and my shirt. Aiding up in 8mm dyneema slings progress was dispiritingly slow as I cleaned out every single placement. Time oozed on and hours later I finally pulled the singular hand jam at the very top of the 150-foot crack and flopped onto a good ledge. Now relatively cleaned out, Eric rapidly followed the crack free proclaiming it 5.10+. Having climbed three pitches in five hours and 45 minutes, simple math suggested that our rate of ascent was significantly slower than the sun's rate of descent. While I did not yet suggest bailing, I did point out this obvious observation. Yet Eric confidently proclaimed that the “walk off” would in fact be a walk and that we would only need headlamps once we were within spitting distance of our packs. Regardless of attitude at this point, the wall kicked back a bit and the next pitch looked easier. No reason to bail yet so Eric headed out, moving quickly across a thankfully clean hand crack before moving out of sight into the corners above. Progress slowed, the rope stopped moving, I almost nodded off. The clouds continued to build as the rope made halting progress. A random inquiry on my part was met with a stern “Not Now”. Eventually Eric reappeared above having navigated some sketchy 5.10 face climbing to avoid an impossibly munge-filled corner. Moving left and right, up and down he eventually retreated to a blocky alcove from which we could reappraise the options above. With the rack refreshed the obvious direction was through an overhanging V-shaped corner. Chimney moves, flared jams, wide stemming and possibly some tension left me once again above my gear, hanging off a sloping rail, feet stemmed out on small dishes, surrounded by thick mats of grass and heather pasted in corners. With my ancient Chouinard north wall hammer wedged into a hummock, a brief struggle ensued between which would be pried off first, the hummock or myself. Thankfully the hummock released, revealing a perfect hand crack. The climbing relented and the rate of progress discernibly increased. As I neared the end of a lead the sky finally cracked open with a brief squall and a lovely rainbow filling the valley. Despite the weather I finally felt committed to the climb. Going over the top was now the path of least resistance. Almost every challenging climb you undertake has that beautiful inflection point, when hours, days or even years of uncertainty just melt away leaving you relaxed and in the moment. Eric climbed another beautiful corner with sustained finger cracks under the hummocks and dirt. The final pitch was a perfect finale. Shockingly clean granite with delightful climbing up to and around a large roof followed by easy, clean slabs to the top of the wall. The Cascades were bathed in a beautiful soft glow and views extended from Dome in the far distance to the sun setting off the shoulder of Mesachie Peak. The walk off was anything but, and had it been dark we would have been in for a genuine epic. Yet much as predicted headlamps only came out as we finally exited the talus onto delightful heather meadows not far from our packs. If you're familiar with Eric’s and Rolf’s first ascents on massive walls of less than stellar rock I’m sure you’ve wondered what makes them tick. My simple observation would be an extremely positive mental attitude with a surprisingly conservative aversion to potential loose rock. My successes have largely been built off an ability to separate the negativity of my dumb brain from the mechanical motions of moving upwards. It’s worked but doesn’t seem nearly as efficient as Eric's approach. I’d like to think I might adopt some of his positive mindset in the future. That said I’m pretty sure we influenced each other, as we headed out down wet talus with heavy packs Eric could be heard muttering “If you added a few bolts...”. Hour and twenty minutes from parking Lot Enter the Drag-On (forever) In my happy place (after the rain) Exiting the wall Views South and North Old Dirty Bastard and Mr. Clean Topo - buffed out (red) vs original line (blue) Postscript After Eric graciously spent another day of his life reclimbing and fixing the first four pitches with me I went back for the Labor Day weekend and put in thirty hours of cleaning, creating fixed anchors and adding several variations to avoid indirect, loose or excessively dirty terrain. Rock is excellent and clean throughout. Rappelling is quick and efficient vs. the unsavory walk off. There is a pile of good climbing up there. Topo/Gear/Approach Notes: MtnProject - Salad Days
  11. 9 points
    Trip: Logan and Goode - Douglas and NEB Trip Date: 07/29/2022 Trip Report: I wrapped up my 37th orbit with a loop from Easy Pass to Bridge Creek trailheads, climbing Logan via the Douglas and Goode’s NEB. Storm King was a low priority option going into the trip and didn’t make the cut. I had the pleasure of excellent conditions interspersed with horrible shwacking and a death march to conclude it. In many ways the timing couldn’t have been better for me. I sprained my ankle less than two weeks prior on the way to Fury. In the first hour afterward I was worried that most of my summer masochism would need to be cancelled, but hobbling back towards Luna camp, with vitamin I kicking in, I started to suspect the injury was not that bad. It swelled more like an orange than a grapefruit. I was game for Jacobs Ladder on Prophet the next day, which was welcome consolation for missing out on what I’m guessing was an awesome day for the NE Buttress of East Fury. Fast forward to a few days ago, I haven’t tried foot jams yet, and would like to avoid them, but walking feels fine. So a route with endless blocks and ledges sounds like just the ticket. Just needed to not twist it again in the many miles of trail-less travel. Besides my ankle I was also concerned about the heat. On the one hand I got away with not taking a sleeping bag. I always travel with a puffy and wool hat. I supplemented this with long johns and was just barely warm enough at night on a mat in a bivy sack. On the other hand, the heat obviously made things kinda brutal. For beta and inspiration for this loop I used Hiking down easy pass to Fisher was pure joy. This was the location of one of my first hikes in the N cascades, probably 12-13 years ago, getting my denim soaked in the brush. It’s actually more breathtaking than I remembered, was great to be back. The fisher creek crossing was briefly disorientating because there’s more water than land in the zone, with pools and twisty side channels everywhere. I gradually found my way moving south along the east side of the creek feeding into Fisher (presumably Douglas creek? I don’t see a name on the map). The ground was dry and relatively open and easy. There’s lots of huge erratics in this area. As I approached the the “pill box” from the summitpost description I chanced upon dry stream beds that I followed upwards. The maple+alder made for good hand holds without getting in the way of my feet. I thought this might have been a shortcut vs the TR I referenced, but after topping out on the other side I found very thick and young evergreens and chest high brush. Progress was slow here but at it was another beautiful scene down near the creek. It’s hard to say whether or not I found the path of least resistance. Finally free of the brush, I headed up snow and rock, trending right. I came across bear tracks in the snow and filled up at the last spot for flowing water that I could see. I arrived at the bivy col at about 6pm, which was later than I liked. But it was a good thing because it meant shadows were now extending down the Douglas, cooling it down. Some of the crevasses are quite large. But there was a fairly direct path through them and I felt good about the firming snow conditions and the gentle angle (<30 degrees?). The swale at the top of the glacier is a really cool feature. Looks insurmountable at first, but I found an easy way on the right side. I then cut back left above one more crevasse to gain the ridge (a little steep here, don’t fall in). The scramble to the summit is pretty fun, good rock for a Cascade scramble. The views speak for themselves. I slowed significantly near the summit both ways due to some really stubborn cramps. I carefully followed my ascent path on the way back down to the col, getting there just before headlamp time, with incredible purple views of Goode. It was a 12 hour day. Two pairs of eyes were reflected in my headlamp as I got ready for sleep, but they were far enough away that I couldn’t tell what they were. I left the col a little after 6am the next morning. The TR I linked earlier had me expecting smoother sailing than the day before. That turned out to not be the case. Descending the basin above North Fork wasn’t too bad, though I don’t know if I was always on the easiest path. I wonder if the ‘magic staircase’ was flowing instead of dry, because I don’t think I found it. The worst part was lower in the valley. I could find bits and pieces of a trail, but it’s very faint and overgrown. Occasionally I’d lose it and end up in the worst shwacking I’ve ever encountered. Walls of alder with a foot of water underneath. Feeling actually stuck. The other TR doesn’t mention this at all, so maybe better route finding makes this avoidable. I don’t think I lost more than an hour here but it was certainly terrible. The north fork ford was only knee high but very swift, wasn’t easy. The route up to Goode glacier looks improbable from below. Pretty cool how it comes together. The snow-rock junction is in good shape at the start of the NEB. It’s exposed and dirty getting up to the notch (took me a while to find a safe way) and the stone was burning my hands. But from the notch to the summit is awesome, and pretty well shaded. There’s a super knobby slab at the start. Unfortunately it doesn’t last long but what comes afterward on the ridge proper is solid, blocky steps as far as the eye can see. I was reminded of a slightly less steep version of the upper half of the NW face of Forbidden. As I climbed I couldn’t help thinking how surreal it is to be in the exact moment that you’ve thought about for years. The ridge steepens at 8400’ and I hit one dead end, with about 10 feet of rock that was too steep and featureless for me to solo safely. I backtracked down the steep face to the left and found a bypass that allowed me to regain the ridge. As is so often the case with ridge climbs, there are occasional dirty ledges that can make sections easier, but the best climbing is on the ridge crest itself. Aside from this one bypass, I stayed true to the ridge the entire way to the summit. I passed a party of two maybe ½ way up the ridge and other party of 2 just before the summit. I got there a little before 5, for a 10.5 hour day. The next party arrived shortly after and later in the evening the lower party arrived. Everyone was nice, we chatted about climbing and spent the time pointing at and naming all the crazy stuff you can see from Goode. We squeezed all 5 on the summit that night (one of the spots looked pretty gnarly, 5 is a tight fit). I heard there was a guided party that day too, so 7 people in all on the route that day. I started to feel sick when I arrived at the summit. I think it was mainly due to the heat. This was a bummer but I gradually improved and took in the sunset, then the new moonset, headlamps down in the valley SW of Goode (night hiking?) and a couple of fuzzy shooting stars. The notions of up and down that climbers obsess over started to lose meaning while staring into space with hypnogogic mind setting in. The next morning we all got a leisurely start. I started my day popping my head up for a view every few minutes in between a few last sips of sleep. I left the summit at 7am, just after one party started rapping. I downclimbed (5.4?) to the highest snow patch (plenty of snow on the route right now BTW) as I had run out of water. I melted some for a freeze dried breakfast then made my way skier’s right up a ramp leading to the notch. It was here that I got to really test out my lightweight rappel system that I assembled after some online research (I did a short sanity check in town earlier). This was <$100 and shaved 3 lbs and I didn’t die. The second rap got me a ways into the firm snow finger on SW side of Goode. I used my light axe with a good bite (found on Quien Sabe some years ago), crampons strapped on to approach shoes, and my pole in the other hand. It was face-in downclimbing to some gross dirt-choss, then more face in walking backwards down steep snow. I paused to look at Storm King and estimate time. I guessed that going for it would mean getting back to the trailhead around midnight. Realistically, if I wanted to climb it, I would have had to do the Goode descent the day before. But it was more important to me to enjoy the summit of Goode than to tag another choss pile, so I was happy with my decision to skip SK. Maybe I was jaded from the shwacking the previous two days, but the way down the burn wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I had downloaded somebody’s GPX and it was pretty helpful. I think this is another section that’s only semi-intuitive. I thought I would find running water on the other side of Goode, but didn’t. I descended the burn around noon with temperatures soaring and my water run out. Probably downed a liter in couple minutes at the first stream back on trail. I didn’t keep track but I’m guessing I drank about 2 gallons of water throughout the day. I also had less than 1000 calories because my body wouldn’t tolerate the bars I had remaining (again, likely due to the heat). At the end of the day I think I counted 4000 uneaten calories in my pack (that should have been eaten). I guess I need to revise my nutrition strategy for trips like these. The hike out is a blur given my nausea and the heat. Dipped at park creek (delightful!). The bridge at Bridge creek is another fantastic scene. One of many in this loop that I wish I had more time to savor (honestly, 4 days would have been more fun, though any exit from Goode seems inherently awkward logistically). I also remember one giant cedar on the trail, some cool bluffy terrain, and the suspension bridges were a fun surprise too. On the rare occasion of a cool breeze, I felt like I was drinking water through my skin. I filled up one more time at the last major creek >8 miles from the road and met up with one of the parties I shared the summit with. Together we blasted out the next 5 miles, took a short break, then made one more push for the car. Even in my approach shoes my feet were just starting to get medium rare by the time the hike was finally over. I had a bike at Bridge Creek TH and a bike light, but since it was getting late (finished at 9pm for a 14 hour day) and I was depleted, I happily accepted their offer to drive me back to Easy pass. Thanks Hank and Steve! Gear Notes: Approach shoes, crampons, one axe, one pole, and a rappel setup worked for me, but this means unroped glacier travel and low 5th soloing. Approach Notes: Hard to say
  12. 8 points
    Trip: Dome and the Lizard - Ptarmigan (Ptarmithumb) Traverse Trip Date: 07/22/2022 Trip Report: Ah, the classic Ptarmigan....is there a finer high traverse in the Cascades? After 25ish year of rambling around the range I'm not sure there is a more scenic and pleasant high route. And so, after a 19 year hiatus it was time to return with none other than @Juan Sharp. My thumb was still broken with a pin, but no matter, we would take it easy over 6 days and savor the experience. There is probably too much already written about this particular trip, but I will say that it is worth repeat visits, if only to camp in the places you wished you had camped the first time! And, amazingly enough, the traverse was much quieter than I had it in 2003. Probably "closures" on both ends had something to do with that (check notes below for additional beta). High points, for us, included perfect weather, good snow conditions, few bugs, an evening visit from a couple curious goats, ethereal marine layer mists from White Rock Lakes, Northern lights from the Dome/Dana Glacier col, solos of Dome and the Lizard (for me), sunrise/sunset on Dakobed, and a surprise visit from @jenny.abegg and partner who were mountain running from Canada to Stehekin, along the crest, in ONE WEEK. They covered in A DAY, what took us 4 days! To say we were amazed would be an understatement. I can't wait to see the movie made by the film crew running along with them for a couple sections. Low points would be the brush of Bachelor and Downey Creeks, but there is always a price of admission to the glory of the North Cascades parklands. I'll be back, but I won't wait as long next time! Heading up the closed cascade river road: @Juan Sharp below Mixup on the way to Cache col: Formidable: Camp 1 with a good view of the NF of Spider: Traversing over to Middle Cascade Gl: Passing thru Spider/Formidable col, Old Guard and LeConte in the middle: Climbing up above Yang Yang Lakes: Camp 2: Formidable at sunrise: Heading out on Day 3: Traversing to LeConte Gl.: South Cascade Gl.: The majestic north side of Sinister/Dome and the Chickamin Gl.: Camp 3 at White Rock Lakes: NF of Sinister and the Chickamin: Elephant Head and Dome from WRL: The aptly named Elephant Head: Agnes! Snout of the Dana: The German Helmet lost in the mists to the right of @Juan Sharp: Summit ridge of Dome: Hydramatic Spire: Camp 4, North Cascades style: @jenny.abegg and crew heading towards the Chickamin one evening: Dakobed from Camp 4: Surprise aurora borealis one night....it didn't look like this to the naked eye, 25 sec. exposure. Heading toward Itswoot ridge on day 5: Dome and @Juan Sharp: Sussing out the way to Cub lake from Itswoot ridge: False hellebore: Getting to the fun part in Bachelor Creek: @Juan Sharp crossing Bachelor Creek after doing battle with the worst of it. Note the bloody shins: The Bachelor Creek trail has sustained significant damage from slides this past winter: Camp 5, on the banks of Downey Creek: We're not in Colorado any more! Thru the burn at the end of the Downey Creek trail: Gear Notes: 30m rope, glacier gear, helmet, ice axe, crampons Approach Notes: Cascade River Road closed at Eldorado. Bachelor/Downey creek trails officially "closed" but in decent shape, esp. thru the burn. Bachelor Creek trail in good shape above 4500'. Cross Bachelor Creek at the alternate 4500' crossing. Flagged from there down to old log across Bachelor Creek at 4100'. Lots of blowdown in Lower Bachelor Creek and upper Downey Creek trails. Much bear sign.
  13. 8 points
    Trip: Johannesburg - “Flight of the Bumblebee” FA of the sit start to the NE Buttress of J Berg TD 5.9+R 1500’ Trip Date: 08/27/2022 Trip Report: This weekend, Kyle and I climbed the sit start to the NE buttress of J-Berg. We ended up rappelling due to injury after linking into the ‘57 route on the NE buttress. We added about 1500’ of steep and challenging climbing. The sit start climbs a tower with a bit of a distinct summit, so I don’t feel too bad claiming an FA. Becky likely wouldn’t have given us credit for anything, so judge it how you will. If linked to the summit, it would likely be one of the biggest monolithic climbs anywhere. TD+… ED…? Only one way to find out. This is likely a one and done for me, when we topped out the lower buttress I thought to myself “the climb we did so no one else had to”, but rapping where we did leaves the door open for at least one suitor to up the ante. The lower buttress in moody, morning fog We had a late start sat morning. The uncertain weather had us sleeping in and waiting. Lani and I had attempted the line a couple years ago and ultimately bailed because the climbing looked like it was going to be far more time consuming than our 2 day itinerary would have allowed. This time around, kyle and I packed a couple taco portaledges in case we had to bivy on the steeper lower wall. The approach involves a good bit of blueberry and devils club laybacking in high exposure. We came prepared this time and had leather garden gloves to grab the clubs… Kyle on the approach The approach is a bit of foreshadowing for what to expect on the rest of the buttress, but simply steeper… The first pitch was a long moss gully with difficulties that felt about like 5.7. For the second pitch, we discovered a sick splitter hand crack. Too short and too easy… Starting up the second pitch The third pitch was ledgy and mossy hand crack steps that fed into the main gully/corner that defines the route. This was the previous high point. starting up the third pitch The fourth pitch is what intimidated Lani and I off the route before. Steep, mossy overlapping roofs and steep corners loom above. This time around we were prepared to aid if needed and had a good bit of iron and a real hammer. We didn’t end up using the ladders and battled the moss with a nut tool and clawed our way up the slightly overhanging corner past a roof to a sloping ledge. We decided to start hauling the leaders pack at this point and ended up needing to tag the iron up for this belay. Kyle on the traverse above the P4 roof pitch 5 was more of the same, but with a chimney. Pulling through the chimney made me happy about the decision to haul packs. I ended up climbing a steep crack on the face to diverge from the main corner. To make faster upward progress, Kyle ended up climbing the thorn bush corner. He ended up unintentionally releasing about a ton of gravel when he stepped in the wrong spot. That reinforced the decision to take the spicy looking face. We ended up setting up a bivy at the top of this pitch. Glad to have the tacos as it was completely hanging. heading into the chimney on P5 kyle following the choss corner at the end of P5 chilling at the bivy in a super taco looking up at the upper corner from the bivy The next few pitches were actually pretty fun. Steep face and corner climbing on surprisingly solid rock. starting up P7. 5.7R up to the roof. kyle following the roof at the top of P7 The 8th pitch was the start to the sting in the tail. We climbed a runout face to the right of the corner. This took us up to the edge of the wall. The wall pinched off to a blunt, knife edge arete. A 5.8 downclimbing traverse into a rock scar was probably the most dangerous point on the climb. The last piece was maybe about 60 ft away and around the arete. A fall would likely chop the rope along the arete. Strong R. The rock scar was overhanging 5.9 stemming on less than ideal rock but with good gear. climbing up near the arete on pitch 8 kyle finishing up pitch 8 Once on the prow of the wall we had a few options. None of them looked good. The chimneys above looked truly awful, so we opted to traverse the arete to the right and found a mossy ramp that took us out onto the NW face. I belayed short for communication and to help make decisions. The next pitch was bleak, dead vertical terrain everywhere and so much munge. We ended up making a huge S shaped traversing pitch to work our way up moss covered 5.8 sketch blocks. We named this pitch “Phil’s Traverse” as we were intending on calling the route “the land of confusion”. The sting in the tail continues… kyle following the zag on Phil’s Traverse A long pitch of overhanging 5.7 tree climbing spat us out on a decent ledge where we transitioned out of rock shoes to prepare for the Forrest. I was nearing the end of the rope on a classic J-Berg tree pitch and grabbed a tuft of moss, as you do. This particular tuft was a bees nest. I felt stinging and saw a few on my right hand and about 100 bees shot out of the hole, dead set on face fucking me off the mountain. I let go in a knee jerk reaction and went for a slow motion, sports action highlight style whipper. I kind of wish I had a video camera on as it had to have been funny to watch. I ended up grabbing, and swinging off a tree on the way down, making a single rotation tomahawk and falling onto my feet as the rope caught me. Glad I took a lead belay. I ended up rolling my ankle and was otherwise unscathed. I belayed Kyle up and we weighed our options. We decided to find a place to bivy and wait until the morning to make any decisions. We ended up climbing up another 300’ of forest munge to the top of a heather slope. The top of the slope was a comfy knoll that marked the summit of the lower tower, and an awesome bivy! This was our summit and the first point where it was obvious we had linked into the ‘57 line. kyle rapping a steep section of the wall Waking up, my outlook was pretty grim. I could barely hobble around, so we decided to descend our route. I couldn’t really put weight on my ankle so I ended up glissading the last 100’ of 35 degree heather. Once back at the tree line we began rapping. We ended up rappelling about 1800’. Primarily rapping on trees and using an escaper we were able to get away with only leaving a couple gear anchors along the way. Traversing the talus back to the car was kind of miserable, but manageable. My ankle is starting to feel better already, crossing my fingers for a minor sprain. For the aspiring munge warrior, here’s pitch notes P1 5.7 180’ head up moss gully on the left to a big ledge with trees. P2 5.7+ 180’ traverse to left edge of ledge. Head up good hand crack. Traverse slab to the right and climb a nice finger crack up to a large ledge on the ridge crest. P3 5.8 150’ head up into the large mossy corner. Climb up to a distinct roof with hands to fists gear for anchor. P4 5.9 100’ continue up the corner. Mossy crack climbing leads to a rightward roof traverse. Pull past the roof onto the large sloping ledge. Two beaks in place for anchor P5 5.9 100’ continue up main corner on clean slab. Past a short chimney and a crack on the right face (5.9+). Belay at uncomfortable stance below a striped roof in a good crack in the main corner. P6 5.9+ 85’ continue up main corner past a small roof (crux) to an alcove at the base of the massive looming roof above. #4 critical for belay. P7 5.9+ 70’ climb the face to the right of the corner (5.7R). Up past an off width section to a section of steep crack/stemming on good rock. Belay in a cave. P8 5.9+ 160’ traverse out of the cave. Climb the face on the right up to a knife edge arete (5.8R). Traverse the slab rightward into a steep rock star (5.9+ spicy). Continue up past low angle broken terrain. Belay by a bush on a small ledge. P9 5.7 60’ head up and around the arete to the right. Traverse over on mossy ledges and build an anchor P10 5.8R 100’ “Phil’s traverse” traverse right. Up mossy blocks to trees. Traverse back left to a big tree for a belay. Heinous drag. P11 5.7 150’ climb the belay tree. Then continue up until rope drag stops you. P12 5.6 200’ trees up to the ridge crest to join ne butt route. Gear Notes: Double Rack .2 - 1 Singles 2 - 4 no nuts placed. Pins in place. Approach Notes: Park at cascade pass. Traverse talus to the base of the “munge cone”. Traverse to the right up steep ferns. Gain a steep ramp that cuts up and left on 4th class devils clubs. Mandatory devils club laybacking. We brought leather gloves for this. Traverse the ledge to an exposed perch by a steep gully.
  14. 8 points
    Trip: North Pickets - Mongo Ridge (Tower 1) Trip Date: 07/01/2022 Trip Report: A Rainy Week in the Northern Pickets + A Night on Mongo Ridge Climbers: Jake Johnson – Fort Collins, CO (writer of this TR) Emilio Taiveaho - Saxapahaw, NC Adam Moline – Olympia, WA (A new resident to Washington, so hit him up if in need of a SOLID partner in the mountains) Summary: July 1st – 9th, 2022 in the Northern Picket Range of North Cascades National Park. A week of managing early season snow conditions and weather. Lofty goals were adjusted, and we fought the good fight - accomplishing as much mountain moving as we feasibly could and learning all the lessons the mountain would teach. It’s easier to write a report about triumphs in the mountains and, perhaps, its more interesting to read of successes as well. For this reason, I considered not writing and sharing this report. However, I do feel that the lessons learned and experiences had are worth sharing. Also, given that it was the toughest trip I’ve ever been on, I needed an outlet to express my gratitude for my climbing partners (best friends) that got me through it. Planning our trip had its challenges – 3 different calendars to coordinate, two of us needing to fly in from out of state, requesting of PTO, etc.. These challenges culminated in the need to get the dates for this trip on the calendar early. Unfortunately, this plan lacked flexibility as we learned that we’d be dealing with a lot of rain and snow during our week together. Our objective was to climb the entirety of Mongo Ridge, and while we did not complete that goal, we did accomplish what we were ultimately there to do: to suffer well in the mountains when required, and to thrive in and enjoy the mountains when allowed. Itinerary (not the planned itinerary, but the reality of our week): Day 1 – Evening hike up Big Beaver Valley Day 2 – Hike to and Camp at “Cliffside Camp” below Luna Col Day 3 – Ride out storms, no movement Day 4 – Advance to “Ridge Camp” below the ridge between Luna and Fury Day 5 – Climb East Fury and Tower 1 of Mongo Ridge, bivy on Tower 1 Day 6 – Retreat from ridge and bivy on East Fury Day 7 – Return to “Ridge Camp” Day 8 – Summit Luna Peak and descend to Access Creek Day 9 – Hike Out A screenshot of Adam’s Strava map. He didn’t start his watch until day 2. Introduction: Adam, Emilio, and I first climbed the West Peak of Mount Fury in July of 2020. It was then that we first saw and studied Mongo Ridge, the southwest ridgeline of West Fury. At the time, the only ascent was Wayne Wallace’s legendary solo climb of the ridge: Then, in July of 2021, Jeff and Priti Wright climbed a variation of the route (traversing below the ridgeline after the main towers and bypassing the “Rooster Comb” and “Pole of Remoteness” features): The beta provided in these combined reports gave us the confidence needed to make Mongo Ridge the primary objective of our 2022 climbing season. Day 1: I was fortunate to be able to coordinate with my job to visit a customer site near Seattle on Friday. When I wrapped up with work, Adam and Emilio picked me up and we were off to Ross Dam Trailhead. Emilio had flown out a few weeks earlier, and the two had kept busy getting ready for the trip by climbing some sub-peaks near Rainier, traversing a portion of Sawtooth Ridge in Olympic, as well as running Mt. Olympus in a 14 hr push with Adam’s wife, Monica. They had dealt with early season conditions and weather in each of these endeavors, so we had good indication of what to expect in the Pickets. Our hike up Big Beaver was beautiful, but uneventful. We were happy to take advantage of the clear weather while we had it and eat up some of the approach miles. Lots of deadfall in the last miles of our trail walking slowed progress significantly. We stopped for the night, shared a small meal, and settled in for a comfortable night’s sleep. Hiking into the night on the Big Beaver Trail Day 2: A straightforward crossing of the Big Beaver River and solid route-finding made for steady progress up Access Creek. We surprisingly encountered far less bushwhacking in Access Creek, compared to negotiating the blowdowns covering the Big Beaver Trail the prior evening. I slipped off a slick log while crossing over Access Creek and took a dip up to my thighs. I moped about my wet feet, which is funny to me now – as they wouldn’t really be dry at any point for the next 7 days. Breaking out of the trees in upper Access Creek Switching into crampons for the climb up and out of the valley We worked quickly to move up the snow gully to escape the Access Creek valley before the sun hit the slope too much; slopes that were getting baked in the morning sun were releasing a good amount of snow and rock. Topping out this gully has always felt like a portal to me; entering into the surreal dimension that is the Picket Range. We got our first looks at what we would be working with for the week: vast amounts of snow with 30ft cornices and lots of weather shrouding the high peaks of the range. We didn’t waste much time planning our next moves, as a good amount of weather was forecasted. Luna Col appeared to be completely snow covered, likely making the camping there less than ideal. We dropped down a few hundred feet to the flowing water that drained from the col. Here we found some ground that wasn’t exactly flat but had most of the other qualities needed for surviving and waiting out a storm. It was a sloping ledge on a cliff above an avalanche shoot; we dubbed it “Cliffside Camp”. Our Cliffside Camp beneath Luna Col As a group we had 2 lightweight tarps and we each had Outdoor Research bivys. Emilio and Adam shared a tarp that they strung over their bivys. I wrapped myself in the other like a taco, trying to tuck my gear under its protection as well. The rain came and went, and then came again. We were able to make some food in the breaks in the weather before settling in for the night. Adam and Emilio’s angled sleeping setup at Cliffside Camp The view out of my crude trekking pole / tarp setup at Cliffside Camp The storm that night was the most intense of the week. Wind, rain, thunder, and of course the thunder of rockfall. My tarp got whipped about by the wind, and all my gear got pretty wet. Adam and Emilio each awoke in the night to find they had slid several feet downhill from their original positions. Day 3: I realized it had become lighter outside, but the change from night was minimal from the depths of my tarp covered bivy. “How you guys doing?” I yelled from my cocoon. “Pretty wet but also plenty dry in places, too” responded Emilio. Always an optimist.. Trying to stay comfortable through a long day of being horizontal Again, we seized opportunities were the weather let up to stand and stretch and refortify our setups. Nearly all hours of the day, however, were spend horizontally. Our objective felt far away, and it certainly wasn’t lost on us that we needed to be closer to be able to take advantage of a weather window if we were presented with one. Every now and then the whiteout would clear enough for us to see the ridge at the far side of the snowfield we were camped above, and we plotted our line to make it there, but beyond that we had no idea of what we would be navigating. We practiced patience as best as we could and told ourselves that all this rest would be beneficial to us in the coming days. A stretch break in the day More rain and wind came through the night, although not as intense as our first night here. Day 4: Somewhere around midmorning the weather let up to a point where I was inspired to crawl out and investigate our surroundings. It was frustrating to see blue skies in multiple directions, and even get some direct sunlight, but never really get visibility in the direction we needed to travel. Eventually we caught a break and gained a visual of the ridge we were headed towards. We quickly packed up our wet gear and set off. It felt amazing to move our bodies and cover some ground. Crossing a cool snow bridge shortly after leaving Cliffside Camp Easy snow walking and some classic, loose Cascade ridge scrambling and we arrived on the ridge at a spot that should have provided a view of our route the remainder of the way up to East Fury. When we rounded the corner, we were unfortunately met with more whiteout conditions. Additional incentive to advance no further was provided as the mountain sent some more rain our way. Luckily, this camp - dubbed “ridge camp” – was much more comfortable. We were able to crawl under some thick brush to spread the tarps and set our bivys which helped tremendously in protecting us from the wind and rain. We used breaks in the weather to gather water, then cooked some food back under the protection of the tarp. Overall spirits were high; we all had some base layers that were dry enough to stay warm through the night, and sleeping bags weren’t soaked. We also knew weather would be an issue these days and felt we had some buffer in the week to allow for it. We slept solidly, knowing that tomorrow had been forecasted to be the clearest day of the week. A comfortable tarp shelter at Ridge Camp Day 5: We woke up to a 4:30am alarm, and quickly confirmed that the weather was as predicted. YES! Clear early morning skies, with an ocean of clouds below us in the valleys. I’ll never get over how beautiful the peaks of the North Cascades look rising above the clouds. Ocean of Clouds as seen from Ridge Camp on morning of Day 5 I caught Adam in modeling mode after he set up a timelapse on his phone We understood that a lot was riding on this day in terms of setting ourselves up for success. We packed up all our gear and made quick progress navigating the snowfields and glaciers up to East Mount Fury. This was our first chance to get a look at the peak and our route up it; a lot of snow. I worried for Emilio, who had opted to do the trip wearing micro-spikes on his boots, rather than crampons, but he moved smoothly. We avoided what we felt was most of the hazards by traversing westward to gain the ridgeline to the south of the peak, then scrambling a mixture of rock and icy slope north to the summit. Headed up Easy Fury. Still in a cloud, but the clearest view of it we had yet! A steeper section of snow heading up to East Fury On the summit we stashed any gear that we felt we could do without. Adam used his InReach to get an updated weather forecast for the second half of our week – not great news: at least some rain each day. Because of this, we stashed less than originally planned, bringing along the tarps and heavier jackets. I was able to stuff my bivy, a light sleeping bag, camelback, and a bunch of snacks in my 15L daypack. Adam and Emilio carried their larger packs with similar setups inside. We descended off the summit to the west, and then plunged down the gully to the southwest that leads towards the base of Mongo Ridge. We each had capacity for 4L of water, and finding a suitable place to fill up proved to be a challenge - and a time suck. Eventually we crossed the last bit of snowfield to the base of the route. Here, a real mental crux presented itself: one of Adam’s crampons broke clean in half. He also noticed a crack forming in the other. We were about as far from the car as we would get, and given the amount of snow travel, this was a huge blow. Adam’s broken crampon. He also noticed his other crampon was cracking in the same spot A flood of negative thoughts crept into my headspace: How would this affect our ability to make the return trip? Should we just call it now and turn back?… Adam interrupted my spiraling thoughts – “I’d rather climb the route in rock shoes than climb back up the snow with one crampon”. That was it, no more discussion. I do think that for each of us, there was an unspoken understanding: things would need to go perfectly on the climb if we were going to be able to pull it all off. We negotiated the moat without much issue, then scrambled up 4th class to the left of the 5.6 chimney taken by the Wrights and Wallace. When we arrived at what we believed was the 5.8 overhang taken by Wallace, we roped up and I led up over the short section of overhanging features to easier ground. Wallace had cut left here and gained ridgeline – mostly 4th class to the top of Tower 1. I saw that line, but had absolutely nothing to build an anchor and bring the guys up to me at that spot. The rock was polished smooth with virtually no cracks or blocks. I told myself I’d climb a bit higher until I could build a real anchor, and then we’d find another way to traverse left. Unfortunately, I had to stretch the 70m ropes until I could sling a solid block and bring the guys up safely. I weaved significantly to keep the climbing on that pitch at 5.8-5.9. The guys more or less climbed straight up the line and reported harder moves. Emilio belaying me up our first roped pitch I was worked. I felt I had protected the pitch well, despite a serious lack of options, but there were a lot of heady moves that physically and mentally drained me. The rope drag bringing the guys up was some of the worst I’ve ever experienced, so belaying added to my fatigue. There wasn’t much talking at the top of that first pitch. We were all aware we were off route and climbing far harder than we needed to on this first tower. We briefly discussed coiling the ropes and attempting the traverse left to get to the ridgeline – we unanimously agreed we weren’t in the right headspace or position on the mountain for that. I sent upwards, trying to work left, but was forced up a series of grassy chimneys over the course of several pitches. Forcing a roped leftward traverse would have meant insane rope drag. In total we climbed 5 pitches ranging from 5.6-5.9 until we met the ridgeline nearly at the top of the tower. Wallace’s original line (recommended) in Yellow. The Wright’s line in Red. Our line (not recommended) in Blue. Adam and Emilio belaying me up one of the last pitches to meet the ridgeline A short conversation atop the tower confirmed what we were all thinking: Attempting the entire ridge wasn’t going to be a responsible move if we wanted to make it home on schedule. Our timeline had been behind from the beginning, more weather was ahead in the forecast, we didn’t know what Adam’s broken crampon would mean for our hike out, and one of our radios had turned on in a pack earlier in the week and was now quickly losing its charge - making communication challenging. We felt confident in our ability to retreat from where we were at but going further would require us to be perfect in our climbing efficiency and route finding for the rest of the ridge, get lucky with the weather, and – even then – potentially need to hike out from East Fury in one massive push in order to get out in time. With no great bivy options at the base of the climb, we agreed to spend the night on Tower 1, then descend the tower and climb to East Fury in the morning. Scrambling the last bit to the summit of Tower 1 Emilio at the summit of Tower 1. Tower 2 to the far left, looking up at the impressive Tower 3 It was bittersweet. The climbing had ultimately been super fun, and I felt that I had protected the guys well with bomber anchors on each pitch (a worry of mine going into the climb). I had also by this point completely overcome any imposter syndrome that I felt before starting the climb, and felt very competent and ready for the harder climbing that lay ahead on the ridge. It just wasn’t meant to be, for this week. If you ask Emilio, sleeping on the ridge was the best sleeping of his life - in every way. For me, it wasn’t all that comfortable, but it was a pretty darn cool place to get some shut eye. Adam found a little nook at the base of some shrubs to crawl into, while Emilio and I shared a small ledge. We settled in, to the lullaby of the local Townsend’s Solitaire. The ledge Emilio and I shared for the night Adam above his sleeping nook Day 6: I had no indications that I ever did truly fall asleep, but somehow morning did come much sooner than expected. We had dealt with some rain in the night, but luckily nothing too severe. When we got up, we had some visibility so we quickly packed up and started scrambling down the ridge. It was frustrating to realize how much time we had wasted by not getting on the ridgeline immediately. Rain came and went throughout the morning as we easily downclimbed most of the route, utilizing a few rappels where wet rock presented a concern. Adam on a rainy rappel off Tower 1 Once we were back on the glacier, we made slow steady progress back up to East Fury – some moments in freezing rain, then 30 seconds later in direct sun and unbearable heat. The closer we got to the summit of East Fury, the more it became consistent rain, until we were in a complete whiteout on the summit. Adam’s attempt at holding his broken crampon in place, and bracing his cracking one Cloudy towers as seen on the ascent back up East Fury Adam and Emilio entering into a true whiteout near the summit Here we faced a tough decision. It was only about noon, so we had plenty of time to descend back to our Ridge Camp. However, we were all a bit worked – cold and shivering and running on little sleep. Additionally, the whiteout conditions presented a real challenge for navigating the Fury Glacier. Our other option was to bivy on the summit of East Fury. We had done this before, in 2020, but it hadn’t been such wintery conditions then. We also were hesitant to try to get a camp setup in the rain and risk getting our dry(ish) clothes and sleeping bags wet. We ultimately decided the best thing to do at that moment was to be patient and see if we could catch a break in either the rain or the whiteout before making a move. Huddling for warmth under the tarp near the summit After 4 hrs of shivering, huddled together under the tarp, we caught a break in the rain that allowed us to switch into some dry clothes and crawl into bivys. Just in time too – as hard rain began to come and go into and throughout the night. Day 7: Emerging from the shelter of my bivy in the morning was a real mental crux, to say the least. No direct rain, but still whiteout conditions with plenty of cold moisture zipping through the air. We hastily packed our things, bundled ourselves up, and headed down from the summit. Walking took some getting used to; my legs were stiff, I was bundled up far more than I was used to, and the rock and snow were both icy and slick. I slipped on some rocks immediately within the first few moves and stumbled onto some sharp rocks. That woke me up. View from the bivy ledge in the morning Low visibility early in the morning Continuing to move down the mountain, we utilized the gps on our watches and, often times, faint tracks from our ascent. Emilio lost his footing on a steep section in the early going and quickly slid downward, disappearing out of sight into the fog. He expertly self-arrested, and then traversed horizontally until he was back on course with us. Somewhere along this descent, Adam’s other crampon also broke (in the same fashion as his first did). Carefully negotiating the glacier on the descent A positive that kept us smiling was coming across what we believe to be wolverine (maybe very large marmot?) tracks in the snow. We eventually climbed low enough that the thick fog broke up a bit and we could see the remainder of our line back up to our Ridge Camp. We stopped along the way to collect our first water since we had started up the ridge 48 hrs earlier. Wolverine? Marmot? Tracks near the summit of East Fury Upon returning to Ridge Camp, we rebuilt our cozy tarp shelter, and used breaks in the rain to collect water and make food. The sun would occasionally shine on us, triggering a race to get wet clothes, sleeping bags, etc... out to dry. Fury and the Southern Pickets always remained shrouded in thick cloud cover. We eventually began to thaw our fingers and relax our minds. Our mountain living became a bit less focused on basic survival, and we nursed our bodies in an effort to get back to a point where we could enjoy our remaining experience as much as possible. A massive overhanging cornice near our Ridge Camp Day 8: Sunlight flickered on the tarp, as we allowed ourselves to sleep in a bit. At first, thick fog lined the valley floors but as we stretched our waking bodies, we watched as the sun and wind began grabbing chunks of that fog and shooting them up the mountain slopes until they became clouds surrounding us in the sky. A nice bit of sunshine and our cozy Ridge Camp A rare glimpse of the Southern Pickets through the fog We descended the snowfield back towards our Cliffside camp from earlier in the week. Emilio and Adam glissaded a good amount of it, enjoying the moderate slope. Again, we experienced the insane temperature differential when cold winds under cloudy skies (requiring our shells and some layers) would rapidly transition to full sun cooking us (and a frantic shedding of layers). We trudged up to an elevation just below the gully that would drop us into Access Creek. Here we dropped our packs and doubled back, racing up towards Luna Col. Adam and Emilio pulled ahead of me, cruising with the freedom of being pack-less. I was content to enjoy the climb at a slightly more leisurely pace and take some photos of them ahead at a distance. Moving quickly beneath giant cornices at Luna Col Once we got to Luna Col, we dropped crampons and axes, and scampered up Luna. We were just below the cloud ceiling, with all the other major peaks of the Pickets consumed in cloud. Gentle rain would come and go, as it had all day, but nothing too intense. It was an amazing scramble that made us really appreciate our last moments of the trip spent high in the alpine. Adam and Emilio ahead of me on the Luna Peak ridge scramble The North and South Picket ranges, masked in clouds as they were for most of the week Summit group selfie On the descent we encountered some friendly White-Tailed Ptarmigan before relacing the crampons and plunging and sliding back down the mountain to our packs. I think Adam probably broke some sort of speed record, running and sliding and leaping for joy from Luna Col back to our packs in about 2 minutes. White-Tailed Ptarmigan Emilio and a distant Adam flying down from Luna Col Our attitudes became more serious - but perhaps not enough - as we shouldered our packs and began the descent of the gully into Access Creek. This gully is the technical crux for folks climbing Luna Peak, and it has taken lives. I went first, kicking steps for the others to follow. Emilio was struggling with snow balling under his micro spikes and he slipped and caught himself several times. Eventually, he determined he was confident enough in his stopping power to glissade. He started slow, but quickly gained more speed than he bargained for. He dislodged a football sized rock in the snow as he zipped by, and the two flew down the steep gully together – bouncing off small bumps as they went. I watched this unfold with a surprising sense of calm. I knew he was in trouble, but also that he would hang in there, digging his axe into the snow with everything he had, as long as it would take to stop. I’ve seen Emilio stop himself in some wild slides many times – both in practice and in real scenarios, but this one was the most impressive. The issue with his stopping was that the rock he has dislodged now caught up with him. He looked up and I could tell he had no idea what was coming at him; snow caked his face and glasses. The rock hit his hand and sent his axe flying down the mountain. Luckily, he maintained his footing. Emilio let out a mountain whoop and yelled “Man, I love the mountains!” As Adam and I quickly descended towards him, we caught him trying to bury the bloody snow around him with clean snow. “Where’s that blood coming from?” I yelled. “I’m fine” he replied... Adam and I did a quick cognitive assessment and determined that he didn’t have a concussion. The blood was coming from the back of his hand, where icy sections of snow had taken a good amount of skin off as he was self-arresting. We slowly made our way down the remainder of the gully. At the bottom, we nursed the hand with clean stream water and Neosporin, then covered it with Gauze, climbing tape, and a crack climbing glove. I tested his mobility and the sensitivity at his fingertips. Everything was ok, spirits were still high, but we were definitely humbled. I think we all were feeling like the most challenging sections of the trip were long behind us, but the lesson was proven - every part of mountain moving requires our full focus. It was an important lesson, and it will certainly stick with us. Emilio and his rock, a bit of blood still visible where he buried it Emilio’s hand. All in all, not too bad The hike out Access Creek began with an encounter with a huge and angry (or maybe just frightened?) marmot. Adam was out front navigating the boulder field and spooked it back right at me and Emilio. It charged beneath a rock and popped up about 5 feet from Emilio. “Hey man!” Emilio yelled at it. This thing (in my memory) was about the size of a small golden retriever. The marmot ducked under a rock and popped back up a few feet from me. “HEY!” I’ve done my fair share of yelling off bears, and Emilio and I have had some intense encounters with agitated moose, but this huge marmot’s boldness, size, and its disappearing and reappearing act had us frazzled. We backed out of his area, and he was content to let us walk off. A bit further down we camped in some old growth and got some great sleep. Emilio discovered he had a very cool heel flap of skin upon removing his boots on the final day Day 9: We awoke, stretched, and ground out the easy trail miles back to civilization. We met the trail crew working hard in the early morning to clear the deadfall on the trail that had given us so much trouble on our hike in. Once back at the car, we feasted on stale chips and hardened cinnamon rolls. A stop at our favorite post-Picket burger joint, Skagit Valley Burger, and we were soon back to Adam’s place in Olympia. Shameless gluttony Final Thoughts: They say a climbing trip should have 3 goals. 1) To come home safe. 2) to come home as friends. And 3) to come home successful - In that order. So, in that regard, we accomplished our top two goals. They also say, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need”. This trip wasn’t exactly what we had expected or hoped for, but it certainly gave us what we needed in terms of pushing ourselves, learning about ourselves, and learning about the mountains. It also gave us a good amount of beta, and a good amount of confidence for when we return again, hopefully very soon. Gear Notes: Doubles of Small cams, a #2 and #3, set of nuts Approach Notes: Lots of Snow
  15. 8 points
    Trip: The Pickets for the Old and Slow - McMillan Spires Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Reading the internet makes it seem like everyone who goes into the Pickets is a total badass doing FAs or enchaining the whole damn range in record time, so here’s a TR for the AARP-eligible among us who perhaps were never all that fast or talented to begin with. Don't expect any useful information. I harangued my friend Gordy into committing to a Pickets trip this summer but he was too busy to go until late season, so mid-August it was. We made a leisurely approach on Wednesday, sweating buckets as we slogged up the hill in the high 80s. Terror Basin was gorgeous in the sunshine. (Note nearly all the photos in this are Gordy’s; he has an iPhone and I have a digital camera from 2009, so his pics are way better.) After a ridiculously civilized wake-up time of 6:30 the next day, we wandered up the slabs to start our day’s objective: East and West McMillan Spires by their SE Faces. This was made more interesting by the necessity of making a free hanging rappel off a snow bollard to access the rock on East Mac. Quoth Gordy, who has at least one FA in Alaska to his name: "I've rapped off a snow bollard twice in my life, and both were in the Pickets." The climbing went quickly as the majority of it was unroped fourth class, and soon we were snacking on the summit looking over at West Mac. We can’t climb enough peaks in a day to make it even remotely necessary to count our summits, so I held up fingers for letters instead. E is for East Mac. We saw a rap sling at the gendarme between East and West Mac, suggesting we should rap down the moat between the snow and gendarme and traverse low, but explored higher and it was easy climbing to get around the gendarme and arrive at Beckey’s “200 feet of fourth class” up the corner, then as I was pulling around the “5.7 bulge” up onto the ridge proper, I looked up and saw this gorgeous local denizen. I didn’t have my camera accessible but he was still hanging around when I brought Gordy up, who snapped this shot. Gordy made me pose for this shot: “Now turn your hips a little that way….” W is for West Mac. The next day we woke to intermittent light sprinkles, which turned to flat-out rain a little before noon. Before it started raining in earnest, we roamed around the basin a bit and spotted the elusive seal of the Pickets. The wildlife there is truly not to be believed. (My photo, you can tell by the crappy quality.) After all the rain on Friday, we decided to just go for Little Mac on our last day as neither of us had done it before and we already had the approach dialed. We made it more interesting by (1) not having any descent beta other than “rap to the col and continue traversing East McMillan spire” and (2) convincing ourselves that the lower vegetated ramp was probably just as good as the higher one and soloing increasing sketchy fourth class until a bit past the point where we should have roped up. I scored the money pitch, which was the nice crack straight up from the ramp. It even had a good spot for a rap anchor, which eased our minds a bit about how we were going to get back down. Gordy following the crack: Gordy led up the final pitch to the top, where we took our last summit shot. L is for Little Mac. At least in this case. We made our way down, adding two rap anchors in the process, packed up and got the crap gully up to the notch behind us before dark, in order to make the last day a tiny bit shorter and so we wouldn’t be above or below anyone else on Sunday when we assumed the other parties would be leaving. A nice camp by a waterfall up in the meadows gave us a stellar view of the Chopping Block in the sunset and rounded out the trip nicely. Gear Notes: Should have taken alcohol. Did take a book (a slender volume), which was nice for the rain day. Approach Notes: The trail to Terror Basin is a highway now, it would take serious effort to lose it.
  16. 8 points
    Trip: Selkirks - Lionshead - Circle of Life 5.11b/c, C1 FA Trip Date: 08/08/2022 Trip Report: I just finished putting up a project I have been working for the last couple years. It is on the north face of Lionshead up in Selkirk mountains of northern ID. I first heard about the potential line years ago but wasn't climbing hard enough at the time. Then 2 years ago I started investigating and scrubbing it. Finally after many hours of scrubbing it came together this weekend. I do want to thank the numerous friends that I dragged up there who patiently belayed me and also spent hours cleaning and scrubbing the route. The climb is 5 pitches long and contains a lot of really good 5.10 and 5.11 crack climbing. There is 10 feet of pretty blank rock that earns the C1 rating. It is straight forward aiding on a cam and a couple of fixed nuts. For those inclined to try and free it, I would guess it goes at mid to hard 5.12?? So go get the FFA and let me know! The crux pitch would be a classic at most crags complete with really good 5.11 finger crack to some steep laybacking/hands. The descent is to rappel the route which helps make the route feel less committing, and anything in the 5.11 range can be pulled through (although that would be most of pitch 3!). Pitch 1 - 5.9 Pitch 2 - 5.10b Pitch 3 - 5.11b/c, C1 Pitch 4 - 5.10+ Pitch 5 - 5.11b I personally would say it is on par with the classics at WA Pass for quality of climbing although it contains a little more lichen due to lack of traffic currently. I would definitely recommend doing it. The north face of Lionshead in the evening light. The line is marked in red. Starting up pitch 1. Looking up the start of Pitch 2. Starting up the crux Pitch 3. Looking back down the top half of the crux pitch 3. Such good climbing!! Nearing the top of pitch 4. The crux 5.11 roof on pitch 5. Gear Notes: Doubles from .2 to #3 with triples in the .3 to .75 and a single #4. A single set of nuts (offsets more useful than regular). Also a .3/.4 and .4/.5 offset cam come in very handy. 2 ropes for the rappel. Approach Notes: Take the normal approach to Lionshead. The route is on the north face about 100 ft to the right of the route Lion Tamer.
  17. 8 points
    Trip: Spectre Peak - “Spirited Away” FA of the S Ridge of Spectre Peak 2000’ 5.8 Trip Date: 07/26/2022 Trip Report: Joe Manning and I just got out of the Northern Pickets. We did the first ascent of the South Ridge of Spectre Peak. We had excellent weather and were out for 4 days. I’m having trouble loading any photos from my phone on here so this will be super brief. For extensive photos and whatnot check out my trip report on our blog… https://www.theclimbingguides.com/post/spirited-away-first-ascent-of-the-south-ridge-of-spectre-peak-2000-5-8 Gear Notes: Singles .1-2 doubles .3-1 light rack of nuts and optional 3. 40-50ft of cord and a single 60M rope. Approach Notes: Easy peak to improbable impasse to perfect pass to challenger col to phantom to pickle pass.
  18. 8 points
    Trip: Forbidden Peak - NW Face Trip Date: 07/17/2022 Trip Report: @Hoo and I climbed the NW Face of Forbidden over the weekend. We had a grand alpine adventure with great conditions and we were happy we chose to take the loop overnight version for this climb. Thank you, Micah! On Saturday morning, we got to the ranger station armed with plans A, B, and C, but happily, snagged a permit for our bivy. The forecast for Sunday had deteriorated into a 30% chance of precip at 11am so we were concerned about low vis conditions on our summit and descent day, but we decided that we'd try to get to the higher bivy at the start of the route instead of just the N Ridge notch (our original plan). We had an invigorating uphill bike ride from the Eldo trailhead to the Boston Basin trailhead (road is still gated). Thank you Micah for loaning me your mountain bike for this! Quickly we were poking out into Boston Basin and feeling the alpine awe. The sun was shining behind light clouds and the temperature was great, the snow was soft but not overly so, and we quickly made our way up the Sharkin Col snow gully for the first approach crux in about four hours from the car. We aimed for one notch left of the notch right next to Sharkfin Tower. We scrambled up some loose 4th class to the notch but didn't see any rap stations so we scrambled down a bit and to the next one (climber's left) -- that one did have a rap station and looking down we could see two shrunds but they looked manageable. Micah led this rap and found another rap station hiding inside the shrund. I led the next one down and over/through the convexity toward the next shrund. Luckily it was still pretty filled in and we were able to easily get in and out of it and onto the mighty Boston Glacier! Note to self: change from shorts to pants earlier in the day. I was just reading Karsten's trip report of Ptarmigan Ridge and he spoke of his slogging cortex being overly activated. The amble across the Boston Glacier was so beautiful and enjoyable. "Is this a slog? It's pretty enjoyable for being a slog..." Micah and I discussed. If this had come at the end of the trip, it would have been a slog. Loved seeing Logan, Goode, and then Buckner across the way... Looking around at the amount of snow everywhere, we were cautiously optimistic about how we would get up to the N Ridge notch and onto the Forbidden Glacier. Identifying the notch was straightforward (to the right of the two towers; lowest point in ridge) and we were able to easily move from snow to rock and scamble up with just a short V0 boulder problem above the moat! This is all going too well! Views from the notch were fantastic. To climber's left we found a bivy spot we'd read about and then an exposed 4th class down-scramble led us to a rap station with a LOT of tat. Micah did a good mountain deed and cut out a bunch of trash tat. We made one <30m rap onto the snow and did a short bit of downclimbing before getting onto the flat glacier. We had not come across any water trickles or streams coming off the rocks (last big drips were in the shrunds after Sharkfin Col) but we finally found a real melt-off from rocks that we passed by (with a gaping moat guarding it). Micah was up for a kinda-sketchy moat-rock stem move to fill up our water. It was nice to be water-secure again! We walked over and decided to take the high/direct route around the base of the NW ridge toe. I think you could say we sandbagged ourselves with this routefinding choice, as we ended up climbing from steep soft snow with great feet up into AI2 territory. Luckily Micah felt confident about it and I was able to get a toprope from him (twice). Seracing above giant crevasses in aluminum crampons with just one axe, fun! Thankfully we were able to escape onto softer steep snow and then arc back over to the snow ramp getting us onto the rock/ridge proper. Hurray! We were definitely feeling the 7200' gain, ~8 hours from the car that we'd done according to Micah's watch. We ended up in a great bivy spot just a bit lower than where we got onto the ridge, with great epic-cloud views of Moraine Lake, Klawatti Lake, the Inspiration and Klawatti Glaciers, Primus and Tricouni, and all our best friends out there... the sun never really came out but it was an amazing place to be and relax and rest. We woke up with the brightening day but completely socked in as somewhat expected. We had seen a party at a N Ridge notch (one north of our notch) the evening before we wondered what they were up to. We definitely would not have wanted to cross the Forbidden Glacier with that kind of visibility! After scrambling up and over the tower, we roped up and set off into the clouds for the first simuling section on the knife-edge. So, so fun. I love this kind of easy climbing on ridges! Super fun scrambley, exposed, great rock! So fun. As others have noted, there's a fixed pin right before a hard-looking section right above (I think I read that probably rockfall had hit this section and now it goes at solid 5.8) so Micah took us climber's left and down a bit; there was a nice flake for me to have some terrain protection as I downclimbed the exposed 5th class moves... We continued onward and upward simuling and soon Micah shouted down, "I'm just going to climb through the chimney, it looks easy" (without pitching it out). And lo, it was! I was really surprised; I have found many 5.8 chimneys to be really tough for me. We agreed that it barely deserved to be called a chimney. Nothing physical, just some stemming with big hands and feet. The rock was the worst on the route here, though -- quiet, gentle climbing definitely necessary! Above and out of the chimney, there was a tight corner that was the crux for me but I was able to top rope it cleanly (my only point of pride with my rock climbing these days)! Above that, I took the next simul section and had a blast on easy climbing on mostly great rock, trying to continue trending climber's left toward the face while also not heading into the multiple snow patches that are still up there. Started getting into harder terrain with lichen as I began running out of slings, so when Micah took over again he took us farther left and up and toward the sunshine... And soon enough we were at the summit, above the sea of clouds! I think we must have been looking at Eldo poking out? Our original plan was to descend via the East Ledges but with all the snow, I was concerned about the 4th class ledge being snowy. We also knew that getting down from the East Ridge notch would be slow with such low visibility. We opted for the West Ridge descent, so we downclimbed the entire West Ridge route. I haven't been rock climbing much at all for the past months (and years) so a lot of this felt stressful/mentally taxing for me but soon we were at the notch. From there, we took two rappels down the cat scratch gullies (dry) and onto the steep snow gully skiier's left. Unfortunately, on pulling the rap, our rope got wedged into a notch -- well, we hadn't really had any shenanigans, so it was about time. Happily, it just took some finesse from a different angle to get it unstuck and no ascending the rope was necessary! We downclimbed steep snow and saw that the bergshrund at the bottom was open and couldn't see an obvious way across, so we found a rap station (skiier's left, in the moat, quasi iced-over) and were able to rap across to the other side with no issues. From there, we had a fair bit of downclimbing in soft but supportable snow. Downclimbing downclimbing... finally onto more level snow where Micah was a total show-off with his boot skiing skills. I think this is the part where I began feeling my slog cortex being taxed! But it was short-lived. We said hey to all the fat marmots in the basin on our way out, made our way quickly down the trail, and hopped onto our bikes for an AWESOME speedy ending to a lovely trip. What a way to end things! OK, you've really been waiting for the pics: Woo hoo, bike approach! Coming into Boston Basin Micah on first rap from Sharkin Col variation First rap from Sharkfin Col variation Second rap from Sharkfin Col variation From inside the second shrund Looking back toward Sharkfin Col variation Goddamn the Boston Glacier is so beautiful! Moving from snow to rock right below the N Ridge notch Taking a break before rapping down onto the Forbidden Glacier View showing the ridge toe On our way across the Forbidden Glacier Awww yeahhhh! Primus and Tricouni in the back. Thanks, Micah! Steep but great feet through this section! This is the kinda thing that all the TRs warn about... AI2 for a bit... Woo hoo, almost there! Beautiful views from our bivy.... Time to start climbing! First section on the rock Getting up into the sun! Starting our descent via the West Ridge Downclimb below the cat scratch gullies, above the shrund here Back to plain ol' walking Farewell, Boston Basin! Until next time... Gear Notes: Three-season boots, aluminum pons and axe, one half/twin 60m rope, small-ish rack and lots of slings, BIKES. Approach Notes: Up, over, across, up, over, across, around, up, up, up, down.
  19. 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.
  20. 7 points
    Trip: Mt. Temple North Face, Banff NP, Alberta - Greenwood/Locke Trip Date: 08/06/2022 Trip Report: I have really only written up one TR before and there doesn't seem to be whole lot of TR's on this route so I figured it would be fun/useful to write up some info on Evan's and my ascent of the Greenwood/Locke on the north face of Mt. Temple. Plus it is currently smokey in the mountains in Washington so there isn't a whole lot else to do. On July 16th, Evan and I embarked from Bellingham on a 3+ week climbing trip aiming to climb mountains in Canada. And that we did. After warming up on wet rock in Squamish, we moved to the Bugaboos and spent a week in the East Creek Basin, getting to climb the Beckey/Chouinard and All Along the Watchtower. We then drove to Banff in search of progressively more chossy rock. After spending some time in the Banff area getting used to the Canadian Rockies limestone and glacier ice, and climbing Mt. Fay, Yamnuska, limestone routes in Banff, and getting turned around on Mt. Athabasca from rock fall, we felt ready to try the Greenwood/Locke with impending colder conditions in the forecast. The day before we climbed the route, Evan and I hiked half of the approach to the north face of Mt. Temple from the Lake Annette TH to get a look at the face. We brought binoculars, and scoping the route was incredibly useful for our ascent the next day. A view of the face from our scouting mission. The approximate route we took from Lake Annette. On August 6, we left the trail head early in the morning to make sure we got through the "Dolphin" snow/ice gully's before the sun hit any aspect of the upper wall since there is significant rockfall hazard throughout these gully's low on the route. We climbed much of the Dolphin and several hundred feet of loose 4th and low 5th class rock steps before it got light out. Evan low on the Dolphin Lots of chossy low 4th-5th class steps. Evan climbing the final bit of AI2 up to the base of the "wet chimney pitch". The upper headwall looming above receiving the only bit of sun all day. There was a decent amount of rock fall as soon as the sun hit the upper headwall. Get here early! The "wet chimney" pitch directly above the snow/ice field in the center went at about M5. At the base of the chimney at the top of the final snow/ice field, we broke out the rope and began the "real" climbing. It was necessary to climb this pitch with crampons and tools. We then simuled a long pitch still in our mountain boots up to the big traverse left. The traverse was incredibly loose, and there were a couple fixed pins. We traversed the ledge for just under 200ft until the ledge went around a sharp corner and the wall above undercut right above the ledge. From here, we switched to rock shoes and climbed around 8 more long pitches to the top of the headwall. Evan on one of the early pitches off the long leftward ledge traverse. Many of these pitches were severely runout around 5.8, with several 5.10 pitches. Gear was tricky but usually there were ok cams, pins, and stoppers where it mattered. Nearing the "trickey slab" pitch One of the pitches that is supposedly the crux says to step right into a 10c crack. We found this pitch to be significantly easier and better protected than many of the other pitches on the route. The "ice hose" pitch was thankfully dry, and involved engaging climbing. Enjoying the exposure. A final long pitch of steep rock brought us up to the last ledge traverse and the top of the upper headwall. A chossy but easy traverse right brought us to the top of the wall. Great position! Psyched to be done with the scary climbing. Classic summit selfie. Some sort of fossil I found on the final ledge traverse. The route from the base of the first gully to the top of the upper headwall took us 14 hours. The route is very serious and engaging with significant loose rock. The harder pitches in general had better rock and enjoyable climbing. Gear Notes: We brought a single rack from #000 to #3 with doubles in .4 and .5, a small set of nuts, 1 LA, 2 KB's, 1 Bugaboo, an angle, and two screws. We didn't use the angle and only used 1 screw. We also could have ditched the doubles in .4 and .5 as there are only so many placements per pitch. We each took two technical tools, boots and crampons, rock shoes, and a piton hammer for the leader. Approach Notes: The approach is straightforward and mostly on a trail. Scoping the face the day before made finding our way up the scree and into the correct gully easy in the dark. The descent is also very straightforward. Once topped out, traverse a long scree field maintaining elevation, and then descend a trail on the SW ridge. We hiked to Moraine Lake and then hitchhiked back to our car at the Lake Annette TH.
  21. 7 points
    Trip: The Triad - East Ridge to Main Summit Trip Date: 08/06/2022 Trip Report: All the hardman FA glory on the site is pretty amazing this summer, but what is the blue collar climber to aspire to, you might ask? Well, the Triad of course! Nothing worse than low fifth (or old skool 4th) and an energetic approach separate mere mortals from the club of North Cascadian summits. It didn't take much to convince @Trent and @Kit to join me on an 11 hour ramble in the alpine a few weeks ago (even though Steve had already climbed it), following this excellent topo drawn by @Stefan: We started the morning watching a bear....get shot....in the meadows above the trail. I have to say that it was a bit surprising to hear a shot ring out and watch it tumble down the slope toward us! A first for me. But the MBSNF is the "land of many uses" and who am I to judge? I like meat as much as the next chossdawg. Just maybe wear orange after 8/1, eh. Regardless, we made good time to the pass above the trail and began the sound of music ridge run towards the Triad. Not much to report on the traverse to the peak that isn't included in the excellent topo. My thumb was still pretty buggered so @Trent was on the hook to lead the technical bits, which he dispatched without trouble. Difficulties were short-lived (1 pitch) and soon we rambled our way to the highest of the three dicks (read Green Fred for the full story). The day was perfect, without a soul around, so nice on an August Saturday in the increasingly busy North Cascades. And it remained quiet (no other parties) until we were back on the trail, close to the car. There are still lonesome weekend day trips out there! Gear Notes: Crampons, helmet, axe, light 60m rope, very small rack if you want to belay 4th class bits. Approach Notes: Sibley Creek Trail. Watch out for bear hunters!
  22. 7 points
    Trip: Joffre Creek - Mighty Mouse Trip Date: 07/25/2022 Trip Report: A brief TR for old times sake. Mighty Mouse fully lives up to the hype. The loveliest splitters you’ll ever climb, in a scenic alpine setting with a straightforward approach. the logging road, while getting a bit grown in, is in great shape and mercifully short. The approach trail, though frequently obscured by lush undergrowth, is a wonder. Could use some brushing and flagging but in amazing good shape. Approximately 2 hrs car to base at middle aged pace. the climb is stout. The first pitch is in your face and felt as challenging as the remainder of the climb. 10d/11a pitches all had short, hard cruxes with amazing crack climbing throughout. Excellent ledges for almost every belay with bolted rap anchors. The hand crack eats #2/#3 Camalots. Never climbed a better granite splitter. bring very small rps. We bailed off pitch 8 when partner took a fall and ripped gear. 11 hrs car-to-car. Something to go back for. was 98 degrees in Pemberton and tolerable on the climb in the sun thanks to a breeze. Shade after ~ 2 pm. Gear Notes: Very Small nuts and micro cams. Double rack with at least 3 #3s. Approach Notes: See Mtn project. Would be hard to follow in dark and you’ll get soaked in the am if temps hit the dew point.
  23. 7 points
    Trip: Crystal Lake Tower - SW Rib Trip Date: 07/03/2022 Trip Report: We two Seattle climbers made a pleasant 3-day outing to Crystal Lake Tower. Having climbed Whitehorse Mtn. with Kellie McBee the previous week, I imagined we'd be in shape for this. After gleaning details of the route from trip reports here, and, of course, Fred's Cascade Alpine Guide, we carried out the trip without any trouble. A leisurely hike up Ingalls Creek for 7.7 miles brought us to Crystal Creek. A ribbon on a log marks a spot to turn uphill. Blowdowns made the boot-track hard to follow at first, but we soon picked it up. It goes into big boulders on the way into the tarn basin, where I somehow had my camera out for this shot: Camp was found in some trees near the tarn, where we could see the objective of tomorrow's climb: Under clear dawn skies we made our way around the left side of the tarn to the left side of the route's toe. I have long been enchanted by the Nightmare Needles, having climbed Little Snowpatch with Mark Landreville in 1989, so I took some shots along the way: Easy simul-climbing starts the route, and here is Kellie coming up: Little Annapurna is just across the creek: We knew to aim for a large-looking white headwall and pass it on its left side. My partner expertly scoped it out: Wonderful, improbable ramps curve around the final block of stone to the summit. The obligatory summits shots were made: The Enchantment Lakes were still snowy in a mellow late-season way. Crystal Lake is bottom left: I once climbed McClellan Peak while trying for Argonaut in a whiteout, by myself, so I enjoyed the view of where I once stood: It was with relief I walked the easy descent along goat tracks to the area of Enchantment Pass. The snow was soft and giving, with no need for crampons, though we had brought axes for balance in case of ice. I had stashed my big pack at the base of the route, so I had to hike back up for retrieval while Kellie waited. Exhausted, camping was a relief until it began to rain. I had just finished boiling water for dinner and dashed into the tent with it while Kellie cooked hers. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled in the night, rain came and went in alternation with perfectly clear, starry sky. Next morning we abolished breakfast time and got out of there fast. It rained hard for a bit, we soaked up the water in the bush, slipped on lichened rock, tumbled over logs, slipped on roots and ferns, fell backward and forward, and hit the Ingalls Creek trail with gratitude. An easy seven miles to the car, hooray! Gear Notes: Single rack to 3", one 60m rope, ice axes Approach Notes: Legendary
  24. 7 points
  25. 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!
  26. 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
  27. 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.
  28. 6 points
    Trip: Eldorado + Dorado Needle - N ridge on Eldo, NW ridge on the needle Trip Date: 09/08/2022 Trip Report: Plans with a partner fell through again, so I took off on another last minute solo. I’ve had a lot of these this summer. It’s not a real complaint because I’ve been having a lot of fun. I feel fortunate to have some many great options near home. I hiked toward the Inspiration with several options in mind for the day, which turned out to be much smokier than I expected from the forecast I saw. I entered a pretty bad layer by the boulder field and abruptly popped out just past the E ridge campsites. The fact that only Eldorado was above the smoke made it an easy choice for the first objective. I climbed the N ridge. What little I found online about it tends to oversell it IMO. I think it’s a stretch to call it a cool route. While the rock quality is quite good, I found that difficulties were too short, usually only one or two moves at a time. It’s also devoid of exposure, at least the way I climbed it (on or just left of the crest) making it feel like a long V0 boulder problem. Slightly disappointing, but I contrived some fun moves here and there. At the top I wrapped around the NW side of the mountain, went up and over the summit and descended the E ridge. Partway down I split off and started traversing towards the pass leading to the McAllister. Klawatti was still enveloped in smoke so I headed down onto the McAllister towards Dorado Needle. My first time on this awesome glacier. The route up to the NW ridge looked intimidating from afar, especially solo. But it was never very steep and there was a pliable layer of snow the whole way, so my steps felt secure. At the notch I put rock shoes on and left everything else behind. I enjoyed this route more than the N ridge of Eldorado. Though short, it feels more like real climbing. The stone is pretty good, and there are some memorable sections, like an easy arete traverse with a piton at your feet trying to trip you, and a cool top out. At the summit I saw two pairs of climbers nearing the top of the E ridge route. Their profiles on the skyline looked cool when I was back down on the glacier. Climbing down was just as fun as climbing up, and the McAllister descent went without incident. I was visited by a bird before returning to the pass. By now Klawatti was finally out of the smoke but I was running a little short on time. Seemed like a waste to climb it on such a hazy day anyway. Couldn’t see Moraine lake at all, and Forbidden was barely visible. So I headed back to the car, with a long break to pick berries above the boulder field until I started to feel a little crazy. Despite that delay I avoided headlamp time, reaching the bottom around dusk. Took a ritual dip in the creek and headed back to civilization. Gear Notes: Approach and rock shoes. Axe and crampons Approach Notes: Inspiration glacier
  29. 6 points
    Trip: Bear’s Breast + Summit Chief - SE Face on Bear’s Breast; E to W ridge traverse on Summit Chief Trip Date: 09/01/2022 Trip Report: On Thursday I climbed the slab on SE face of Bear’s Breast (BB). From a bivy at Shovel creek, the next day I hiked to Chief creek and followed it to a lake below Summit Chief (SC), climbed the east side of the massif, traversed the ridge to the summit, descended south back to the lake, then went back down Chief creek to trails leading eventually back to the car. This involved tons of hiking but the mega slab on BB was really fun and the process of discovery made the SC excursion especially rewarding. Early Thursday morning I had driven an hour in the direction of the N cascades before I remembered to check the forecast one last time. I didn’t like what I saw. I had somewhat bold plans for 3 days in the Eldorado area. It seemed like a fair bit of smoke was forecast. The area’s main draw for me is the view, so I shelved that plan for another day. The smoke forecast looked clearer further south so I turned around and headed that way. Jason’s mega slab TR came to mind. I took screen shots of his unusually detailed beta before leaving service. Neighboring SC was also in the back of my mind. I didn’t know anything about it, but was pretty sure it had a scramble route. To make up for the comically long drive I did a mix of fast walking and slow jogging on the trail to Waptus lake, reaching it in 2.5 hours. I kept going until I found the Shovel creek campsite. I put my harness on to save space in my tiny summit sack and headed to the wall, reaching it about 4.5 hours from the car. I got water at the base, but partly due to the tiny pack I deluded myself into thinking 2L water would be enough for the climb. I would have probably run out even if it took 3L. It was a hot day and the route was in full sun. And the climbing, though easy, was pretty physical. The movement was close enough to hiking that I would invariably go too fast and have to stop to catch my breath. I found mostly class 4 (felt like 3 as long as you didn’t look down) and felt like I had to go out of my way to find low 5th bits, which I did seek out. High up on the face I found a repeating pattern of perfect horizontal foot/hand rails that I used to traverse right, trying to find a little shade. I eventually reached a crest and continued on to its apex, but cliffed out there. I backtracked a little and downclimbed suspect choss to the west side of the ridge, finding a gravelly path leading to the notch by the summit block. I was bonking pretty badly at this point and still hadn’t realized that I was becoming massively dehydrated. I put my rock shoes on at the the notch N of the summit block. I found the climbing just barely difficult enough to justify bringing these, my harness, and some rap cord this far. The chimney pitch might be cruxy if you’re a wide person. I’m pretty slim and I managed to wedge my torso quite snugly. The summit views weren’t great. It was hazy enough that I couldn’t make out much of the Chimney rock area. To the east I saw a landscape comprised mainly of dirt. On the descent I climbed down past the first rap to the station above the chimney pitch. It took me forever to set up my rap due to my growing exhaustion. After the rap I downclimbed exposed ledges to the skier’s left of where I began the climb. Back at the notch I had no choice but to sit and rest for a while despite noticing that I was beginning to fall behind schedule. The snow was firm coming down the E side of the mountain, so I used my axe. Crampons would have been nice but they didn’t fit in my tiny summit sack. At the first seeps I found I took another long rest and began guzzling water. As I drank and drank I finally realized how dehydrated I was. A few liters later I started to come back to life and picked up the pace. The scrambling on this side had pleasant solid slabs and ledges. I was racing the fading light. The darkness won but by the time I had resort to headlamp I had less than 200 feet to descend to reach Shovel lake. I did a bit of controlled veggie assisted sliding down the final slope, stumbling out at the exact spot where a single big river shoe sat. Descending Shovel creek in the dark turned out to be nontrivial. It wasn’t terrible but there was a little bit of everything, from dry log jams to bushes to gravel bars to boulder fields. The highlight was running into a small patch of berries that I wasn’t familiar with. Seemed to be delicious small red salmon berries, cap-like, almost as thin as thimble berries. I reached my bivy near 10pm, about 13 hours after leaving the car. It was a longer and more difficult day than I anticipated. I tried to eat and continue rehydrating. I slept poorly and felt physically and mentally sluggish the next morning. I considered hiking back early, or the grim prospect of relaxing by Waptus lake for a couple hours Instead I adopted a low commitment mindset to exploring for a way to Summit Chief. I crossed Waptus river and hiked to the junction with the DMG trail. Maybe I could take up the hill for while, and then traverse west at around 3600’. I’ll probably never know how that works because I was enticed by Chief creek. When I reached it I saw that it was perfect for rock hopping. Given the hour and the unknown, a summit seemed unlikely, so I decided to just go up the creek for fun and see what happened. It felt good to explore with this low commitment mindset, but it also weighed heavily on my mind that every step forward was a step further from pizza. I used some dry open ground to the left of the creek but mostly hopped rocks for 15 minutes until I reached a waterfall. I bypassed it with a bushwhack up to the side then rejoined the creek. More waterfalls followed. One bypass on the S side took me high above the creek and I went for a while through the forest there, trying to find the driest ground I could. I may have crossed the creek once or twice more, I’m already forgetting. At one point on the S side of the creek I realized I was entering a mile long stretch of impenetrable alder, but saw mature forest on the N side, so fought my way down to the creek and crossed again. There is another creek running S and E from a 5200’ knoll down to Chief creek. After crossing this I gradually moved several hundred feet uphill from Chief creek with relatively reasonable shwacking. This path reached a drainage leading N into the alpine. The huckleberries were out of control here. I contoured around another knoll and reached a beautiful unnamed lake SE of SC only 3 hours after I started up river. From there I saw appealing rock on the east side of the mountain and took high quality white ledgey slabs adjacent to a water course. I reached a shoulder and found that the nice slabs continued up a broad, barely convex gully-face. I rapidly ascended from the lake to near the top of this face. The wide face was narrowing to a point and the rock transitioned to blocky choss. The large blocks formed a fun hand crack system that I climbed at 5.5ish for around 40 feet to the first false summit. The false summit wasn’t too surprising given the topo, but I failed to notice how far away the true summit was. I kept expecting the next tower or blob to the west to be the summit. I was fooled about 3 times before I got a view of the real summit, still quite a ways off with several more notches in between. I began to feel concerned about my exit strategy should I encounter a gap too steep to climb. I could downclimb the way I came, but it would be more time consuming and mentally taxing than I would like. Continuing on I did one short low 5th downclimb on the S side to get around a small tower. I was able to traverse on dirty but sufficiently wide and flat ledges on the N side to bypass a couple more bumps nearing the summit block. At the base of the real summit block I took a ~5.0 left trending ramp to top out. The ridge traverse had been an exciting and interesting way to go, with some pretty fun climbing. I’m really glad it worked out the way it did. I think it took about a half hour from the false summit. The day was much clearer than the day prior, so I enjoyed the summit views more than the last one. I could see that descending S looked pretty smooth. Going that way I reached more great slabs which led to snow. Even in the warm sun it was firm enough that I had to find a low angle entry (didn’t bring traction on this day) to keep it safe. I glissaded with sharp rocks for brakes then kept down climbing fun ledgy slabs. I gradually trended skiers left to meet my ascent path near the bottom. I gorged myself on more huckleberries past the lovely lake and found minor improvements to my path traversing slopes above Chief creek. At the creek’s junction with another creek, I found that I could keep my bypasses to the S shorter and nearer the creek, and did more rock hopping between waterfalls than I had on the way up. This was probably a little slower than traversing in the forest but it was downright delightful. I reached my overnight pack 9.5 hours after I left it where DMG trail crosses Chief creek. I was very happy with the way the river travel turned out, with all the nice solid rock, with ‘onsighting’ a ridge I knew nothing of, and all those berries. It was a strange contrast to the day before, which felt a little like the mountain was working against me. This day it felt like the mountain gave way, continually drawing me upward with a steady rhythm of dissolving riddles. There was the small matter of being I don’t know, 14 miles or so (? I didn’t record it) from the car. I packed up and hiked to Waptus lake. Had a short swim at dusk then marched on through the night. I passed many tents but shared the trail only with nocturnal insects, toads of unusual size, and ridiculous amounts of horse shit. Autopilot worked well until about 2 miles from the car, when I started to get drunk legs. I finally arrived at the car a little before midnight for a 15.5 hour day. If anyone has been up Chief creek or traversed the SC ridge I’d be curious to know how you liked it. I rarely set off exploring with no beta. I found it very engaging and rewarding to do so. Easy to say, but I think it was mostly just good fortune that Chief creek ended up being relatively sane and that I wasn’t forced by terrain to settle for some sub-summit on SC. Gear Notes: Axe, rock shoes, rap for BB (crampons would be useful) Approach shoes for SC. Traction for snow is useful but didn’t seem mandatory. Approach Notes: Follow the creek . . . ?
  30. 6 points
    Trip: Mt. Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys and SE Ridge Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Background Back in May of this year (2022) I had offered to start up a 'climbing club' for my coworkers, to offer people a chance to get into the sport with minimal cost and also to continue maintain my own climbing instructional skills. We got together early every Thursday and worked on rope skills, gear selection, and other academic type content that was workable in a classroom setting, with the intent of 'graduating' with two weekend climbing trips in August. I had some field trips in July planned to practice snow and glacier skills, some conditioners up mailbox peak, and had booked campsites near Mazama for the first weekend, intended to be 'rock practical skills'. I left the second weekend open, not knowing what routes would be in the best condition that far ahead. Although I started out with 4 people, life and work chipped away at each person’s schedule so by the time the first weekend in August came around we had not yet gotten to do our practical snow skills. Additionally, only one person (Joe) was available for that weekend. In any case, we made the most of it, headed up to Klipchuck campground after work on Friday Aug 12th and had a great weekend, doing some cragging on Saturday and sent Spontaneity Arete on Sunday. Not a bad considering it was Joe’s first ever climbing experience of any kind! Not a bad first-time multi-pitch and alpine climb for Joe and my first alpine climb lead on my own! With the second weekend rapidly approaching I had to figure out what our objective would be. One of the other group members (Rob) was available for this weekend, making it a party of 3. Unfortunately, he hadn't been on the previous trip, so he had yet to do any sort of real-world climbing at all. Joe had some snow experience from a couple winter scrambles we had done in Japan, but Rob had none and neither of them had been on a glacier, used snow and ice protection, or done a climb with a bivy on-route. I also had never led a complex alpine route or led anything glaciated before. I was close to just planning a repeat of the alpine rock weekend in Mazama. However, while browsing rec.gov I noticed that previously unavailable permits for Price XC zone on Shuksan had become available, probably a cancellation due to the weekend only having a 2-day window of splitter weather. I wanted to get a complex route with glacier travel and technical rock under my belt this summer, so I decided to grab the permit and make Fisher Chimneys with SE Ridge our objective. There were no recent trip reports to cue me in to the condition of route, as well as tons of unknowns regarding Joe and Rob's comfort level on unprotected scrambles, steep snow, possible AI2-3 slopes and down-climbing. I don't think many people did Fisher Chimneys and SE Ridge as their first ever alpine climb, let alone first time literally climbing anything at all in Rob's case. However, Spontaneity Arete was also not normally a person’s first ever alpine rock climb and Joe had kept it together and followed me up that without issue. I knew that physical endurance wouldn't be an issue, we had all the gear, and the weather was going to be acceptable at a minimum. While not ideal, I also knew that I had enough tools in my mental toolbox that with a few extra ounces of gear I could problem solve our way through any alpine shenanigans and/or any hang-ups should someone decide they couldn't handle scrambling/down-climbing a given section and needed to be lowered, raised, given a hand-line or rope to ascend etc. I didn’t want to overburden myself so I made some judicious cuts to my clothing kit, accepting the fact that if the weather window collapsed it would be immediate cause to turn back. This left enough space to pack extra climbing gear just in case I had to build bail anchors, climb technical ice, or raise/lower us out of a situation. I also wanted to ensure I packed my mirrorless camera with a couple lenses this time; I’d skimped on photos my last few trips to focus on pushing my climbing grades but I missed the documentation aspect of the outings. I had us pack 2 ropes, a 60m 9.5 and a 50m 8.9, for redundancy and in hopes that we would be able to link some rappels on the way down for efficiency. In retrospect 2x 50m 8.9s would have been equally as effective and much lighter. There were two moments when the extra 10m was needed, but only because we were pitching everything out – both instances would have been overcome if we had been down climbing or simul climbing. Minus the ropes, what I packed for the trip. HMG Prism was just about perfect for this trip - gypsy camp with everything packed but perfect slimmed down on summit day. Of course, this would all add up to more time, so I planned to give ourselves every chance at success by leaving Friday early from work and hiking to Lake Ann that night to give us a full 48 hours to get from Lake Ann to high camp, the summit and back to the cars. Little did I know that we would use every second of it. Day 1 I listed Rob as the alternate trip leader on the permit since he would have an easier time skipping out of work early on Friday to make it to the ranger station in time to grab the permit. We all hit the road by about 2pm and by 6:30 we were all sitting at Chair 9 in in Glacier with permit in hand eating our last civilized meal before hitting the trail. We got to the Lake Ann trailhead a bit after sunset, welcomed by swarms of biting flies. As we headed downhill into the darkness, the flies seemed to dissipate, and we made good time to Lake Ann. It was somewhat difficult to find good spots, most of the great ones were already taken but we each had packed small bivy tents so we were each able to find somewhere tuck ourselves into for the night. Day 2 Approach We all woke up to a hefty layer of internal condensation in the tents, as Lake Ann was practically in a cloud of fog all night and into the morning. We did our best to keep our bags dry as we packed up and hit the trail by around 8am to tackle the chimneys. Misty morning at Lake Ann Previous GPS tracks had both a high and low route around the cliff bands leading into the chimneys proper. I didn’t realize at the time, but the low route was certainly the least used….and by least, I mean probably almost never. Unfortunately, we were a good 15 minutes into it before I realized this, so we continued to route find our way up to the chimney’s entrance on what was probably a less efficient path. The fog was still quite thick, and the combination of exertion and humidity had us all soaked. Off Trail but can't complain about the dramatic view hiking over the Lower Curtis glacier. Heading up the final slope to the start of the chimneys. Scramble It didn’t take long, and we arrived at the entrance of the chimney itself. Both Joe and Rob looked at the first section of class 4 and seemed like they wanted to ask if we were going to rope up, so I quickly started scrambling to keep the momentum going and show that it wasn’t as intimidating as it looked. Top of the dihedral that everyone likes to take pics of. Solid holds all over the chimneys make for fun scrambling. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the rock in the chimney. Certainly, there are loose pieces here and there, but most of the true class 4 sections had fantastic holds and in-between there were minimal patches of unstable dirt/kitty litter/rubble. The experience of more sustained rock scrambling with full packs was new for Joe and Rob but they kept at it steadily. About halfway up, where you make a traverse from the lower to upper chimneys we broke through the cloud cover and were rewarded with beautiful views of Mt. Baker…..and a very abrupt climate change from cool and damp to hot and dry. I was certainly hoping that the supposed running water at the bivy sites would be present and plentiful. Thus far we hadn’t seen anyone this day, until we finally ran into some people downclimbing near the top of the chimney. Rob's trial by fire scrambling with an overnight pack on his first day climbing a mountain. Joe finally soaking up some sun once we got above the cloud layer Rob taking in the elevation gained so far, looking down at the Lower Curtis glacier. At the top, the transition to snow was simple, the moat was not an issue. We hopped on the snow and continued un-roped to the base of Winnies Slide. At the base of the slide, the bivy spots were full, but we were told by the previous party that everyone up there had summited that day and were coming down. It wasn’t late, so we had some time to decide. We busted out the stoves and had a hot lunch at the lower bivy section while we waited for the occupying party to come down. When they arrived, they told us that the upper bivy was emptying out as well and had running water. I made the call to head up to the higher bivy. Winnie’s is steep but also had a great boot pack, so I used it as a good teaching moment to let Joe take lead and put in a running belay with pickets. It was a good spot for it, and I figured this might be a useful skill later in the trip; plus, it gave me an excuse to have everyone practice roping up, coiling the rope, using their ice axes etc. in daylight where I could see them, knowing that the next day we would be doing this on higher consequence terrain in the dark. Mt. Baker comes into view on the mid-chimney traverse. Passing the time with a lunch below Winnie's Slide to let descending parties clear out of the Bivy site. Joe heading up to the base of Winnie's Slide Practicing running belays using pickets on Winnie's Slide The Upper Curtis glacier comes into view nearing the higher bivy site The hadn’t seen pictures of either bivy site before the trip, and I was very pleasantly surprised to find a gorgeous site sitting alongside the seracs of the Upper Curtis glacier with incredible views of Mt. Baker. The cloud layer pushing up against the mountain made for a dramatic sunset. A couple parties came through the upper Bivy, including some climbing rangers who did their usual permit checks. We ate and organized our packs for summit day, finishing up around 6:30pm. We all tried to get to sleep early since our plan was to get up at 2am and be moving between 3am and 3:30, but I set another alarm for sunset to get a few pictures before fully going to bed for the short night. The Upper Curtis glacier was shedding ice and rock all evening into the night, an excellent reminder of the ever present objective hazards and motivation to stay efficient moving under the cliff bands to the left the next day. My Tarptent ProTrail Li has never been that easy to set up but perfectly, but it was great for this trip; light, well ventilated and with a compact footprint. The thin floor still always makes me nervous on rocky terrain. Sunset was worth interrupting my sleep for a half hour for photos Day 3 The Climb It wasn’t exactly enjoyable or easy to wake up so early, but it had to happen, so we pushed through and were moving by 3:40am. My goal was to be back at high camp by noon, a little over 8 hours later. This put my summit time goal 9am. I knew we had much more time than that, so I wasn’t going to consider truly turning around until noon. The boot pack from the parties coming down was still faintly visible so we made decent time in the dark across the Upper Curtis glacier. Despite the fact that Hell’s Highway was steeper than Winnie’s slide, the darkness helped mask the sense of exposure so I was able to just keep our party moving up the slope without needing to pull out pickets and do a running belay. We reached the Sulphide glacier just as morning twilight was beginning. The Sulphide was cruiser, very straightforward and direct path up to the summit. The boot pack was obvious once it joined with the more popular Sulphide glacier route. Tail end of the milky way over Mt. Baker was the consolation prize for having to be awake far too early in the morning. Shadows cast, I presume, by the Mox-Spickard-Redoubt mountain cluster blocking sunrise against a high-altitude haze as we moved up the Sulphide glacier. We encountered a number of parties once we got onto the main trade-route of Mt. Shuksan. There was no boot pack to the SE ridge so I had to somewhat guess where it started. As we neared what I thought was the beginning of the ridge, another party arrived, and we let them pass us given my expectation to be pitching everything out. This party had the same intentions so in the end they never really got ahead of us. This initially caused some delays waiting for them on the first couple pitches, however by the last pitch they were fully ahead, and we were our own limiting factor. The ridge was fun, had exciting but not intimidating exposure on both sides, and the rock was solid enough. I can see why most experienced parties would simul or solo the ridge, as the ‘crux’ 5.3-5.4-ish moves weren’t always protectable anyways. I think that the standard pitched climbing approach gave Joe and Rob a chance to relax at the belays though, which helped keep our pace consistent even if it was a little slow. The last pitch was long, and I hit the end of the 50m rope I was on; however by the time I got to the end it was just class 3 so I put a micro-traxion on a piece near the top and had Rob, who was belaying me, just start climbing to make it the last 15-20 feet to the top anchor. I got him on belay, had him remove the micro-traxion when he got to it, and then bring up Joe. We made the short scramble to the summit. Rob scrambling up to the start of his first ever rock climb (of any kind!), wearing mountain boots no less. Joe making his way up the ridge. This was his first time climbing in mountain boots as well. Rob belaying Joe up. We used both ropes in a caterpillar manner for the ridge climb. It wasn't super fast but I wanted to have them learn to manage the multi pitch transitions and system as their own 'second rope team'. This was also a great opportunity to show them how to build a releasable anchor using the second rope to be efficient with our anchor materials and get Joe climbing quickly without needing to tear down a separate anchor at each station. Me leading up the final (I think) pitch of the ridge just behind the party ahead of us. This photo courtesy of Joe. The combination of the other party and eventually our own pace resulted in us being at the summit around 11am; I hadn’t imagined being so close to our turnaround time. The summit register was in terrible condition, full of scraps of loose paper, we had to just squeeze our names into a space in-between the other entries. If I would have known, I would have brough a new one. We ate some snacks, enjoyed the expansive views of the North Cascades as the cloud layer was starting to break up and reveal the smaller peaks around us. After a short time, we began the descent Me signing the rapidly disintegrating summit register. I might start keeping at least a few sheets of 'write in the rain' paper on me for future climbs. Photo courtesy of Joe. Joe and rob looking a little tired......considering that Rob had never climbed even a single pitch of anything before today, Joe had never been on a glacier before, and I had was leading my first ever glacier-rock combination alpine route this was a huge success! Descent It was Rob’s first time ever rappelling on a real mountain. We had gone over the basic system in the ‘classroom’ at work, but he hadn’t had the previous rock trip to practice in a single pitch setting. I decided to go with a pre-rigged rappel with clove hitches between each climber on the anchor to make it as stress free as possible. After getting both of them set up with extended rappels, I would rap with coils to get the ropes down to the next station and set up. Having two ropes was great, but the 55m limitation from having a 60m and a 50m resulted in slightly imperfect linkups between “every other” rap station. I found the downclimbing easy to make up the difference, however for the Joe and Rob this improvisational transition and the end of each rappel added some extra time. Overall, however, these micro transitions to downclimb the last few feet after each rappel were faster than if we had doubled the number of rappels using just the single 60m rope. Joe coming down the first rappel from just below the summit. The 50/60m double rope setup reached the '3rd' rap station no problem. Here, the 50/60m rope setup did not quite reach the '5th' rap station. Here, Rob is at the last good stance to unrope at the end of the rap. This short traverse from the end of the ropes to the final rap station was not that difficult though. We moved quickly down the Sulphide without crampons as the snow was very soft by now. At the top of Hell’s Highway, we put the crampons on evaluated the slope. It had softened significantly, and we had been moving about 10 hours at this point, so I didn’t think Joe and Rob wanted to solo downclimb at this point. I put in a pair of pickets, had everyone remove their glacier rope setup, and set up a fixed 60m single strand rappel. Joe and Rob rapped down the steep section. Then I pulled the rope for them, packed up the picket anchor and downclimbed Hell’s Highway while they reconfigured the rope for glacier travel down below. After I tied back in for glacier travel, we made the very hot slog across the Upper Curtis back to high camp. While we packed up the tents another party arrived, happy to snag our spots for their evening bivy. After some snacks and refilling our water, we set off for the descent. We all downclimbed Winnie’s Slide and were happy to make our last steps off snow as we reach the top of the chimney. At the top, we ran into a guided group being short roped up the chimneys. Me, crampons on getting ready to go check out the snow conditions on Hell's Highway. Photo from Joe. The HMG camera holster bag worked really well, I had it rigged up with some carabiners, a cord directly to the camera and a bag strap so there were a couple redundant points to prevent the camera from going free - which actually came into play once, saving the rig from smashing on the rocks and/or rolling off the mountain. Considering Rob and Joe had spent over 13 hours doing a very large list of “firsts” on a tough mountaineering route, I knew that trying to force everyone to solo downclimb the entire chimney section wasn’t going to be a great idea. Although it took more time, I set up rappels on the tough sections of the chimneys. We reached the bottom of the final class 4 section around 7:30pm, a solid 16 hours since we set off that morning. It was a huge relief to transition back to trekking poles and take off the helmets. I made sure to follow the main upper route on the way down, which involved more 3rd class down climbing than I expected. Regardless, we just barely made it to the bottom of the very last scramble as evening twilight faded to true nighttime. Headlamps on, we started the monotonous trail slog back to the cars. Joe and Rob putting on the crampons at the high bivy site to make the final snow descent down Winnie's Slide to the chimneys. Rapping the 'dihedral'. There is some exposure to the bottom right, and in this instance the backed-up rappel was definitely a good choice for tired climbers pushing through a very long summit day. Joe getting ready to do the fun little 'au cheval' exposed step over on the chimney traverse section Very happy to be done with the chimney scrambling and have the helmets off. Little did we know, some class 3 sections lay ahead of us. Last light as we exited the chimneys proper and continued on our descent. We had a solid 4 hours of effort ahead of us back to the cars, but the respite from the sun was a welcome change of climate for the hike out. 6-ish miles and a few hours later, after digging deep into our energy reserves, we arrived back at the cars at 12:30am; 20 hours and 42 minutes after we had stepped onto the Upper Curtis Glacier that morning. This was a fun climb, and a huge confidence booster. My goal for the summer of 2022 was to reinvigorate my goal of leading alpine climbs; the last time I had led anything was back in 2016-2017; and at that time, I had led a few multi-pitch rock climbs to 5.7 but nothing truly alpine. Not only did I climb my two hardest alpine routes to-date over these back to back weekends but led them, and led them while teaching two brand new climbers overcoming a variety of alpine climbing challenges. Gear Notes: Put some pics in there. Approach Notes: Straightforward
  31. 6 points
    Jon! May I rudely interject some other perspectives in (slightly hijack) your TR? We saw your name in the summit registers just a few days after you signed them. It sounds like you had an awesome adventure!! We did too, and although our adventure visited the same summits, we took some slightly different approaches.....(I debated posting this but some people convinced me.) Thanks, @JasonG for the inspiring original BB TR! - Kat, Micah, and I biked from Dingford Creek TH to Dutch Miller Gap TH on Saturday at a humane hour: - We thoroughly approved of the Dutch Miller Gap trail. We camped at Lake Ivanhoe and did a good amount of hangin' at The Cove. I did not catch any fish but it's OK: - In the morning, we took the trail down and then tromped around and had some B1- open forest schwack for a bit, crossed Shovel Creek, then started up...I agree: the mega slabs were awesome!! So fun! That foot-then-handrail crack you describe/have a photo of was definitely memorable. I feel like none of these photos really do this route justice: - We scrambled the first bit of the summit tower, pitched out the chimney, then scrambled up to the summit of BB: - I agree the summit views were not the most amazing, Hinman and Daniel south sides in late summer... oof, so dry! Hinman cradling Lake Rowena and tiny part of Rebecca: Slightly more solid views: - We descended the SW face route. Happily, my partners nailed the complex descent while I attempted to keep up. Shout out to @Hoo for great chossy gully and cliff navigation. No one knocked rocks on each other and no one slipped on exposed 4th class. Hurray! We rapped the summit block (3x) and then down lower did two raps off cedars. Kat led, quite vocally, this memorable one: - The next morning we walked down the trail, stepped into the "timber" and did some B1+/B2- schwacking, then took a high traverse over to the notch and then up to Summit Chief. Summit Chief Lake basin was spectacular! - Glaciers around Chimney Rock from the summit: - The Cove delivered yet again that afternoon with blueberries and swimming and eating some of our last foods (so hungry): The ride out was awesome on my 2.25" tires until I learned some important life lessons about tubeless tires, sealant, and friends carrying the tire levers. (/snaffled) I felt lucky to have this adventure with Kat and Micah. Two very skilled, ridiculously fast climbers. Great people even if they do Strava...
  32. 6 points
    Trip: Guye Peak - A slightly more improbable than usual ascent of the Improbable Traverse Trip Date: 07/22/2022 Trip Report: Late last Thursday Joe and I made the questionable decision to try and dawn patrol the Improbable Traverse. Neither of us had climbed the route before, nor did we do much research, which in hindsight may have saved us a headache or two. At the time we were blissfully unaware of the massive rockfall event that happened last November. A quick search here would have informed us. However lately CC isn't the place I go for up to date condition reports, being that i'm often one of three users logged on at any time . A quick mountain project browse provided no info other than it hadn't been climbed this year. Long story short the route has been obliterated, and it would take a heroic amount of trundling and sweeping to revive it. All the pitches up to the traverse got bombed and are absolutely plastered in dirt and loose rock. We'd heard it the route was loose, but this seemed a little extreme. The flexing pin at the start of the traverse is still there, and the only reason I knew where to go. The pictures and beta I had weren't quite lining up. It was at this point that I realized what had happened, and made the decision to try and top out rather than bail with our short 40m rope. Traversing out I came across a large 40x40ft rock scar where the routes 5.8R crux used to be. Already 20ft out, I snaked my way over and down some insecure sloping edges which provided the routes new crux at somewhere around 5.9+ downclimbing. Once on a larger foot ledge I was able to keep traversing to the end of the rock scar and onto the original route. All told it was somewhere around a 50+ foot mandatory runout off the old tied off flexing pin. If it was R before, it's likely X now. The worst part by far was the top of the left trending ramp that exits the main face. This section cuts straight through the middle of the main rockfall zone and is now composed of the loosest unstable blocks held in by dirt I have ever climbed. It's hard to state exactly how nasty it was without sounding terribly dramatic, but It was bad. I was worried the entire slope was going to fall away around me. This pitch had no acceptable protection. Basically what I'm trying to say here is don't be dumb and climb this like we did. The lower pitches are right beneath an active rockfall zone and we are lucky we didn't get taken out. We were both late for work. Gear Notes: Just don't. But if you do, a few KB's might be useful on the new traverse. Approach Notes: Same as is ever was
  33. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Triumph - Memento Mori Trip Date: 08/29/2022 Trip Report: On Sunday, Duncan and I hiked out to Triumph with an open mind, and not quite enough food. We planned to repeat @rat & @lunger's east face route Memento Mori, but were open to more adventure if another line spoke to us. Turns out those jerks swiped the good one. The route was overall pretty high quality, with a good ratio of solid to portable holds. As far as we can tell, we followed their existing route except for pitch 5. Duncan build his belay at Tom's frayed rope (a single pink tricam girth hitched to a sling with the remains of a rope clove hitched to a non locker... yikes dude), which set me up for the hanging corner above. This roof went at probably 10- R due to an enormous moss clump that I had to face climb around on good, but unprotecable rock. The rest of the pitch offered little for pro, but enjoyable face climbing when the rock was good. My understanding is that Eric and Rolf belayed lower and face climbed up and right? Having pins made this belay feel comfortable, but are not necessary. Pitches six and seven are easy to follow and fun! Again, I used a beak to beef up the pitch six belay, but it was probably not necessary. Pitch Eight is the only one that didn't quite make sense. The FA description said to "Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge". I walked left and scrambled around to said ledge at fourth class. However to the right is a short corner that looks like it goes at 5.9ish. I'm assuming that was just a typo, but would love to hear if we missed something. We chose to skip the alpine experience and descend the NE ridge sans shiver bivy, getting back to the car around 9pm for a full day out in the mountains. Approaching up P1 4th/low5th It's a big imposing wall! Pitch 2 is pretty spectacular Starting up P3 Starting up our P5 "Bet ya can get a turf stick with the alpine hammer" -Duncan Ralph I climbed hard right, up the face and back left into the corner. Can't say I recommend this variation. Duncan cleaned Tom's remaining gear. Future parties shouldn't rely on this for routefinding. Pitch 6 low angle corner P7 is straight up fun climbing! @rat & @lunger, did you climb this corner to the right? What a wall! Gear Notes: Double rack very small to #1 and single #2-#4, Full range of nuts incl. brass We used a long knife blade and #2 beak. I was glad to have them, but Duncan was indifferent. 70M rope would give you more anchor flexibility Crampons Approach Notes: Standard NE ridge approach. Access the glacier from top left and traverse over to the base of the route.
  34. 6 points
    A high level of tolerance and stupidity mixed in with a short term memory are staples for the cascades climber.
  35. 6 points
    Trip: Glacier Peak - Frostbite Ridge Trip Date: 08/07/2022 Trip Report: TR and GPS track on my site here: https://www.jeffreyjhebert.com/adventures/frostbite-ridge-on-glacier-peak As the fourth-highest peak in Washington State and a beautiful, remote objective, I always wanted to climb more than just the standard route on Glacier Peak. With a perfect weather window over an early-August weekend and a good friend and climbing partner willing to suffer a bit, it was time. Adam and I drove out to the North Fork Sauk Trailhead on Saturday morning with open bivy gear, one axe and one light axe each, crampons, a 30m glacier rope, a few ice screws, a couple of pickets, trail runners, boots, and, perhaps most importantly, a good supply of whiskey. Our 3-day, lollipop plan was to hike 20 miles the first day to get near the start of the Kennedy Glacier, then climb the route and descend the Cool Glacier on the other side a good ways before camping again and then hiking out on the morning of the third day. We left the car at 10am and hiked up the standard approach until we hit the PCT, where we took a left up to Red Pass. We ran into a number of through-hikers on the PCT and each of them was a bit surprised to hear we were there to climb Glacier Peak. We also ran into a soloist who said he’d started up the Kennedy Glacier, but turned around. It was a bit ominous hearing that as we marched our way North on the PCT. The variety and amount of ground we covered this first day was pretty cool and we enjoyed it as much as we could despite the slowly-building pain creeping into our feet, shoulders, and hips. It was after 7pm when we made it to the tricky crossing of the Kennedy Creek. We just put our heads down from here and hiked up Kennedy Ridge to 5,300 feet where we expected to leave the PCT in the morning and saw a creek on the map, hoping there would be somewhere flat to bivy. We arrived at 8pm to find a nice little campsite with one other person, quickly set up shop, and conked out. The mileage and vertical gain from camp to the summit didn’t seem to warrant an alpine start, so we woke up at 5am and were moving by 6am. Heading straight up from camp was exactly the right move and quickly put us on a large moraine overlooking the entire North side of Glacier. There were some old signs of traffic, but the area had the feel of being forgotten and much more remote than other big peaks in Washington. We switched from trail runners to boots at the toe of the Kennedy Glacier at 7:30am, keeping crampons on our backs to start since the snow was reasonably soft and there was a clear dirty, rocky band to get through on the glacier below Kennedy Peak. This section was perhaps the most dangerous of the route—it was a crumbling mess with big boulders waiting to succumb to potential energy, perched on glacial till. After gingerly getting through this bit, we were on the wide-open Kennedy Glacier with very little crevasse hazard on its left half. Things were uneventful until we got to Frostbite Ridge itself. We could see the Rabbit Ears feature above us and our options were getting on a pumice treadmill up the ridge or staying on steep snow to the left. We opted to keep crampons on and stick to the snow. We stayed left past the first gendarme and on some of the steepest snow (~50 degrees) near the top, which went pretty easily with our second axes. The snow took us almost to the top of the face and then we scrambled a few feet to the highest point, just to the right of the highest gendarme (the Rabbit Ears themselves, it turned out) at 12:30pm. From here, we could see the rest of our route and it looked like it would all go. We could also see our 3rd class descent to the upper Kennedy Glacier. It looked loose and nasty, but ended up being quite reasonable and quick. The first 50 feet up the snow on the other side were steep, but it eased off significantly from there and we romped our way up, across, then down to the saddle below the final face. The face had the glimmer of ice to it, which was a welcome departure from walking. We determined the angle was low enough and the steep part short enough that it made more sense to solo than to pitch out. I set off and enjoyed settling into the flow of ice climbing despite the knuckle-bashing involved with straight-shaft axes. After the ice step of 40 feet or so, it was back to snow until the top, but it steepened up again right near the summit and made sense to front-point with both axes—quite fun to climb that way right to the summit. We arrived at 2:15pm. The descent was straightforward and pretty efficient on sloppy snow. We never needed the rope and took our crampons off as soon as we were down the initial steeper sections. We descended all the way to the plateau at 6,750 feet where we found a nice spot to camp off snow with great views. We got moving the next morning at 7:15am and were back to the car a little after noon. We stopped at the bottom of the switchbacks before the final flat slog out to consume most of the remaining whiskey and floated on a cloud of air most of the way back to the car. This route had a more adventurous, remote, wild feel than lots of other climbing in Washington. In a way, it felt more like a destination climb I would have flown somewhere to do. Yes, the walking to climbing ratio was quite high and we never took the rope out, but it did bring some fun challenges, stellar views, and time way out there. Gear Notes: Did use: whiskey Didn't use: 4 ice screws, 2 pickets, 30m rope, glacier kit Approach Notes: Buckle up
  36. 6 points
    Trip: Mt baker - North Ridge Trip Date: 08/01/2022 Trip Report: This adventure started in the most likely place, Instagram. A guy named Remy, who had worked at the same climbing gym I currently work for sent me a message. My boss had heard from Remy that he was looking for partners that wanted to do a lot of climbing; My boss also knows that I am in the same boat. After some messaging back and forth we decided we would give the north ridge of baker a try! Most would say attempting a long and committing route with a new climbing partner would not be the best idea. Most of the time I would agree. The only reason I am able to make this exception was because of our mutual friend/boss. He has known both of us for a long time, with a good understanding of our experience and comfort level in the mountains. Remy and I planned for a full casual day of hiking up the road, up the trail, and to camp. Then a full alpine start climbing day. Then a full day to sleep and walk out. If the weather and company are equally as good this is my favorite way to approach bigger climbs like this. Making the large approach and distances more manageable physically and mentally. I find this is also how I rap my head around larger technical obstacles; Breaking them down into small chunks that I can easily understand and take one at a time. The small chunk mindset works super well until you need to have any amount of forethought about your objectives but for the purpose of giving me confidence that I have the ability to do larger and harder routes, this mindset helps a lot. Remy and I started out our approach day a little bit late putting the pressure on us to get to camp and get to sleep. Making it worse was the fact that I had forgotten my bike back home in a rush to get ready and out the door early. We put our minds together and decided that strapping the packs to the bike like a mule and both pushing that one bike would be faster than swapping out riding the single bike. This feat of engineering let us push up the hill to the trailhead in less than 2 hours. Putting us right back on schedule. We hoisted our packs and walked up the heliotrope ridge trail with excitement for our next day. After arriving at camp and getting our tent set up, I cooked my usual top ramen with a side of tuna (I am still getting better at backcountry cooking). We talked over at time plan and decided on a midnight start. Our alarms rang and it was time to boogie. I threw my boots on and racked up for the big day to come. We did some traversing to get up out onto the helio trope ridge and then out onto the Coleman glacier. The glacier was surprisingly simple and fast travel. Most of the cracks were completely exposed making them obvious and easy to avoid. Until higher on the mountain we did not find any unstable bridges. We hiked in a timely manner up to the toe of the north ridge. The beta that we had gotten from a month before was that gaining the toe of the ridge was out and traversing to lookers left around the ridge was needed. That turned out to be completely false for the conditions we found but existing in our own little headlamp bubble it was hard to tell that at the time. Moving around the toe of the ridge and accending found us just next to looker's left of the ridge for about a thousand feet. Looking up at the ice step and the steeper snow seemingly right above us we pulled out the rope length and prepared to siml. This was not the case. A little after the above picture was taken I arrived at a nearly 50ft wide crack that the GPS track we had, seemingly cruised right over. With the north ridge not gainable to us to the right and icefall to the left we decided to descend slightly and explore our options to the left. Past some broken blocks the glacier seemed to mellow out and provide access around the crack back to the north ridge. The above photo was taken after traversing around the large crack. beautifully broken glacier. Tomfoolery moving through the north face icefall This portion of the climb is something I am debating still in my head. We had no beta on the icefall we were making our way through. The bridges we were crossing were super solid but would they have been later in the day if we needed to descend? what would the icefall hazard be like after the sun heated everything up? Was I in over my head? I believe that the decisions we made were safe enough for the route and situation we were committed to. Remy and I on the way out discussed every decision we made in detail and the reasons behind them. This type of do-it-as-you-go climbing was new to both me and Remy and it was really fucking awesome. You can see in our GPS track we were finding the best crossings were farthest lookers left but we constantly were moving lookers right to see if there was a route back onto the ridge. Finally, after lots of large crack crossings and zig-zagging, we found an entrance to the north ridge around 600 ft below the ice step. A look at the upper north face icefall from below the ice step. Back on route finally. As we looked down the ridge in the light a clear bootpack and a RMI team moving up it made all the hard work we just put in seem meaningless. But was it? I feel like I had to engage more active decision-making, risk management, and route-finding skills much much more than I normally would have on a well-tracked route like the north ridge. I feel I grew as a climber as well as my personal ethic in the mountains. It was a freeing experience to decide to tread my own route and make it work. The ice step was in super good shape. A short section of pretty high-quality vertical ice then followed by another pitch of low-angle ice. This led to a knife edge ridge to the summit bergy which was a simple crossing with some steep snow to the top. The descent was very simple, just a trot down the Coleman Demming which was in very good shape. Back to camp at 2pm made it a 15-hour day including all the icefall buffoonery. Overall a super fun climb with a super cool person. I hope you enjoyed reading about an adventure and thanks for sticking around! Gear Notes: 6 Screws, 3 pickets (wish we had a few more screws) Approach Notes: Heliotrope (bring two bikes)
  37. 6 points
    Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge Trip Date: 07/01/2022 Trip Report: It was a Wednesday afternoon. @The Real Nick Sweeney made a post about partners for Ptarmigan Ridge, Thursday through Saturday. I had never climbed with Nick before but we've chatted a bit over the internet and his climbing resume checked out. He just got back from climbing the Cassin a month or so prior so I figured he might be into Alpine climbing. Luckily my boss and his wife's anniversary was that weekend and we had already planned to shut the company down for that Thursday and Friday. Realizing this might be the last full weekend I had left before a last minute trip back to the motherland, I shot Nick a message with a brief climbing resume and cover letter telling him I was down. We hashed out logistics that Wednesday night while packing and planned to meet at the White River TH the following morning. A quick snatch of permits and we were shortly off on the trail. Not much to say between the Trailhead and the 10k camp. Other than sections were slogs and I realized the slogging cortex of my brain has gotten weaker over the years. We found running water just before the ridge to the 10k camp and I dropped the stove down the slope while filling up. It felt like it was going to tumble forever. Luckily it stopped in some sun cupped snow. Maybe the the perfect thing to do with a new partner before hopping on a technical route with them for the first time? He had mentioned his previous outing the weekend prior was a shit show, to ease my grumbles. We got to the 10k camp and set up shop. We both heard serac fall in the middle of the night. We woke up at two and didn't hear anymore come down. We chatted about it and decided to proceed with caution. I think things like that are tough to gauge the severity of in a dark tent. We skirted the avy path wide. It was nice to see all the debris that we walked through was pretty old. Nick led the schrund pitch onto the initial slope. We mostly simul'd the route and belayed at a steep spots and at the usual "rock step". That step was for us was not rock but in fact fat ice. The entire route was either firm neve or AI2 or 3. A real calf blaster. We had spoke the night prior about what we cared to summit and we both decided just Liberty Cap. The final slog from the top of the last pitch to the summit of Liberty Cap really tested my slogging cortex. Soon enough we were up there. Paused to take a couple photos and began our long hike out. We said we'd head out until we wanted to crash but we ended up just making it out to the trailhead at a decent time. I was even able to make the 2 hour drive in the light and spend the night in my bed. Which is always a bit of trip when you're just laying there before your fall asleep thinking about where you where that morning. Thanks Nick for taking a chance on me. This was the technical route on Rainier I wanted to do the most after getting disenchanted with Liberty Ridge over the years. Now I have an interest in Curtis Ridge. The usual photo dump. Hopefully Nick will post his blogpost here. I included some of his photos as a teaser. Gear Notes: 60m rope, some nuts and pitons. 6 Screws (We agreed 8 would've been nice for us for longer simul blocks). Picket Approach Notes: White river through Saint Elmo's and beyond.
  38. 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.
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. 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.
  44. 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.
  45. 5 points
    Trip: Good and Storm King - NE Butt, SW Route Trip Date: 08/19/2022 Trip Report: Me, @MGraw and Dave did the NE buttress on Goode Mountain and the SW route on Storm King over four days from August 19 to 22. BTW, that’s “gud”, not “gu·dee”, I don’t know what mountain some of you are climbing. Its named for Richard U Goode of the USGS, and the mountain is pronounced like the name. I’m just writing a quick report to get the info out there. We used beta from Steph Abegg, Climber Kyle, and occasionally Fred Beckey and it went great, so I wont post too much of that. The route finding was generally very straight forward the whole trip. We started out at the permit line. It was waaaay better than in years past, but still long. Then we cheated and drove to the Bridge Creek Trailhead for the hike in. I used trail runners to the junction with North Fork Bridge Creek Trail to save my feet 20 mile of hiking in approach shoes… worth it! Trail after Grizzly Creek (short): The creek crossing of North Fork Bridge Creek was easy but cold, then straight up from there per Kyle worked amazing. Literally NO brush to get out of the valley bottom. Wow. Approach From North Fork, just go up: We took the wrong buttress up the last portion of the approach and missed the two established bivy spots. The “5400’” bivy at 5500’ or so was occupied, but I looked down and saw the 5700’ site from above. We made a new spot on a slab and gravel at 5970 on a different rib. For next time, you have to scramble up the obviously easiest rib two or three left of the prow that the path leads you up to. This was our only real route finding hiccup on the trip with somewhat minimal research. All of Goode is amazingly complicated sounding, but is really just follow your instinct from North Fork Bridge Creek to the summit. It took us 8.5 hours car to camp I think. Just up from camp: The next morning we walked like 100’ up to the glacier were we easily walked on on low angle firm snow. We had only snow the whole way, no proper ice. The glacier was pretty easy to navigate from there, one big zig zag to get above the cracks at 6700’. The feared moat was just a couple of steps down on blocks to 3rd class rock. We got lucky hear I guess. I think this wat at 6730’. On route: We scrambled a 3rd class ramp to near the crest, then started simul climbing. Mike lead out and lead a 1200’ simul pitch to a 5th class step where Dave took over. Dave missed a move to the right of the ridge and lead up a tough 5.7 spot with no pro (except our now fixed nut above the difficulty). Stout lead in hiking boots dude! Me and Mike followed in approach shoes, wondering the whole way why he didn’t move off the ridge crest, it was aesthetic though. As much as its tempting to lead the crest, any time it gets tough you can break off. The climbing was great the whole way, never hard (except that one spot) but interesting always, all the way to the summit. I clipped my last sling to the summit rap station to finish my simul block. It was hazy so we didn’t stay too long. 3 raps to some shenanigans to the notch (I’m not sure if there is a good way to do the last rap, but it involved a quick belay for us from the bottom of the rap). Then 2 more raps in the gulley. Skiers right side of the gulley was much better than down the gut, not bad at all. Soon we were in camp on an awesome slab amongst heather at 7600’ just left of the rib. I highly recommend this spot, the slab was perfect for victory lounging. 10ish hours this day. Camp: Brief shower in the evening: The next day we traversed to Storm King and followed the standard beta to the notch. Scree slog, up the gulley to the right of the one with the obvious horn. The one with the horn had a rope that appeared to be fixed for a rap. I’m not sure why you would do this unless you just didn’t want to carry it out. Please don’t do this, it’s just trash now that no one want to take out. Descend your ascent route and take everything home with you. I really hope there was some extenuating circumstance here, but I can’t think of what. We scramble traversed the obvious ledge from the notch for 200’ – 300’ horizontal then scrambled up 3rd -4th class to the summit. The beta here was complicated but the route very simple. Ledge: Reversing the traverse to Storm King, Goode behind: Then down, down, down. There is a path from the little 7440’ knob just SW of Goode leading down the rib to the valley bottom, it comes in and out, but just stick on the crest next to the creek. We hiked out to Park Creek Camp for about 9 hours on the move. Up very early the next morning to beat the heat for 6ish hours to cover the 15 miles to the car and beer that was still as cold as the Rockies! Wow! An amazing trip with way more down time than I am used to. Glad I had good friends to share it with! A classic for sure, though not enough brush for it to be truly a Cascade classic in my book. Nor enough loose rock. OK, so not so quick a report, but it was a really great trip. Gear Notes: 2 30m rope, aluminum snow gear, approach shoes, single rack 0 metolius to #2 C4, like 15 slings Approach Notes: Long but easy. The trail was brushed out except for a little bit after Grizzly Creek.
  46. 5 points
    Trip: Argonaut - South Face Trip Date: 08/14/2022 Trip Report: I've been out to the Teanaway (Teanaways?) several times this summer and it's been pretty awesome to become better acquainted with the area! For this trip, D and I decided to haul gear up to Argonaut's south face for a supposed "5.3" route. "What is the difference between 5.3 and 5.6?" I asked myself... We hiked in via Beverly Creek then over Fourth of July Pass on Saturday late afternoon and camped at Ingalls Creek. In the parking lot, we met Jennifer and Chris, also heading to do the same route! In the early evening, two climbers came down back to their camp at Ingalls Creek from Argonaut and gave us some approach beta, said that there's a legit "climber's trail," and shared that it took them 3 hours from camp to summit (via the 4th class scramble route; they soloed everything/didn't rap). Wow, we thought! Maybe we will be out of here way earlier than we expected! We set off from camp a bit past 7am and quickly found a solid trail up through the scrubby open-ish eastside forest. Very unfortunately, it did not last forever, and some B2ish schwack ensued between pieces of game trail until we got into more open meadow with sandy trails. OK, all good. Not my favorite part of the approach: A much more scenic part of the approach: At this point, we aren't sure what happened, but we clearly did not pay enough attention to the navigation/GPS and we crossed into a gully too far east, thinking it was the main gully, and started ascending. We realized our mistake a bit on the later side and tried to carefully poke out a way to traverse west into the gully that we wanted, but after some 4th class stuff ("accidents often happen when people are off-route..."), we decided to go back, down, and around. Welp, that was fun exploratory bonus el! Up and up the gully, D and I being careful not to trundle things onto each other, then finally at the base of the south face. We used a Mountain Project photo overlay to locate the start the 5.3 route, and it really looked like the picture.. but anyway, that first pitch we ended up calling 5.8. Lots and lots of options on the face, lots of cool features (some chicken knobs, crystally ledges, etc), cracks, and good pro. Definitely plenty of lichen and lots of loose and jumbled blocks in cracks, as expected. I ended the first pitch at a small alcove with a giant block that was slung that I stumbled upon (the sling looked kinda old). I apologized a bunch to D for clearly getting us off-route, but she was grateful we were getting up it and safely. Very nice of her The second pitch was much easier -- I did go around a chimney feature due to the pile of microwave blocks sitting in it and then I traversed right at the top, all to keep the rope from dislodging rocks onto D. I chatted a bit with Jennifer and Chris, who had started where we did but had followed cracks trending to climber's left and had topped out a bit before us. Bringing D up to the top of the second/last pitch: Anyway, we scrambled to the top, got cool, up-close views of Colchuck and Sherpa plus FOUR volcanoes, and then we scrambled down to the rap station for the 50-foot 4th class gully. One of the amazing views from the summit: Some photos of the face, from below after rappelling: Descending the gully: As the talus gully became meadow and then forest and stripes of slide alder, we started on solid trails and then...very unfortunately, had a hell of a time finding our way down to the main trail. Time is meaningless when you're trying to be zen in slide alder, but this was some of the more memorable schwacking I've done in awhile.. and on the east side! Oh, but we did come across what I think were some bones of a mountain goat? Skull: Finally made it down to camp, apparently our friends hadn't fared much better than us on the descent. Our 6-ish mile hike out went very quickly due to D's blazing speed and pace-setting which I was so grateful for! Good bye, Argonaut, I am glad to tick you off my list. I wish I could get a ride up and just play around on that south face, but I probably won't be going up there again (at least until this memory fades). Jennifer and Chris, it was lovely chatting with you two throughout the weekend and it was very sweet of you to wait until my Civic cleared that washout/rut on the forest road before driving off on Sunday night. Thank you! Gear Notes: 60m rope, single light rack, rock shoes, fully engaged trail-ish senses, fully engaged quiet feet Approach Notes: up, down, up, up, up...I'm sure you're better than me at finding those trails!
  47. 5 points
    Did the Chuck Spiekerman Memorial Ascent of Summit Chief yesterday with another buddy of Chuck's, and followed (sort of) his beta here -- in that we went in and out via Escondido Ridge and mostly made sure to find the trail along the ridge. We did make the ascent more interesting by selecting the wrong notch and climbing a false summit first before traversing to the correct one. Tons of people camped at the first of the Vista Tarns right off the PCT but not a soul at the second which was maybe 5 minutes more walking. So nice. Good day out and it was only 12 hours tarn-to-summit-to-trailhead but those last two mosquito-infested miles to the trailhead were INTERMINABLE. Fortunately fish n chips at The Brick dulled the memory.
  48. 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
  49. 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.
  50. 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.