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  1. 12 points
    Trip: Dragontail Peak - North East Couloir Trip Date: 11/23/2019 Trip Report: I got out for a stellar day with Kyle and Daniel on Saturday (November 23, 2019). Following a few weeks of mostly high pressure and moderate temps, but with a storm front moving in, we were curious about conditions in the Stuart Range. Kyle brought this route to my attention, as I hadn't even heard of it. We found a TR on here from November 2008 and this inspired us to go give it a look. Be sure to check the trip from Kyles perspective at https://climberkyle.com/2019/11/23/dragontail-peak-ne-couloir-wi2-m5-r/ After leaving the trailhead around 5 am, we found more snow on the surrounding peaks than expected, which was promising considering the lack of recent precip, except for a day or two the week leading up to this. We knew the weather was supposed to deteriorate and winds were supposed to pick up throughout the day so we hurried to Aasgard Pass. We switched to boots and crampons where the creek down the pass was frozen and flooded over the boulders. At around 8 we started soloing up easy little water ice flows toward the base of the couloir. At the base of the couloir, we could see the first dry section that leads into the couloir and it didn't look too hard. We opted to rack up but solo up it. It was a tad techy so I fixed a cordelette as a hand line in a few spots for extra security. Above this, we were on variable steep snow. Throughout the couloir, we found everything from thigh-deep wallowing, to firm neve front pointing. About a third of the way up the couloir, there was a steep/overhung chockstone with a thin ice/snow flow on the right. I led up and over this with some mediocre gear (a tied off 10cm screw and a cam lower). Above this, we soloed a bunch more steep snow until our gully ran out of snow and we did a pitch traversing 30ft right over rock slabs to a different snowy gully. Now we were approaching the top of the couloir and it was starting to open up and become drier. Just 2 more pitches took us to the top but, wow, they were seriously full-on. The first pitch was a series of near-vertical granite steps with steep snow in between. This was perhaps the technical crux as there were quite a few delicate moves but also some dark brown ice that took good sticks, as well as generally good gear. I belayed off a horn, looking up at the last pitch, which appeared to be 100% dry. I was tempted to ditch the crampons but kept them on since the only bomber feet I had gotten on the entire last pitch were in the few small patches of ice and I was still hopeful that there would be ice above that I couldn't see. Once Kyle and Daniel got to me, I mentally prepared to take the sharp end for hopefully the last time of the day. There had been a lot hard and sketchy climbing already, and the hardest/scariest was still yet to come. I started up the pitch, immediately finding that the rock quality was deteriorating. I was mostly climbing with both my axes racked since the rock was so bad. It seemed like the majority of holds could be pulled off and gear was sparse. When I finally got good gear halfway up the pitch I yelled "take" and sat back for a sec to breath. I took a few photos, looking both up and down. From then on, I didn't get another piece of gear. Eventually, I could see the ridgeline 20ft above me and was eager to get there. All that stood in my way was a steep kitty litter chimney, devoid of any gear of course. At this point, I had my gloves off since I was just rock climbing with crampons and its nice to be able to feel all the holds that will inevitably crumble in your hands. I started up the chimney, with my pack pressed against the right wall, my crampons finding edges in the left wall, my arms finding chicken wings and armbars, and cursing like a sailor. Thankfully my gopro had already died. I wouldn't mind forgetting this pitch. Down below, Kyle and Daniel were experiencing a constant flow of gravel filling their hoods. I remember throwing one hand up over the ridge onto a jug and letting out a sigh of relief before mantling up and finding an extra bomber belay. The wind up here was absolutely ripping and I got cold quickly while belaying. I was wearing all my clothes and had sweated a bit on the previous lead. The forecasted winds (60mph) had arrived and there were now intermittent clouds, but the sky was still mostly clear. Our weather window was certainly closing. Kyle and Daniel enjoyed the pitch far more than I did and both arrived at the belay with big grins, especially since they could climb near each other and watch all the holds break off. Since I was cold and antsy to move I let them break down the belay and sort out the ropes while I looked for the "traverse to the notch." I found it, but accessing the notch looked just a bit spicy. I wanted to solo it but realized I was just cold and anxious to get down and out of the blasting wind and gravel so I lead it with one rope and gave each of them a terrain belay up to the rap station where a single 60m rap got us out of the wind and to a point which we could walk from. We were out of the wind and off the technical terrain. It was a big relief for me. However, the light was fading and Aasgard pass is never fun to head down. There was a set of tracks up to the summit proper of Dragontail which we followed downhill and down the pass. As the light faded I snagged a photo of the route from across the pass. It looked pretty impressive, I was briefly proud but mostly humbled. We talked briefly about the climb. Perhaps there were mistakes. It would have been possible to bail down the route once we saw how dry the upper pitch was. I was enticed to just climb it since the ridge was practically 80 or 100ft away and bailing down the route would have meant leaving gear and taken a lot of time. Hard choices. Of course, you will never know exactly how it will be until you're in the thick of it, but perhaps we/I made too bold of a choice and got lucky (on the other hand, down climbing the snow would have also been tricky). Food for thought for anyone who has made it this far through the trip report. I try to stay safe and climb hard, but its a tricky balance. Anyway, we got back to the car around 8 pm and headed to McDonald's. All in all, it was a very fun day with 3 competent 22-23yr old Washington born and raised climbers. And for anyone curious about this route right now, I would steer clear! In the coming days, I'll post some first-person climbing video on my insta @porter.mcmichael First, a photo of the route, taken on the descent. Looking up at Dtail Approach ice Still on Asgard Dry pitch to access the couloir Fun steep snow! Chockstone in the middle of the couloir Looking down on the last pitch (I think) Looking up in the middle of the last pitch From the ridge looking down the chimney Looking North from near the top Kyle on the last pitch Daniel on the last pitch Down the rap Gear Notes: 3 screws (placed 2), 4 pins and a bulldog (surprisingly didn't place any), nuts (placed a few), cams .2-2, some doubles in the smaller sizes (placed them all), 60m doubles. Approach Notes: On your right, halfway up Asgard, hard to miss it. The slabby approach pitch is the first obvious way to access the gully (farthest climbers right)
  2. 11 points
    Trip: Cabinet Mountains - Multiple Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: I just wanted to share some photos and descriptions from the last couple ice seasons in the Cabinet Mountains. Anyone who got the 2019 AAJ or Alpinist 64 might have already seen pictures of the area. There have been a handful of Spokane area climbers putting up routes over the last couple seasons. All the climbing has been done out of Granite Lake which is near Libby, MT in the Cabinet Mountains. The climbing is quite varied, from single pitch WI3 to 1000ft hard ice and mixed routes. The area has been divided up into 3 big areas….A Peak, The Thunderdome, and Three Tiers. A picture is worth a thousand words so I will just resort to numerous pictures instead of more text……let the stoke begin for next season!! Looking across Granite Lake with A Peak towering 4000 feet above. The Thunderdome is the large sub dome in the center of the picture. The Thunderdome!! Some of the best ice routes anywhere around. Scott Coldiron and Matt Cornell on the first ascent of Mad Max, WI5+ (8 pitches). Nate Kenney climbing a steep skinny pillar called War Boys, WI5+. Scott Coldiron climbing a crazy pitch called Underworld, WI3. This route is 20m long and entirely inside an ice cave 500 feet up the Thunderdome! Another view of the spectacular A Peak and the upper wall of the Thunderdome. The big ice in the center of the wall is Road Warrior, WI5, M5 (8 pitches). Looking up the huge gash on A Peak. Scott Coldiron and Jess Roskelley put up the route Canmore Wedding Party AI5, M7, 750m, which ascends this central gash. The climb got nominated for a Piolet d'Or in 2019. Note: the large sheet of ice on the bottom rock band is still unclimbed as of 2020. Looking up the wide start to the "Blaster Routes". Blaster, WI4 is five pitches of ice while Master Blaster WI4, M5, (10 pitches) continues to the top of the Thunderdome. Looking up from the lake at the "Three Tiers". These cliffs have about 20-25 ice and mixed routes that have been done. A closer view of the the ice (during a fat season) on the center of the 2nd Tier with the 3rd Tier above. Scott Coldiron on the first ascent of Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. Zach Turner leading The Dag, WI3 on the 2nd Tier......a super fun mellow corner. A shot of some of the 3rd Tier routes. Gyro Captain, WI4, goes up the ice on the right while Pig Killer, WI3, takes a line up some of the ice on the left. Multiple possibilities exist for mixed routes connecting the lower ice flows in the center up through the rock to the hanging ice above. Zach Tuner rappelling off Max's Bloodline, WI4, with the impressive routes on Thunderdome in the background. Jonathan Klaucke climbing funky ice on Cheedo, WI3-4, on the 2nd Tier. Looking across at the right hand end of the Three Tiers from the Thunderdome. The wide flow in the center is the start of Tomorrow Land, WI3+, 3 pitches, while the ice up on the right is Devil's Brownies, WI4, 2 pitches, and then farther right is Scales of Justice, WI4/5. Zach Tuner on the skinny pillar start to Splendid Angharad, WI5. The flow farther left is called Capable, WI4. Looking up the 2nd pitch of Tomorrow Land, WI3+ on the first ascent. This fat climb called Nightrider, WI4, 3 pitches, is on the far left of the Thunderdome. It is a bit longer of a hike from the lake but the route is a stellar moderate! Scott Coldiron climbing the crux 2nd pitch of Nightrider, WI4. Brian White starting up the classic Toast, WI5 on the 2nd Tier. The ice beyond him is the route Cheedo, WI3-4. Zack Turner on the sharp end during the first ascent of Grease Rat, WI4....a really fun route on the 3rd Tier. Matt Cornell working through the crux of Sarcophagus of Lies, M6. The route continues up and left until you can stem between the rock and the ice dagger above. This is a stellar line on the 3rd Tier with "quality climbing as good as Come and Get It" according to Matt. Brian White putting up a short route called Mystery Gas, WI3 on the 3rd Tier. Syd Atencio and Nate Kenney climbing up Devil's Brownies, WI4, on the Three Tiers. Granite Lake and the surrounding basin in the background. I think one of my favorite things about the climbing here is the views....it just never gets old!! Every time I walk across Granite Lake I have to pause and just look up. Hopefully this will get some people stoked about climbing up there because it is a beautiful spot with fantastic climbing. Happy to answer any beta questions or run them through Scott. Gear Notes: Ice screws......rock gear for mixed routes. Approach Notes: All climbs are best accessed from the Granite Lake trailhead. In winter it is a 9 mile hike/skin into the lake with about 2000 ft of elevation gain. Count on 4-9 hours depending on conditions. From downtown Libby, take Highway 2 east one mile to Shaugnessy road. Take a right and follow this for .7 miles before turning left onto Snowshoe road. After 1/2 mile take a right turn onto Granite Lake road. In .8 miles stay left on Granite Lake road and continue for 4 miles. This is the end of the pavement and where the snowplows stop in the winter. The Granite Lake trailhead is still another 3 miles but you will have to walk/skin/snowmobile that distance in the winter. There is usually plenty of room to park several cars just be mindful not to block the road or any of the neighbor’s driveways. From here follow the snow covered road for 3 miles to the actual Granite Lake trailhead. The road is mostly level with a few gradual climbs (400 feet of elevation gain in 3 miles). From the trailhead hike/skin the trail 6 miles up to the lake.
  3. 11 points
    Via dei Ragni: Grade VI, 95deg snow/rime/ice, M4, 1000m Scribe/Photos/Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Google Street View: Cerro Torre Summit 360 Panorama We’ve had a picture of Cerro Torre on our desktops, phone wallpapers, and posters above our bed for the past 5 years. It was the reason we took up ice climbing in the first place. In February 2016, we made our first attempt on this route, hoping to at least get a glimpse of the scale of the mountain and understand what it took to climb it. The weather was too hot by then for the climb, and after three days, our high point was below the hard technical climbing. Previous trip report: The road to El Chaltén The Fitz Roy Massif These past two months were our fourth (and longest) climbing trip to the Chaltén Massif, and sixth year of watching the Patagonian weather patterns. We wanted to return to attempt Cerro Torre again, but the next two seasons were not possible because of bad weather. Last year, at the beginning of February, we saw a fantastic weather window, and the stars aligned. We flew down to Patagonia in a 9-day magical whirlwind of constant movement, and summited Fitz Roy via the Franco-Argentina route. While on the summit of Fitz Roy, looking down at the surreal summits of the Torre, we were determined more than ever to come back the following season. Day 1. We arrived in El Chaltén on New Years Eve, the last day of a 4-day weather window (brecha)…we missed it! Since then, January was filled with short stints (8-12hrs) of good weather in the mountains, and the arrival of a 6-day mega window in early February sent an electric buzz throughout town. We were a couple of bats out of hell with our 40lbs packs each as we set towards Laguna Torre. The plan was to pass through the Niponino base camp in the Torre Valley and bivouac at the higher Noruegos (Norwegian) bivouac, which would put us closer to Col Standhardt (the next day’s objective)…the passageway to the West Face of Cerro Torre where the Via dei Ragni route begins. Our bivy site at Noruegos Day 2. From the Noruegos bivy site high on the slopes of the Torre Valley, we traversed near the base of the Torres, under the celebrated SE Ridge (perhaps the greatest climb in the world) and also the 1959 Maestri line to the triangular snowfield where so much history and controversy took place. From the East, all of the Torres stand impossibly steep and impassable. To get to the Ragni route on the West side, we would climb up and over the Col Standhardt where an implausible car-sized chockstone sits interminably between the col’s steep walls. From the col, one gets the first glimpse of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap (Hielo Continental), a massive expanse of ice 200mi long. On a rare, clear day such as this day, we could see green Chilean fjords across the Ice Cap between large, snowy volcanos. A Lighthouse Several rappels deposited us down to the Circo de los Altares (Cirque of the Alters), an impressive crescent of white-capped peaks and toothed spires. From there we headed up another glacial ramp on Cerro Torre’s West Face to a high camp, 150m below the Col de la Esperanza (Col of Hope), first reached by Walter Bonatti in 1958 who hoped that this col would one day blaze a path to the summit. It wasn’t until 1974 that a team of Italians from the Ragni di Lecco (thus the name “Via dei Ragni”) completed Bonatti’s vision. Circo de los Altares Steep snow climbing and easy mixed terrain led us towards the camp at Col de la Esperanza, the camp we hadn’t reached on our last attempt. As we hiked past our previous high point, our hearts soared. This time around, the climbing felt much easier with 4 more years of climbing experience under our belts. Day 3. This day was a rest day of sorts. To set ourselves up for success on summit day, we were moving to the highest camp a few hundred meters up: El Elmo (“Helmet”), a prominent plateau below the steep, technical climbing. Those who were faster and stronger than us had gone straight to the highest camp the day before and were now going to do the hard work of battle-axing the bullet-hard blue ice and cleaning the cotton candy mushrooms of the summit. As we came over the Col of Hope, we entered an otherworldly expanse of mangled rime towers and precarious exposure. These deformed blobs of ice towers with icicle branches and feathery leaves seem like something only God or Dr. Seuss could conjure. It’s something so beautiful and terrifying at the same time. We were face to face, looking up at thisbeastly Tower. A spectacular nightmare. Day 4. Summit Day! We were pretty antsy to get going on the summit push. Falling snow greeted us when our alarms went off at 2:00AM as the mountain was enveloped in a cloud. All over camp, alarms went off and were snoozed as the precipitation discouraged movement. When the stars finally came out again, we were the first to muster our strength and get to work. Walking up to the base of El Elmo in the darkness, the first overhanging rime ice mushroom of the route, we gave a sigh “ah, breakfast!” The last 10m didn’t actually have any good protection (besides maybe a horizontal picket), and it was a sequence of cutting the feet loose, campus’ing from questionable tools, and shoving knees into the soft rime to make upward progress. Once at the top of El Elmo, a crowd had formed at the base, chomping at the bit. All of camp was finally up. The snooze button had proved an epic failure of our collective, strategically staggered alarms. We all watched in awe and gave whooping shouts from this low perch as our friend, Fabi Buhl, paraglided from the summit in the wee hours of the morning, slowly swirling in front of the spectacular sunrise over Lago Viedma. He was the first ever to fly off the summit of Cerro Torre having climbed the mountain first (and not dropped off via helicopter). After El Elmo, the mixed pitches zig-zag through a maze of rock and ice up to the base of The Headwall. Two pitches of blue, overhanging, bullet-hard ice. The final pitches mount three tiers of giant rime mushrooms facing the Ice Cap. This high ridge gets pummeled by the wet, freezing storms that race around the Southern Ocean to create these crazy rime formations. The first and second rime mushrooms had formed spectacular, natural blue-ice tunnels created by vortices of wind spiraling up the ridge, clearing a path through the thick outer layer of soft rime ice. Climbing into this vertical subway tunnel for 60 meters felt like entering a portal into another world. It eventually funneled up to an elevator shaft and spat us out of a squeeze tube. For the second and third mushrooms, we attached Petzl prototype “wings” to our ice tools to make purchase in the soft, overhanging, cotton-candy rime. These wings are horizontal plates that bolt onto the picks of our ice tools like Dilophosaurus gills. The Final (Summit) Mushroom was a beast. The previous day, it had taken the other parties many hours to clear a natural half-pipe, then dig a tunnel through the steepest part for many hours. Their line then exited their manufactured tunnel out onto the overhanging summit lip. Walking up to the steepest point on Cerro Torre on a perfectly still, clear day was absolutely surreal, basking in the bright orange-red glow of the sunset. The 200 miles of the Continental Ice Cap stretched before us and the Pacific Ocean now clearly visible. Behind, on the other side of the Torre Valley, small, wispy clouds hovered over the summit of Fitz Roy. We were lucky to get perfect lighting to fly our drone around for 30 minutes alone before we headed back down to our tents at El Elmo for the night. Days 5 and 6. To get back to town, you can reverse your way up Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans), or take one of two trekking passes along the Ice Cap. We had experience taking the Northern pass (Paso Marconi) which was now in really bad shape. We opted for the Southern pass (Paso del Viento) to try something new, and hopefully be able to turn our brains off for a few days (sadly, this was not the case). The Hielo Continental spans 50mi across and crawls 200mi north to south across Southern Patagonia. It looked so beautiful and serene from our climb. Now, face to face with this beastly crocodile, it was the stuff of horrors. Canyons after canyons of impassable crevasses, we zig-zagged our way in no logical direction under a bright, unhelpful, full moon. From the air, our tracks must have looked like the random scribbling of a toddler on a massive, blank white floor. A sun dog greeting us after our descent. Finally reaching the pass and seeing people again after such a mental test of sanity was nothing short of jubilant. A popular trek is to take the pass South to Lago Viedma: the Huemul Circuit. We were now on a delightful trekking path and could now…finally… turn our brains off and just put one foot in front of the other for a mere 14 miles back to ice cream and showers and safety. Thanks: We had good confidence in the forecast and the length of the window, but it’s still important to have daily weather updates to anticipate the inconsistencies between each day. We’re so grateful for our weathermen who sent us updates to the inReach and gave us both confidence and peace of mind each day that we spun ourselves further from civilization: Dan Berdel, Devin Monas, and Rolando Garibotti. We’d also like to thank Dave Burdick (Alpine Dave!) for his support, inspiration and beta on the route. Also thanks to the American Alpine Club Live Your Dream Grant for supporting this trip. Recommended Reading: The Tower, Kelly Cordes Patagonia Vertical, Rolando Garibotti Enduring Patagonia, Greg Crouch Gear Notes: 13 ice screws (including 3 stubbies) 1 Picket (to place horizontally in vertical rime!) small set of nuts (Wildcountry Superlight) small rack of cams (Black Diamond Ultralight cams .4-1, Metolius Mastercam 1-3) 2 Petzl Nomic Ice Tools + Petzl prototype wings (rented from Viento Oeste gear shop in town) Petzl V-link Umbilicals 2 stuff sacks (gear management in pack, and also to leave for snow anchors) The North Face Phantom 50 backpack 4 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 2 Camp 22 biners each 2 double-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each 7 single-length Petzl Pur'anneau runners with 1 Camp 22 biner each (can’t have too many runners) Patagonia R2 Jacket Patagonia Micro Puff jacket Patagonia Macro Puff jacket Patagonia Kniferidge hardshell jacket (didn't use)...also, it's now the "Ascensionist Jacket". Mainly wore the Micro Puff for outer layer Patagonia Nano Air Pants Patagonia Softshell pants (bibs) Patagonia base layer (top+bottom) Platypus 2L soft bottle Garmin inReach Mini (love this little guy!) Petzl Dart Crampons 2x Mammut Twighlight Twin Rope (7.5mm) Petzl Sirocco helmets Petzl Sitta harness (for him) and Arc’teryx harness (for her) Metolius Feather Nut Tool (each) Mammut Smart belay device (not the Alpine Smart) 3 lockers for group: Grivel Tau K12L, Grivel Lambda HMS, Grivel Plume 2 medium fuel canisters Jetboil Sol stove Safety ‘biner (each) – Edelrid 19g caribeener, Petzl Micro Traxion, short Sterling Hollowblock, Trango Piranha knife Bivy setup – Full Length Thermarest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad, Exped Air Pillow UL, Feathered Friends Spoonbill sleeping bag MSR Advance Pro 2 Tent (amazing!) La Sportiva TX4 Approach shoes La Sportiva G2SM boots Petzl Reactik headlamps (each) + 3 extra AAA batteries + Petzl e+LITE headlamp Other things: 1 long spoon to share, chapstick to share, small Joshua Tree sun stick to share, Frog's Tung phone leash, lighter, whistle, duct tape, Thermarest repair patches, Voke tabs, Nuun, pain killers, 1L Platypus soft water bottle (for her) and 750mL HydraPak Stash (for him), warm headband, glove liners, 1 pair thick long socks (each), sunglasses, ear plugs, WRFA emergency form, small pencil, cotton handkerchief, wad of toilet paper, ID, Credit Card 1 Swix alpine pole (with snow basket) Arcteryx ball cap Adidas Sunglasses (with nose sun guard), no longer available iPhone 11 Pro (with route beta downloaded) GoPro HERO 5 Session (with helmet mount) DJI Mavic Mini Drone (remote and drone stored in USPS Tyvek bag) Dinner: 2 AlpineAire meals, 3 Near East Couscous boxes repackaged with small olive oil packets in ziplock bags, salt Day food was mostly bulky, yummy snacks: vegan jerky, dried mango, nuts, Cheese-Its, sesame sticks, Gu, nut butter, etc Approach Notes: Approached via Col Standhardt. Also possible to approach via Paso Marconi (currently in difficult/sketchy conditions) or Paso del Viento (long). We came back via Paso del Viento, but it's also possible to climb back over Col Standhardt (M7 shenanigans with old fixed ropes here and there).
  4. 11 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - FA: Superalpine (WI3-4, 1000') Trip Date: 02/28/2020 Trip Report: On February 28th, 2020, @PorterM and I made what we believe to be the first winter ascent of the West Face of Sloan Peak. We climbed an incredible line approximately 1000 ft long of WI3-4 and steep snow climbing before our route joined the final 600 ft of snowfields to the summit. On the very final ice step, I suffered a short fall on rotten ice and a heinous top out and broke a few bones in the right side of my face. We bailed down the route and skied out. So technically, I guess we didn't finish the route, so say what you want about it. Our route started with a WI4ish pitch followed by hundreds of feet of stellar WI3 rambly flows in a gully just to the climber's right of the true west ridge spur on Sloan Peak. In our eyes, this was the only way up the true west face under WI4+/5. The whole face is loaded with huge free hanging daggers and wild lines. A competent WI6/M6 climber in the right conditions could send some absolute world class lines up there. I shared a lot more details, reflections on the accident, and route beta on my blog: https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/. Hopefully some others can get up there and finish this magnificent climb or poach some of the other unclimbed lines. Our route. up to where I fell. We were about to join the corckscrew route and head out. We climbed the gully on the right side of the photo. First pitch crux. Moving into the wonderful ice gully. Porter leading on that fat, fun, rambly WI3. The climbing in the gully was generally easy, sustained, and super fun! Incredible flows on the west face. Some helpful beta. Gear Notes: Screws, maybe a few small rock pieces and a picket. Approach Notes: Skin/hike forest service road 4096, then meander up Bedal Creek to the base of the west face.
  5. 10 points
    Trip: Mt Rainier - Central Mowich Face (IV, AI2, 60 degrees) Trip Date: 07/13/2019 Trip Report: @nkimmes and I climbed the Central Mowich Face on Rainier July 13 - 14, 2019. We left the skis at home for once and sent it in a two day push from Mowich Lake to White River. Approach from the Mowich Lake campground was straight forward for the early miles. The trails winds up through wooded hills toward spray creek and eventually gains a large, open alpine landscape. The trees gave way to alpine brush and small talus that undulated with the movement of glaciers long gone. After a fairly long cross country section we reached the benign Flett Glacier. This permanent snowfield is situated low on the flanks of the mountain under Echo and Observation Rocks. Our path took us between them, close to the east side of Observation. Visibility was not good. Low hanging clouds roiled over the rocks and the landscape around us. The glacier seceded to loose volcanic rock. Our footsteps sank with each stride to gain Ptarmigan Ridge. This point marked the end of the easy terrain. From this point we knew that previous parties had found a fairly heinous down climb/scramble over steep, loose rock to the glacier below. Some beta also indicated that there might be a permanent snowfield. Ultimately we decided to drop off the side of the ridge at just over 8200 ft. It was loose as promised, but overall the slope was not treacherous. Eventually we did run into a snowfield that made downhill travel a bit easier until we reached the outer edge of the North Mowich Glacier at 7200 ft. We roped up for the first time and travelled through a beautiful jigsaw of monster crevasses. We took a direct line toward the base of the route, instead of circumventing the core of the glacier out toward the Edmund Headwall as described in the guidebook. One crevasse was crossed by down climbing the wall on one side to access a depressed, knife edge bridge about ten feet below the lip of the crevasse. We tiptoed across and climbed back up the other side. After 12 hours on the move we reached a rock band at 10,200' above the double bergshrund guarding the route. We pitched the tent, melted snow and attempted to drink sand filled water and made funny videos condemning Jet Boil for being shit in the wind. Sleep did not come easy. The wind had picked up substantially and after a brief 30 minutes in my sleeping bag, heard a large crash from up high on the mountain. Seconds later, from the darkness of the tent, my heart sunk as a massive boulder plummeted past our perch to the glacier below. Sleep didn't come at all. The alarm went off at 1am and we started up at 3am. Conditions were perfect. We rolled out of the tent to clear skies, no wind and cruiser neve except for a small vein of AI2 near the top, at the start of the grade IV variation that leads out onto a ramp above the EH instead of traversing left through the rock band at the top of the CMF. We felt secure and free solo'd the entire 3000' face to 13,200'. From there it was slow going as we slogged through high wind up Liberty Cap and over the plateau to summit on Columbia Crest. After an involuntary nap looking out over the top of the DC, we traversed the mountain with a descent dow the Emmons Glacier. It had been a big trip. We were wrecked and stoked that it had gone so smooth, especially since i was supposed to catch a flight to Boston the next day. Cheers! The route as seen from the road to Mowich Lake. The early part of the North Mowich Glacier after the descent from Ptarmigan Ridge. Monster crevasses that could eat a semi-truck. 10,200' bivy sunset was something else. @nkimmes on the main face as the horizon started to get light. Perfect other than my crampon kept falling off. Near the top of the face at the AI2 vein. No words necessary. Stoked! Summit! Gear Notes: Pickets, couple screws Approach Notes: Mowich Lake TH
  6. 10 points
    Trip: Eiger North Face - 1938 Heckmair Route Trip Date: 03/18/2020 Trip Report: First off: I'd be remiss not to mention the extenuating circumstances we're all in right now. Priti and I have been at home in Chamonix since March 19 now, and we'd encourage everyone to do so as well. This climb occurred prior to the French, Swiss, and US lockdowns. We returned home to quarantine with the rest of France just after this trip. I hope this trip report will entertain and inform you so you can start your own Eiger Training Plan and trip planning! Don't FOMO, we're not doing anything right now either! Your friends, J&P “Anyone who returns from the Eigerwand cannot but realize that he has done something more than a virtuoso climb: he has lived through a human experience to which he had committed not only all his skill, intelligence and strength, but his very existence.” -Lionel Terray, Conquistadors of the Useless “Yes, we had made and excursion into another world and we had come back, but we had brought the joy of life and of humanity back with us. In the rush and whirl of everyday things, we so often live alongside one another without making any mutual contact. We had learned on the North Fae of the Eiger that men are good, and the earth on which we were born is good.” -Heinrich Harrer, The White Spider The 1938 Heckmair Route. Photo Credit: @eiger_daily (Instagram)...the best overlay we found. Posted here with permission. Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Luckily (or not), our ascent of the 5,000ft Eiger North Face (or ‘Eigerwand’ or ‘Eiger Nordwand’) in mid-March 2020 may have been on the quietest days in the face’s history of climbing since its first attempt in 1934. No summertime cow bells ringing in the rugged hillsides of Alpiglen above the town of Grindelwald, no cars and honks were noticed, no sounds of ski lift machinery, no joyous skiers on the hillsides of the Jungfrau ski resort which sits at the foot of the Eiger, few trains were in operation (and solely for construction workers). Not even any sounds came from the sky as we climbed in perfect, bluebird weather for three days. Frankly, I could’ve used more cow bell. Among the reasons I climb, isolation is not one of them. I appreciate the sights and sounds of civilization from a climb which provides significant psychological aid. We did, however, see several helicopters fly by delivering goods and construction materials to the future site of a new lift within the resort, along with several Swiss Air Force F-18’s practicing formations through the beautiful Berner Oberland valley. Jon Krakauer wrote in Eiger Dreams: “I didn’t want to climb the Eiger, I wanted to have climbed the Eiger.” This is a sentiment I think most climbers can understand at some level. For years this quote has haunted me. There are many climbs to which I could solidly attribute this feeling. I knew, however, that whenever I would finally step out onto the snowy slopes of the Eiger, I didn’t want to have this feeling. The Eiger is just too dangerous; too big; too bold. I always knew that if I felt this way, I would simply turn around. I wanted to be in it, and enjoy my time wrestling with the alligator. Luckily, both Priti and I were itching to attack, having fun the whole way. Left to right: Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau We arrived in Grindelwald, Switzerland from Chamonix the day before our intended climb and took an overpriced 1hr train ride to Kleine Scheidegg, the central hub of the Jungfrau Ski Resort. Kleine Scheidegg is crowned by the historic and elaborate alpine resort, established in 1840: Hotel Bellevue des Alpes (where ‘The Eiger Sanction’ and ‘Nordwand’ were filmed). Many of the more well-sponsored Eiger climbers throughout history have stayed here. But not all. You would have thought that the Third Reich could have at least put up Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer up for a few nights! Many climbers discreetly bivy near the foot of the Eiger within the ski resort, or on the floor of the restaurant at the Eigergletscher complex (the uppermost hub of the Jungfrau ski resort). However, we were expressly denied permission to sleep on the restaurant floor. Furthermore, we also found the Women’s and Handicapped restrooms permanently locked. All of the construction workers are male, and the proprietor must have caught on to the unexpected guests of the Women’s restroom from recent Eiger Conquistadors. If a climber wants to step up their bivouac accommodations slightly above a bathroom stall or a restaurant floor, they can stay at the Eigergletscher Guesthouse (hostel). However, with the ongoing construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art gondola which will link Grindelwald directly to Eigergletscher by the end of 2020, the guesthouse is exclusively housing construction workers until the end of the project. There is another hostel at Kleine Scheidegg (Hotel Bahnhof), but it had already been closed for a few weeks due to Coronavirus precautions. Staying at Eigergletscher or Kleine Scheidegg is ideal so that you can start your first day of climbing as early as you like (however, many climbers do start their first day from the 7:00AM train in Grindelwald). During summer months, climbers might also base camp in pastures beneath the face, as Mehringer and Sedlmeyer did for their attempt in 1936, however the train is so expensive that base camping in Grindelwald is now the norm while waiting for weather and conditions. The thing about the Eiger is that even if the forecast looks splitter, you never know when the semi-mythical and unexpected ‘foehn’ will show up. These are southerly winds that blow on the north side of the Alps in winter. The foehn (literally meaning ‘hair dryer’) frequently surprises climbers bringing sudden bursts of warm air and stormy weather. The Jungfrau ski resort is unusual in that its primary artery is a 128 year old railway: the “Jungfraubahn”, highest railway in Europe. A climb of the Eiger usually begins with an expensive 1hr train ride from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg, then a change of trains for another 10min ride up to Eigergletscher. Exiting the Eigergletscher deposits one out onto the lower slopes of the North Face. The train, however, does continue on, burrowing up through the depths of the Eiger and on to a high saddle (the “Jungfraujoch”) between two of the Alps’ most impressive 4000m peaks: Jungfrau and Mönch. From Kleine Scheidegg, one gets an incredible vantage point for the skyline of these three behemoths: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Modern folklore has it that the Monk (Mönch) guards the Virgin (Jungfrau) from the Ogre (Eiger). The actual German word for Ogre is “Oger”, and the true etymology of the word ‘Eiger’ stems from a curious and long-forgotten amalgam of middle high German, Swiss vernacular, and Latin for something like “high peak”. There is a multi-use, groomed run which connects Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher. Trying to save some money, we skinned up this run instead of buying a train ticket to reach Eigergletscher (only 30-45min of easy skinning). Then, we skied down an amazing groomed run for 6 miles and 4500ft of descent from Eigergletscher all the way down to our hostel next to the train station in Grindelwald. All day, the ski resort was bustling and vibrant, and no one at the resort or the train station expected any disruption of service any time soon due to Coronavirus precautions. With the Eigergletscher Guesthouse closed due to construction, Hotel Bahnhof closed due to health precautions, and the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes open but too ritzy, we planned to discreetly bivouac near Eigergletscher. Upon arrival back at Grindelwald, however, we got word that the entire resort (lifts) and the trains would discontinue operation that evening for the indefinite future due to Switzerland’s precautions against Coronavirus. A final and devastating setback. Hotel Bellevue des Alpes with (left to right) Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau behind We had originally come to Grindelwald due to a large high pressure system which was bringing a week of unusually phenomenal weather to the otherwise grim mountain. We’d planned to at least visit in order to understand the approach, logistics and start to observe the conditions on the mountain. The lack of train meant an extra 6 miles and 4500ft gain of approach to the mountain…a mere “sit-start”. We were not yet about to give up and call it quits. Back home, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc lifts were still running under normal operations and both France and Switzerland were not under lockdown, so there was no urgency to leave; no compelling ethical reason to begin self-quarantine. As luck would find it, we found a companion for our laborious day of skinning our heavy load up to Kleine Scheidegg. Another BOEALPS veteran happened to be in Grindelwald at the same time: Fabien Mandrillon. He is revered within the club for his years instructing classes and for being Head Instructor of the Basic Rock Class (as we had also been). He had emigrated to Zurich before we joined the club, and we had hoped to meet him at some point on our Sabbatical. Having pleasant company under these unfortunate circumstances was certainly a delightful way to start our adventure. Surprisingly, we saw only a few other backcountry skiers on the hike up from Grindelwald. The resort had even groomed the track from Grindelwald that morning expecting the closures would not to keep people off the slopes. It was a beautiful day after a light dusting of fresh snow the day prior. If this situation were in Washington, the trail would have been packed with backcountry skiers! Priti and Fabien enjoying a lovely day of skinning Eiger North Face, West Ridge, and West Flank (descent route) Once we were back up at Kleine Scheidegg, under full expectation of sneak-bivouacking within the resort, we were delighted to find one set of accommodations still open (under extenuating circumstances). The grand Hotel Bellevue des Alpes had remained open a few extra days because of a few VIP guests which they were unwilling to expel. Thus, we took a sizable chunk from our Sabbatical budget to fork over to one night of luxury before we took on the Eigerwand. The evening was reminiscent of one of my favorite films, Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. The entire establishment glistened with immaculate, Old World luxury. Only the remaining handful of guests were being served the magnificent 4-course meal (indeed, one of the greatest in my life) within the halls of the elaborate dining rooms. At dinner, the guests were seated segregated by an optimal number of empty tables so as to assuage our newfound distaste for social interactions. Under strict orders of “No sports attire during dinner”, we sheepishly dined wearing our Eigerwand armor and our complimentary, fuzzy bathroom slippers while the other guests wore formal wear of suits, ties, dresses, and formal shoes. As we found out later, the few guests remaining were elderly patrons going back decades, one of whom had lost her husband of 47 years the week prior, escaping to a memory of their life together. Feeling the rush to appreciate our accommodations with the clear acknowledgement of our pre-dawn start, we spent a few minutes alone in each of the exquisite rooms of the establishment, excitedly recollecting the various scenes filmed there for The Eiger Sanction: the billiards room, the parlor, the bar, the lobby, even the concierge desk. The tolerant bartender with an immaculately groomed beard and pencil-long mustache, served us some truly delightful concoctions ginger ale, tonic water, and citrus: no summit, no party. We wryly noted that whenever we expressed our intent on climbing the Eigerwand, nobody would bat an eye. Naturally expecting some expression of praise (“vanity is one of the prime movers of the world”), we were taken aback at the utter apathy to which the world judged our sepulchral pursuit. We were not special! “Eiger-birds” (hopeful climbers) were a dime a dozen, and we were to receive no accolades before or after our adventure. From our bedroom that evening, we watched winter’s shy sun set early on the North Face of the Eiger, and the nocturnal eyeball of the “Stollenloch” wake up to illuminate the lower slopes. At the turn of the 20th Century, enterprising Swiss railway Engineers blasted an impressive tunnel through the heart of the Eiger, from which two windows were poked through Eiger’s North Face about a third of the way up. One upstream (the “Eigerwand Station”) on the looker’s left side of the face, and one downstream (the “Stollenloch”) on the right side. The Stollenloch (“Door 38”) is a small, purely utilitarian window which was used to jettison debris from the early railroad construction over a century ago and was never a tourist observation window. Some climbers have approached by walking up the railroad tracks and exiting the Stollenloch to bypass the lower snow slopes of the face. Approaching via the Stollenloch is generally considered taboo, while nearly all climbers take the train up to Eigergletscher (and down as well). We have to start somewhere, and it’s not Bern! Still, it’s worth noting that Kurz and Hinterstoisser biked from Berchtesgaden, Germany, nearly 400miles away…perhaps the true sit-start for the Eigerwand! When there is enough snow, climbers stash skis up high for a victory ski lap back down to Grindelwald to top off the climb. Train entering the depths of the Eiger tunnel The Heckmair route goes very near the Stollenloch which has given this window quite a reputation through the climbing history of the face. The other gallery (the Eigerwand Station) is not near any other popular climbing route and is on the far left side of the face. The Eigerwand Station is an engineering feat, clearly visible from the valley floor, consisting of a series of several large balconies (later converted to glass windows) that mar this limestone sculpture. Since the Jungfraujoch extension opened in 1912, tourists have been able to lean over the vertiginous parapets to marvel at the face’s dizzying slopes. The balconies were even outfitted with paper bags in the event that a tourist experienced any physiological discomforts! The Eigerwand Station was a 5 minute train stop solely for tourist observation from 1912 until 2016, when newer, faster railway vehicles were incorporated, and this renowned observation point was put out of service. Interestingly, since the Eigerwand Station’s closure, “much of the publicity material fails to acknowledge that this viewpoint station ever existed” (Wikipedia). Quizzically, the iconic and celebrated Eigerwand station was axed in order to add one more train and reduce travel time to Jungfraujoch. The smaller, unassuming window, the Stollenloch, on the other hand, still plays just as an important role as it ever has. In 1936, after his other partners perished on the face, Tony Kurz froze to death in front of the Stollenloch while rappelling in free space, unable to pass a knot in the rope, just out of reach from rescue workers (recounted in the German film ‘Nordwand’). Clint Eastwood was rescued through this window in The Eiger Sanction. A window which has always served as a trap door for climbers to miraculously transport themselves from the unforgiving alpine face to the civilized world. The window from which many climbers escaped storms including Mugs Stump, who in 1981 after finding this shelter and bounding down the tunnel towards Eigergletscher was only to realize the true horror of trying to plaster his body within the 1-foot clearance of the rocky walls while the immutably time-conscious Swiss train rolled past him (Source: Krakauer’s “Eiger Dreams”). I made sure to have a copy of the train’s timetable in case we had to Gooney our way down this escape-chute/death-trap! While climbing this route, we were most impressed at the abilities of the early climbers 80 years prior being able to climb on such difficult terrain with such rudimentary equipment: Karl Mehringer, Max Sedlmeyer, Andreas Hinterstoisser, Toni Kurz, Ludwig Vörg, Anderl Heckmair, Louis Lachenal, and Lionel Terray. These climbers were total badasses. Their efforts boggle the mind. Many of the cruxes on this route are no-shit overhangs on brittle rock, downsloping ledges, and poor protection (if any at all). With a pre-dawn start from our comfortable beds at the foot of the Eiger, we stepped out into a frozen darkness. We walked the extra 45min from Kleine Scheidegg up to Eigergletscher on a deserted ski run, passing by several early-morning construction workers who were less-than-enthusiastic about our presence as we tip-toed through the construction site onto the lower snow slopes of the Eigerwand. A recent blog post by an Italian team had us hopeful that their steps in the snow would pave the way. But alas, we found no steps and instead had to make our path and kick our own steps (later deeming that the blogpost was not clearly dated and was actually from earlier in January). Since much of the route is snow travel, the existence (or not) of another party’s snow steps can drastically alter your timeline in terms of both physical exertion and time spent routefinding. It is important to intimately know the features on the face, the names of the pitches, the condition of the cruxes. The route was so meticulously memorized as we quizzed each other on the drive up, that it felt as though we were executing a victory lap of versed, choreographed sequences of movements through Nintendo’s Mario Bros (with a princess waiting on top). First, traverse across easy snow slopes towards the First Pillar, zig-zagging across snowed-over limestone ledges up to the Shattered Pillar, and finally the ‘Difficult Crack’, the crux-y start of the actual climbing. Memorize This! Sadly, we never even saw the Stollenloch. The route passes nearby, but not directly over the Stollenloch, and is very much out-of-the-way. A party behind us on the same day purposefully started late so that they could spend their first night inside the Stollenloch (requiring a good amount digging). The Difficult Crack is still truly difficult (and also hard to find)! The Difficult Crack is the start of the technical part of the climb. If there is low snow coverage, you’ll have an extra pitch much lower down, before The Difficult Crack (just above the bergschrund and next to ‘the plaque’) which is a straight up rock corner. However, we were able to easily bypass this pitch with an easy snow ramp. Many parties don’t even find The Difficult Crack and instead pick their way up much harder variations to get up to the Hinterstoisser Traverse. It’s especially important to know what the Difficult Crack looks like (keep pictures on your phone) and how to get there (a traverse about 10-15m long heading right and slightly downhill). After that, the rest of the routefinding on the Heckmair is relatively trivial. The Hinterstoisser Traverse is infamous for its very difficult climbing with snow/ice over blank slabs situated under the impressive overhang of the massive blank face of the Rote Fluh. The Rote Fluh is one of two major obstacles on the face (the other is the Gelbewand), and they are both seriously impressive overhanging faces. Shown above: start of Hinterstoisser (low angle snow) which then turns into steep slab with fixed ropes (no picture) A permanent rope is affixed to the Hinterstoisser Traverse due to its incredible difficulty (everybody pulls on them!) but also as an homage to the 1936 tragedy when the entire team perished while trying to retreat down the face but were unable to reverse the traverse (likely due to fresh verglas plastered to the slabs). Our feeble notion of “free-ing” the Heckmair route quickly evaporated in our minds almost at the very first move of technical climbing. This route is longer and more difficult than we could have imagined, but we were prepared for every obstacle. The mixed climbing is seemingly never-ending and the overhanging steepness of the cruxes were shocking for a route completed 80 years ago. After the Hinterstoisser Traverse, more fixed lines lead up through a short chimney (‘Swallow’s Nest’) to the First Icefield, which had good névé and offered good step-kicking. A narrow gully connects the First and Second Icefields with the only pure ice climbing pitch on the route: the Ice Hose. If you’re unlucky, the pitch is bone-dry and makes for extremely difficult rock climbing (a variation on its left). Lachenal and Terray opted for the rock variation on the second ascent of the route in 1947, deeming that the WI3 Ice Hose would take too long to chop steps! Nowadays, with modern ice climbing technique, climbers are truly blessed if they find it was we did: in WI3 conditions, heavily featured, and easily accepting “stubby” ice screws. The start of the ice hose is just visible in the middle (sorry I didn't get a better pic) The Second Icefield is a long, snowy traverse on low-angled ground to get to mixed corners (Bügeleisen, or ‘Flatiron’ buttress) and finally to the wall’s first and only decent bivouac: the ‘Death Bivouac’ (aka ‘Karl-Max Bivouac’ where Mehringer and Sedlmeyer froze to death in 1935). It was dark by the time we got to the mixed corners of the ‘Flatiron’ and the climbing was terribly difficult with long runouts and poor protection at about M5. The corners were bare of snow and ice. While leading the pitch, I recalled a story from Barry Blanchard in The Calling of his and Kevin Doyle’s ascent of the Grand Central Couloir on Mount Kitchener where Doyle took off his mitts and licked his fingers so that they would stick to the rock and help his purchase. I took off my beefy climbing gloves in the cold darkness and found the extra stickiness of my bare fingers also provided excellent aid on the downsloping ledges! I could withstand the pain for a few minutes (it was probably 15F outside) if it helped prevent me from falling from my precarious perch. We finally made it to the Death Bivouac and we had been moving much slower than anticipated all day with only 12hrs of sunlight. Knowing that it was improbable that we would make the summit the next day, we planned to have a short day and bivouac again at the route’s only other decent bivouac: the ‘Traverse of the Gods’. Here at the Death Bivouac, we had to dig out a platform under a narrow overhang. Surprisingly, our ledge was just wide enough to sleep side-by-side… a welcome and unexpected luxury. We had each brought a thin, lightweight sleeping bag and a short, inflatable ‘summer’ sleeping pad. While brewing up dinner, I was horrified to discover that my sleeping pad had a hole which prevented it from staying inflated. I therefore had to sleep three nights in sub-freezing temperatures on narrow ledges with only ropes and backpacks under my ass! Every morning was difficult. We woke with the sunlight and made coffee with very little urgency. The entire climb felt rather like a holiday with a very leisurely itinerary and perfect weather. Ashamedly, we spent more time on the face than the first ascent in 1938 and the second ascent in 1947. The face doesn’t receive sun until late in the evening where you are lucky to get 30-60min of direct sunlight on your face. After the Death Bivouac, a short traverse across the Third Icefield leads to ‘The Ramp’, several pitches of easy mixed ground which funnels up to the ‘Waterfall Chimney’ (possibly the crux of the entire route). The Ramp (much like the Hinterstoisser) crawls timidly under another massive overhanging face, the Gelbewand. The ‘Waterfall Chimney’ is a genuine overhanging chimney of few holds which gushes with water in the summertime. Luckily, being in winter there was no water (good) but also no ice (bad). Usually when climbed in colder parts of the night, the spring/summer thaw freezes and makes the pitch much more palatable. Above here, the route splits into another chimney on the right (not advised) and a tenuous traverse above a head-spinning overhang on the left. The chimney above looked so well protected with fixed ropes and pitons everywhere, but every topo told us to go left around the corner instead. This leftward traverse spits the climber above a dizzying overhang, balancing on delicate, unprotectable limestone discs. A fall would mean a giant pendulum into space, dangling thousands of feet above the concave of the face below. Luckily, a multitude of pitons after a long runout help surmount a final bulge to a short, stout icefield cirque. Above: the Waterfall Chimney, overall crux of the route (in our opinion). Other contenders: Difficult Crack, Crystal Crack, Exit Chimney Above this icefield is a steep wall which you traverse on the ‘Brittle Ledges’. In Conquistadors of the Useless, Lionel Terray describes the Brittle Ledges as “tottering, piled up crockery”, which is as best a description as I can surmount. Luckily those piled up crockery are surprisingly solid, making for very interesting traversing on impossibly protruding discs. One final crux to reach our next bivouac: the Brittle Crack. From a hanging belay, you surmount a sizable bulge via perfect hand/fist cracks. This may have been the most fun pitch of the route, gleefully taking off my gloves and jamming my way up solid cracks in sub-freezing temps. Above: Traverse of the Gods bivouac Here, one finds a final bivouac at the beginning of the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, so named because it miraculously provided passage to the final major feature (the White Spider) for the first ascensionists. This accommodation was much narrower than the Death Bivouac and we were forced to sleep narrowly in a line, head-to-toe (with feet dangling off the sides). A typical timeline is to do the route in 2 days with one bivouac here at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’, making for a VERY big first day from Eigergletscher. The ‘Traverse of the Gods’ takes easy mixed ground rightward to the lower-left appendage of the ‘The White Spider’, a large snow/icefield high on the face. The White Spider is an obvious concave weakness in the wall spotted from the valley floor which was more black-and-blue this time of year than “white”. In winter, the snow/hail sloughs off immediately and the upper part of the face does not get above freezing during the day. Therefore, the White Spider was hard ice for us (instead of easy névé of the late spring and summer). This made for strenuous front-pointing on bullet-hard ice to the final left-trending ramp (the ‘Exit Cracks’) which led to the summit slopes. Above: Start of the Traverse of the Gods. Just before the next belayer in the background, the traverse goes up slightly, then back down. Above: Further along the Traverse of the Gods (the lower end of the White Spider just visible) Above: The White Spider, with Exit Cracks (ramp) above Moderate mixed terrain up this ramp ends at a final crux, the 15 meter long ‘Quartz (or Crystal) Crack’ (due to the splotches of Quartz on the limestone face). Sometimes there can be ice in this off-width overhang, but we found it dry. Steve House calls this pitch “Enjoyable when dry”. Priti led this pitch brilliantly, employing virtually every tool in the kit. Another mixed corner leads to a short traverse/rappel on a fixed line to the left-most couloir: the ‘Exit Chimney’. Above: Quartz Crack (technical crux, but short) It was my turn to lead on what looked like an exceptionally fun pitch of easy 5.6 terrain in a wide, hamstring-stretching chimney, of which all three walls resembled a washboard of downward-sloping holds. The crux here is not so much its difficulty as is its headiness. If you’re lucky, there is ice in this chimney (for climbing on and not for placing ice screws in!), but we found it dry as is expected in winter. The limestone is so compact in this chimney that protection does not exist for about 20ft. Your first piton is visible from the bottom of the pitch and you eye it up ravenously as you climb higher. Wide stemming and outward bare-handed palming are more valuable than pure dry tool technique. Here, mono points find value in the corners of the shallow chimney as you try not to look down. A fall would mean cheese-grating on this washboard slab onto a narrow snowy ledge over an overhang into space. The final moves to the first piece of protection were some of the headiest of my life as I made a dynamic (admittedly ungraceful) throw with my ice tool to the weathered cord hanging from a doubtful piton. After this point, another 100m of much lower-angled couloir climbing takes you to the ‘Summit Snowfields’. Above: Exit Chimney (psychological crux) This pain-in-the-ass route never ends! Above: 200m low-angle mixed just before summit snow/icefield You still have 200m of easy, mixed terrain followed by another 200m of bullet-hard low-angle ice to finally reach where the summit ridgeline meets the Mittellegi Ridge. We knew the summit was flat enough for a bivy site, but we found a luxuriously wide flat spot earlier, at this juncture with the Mittellegi Ridge. Here, this comfortable bivouac overlooked the Bernese Oberland down to the North and the Ischmeer Glacier (‘Ice Sea’) down to the South, with a brilliant sunset and sunrise. Above: Our final bivouac, just where the Mittellegi Ridge meets the summit ridgeline. The next morning was a casual stroll on an easy, snowy ridgeline to the summit as we enjoyed finally being showered in sunlight. Earlier, at the ‘Traverse of the Gods’ a French team of two and a Swiss team of two passed us as we made coffee. We were glad to have people pass us so they would blaze a descent trail down the West Flank of the Eiger. In summer, the descent can be an annoying affair with rappels and down climbing. But in winter, it’s easy snow all the way down to Eigergletscher, and we were glad to have tracks going down the slopes. Above: looking down at Grindelwald and the Berner Oberland Above: Looking down the Eiger's West Flanks (Eigergletscher and Kleine Scheidegg are visible below) Above: View from Eigergletscher up the Eiger's West Flanks. Check out (Instagram) @eiger_daily post (Feb 5, 2020) for a good overlay and description of the descent. We picked up our cached skis at Kleine Scheidegg and enjoyed the victory ski lap down to Grindelwald on yet another perfectly sunny day in a deserted ski resort. As soon as we got back to Grindelwald, we got an automated text from the French government (sent to all French phone numbers) that France was now in lockdown. The next morning, we high-tailed it back to Chamonix to commence 4 weeks of mandatory lockdown. Selected History of the Eigerwand: 1935 - Karl Mehringer and Max Sedlmeyer established a line to the First Icefield (much further left on the face from the Heckmair route) and established the path to the ‘Death Bivouac’ where they perished. Their line to the First Icefield is not often climbed and has much more sustained difficulty and objective hazard. 1936 - Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser established a new line to the First Icefield which then met up with the Mehringer-Sedlmeyer route up to the ‘Death Bivouac’ before retreating in a storm. This new line went up through ‘The Difficult Crack’ and across the ‘Hinterstoisser Traverse’. Hinterstoisser masterfully crossed this difficult slab with a series of strenuous tension traverses. Nowadays, most climbers just pull on the fixed lines across the Hinterstoisser Traverse, although with enough snow and skill, the Traverse can be free’d. Kurz, Hinterstoisser, and two other climbers (Willy Angerer and Edi Rainer) perished on retreat during a storm, as recounted dramatically in the German movie Nordwand. 1938 - Anderl Heckmair, Heinrich Harrer, Fritz Kasparek and Ludwig Vorg complete the first ascent via the Kurz/Hinterstoisser variation (reference Harrer’s book The White Spider). 1947 - Second Ascent by Lionel Terray and Louis Lachenal (reference Terray’s book Conquistadors of the Useless). 1957 - Two Italians (Claudio Corti and Stefano Longhi) and two Germans (Franz Meyer and Gunther Nothdurft) epic on the Heckmair Route in bad weather (scathingly recounted in Conquistadors and White Spider). Only Corti survived. Corti sat for four days on a narrow ledge near the top of the face at the base of the Exit Chimney before a 52-person rescue operation unfolded, finally rescuing him with the use a summit-mounted winch and steel cable. Topo maps still point out this “Corti Bivouac”, however the term “bivouac” is more tongue-in-cheek since this tiny protrusion would no place to spend a night. 1961 - First winter ascent, Walter Almberger, Toni Hiebeler, Toni Kinshofer, and Anderl Mannhardt. 1963 - First solo ascent, Michel Darbellay, in 18hrs. 1964 - Daisy Voog first female ascent. 1971 - First helicopter rescue from the face. Today, the company ‘Air-Glaciers’ regularly plucks climbers off the face with reliable mastery. 1987 - Christophe Profit free-solo’s an enchainment of the North Faces of the Eiger, Matterhorn, and Grandes Jorasses (the “Alps Trilogy”) in a single push (with paraglider and helicopter transport) in under 42 hours. Many say this event marked the beginning of the era of the “fast and light” style in mountaineering. 1991 - Jeff Lowe put up the Metanoia route straight up the middle of the face (solo and in winter) with unparalleled, visionary madness. 2007 - Roger Schaeli (“Mister Eiger”, with 52 ascents of the Nordwand at the time of this writing) belayed by Christoph Hainz establish the route “Magic Mushroom” (so named for the iconic mushroom-shaped pillar on the West Ridge on which the route tops out), rated 7c+ (5.13a) 2008 - Dean Potter free-BASE’s a Nordwand route called Deep Blue Sea (5.12+) then jumps from the top. 2015 - Sasha DiGiulian first female to free “Magic Mushroom”, along with Carlo Traversi 2015 - Ueli Steck solos the Heckmair Route in 2 hours 22 minutes 50 seconds 2016 - After 25 years, Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia route sees a second ascend by phenoms Thomas Huber, Roger Schaeli, and Stephan Siegrist. Beta side-note: Bring a pocket full of Swiss Franc coins! There are large lockers at the Kleine Scheidegg train station to store ski boots (5 Swiss francs), ski lockers (2 Swiss francs per pair of skis), and a high-powered viewing telescope at the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes to look at conditions on the face (1 Swiss franc). Special Thanks to @eiger_daily for your incredible hospitality, support, and beta; you are truly fostering a wonderful community in the Berner Oberland. Resources: Aside from browsing blog posts and Google Images for route overlays, Eigertopo.com is the best route description we found. This little pamphlet provides pitch-by-pitch descriptions as well as informative overlays. This little book is literally all you need!! Also check out @eiger_daily (Instagram) for recent pictures of the face and also scroll through the post for the best overlay and gear beta. More important beta from Steve House: https://www.uphillathlete.com/climb-eiger-north-face/ Uphill Athlete Training Plan: https://www.uphillathlete.com/eiger-north-face-training-plan/ The Italian topo here is VERY descriptive and shockingly accurate. Take belay locations with a grain of salt. Link or simul as many pitches as you can: https://www.camptocamp.org/routes/189333/en/eiger-n-face-heckmair-route Gear Notes: Single rack #.3-1 (5 cams), nuts, 1 piton (didn't use), 5 ice screws (2 stubby's), 2 technical ice tools each, monopoint crampons, light (summer) sleeping bags, puffy pants, big-ass belay parkas, short 3/4 length (summer) inflatable sleeping pad, 60m 8.7mm rope, 6 quickdraws, 4 single-length alpine draws, 4 double-length alpine draws, cordalette, 3 micro traxions for the team (for simul climbing) Approach Notes: Normal approach from Eigergletscher
  7. 10 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - North Face Right Gully, Reid Headwall, Wy'East, Pearly Gates Enchainment Trip Date: 12/29/2019 Trip Report: I'm back in Oregon after my first semester of college in Canada! Over the last few months I have spent too much time ice and mixed climbing, not enough time in the mountains. Since I'm back home I figured it would be fun to do a bigger objective on Hood. The coolest thing I could think of was doing a link up of all four faces of the mountain in a push. For the routes, I decided to do the North Face Right Gully, Reid, Wy'East, and the Pearly Gates. I chose the North Face gully because it was the most striking line on the face, Reid because Leuthold looked lame, Wy'East because I didn't want to solo the Black Spider, and Pearly Gates because it was the route that got me into climbing. Link ups are new too me so I thought the whole trip would take around 30 something hours. After watching the weather carefully, a window appeared and I knew it was go time. At 4:00 am I started the hike up to the north face. Cool temps and no wind made the approach go by quickly and comfortably. There's a good trail all the way to the shelter and the snow on the glacier was pretty firm. Cooper 30 is in fat and some of the other drips on the glacier look good too. At around 7:30 I geared up and started up the bergshrund. To my surprise, the shrund was almost completely filled in. I just walked across some stable snow and the bergshrund was over. Climbing the first ice pitch was some of the best ice I've encountered on Hood. The sticks were solid and there wasn't much dinnerplating. First ice pitch Slogging up some more snow brought me to one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. The second ice pitch was in interesting shape which made for such fun climbing! I'll let the picture of the pitch speak for itself. . More neve took me to the cloudy summit by 10:30. I was pretty surprised in how quickly the route took. In my head I had planned for it to take somewhere around 10 hours. Although it was exciting to finish the north face, I still had a long day ahead of me. I had the choice of doing either the Reid or Wy'East next. Initally, I thought I would do Wy'East because I have never been on the route and it had more vert. I have been up the Reid a couple of times now, each one uneventful. As I was descending I asked a few people if they knew the condition of a few routes. The group said the Reid wasn't in which immediately piqued my interest. Now it was settled, Reid first, Wy'East second. I walked down to illumination saddle and got my first look at the west face in the winter. It was so beautiful. Yocum demanded a solemn respect and a thin veil of clouds gave the face a sense of wonder. Looking up at the West Face I charged up the Reid with some mixture of apprehension and excitement. The first 1000 feet or so was simple snow climbing. As I got higher, I developed a rhythm where I would take 50 steps and then rest. Sometimes I would get gassed after 20, sometimes I would push and lose count. When the clouds broke, the Reid got interesting. Simple snow climbing turned into an exhausting swim as the snow turned warm. Quickly, my 50 step rhythm diminished into 5 or 6 steps of making little to no progress. It was no big deal though, I missed the simple joys of effort in the hills. Things got really fun when I reached some ice steps. Firstly, my feet were uncomfortable and my socks were approaching soggy from all the sweat I was making. Secondly, the "ice" was basically rock with some rime over it. I pulled some cool stemming moves and swung for the fences into the choss. My Grivel picks took it like a champ. After pulling a short but steep ice step, I climbed a mixture of alpine ice and snow to the ridge and then summit. By 3:00 I was on the summit for the second time. With the clouds now gone, I was rewarded with the typical Mt. Hood panorama. Now time for round 3. Snow early on the Reid Suns out guns out On top for the second time that day I was pretty stoked at this point. I felt like the hardest climbing was behind me and I knew I was well ahead of schedule. As a reward, I took another sip of my water supply and ate another GU. On the way down I ran into Walter Burkhardt who gave me some more stoke and energy to get the project done. Instead of walking to Palmer to get up to Wy'East, I traversed across the White River glacier. Traversing the glacier allowed me to save a some vert see a little more of the route in the last hour of sunlight. Walking up to the ridge on Wy'East was good snow climbing. When I gained the ridge, I encountered thin layers of snow and ice over rocks. Sometimes I would step on a seemingly normal spot of snow only to have the snow collapse and hit some rocks. Annoying but non-lethal. Climbing on the steel cliffs brought a whole new perspective to me. The sheer size and steepness of the cliffs is especially noticeable when you're on top. The traverse was easy and by around 7:45 I was back on top for the third time. Cool rime formation on the White River On the ridge Last steps before the summit I was feeling so great by now. All I had to do was run up the southside and the four faces of the mountain would be complete. Going up the Pearly Gates brought back the memories of climbing for the first time. So much had changed in the past few years except for the feeling I have in the mountains. Finishing the trip on the route that started it all just felt right. Ice step on Pearly Gates. I reached the summit for the fourth and final time at 8:40. What a trip it had been. I called my mom and she came to pick me up at Timberline an hour and some change later. (I have the best mom ever). Car to car, the trip took 18 hours 10 minutes and 5 seconds. I still had a bunch of food left and about half a liter of water. Reflecting on the trip brought me mixed feelings. I wanted it to be longer. I had envisioned some feat of endurance that would bring me to the depths of my inner self. Instead, I got home in time for (late) dinner. I'm happy that I got it done and thankful the mountain was kind to me that day. All in all I would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested. I would love to see someone beat my time or do different routes. Happy new year everyone. Gear Notes: 2 liters of water, 1200 calories, hardshell, synthetic jacket, and that's pretty much it Approach Notes: Approach to the North side is good and crevasses are easily manageable
  8. 9 points
    Trip: Storm King Mountain (8515’) - North Ridge Route Trip Date: 09/05/2020 Trip Report: Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route Trip Report – September 5-7, 2020 I climbed Storm King Mountain (8515’), North Ridge Route. I tried this route last year at the end of July but under estimated the amount of time, effort and amount of route finding required to do the route and had to turn around before making the summit. This year I still under estimated the time and effort required but was able to make the summit due to better beta from my previous attempt last year. It took me 3 days. I started at the Bridge Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20 just east of Rainy Pass. It was an out and back trip using Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail into the North side of Goode and Storm King. The trail is in excellent shape all the way to Grizzly Creek Camp. After Grizzly Creek Camp the trail gets overgrown but is not hard to follow. The adventure starts when you cross the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Down low, after crossing the creek (3100’-3200’elevation), heading up the rocky brushy slope I almost walked into a large Wasp nest in the middle of the faint climbers trail. I got lucky and made a detour around the nest without incident. I followed a faint trail up the tree lined ridge between Goode and Storm King. The ridge tops out at 4700’ on a nice wide fairly flat plateau that would make a great camp, no water though. I continued up the ridge to about 5100’ and started my traverse over to the bottom of the North Ridge of Storm King (5000’). This is the easiest spot to gain the North Ridge of Storm King, right at the base of the glacier. The rock is a mix of Class 3, 4 and low 5th in spots heading up. On either side of the ridge it is steep, sheer rock so you will know if you are off route. It took me 5 hours to go from the base of the North Ridge to the Summit. I summited late at 6:00pm so I headed down to find a place to bivy at about 7200’ next to the snow field separating the upper and lower mountain. I got up early the next morning and started down at 6:30am. Once back at the bottom of the North Ridge I headed straight down and diagonal toward the creek valley below. On the map it looked like the easiest way down (contour line wise). Even though it was the easiest way down to the main creek, it still involved coming down several 10’ vertical drops that required careful Vege-Belaying technique. I usually hate Slide Alder, but in this case, I was very happy it was on the down route as it was very useful. Overall the North Ridge of Storm King is a tough climb. The approach is difficult, the exit is difficult, and the ridge requires your full attention. The trail into the area is long and you will need comfortable shoes to save your feet. There was a search and rescue helicopter flying all over the creek valley and up to the base of Goode on Sunday the 6th. Looks like they were doing a rescue. They spent some time parked on an island in the middle of the creek below. It was a good reminder to keep my shit wired tight doing this route. Hopefully all went well for the rescue operation. Some Tips and Notes: 1. This is a long trip. I should have spread the pain more evenly over the three days. Day 1 go as far up as you can to camp. I thought Grizzly Camp was far enough on Day 1, it wasn’t. 2. The climbers trail up the tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King is steep and hard to follow. Mostly just look for skid marks from animals and humans to stay on route. 3. There are good camping options at 4700’ on the tree covered ridge and above. The 7200’ bivy spot on the side of Storm King is pretty good, If I had more of my gear with me it would have been very pleasant. There was water all along the route where there was melting snow/glacier. 4. A rope would probably be a good idea to bring along. Rappelling would have been nice in several spots but you would definitely have to watch for loose rock coming down on you as you rappel. A didn’t bring a rope to save weight and it worked out fine for me. 5. I brought an Ice Axe & Crampons and didn’t use them. Maybe early in the season they would have been needed. Travel Time for reference: Day 1 (TH to Grizzly Camp), 4.5 hours – Day 2 (Grizzly Camp to Summit to 7200’ bivy), 12.5 hours – Day 3 (7200’ bivy to TH), 14 hours. Gear used: Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves Wasp nest down low after crossing North Fork Bridge Creek around 3100-3200' Climbers Trail up tree cover ridge between Goode and Storm King View from 4700' ridge plateau Potential camp at 4700' ridge plateau Full view of North Ridge of Storm King. Start of ridge is the at the bottom right where the heavy shadow is (5000'). North Ridge start location (5000'). Get used to this view for the next several hours. View off to the side of the North Ridge. Storm King - "Where Echoes Go To Die" - I believe it, must have been climbing the North Ridge. Goode looking sexy like usual. Wish I had more time on the summit to enjoy the view, it was stunning. End of the Exit route. Farewell Storm King - North Ridge. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hands. Gear Notes: Trekking Pole, Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves - Didn't need the Ice Axe or Crampons Approach Notes: Bridge Creek Trailhead - Bridge Creek Trail to North Fork Trail & back
  9. 9 points
    Trip: North Norwegian Buttress - Jötnar VI 5.9 A3 Trip Date: 08/01/2020 Trip Report: Whaddup maggots. The crew of vagrants and miscreants just got down yesterday from north Norwegian round 2. We completed our line to the top of the buttress. We spent 1 day fixing back to the high point then 6 days on the wall climbing in capsule style to complete the route. We are naming the line “Jötnar”, the race of god-like giants in Norse mythology. We unofficially started calling the Norwegian cirque Jötunheim, “the realm of the giants”. While only having one line up there might not give us “authority” to name something, I’m enamored with the zone and like the name, and no one else has to call it that... anywho, here’s a brief report of our experience, hopefully this inspires someone to follow in our footsteps, as it’s an incredible route. In June, we made our first foray onto the wall and found soggy conditions as our route runs through a water streak for a good portion of the lower buttress. Poor weather lead to poor conditions, if you read my previous trip report, you’ll remember we did not get far. In 4 days of climbing we completed about 700’ of the line. We left gear stashed with the intent on returning. Our window of time off about 3 weeks away. Prep for the route started a few days before our departure date. I headed over to kyle’s studio (For his gear business “high mountain gear and repair”) in Ballard to make some various things. One of those being an inflatable big wall hammock that we had been discussing in recent weeks. Kyle would test it out on this wall, likely the secret weapon for big wall alpine routes in the cascades. Kyle came up with the name “Taco” as a mockery of conventional portaledges. After making various things for the wall we set out on our own errands the next day then reconvened to shuttle a load up to lake serene. Fetching water was considerably easier than last time, the moat had opened enough to walk inside, being a whiteout day we decided it was safe enough to brave for 15 min to get water (better than hiking back to the lake!!) After unwrapping our gear stash we discovered a snafflehound gnawed on a rope! The backup lead line nonetheless. Another rope was needed, the volume of rope was becoming absurd. We told Lani to pick one up on her way down from Bellingham. Logistics here got weird. Kyle had commitments in the form of a bike packing trip during the start of the window we had to climb. So when Lani and I started climbing we would have to leave lines fixed to the ground for Kyle to use to join us two days into the climb! On the first day we got a ride to the trailhead early morning and moved with motivation all Day to fix lines the the high point on our route. The line climbed substantially better because of the cleaning we were able to do previously. Fixing high on the wall we descended to the base that evening to sleep on the ground and prep the load to haul. We woke up early again and started the manual labor. Moving faster that expected we were able to haul to the high point and get camp set up around mid afternoon. Plenty of time to start up new terrain. Lani started up the next pitch which would prove the steepest on route. She got about halfway up the pitch before deciding it was time for dinner. On day 3 she headed up the pitch and pulled through the massive steep band that blocked our view of the upper buttress. This would prove to be the only pitch that requires a fixed line for descent. I took over the lead on the next pitch and found cool expanding beak cracks that lead up to a surprise! We pulled into a band of bulletproof skagit gneiss that would run the whole middle part of the route, immaculate stone. I climbed up into a massive right facing corner and up an amazing #2 crack through the second massive roof on the route “the fang” as we had pre named it. Continuing up an easy flare I found a good stance at the base of a large slab. Lani was still feeling mega tired from the steep lead and told me to keep going, I quested upwards on the slab utilizing a mixture of hooks and rivets to reach a dike that proved discouragingly shitty. The dike however led to a good flake that rapidly turned not so good, the whole corner was a Jenga stack. Being on lead I reluctantly bat hooked the face around the choss. These bat hooks could maybe be avoided post cleaning, still chossy and expando in there though. I eventually put a bolt in to reach far and tension to the next small corner, which proved to be cruiser C1 to a good stance for a belay, post dirt removal this would likely be sweet 5.9-10. Here I called off belay while placing the anchor bolts and Lani zipped down to camp to start dinner. Meanwhile Kyle had started up the wall hauling the second half of the load solo, having to haul twice he only got to the bivy at pitch 3 and would camp here. Day 4 started with shenanigans to situate the ropes where they needed to be in order to fix higher. After we were able to snag an independent rope Lani and I again began the commute up the fixed lines to push the line higher while Kyle hailed up to camp. From the high point, Lani led up Inobvious but moderate aid to the crest of “the dude”. The biggest roof on north Norwegian, and an intimidating mega overhang. Incipient and creative low angle A3 led up and left under the roof and around the bushy corner to a small ledge. Reaching this ledge we figured we were far enough up to move camp, and thus Lani went down to assist Kyle in starting to haul while I started soloing the next pitch to the intended next camp. About halfway up my pitch I got a call saying there were technical difficulties at camp, we decided to reestablish camp and fix to the top my pitch. Day 5 would start super early with the big move. Myself and Lani would double counterbalance sky haul the pigs while Kyle cleaned the line below and brought up fixed lines. A few hours of hot manual labor brought us to the high point ledge. A grassy inset which seemed suboptimal for two portaledges, we spotted a good spot left of the buttress crest and concocted a creative plan to swing the bags over. I free climbed up to the top of a flake and put a good bolt in and lowered down (clipping the haul line to the bolt) to the intended spot. I drilled while Kyle and Lani prepped the bags. Once ready I took tight on the haul line with my gri gri and they kicked the bags over top rope style to me where I lowered them in place and docked them at the anchor. Shenanigans. After setting camp up I hugged up to my high point on the pitch and continued my lead. “The head wall” proved to be wicked exposed but I had to fight the features pulling us left into the chossy chasm and drill my way to a stunning corner on the buttress crest. Kyle and Lani came up to join me and Kyle started up the next pitch. Moderate free and aid led up through a tree to a roof. An inobvious ramp cut out left through some chossy bush. Kyle bulldozed his way up eventually running out of patience and drilling around some dangerous choss. Running low on daylight Kyle threw in a belay and called it a day. Day 6 started with a poor decision, only one gallon of water came up the wall... after jugging we were already dehydrated but didn’t think too much of it. We started on the e face and got good afternoon shade but the upper part of the route climbs the crest of the se ridge, and gets blazing sun all day. I got the the high point first and in the spirit of decluttering the tight stance I started free climbing. 50 ft up I hit an awesome ledge too good to pass up, so I added an anchor and moved the team up. Kyle in the mean time cleaned the previous bit to a state of being semi pleasant climbing!! At this belay our peril became evident, we were already spiraling into gnarly dehydration. Kyle was getting loopy, Lani unstoked, and myself crankerous. I would continue up with inobvious route finding. A long circuitous pitch of steep 5.9 led to another good albeit sun exposed ledge. We were closing on the summit, Lani encouraged me to keep leading while Kyle cleaned the route. A blueberry filled corner provided passage to the next tier, a pitch likened to the tree climbing on j berg!! One more mega ledge and we could smell it! A casual pitch of 5.7 led up to a short bit of heather clawing onto the summit of the buttress. We had read that it was easy climbing to the summit of middle index from here and it looked so. It also looked like a bunch of cascadian bush mank that seemed like it would taint our experience in our state of dehydrated madness. We descended to camp to smoke the joint we found in the parking lot and contemplate our descent. One or two puffs in I had this idea to lower Kyle with the bags down the whole face. We all became (mostly) convinced it would work and put wheels in the motion the next day. After wranglin the bags back to fall line we descended two pitches to the intended “drop zone”. We delicately stacked 1000’ of rope joined with edk’s, we would would bump em all through a munter. Kyle and the bags were probably closing on 400 lbs, we needed a gri and munter to control the load. The lower went smooth, and we were amazed! Bags were down!!!! So myself and Lani dropped all but two ropes down the face and Kyle started managing the clusterfuck. Our new friend River had responded to a Facebook call for porter help and met Kyle at the lake to take down 50-60 lbs of our load while me and Lani rapped the face and cleaned our gear. We touched down not too long after and started the soul crushing hike down, we had about 70-80 lbs a piece. I had called my parents again as it seems like all our friends are busy this time of year, they met us at the parking lot with a cooler of cold bubbly, fucking great climb. Shoutout to Lani for stoke, Kyle for his undying willingness to suffer and commitment to the manual labor and route creation, and River! For being willing to come up and help total strangers hump our stinky clusterfuck around. This route was certainly the effort of a village, and a wonderful big wall line that I hope people enjoy. Gear Notes: Double Rack micro to #4, Single 5, Single set of offset nuts (didn’t use rp’s), 4-5 each beaks, 2 small lost arrows, 10 rivet hangers. All bolts and rivets are stainless, one or two bolts didn’t take well in the wet mud, but could potentially be reset with a funk and tightented (all anchors have at least 2 good bolts). Some may need to be tightened up again after initial loading. No ledges big enough even for 1 to sleep, good portaledges camps at the top of pitch 3,6,9, and 12. Do not haul above 12. Bivies at 3,6, and side of 11 take 2 ledges well. Rap the route, some directionals need to be placed on a handful of pitches to get down, pitch 7 needs to remain fixed with an extra 35-40M rope (it could be possible to down aid the roof on rappel to get back to the previous anchor) Approach Notes: Scamper to Lake Serene while the tourons ask about your “paraglide” or “boats”. Easy talus walking to near the waterfall between the buttresses. Enjoy your stay in Jötunheim!
  10. 9 points
    Trip: Liberty Cap - Ptarmigan Ridge C2C Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Kyle Tarry @ktarry and I climbed Ptarmigan Ridge round trip from Whitewater Campground July 11/12. We originally planned to climb it 12/13 with a bivy at the standard location, but increasing winds and cloud forecast for Saturday night convinced us to just do it in a push starting the evening of the 11th. I think we benefitted in our late season climb from the conditions resulting from this more cloudy and cold summer. We drove up after Kyle got off work and left the car at 8:30pm, did the St. Elmos-Winthrop-Curtis-Carbon approach in the dark and arrived at the start of the route at dawn (water drip on the Curtis and brew stop near the normal bivy spot). The route was in thin conditions compared to other pictures I've seen but the glacier crossings were pretty easy and direct. We climbed a small (20m) ice/mixed step that was pretty gross to cross the schrund, a little L of the typical start, which saved some elevation loss. Firm and sun-cupped/rock-smashed snow made for relatively easy movement above this. There was some low angle ice that took good screws starting the ramp towards the rock step variation, but even this did not require much sustained front-pointing. The rock step seemed longer/steeper due to the low snow there (again compared to other pictures I've seen, and based on the fact that I was past the crux when the fixed pin appeared). We topped Liberty Cap and descended the Emmons (good condition for this time of year, I hear). Visibility dropped significantly as we reached Camp Schurman and it even snowed a bit as we descended the Interglacier. We were back at the car by 7:10pm on Saturday and slept about as well as you would think. Pros of the single push strategy: cool/dark glacier approaches, day packs don't weigh much, we nailed the weather window Cons: we were pretty tired (cons win) Gear Notes: one picket (not used), 3 screws (used a few places), 4 nuts (not used), 1 knife blade (used on rock step), 30 m half rope Approach Notes: standard White River approach to N Side routes
  11. 9 points
    Trip: Mt. Hood - Yocum Ridge Solo Trip Date: 03/21/2020 Trip Report: "It's not my imagination, I've got a gun at my back!" -Revenge, Black Flag Yocum Ridge is the first route I ever thought about climbing. I remember looking at the striking line from the bus stop in my elementary school. Even though I knew nothing about climbing at the time, the sheer beauty of the route captivated me. As I have accumulated some knowledge about climbing, I learned the route wouldn't go down so easy. Something about the jagged ridgeline dulled by rime gives Yocum a special sense of beauty. Today I set out to realize a childhood fantasy of mine. 3:00 and I'm starting the slog up the mountain. My morale is already low because I forgot my headphones. This damn climb is going to make me absorb the sounds of nature! Two hours or so of walking takes me up to Illumination Saddle. Here I lay eyes on the silhouette of Yocum ridge by headlamp. Nerves turn to excitement as the clock strikes 5:00. The glacier crossing was easier than I expected thanks to all the action the route has seen over the past few weeks. The footprints take me to a headwall a little to the right of where the guidebook says to go. The squeaking and ringing of my ice tools puts me into a trance. After about 150 feet of steep-ish climbing, I gain the ridge. Yocum starts off with a tease. An easy and welcoming rime stepped staircase obscures the rest of the ridge from view. I'll play your game. When the first gendarme comes into view, I have to fight thoughts of doubt coming into my head. At first sight, the rime covered sentinel looks steep and unforgiving at every point. The closer I get however, the clearer the line becomes. My cold helmet feels like a gun against the back of my head. I know it's time. I start to the right of a cave and quickly cut left. The ice feels solid and I flow through a steeper gully. 30 meters or so in, I arrive at the crux. Solid snow and ice turn to dead vertical swiss cheese. Through delicate movement and prayer, I fire through the crux. Each stick felt like a weak handshake. The section required commitment to tools placed in an unknown mixture of snow/ice with dubious feet. Finally, I reach the top of the first gendarme. My blood pressure drops slightly as I soak in the beauty of the bladed ridge that lies in front. Here I am extremely grateful for the groups before me who did the heavy rime clearing and bollard building. From the bollard at the end of the gendarme, I downclimb while on rappel to traverse across an exposed section to a big ledge. This beta worked well for me and seemed to alleviate problems some other groups were having. As I started the traverse pitch to the second gendarme, I felt something fall out of my pocket. I turn my head just in time to see my phone fly down the snow slopes and disappear into the glacier below. Perhaps my phone was the sacrifice the route required. Better phone than blood. Then, like clockwork, a raven swoops by me and perches itself on the tip of the first gendarme. We stare at each other for a minute and I thank him for allowing me to experience this route today. I know that I'm just a guest in the mountains. From here on I felt as if I had permission to continue my journey, hopefully my dues were already paid. The ridge widened the further I traversed down it. Passing the second gendarme was the most secure I felt since getting on route. More slogging took me to another bollard (this time with tat!) off of the third gendarme. I chose to rap north to avoid more thin ridge fuckery. Walking along the steep snow slopes took more energy than I thought. My calves burned and cursed me for bringing two single ropes to rap with. More training I guess. Even though some exposure was still present, I began to meditate with the route. Every swing, foot placement, and movement just felt right. As crawled back over to west side, the sun reared its ugly face, and I began to sweat my ass off. I followed more good tracks around to the right of the final buttress. The last buttress is like a fortress full of impassible walls and sneaky gullies. The first gully I started up took me about 150 feet and ended with impassible rime towers. I downclimbed and again, moved right. Here I could see tracks going to Leuthold from Yocum Ridge. Now I knew I was no longer under the gun. One of the rightmost gullies brought success. I tormented my calves up a few hundred more feet until I topped out the buttress at around 12:30. From the top of the buttress, one final ridge traverse took me to the Queen's Chair. 6 year old Landon would be proud. Looking down the ridge I could see all the minute details that made this route special. Negotiating the route was digging into the alpine bag of tricks and executing. I chose not to tag the summit because I wanted to search the base of the route for my phone (spoiler alert: the phone disappeared into a different dimension). Hiking down Leuthold gave me time to absorb the mountain more. Striking blue accents on rime towers, weird ice formations on the glacier, and the forest just miles away all presented themselves. Days like this make me question the future. I'm sure one day I'll find something that will bring me peace. I often think about Mark Twight saying that climbing can be "too much but never enough." Yocum Ridge was one of, if not the best alpine routes I have experienced. Although it wasn't technically difficult, the sheer volume of spectacular movement truly makes this one of a kind. On the way down I wept. For some reason this route had a different impact on me. Maybe it was the feeling of complete peace and isolation, maybe it was the sheer beauty of it all. Maybe I'm just emotional. I stumbled into the Timberline at around 4:00 and unlocked my car. With the clicking of the lock, my reality had become just a memory. Gear Notes: Basically a sport climb Approach Notes: Attack the ridge at about 8800ft
  12. 8 points
    Trip: Little Liberty Bell - (Partial New route) Narcos, 5.9 600ft Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Yesterday I went up to try and do a new route solo on little liberty bell. It’s entirely possible that some or all of this route has been climbed before, I know for sure that the first and last pitch have been climbed, but I really couldn’t tell about the rest of the route. With that being said, I’m calling what I climbed Narcos. I’ll explain the name at the end. You may be able to approach straight up the basin from the road and cut off some distance but add some gain. P1, 5.7+—Start up the clean cracks up the big left trending ramp to the tree. If there is still snow you can climb up small corners and overlaps to the left that meet up about half way. This is what I climbed to avoid snow. Build a gear belay in a 1” horizontal below the tree, this is a much better stance. There were slings on this tree when I got there and some placements seemed to be cleaned out. On the last rappel. P1 follows the cool looking cracks up the ramp on the left. I ended up climbing the flakes to the left of the ramp to avoid the snow. P2, 5.9—Follow the horizontal straight right and up a bit. Follow good edges and cracks until you reach a nice looking finger crack, climb it up to some good ledges. From there follow ledges back left past a small tree (your last pro) and two large loose looking blocks sitting on the ledge, maybe don’t pull on them. Once you reach a good belay ledge, climb up a little further to a solid horizontal. Build your belay here and extend it down to the ledge if you can. There seems to be a more vertical option going straight up and right to a nice looking LFC. I didn’t climb this as I had intended on climbing new ground. It may have been climbed before. It is marked in blue on the topo. Looking up the improbable traverse on pitch 2. There is much more pro than in the picture. This is after cleaning the pitch. The 5.9ish finger crack, it's steeper than it looks. P1 visible below. The blocks I traversed across and tree I slung at the top of P2. P3, 5.7+ PG13—Go up the bush choked corner for about 15 feet until you can step left into good flakes that parallel the larger right facing corner. Follow these up to a series of ledges and a large chimney/flake. Chimney up the outside edge of this flake to avoid lots of pine needles and bushes until you can reach a cleaned out .75 crack, place something there. Down climb a little bit until you can step right onto a series of ledges/ramps. Follow these up the slab passing one Piton (my first pin placement on a route) and up the sharp arete. From the top of this climb back down left to a ledge below an arching right facing corner. Belay here on finger sized gear. This pitch could avoid the runout chimney and arete climbing in the future if the cracks were cleaned out. I had originally tried going straight up some solid cracks on this pitch, but after the cracks petered out and encountered some very hollow rock I left a nut and bailed on this option. Looking up P3. I only followed the bushy corner for a few moves before stepping left. This is after cleaning the pitch on the way down, the red c3 is a directional, not the only piece. Looking down the good flakes in the middle of P3 on the way back down. The runout chimney on P3 My very first pin placement, I had to document. There is no rope drag in the rope solo system, hence my sketch "quick draw" P4, 5.8+ —Climb up the fun arching corner and then right via hollow sounding but fun flakes (place nuts here not cams). Step right around an arete into a nice right facing corner, you are now on the Wright-Pond. Follow this up to a bolted belay. P5, 5.8, 45m—Same as P4 of the Wright-Pond. Description taken from MP. Climb the blocky corner/chimney up past a tree until you gain a low-angled slab. Head left across the slab to a wide hand and fist crack hidden in a left-facing corner. Exit the corner up and right on blocky but easy ground to low-angled ledges. Belay on a tree with slings. From here you can scramble to the summit. Descend via the Wright-Pond with 4 double rope rappels on bolted anchors. Good views of Silverstar & co! I think this route could clean up nicely and be a good 5.9ish option up the feature. It is hard for me to grade it accurately as the dirt, lichen, and self belay results in things feeling harder and scarier at times. I tried to grade it for someone who knew where they were going and had a hand on the break strand of their grigri. On the hike down I got a little off route (there is no route) and ended up in some pretty damn thick brush. While trying to force my way down the hill I stumbled upon a pile of white crystals under a small tree. My first thought was “wow, that’s a weird Fungus”, then I took another step and saw black canvas in the bush in front of me. My heart stopped as my first thought was I had found a dead body of a missing hiker, or murder victim. I got a better look and realized that it was a large black duffle bag, unzipping it I finally realized what it was. A 35lb duffle of crystal meth, street value of about $350k give or take. I dragged the bag to a slightly more visible location and marked the spot on my phones GPS. I drove down to Mazama the next morning to report what I’d found. I ended up leading some heavily armed cops up and helped them carry out the “package”. It’s possible that I made a very big mistake. I could have bought so many new skis! It was either a recent air drop with intent to pick up, or one of the bags from THIS event that happened last year. I will provide a topo/overlay soon if I get permission to use Chris’ photo. I'd be very curious to hear if anyone knows some history of ascents on this feature. Gear Notes: Double rack micro to #2, single #3 and 4. Single set of med nuts. 2 60m ropes. Crack Pipe. Approach Notes: Start as for Cutthroat wall by walking down the old road bed for 1/4 mile until you see an obvious double cairn on the left side of the trail. Enter the woods here and point it straight up until the terrain lowers a little in pitch. At that point you can start arching left to get to the ridge next to the wall. I highly recommend using the slope angle shading map feature on caltopo and trying to stay on lower angle terrain. it’ll make things a little more pleasant. From the ridge it is pretty self explanatory where to go.
  13. 8 points
    Trip: Twin Sisters - Obscurities Redux Trip Date: 08/23/2020 Trip Report: It's been a long time since I posted a trip report and even longer since I've gone explorer-ating in the Twin Sisters Range. Twelve, twelve! years ago Dave and I pushed, pedaled and slogged our way into the basin between the Twin Sisters to climb some nice rock on the obscure Block Tower. Obscurities The block is split clean through by a hand size crack, and while we had climbed the very short east face, the west side was much larger and steeper. I always wanted to go back but the approach-to-climbing ratio is pretty excessive and that logging road is just a soul sucking grind, particularly loaded down with a full rack. But in twelve years the world changes and e-bikes, well if not invented, at least became far more ubiquitous and I reached the point in life where one ended up in my garage. Plenty nice around town but it fundamentally transforms the experience of these long logging road approaches. The dreaded grind now feels like a casual ride to Sunday Farmers Market. Once you ditch the bike your legs are still fresh. Climbing the North Twin has become a casual afternoon jaunt. Highly recommended! So with a different friend we rolled in less than 45 minutes. The path into the basin seems far more beat in than it was ten years ago and people were scattered around in ways I had never seen. Really it's rather insane how busy everywhere has gotten, but I digress. As for the climb. The west face of Block and Arrowhead Towers are somewhere between 350'-400' tall and the rock quality is generally very good. We climbed two pitches (red) of low 5th-class ramps leading up and right to the much steeper upper half of the route. The first pitch was marred by a very chossy and unavoidable 3rd class gully. A far better start would be up clean north-facing slabs to the right of the tower (blue) to where you could scramble back left to below the headwall. The head wall was probably slightly less than 200' tall. You could do it in a single pitch but there's a perfect belay ledge at the base of the final splitter if you want to share the goods with your partner. The third pitch started out easy and a bit brittle. Fortunately rock quality improved as the angle increased. I stayed left of a very large detached block and climbed slightly overhung jugs with intermittent gear into the left of two parallel crack systems. It was heady but adequately protected. The final pitch is probably 40' in length but has absolute hero jamming through overhanging bulges. Both were maybe 5.9? Good stuff. A short rappel (make sure to TR the rap line) and a steep but easy scramble led down onto the glacier. From the col a series of 3 well-established raps led back down to the base of the climb. A nice climb, I'd go back. Other potential still abounds. Pitch 2 Pitch 4 From the Basin - Arrowhead Left & Block Tower Right Gear Notes: Doubles of small cams, single set #1=#4 maybe an extra #2 Approach Notes: E-bikes
  14. 8 points
    Trip: Big Bear! - Brushtissima Trip Date: 11/11/2019 Trip Report: With all this attention on the NW couloir on Eldorado the past few weeks, Kit and I succeeded on a smash and grab ascent of BIG BEAR! last weekend. @Kit is in the midst of a noble mission to climb all the Cascadian peaks visible from his office in Everett and I'm well, I'm just a bit "special". We happened to catch it in "near perfect" conditions, I am happy to report, and suspect others may be lining up during the next fine weather spell this week. The ankle biting huckleberry have shed their leaves, leaving them only 50% as annoying as they are in high summer. And, most all the snow is gone, meaning one shouldn't worry about tiring themselves out kicking steps up straightforward snow slopes. To top it off, all of the flagging has been eaten by deer, meaning that a "fair means" ascent is nearly guaranteed. Why this brushy beast isn't more popular, I'll never know. Or, maybe it is popular? There is no register so it is tough to figure how many people are as "savvy" as us. All I know is that the 4130 isn't going to get less brushy in the next few years, so if you want either Liberty or BIG BEAR! in the next lifetime or two, you'll want to go now. Just don't expect flagging or the Instagram hordes to show you the way. The Brushtissima on BIG BEAR! (actually not that bad): @Kit working up the ridge above the "Moffitt Step": I just needed an eagle: Typical terrain: Liberty: Tahoma, but you knew that: Interesting angle on Hall, Big Four, Columbia, etc: The air was exceptionally clear, Everett and Kit's office standing out: The final few feet to the summit of Big Bear: East to Dakobed and Pugh above Exfoliation Dome: Anybody home on 3 Fingers? Jumbo, the slabbage patch, and Ulalach: Liberty from the summit: Squire Creek valley and its namesake walls: Gear Notes: eye protection, leather gloves, whiskey. Ice axe, crampons, and helmet some part of the year. Approach Notes: I somehow deleted my GPX track, not that it will help you much. Just look at the image in the TR for an idea of where to go. Just make sure you don't miss the Moffitt Step!
  15. 7 points
    Trip: West Mcmillan Spire/Elephant Butte - West ridges via Stetattle Ridge Trip Date: 09/06/2020 Trip Report: Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of getting back into the Southern Pickets with @JasonG and @Trent. We took the eastern high route/approach via Stetattle Ridge. I outlined the route in the approach notes, this will be more for a general itinerary/thoughts/photo dump. Hiking along Stetattle was extremely panoramic and quite pleasant. We setup camp the first night just north of North Stetattle (pt. 6728). There were abundant tarns for water and flat spots to setup at. Not long after unpacking the guys pulled out the whisky and chocolate, a ritual I'm not familiar with having spent most of my time trying to be as ultralight as possible. We shot the shit for hours and listened to tunes on Steve's little speakers. I'm sure now that theres a little room in my pack for some whiskey. I slept really well until the (full?) moon was dead center over the sky and woke me up with its brightness. We got up decently early for the big day of tagging Elephant Butte and and a plan of making it to the summit of West Mac for the nights bivy. We were a bit above an awesome sea of clouds down in the valley. The drop down to the notch above Torrent creek is fairly straight forward and to get up out of it toward the benches at 6200' above the small lake east of Elephant Butte is just a bit more involved, but not too bad. We dropped packs at the notch at the base of the west ridge of Elephant Butte. Was a quick romp to the summit and we were surprised how many entries in the register there were as of late. We toyed with the idea of staying on the ridge crest and tagging the next two high points west of the Butte (Hippo, Rhino). But some hairy climbing/scrambling, lack of inspiration to tag them, and a concern for having enough time to deal with the ridge to get into Terror basin pushed that idea to the side. I'm glad we spent the effort on the more important task of getting into Terror Basin safely and efficiently. We stayed more or less at 6200' from Elephant Butte until we got to the notch just west of pt 6455. From there it was staying very close to the ridge crest. At this point, the route gets very exposed, serious and committing. Scrambling on 4th class rock, heather benches, veggie pulling. It was not too far removed from what you'd experience on the NEB of Jburg. It finally eases off just before Little Mac. A small sandy notch allows entry into Terror Basin. From there we traversed down across snow to get to the base of West Mac, we were able to go up a dry mossy waterfall on the rib extending down from West Mac which cut out quite a bit of travel. We scrambled up the west ridge and made our way up to the summit. Theres now currently three one-person bivy spots up there now. We made dinner, drank whiskey and waited for the sunset. It was an awesome sunset, highlight of the trip for sure. But after every calm, comes a storm. We settled in for the night in really pleasant weather. At some point the winds picked up dramatically and Steve and I got sand blasted all night. Meanwhile Jason was locked in mortal combat with the snaffles. He said they were trying to take his headlamp off his head. They had told me the night prior that the snaffles really like him. I think the wind that Steve and I were experiencing were keeping the snaffles at bay, leaving Jason as easy prey. Didn't sleep a much that night as you'd guess. Got up and made breakfast and a big pot of coffee in a spot on the summit mostly out of the wind. The sunrise was fantastic and made up for the night we had. Packed up and made out way down West Mac and out Terror basin without issue. This was an incredible trip and thanks to Jason for inviting me on this, I cant say I would've thought to do this kind of trip myself. It was the kind of trip I have been meaning to have for some time now though. And big thanks to Jason and Steve for being SOLID partners. It was really cool being around two guys that have been climbing with each other for as long as you both have. I won't be caught without whiskey on the next Choss Dawgs trip. Myself as we make our way up Sourdough Creek. Jason Photo. Jason and Steve looking at the next two days. North Stetattle. Sunset, Elephant Butte and The Southern Pickets Sunrise, Snowfield group and Davis Peak Sea of Fog. Jason up on Elephant Butte About to make our way into the business end of the traverse. Steve Photo. Steve with the veggie belays. End of the hairy stuff. Jason photo. Into Terror Basin. Headed up West Mac. Up on West Mac preparing for battle with snaffles and wind. Steve photo. Dinner time. Jason photo. Sunset on Mt. Fury Morning light on Inspiration, The Pyramid, Degenhardt and Terror. Kulshan in the distance. Ray of light on Azure Lake. Hopefully Jason and Steve will drop off more of their photos! Gear Notes: Ice Axe, Crampons, Whiskey, Chocolate, Van Halen Approach Notes: Start at Sourdough Lookout Trail, go up along Sourdough creek, Stay on the crest of Stetattle Ridge. From pt. 6154 follow game trails down ramps and ledges to the notch above Torrent Creek. Ascend more ramps and ledges with a bit of steep schwacking up to ~6200'. Traverse westward around that elevation, Elephant Butte is a quick jaunt from the notch west of it. Gain the ridge proper from a notch just west of pt. 6455 (just east of the Mcmillan Spires). This is where the scrambling gets extremely exposed. Traverse mostly solid rock and heather benches toward East Mcmillan, occasional goat trails and veggie belays. Aim for a small notch to the left of where the ridge meets Little Mac.
  16. 7 points
    Trip: Cutthroat Wall - One Piece at a Time, 5.10d Trip Date: 09/20/2020 Trip Report: This past weekend (9/20) Tim Foster and I wrapped up what may be a new route on Cutthroat Wall, climbing a bit left of the two established lines on the face. We enjoyed 5 pitches of fun climbing on good stone, with difficulties up to 5.10d. There were no signs of previous traffic on route, but it’s possible that someone (maybe one of you?) climbed the thing back in the day. Our first foray up the wall was over Labor Day weekend. We originally planned to climb an obscure route in the area, but after about 30 seconds of walking from the Cutthroat Lake trailhead, our eyes were drawn to nice looking corners on the left side of Cutthroat Wall. Tim ran back to his truck to grab the bail rack (a set of nuts and a couple rigid-stem cams) plus some gardening implements, and we tromped up the valley. On our first go, we climbed the route in 6 pitches, bypassing the two best corners because the gear looked tricky and the climbing looked hard. The initial line we took goes in the mid-5.10 range, and offers a decent, slightly mellower variation to the crux pitch two, described below. While we were excited about the climb, we clearly had to come back for the money pitches $. We returned the following weekend to discover that the direct corner on pitch two does in fact take small gear (these placements were inadvertently tested with a couple whips—our only falls on route). We climbed to the top and scrubbed/trundled our way back down to prepare for a “clean” ascent the following weekend. On Sunday, we finished the job with a party send by Tim, me, and our friends Milk and Conrad. Pitch by pitch breakdown: P 1: 5.8, 55 meters. Start just left of the main buttress of the wall, ~ 150 yards left and a bit uphill of Easy Getaway. Climb a short, broken corner right for 30 feet, then follow the obvious twin-crack system to a belay below the flare of pitch 2. P 2: 5.10d, 25 meters. Climb to the treed ledge, then move up and left into the flare. Get gear where you can as it’s small (.1's and rp's) and can be finicky to place. Some granite trickery required. There is a chockstone block at the top of this pitch that feels solid enough, but shouldn’t be pulled on, and may need to go at some point. Belay from a tree on the ledge above. Alternatively near the beginning of the pitch, you can climb straight up the narrowing crack from the treed ledge, past a slightly committing 5.10 boulder problem, then cut left up a hidden ramp to rejoin the corner and bypass the pitch's hardest climbing. P 3: 5.9, 40 meters. Climb up the wide hand crack to a treed ledge, battling a few bushes along the way. Continue up and right on the featured face and in the thin corner to a mossy ledge out right. P 4: 5.10, 25 meters. Move left, back into the corner system, and launch up the perfect tips crack (visible from the parking lot!). Pull a juggy bulge and exit right through a short layback section to a good tree belay. P 5: 5.9, 45 meters. Walk right, past a tree, to the awesome splitter hand crack/layback corner that traverses right. Continue up and over a bulge, then move up and right through blocky terrain until the angle eases. From here, scramble up 4th – very low 5th class terrain to the top of the wall. Descend via the gulley described in Cascade Rock, or head down the route with a little down climbing and three full 60m rappels from trees. Tim and I both think the climbing is pretty darn fun, and it’s certainly worth the hike in. The ledgey nature of the wall does make for some shorter pitches and a lack of great exposure up high, but the movement is enjoyable and unique. It could be a worthy linkup with other climbs on the face. While the rock is generally quite good, there is certainly some looseness and lichen remaining. Be careful, as the standard approach sits in the line of fire of anything coming off the wall. As for the name, we figured we would stick with the crime theme (ahem, Johnny Cash), and the route took a few iterations to get just right. If any of you get up to the climb, let us know what you think! Gear Notes: Doubles from tips (bd .1) to wide hands (bd #3), and a set of nuts. Small offset nuts/RP’s are handy for pitch 2. Approach Notes: We never took the same route twice. If you keep walking, you can do it in ~ 1 hour.
  17. 7 points
    Trip: Valhallas-Olympus - Woden, Hugin, Frigga, Athena, Olympus Middle Peak, Olympus West Peak Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: Valhallas and Beyond - An Up and Down Trip Across the Olympics Including Many Ascents and Adventures and an Unfortunate Helicopter Ride Out The Valhallas, a name that strikes fear, curiosity, or just a confused brow wrinkle on to the faces of northwest mountaineers. Many don’t know about the small range to the south of Mt. Olympus in the Olympics while others have just heard stories of terrible bushwhacks and horrible loose rock. If you have stood on the summit of Mt. Olympus on a clear day they may have caught your eye, or maybe you saw an old photo that made them look vaguely like the Bugaboos. As a teenager I tried to get up Mt. Tom creek a couple of times so I knew what it might be like to get there. For all those reason this range has been on my list for a very long time, but also never made it to the top of the list for the next objective. It was a bit out of the blue when my friend Chad called me up after not having adventured together for several years (kids n stuff) and suggested it and said he already had a third person too. Normally I have to lie, con, bribe, and threaten friends into bushwhacks of this nature but here he was dropping it in my lap. Plans were made and dates were set. We aimed for mid-July in the hopes of good weather, low river levels, and enough snow up high still for good travel. The Chads and I all smiley at the start: Our chosen weekend approached with rain so we decided to car camp near the trailhead Saturday night and start Sunday to avoid the wettest forecast hours. This was a wise choice and avoided almost all the wet brush. We headed up the South Fork Hoh trail and made quick work of the ~4 miles of maintained trail. We were surprised to pass a group of five locals coming out from their own adventures about five miles past the trail end. They were the last people and footsteps we’d see. There was some mild brush crashing following a faint trail for another mile or so from the end of the real trail and then we enjoyed relatively easy travel along sand bars and gravel beds. The satellite view on Gaia Maps felt like cheating from my teenage adventures in allowing us to pick the clearest path or side of the river in many spots. Crocs and shorts were super handy for several crossings but there were a fair amount of mostly easy log bridges as well. We stayed on the north side generally but it was easier on the south for a few spots. Towards the end of the day we tackled what we called the “restriction”, one of the worst places for whacking, where the canyon narrows and one must take on steep vegetated river bank travel. The locals had referred to this as “box canyon” where they had turned around. We used the “think like an elk” mantra of previous parties and did find some helpful trails to follow. Kind of like when you second guess your traffic app driving through town and run into a jam, there is generally a good reason why the elk head so far up hill and we often paid in blood for not wanting to gain or lose elevation. We made it about 12.5 miles from the car before settling/crashing on a beautiful riverside meadow campsite for the night below Hoh Peak past our first big barrier. It was exhausting but great to be in what felt like virgin wilderness and far from any other human sign. Night one camp site and view up towards Hoh Peak: Day 2 we had about a mile of easy travel before again having to head up hill into the brush on the north side of the river. We struggled with ups and downs, hugging the river and not, occasionally pulling some 4th class tree root moves, until eventually reaching the mossy boulder field mentioned in the Olympics climbing guide. We continued on until reaching Valkyrie Creek and forded the river there finding no tree bridges. We had initially aimed for this for day one but our earlier campsite was much nicer. Here we detoured from several other trips and the guidebook and decided to carry on up river to the next creek (Geri-Freki as it drains the glacier). We walked up the sand bar on the south side from Valkyrie Creek and soon found the most amazing elk trail. The river valley constriction and thousands of years of hoof travel have created a network of trails that almost appear like they were man made and travel was far easier than earlier. If we could just teach elk to use chainsaws it would be even better but they either break the branches off or make detours around the worst logs. In no time at all this trail came to Geri-Freki Creek which we crossed and then continued up on the NE side of the creek. We made an error and lost the trail in a swampy bit where things start to steepen. We should have continued left away from the creek (NE) to find the trail again but instead chose to head up hill through relatively open ground keeping just climbers left of the growing cliffs. We ended up in some ridiculous steep brush and unpleasant travel only to pop back on to the amazing trail at the top of the worst of the climb. We continued on the trail as it transitioned to alpine parkland and eventually broke out into Geri-Freki basin. We broke right and dropped into the basin then climbed to a beautiful shoulder camp next to a waterfall around 3900’. This was a truly amazing place with wildflowers and waterfalls galore and the Valhalla Peaks just a stones throw away for our adventures the next day. We enjoyed fine weather that evening with few bugs, had some sips of whiskey and basked in the accomplishment of just having made it there after two hard days or travel! Fun fourth class tree roots: Looking up Valkyrie Creek with Frigga and Baldur tantalizingly close: Beautiful Elk Trail: Success! What a camp! Day 3 we woke to a cloudless sky and headed up to the toe of the Geri-Freki glacier via easy scrambling past several beautiful waterfalls. Our first objective was Woden, the highest peak of the Valhallas. We took a fairly direct line up the glacier to the Woden-Hugin saddle where we dropped our packs and racked up for the “4th class” climb. I lead up the obvious “jam crack” at the top of the snow field on the NE side finding fun climbing and surprisingly good rock. I brought the two Chads up and then we scrambled another pitch along the ridge line to a notch and the final diagonaling pitch to the top. This pitch started with a brief chimney behind a block and then followed a left trending crack up which again had mostly good rock and protection. We enjoyed the airy summit and amazing views for a while and then made two ~20 meter rappels back down. There was a piece of webbing at each anchor already but otherwise no human sign. I left a small summit register here as I couldn’t find one. This was a great climb to a fantastic high point with amazing views all around. Chad C claimed this as his first Olympics summit which is pretty amazing (although he later remembered an early climb of the Brothers). Mt. Tom: The Valhallas, Woden is just left of center: First pitch on Woden follows the 4th class jam crack on good rock Pitch 2 View towards Olympus and the route we would take for the next couple days. Green dots show the next two camps. Dotted line does not convey difficulties. Returning to our packs Chad C. and I then scrambled up Hugin for the heck of it, then we all dropped down and traversed along the glacier towards the Frigga-Baldur col. I wanted to climb all the peaks along the way but knew there wasn’t time and it was hot so we set our sights on Frigga as another cool perspective on the area (although it was actually Freya that dominated our campsite view). Frigga was a disappointing change in rock after Woden with a lot of loose crap. Although he was suffering from the heat a bit I talked Chad B. into joining me and we simulclimbed to the top. There were good trees for pro but crappy rock and slippery vegetated corners which made this feel just as difficult as Woden despite the 3rd class rating. We made a few raps back down and then headed back to camp to relax in the sun and wash some clothes in the creek. Climbing up towards the Frigga-Baldur Col, Hugin and Woden are on the left: Frigga from the Col: Thor and Loki and the toe of the Geri Freki glacier: Freya and waterfall on the way back to camp: Scenes from near camp: Map of the first couple days: We slept in a bit the next morning (too long) before packing up and heading out. It was difficult to leave such an amazing valley and camp. We retraced our steps of Day 2 back to the elk trails and began climbing up a ridge (follow the elk) breaking out of the remaining trees and then following that ridgeline up to the main ridge that connects the Valhallas to Olympus. We had continued to debate the route from here, either dropping down to the toe of the Hubert Glacier and then up to Olympus as several other parties have done, or dropping off towards the Queets and trying to connect snow fingers up towards the top of the Hubert Glacier and Athena. With some more observations we decided to roll the dice and try to get up towards Athena. We had only Bremerton John’s NWMJ trip report mentioning this route which included warnings about insanely steep vegetation and a team rope rescue at one point. That’s exactly what we found! We followed the ridge towards Olympus until it began to get steep and rocky and then dropped off the Queets (east) side around 5500 ft. We lost only a few hundred feet then climbed back up a snow finger to get over a steep rocky rib blocking our northward progress. From here we dropped again on easy snow slopes down from around 5300’ to 4800’ and then continued to traverse north toward the snow fingers we planned to ascend back up. The way seemed easy until we ran into an incredibly narrow and deep gully not obvious on the topo. At first this looked impassable but I was able to shimmy down some tree branches to the bottom of the gully and then make a rather exposed and steep vegetated traverse back out the other side. The others followed without incident and we continued onwards only to once again be stopped short by another very steep and deep gorge. I scouted up the hill and down and could not find an easy bypass to this obstacle. It seemed we only need to get across this 20’ wide gorge but there was no good route. We began dropping down into the basin until we were eventually forced to make one rappel in the very steep and cliffy trees to get to mellower ground. This and the heat was certainly taxing our morale and may have been a low point of the trip so far. It was well into the afternoon and we were nowhere near our goal for the night. In hindsight we should have continued dropping down the earlier easy snow to benches around 4500 feet before traversing since we ended that low anyways. This would have avoided the sketchy gullies and green rappel. Once we made it in to that basin though the way was clear over the snow we had been eyeing for so long from a distance and we began a very long ascent back up the ridge in the now evening light. We gained nearly 2000’ feet up this soft snow, taking multiple safety breaks along the way and contemplating some potential desperate crappy sloping bivy rocks. The snow was soft in the late hours but a slip would have been unpleasant as least. Fortunately we persevered upwards to a good last break spot and with some scouting decided to make the push. We roped up for the last steeper bit of snow to a notch in the ridge around 6400’. Tired and a bit demoralized we slowly pushed through (placing our one picket) and popped out in to the sun at the notch finding a flattish spot in the snow for our tents and a nice bit of rock to chill out and cook dinner on. We pitched tents in the last few minutes of sunshine and made dinner around 9pm. It actually was an amazing campsite as we got both sunset and sunrise with amazing vistas all around. Looking back at the Valhallas: Easy ridge walking! Having dropped down it looks like a cake walk to the snow slope. It was not. Looking back we should have cut left in the this photo and dropped to the low benches instead of taking the high one to the secret gullies: Finally climbing the snowslope in the evening light: Traversing to the final steep pitch back to the ridge: Finally, camp sweet camp! Our exit the next day visible on the right where the snow goes up to a notch: We slept in again that next morning but we had earned it. Once we packed up we roped up again to climb another snow finger to a notch at the top of the Hubert Glacier that allowed for an easy short scramble to the snowcap at the top of the Hoh Glacier. We celebrated this success with snacks and then headed packless for the short scramble to the top of Athena. The clouds were now swirling about so we knew this might be the last view we had for a while but it was again awesome and new. Athena: We now followed the west edge of the upper Hoh Glacier as our world shrank to a few hundred feet wide. We had hoped to traverse all of the Olympus summits but soon East Peak was entirely gone from view and dropped out of our consciousness and off the list. Although the least elevation gain option would have been to go between East and Middle Peaks we knew from earlier views that snow went almost all the way to the top of Middle Peak so we chose to just keep following the snow up with easy navigation in the white out cloud. Climbing up without reference we were at least thankful for the cooler temps on the glacier and eventually made it to the final scramble to the top of Middle Peak. We signed the nice register there noting most signed summits were coming from Bailey Range traverse folks. We made a single rappel off the NW side of the peak back to the snow and then continued towards Olympus West Peak. We reached Five Fingers and then dropped down into the scree gully on the west (left) side to scramble up to the Five Fingers-West Peak notch. Again we racked up for and evening summit planning to camp at the saddle afterwards. Scrambling up Middle Peak: West Peak of Olympus emerges from the cloud: We headed up the steep snow pitch of the standard route and soon realized that the way was blocked by a huge crevasse at the top. Regrouping I took the sharp end and led over the east ledges traversing up the ramp until I felt like climbing up towards the summit. I could have traverse farther and made it easier but the line was fun and I was able to protect it. We hung out on top in the cloud for a bit and then rapped off back to camp at the notch happy to have completed this leg of the journey even if we didn’t get the views this time. On top of the Olympics! We had started to set up camp when there was a faint clatter as we turned to watch Chad B’s sunglasses slide off a boulder into the gap between rock and snow. Here began a fruitless quest of digging trying to get arms and eyes down into the hole, and otherwise fighting the forces of nature charging us for our passage. Although we all tried to get down in the hole and dig we failed to find the wayward specs. Fortunately I had some emergency “Rollens” sunglasses like you get when the eye doctor dialates your pupils that he could sport the next day to avoid snow blindness while being ultra-stylish. Despite that mishap we enjoyed another whiskey toast for our three summit day and slept well that night. Digging for sunglasses: Day 6 started bright and clear. It was the coldest night by far and I woke to ice on my boots. I had just poured my coffee when the first people we had seen for nearly a week popped up on top of Five Fingers and shouted hello. Shortly after they joined us at the saddle and we chatted and shared our current beta for the summit block. We finished breakfast and packed up for our next goal, finding a way down to the White Glacier and then up to Mt. Tom. The Fourth of July route looked closed by seasonal crevasses but offered a much more direct route in our intended direction. I had earlier spotted an old rap anchor to allow dropping to the north so I went down into the bergschrund to inspect. I cleaned the worn corded nut and instead found a solid horn and we rapped down as far as we could and then made a second rap from another horn to get to the base of the difficulties. From down low it looked like we could have done an end run but the early morning hard icy snow would have made that quite scary with our limited gear. We continued roped across the top of the Blue Glacier following the Mt. Tom route description to what seemed to be the appropriate descent gully to the White Glacier. Previous trip reports had mentioned anything from a loose scramble to a hand line to rappels to get down. We began scrambling down the very loose and crappy gully trying hard not to drop rocks on each other. Mt. Tom and the White Glacier: The Valhallas emerge from the clouds before we start descending to the White: I was in the lead and eventually got down to the top of a snow finger that I could see reached down to the glacier. I wanted to get down and out of the line of rockfall so I quickly put my aluminum crampons back on and went to step down onto the hard shady snow. This is where things (me and my pack) went downhill in the least favorable manner. I’m not sure exactly what happened because it was so fast but I may have had a large rock shift as I stepped down to the snow, or I may have bumped something with my pack knocking me off balance, but I never got established on the slope and the next thing I know I am sliding down the surprisingly hard and icy slope I tried to dig my aluminum ice axe in but failed to get it to bite before my tumble/rotation pulled me out of position. For a brief moment I tried to relax into the fall and then found suddenly myself at the bottom of bergschrund/crevasse. I somehow slithered out of my backpack into a half fetal position and froze. I knew immediately from the pain in my back that I was somewhat screwed. I could move all my limbs but really couldn’t change my position much due to the pain. My breathing was shallow also with pain (broken ribs) but I weakly shouted up to my partners that I needed help. I doubted they could hear me but in my condition there wasn’t much to do but settle in and wait. I knew I wasn’t walking out. I had slid somewhere around 200 feet down the mountain and come to a sudden stop in a 15 foot deep hole. Chad C. arrived first having seen the end of my slide and scrambled down as quickly and safely as he could trying not to knock anything on top of me. Chad B. was not too far behind having chosen the safest option of rappelling from rocks on the edge of the snow finger. They did an amazing job of staying focused over the next couple of hour, assessing me and determining the possible severity of my back injury but no other immediate threats. I had some gurgling in my shallow breaths but it wasn’t getting worse. They managed to get a sleeping pad mostly under me and all the sleeping bags over me. I asked for a gu to keep my blood sugar up and a few sips of water but didn’t want too much else so as not to interfere with future medical treatment. We had a satellite phone but actually had cell service so the call was made for a rescue. Olympic National Park rangers coordinated to get the Mt. Rainier National Park rescue crew and helicopter on the way. Chads got the stove going and got me some life saving hot water bottles as I edged towards shock in the cold and damp hole. I am forever grateful for my excellent partners keeping me as comfortable as possible in this terrible and unexpected situation. In a bad spot (I asked them to take this photo): It only took four hours or so from the phone call until we heard the sounds of a helicopter. Time was a strange element in my state and it seemed faster but we did have time to sort out some possible options and make sure I didn’t leave with the car keys. Soon enough we were waving (well everyone but me) towards the rescue crew as they assessed our situation and location from the air. Relaying text messages with ONP we learned the crew was landing at the IGY research hut on Snow Dome to remove the helicopter doors and set up for a long line operation. A marine cloud layer remained in the valley and they were worried it could rise a bit and ground us all so they chose not to land on the White Glacier. A little while later they returned with Rescuers Tim and Seann dangling underneath. They talked with all of us and quickly realized the initial plan of a rescue sling would not be good with my back injuries so back the helicopter went with Chad B dangling to configure their vacuum litter. They brought this back and carefully finagled this fantastic device underneath me and pumped the air out conforming the litter to my position and firmly holding me there. Tim secured himself and me to the long line and they carefully coordinated a gentle angled extraction from my icy rocky confinement. A short flight later (during which I had a great view of red nylon and straps) they landed us at snow dome and returned to also extract Chad C, Seann, and our gear. They landed the helicopter again and loaded me inside for the flight to Port Angeles where I was transferred to an ambulance to the PA Hospital and then further transferred to Harborview. Thus ended our Olympics trip a little early. I probably would have preferred the bushwhack exit but this one was certainly faster. Our path from the Valhallas to Olympus: Afterward: The amazing rescue crew was able to refuel and return to snow dome to pick up the rescuer they left as well as the two Chads and our gear who they were able to drop off in Port Angeles. I know Chads were grateful to not have to do the long hike out the Hoh to the wrong trailhead as they weren’t motivated to continue our traverse over Mt. Tom and Hoh Peak on without me. I’d like to think the rescue crew was willing to do that due to the great work and preparation of Chad B. and C. to stabilize me and clean up gear and prepare things well in advance for the operation but I know there were other considerations as well for the party. They were able to rent a car the next day to retrieve mine from the trailhead and then return home. I had x-rays that night identifying three compression fractured thoracic vertebrae, two cervical vertebrae fractures, several broken ribs and a mild pneumothorax (punctured lung). I endured a long ground ambulance ride to Harborview for which I was fortunately well drugged. Due to the possibility of a bone fragment damaging my spinal cord I had an operation there to clean things up and fuse the damaged thoracic vertebrae. And I get to wear a fun neck collar for three months until the cervical ones heal. Overall my prognosis is for a full recovery and eventually regaining my range of motion. The hospital cheeseburger at Harborview after well over 24 hours of no food was amazing. I am so very lucky that I had great partners, a skilled rescue team, and injuries that were not more severe. I know that people took great risk to get me out and am grateful that they were able to do so and keep my back immobilized until treatment. Things could have gone much worse in my fall and extraction. With 25 years of technical climbing experience I was overly confident in my footsteps in this no-fall zone especially given my ultralight gear choices. The snow was harder than anything encountered on the trip due to the deep shaded gully and coldest weather night. I should have sheltered in the gully and waited for my partners (who were carrying the ropes) to rappel this section. We make choices in the mountains all the time between moving fast and light and being roped and anchored 100% of the time. I have been lucky and have developed some skill in movement here but in this case I failed. The heavy pack and taxing traverse took their toll and I was lax in my assessment of the conditions and the run out below. I was a little worried about our speed and late camps and this probably colored my choices as well. This time I got lucky (relatively). With the amazing help I received I am thankful that I will be able to return to the hills again next season and maybe even get to ski this winter. Even more photos and some video here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/eXzGgsweVE6zKS5s5 Gear Notes: We took a 30m half/twin rope and a 48 meter half/twin (meant to be two 30s, oops, but we did do some 39 meter rappels with a knot pass in broken terrain). We packed one picket, two link cams, and a half dozen nuts as well as 4 trad draws and several assorted other slings and prussics. CAMP ultralight harnesses worked great for all of us. We all had aluminum crampons but Chad B and C had steel ice axes. I figured they could lead any icy ascents but I didn’t think about the descent problem with my lightest of light axes. We took a two person and one person tent figuring we might have bugs to deal with but amazingly didn’t have many. An MSR Reactor with small pot worked great for our occasional snow melting and mostly freeze dried food. Helmets are always needed for Olympics rock. Our packs started at a hefty 50 lbs or so each but 8 days of food and whiskey accounted for much of that. I am slightly disappointed I didn’t get to the end just to see how good I was at my food estimating. We had planned to continue over Mt. Tom and Hoh Peak and drop back to the South Fork two days later. Approach Notes: S. Fork of the Hoh and go!
  18. 7 points
    With some time on my hands with the quarantine and all, I decided to compile some research. Here's a list of "forgotten" Cascade alpine testpieces (ice focused) or FACTs. Feel free to add some others I left out! Who's gonna be the first to tick the entire list? I apologize for all the weird formatting. I just copied this post from my blog https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/22/forgotten-cascade-alpine-ice-routes/. I90 I90 climbs offer the best access and easiest conditions to predict. There are undoubtedly many more climbs to be discovered in this area with easy access, generally good rock, and surprisingly rugged little mountains. Mt. Kent, North Face (multiple variations): the greatest north face in the Snoqualmie region with many long 1000 ft lines. Bonus: you can see conditions from I90 near exit 42 while driving west! This has been super high on my list to explore. Snoqualmie Mt, North Face (multiple variations): an abundance of mixed ice lines like the classic New York Gully and the lesser known Pineapple Express and Blue Moon. Abiel Peak, North Face (multiple variations): the “Ben Nevis” of the PNW has many shorter alpine ice and mixed lines. Bryant Peak, Hot Tubbs: Maybe this route hasn’t been around long enough since Jacob and I published it, but it reportedly hasn’t seen much action, so I think it’ll be forgotten soon enough… Summit Chief Mountain, North Face: Colin Haley said this line had “more ice climbing than any other Cascade ice climb” he had ever done at the time. Big compliment. The North Face is much like Dragontail, just fatter. Peak 3964, False Idol: An incredible 10 pitch ice route off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie that needs very cold temps to form. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the ice potential in the Middle Fork. US2 US2 offers some hotspots like the Stuart Range, with its steep granite peaks, and a sprinkling of other incredible routes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Weather is generally colder and drier on the east side, which is good for ice. Chiwawa Mountain, Intravenous: Cutting edge Colin Haley mixed route deep in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Buck Mountain, Buckshot: Another bold line in a wilderness setting. One of the great underrated north faces in Washington. Mt. Index, North Face: Steepest peak in Washington, visible from the highway. Always an involved matter for a sub-6000 ft peak. Another huge route is Murphy's Law. Dragontail Peak, NE Couloir: This route feels much more full on than Triple Couloirs next door, and seems to be difficult to get in proper (fall) conditions. Colchuck Peak, NE Buttress Couloir: Often overlooked with Triple Couloirs and the North Buttress Couloir next door. Ends with a cornice-tunnel! Argonaut Peak, NE Couloir: Also a rock/snow route in early summer, this can be a fantastic mixed/ice route in late fall. Mt. Stuart, Ice Cliff Glacier: a technically easy but deceptively committing and full-on climb in a wild setting. Argonaut Peak, Chad Kellog Memorial Route: Challenging new age mixed route in the heart of the Stuart Range. Mt. Stuart, Lara Kellog Memorial Route: Climbs the incredible NE Face of Stuart above the Ice Cliff Glacier. Looks directly across to the Chad Kellog Memorial Route. Mt. Stuart, Stuart Glacier Couloir: A classic route where the crux is arguable climbing the west ridge in mixed winter conditions. Nason Ridge, Alpine Dropout: A fantastic looking ice route that sits just above Lake Wenatchee. Mountain Loop Close to Seattle but tragically overlooked, the peaks of the Mountain Loop are as rugged as anywhere in the North Cascades but with surprisingly decent winter access. The myriad of big climbs in this little region speaks volume to the incredible terrain. Big Four Mt, North Face (multiple variations): multiple routes, including the famous Spindrift Couloir. This is a mighty north face, and routes often take multiple days. Hall Peak, North Face: little brother to Big Four supposedly has some ice routes. Three Fingers, NE Face: This is a big route on a surprisingly big mountain. I believe there’s much more potential on the east side of Three Fingers. Whitechuck Mt, E Face Couloir: A very aesthetic couloir ice/mixed route. Access can be challenging unless it is a very low snow year. Whitehorse Mt, E Couloir: This steep route splits the Squire Creek Headwall for a fantastic line. I think it might even be visible from Darrington?! Sperry Peak, E Face Gully: Another beautiful, long, moderate ice/mixed route that likely varies in technicality from fall to spring. Sloan Peak, Full Moon Fever: This route climbs the weakness on the NW Face of Sloan. Having been at the base, I can say there is HUGE potential all over the place near the route. Sloan Peak, Superalpine: I certainly hope this climb isn’t forgotten, as Porter and I believe it is truly the best moderate alpine ice route we have climbed in the Cascades (better than Cosley Houston or the NW Couloir of Eldorado), but I know how things go around here… Lake 22 Headwall: who would think that one of the greatest alpine walls in the Cascades was just a short hour drive and hike from Seattle? There are so many unclimbed 2000 ft lines up this face, and you can get conditions updates by searching Instagram! Highway 20 Highway 20 undoubtedly has many huge ice lines, but difficult winter access has limited exploration. During lower snow years, the Cascade River Road could be a great area for exploration and development. Eldorado Peak, NW Ice Couloir: This route was sort of “remembered” in Fall 2019 when probably 20 parties climbed it (me included), but it’s a fantastic easier route, so I’ll leave it here. Colonial Peak, North Face (multiple routes): The mega line Watusi Rodeo offers 4000 ft of front point terrain and is “easily” accessible all winter. First Date is another attractive route. Pyramid Peak, NE Face (multiple routes): Home to some challenging mixed/ice routes on a wonderfully aesthetic peak. Graybeard, North Face: Everyone seems to report this deceptively big route deepened their sense of mortality. Davis Peak, No Milkshakes: the north face of Davis Peak is supposedly the steepest vertical mile drop in Washington. Silver Star, West Face Couloir: Originally planned as a ski descent, it actually turned out to be a huge ice climb! Visible from the highway, but you probably need a sled to get up there. Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn Wilson: Gaining popularity lately, can be climbed right before the highway closes or after it opens. Early Winters Couloir: This one is sort of a classic and can be climbed in both fall and spring. Highway 542 The areas around Baker and Shuksan are generally well explored, but still offer great adventure. The Black Buttes are one of the centerpieces for hard alpine ice climbing. Lincoln Peak, Wilkes-Booth: A huge, challenging route on one of the hardest peaks in Washington. Assassin Spire, NW Face: Considered by many to be the toughest summit in Washington, this was also the first peak where the first ascent was made in winter. Colfax Peak, Ford’s Theater: The “forgotten” next door neighbor of the ultra classic Cosley Houston. Mt. Rainier / Tatoosh This area is dominated by the mountain, but I’m guessing the Tattosh have good stuff and certainly easy access. Rainier, Mowich Face: A long moderate route on the “quiet” (NW) side of the big hunk-a-hunk. Rainier, Ptarmigan Ridge: A steeper, more sustained route than its next door neighbor, the world-renowned Liberty Ridge. Mt. Hood I don’t know much about Hood, but I’m sure there are some great routes that are infrequently climbed, so I’ll take suggestions here!
  19. 7 points
    Trip: Blum - North ridge Trip Date: 08/15/2020 Trip Report: A few thoughts from our climb of Blum’s north ridge last weekend. Arrived at the ranger station around 10:30 on Friday, with a budget of about an hour for waiting for permit. I started about 30 places back in line and made it to about 24 places behind in that hour. Doing the math it was an easy call to just head out to the unpopular Blum zone sans permit rather than wait another 2+ hours. Would be nice if NCNP got their shit together with the permit situation someday. The approach hike is short on views but it’s a beautiful forest. Its shade was much appreciated this hot weekend. It’s very difficult to keep on the climbers trail. A lot of it is pretty faint but distinct enough, but it seems to abruptly disappears in several spots only to reappear later. Especially during the relatively flat traverse around 4400-4800’ I never noticed a path. At least the forest is more open in that part. Impressed by the determination and passion of those who found their way up these hills without gps or any trail. I was glad to have screenshots of tracks here for reference https://www.nps.gov/noca/blogs/mt-blum-north-glacier-july-12-2016.htm Bivy at the lake was lovely except for the voracious mosquitoes. We got an early start next morning in the hopes of avoiding groping around the bush in the dark on the way back to the cars. Headed off a little before 6am. Passed a beautiful reflection lake and what looks like a remnant of an antenna or something? This, one piton, 1 chewed up piece of tat, and the summit register were the only evidence of humanity that we saw past the bivy lake. I had assumed the start of the N ridge would be more obvious. There were actually 3 distinct ridges coming down the the glacier. The first one furthest west was clearly not the right one. We took the second one but there was more further left that we didn’t really explore. I took the first lead up and diagonally right. There was one long runout but plenty of jugs in that area. I encountered a difficult move with a wide crack roof just above and right of a finger crack. There was a piton nearby and the crack took cams well, so this crux seemed like it could be on route and was reasonably well protected. It could be 5.9, maybe harder, especially if you’re short. Anchored off a boulder up and right after nearly a full 60m. After this it was some scrambling up the ridge, ending in a dirty gully. We started to wonder if we were off route then. But this led to a really nice low 5th ridge traverse that we sailed up. We passed a nearly flat polished section of rock and arrived at a tower that seemed too tall and featureless to down climb (10-15’). So we backtracked past the flat spot and took an exposed traverse climber’s left into another gully. The traverse ended with a handrail into a low angle wide crack right facing corner. Pretty sure this wasn’t standard because it would take a #3 to protect it. We didn’t have a #3 but the crack wasn’t very long. Including it we did 2 short meandering pitches up and left to gain another ridge, which we took to its end. There was another tower that seemed to block the way and we surveyed a sketchy looking down climb left into another gully but found instead that the tower could be bypassed on its right. Cresting here we took off the rock shoes for the last ridge section leading to the summit. The summit views are . . . Real nice. We were the 4th party to sign the register this year. Always nice to descend without having to do any raps. More beautiful scrambling on the way down, passing a jade lake still holding some snow, and rusty polished granite slabs everywhere. The first gully after that lake’s outlet stream was unappealing so we continued west but found uglier options. One at a time we picked our way down a rotten sandy gully before crossing back over into a better one to get back to the bivy lake. We cooled off in the lake and hit the ‘trail’ a little before 5, which didn’t leave much time to get back before dark. Route finding was generally a little better on the way back, but my phone died at the last inscrutable section after I pocket dialed a long video of the inside of my pocket. So we no longer had a track to follow. We thrashed down and right after the trail disappeared at a flag around a little cliff and stumbled upon a faint path again. We could follow this down to Blum creek before it vanished again and we traded back and forth between boulder hopping adjacent to the creek and being forced back into the bushes. We reached the wooden bridge and gravel path that marked the end of difficulties. Well, almost. From here back to the car seemed so much longer than the day before. The last hour of hiking down the hills in fading light had sapped all my energy. It took 4 hours from the bivy to the cars. And although it wasn’t a terribly long day as far as these things go, I was truly spent. Worth it? Yes, amazing scenery and plenty of good rock. In no rush to repeat that hike though. Gear Notes: Crampons (didn’t use due to laziness but would be useful) Ice ax Cams in the .4-.75 range were most useful. Single #1, #2 was fine Approach Notes: Good luck
  20. 7 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - White Salmon Gl. Trip Date: 02/20/2020 Trip Report: The paper says we are 7 inches ahead for rainfall right now in the Skagit Valley. Probably why last week I did everything I could to break free of work and get out in the sun, high on Mount Shuksan. I have to thank @dberdinka for organizing the hooky and @Trent for sharing in the enthusiasm. We weren't alone in our thinking- a few dozen others were seen out on the White Salmon, and even when we were descending after a run over by the North Face, more were coming. Even the (in)famous Jason Hummel was out showing pro Cody Townsend around the mountain. It was quite a day to soak up some rays and earn a few turns, so I can't blame anyone for joining in the fun. I hope you were out somewhere too..... Gear Notes: two sticks for the up, one or two for the down Approach Notes: I would drop thru the clear cut to the creek rather than try and stay high. Not bad turns to the valley bottom.
  21. 7 points
    This forum needs some ACTION!!! Got lots of freshies around Herman Saddle on Sunday. Headed there after running into a party that triggered a storm slab/partial burial on a steeper slope in Mazama Bowl. Stay safe out there! I know he's on a splitboard, but he's still a good guy: Sweet animation of someone wiping out: Beautiful: Big smiles:
  22. 6 points
    Trip: Forbidden - E Ridge Direct Trip Date: 08/26/2020 Trip Report: Deb and I climbed the E Ridge Direct route on Forbidden on Wednesday. It was an absolute blast, a perfect day of climbing! We were able to get Boston Basin permits, and although sure, you can do these climbs car to car without issues, why not camp in such an amazing place if you can? Deb hadn't been up the Boston Basin trail before and I was SHOCKED at how much more defined the trail was and how much easier it was this time than last May carrying my skis up. Who woulda thought?! We got up there in a little over 2 hours and enjoyed the sunset light and drank some beers I'd packed up. No skeeters! And so little snow. In the dark, we watched as SIX headlamps slowly made their way down... wow. I stayed up to see what had happened. Turns out, nothing! "Just a lot of parties on the west ridge, traffic jams on rappels..." Dang. We got moving a bit before 7 the next day and although we brought aluminum pons and light axes, the super hard snow gave us reason for finding a more creative route around the snowfields up to the choss and notch where the route starts. It took us about an hour and a half or so to get from camp to the notch and soon we were simulclimbing on excellent rock along an amazing ridge in such an incredible place. SO FUN! I took us as direct a line as possible, over the 5.7 stuff, some awesome knife-edge type ridge walking, and then we stopped to belay the 5.8 (it was just a couple bouldery moves) final gendarme bit. It's cool that most of the little towers can be downclimbed; it's too bad there is the one mandatory short rappel. I was happy that I was able to lead everything in my approach shoes without a problem. Deb took the rack and we simuled the rest of the ridge to the summit! It took us about 4 hours from notch to summit, which was definitely on the longer side of what I expected, but fine! Summit views were of course amazing.... The East Ledges descent was not a problem at all and Deb and I were both scratching our heads about how it has such a nasty reputation. Maybe if you got seriously off route it could be scary? I guess it all depends on experience, exposure to exposure, etc. etc. but for us, it was no problem. All the raps pulled cleanly and nary a pebble fell upon us. We got back to the notch approximately 2 hours from leaving the summit. The snow was soft at this point, so we took a snowfield down, and then avoided 4th class terrain by descending further to the west and then onto slabs. On the way out, we came around a corner to see a BEAR which was super awesome. He looked young to me, maybe 1-2 years old? Cutie pie. He was startled and trotted off, then we watched him cross Morning Star Creek and then on the other side, paw some boulder off and dig around. A fantastic way to end our time in Boston Basin.... Camera came out a bit late...can you spot the bear? I enjoyed this climb much more than the West Ridge. I think I will definitely be back to repeat it. And we got it ALL TO OURSELVES! Thank you, Deb, for being a fantastic climbing partner Gear Notes: Lots of double-length slings! We brought a 60m single rope which we shortened for the simulclimbing -- I think this was actually the right choice for us, over doubling a 60m twin/half. Medium rack to keep the simuling going... but lots of horns and towers and things on the ridge, so I felt like a lot of the terrain was providing protection! Approach Notes: Up, over, up, over, up.
  23. 6 points
    Trip: Stuart Range Traverse - SRT Trip Date: 08/10/2020 Trip Report: Should maybe be titled Stuart Range Traverse* because there's always some disclaimer in there, good style is just about doing it with as few asterisks as possible. My main asterisk is I didn't actually summit Sherpa. I'm also no Peter Croft, but based off all the TRs that are out there for this thing, none of us quite are. Anyway, I've had a weird relationship with climbing this year. There have been a lot of other things going on (perhaps an understatement in this wild year) that demand more attention. I came back from a full season deep down south feeling absolutely on top of my game, a feeling which quarantine somehow morphed into a sense of burnout, fear, overanalysis and a general loss of motivation for big objectives. I've wondered if maybe I've finally developed a frontal lobe in my brain. Seeking comfort and sticking close the ground, I've focused on running and bouldering. While the Stuart Range Traverse is neither of those things, I did feel a certain motivation to get it done before I move to Colorado (I know) for a bit, and all it really boils down to is a nice long run with some V0 highballs. Plotz told me it's kind of a slog. He was right. But I still had fun, and given enough time I might even consider doing it again, with fewer asterisks. lovely little garden below Stuart. The first bit of excitement came on the slabs below the Stuart Glacier, where I felt my pack suddenly lose a lot of weight. I turned around to see one of my two liters of water careening down towards the snowy gully where it shall spend the remainder of eternity. Somehow my pack had come unzipped, and I almost lost a lot more kit than I did. I kinda thought my plans for the traverse tumbled down into the moat along with it, as I had just passed the last water source and I couldn't bank on finding anything between the ridge and Argonaut. But I still had one liter infused with electrolyte-whatever, and I could bail at Sherpa Pass if I had to. Not much to be said about the North Ridge of Stuart, other than the fact it's phenomenal. I had never climbed it, or Stuart for that matter, until yesterday. It was worth the wait. Was on route for about 2 hours. stuart summit selfie. that's what everyone likes about TRs, right? selfies? As soon as I was on the south side of the crest the wind was gone and it was hot. I was really worried about running out of water. I also made the classic rookie mistake and got suckered down the wrong gully (not ulrich's) while searching for water. I did find some, but also found myself well below Sherpa. I had already had a few routefinding snafus early on and was a couple hours behind schedule, doing the math I figured if I tagged Sherpa's summit I'd most likely bail at the pass - which turned into a cost-benefit analysis of what I valued more, another summit or a more solid chance at the traverse? I chose the traverse. There was an excellent ledge system below Sherpa, complete with a goat highway, that got me to Sherpa Pass quickly. If it wasn't chest deep in the boonies, the south-facing slopes between Sherpa and Argo would host excellent cragging - I spied numerous perfect cracks and checkerboard patina reminiscent of Red Rock's Brownstone Wall, all on perfect red granite. And if you keep your eyes and ears open, water can be found in small springs that quickly dive underground. Overall, I didn't think this section was as bad as people say. I mostly stayed just barely below the ridge crest. I stayed hydrated, stayed psyched, and speaking of sweet crags, soon found myself at the base of the S Face of Argo. choose your own adventure! knobs and splitters galore! s face of argo from the right margin. This was also my first time on Argonaut's summit, which was quite nice. Great view, and fun, easy climbing. I had brought a skinny half rope to use as a rap line if I needed it - not totally necessary in hindsight, but I was glad to have brought it as it did give me a little nicer sense of security, which like I said, I haven't really had that feeling of security with climbing lately. Well, turns out that shiny new half rope came all this way just to be put under the knife on some short rappel I ended up soloing up and down anyway. Getting it stuck on the rap pull was a result of my own negligence and it cost me a lot of time - so if you're trying to descend into Argo's east gully and find a well-used rap station above a splitter looking dihedral, just downclimb. There's maybe one section of 5.6 to get you down to a big ledge. As you jam the perfect hand crack (seriously, why didn't I just downclimb this from the get go), take a moment to admire the remains of about 3 or 4 different ropes stuck deep inside. Mine's one of them. Hooray! But ultimately, I can't really blame myself for taking an extra precaution when I was already tired and clumsy. From there, it's loose third and fourth class down the east gully. man, I wish I had a better phone camera. Once at the shelf between Argo and Colchuck, I put the headphones in and motored up and over Colchuck and Dragontail, arriving at Aasgard in the dark. Pop Tarts and Prince carried me to the finish. 22.5 hrs C2C. Gear Notes: an extra liter of water so you can jettison the first one into the void Approach Notes: there is one, yes.
  24. 6 points
    Trip: Glacier Peak - Frostbite Ridge Trip Date: 08/09/2020 Trip Report: Glacier Peak, Frostbite Ridge 8/9/20 (descending Cool Glacier) Anna B and I chose Frostbite Ridge route on Glacier Peak since it would offer us more technical challenges, but we devised a route that would take us down the Cool Glacier standard route and make a 4 day loop of the climb. One reason for choosing a loop was that we were doing it in early August and as 2020 was an above average snow year and a cooler than normal summer I anticipated that the ice steps just below the summit might have snice and not be melted down to the glacial ice. If this was true (it mostly was), descending on the Frostbite Ridge with several rappels on the ice steps could mean spending a lot of time and energy clearing away the snice to get to the glacial ice to build v-threads for the rappels. Something I wanted to avoid. A loop also is just more appealing anyway. The normal route for Frostbite Ridge starts at the Suiattle Pass Trailhead up the PCT and then to the Vista Glacier. We started our loop at the North Fork Sauk trailhead and so this would require many extra miles to get to where the standard Frostbite Ridge route peels off the PCT. Luckily, I found some old trip reports where, in years past, climbers used the now decommissioned White Chuck river road and trail to attain the either the Kennedy Ridge and up to the Kennedy glacier or one trip report that cited a bivy at 6,200 feet near the base of the Kennedy glacier. This would save us time and miles and turned out to be the best choice for our route. We started at the North Fork Sauk River trailhead, the starting point for the Cool Glacier approach. Day 1 we hiked from the trailhead up to the PCT and covering over 3,000 feet in a short distance. At the PCT we went left to Red Pass and down the other side. After passing several good campsites just as the PCT started heading north we found a nice flat campsite at around 5,000 feet just off the trail before it descended steeply in a small gorge. We chose wisely as this was the last campsite for a few miles. Total distance was about 13 miles with 5,000 feet of gain and 2,200 feet of loss. Day 2 we continued on the PCT for about 7.5 miles, going past Kennedy Creek and up onto Kennedy Ridge. The PCT had a lot of overgrown bushes/ small trees wet from the recent rains and fog and parts of the trail had small streams diverted on them. We got soaked and our boots were wet for the entire remaining days of the climb. There is a PCT camping area with a sign for a toilet just before the PCT crosses Glacier Creek and makes a sharp turn left. Opposite the entrance to the PCT campsite is a small drainage that flows into Glacier Creek (not the actual Glacier Creek) where we could see a climbers trail (5,300 feet). We followed this up and within a few hundred feet the trail mostly disappeared. We continued with not too difficult bushwhacking up the drainage and stayed right to gain a small ridge just above the base of the Kennedy Glacier where we found the bivy site mentioned in the old trip reports at approximately 6,100 feet (48.131760, -121.140130). Running water nearby made this ideal for our summit bid the next day. Day 3 we got an early start and headed up the Kennedy Glacier staying on the climbers left (north side) portion of the glacier but not too close to the cliffs below Kennedy peak as there was plenty of evidence of rock fall. From 7,400 feet to about 7,700 feet we had to find our way around open crevasses and crossed on several bridges that looked fairly thick and strong but still made us a bit nervous to cross over the gaping crevasses blow our feet. I believe that in a few weeks time the route finding through this crevassed area may pose some difficulties. At 8,200 feet we joined the standard Frostbite Ridge route just after the Kennedy and Vista glaciers col. From base of Kennedy Glacier. Frostbite Ridge in the alpenglow. There are plenty of trip reports out there and the Cascade Climber report from 8/2/2015 has the best information and photos of the route that I can’t really improve upon. For us, we went up the ridgeline which was pumice and dirt and included a short narrow catwalk that was a bit nerve wracking but doable. At the first large rock gendarme (named the rabbit’s dick in the aforementioned trip report) we went right and stayed on a rock ramp since we felt the steep snow was icy and the runout was long. This probably got us a bit off course, we followed the ramp and then headed up where there was a short 4th class section with some exposure so Anna B put in a few stoppers and a short belay and we climbed back to the left side of the gendarme, dropping onto the top of the snow pitch on the left side and went through a notch to descend back on route. After this first rock pinnacle we got to the rabbit ears and went up on the right side (we thought we were going through the middle of the ears) and once beyond the “ears” we had to traverse left to gain the ridge that was an easy class 3 scramble down to the base of the upper portion of the Kennedy Glacier climbing section. This looked rather steep when we looked down on it from the rabbits ears, but it was probably not much more than 45 degrees at the base and then quickly mellowed out a bit to around 40 degrees. The snow was perfect and we climbed up solo getting through this glacier portion quickly. After the glacier climb, there was a quick little downclimb into the snow covered crater where we got to the base of the ice steps at 10,200 feet. The steps were still mostly covered in snice which, as I expected, had not melted out yet. The first step is maybe a pitch at maybe 55+ degrees. The snice was perfect enough that an easy wrist flick sent the pick into the snice a ½ inch or more. We felt comfortable on this and soloed up the pitch. There was one small section where there was water ice though it was maybe 15 feet or so and didn’t pose a problem for us. The second step is longer (2 pitches of 60 m rope?) but a bit less step so we also soloed on this portion. At last the summit! The ice steps starting at 10,200. It was a couple hours to descend Glacier Peak on the opposite side, mostly on snow, down to Cool Glacier and we camped at Glacier Gap with awesome views. Day 4 we left Glacier Gap and descended on the former glacier known as White Chuck (not much of the glacier is left now, just to prove science deniers wrong) and back to our car at the North Fork Sauk trailhead. This is a great way to do Glacier peak, offering a loop instead of an out and back, providing more challenging glacier travel on the lower Kennedy, semi-technical rock scramble and ice steps at the top of the route, and an easier descent via the Cool Glacier route. It took us 4 days and I doubt we could have done it quicker but possibly for a fit team traveling light and fast it could be done in 3 days. But why rush if you’re in Glacier Peak Wilderness, enjoy the experience. Gear Notes: 40m rope (if descending and planning on rappels a 60m is better) 4 ice screws (not used) 4 pickets (not used) a few stopers to 2" (used 2 but not totally needed) Approach Notes: Starting at North Fork Sauk River trailhead
  25. 6 points
    Trip: Chimney Rock - E Face Trip Date: 07/18/2020 Trip Report: Low 5th solos came to mind as an option given the pandemic and I thought I’d check out chimney rock. Hit the road on Friday later than intended so I didn’t start the hike until 6:30pm which didn’t leave a lot of time to get to the bivy before dark. Even so, scratching up the climbers trail in the fading light, which is at points extremely steep, wasn’t too bad. Made it to the bivy area as the stars were coming out (about 3.5 hours?) found a reasonably flat rock and enjoyed fantastic star gazing as I drifted off. I’ve seen singular bright flashes a couple times while star gazing recently. What is that? Took my time in the morning, left around 8am. Proceeded to nearly lose my phone in a crack between a rock and snow while putting on crampons. Luckily was able to blindly excavate it with my axe. Glacier approach was uncomplicated but once at the rock I checked 3 or 4 different options twice each before picking a way onto the rock that was just barely tolerable solo. A trip report from a week earlier mentioned snow straight onto rock but this seemed to already be deteriorating. By now the block of snow I stepped on is probably gone. Sometimes these things have a way of getting worse but then improving again depending on how snow melts and how the rock is. So I wouldn’t rule out getting onto to the rock now, but assume it will not be trivial. The route was pretty easy to follow. I had screenshots of the copious internet beta to help (good thing I rescued my phone ). I wore climbing shoes for extra security. All the 4th + 5th seemed pretty reasonable to me, managed to almost entirely avoid sketchy rock. There are cuts everywhere in the rock which keeps things low stress. No committing slabs or down sloping sections that I can remember. The most insecure part was the snow on the 2nd pitch, which was quite steep and exposed, had to switch back to approach shoes and crampons and axe for that. Treated to great views from the summit. I hadn’t got around to climbing anything in the area before. Stuart and Thomson are the closest I had yet been. It’s a worthwhile summit, I was pleased to be there. The descent wasn’t very fun, no surprise there. I could have paid more attention to the rap anchor locations on the way up. Had to do some wandering and down climbing less than clean exposed 4th to find a couple of them. I’ve been spoiled by steeper routes where one rap glides smoothly into the next. Packing the rope and scrambling between raps I kept tangling the rope. Finally made it back to the glacier, I think on the 7th rap, which easily got me over the moat. Things went smoothly from there and my spirit was high until near Pete lake. By this time the evening was getting on, around the same time as my approach the previous day. For some reason the bugs the day before were pretty annoying but not horrible, but this day they were absolutely insatiable and soul crushing. I ran as much as I could (good thing the trail is flat), threw my bag in the car, flailed my arms and legs around for a minute, jumped in the car and sped away. Gear Notes: 60m rope for raps Approach Notes: Most of climbers trail easy to follow once you find the log crossing but https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1424334 gps track was appreciated. No issues on glacier, moat was just starting to get complicated.
  26. 6 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Face Gully Attempt Trip Date: 11/29/2019 Trip Report: Sorry I didn't post this for a few months, but basically I was scared of others going up there, turning around and seeing the massive ice flows on Sloan, and poaching our prize. But what's done is done so now I want to share what I learned from an attempt of the East Face Gully of Sperry over Thanksgiving 2019. This trip report (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7980139) caught my attention and Sperry became the focus of my fall alpine efforts. The east face is a beautiful 3000 ft wall with just an hour approach! This gully looked absolutely sweet, like some moderate mixed/snow/ice route. This was the only report I could ever find, so it was hard to know what to expect. Fall 2019 was very dry for us. At elevations below 5000 ft, there was no snow come mid November. Then, right before Thanksgiving, it dumped about a foot down to 3000 ft and got extremely cold (highs in the 30s in the lowlands). Good for ice right? Sperry. Approach slabs on the left. Gully obvious in the middle. Daniel and I drove up to the trailhead and hiked into Wirtz Basin around sunrise. We could immediately tell we were in trouble. The 3rd to 4th class approach slabs looked like they were covered in thin verglass and fresh powder. We started up them, but decided we wouldn't be soloing them (Daniel was pretty new to ice climbing at this point) so we tried going through the dense trees to the right. This was impossible, running into steep cliffs and powder on no base. We bailed back to the slabs. Typical climbing in the approach slabs. We broke out the rope and I led up the right side of the slabs on WI1-2 R where sometimes your crampons would bust through to the rock. It was very insecure, albeit easy. Just not what Hyalite prepares you for. I belayed Daniel off a small bush and then we scrambled up higher. Then to the right there was a little WI3 near vertical step for 20-30 ft that might have taken 6 cm screws. I now realize this was the "little icy step" Jim referred to in his trip report. Damn, those guys were tough. Another veggie belay brought Daniel up. The next section involved climbing atop branches while getting soaked in powder. Then we traversed across more 3rd class slabs covered in fresh powder in crampons. My crampons were brand new and suffered dearly. Finally, we were staring up the gut at the gully, around 4000 ft. It was near noon and the strong sun was causing snow to constantly cascade down the gully. It looked absolutely icy and beautiful! Certainly one of the most beautiful gullies I've ever seen, but we were too late to continue. The powder would have been heinious. We stopped here. But the ice looked so good! Sloan, with the lines already forming. We rapped off trees back down to the valley floor. We took a walk further up Wirtz Basin and admired the incredible geometric features of Sperry. It is truly one of the underrated great mountains of the North Cascades. There were all of these cutting edge mixed ice routes that went 1000 ft up the SE face in the deep chimneys and cuts, but then they just petered out into nothing. There were even some chimneys like hundreds of feet deep and perfectly angular. I could just imagine Colin Haley deep in the darkness, climbing some great new route. I'd love to come back in the summer and climb one of the huge 2000 ft rock routes Beckey mentions that never get climbed anymore. I think the east face gully could be a great summer scramble, 3000 ft of scrambling with basically no approach. This is an incredible mountain. This looks like an incredible route. We'll be back! Inspiring SE side of Sperry. I've seen another mountain like it. Serious ice potential further up the valley. Cool easier ice potential up on Morning Star. Great north face of Sperry. Wonder if that route has seen a repeat? North face Big Four. Lessons learned: * this is a tricky route to nail in proper conditions. If that low snow hadn't fallen, the approach slabs would've been dry (like they were for Jim), but would the gully had been filled in? Probably not this year. We needed more snowfall above 4000 ft. Or if just a bunch of snow falls to 3000 ft and consolidates, but you can still drive to the trailhead, that'd work also. Or just climb this route in mid winter consolidated conditions with a sled access. * The approach slabs are really the only way to go. Don't try to go around. * those old timers are tough mothertruckers. Gear Notes: A few screws, some rock gear. Approach Notes: Short, probably one hour if you can drive to the trailhead. But the slabs can be cruxy...
  27. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Stuart - Direct North Ridge Trip Date: 06/22/2020 Trip Report: I finally ticked off this crown jewel of the Cascades! We did deal with some tough early season conditions, including snow and ice on the "Slab with Crack" as well as the section between the gendarme and the summit. I've included the text of my report below. Full report with photos can be found at https://spokalpine.com/2020/06/29/mt-stuart-direct-north-ridge/ John and I climbed the Direct North Ridge of Mount Stuart on a “leisure” schedule from June 21-23, 2020. It was the culmination of years of honing my mountain craft in the Cascades and abroad; this one meant a lot! The journey started in 2016, when I saw Stuart in person for the first time from Colchuck Peak. I was spellbound by the rugged beauty of the mountain with its springtime coating of snow and ice, making the North Ridge even more dramatic as it soared directly to the summit. It is possible to climb the North Ridge using an “abbreviated” start, gaining the ridge crest at half-height via a rocky gully rising from Stuart Glacier – this version of the route is included as one of the “50 Classic Climbs of North America” and some say it is the most commonly climbed version. To me, a direct start climbing directly from the toe of the ridge creates a much more pure, aesthetic and logical line to the summit. The Direct North Ridge instantly became my goal. Three months later after I first laid eyes on it, John and I made the Southern approach via Ingalls Creek for an attempt on the route. Cresting Goat Pass, we stopped to stare at the route in profile. The scale of the climb was jaw-dropping; we quickly turned around and went home. We were not ready and we knew it, but we made other excuses. Four years and many climbs went by before John and I decided that it was time to put this project to bed. This time, we trudged up Mountaineer’s Creek to Mount Stuart. Swarming insects, brutal heat, boulder hopping and a off-trail bushwhacking brought us to our plush back country campsite below Stuart’s Northern aspect. A few other climbers passed by our camp on their way out; they were the last people we would see for two days. We had the entire valley, and mountain, to ourselves. Cheers to weekday alpinism! With the Summer Solstice only two days prior, we had a long day of daylight on our side. Planning to blast the route and descent in a single push from camp, the route was already in full sun as we started hiking up the moraine at 5:30am. John volunteered to lead the first pitch, which was a great warmup for the day. The “slot” on this pitch is as awkward as people say… hang the leader’s pack off of a cam below the slot and belay just above. The leader can lower a loop of rope to the follower and haul the packs past the slot. I took point on the uneventful second pitch and John fired the 5.9+ third pitch, the hardest pitch on the climb. After a fourth belayed pitch (perhaps 5.7), we changed gears to simulclimbing mode. This part of the climb was truly a gift, featuring moderate climbing and unbeatable alpine ambiance. Rock and ice thundered down Ice Cliff Glacier every few minutes, reminding us that the mountain is always in charge. Our staircase of clean granite carried us 1600 feet higher into the cobalt sky. After a few hours, I lead over a high point in the ridgeline and felt my stomach drop. I was looking at the well-known and typically easy “slab with crack” pitch, but it was partially covered in snow and ice. There were no signs of prior passage and I questioned whether or not I would be able to climb it in these conditions. I quickly realized that I had to give the pitch my absolute best effort – bailing from this high on the ridge would be an absolute nightmare. The mountain was testing us even more than I expected. I cautiously led up the pitch, placing a solid cam a few feet below the snow patch before strapping my pathetic, worn-down aluminum crampons on my approach shoes. Evaluating the snow patch, I realized that it consisted of about 1 inch of ice against the rock with a couple of inches of snow on top. My ultralight ice axe would not be able to excavate the crack to place protection. The first few feet were the thinnest, and I willed the snow patch to stay attached to the mountain. With full commitment, I stepped onto the ice and quickly power-stepped my way up, trying to maintain my upward momentum. Racing to the top, I slapped my hands on the lip and mantled to a perfect belay stance. The final section of mid-fifth class climbing was still very snowy. Several miserable pitches with snow blocking the easiest route cost us a lot of time. Since it was dark already, we chose not to hurry, shifting our focus to finding the safest route among the snow and loose rock. Several times, I found myself at a dead-end, requiring me to reverse the last few moves and find another way. This was crushing in my exhausted state! We pulled onto the summit just at 11:30pm as the temperatures dropped. Regardless, I was incredibly happy and felt no stress about our situation, just focus and joyful resolve. We could handle this. The night sky was ablaze with stars and I was living my ideal atop this massive, complex peak. We began toiling our way down the East Ridge on snow, then 4th class rock, and then a lot more snowy rock. It was extremely slow going in the dark and we settled in for a short bivouac once we found a good platform. Bouts of violent shivering and continual harassment from the local snafflehounds provided entertainment until the sun rose again. In the morning, we continued traversing the East Ridge and descended the Sherpa Glacier, which was a tedious but straightforward descent option. The hike out to the car was quite the death march, but it always seems that way! Gear Notes: Doubles from fingers to #3. Approach Notes: Approach via Mountaineer's Creek and descent via the Sherpa Glacier.
  28. 6 points
    Trip: Cerro Aconcagua - Ruta Normal Trip Date: 02/02/2020 Trip Report: Back when the world was more normal, I took a solo two week trip to Argentina to climb Aconcagua: Day 1 (Thursday January 23rd): Fly out of Seatac – Santiago - Mendoza Day 2: Land in Mendoza, get permit & supplies, drive to Penitentes (el ~8500) for the night at Hotel Ayelan Day 3: Start of climb. Hike to Confluencia (el ~11,100) Day 4: Side trip to Plaza Francia at the base of the South Face for acclimatization, second night at Confluencia Day 5: Move to Plaza de Mulas (el 14,100) Day 6: Scramble nearby Cerro Bonete (el 16,417), second night at Mulas Day 7: Carry water & gear to Camp Canada (el 16,600), third night at Mulas Day 8: Carry gear to Nido de Condores (el 18,200), fourth night at Mulas Day 9: Move to Nido, skipping over Camp Canada Day 10: Acclimatization hike to Camp Colera (el 19,700), second night at Nido Day 11 (Sunday February 2nd): Summit (el 22,841), return to Nido for the night Day 12: Descend to Mulas Day 13: Hike out, return to Mendoza, rearrange flight home Day 14: Fly out of Mendoza - Santiago – LAX - Seattle Day 15 (Thursday February 6th): Land back in Seattle It’s hard to capture two weeks in limited pictures, but here goes. The park entrance off the main highway between Mendoza and Santiago, Chile has a great view of the mountain with the summit visible as the bump on the right. With limited vacation time, I increased my time efficiency (and fuel inefficiency) by renting a car at the airport in Mendoza and driving myself around. This meant I didn’t have to faff around with bus schedules and figuring out transport to/from the trailhead, and also allowed me to get my permit in Mendoza, get some last minutes supplies of fuel, lighters, meat & cheese, and drive up to Penitentes all in the first day so I could spend my first night at elevation. As an added bonus, I drove up to the Christo de Redeemer statue on a winding mountain road to a pass at El 12,572 where I spent 30 minutes walking around at altitude. The start of the hike to Confluencia was beautiful on wide trails through grassland with the mountain dominating the view in front. Confluencia, home for my first two nights on the mountain. My North Face Assault-2 tent is barely visible near the big yellow and white domes on the lower right. The first night at Confluencia when my appetite was high, I splurged a bit and bought a nice dinner from my mule service provider. From then on out it was lots of ramen, rice, and freeze dried. To help my acclimitization, I took a side trip up to Plaza Francia and the massive South Face of Aconcagua on my second day of the climb: Heading up to Plaza de Mulas on the third day. Helicopters were a common sight shuttling gear & supplies & the occasional climber up the valley. Even more common were the mules who do the bulk of the heavy lifting. I used Grajales Expedicions mule service to carry ~50lbs worth of gear from the trailhead straight to Mulas. I was relatively cheap and well worth it. Along with shuttling your gear, it comes with filtered drinking water and toilets and trash service at Confluencia and at Mulas. Plaza de Mulas is a bustling place with tons of climbers from all over the world. There are rangers and doctors at Plaza de Mulas checking on climbers from both independent and guided climbs. I brought a pulse oximeter to periodically check my SpO2 which hovered in the 70's for much of the trip. The rangers also posted a weather report every couple days. Mulas has cell reception (Verizon) so I was also able to check mountainforecast and other websites, but invariably the ranger forecasts were more accurate. My ideal itinerary had me planned to summit on the 4th or 5th, but forecasted high winds had me push the envelope a bit and go for the summit a couple days earlier. Summit day! I got up at 2AM and was hiking by 3AM. I hiked relatively fast early on, but as I got higher my pace slower considerably. First light right below Independencia: Traversing the Gran Acarreo. By this time my pace had slowed to about 5 second rest steps. Resting at La Cueva below the Canaleta. The summit looked SO close from here, but was still over an hour away. On the summit ridge: On top about 1pm in the afternoon. I spent all of two minutes on top. I had severely rushed my acclimatization schedule because of the weather forecast, and my hypoxic addled brain was well aware that I needed to get down quickly. Looking back a couple months later and summit day is definitely a fuzzy memory. A day later back at Plaza de Mulas I splurged on the best pizza I've ever had. Mules once again carried the bulk of my gear down from PdM to the park entrance, and I had a pleasant hike out enjoying the thick air and satisfaction of a climb well done. And finally beer in Mendoza! Gear Notes: Carried an ice axe and crampons but never used either since it was an incredibly dry year. For footwear I wore trail runners all the way to Nido. For the upper mountain I used La Sportiva Baturas with Mountain Tools Supergaiters. Approach Notes: Grajales Expedicions is top notch for mule service A rental car can save a few days on the trip total if you don't have three weeks of vacation. Easy free longterm parking at the trailhead.
  29. 6 points
    There was a good bit of wind that morning on the approach but it stopped when I got to the saddle. I didn't find a breeze on the approach to be significant compared to the rest of my day out. Going down Leuthold I didn't experience any significant icefall. Both of the bollards were solid and I thoroughly inspected them beforehand. I brought a picket and some bags to make deadmans if the bollards were shit. My tracks going to Yocum were there, along with a bunch of other parties. I went to an elementary school in Gresham with a great view of Hood. I have some sick tan lines and a new iPhone if you doubt those too. If you want more details you can message me. I don't lie about my climbs and am as open as I can be. The sunrise that morning was beautiful!
  30. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge Trip Date: 03/08/2020 Trip Report: Climbed Yocum on Sunday along with @nkimmes. We left Timberline at 3:30am. At illumination saddle we encountered two other climbers also heading for Yocum. The four of us crossed the Reid unroped until the other two took a slightly lower line and both went waist-deep into a crevasse. We quickly threw on the rope and headed for the obvious ramp leading up to the ridge, gaining it without too much trouble. We reached the base of the 1st gendarme at 7:30am. At this point the other group was in front of us as we had accidentally gotten into some steep stuff on the southern side of the ridge while they took a gentler ramp to the north. First gendarme: The angle increased quite a bit towards the top (perhaps 70 degrees?) and both our groups belayed a short pitch here, though there wasn't much gear placed other than the initial, questionable anchor screws: This led to a small ledge. Noah excavated a bunch of crap and managed to place two cams in the underlying rock. I came up and led through a final 15 feet of bulgy vertical rime to the top of the gendarme. I didn't see what this part looked like before the first two went through but from below it sounded like it required about 1000 pounds of rime to be hacked away (thankfully it all went down a gully to the south, off of the ridge). Last part to gain the top of the gendarme: Above this we proceeded up a bit to the final, highest, most narrow point: The first group had rapped on a rime bollard (and survived) so we used it as well. Here is Noah getting ready to rap: Once he was down to a flat-ish spot Noah lowered me and then I led past him. Getting around the next tower involved very exposed traversing on the north side of the ridge on vertical rime/exposed rock. The ridge in this spot was basically just a pile of loose rocks that has somehow, improbably, remained vertical. I was happy to basically be on top-rope as the rope was still looped around the 1st gendarme. I got to a large, flat ledge where I could brace myself against a rime wall, took in all the slack, and then lowered Noah who came to join me. Around this time I looked at my phone and noticed that it was 9:30, meaning it had taken us a full two hours to get up and over the first gendarme. Photo below: Me, on top of the gendarme. Noah on the small ledge he rapped to. Ye on the large ledge I ultimately lowered Noah from. I'm not sure how they got down there. I'm guessing they did it more efficiently but maybe we get extra points for cleverness? From there Noah led a full 60m pitch of knife edge ridge, placing two pitons, three pickets, and an ice screw: This took us to the large mushroom in the above picture where the ridge changes direction and heads to the left. Here we unroped and walked up, under the 2nd gendarme, to the top of the 3rd. Coming up by the 2nd gendarme: The other group had been at the top of the 3rd gendarme for a while but we caught up in the time it took them to build another bollard. They did the short rap directly onto the ridge crest and we opted for the 60m rap to the north. The rap onto the ridge looked good but we were trying to make up some time and figured we could move faster traversing the snow slope below rather than negotiating more knife-edge ridge. Bollard on top of 3rd gendarme: The slope we rapped onto, with someone in the other group still visible up on the ridge: We quickly traversed up and right to get back on the ridge, passing the other two. This brought us to the base of the upper buttress: I was feeling pretty good/relieved here as I knew we could now safely retreat down the ramp into Leuthold's if needed. Neither of us knew what to expect from this part of the climb as there just isn't a lot of information out there. I knew that the original Beckey route traversed to the right before heading up a gully (but the guidebooks show it being in different gullies) and that the Wickwire variation was more direct. We started up the narrow, rambling rime slot in the center of the above picture, which I think must be the Wickwire variation: Our path dead-ended in an unclimbable rime amphitheater and we decided to rap down to a large, visible gully, which we guessed was the Beckey route. Maybe in the above photo we could have continued climber's left up the ramp rather than come up onto the rime fins? It's hard to know but in hindsight that seems to be the only other reasonable option. I didn't expect the route-finding in this area to be problematic but the buttress is huge and seems like a never-ending maze when you're on it. Getting ready to rap on another rime mushroom/bollard: The other two about to follow our (possibly poor) route choice: After some typical rappelling shenanigans (tried to be lazy and use 1 half rope, which of course wasn't quite long enough) we found ourselves on the southern flank of the buttress. There are a lot of appealing looking gullies up to the ridge crest but they're all quite long and it's impossible to see what you're getting into. I believe we were in the largest gully that appears the most prominent from the south (looks like the Beckey route in the Mullee book). It started with a short WI3 step. The ice was surprisingly great so we didn't bother to get the rope back out. Above that conditions alternated between rime and sugar snow. At one point I wasted about 5 minutes when Noah's steps in a sugar snow chimney collapsed and I found myself digging a hole rather than climbing upwards. Around this time I was beginning to fully bonk and just wanted to get up to the Queen's Chair. Probably the reason there are no photos of this part of the route anywhere is that everyone is completely wasted by the time they get here. At the top of the gully there was a slightly longer, steeper ice step, with a lot of non-weight-bearing crap and exposed rock mixed in. Noah soloed it and after a small amount of pleading put me on toprope. Noah at top of upper ice step: Above that the gully curved to the right and we came out onto the top of the ridge, about level with the Queen's Chair. The fun wasn't quite over as of course we still had to climb up and down a few rimey bulges in the ridge, which weren't serious but required full concentration in my tired-ass state. We got to the Queen's Chair and it was about 5:30 - we had been on the ridge for a full 10 hours. We plodded up to the top, then down the old chute. I wanted to write this as soon as possible while the memory is still fresh. I will come back and add some more details and general thoughts later. EDIT: Adding a few more thoughts now: I think we got very lucky with conditions. With a couple annoying exceptions the rime was solid and supportive. It was quite cold and there were some thin, high clouds, so everything remained solid throughout the day. At first I was annoyed that there was another group on the route, but it was actually quite nice. The exposure is mentally taxing and it was really helpful to be able to use their two bollards without expending much time or effort of our own. Going directly over the 1st gendarme is committing. Bailing off the ridge after that point would be difficult and require multiple rappels into uncertain terrain. Having the misfortune of encountering bad weather or unclimbable conditions after the gendarme would be a real nightmare. Pickets seem like the most reasonable protection. We carried too many screws and only placed two. The upper buttress is large and interesting with multiple possible lines. The short ice steps we found would be worthwhile objectives on their own if approached from Leuthold's and the Retreat Gully. Gear Notes: 3-foot pickets, screws, pitons, cams, a spectre, bring all the weird stuff and hope that at least some of it is useful. Approach Notes: Normal Hood south side stuff. Crashed a Silcox party on the way down and drank a lot of their beer.
  31. 6 points
    Super job! Doesn't matter if you summitted, only that you accurately report what you did and have fun with it all!
  32. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys Trip Date: 10/03/2020 Trip Report: Mount Shuksan (9131’), Fisher Chimneys Route Trip Report – October 3-4, 2020 I Climbed Mount Shuksan (9131’), Fisher Chimneys Route over the weekend going solo. Class 3-4 with steep ice/snow sections. I’ve been thinking about doing this route for years. A weather window opened up and I had the time and motivation to finally make it happen. I figured late season would have less people on route which would make the climbing safer and faster. I Started from the Austin Pass/Lake Ann Trailhead at 9:00am Saturday, finished 7:00pm Sunday. A glorious weekend in the North Cascades! Overall this is a great climb that tests your skills and pucker factor. Tips and Notes: ) I did this climb as a two day trip. Worked out well. 6 hours on day 1 to Camp above Winnie’s Slide (7100’), 12 hours on day 2 from camp to summit to car. Day 2 was long but not too bad. ) Water Options: Lots of water on the way to the Start of the Fisher Chimneys. Next water source was at the camp at the base of Winnie’s Slide and at the camp above Winnie’s Slide. Nothing in between. There is water along the route to the summit, but it is very difficult to get to. Water up at the base of Hell’s Highway for the trip up and back. ) Camp options: There is a camp on the ridge at the top of the 1st Chimney section just before the talus field to the 2nd Chimney – 2-3 spots. There is a camp at the base of Winnie’s Slide – 2-3 spots. There is a camp at the top of Winnie’s Slide – 6-7 spots, great water supply, best camp in my opinion. You can camp above Hell’s Hwy but you will be on snow and will need to bring water or melt snow. ) Spicy Sections: Winnie’s slide is mostly pure blue ice right now and it is steep. I climbed the left side in between the crevasses as it looked better to me. It was a mix of shitty ice and icy snow but worked out fine. The Top of Hell’s Hwy is mostly ice and the best option was climbing the knife edge to the upper section. It is exposed and the ice/snow is not that great but it worked out fine again. ) Equipment Considerations: I brought Steel Crampons and two Ice Tools. This worked well for me. I didn’t bring a rope but could definitely see where it would be very nice to have one, especially for Winnie’s Slide. Going up and down the icy sections without a backup required total focus and perfection. Bring a rope if that would be a problem. ) Travel Time for reference: Day 1 – 9:00-11:30am Trailhead to Start of Fisher Chimneys, 3:15pm arrived at top of Winnie’s Slide Camp 7100’ - 6.25 hours. Day 2 - 7:00-10:00am 7100’ camp to summit, 12:30pm back to camp, 7:00pm back to TH – 12 hours. Gear used: (2) Ice Tools, Steel Crampons, Trekking Pole, Helmet Start of the Fisher Chimneys Defined trail along the Fisher Chimneys A Class 4 section of Fisher Chimneys Upper Fisher Chimneys starts on the other side of the talus field right next to the large rounded boulder with the shadow. Right side of Winnie's Slide from lower camp. Left side of Winnie's Slide from lower camp. I went through the lower part of the crevasses and went straight up. Beginning of Hell's Hwy. Note the location of the climbers on route. I climbed the rock ridge to that location to start the Hwy. Hell's Hwy from 7100' camp. The knife ridge on the right was the best route up. Upper Inside Corner of Hell's Hwy. Icy Steep and nasty. Looking back on Hell's Hwy at the top of the knife ridge. Shuksan Summit Pyramid. A fair amount of snow on route. Snow was firm with ice in spots. Party on the Summit. 8 other climbers thinking maybe late season would have less traffic. Only so many weather windows left for the year. Clouds moving in as I was heading back to the trailhead. I hit the weather window perfect! I would hate to be on the Fisher Chimneys in the rain. Gear Notes: (2) Ice Tools, Steel Crampons, Trekking Pole, Helmet Approach Notes: Started from the Austin Pass/Lake Ann Trailhead
  33. 5 points
    Trip: Cutthroat Peak - West Ridge with North Ridge finish Trip Date: 09/13/2020 Trip Report: After a couple disappointing attempts into Depot Creek I settled for a rock climb this weekend with my son. The smoke made multiple days seem unappealing but I figured a one day climb would be a reasonable compromise. My son and I headed out to WA pass mid-afternoon on Saturday, stopping in Marblemount to retrieve some items we had stashed in bear lockers on a previous trip that the maintenance crew took. We then proceeded to Lone Fir Campground for a relaxing evening before an early morning start. Alarms went off at 5:20 (damn it's dark now at that time!), and we drove to the pullout below Cutthroat. The smoke seemed to have worsened from the previous day, despite what we were expecting from reading forecasts. Oh well, we were there. View up in the morning: We made quick work of the approach to the base of the route around 7500'. We opted for the start just right of the prominent dihedral (with a wide crack) on the S side. The climbing started at class three then got harder and more exposed. I never saw any fixed pitons (I expected two) and ended up climbing to rap chains in one long 60m pitch. Later we found that this is the middle set of chains for the descent from the ridge crest. From here I led a shorter pitch to the crest and the top chains. This had a few rock moves mixed with scrambling. We then unroped and moved the belay as far as we were comfortable. There is one section of the ridge that becomes exposed on both side and requires moves around small micro-gendarmes that we didn't want to solo. So we backed down a few feet, built an anchor and simul-climbed the exposed section to a flat spot. View to the summit block from the exposed ridge: My son at the end of the exposed section: From here we opted to traverse the ledge to a notch in the upper N ridge. We simulclimbed that as well, but realized it didn't really require it (much less exposed than what we had just done). Ledge leading to the N ridge as seen from the N ridge notch: From the notch on the N ridge, I led a fun pitch up 4th and low 5th class rock until the terrain moderated to a scramble that led to the summit. Summit views S (very smoky): Summit views North (clearing some): After enjoying the summit for a while and fueling up, we began our raps down to the W ridge. We were expecting two 30m raps off of chains, but the 2nd rap dumped me on sketchy class 4 terrain, so I climbed back to the rope, attached a prusik, and climbed back to a 3rd rappel station (not chains, but quite elaborate set of round webbing/cordelettes). Me on upper rappel: We then simul-climbed the short exposed ridge section, downclimbed to the bolt anchors on the lower ridge and did 3 30m raps back to the base. Lower rappel. Note improved air quality by later afternoon The hike out was pleasant and we got to the truck just after 6:30, making it a 12 hour day. Gear Notes: Alpine rack up to 2" Approach Notes: Zero snow. Compared to other trips this summer, not too chossy
  34. 5 points
    Trip: Three O'Clock Rock - Big Tree 2000, pitch 6, 5.8 Trip Date: 07/18/2020 Trip Report: A New Pitch on an Old Favorite Crag The decision to explore the area above the Big Tree was rooted in my desire to finish my Magic Bus Variation route. Yale Lewis and I are in the middle of its final pitch, with two bolts in, bolted on lead, and a long, cool ramp ahead. I wanted to find out if there is a good way to get on top of it to discover the perfect place for the anchor. As this will help to get the pro bolts just right, I'm settling for bolting the rest on top-rope. Since Robin Taft was a willing and dedicated partner for some new adventure, I teamed up with her to do the initial investigation. She leads sport, bolts only, so I had to find ways to keep her interested in the climbing approach. We got there in June to do Shake, Rattle and Roll which ends at an anchor one pitch above the Big Tree. It is a fine slab route, one pitch of which has 12 bolts and no gear placements—perfect for Robin! On the descent, I looked around and noted I have to go one pitch higher to get atop Magic Bus. Also, there is an old pitch up there, ending at roughly the same place, which has rusty quarter inchers and Leeper hangers! So, next time up I came loaded for bear and bolt replacement. Later in June, I chose an unusual method to get back up to the same spot: two pitches of Cornucopia, step right for two pitches of Big Tree 1, then the new connector pitch to Shake, Rattle and Roll, and then the last pitch of that climb. We did all that, and I got out the drill and hammer. Robin was patiently enjoying the sunny day while I rapped and removed four split-shank inch long goobers and hand-drilled them out for modern stainless steel. That is pitch 5 of Big Tree 2000, as described in David Whitelaw's book, Weekend Rock. It looked very cool, but I hadn't led it yet. In early July I returned with my rope solo gear to replace the last two old bolts on P5. To continue, the steeper hump on the left from the belay looked not bad, and the slab above it looked like a continuation of the great slab below. I replaced the last old bolt and top-roped the pitch. Having secured the permission of one of the FA party, David Whitelaw, I added three bolts to the pitch to make sense of it. Two at the bottom to connect to the first bolt, and one before the final bolt. Finally, the stage was set for another pitch. On July 18, Brian Young and I climbed Big Tree 1 to get up there, and the exciting work began. From my journal: "Goal focus is narrow. Launch upward from the Big Tree 2000 top anchor with full drilling gear. Try to get above the Magic Bus line. Brian took the odd pitches, but then declined the 5.9 P5. I led that, the new bolts are good. The pitch bolting seems perfect to me. Brian could not believe that the third bolt was the original first." Brian and I set up at the P5 top anchor. Hammer, drill, six bolts, a single rack and the blow tube. I left the anchor and bolted left around a large loose plate, eight feet in diameter. Trying not to touch it, once on top of the new level I found perfect waves of clean slab just as on Pitch 5. I put in three bolts in a row using the transverse ripples, connected with easy friction moves. Then I had to reach left to a thin ledge with no pro, so I put in the fifth bolt. Cracks led up and left, keeping on the verge of the drop to the Tidbits side of the buttress. I dug out a perfect fingerlock hold in a vertical 1" crack, to a ledge. The final 3" crack is clean and secure to a mossy ledge above a tree. I drilled a two-bolt chain anchor for a restful belay stance. From this new anchor, one can look above and see the bolts called out on Matt Perkins' topo labeled, "Project". As it stands, this 40 meter pitch ends at just the right level for a Magic Bus exploration rappel. My field notes for Pitch 5. For the original topo, see "Weekend Rock", by David Whitelaw Four of the five bolts replaced on Big Tree 2000, pitch 5 My first topo, before I realized this was Big Tree 2000, not Big Tree 1 A later version of the topo In the process of bringing the lines into Photoshop, the feature lines were traced in ink on mylar The final topo Cruising the slab on the FA Brian Richter coming up past the Big Tree to help The start of the new pitch. There is now a bolt to help avoid the hollow-sounding plate above the little overlap One of the 5.8 crux moves is to step left and get pro in the pocket shown Robin at the new anchor Thanks to Brian Young for the long belay session while I worked out the pitch. And to Robin Taft for multiple trips to rebolt and clean it. And also to Brian Richter for belaying another trip up the new pitch to clean and refine it. And special thanks to the slab masters who went first, Matt Perkins and David Whitelaw, whose vision found it and got them a long way up there. Gear Notes: Light single standard rack to 3". Approach Notes: Eight Mile Trail to the South Buttress of Three O'Clock Rock. Climb any route to the Big Tree. Climb Big Tree 2000, pitch 5, 5.9. For a way that is only 5.8, climb Shake, Rattle and Roll and then take a very short rappel to the Big Tree 2000 pitch 5 top anchor. See Matt Perkins' overall topo for the Big Tree Area.
  35. 5 points
    Trip: Constance - South Chute Trip Date: 08/10/2020 Trip Report: With a weird forecast this week my son and I decided to convert our planned five-day trip to the North Cascades to a more modest 2-3 day summit of Constance. We headed over to the peninsula moderately early Sunday morning, arriving at a full road-end parking area with cars backed up the street for maybe 1/4 mile. We found a recently vacated gap for our truck, unloaded the bikes and headed up. Just over an hour later we arrived at the TH, did a gear adjustment and started uphill. We were amused by the signage warning that the trail is not just a "hike", and by the party of three that started up it only to bail within 5 minutes. We then powered through the worst part (the bottom) only to see that around 4000' it got stiff again. We arrived at camp after 4 hours or so, a bit hot and tired. We had plenty of time to wade in the lake, and enjoy the lack of insects. Most people were gone already except one guy floating on the lake fishing (catch and release) Lake Constance after sunset: The next day we were up at 4:15 and headed up Avalanche Canyon. There is almost no snow whatsover left there so we suffered through the tedious boulder hopping followed by endless scree up the S chute, down its other side, and up to the notch crossing the E-W trending spur ridge. All scree and no snow makes the S chute a dull boy: On the far side of the notch there was still a snow patch melted back from each rock wall, and we walked along the one skier's left until it got too moated out, then got onto the snow (now flat with no bad runout), crossed it to rock, and worked our way to the finger traverse. Once there we opted for the bypass on the way in, planning the FT if time and will-power cooperated on the way out. Moat shenanigans (taken on return to camp): The FT bypass After the bypass we scratched our heads a bit about what to do. A really nasty gully led down and we didn't like it, so we traversed a bit, then found a still unsavory, but slightly better gully down to snow, crossed it and then started up the ledge system towards the summit block. The next talus field was also devoid of snow, but not too tedious. Then we were on the summit block and doing a corkscrew to get to the N side of the summit block. View back to the Terrible Traverse and FT: Working the cool ledges on this climb: The final moves seemed a bit high end to solo for my taste. After looking at a few options, I pulled out the rope to lead it. But I ended up just placing one piece maybe 8 feet off the ledge, then topping out. There was a new summit register dated 7/4/20 with a new rap anchor, but the webbing was shredded and we ended up carrying it down, putting new slings in (which may get devoured by rodents over the next days or weeks as well). Olympic Mountain p0rn: Another Smoot in the books! One short rap led us back to regular scramble terrain and we began retracing our steps down. At this point the fog rolled in. We could see enough to get back to finger traverse. Due to the time we spent getting to the summit, including getting gear out already for a short lead and rappel, we opted to just climb the bypass (super chill) then continued to the col on the E-W trending ridge. The skies cleared for us here and we enjoyed some serious scree-surfing down to the basin below the S chute, topped the col, then did more scree-surfing into Avalanche Canyon. Then and there the fun ended and we proceeded to tedious boulder hopping back to camp. Arriving at 7:15 we decided to stay the 2nd night we had reserved on the permit, and hiked out early Tuesday morning. The steep Lake Constance trail went by quickly thanks to fresh legs and Iron Maiden. And the bike ride was a pure pleasure (about 30 min of coasting). Retun to lake: Gear Notes: Ice axe, helmet, 40m rope, small rack Approach Notes: Talus, scree, more scree
  36. 5 points
    Trip: Chimney Rock - East Face (U-Gap) Trip Date: 08/24/2020 Trip Report: Are blue collar classic climbs becoming in vogue this year? I was the 18th person of 2020 to sign the Chimney Rock summit register this past Monday! I was inspired by solo trip reports from Jon Parker and Eric Eames (nwhikers) earlier this summer. I always thought I’d need a partner for Chimney Rock, but I enjoy traveling solo and their reports planted the seed that maybe I could do this one alone. Late Sunday afternoon I left the Pete Lake trailhead with a bit of anxiety about what lay ahead. It took just under 4 hours to get to the bivy boulder at 4800’. I was moving quick and racing daylight so I didn’t have to bushwhack in the dark, but I needn’t have worried, the climbers trail is pretty beaten in and was relatively easy to follow. Monday morning I was moving shortly after first light. I accessed the Chimney Glacier at the flat spot @ 6400’ immediately below the imposing North Peak. An easy traverse of the glacier and then up the U-Gap couloir and gully which was heavily moated and a took a lot of weaving back and forth to get through. At the top of the U-Gap came the section I was most anxious about. Super exposed class 3/4 ledges that look quite improbable from far and from near. The ledges had my complete attention. Early on there are a couple blind corners that seem to lead to nowhere but 1000+ feet of air. Once you commit the traverse is quite easy, but the exposure is quite heady. After the exposed traverse the white rocks and hidden ramps went quickly. The three rock pitches felt easy with rock shoes and the benefit of a self belay taking away the exposure anxiety. Views from the top were sublime. The hike out was long but it felt good to reflect on a climb well executed. Gear Notes: 60m rope, light rack Approach Notes: leave PCT at the second switchback to minimize brush
  37. 5 points
    Trip: Triumph - NE Ridge Trip Date: 08/23/2020 Trip Report: Soloed the route c2c yesterday. Driving up Saturday night I passed cars at many pullouts near the trailhead so I was shocked to roll into an EMPTY PARKING LOT. Approach was smooth and shaded until the glacier crossing. Nearing the notch I heard voices up ahead. I thought I’d try to catch up with them at the base of the 5.7 pitch and check if they’d be willing to trail my rope and give me a quick belay from above that crack. Since they didn’t sound very far up the route that gave me some time for exploration. My first diversion was trying to take the snow tongue as a short cut to the notch, but it ended up being quite tall and steep on all sides, so I descended back the way I came, carefully stepping down into the west side near the start of a granite ramp. Several years ago I had made it as far as the bivy ledge with a friend who succumbed to some minor heat stroke (very hot day). We spent the night there and headed back the next morning instead of climbing the route. I remembered the start of the route being crappy, so this granite ramp caught my eye. Maybe a better bypass route could be found along it. I traversed along it for quite a ways, passing an anchor (maybe for bailing?) until it petered out. Tried a few spots to get up towards the ridge but it just didn’t quite go, everything seemed to have 1 or 2 sketchy 5.7-5.8 face moves to get off the ledges. So I backtracked to that anchor. I tried climbing above it, initially on good low 5th knobs but again hit a dead end. I went down and East again, almost back to the start of the route. After all this wandering for an hour or so I was able to bypass the first pitch, but no more. Back on route I quickly caught up with the pair ahead just as they were nearing the 5.7 pitch, as planned. I asked about the belay but it was a guide and client and they were planning to bypass it to the right. Thin face traversing + route finding didn’t sound safer to me than a straight forward obvious crack, so I passed them there and climbed up to the crack. I hope I didn’t freak them out too much climbing it. People don’t usually mention taking a #4 on this route so I had hoped a #3 would be big enough. It wasn’t, really. You can protect this part with smaller pieces by sticking them deeper in the crack, but doing so feels a little insecure, especially while soloing (there’s was a fixed .75 that I automatically starting trying to free for 3 seconds before remembering where I was and what I was doing ). For those inclined to solo the route, plan on about 15 ft of 5.5ish to start, then another 12 ft or so of 5.7. And bumping up a #4 as you go might decrease your risk. Near the summit I spied a corner with hand and finger cracks that looked more appealing than the loose and heathery ledges surrounding it. It was probably 15 ft, 5.6. There was a loose microwave at the top of it that I took care to step over. Such good summit views there. Downclimbed what I could, with 5 raps along the way. Like many have noted, it usually takes longer to descend than ascend this ridge and that was the case for me if you don’t count the granite ramp exploring I did at the start. About 20 minutes longer, I think. Had a very nice plunge at the upper lake (2nd one, not the third one higher up). It was too cold to swim for more than a few seconds. Very refreshing though! Smooth sailing from there. Made it to the car at 830 just as it was getting dark. So it was 14.5 hours including time for exploring, enjoying the summit, and a dip at the lake. Gear Notes: #2 (unused), #3 (used) wish I had a #4 instead 60m for raps Approach Notes: Straightforward
  38. 5 points
    Trip: Abernathy Peak - Northwest Ridge Trip Date: 08/22/2020 Trip Report: Abernathy Peak 8321’ Trip Report – August 22-24, 2020 I climbed Abernathy Peak, the Northwest Ridge Route, over the weekend. This route can be done in 2 long days, I started late so I stretched it into a third day. The weather was perfect all weekend 70’s – 80’s. I started at the Cedar Creek Trailhead off Hwy 20 about 5 miles West of Mazama. I went up Trail 476 (Cedar Creek Trail) about 8.5 miles. At 5600’on the trail I took a hard left off the trail heading East along the 5600’contour line heading toward the South Fork of Cedar Creek. The bushwacking on this approach is pretty nice by Cascade standards. Most of the brush is waste deep and not super thick, so navigation was pretty easy. Once to the South Fork of Cedar Creek, I follow up the East side of the creek to Lamont Lake (6640’). Getting up to the lake requires some work, either a loose rock gully or some Class 3 rock. The camping along Lamont Lake is fantastic, lots of room and flat areas for tents. Just before heading out in the morning from the lake I was serenaded by a pack of coyotes for about 30 seconds from somewhere on the other side of the lake. They must have felt that it was a glorious morning too. I climbed up a gully on the Southwest side of the lake that lead to the Northwest Ridge leading to Abernathy Peak. The gully is loose rock and steep up the middle but there is a goat trail off to the right side which is a better route. Once on the Northwest Ridge to Abernathy the travel is very nice, lots of potential for camping. About halfway to Abernathy Peak you will start hitting 2nd & 3rd Class rock that will take you to the summit. Some of the rock on the ridge is exposed but fairly solid. There are a couple plateaus along the way up that you could camp on. Overall the climb is very nice with decent views and you get to checkout some history in the old mining area. The trail approach is nice with several camping options along the way. Most people on this trail are day hikers, I was the only climber in the area this weekend. Some Tips and Notes: 1. There are several camp spots along the Cedar Creek Trail & great camping at Lamont Lake. 2. The bushwacking to Lamont Lake is not bad compared to the Westside of the Cascades. 3. There is about 600’ vertical of steep gully or Class 3 rock to get to Lamont Lake by way of the South Fork of Cedar Creek. There may be an easier way but this was fine for me. 4. There is no water on the Northwest Ridge to Abernathy so bring what you need from the lake. Travel Time for reference: Day 1 (TH to Lamont Lake), 7 hours – Day 2 (Summit & back to lower camp off trail), 11 hours – Day 3 (back to car), 1 hours. Gear used: Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves. The camping at Lamont Lake is very nice, worth the bushwack! Gully climb up from Lake Lamont to the Northwest Ridge of Abernathy Peak. I climbed the gully closest to the 1st pointy peak, you can see the goat trail at the base of the peak. Northwest Ridge to Abernathy Peak. Nice relaxing ridge climb. Some old mining equipment along the route. Summit View - A good peak to plan other climbs from. Gear Notes: Trekking Poles, Helmet, Full Gaiters, Work Gloves. Approach Notes: Trail 476 (Cedar Creek Trail). Bushwacking to Lamont Lake.
  39. 5 points
    Trip: Inspiration Peak - East Ridge Trip Date: 08/16/2020 Trip Report: This weekend @willgovus and I climbed Inspiration Peak's East Ridge. We got started hiking from the trailhead around 11:30 or so Saturday. The trail up to terror basin is very straight forward, but boy is it steep. That coupled with the heat had me cramping quite bad towards the end and had to just lay down for a bit with my legs elevated. I was soaked with sweat for almost all of the way up the ridge before the trail starts traversing. Made it over to Terror Basin camp late afternoon. What a pleasant place to camp. Many flat spots, running water and an incredible view. We woke up around 3am Sunday morning and picked our way across the climbers path and slabs in the dark. Travel across the glacier was very straight forward with no complications. Reaching the start of the route up to the ridge was just a small hop down from snow to the base of the route, no problem. We did a mix of pitching out and simuling to gain the ridge, staying just climbers right of the major rightward trending ramp and gulley. After three-ish pitches we did a leftward traversing pitch that started off with just bit of down climbing to the East Ridge notch. A vertical step followed by some easy ridge scrambling gets you to the base of the lie back pitch and then the crux pitch. The crux pitch was pretty damn awesome! After that it was a few simul blocks on the north side of the ridge crest to the summit. The decent went well and ended up doing 7 double rope rappels with a bit of crazy exposed scrambling between the West Ridge and South Face. That first rap onto the south face is wild! Was very glad to be done rappelling and back onto the glacier to start the hike out. The hike down the Terror Basin trail is punishing but it goes quick, its really just controlled stumbling and running. At first I was glad to reach the part of the trail on the old road bed, but quickly found it miserable for some reason. Overall I'd say this is a good route in and incredible setting. Some great climbing sandwiched between some loose, forgettable climbing. Gear Notes: Single rack from .3 to 3, double 1 & 2. Some stoppers, useful for anchors before and after crux pitch. 6 alpine draws, 5 double length runners. 60m twin/half ropes. Ice axe, crampons. Bringing rap tat is a good idea. Approach Notes: Terror basin trail
  40. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Challenger - via Eiley Wiley Ridge Trip Date: 07/25/2020 Trip Report: YouTube Video (so the video does have a couple clips out of sequence in the rock climb section and it ended abruptly due to all the GoPro batteries and chargers having run dry at the last clip). Hot off the NF of Buckner and barely recovered we had a weather window for Mount Challenger but only for a 4-day trip. Our full Pickets traverse we have had planned the last couple seasons keeps either getting weathered out or life gets in the way. So, to do it in 4 days we planned on doing it from the Big Beaver trailhead with a boat shuttle then via the Eiley Wiley Ridge knowing that this was also going to be the harder approach option. Day 1 - Thursday Got to the Marblemount ranger station at 6:30am to get permits which was good timing, the crowds showed up shortly after. Picked up the boat shuttle which dropped us off at the Big Beaver trailhead saving an extra 7-mile walk from the Ross Lake parking lot. From there an uneventful 13 mile and 3000ft gain hike to the Big Beaver campground. In bed around 8pm for an early start. Day 2 – Friday This was going to be the hard day. Up around 3:30am and a leisurely 5am start. We knew from beta to expect some awful bushwhacking to gain the ridge. While we did pickup the odd climbers trail in key places throughout the trip where anyone who goes through the ridge seems to funnel through the same few spots there always peter out shortly and you are left to your own navigation for 95% of the ridge. So, we started out full-on dense brush bushwhacking from camp and I think we picked more or less a fairly good line. But as you get higher there seems to be no way around hand over fist veggie belay climbing and bushwhacking through about 500ft worth of the 2000ft gain. Its all steep and virtually no sign of any climbers’ trails till you hit the very top. That took about 2+ hours and our clothes were full of pine needles inside and out. From there we spent another 6 hours getting across to the end of the ridge which was about 3 more miles after the 2 miles of bushwhacking. Mainly because we kept a middle line across the ridge until getting close to Eiley Lake. From there it looked like you could gain the ridge and do a high traverse over a large wide ridge. The topo map showed a relatively flat and wide ridge as well with only a single contour line and large bump. So, we gained that ridge only to find it ended in about 200ft cliff and wide chasm that was more than a few contour lines deep that did not show on the topo map. But from there looking back could spot what looked like a gulley down to the lake. That gulley was very steep, loose dirt/scree/boulders but it got us down to Eiley Lake. We blew a couple extra hours here. Had to exit that basin then took a line around another slope heading towards Wiley Lake. Once we popped over the boulder field looking down at Wiley Lake and across to the last half-mile of where we wanted to be it was getting late and very windy and the rest of the approach to our planned camp was in a whiteout so we found a small sheltered ledge in the boulder field with a great view of Luna Peak and setup camp. The weather was supposed to be clearing by late evening but had gotten worse. By the time we had camp setup and ready to turn in the clouds started lifting enough we could get some views of Mount Challenger in the distance. Day 3 – Saturday Another 3:30am wakeup call to calm weather and blue skies just as forecast. We figured we had a shot at it if the route was in. Dropped down the boulder field and up the knoll on the other side of Wiley Lake and started to decide our options for getting around Big Beaver Peak. The right-hand side was supposed to be a horrible traverse, so we ruled that out. The topo showed that a notch just to the left of the peak may be doable, but we did not want to get suckered into another cliff. Poking around the top of the knoll we spotted a heather gulley that looked like a wider and longer version of the descent gulley getting to Eldorado so we headed down that which was about 1000ft loss taking us down a large snow field and around the buttress to the base of the Challenger Arm. The route looked like a straightforward walkup, but the summit block and bergschrund are hidden from view, so we roped up and headed up. No issues all the way and the bergschrund had not started to open. Once we got close to the summit rocks there was a steep snow slope with a large moat. We had beta that showed you could scramble the first set of rocks or go around them. So, we split the difference and scrambled up a bit to clear the first part of the moat and then dropped back down into the moat and traversed around and found the base of the rock climb. The 5.7 rock climb was straight forward. We’ve read reports pegging this move at between 5.5 and 5.7. After doing it I think the rating depends on how long your arms are. Only 50ft long and 4 rusty pitons. And brought a .5 cam to backup the crux move. Past that the rap slings are a couple easy moves up and another 30-foot scramble to the summit block which we belayed and set a handline. The 40m rope was long enough for the rappel with just a few feet to spare. Easy scramble and walk back down from there then the 1000ft slog back up the gulley and back to camp. We wanted to get back down to the Big Beaver camp before dark so we took a more straight forward line back which still was a lot of mini-navigation stops and a lot of little meandering through the terrain and a bit of solid bushwhacking through the trees in a couple places. Camp is about halfway up the right side of the boulder field in the pic above of Wiley Lake. Tucked into a little ledge looking out at Luna Peak. We did not hit the ledges at the far end of the ridge till about 9pm and there was no way we wanted to navigate the descent in the dark. So, we pitched camp on a snow patch at the ledges. Day 4 – Sunday Another early start and picked up the bit of climbers trail at the very top of the Eiley Wiley Ridge. There were climbers trails heading both left and right here so we went right and that trail stopped in about 40 feet. We then checked the left trail and figured we had found something that we missed on the way up. It probably descended a couple hundred feet as it got fainter and fainter till it stopped at a cliff. And then began the hand over fist veggie belay bushwhacking and tree climbing again. Having to move back left, up 100ft over a rock band, more bushwhacking and side hilling for maybe a tenth of a mile. Eventually we were able to start moving back down and found lines that keep us more or less moving straight back towards the Big Beaver camp doing our best to navigate around fields of devils club. Still took just as long to descend as it did to go up. Once down took some navigation and finally realizing that the GPS was not matching up with what was on the topo map. Turns out the GPS was putting us accurately on the map but the trail and shelter locations on the topo maps are not correct. Our GPS was showing us on one side of the trail then the other in multiple places we checked where we took long hikes in both directions crisscrossing where the trail was on the map. We finally gave up trying to pinpoint the trail by GPS and topo and found the large stream we knew intersected the trail and passed by the Big Beaver camp and followed the stream back uphill. Turned out the GPS and topo had us going in the opposite direction. So, word of caution, have your navigation skills through dense brush where you cannot see any reference points down and you can only see 50 feet in any direction. The 2nd topo screenshot below shows where we were looking for the trail and stream crossing and where they are actually located. Once we got back to the Big Beaver Camp, we had to calculate how fast we had to move to make the boat pickup. So, for 13 miles out with short water/snack breaks we had to do about a 3mph pace with the heat going up to at least 80 to make the boat. At one-point Rodica thought she was hallucinating seeing things jumping all over the trail. I looked down and at first glance though we were standing in a swarm of spiders. Looking closer the trail for about 100ft was full of tiny frogs jumping all over the place. We made it at 3pm on the dot in 5 hours. Thankfully, the boat was about a half hour late so we could soak in the lake for a while. With all the camera and phone batteries dead by Day 4 didn't have any more pics or video. It was just a mad dash to the finish line. Overall, some of the most rugged, remote, and scenic wilderness we have been though. Awesome trip at times brutal and almost demoralizing gaining and descending the Eiley Wiley Ridge (and we had a high bar already for horrid bushwhacking). Even with a lot of preplanning, gathering beta on the ridge and getting some tracks from others it was a lot of navigation work and on-the-fly decision making doing the ridge approach. ~11,000ft gain and 46 miles over 4 days. Gear Notes: 4 alpine draws, .5 cam, 40m rope, basic glacier gear Approach Notes: The climb itself was easy. The bulk of the work and trip report are on the Eiley Wiley Ridge approach.
  41. 5 points
    Trip: Silverstar Mountain - Complete East Ridge Trip Date: 07/18/2020 Trip Report: Over the weekend Gabe and I ticked off another Wa Pass obscurity with the East Ridge of Silverstar. Apart from a two part NWMJ story (P1 and P2), Allen/Layton's Wa pass traverse, and a few comments from Scott Johnson we had very little specific beta on the route. I'm curious how many people have climbed this route. It proved to be quite the adventure and I feel like it would be a shame to take that from the next party to go up there. So in order to preserve the adventure and mystery of the route I've decided to be vague on specifics and heavy on photos for this TR. Here are a few notes that I wish I had known before heading out. 1.)Don't rely on Mudhole lake as a water source, the first spot we pulled from was rank and clogged up our filter really badly. We should have expected that... 2.)Expect just enough terrible rock with enough frequency to be stressful. 3.)Don't expect to find prefab bivy spots along the way. The only one we saw was the one we made. 4.)The lichen grows thick in these parts. Now here's the photo dump. Day 1 Mudhole Lake AKA Horseshit puddle Long way to go Silver Moon and Varden creek spire, the 3rd "major" summit along the ridge Finally able to see the meat of the ridge Our nice little sloping bivy Day 2 Started the day with a rappel and stuck rope. Looking back at Silverhorn and Silver Moon, as well as many other gendarmes and sub-summits Summit at last! Traversing back to Burgundy col Gear Notes: Singles .2-4, Doubles .3-2 and a bunch of slings. 1 60m rope and 30 ft of tat. You could bring less of everything if you soloed more of the ridge, we roped up earlier than most other parties. Approach Notes: Take the unmarked horse packing trail a few hundred feet up the cedar creek trail. Just keep following the ridge to infinity and beyond.
  42. 5 points
    Trip: Corax Peak - North Face Trip Date: 07/05/2020 Trip Report: Not a single TR for this route to be found anywhere; does everyone just do the scramble to tick off their Bulger lists? Rolf and I climbed the NF of Corax Peak this weekend, 6 pitches of 5.7 starting from the left side of the chimney above the crescent shaped snowfield in the photo, going up to the ridge and thence to the summit. Mostly fun blocky ridge climbing, though the first pitch was more "interesting" as Rolf would say, featuring lichen and some loose/suspect rock and excavation of placements and some thoughtful moves. It doesn't appear that it's gotten much traffic since Rick La Belle did the FA in 1991; though of course we could have been off route. Stellar day out though and only saw three people at camp and maybe five on the trail. Gear Notes: 60 m rope, single rack to #3 Camalot Approach Notes: Libby Lake trail
  43. 5 points
    I recently found my hard copy of this guide and seeing it has not been posted up (at least I could not find it) I thought for fun I would post it. It was written probably 25 plus years ago by Make Dale. The Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System by Mark Dale For years there has been something sadly lacking in the climbing world. Something necessary to help describe the total mountaineering experience in those areas blessed with challenging peaks surrounded by primeval forest. That something is a brush and bushwhack rating system. After years of the hand-to-limb combat encountered in below-timberline approaches, one comes to realize that this part of an ascent can be half or more of the battle. (Notice the use of fighting terms.) And yet, just how does one accurately relate this important facet of a climb in words? "It was ugly, real ugly," "Brutal," "A freaking flail," "Oh, not too bad, but I did lose a pint of blood." Well, these are pretty good subjective descriptions, but what's missing here is something more definitive. What we need is a way to portray in a more precise manner those endearing struggles with the brush. Therefore I propose the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System. This system is so named because most of my experience in the past ten years of climbing has been in the Washington Cascades. It's perfectly applicable, though, to other ranges of a similar nature, e.g. the Olympics, Northern Selkirks, British Columbia Coast Range, Alaska Range or any mountain group where below-timberline approaches necessitate brush-beating and bushwhacking. This system rates both difficulty and grade much like the technical climbing ratings in use today. Before defining system nomenclature here are a few guidelines for describing your favorite flail: 1. Conditions described must be when the approach is snow-free, since snowpack greatly affects most bushwhacks, reducing their difficulty considerably. 2. More demanding terrain, e.g. cliffy or steep, will increase a bushwhack's difficulty and grade as compared to one with the same vegetation on level ground. 3. Both the density and the type of brush are important factors. I'll take an open area of mature devil's club over a dense stand of slide alder any day. 4. Grade is determined by both time and distance involved in completing the approach, as well as the duration of the difficulties. 5. Since creek and river crossings play an important part of many approaches, a special sub-rating has been devised for these. 6. When a mechanical device such as a machete is used the bushwhack is no longer "free," and an aid sub-rating must be used. Difficulty Ratings These apply to the "free" difficulties (no aid used) and range from BW1 to BW5, where BW stands for "bushwhack." Difficulty ratings apply to those areas of worst brush that can't be avoided. BW1 Light brush. Travel mostly unimpeded, only occasional use of hands required (e.g. mature open forest). BW2 Moderate brush. Occasional heavy patches. Pace slowed, frequent use of hands required. BW3 Heavy brush. Hands needed constantly. Some loss of blood may occur due to scratches and cuts. Travel noticably hindered. Use of four-letter words at times. BW4 Severe brush. Pace less than one mile per hour. Leather gloves and heavy clothing required to avoid loss of blood. Much profanity and mental anguish. Thick stands of brush requiring circumnavigation are encountered. BW5 Extreme brush. Multiple hours needed to travel one mile. Full body armor desirable. Wounds to extremities likely, eye protection needed. Footing difficult due to lack of visibility. Loss of temper inevitable. Aid Ratings When artificial means are used to penetrate brush, then an aid rating should be used to describe the device required. These ratings range from BA1 to BA5, where BA stands for "brush aid": BA1 Machete or sickle BA2 Gas-powered weed-eater BA3 Chainsaw BA4 Agent orange BA5 Bulldozer Creek and River Ratings These ratings are used to describe the difficulty in crossing watercourses. The range is WA1 to WA5, where WA stands for "water": WA1 A dry crossing is possible by using rocks or logs. WA2 Possible wet crossing, but a dry crossing can be accomplished with some finesse. WA3 Wet crossing, ankle- to calf-deep. WA4 Wet crossing, calf- to knee-deep. WA5 Wet crossing, greater than knee-deep, possibility of getting swept downstream. WA6 Water deep enough to require swimming. WA7 Water temperature, current velocity, to factors make an attempt to cross potentially lethal. (Frequently a factor in Alaska and New Zealand, for instance). Grades Grades range from I to VI and follow the same general guidelines as climbing grades: I Brush beating can be done in a few hours or less. II Generally will take less than half a day. III Could take most of a day, but hardened parties will be able to complete in a short day. IV Will take a long day and involve continuous battle. V A 1+ to 2-day bushwhack, difficulty rarely less than BW4, large quantities of bandaids and wound dressings will be needed unless properly attired. VI The most extreme of bushwhacks, requiring over 2 days to complete with probably a BW5 encountered along the way. Epic Ratings E1 Unplanned delays require explanations to significant other. E2 Same as E1, but with companion of opposite sex (not significant other). E3 Overnight bivy required. E4 Same as E3, but with companion of opposite sex. ... E10 Whole party vanishes. Following are some examples of rated bushwhacks: Picket Range, Goodell Creek approach -- Grade III - IV, BW4 Mt. Shuksan, White Salmon approach -- Grade I - II, BW4- Mt. Spickard, Silver Creek approach -- Grade V, BW4+ Mt. Blum, Blum Lakes approach -- Grade III, BW3+, WA5 Devils Peak, Coal Creek approach -- Grade I, BW2 Monashees, Thor Creek approach -- Grade VI, BW4, BA1 Chimney Rock, standard approach -- Grade II, BW2 And there you have it. No longer must one try to decipher the deranged mutterings of a victim of jungle warfare. A person needs only to apply the appropriate brush ratings to relate his brutal experience to others. And who knows? With advances in bush technology and the competitive nature of climbers, we'll probably see difficulties pushed to BW6 and beyond. And there just HAVE to be some Grade VII's out there! So come on, folks! The next time you report a mountaineering trip that involves green hell, use the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack Rating System to tell others about it. They'll be glad you did!
  44. 5 points
    Trip: Mt. Baker - North Ridge Trip Date: 05/01/2020 Trip Report: Baker's North Ridge has been one of the many climbs on my mind in the past couple weeks. I saw a weather window this Thursday night/Friday morning so I asked for Friday off from work and left Seattle as soon as I got off Thursday afternoon. The weather on the drive there was iffy. I saw clouds in every direction, but with little tiny pockets of blue sky and thin gold light. Somewhere just after Bellingham the rain came down hard and no mountains were visible and my expectations of getting on the ridge were dwindling. Then the rain stopped in an instant, and in front of me was the most stunning rainbow I've ever seen. Everything leading up to this point, the packing, the driving, the missing work, was all worth it just to see this. I kept driving, through the rainbow and into the clouds still unsure what was going to happen in the next 12 hours. I was nearing Glacier, about a mile outside of it, when all those dark stormy clouds lifted just enough to reveal Baker. I knew it was on now. It was go time. Glacier Creek Road was in mostly good condition for the first 6.5 miles until the snow became too much for my Forester. It was 9:45 pm when I started skinning up the road. I took with me a pair of Irvis Hybrid crampons, Quark tools, extra puffy, 2 bars, 4 gels, and. a liter of water. I arrived at the outhouse at 10:20 and was able to skin all the way up Grouse Creek without boot packing. Made it to the Coleman Glacier by midnight and tried to make out a route to the base of the north ridge but the darkness was deceptive. I ended up having to retrace my skin track to go higher up on the glacier before cutting across underneath the headwall. Snow was plentiful and the pack was firm on the glacier so route finding was pretty straight forward. Made it to the base of the ridge (upper right start) at about 2 am and swapped skis for crampons. The snow was about mid-shin deep with a layer of crust so it was slow going. Just before gaining the ridge proper I did encounter some ice and firm neve that helped speed things up and add some flavor to the climbing. As the crux ice pitch came into view the darkness started to lift and I could put my headlamp away. Instead of climbing left or right as suggested by other trip reports I decided to go straight up the "arete" which went at about AI 2+/3. There was some good dinner plate chunks of ice coming off but for the most part the climbing was secure and really fun. The sun was really coming out now and I could see the summit. I navigated to the right and through the upper serac section with a few AI 2 moves. Once on flatter ground I put skis back on and skinned to the true summit. After eating some food and taking in the view I started my journey down the Roman Headwall at about 7 am. The upper portion was wind blown and icy but I was able to get through it and found fantastic turns in the middle section. It turned icy once more at the bottom but wasn't too bad. The last steep section dropping onto the Coleman glacier was pure bliss with neve topped with 6-8 inches of fresh snow. The rest of the ski down was probably the best skiing I've had on Mt. Baker out of the 4 other times I've been up there. Made it back down Grouse Creek and to the car by 8:30. I'm really glad the weather held and I was able to find some good ice up there. I think the ski down was the best part though Gear Notes: Ice tools and crampons Approach Notes: 1.5 mile skin up Glacier Creek Rd to outhouse.
  45. 5 points
    Trip: The Bugaboos - Pigeon Spire - W Ridge / South Howser Tower - Beckey-Chouinard / Bugaboo Spire - NE Ridge Trip Date: 08/02/2019 Trip Report: Aug 2-8, 2019 Our initial plan was to head down to The Bugaboos a week earlier, but according to a weather forecast, a storm was coming, so we decided to wait it out. Luckily, several days later we saw another window of good weather. I’ve heard some people plan a trip months ahead only to sit in a wet tent with snow all around . We used https://www.meteoblue.com/ for the weather forecast. Itinerary: Aug 2: Meet after work. Drive as far as we could. Spend a night at a campground along the way. Aug 3: Drive the rest of the way. Hike to the Applebee campground and setup tents. Aug 4: Leisure morning. Climb Pigeon Spire W ridge. Aug 5: Alpine start. Climb South Howser Tower. Aug 6: Rest day. Aug 7: Alpine start. Climb NE ridge of Bugaboo Spire. Aug 8: Hike down and drive home. We did not bring chicken wire. There will be plenty. I’m not sure if it helps – I saw porcupines walking behind it, or make sure it's solid and there are no holes between the wire and ground. TH to the Applebee campground – 2.5h. The campground has tap water and plenty of toilet paper. The place is swarming with rodents. Don’t leave any food in a tent or a backpack – there are metal boxes and hangers for it. Pigeon Spire - W Ridge The route is longer than I anticipated. I’d call it three-summit traverse (the last is the true). We simul-climbed on the way up. On the way down, we did two rappels from the summit and down-climbed the rest unroped. I was wearing mountaineering boots. Timeline: 9:25 – Start 10:25 – Top of Snowpatch col 11:20 – Base of the climb About 13:15 - Summit 14:30 – Back to the base Pigeon Spire on the right as seen from the summit of South Howser Tower: South Howser Tower – Beck-Chouinard route I did wear boots until Pigeon col, then switched to approach shoes. For the rest of the approach we had one pair of crampons and an ice axe for both of us. There was stream water after descending the col. We were lucky to have only three parties total on the mountain and we left the first at the base. We simul-climbed until the forth (5.10-) pitch. First few pitches after the bivy site seemed shorter, and watch for loose rock. For rappels, we used 60m and followed instructions from Steph Abegg supplemented by @JeffreyW’s comments. Here are my additional comments: #3 - stay on the ridge, at the end where will be a step down with a small ledge. When standing on the ledge bolt anchor is about climbers 1pm o’clock. Silly I were standing on the ledge, did not see bolts, swung left, and had to ascent a rope after. #6 – after finishing #5 use nearby bolts. Rappel (walk) left (climbers) along the ledge, i.e. what Jeff describes as “rappel parallel to the handline down the scrambley ledge”, until find next bolts: #last – the first person got lowered and extended rappel with a cordelette just in case. Timeline: 3:40? – Start 7:10 – Base of the climb 11:15 – Big ledge 18:10 – Short rappel 19:40 – Summit Shortly after pitch-dark – Finished rappels 1:20 – Back to the campground Not as big, huh: Standing on the summit: North and South Hoswer towers: Bugaboo Spire – NE Ridge Scrambling up Bugaboo-Crescent col was fine, but there was one insecure move, that made my back chill. I tried to link first two pitches with 60m, but end up short 3-5m. Make sure to well extend the third pitch, because of its nature. Left variations and 5.10 to gain South summit were great. Scrambling down Kain route was endless. There are multiple paths, generally marked with cairns, do not drop down too fast and keep traversing skiers right. I can see why parties descending in the dark often get in trouble on this route. Timeline: 5:00? – Start 5:50 – Base of Bugaboo-Crescent col 6:20 – Top of Bugaboo-Crescent col 7:00 – Base of the climb 11:00 – North summit 12:30 – South summit 15:40 – Top of Snowpatch col 17:00 – Back to the campground Traverse from N to S summit (looking forward): Traverse from N to S summit (looking backwards): Bonus 1. On the way home, we stopped by Kinsmen Beach at Windermere Lake to wash off all sweat and dust. It was delightful. 2. Below is my food plan. All food was portioned into zip-lock bags. What worked well: none left with no starving. Instant potatoes with tuna was the best meal. Egg noodles and cheese was the worst. Fri Dinner Grocery/Restaurant take out Sat Breakfast Buy a sandwich Lunch Buy a sandwich/etc Dinner Couscous 363 cal Turkey Jerky 105 cal Pita bread 140 cal Chocolate 150 cal Sun Breakfast Instant oat + powdered milk 300 cal + dried blueberries (oatmeal) Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Gummy bears 180 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Snickers 250 cal Tailwind 400 cal Dinner Instant potatoes 392 cal Tuna 160 cal Pita bread 140 cal Garlic oil Mon Breakfast Oatmeal 300 cal Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Couscous 320 cal Salami 200 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Dinner Egg Noodles 381 cal Cheese 170 cal Chocolate 150 cal Tue Breakfast Oatmeal 130 cal Granola bar 300 cal Lunch Gummy bears 180 cal Pita bread 140 cal Trail mix 250 cal Snickers 250 cal Dinner Mountain house? Wed Breakfast Oatmeal/Bars/leftovers 300 cal Granola bar 130 cal Lunch Stash some food at the car Gear Notes: A tent, two 8 oz fuels (we ended up using only one), jetboil, water filter. 8 singles, 6 doubles, 2x cordelette, BD cams .1-.3, doubles in .4-4”, 60m rope, grigri, set of BD nuts. Approach Notes: Some comments in TR
  46. 5 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Oh to be young and dumb - Crater Trip Date: 02/16/1985 Trip Report: For fun I thought I would post a trip report that happened 35 years ago. A friend recently sent me scanned versions of his slides so I thought I would post them up with the story. We were both in college at OSU, me finishing my undergrad, and Andy finishing his masters. My girlfriend had an invite to spend the weekend skiing at Mt. Bachelor so we decided to go along and climb Broken Top as neither of us had been on it before. So that Friday night we left Corn Valley for Bend, she dumped us off at the end of the road that evening and we skied in a ways and camped. The next morning we skied in into the Broken Top crater. Andy and I discussed various ways to gain the rim. We finally decided on a route up but not one that I was to my liking as I wanted to take a less direct but I felt safer route. But I deferred to Andy as he was more experienced than me. At this point I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Mt Bachelor in the background. Hmm, 30" crown and well we are still on top. I think walking down is the preferred option. Hmm, nice debris field and damn near wall to wall. WTF were we thinking??? The dot in the middle of the debris field is me putting my skis back on. Epilogue: As our ski tracks are visible, we had nearly gained the ridge when we set off the avalanche. We were both on the same cut when the ground went out from under us and we dropped a couple of feet to the bed surface. Both of us just stood there and watched as the avalanche ripped down the crater. Had either of us been caught we would have been dead. Not withstanding the fact that back then few people had transceivers or could we afford them as students. I saw Andy a few years ago when he gave me these images. He admitted that his decision making that day was not the best. Oh to be young and dumb. Gear Notes: A functioning brain Approach Notes: Go long from Mt. Bachelor
  47. 5 points
    I'm a little too busy to worry about climbing right now. I wonder if they designed the PAPR hood around the Ecrin Roc. They sure fit the same. Stay safe and practice social distancing.
  48. 5 points
    Signing in to cash in my .02 I respect Kyle's POV and think that his perspective has it's place in this discussion - but I wanted to counter and speak in favor of Landon. 1) Marc Andre Leclerc died while rappelling (likely swept). Guy Lacelle was swept by an avvie. So were Hansjorg Auer and David Lama. So was Ueli Steck. It is rare that a soloist dies on a technically challenging solo. It happens (Austin Howell, Jean-Chirstophe Laifelle, Ryan Jennings) but isn't the leading cause of death in the mountains for high end soloists, and it isn't clear if they would have survived (with the exception of Howell) had they been partnered. The greatest general risk factor in climbing is simply mileage in the mountains, the terrain traveled, and its associated cumulative probability. It stands to reason that we should shame people who get out and climb constantly, but we don't, because that isn't quite as scary to imagine as being on the Yocum ridge without a rope - the gear+roped risks are more familiar to us and are less obvious. It would also force us to question if we should be climbing at all in the first place - which is something that we are reluctant to do. 2) The amount of risk taken on a solo is generally most obvious to the soloist themselves (assuming that the soloist is prepared and lucid). The rest of us can only assume, given that we do not know how solid the soloist is and how favorable conditions were at the time of the solo. I know Kyle climbed the Yocum ridge this season as well, so he has an idea of the risk that was taken by Landon (which is likely why he made his post) - however, it is entirely possible that Kyle took on more with the rope (given the poor nature of the gear on Yocum, Kyle's specific skillset + experience relative to Landon's and the mental blanket that gear can offer in otherwise fatal fall scenarios). That being said, it is impossible to know - we can only assume since we do not know the minutiae of both ascents and both climbers. 3) Generally speaking, if you make a habit of soloing, your risk of dying while climbing is much higher than that of a casual climber. This has likely more to do with your threshold of acceptable risk + mileage in high consequence terrain than it does with the specific act of soloing. Our willingness to take on risk correlates greatly with what we have to lose, our cumulative experience, and our personalities. Our relationship with risk changes with age, and I have to say that I there are risks that I personally took as a younger person that I would not take today. I have also gotten in over my head before and survived - how much of that I can attribute to luck rather than innate skill, I will never know. If you make a habit of soloing, it is less likely you will survive to learn a lesson from your mistakes due to the thin margin of error that is allowed. I think Landon's accomplishment is incredible given that he has survived it. It is certainly an experience he will never forget. I also think that it is best to solo rarely and to have 99% of your climbing experience be with a rope, so that your odds of surviving a marginal scenario and learning from it are greater. Ultimately though, soloing is a very personal activity and is something that I would only criticize if I honestly believe that the ascent was sketchy. I have not climbed with Landon (or the Yocum ridge) so I cannot form an opinion about his judgement or skill. Landon is young, so he will inherently get more flak from the community - such is the nature of talking about your solo ascents. Consider it a rite of passage, every public soloist has gotten this reaction in the face of their accomplishments. The fear of this kind of reaction is also the chief reason there are also many mind bending solos that do not get reported first hand. That being said, I think that the spirit of his post is to share something that was deeply personal with a community that he admires (rather than spray to us) and I respect it for that reason. I would also lie if I said that I do not feel a chill to my core when hearing of other's solo ascents. We inherently struggle with accepting the certainty that comes with many solos (i.e. "you send or you die"). Anyway, also getting off of my soapbox - congrats if you made it through this wall of text. Good job Landon - this is a first class achievement.
  49. 5 points
    Trip: Sloan Peak - Superalpine Trip Date: 03/15/2020 Trip Report: This past Sunday, Tavish and I climbed Superalpine on the west face of Sloan. After the incident last time I wanted to get back and climb the route to the top. We didn't quite tap the top due to wind slabs on the upper face. I'm going to mix up the order of this one and put all the route details first so those who are looking at climbing the route can use this page for reference. Kyle also has a great page about our first climb of this route with excellent photos and maps. https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/ Approach: Both times I've climbed this route we parked at the spot where 4096 merges from Mountain Loop Highway. 4096 had deadfall and snow which made it undrivable but if you can drive up a bit before there's too much snow or deadfall then that will cut off some distance. Follow the road (easy skinning or walking) to where the Bedal Basin trail forks off to the left. Take this trail through the trees for a few miles to where a slide path up to the left becomes obvious. This slide path leads to the base of Full Moon Fever. Skinning up this path is straight forward and takes you to the base of the West Face. A long traverse to the south will bring you to a ridge that leads to Superalpine. Here, options exist. Assuming you're on skis, I recommend leaving them at the base of the route and descending the route. There is also the option of descending the corkscrew route and wrapping around the south side to meet that ridge (it would be heinous to boot) or carry skis and descend the glacier to the North East that will eventually allow you to meet back up with road 4096. The ridge can be tricky. Once you decide your strategy, the ridge will still be engaging. It's not scary, just steep with deep snow. The Route: However you opt to get to the base of the route, you are first presented with 2 (or 3) options for pitch 1 to access the couloir itself. The first time Kyle and I climbed a WI4 step on the climbers left. It was vertical for 2-3 body lengths and fairly thin. This past time Tavish and I thought it looked even thinner so we scrambled the ridge further up (M2-3) then did one pitch that wrapped around to the second step of the first pitch and ended at the same place. Either way, you need to get to the bench at the base of the obvious weakness in the wall. A third option may exist to the climbers right of the ridge. Perhaps it's even easier (if so it would bring down the grade of the route to Wi 3-3+). Pitch 2: This money pitch leaves from the bench and provides a full 60m of steep sustained Wi3. Protection was generally good for this pitch. Make sure to go a full 60m if you are planning on simul-climbing higher on the route. Pitch 3: This middle section of the route was lower angle and about half snow and half low angle ice (wi2) for us. We found good pro every hundred feet or so. This section makes a lot of sense to simul-climb. Both times we did a 100-150m block. There was good ice at the top of a chimney-like feature, or, if you've saved enough screws, the next step had good ice on the right for us. Utilize rock gear to conserve screws through this section. Pitch 4: From the end of the last pitch, this is the last section before exiting to the face. Depending on where you belayed, you’ll either have a steep snow slope to a curtain or be climbing right onto the curtain. This curtain is where Kyle fell on our first attempt. This past time, I found a sub-vertical weakness (wi3/3+) on the right side of the curtain (not the smear further right which provides a good belay). However, when Kyle fell, there was spin drift blasting the section I climbed so he went further left where it is more like Wi4 with a heinous top out with sugar snow and hollow ice over sugar. I found good protection in the weakness but Kyle didn’t find good pro further left. Approach this pitch with caution, don't be afraid to back down. I found a great ice screw belay on the right about 20ft above the curtain. Another option to avoid this pitch if it is unclimbable is a snow ramp to the left. See photos to spot this snow ramp. This would avoid all of the upper curtain and put you on the upper face, however, it is steep and exposed and unprotectable. As with the whole route, use your judgment. This isn't just alpine climbing…. It's Superalpine! The steeps above: Look at photos of the big face above the route (and have them with you). There are a variety of options that exist to climb this large feature (700 vertical feet). When I climbed it most recently, we found deep unconsolidated snow, wind slabs, alpine ice, and rime features. This section is shared with the corkscrew route and is very committing. There are a lot of ways to get lost, falling is never an option and it's mostly unprotectable. Very reminiscent of the upper slopes of the Cosley-Houston on Colfax. If the snow is consolidated and secure, it would be a total blast to climb, if not, then maybe it should be avoided. On the first attempt we bailed due to injury, and on the second attempt, we bailed halfway up the face, after converging with the corkscrew route, due to thick cohesive wind slabs. The descent: Descending should be straight forward. Downclimb the steep snow, and rap the route. We took 5 or 6 raps to get down the whole route each time. There is no down climbing once you’re back down to the top of the curtain pitch. Each rap is a full 60m and ends at good ice, providing plentiful V-thread options. Other descent options exist as mentioned in the approach section but this option is quick and straightforward. Ski out the way you skinned in. Rack: In the conditions we found, 8 or 9 screws including a 10cm or two makes sense. Rock pro isn’t super plentiful and there is a lot of ice so we took 4 cams, 4 nuts, and a pin or two. This is probably what I would recommend. If you try it earlier, then beef up the rock gear side of things, the rock is quite solid in places. Hopefully, people get out and climb this thing! It is like the NW Ice Couloir on Eldorado but way bigger. Lots of ice, great setting, not too heinous of an approach. Tavish and I did 17hrs c2c. We were not rushing but we weren't lollygagging either and we were ~350ft from the top. Kyle made this topo with the options. My opinion remains to descend the route. Good to know your options. Here is a topo I made on a John Scurlock photo of Sloan from February 2005 (low snow/ice year). Red dots show the route (note the three options for the first pitch). Yellow is the tricky ridge. Green is an approach that could avoid the tricky ridge. Aerial photo from Shane in February 2020. The ramp to avoid the curtain is obvious in this photo. Now, onto the story from yesterday. Tavish picked me up at midnight in Bellingham after an hour or two of restless sleep. We drove through Darrington and onto Mountain Loop. His Prius handled the road like a champ and by around 2 am we were packed up and walking up the road. I was in crocs since I forgot running shoes, they did the trick (they're the next big thing in climbing for sure! Breathable, waterproof, sorta, ultralight, cheap, comfy, and climb 5.12 with ease.) Anyway, we started skinning after about a half-mile and cruised up to the Bedal Basin Trail in about 90 minutes. There was a fresh half-inch of snow showing bobcat (?) tracks following the existing impression of skin track. From there we encountered a mix of booting and skinning in the trees, mostly skinning but lots of skis on skis off. There was a slight impression of the existing skin track (probably from Michael Telstad, thanks!) that we followed and got us where we wanted to go. We skinned up the slide path below Full Moon Fever and the snow transitioned from a few inches on a crust to a nasty wind board. I knew it would be bad since I skied the white salmon the day before but I was hoping to find wind scraped, not wind loaded terrain on this aspect since it would be indicative of the upper slopes. We continued to the tricky ridge as it got light, left our skis there and put on actual boots (last time I climbed in ski boots, this was better). While we transitioned, we got pretty cold. We brought big puffys since the freezing level was 0ft and it was probably 5 or 10 degrees. Fortunately, the sky was clear and there wasn't a breath of wind. We hurried through that transition and started booting up the ridge in all our clothes. Bobcat? Not a dog, not very big... It was slow going and I punched through to my hips or deeper at several points. We were toasty warm by the time we were at the base of the route. The left-hand variation Kyle and I took last time looked much thinner so we opted to climb the ridge above us and see if that would go. We soloed up easy rock to an impassable wall. Luckily we could traverse left and rejoin the first pitch from last time. Tavish led that and gave me a meat belay to the first bench. I led the next pitch which provided a full 60m of sustained ice. Very fun! Tavish took off from there and we simuled around 150m. It's so fun to move quickly, especially when it's that cold! We got further on this simul pitch than last time and I got worried that Tavish was going to get to the spot Kyle fell before I could warn him of the dangers. Luckily, he didn’t. He belayed from a thick clear smear, right of the curtain. I led the curtain up a weakness on the right and it wasn't too bad. Above that, there was an ideal ice bulge on the right to belay from. This was great because it provided an easy spot to transition from climbing to soloing and eventually to rappelling. I rigged a V-thread while Tavish soloed up the snow above. After threading the ropes, I took off after him. I caught up and he looked concerned. I could also feel the snow was not ideal. We could see snow plumes ripping over the ridge above us and the snow we were on was a cohesive wind slab. We downclimbed a bit and then went up further left through some tight constrictions and ice. Above that, there was another wide-open snow slope and we found two distinct layers in the snowpack. The top here was about 6in thick styrofoam-y feeling wind slab. Bellow that was another 4in thick older windslab, and below that was sugar. We had probably already gone too far but we decided to call it here and started down. Me on the second pitch (SO GOOD) Tavish getting to the top of pitch 1. Tavish taking off into the simul section. Tavish on the upper slopes It's hard to turn around so close but we were certainly riding a fine line with zero margin for error, given what was below our feet. Down climbing steep snow isn't fun but we got it done and got to the ropes. The raps went smoothly and we found great ice at the base of each 60m rap. The last pitch had to be broken into two raps last time, both off pretty small trees, so this time we tried another option. We went off a little more south off a slightly bigger tree and did an exactly 60m rap down rock that got us on to snow. We post holed in wet sun affected snow to our skis, and the rest of the descent went smoothly, albeit, pretty slow since we were tired. We got to the car before dark for 17hr c2c. Tavish on the final rap. Lots of ice above Full Moon Fever... Anyone interested?? That's it for now! Feel free to reach out with more questions! Sorry, I don't have more photos from on the route it's self. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. Gear Notes: See Rack Section Approach Notes: See Approach Section
  50. 5 points
    Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley Houston Trip Date: 12/09/2019 Trip Report: Andrew Dyer and I boarded the last car on the Cosley Houston train this fall and climbed it on a beautiful December day. The route was in good shape, it seemed. 60m pitch of easy ice and snow to the crux. The crux was probably 15 feet of near vertical and then 15-20 feet of vertical to slightly overhung, pretty real for an ice newb like me. It was definitely the hardest lead of my life. I played it safe and placed 6 screws, increasing the pump greatly but at least I felt safer. I stopped a few feet short of the end of the ice so I could build a solid belay with screws. We bypassed the second ice crux, instead taking AI2 to the right. Overall, the snow conditions we quite good on the route, boot top pow with firm snice beneath. The descent down the Coleman was a little tricky. We had to go far skier's right to find some key bridges across some huge crevasses. Skis from 8000 ft down to the Heliotrope Trail made things rather pleasant. My first turns of the season were pow turns! Thanks to Andrew for a rad day in the alpine. It took us 12 hours, but we definitely lost time booting in the pow, my super slow crux lead, and wandering down the Coleman, looking for bridges. Obviously, conditions will be changing very rapidly with the storm currently, but at least we found no real signs of instability up there. Let the snow begin! https://climberkyle.com/2019/12/13/colfax-peak-cosley-houston-wi4/ Colfax, Polish route looks good to go. That infamous pillar. Snowfield above the crux. Final steps, Lincoln in the background. Sunset pow! Much wow! Gear Notes: 10 screws, 60 m single rope. I would do a 60 m twin rope next time and just double it over for the crux. Approach Notes: Hiked to the top of the Hogsback, skinned to 8000 ft, booted to the start of the route. It would definitely not be worth it to carry skis over at this moment, too many zig zags and ups and downs on the descent.
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