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About SmilingWhiteKnuckles

  • Birthday 11/30/1999


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    Seattle, WA

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  1. @KaskadskyjKozak Did your friend use snowshoes or skis or anything or did they just walk in? Colchuck Lake still frozen?
  2. Trip: Lemah Mountain - Main Peak Date: 8/3/2013 Trip Report: Thanks to ericsbasecamp.net and JasonG's reports on the area. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/j4cooper/sets/72157634981467716/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/20389872@N08/sets/72157634951609203/with/9451966606/ When I began climbing a score of years ago here in the Cascades, the alpine dreams began. Seeing the Cascade crest stretching to the 5 summits of Lemah from Snoqualmie Pass, I envisioned dropping a car at the pass and being dropped off at Cooper Lake. A fast and light two-day adventure starting at Lemah and summiting all the peaks on the way southwest sounded like a grand and feasible adventure from the comfortable ensconce of naiveté and inexperience. Maybe further reading disabused me of this plan, or perhaps it was a deep and low tremor of warning emanating from the black, ominous rock itself which caused the idea to draw back under its shell. Either way, when Ben suggested Lemah as a target for his annual birthday trip into the alpine, I was eager to go and then we would see firsthand… Our usual excitement of getting into the alpine was somewhat tempered and cautioned by our somewhat fragile physical states. Ben's back was tweaked and I was recovering from an ankle sprain. Like a casting call for Secondhand Lions we ventured forth, packing in some extra ibu, ACE bandages and whiskey to aid in our quest. We left the car (Pete Lake Trailhead) at a leisurely 1pm. Reaching the trail fork at Lemah Creek (after passing Pete Lake), Smoot's (index-less—WTF?!) book said go left, but the bridge was out. We elected, fortuitously, to go right (TR. 1323.2) on the Lemah Meadows Trail and then left again back to Lemah Creek on the PCT where the bridge was also out. We found a climbers trail heeding up the Lemah Creek Valley on the north side of the creek and to our amazement, we found and followed pink flagging all the was up to the big meadow where we lost if for a bit and thrashed through alder. Skirting a cool beaver pond to the head of the valley (near a 300' waterfall, 6pm), a brief talus walk up the creek brought us to the snow finger heading up toward Lemah 5. DSCN7547 by bennysnyder. The snow finger. The evening was getting on, but with aspirations to sleep up high on the 5200-5300' bench, we pushed on, prompted by the all-you-can-eat banquet the mosquitoes made of us. We headed up the snow spotting two deer on the snow high above us. Huge, dark walls flanked us on the right, cliffy benches punctuated by waterfalls on our left. The sky was blue with light clouds. We both thought and said aloud that we live in a spectacular place. Beckey suggested heading left (south) at 5500' but 100' below that we found an egress in the form of a left facing ramp up to the left. It didn't look particularly easy (wet, mossy, a bit loose and exposed), but the fading light forced the need to get to camp soon. We climbed up but were not please with what we saw. Neither of us wanted to climb back down. Down meant darkness for certain. So we just kept traversing across and downward with occasional exposure and lo! it went. DSCN7456 by bennysnyder, on Flickr We made the bench with joy in the twilight (5200-5300', 9pm). Our campsite on a rock slab overlooked our route up and southeast to the Three Queens. We set up the tent, chowed and drank whiskey as the stars came up. Two shooting stars streaked across the sky, one impossibly fast. You see a jet in the sky and then you see a shooting star--a millesecond streak of light--and you wonder…how fast is that going? Ben rises early and with our big day ahead, I was glad he woke at 5 and got things going. A burning pink and orange dawn spread across the sky. A delicate crescent moon rose above the black ridge to the northeast. We had a glorious, leisurely morning session, stretching and dancing to Barrington Levi's "Here I Come" cranked up on the phone. Crack of 7:20am, we were off. We followed the Beckey descrip and gained a shoulder of rock slabs trending toward the main peak. Below us was a small, aquamarine lake footing the glacier (real glad we didn't camp there!). We headed between Lemah 2 and 3 (main peak) toward the break in the upper glacier between the two. Gaining the rock band was straightforward and up we went to the upper snowfield, gaining the col quickly (really north of the low point between 2 and 3). The class 3 climb up the ridge and summit block (Beckey descrip) was a blast and the rock sound (10am). There we were greeted with amazing views in every direction. Southwest toward Snoqualmie Pass, what we thought initially was Snoqualmie, was Chair with Kaleentan beyond. Looking west over the middle fork, we saw hanging Hester Lake. Big Snow to the northeast. To the north, Chimney Rock, Summit Chief, Bears Breast, Hinman, and Daniel. Chimney Rock looked positively gnarly, black, steep and intimidating--and I wonder at the drive, spirit, prowess, and giant cojones of the pioneers: Forrest Farr, Art Winder, and Laurence Byington in 1930; and the first winter ascensionists: Greg Collum, Dan Cauthorn, and Pat McNerthney in 1985. This is not child's play. DSCN7508 by bennysnyder, on Flickr We down climbed and then glissaded and boot skied and walked slabs back down and hooked skiers left down to the big bench and camp. On the way, we found a huge, tattered red balloon in the heather and flowers which we packed to show the kids. Thank the God of Kegworking we found an easier way down off the bench! Traversing north and down with one short down climb next to a waterfall, we reached the snow finger at about 5100'. DSCN7538 by bennysnyder. Key descent next to waterfall in the lower left. More boot skiing brought us down toward the end of the snow. I said, Ben look at these crazy caves--eroded out of silvery grey rock. He looked and kept staring somewhat incredulous. He said, "antlers". I turned and saw them silhouetted against the black of the closest cave. I drew back to look and the young 6 point buck started and hoofed it awkwardly up the steep hill, gaining a quick 70' of elevation before disappearing around a shoulder. DSCN7543 by bennysnyder, on Flickr We were thankful for the flagging down Lemah Creek and the views before dropping into the forest and the long, stuporous trail back to Cooper Lake. A swim and beers on the beach had us refreshed. Burgers in Roslyn and a week passed has the Lemah to Snoqualmie high traverse looking pretty good as a 3-4 day adventure.. DSCN7551 by bennysnyder, on Flickr Gear Notes: Bug repellent. Approach Notes: Sturdy boots, light axe, light crampons. Pink-flagged trail up the north side of Lemah Creek.
  3. Stellar climb and a terrific report! Congrats. Look forward to hearing about the rest of the trip.
  4. Trip: California - Cathedral Peak - SE Buttress & Unicorn Peaks Date: 7/4/2013 Trip Report: This year again, we took the kids south to Yosemite and wondrous Tuolumne Meadows. Fittingly, on Independence Day, I was able to get out for a full day in the alpine. A year to the day since climbing the West Ridge of Conness, I'd been dreaming of Cathedral Peaks South Buttress ever since. There's something really cool about waking up in the night, sneaking the coffee thermos and climbing pack out of the bear box, downing the coffee, and heading out on foot from the campground. The early start paid off on this one for sure. There was a crescent moon in the east and stars above the meadow as I hiked the trail along the road. Found the climbers trail up Budd Creek off the Muir Trail easily enough and was surprised to see the trail lined with rocks for much of the way when the trees thinned. Trail was amazing, beautiful as the day dawned clear. I stopped only briefly for a bathroom stop and was immediately taken for a free breakfast buffet by a growing swarm of mosquitoes. Hastening on, I reached the base of the buttress about 6:30am. I heard voices and noticed a couple gearing up to climb the right side. IMG_5154 by j4cooper. Took this shot after returning. Lots of parties on the buttress. Looking up at the orange rock, my nerves were going. I climbed up a bit after id'ing what looked like the easiest passage and back down thoughts flitting through my head without traction, breathing fast. Finally, I chilled out a bit and thought about it rationalizing that I had enough gear to aid through any difficulties and deciding to go for it. Geared up, ate, drank, left my sneakers and an empty water bottle in a tree and started up. The first overlaps felt great. The 5.4 hand crack to a tree woke me up. From there, things calmed and the climbing was exposed and fantastic. Stemming these big ribs for awhile then blocks and always cracks and little knobs everywhere. Awesome. Nearing the alcove, I met Kevin from Sonoma, the leader of the other early rising party. Just above that there was an extremely exposed hand traverse which had my breathing loudly. Just above that was the chimney. I put my pack on two slings and placed it onto this bloc inside the chimney. Getting in was awkward and I had to climb up a bit before going in. When I got in, the bag was well below me. Shit. Reaching down, I was able to hook one of the slings with my foot and bring it up. After that, the chimney was really fun. IMG_5130 by j4cooper, on Flickr Above that, following the route topo became more difficult for some reason, but I was able to keep the grade mellow. In one particular section this meant exposed face climbing on stuccoed knobs, but those knobs are solid! and the section was short. Soon enough, I crested the buttress and climbed the parallel cracks of the summit block and sat on top. Time was about 8:30am and the view was spectacular. A marmot just below pretty much pointed out the descent route and I was filled with joy and freedom. IMG_5135 by j4cooper, on Flickr IMG_5134 by j4cooper, on Flickr Had a very leisurely descent back down to the base of the buttress and looking up there were now about five parties on the various routes. From the buttress I hiked down the trail a bit and then across the basin below Budd Lake and up to the Unicorn Peaks. Between the Cockscomb and the Echo Peaks, the Matthes Crest was visible. All three Unicorn summits were exciting with cool views across the basin to Cathedral and north across Tuolumne Meadows up to Mt. Conness. Lembert Dome was particularly striking with some huge clouds building up to the east. Completed the circuit by hiking down to Elizabeth Lake (and a refreshing plunge) and down the Elizabeth Lake trail right into Tuolumne Meadows Campground. Arriving around 3:30pm, I was lucky enough to catch the family back at camp just as they were heading out for ice cream at the Tuolumne Meadows Grill. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/j4cooper/sets/72157634663328586/ Approach Notes: Start early to avoid traffic jams.
  5. Trip: Argonaut & Dragontail traverse - NE gulley (Jason's Esophagus) Date: 6/15/2013 Trip Report: Yesterday with a Father's Day hall pass from my wife, I left Seattle about 3:30am and headed out to the Enchantments. June is an amazing time to be up in the hills and particularly here. Spring magic with the larches exploding and snow in the high hills. I set out to repeat a trip from way back in 2007, the NE gulley of Argonaut Peak or Jason's Esophagus as I've heard it called. The gulley was full of snow when I did it previously, but the gaps didn't cause any problems at this point. I don't think this one will be in condition for much longer, but this route is very enjoyable. It offers a wide-variety of challenge as well. A party of five surprised me in the basin below the north face. It ended up that 3 of that party followed me up and 2 gained the Colchuck/Argonaut ridge a different way. I was pleased to meet Kyle Flick at the top of the couloir. He was leading a couple of younger climbers. Managed to get my rope stuck (again! 2007 calling) rapping down from the upper snowfield and cut about 10m off (sniffle, sniffle). Reaching the snowfields on the south side of the Colchuck/Argonaut ridge, a little sting of the dragon's tail seemed to be on the menu. It was late but not that late and I definitely didn't want to come down from the high country yet with hours of daylight. Kyle called it Pandora's Box, the snowfield which takes many shapes on the west side of Dragontail. I plodded up this not really remembering what the other side looked like but wondering about the name... When I got to the top, it opened up new world's to be sure but these were small difficulties and mostly incredible panoramas and fantastic blocks and stacks of blocks on the dragon's spiked back. Saw a ptarmigan nearly on the summit and only because it moved. It was close enough to notice red color above it's eyes. Wonder if that is another passing phase in a life of stealth. Thankfully able to boot ski down from Aasgard pass, I stumbled happily enchanted down the rest of the trail in the twilight. All photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/j4cooper/sets/72157634162721055/ Gear Notes: Aluminum axe, Grivel Black Compact, Stubai Ultralight crampons, 40m rope, a lot of water throughout the day.
  6. I really wanted to use this for a cc signature, but it's a tad too long. Friggin hilarious. Great report!
  7. Anyone been up on Stuart this week? Ingalls or Longs Pass? Wondering what the smoke is like right now. NOAA point forecast calls for Areas of Smoke--not sure what that means...
  8. Nice report oldmantex! Thanks for the link and the photos. And good work on the climb. Someday, I'll make that Chelan boat trip...And my goodness, a bakery at the end of this trip would have been many many slices of heaven... p.s. Tell your adappen buddy that Jim Nelson still has the lightweight goods -- tents and tarps both.
  9. Trip: Mt. Goode - NE Buttress Date: 7/20/2012 Trip Report: 7/20-22/2012 More photos: The plan was preposterous, but with the half workday cleared Friday and the desire to climb this striking line on Mt. Goode pecking at us for about a decade, it was on! The forecast wasn't exactly stellar, but it looked like the worst of it would blow through Friday. We stopped in Arlington at Tacos Los Jarritos for burritos-to-go, then obtained permits at the Marblemount Ranger Station. Grizzly Camp in the NF of Bridge Creek was our goal that night (a mere 13.5 mile hike). Driving the N Cascades highway, the amount of snow in the high country glimpsed through windows in the cloud cover produced a little panic about footwear (approach shoes) and axe choice (all aluminum) for the climb...I pushed these useless thoughts from my mind. The other options were all at home. We left the car about 5:15pm and started down the Bridge Creek trail in occasional rain. It wasn't but a few miles in that my feet were soaked and I felt some bunching in the sock of my left foot. Eventually, too late of course, I stopped to tape up my pinky toe which had already blistered. No pain no gain. At Maple Creek, we crossed a terrific small cable bridge bolted into huge boulders on either side of the creek. The trail after that was stunningly beautiful, traversing steep ground high above Bridge Creek. The evening sky began to open a bit and the sound of the river and birdsong filled the air with music and voices. Darkness fell shortly after we turned onto the NF Bridge Creek trail. In the dark, we came upon the Walker Park Camps where a group of SEA students had been camped for 2 of 3 weeks. A pleasant young man told us their next task was to rebuild the washed out Grizzly Camp. He said we should be able to find one tent pad on this side of the river. Eventually we reached Grizzly Creek and after some searching, we found this site and the rough layout of the new campground. It was about 10:30pm. A couple hours later (after burritos!) we were in our bivies for the night, but while G$ snored, sleep eluded me as adrenalin-filled thoughts of the of the next day poured through my mind. We were up about 3:45am and off from camp around 5:15 only to ford two separate braids of Grizzly Creek in the gravel wash. We picked up the trail on the other side and forged our way up the valley through lush, wet greenery. The trail was there if you moved the leaves back. At times water flowed ankle deep down the trail and we schwacked alongside it as best we could to avoid a soaking. When we came out of the timber below Goode, the trail led toward the river and we found an easy crossing on a log just downstream. A brief alder thrash brought us to snow and we followed the first (easternmost) stream course up slabs to more snow and eventually the glacier (online beta helpful). We gained the glacier above the ice cliff by going way left and up an easy ice ramp. A traverse right brought us toward the buttress. The moat took a bit of time to navigate, but we gained the rock over some broken ice blocks. G$ gave me the rack and I headed up weaving my way somewhat treacherous and exposed terrain above. Zig-zagged up ramp systems, I brought G$ up to a belay on a sloping ledge in an alcove. G$ insisted I go left, I voted for right, hollering and bickering ensued (like brothers we are). Finally, I went left just to appease G4, but came quickly back down not liking what I saw above. Heading off in my intended direction, I thought that if we could just gain the trees, we'd be out of difficulties and close to the buttress proper. There was a corner to round though, and upon closer inspection, rounding this meant weaseling my way up behind a huge flake/block which looked to be balancing on rubble on a small ledge. No thank you. Looking up, a wide chimney with big table-sized blocks in the back corner presented itself. I got excited: no problem if I just stay on the outside. And this is how it went, stemming up way on the outside on excellent footholds. The exposure was thrilling and with the wind blowing cool air up the chimney, i felt wild and free thinking: now this is adventure! To avoid the loose blocks and dirt at the top of the chimney, I stepped to the left wall, cresting the steep part with a move or two on flakes and fins. Now the sunshine again and looking up was easy third class ground for a long way. I only hoped G$ would choose the same path. As G$ came up, I heard the sound of a huge rock falling and crashing below. No fall on the rope though and soon G$ was up looking a bit pale saying a huge block had slipped down on his arm and he was just able to quick sidestep and let it fall past him. A great relief was upon us then and we jetted up the third class terrain, gaining ground steadily, eventually joining the buttress proper as the rock steepened. From hereon, the climbing was fantastic. Long, exposed, 5.fun on solid rock. The route finding was pretty straightforward and reading about "the Black Amphitheater" and going into the depression someplace seemed to overthink it a bit. We just climbed on the ridge until the 'big grassy ledge". We traversed right there and gaining the arrete again, went up for another several hundred feet of excellent ridgecrest climbing. After a little self-inflicted snafu just below the summit, we gained the top at 8:15pm and a few minutes of sun on our faces. What a spot! The steady cooling breeze was enough to coax us quickly into our sacks. We didn't have enough water to cook (glad we packed so much up!), so we just ate cheese, salami, jerky, and more bars while taking in stupendous views. So much snow! An after-dinner cocktail eased us into pretty solid sleep as the stars came out. We awoke a little after five. The summit was clear but the clouds, both low and hig were gathering in the west. By the time we packed and suited up, clouds were forming as they do on the north side of the peak. Clouds like steam jetting upward wherever the wind channelled up the south face. Very atmospheric. I could hear my brother-in-law making his mountain gale sounds… The route down was pretty straightforward. We added a new rap sling to the initial rap from the Black Notch down the SW couloir. Eventually we reached the snow line and brewed up last nights dinner there in the sunshine. We followed the least steep line south from the (7300'?) plateau first through huge larch trees then through lush, green Sound of Music meadows, eventually picking up a good trail down the moraine crest toward the Park Creek Valley. After more foot repair on the way down, we reached the Park Creek Valley trail withouth much difficulty and begain the long walk back. We arrived back at the car in a land well-beyond knackered just after midnight. What a trip! Gear Notes: Approach shoes, aluminum crampons, toy axe (might want more later in the season), 60m 8.1mm rope, light alpine rack. We carried a lot of water on the climb and were glad for it with the summit bivy (no snow near the summit). Approach Notes: Saying something is long and experiencing long are two very different things.
  10. Trip: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite NP - Mt. Conness, West Ridge Date: 7/4/2012 Trip Report: I snuck quietly out of our Tuolumne Meadows campground site at 3am as the family continued sleeping and drove up to Tioga Pass and then up towards Saddlebag Lake. Aptly, it was Independence Day. Following Peter Croft's descriptions in his excellent "The Good, The Great, and The Awesome" guidebook, I hiked in under a full moon and then blue sky and sun sun sun and climbed the "left prong" of Mt. Conness' West Ridge. The climb lived up to it's 3-star (the max) rating. Exposure was terrific as was the route. Seeing boy scouts on top was a cheering, and that they unfurled the colonel's flag on the summit was downright moving. Longer report and photos here: Gear Notes: Tiger Tails, harness, a few pieces of pro. Clipped an existing anchor on one downclimbing move (off the 'diving board' formation just past the crux) but didn't use the pro otherwise. Approach shoes were perfect. Approach Notes: It ain't the Cascades.
  11. Thanks! Going up, we climbed the rock. Coming down, we skiing around the rock on the south side of the ridge (skiers right).
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