Couldn't figure out how to post the report with pictures. Here's the link to see the report with the pictures & below is the written part
Pre TRip & Tidbits
5 of us headed out to climb Spickard and Redoubt on a 4 day trip ( Fri- Mon) The weather forecast called for a sprinkle friday morning and some rain saturday afternoon/ evening. The sprinkle had passed by the time we hit the trailhead and only heard the rain saturday night while snug in our tents. Basically had sunshine the entire time and 360 views from the summits. The camping permits were free and easy to obtain by calling the NPS in Marblemount despite reports of red tape by others. We actually met a ranger while hiking in and he did ask us about camping permits ( probably thinking/I bet they don't have one )
Directions to the trailhead and Ouzel Lake can be found here:
We managed to drive to the end of the driveable road right where the trail starts, and found room for several cars including room to turn around. We had 4X4's.
8-9 miles to Ouzel Lake ; ELEV Gain = ~3,500 ft
Once at the trailhead we quickly packed up and started marching before the Mosquitoes would eat us alive. There is a critical junction almost right at the beginning within maybe 300 m where one has to turn left up the logging road. It was the more well used looking one. ( Straight looked grassy and little used). Another 150 m up you'll hit a muddy loggin road which heads southeast and this one you follow until you hit the US border about 2 miles from the cars. Be prepared to dodge mud and water on these roads.
Once we crossed the border and signed the trail register we entered the tranquility of an Old Growth Forrest with the sound of Depot Creek as music.
According to old trip reports and Jos' own experience we were prepared for slow going through numerous windfalls. Sure enough..the first fallen tree was just down the trail a bit....BUT...it proved to be the ONLY fallen tree we had to straddle and clamber over. Some selfless, energetic kindhearted chainsaw owning person had spend considerable time and energy sawing through the Windfall either last fall or early this spring as the sawdust still looked fresh. Our thanks go out to you whoever you may be. The trail through the forrest was one of the nicest I have ever done.
Soft ground, the trail mostly well defined, and for those few spots where it was less visible you just had to look around from where you stood and you'd spot the continuation. In the fall there would be lots on blueberries on either side . The trail more or less follows the east side of Depot Creek.
After 4 relatively flat miles you can see glimpses of the headwall and hear the thunder of the cascades. Now the elevation gain starts. At first it's more of the nice forest path, then come two short avalanche swaths with a decent trail though it before you are literally between the two waterfalls and having to cross one of the water channels on two alder branches above and below.
A few paces up gets you to the moist slabs where you'll find two permanenet handlines to help you get up the slick rock. For us the slabs were not overly wet.
What a beautiful spot to have lunch. Just before the trail heads climbers left into the shrubbery are some flat dry slabs feet away from the tumbling water that just beckons for climbers to have a rest, nourish themselves and feast on the beauty around them. And nourishment is indeed needed.
From here on the stiff uphill begins. No handline but plenty of shrubbery to help you get out of the streambed. The first bit is through the shrubbery again on a decent path, then up the first boulder gully. Towards the top of the gully make sure you stay right, as it's the right hand " branch" that has the continuation of the route. From the end of the first boulder gully you have a few meters of uphill mossy sandy trail then you traverse over to climbers right ( you can sort of see where the next gully over is ) to the next boulder gully. There were the odd cairns in the gullies. On your way up, unless you know where you enter the woods again You'd be best off to traverse up over to the right to a magnificent waterfall..which is a must see at any rate. Leave your packs where the rocks meet the forest, walk over to the waterfall for pictures and return. If you follow the boulder gully edge from this point you should see some cairns.
Only a short distance up is a cairn and the visible trail heading into the woods for good on your right. The next section was the steepest ...a steep rocky and earthy gully gets you huffing and puffing until the slope flattens out, the trail traverses right again along the ridge and you pop out into the hanging valley complete with a view of Mt Redoubt.
What a beautiful hanging valley it is too. Initially You'll see a trail throught the meadows trending to the left edge which you more or less follow until you reach Depot Creeks boulder strewn bed. We had snowpatches on and off, so not sure if the trail is visible all the way, but it was easy enought to follow the left side of the valley.
Once at Depot Creek we hugged the creek as much as we could, having to detour on and off up the enbankment, the slide alder not too bad. On the return we stayed higher and followed talus patches. Eventually you gain the moraine which you follow to the camsite that sits just a bit above the outflow of Ouzel Lake. Fine gravel is perfect for pitching a tent.
From Ouzel Lake camp:
Time = 4.5 hrs up. Long break on top and leisurely descent
Total time 9 hrs
Distance = ~2.0 miles; Gain = 3,200 ft.
Saturday morning greeted us with blue skies. The packs stuffed with the essentials we headed up the steep gully to the Spickard/Custer Saddle. As we were topping out we saw a Momma and Baby goat along the ridge, Dan managed to get a better picture of the pair.
Silver Lake is one of the bluest alpine lakes I've seen and we paused for the obligatory Kodak moments.
The ropes came out, the crampons on, and off we were to plod up the Silver Glacier. For us most of the crevasses were snow covered. Our plan was to cross the bergschrund at climbers left high up and gain the summit ridge there. The snow was good for crampons and we made good time. The only real steep part was the pitch right above the bergschrund...report say 50 degrees but it didn't feel quite that steep. The bridge over the schrund was solid.
Once at the notch we cached our ice axes and crampons and prepared to climb the final summit ridge. Mostly class 3 with some class 4 steps. The rock not too bad, but you had to be careful with some of the smaller boulders to make sure they were not loose. And one gully close to the summit had loose rock. The first few feet were the trickiest as one has to transition from snow to rock and then up a 5 foot
section where the hand and footholds are on the smallish slopy side with a nice bit of exposure...slipping not an option here. So we decided to belay that part as we were already roped and me standing behind a large boulder opposite of the potential " fall line". Kristina lead and found the belay station a few feet above. All of us got belayed up and from there we simulclimbed in groups of 3 and 2 the remainder of the ridge with plenty of natural protection between us. If pitched out it would be around 4 pitches with a 30 m rope. We stayed roped as we were not sure if we needed a belay further on, but if one isn't too fussed about some exposure here and there where falling would not be an option you can easily solo to the top.
The views from the top are magnificent:
On the way up we had trended a bit left of the ridgeline just below the summit, but on the way down we stayed on the ridge.
The way down was a combo between downclimbing and being lowered amongst us. Being in the middle of the threesome I ended up downclimbing with a prussick on the rope for the first 30 meters, then downclimbed the rest of the ridge to the belay station for the steep step at the start. The downclimbing wasn't hard, but I sure felt that falling or slipping was not an option in some spots and made sure that any holds I used were solid. We all rappelled the steep step in the end after replacing the old tattered sling we found there with one of ours. The snow was soft all the way down and we made quick progress back to camp.
At camp Dan found out that Oxtail soup is made out of Oxtail without affecting his appetite too much ( unfortunately for us as it 'twas a might fine smelling soup !) , and Kristina experienced the fringe benefits of being in Jos's food group...Jos, you can cook and serve us dinner ANYTIME
After the obligatory sunset watch and pictures we hit snoooze land to recharge for the next days climb of Mt Redoubt.
7 hrs up, 11 hrs round trip
Only 4 of us decided to climb Redoubt.
Morning came with some valley fog but clear blue skies above. We quickly climbed the several hundred feet of small slabs and ledges up the buttress following cairns to the snowfield & glacier above. Noted Ice chunks from a slab avalanche at the bottom of one cliff.
Two of us climbed steep snow straight up, the other two traversed a bit further to the west before heading up to the toe of the glacier. We roped up in two's and followed the gently sloping toe of the redoubt glacier up to the flats. From there we contoured west to a col just south of the Flying Buttress.
We found it easiest to cross the rocky ridge near the middle and dropped about 30 meters down to the south slopes above Bear Lake. From there the route traverses over to a large steep ( not more than 40 degrees), snowfilled gully. Fortunately the snow was still firm for the ascent. Half way up we had several options. Straight up the gully steepened and looked icy...Kristina wanted to head up, but the rest of us felt it was too risky and opted against this route. We later had a chance to look at its end from above and it looked ugly...rocks, ice and ice covered rocks. Ascending this gully would involve climbing out of it on steep snow/ ice and rock. It might be better with more snow in it.
To the left of us was a snowslope that climbed up to a ridge/slope through a break in the cornice. This slope leads directly to a rightward angling ledge which levels out below a prominent spire. We were a bit higher already so left that route for the descent.
Instead, we transitioned onto the rock band which was next to us and easy scrambling led to the same ridge and snowfield just higher up.
By now the sun had softened the snow at the upper edge and we were sinking in deep. Easy scrambling up the rightward angling scree ledge led to our lunchspot right below the prominent spire.
We ascended the gully to the immediate west of the spire and followed that one to it's end, ignoring a branch off climbers right. The top part of this gully had icy rock in its trough so we opted to scramble up along the climbers left side. There was one class 4 move...slipping or falling definately not an option. Jos and Kristina went up first. When it was my turn to lead the pitch the one handhold for the tricky part was loose...oh well...held my breath, balanced the feet and up I was. The rock was not the most solid and you couldn't have placed pro, but easy scrambling there after led to the gully top. On the return we rappelled these top 30 m.
looking down the ramp Lunchspot ledge one of two gullies west of spire. This is 3 m to west of correct one..both merge closest west gully to spire start of last 30 m view of Mt Challenger Bear mountain
From here we could see the rightward trending gully that led to the Cannonhole. The Cannonhole...we had wondered what it would look like ! The view down to the glacier from the hole is neat.
This gully was snowfilled and steep near the top with a rocky runnout at he bottom. Oh dear...we left crampons and ice axes at our lunchspot. Dan led out, hoping the snow would be soft enough to kick steps...it was, but to his relief he spotted good placements for pro and so we lined pro over to him and he reached the belay station in the Cannonhole safely. Only room for two there. Kristina was first to follow, and continued to lead the 50 ft up to the summit from the Cannonhole. This part is reported as 4th class with exposure. The climbing felt easy, but the exposure was there and the rock not the most solid. You had to be careful. Kristina found one crack for one piece of pro. We all felt like worms in too tigh a hole when wriggling through the cannonhole one by one as the hole was partially filled with frozen snow. Once your head is past the chockstone you can look down all the way to the bottom of the glacier and Depot Creek.
chilliwack lake view of Spickard On the way down we rappelled from the top to the Cannonhole to the chockstone. Dan who was first then set up a lower/line down the snowgully to our next rapell. Jos and I had more fun sqeeeezing through the hole, sliding through Dan's legs and trying hard not to get stuck. With two of us down, Dan and Kristina could rappell.
Back at the top end of the gully we reinforced the existing red sling with a new black one and rappelled 30m down from where we could easily downclimb the rest of the way. Retrieved our stashed gear and proceeded to plow our way down the now sun softened snow. We were relieved when we found the snow on the traverse back to the Redoubt Glacier and Redoubt Glacier itself not too soft.
along ridge then left low down into our ascent gully
Tired but happy we returned to camp 11 hours later, Mary greeting us with potfuls of hot boiling water to quench our thirst...thank you sooooo much.
Our hike out was uneventful and Dinner in Chilliwack scrumptious. Oddly enough, the waitress seated us in the far corner of the outside patio...not sure why...there was plenty of room much closer
Thank you all for a most wonderful trip and to Jos especially for leading us in this adventure.
link to flickr sites with even more trip pictures: