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Everything posted by Stephen_Ramsey

  1. I'm just a gumby, so take this advice with the requisite grain of salt. Some great suggestions of routes have already been made above. I'll just add some observations and a few more route suggestions. Winter alpine climbing is a really good way to gain experience and push your limits. Lots of north-facing routes that are are mere scrambles in summer, become good moderate alpine climbs in winter. With the few winter alpine climbs that I have done, I've found the pro to be generally sparser than on spring/summer climbs. Furthermore, those winter climbs forced me to become creative in finding ways to move upward (e.g., hunting for hidden cracks under the snow to torque the pick into, dry-tooling on little rock features). It also forced me to be really disciplined about testing the strength of a pick placement before committing to it. Spring and summer climbing are a lot of fun too, of course, and can be just as runout and challenging as winter climbing if you find the right route. Some other moderate alpine climbs that might be a good stepping stone: * NE Couloir on Colchuck Peak (II-III, AI2) * North Ridge of Pinnacle Peak (II, class 4, AI2) * Entiat Icefall on Mount Maude (III, class 4, AI2) * Northeast Slab on the Tooth (II, class 4, AI2+) The two winter routes above (Tooth & Pinnacle) are highly condition-dependent. Bring a few pins. The Colchuck climb is more of a spring thing. It is quite moderate, but speed is essential because of icefall hazard. There is potentially a large cornice at the top of the couloir. Bring a shovel. Some variations are possible for the couloir exit. The Maude climb is probably most interesting in late summer, when the schrunds open up, and the icefall becomes more challenging. Basically the schrund crossings and the initial 80' of rock climbing on the east ridge, are the hard parts. The rest is fun cruising. Will the above routes get you to the point where you're ready to tackle the Triple Couloirs or Lib Ridge? Hard to say. Certainly, they haven't done it for me. On the other hand, they are fun and a good experience. Good luck and have fun.
  2. Sorry to hear about your ankle. Get well soon.
  3. ChrisL, A couple of comments about RMI. I've done two trips with them (including a week-long seminar), and another trip with a senior RMI guide, so I can speak from some experience. Weight is really a concern, with the expedition seminar. You'll have more fun if you can keep your pack weight down. RMI does do a "gear check", in which they will ask you to spread out your gear in a big pile. With 24 clients each making gear piles, the 6 guides do not have the time (or the desire) to systematically go through each piece of gear. Mostly the guide will just ask you "did you bring X", or "did you bring Y". It's mostly the "honor system". The guides are mostly looking to spot serious deficiencies in client's gear, before they get to the upper mountain. The point is not to have it be a military-style inspection. In my opinion, the number 1 mistake that RMI clients make is that they bring too much stuff, or too heavy stuff. Some ways you could still save weight, and not run afoul of the rules are: (1) No one is going to measure the volume of your pack, to see if it is exactly 5000 cu in. You could easily go with a 4000 cu in pack, without a frame. Make sure it has an extendable collar. It will probably save you close to a pound. This presumes you have a down sleeping bag, which will compress really well and allow you to minimize pack size. Ideally, your pack will have removable padding. (2) No one is going to check whether your sleeping bag is rated to 0F or 15F. You could save weight on the sleeping bag (probably four ounces, if you are going with down), and still be quite toasty. You will have tons of warm clothes to sleep in, and a parka to layer over your sleeping bag. Make sure the sleeping bag is no longer than it absolutely needs to be (given your height), which might also save some weight. (3) You can go with a 3/4 length ridge-rest pad. This will save a bit of weight, as compared to a full-length ridge-rest pad. Make up the difference by sleeping on the rope, or on your pack (which will hopefully have removable padding). (4) For the shell pants and jacket: Heavy 3-ply Gore-Tex is not really necessary. There are lighter shells on the market. I bought heavy gore-tex pants and jacket for a Rainier trip, and they have stayed in my closet ever since. Something like Marmot Pre Cip is just perfect for Rainier, and significantly lighter than Gore-Tex. RMI recommends (but does not require) full side zips for the pants, but this is just needless extra weight. Going with lightweight Pre Cip pants and jacket could save you as much as 6 ounces. (5) Parka: this is ABSOLUTELY NOT the place to save weight. Go with something burly. RMI takes fairly long breaks on summit day, because it takes a while to coil in six rope teams that are spread out over a quarter-mile. Then they may be switching around rope teams and so forth, at the break. The result is that you may be sitting in the freezing cold and wind for 15 minutes or so while the guides deal with logistics and rope-team management. A burly parka will really help. Make sure it has an insulated hood that can fit over your helmet. For Rainier I'd go with down, because it is lighter weight, and compresses well (which saves volume in your pack). But synthetic (e.g., Wild Things Belay Jacket) would be fine also. Don't go skinny on the parka, unless you have done some winter climbing in other mountain ranges, and are sure you will not get cold. (6) Boots: Don't rock the boat-- go with plastics. Leathers have their place, but for a first-timer going with RMI, plastics are the way to go. See if you can rent some Scarpa Alphas here in Seattle-- they are pretty lightweight. (7) Go fairly lightweight on the axe. Raven Pro or Grivel Air Tech (or whatever it is called). Do NOT bring one of the heavy old SMC axes that REI used to sell. (8) Crampons: For the RMI expedition seminar, I'd recommend against aluminum. You may be doing some serac ice climbing on non-summit days, as well as climbing through class 2-3 rock sections on summit day (e.g., Cathedral Rocks, and Disappointment Cleaver in late season). RMI requires the clients to keep the crampons on through Cathedral Rocks. Steel crampons would be the better choice for this trip. Check out the Grivel G12 crampon, it is pretty lightweight and a very good all-around climber. BD Contact Crampon or Sabertooth would be OK as well. (9) Headlamp: I recommend an ultralight LED headlamp, like the Tikka Plus. On the RMI expedition seminar, you will not need to be doing any tricky routefinding in the dark - that's what you are paying the guides for. The guides are mostly concerned with efficiently moving the clients up the mountain, so it is highly unlikely you will be called upon to scout the way through a crevasse field by yourself, in the dark. So you won't be needing the powerful incandescent headlamp with the heavy 4.5V battery (e.g., Petzl Zoom). (10) Don't bring any extra stuff. You know, the little goodies that seem like they might be useful: multi-tool, mechanical ascenders, ice screws, etc. Stick with what is on the required list. Well, those are just my unsolicited opinions about gear for RMI trips. Have fun!
  4. This actually depends on which Raven you buy. Black Diamond changed the pick on the Raven about two years ago. Initially the Raven had a positive clearance pick. BD later switched a neutral-clearance pick, which is a lot better for ice climbing. I upgraded to one with a neutral-clearance pick, and it works really well.
  5. ChrisL, Sorry to get on my soap-box: Whatever you decide to do, please do not break the law (e.g., by hiring a non-concessioned guide). I believe that in the long run, illegal guiding endangers access for all climbers. The Park Service's rules vis-a-vis guiding may seem arbitrary and inflexible, but at least the general public is allowed the privilege to climb on Rainier. The vast majority (but not all) of the climbing parties on Rainier benefit at least to some extent from services provided by the NPS (road to paradise, parking at paradise, climbing rangers at Muir, outhouses at Muir, etc). [And don't laugh about the outhouses-- it helps keep Camp Muir from becoming a turd-infested cesspool.] The least we can do (collectively) is to try and play by their rules. Just my opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of other people on this site who would say "screw the NPS-- do what you want". But they are wrong. Well, ultimately it is your choice. I do hope you have a great time (and good weather) on Rainier. Climb safe. Cheers, Steve
  6. Pins are real useful for winter alpine
  7. Hi Josh, Not sure if you were replying to Jarred or to me. I do ski, but unfortunately have never skied anything but lift-served. If I tried to ski down Hells Highway, I'd probably crash and fall into a crevasse. Anyhow, after reading your Eldorado TR, I'm also pretty sure I couldn't keep up with you on the ascent. That must have been a marathon day. One of these days I need to learn how to do backcountry skiing... it seems like it would be way more efficient (than post-holing) for the descent! Cheers, Steve
  8. Doh! I just saw your reply, Matt. I think my eyes are failing from too much work and too little time outdoors.
  9. I'm just a gumby, but I'm having a hard time seeing where on an alpine climb I would ever do this (have a fourth piece that is not a part of my anchor). If I take the time to put in an extra piece, I for damn sure want it as a part of my anchor system. Conversely, if I'm not 100% confident that my three-piece anchor system can hold double the tension for a top-rope fall, it seems that I need to be fixing my anchor, not adding some extra directional piece. By adding a fourth directional piece, I'm just shock-loading the anchor in the event that the directional piece fails. Personally, I'd rather include a load-limiter if there is a questionable piece on the anchor, rather than just adding more pieces. But maybe I'm failing to see some basic aspect of the issue...
  10. Holy crap! Did your partner get dragged all the way to the lip of the crevasse? Must have been a pant-loading experience...
  11. I'm selling a Mountain HardWear 1st Dimension sleeping bag. It is size short, which means it will fit if you are 5'6" or under. I am 5'6" and it fits me perfectly. It is rated to 30 degrees Farenheit. The insulation is PolarGuard Delta. It has a full-length zipper. It has been used only half a dozen times, and it is in excellent condition. It retails for $145. Asking $85. Seattle area. PM me if interested. http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&productId=47625228&parent_category_rn=4500653
  12. Anyone know if it is possible for a mere mortal to access the White Salmon Glacier this time of year? Would it be difficult to snowshoe back in there? Is the White Salmon a good early season climbing route? Would appreciate hearing people's opinions. Thanks, Steve
  13. Five years ago, my wife and I encountered spray gunfire while descending the McClellan Butte trail. Bullets were literally hitting the trees above us. We ran down the trail and got out of there as fast as possible. I later called the ranger station to report the incident, and they said there was nothing they could do about it.
  14. Excellent TR. Next time I get sketched out on a climb, I'm going to ask myself, "What would Lars do?"
  15. Greg, FWIW, you were smart to stay out of the couloir. On Sunday, a climber traversing the steep snow slopes above the couloir dislodged some snow that grew in size and sent a fair bit of debris down the couloir. It missed us, as we were just exiting the couloir. I'm sure glad we weren't further down the couloir at that moment. After that kind of experience, it is true that the memory remains. -Steve
  16. If there is a cold snap while you are in town, and depending on what kind of terrain you like to solo, Pinnacle Peak could be a nice spring climb. It is class 3 by the south face, and class 4-5 by the north ridge. It think there is also a route from the Castle-Pinnacle col (class 4 maybe?). There are tons of summits in Mount Rainier National Park. Check out Beckey's Cascade Alpine Guide. Some of the more notable Tatoosh peaks are: Unicorn Peak, The Castle, Lane Peak, Pinnacle Peak. Also Mount Wow and Mount Tumtum are in the area, and are reputed to have lots of mountain goats.
  17. Hi Catbird, I'm pretty much of a newbie, so I'm not sure what folks consider a standard rock rack. But here is what we carried: 5 pins (1 KB, 2 bugaboos, 1 LA-sized, 1 baby angle) 2 SLCDs (#3, #3.5 friend) 5 tri-cams (#0.5 - #2.5) 3 hexes (#4, #6, #8) 6 nuts (small sizes) We also carried some ice screws, which were totally useless, and some pickets which were marginally useful.
  18. Hi Rock-Ice, We ended up using: pins: 2 bugaboos, #3 knifeblade, Ushba wedge piton tri-cams: #0.5, #2, #2.5 passive: #8 hex, #3 nut cams: #3 friend If we had had some small cams (1.0-1.5 cm range) that would have been great, also.
  19. Mattp, Yes, it was fun. Our TR is posted on the web page linked from my CC.com user profile. Cheers, Steve
  20. Hi Catbird, JGowans and Matthew, Was that you guys, who we talked to at the trailhead? We were the pair heading up to climb Pinnacle Peak's north ridge. Cheers, Steve
  21. Another question... In the movie, were Yates and Simpson climbing on double ropes, or twins? In the first few climbing scenes, it looked like they were on twin ropes. But later on, it looked like they were on doubles (they were alternating clipping the two ropes). Maybe my vision is just poor...
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