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Stephen_Ramsey

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Everything posted by Stephen_Ramsey

  1. Ice tool recommendations?

    Wazzumountaineer, I have a pair of straight-shaft BD Shrikes, and a pair of bent-shaft BD Shrikes. Both are great. It is nice to have the tools all using the same type of pick. I'm not into mixed or really steep stuff like WI5, so I can't say how these tools would perform on such routes. But they are great for Cascades mountaineering and moderate water ice routes in Colorado and Washington. I use the bent-shaft tools for waterfall ice, and the straight-shaft tools for mountaineering. Only down-side to the Shrikes is the somewhat lame "tongue-and-groove" system through which the pick is attached to the tool. Requires seriously torquing the bolt in order to get enough clamping action on the pick to hold it steady. The two-bolt systems used by other manufacturers (e.g., Grivel) are better, in my opinion. Still, the Shrikes are relatively cheap and are reasonably lightweight.
  2. E. Ridge of Ingalls

    Thanks for the info! :-)
  3. E. Ridge of Ingalls

    Alright, I'm going to ask a total noobie question-- Anybody know what that weird, super-slick greenish rock is, up there on Ingalls Peak? That stuff was like teflon. Fortunately there were only occasional patches of it, along the ridge. Just wondering if others noticed the same thing.
  4. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    Yes, "third tool" is just slang for a lightweight ice tool. So, the previous posters were probably just talking about using an ice axe and a lightweight ice tool.
  5. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    The climbers' path down to Boulder Basin was pretty crappy (and we were tired), so that part sucked. I stumbled a couple of times on the loose gravel and down-sloping ledges. Once we got down to Boulder Basin, we were a bit unsure where to go. So we headed for the small ridge with lots of tents (which was a couple hundred meters to the right of the "trail" we had been descending), crossing a couple of small drainages along the way. We figured the tents would all be near the trail, which thankfully turned out to be the case. Cheers, Steve
  6. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    Jeff, Regarding the other part of your post, That's cool, I'm glad you found it straightforward and nontechnical. It makes sense that no crampons were needed for your ascent, since you summited after 7 PM. I imagine the slope was good and soft by then, perfect for step-kicking. That same summit slope was very different at 8 or 9 in the morning. We found it to have a half-pitch section of hard ice. Step-kicking was not an option for us. Hence the use of crampons and a couple of ice screws. So, since most parties are shooting for summiting in the morning, this is why most posters are recommending crampons and the usual snow/ice pro. Doesn't seem to me like everyone (or anyone) is saying it is a super-technical route. Just that crampons and a couple of pickets/screws might be useful. -Steve
  7. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    Hey Jeff, Usually the term "third tool" just refers to a very small, lightweight ice tool. It's so-called because waterfall ice climbers will typically bring one along, lashed to their pack, where they can reach it in a hurry, in case they break a pick while on lead. That's why it is called a "third tool". It is lightweight and made to be used in an emergency. Because it is lightweight, it also makes a nice tool for use on moderate alpine routes where you may have to hammer pickets into thick icy crust, and possibly use the tool for a brief section of steeper climbing. When someone says "it might be helpful to have a third tool" it doesn't necessarily mean they are saying you should bring three ice tools. In this context it probably just means, "you might want to bring a super lightweight ice tool".
  8. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    Howdy, You must have been the party camped at the saddle in the Stephenson tent, right? We were the party that loudly tromped past your tent at 4 in the morning (sorry). Thanks for being patient while we down-climbed into the crater from the shelf on the north crater rim. Nice weather we had, eh? Cheers, Steve
  9. new pack recommendations?

    I recommend checking out the Black Diamond Ice Pack, size 50L. I used to use a fancy Dana Designs pack (Arclight Glacier, 90L), and it was really comfortable with big loads. However, I found that for climbing and scrambling, I'm typically trying to "go light" these days, which means I rarely need more than 50L capacity. The Dana pack itself is just too heavy. So nowadays I use the BD pack almost exclusively. It is great because you can reach around behind the pack and actually unhook and retrieve your ice axe or ice tool from the holder without having to take off your pack. That's very handy when you are climbing something steep and want to grab your ice tool, but there is no convenient ledge on which to take off and set down your pack. I also like how the top part of the pack is attached with fastex buckles. Easy to attach & detach, even with heavy gloves on.
  10. Kennedy Glacier TR

    Hello, Were you guys the party of two we saw on Glacier Ridge, hiking up towards the Frostbite Ridge route late Saturday afternoon 7/26? If so, thanks for the tracks! We were the party of three camped at 7400' on the ridge. Heard a couple of folks ski by the campsite about 9:30 PM, maybe that was you? Nice TR. -Steve
  11. Frostbite Ridge route conditions?

    The Frostbite Ridge route is in fine shape, as of yesterday (7/27/03). PM me if you want details.
  12. Headlamp review

    This is probably obvious but... For climbs where I expect to have to routefind in the dark, I usually carry the Zoom, and my partner carries a Tikka. Averages out to not much weight per person. The climber with the Zoom can find the route, the one with the Tikka stumbles along behind using the anemic, barely-visible glow from the Tikka.
  13. RMI, is it any good?

    Kiwi, I have participated in two RMI seminars. Once was a weekend (3-day) summit climb. The other was a 5-day "Camp Muir Seminar" with summit attempt. The first time we got to 13k before turning around due to high winds. The second time we turned around at Cathedral Gap (below 11k) due to avalanche hazard. I have also done a three-day privately guided climb with a senior RMI guide, on Mount Baker. Overall, I found the RMI guides (both the senior and junior guides) to be very knowledgeable, friendly, and competent. You asked if RMI is "touristy". Depends on what you mean. A lot of the clients (perhaps the majority on any given trip) are from out-of-town, and do not have much (or any) experience climbing in the Cascades. So the guides do a lot fo storytelling for the benefit of the clients, who generally seem to love that stuff. The guides spend a lot of time answering very basic questions for the clients (What should I wear? How do I keep my boots from hurting?) But I think that says a lot more about the typical clients than it does about the guides. If anything, my experience is that guiding for RMI seems to require an extraordinary amount of patience on the part of the guides. The RMI climbs weren't "touristy" in the sense of being a totally artificial, manufactured experience. Certainly most clients come away feeling like it wasn't "touristy". The clients are climbing a real mountain and the guides cannot control all variables (weather, icefall, etc). *However* I found that there was a certain degree of artificiality to the experience, in part because you are typically following a foot-deep bootpack all the way to the summit; very little "improvisation" in terms of routefinding is required for the standard D.C. route during the high "season". The guides have the route "dialed in" and use ladders, fixed ropes, etc. where necessary. If you wish to learn mountaineering skills, I would strongly recommend against the 3-day summit climb. The 3-day summit climb gives you a "crash course" in self-arresting and roped glacier travel, and that is about it. In contrast, the 5-day seminar (and the expedition seminar, I've heard) covers much more material, including basic crevasse rescue, basic snow/ice anchors, rappelling, cramponing techniques, serac (ice) climbing on top-rope, etc. The 5-day seminar was great because we had evening lectures in the Camp Muir hut covering all sorts of topics (avalanche awareness, glaciology, mountain weather, etc.). The days were devoted to "field work" out on the Muir Snowfield or the Cowlitz Glacier. I have also heard good things about the Expedition Seminar, which would presumably include a bunch of other skills related to snow/glacier camping. RMI is somewhat expensive, given the client-to-guide ratio. If you don't have your heart set on Rainier, you might investigate some less expensive alternatives, such as Northwest Mountain Guides (www.gotrek.com), North Cascade Mountain Guides (www.ncmountainguides.com), or the American Alpine Institute (www.aai.cc). I have been a client with all three guide services, and all of them were great. If you can find a buddy, you can probably put together a privately guided trip on Mount Baker, for example, for not much more (or possibly less) than RMI charges. With private guiding, you can learn a lot faster and cover more material in a single expedition. Looking back, I learned more from the privately guided outings that I have arranged than from the non-private trips. Climbing "independent" (no guide) with a more experienced friend is also a great option. In practice it is sometimes hard for beginners to find more experienced climbing partners, but if you can hook up with some experienced partners, this can be a great way to learn. The majority of the guides I have met, got their start by climbing with more experienced friends and partners, rather than by using a guide service. Obviously, this method can require more persistance and time in order to work. Guided climbing, and RMI in particular, seem to get a lot of flack on CC.com. But it can be a great way to learn stuff, especially a privately guided trip. Just make sure you shop around. Anyhow, good luck and I hope you have a great time on the big "R". -Steve
  14. Accident at GNS?

    There was just a post on this subject on the U.W. climbers' e-mail list. Unfortunately it didn't have much in the way of details. It mentioned something about a failed rap anchor.
  15. E. Ridge of Ingalls

    I second Iain's warning about climber-induced rockfall in the approach gully. My partner almost got taken out by some largish rocks coming down the gully (not caused by Iain's party, but a different party in the gully).
  16. Buckner N Face TR

    The traverse from Sahale summit to the Boston Glacier was not too bad. However, because of the loose rock and some exposure, I was glad that the rock was dry and that I was only carrying a day pack. In rainy conditions or with overnight gear, I would have been a lot more cautious on the traverse. One other note, if you are planning to return to Sahale moraine via the short gully that leads up (from Horseshoe Basin) to the southern spur ridge of Sahale, you will want to look carefully for a scramble route to gain the ridge crest. At the top of the "short gully" that Nelson mentions, you will get to a notch in the ridge. We went over the saddle to the west side of the ridge, and somehow got off-route. We tried to scramble up to the ridge crest from the west side. That was a bad idea, and we ended up doing some "extreme scrambling" on wet, loose choss. We did find that after going up about 75', there is a nice class 3 "trail" on the east side of the ridge crest. The trail looked like it came up from further down on the ridge. So... perhaps the "trail" starts somewhere on the east side of the notch. I'm not sure. But I think there has *got* to be an easier way than we took. So be on the lookout for a scramble path, and hopefully you will fare better than we did. Maybe others can offer some more specific beta. I'd be curious to know where we went wrong. Other than that, it was a very good, straightforward route. For more info, you can read our trip report: http://www.speakeasy.net/~sramsey/climbing/triplog/200307-buckner
  17. North Face, Maude Beta

    Yes, trip report here: http://www.speakeasy.net/~sramsey/climbing/triplog/200306-maude
  18. haul/rap line size

    I've rapped on 6mm perlon cord before, with my Reverso. The sheath on the cord stretched in a disconcerting manner. 6mm cord is also really easy to accidentally cut over a sharp rock, or with crampons. I'm going to get 50m of 7mm cord instead, and leave the 6mm cord for prussik loops, cordalette and such. Just my opinion.
  19. Ingall's Peak

    I was just up there last Sunday. Trip report here: http://www.speakeasy.net/~sramsey/climbing/triplog/200306-ingalls We certainly didn't see any "snow free path" to the route. It was a snow climb from Ingalls Lake all the way to the base of the South Ridge. We used instep crampons and hiking boots to get to the base of the climb. Full crampons were definitely not needed. Ice axe was helpful.
  20. want beta: entiat mountains

    I'm not sure if this is useful at all (since you're asking about a three-mountain traverse), but here is a trip report from a recent traverse of Maude (up via the north face, down via west-facing gullys). http://www.speakeasy.net/~sramsey/climbing/triplog/200306-maude Conditions on the north face were great; on the traverse from the Col to the north face, not so great. -Steve
  21. Maude/N Face TR

    Mike, Were you guys the group of four that we encountered on the traverse over to the north face, yesterday (June 15)? If so, I think I have a digital picture of your group, that I can send to you. We were the slow-moving party of two, Elain and Steve. Which descent route did you use? We clearly picked the wrong west-facing descent gully, ended up having do three 50m raps. Cheers, -Steve
  22. tying together thin and thick ropes

    I've got a 6mm x 50m cord that I would like to be able to tie to my 8.5mm x 50m rope, for the occasional rappel. I would be using it if I have to bail on a climb that is steep enough where down-climbing is not an appealing option, but not so steep that I would have double ropes (e.g., steep couloirs and such). Anyone know if this technique (using a 6mm rap cord + the climbing rope) is used much? Does it work well? If so, what is the best knot for tying the two ropes together? For two ropes of equal diameter, I would normally use the EDK. But for the 6mm and 8.5mm together, I'm not sure what to use. Thanks.
  23. tying together thin and thick ropes

    Thanks everyone! Cheers, Steve
  24. Mount Buckner

    Newbie needs advice on Buckner-- Anyone who has climbed Mount Buckner via the north face or north face couloir: is it better to camp on the Boston Glacier, and carry over? Or is it better to camp on the Sahale Arm? Seems like the descent route doesn't go anywhere near the Boston glacier, so camping on the Boston glacier would dictate carrying over, right? Appreciate any info. -Steve
  25. Mount Buckner

    Alex, Thanks! Cheers, Steve
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