Trip: The Pasayten for the Old and Slow - Amphitheatre, Cathedral, Remmel Trip Date: 10/01/2022 Trip Report:
In September 2002 I hiked into Cathedral Lakes with my buddy Russ to do the classic SE Buttress on Cathedral. We got rain, hail, fog, snow, and finally gorgeous sunshine; unfortunately in the wrong order. Our first day at Cathedral Lake we chose not to climb as it was really cold, the fog was thick enough we couldn’t see a thing, and as Russ said, “It would suck to have to retreat and leave gear all over the place—even if it is only your gear.” That night it snowed enough that the next morning we bailed and hiked all the way out to Thirtymile campground.
Twenty years later, with a far greater appreciation for and expertise in checking and understanding the weather forecast, I wheedled Gordy-from-the-Pickets into heading back in there last week for another try. I had friends who were doing the Cathedral loop trip with a group and planned to scramble Cathedral, so I figured if Gordy and I got an early start, we could do the Ka’aba Buttress on Amphitheatre on Day 2 before they arrived, Cathedral on Day 3 while they did the scramble, then spend the next two days leisurely hiking out and tagging Remmel with them.
We saw no one the first day expect for three yutes (by which I mean people who appeared to be in their early 30s) and their dog. I speculated they were running the loop as they had teeny tiny packs and shorts and seemed to be moving awfully fast, and we’d seen no sign of a tent along the way. We made it as far as the Tungsten Mine (but not to the buildings) before I said “Here’s camp; I can’t go a step further.”
We made it to Cathedral Lakes the next morning in plenty of time to do Pilgrimage to Mecca, tag the summit of Amphitheatre, and return to camp, but apparently I’m now too old to hike 20 miles with a full climbing pack in a 24-hour period without being too wasted to do much of anything once I get there. Very disappointing. Also, Pilgrimage to Mecca was clearly not going to come into the sun until 4 or 5 pm, if ever, and it was cold in the shade and I’m an enormous pansy. So after a nap (on my part) we just scrambled the West Ridge of Amphitheatre. Not a very exciting route, but nice views from up there.
Amphitheatre and Cathedral from Boundary Trail:
We started up the SE Buttress fairly late (8:30 am) on Saturday, so that most of the first pitch was already in the sun, but it was still darn cold belaying. Instead of swinging leads we divided them, with Gordy getting the pitches that were wide or would benefit from brute force and me getting anything that had a thin crack on it. This worked out quite well. Sadly we were both too busy climbing to take many pics, but there are already a gajillion pics of the route so it’s hard to think that’s much of a loss.
I think this is the belay before the fifth pitch, but really I have no idea. Who cares; look, it’s sunny!
We avoided the headwall pitches as neither of us are leading 5.10 at the moment, heading around the corner to the right to scamper up the ramp and chimney that the Doorish topo in Beckey shows as 5.6. Old age and treachery triumphs again.
We posed for summit shots; I did my 1930s Red Army recruiting poster pose.
Gordy behaved a little more normally.
We were back to camp in plenty of time to move down the trail a couple of miles, but we were behind our friends and didn't catch them. They ended up going a different way than they had planned, so we ended up ahead of them the next day by doing the 800-calorie cross-country shortcut to Four Point Lake. We met them on the trail as we were descending from Remmel and on the way back to where they had ditched packs we had a fun scavenger hunt for the notes they left to inform us of their track.
We had a lovely evening camping and eating and telling stories, saw a moose (!!!) in the morning, and stopped by a gorgeous stand of quaking aspen for our last break before returning to the TH.
So overall a great final hurrah to a shockingly successful summer season for a middle aged lady with a “real” job. Unless this Indian summer lasts another few weeks....
Gear Notes: I thought I took too big of a rack but we sure did use it Approach Notes: walk and walk and walk and then walk some more