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  1. 13 points
    Trip: Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4) Trip Date: 01/18/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday @Doug_Hutchinson and I skied out to the west face of Chair with low expectations and too much weight on our backs. As far as I can tell, this face has seen little to no winter climbing activity and was completely off my radar until @Kyle M showed me some photos. Our route started by slogging up ~700ft of steep firm snow with a couple easy ice chokes along the way. Nothing worth roping up for. The sun starts hitting the lower snow slopes around 10am, so I would recommend timing things so you start climbing no later than 10:30. After the slog we arrived at the head of a small alcove where we kicked out a platform and roped up. Gear for a belay is hard to come by, take what you can get. I took the first pitch which ended up being a tricky 20m M4 left facing corner system. Nothing was ever really that hard, but protection was difficult, and the rock quality left something to be desired. A really cool looking super direct mixed pitch can be found just to the right and would probably go at M7. Doug then took the lead on the money pitch. While only about WI4+, this pitch proved to be a pretty serious lead. The crux required climbing into an alcove behind a detached curtain, grabbing a rock hold with your right hand and swinging over a bulge above your head. Not your usual WI4. This pitch took good 10 and 13cm screws, but not always where you want them. One could probably bail back to the snow from here with 2 ropes. Moving forward we climbed a full 65 meters of scrambly snow/rock/ice up to a scottish looking headwall, and up a ramp to the left. Belay off a small tree that may be buried in different conditions. I have a hunch you can go either right or left, not sure which is easier. A short sketchy mixed pitch took us up to the false summit. Not hard, just tenuous and poor pro. ^Placing the only piece on the pitch ^The piece The route finished with a classic Au Cheval alpine ridge traverse with snow and ice on the north side, and warm dry rock on the south. This traverse is VERY poorly protected, and definitely not straight forward. Descent: There are two good options for the descent. The best option by far, is to do this route as a carryover, foregoing the skis and descending the normal route to the east. This requires very firm conditions, but would be much shorter. Since we left our skis in the Melakwa valley, we were forced to descend that direction via a long snow gulley opposite of the standard rappel anchor. The first rappel shares the piton anchor with the standard descent, just in the opposite direction. We left a piton and nut anchor 60M down to the left for future parties. This rappel only got us half way to the next worthy tree, luckily the snow was good for down climbing, but we were well aware of the exposed cliffs below. Two more raps off trees took us to the schrund. Ski back over Bryant col, or for bonus points, continue out via the second half of the Chair peak circumnav in the dark. Link to my Strava track can be found HERE for approach and descent help. Get on this climb! We thought it was pretty classic, and likely not in good condition very frequently. Reach out to me with any beta needs! Thanks to Kyle M for this photo! Green is the route, Red is the descent, and the Yellow dots are rap anchors. The last rap is in a bushy tunnel that may be difficult to find for future parties. Gear Notes: Single rack .2-2, stoppers, KB's and Bugaboos. 6-10 Screws 10-16cm most useful. 2 Pickets brought but never used (per usual). 60m twin ropes. Approach Notes: Ski or boot up and over Bryant/Chair col via pineapple basin. Descend over to Melakwa lake, and up to the base of the wall.
  2. 12 points
    Trip: Snoqualmie Mountain - [FA] The Snostril and Post Nasal Drip Trip Date: 01/29/2021 Trip Report: Since it took three attempts to send this climb, this TR will take the insufferably long form, written in the “how-the-sausage-is-made” and “what-I ate-for-breakfast” style in homage to the golden days of cc.com. Had I more time, I would have written a more concise TR. The hipster TL/DR version goes: “Major Tom, Christian, and I ran a quick Snostril lap the other day, condis were all time.” 12/4/2020 – Background and first attempt. The seasonal stoke to bash metal into ice seemed much stronger than usual this fall, corresponding to the collective increase in strength of the local crew, many of whom I am only recently met. These guys had been spending months training in a dimly-lit, south Seattle pain cave, and outside at the new Exit 38 dry crags - Wayne’s World and the Road House, and they were burning to get on the real thing. When Tom Beirne and Christian Junkar called and asked me for ice climb ideas and if I wanted to join their early season Alpental Valley ice hunting exhibition; I knew it would be futile, way too early and way too warm still. But I had only taken the tools for a walk once this season, so I signed up for their second day. On their first day, they scratched their way up Chair’s NE Butt, so we decided to see how things were coming along on the NW face of Snoqualmie. I had never seen this face so early in the season and it was what I expected – some thin smears, towering walls of bone dry rock, and none of the usual mixed lines had enough ice to launch up. The best looking “ice” I spotted was a continuous smear between the Snot and Thunder Basin exit shoulder, just left of a cave, which we marched under heading to the bigger but unformed mixed lines on the middle of the face. I have skied below this western aspect of Snoqualmie’s backside too many times to count but no ice ever caught my eye in this area before, probably because it is usually covered by a heavy snow blanket. The ice that grabbed my attention, would not be called ice in most other places but we take what we can get around here. Much discussion and indecision ensued as the team pondered the best of a lot bad options to attack. Not being known for my patience, I dramatically kept looking at my watch and stomping my feet until Tom agreed to belay me on my route pick. The climbing wasn’t exactly cruiser, but was thin aerated ice, not much more than one inch thick, with front points searching for rock divots, not thick enough for stubbies but just enough pin and poor cam placements to bring it down to around PG13. After about 40M of tenuous climbing, I was ready to be done and pulled into an alcove on the left with a faded of piece of tat around a chockstone (buried now). Tom lead up another 20 M of thin ice with some rock gear to a four inch diameter tree (buried now) with old tat up and right of an icy couloir above. The next pitch looked even thinner with more rock and less ice, but we could see a huge chockstone roof with a steep smear barely visible on the right which set the hook for a return visit after the ice got a little chubbier. Christian’s video of our first attempt: 12/26/2020 Second attempt, one pitch higher. A desired high pressure system proved elusive but Christian and I went back for round two anyway based on my stupidly optimistic read of the forecast. I saw a potential 12-hr window between one low exiting and another, more vigorous low, arriving. We skinned up marveling at the magnificent ski conditions (deep and soft) and knowing a serious effort today may not be a good idea. When we left skis at the top of the exit chute's shoulder, it was obvious that even our descent into Thunder Basin would put us on a potentially loaded slope, so instead of booting down this slope I have skinned up so many before, I rapped off a tree for some insurance against the millennial snowpack (i.e., easily triggered). Pitch one got about 5M shorter compared to our first attempt due to growing snow fan at the route’s base. With a higher base and thicker, more mature ice, I was able to quickly combine our two previous pitches into one 55M lead to our highpoint on the small tree out right. Christian led the next pitch which went around WI4- and was a 60M rope stretcher into a huge cave formed by a gigantic roof chockstone. He had already endured a nearly continuous spindrift shower following P1 but that was just the warm up for his P2 lead as the snowfall intensified. The conditions turned pretty full on, and it was hood up, zip up, and don’t look up because there was no respite from the parade of sloughs from the chute above. After some more thin ice with marginal rock gear on the left wall, Christian topped a final bulge and cruised some steep snow into the huge cave - the Snostril’s nostril had been entered. I really wanted to lead us out right and up to what could only be an easier slope above, but the problem was a short, overhanging rock wall had to be breached to exit the cave. Up and down I went to try to find a way through or around this wall. Straight across on dry powder over rock, or on some ice smears up high just below the roof, or down and around perhaps? I kept getting stopped due to either the lack of gear, the lack of tool/’pon placements, the lack of ice to stick, or perhaps the lack of big enough balls. Way up at the top of the cave above the belay, there even was an invisible nasal cavity which was snorting out wind and snow that I considered trying to access and squeeze through, but the rock up there looked too overhanging to explore. The view of the crux from the belay: Meanwhile, if I could climb out from the cave, the reward would be swimming in the fire hose of snow pouring down now, so our yellow light was clearly turning red. Time to flee to fight again another day… I built an anchor by slinging a boulder with my cordelette (love love love the much maligned cordelette) and equalizing a knifeblade in the upper left side of the cave and we rapped. All the new snow made the ski back to the car as fun as skiing with a heavy pack gets. Just climbing these first two pitches, rapping, and skiing down would qualify as a pretty rewarding day. The Snostril cave may not be as high and wild as Supercave’s cave, but it is still a really cool piece of mountain architecture - a sheltered room with a great view, and even a Covid-friendly icicle shield if you end up sharing this belay cave with climbers from another pod. 1/29/2021 – Third attempt and send. If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to leave the PNW for one month every winter, I would pick January. The jet stream's snow machine typically shifts south or north, the ice is typically anemic, and I typically flee north to Canuckastan for one of my two favorite playgrounds: the Powder Highway and/or the Icefield’s Parkway. Due to the current northern border wall, I left WA in early January for American’s best substitutes – Cooke City and Cody. Upon my PNW return in mid January, temps were still on the warm side but the continued dirty ridge of weak high pressure with occasional rain events started to open alpine possibilities. @Michael Telstad and I enjoyed a splitter day climbing a new mixed climb on the Upper West Side and Mik Metzler and I climbed the NF of Index under cruiser conditions, which was quickly repeated by Michael and Sean @sfuji Not able to come up with another inspiring ice objective (this simply has not been a good ice season in the PNW), I signed on as wing nut/belayer to Michael’s idea of climbing Goat Wall’s next gen, multipitch, dry af route - Mazama Queen. We spent another half day on Mazama ice before beginning the long drive home. I was completely ice satiated and really looking forward to giving my tools a few weeks off and spending some quality time with my skis. As I was bludgeoning Michael with another loud listen to the new Avalanches' record, ring ring goes my phone as Tom calls in while driving back from competing in the Ouray Ice Comp with Christian. We trade stories from our recent adventures and I proudly proclaimed my ice retirement plans that I have repeated one too many times to Michael already. My ice rat was stuffed, fat, and happy. Well, after nine days straight of climbing, Tom and Christian’s rats were still surprisingly hungry, borderline ravenous even; so Tom starts grilling me for beta on the two new climbs next on my list; one being pushing our Snoqualmie line higher. I nonchalantly provided some vague details and didn't think much about it because they have a long drive and I am just settling into ice retirement, so I tried to steer Tom to the other FA that didn’t really speak to me by texting some photos. As the conversation was winding down, Tom causally mentions that they will probably drive through the night and try to finish the Snostril before the weather window slams shut the following evening. Well, I’m here to tell y'all that retirement is a myth, a fallacy, nothing to strive for. “Can you drive a little faster Michael? I’ve gotta get home and start drying gear.” The three of us left the Alpental lot at 6am, this time without skis. Arriving home the previous evening, Tom had just enough time to remove the camper from his truck but not enough time to sharpen his tired picks, so Christian graciously arrived late to afford Tom some parking lot maintenance time. The drier and warmer recent weather made it relatively easy to boot up what is usually the 5.11 Phantom skin track. Because of our prior knowledge of the route, the good conditions and weather, and our collective stoke and fitness levels; I felt zero anxiety, today was going to be straight up fun in the hills. Better yet, we divvied up the leads on the approach so that everyone would get a new pitch, and Tom would get the crux. The send was almost guaranteed. Christian led P1. The ice was fat and straight forward, great screws everywhere, fun WI3+. The stoke was high. The belay tree we used previously was buried, so Christian built a belay on horizonal dead branch and gear just right of the P2 couloir. I took P2, which was mostly good ice with a short crux of rotten egg shell which fooled me into swinging picks into rock way too many times until I got smart and used a few rock footholds on the left wall to gain some higher sticks into better ice out right. Pulling over the bulge put me high enough to see the crux cave exit wall I backed off a month ago and fuck yeah, yeah, oh yeah! Lots of new snow accumulation had made the rock step shorter and there was ice everywhere now. This was going to go down! Tom and Christian quickly followed up into the cave and Tom got busy doing what he does best. Tom is not only the strongest and best technical mixed climber of our crew (and our second best freestyle MC), he just placed third in the Ouray ice speed comp so this thing was probably going to go down fast. As I belayed, Christian scurried around the cave like a rabid snafflehound, shooting video. Tom placed a .75 cam up high and left, tried to force the direct rock traverse that previously stopped me, but then climbed down and right onto a snow step above a small moat. This enabled him to climb up a body length, scratch and sniff for some decent sticks, place a stubby and then a #3 cam, and turn the corner out of the cave and onto some thin ice up and right. Tom vs the crux: He exited on some more barely-stubby-thick ice to the bottom of the upper couloir, and built an anchor on the left rock wall to make this a 30M pitch. This was not straightforward climbing and not an easy crux to figure out, but Tom is one those climbers that you watch and can’t determine how hard or easy something really is because he climbs fast and makes everything look chill. I went next and tried to avoid committing to a thin icicle mono foot placement he used because it seemed unlikely it would hold body weight, but once I did, the crux went pretty quickly but was definitely not a gimme. There was just enough ice for decent feet but it was still balancely and insecure in places. I robotically removed all the gear without thinking so Christian got to follow with no directionals in place. We agreed on a grade WI4, M5 but pitches like this are difficult to grade because it was not the ice or the mixed that was the specific crux, it was moving from one to the other and back again, balancing on so-so feet, while taking any gear you could get. (To keep this under ten pages, I'll spare everyone my recent rant where I ponder out loud if we are beginning to sandbag the grades of our new mixed routes, and I would not recommend a leader that maxes out at WI4 or M5 try to lead this route.) We were now in the bottom of a 100M long, mostly snow couloir that is reminiscent of the Snot proper, below the steep entrance at the top. Christian was up next and the agreed plan was he would run out the rope and Tom and I would start simuling to the trees we could see at the top of the couloir. After 55M of snow up to about 50 degrees, Christian stopped and spent a decent amount of time playing around on the right vertical wall. We thought he was bootying an old anchor but then he yelled off belay. It seemed strange for him to decide not to simul to the top since the last part of the couloir looked so low angle. Looking past Tom to Christian at the P4 belay. Royal Robbins, in his masterpiece of snark and self-awareness, Tis-sa-ack, about his and Don Peterson’s ascent of the NW face of Half Dome described feeling his younger partner’s impatience “running up the rope like a continually goading electric current.” When I reached Christian, I could feel his overflowing stoke running down the rope to me like a positive electric current, he was almost jumping up and down for a reason I did not yet understand. (I encourage you to click that Tis-sa-ack link, for no other reason than to see the best Glen Denny best ever photo of Robbins and Peterson after they topped out. I'll never be able to write that good but I have a chance of maybe equaling Peterson's disdainful sideways glare). OK, OK already, back to the Snostril... Christian had stopped and built an anchor because he could not just walk by an aesthetic pitch of mixed ice steps leading left out of the couloir, which he knew was a better finish compared to the easy snow finish if he kept going straight. This should have been my lead but Christian wanted this lead so bad he was almost vibrating. I can be pretty selfish with taking the sharp end especially on a money ice pitch, but there was no way I was going to assert my lead rights and take this pitch from him. This season I have really enjoyed roping up with new partners who are so strong and stoked that sitting back and watching has been almost as rewarding as leading. Tom belayed and I shot video while Christian entered his happy place cleaning loose rock from behind a flake for gear placements and working out the opening mixed moves. Christian getting ready to plug gear: He fired a lower mixed crux and pulled over an ice budge leading to thicker and better ice – definitely the best water ice of the day. The pitch ended with a 10M vertical ice curtain leading to a big tree belay and an easy walk off. This was 30M of fun mixed awesomeness which makes for the preferred alternative finish to what would be the P5 final snow slog of the Snostril. Christian taking us to the top: It was such a cool pitch, we gave its own name, and Post Nasal Drip, and we graded it WI4/M5. (Note - copy and paste sand bag rant here.) An easy snow slope walk-off brought us down to our packs, and walking down Snoqualmie did not bother this skier one bit today. (My notes here say something about Tom going down the most on the descent and owing us many beers, but my hand writing is hard to read at this point). I have become used to getting back to the car hours after sunset lately (or, in the case of Index, a few hours before sunrise) and we still had over an hour of daylight to spare. The Snostril is a great introduction to the mixed playground that is Snoqualmie’s NW Face and is a nice addition to face's previously established routes, especially if you are not in the mood for a longer day. The day we climbed it, it probably had the most pure ice climbing of any route of the face. By leaving the anchor in the cave, one can retreat easily after the first two moderate ice pitches if not feeling the mixed crux above. As the snowpack deepens, this crux will become easier. If this route sat above Cham, it would have gotten a ski descent by now. I made you slog through this narrative so your reward is viewing Christian’s video of the Snostril’s second attempt and send: Excitement is building for the ClimbSkiRip Post Nasal Drip edit, soon to drop... Here is the route as seen from John Scurlock's plane, image used by permission (note - the original name of Post Nasal Drop was Temres and I aint gonna attempt editing this photo, I paid way too much to my 6 yo nephew to create the original): I am still waiting for some retired hardman to reset his cc.com password to let us know that he hiked this route back in the early 80s, but the wifi may not work that good in his assisted care facility. Gear Notes: Single rack to #4, knifeblades, short screws, Temres 282-02s Approach Notes: Up and over, walkoff
  3. 12 points
    Trip: Skookum Falls - Far Right Side Trip Date: 02/15/2021 Trip Report: On President’s Day I finally got to climb my first pitches of ice in Washington and I got the full PNW experience. After skiing the Cascade concrete for the last three of months I found that the Cascade ice is quite the opposite. We left Seattle at 6:15 that morning, raining. Heading south through Auburn, raining. As we joined the line up in Enumclaw to Crystal Mountain (9 inches, who could blame them), raining. We started making backup plans to head up to Snoqualmie but kept our fingers crossed. Even heading into Greenwater, raining. By some stroke of luck, as the GPS struck 5 minutes ETA, the rain turned to snow. When we pulled into the Skookum Falls Viewpoint (47.0529, -121.5721) we found the ice to be in pretty good shape. Dark blue - our pitch 3 Orange - our rap route - rap 1 through v-thread down to a large tree, rap 2 down to a second set of trees, rap 3 to ground Light Blue - Skookum Falls (courtesy of Justin Sermeno) Green - Skookum Falls Right (courtesy of Justin Sermeno) We made our way to the river working with vague beta of a crossing made of fallen trees. We basically flipped a coin and decided to head north along the river hoping to find this fabled bridge. Less than ten minutes in we stumbled onto it. (47.0539, -121.5754) Excited to have found the crossing, we jumped onto the trunk and gingerly walked across not knowing if the fresh snow had covered a solid step or a slip into the river. In our excitement, we failed to notice that the other side of the tree was a boulder problem of roots and frozen dirt. Luckily for us someone had placed a precarious crash pad (log) on the other side. Having successfully down climbed the root system, we made our way in a general south-west heading completely ignoring the beautifully tracked in Skookum Flats Trail opting instead for the ankle breaking snow-covered scree field. Red - not recommended Yellow - recommended As we geared up at the base of the climb (47.0523, -121.5763), we noticed the occasion slough. There was minimal overhead hazard and that the ice was decently fat we didn’t make a big deal of it. James offered to take the first lead and I happily conceded as I hadn’t swung a tool since my mid-December Hyalite trip. As James started off, he bottomed out his first 16cm screw. Oops. Finding a better place for it he continued on his way and made quick work of the first 45m pitch. As I belayed, I noticed the falling snow getting fatter and wetter. It wasn’t long before the falling snow melted as soon as it hit me. I followed up, happy to get back into the groove on top rope. As I took over for the second pitch the reality of WA ice set in. Every swing planted my hands in the wet snow. By mid-pitch, my gloves were completely saturated. I was pretty stoked with my new tape job but I may as well have taped cold, wet sponges to my handles. As I swung my tool back I could hear the *squish* of my soaked gloves as the tool passed my ear. The ice softened as the day went along and I was happy to have the horizontal front points of my Snaggletooths. At a certain point though horizontal or vertical didn’t matter, I was really just smashing through the slush and stomping down a foot hold. This was my first multi lead and my first realization that bringing 13 screws actually means you have 7 screws for the climb. 3 screws at each anchor. I had to call it quits at 35m. I set up my station, put my climbing gloves in my jacket and put my belay gloves to bring James up. Throughout the belay I watched as my fancy Goretex jacket slowly wetted through from the inside. This picture was taken with a very wet and slippery iPhone. James made it to the belay and we make the call to go or no go. Despite the moderate temperatures we are both shivering from the wetness, but enticed by the gorgeous sheet of ice above us we decide to keep at ‘er. It was only noon anyway. James throws down and takes the line of best protection. 35m. As James set up to belay me, I was shivering and my layers were saturated. I start climbing with reckless abandon, moving without testing my sticks and kicks until I reach a short section of dripping icicles. It was at this point that I learned that my layers weren’t saturated and could actually take in more water. Kicking it up a gear, I ran through this short section and met James at the belay. Now we were done. James built the V-thread and rapped a short section to a tree we had been eying all day. We pulled the rope and...fuck… it’s frozen in the V-thread. It took some hard negotiating but the rope eventually came through. I made sure to keep the rope moving back and forth as James cleared some tangles in the rope. At the tree we clear the old tat get ready to head down. Stepping over a branch, James heads toward the obvious gully (beta from not this section of Skookum Falls) climber’s left. Passing through the gully it’s clear that our 60m doubles aren’t going to hit the ground and James cuts back right to build an anchor at another tree. Cold and wet, I quickly followed over the branch not knowing that he had zigged and then zagged. As I got to the anchor and started the pull, the rope was stuck again. It was the orange rope wasn’t it? Or was it blue? No amount of forceful pulling would even budge the rope. This was the rock rescue moment we all say that we’d practice but never actually do. It was time to jug the rope. PNW lesson number I don’t know anymore, wet Prussiks are extremely catchy. Jugging up 35m on Prussiks was not happening. For the second time in my life and was supremely glad that I brought a Ti-Bloc with me. James fixed one end of the rope and I was able to jug up the other strand. Left quad cramping, right shoulder burning, I got up to the station to find this mess that I am almost too embarrassed to post. I cleared the tangles, rerouted the rope around the branch and un-zigged the zag. The remainder of the rappels went without a hitch and I thought to myself that I’m glad to be done. Mistake. We reverse the yellow arrows (see above) and find the trail. As we returned to the river crossing I am extremely unmotivated to climb what must now be a partially melted mud boulder problem. Recalling that there were other fallen trees that crossed the river I decided to pick the wrong one. We shimmied across another trunk trying not to fall in the river and we landed on an island that did not connect to the other side. Me yelling expletives at the river At this point we were less than 10 minutes from the car and the only thing that wasn’t wet were my socks so why not make it a royal flush. Gear Notes: A load of 13cm screws. Probably should've brought up more 16cms. 60m doubles. Approach Notes: Parking (47.0529, -121.5721) Crossing (47.0539, -121.5754) Base of climb (47.0523, -121.5763)
  4. 12 points
    Trip: Mount Index, North Peak - North Face Trip Date: 01/29/2021 Trip Report: @Michael Telstad and I have a wonderful climbing partnership. He sniffs out all the beta and nails down logistics, while I tell bad jokes and ensure the ropes get hopelessly tangled at least once on-route. When I heard about his FA on Chair and adventures in Mazama with @Doug_Hutchinson, in the throes of FOMO and inspired by Doug and Mik's report of 'cruiser alpine conditions', I sent him a text on Tuesday asking if he wanted to climb the North Face of North Index. Between the Scylla of the work-week and the Charybdis of storms for the next month, we decided on Friday as our best and only shot at the beast. Fortunately Doug was stuck with Michael on the long winter drive from Mazama to Seattle, so there was plenty of time to shake him down for beta. There is not too much information about the route out there, so Doug’s info was invaluable. (Another useful source is Jim Nelson’s Selected Climbs in the Cascades, Vol. 1) We decided to meet in the parking lot at 2:45am on Friday. After a few hours of fitful rest I rolled into the Lake Serene parking lot my traditional 15 minutes late at 3:00am (Michael was 10 minutes early). We exchanged groggy greetings and set off by moon and head light. Easy trail hiking in approach shoes to the north end of the lake led to the base of a slide path and some tedious steep snow climbing to the saddle of the northeast rib. (We changed into boots at the end of the trail before stepping onto the lake, and put on crampons partway up the snowfield) Some unexpected light snow gave us pause but we decided to climb until it became problematic. I set off on the first lead, simul-climbing ~3 pitches mainly steep snow with sparse slung trees, with a few short mixed steps protected by cams and nuts. I tried placing ice screws in aerated flows while extremely runout on steep snow, but they were just too marginal to bother. Runout snowfields for the first ~2 pitches took me to a left-leaning gully. At the top of the gully I looked down and gulped at the sheer exposure below me to the east. Wild. A moderate and short but annoyingly snow-covered mixed step took me to the slung blocks marking the ‘hidden ledge’ traverse. (It’s not very well-hidden if you’re looking for it.) I belayed Michael up from here since I would’ve liked a belay on the mixed step below and I believe in the golden rule. At this point I made the inconceivably foolish decision to try scooping up the stacked double ropes and walking them across the hidden ledge. I made it about 15 feet before realizing the error of my ways and setting up an intermediate anchor. Fortunately it only took 15 minutes of cursing and thrashing to untangle the ropes. Michael then belayed me on a short, fun, and confusing simul block through a slide alder grove. I followed my nose through a steep groove of alders to a lower-angle mixed ramp. I wandered around trying to find an easy way up, but eventually gave up and belayed Michael to the top of the alder grove. He decided to down-climb to search for a lower continuation of the traverse, but found only improbable cliffs. He climbed back up and cruised the mixed ramp around whose bushes I’d beaten earlier. We simuled over the ramp and up the awesome snowbowl pitch to an obvious large tree. From here we simuled up ~2 pitches of very fun AI3- (mediocre screws, great sticks) to yet another grove of trees at the base of yet another snowfield. I led a short snowfield to the base of the crux mixed pitches. Michael led us up two cruxy snow-covered mixed pitches, first a narrow ridge-traverse and then a funky slab to a short steep corner protected by a fixed piton. The climbing wasn’t so hard, but it felt tres insecure and poorly protected. I took over the lead and we simuled across a wild knife-edge ridge, up a snowfield, over and around several false summits (with some tricky mixed steps and brutal rope-drag), and finally to the base of the true summit. (From a distance I thought it was the Middle Peak of Index. ) Michael took us to the top, and we mustered the happiest faces we could for some summit pics. As we prepared to descend, a raven floated next to us cawing a blessing. I felt glad then, that the spirit of the mountain was with us. We thanked the raven and began the slog down. Michael led us back to the base of the summit ridge snowfield, and we followed Doug and Mik’s rappel stations for a seemingly interminable, mind-numbing descent. We finally reached a snowfield at the base of the north face. We unroped and contoured around to the base of the route. Unfortunately they added about 3 miles to the Lake Serene trail while we were on the mountain, so the hike out was a bit more tedious than expected. We finally arrived back to our cars alone in the parking lot at 11pm, just as we’d left them 20 hours and many lifetimes before. I grilled up a couple celebratory beyond burgers and we drove off into the night, grateful and dead exhausted. Many, many thanks to Doug and Mik for all the beta, and for setting up so many rap stations! This route is highly condition dependent. This winter and weather window has yielded easy snow climbing, thin and poorly protected but easily climbed gully ice, and snowy but manageable mixed climbing. I think significant time would be saved on the mixed pitches if there were no snow. Suitors should be prepared for sporting runouts on steep snow, tenuous mixed climbing, and a tricky descent after a long physically and mentally tiring day. Descent: Reverse climb along summit ridge to trees at base of the snowfield which leads up to summit ridge, i.e. just after the knife-edge ‘last pitch’ of the climb. Make 4-5 plumb-line rappels (60m double-rope) to large trees atop snow-bowl pitch. Rappel trending east (climber’s left) to small trees near base of snow-bowl. Continue for 5-6 raps along this slightly east trajectory, following shrub and block rap stations to base of the north face. Some of these are rope-stretchers with 60m ropes, 70m would help a lot. Once down contour easy but exposed snowfields to the east until reaching the saddle where the route begins. We mostly used Doug's webbing and carabiner stations, but added green tech cord to the station at the top of the snowbowl. Cut all the other tat there but unfortunately couldn't extract it from the ice. (it was late and we wanted to move fast) Lecture time: Knot both your ropes (and untie one end before you pull the other). Double-check your tether and rap setup every time before you commit your life to them. Pics: Setting sail, snowflakes like shooting stars Michael just after the first cruxy mixed step, taken from the hidden ledge blocks moments before the sun rose The sun also rises Michael heading up the gully at the top of the snowbowl Michael starting the first mixed ridge pitch with the false summit ahead Looking down at me from above first mixed ridge pitch Michael at the mixed crux Selfie from snowfield before summit ridge with Michael on the knife-edge False summit after false summit Moody Sky from summit Happy to be halfway home Classic pose on summit block (might not be there next year, the summit ridge seems to be mainly loose blocks glued together by ice) Index Traverse looking intimidating and appetizing Reversing the summit ridge traverse Possibly the worst rap anchor, but not by much Arriving at the large tree atop the snowbowl as headlights trace out Highway 2 below The result of bounce-testing the rap anchor at the large tree Rope stretcher with 60m ropes Dave Summers got a photo of our headlamps on the descent Gear Notes: Ropes: 2x 60m 7.5mm half/twins (70M recommended) Slings: 15 singles, 4 doubles, 1 quad. (good amount, but bringing more would allow for longer simul blocks. Had 2 carabiners per single sling and 1 per double and quad) Ice screws: 2x 10cm, 2x 13cm, 1x 16cm, (1x 22 for v-threads) (good selection, even though some placements were marginal due to conditions) Cams: single rack .1-2 (perfect, every cam was useful but didn't want any bigger) Nuts: About a dozen from small to large (didn't use too often but glad to have) Tricams: Pink and red (clutch) Pitons: selection of 3 small knifeblades, 1 short Lost Arrow, 1 beak (didn't place any, clipped one fixed pin) Cord/webbing: 20 foot 5mm tech cord useful for slinging large blocks. 40+ft of rap tat highly recommended Microtraxions: 2x for simul-climbing insurance Tools: Less aggressive quark style tools (Thanks to Michael's partner Tess for letting me borrow her quarks so I didn't have to haul the nomics up) Crampons: Dual point preferable, lots of snow Emergency gear: Inreach (+cell service most of the way up), lightweight emergency bivy sacks, small isobutane stove, hardwarmers and dry warm socks in case of epic. Climbing tape for in-situ surgery. We didn't bring any pickets and never wanted to place any, but if you desire protection on <60 degree snow you should bring one. Approach Notes: Took the Lake Serene Trail all the way up, skirted around on the NE shore of the frozen lake to the obvious slide path, ascended to saddle, stashed approach packs in small tree grove and racked up. ~1.5 hours car to base
  5. 11 points
    Trip: Mount Goode - Megalodon Ridge Trip Date: 07/19/2021 Trip Report: “Hey bear!” I shout, followed by a convincing monkey call from Sean. We are only a couple hundred yards away from the trail, but swallowed deep in the eight foot tall slide alder of the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Maybe we’re off route, maybe there is no route. A couple days prior Sean and I had been throwing around ideas for the weekend. Sean was interested in something hard on CBR, while I was craving some choss and adventure. Being the great friend and partner that he is, Sean agreed to my idea of Goode, and adjusted his schedule to fit mine. Meeting at the parking lot on Sunday, I ask Sean how comfortable he is soloing most of the ridge. He’s psyched on the idea, and I’m psyched to slim down the rack. I ditch the 4 and a few other pieces. With that I grab a couple bubbly waters to stash in a creek along the way and we’re off. In classic fashion, Sean takes off jogging almost immediately, it feels so good to be moving. The hiking flies by and we soon find ourselves stumbling down an alder infested hillside down to Bridge Creek. With no obvious entry point on the other side, we start hiking upstream along the river bank until the alder overtakes us, and we’re forced to wade up stream in the biting glacier melt water. Just in time for my feet to go fully numb, I find a narrow tunnel through the brush and out of the river. After a brief bout of screaming barfies we’re off and moving again. From this point, things got a little weird. All previous reports of this route seemed intentionally vague about how to gain the ridge. The alpine basin that looked like steep meadows on the map proved to be alder choked waterfalls. After re-reading Dan’s TR, I’m pretty sure we cut up the hill too early and endured some hellish bushwacking. Following the waterfall a little further seems like a better idea. Once re-birthed from the thicket, we followed a loose low 5th class gully up to the ridge crest. Freedom at last! The trudge up the treed ridge felt like it went on for eternity. Every roll, followed by another buttress and so on. It was at this point in the day that the true enormity of Jens and Dan’s single push effort set in. We were tired, and the idea of continuing up the ridge did not appeal. Maybe with tiny packs and perfect approach beta, but even then... As we tucked in for the night, a small plane flew circles around the summit. I assumed it could only be John Scurlock. After a nice night nestled into a bed of heather, we woke with the sun and enjoyed a warm pot of coffee to start the day. The initial part of the ridge proper was phenomenal. Highly textured white stone flowed up the mountain in a stunning spine feature. This section up to the first point would be a classic route on it’s own. I can not overstate how good the rock was through this section. Just perfect scrambling. Now atop point 8200, a cold wind ripped from the shady south side, adding to the intimidation of the ominous drop off ahead. Rather than onsight down-solo into the abyss, we opted to rope up here and simul down to the notch. This section did not boast the same quality rock, but made for comfortable down climbing with adequate protection. Once down, we again unroped and began back up to SE peak. Scrambling across this ridge was an incredible experience. I found myself falling into a flow state unlike much other. The climbing isn’t too hard, nor very sustained, so you are really able to enjoy the movement. Finally below the headwall, we roped up again. I lead a long somewhat loose and scary pitch of 5.9 slightly to the right of the FA party’s route. It went, but I can’t say I recommend it. Sean then took the lead, and after bailing on a N-side option, led an incredible 55m pitch up and left through splitter corners and up a striking arete feature. This pitch onward is definitely the same route that the FA party took. The last ~70m pitch took me up a very poorly protected arete composed of brick sized loose blocks up onto the ridge. As Blake says, “no lifeguard on duty here”. Sean questing the wrong way. Now with the biggest obstacle behind us, we basked in the sun before unroping and scrambling down to the snow patch, and top of the ski line. Things had gone very smoothly up to this point, so we took our time hanging out and brewing up. Sitting there looking at the steep grey ice, and rotten gendarmes was making me nervous. We only had one chintzy light axe between the two of us and no crampons. If there wasn’t a way around, we would be in a pretty bad spot. As we scampered further up the ridge, I theorized how we could dead-man some rocks to rap down the snow and swing over to the other side. Once over the ridge, I was relieved to find a casual (albeit shitty) scree slope taking us around the back side. More scrambling took us through looser and more convoluted gendarmes up towards the Black Tooth notch. Roping up one last time, I lead down and around the final gendarme into black tooth notch. I found this pitch to be easier than the proposed 5.10 grade, probably 5.8 or 5.9 and truly well protected. Maybe after 11 hours of FA questing with big packs this could feel like 10-. A short simul block took us to the summit and nap time! Having mentally prepared for an epic 12+ hour day, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive on the summit in the early afternoon with plenty of day to spare. We had full water bottles and a full seven hours to nap and enjoy the views. Life is Goode! The descent sucked, and the hike out only sucked for the last hour. Too many good photos to share in this TR. Our full photo album can be found HERE Gear Notes: If Simuling/pitching out most of the ridge Double rack .1-2 Single 3&4. If scrambling all but the cruxes, a single rack .1-3 should be fine. Small cams in the .1-.2 range are most useful. Fish themed snacks. Approach Notes: IDK, try and gain the ridge as soon as possible? Follow the waterfall? Maybe someone who has done it right will chime in.
  6. 11 points
    Trip: Darrington - Squire Creek Wall -> Buckeye -> Whitehorse Trip Date: 06/19/2021 Trip Report: @jenny.abegg and I did a linkup of Skeena26 on Squire Creek Wall, Buckeye Peak, and Whitehorse. It was a full value 16 hour day, even with nearly everything going "right". Super fun, if you don't mind some jungling and adventure climbing. The MP approach beta for Skeena26 is spot on. We did not find the bolts until the top of P3, and from there on it was still hard to follow the route as the bolts hide in the shade. The upper section of the buttress above the route is pretty blue collar, as is the top of Squire Creek Wall. We were happy to be on snow climbing up to Buckeye Peak. The ridge heading north from Buckeye was very aesthetic, featuring mid fifth class climbing over steep gendarmes with wild exposure. We did a few pitches and a few rappels and then ended up at the SE Ridge of Whitehorse. The SE Ridge definitely felt a bit fifth class to us for a few hundred feet, but we were definitely pretty tired. It is "Beckey 4th class" after all. The rock is ok. Rappel over the bergschrund, then long hike out. https://climberkyle.com/2021/06/19/the-darrington-rodeo/ D-Town is cool! Skeena26 is definitely worth checking out! Gear Notes: Single 60 m rope was enough. A few moderate sized cams, lots of long runners. Approach Notes: About 6-8 minutes after the official Squire Creek Trail sign, there is a white rock cairn. This marks the trail, which leads down to Squire Creek. Found a log crossing just downstream. Then hike up the trail on the other side.
  7. 10 points
    Trip: Northern Pickets - Mt. Challenger Middle Peak & FA of SW Ridge of Challenger 5 (Peak 7,696) Trip Date: 08/18/2021 Trip Report: Northern Pickets, image pulled from publicly accessible Google Book Preview of Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol. 3. The SW Ridge of Peak 7,696 is the righthand skyline. Fair use intended. TL;DR: Climbing partners Joe Manning (manninjo) and Joseph Montange ventured up the wild and rugged Baker River valley in mid-August 2021, seeking a shortcut into the Northern Pickets. After several days of travel, we climbed a very fun, new, five pitch, 750', 5.7 route on the Mount Challenger massif, the Southwest Ridge of Peak 7,696 (aka Challenger 5). Baker River Mandatory wading on day 1 starts several miles upriver Time to go to the beach! It’ll be fun: miles of sandbars and loads of deep blue swimming holes. Wading up the river in tennies. Getting to curl our toes in the sand. Sounds promising as a way to approach the remote and reasonably inaccessible Picket Range. Relaxing, beachy-type vacations are not my norm, so the Baker River seemed like the best of both worlds. Get the summertime water fix AND have an adventure scoping out the “direct” route into the Northern Pickets. The approach, documented in the 1968 Tabor and Crowder guide, has no record of folks actually going all the way in that way in the last 50 years. I’m sure some folks have, only to be swallowed by brush and never seen again. Mike Layton wrote in 2006 that John Roper “thoroughly sandbagged” him and Wayne Wallace on their approach to Spectre Peak by suggesting the Baker River. Following “six hours to travel a mile and a half along the Baker River we bailed. Ahead were three more miles of rain, brush, and swift water followed by a 5000-ft climb to the ridge… after our eight-hour false start, we dragged our soggy asses and 25-lb packs to the Hannegan Pass parking lot to restart the trip.” Pioneer Ridge (center-right) and the confluence of Bald Eagle Creek and Baker River For our part, we wanted to push beyond the Pioneer Ridge version of the Baker River approach and continue up the river, to the confluence of Picket and Mineral Creeks. From here, a spur ascending all the way to the Mt. Challenger massif would provide an escalator into the alpine. In fact, after all the beach time, we’d probably need to burn off some of those beach-induced calories. In all seriousness, there’s really no easy way into the western side of Northern Pickets. For a fit and competent party, stocked with full climbing kit and several days of food, Easy Ridge, Whatcom Pass and Peak, Eiley Wiley, even carrying over Fury all take at least two days. Sometimes fast and light parties get to Perfect Pass in a day for a two-night blitz of Mt. Challenger. But if you want to do something on the west side of Spectre, Phantom, Ghost, Crooked Thumb, anything on the south side of Challenger, it's two days just to get there (and two more to hike out). It was with this knowledge that we set off up the Baker River, hoping to find the equivalent of the Northwest Passage into the Northern Pickets. While we may not have found quite that, we did get to spend several days in one of the most rugged, wild, untrammeled and primeval wilderness areas this side of Alaska. The fact that access started less than a 90-minute drive from home was remarkable. The sheer quantity and apparent quality of the granite cliffs spilling off the sides of Pioneer and Mineral Ridges is mind boggling. It’s a beautiful looking mix of Index town walls, Squamish, Darrington, Yosemite, name any notable granite bigwall area. Were it not for a lack of trails and fixed anchor ban in the park, this zone would be a serious destination. As it exists today, it's worth admiring the incredible views every step of the way in. Just don’t forget to watch your step along the way. For folks who find off-trail travel “not so bad,” the stats are compelling. It's less than half the distance of any other way into the range, and less than half the elevation gain. There is no penalizing elevation loss. The approach lacks the objective hazards (e.g. icefall traversing around Whatcom Peak) and subjective hazards (e.g. exposed, loose scrambling over Whatcom or across the Imperfect Impasse) one would find coming in from other directions. The Baker River is a late season approach - the river needs to be low enough to regularly ford and wade. Most of the river walking we did was shin to knee deep. A pair of low top mesh approach shoes worked perfectly to hike in and out of the river. We got waist deep in the river once or twice, though that may have been avoidable. Make sure you line your pack with a garbage bag or other waterproofing. Sections of mandatory bushwhacking punctuate the river walking There is unavoidable brush, including some that registers as “BW5” on the Cascade Brush and Bushwhack scale. As with most off-trail approaches, the bushwhacking was far worse going in than coming out. Only a handful of times did patience grow thin and tempers flare due to frustrating travel conditions. Another dead end in the brush led Joseph to remark that “it wouldn’t be an adventure if there were no doubts.” At this point, with the hour growing late on the first day, we were having some serious doubts about the viability of the approach. After a breather and channeling the power of positive thinking, we made it through the worst of the brush and found ourselves a mossy camp in open forest next to a brook and several large boulders. With full packs loaded for climbing out of a base camp, it took about the same amount of time to go in this way compared to past experience with the more-frequently documented approaches. The crux of the approach, encountered on day two for us, was the wooded spur above the confluence of Mineral Creek/Baker River and Picket Creek. The wooded spur with approximate line and color showing slope angle It starts out innocuously enough. Low angle, brush-free walking past ancient cedars the size of skyscrapers, some well over 15 feet in diameter, soon gives way to steeper and steeper hillside. In what could be the toughest 2,000 feet of elevation gain anywhere, you’ll fight insanely thick brush, mostly saplings and huckleberries, all at a gradient of over 30 degrees, while dodging cliffs including a significant band at about 4,000 feet elevation. Helmets and dirt-ponning may feel necessary to descend safely. Steep huckleberry Typical brush thickness on the wooded spur Several cliff bands are hidden in the brush of the wooded spur Perhaps the effort overall is greater going off trail, though that is going to vary individual to individual. Climbers with their brushmaster degrees, good route finding skills and smaller, lighter packs could conceivably make it to the Challenger 4/5 col or Phantom alp slope camp (or pretty close) in a single big day via Baker River. We broke out of treeline on the afternoon of our second day, hiking into a thickening misty fog. Wonderful camping exists there on grass patches among the heather fields next to perfect 250 gallon tarns. Bring a water filter for the tarn water. Camping on a natural grass tent pad next to water around 4,900 ft Our third day, we woke up to driving rain - not the forecast we hiked in with. It broke into a light drizzle by midmorning and up the alp slope ridge we went, reconning for a higher camp. By midday, an updated forecast gave us a limited window to climb the next day only, August 18th. Chance of showers returned the afternoon of the following day, August 19th. Being well provisioned for several days of rock climbing, the change in weather was disappointing but we’d have to make due. Resigned to the revised forecast; Mineral Mt. in background As I’ve learned in the Pickets, 20 or 30% chance of showers is pretty much 100% chance of rain and low-to-no visibility. We ended up moving camp on day three just a half mile further up the ridge, to a larger patch of grass with an even deeper little tarn and mystifying views of Whatcom Peak, Mineral, Shuksan, Baker/Kulshan and numerous other mountains. We elected to leave base camp there on the ridge around 5,200 ft and go light above. Camp 2 on the ridge, Whatcom Peak in the mist and Perfect Pass at center right We had big (for us) ambitions for our week, yet somehow even the best-laid plans seemed to get waylaid by weather and slowed down by river crossings, vine maple, cliffs, huckleberry, and route finding. Southwest Ridge of Challenger 5 (Peak 7,696), 5.7, 5 Pitches, 750’, Grade II Rock climbing can be just plain Type I fun. You’re outside, with good company, in good weather, using your brain and body to briefly overcome gravity, dancing with the minerals, having a jolly ‘ol time. For whatever reason, granite especially lends itself to this kind of climbing. Joseph contemplating existence on the summit of Mt. Challenger's Middle Peak After scrambling Mt. Challenger’s Middle Peak on day four, Wednesday morning, August 18th, and considering different options for more climbing, we circled back to the south face of Challenger 5 to scope out some pretty neat looking rock. The granite was white to dark with a golden burnt orange in places, peppered with blocks, flakes, and large chicken heads. Fun scrambling to contour back west under Challenger 5's south face Anywhere else these cliffs would be stacked with moderate trad lines. We contoured all the way around the south face until there was nowhere left to go. The southwest ridge dropped off down the imposing west face. Above, a distinct ridgeline ambled up towards the summit. Belay at start of route The route started from a broad, jumbled, and blocky ledge system roughly where the seasonal snow line of the SW ridge ends and the more black, lichen-stained rock begins. If you were hiking directly up the ridge from below, it might be possible to add another pitch for fun, but we cast off from the highest “scramble accessible” point. Climbing on pitch 1 The first pitch went up slabs, followed by a left-facing corner with a laughably fun 5.6 hand crack. Above the corner, a good stance on a ledge set up a short finger crack to another ledge. The rock was exceptionally solid and remarkably splitter, with bomber gear exactly where you might want it. Topping out pitch 1 Starting pitch 2; camp, approach ridge, and Baker River all lower left The climbing went for four more pitches like this, ledgy yet exposed ridge climbing punctuated by fun crack segments. Every roughly 40 - 45m pitch ended at a spacious belay ledge with a slingable horn or solid crack for gear. Views and position on the peak were something to behold. Climbing on pitch 2 Pitch four was the standout, with an improbable and slightly intimidating step right onto the exposed face after a short offwidth pillar. A horizontal traverse with a few hundred feet of exposure led to a straight up crack system culminating in another perfect hand crack, which started at red camalot and ended with a good little stretch of near-vertical number 3 jamming. A final mantel ended on a flat ledge big enough to park a bus on. Awesome exposure and jamming on pitch 4 Huge belay ledge at top of pitch 4 The final 60m pitch cut hard left, off the ridge and onto the west face via an unmissable ledge system. A blocky and slightly loose gully led directly to the summit, with the headwaters of the Baker River 4,000 feet below nipping at our heels and Shuksan and Kulshan swirling in the clouds to the west. Final climbing to the summit As soon as it came in, our weather window was on the way out. Within 15 minutes of arriving on top we were getting engulfed in the mist. We’d left our axes and crampons at the base of the route, and not knowing there was a scramble route off the peak, we elected to rap the south face from the summit and contour back to our gear. In hindsight, had we carried glacier travel gear, we could have descended to the north and potentially gotten back on the glacier, climbed back up to the col, and returned that way. In any case, two raps with two ropes got us off the steep terrain. We retrieved our gear from the base and headed back down the ridge to our 5,200 ft camp, arriving just in time for an incredible sunset as the clouds broke once again. A view of our route from the approach ridge Descending on the approach ridge Back at camp Deproach With the chance of showers in the forecast, we felt good about two summits, a new route, and three nights camped out on an incredible ridge. Now all that was left to do was to reverse miles of steep, trailless wilderness back to civilization. 40 degree huckleberries on the descent Finding the "secret passage" through a major cliff band; we were prepared to rappel, yet managed to avoid it on the way down We camped at the beach for our final evening, near the confluence of Bald Eagle Creek and the Baker River. There was enough sand to walk around barefoot and relax, taking in views of Scramble Creek falls and the North Ridge of Mt. Blum. Surprisingly, someone had camped there in the days we were up high and had left a fire pit, complete with charred logs. One might think the novelty of wading down a river would wear off by the last day of the trip, but surprisingly it didn’t. Out the way out, we knocked over a handful of cairns we made for ourselves on the way in. The only other sign of people we saw was the fire scar and some fishing line at the final campsite, which we packed out. It'd be great to keep it that way for the future. My opinion is this approach is destined to remain in obscurity when “easier” approaches exist, but it is a truly direct and viable way in to the Pickets. Having the right attitude about brush would help immensely. Walking in the river beat the heck out of the alternative Take only pictures, leave only footprints In the days since, I’ve been dreaming about the walls back there, packrafting part of the deproach, scheming about another trip back into the wilderness of the great nearby. It’s adventures like these that, for me, climbing in the Cascades are all about. Many thanks to Joseph for the great company, partnership, use of photos, and willingness to try something different. Gear Notes: Extra shoes for wading, rock climbing gear to #3 camalot, crampons/ice axe for glacier travel Approach Notes: Starts from the Baker River Trailhead. See Tabor and Crowder's "Routes and Rocks in the Mt. Challenger Quadrangle" and Beckey's "Cascade Alpine Guide, Vol. 3" for more approach details.
  8. 10 points
    Trip: Phantom Peak, Northern Picket Range - West Ridge IV 5.7+ aka "WHAP" Trip Date: 07/30/2021 Trip Report: "We have a problem" stated the leader of pitch 6. He had encountered an airy and cruxy 4’+ gap in the ridge and simultaneously observed a fresh plume of wildfire smoke erupting in the distant valley that marked the return home. His partner – who could not see him or his immediate problem, but could see the smoke – shouted “What?”, seeking clarification regarding which of many possible problems they had. The leader re-shouted “WE HAVE A PROBLEM”, apparently as if over intervening seconds, a realization intensified that perhaps this was a more general statement, one readily applied to anybody that comes to this place. The first step is acceptance... They quickly concluded that bailing halfway up the ridge would not really impart any advantage to dealing with the new (to be named) Bear Creek Fire, so continued tackling the climb. The pitch 6 problem, a long span across a hundred-plus-foot gap in the ridge, was easily the hardest technical move on themostly 5.7+ route—bound to be a “classic of the range”, as oft proclaimed at each belay. The route takes the right hand skyline to the summit spike well left of center (link to an album w/ annotated pic): The leader used a nut and a sling to create a handhold for tension and a more certain move across the gap. The second on this pitch cleaned the gear, and with the benefit of long legs and a top-rope, made the balance-y stem across the gap and the next move across – probably a V0 or V1 boulder move (5.10ish), depending on leg length. Two pitches later the duo topped out on a tower and rappelled approx. 100' into a notch. Pitches 8 through 10 were on generally solid rock with a pleasurable position. A total of 10 pitches of roped climbing gave way to ~400' of soloing to the summit ridge and traversing a sharp ridge to the summit -- exhilarating. The untimely arrival of the Bear Creek fire compelled us to forego other plans for the area and head homeward. As it turns out, a rainy afternoon through the next morning would have largely scuttled those plans anyway. That same weather pattern allowed us to exit via our entry route, as the fire was a bit north of our return route--thankfully, as the other exits would have involved an even more unsavory amount of distance and logistics. Folks with a certain taste might opine that we picked a plum with this route, as it offers mostly solid rock, modest vegetation, and enjoyable movement. Some high-hanging fruit is rotting on the vine, but this one was perhaps only a little overripe. More pics below. Looking up at part of pitch 1 and a fair bit of the rest: Rolf on pitch 4: Looking down pitch 6 at a chimeric rat-beaver, a fin on the ridge, and Mt Despair in background left: From the summit ridge, a nice view of Crooked Thumb and its subpeak Ghost, w/ the many peaks of Challenger in near background: Invigorating soloing on the summit ridge: From Perfect Pass, the fabulous Baker River drainage, filled with smoke: One in the party -- not gonna say who -- repeatedly urged a fire exit of the northern pickets via the brushy Baker River, convinced that his charm and/or good looks (yeah, after two days of bushwhacking) would score us a ride back to our car. The other was deeply skeptical of this strategy. The return along Easy Ridge under an increasingly smoke-veiled sun; don't worry, if you tire of loose talus and scree, many more paranormal modes of travel await: Here's a link to an album with more pics. Summary: Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly establish a new route on Phantom via its West Ridge, aka We have a problem IV 5.7+. 10 pitches plus soloing. An obligatory John Scurlock photo of the ridge, extending toward the viewer: Gear Notes: Standard alpine rack. Also made use of tri-cams from fingers (black, pink) to thin hands. Approach Notes: Find the larger truth of the Easy Ridge approach – easy only in the middle – or take other long options. Making liberal use of granny gear with heavy-ish packs, over Wed/Thurs we took roughly 20 hours from Hannegan Pass TH to a moraine camp under Crooked Thumb/Ghost Peak. Generally budget 2 days, +/- a half day.
  9. 10 points
    Trip: Sperry Peak - East Gully Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: With the long period of sunshine after the rain event, @thedylan and I figured it would be lousy skiing but should be great for climbing... we were right! (This time). Earlier this fall we had made a list of possible winter climbing objectives, but then it started snowing, and snowing, and snowing; so we gave it up and went skiing. But this was our opportunity. Emboldened by some beta from this 2009 trip report, and this extra beta from Kyle M we decided to go for the East Gully route on Sperry Peak. It turned out to be an awesome route for easy ice and snow. Typically crappy ice climbers (like us) are left out in the cold (see what I did there?) when looking for alpine routes. You ask on a forum for east ice routes and everyone suggests Colonial, Eldo, Graybeard, etc. Or else North Twin and east snow routes. There never seems to be a happy medium or real climbing but not AI4. This was it! We nailed the conditions on route, except for a little sugary snow shenanigans on the ridge. The Mountain Loop Highway is closed for the winter at Deer Creek at 1600' so we opted for bikes. After a TH bivy on Friday night we started off at 5am. To our surprise we made it to the summer trailhead with only minimal biking through crusty snow, arriving there at 6:30 with 7.6 miles under our belts already. We brought snowshoes but ditched them at 2400' where the trail breaks out into the open and we got a good view of how crusty the snow was going to be. We did not regret this. The approach is short but was seriously aided by the high elevation snowpack and firm crust. We easily booted to the approach scramble at 3600'. First view: Route from where we left the summer trail: From the trail the route is obvious, up the gully that splits the face. All the photos make it look like there is a notch between two high points, but the right point is just a flat spot on the ridge. At about 3400' the approach scramble begins that shut down Kyle M and party. Fortunately, we had an easy snow gully, the ice step was wet and thin but there is a right variation that worked with an easy scramble section. The climbing begins at about 4400' with the money pitch right off the batt. If there was a way to build a rap anchor I might have been tempted to give up here and just lap the first pitch, there were several variations possible and it was awesome easy ice and hero snice, the kind of conditions to make you feel like a good ice climber! This didn't last and after maybe 100' it turned to snow over rock with no pro and a rock step looming, I built a crappy anchor and belayed Dylan up. He took the rock step that turned out to be an easy scramble move aided by the shockingly warm sunshine (I climbed it without gloves or a jacket). Then we were back into the snow gully. From here it was simul-soloing moderate snow and snice for several simul blocks with one great snice and ice step in the mix for Dylan to lead. First pitch: Second pitch rock step with spindrift: I lead again up to the ridge, as I approached it I realized I was climbing up to a cornice so had to bear left onto some insanely steep sugary snow with no pro and terrible axe plunges. I wallowed upward somehow making decent footholds and trusting that it seemed to be working. After probably 30 minutes for what was realistically probably 50' but felt like 200 I topped out on the ridge at a flat safe spot at 5500' and started burying everything metal I had for a crappy anchor in the sugar snow. I was psychologically done from the insecurity of it. You don't train for those conditions. The climbing worked, somehow, but it felt awful. Dylan, naturally, made it look easy on second. Dylan's photo looking back down to my belay with the NE ridge behind: Dylan lead the next simul block through the same place mentioned in the 2009 report: " the physical crux of the climb on such a move that required hooking a tree and pulling up with disintegrating footholds above a near vertical flute that dropped into the north face." Second that! The summit was close but the cornice looked daunting, fortunately, it was mostly fatigue talking and it was an easy 4' vertical step onto the summit! Summit slope: We had a good snack break in the sun and felt much rejuvenated. The descent went smoothly, some front pointing and careful walking on crusty snow, mostly NW near the scramble route to the head of the cirque and across the lake to the trail route and out to Headley Pass. We hit the summer TH at 6pm making it an 11.5 hour day on foot, just under 14 car to car. This was a fantastic route, if we could figure out a better way to do the NE ridge part I would definitely go back. There was an ice line to the left a few hundred feet below the ridge crest that I think the '09 party took, but it looked hard compared to the snow I did... in retrospect... Gear Notes: bikes, sneakers, boots, axe, ice tool, helmets, 60m 1/2 rope, 3 screws, some nuts and cams (placed 2 rock pieces all day, minimal options), 2 pickets (3 maybe useful?) Approach Notes: Bikes! Crust made for awesomely fast travel on the low angle stuff. The climb is very accessible from the summer TH.
  10. 9 points
    Trip: West Fury - Mongo Ridge Trip Date: 07/05/2021 Trip Report: In our relentless pursuit to ride the coattails of THE Wayne Wallace, Priti and I made the second ascent of Mongo Ridge (the SW Ridge of West Fury in the Northern Pickets of the North Cascades). It is a Stegasaurus ridge which rises 4,000ft over a mile from Goodell Creek punctuated by thick clusters of gendarmes that look like they’re straight out of the Karakoram. We first heard about Mongo when Wayne came to speak for a BOEALPS - Boeing Employees Alpine Society Banquet in 2015 and regaled a captive audience with his bold adventures. We warmed up Wayne's feature presentation with a talk on our trip to Patagonia climbing Aguja de l'S. Then Wayne came on stage talking about Mongo, making de l'S look like a mole-hill. Wayne climbed this route in 2006 SOLO, like a boss, questing into unknown terrain that easily could have landed him into mandatory hard free climbing. With vertiginous cliffs on both sides, he knew that bailing from the route was not an option and that he had to climb whatever the mountain presented. The difficulties on the route were up to 5.9, with an additional 5.10b pitch (a routefinding error), but the towers presented possibilities up to 5.11 if we weren’t lucky enough to have Wayne’s beta. The first ascent is one of the legendary, mythical ascents of the Cascades and even of the climbing world. After 15 years, only a handful of folks to my knowledge have even considered attempting it again. The bottom half of the ridge has four narrow towers which require you to summit and rappel in order to make vertical progress on the ridge. Long, double-rope rappels and hard technical climbing discouragingly makes it take hours just to ascent 100ft at times. Above these four towers are the “Rooster Comb” and the “Pole of Remoteness” (named by John Roper who figured it was the hardest place to get to in the lower 48). After Tower 4 and before the Rooster Comb, we scramble traversed low around each of these features and did not summit the Pole of Remoteness since it was getting dark and we did not bring bivy gear. At Wayne’s suggestion, we planned to climb camp-to-camp which was situated at the summit of East Fury. This means that while we did ascend the topographic feature of Mongo Ridge to the summit of West Fury, we did not truly climb “Wayne Wallace’s Mongo Ridge” in the manner that he climbed, including many more pitches of technical terrain. When we talked to Wayne in 2019, I told him that “Somebody needs to repeat this route, just so the world can understand what you accomplished.” It’s impossible to understand the scale of this route without being on it, competing as “one of the largest features on any mountain anywhere.” “You have to climb a major mountain [East Fury] just to start a most major climb.” Even with Wayne’s pictures and descriptions, we were still filled with dread as we attempted to route-find up each tower. While I am proud of what we did accomplish, I am still shaken at the boldness and audacity of the first ascent. Our tale should be considered a celebration of that event. Wayne called it Alpine Grade VI, but Beckey downgraded it to V deeming it (incorrectly imho) similar in commitment to Slesse NE Buttress (ref. Cascade Alpine Guide Book 3, pg. 118). We concur with Wayne's Grade VI rating, although I won't be even slightly offended if anyone wants to challenge the grade while ensconced in sofa cushions. Our itinerary: -7/3/21: 2PM boat ride from Ross Lake Resort to Big Beaver TH. Bivy in Access Creek basin. -7/4/21: Access Creek Basin to East Fury Summit. Left summit bivy in situ. -7/5/21: 23hr day camp-to-camp including Mongo Ridge and the traverse from West Fury to East Fury. -7/6/21: East Fury to Access Creek Basin -7/7/21: Access Creek Basin to Big Beaver TH. 2:30PM boat back to RLR. Here are collected links regarding Wayne's FA, for reference: https://waynewallace.wordpress.com/2014/05/ http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP19/climbing-note-fury https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/21/sports/othersports/21outdoors.html http://www.alpenglow.org/nwmj/07/071_Mongo.html http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12200713002?fbclid=IwAR0iS9vNBvJ1XUQPOTPIXy8eymiTsuWFHI5TJtuAvLJUNb5LknfgeYgTriI Scurlock Picture: https://www.pbase.com/nolock/image/65948954 I won't go through too much detail on our approach to Luna Col and East Fury, since it is detailed well in many other places: https://onehikeaweek.com/2020/08/02/mount-fury/ http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8021967 (specifically useful here is the traverse from East Fury to West Fury) Since we planned to do the route camp-to-camp (situated on the summit of East Fury), we studied the traverse from West Fury to East Fury in detail since we figured we'd be onsighting it in the dark to get back to camp. I will point out the "Red Ledge" (pictured above) just past Luna Col is reached by staying directly on the ridgeline from the col to begin the traverse over to East Fury. Past the Red Ledge, the next tower (called "Crux Tower" in some reports) is ascended directly via 4th class ledges and short 5.4 steps. A rope and gear would not be useful here. There is significant foreshortening here, as the route looks much more accessible as you get closer. Unless you're climbing in Winter or Spring, you will not be able to get across the bergshrund (as shown in the Beckey overlay), but instead will traverse left then right to reach the summit arête. Furthermore, the approach to the base of Mongo Ridge from East Fury's summit as discovered by Wayne is the easiest approach. While it is possible to reach Mongo's base via Picket Pass (either by navigating over Outrigger Peak "Southeast Peak" or Otto-Himmel Col), these approaches would be significantly more effort...or bushwhack for days up Goodell Creek. As you approach, notice the grey washboard streak with an overhanging gully. The route will start to the right of this feature. The 4,000ft descent from East Fury's summit may involve a lot of slab if the snow levels are low. We regret not bringing bivy gear on route. An alternative itinerary could be: -Day 1: Big Beaver TH to Luna Col -Day 2: Luna Col to Mongo Ridge Tower 1. Option to leave stove and tent on East Fury Summit as you pass by. There are no good bivouac sites on route. Just bring a sit pad and a sleeping bag and open bivy if splitter forecast. -Day 3: Tower 1 to either East Fury or Luna Col. A note on weather: The Pickets have notoriously unpredictable weather. Even with a splitter forecast, you can still have rain or even storms. Consider a tarp as backup shelter. Crossing the moat is the first crux. The moat is huge! Only found one place where it touched the rock slightly. On the approach, don't come down anything you can't go back up! Here I had to cross a giant moat (unprotectable compact snow), using both Gully tools (then passed the tools down to Priti). A picket here would have been very useful...but that's a big cost. Might have to bury a tool and rap/swing across the moat. Tower 1 was a TIME KILLER! Wayne reported a 5.8 overhang crux which we did not find. Instead we got suckered into a runout 5.10b overhang in the grey washboard gully. Recommend future parties to avoid this gully completely, and instead stay on the face to its right. Our second mistake was getting suckered into a difficult 5.8 grassy gully. Wayne later clarified that he immediately captured the ridge first, then went straight up the ridge (recommended). We started in an obvious chimney (5.6), gaining the face on the left then going right (many variations). After the chimney, we went left to the 5.10b overhanging grey gully instead of going up. It looked harder to gain the face above, but it is 5.8 if you can find Wayne's Way. The slopes to gain the ridge are all STEEP. We breathed a sigh of relief once we were on situated on the upper slopes of Tower 1, but route finding continued to be a challenge. A 30m rappel took us down to the notch between Tower 1 and 2. It seems possible to bail here back down the glacier and back up to East Fury. Perhaps the last legitimate bail option, so we considered the time and knew we would be climbing through the night. Tower 2 is only 2 pitches of 5.7 with no real route finding difficulty and went pretty quickly. The rock is REALLY loose however, so I was careful not to knock anything down on my belayer. Route lines are all approximate by the way! The first double rope rappel from Tower 2 led to the notch between Tower 2 and Tower 3. Tower 3 is the technical crux of the route and another TIME KILLER! It takes hours just to gain 100ft elevation. Once atop, it's demoralizing to look down and see the top of Tower 2 so close. Wayne reported a 5.10a bulge which I think we avoided by staying on and just right of the ridgeline. From the notch between Towers 2 and 3, a 5.4 traverse gains a grassy belay with 5 more pitches above ( 5.9 30m, 5.9 30m, 5.9 30m, 5.9 50m, 5.6 65m). Priti stopped whenever she found a good belay spot. We also hauled packs on 4 pitches expecting 5.10a climbing at any moment. It was real 5.9 climbing, consistently on decent rock for four pitches. Next time, instead of hauling just load everything into the follower pack and leave the leader with a mostly empty backpack instead. We took two backpacks on this climb to evenly distribute weight and bulk while simul-climbing. This was a good method. We consistently trended right above the belay. Higher Hiiiiiigher Hiiiiiiiiiigher Another 60m rappel deposited us to the notch between Towers 3 and 4. Finally, we got through the technical crux and we were losing sun fast! We knew we were in for an open bivy or a heartbreaking omission of the Pole of Remoteness. Tower 4 is another quick one. Two pitches, 5.9 then 5.7. It looks like really hard climbing going straight up! Instead we followed Wayne's advice and traversed out right for ~20m on 5.9 terrain with decent protection, then up following flakes and grass to a good belay. As you start climbing up, the climbing doesn't ease up, but instead is engaging, fun 5.9. Then 65m simul-climb to the summit. A final 50m rappel down to the base of the Rooster Comb. We were a bit confused here since the terrain opened up into a minefield of gendarmes. The Pole of Remoteness was indistinguishable among all of the towers. We knew we had to boogie so we took all the shortcuts that we could find. We noticed that the Rooster Comb could be bypassed on the right on low-5th terrain by taking another 30m rappel, then down climbing and traversing its Eastern flanks to a grassy gully. Wayne went up and over the Rooster Comb, not realizing there was a bypass. The Rooster Comb is very complex with several small flagpoles that required rappels. Wayne describes the final rappel off the rooster comb as a "diagonal rappel" that you can redirect off of horns, after which he flicked the rope to retrieve. There are at least two more intermediate gendarmes between the Rooster Comb and the Pole of Remoteness that we skirted around. Wayne found himself on their left side while we were on their right side. Wayne captured the upper 4th class slopes via a grassy gully (shown above). From here it's all 4th class to the "False Fury" summit. I coin the label "False Fury" because we stared at this point almost along the entire route thinking it was the West Fury Summit, but instead is fairly far from the true West Fury summit. Above is pictured our Rooster Comb bypass route which required an additional 30m rappel (or easy down climb). This was the first time we encountered snow on route, but don't count on it being there! Bring 4L water each. Southern Pickets in all their glory. Wayne traversed around the right side of the Pole of Remoteness to reach the col and summit it from the backside. To climb it directly would probably be 5 pitches of hard, loose climbing. From the notch between "False Fury" and the Pole of Remoteness, Wayne reported 1 pitch of 5.7 to reach the summit of the PoR. There is no anchor on top, so he threw a rope around a loose block and solo downclimbed, using the rope as a backup. If you are a team, consider downclimb-belaying. We sadly felt the need to skip the pole since it was total darkness by the time we got to the notch with a lot of traversing left to go. Once atop "False Fury", we couldn't find the summit register and realized that the real West Fury was maybe .25miles away separated by 4 more gendarmes, first downclimbing (or rappelling) down and right and traversing around the first gendarme, then weaving up, over, and around the others to finally reach the real West Fury summit. Glad to have put in the time to memorize the traverse beta between West and East Fury, it went off slowly but smoothly. One piece of key beta was at the end of Tower 1 (the last tower between the Fury's), you can find a secret 4th class ramp around to the North (climber's left) to find the rappel station that leads to the final push up the slopes back to East Fury. This is a 30m rope stretcher rappel, by the way! Thanks to Wayne for all of your support and encouragement! I think this route is more of a classic in the way that Hummingbird Ridge is a classic. We should really just sit back and marvel at the first ascent. It's a true Picketeering adventure, but loose rock, lack of bail options, and lack of bivy sites is pretty discouraging. The Pole of Remoteness still needs a second ascent, however! But it would a pretty doable day to get to PoR in-a-day from your East Fury bivouac by traversing high along the ridge and scrambling down from "False Fury", then reversing the route. Gear Notes: Single Rack .1 to 2, doubles .3-.75, small cams (TCU 00, TCU0). We like small cams in the Pickets! Small rack of nuts. 1 screw and 1 V-threader for glacier (didn't use). 60m single rope, 60m pull cord (three long rappels + optional pack hauling), 1 Petzl Gully (technical light ice axe) each, 10 single alpine draws, 3 double alpine draws, 1 quad, 50ft 5mm cord for rap anchors (used it all), left three caribeeners on rappel stations, steel horizontal front-point crampons. Approach Notes: Boat from Ross Lake Resort to Big Beaver Creek - Access Creek - Luna Col - East Fury - 4000ft descent on South side - Mongo Ridge - West Fury - Easy Fury
  11. 9 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - DKH- Elliot HW linkup Trip Date: 04/03/2021 Trip Report: Unable to secure a partner for Saturday, I opted for some soloing on Hood over the less preferable slog-to-climb ratio in the Three Sisters. Drove up from Bend at 3am and was skinning by 5 from Timberline. Ok skinning to Palmer, complete trash above that. Should've ditched the skis there, or booted the whole thing. Looking up DKH1: Looking down above the crux: DKH1 was spewing a near constant stream of little rime pebbles despite the freezing temps and there's a considerable debris field at the base. The main couloir itself was in pretty gross shape, lots of exposed rock and thin plastered ice, but not too steep. However the crux was a bit fatter and better ice than when I climbed it in late January. I climbed it carefully, anticipating being hit in the arms or head at any moment, but went off without a hitch. At the fork I headed right for a couple more fun moderate ice sections. There was a fork about 200ft below the ridge, went left, looked more fun, delicate move over a little rock and ice bulge then more easy ice and snow. I had to make a couple awkward, catwalk like moves to bust out left from the top of the couloir onto the very upper Wyeast face. Here I found the least consolidated snow of the day. Easy walk to summit from there. The weather had been looking marginal, cloudy with chance of increasing winds, but at the summit it was calm and the clouds seemed unthreatening and happy to remain pretty high. I figured I'd head over to check out the Elliot, taking a look at the exit options from the summit ridge. Looked steep! The leftmost exit in Mullee looked like very steep snow and shitty ice to gain the ridge, the rightmost exit looked nicer. Elliot from the base. I took the flow just left of the rock center of photo: I sat at the little saddle above Horseshoe rock to have a bite and look at the route. The amount of ice back there is incredible! Go get it folks, it's fat, and it's good. I traversed in and down on steep snow, above the schrund, to the base of a pretty fat WI3 ish flow that seemed like a logical way to start. From there I trended slightly left, then back right, aiming for the obvious "Wallace 5.7 chimney" exit described in Mullee. Many more WI2 ish sections followed, all on bomber ice, interspersed with some steep snow. It's truly a pick-your-own-adventure headwall! The exit looked steeper and steepr as I got closer and I could feel the adrenaline starting to pump through my veins; thankfully it was filled in with a nice little WI3/3+ ribbon. There seem to be lots of fun mixed exit options all over up there on half decent looking rock. I plugged a couple screws at the base of the last pitch and took a breather, psyching myself up. It was surprisingly steep, but was able to get good stems up it with the occasional pon-on-rock stem. The exposure was a little heady, I took my time, and soon enough was on epic easy ice and a few feet of steep snow back onto the ridge, a nice cornice-free top out. The cloud cover kept the snow above Palmer nice and rimey all day, so I had to take the walk of shame back to Palmer where I could finally ski back to the car. Pretty psyched on the linkup possibilities on Hood! It's go time in Oregon! Gear Notes: 3 screws, 3 alpines, 4 pins and 60m x 6mm tagline for bail options (not used) Approach Notes: Standard
  12. 9 points
    Trip: Pakistan - K6 Central Trip Date: 10/09/2020 Trip Report: Dear CC friends, Sorry we haven't been on here much, but we've been working a lot on our blog. It's more of a diary for us since we don't care about hits or ad content. We really don't want to just post a link to our blog TR and leave it at that. We want to see CC thrive and grow! So we've copied our latest TR from Pakistan below. If you are interested in other TR's from our 2020 year of traveling and climbing, like our ascent of all Six of the Great Alps North Faces and Cerro Torre in Patagonia, check out our blog or Vimeo page. https://alpinevagabonds.com https://vimeo.com/user37304873 Stats Location: Masherbrum Range, Karakoram Mountains, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan K6 West, 7,140m, 3rd ascent, October 8, 2020 K6 Central, 7,155m, 1st ascent, October 9, 2020 Climbers: Jeff and Priti Wright Trip Report K6 Central Summit Selfie (7,155m) We climbed K6 West (third ascent 7,140m) and K6 Central (first ascent 7,155m) this October. We summited West on Oct 8th and Central on Oct 9th. We had been planning to climb K6 from the Nangmah valley side for over two years. When COVID struck, we held on to the hope of going but delayed our trip from the original June-August until late September-October when the country announced they were allowing tourists to enter with a valid COVID test. A week before we departed, Colin Haley decided to join our trip to climb various objectives solo. Colin has been a hero to us, and was a major inspiration for us to start Alpine Climbing over six years ago. In fact, we modeled our Sabbatical Year on a typical year in Colin’s life (Patagonia – Chamonix – Pakistan). It was a real treat for us to have him join us at Base Camp, and he provided us with a wealth of knowledge and advice in this new game (for us) of high altitude Alpinism. Jeff on K6 Central’s summit This was a difficult year for climbers, world-wide, due to COVID. Nearly all serious expeditions canceled their plans, so when we continued with our planned Karakoram expedition to K6, we were quite alone in the whole range. Certainly no one expected us to make a first ascent of K6 Central, a 7,000m peak, in late season. K6 has three major summits along its summit ridge: West (7,140m), Central (7,155m), and Main (7,281m). K6 Main was first climbed by an Austrian Expedition in 1970 led by Eduard Koblmueller. Before the expedition, we were lucky enough to get in contact with one of the original expedition members of the young Austrian team, Fred Pressl, who graciously shared pictures and stories from his 1970 expedition. In 2013, Ian Welsted and Raphael Slawinski became the first ascensionists of K6 West via a highly technical route from the North (Charakusa) side (for which they won a Piolet d’Or). Then in 2015, Graham Zimmerman and Scott Bennett became the second ascensionists of K6 West from the South (Nangmah) side. But an impending storm forced them to retreat without continuing the traverse to K6 Central, and it remained unclimbed. Priti with K6 West on the left, Main in the middle and Central on the right The first hurdle to overcome was getting to Pakistan. We kept in contact with Ali Saltoro, our expedition tour operator, who kept us informed on the COVID status there. We delayed our trip a month and a half, but when he told us that tourism had opened up in Pakistan, we dusted off our Visas from December 2019, bought plane tickets and got the fresh COVID tests required for entry. We had heard of no expeditions traveling this season, and we didn’t know what to expect. We arrived in Islamabad on August 23rd, Ali met us at the airport, and hours later we flew to Skardu, without even leaving the airport. We arrived smoothly and safely at basecamp in the Nangmah valley on Aug 26th, with zero hassle. Advanced Base Camp, with the South Face of K6 behind Once we got to basecamp, we started acclimatizing on nearby Kapura Peak and had a full view of K6’s SW Ridge and West Face from what’s called Alam’s Col (a route first climbed by Portugese Daniela Teixeira and Paulo Roxo in 2013). From this vantage point, we could see that there were several options for climbing the West Face. After acclimatizing on Kapura Peak (no summit attempt) located on the West Nangmah Glacier, we moved over to the East Nangmah Glacier and made an Advanced Base Camp. We continued acclimatizing, exploring two of the three alternative lines that would bypass nearly all of the technical mixed climbing found by Graham and Steve. We climbed up to 6200m and slept above 5700m for 5 nights, before determining that Graham and Scott’s descent line would be the ideal line of ascent as well. Bivy high on K6, with the East and West Nangmah Glaciers below We descended back to Base Camp (4,400m), upon learning that Colin had fallen ill. Colin ended his trip and returned to France, but we made plans for a summit attempt when we received a promising weather forecast. We were well acclimatized, and poised for attack, despite the dropping temperatures and rapidly shortening days. Paragliding near base camp, Shingu Charpa behind On October 2nd, we headed back up to ABC at 5,150m. From there, the route starts on a major ramp on the southwest flank of the peak, following up to 60 degrees ice/snow to the SW ridge for about 600m to the southwest ridge. We then traversed for 300m across the West Face, across the bergschrund, then straight up the icy 900m West Face. When Graham and Scott descended by this line in 2015, they made 19 Abolokov’s to get below the bergschrund. The 900m ascent of the West Face was a strenuous, calf-burning, 12hr day to reach 6,600m on the southwest ridge. The West Face consisted primarily of a few inches of névé over solid, very hard ice (~70deg for 900m), which we simul-climbed. The West Face of K6 The upper slopes consisted of deep snow, and we wallowed the last 400m to the summit ridge at 7,000m. Our weather forecaster warned us that we would encounter the jet stream above 6,500m with sustained winds of at least 45km/hr and a morning low of -21C; he was correct. This late season ascent meant climbing in cold, clear, windy weather, and especially short days and cold, long nights. We climbed new terrain along the traverse from K6 West to K6 Central. The West Face of K6 Central was up to 80 deg ice/snow including a bergschrund and a tenuous cornice to overcome. Final slopes to K6 Central The North side of the sharp, rocky summit ridge of K6 Central precipitously dropped dead vertically into the Charakusa Valley. When we finally reached the highest point of the fan-shaped crest of K6 Central’s summit, we sat on the knife-edge ridge with one leg over the Lachit Valley and one leg over the Charakusa Valley. Strangely, climbing an unclimbed peak did not feel any different from climbing any other peak. However the clear weather gave us great views of the enormous 7,000 and 8,000 meter peaks that spread out around us in a vast panorama in all directions, and we felt exuberant and humbled. But our elation was short-lived because we had a long way to descend. Priti’s foot dangling from the summit of K6 Central, over the Charakusa glacier We owe many thanks to Steve Swenson, Graham Zimmerman, and Ian Welsted for their helpful beta, to Colin Haley for his great advice and wonderful company, to the rest of our base camp crew, Ishaq our basecamp manager, Azhar our cook, Captain Zohaib our liaison officer, and of course Ali Saltoro, our expedition tour operator. We couldn’t have done it without them! Our basecamp crew: Jeff, Priti, Colin, Azhar, Ali, Captain Zohaib, Ishaq Gear Notes: 6 Ice Screws, 6 Alpine Draws, 60m Beal Opera, 60m tag line, two tools each, dual points. Gear brought but not used (bummer!): 5 cams, extra Alpine Draws, small rack of nuts Approach Notes: Approach via East Nangmah Glacier
  13. 8 points
    Trip: Mount Despair - southeast face/east ridge Trip Date: 08/14/2021 Trip Report: This is essentially the standard route for Mt Despair, approaching from the south via the Thornton and Triumph Creek basins, then traversing a third drainage (a west fork of Goodell Creek) before finally reaching the objective. Despite being such a well-known landmark, I was somewhat surprised by the scant route details I found in guidebooks or online, and wanted to post a few helpful or clarifying details for others headed this way, particularly in late-season conditions. Mount Despair was among my original list of North Cascades objectives, yet languished more than 20 years untried --- largely due to an approach sounding somewhere between grueling and grim. In particular, the travel from Triumph Creek's rim to valley bottom, somehow traversing along or across the steep lower buttress of Mount Triumph's southwestern "rampart", retained an evil mien -- and spiced the prospect with an atmosphere of morbid speculation. In the end Paul and I found a line that, while challenging, did not have the dire character we were fully expecting, and may warrant noting. [Imagery notes: we had the misfortune to venture here during a peak period of forest fire smoke, which shrouded the northern Cascades in a dry gray-brown pall and greatly diminished the scenic value of this outing; you have the misfortune to read a trip report illustrated with pictures in such conditions. Most of the route pictures that follow were taken on the last day on our way out, when the smoke-haze finally began to dissipate. I actually heightened the contrast in many of the other images, but still couldn't bring much detail out of the murk. Finally, note that in all the route images the yellow trace represents the more favorable line of travel we found in this season/conditions, whereas the pink trace are other route options that we either didn't attempt, or shouldn't have.] On prior trips I had tried both the south ridge (dividing Thornton and Damnation Creeks) and trail approaches to the 6120' col west of upper Thornton Lake, and found their times comparable. Since we were starting out amid another heat wave, we opted for the Thornton Lakes trail and its greater watering opportunities. (First view of Thornton Lakes basin on way in. Note spectral Triumph lurking faintly beyond the col leading to its celebrated NE Ridge route.) Between the lake outlet and the Thornton Lakes campsite, an obvious climbers trail departs to the right, contouring above the west shoreline of the lower lake and northerly toward the middle lake before bending hard west and ascending a forested ridge to and above timberline. (Note: On our return, we tried a more direct tread toward the Thornton Lakes camp, but after crossing some open granite barrens, the tread diverged and disappeared into a warren of trail-like runnels of sand fed by the decaying granitic hummocks above... so we didn't confirm whether/where that boot path goes through.) The climbers tread continues west well up the spur ridge, but before the final high point we departed the ridge rightward -- traversing northwest across a snowfield, then north through blocky terrain to the 6120' col on the divide between Thornton and Triumph Creeks. (this is section of traverse out of sight in view above) At 6120' saddle/col: view into next (Triumph Creek) drainage, and first glimpse of Mt Despair looming in the background. The descending traverse across talus and heather slopes of upper Triumph Creek drainage (with one hidden, raw ravine/water supply midway), toward the timbered rampart of Triumph's lower SW buttress. We aimed to take open talus as far as possible toward the stream course before the buttress, but ended up dipping unnecessarily into a few yards of dense slide alder/yellow-cedar thrash before reaching the stony streambed. In dry conditions, at least, one can stay higher and avoid that unpleasantness by contouring north through thinner alder before entering and downclimbing more of the broad, slabby stream bed. (view up stream along rampart, near top of timber at roughly 5100' elevation) (view down stream course to Triumph Creek valley bottom, ~1000' below) The uppermost timber was a bit thin on cliffy footings, so we crossed the stream and carefully downclimbed its dry slabs a couple hundred feet before entering more continuous timber. From here descending through the forest was steep but straightforward, initially straight downhill (W or SW) paralleling the stream, then angling more rightward lower in timber where the forest widens beneath a face of the buttress. The bottom (~W) edge of this rampart timber seems to end in steep drops and slabs, so we worked further to right to the far side (NW) of the timber band, where toward the downhill end we found a walk-off exit onto steep meadowy slopes leading to valley bottom. Nothing about this line was particularly difficult, but as several accounts of this traverse left us expecting something more harrowing, I wanted to add that at least in these late-season and dry conditions, that isn't necessarily one's experience here. (bottom of forest rampart, where we were finally able to exit to valley floor of Triumph Creek) (Given the reputation of the timbered rampart approach, the principal alternate I had identified was Kearney's early-season (June) route, which descends a timbered rib ~directly W/downhill of the 6120' col before traversing northward lower in Triumph Creek valley. This is my estimate of that line, which we did not attempt in the present snow-free condition, but I include here for general interest or those planning earlier-season trips.) It was evening by the time we exited the timbered rampart, and we decided to camp in the valley bottom rather than re-ascend 1000' to Triumph Pass as planned. We were able to quickly clear debris for a couple of sleeping spots next to the snout of this lingering snowfield, whose cool breath and running water made for a comfortable bivy. The next morning we continued up to Triumph Pass. This line is actually the way we descended that evening... ... but not knowing better [yet], in the morning we tried following the easy stream ravine west of the larger timber patch midway to the pass. around the corner the ravine steepened at a bedrock gorge, and it took some class 3+ scrambling--both dirty and airy--to exit the chasm and regain reasonable terrain above. From there up it was just steep heather with stringers of dry stream rocks (at this date flowing surface water vanished at least 500' below Triumph Pass). At the pass we noted several established bivy sites, though we didn't look in the timber patch camp Beckey noted just south of/below Triumph Pass (background). No water here, though it is available in the form of snow a few yards down on north side of pass. Speaking of, we found the snow on the remnant glacier (or perennial snowfield? - no sign of crevassing anywhere) to be in excellent condition--hard but not icy, and were able to quickly work down toward lake. (view north from Triumph Pass of traverse route and waiting objective) Exiting the lake basin, we immediately turned up-ridge and regained 500-600' to easily cross a gully high on good bedrock... not far below the same stream course quickly unravels into a messy, raw defile. This is also a good elevation for the continuing northward traverse above timberline. (view south from Despair over the ~2 mile approach from Triumph Pass) From the outlet of the pocket lake beneath Despair we initially ascended the timbered ridge northward out of the cirque-like basin. Where the continuous rock face on the rib to our left ended, we immediately crossed leftward over that rib to a parallel meadow-gully, which we ascended until it forked beneath an odd, oval headwall, where we again went left and followed a meadowy stream-course a short distance to coarse talus, which we ascended the remaining 800-1000' to base of the summit pyramid. We found the escarpment band below the upper face guarded by variable cliffy ramparts; we picked the most favorable looking section near center, where an area of slabby ledges promised a potential line through, but ultimately involved some exposed class 3-4 and pack-hauling before gaining the steep heather leading into the shallow boulder and bedrock basin of the upper SE face (finding our way up through the stony escarpment guarding access to Despair's upper SE face) In this season the snow-free upper face appears to offer lots of route latitude among the slabby rock outcrops, blocks, and heathered interstices. However, the right (E) side of face nearer the East Ridge looked likely to exceed scrambling terrain; we found a central line more promising, which eventually converged with and reached the East Ridge next to a conspicuous axehead step. Here we found a broad ledge wrapping around the backside of the ridge--roomy enough for a bivy site (at least for those who don't roll in their sleep). From here the route took an excursion on the shadier NE face for the better part of the remaining couple hundred feet and 15 minutes to the summit. (Initial part of route across slabby terrain of upper NE face, class 3-4 with some exposure. Note there is a hidden, narrow chimney-gully near center of image.) After down climbing a few yards from the ridgecrest ledge and crossing the hidden slot-chimney, the route bears upward and right across the blocky terrain of the NE face, till eventually regaining the crest. Here I opted to step back through to the sunnier south side, where the final crux was a 12-15' chimney-crack back up to the crest (and past a weathered rap station), then easier scrambling terrain to the summit just beyond. (view down final chimney-crack on S side of ridge) Happy to finally be on top! Since getting here already pushed beyond our turnaround time, it was a very brief summit stay, abetted by the near-absence of views. (A previously-reported summit register was not found in/around the large cairn there.) View NE past past Despair's North peak (and saddle joining the E & NE glaciers) toward shadowy hints of the snowfields in the Mt Crowder/Northern Pickets area. Descending the summit pyramid we tried the lower East Ridge and found a much more reasonable class 2-3 line that we should have taken on the way up. (This route is right on Despair's lower skyline, reaching/starting from the 6600' notch next to a distinct haystack pinnacle.) Once off the upper mountain we began the long traverse back down and around (west-) Goodell's headwater basin... in the late afternoon sun we noted that Triumph's classic features were beginning to emerge through the thinning haze. It would be twilight by the time we regained Triumph Pass, and full darkness overtook us partway down. Fortunately we'd the foresight to leave out an enormous white pointer, which guided us back to camp without incident (and once more provided cool breeze and colder water). As a final note, despite the appreciable cumulative elevation gains and losses of this approach across/through three drainages, the route described is essentially brush-free -- an uncommon pleasure for a remote objective in the North Cascades. The nearest to brush along this line is where the climbers tread around lower Thornton Lakes is somewhat overgrown, a bit (mostly avoidable) when reaching the slabby streamcourse below Triumph's rampart, and a trifle of brush amid timber on the rampart, and again on the rib leading from the pocket lake up toward Despair -- each and all notable only for their paucity. Gear Notes: ice axe, crampons, scramble rope (we only used for pack-hauling when essentially off-route) Approach Notes: south approach via Thornton Lakes and Triumph Pass
  14. 8 points
    Trip: Jack - Nohokomeen Headwall Trip Date: 05/30/2021 Trip Report: Ever since this route has become popular, I've wanted to check it out. Jack is hard to ignore from anywhere, but especially from Ross Lake, where my family and I typically like to camp for a week each August. While I have climbed Jack from the east side, the north side is the show stopper from Ross, with the giant Nohokomeen Glacier dominated the view from the north end of the lake. In the words of @Trent (though he couldn't join @therunningdog @sparverius @kmfoerster and I), "It must be climbed!" And so we did. But it wasn't fast. We spread our effort over three days, with one full day for the summit and associated lounging, and another day on either end for approaching and running away. We waited until the highway was open, so there was none of that uncivilized biking stuff you might have seen on nwhikers. No way! We were, uh, civilized. And very serious- so serious this mountain climbing business. No joking, no laughing, no resting, and certainly no campfire or whiskey... It was all business and very professional. That's how we roll. Gear Notes: Snowshoes were handy for portions....ice axe, light 2nd tool, aluminum crampons, helmet, light glacier gear. We soloed the headwall up and down Approach Notes: East Bank trail and then up by May Creek. East bank trail is mostly cut out, only one log to hop over. Light brush and pretty straightforward travel and routefinding up the hill, based on where it looks best on the map. Nohokomeen Headwall is to about 50-55 degrees and the summit ridge is exposed.
  15. 8 points
    Trip: Ruth Gorge - Kuriositeten and Mount Bradley plus others Trip Date: 04/26/2021 Trip Report: I am a little late in posting this because I had a 3 week Denali expedition right after this trip. So I am just now getting back into the swing of regular life and unpacking. Anyway I figured I would post up a trip report from the Ruth Gorge. We flew in on April 26 to the Ruth Glacier just below the East Face of Dickey. Man that is a face to dream about!! We were a team of 4 that functioned as 2 teams of 2. We just changed up partners a few times based on people’s route choice. The Ruth Gorge was Plan B and we didn’t know we were going to the Ruth until about 4 days prior to flying in. So we were pretty ill prepared with route research and overall beta (with the exception of the classic lines). Grosvenor, Johnson, and Wake (left to right), from the flight in. Talkeetna Air Taxi on the Ruth Glacier with Peak 7400 and London Towers in the background. April 27 - Our first full day on the glacier. It was warm and sunny and I teamed up with Robbie to head for Cobra Pillar and just see how the climbing was. We got up to the top of pitch 5 when the sun disappeared behind the mountain and it started to get cold. We were also less than impressed by the first 5 pitches. When the guidebook says “C1+ rotten or 5.11” you should probably just avoid that pitch! I led it and was literally kicking new footholds into the large granite crystals and hoping they wouldn’t crumble under my bodyweight. Needless to say we had no desire to go back with so much other good looking rock. Robbie on the 2nd pitch of Cobra Pillar. Robbie just after the traverse on Cobra Pillar April 28 - We scoped several lines and tried to generally figure out what lines had been done. Thankfully we had used our phone to screen shot several AAJ articles so we were able to figure out some of it. Our efforts were mostly focused on Dickey and Peak 7400 since they were the closest to camp. Scoping a potential ice line. April 29-30 - weather days. Snowed about 18 inches. May 1 - We scoped lines going south on the Ruth Glacier. Looked at stuff on Bradley, Wake, Johnson, and London Towers. We were starting to get a good sense of snow conditions based on aspect and finally figuring out where everything is. We did climb the opening 2 pitches of The Escalator on Mt Johnson. It was really fun alpine ice and it gave us a good excuse to use the ice tools and screws. There were a couple of steeper smears to the left that we hoped to climb but the ice was only about 2-3 inches thick and there wasn’t any rock pro available. Scoping "The Escalator" on Mount Johnson. Climbing up the first couple ice pitches on The Escalator on Mount Johnson. Great alpine ice! May 2 - Based on the conditions we found yesterday we deemed it prudent to give the mountains one more day to shed snow and get some freeze/thaw going so it wouldn’t be a postholing nightmare. We had brought a telescope so we looked very closely at a couple of lines that interested us and talked about what line to do tomorrow. A couple people of our group went over to check out the first couple pitches of “The Wine Bottle” on Mt. Dickey. Man that is an inspiring looking line! We watched them through the telescope. May 3 - I teamed up with Duncan to climb Kuriositeten (AI5, M3+, 800m). It is a “smaller route” that was first put up in 2008 on peak just left of 747 Pass. At 2500ft it isn’t really a small route but when you see how it looks sitting between the giants of Dickey and Bradley it appears small. The route follows a couloir splitting the east face of the peak. It is a lot of snow climbing but also contains some mixed steps and 3 distinct ice steps ranging from 15m to 70m tall. Honestly it reminded me of some of the climbing in Cody, WY, where you follow a twisting canyon/couloir always excited about what might be around the next corner. The crux is the final step. It is about 70m+ and the first half is pretty dead vertical. Thankfully the ice quality was great and we throughly enjoyed the position deap inside the slot. We had very little beta about this route so had only brought 7 screws. We were able to find rock gear for the beginning belay and then I just ran it out as far as I dared between screws. We still had to break it into 2 pitches as I found myself with only 2 anchor screws left after 35m. Duncan took the upper half and soon we found ourselves on the snow slopes above. This is a fantastic route in the Ruth and should see more traffic! One of the reasons we wanted to climb this route was to recon the decent from Bradley. One of the reports we had regarding Bradley, was to descend the “standard west ridge” but that party bailed down a face after not being able to descend the west ridge. Another report talked about descending to the Backside Glacier and walking way back around through 747 pass. Another report talked about descending the Bradley/Wake Col. To complicate matters CalTopo and Gaia both showed some weird topography anomalies on their topo maps. In fact both showed a 800-1000ft cliff coming off the back side of Bradley that looked very complicated to navigate around. The problem was the topo lines didn’t seem to match what we had heard in reports. Needless to say we were very interested in looking at the descent from the top of Kuriositeten. In the end we discovered that both Gaia and CalTopo were very wrong in their topography. In places it was off by 1000ft. What appeared to be a huge cliff was just a small snow slope that was easily walkable. We couldn’t see the whole decent but we felt much better about things after this day. Skiing over to Kuriositeten. It climbs the big gash on the peak in the middle back. Even though the line is 2500ft tall it looks small in comparison to Bradley (left) and Dickey (right). Duncan starting up Kuriositeten. Looking up from the belay at the top of the first ice step. Approaching the 3rd ice step crux. It is the narrow looking ribbon of ice way up in the slot. Duncan climbing up through the crux pitch on Kuriositeten. A fantastic route in the Ruth. From the summit of Kuriositeten looking over towards Mount Bradley. Descending the back side of Kuriositeten in the late evening light. May 4 - Rest day. May 5 and 6 - For the big goal of the trip we picked Mount Bradley. A couple of our party had started up the East Ridge of Bradley the day I had climbed on Cobra Pillar. They found deep unconsolidated snow on all northern aspects. Even though it is called the East Ridge the first 1/3 of the route is mostly on the north side of the ridge. So with no desire to go up that unconsolidated snow we searched for a new route. While looking through all of our screenshots from the AAJ we found John Frieh’s report about a linkup on Mt. Bradley. He and Dylan Johnson had also found bad snow on the start of the regular East Buttress. So with high hopes we set our eyes on their Link of “Season of the Sun" and the “East Buttress”. They rated it M5/6 and the route is 4500 feet tall. It was warm so our plan was to leave camp in the late afternoon and start the route in the evening. We were hoping that by this time the snow might start freezing back up from the day and we could avoid some nasty postholing by climbing through the night. We left camp at 4pm and but 5:15pm we were in crampons working our way up the initial snow slopes. The Season of the Sun route climbs on the right side of the SE face of the mountain and was originally put up by the Giri-Giri Boys. We were a little concerned about the reported M6 offwidth crux but figured we would take it one step at a time. After about 1000 ft of snow with short steps of rock and ice we arrived at the “crux”. We were pleasantly to find it full of ice (AI3). So after a quick romp up great ice and another pitch of low angle rock we arrived at the 2nd couloir. From here route goes up right then back left across snow slopes and around the end of a big buttress. This leads you into the big central gully about mid height on the face. The original Seasons of the Sun route cuts up and back left to stay on the face while we followed Frieh/Johnson’s variation back towards the East Buttress proper. It was somewhere in here that it got dark. Not pitch black but dark enough to warrant a headlamp when technical climbing. Several mixed pitches in the dark brought us to the East Buttress proper. From here another 2 long fun mixed pitches deposited us underneath a huge boulder. By this time it was getting light again and we were out of water. So we spent an hour brewing up and resting. The rest of the east buttress went by in a blur of simul-climbing including one section where I ran out of carabiners and slings and literally clipped the carabiner with all my nuts to a piton just so I could clip the rope in. We topped out on the summit about 10am. The decent was pretty straight forward although with more uphill than we liked. We just followed the main ridge to the west and then cut down and south to follow a different ridge line back towards the Bradley/Wake Col. Unfortunately this led us to wallow up several northern aspects of unconsolidated powder snow. Nothing like trenching in the afternoon sun when you have been up all night! We finally reached the col and took a short break to drink the last of our water and finish up our food. Then it was 2000ft of easy walking down to the last obstacle…the icefall between Wake and Bradley. From the top of the col it appeared to be less broken up on skiers left. But when we arrived skiers left there was only sagging “snow bridges” and open crevasses. We were able to end run everything far left and then rappel over the last bergshrund by leaving a bomber fixed nut in the rock. Finally home free we trudged wearily back towards the base of the route. The snow was like a trap door. Most steps you were fine but every few steps the door would open and suddenly you would be postholing to your thigh. We were excited to be back to our skis were the going suddenly got easy! Rolled back into camp at 7:30pm for a 27.5hr RT time. Starting up Seasons of the Sun. The M6 offwidth crux....we got lucky with fat ice conditions and easy climbing. Typically route conditions...soloing steep snow. About 1/4 of the way up the route now. Nearing the top of the East Buttress proper......during one of the long simul-blocks. The route up Bradley's 4500ft face. This is a linkup of Seasons of the Sun and the East Buttress first done by John Frieh and Dylan Johnson. Descending back down from the Bradley/Wake Col after climbing Mt. Bradley. May 7 - Weather day. Snowed off and on all day. May 8 - Snowed a bit then cleared up in the afternoon but wasn’t enough time for much more than a casual ski. It was warm again. We watched several ice lines we had been looking at fall off the walls. Our camp below the east face of Mount Dickey. Mount Bradley is just to the left of center in behind. May 9 - With the warm weather we opted for rock climbing. But the sun didn’t burn the clouds off until noon so we got a late start. We decided on Goldfinger which is on the Stump. We started climbing and were happy to find good quality rock. The rock quality was WAY better than the first few pitches of Cobra Pillar. Unfortunately due to our late start we lost the sun and our warmth about the top of pitch 6. We contemplated going a few more pitches but opted to just call it since it was unlikely we would top out anyway with such a late start. The climbing was very good though and it would be a classic anywhere in the lower 48. Coming up to the belay at the top of Pitch 2 of Goldfinger. Climbing pitch 6 of Goldfinger. It is fantastic climbing on very good quality rock! May 10 - With bad weather in the forecast for the next several days we opted to fly out. Several of the team members had flights out of Anchorage on the 13th so we didn’t want to be stuck on the glacier and miss flights. TAT here to pick us up. The ever changing clouds giving Mt. Bradley a moody look as we departed. Gear Notes: Alpine rack, heavy on screws for ice routes, heavy on cams for rock routes. Approach Notes: Fly in with Talkeetna Air Taxi, then ski/hike to climbs.
  16. 8 points
    Trip: Mt. Index - Lake Serene photo trip Trip Date: 03/23/2021 Trip Report: I did a morning hike up to Lake Serene last week to fly my drone and get some new views of Mt. Index. Thought some of you might enjoy a couple images. Gear Notes: DJI Mavic 2 Pro Approach Notes: I thought there would be a good boot pack but the last traverse was snowshoed and I punched through a bit.
  17. 8 points
    Trip: Broken Top - Full Richardson Trip Date: 04/05/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday my partner Artem and I got up close and personal with the slog to climb ratio in the Three Sisters. Spoiler alert: it was worth it. I’d soloed the North Buttress of Broken Top the week before and had seen the Full Richardson in fat shape. The amount (for Central Oregon) of ice back there is spectacular; the potential for harder/ bolder mixed and smear lines is exciting. I knew I’d be back very soon. It’s a special thing to be able to sleep in your own warm bed before an alpine climb, and I met Artem at Dutchman Flat at a leisurely 4:30am. A long but pretty flat and beautiful approach ensued, taking us down to the Todd Lake area before heading up to Ball Butte and eventually dropping onto the benign Bend Glacier. We saw a group camped out below the glacier but they sadly didn’t echo our hoots and hollers. Sad day. The Richardson and the North Buttress couloir are obvious once on the western end of the Bend Glacier. We soloed the first optional step in the couloir, easy WI2, easily avoidable but more fun and a good warmup. Steep snow ensued, and the second WI2 step was similarly short and easy. I went ahead to slam a picket and screw to belay Artem on the money pitch. Artem wrapping up the first ice step: Artem headed up, carefully working his way up the steep and blobby ice, looking cool and poised. It was silent other than the rhythmic thuds of kick kick, swing swing that echoed through the amphitheater. He decided to belay 3/4’s of the way up the ~35-40m flow. I was glad to move again after cooling off severely in the shaded amphitheater below; fighting off the barfies proved to be the crux of the pitch! I climbed through his belay and topped out, finding another bomber screw and picket belay a few feet above the flow. I put the rope away and we headed up the snow slope to the northwest ridge. The week before, the summit eluded me as I was turned around by bottomless sugar snow on the snow ramp option on the east side of the summit block. Not wanting to down-solo the regular summer route, I called it good. But this time, armed with a rope and a partner, I was determined to get er’ done. We followed my tracks up the snow ramp. The snow hadn’t gotten better above my dead-end, so Artem put in a picket in the somewhat hardened snow in our tracks. I traversed a few feet right to where I could hook some “rock,” slung a partially detached horn of choss, and climbed a few pretty moderate mixed moves to get us on top! From there we slung a block, unable to find tat, and rapped off to the west, joining the NW ridge walk off. We down climbed some steep snow back onto the glacier and back to our packs. I finished my last sip of water (suffer mode engaged!) and we prepared for the 8-ish mile ski out. We were pretty psyched to find the Cascades Lake highway freshly groomed for us as we skinned back out. The golden hour light and the calm of the evening faded some of the fatigue as we stumbled back to the car. Overall this took us about 14hrs round trip from Dutchman’s at a pretty relaxed pace all day. The grade of WI4/4+ feels about right; the climbing is sustained on the pitch, and while not dead vertical, the blobby ice made it interesting. We are both pretty psyched on the potential of at least repeating some of the burlier looking lines back there; any additional info on other routes would be appreciated! For now though I need a bit of a break from that approach! Gear Notes: 11 screws, 1 picket, 60m half rope Approach Notes: Slog from Dutchman's
  18. 8 points
    Trip: Mount Shuksan - NW Couloir Trip Date: 03/10/2021 Trip Report: I've been wanting to do this route for years; this was my fourth attempt, all others ending ridiculously far from success (although on one we did summit and ski the summit pyramid instead, so how can that really be a failure. Last weekend me, @MGraw, and @thedylan got the idea that conditions would likely be just right for a real try at the NW Couloir mid-week this week. After many weekend storm days skiing near the resort we had a pretty good read on conditions. We decided to play hooky on Wednesday and go for it. Everything worked out great, the warmup on Monday even mysteriously held off trashing the powder down low in the White Salmon valley. We were patting ourselves on the back pretty good when we topped out the north shoulder at 11:30, 5.5 hours after starting out. Then for the hard part... The route is pretty straightforward so I don't need to say much. It rocked! It was scarry getting in and across the traverse; when I took the photo of the traverse from above my hands were shaking. We had all watched the Cody Townsend video the day before where they make it sounds really scary. After doing it there is the possibility that they are playing it up a bit for the camera. Althogh the pucker factor is actually a million-bajillion as stated. Especially with the traverse fairly thin and rocky as we had it. Gear Notes: Axes for the upper S-curves & traverse. Approach Notes: Travers into the White Salmon Valley
  19. 8 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Black Spider - Center Drip Trip Date: 03/17/2021 Trip Report: @Nolan E Arson and I climbed Center Drip on Wednesday. I usually write overly detailed trip reports but am going to keep this brief and possibly vague because 1) I'm busy/tired, and 2) I feel it's important to preserve the mystique of this route. Here's the quick Cliff Notes version with some pictures. - We started stupidly early because the forecast looked warm and I had a work meeting at 3 (you can guess how that worked out). - We reached the top of Palmer 1:12 after leaving Timberline. I compared our packs when we stopped and mine was about 20 pounds lighter. Sorry dude! - Traversed the White River around 9000' where the big ramp always is and tried to maintain this elevation across the Newton Clark. Uneventful. - From below the face looks barren, dry, uninspiring and crumbly: - But the following very zoomed-in aerial photo had me fantasizing about a vein of climbable ice on the upper mountain: - There's some serious bergschrund action at the bottom. We delicately tiptoed between two massive cracks and then almost stumbled into a third (really, who expects there to be 3???): - First rock band at the base of the couloir = covered with snow. Walked over it. - Second rock band is exposed, we belayed a short pitch. There's a smear of ice that's maybe not actually ice, thankfully it's not that steep because the anchors were probably not actually anchors either. - Below is a picture of the (very thin) ice that matches the line drawn on Wayne's original topo. We did not climb this but instead continued up the couloir to the right maybe 30 meters, for a variety of mundane reasons. - We pulled out of the couloir on this short curtain which basically follows the line on the Mullee topo. Not sure why Mullee's line doesn't quite match Wayne's but they eventually intersect part way between the couloir and the upper snowfield. - Above that there was a bunch of fun, moderate ice climbing! It was a bit hard to believe but I was beginning to think the whole idea wasn't totally stupid. - @Nolan E Arson led into the snow field and somehow recognized one of the rocks or something (??????) from Wayne's trip report. The ice was super thin and I wasn't convinced that this was actually the line, but eventually I traversed out and committed since there weren't any more appealing options. It's not really visible in the pictures but there was a consistent 1-2' wide smear of protectable ice weaving its way up through the rocks. - A ways up I lost the thread and I think took a wrong turn when the ice disappeared under some snow. I climbed a few meters of improbably steep, unsupportive snow, and then did a couple traversing mixed moves to get back on the route, while being ferociously blasted in the face with spindrift of course. I placed a decent cam and a really bomber nut. - Looking down on the upper pitch: - @Nolan E Arson led the last short but very mixed pitch up to the summit snowfield. Delightful crampon-on-slab action: Other notes and thoughts: - I found this route quite stressful simply because we were never really sure what we'd find or if we'd be able to finish it. Rapping off always would have been possible but a giant pain in the ass. The ice on the upper pitch, seen in the aerial photo, is not easily visible from below. - But overall it was pretty reasonable, I'd hesitantly say "safe," even in these thin conditions. There were ample opportunities to place short screws and the anchors were actually pretty confidence inspiring above the first pitch. There was seemingly decent rock pro in the two spots where it was needed. And the climbing was never hard. - I agree with the WI3 grade, though of course it's a bit weird and funky. We had to do a small amount of mixed climbing but it was never very steep, just balancy. - It took us a long time to climb the route but thankfully it remained very cold and there was no rock or icefall. I stayed in my belay parka the entire time. - Fric-Amos is still icy. The lower pitch from the previous trip report is totally buried and ramp-like. Gear Notes: Many screws, 1 picket, a few cams and nuts, a few pitons (not used). Approach Notes: Started from Timberline.
  20. 8 points
    Trip: Tahoma / Mt. Rainier - Gibraltar Ledges Trip Date: 03/13/2021 Trip Report: @aikidjoe and I hiked / climbed Gibraltar Ledges on Saturday, March 13th. Left the parking lot Friday evening about 5:30pm and returned about the same time Saturday. Skinned to Muir with a great track(s) and easy snow conditions. Had our fingers crossed that the hut would be open - alas, four to six folks had set up in there. Given we're not done with the plague quite yet, we elected to dig a little double-wide snow coffin and settle in for an open bivy. Thankfully the wind was light and our 20 degree bags were sufficient. I want to thank the gentleman who came out of the hut and insisted we stay in there, the gesture was appreciated! We felt good sleeping out despite the insistence that there was 'no covid' in the hut. After a solid 6+ hour sleep, we left Muir about 6am. A superb bootpack led all the way up to, across, and out of the ledges. Roped up at the shoulder of Gib Rock (~12,500), shortly after Joseph put his whole left leg in a hidden crack. Wands on the upper mountain were helpful in navigating crevasses and led pretty nicely to the top. We ran into three skiers who got to enjoy some chalky, not really icy snow on the upper mountain. There was also one set of ski tracks in Gib Chute which appeared to be in great shape. Looking down the Ingraham, it was clear no one was descending that way and getting down it would be a pain with how broken up the glacier was. We hit the summit crater about noon and decided to call that good, based on having to re-cross the ledges in the afternoon sun, as well as some threatening clouds gathering on the other side of the summit zone. Descending was made easier by whoever left the wands up there. Not to let Joseph be outdone, I also managed to put a whole leg in a crack that was thinly covered by some wind transported snow. Getting back across the ledges after noon was a tad stressful, fortunately no rockfall occurred on the way through. The nice snow we had skinning up the night before had transformed into a crusty nightmare just below Muir. It got softer and more consistent by Pan Face, which made for some fun turns on tired legs. No trip to Rainier is complete without a wildlife sighting - this parking lot fox was pretty tame and hardly wild. Can't believe it had been almost 4 years since my last time up Rainier, almost forgot how much fun the slog can be! It helps to have great weather, a solid partner, and nice folks ahead to break all the trail. To paraphrase a dear friend, the mark of a good weekend is whether or not one's soul was refreshed. By that measure, it was certainly a soul refreshing weekend. Spring is here and the mountains are calling! Gear Notes: 60m skinny cord, glacier gear, sunscreen, warm layers, splitboard w/ ski boots Approach Notes: Well established trail all the way
  21. 7 points
    Trip: 9 Days in the Chiliwack Range - SE Mox, Lemolo. Redoubt, Spickard, NW Mox Trip Date: 06/24/2021 Trip Report: 9 Days in the Chilliwack Range - North Cascades National Park Climbers: Jake Johnson - Fort Collins, CO Adam Moline - Sacramento, CA Emilio Taiveaho - Chapel Hill, NC Summary: Days 1 & 2 - Boat ride and bushwack up Perry Creek Basin Day 3 - SE Mox and Lemolo Day 4 - Move to Camp 7200 at head of Redoubt Glacier Day 5 - Redoubt Day 6 - Spickard and NW Mox Day 7 - Rest / Weather Day Day 8 - Attempt at West Buttress of W Subpeak of NW Mox, return to Perry Creek Day 9 - Hike out and Boat back to civilization A pilgrimage to the North Cascades has become an annual tradition and with climbing partners like Adam and Emilio, the draw to more remote and chossier locations grows steadily with each visit. This trip to the Chilliwack Range marked our first climbs in the Cascades outside of the Pickets. With Covid restrictions complicating entry from Canada, we were stoked about likely having the peaks of this range to ourselves for the week, which it appeared we did. Day 1: The first day of our adventure started as many good adventures do: on 3 hours of anxious sleep. Adam and Emilio had driven up from California on I-5 the day before and picked me up in Seattle in the late evening, not allowing much time for slumber. An early boat ride across Ross Lake to Little Beaver gave us plenty of daylight to trudge up the trail-less Perry Creek valley, but with 10 days worth of food and gear and virtually no sleep, we recognized it wouldn’t be an easy day. Emilio stretching out: The boat ride: 4.5 miles of maintained trail walking provided some early views, and then a comfortable forested grind to the Perry Creek Shelter. Views of Ross on the first mile of the Little Beaver trail: After some initial route finding and stream crossings up the valley, the real schwacking began, and I would agree with all statements of parties that have come before us - some of the densest growth that I’ve forced my body through. A classic North Cascades stream crossing: The best picture I could find of the dense growth sections: A few hours later we were blessed with some talus and space to breathe and refill on water from the creek before plunging back into some older growth for several less abusive miles. A tattered and needle-covered Emilio: Talus relief from the dense brush bushwhacking: By mid afternoon the towering summit of Lemolo was in sight, but the lack of sleep and pounds of pine needles accumulating under our clothing started taking a toll and we found some large boulders in the talus to call home for the evening. Upper Perry Creek Basin: Day 2: The next morning we were faced with a decision: to push hard to the top of the valley and ascend the snowpack to the ridge (our original plan), or to take it a bit easier and settle for camp at the top of the valley. With over a week remaining in the backcountry we opted for the later, and in retrospect this was the right decision. Bushwhacking in the upper portion of the valley: The schwacking re-intensified a bit higher in the valley and we were happy to take the evening to wash our clothes and bodies at the head of Perry Creek. Dinner and a bath at the headwaters of Perry Creek: Some underwear bouldering: Day 3: With an early start, we had the opportunity to make back some time in our schedule. We trudged up the glacier slowly and steadily, gaining the elevation to the ridge with heavy packs over several hours. Steady progress climbing up out of Perry Creek Basin: By midday we were standing at the base of the gully that marks the start of the route up SE Mox (aka Hard Mox). Leaving the packs behind, we quickly soloed the loose but easy pitches to the summit. The initial gully on SE Mox: More exposed climbing on the upper pitches: From here we eyed our primary objective of the trip: a deliciously exposed ridge connecting SE Mox to its sub peak - known as Hardest Mox until Eric Wehrly and Rolf Larsen summited it via the East Face in 2007. They dubbed it Lemolo, and the lack of visitors to such a wild and untamed peak was too intriguing for us to resist. Eric was kind enough to share some beta for the region and encourage us to attempt the climb to the summit of Lemolo via the ridge (their descent route after their first ascent of the summit). Looking from SE Mox across to Lemolo: Navigating the first portion of the ridge: After about 2.5 min of admiration and intimidation, we began moving along the ridge and found it to be exactly what we had hoped for; exposed choss with just enough relief to keep me pressing forward. Some sections actually did have some solid stone, and made for some of the most fun 5.fun climbing I’ve done in my life. Adam and Emilio making moves on the traverse: Shot of me on the ridge - This is probably the best photo to demonstrate scale and position of the route: Upon reaching the summit tower of Lemolo, we found Eric and Rolf’s tat from 2007, and we enjoyed the views in all directions, especially savoring the view looking back at SE Mox which few have had the privilege of soaking in. In the event that this traverse to the summit is a new route to the peak, we’d call it “Process and Reality” 5.4 X. Old rappel tat on the Summit of Lemolo: Group summit selfie: “Solo for safety” was the motto of the day, as we avoided roping up and placing gear for all the climbing due to all the loose blocks. The theme was confirmed as we rappelled the SE Mox route - falling rock from pulling the rope provided the most apparent danger we experienced all day. Rappel on SE Mox A bit of caving beneath the upper glacier provided the evening’s water, and we settled onto a steep scree slope for the night. The layers of sky at dusk after a full day of mountain moving brought a smile to my chapped lips as we drifted into dreamland. Bivy just below the route on SE Mox: Day 4: Emilio and I sipped some coffee and enjoyed the morning as Adam descended the upper part of the glacier to retrieve a Croc that had escaped in the night. The versatile footwear was far too valuable to leave behind until our descent back into the valley later in the week. Additionally, the risk of failing to recover it later and littering the most pristine place any of us had ever been was unacceptable. When we finally got moving around midmorning, the going was slow, and our route finding was unimpressive. Most beta for the area assumes an approach from the West, so crossing the Ridge of Gendarmes from the East was a bit of a trick. Convinced that the “canon hole” described by Becky was the intended route, Adam and I waited as Emilio loaded himself into the tight gully only to be shot back out along with some airborne scree. Some failed route finding in unstable gullies: Looking back at SE Mox: We eventually found the correct route and slid and rambled and postholed our way to Camp 7200 beneath the impressive SE crown of Redoubt. View of the long and sunny trudge from Ridge of Gendarmes to Camp 7200: Gnarly broken snow and ice: Camp 7200': Day 5: With the assumption that Mt. Redoubt would probably be an easy 3rd class venture, we prepared ourselves accordingly and set off around midmorning. The glacier walking was smooth and enjoyable without the weight of the packs, and we gleefully scampered up the steeper sections on the south side of the mountain, often stopping to look back and eye lines on Bear Mountain. Climbing towards Mt Redoubt: A wild Emilio and Bear Mountain: I found the towering buttresses of Redoubt to be super impressive, and our gully of choice took us deep within the heart of the mountain. We found ourselves beneath the summit block with a couple of options, all appearing to be 5th class. After making some mental adjustments and reframing the level of focus that would be required, we made the few easy moves without issue. Exploring the low 5th class options to the true summit: Knowing our return to camp would only require an hour or so, we spent the better part of the morning on top of the mountain, hanging in the shade just off the summit and traversing across the buttresses and subpeaks on the summit ridge. A morning spent on the summit of Redoubt: Downclimbing off the summit block required some focus again, but then it was smooth sailing down the gully and joyful plunging on the glacier back to camp. Downclimbing the 5th class: Enjoying views on the slide down: Relaxing in camp: Milky Way: Day 6: After some discussion about how we wanted to spend the remaining days of the trip, it was determined that we would try to double up and hit Spickard and NW Mox on day 6. Again, leaving the packs behind made for smooth glacier walking, and Adam and I were soon following Emilio’s charge up the firm snow of Spickard’s SW couloir in the early morning. SW Couloir of Spickard (taken later in the day): Following Emilio and Adam up Spickard: Views of Silver Lake, a quick stop on the summit, and a descent via the south slopes made for a nice tour of the mountain. Silver Lake as seen from Mt Spickard: It’s worth noting that the prize for “Chossiest Gully” of the trip might go our chosen route back over the ridge from the south slopes of Spickard into the Ouzel Basin. Descending snow beneath the angry gully: Back on the main glacier. NW Mox up next (top left of photo): Next up was NW Mox (aka Easy Mox). Our intent was to ascend via the North Ridge and descend via the West Ridge for variety, so the crampons and axes came along for the ride as we hopped off the snow and onto the long but easy scramble up the ridge. Easy Walking up NW Mox. Spickard in background: Lemolo and SW Mox from NW Mox: The summit block was steep, but in the time it took for me to consider roping up, Emilio and Adam had soloed half of the route with ice axes in hand. Solid rock led to the summit, where we realized that a West Ridge descent might have been more than bargained for. The choices were steep and intimidating downclimbing or more rappels than we had tat for. We reluctantly returned to the glacier via the North Ridge and stumbled back to camp, out of water and a bit delirious. Returning to the shade and water of camp was a dream, but the mountain continued to provide magic to the evening as a Wolverine appeared over the col just yards from camp and charged past us on the snow, clearly startled by our presence. Wolverine on Redoubt Glacier: By the time I grabbed the camera it was a ways off on the Redoubt glacier, but I feel fortunate to have witnessed it. Likely a once in a lifetime encounter for me. Day 7: We awoke to zero visibility. The truth is that we really didn’t have plans for the day, so the weather just confirmed that it would be a rest day in camp - washing of clothes and bodies, yoga, and naps. Watching the fog ride over the rock and ice of these mountains will always be awe inspiring to me, and the lazy day flew by quicker than most. Day 8: After a full week of aggressive calorie deficit, I was feeling lean, mean, and ready to climb. We returned through some thick fog, towards the Ridge of Gendarmes, but stopped at an impressive buttress on the subpeak west of NW Mox. Trekking through the fog: A little break in the fog, revealing the buttress: I had seen several references to this buttress being unclimbed, and we gave the weather some time to stir in hopes of making an attempt. A short break in the fog and a glance up the tower was all it took, and we roped up and moved upwards. I led the first pitch, which was primarily 4th class starting at the right base of the buttress and trending left towards the giant flake. P1, 4th class up a chossy chimney: I brought up Adam and Emilio and then sent upwards again on some steeper climbing. Thankfully the guys had a slight overhang to shield themselves from all the rubble I sent down on them. For about an hour and a half, Adam and Emilio discussed life and risk at the belay as I shouted “rock!” and tried to calm shaking calves. The featured sections I had identified from the ground were typically too loose to be useful, but I was impressed with some fun sections of face climbing that I would call somewhere around 5.8. However, an overhanging section of loose blocks turned me back on my first line. My second choice involved a massive chimney leading far left to the giant flake, but I deemed it unprotectable and not for that day, despite Emilio’s vocal desire to take the lead on it. I worked up again but further to the right sticking more true to the buttress, and this route - despite initially looking the most intimidating - seemed to have the most potential once I was in the thick of it. Again I worked up, 50-100 ft or so, but when I set a nut behind a giant block and the whole thing moved, my remaining stoke for the day was drained. Looking up at the second pitch options: Emilio on rappel: We rappelled back down into the clouds below. Upon reviewing some photos, it appears the steepness of the climbing eases a bit just beyond my high point, and with that knowledge to haunt me, I’m sure we’ll be back to give it another go at some point. A shot of the buttress taken earlier in the week: The remainder of the day included ascending the quicksand up Col of the Wild, and scrambling out of the clouds over Ridge of Gendarmes. Then plunging down the now-much-smaller glacier back to the top of Perry Creek Basin. Day 9: Exiting the long and remote and savage valley was a bit easier than entering it, since we knew what we were up against. We geared up for a long day and plugged away at it. We were surprised to find a jetboil and nalgene perched on a boulder in a talus field, midway down the valley. We certainly didn’t expect to see any signs of recent human activity in the valley, and finding these two items with no other clues left us puzzled. We made note to include it in this trip report to see if we were perhaps not the only party in the Perry Creek valley on 7/3/21. An open section in the Perry Creek jungle: Mystery Jetboil and Nalgene The densest sections of growth towards the bottom of the valley ravaged us as expected, swimming through trees, with many meters of continuous travel without feet contacting ground. Finally - relief as the forest opened up, we crossed the creek, and met the Little Beaver trail. Walking the maintained trail felt like floating and we were at Ross lake in no time. A boat ride across Ross Lake with beautiful dogs on board, and then, with no time to waste, we hauled up to the car to race into Marblemount before the diner closed. Final Thoughts: I believe a successful trip involves a couple things: coming back in one piece, strengthening the bond between friends, completing some objectives, but also - leaving something to be desired. For every objective I complete in these mountains, I come home with at least a dozen more to add to my list. I cannot unsee the dark and intense north faces of Bear Mountain, and I cannot help but think that if I was just a little stronger - mentally and physically - that we might have seen success on our attempt of that buttress. These thoughts will consume me and drive me to be better until I inevitably return again to test myself. Gear Notes: Light rack and too much rope Approach Notes: Type 2 fun
  22. 7 points
    Trip: Wyeast (Mt. Hood) - Linkup Trip Date: 04/11/2021 Trip Report: Hood Headwalls: For a long time I've been thinking about linking a route on each of Wy'east's 6 headwalls in a day. Black Spider, North Face, Eliot Headwall, Sandy Headwall, Reid Headwall and DKH. I gave it a shot today and got 5/6. I figured I'd share to inspire others. Obviously someone needs to be fit, but this is only about 12k' of vert, not crazy in the scheme of things. The real challenge is finding conditions that leave all routes climbable and allow fast movement. I had intended to start with Center Drip but the orange avy forecast had my partner sketched out. For those concerned with doing my risk assessment for me I will say that those watching the time-heights this week will have noticed that 90% of the weather happened below 7k' (NWAC does not forecast for the upper mountain). Also worth noting: the wind loading was from the W, and even if this hadn't scoured the approach up the S Side to check the upper mountain, the S side is not steep enough to classify as avalanche terrain until well above Palmer. But I digress... With no partner for Center Drip, and a small chance of pocket slabs on that aspect anyway, I changed plans to start with Reid. @zaworotiuk was also partnerless for the same reasons and joined last minute for the start. 2:15am hiking start from T-line, had us at Illumination saddle at 4am. The Reid was the usual post hole for the first couple hundred feet and then changed to nice neve. Unfortunately high winds were still hitting the upper mountain and caused quite a bit of rime shedding. I managed to take a blob to the face mid way up but it was luckily not bad. We reached the summit ridge (could have traversed lower) and Matt took off for DKH and meeting other friends for a possible Eliot route. I turned down Cathedral and descended until I could down climb to the Sandy. I hadn't been on Cathedral or Sandy before so I had to back track and down climb some ice through a rock band to reach the glacier. Sandy itself was chill (its a ski run, not sure how the guidebook called it AI3). Once I topped out I walked over to the Queen's Chair and traversed into Eliot, climbing a middle-right line (starting a little L of Adrien's from earlier in the week and finishing with the same steep section). I traversed over the summit and took a break before down climbing Cooper Spur (very good conditions for this) and using Timmy B's beta to trend skier's L and get onto the Eliot glacier. The L hand sneaker ramp past the gaping schrund is still in and R gully went smoothly (except slowly cause I was feeling a little tired at this point). Once back on the summit I took a long water break to slurp awkwardly from my bladder (I somehow thought it would be warm enough for a hydration pack setup and it froze in the hose so at this point I'd probably had ~1/2 L in 8-9hrs of exertion). I then descended Pearly and met Matt again (he had soloed DKH and Elliot and done some PMR rescue practice during all this) and we climbed next to each other up DKH #1 for my last route. I had thought about looking at the Spider after all this, but I was too bushed to safely consider soloing Center Drip and my friends Lindsey and Riley had tried it earlier that day and bailed due to lack of ice. Wy'east could have been subbed as an alternative but, that is more of a ridge climb and just a lot of snow slogging after so much good ice, so I declined and plodded back down to our cars. Matt topping out Reid Coming up Sandy Looking down Leutholds Eliot Summit views Down Cooper R gully Summit again DKH w/ Matt Final summit Strava map Strava track: https://www.strava.com/activities/5111832990 Gear Notes: pointy things and a helmet Approach Notes: Palmer
  23. 7 points
    I am preemptively (and prematurely) starting this thread in an attempt to consolidate ice conditions beta here. As the seasonal stoke is building, I have been involved in many offline conversations about the best way to share condition info. My vote is to not reinvent the wheel, and do it here; solely or in addition to any of the numerous (and ephemeral) Facebook forums. Since I am aware that posting to an internet-based forum is way too time consuming for many, next best would be to strongly encourage that you tag your local social media ice posts with #WAice. Last we talked, Kyle M was redesigning the internet to create a better ice conditions mousetrap. Even if he dazzles and amazes again, this can be the repository for unpolished beta that he later shines and geocodes up. To not be a complete tease, here is all I got now: Mt Baker seracs and the lower flows on Heliotrope have received a decent amount of activity in late Oct/early Nov. I don't think Cosley Houston fully formed and was climbed before the snow switch flipped ON the second week of November and access become challenging, but the early season skiing has been the best in years. My #WAice season began on Nov 13. Tom and I were hoping for some semi-alpine ice in the WA Pass zone but the deep, unconsolidated snow pack (21" fell the day we were there) meant cross country travel, even with skis, was nearly impossible and the pass closed for the season (very early) a few hours after we left. The consolation was getting the rust off on the practice roadcut ice along the highway below the Liberty Bell group: This morning (Happy Thanksgiving), I skied around Alpental Valley (can you say concrete) and as expected there was nothing/nada, nary a drip or drab to be seen. The snow is deep but the temps have been consistently too warm to get anything more than a few icicles forming. Based on the long term forecasts, it will be several weeks before any pick dulling may be possible in the Alpental zone. Mazama is reportedly all dry now too. It is still very early. Happy ice hunting.
  24. 7 points
    Trip: Guye Peak - South Gully Trip Date: 01/30/2021 Trip Report: After a sad, failed Terror attempt last summer, @Hoo and I were in desperate need of getting onto the send train. What better objective than a barely-5,000' peak right next to I-90 with a recent hope-inspiring TR? We got a rough alpine start at 9:30 from the car -- the Summit parking lot was full so we parked on the side of the road -- and skinned up to near the beginning of the route, which maybe took us a half an hour from the car or so? We started booting when we got sick of the steeper avy debris skinning. We heard hexes (we think) up above and saw a party coming down from a variation to the start that they weren't happy with. Coincidentally, one of them was a someone from the TAY forum who'd just posted a TR for skiing Preacher -- recognized her by her sweet purple Voile skis. A third party was in front of us so we got kind of sandwiched. The weather was great: overcast but no precip or wind, not cold at all. We soloed up through alternating sections of steeper and more moderate snow with a good bootpack, through a couple of short steps with actual water ice, some bare rock, and super solid snow sticks. A fair amount of spindrift made for a good ambiance. I requested we rope up after that and I was glad for the toprope for the next few steps that were harder for me -- but Micah led them handily. The chockstone steps were not bad, with good protection, easy mantels, some good root grabs, a couple solid turf sticks. The snow was awesome, did I mention that? Secure everything. Up toward the top it became a little wallow-y with the fresh (super light) snow, no windslab. Finally we got to the current crux of the route: the final corner/chimney pitch, with thin and nonexistent ice, a lot of bare, downsloping slabby feet, and very little pro to be found. Luckily Micah was game and went for it. After a bit of hemming and hawing, hammering in the two pins, finding a passive cam placement, sending lots of precious but shitty ice down, he developed major ovaries and sent it without incident! Yesss! Impressive. Many partner points. We think it would be called M4 as it is now. It's mind-blowing that this is on the easy end of mixed climbing... By this time, one party was behind us, and the other had bailed early on. Half of Party #2 had watched most of Micah's lead and told her partner when he came up that uh, maybe I could just tag their rope up and give them a belay? He was interested in leading it. So I started up with my toprope. It was SO HARD and I was seriously worried I would need Micah to set up a haul system to get my ass up. At one point a pick popped off and I got to see how stretchy the rope was, blowing my toprope onsight. Noooo! All of the ice throughout the route is rapidly delaminating and falling apart. Until we get a new cold snap, don't count on getting any screws on route. Micah claims hexes might be worthwhile for the crux bit. After all that, the second half of Party #2 requested I leave a pin in for him. Of course! Then after watching my next flailing with desperate scratching and weird attempt to use some chimney technique, they asked for us to throw our rope down for them to get a belay. We'll try! Luckily the nature of the route allowed for that to happen, and we brought him up tagging his line. At this point we were more exposed to the wind, and it had started snowing lightly. We walked up toward the top and took a much-needed but way too short break, completely forgetting about the supposed mandatory rappel, taking off our harnesses. I think it was about 2:30pm? Very few views, unfortunately, but a new-to-me summit! The other party arrived and told us they weren't able to clean the piton, so there's some fixed pro to use at your own risk...and/or maybe booty. We all set off up and down the ridge. Micah spotted the tree with tat and rapped down. Toward the end, he called to us that the rap was unnecessary in current conditions. I downclimbed the secure snow, we made the short traverse, and continued up the gully to get around the north peak. Thanks Micah for the steps.... We transitioned and got some of the driest powder I've skiied this season for a couple hundred feet. I was sad to be on my skinny skis (80 underfoot) and my legs were feeling shot. Still got a faceshot though, so all good! Some fast-running dry sloughs on the steeper stuff. Micah made it look easy on his splitboard. Down below, the snow turned to some of the worst skiing I've ever had on all the ice and avy debris in the trees. Definitely slow and cautious skiing on tired legs, trying not to screw up a knee. Micah really savored the flat and rolling terrain as we exited the Commonwealth, transitioning between split-ski and splitboard and skinning and splitboard an unfortunate number of times. We got back to the car around 5pm, our calves worked and feeling deserving of the beer. Overall a great day out in Snoqualmonix with a cool route, a lot of fun/comfortable snow/ice, a spicier crux than expected, way better pow turns than expected, a longer day and more tired legs than expected, and a solid backcountry partner! I also figured out a new way to carry my skis vertically on my pack using ski straps and it worked really well. On the fantastically short drive back to Seattle, I saw a license plate: that caught my eye: "SKI TAY" .. I wonder who that is?! Gear Notes: Rack brought: 5 screws of varying lengths 0.75 BD, yellow and orange Metolius Two knifeblades Four or five small nuts A picket (I know...) Handful of single-length alpine draws Handful of double-length alpine draws Used: Screws 0.75 Yellow Metolius Knifeblades Nuts Didn't use the picket (I know) Approach Notes: Summit West parking lot to Commonwealth trail
  25. 7 points
    Trip: Middle Sister - Emde/Ablao Trip Date: 03/06/2021 Trip Report: Probable second ascent of the Emde/Ablao with Adrien Costa. This is the ice smears and columns to the L of the Direct NE Face route from Oregon High. Perhaps some other people know of someone who has climbed it? Steep snow above the schrund (currently covered) leads to a varied and engaging 60m pitch (difficult to protect) with a couple overhanging bulges. Above this we traversed L on snow to join the E Rib. AI4/4+ R/X seems about right. Me approaching the route, NE Face Direct's couloir is to the R. Photos of me by Adrien (obvs). Me starting the crux. Approaching the crux bulge. Adrien topping out the crux pitch. Adrien leading easier terrain above between spindrift pulses. Coming up the E rib. Adrien approaching the summit. The thing you do when you top out. North Sister with sun setting. Still got a few miles back to the car. Road conditions beta. Gear Notes: screws, cams, pins, nuts Approach Notes: long skin from before Pole Creek TH (17 miles and 4k' round trip from where we got the truck stuck)
  26. 7 points
    Trip: Morning Star Peak - Beyond Redlining (Rope Solo) Trip Date: 08/04/2020 Trip Report: Preface: I just got back from a long weekend at Smith to escape the hot pow and persistent weak layer. Drytooling is fun and all, but I wanted to remind everyone how much more fun summer rock climbing is than winter climbing. Anyways, on to the long overdue TR. I like to climb a lot. With a 4 days on, 3 days off work schedule, I have a lot of time to do so. I also like to spend some time alone in the mountains moving at my pace and enjoying the little things. Over the last several years I have dabbled and somewhat perfected my rope soloing system. It all really started with a sketchy half belayed, half solo ascent of a seeping Ground Hog Day out in Leavenworth in 2017. After numerous other climbs, I finally came up with a system that worked for me, and in early April 2019 I rope soloed Outer Space in just around 4 hours base to top. Pitching everything out and reclimbing every pitch on TR solo. Two months later I came back and soloed everything except the crux pitch and the 3 other 15ft insecure cruxes which I pitched out. That hand crack pitch without a rope is an incredible experience. Jump forward to last August and I am as driven as ever. The thought of another lockdown pushing me to eek every ounce of adventure out of my days off. Then the news came out about a new 11 pitch 10+ alpine sport route. It seemed like the perfect route to test myself on. On August 4th I grabbed a stupid number of draws and loose krabs and drove up to the Sunrise Mine trail. The approach was nice, but brushy and wet from the morning dew. As I passed a few parties of hikers in the upper basin, it was looking as if I was going to have the route, if not the whole wall to myself! Once near the base of the wall, I was very glad to discover that the spring at the base of MHC was still running. For weights sake I had brought a total of 0 ounces of water for the hike up, fully relying on a recent report that the spring was alive and well. The route was easy to find from the spring, I simply walked back along the wall keeping my eye out for some shiny new bolts marking the start of the route. The first pitch was fun! A long 55ish meters of engaging varied climbing that gets you on your toes right off the bat. By the end of that pitch, I was feeling rusty and my feet already hurt. This was going to be a great day. Blurry picture of P1 In an effort to move efficiently I had decided to try and link as many pitches as possible. For some reason at the time 35m+40m=65m, meaning I would have just enough rope to link pitches two and three. As it turns out it actually equals 75 meters, and Rad’s pitch lengths are spot on. This left me tugging at my rope a couple feet above the last bolt, trying to pull every last bit of rope stretch the rope would give me. To no avail, I backed off and downclimbed back to the final bolt. I then proceeded to assess and bounce test the fuck out of that bolt. The rock is good, and the bolt is well placed. I decided to call it my belay and continue as normal, rapping down to clean the pitch. The next two pitches linked without issue, and honestly while writing this several months later I can’t remember anything about them. Now below the first crux pitch with the cobwebs dusted off I was feeling good and moving fast. Following the most obvious bolt line took me up to a steep corner system. While trying to suss out the moves from below I happened to glance over and notice a couple bolts far to my left. Much to my annoyance I had inadvertently started up the 11+ unfinished direct line. Luckily I was still at a point where I could downclimb back on route and finish the correct pitch. It went off without a hitch. This was the first pitch that I did not clean “cleanly”. I did not jug any of the pitches, instead I would repeat the pitch on TR solo, pulling on the rope or draws to use as little energy as possible. It seemed to work well, and was by far the fastest option. The headwall pitches now loomed above, a long line of bolts weaving their way through corners, roofs and overall blocky complex looking terrain. I somehow managed to link both pitches together cleanly, making for a single mega 65m pitch through the headwall. By the time I reached the crux corner of pitch 8 I was already pretty pumped, but discovered a tricky stem/drop knee right in the middle that allowed me to rest, figure out the moves and futz with my grigri. The climbing is 3 stars, but the position is all time! Looking down the headwall pitches, the rope showing the way. The routes crux IMO Looking back up the pitch(s) One more time looking down the headwall to show steepness. The next two pitches offered some more excellent climbing, but also some of the worst. There comes a spot on P10 where the rock gets incredibly dirty and friable, with the next bolt just out of view above a bulge. I damn near pitched off this section trying to figure out if I was on route or not. I was, and it all worked out just fine. At the base of pitch 11 I finally took a real “shoes off” break and sat on a really nice flat ledge in a desperate attempt to depump. Having taken no real breaks up to that point, the constant climb-rap-reclimb had started to take its toll. Too antsy to get to the top, I saddled up and kept climbing. Much to my relief, the final crux was an awkward slab move! No forearms required. It took a bit of ups and downs, but my sore toes stayed where I wanted them, and it was all over in a move or two. The hardest part of the day was by far leaving the summit to clean and reclimb that last pitch. It’s over! JK no it’s not. Now at the summit I ran into a sneaky team who had just topped MHC. They were very confused how I got up there. I filled out the register, high fived myself for a good climb and started over to the raps. It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten both my ATC, and the rap beta. Having climbed MHC ~4 years ago I had assumed I’d remember. A couple raps, one damn near stuck carabiner block, and some totally botched routefinding later I was safe and sound on the ground. I then hiked out and blah blah blah it's pretty up there. Overall I really enjoyed this route. It had a little bit of new route funk, but was really quite clean for how long it is. Good looking mountain! I’m sure someday I’ll whip, my grigri will explode and I will fall to my death. Will someone please sell me a Silent Partner for a reasonable price? I’m a poor gear shop employee that doesn’t want to die. Gear Notes: I brought something like 15 draws and 10 loose carabiners. Normal people not linking pitches should bring 17 draws. Beal Escaper just in case, 70m rope. I now own an 80m rope for stuff like this. Approach Notes: It's pretty obvious. If you have any questions check out the MP listing
  27. 7 points
    Trip: Trappers Peak - South Ridge Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: The incredible weather window on Saturday (1-23-2021) coupled with low avalanche danger inspired @Alisse, Silvia, Rio, and myself to aim for something with a little more adventure than the ski tours we'd been enjoying around the passes for the last few weekends. Trappers Peak seemed to offer a good taste of all the requirements- Questionable forest service road, icy creek crossings, crusty tree skiing, steep enough snow to be fun, and incredible summit views. We found the forest road to be generally easy going despite recent wind events. Instead of blowdown it was snow on the road that stopped us about a mile from the trailhead. With one steeper section on the road and a few modest ruts to navigate I'd recommend a vehicle with more than a few inches of clearance though I'm sure @Alisse could have made it up with her off-roading Civic. We took off from the car in ski boots, carrying skis to the trailhead where we decided to start skinning. Of course this was short lived to the first of the creek crossings. The first two were a bit icy taking some care to not dunk the boots. A nice bridge got us over the third. After crossings to the north side of the valley we were forced to pack up our skis and start booting due to the inconsistent snow on the southern aspect. At about 3,500' we started skinning again on firm and at times icy snow. Conditions and terrain were a bit less consistent than expected and we ended up transitioning more times that I'd like admit before reaching the ridge proper. Continuing up was generally easy going. We followed the summer trail pretty close all the way to the ridge. The first bit of steep snow was encountered at about 5,200'. This open, south facing slope had old avalanche debris towards the bottom and on a warmer day could be a concern, especially on the descent. We topped out that slope to be greeted with ever improving views of the final stretch to the summit and beyond. The ridge was basically all corniced to the east and required some consideration and a little bit of route finding as to not creep too close to the edge. The snow was not too difficult to boot, postholing was generally minimal. Around 5,800' the ridge chokes up for less than 20'. The snow here felt shallower than in previous sections, we bottomed out down to rock on a few steps. The final step to the summit offered some fun moderate snow that steepened up enough that daggering the axe felt good for a little over a body length. The snow here had great purchase, solid footing. Summit! Mount Triumph Southern Pickets On the descent Trip Details: 13 miles, 3,800' gain, 10 hours Gear Notes: Skis, ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe. A whippet or second tool could be useful for the final summit step if not super comfortable on steep snow, however it climbed fine with just an axe. Approach Notes: Typical forest road. Winter route generally follows summer trail.
  28. 7 points
    Definitely good in the alpine now, really good. Mik and I climbed the NF of N Index yesterday and found excellent, firm conditions - hard to imagine it in much better shape. Despite its pedestrian grade, the NF is a mega route, even in a cruiser conditions, it is about 8x harder than Chair despite being "only" 5300' tall. Some pics: The hidden ledge traverse: Upper north bowl with tons of real ice everywhere: Mik leading the upper N Ridge: Final pitch:
  29. 7 points
    Trip: MT HOOD - Reid glacier HW Trip Date: 01/09/2021 Trip Report: We climbed Reid HW yesterday. Taking the longer 8a variation. CURRENT ROUTE CONDITIONS: Deep snow from IR over to the base of the route with a bit of snow swimming as you approach the base of the route. Most of the ice steps/ramps consist of hollow ice right now and are much shorter than normal. We did manage to find one steep 60-70M AI3 full value rime/hollow ice pitch. This could be avoided by going farther left up a short ramp. Overall the route right now is mainly steep deep snow, hollow ice and good old MT. Hood rime. Gear Notes: Two tools Approach Notes: IR and over to route
  30. 6 points
    Trip: Dragontail Peak, NE Towers - This, My Friend Trip Date: 09/12/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday Kat and I climbed "This, My Friend" on the east aspect of Dragontail Peak. The route is only a year old at this point and is getting alot of attention, for good reason. Hats off to the FA party for the vision and the work cleaning this thing up. Its five pitches and all but a short connector pitch are 55m of clean, fun climbing. We got moving at the trailhead around 5am Sunday morning and reached the base of the route around 8am. I lead the first pitch which is also the crux of the route. The general consensus of this pitch so far is that its 5.10-. It starts with really easy climbing then heads straight up a shallow, flaring thin hands and ring lock crack followed by slightly easier terrain. Pro is tricky on this pitch, but I found three bomber #1 placements. From there Kat lead pitch 2, THE money pitch and an absolute gem. A full rope length of 5.9 awesome finger locks and perfect hands. Stupid good. After that, Kat lead the 5.meh connector pitch to the base of the headwall so I too could have a money pitch. Thanks again Kat. Pitch 4 goes up a clean headwall split by a 5.7 varying crack, mostly hands. Awesome jams peppered with knobs all around it. Pitch 5 is wandery 5.7 crack and face climbing to the summit of the East Pinnacle. From there we followed the descent description trending southwest down ramps and ledges to the Dragontail trail. We found a way that stayed in 3rd or 4th class terrain with only one spicy no falls allowed section. I built some cairns along the way. Its a quick hike back to the base following the Dragontail southside trail to Asgard. We got back to the base around 2pm. We both climbed with little packs to carry our shoes, puffies, and a little water. That all could fit on your harness if you want but I liked my harness being a bit less crowded. None of the climbing felt cumbersome with a small pack. The hike out went just fine and got back to the car around 5:30pm. This is an awesome route that will no doubt become a crowded classic due to the quality moderate climbing. Me starting the first pitch. it veers left from here: Part way through the first pitch: Kat on the 2nd pitch: Me starting up the pitch 4 headwall. Kat photo of the headwall cracks: Kat coming up the final moves of the Pitch 4 headwall: Last Pitch: Me coming up the last pitch: Coming down the steepest part of the descent: Gear Notes: 60m rope. At least a double rack of cams .2-2 and one #3. Metolius 00-1 proved quite useful too. With this route triples of certain sizes would not go unused. We had triples of .4-2, which we thought was just a bit overkill. If doing it again I'd bring triples of .75-2 instead. Selection of small to medium stoppers. 10 alpine draws and 2 double length slings. Seasonally dependent snow gear. Approach Notes: Colchuck Lake to Asgard pass. Cut over headed west on scree and talus at approximately 7300-7400'.
  31. 6 points
    Trip: Stuart Range - Stuart Range Traverse Trip Date: 08/30/2021 Trip Report: I was Initially a little hesitant to write this report as it was certainly nothing groundbreaking, I don’t really have any super helpful beta and it just kinda felt like I was stroking my ego. Anyhow, here is a short report of beta I wish I had for the traverse. I'd also like to echo that this is basically a long dry sidehill. If you are expecting a bunch a great climbing, think again. It felt like a dangerous hike. The other day I climbed the Stuart Range Traverse over about 31 hours, including a 7ish hour nap near Prusik. I decided to start on the W-ridge of Stuart via Ingalls and out to the Snow Lake Trail. This is the straightest line on the map, and that appealed to me for some reason. Thankfully my friend Alastair was generous enough to shuttle me back to my car the next day. Thanks bud! The first crux for me was getting over to the east side of Sherpa. It seemed that one with a rope could easily rap over the other side of the summit and continue on their way, unfortunately I didn’t have that luxury. I chose to down climb the S couloir a little ways, and then follow a ledge system around the mountain to the east. This worked out in the end, but was time consuming and a bit circuitous. The next crux for me came at Argonaut. In classic fashion, I had only gathered just enough beta (literally just a picture looking up the S-face) to not fully epic, but not quite enough to know where I was going. I opted for the first gully (pictured below) up to the ridge, hoping for straightforward traversing to the base of the S-face. I encountered anything but. This side of the mountain consists of an incredible grouping of gullies, towers and fins. While striking, it makes for slow arduous travel. I later learned that other solo travelers had dropped low down to approach the face straight on. This would probably be faster/less stressful, but not nearly as cool. I eventually got where I needed to go. Getting off of Argo was definitely the most stressful part, and the spot that I really wish I had a rope. I ended up walking down to a 2-bolt 1-pin rap anchor, and down climbed from there. This bit was loose, slabby and just no fun. While not necessary, a rope here would be really really nice, especially after all the terrain you’ve already covered for the day. This spot also seems to seep earlier in the season, so a rope might be required most of the year. I believe there is a rap/downclimb route to climbers left that may skip it. More downclimbing on better rock took me down to the basin. A small snow patch below Argo provided a tiny trickle of water for me to fill up with. If It wasn’t for this, I would have only had one liter for the rest of the traverse. The rest of the traverse is mostly walking unless you stick to the ridges. The snow free walk off of D-tail is chill and cairned right now. I’ll certainly be taking this route in the future for getting off D-tail late season. There is a small glacier at the pass between Boola Boola Buttress and Lil A. When I hiked by, there was standing water between the dirt and ice. This may be a spot to fill up, but I didn’t look too closely at how nasty it was. GPS track found HERE Here's a photo dump for inspiration Gear Notes: 60m 6mm tag line, Dyneema sling for harness, Reverso + Locker would be a perfect rap kit. Minimum 3L water storage. Good music to keep you company. Brought rock shoes but never used them. Trail gaiters are $$$! Approach Notes: Choose your own adventure
  32. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Index - North-Middle-Main Traverse Trip Date: 07/10/2021 Trip Report: The weekend of the 10th and 11th of July Bobby, Chad, and I spent 2 days climbing the North, Middle, and Main peaks of Mount Index. Done as a traverse from north to south this route offers amazing exposure, complex route finding, and engaging climbing. Most interestingly is the proximity to civilization; the remote feeling you get high up on the peaks in juxtaposition of the ever present crowds of Lake Serene and the thrum of the weekend traffic is a dynamic I have not found elsewhere in the Cascades. I have stared at this mountain many times over the years, but always put off the traverse due to timing, lack of solid parters, or lack of physical ability. Fortunately all of the pieces fell together this summer and I had no reason not to do the climb, besides the well deserved reputation of the mountain and the route. It is a big route indeed with over 4k feet of technical scrambling and climbing. Long sections of steep sometimes loose rock on the way up and committing rappels on the way down keep you from gaining each peak. Also for any normal person, it takes an overnight bivy on the middle peak that may or may not have water. For us it was two 14+ hour days, but they were rewarded with one of the most amazing bivies I have slept at and stunning ridge climbing with views not only of Glacier Peak, but Seattle and Bellevue as well. Information on this route was a little hard to come by and it was one of the first times in a while I found the Becky book to have the most reliable route description. We also used trip reports from Tom Sjolseth and Jason Griffith found on this site. Both were helpful. I have added some beta to this trip report for those interested as there were some definite holes in the becky description. We left the parking lot about 6:30 am and enjoyed a talking pace up to the lake on the steep trail. The first views of the route come just before the lake when you can see the traverse in its entirety. As we got to the lake we got fresh water. We did not know when we would be able to get water next as the N face appeared basically dry. Bobby pondering what he had gotten himself into. We skirted the trail along the west side of the lake until the talus slope then headed up to the base of the North Face. The North face of the North Peak of Index is about 2500 feet of technical climbing and scrambling. None of it is extremely hard, but protection can be poor and belays hard to come by at times. While we climbed we passed many rappel station of various quality as well as old fixed pins so it was not too difficult to know we were on route. Route overlay of North Face of North Peak of Index. From the toe of the NNE rib we started up very brushy trees until you could gain the rib. We followed the rib straight up for about 100' then cut left at a bushy section to get into an open book. Climb up this before trending back right onto a long slabby section. Ascend the slab until reach a small roof feature. There is an anchor here made form a pin and nut just under the roof. From here we began simul climbing off left trending around overhanging roof features. The steep walls will kept pushing us left until we gained a treed ledge with an open book above. This is the crux of the route. I climbed an open book, that is more of a face, up about 50-60 feet until it forces you off right on a sharp traverse to gain a long gully system. There were 2 fixed pins at the point of the traverse right that I clipped for pro. The gulley system can't bee seen from the lake or trail as it is facing north. We went up the gully for 300-400 feet until we were able to traverse right into the open bowl of the north face. This put us in about the middle of the bowl at this point. Once there we went left into the obvious large gulley system. Most climbing was done on the right of the gulley until you can traverse right to the notch at the start of the North RIb. The North Rib is pretty obvious once you are there. It is great exposed climbing for 2-3 pitches. Looking down from above the North RIb. Once above the North rib the climbing is below 5th class with mostly exposed moved of 4th class. The false summit is gained via steep heather gullies on the east. We were able to find a patch of Snow just below the False summit and refreshed our water supply. From the false summit you scramble through a series of steep gendarmes. While the climbing is technically easy the exposure it insane. The final climb to the true summit is on the North face and is mostly heather and loose rock. Nothing too difficult, just very exposed. Exposed scrambling along the ridge from the North False Summit to the North Summit. More Insane exposure along the ridge to the North Peak. North peak at top of picture. View toward Main Peak from North Summit. We summited the North peak at about 3 pm. This is where the real choice is made. It is still possible to descend the North face, but once you head down to the North-Middle notch coming back becomes much more difficult. Of course we didn't do all that climbing with overnight packs to not at least try to find our way. At this point it seemed very unclear from the becky description as to where to go. He illiterates to descending to 4880' in a gulley to the west, which is not at all what we did. We descended the south side of the peak to the first gendarme and rappelled to the west about a rope length down a gulley from a block that is kinda hidden behind the gendarme. HFrom the end of the rappel we traversed back up the east side under the gendarme and descended down a gulley to the east about 150'. We did one rappel down the gulley to the east, but could have easily down-climbed. From here you climb back west and up to a notch between the second and third gendarme and rappel down to the west side of the ridge. Traverse down along the ridge on the west side until you get just above the North-Middle notch then do one rappel down to the notch. Not too complicated right? North Peak as viewed from the Middle peak. One can see pretty well how the descent from the North Peak to the North-Middle notch is done from here. This is the second rappel shown in the picture above. The block with all the slings is a pretty obvious point to get to and know you're on the right track. Chad and I getting ready to rap off the block down to the west side of the ridge. Once down to the North-Middle notch it is a simple matter of getting up onto the ridge then climbing this up and over the false summit of Middle to a bivy site we were hoping would have a patch of snow near it. Exactly where to ascend up to the ridge from the notch was unclear. We ended up traversing left about 50' and ascending a shallow east facing corner, which I think is what becky describes in his guide. We could not see that the corner was shallower until we got right underneath it. Once we gained the ridge we were treated with some of the best climbing of the trip. Gorgeous views all around on a knife edge ridge that went on for about 3-4 pitches. We continued this up and over the Middle false summit to one slightly overhanging rappel down to the notch between the Middle Peak false summit and Middle Peak. And just as luck had it there was still a small snow patch to get water from for the night. Amazing ridge climbing in route to Middle Peak. Almost to the Middle Peak false summit. Chad hoping for the long day to be over along the North Ridge of Middle Peak. We got the bivy about 8:30 PM. We melted snow, drank a little Jim Beam, and settled in for the night. The bivy is first class given what else is on the route. Plush and flat with plenty of room for 3, and perfectly located to split the climb into 2 relatively equal days of work. Celebrating getting to the bivy and a good night of sleep. Beautiful sunset over Mt. Persis. The next morning we got going around 7:30 AM and began the ascent to the Middle peak true summit. Most of the mornings travels were fairly easy given yesterdays work. The Middle peak is gained by the east face. Traverse to the east side and ascend broken slabs and heater until the summit is gained. Bobby excited to get up the Middle Peak of Index, one of the most difficult to reach in the state. Sunset falls can be seen in the middle of the photo in the background. From here Becky describes getting to the Middle-Main notch in one sentence. "Descend easily to the Middle-Main Peak notch". I am gonna have to disagree with Becky on this one and say it was a bit more involved then that. We did 2 rappels on the way there and switched from one side of the ridge to the other multiple times. We started mainly on the crest until steep rock forced us down to a gulley to the east. After passing this first gendarme we were forced back onto the west side with a short rappel down to a ledge system. We traversed the ledge system until we went back east onto a broad series of light colored slabby ledges. These ledges had snow for water. From here we went down the slab until we cliffed out and had to cross back to the east side down a steep series of steps leading directly toward the notch. From here one can see the notch. A steep red colored gulley trends back east and we set up a rap anchor on a tree above this gulley then rappelled down it under a chockstone. At the end of the rappel we traversed into the notch. In all parts there was basically only one way to go or it cliffed out. During this whole descent we were treated with the view of the impending north face of the Main Peak. It is very ominous looked at straight on. Foreshortening can be a real mind killer, but it is all there and the climbing is moderate, if not loose and sketchy in places. Technical crux of Main Peak north face coming out of the Middle-Main Notch. We climbed a short chimney out of the notch that lead to more low 5th class climbing. overall the idea was to climb the initial steep wall out of the notch, then trend left until the main ridge emanating from the South Norwegian buttress can be gained. This is climbed until the Wedge gendarme is reached. The climbing involves sections of trees and exposed ridge as well as a cool left facing corner to gain the upper ridge. Once at the Wedge gendarme we down climbed a short section then up the main face until we found a suitable place to traverse across the giant red gash through the middle of the face. View of the North Face of Main Peak from the descent down to the Middle-Main notch. High quality rock we had to traverse to get out of the north face and onto easier terrain. Once across the gulley we traversed ledges until you can pass through a notch and onto the west side of the Main peak. From here the technical climbing is over and it is a short trip to the summit. We continued traversing south from the notch past 3 gullies until we could ascend a heather and dirt gully up to gentle slopes near the summit. Walk SE toward the broad summit of the Main Peak of Index. We were excited to reach the summit. 3 peaks in 2 days of 1 mountain and still we were only half way there. Index does not give up the goods easily and we still had the arduous descent of the Hourglass gulley to get done. None of us had crampons and I only had approach shoes on, so the idea of descending steep snow was questionable at best. The trip to the top of the gulley was a quick easterly traverse from the summit. At the top of the gulley system we stayed skiers left and did one initial rappel off a tree to get onto a snow field. We made a gingerly descent of the snow field to a band of rocks and trees and did two more rappels from here to get down below the hourglass feature. At the time we passed it there was a 5-8 foot wide moat at the bottom of the hourglass that was very deep. Tedious down climbing of snow and a few good snow bollards got us down to the talus slope and most of the difficult descent behind us. We headed down until we got to the top of the ridge visible from Lake serene. We followed the ridge along its crest and did one rappel along the ridge where it got very steep. Talus down to the lake and traverse along the south side until we got to the main trail. It was a long day to get down and we didn't get back to the parking lot until 10:30 pm. It was well worth it though to be able to do such a big adventure so close to home. I am pretty sure I could see my house from the bivy. I would recommend this climb to anyone looking for a big adventure. If you have honed your alpine climbing skills and wish to test them all then Index provides as it always has. Gear Notes: single 60 or 70m rope will work double rack to 2" and set of nuts Long slings for trees and horns. Extra tat for rapel anchors as necessary Approach Notes: Lake serene trail is pretty nice given some of the approaches to climbs in this state.
  33. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Shuksan - Fisher Chimneys Trip Date: 08/23/2021 Trip Report: At around noon on Monday the 25th of August, my friend Matt and I began our two-day summit attempt of Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys. Faint hopes of blue skies and dry rock, dampened somewhat by our cloudy arrival at the Lake Ann trailhead, were dashed completely as we descended into the valley between Shuksan Arm and Kulshan Ridge. Drizzle turned to shower as we hiked along the valley floor. With miles to go before the entrance to the Chimneys, we were both already fretting over steep scrambling on slippery rock. At one point, Matt replied to a hiker that we “were” going to climb Shuksan, a slip of the tongue that indicated our growing pessimism. But, we hiked on through Ann Lake and up through the switchbacked entrance to the Chimneys, determined to at least see the rock for ourselves. Around two and a half hours in by this point, the rain had died down, but visibility remained poor. The first of the Chimneys went smoothly. We had trouble figuring out where the second Chimneys began at the end of the last talus field you cross. Beckey anchors the entrance at a “large boulder”, so through the fog we warily traversed the talus to what looked like, at least to us, a pretty big rock at the mouth of a large gully. The rock in the second Chimneys had fortunately been mostly guarded from rain and appeared to be climbable, so we began ascending. The climbing through the beginning was mostly 3rd class with the occasional awkward and exposed move. The way was much less obvious than we had expected, but we eventually reached a position that allowed us to look back on a well-defined trail that had gained elevation much closer to the entrance. Had we sidestepped the entrance to the second Chimneys? Confused but relieved to find better-trodden trail, we continued in a more straightforward manner up 3rd class rock. Both of the Chimneys had taken us a little more than two hours. We then hopped over to Winnie’s Slide, which this late in the season was now mostly ice topped with a thin layer of snow that had been deposited the night before. Being novice ice climbers, both Matt and I expected this to be another crux in our approach, but our combinations of a hybrid ice axe and an ice tool each proved to be more than adequate, though we didn’t break any speed records gingerly soloing up the steep ice. We camped just past the top of Winnie’s slide at the western edge of the Upper Curtis beneath a towering rock wall after around six hours on the move. There were at least four good tent spots in that general area, and runoff from a small glacial pool just ten yards away provided crystal clear water. The clouds began to clear, and patches of blue gave way to broadening swaths of green and red and orange, yielding beautiful views of Baker and the Upper Curtis bathed in sunset light. We woke up before dawn to a clear and moonlit sky and took our first step onto the Upper Curtis at around 6:20. The snow had frozen into a grippy crust overnight and allowed for easy traversing around clearly visible crevasses to the entrance to Hell’s Highway. Having talked to a guide we had camped close to the previous night, we already knew that the standard ascent towards the left was too riddled with gaping crevasses to go, so we instead gained a windblown, sharp-edged ridge that stood to the right and above these huge rents in the ice. There was a small bridge we were able to cross to get to the bottom of the ridge, but I suspect that this will soon melt out and make Hell’s Highway impassible. We soloed this moderate pitch of ice, which was about as steep as Winnie’s but shorter, though the runout was a little more unnerving. Once we gained the Sulphide, navigation over the lightly dusted bare glacier looked like it would be a piece of cake, and we decided that we could leave our 48m twin rope in the bag. In no time, we had meandered through the large crevasses on fresh bootpack up to a notch at the Southeast Rib of the Summit Pyramid. We took our boots and crampons off and donned rock shoes. The Rib itself went smoothly, and with the exception of one deviation down into a gully climber’s left, we ascended the rocky spine, which was mostly 4th class with perhaps one or two low-5th moves that made me pause for a second. We had decided we would rope up if things got too spicy, but before we knew it it was 9 o’clock and we had reached the summit, rope still stowed away. The views of Baker under a now nearly cloudless sky and the setting moon were stunning, and I also enjoyed looking upon Ruth Mountain, whose early-season ascent I made last summer I consider to be the true start of my mountaineering adventures. We didn’t spend much more time on the summit, and after just a few minutes we began downclimbing one of the large south gullies. After an uneventful downclimb and descent off the Sulphide, we were back at Hell’s Highway. We soloed the descent of the sharp, icy ridge, with every step and stick being made very carefully to ensure our first ice downclimb wouldn’t potentially be our last. Two and a half hours after our summit, we were back at the campsite. We packed up and soloed yet another slow but secure downclimb of Winnie’s Slide, passing a guided group who were making their way up. At the bottom, we encountered yet another party, one of whose members had taken a spill and sprained their ankle. Soon we were at the upper exit of Fisher Chimneys, and the bright sun and bone-dry rock made for a descent much more cheerful than the ascent, though the rhythmic thumping of nearby helicopter blades reminded me to keep paying attention. After running into three more parties on their way up, we eventually reached the point where the day before we had joined what looked like a much clearer trail through the Chimneys. Taking the well-traveled trail down to an unfamiliar steep dihedral corner, it was clear that we had bypassed a large chunk of the second Chimney the day before. For the only time during our trip, we pulled out the rope, deciding to rappel down the feature rather than downclimb. Soon we had reached the bottom of the second Chimneys, and without the fog of the previous day, it was clear that the “large boulder” south of us on the rock field that we thought we had entered by before was a pipsqueak compared to the massive unit we now stood by. We made our way across the talus field on what was now a clear trail, and as the adrenaline wore off making our way down the mellow first Chimneys and the switchbacks back to Lake Ann, the fatigue began to set in. At around ten hours in, we made it to Lake Ann and took a quick breather, relishing in our success and overall luck with the weather, but ready to zip through the remaining four miles of trail back to the car. The next couple of hours flew by as we chatted and took in the expansive views we had missed the day before, and after a brief 800ft climb at the end were back at the trailhead, content with our completion of the diverse and stimulating Fisher Chimneys route. Gear Notes: Helmet, crampons, hybrid ice axe and an ice tool each, single 48m twin rope, rock shoes, standard climbing gear (harness, belay device, carabiners, slings for rappel extension, etc.) Approach Notes: The boulder that stands guard over the entrance to the second Chimneys is marked with a white arrow. There is also a cairned trail that leads to it across the talus field. There should be pretty clear trail almost immediately upon entry into the second Chimneys. If you doubt that you are in the right gully at the beginning, you probably aren’t. There is ample water up to the top of Winnie’s Slide. We did not see any water past the small pond at the campsite here, so fill up here before you make your bid for the summit. Winnie’s Slide and Hell’s Highway are pretty much all ice this late in the season, especially with it being such a hot summer. Two ice tools felt necessary to us, though your mileage may vary. The standard climber’s left ascent of Hell’s Highway was crevassed and wouldn’t go; gaining the sharp ridge to the right (beta we got from the guide at our campsite) was the move. To get onto this ridge, we had to descend onto and then climb off a small snowbridge that may be difficult to cross soon. Rock shoes were great for the Southeast Rib. Like the two ice tools, they may have not been necessary, but they gave us some additional security that we might have otherwise sought with a rope.
  34. 6 points
    Trip: Mox Peaks - NW Peak (Easy Mox) - NE Ridge Trip Date: 07/24/2021 Trip Report: It's been a long journey tackling the Bulger list. And what a way to end it - with a long journey! A long fucking journey! In 2019 I was committed to slaying the beast, tackling 14 of 16 remaining Bulgers only to get blocked in late August in the Chilliwacks when we cut the trip a day - and a Mox - short due to an injury. Oh, well, that just left me with just two peaks to clean up in 2020 - Buckner and Easy Mox. Easy enough. Then there was COVID. As the border closure continued into June 2020, I began researching approaches from the US side for Easy Mox. No option seemed appealing, but two stood out as viable options: a high traverse via Whatcom or approaching via Silver Creek. I procrastinated, hoping the border would reopen, then finally tried each - and failed - in late summer. I utterly underestimated what these approaches would take, and despite being in great shape by that time of year, fell short. Oh well, I could just do the standard approach in July 2021, right? When it was obvious the border would not reopen in July, I began planning again. I coaxed and wheedled friends to try to join me for weeks - after all, who wouldn't jump on such an opportunity, especially to take multiple days off of work for a death march? The amazing weather we have seen in July held and held and held. The stars aligned on climbing partners. I pulled the trigger. There were three of us: my son, Jorge, and me. Applying lessons from my failed attempt in August 2020, I split this trip into a 5.5 day itinerary, which went as follows: Day 1: Evening hike to camp at Hannegan Pass. Not much to say here except we arrived later due to traffic and started up at 8 pm. So glad I built in buffer to my itinerary! Day 2: Got up early-ish and hiked trails to Whatcom Pass, then took by-trail towards Middle Lakes, camping by a small tarn with awesome views of Challenger and Whatcom. The tarn was warm and we even got to clean up before dinner. (7:15am - 5:15pm). Day 3: Got up early and did the high traverse, camping on slabs above Bear Lake, SW of the saddle extending below the SW-trending ridge extending from the SE peak of Redoubt (6 am to 7:30 pm). We had a small pool with running water *at* camp. The high traverse was inspired by a TR from a few years ago. In summary, we summitted Taps mountain, then traversed ridges NE-ly to the lake below Cave Mountain (Pass Lake?). We then traversed NW towards Bear, then NE towards Redoubt. Our biggest time sink on this day was due to bush-whacking through hideous, thick trees on steep slopes getting to the upper basin above the Pass Creek drainage. We took 3 hours in this section. Day 4: Long fucking day (6 am to midnight). This involved traversing to the ridge on the Depot-Redoubt Divide, traversing the Redoubt glacier, climbing the route, then doing it all in reverse. Some detail on our long climbing day: We ascended the SW ridge of the SE peak of Redoubt until about 7200', then downclimbed about 100-200' to talus and traversed to the first point we could cross on the E ridge of the SE Peak of Redoubt, roped up, then walked the glacier over to a fine snow ramp leading towards the low point on the NE ridge of Easy Mox. I led a full 60m pitch up the slabs above the snow ramp, only to be stopped about 30 feet short of scramble terrain, and then led a very short second pitch to the top rap anchor. We then scrambled the ridge. Holy shit, what an amazingly exposed, improbable ridge! We found the gully off the ridge easily and scouted out the final pitch and settled on two options. I tried the easier one (we had a picture from an online TR that made it look like the right start) but it dead-ended on the ridge so I downclimbed. Jorge then led the other option (which was correct) and set up a belay at the bottom rap sling. We then solo'd the final 25 feet or so (up to the higher rap anchor). We did two rappels, downclimbed the ridge, then did two more rappels. We were super careful to not get any ropes stuck on our pulls! It was now around 8 pm. We roped up and crossed the glacier which was very soft after a full-day of sun exposure. We essentially retraced our boot path, but punched through opening crevasses twice (on the eastern lobe of the glacier). As we rounded the rock spur to get to the W part of the glacier, the sun set and we unroped by headlamp. We then miraculously scrambled boulders, talus, and scree back to camp with minimal issues. Day 5: Slept in (8 am) and did the traverse back to our camp from Day 2. We got a late start due to the previous long day. It was hot and sunny - the hottest day so far, and we were grateful for lingering snow patches and fresh running water in many places. We followed a much better contour from the upper Pass Creek drainage back to the NE ridge of Peak 6874 which took us less than half the time to do. Bugs were bad at camp - noticeably the worst of the trip so far. (10 am to 8:30 pm) Day 6: Got up early and did the full 17.5+ mi hike out to Hannegan Pass. Bugs were hideous in the final few miles to Hannegan Pass. (6:30 am to 6:30 pm). Bulgers done. 100/100. Now for the pics! View of high traverse from the summit of Taps Mountain. Redoubt looks *far* from here: Views South from Taps Mountain. We were surrounded by these amazing views above treeline continuously for four days: Looking back at the first part of the high traverse from near and below Peak 6874 Indian Creek Drainage from the traverse. Bear Mountain on left: Traversing the lake above Pass Creek and below Cave Mountain. I believe it is called Pass Lake: Nearing the end of our traverse and camp. Redoubt is finally close! Summit Day taken just above our camp. The Moxes still look far. We had a lot of talus to traverse just to get to the glacier! Finally on the Redoubt Glacier! Looking down P1: Hard Mox as viewed along the N ridge of Easy Mox. The exposure and views are unbelievable! Summit views from Mox back towards our traverse: Spickard, Custer, Rahm. Been there, done those: Shuksan, Baker. Ruth looks far! TBH, I was not looking forward to the long walk back to Hannegan when I took this pic: Jorge on the summit: My son and I on the summit. KK rappelling. This, along with one I have from Storm King are my two favorite rap photos ever! Redoubt as the sun got lower in the sky and we downclimbed. The sidewalk in the sky: Longer view up the NE ridge: At camp on day 5, getting ready to traverse back to Middle Lakes: Looking down the Indian Creek drainage. Taken on the traverse back to Middle Lakes: Taken from a point about 6400' - the high point on the NE ridge of Peak 6874 that we climbed after the traverse above the Pass Creek drainage (right of frame, mostly out of view, blocked by the ridge): East Lakes as viewed on the traverse, near Taps Mountain: Descending to upper Middle Lake: Gear Notes: 60m rope, mid-sized rack, helmets, glacier climbing gear Approach Notes: Long, brutal, epic.
  35. 6 points
    Trip: Alaska, Ruth Gorge, Moses Tooth - Ham and Eggs Trip Date: 04/23/2021 Trip Report: http://www.gorobets.com/TRs/Ham_and_Eggs_2021_04_23.html Gear Notes: 2 ropes 60 m x 8.2 mm. A pair of ice tools each. 8 ice screws. 4 pickets. A set of cams from 0.2” to 3”. A set of nuts. Not used. 4 pitons. Not used. BD Spectra. Not used. V thread cord. Not used. Webbing for rappel. Not used. Approach Notes: From Root Canal air strip ascend snow slopes.
  36. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - Cathedral Ramp - FA Trip Date: 04/17/2021 Trip Report: Today a group of us (@Nolan E Arson, @ktarry, @The Real Nick Sweeney) did what we believe is the first ascent of Cathedral Ramp off of the Eliot glacier. Of course I’m half-expecting someone to show up and post photos of a previous climb of the route, but we don’t have any reason to think it’s been done before and it’s listed as unclimbed in Mullee’s guidebook. We approached by racing the hoards up the South Side. @Nolan E Arson and I simul soloed DKHW 1, which is becoming quite mixed, to reach the summit, and then dropped down to the Queen’s Chair, with @ktarry and @The Real Nick Sweeney close behind. We continued down to near the top of Horseshoe Rock and traversed across, staying underneath the large bergschrund at the top of the glacier. The whole Eliot Headwall area, with lots of ice and lots of footprints from the last couple weeks: @Nolan E Arson and I approached the lower left ice flow that leads up and right to near the bottom of the upper snow ramp (orange line in photo below). @ktarry and @The Real Nick Sweeney approached the slightly higher streak of ice that forms a straight line with the upper ramp (yellow line). Perhaps one of them can chime in here to describe their first pitch. We started by doing a little mini pitch, still in our glacier travel setup, to get above the frighteningly undercut/moated area right up against the rock: From here we could see that there was ice leading all the way to the upper ramp. @Nolan E Arson led a nice fun pitch of WI3 (photo below), eventually meeting up with @ktarry who had traversed in from our right. While following I got a good view of @The Real Nick Sweeney coming up the other line: I started up the snow ramp, which is easy at first and then progresses to a few steeper mixed moves: Above this was the big unknown part of the climb. Some random photos we’d found online seemed to show easy, fairly flat snow wrapping around from the top of Cathedral Ramp to meet up with the top of the Pencil. Every time I’d looked across from the Queen’s Chair recently, however, the top out looked dry and steep and kind of scary. After the brief section of mixed climbing I reached a ledge where I could see that I was around 10-15 meters from the top of the Pencil. Of course I’d hoped to see an easy way across, but instead I was confronted with a few meters of climbing on absolutely atrocious, crumbling rock, up on to a previously invisible little ridge: Thankfully things weren’t that steep and I proceeded through this section without too much trouble. The rock was so loose and shitty that I didn’t even consider placing any gear, though I think perhaps @The Real Nick Sweeney found a decent cam placement on his way through? From on top of the little ridge there was a clear way to traverse, mostly on ice, to gain the main part of the North Face Cleaver, near the top out of the Pencil. I was hoping to climb the additional ice pitch to the top of Cathedral spire from the Pencil trip report, but at this time it’s completely melted. Maybe it's only there in the winter? Instead, @Nolan E Arson led around to the left on a series of icy ramps and snowy ledges: We were eventually deposited in the North Face right gully directly above the upper ice pitch. From here we unroped and soloed back to the summit. I'll add some concluding thoughts at a later time, once I've slept! Gear Notes: Took a lot of stuff. Mostly used screws with just an occasional piece of rock pro. Approach Notes: South Side
  37. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Curtis Gilbert - West Route Trip Date: 07/11/2020 Trip Report: The catch up from last summer continues.....We're in early July at this point. Most all the federal lands are back open, the snow is melting fast, and the high alpine is calling! And, of course, there are still Smoots to be ticked. Luckily for me @Juan Sharp isn't too picky so it didn't take much arm twisting to get him to make the drive way south to the Goat Rocks and Mount Curtis Gilbert. We opted for the short and sweet approach via the Snowgrass Flats TH, thence to the PCT and Cispus Basin. It was all very short and civilized with great weather and views. First look of Gilbert (R) and Goat Citadel (center) Klickitat from the hike in Juan crossing a scenic stream just before Cispus Basin The man, the myth, the Juan at camp. The blown out hulk of Loowit to the south (R). We kept it Covid friendly and slept in two tents. Shortly after I took this picture, I busted the filter and ring on my go-to lens. Oops. Both my lens, and wrist, though unrelated to one another. The next day dawned clear, earlier than either of us would have liked, and so we had no excuse to stay in camp, starting the engaging slog/scramble using goat paths and steep snow to the mellow area near the summit. Crampons, axe, and helmet kept it reasonable, but there was certainly a lot of loose rock and steep snow to keep your attention. And the views! A rare photo of me (R), thanks Juan! Without too much trouble or head scratching we reached the summit in a few hours, having it to ourselves this glorious day. Views were expansive, from well north of Tahoma way down past Wy'east into central Oregon. It was a great day to tick a Smoot with a good friend. I can't really say much more. Maybe because it was 6 months ago and my memory isn't what is used to be! We must have descended and hiked out at some point, but my memory of the details are hazy. Suffice to say that it was smooth and we got home all in one piece. Another great weekend in the Cascades! Gear Notes: crampons, axe, helmet Approach Notes: PCT to Cispus basin. Good camps above and below the trail
  38. 6 points
    Trip: Mount Jupiter - East Ridge (standard) Trip Date: 05/08/2020 Trip Report: My trip down 2020 memory lane continues! We've moved up to May now. The pandemic is still slowing unfolding but people are going back to work and the lockdowns are easing. Public land is open in some instances (Olympic National Forest) but closed in other (MBSNF, national parks, etc.). Your friends were likely in two camps- those still locked down and those that were straining for the freedom of the hills. Quietly, I rallied @therunningdog and @Trent, two of the chossdawgs who were straining at their tethers. It didn't take much cajoling to convince them to launch across the sound for a quick strike to the east side of the Peninsula. Growing up around Seattle you can't ignore ol' Jupe, it is right there on the Olympic skyline, standing proud at sunset like an Olympic version of Mt. Pilchuck. Jupiter is small, beautifully shaped, and larger looking than it really is, sitting at the edge of the range like it does. We were all smitten, or at least mildly interested. Beggers can't be choosers! The Brothers (L) and Jupiter (R) from the Edmonds Kingston ferry We drove up to the trailhead from the ferry the night before, finding an excellent spot to throw down our gear in the dirt for the night The next morning dawned clear and crisp and we climbed on the bikes for the punishing grind up to the normal TH. Recent logging has made this section view rich, but also has meant that the public is no longer allowed to drive the few thousand vert to the proper trailhead (which has been logged over anyways). We opted to take the road a bit further to the ridge crest then go cross country to the trail. It might not have saved much on the way up but meant for a longer descent on the bikes. And so we began the long hike to the summit. A former lookout site, Jupiter has a well graded trail all 7 miles to the summit. It was just what we needed after many weeks of limited mountain access. Steve hiking the scenic trail with the Brothers beyond Another great look at the Brothers It was a glorious day with 360 views of the Olympics, Puget lowlands and Cascades. You could easily see from Canada to well south of Rainier! A long break was called and observed with some well earned R&R. Way sooner than we would have liked (we had a ferry to catch) we began the descent back to the bikes. We hadn't seen anyone all day and that theme continued on the exit. I think many are scared off by the long distances involved in doing this in a day, but bikes make is quite reasonable with a trailhead bivy. Just make sure you have disc brakes and suspension! It was an adventure on my bike.... This view is just leaving the summit, looking down the ridge that is ascended. The trail roughly follows the ridge east, all the way to the clear cut in the distance. From there bikes will take you steeply down to your car deep down in the trees. Now, when I watch the sunset from the park by my parents house, I can look Jupiter in the eye and tip my hat to a fine peak. And to the memories of a perfect day in the alpine with good friends. May is coming soon, best be ready! Gear Notes: bikes are key since the road is gated low these days. Approach Notes: Follow the descriptions and drive as far up the road as you can
  39. 6 points
    Trip: The Mighty Tooth - Regular Trip Date: 01/17/2021 Trip Report: Took a spin up The Mighty w/ a lad from work for his first mixed climb. Mixed as in slush and rock, with just a hint of ice. Oh man, if it gets cold before it dumps again... Gear Notes: Tricams Approach Notes: Separate cars, slowshoes
  40. 6 points
    Hello all, Recently a bunch of nice gear popped up for sale on Facebook with a suspiciously low price, and an even more suspicious description (including references to "cleats" and "hooks"). Long story short, I bought it, in hopes of reuniting it with its original owner. There are some distinguishing things not pictured here, so describe those and it's yours. Hoping to recoup my $80 outlay. Best to email me: jlawrence10 (a t) mac (d o t) com. Portland, OR. Josh
  41. 6 points
    Trip: Wind River Range- Cirque of the Towers - Pingora, Wolf's Head, Overhanging, Warbonnet, Warrior, Bollinger Trip Date: 07/22/2020 Trip Report: And so the catch up continues from last year....We're up to July 2020 and the annual week long climbing trip with @Trent and whatever other partners in crime we can dredge up from the dark corners of the Skag. For 2020 it was JP and not only did he bring the gun show, but also the van that carried us in style to the TH. The destination last year was the mythical Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming's Wind River range, and it did not disappoint! But first we had to get there. It is a long drive! But we had JP's trusty steed and three drivers to blunt the trauma. Still, we were all surprised how busy the West was last summer. People were everywhere! Including at least 100 cars at the TH. The Cascades aren't the only busy place these days, but the skies are still pretty dark... Gearing up for the hike in before we get to the madhouse of the TH The hike in was quick and relatively painless by Cascadian standards, despite our big packs. The altitude was noticeable, however. We scored a great site as you first descend into the Cirque, which afforded great views of the popular peaks/routes. We were advised to bring a pair of binoculars for the inevitable epics that unfold wherever 50 Classic Climbs are located. Great advice! The weather was forecast to be great for the first few days, without the thunderstorms that are common in the range. We immediately hatched a plan to do the Cirque Traverse in two days. Day one would be the South Buttress of Pingora into the East Ridge of Wolf's head followed by a return to camp. Day 2 would be Overhanging Tower to Warbonnet, saving us from carrying bivy gear. The whole thing was supposed to be quite reasonable (~5.8) for a competent party, spread out over two days. We went to bed early, pretty psyched for the next couple days. And sure enough it dawned clear and we off early to Pingora, getting on it first. What a great, straightforward climb! The K-cracks especially were clean and super fun. Looking across to the East Ridge of Wolf's Head: Soon we were on top and looking at the next objective for the day. The storied East Ridge of Wolf's Head! We rapped into the Tiger Tower notch, climbed over Tiger and rapped into the start of the route. It gets wild right off the bat and stays aesthetic and exposed the whole way. A deserved classic! But not exactly straightforward routefinding, and very old school ratings. It felt harder than the 5.8 on Pingora! Hmmmmmm. But we figured it out, and made it all the way to the top in the end. We felt like we had really done something. Now, how do we get down to the Overhanging Tower col? A few raps, some choss, head scratching, and exposed scrambling, and we eventually found our way, pleased to have the first part of the traverse under our belts and supposedly the technical crux behind us. We chossed our way back to camp and prepared for a long day. We started before dawn again and made our way back up to the unsavory choss that guards the Overhanging col. Overhanging tower went down quickly with just a bit of exposed scrambling and we were left staring at the intimidating North Face of Shark's nose. How the hell? We had only brought a half rope and light rack, expecting to simul everything on this day (supposedly to 5.6 with careful routefinding- "act accordingly"). Hmmmmmm. Steve, descending towards Shark's Nose from Overhanging Tower. Careful!: You're supposed to corkscrew around this face, we made it about 2/3rds height before getting lost and intimidated. Both Steve and JP took turns on the sharp end trying to find a reasonable way up the Shark's Nose for three guys without much gear all moving together. Nothing felt casual enough to them and I politely declined to try myself. It all looked way harder than "5.6"! Turns out, we were right on route, just needed to have set up a proper belay and done a real pitch. Oh well....and so we retreated back to the col and camp and went fishing! The fishing is quite good at Lonesome Lake, if you bring a spinning rod. I didn't have hardly any luck with my fly rod, either at the surface or dredging the depths with buggers and a sinking line. A first for me in an alpine lake. JP absolutely slayed them, however! And then we had to come up with a new plan. JP and @Trent were gunning for the other 50 Classic, the NE face of Pingora, but I was worried about slowing them down if I tagged along. And so I came up with a plan to scramble Warbonnet and Warrior (the other end of the Cirque Traverse) while they went and climbed the very good looking rock of Pingora again (no photos from me of their day, maybe they'll add them?). I think we both had fun the next day, but I admit that I probably should have slowed them down instead. The scramble routes on Warbonnet and Warrior and super chossy and not that aesthetic! But great views nonetheless.... Up on the high summits I had good cell coverage so got a forecast. It was trending wet and cold for the next couple of days, especially the next morning. So, reconvened back at camp we thumbed through the guide and stumbled on Bollinger and the "Class 3" route up the NE ridge. By this point we knew to expect 4th class! The next day dawned stormy and wet so we lazed around camp until it looked more promising. Just in case we brought our fishing gear and cached it down at the lake on our way around Pingora to Bollinger. And, as expected, it wasn't straightforward 3rd class, but still good fun nonetheless and recommended if you have iffy weather in the Cirque. Afterwards, it was back to the lake for more fishing! We had one more possible day left to climb, but we also realized that if we left a day early we would have a day at home with our families before heading out to work. And so, satisfied, we enjoyed one last night in the Winds, drinking the rest our whiskey, watching Neowise, and spotting headlamps of tardy climbers on Pingora and Wolf's Head. The next day we slowly packed camp and sauntered out of the range, joining the masses on the trail and merging into the scrum of the parking lot and busy western highways. Where will next year take us? Gear Notes: Bug net and repellent! Standard rack. 60m rope, helmet. Binoculars for late evening "Must see TV" Approach Notes: Follow the herd
  42. 6 points
    Trip: Mt Hood - DKHW Variation 2.5, Flying Buttress Direct, Men of Steel Trip Date: 02/28/2021 Trip Report: I climbed Hood on Sunday 2/28 and again on Wednesday 3/3 and explored a couple lesser-known parts of the Devil's Kitchen Headwall/Steel Cliffs area. @Nolan E Arson and I went up on Sunday with the intention of checking out Devil's Kitchen Headwall variation 1, but were drawn over to the east side of the crater where there was an impressive amount of new rime and more wind-scoured surfaces to walk on. We started by heading up the system of gullies between the normal DKHW 2 and DKHW 3 routes (red line in the photo below; "DKHW 2.5"?). It's very hard to see how or if these connect to the crater rim from below, but the lower climbing looked pretty moderate and reversible. Where the red line turns to the left we found a small section of exposed rock, however it was pretty low angle and all of the rime we had touched so far seemed exceptionally solid so we continued up. Above this the angle increased and there were two obvious options separated by a large overhanging rime fin (center of the photo below). Rather than squeeze through the shadowy slot on the right we climbed a 25-foot near-vertical rime chimney on the left. This turned out to be a mistake. From up higher we could see that we wanted to continue climber's right, but getting back on route by climbing over the rime fin seemed too sketchy as we couldn't tell if it was solid or undercut on the far side and the moves looked pretty committing. Thankfully there was some legitimate ice, we got in a v-thread (initially backed up with almost every screw we had), and rapped back down. We continued by squeezing through the slot to climber's right, which was actually pretty fun climbing despite my leashes and draws snagging the rime literally every time I tried to move. Above this the angle eased off a bit and it was normal rambling rime climbing up to the east crater rim. I'd say this line is totally worth doing, in these conditions at least, mostly just for the fun of squeezing through the steep rime chimney. It's totally possible that with different rime formations it would be a lot harder. We messed around on the crater rim for a few minutes, scouted our next line, and then downclimbed the Flying Buttress (variation 3) variation (orange line in first photo). Flying Buttress is currently pretty rampy and only felt like serious downclimbing for maybe 10 feet at the top, mostly because we were cleaning off a lot of sun-affected rime. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Back in the crater we went a few feet climber's right of the normal Flying Buttress route and started climbing up the big cleft in the rock (yellow line in first photo). I'd been eyeing this line for a while and it seemed like the solid state of the rime made it a good time to try. First photo below is the bottom part of the route. There were very solid sticks despite the obviously thin rime in places. From below it looked like the angle immediately eased off but this was not actually the case. We soloed up to a very small but relatively restful ledge where I was able to place a decent ice screw and chill out for a couple minutes (photo below). Continuing above the first screw: Above this the route curves a bit to the right and the climbing started to become somewhat stressful. The right side of the gully was shaded with patches of good ice, but was mostly exposed rock, and looked way too hard to solo and way too thin to protect with the minimal gear (screws) we had. The left side had a thick coating of rime, so I climbed there, but it was obviously sun-affected and seemed barely weight-bearing. Eventually I traversed back into the shade, managed to get in another decent screw, and kicked a small platform (photo below). Eventually I bumped myself up on top of the next big rock in order to make space: At this point I'd had enough soloing and we got out the rope. @Nolan E Arson hammered one of his tools into a crack to belay, and I led up one final section of steep unstable rime. Of course, as soon as the rope was on, the climbing felt chill and easy, even though the anchor and couple screws I placed were probably complete trash. I stopped at a big ledge that we had previously seen from the top of the crater rim, belayed from there, and then it was easy rambling to the top. Curiously there is a fumarole on this ledge which is maybe not visible from anywhere else on the mountain (photo below). Also near the top out was a completely enclosed, Patagonia-style rime tunnel. I decided not to squeeze through since I would've had to remove my pack. Overall this line was quite challenging. It's consistently steep and exposed with minimal opportunities for protection and is clearly a step up in difficultly from, say, DKHW variation 1. I would climb it again but I would probably bring a variety of light rock pro and do it first thing in the morning before the sun starts to soften any of the rime. We downclimbed Flying Buttress again and descended. On the descent we found about 15 dead Northern Pintails (ducks) that looked like they had smashed into the side of the mountain during the last storm. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I went back up on Wednesday with Kyle hoping to get a quick climb in before I had to work. We climbed some variation of the Men of Steel route. Perhaps we were supposed to start lower on climber's right but I'm not sure because someone stole my guidebook. There were a couple steep moves to get off the ground, but I couldn't take any pictures as I was struggling with the barfies. Traversing to the right required some thought but was generally not too steep or difficult. The crux of the route is where it slants left (where the red line disappears in the photo). There is an exposed slab of rock here that's visible from the crater. I think we both made one move with our left crampon on the rock, though it's possible the previous people to climb this had to deal with more exposed rock (@Nolan E Arson? Alex?). Kyle coming up a bit more steep stuff, with the big slab visible on the mid-right part of the photo: Above this was one set of rime towers/gullies to get through: Eventually Kyle took a gully to the right, cleaning off a ton of rime in the process (action shot below). While waiting for him and trying to stay out of the way I went up to the left a bit and ended up climbing a different rime chimney since there were a few reasonable but fun-looking options. We topped out and then followed the rest of the Wy'east route to the summit. The crux traverse of the Wy'east route was consolidated and not very scary. The rest of the slopes up to the summit were typical deep postholing bullshit. Gear Notes: Various Approach Notes: Skinned to top of Palmer where it became the normal sea of rime, cramponed from there.
  43. 6 points
    Thanks for writing this Sean! It's an honor to be apart of the first full N-Index winter trip report. This route is so much bigger than I could have imagined. In it's current condition there is a direct ice line that bypasses the N-rib mixed climbing and goes straight up some sweet looking alpine ice. I wish we would have taken this, as it would have shaved probably an hour or more off of our climb. I would probably give the route in these conditions AI3- M5. Strava Track HERE And the only decent photos I got from my camera. Racking up at the base The belay below the N-rib Sean leading across the gendarmes
  44. 6 points
    Trip: Wy'east (Mt. Hood) - Fric-Amos Trip Date: 01/23/2021 Trip Report: I went up to the Black Spider last weekend with Lindsey and Riley. We found the Fric-Amos in very nice condition but were too late on a warm day and bailed up an easy mixed pitch to the L of the main pitch. Thankfully the weather granted me another opportunity and I came back this weekend with Kyle to get it done. Noah and Matt saw my Insta story from the first weekend and jumped on the send train. They acted as true gentlemen, coordinating with us and giving us a head start. The route is currently in good condition (but don't expect a straightforward WI4). We used an approach pitch to the R of the original both times that follows an easy ice slot (the original would probably go but is discontinuous ice blobs up a vertical cliff). The crux pitch is a full 60m or could be broken up, expect tricky and sustained climbing but with good ice. Above this snow slopes take you through one more short ice step and up to the summit ridge. This may be one of the more frequently formed ice routes on the Spider given that it is in a shaded cleft, unlike most of the other routes. Though you are basically going for one mega pitch, it is very good and I would recommend it! I talked to Bill Amos the next day and he believes ours was the 3rd (and Noah and Matt the 4th) ascent of the route (2nd was Marcus and Marsha, go figure). Awesome sunrise approaching on first attempt... Lindsey and Riley below the face, clearly too late... The face... Closer view of the Fric-Amos (original approach pitch is on the L, our approach pitch was on the far R of the hanging snow field)... Riley following the approach pitch, classic slot... Our escape pitch... The crux pitch (taken during from 1st attempt)... Kyle booting up to the face on attempt 2 (much earlier)... Kyle's pic, me below the face... Kyle's pics, me on the crux... Looking down from top of crux... Kyle leading above crux... Looking down from ropes off... Summit selfiez... Gear Notes: Screws: 2xstub, 4x13, 2x16, 1x22 (used for the belay but not any good) Rock gear: nuts, cams 0.4-0.75, pins (not used), 2 med hexes (not used) Plenty of slings if you're going to do the crux as one pitch. Approach Notes: Boots from Timberline, crossed White River ~8,800ft.
  45. 5 points
    Trip: Goode Mountain - Megalodon Ridge Trip Date: 08/29/2021 Trip Report: Megalodon Ridge. An evocative name for an evocative climb on Goode Mountain, the tallest peak in the North Cascades National Park. Priti and I have been struck by its lore ever since we were students learning to alpine climb. It is another one of those mythical Cascades test pieces that rarely sees ascents (although it really should get more attention). Megalodon Ridge is the East ridge of Goode, joining with Memaloose Ridge and Goode Ridge from the Southeast before it reaches the summit. The climb ascends with foreboding views out onto Goode’s impressive North Face and the highly aesthetic, classic NE Buttress. Put up in 2007 by local legends Blake Herrington and Sol Wertkin over three days with recon by Dan Hilden, we were maybe the sixth known ascent. Dan and Jens Holsten made the second ascent in 2010 over a blistering 27 hour single push. FA TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/53892-tr-mt-goode-megalodon-ridge-iv-510/?_fromLogin=1 Second Ascent TRs: - http://jensholsten.blogspot.com/2010/09/sound-of-goode.html - https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/76094-tr-mount-goode-megalodon-ridge-932010/ Other folks who have successfully put their hat in the ring include local heroes of ours: Alex Ford, Laurel Fan, Austin Siadak, Michael Telstad, and Sean Fujimori…all people we have no business having our names in the same sentence…which added to the improbableness of this climb. With new standards in moderate 5th-class choss tolerance, however, I think it’s time to lift the veil on this elusive climb. Named after the prehistoric behemoth of the ocean, fish-themed snacks are a must. 33.5miles and 8,500ft vert round trip make this climb a relatively chill 3-4 day outing, an ambitious 2 day outing if you’re a pro climber, and an unfathomable single push outing if you’re a demi-god. Being mere mortals, we did this as a casual 3-day outing with lots of time to spare. Since its inclusion in Blake’s 2015 “Cascades Rock”, those pages went unconfronted for six years until Michael and Sean posted of their adventure this past July, reigniting its possibility. Michael TR: https://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/topic/104101-tr-mount-goode-megalodon-ridge-07192021/ Michael had an amazing trip report that helped us immensely. The purpose of this TR is to sprinkle in some more micro beta if you choose to have less of an adventure. Strategy Tips The route could feasibly be done in 2 days by a very fast team of folks who are used to covering many miles of trail quickly. But it is actually a very moderate outing when done in 3 or 4 days. I'll outline all bivy options. You never really need to carry much water with you unless you plan to bivy on the summit. We chose to carry less water on the route, and skip the summit bivy, since it's just an hour or two down the SW Couloir to flowing water. The Goode Mountain summit bivy is truly remarkable and a destination in and of itself. There are two ledges at the very top which can fit four, then two more ledges 60m below the summit which can fit four more. Sleeping on top is REALLY COLD, however, and you can get away with bringing less clothes if you don't sleep on top. You really don't need to have a stove on this trip either since there is enough flowing water (unless the daily high's are below freezing in early season). We regret bringing a stove. Save every ounce In all of my anecdotal polling data, nobody has taken the alternate wraparound descent as described in Cascade Rock. Seems to be generally difficult and sketchy, requiring gnarly glacier travel and crampons. Most parties who do the NE Buttress go down the SW Couloir to Park Creek, and it's kind of nice to just take the normal descent and avoid any extra shenanigans. So...recommend just taking the normal descent. There is still some weirdness going down to Park Creek, however, and we had to check our tracks frequently. Many tracks are available on Peakbagger.com You can probably skip crampons and ice axe. The SW Couloir doesn't really require it, although you will find chill snow travel on descent. There is a snow ridgeline along Megalodon Ridge (the ski descent). Depending on the time of summer, you may be on top of the snow, in a moat, or in choss. If you're on top, you can probably get away with just belaying across if you're worried about the exposure. Pair down the weight!! We brought light glacier harnesses and loved it! We clipped gear onto our backpack waist straps and all draws went around the neck. There is really only 4 roped pitches. The descent is between 2 and 6 rappels depending on how much down-climbing you're comfortable with, so you don't really need a regular harness, unless you're bringing more than a single rack. A single rack .2-3 and a few small nuts is more than enough if you plan to solo <5.6 terrain. Bring more gear if you plan to simul. You can even skip the #3 if you are really confident at 5.9. Less is more. Headphones and downloaded podcasts make the 20 mile hike out go faster. Skip the chalk bag. Maybe bring a tiny tube of liquid chalk. If you're confident in climbing 5.8 in techy approach shoes, you could maybe skip rock shoes altogether. Cache beverages at Maple Creek on the way in so you have it on the way out! There are really just 3 mandatory pitches of climbing all stacked on the headwall, and two additional optional pitches (the rest is 4th class and low 5th). To start off, I personally highly recommend roping up at the top of Tower 1 for the downclimb to the first notch since it is megaloose 5.6 downclimbing with mega exposure (Note: the FA party rappelled 50m to the south, not recommended). Then unrope for the traverse up/over/around gendarmes until the headwall pitches (4th class and low 5th). Bypass gendarmes logically via lines of least resistance (sometimes up and over, sometimes around). Rope up for the three headwall pitches to the summit of the SE summit: 1) 35m of LOOSE 5.7-5.10 (depending on which variation you chose), 2) 30m of 5.9 (technical crux of route) with many hand cracks, 3) 70m (simul) of LOOSE 5.7 to the SE summit (you can stop before summit if you don't want to simul). Then unrope again, pass over the "ski descent" snow ridge, downclimb talus Gain the rocky ridgeline again and pass a prominent col (not to be confused with Black Tooth Notch) Continue on the rocky ridgeline, passing a piton and an old sling (5.6), continuing mostly on top of the ridgeline to the final gendarme just before the Black Tooth Notch. Blake describes it as "a pitch of well-protected 5.10 climbing on the north side of the crest down into the notch" (Michael down-graded it to 5.9). We found a 4th class route on the South side (climber's left) which bypassed the gendarme entirely, if you want to lose cool points. Cross over the Black Tooth Notch (the SW Couloir), notice the rap stations, then an exposed traverse (cairn here) meets up with the NE Buttress. Three 30m pitches of exposed and quality 5.6 (angling severely up and right) take you to the summit. We downclimbed the 5.6 back to the Black Tooth Notch, skipped the first rappel at the notch, scrambled down 15m to the next rappel, then made two raps (30m then 15m). I highly recommend not trying to downclimb these two rappels...just take them, it's steep, loose terrain. Approach Start from Bridge Creek Trailhead (just East of the Rainy Pass Trailhead) and take the PCT south, leaving it for the North Fork Bridge Creek trail (this is also the approach for the NE Buttress of Goode). Starting from the Bridge Creek TH instead of Rainy Pass saves an extra mile of hiking. Our downloadable tracks once you leave the North Fork Bridge Creek Trail and getting up on to the ridge are here: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765 Pictured above is the turnoff from the North Fork Bridge Creek trail which matches the tracks. It's an obvious boot pack that quickly turns into easy bushwhacking through alder. This turnoff is approximately when the trail is closest to the creek. Pictured above is the minor bushwhacking (knee to waist) over the creek (hidden) to gain Megalodon Ridge (right side of the frame). The bushwhacking will be much harder if it's just after a rain. When you get close to the creek the bushwhacking goes over head just for a little bit. We took lessons that Michael and Sean learned and stayed on land through the dense brush, heading upstream for ~50ft along the creekbed instead of attacking the creek directly and wading upstream in the icy water. When you pop out onto the creek, don't get in the creek until you confidently see your egress point. You don't want to spend more time in the creek than necessary. I got screaming barflies just from our straight-line crossing. If you don't see the super obvious exit point (circled in red above), keep plowing upstream through the dense brush. Once on the other side of the creek, a little more bushwhacking takes you to a rocky stream bed which you follow for a ways until you reach a chockstone waterfall (get water here). You have 2-4hrs until you reach water again (approximately 1/4) up the ridge, so you don't need to carry too much. Chockstone Waterfall. Follow ledges high and right until it opens up. Follow the stream until you get to the chockstone waterfall (where the green track diverges). Cross the creek over to the North (Megalodon) side and skirt the the top of the canyon wall until it opens up...don't go straight up the ridgeline. Follow open slopes up to the top of the ridgeline until you get to a small saddle and a 5.4 buttress. This 60m buttress is super loose and scary, so spend some extra time looking for a safe route up. Above the buttress is a few more hours of 4th class hiking and scrambling to the top of Tower 1. There is mild exposure on the final ridge to the top of Tower 1, but it's easy climbing. From the top of the buttress to the water are several really good bivy sites. At the water source is flat snow and boulders (not really a good, dry bivy site), so find something lower down on the ridge and hike up to retrieve water. This is the last flowing water until the Goode High Camp basin below the SW Couloir (1-2hrs after reaching the summit), so fill up a day's worth or more if overnighting on the summit. You also have the option to melt snow at "ski descent" along the way if you chose (no flowing water here). 4th class ridge to the top of Tower 1. Looking over onto the North Face and the awesome NE Buttress route. Neat pic. Pano of Memaloose Ridge as it meets up with Megalodon at Tower 1 on the right. From the top of Tower 1. The "headwall" is on the left (SE Summit) which contains three roped pitches. The FA party rappelled 50m to the South then traversed to the notch (not recommended). Other parties since have downclimbed. The downclimbing is loose, exposed 5.6...highly recommend roping up! You can unrope again down at the notch (~2 rope lengths). Unroped, easy scrambling up/over/around several gendarmes to reach the headwall. The traverse from Tower 1 to the SE Summit Headwall. Once at the headwall, choose your own adventure. The first pitch is 30-60m (depending on how high up you start belaying) of 5.7-5.10 climbing. Belay under an obvious corner on a ledge. The second pitch is quality 5.8 or 5.9 (the technical crux of the route) hands and fists for 30m to a ledge below the final ridgeline to the summit. The third pitch is 70m of unprotect able 5.7 ridge climbing (stacked, loose blocks) to the SE summit. You can stop short of the summit if you don't want to simul. Blake suggested the SE summit as potentially a good bivy, but I didn't see anything that looked mildly comfortable. Press on to the summit or the Goode High Camp. Looking down from the belay at the top of Pitch 1. You can see the ridge traverse down to Tower 1 (center), Megaladon Ridge (left), and Memaloose Ridge (right). Could be a neat trip to take Memaloose into Megalodon Ridge! Looking up at pitch 2. Start in the corner and traverse left. From here we unroped for the rest of the way (and we're not very good rock climbers either). You can also put on your approach shoes for the talus. Cross over the snow (it is all choss now). Melt snow here if needed, no running water. Downclimb talus and start back up the ridge, staying mostly directly on the ridge. The final obstacle is a gendarme guarding the Black Tooth Notch. Go right (North) for the 5.10 original route (5.10 or 5.9) or downclimb and go around left (South) for our 4th class cheater-bypass route to gain the Notch. Once at the Black Tooth Notch, traverse right (North) to join the NE Buttress. Climb 3x 30m pitches of quality, exposed 5.6, trending right to reach the summit. You can then make 3 traverse-y rappels back down to Black Tooth Notch or downclimb. Recommend taking two rappels down Black Tooth Notch (30m, then 15m) since it is very loose and steep. Here is a really good description of the descent: https://engineeredforadventure.com/goode-mountain-northeast-buttress/ Looking back at the final gendarme before the Black Tooth Notch at the two route options (photo taken from Black Tooth Notch looking East). Photo of the entire Megalodon Ridge! By now, you should be able to pick out "Tower 1", "SE Summit", and "final gendarme". I'm not going to overlay them for you . The photo is taken from the ledge traverse on the North side looking back at Black Tooth Notch. Another view of the "final gendarme" and the 5.9/5.10 downclimb on the North (shady) side that we did not do. Fish-themed snacks are mandatory. Looking up from the normal descent towards the SW Couloir. A long, but straight-forward descent down to Park Creek Trail and 20miles on trail back to the car. There is a good High Camp bivy site with water in the basin below the couloir: N 48.48025° W 120.91991° Gear Notes: single rack .2-3, few nuts, 8 single alpine draws, 3 double alpine draws, light glacier harness Approach Notes: Tracks: https://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1748765
  46. 5 points
    Trip: Mount Goode - Northeast Buttress Trip Date: 07/11/2021 Trip Report: David and I are highly skilled at turning classic, moderate alpine routes into masochistic adventures. You'd think we'd learn, particularly since we have over a century of outdoor experiences between us, but maybe the truth is that we like to suffer. Like many alpine routes, conditions on the NE Buttress of Goode are everything. Too early and the creek crossings are treacherous. Too late and the moat at the top of the glacier can be hard to cross safely. There's a third factor we didn't realize was important: water sources high on the route. That turned out to be the most memorable part of our trip, as you'll see. My biggest worry was the crossing of the N Fork of Bridge Creek. A week before our trip, during our record-breaking heat wave, a friend and his girlfriend had found the creek impassable and bushwhacked a mile upstream to find a safe way across, adding two miles of cross country travel to their trip. A day later, another party turned around entirely in the face of a raging torrent. But temps had dropped. Was the crossing better? I remembered there's a flow gauge on the StehekinIn River, downstream of the North Fork. The data were encouraging: the river was at 6500 CFS when multiple parties found the N Fork crossing impassable, and it had dropped to 2500 CFS at the time we were going. We were a go! The first ten miles on the Pacific Crest Trail went smoothly. It was fun to chat with PCT thru hikers just starting South on their journey. Just before the North Fork junction, we ran into four friendly climbers who'd just come off of Goode. They allayed my concerns about the crossing and gave us a key piece of beta for the descent. They gestured at my splinted thumb, which I'd jammed in the gym a couple of weeks earlier: "Can you hand jam with that?" "Should be OK", I said. Starting off the trip with an injury wasn't ideal, but I didn't think it would affect us much. Grizzly Creek was easily crossed on a log, and then the trail got a bit brushy. It was a warm day, but nothing too bad. When we emerged from the brush at the traditional crossing point, I was relieved to see that it looked pretty mellow. The whole route - 6000 feet from river to summit.- stretched up in front of us. Skies were clear, most of the seasonal snow had melted, and it was getting hot just in time for our steep ascent to camp. The river was just over knee deep. So far so good, but a hidden dragon was about to rear its head. David had spent the previous day on the Snoqualmie River with friends. He'd gotten quite dehydrated and hadn't really recovered. The afternoon heat was taking its toll on him, and his energy was waning just as we were about to start up 2500 feet of fairly steep terrain to our intended camp. Usually, David carries more shared gear as he's faster than me. Not today. He handed me the rope and we started up. There were a few sections of steep scrambling where a fall would be bad. My tolerance for high consequence terrain has waned in recent years, but this was still just third class. Lots of lovely waterfalls. Then there were two sections of holdless, licheny fourth class scrambling where a fall would be fatal. Being tired and having a heavy (for me) pack didn't help my confidence. David kindly trailed the rope on the second section and gave me a hip belay. Then the "Magical alder tunnel" began. The tent caterpillars had eaten almost every leaf in a long section, so there was no canopy to protect us from the afternoon sun. Eventually, we emerged onto a small ridge next to a snowy creek. It looks flat, but it's definitely not. The skies were mostly blue except for a funny looking cloud to the north...more on that later. We would head up to the sun/shade line and veer up and left to the 5600 bivy. In the hall of giants. I like to imagine Fred coming up this way on the first ascent in 1966, before North Cascades became a National Park in 1968, before the North Cascades Highway was completed in 1972, and before the Pacific Crest Trail was completed in 1993. Storm King David is a master of micro naps. If he gets 15 minutes ahead on the trail I'll find him fast asleep. I kept going, with the summit of Goode looming over us. We reached the bivy, ate, admired the sunset, and settled down for the night. No rodent visitors. A bright meteor flashed across my dreams. We were lucky. At dawn, it smelled like smoke. That funny cloud was smoke from a fire that would close Highway 20 during our trip. Would our egress be cut off? Who knew? For now, there was only one way to go: up. Smoky sunrise with a few mosquitoes photo bombing above my head. Paintbrush We moved right below a steeper section of glacier. The seasonal snow was mostly gone, and the glacier crossing was trivial. This three inch iridescent beetle was out for a walk, probably looking for tasty critters to eat. Approaching the toe of the buttress. l The moat, which can be treacherous late season, was very straightforward, thank goodness. Everything was going great... And then we had a kerfuffle trying to get over to the crest of the buttress. We knew the goal was to angle up and right to the crest, but we were turned back by several steep dead ends with absolutely atrocious rock. We backed off two lines before finally finding one that felt OK. No one else ever mentioned this section as a significant obstacle in the reports we'd read, so there was no beta. Oh well. Just keep trying. At the final lip, I was mantling over onto the crest, both hands pointed down, feet in the air, when I couldn't move. Something was holding me back. My last gear was 15 feet behind me. A fall would be ugly. Apparently a tricam on the rack dangling from my shoulder had lodged in a crack at the height of my knees. It cammed perfectly and set itself to prevent upward movement. Grrrr. I tried fiddling with it, blindly, with one hand while balancing on the other. No bueno. I had to reverse the mantle, find a stance, use the nut tool to clean it, and complete the mantle to gain the crest. F$%^ing hell! I was beginning to think the mountain was sending us a signal. We had finally gained the crest of the buttress after three hours of poking around on the choss in the sun. That certainly wasn't part of our plan. David and I both are very rational when it comes to sunk costs, and we had both internally come to the same assessment of our situation: Yes, it's a bummer that it's noon instead of 9AM, but we're here, we have plenty of water and gear, retreat would be very unpleasant, and we might as well just climb. So we put three hours of frustration behind us and started climbing. The route flowed pretty smoothly. We simul-climbed most of it, only stopping to belay three fantastic pitches that I got to lead. One was this nice arete feature. Shortly before the large bivy ledge, I looked down and saw a piton that Fred may have placed on the first ascent in 1966. We reached the bivy ledges in the late afternoon and decided it was best to stop as we didn't want to climb by headlamp, and we weren't sure if there was snow we could melt near the summit. As it turned out, there was only one small patch of snow left. It was about six feet long and a foot thick. We would melt most of it, but it wasn't as pure or tasty as we imagined. Step 1: bring snow over to our melting pot. Hey what are those black specks? Probably just lichen or dirt.... There sure are a lot of those black specks. We poured the water into my nalgene and David took a long drink. Hey, those black things look like pine needles - but there are no trees up here. They also kind of look like tiny worms. David looked down into the nalgene and the black bits swam away from him toward the bottom. AAAGGHHHH!!!! They're alive! And there sure were a lot of them. It's one thing to drink a pine needle or a piece of dirt. It's quite another to gulp down dozens of tiny, writhing worms eager to burrow into your brain. Actually, we reasoned that if they lived in snow they'd probably die quickly in our guts, but I didn't really want to test out that theory. David was patient zero. I've seen our local glacier worms. These were shorter. Maybe a larval stage? Or a different organism? My glasses and camera were not powerful enough to reallly see them, and I wasn't sure I wanted a clear picture of these critters anyway given that we'd be drinking this water in any case. I imagine that as the snow patch got smaller they packed tighter and tighter into the last remaining section. They seemed to sink. We tried decanting them and then wiping off the sides of the pot with a clean corner of my sock. Not very effective. So we filtered the melt water through a clean shirt as best we could. The host of worms that piled up was impressive. The filtrate was mostly clear, but it tasted like shrimp soup. I added Nuun and protein powder, but it still tasted absolutely vile. I almost gagged, and I'm not squeamish. This would be our only water until almost noon the following day. Drink up! We could only laugh. I laid out the rope for a nice nighttime nylon nest. Added my pad Testing. Testing. And ready! I really hoped we wouldn't spend the night fighting off a packrat (aka bushy-tailed woodrat). They are notorious for stealing belay devices, cups, lighters, and anything that might look nice in their midden, which is typically a huge pile of petrified poop and pee build up over decades under a large rock. I saw what looked like the main midden entrance and stacked some blocks in front of it in hopes of distracting the beast. We never saw hide nor hair of the vermin. The smoky sunrise was stunning. And some spectacular flowers caught the light just right. And then it was time to head for the summit. The last section was steeper than we expected but still quite moderate. Here is David coming up the last section to the summit, with our river crossing visible 6000 feet below. The views were great, except for the pesky smoke. We hoped we were heading away from it rather than toward it, but it was hard to tell. We'd heard there might be a snow patch in a notch just North of the summit. We found the notch, but it was bone dry. Good thing we stoped at the bivy ledge. It would have been a very thirsty night up on the summit. Wormy water is better than no water. We rapped down off the summit and belayed a short section of exposed scrambling on the way to Black Tooth notch. And then we could see our destination far below: Park Creek. Only a vertical mile to go. And now the beta the four climbers gave us came in handy: on the second rappel, go straight down a full 30 meters. If you angle skier's left, as the terrain seems to suggest, you then have to pendulum along steep terrain to get to the right spot. After that it was several hundred feet of choss gully scrambling to a small trail veering out of the gully to the left. The South Face loomed above us. We finally reached snow around 7500 feet. A short bit of boot skiing ensued. Then we found water that was far, far better than that nasty shrimp soup we'd been drinking. I found some mysterious tracks. Five distinct toes with claws - so not a cat. Probably too small for wolverine. Probably too big for pine marten. ermine, or mink. Maybe a fisher? I don't know. You tell me. Here's the North Cascades mammals list: https://irma.nps.gov/NPSpecies/Reports/SpeciesList/Species Checklist/NOCA/1/false l Another alpine micronap with the Ptarmigan traverse on the horizon. Looking back toward the summit. Sporadic flower snapshots help fend off the double vision I sometimes get from relentless downhill pounding. The heather was stunning. But we were about to enter the dreaded burn zone. We made our way straight down the ridge but never saw a climber's trail. It got more and more unpleasant as we got lower. David's dehydration was catching up with him. By the time we reached a small creek a half mile above Park Creek, David was stumbling nearly every other step. The burn zone and eroding creekbed was the worst terrain he could remember, with rocks moving under him with almost every step. My experience wasn't quite that bad, and I know we've done worse together, so we decided his dehydration was turning into heat stroke, a potentially serious issue. The trail seemed to move further away as we drew closer, a cruel jest. Finally, we reached the Park Creek trail. David was spent. We poured a liter and a half of cold water in him, and he took a nap in the shade. That helped. I carried as many heavy things as possible on the last section down toward Stehekin. The Park Creek trail had some blow downs that were not fun. Several times I took off my heavy pack and dragged it on the ground while I crawled under a log. Once clear, I'd hoist it onto my back and start walking, only to see the next ball buster log just down the trail. I wasn't dehydrated or suffering from heat stroke, but I was pretty spent, and my lower left leg had some pain with each step. It was starting to swell. My pants didn't survive the trip. We crashed at the Park Creek campground near the Stehekin River and wrapped my rapidly swelling calf in a compression bandage. I slept with it elevated up on my pack, hardly notcing the few mosquitoes flying around. The long but easy march back to the car began at 6AM. Here we are tightening the bandage on my leg for the final few miles. Side note: on the first trip David and I did together, Slesse, we had some heinous bushwhacking, and I came away with a swollen lower leg. It didn't go down after a week, so my wife, who is a physician, convinced me to have it scanned to see if it was deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can spin off clots that can bump up to your heart and kill you. It wasn't DVT, but ultrasound showed a three inch laceration inside my leg that was bleeding internally. It would take a month to heal. I wasn't sure what was up with my leg this time, but I could walk just fine. I made sure to get ahead of the swelling by compressing it during our hike. As usual, good conversation made the miles move faster. Flowers, butterflies, and views don't hurt either. Back at the junction between PCT and North Fork. The North Cascades in their summer glory. Seeds ready to ride on the wind. Distant peaks. The final stretch of trail. And the end of our adventure. Highway 20 was closed just East of us, but we could drive West. Beers were cooled. And we swam in the lake. Another moderate masochistic march in the books. As sometimes happens on our trips, the hard parts were easy and the easy parts were hard. My thumb and leg have healed, but I'm still traumatized by the shrimp soup we had to drink. I'll never again hear "pure as the driven snow" without thinking of those mysterious worms. Gag. Gear Notes: 60m rope, rack Approach Notes: Hwy 20 via Pacific Crest Trail
  47. 5 points
    Trip: Pik Pobeda, Kyrgyzstan - Abalakov Trip Date: 08/09/2021 Trip Report: Pik Pobeda (24,406ft) via Abalakov route (VI,5.6,WI2/3,60 deg snow) Pik Pobeda viewed from South Inylchek basecamp (note the big avalanche on the north face) Highest Mountain in Kyrgyzstan Aug 9, 2021 Eric Gilbertson and Andreas Ritzau Aug 6 – leave bc climb glacier in snowstorm to 5200m Aug 7 – climb left side of triangle over massive 50ft cornices, 5.6 mixed rock ice pitch and ice pitch to 5800m passing Russian team on their descent Aug 8 – climb more huge cornices, rock pitch, ice pitch, dig platform under serac at 6600m Aug 9 – tough steep trailbreaking in snow then ice climb to summit ridge and true east summit. Descend to 6600m camp in wind and whiteout Aug 10 – rap and downclimb to 6000m in extreme wind Aug 11 – rap, downclimb cornices, descend all way to BC by 10pm Aug 12 – helicopter out, ride to Bishkek Our route I originally posted a call for partners on cc for this trip, so figured I'd put up a report for it now that I'm back. Pik Pobeda is considered the northernmost 7000m peak in the world and the most difficult of the famous snow leopard peaks (the five 7000m peaks of the former soviet union). Pobeda has notoriously bad weather and all routes to the summit are technically difficult and dangerous. The peak lies on the Kyrgyzstan-China border near the Kazakhstan tri-border point and is affected by the weather of the Taklamakan desert to the south and glaciers to the north. The normal route on Pobeda requires climbing over technical terrain to 7000m on the west ridge and then following the ridge for a full 6km to the summit, then returning the same way. The technical sections up to the ridge are usually fixed each year so don’t pose problems. But the 7000m ridge is quite dangerous because it could take all day or multiple days to move along the ridge and back if snow conditions are bad. If the weather deteriorates, which is common, retreat is very difficult. Route overview (photo by Markus Gschwendt, summitpost, some camp locations different than ours) An alternative route, and the route of the first ascent, is the Abalakov route. This route follows a steep and more technical ridge up the north face directly to the col between the west and east summits and allows nearly direct access to the true east summit. This route has two main advantages. Most important is it does not require a long and dangerous ridge traverse because it is so direct. Thus, if the weather turns bad on the summit it is easy and quick to bail to a lower elevation. Second, it allows direct access to the true eastern summit, with no temptation to bail early on the false summit. Helicoptering to basecamp Andreas and I were in Kyrgyzstan climbing snow leopard peaks and our top priority for the summer was Pobeda. Pobeda itself is not a great peak to use for acclimation so we started the summer with a three-week climb of Lenin Peak, a relatively easy 7000er. Next we helicoptered to south Inylchek to climb Khan Tengri, another 7000m peak and the highest mountain in Kazakhstan. By climbing two 7000m peaks with low altitude Russian rests in between we hoped to be very well acclimated for an attempt on Pobeda. We arrived in south Inylchek base camp in late July and by August 2 had climbed Khan Tengri and made it back to base camp. By then the first few teams of the season had just started up Pobeda. Interestingly the season for Pobeda tends to be very short. Teams generally don’t start up til early August (having spent July acclimating on other peaks), but then by late August the season ends with the last scheduled helicopter flights out. Good views of Khan Tengri from the other side of camp We talked to lots of other climbers over a few days at the dinner tent and I came away with the impression that almost everyone there is some sort of elite athlete. There were Piolet D’or winners going for a new route on Topographers Peak, the president of the Moscow Alpine Club who’d already climbed Pobeda twice, K2 guides, the owner of Summitclimb guiding company, Swiss guys who’d skied Dhalguiri, and I’m sure everyone else had crazy mountaineering resumes too. We spent some time hanging out with an Iranian team planning to climb the normal route on Pobeda, and a Hungarian team working to fix lines up Dicky Pass. Over the next few days while resting we watched two teams on the Abalakov route through a telephoto lens and saw them get above 6000m on the ridge. All teams are required to check in with Dima every two hours on the radio for status updates. I could listen in on my own radio but unfortunately all other teams generally speak Russian so I couldn’t understand what was going on. But we talked to Dima and he said the teams on the Abalakov route reported stable snow and they planned to summit on Thursday Aug 5. The teams on the normal route were a bit lower still at 6400m. We planned to take the Abalakov route, given the safe snow conditions reported. Our meteorologist friend Chris Tomer was sending us daily weather forecasts and it looked like Monday morning would be clear with low wind. That could potentially be perfect timing if we left soon. Hiking up the Zvezdochka Glacier looking back towards basecamp Aug 6 Friday morning we were packed and moving by7:30am. Out of camp we followed a decent trail through the moraine marked by cairns and flags. Our packs were pretty heavy since we were carrying our big Olympus mons 8000m boots and hiking in our smaller hiking boots plus a week of food. After a few hours we reached the edge of the glacier ice and stopped for a break. We switched into our Olympus mons boots and glacier gear and our packs got a bit lighter. We hid our small hiking boots under a rock and were soon moving on the glacier. The route was icy and a bit tricky to follow. Unfortunately the fresh snow from a few days earlier had melted so it was hard to see tracks, and the occasional flags en route had all fallen over. In general we crossed to the west side of the Zvezdochka glacier, then followed it due south. We wove around quite a few crevasses and eventually climbed high enough to reach fresh snow and find some tracks to follow. We soon reached a flowing meltwater stream to top off our nalgenes, and then the intersection where our route diverged from the normal route. Looking towards the apron on the left From there we headed towards the northwest corner of the big apron at the bottom of the Abalakov ridge. I could actually barely make out the tracks from the Russians on that corner. That was kind of surprising since it had been a week since they’d gone up, but I guess it hadn’t really snowed much in the past week. I could also make out an old avy crown on the broad north face of the apron, but the route avoided the face and looked safe. We stuck to the icy melted out section of the Zvezdochka glacier for a while, then jumped a melt stream. From there we postholed a short ways then met up with the Russians tracks. The tracks were badly melted out and in the heat of the afternoon we still sunk through them but they at least provided a little support and helped us navigate. It looked like they must have triggered the top few inches of snow to slide off from there tracks but it was very stable by now. Climbing up to the pedestal in a snow storm We marched up steeply with Andreas breaking trail first then me taking over. As predicted by mid afternoon the clouds rolled in and it started snowing. Our progress was a bit slower than hoped for with the soft conditions but finally by 5pm we crested the flat plateau (the “pedestal”) at 5200m that is the traditional camp location. We found a flat spot that looked like it was the sight of the Russians camp and pitched our tent there. At 6pm I radioed Dima and asked if he knew where the Russians were. I was surprised we hadn’t seen them coming down. But he just said “problem” and wanted us to get off the radio so he could talk to other teams. (I would later learn the Iranian team on the normal route had lost a climber around this time and the Russian team had had an accident and Dima probably wanted to hear updates from them – see article with full details on Iranian climber accidents https://explorersweb.com/2021/08/12/pobeda-peak-fatalities-timeline/.) Camp 1 at 5200m the next morning, looking up at the triangle Aug 7 The next morning we started up at 8am under sunny skies. From 5200m there are two options – you can either go up the right or left edge of the giant triangle to gain the narrow Abalakov ridge in the middle. Markus on summitpost recommends the right side but this is steeper and looks more prone to slide. The Russian tracks went up the left (east) side, which looked narrower and more technical but probably safer from avalanches. We followed the Russians route, reasoning that they reached the summit so their route must work. As we wound onto the ridge the tracks soon disappeared, covered by the previous night’s snow, and trailbreaking became difficult. We also started to get a bit more intimidated by the route above us. The ridge was covered in massive cornices bigger than I’d ever seen before. Some were at least 50ft tall and must have taken years (decades?) to form. Climbing the left side of the triangle One section was so steep, though, no cornices covered it and it looked like a rock cliff we’d need to climb. This looked a lot tougher than the right side but we continued, reasoning it must go and be safe if six climbers just made it up a few days earlier. They would certainly have implicitly tested snow and cornice stability by their passage, so following their route was probably one of the safest ways up the mountain. We took turns breaking trail steeply up the cornices, trying to stay in the faint traces of the old track. It’s a tricky balance – we wanted to be far enough from the left edge to not risk breaking it off, but far enough from the right edge not to slide off the steep slope. We were generally able to find a safe balance and eventually climbed to the base of the rock cliff. Breaking trail up the cornices (photo by Andreas) There it looked like two tent platforms dug out on the ridge. Maybe the Russians had had even more challenging trail breaking conditions than we did if they had only made it there after camp 2. We stopped at the platforms to assess the cliff. It was about 30m high, nearly vertical rock, luckily with plenty of cracks for me to get gear in. There was a rotten ancient fixed rope in the middle that likely wouldn’t even hold body weight which I didn’t plan to touch. At the top of the cliff was a small broken cornice and what looked like a thin, unprotectable snow climb about 30m more back onto a deeper snow ridge. Climbing the rock pitch (photo by Andreas) It looked doable, probably around 5.6, and I was encouraged by the gear options, so I decided to give it a go, but it would be tough. I’d be climbing around 18,000ft in crampons and gloves in single digit temperatures, carrying an ice ax in one hand and a week of supplies on my back. And the exposure was about 3000ft. I decided to first lighten my load and give Andreas a few heavy items since he’d be on toprope for the climb. Then I pounded Andreas’s ice axe and picket into the snow to make an anchor and he put me on belay. I tiptoed out on a small snow finger then reached my left frontpoints out to balance on a narrow ledge. I quickly got in a small cam before looking down at the immense exposure under my legs. From there I delicately worked my way up, balancing frontpoints on thin ledges and hooking other ledges with my ice tool. I got three solid cams in before reaching the ridgecrest and the end of the rock. There I crossed to the other side and carefully made my way up the thinly snow-covered rock. Luckily there was a patch of ice I could get a screw into, but that was my last gear option. Near the top I made a tricky move over a rock bulge then finally reached lower angle deeper snow. I was at the end of the 60m rope by then so dug down to firm snow and made an anchor with my picket and ice ax. Approaching the mega cornice I belayed Andreas up and we were soon both on flatter ground. The terrain eased considerably above the rock step and Andreas took the lead breaking trail. The cornices soon ended and we spent the next few hours working our way up to 5700m. We eventually reached the top of the triangle where the east and west routes converge, and then the route got difficult again. A mega cornice blocked the route with a wide vertical ice cliff spanning the width of the ridge. The one weakness was a steep snow ramp led up to the left to meet the wall where the vertical section was only about 10ft tall. We kicked steps 2/3 of the way up the ramp, then I had Andreas pound his ice tools into a solid snow section for an anchor to belay me up higher. I kicked steps up to the wall but then realized the wall was actually dense snow, not ice. Camp 2 at 5900m This made things a bit more difficult. I couldn’t get ice screws in and tool and crampon placements would be less secure. I managed to get a solid picket placement halfway up the wall but it was so steep and my pack so big that I kept rotating off whenever I stepped up. Finally I just pulled out 15ft of rope, tied a bite in it, then took my pack off and clipped it to the bite. I then wriggled and kicked my way up the wall without wearing the pack. There was a ton of slack in the rope but that was the only way it would work. Once over the lip I dragged the pack up, then kicked steps a bit higher in the low angle deep snow. I then built an ice ax and picket anchor and started belaying Andreas up. I looked up then and saw the team of six russians coming down. This was great news for us since it meant a freshly broken trail above us. The first man built an anchor near mine and started belaying the others over. I asked him about the problem Dima mentioned and he just said one person had fallen but there was no problem. Everyone seemed to be doing fine so I guess there was no problem. We continued up and made camp at 5900m. Good views towards Khan Tengri the next morning Aug 8 We hoped we were past the technical crux of the route but knew there was still some rock and ice climbing above us. Our goal for the day was to skip one more camp and make it to the highest camp at 6600m to put us within striking distance of the summit for the monday window. Breaking trail up more cornices Unfortunately it had snowed and been very windy overnight, and the russians tracks had filled back in, so we had more tough trailbreaking on cornices to a rock step at 6200m The ridge soon narrowed and we were in a similar situation of traversing massive cornices. We stayed on the traces of the russians tracks, striking a balance not getting too close to the cornice edge but also keeping distance from the steep snow slopes to the right. We occasionally had to kick steps and use ice axes on steeper sections, but then the ridge broadened and flattened again as we reached a big rock step at 6200m. I decided to scramble to the edge of the rocks to meet the russians route halfway, then climb the snow slope. Trail breaking was tough, but I eventually reached the rocks. I scrambled a brief 4th class section to the snow above, then belayed Andreas up on an ice ax anchor and broke trail to the top. The ice step I knew there was no rock climbing above this point so clipped my rock rack to the anchor to retrieve on the descent. We broke trail a bit higher and soon reached the base of the serac ice climbing section. Unfortunately I’d only brought four ice screws and hoped it would be enough. I started kickng steps in the steep snow, then soon got to continuous ice. I got my first screw in there, then climbed up another 20ft for my second. The grade was WI 2/3 ice and it was very brittle since it was glacier ice. I made it up higher and the difficulty dropped as snow started mixing with the ice. I had to run it out a ways on steep snow before getting another screw in, then traversing hard left. By the time I ran out of rope I’d reached continuous snow and dug down to make a solid picket – ice ax anchor. Camp 3 at 6600m above the ice step I belayed Andreas up and the terrain looked much easier above us. Andreas broke trail up varied snice and powder terrain to around 6600m. It was apparent there was no level terrain anywhere, as Markus reported, so we stopped below a big serac to look for camp. I noticed the wind was generally out of the west, but that if we went to the side of the serac we could find some shelter. We ended up digging out a big platform in the leeward side of the serac and pitching our tent there. We went to bed early that evening in anticipation of a big summit push the next morning. Aug 9 Based on our trailbreaking speed the previous few days we estimated a pace of about 100m elevation gain per hour. The wind was supposed to be lowest (15-20mph) in the morning increasing by late afternoon (30-40mph) and the temperature at the summit starting at -13F rising to around 0F by early afternoon. We decided to leave at 4am to reach the summit around noon to have a compromise of navigating mostly in the light and not too cold summit temperatures and not too strong winds. We were up at 3am and soon moving under clear starry skies. I would end up leading the way most of the day on the ascent. I picked up a faint trace of the russians tracks going up the left side of the serac but it soon got into steep ice climbing terrain. So I backed down and found a lower angle route on the right side. The route still briefly required climbing with two tools but was short enough we didn’t bother pitching it out. Looking back towards Khan Tengri Above the ice the skies got brighter and we could see a very long but gradual snow slope above us. I broke trail slowly and meticulously, saving my energy in anticipation of many hours of that. I would sometimes sink to my shin and sometimes to my knee and it was quite tiring. There was no trace of the track from the russians. I eventually hooked right around a serac and kicked steps left to a weakness in the s-shaped rock band at 7000m. There we easily crossed over to the left side and took a break. It had been five hours of challenging trail breaking to then with me in the lead the whole time. Andreas took over as the slope steepened. We generally hugged the left side of the narrow rock band kicking steps steeply up the snow towards the summit ridge above. It was amazing getting a brief break but after 30 minutes I took over again. As we got higher the slope got steeper and I was comforted that the russians had tested its stability just a few days earlier. Crossing over the rock band At the steepest section we found traces of the russians tracks and followed those up. That steep section at 7200m was some of the most difficult trailbreaking I’ve ever done in my life. I was basically swimming uphill with no purchase on my feet. It didn’t help that I was totally worn out and there was hardly any oxygen in the air. When I finally crested a small ridge I found a small flag left by the russians and laid down to pant like a dog. It was surprisingly difficult to catch my breath but I eventually relaxed enough to get back up. From there we could see tracks all the way to the summit ridge and the snow looked firm enough to require minimal trailbreaking. We could even see a small flag planted at the ridge. It looked like we were almost there! Andreas took over the lead and we decided to ditch our second ice tools there to save weight. We continued up toward the ridge, but after an hour I noticed the route was just a thin layer of snow on top of ice, with decent exposure below. The terrain sketched me out and I didn’t feel comfortable proceeding without pitching it out and climbing with two tools. We regretted leaving our tools but we couldn’t proceed without them. We turned around to see if we could find a way around the ice patch but it appeared to span the whole face. The thought of bailing crossed my mind but there was still plenty of daylight left, so we decided to go get the tools and continue the route. We dropped back down, picked them up, and returned to the edge of the ice. We’d lost two hours from that error but hoped we could still beat the wind. I put a screw in and clipped Andreas in, then he belayed me as I led up. I got two more screws in as I did a rising traverse, then I reached the end of the ice and hit continuous snow and snice. I belayed Andreas up on a picket ax anchor, then he led an easy section to a boulder and body belayed me up. Hiking to the east/true summit Andreas then body belayed me up another rope length as I kicked steps up the steepening slope. Then I belayed him from an ice ax anchor as he crested the summit ridge at the flag. We soon both made the ridge at 4pm and luckily it wasn’t too windy. It was also still sunny and we were poised to tag the summit. We had topped out at the col between the east and west summits and luckily we had had done our homework to know which one to tag. The east summit is the true summit. Most climbers on the normal route stop at the west summit simply because that’s the first one they hit and it is significantly farther to get to the east summit. But the east summit is slightly higher and thus the true highest point in Kyrgyzstan, so we turned east. (We had read that famous mountaineer Denis Urubko made sure to go out his way to tag the true east summit after his Piolet D’or – winning climb of the dollar rod route on Pobeda in 2011.) Andreas led the way staying clear of the cornices on the north side of the ridge. Luckily the snow was firm and travel fast. We were walking directly on the Kyrgyzstan-china border and I noticed the slope looked much gentler on the china side. But I’m sure it got more difficult lower. The ridge eventually got very narrow and rocky, and we passed what looked like a jumbled up old tent on a ledge. By 4:45pm we crested the summit. It had been a tough morning and I immediately laid down. The skies were sunny, wind low, and views were amazing to china to the south and kygyzstan to the north. We could see basecamp way below on the south inylchek glacier. We quickly snapped a few pictures and videos. I had planned to send an inreach message and take out my sight level to measure the height difference between east and west summits, but it was just too cold to want to take my hands out of my mittens. We were also much later than hoped for and wanted to get down as soon as possible to beat the incoming wind and darkness. Heading back So after about 3 minutes we started down. We carefully followed our up tracks back to the place we’d gained the ridge. It was steep enough to warrant rappelling off the ridge but I didn’t really want to leave any gear. I already had plans to leave our pickets lower down for other rappel anchors. So I ended up belaying Andreas as he downclimbed, then he built an anchor and belayed me down. We inch wormed down this way, then simul downclimbed the ice section until we were back to snow. Light was fading and clouds rolling in and we were happy to have our tracks to follow in the waning visibility. As a backup I had also recorded a GPS track on my watch in case our tracks got blown over. We quickly simul downclimbed the snow, reaching the rock band at sunset. By then we were engulfed in clouds and stuck in a whiteout. Unfortunately the wind had filled in our tracks below there with snow and navigation became difficult. I was able to follow our rough route, verifying on my watch every few minutes that we were still on track. By the time we reached the ice section just above camp we finally needed to turn headlamps on. We each got our tools out and very carefully downclimbed the ice. It seemed more challenging this time and we probably should have rappelled it, but we were soon down and back to the tent by 9pm. We radioed Dima and he sounded relieved we were back at camp. It was my turn to melt snow that night so I stayed outside another hour. I think we were both dehydrated that day and appreciated chugging a bunch of warm water. Aug 10 The wind picked up significantly soon after we got to camp and didn’t relent all night. This made sleeping difficult. To save weight we had brought Andreas’s tent, which lacked a vestibule. But this meant to get any ventilation we needed to unzip the door. With all the wind , snow invariably blew in all night. The result was I got hardly any sleep. Another consequence of the wind was snow was drifting up against the tent all night, and even on the slope above the tent. By 7am a small sluff released above the tent and slid into the side of the tent. It wasn’t dangerous, but I was still startled enough to immediately jump out of the tent and start digging it out with my bare hands. It was still extremely windy as I was digging and this would not have good long term consequences for my fingers. With the continuing wind we didn’t feel safe staying where more snow could accumulate and slide. It would have been great to just ride out the storm in the tent, but we reluctantly started packing up. We then roped up and started looking for a new spot. Unfortunately there was zero shelter up there at 6600m. Behind the serac had been the only sheltered spot, but that likely contributed to the snow drifting there. We knew it would likely be sheltered lower below the ice pitch, so we started descending. We made it to the top of the ice but then I noticed Andreas was missing a crampon! This had happened on Khan Tengri and I’d fashioned an extra strap to keep it on but it had fallen off again anyways. This was a big problem with so much ice to descend. We started back up to look for it but with so much deep snow we’d descended through we eventually decided it was futile. Andreas would just have to try to get down with one crampon. That meant I’d have to lead the way making good steps and setting good rappels on the icy sections. At the top of the ice I found a V-thread anchor left by the russians and backed it up with a screw. I belayed Andreas down to the anchor, then I rappelled first. Luckily the doubled 60m rope was just barely long enough to get down to continuous snow. Andreas followed and we were soon roped back up descending the steep snow. We descended through deeper snow, needing to break trail in many places. We soon reached the top of the rock step and I retrieved my stashed rock rack. I then rigged up another rappel at the slung horn and descended 30m down the steep snow slope. At the bottom I slung another horn as Andreas followed. From there we rapped over the rocks to a boulder sticking out of the snowfield. We then roped back up to downclimb the snow. With all the wind overnight I was a bit concerned about shallow fresh windslab on the slope, though, so I looped the rope over a rock to belay Andreas. Indeed, once he got 10ft out he triggered the top 6″ of slab to slide off. He managed to jump out of the way and I also had him on belay so there was no real danger, but it was certainly startling. With the slope now stable we easily marched across. At the bottom of the slope around 6100m we found a broad flat area far from any snow slopes and decided to pitch camp there. The weather was supposed to improve the next day and we thought it best to ride out the wind in the tent and save the big descent for better weather. We quickly got the tent up and started melting snow. Once in the tent I realized I had been neglecting my hands all day and my fingers were all numb. I guess I had been so concerned with setting up good rappels quickly and making sure Andreas could get down safely with one crampon that I had just ignored my cold hands. I knew there was a risk of them getting cold again the next day, and refreezing is the worst thing you can do to cold hands. But leaving them cold all night seemed like a bad idea. So I stuck them in my arm pits to rewarm them and vowed to keep them warm the next day. The wind picked up that afternoon and night and we had a lot of trouble keeping the stove going outside. I really wished we had a vestibule. As a result we probably didn’t make as much water as we should have. And, like before, snow was blowing into the tent all night through the small opening we needed for ventilation. As before, I got very little sleep that night. The forecast was for dry weather the next day, but then storms rolling in the next day. We definitely wanted to make it the whole way back to basecamp Wednesday if possible. Aug 11 By morning my hands were mostly warm though still a little numb. The morning was clear but cold and we got moving by 9am. Unfortunately I needed to lead to kick Andreas good steps, and needed to hold onto my cold ice ax since the terrain was very steep. I found it very difficult to keep my hands warm and for the most part they just got cold again. Unfortunately this would have bad consequences later. Below the rappel down the mega cornice We downclimbed the steep cornices, vaguely seeing our old tracks sometimes but mostly I had to break trail again downhill. This was surprisingly difficult. We soon reached the mega cornice we’d need to rappel, and unfortunately couldn’t find any anchor from the russians. I suspect they rapped off a picket, but it had since been buried in new snow. So near the lip I built a picket – ax anchor, then rapped over the edge. Andreas then removed the ax and rapped off the picket, which we left there when we pulled the rope. I had my email written on it so maybe someday someone will return it to me (but not likely). Downclimbing the cornices (photo by Andreas) We belayed each other down the rest of the snow slope in case of a slide, then I continued breaking trail down the ridge. We soon reached the top of the rock step, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a fixed rope there! I was prepared to leave a picket and sling a horn to make multiple rappels down, but apparently the russians had decided to leave a 60m rope there for all 6 of them to make a single full rappel. We backed up the anchor with a picket and I went down first. Unfortunately the rope was about 5m too short, so at the bottom I had to detach myself and downclimb the final snow arete unprotected. But then I made an anchor and when Andreas reached the bottom I threw him the end of my rope and belayed him to safety. Downclimbing the last of the big cornices From there I led the way across the final lower cornices. I tried to follow the vague hints of the russians tracks though mostly I couldn’t see them. As before it was a balance staying as far from the edge of the cornice as possible without getting on too steep of a snow section on the left. There were a few steep downclimbing sections but we eventually made it below the triangle at 5300m. We then breathed a huge sigh of relief because we were finally below the danger zone and could rest easy for the remainder of the descent. Since it was no longer steep and didn’t warrant crampons I finally took a break from leading and let Andreas lead. It was then I realized how truly worn out I was. I think breaking trail 90% of the way on summit day had taken a lot out of me, and leading the way and breaking trail all of yesterday and all of today had zapped my remaining energy reserves. I really needed a break. It was great to have Andreas breaking trail down, but by then I was only moving half his speed at best. We made slow progress down, by now following the visible tracks of the russians. By 4pm we reached the flat icy section of the Zvezdochka glacier at 4500m. We radioed Dima and he told us congratulations. He knew we were past the danger zone and now had a relatively easy walk back. Interestingly, the russians tracks seemed to simply disappear in the middle of the glacier. Unfortunately we later learned they had had an accident up on the cornices Aug 8 and a helicopter had to come evacuate them there lower on the glacier (see full account here https://explorersweb.com/2021/08/19/how-valentin-mikhailov-died-on-pobeda/). I led the way on the ice weaving around crevasses until we met up with the normal route. It was pretty hard to stay on the route since most of the flags were missing, but I eventually found it and followed it back to the moraine. In the last few hundred feet I had to belay Andreas a few times on ice screw anchors so he could get through sections without a crampon, but we eventually got off the glacier. We found our stashed hiking boots but someone had stolen Andreas’s stashed hiking pole! I’m not sure what would possess someone to do this. I suspect it is the same person who stole the crampons a hungarian team stashed nearby also. We were soon changed into our hiking boots with our Olympus mons strapped to our pack and started hiking out. In general it was straightforward following the cairns out, but got more difficult when darkness set in. I was still moving extremely slowly, and I can never remember ever being that worn out from a mountain. Luckily Andreas was nice enough to slow down and hike with me. We actually got passed on the way by the Piolet D’or team coming back from stashing gear for topographers peak. By 930pm we finally staggered back to camp and let Dima know we were back. Luckily the generator was still on and the cooks had saved some mushroom pasta and corn for us. Some of our friends – Paul and Felix – were still in the dinner tent, along with two new climbers Jon and Rob. They all congratulated us for our climb. At dinner I finally dared take off my gloves to survey the damage to my hands. It was bad. Most of my fingers had blistered and they were all numb and tingly. I knew I had frostbite. I kicked myself for taking such bad care of myself. I’d been so focused at having efficient safe rappels and getting down quickly that I hadn’t bothered to take care of myself when I was doing so much cold ropework in my liner gloves. It had also been very cold and windy at high altitude, which certainly didn’t help. Luckily everyone at the dinner table had experience with frosbite and gave me good advice what to do. Jon was nice enough to bring me to the basecamp doctor, who gave me some medicine and had me soak my hands in warm water. Then Paul, Rob, and Felix helped me bandage up my fingers to protect them. I talked to Dima and he said there was a helicopter the next morning we could get on so I could visit a hospital as soon as possible. We all went to bed soon after. Aug 12 The next morning we had breakfast and Dima said we were officially the 13th and 14th summitters of Pobeda this season. (I think 6 russians did the abalakov route, then 3 Iranians and 3 ukrainians did the normal route before us). Afterwards we hung out with Rob and Jon, who had just arrived to basecamp after guiding K2 and were waiting for a window to climb Pobeda via the normal route. Pobeda is Jon’s last snow leopard peak so I hope he makes it! The helicopter came on schedule at 10am and we had a spectacular ride out to karkara, then shuttle back to Bishkek that night. Link to more pictures: http://www.countryhighpoints.com/peak-pobeda-kyrgyzstan-highpoint/ Gear Notes: Rock rack to 1", four screws, two pickets, two tools, overnight gear Approach Notes: Helicopter to South Inylchek basecamp
  48. 5 points
    Trip: Chair Peak - NE Buttress Trip Date: 01/17/2021 Trip Report: Climbed NE Buttress of Chair Peak on Sunday 01/17/21. Snowshoe approach with headlamps was warm and wet, with a persistent drizzle. This led to the avalanche slopes along the Snow Lake approach shedding copious roller balls. Despite this, the slopes showed no sign of worrying instability in an impromptu pit test. Roller ball trails clearly visible The snow was well consolidated and rather deep from the recent storm cycle and freezes, so we were optimistic about route conditions. This held true, but the weather wasn't as good. Chair basin itself was in near whiteout conditions with relatively strong winds when we stashed our snowshoes at Thumbtack rock, but with an 11am storm break in the forecast we hoped the flurries would be gone for the higher pitches. The approach ridge to the climb itself was okay snow with some cornicing on the north side. Base of NE Buttress route from ridge The first pitch was fat with both ice and snow, but the ice was weak in many places and would not always take a screw reliably. The tree anchors for the p2 ridge and p3 belay were almost entirely buried, but the snow was solid enough 2 or 3 pieces of pro a pitch felt adequate. The p4 ice step was in and seemed to be in good condition both for climbing and placing screws. P1 ice conditions P4 Ice conditions P5 went easy, and we decided to forgo the summit scramble in favor of making our way down early, not wanting to get benighted on such a low vis day. Needless to say, the 11am storm break predicted never came. We made our way to the correct rap gulley with the help of @DPS's beta, using a double rope rappel to get quickly to the mouth where the snow slope begins. This was a good call, the anchor cornice was rather large and using a single rope would have left us exposed to it in the gulley while pulling the rope. Either there were no anchors from that point, or they were buried. We drove a questionable piton underneath a rock overhang skiers left of the gulley mouth for a second rap to avoid some of the steep snow downclimbing at that point. Partial view of descent gulley with cornice in foreground Descent went as planned. Summary: As of 01/17/21, the route is in good condition, with high snow levels and decent ice higher up on the mountain. Rock gear was used for reliable belays, while many usual rock protection spots were somewhat buried along pitches so ice screws were placed often, even if questionable ice quality was encountered. Gear Notes: Cams .3 to 1 taken, only .4 used. Small and medium nuts used. Ice screws of various lengths used. One snow picket placed, but snow conditions made for bomber pickets if one took the time. Double 60ms for the rappel. Approach Notes: Approach on snowshoes unpleasant due to extensive avalanche debris fields at the time.
  49. 5 points
    Trip: North Sister - Complete East Buttress Trip Date: 12/23/2020 Trip Report: The East Buttress of North Sister is listed in the Oregon High guide book but it doesn’t receive much praise there. However, a close reading would interest any winter climber. The Complete East Buttress (“Direct” would be inaccurate) is an obvious extension of this route and several local climbers (myself included) have made the mistake of thinking this awaits a first ascent. However, it has been done, and soloed, by @now_climbing and maybe others too. When Chris first told me he had done it I was a little disappointed as the mystery was diminished, but when he told me it was his favorite alpine climb in Oregon that piqued my interest and I got quite excited to try it in early season conditions.Last winter around this time @kyleptarry and I came darn close despite no ice on the upper buttress and plenty of post holing in wind packed powder.On 12/23 this winter @lim.landon and I decided to give it another go. We hoped the recent rain up to high elevation had created ice earlier than last year but we were betting against ourselves. Despite our pessimism we got lucky and enjoyed near perfect conditions on our way to the summit.Though a little contrived, this route is really good and deserves more attention: long, varied, good rock (for volcanoes), and pitch after pitch of memorable moderate mixed climbing. I've listed a pitch-by-pitch breakdown below, though it would probably be more fun if you go explore for yourself! 😉Hopefully someone else can repeat it while its in good nick! Here are some pictures... Pictures SPOILER ALERT - PITCH BREAKDOWN P1- climb the short vertical ice pillar in the middle of the lower buttress follow easier ice up the gully to a tree and short ice step (WI3+/4-) P2 (simul)- short ice step and snow up to base of cliff, go over ridge crest to R traverse snow and climb up first snow/neve/ice gully to broad snow field on ridge crest simul/solo snow field, stay on crest over a couple high points until you are cliffed out P3- down climb steep snow/neve to the R/N side and traverse at highest opportunity to regain ridge crest P4- black gendarme, climb up and right, down the back side, weave through some orange rock features (downclimb some steep snow) and terrain/body belay (M3) climb up to the next high point on the ridge (easy snow) and rappel off the fixed tat (25m free hanging rappel), this is the end of the lower buttress walk up the snow ridge and right to the obvious double gully which starts the upper buttress P5- if ice is in climb the L of the two gullies (WI2/3), if its dry climb the R gully (runout M4 on nubbins) and traverse back L on easier ground P6- v-slot, continue up this cool feature above the L gully from the last pitch, you can link with the last pitch if you came up the L gully (M3) simul up steep snow above these pitches and either skirt the next cliff band on the R up more snow/neve, or go to the chimney on the L P7 (optional chimney)- climb the chimney past a chock stone and onto low angle slab, some more scrambly bits and then snow above this P8- the snow narrows and steepens with a big rock face feature on the L ending in an exposed and runout slab section (M3 R), climb snow above this and body/terrain belay P9 head up and L (don' get sucked R or you'll be stuck beneath steeper rock), until just below the top of the ridge, then a slight R and some short moves to the ridgecrest (M4) P10 (3 options)- move the belay down the ridge crest to the base of Glissan Pinnacle (the slightly lower of the 2 summits that forms the headwall at the top of Early Morning Couloir) and... option 1- traverse steep exposed snow L over the Thayer Headwall to get around Glissan to the true summit (Prouty Pinnacle) option 2- climb the headwall of Glissan directly (actually quite good, what I would recommend, but more time consuming) (M4, 60m rope stretcher) option 3- traverse steep snow R over the top of EMC, from here you can descend or wrap all the way around Glissan to the summit (definitely the longest distance, and the least cool) P11- summit pinnacle (Prouty Pinnacle) walk across the snowy saddle and climb the NE aspect of the summit (either sketchy rock slabs to snow on the L or stacked jenga pile on the R (M3+ R), OR if both those are looking terrible you could go all the way around the summit to the W side and climb the Bowling Alley gully (AI2/3)) Descent options: down climb Bowling Alley to the W and descend the standard S Ridge, OR rappel the last pitch to the saddle and traverse around Glissan on the N side (steep exposed snow, option 3 from P10), and down climb Early Morning Couloir (I prefer this second option as it gets you back to the base more directly). Expect either descent to be exposed and unprotectable, with lots of high dagger down climbing for over 2k'. Gear Notes: 60m half rope (a 70 would make things a little more comfy), 2 knife blades, nuts from tips to 0.5, single set of cams from 0.4 to 3, screws (2x stubby, 2x 13cm, leave the vthread at home this time of year) Approach Notes: Pole Creek is accessible with high clearance 4WD. Skin/slog is a straight shot on snow (less than 2 hrs car to base)
  50. 5 points
    N. Face Left Gully: Climbed yesterday. Currently the best conditions that i have ever seen the N. Face left gully and completely different terrain than my other times climbing it. Ice almost the entire way up and 6 different steep ice steps, 2 of which you could bypass if you desired.(First 7 pictures) Reid HW: checked out last weekend. Knee deep snow slog to the base. Still just powder on that side of the mtn, not much ice or firm snow yet. (Picture 8-9) Black Spider: Currently the warm weather has melted most of the snow and the face is looking dry. A little ice forming on a few of the routes but not close to being ready for the season in my opinion. (Picture 10) DKH Var 1: As of last week it is dirty choss ice. Climbable but more of a rotten ice/dirt climb right now. (Last Picture) Hope this info helps anyone who is curious about the different aspects of the mtn. I will try to actually post about conditions every few weeks if people care to know what is in and what is not. s for anyone who is in
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