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Gaston

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About Gaston

  • Rank
    journeyman

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  • Occupation
    Teacher
  • Location
    France
  1. I was curious if anyone out there knows who placed this bolt, or when? I'd love to connect with anyone who was climbing in the Pickets back then...whenever that was. Thanks!
  2. The short water ice step looks a little meager. I doubt the NE Buttress is any more or less protectable than the north face right now.
  3. Trip: Snoqualmie Pass, Chair Peak - North Face Date: 12/12/2011 Trip Report: I climbed the north face of Chair on Monday. It's a little thin--nothing was fat enough for a screw. On the plus side, the line is a little more involved than is typical later in the winter, with some constrictions and steep steps. Fun. Intermediate pro was generally hard to get. The descent is fine, with one 30m rap getting you over the worst of the downsloping rock in the gully. We did a 60m rap from the notch, which got us over the glide crack/hole and onto easy downclimbing. The anchor for this last is currently a single strand of 6mm around a big horn--it could use some more material. Gear Notes: Single rack to 2 inches with a bunch of pins. Approach Notes: No flotation necessary.
  4. Trip: Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Snoqualmie - New York Gully Date: 12/8/2011 Trip Report: Yesterday I climbed New York Gully with Kurt Hicks. It's in dry but fun condition; almost no ice but lots of frozen moss. One or two pieces of fixed gear have sprouted in the ten years since I last climbed it, and we left a few pins as well. The A2 pitch still has a sling (a Metolius pocket aider, I believe) around the chockstone, which makes freeing the pitch really easy in present conditions, if you are in the mood: we chose bare-handed jamming. The short downclimb into the Slot at the top of the route is a little thin right now, and we chose to do a quick rappel. www.forestmcbrian.com Gear Notes: Nuts, cams purple TCU to 3-inches, doubles in the mid-range would be helpful; a half dozen pins is indispensible--we brought two short and two long knifeblades, a lost arrow, and a baby angle, all of which we used. Bring two ropes if you want to be able to retreat in a reasonable manner. Approach Notes: The Phantom Slide approach is very straight-forward, and snow conditions are great for flotation-free travel, though a bit deep during our descent around 2PM.
  5. Trip: Sahale - East Face Couloir Date: 10/18/2011 Trip Report: On Tuesday Kurt Hicks and I wandered over to the Davenport glacier on the east side of Sahale. We climbed a long and exceedingly narrow couloir that gains the ridge just north of the summit, visible in this Scurlock Scurlock Photo of Sahale E Face photo. I don't know if it's been climbed or not. The entrance was the crux and very fun: a chimney fest between a vertical fin of last year's snow and the wall of the couloir. We found snow of varying hardness, 50 degrees with a few steep bulges of ice and rock. In these thin conditions the couloir is maybe 5 feet wide in places--very cool. The pics in my blog post might give you some idea of how things look up there if you have been wondering. There's a lot of snow and with a little more melt-freeze there will be all sorts of fun to be had up there. Gear Notes: Screws, pins, rack, tools. Approach Notes: Road open to the end. Intermittent snow began just short of the pass, or 5,000'. The Arm was mostly snow covered.
  6. I don't know if anyone has been up there before in winter. It's only about 100 feet shorter than the summit, but seems like a much easier climb. It certainly is the most obvious ski line, though not the only one. We didn't need a snowmobile ride. Our itinerary was roughly as follows: Monday--drive to Fields Point, get on boat. Get school bus up to Holden. Bivouac in the slums of West Holden Tuesday--skin up to the pass above Holden Lake and camp. Wednesday--top out and return to camp. Thursday--Hang out, ski back to Holden. Eat tons of toast. Friday--Get on the bus, get on the boat, drive home. It's pretty mellow with five days. With only three days (the ferry only runs Mon-Wed-Fri in winter), it would be tight and perhaps not as fun.
  7. Well Dan, that would have been cool. But I don't think that you can see Bonanza from any point on Lake Chelan. I guess I am being sort nitpicky--I get your drift, and yes, it was cool to begin and end the trip chucking skis onto the boat.
  8. Trip: Bonanza Peak - W Peak and Company Glacier Ski Date: 2/15/2011 Trip Report: Last week I went with Jason Hummel to ski off the West Peak of Bonanza. We went in via Lake Chelan and Holden Village. In short, it was a blast. Jason will no doubt have a super-charged, photo-fantastic report up soon. I've got a trip report on my blog, as well: http://forestmcbrian.com/ Approach Notes: Caught the ferry at Fields Point and the Holden bus at Lucerne. A full travel day on either end of the trip.
  9. Trip: Alpental Valley, Chair Peak - NE Buttress Date: 12/26/2010 Trip Report: Today I went up and poked around on Chair Peak. The start of the north face route was a little too dry for my liking (not to mention the skis on my pack weren't meshing well with the chimney). So I wallowed over and found some good ice on the northeast buttress (also lots of hollow garbage). The steeper bits at the start and the little step up high were just thick enough to make me happy. Entering the descent gully off the top took some thoughtful moves, as it is pretty rocky and scoured. I downclimbed around the cornice at the usual rap spot and skied down from the base of the chute. I suppose it will all get buried here shortly, but for what it may be worth, there you have it. There's a little more lively TR on my website: http://forestmcbrian.com/ Cheers!
  10. Ski instruction books

    Check out "Ski the Whole Mountain" by Eric and Rob Deslauriers. Their concepts are very modern and simple; they describe an approach to skiing all terrain and conditions taking maximum advantage of today's fat, shaped skis. The photos are excellent as well. It's an interesting alternative to PSIA-based pedagogy, which still breaks movements down the way they did before skis became bigger and shaped.
  11. Trip: Colfax Peak - South Couloir Ski Descent Date: 6/18/2010 Trip Report: On Friday I skied the skied the south couloir of Colfax with Erin Smart. We skied more or less from the car, which we were able to park a few hundred feet short of the trailhead. Snow cover is pretty continuous all the way to the glacier, which in turn is very well-covered. We stomped a track through isothermal snow until finally reaching a supportive crust around 6,500'. From there the crust improved in thickness, and I think good corn skiing should be abundant for a good while. The traverse over to the Colfax-Baker col was straightforward. We climbed the E ridge of Colfax and waited for the sun to hit the couloir. Unfortunately, a cold SE wind kept conditions very firm in the upper portion of the couloir.Judging by the funky, sun-warmed breakable that we found near the exit, we made a good choice to ski it when we did. Waiting longer (likely in vain) for the upper section to soften would have resulted in scary conditions down low. On the descent we managed to avoid the worst of the mush by skiing down Railroad Grade just below the crest on the E side, then dropping into the drainage when the trees became too thick. This is a beautiful line, but I can't recommend it in present conditions. Approach Notes: See above.
  12. Trip: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass Haute Route Date: 3/23/2010 Trip Report: Over March 23rd to March 26th a friend and I skied the Snoqualmie Haute Route from Snoqualmie Pass to the Skykomish River near Highway 2. You can see my trip report at my humble blog, here: http://forestmcbrian.com/ Gear Notes: Jelly beans mandatory
  13. Trip: Pickets - South to North Ski Traverse Date: 2/17/2010 Trip Report: Over six days of glorious high pressure, the prolific Jason Hummel and I skied from Stetattle ridge to Hannegan Pass road through the southern and northern Pickets. With a few variations, we followed the route of the 1984 Skoog traverse. Most notably, we omitted the summit of Fury and finished on the Mineral high route, skiing over Mineral and Ruth mountains instead of hiking along the Chilliwack trail. We encountered variable but mostly good ski conditions, and some interesting route finding. As anticipated, the crux proved to be finding a reasonable way onto Mt. Fury from the bottom of McMillan Creek cirque. Going over the Southeast Peak seemed unreasonable in winter conditions, so we found a way up the creek and falls draining the Southeast Glacier. Unsure of the details of the route the Skoogs took to cross from Luna to McMillan, we opted for the devil we knew and traversed to Luna col. The ski down into Luna was the powder run of a lifetime--super stable, Valdez style snow, with Fury as a backdrop. Unforgettable. I kept thinking to myself, "This is like the Haute Route 10,000 years ago." The solitude and austerity of the Range make it easy to overlook that the traverse is really an enjoyable, reasonable tour; no technical shenanigans required. The heinous reality of retreating down any of the valleys simply made it extra important to check the weather forecast before dropping into McMillan. Don't leave home without your UHF/VHF radio! I will post photos when I wake up in about a week. Approach Notes: Stetattle ridge is long, but two days riding the ridge let the avalanche hazard subside before we entered really serious terrain. We hiked to 4,000 ft. on the Sourdough Mt. trail, then travelled almost exclusively on skis for the remainder of the six days. Literally ten minutes of road walking brought us to the car.
  14. Trip: Dragontail Peak - Triple Couloir Date: 2/9/2010 Trip Report: On February 9 I climbed a very dry Triple Couloir with EH. We climbed the 2nd variation, rapping into the top of the 1st couloir and climbing the short steep choke to access the 2nd couloir. We found unconsolidated snow over rock in steeper areas, including the ramp leading to the rap anchor and the exit to the 3rd couloir. A steep styrofoam pitch earned us quick entrance to the whole thing. Good bucket steps permitted us to move together in all three couloirs. We kept up the pace, knowing that Heidelburger closes at eight. Thanks to EH for a super good day out on the lovely north side of Dragontail. Gear Notes: We used cams from .25 to 3 inches, lost arrows and blades, and one 15cm screw in good ice at the choke between the 2nd and 3rd couloir. Approach Notes: Bootpacked all the way to Colchuck Lake. No snow melting currently required--we busted through a thin spot in the lake ice and guzzled freely.
  15. Trip: North Cascades - Isolation Traverse Date: 1/31/2010 Trip Report: On January 31st, Hoodie and I began the Isolation Traverse, starting at the Eldorado Creek Trailhead. This traverse takes you over the Inspiration Glacier, north along the Backbone, around the remote "Isolation Peak," and then over the Neve and Colonial glaciers and down to Highway 20. We put on skis exactly where the climber's trail hits the boulder field...in the rain. Over the next three hours we proceeded to get soaked, crossing the Eldorado and Inspiration glaciers in a total whiteout. We enjoyed a skin track laid by some hardy souls who had just climbed Eldorado. We met these victorious folks on their way down, and thanked them for breaking trail. The night at the Inspiration-Macalester col proved damp and long. The morning, however, made up for it. We headed for the unlikely crossing of our next barrier. Two cols to the right of Dorado Needle we were just able to get down without a rope. The snow on the far side proved impossible to resist, so we did a long run before skinning up high and gliding north along the Backbone. We rounded the north side of the Cocyx and dropped into a lovely corridor. Clouds began to move in, and we hurried north toward Isolation Peak, anxious to find our way over it while we could see. It proved fairly straightforward, and we enjoyed another excellent powder run down to the bench connecting Isolation and Snowfield. Here we spent another night, this one much warmer, drier, and happier. Tuesday dawned murky and cool, and we followed our GPS units up toward the Neve Glacier. The sun just would not come out, so we roped up for the ski down the Neve. We were glad to have done so, as we found some poorly covered slots and broken areas. I can't wait to go back and see this spot on a sunny spring day. Visibility improved enough to allow a pleasant ski down onto the Colonial glacier. Then we shuffled under Pyramid peak and began puzzling out the descent through thick trees toward Pyramid lake. The north face of Colonial Peak came out a little, providing some exciting scenery. Sadly, the snow ran out around 3,800', leaving us to tromp through the woods in the drizzle. The Isolation traverse links a series of very aesthetic ski lines and natural breaks in the terrain. Three days felt like the perfect time allotment; with better weather, we could have skied off of Snowfield peak, or perhaps Eldorado on the first day, without adding a day to the tour. I felt great admiration for the pioneers of this route, and for the vision they had to find such an enjoyable route through this rarely visited country. Approach Notes: The Cascade River Road is totally clear to Eldorado Trailhead. Snow starts at 4,000'.
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