First Ascent of the White Chick
“White Chick” (Pk 5884 southeast of White Chuck Mountain)
May 21, 2011
Personnel: Paul Klenke, Stefan Feller, Martin Shetter, and Fay Pullen (the token white chick).
Stefan says he likes my trip reports because I always put in so much detail. Well for this report, I’m not gonna. Why? Becuase I’m a busy family man. Plus, I’m 40 now, so I’m old(er), and stupid(er), and out-of-shape®.
Here are some views of White Chick, the rocky bump to the right of White Chuck:
We met in Seattle at 4:45am, which is usually REM time for me, not RPM time. So motoring to the Park ‘n Ride was a catatonic affair. But there they were, the OTHERS, waiting for me, already there, already laughing about something.
Anyway, Stefan drove to the “trailhead.” Well first he drove to the Darrington gas station (I know it well, as do you) so I could purchase an energy drink. What? Two for one? I’m all over that like crappy snow on a Cascades ski resort.
Here is White Chick from the bridge over the river:
We started at 6:45 on the overgrown logging road at the head of Dan Creek (elevation 1970 ft). The first obstacle was Black Oak Creek where the bridge had either slumped and disappeared or had been removed. All that remains is a large rusted girder and very steep banks.
The Black Oak Creek washout (the banks are steeper than they look):
After this creek that reminds me of a Soundgarden song, we walked the remaining three miles of mossy road eastward and upward. The annoying windfall decreased, but the annoying snow cover increased (plod plod plod). At 3400 feet we came to the end of the roadway at a spur ending in a regrowing clearcut. We avoided this wetness and arced around it through nice old growth (some big trees here).
The old road:
Stefan and I descended steep duff a couple of hundred vertical into the big gully beyond the last clearcut. But Martin and Fay pullened it and took the ridge upward paralleling the west side of the gully. They essentially got cliffed out while Stefan and I easily ascended the avalanche debris escalator to approximately 4000 ft. We only lost about 20 minutes waiting for them.
A view of the big gully (my wife said the snow fooled her into thinking it was a white-water torrent):
The cliffy west side of the gully at 4000 ft (Stefan's in this photo; he pulled his pants up just in time…):
That mountain whose name I forget as seen from the big gully:
I took off to break trail up and right from the gully, traversing more rightward than upward to avoid the likely cliffs obliquely abutting the gully. Since I’m old(er) and fat(ter), Stefan eventually caught up to me and finished the remainder of the slog up to the base of the rocks, which finally opened up to us at 5300 ft.
A view of the northwest side of the summit rocks (this is about as good as the views got on this day):
I took a brief second shot at kicking steps before motorfoot stomped past me. We took a snowy gully rightward from the left side of the rocky corner until the gully headed at short cliffs. A steep 55-degree snow chute got us up over a minor spur to the next gully over. We took this adjacent gully up a tad then left up a straight “Triple Couloirs-esque” gully to very nearly its col looking over the East Face. The cornice at the col notch was too much to approach comfortably, so Stefan exited right to continue up through short trees and minor rocks.
Looking down the straight gully from the notch:
He got up to a rocky knoll a hundred or so yards from the summit and waited for me to catch up. He thought that belaying the final corniced ridge was the wise thing to do and I concurred. The climbing wouldn’t be technical but no one likes to do cornice tobogganing. The rocks abutting the cornice were wet and sloped and not conducive to walking over.
Stefan took the lead up and I followed, dragging Martin and Fay’s second rope.
I made it up and immediately planked the summit (there was photographic evidence but Stefan erroneously deleted it because of its poor quality—the photograph, not the plank move).
Stefan struggling to belay the token white chick. She’s sooo heavy!
Fay at the summit (in nice weather White Chuck Mountain would have been looming behind the white chick in this photo):
I placed a Fay Pullen Special at the summit and built a cairn. This cairn kept falling over. I must suck at building cairns.
Paul (no we weren’t all sharing the same jacket):
It had taken 5.5 hours to get up. Approximately 4.5 miles and 4000 ft of gain. We had taken not a single break and I only took my pack off once to put a jacket on. That’s not bad. Maybe I’m not as out-of-shape-and-fat-and-older as I thought.
The token white chick in her element (w/o skis on!):
We returned the way we came, glissading the big gully (that went quick!). The road walk back seemed longer on the way out (but isn’t that always how it seems?). 9.5 hours round trip.
Our GPS Track courtesy of Fay:
A comment on the weather, though it wasn’t bad (we were only blemished by light rain), remember that we had superb weather only the day before. And so it goes in Washington. Due to the weather, the conditions were cloudy and a white out most of the day. White Chuck Mountain made a brief appearance from the belay knoll and I took too long to photograph it. Drat! It would have shown the mountain from a previously unseen angle…if this truly was a first ascent. We think it was. Prove it if it wasn't.
So we’re at the car and Stefan breaks out a wrinkled dress shirt and suit and puts them on. Then he puts on a tie. Now, I’ve never seen him wear a tie before—and especially at a trailhead. This is most peculiar. He had said he had a memorial service to attend to in Ballard. Oooo-kay.
Stefan in a “birthday” suit...
He was just trying to throw me off (and he did). In reality there was a surprise 40th Birthday Party waiting for me back at the house. I opened the garage door with the opener as I’m backing my car in and the first things I see are a whole bunch of legs and then I realize for sure the thing I suspected might happen really is happening.
I had a great time that night, so great in fact, that I did not go to bed until 4:00am—fully 24 hours after I got up. But I was only 39 years, 363 days old then. I’m 40 now and probably couldn’t handle that now. I am older, stupider, out-of-shaper, and weaker now.
Ice axe, safety rope for cornice adventures, suit and tie.
I don't know that this climb would be easier without snow. Steep duffy ground in the trees and then perhaps mossy rocks or steep heather higher up.