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  1. Nice work Iluka! Billisfree: Thanks. Sorry, but I'm not tech-savvy-enough to post a marked map on this site. Basically: I climbed the ridge extending east from White Mountain at what appeared to be the easiest spot, then traversed northeast on fairly steep slopes to more level ground below the ridge. I stayed east of all the little humps and landforms on my way to the area that used to be covered by the White Chuck Glacier. As I headed east-northeast to Glacier Gap, I again stayed high and right, traversing some pretty steep ground. From Glacier Gap, after you get past a small hump, it is a straight shot up from the saddle to the summit. I don't know if my way is the best way; earlier in the season, with more snow, there may be better options.
  2. Trip: Glacier Peak - Disappointment Cleaver via Little Wenatchee/PCT Date: 9/22/2009 Trip Report: I headed out on the Little Wenatchee River Trail around noon Monday (Sept. 21) morning, intending to climb Glacier Peak via White Pass in three days. This is an interesting approach, with alternating open riparian meadow and forest and closed-canopy Pacific silver fir forest for about five miles before a fairly steep ascent to Meander Meadows. I stopped for lunch next to Kodak Peak, where I caught my first views of my destination. I had a looonnnnggg hike ahead of me. The views of the meadows, ridges and minor peaks were very cool -- especially with the fall colors: White Mountain: I arrived at White Pass around 5:45 p.m. The views of Sloan Peak and the Monte Cristo peaks from my camp on a bench west of the pass were great. Sloan Peak: Tuesday morning, my watch alarm failed to wake me, and I didn’t get started until 7:45. I had hoped to summit and return to the pass that night, but the late start meant there was a decent chance I'd be sleeping somewhere closer to the mountain. I packed my bivy sack. I hiked a well-defined path below White Mountain and climbed the ridge east of the peak to a spectacular view of the maze of landforms that I would need to negotiate to reach Glacier Peak: I spent a few minutes matching landscape to map and selecting my route, then traversed northeast along the northern aspect of the ridge, trying not to lose too much elevation. I then crossed a beautiful, flat alpine basin below some steep cliffs... I hiked through glacial till of all shapes and sizes above the White Chuck tarns, crossing several glacial melt streams. I stayed high and right on my way to Glacier Gap to maintain elevation and avoid a steep headwall with a waterfall. The view near Glacier Gap: From this col, I traversed on glacier around a ~ 7,600-foot hump before descending to a saddle near the base of Disappointment Cleaver. I scrambled over boulders and talus for a stretch, then dropped to the Gerdine Glacier after dealing with some particularly loose boulders. I saw fresh tracks on the glacier and spotted a tent west of the ridge, so I knew I was not alone on the mountain. I donned crampons and hiked the low-angle glacier for a while before climbing back onto the ridge to avoid some crevasses: To this point, I had no idea whether I would ascend over Disappointment Peak or traverse around the peak on Cool Glacier. From afar, the peak looked pretty sketchy – like a nearly vertical pile of loose boulders just waiting to collapse: However, the crevassed glacier was littered with fallen rock, so I decided to continue up the peak. The crux for me was ignoring my fatigue around 9,200-9,500 feet as I negotiated loose cobble and shifting boulders under hot sun. A couple of steep steps near the top bordered on Class 4 – but with minor exposure and seemingly solid rock it seems fair to call them Class 3. I crossed the summit, descended to the 9,600-foot saddle, and hiked steep pumice toward the top. About 100 feet below the summit, I ran into the owners of the tent – two guys from Seattle (Neil and Scott, I think). They had barely touched the rock on their way up, opting for the glacier traverse. They thought the rock looked too sketchy, especially without helmets. They had hiked in along the North Fork Sauk Trail two days prior -- meaning their round-trip would be around 10 miles shorter than mine. Hmmmm. I had not realized that trailhead was again accessible by car. I continued easily to the summit and awesome views: I spent 40 minutes on top, eating lunch, enjoying the scenery, and drinking from a snowmelt trickle. Sliding down the pumice to the saddle took less than 15 minutes, but the down-climb of Disappointment Peak was predictably tedious and slow. About halfway down the cleaver, I descended to the glacier and followed it to the base of the ridge. From Glacier Gap, I again hugged the ridge to the south as I made my way down toward the White Chuck tarns. It was at least 6:30 by this time; there was no way I could get to White Pass before dark. So, around 7 p.m. -- with the sun starting to set – I settled in my bivy sack on sandy glacial till. Wearing long johns and a couple of fleece pullovers, I was cool but relatively comfortable, as temps never dropped into the 30s. Wind kept me awake much of the night, but I probably slept five hours. View from the bivy site in the morning: In the morning, I left the alpine basin via a different route, crossing the divide next to White Mountain farther northeast. I found a boot path near the headwaters of Foam Creek, then followed a good trail south of the ridge crest back to White Pass. I ate breakfast and headed out. A couple of miles after leaving the pass on the PCT, my left achilles started to burn. I expected the pain to subside, but it persisted. I limped to my car about five hours later, a bit concerned that I had shelved myself for quite some time. As I write this, the pain is mostly gone – though I have yet to test the achilles with even a brisk walk. Overall, this was a great trip. The climb ranks among the most scenic mountaineering trips I’ve done. What an incredible, remote place. While this route is not much of a technical challenge for most of the folks who frequent this site, it was very demanding physically. I don’t think I have ever before gained so much total elevation (~ 10,500 ft) and covered so much mileage (~ 44 miles) in such a short time (3 days). The incredible scenery, though, makes the big physical effort worthwhile. While the approach via the Little Wenatchee Trail is longer than some other options, the views along the way are spectacular and the 5-6 miles of PCT from Kodak Peak to White Pass are pretty painless (if your achilles is intact). Approach Notes: Long.
  3. North Sister conditions

    Thanks for all the responses. I was in Central Oregon this week, but decided to pass on N. Sister after seeing the recent dusting of snow. I've had a couple of pretty unpleasant experiences with thin snow on steep scree. It probably has melted by now with the hot weather down there, but who knows. Headed into Diamond Peak Wilderness instead; to Fawn Lake, then an easy scramble up Lakeview Mountain. Beautiful area.
  4. Thanks a lot for the report. I'm hoping to find time for a variation of this traverse later some time this month.
  5. I'm wondering if anyone has recent condition information -- particularly for the terrible traverse. Is the snowfield melted out? Thanks
  6. Thanks, guys. KBHR, I could email you a photo or post it next week. I don't have it with me now and I'm out of town. The shot shows the way I descended, which I thought would make the best ascent route. I recall that this route would head up some loose rock, then snow, between trees on the left and a tall rock formation on the right. The way I went up was not the best option. It was on the left side of the upper snowy basin -- the snow finger that appeared to extend nearly to the ridgetop. Its terminus appeared to me to be the low point in the ridge. It was doable, but my descent route was class 3 while the way I went up was class 4 with small holds. I saw slings on both routes, but my down-climb route was pretty easy minus a rope. paul
  7. Trip: Mt. Pershing - Route 7 Date: 6/27/2009 Trip Report: Twice, Mt. Pershing has turned me back. In 2004, I attempted the Olympic Climbers’ Guide’s Route 4 with my brother-in-law. It was rough, sketchy, confusing, and brushy. We did not sniff the summit ridge (No, you can’t just “leave the trail and climb SE over scree” as the guide suggests). In 2006, I tried to climb Pershing via the guide’s Route 7, but ran out of time after getting off-route and topping the ridge nowhere near the summit. I stumbled out of the forest just before dark after a thrash through slide alder and devil’s club. These two climbs rank among my most frustrating defeats and roughest wilderness experiences. With a more detailed map and the new climbers’ guide’s improved route description, I set out Saturday afternoon to take another shot at this peak. I packed for a potential overnight stay. I set out on the faint climbers’ path that parallels Jefferson Creek around 12:30 p.m. –- about three hours later than I had planned. Route 7 gradually climbs west-northwest away from the creek, crossing an area dominated by huge, mossy boulders, before shooting up the mountain. I followed a northwest bearing up the steep hillside while attempting to follow the intermittent path made by other climbers. Although I used the occasional orange and red flagging as a guide at times, I did not blindly follow it, as flagging had led me astray on my previous solo attempt. The climb to the 4,300-foot basin described in the climbers’ guide was far easier than I expected, with only minor bushwacking through alder and avalanche debris and only a couple of confusing moments. I hiked steep meadow before ascending the “series of vegetated slabs” described by the guide: I climbed the left side of this obstacle, though other routes appeared feasible. This Class 3 section was relatively easy thanks in part to my frequent clinging to alpine trees. After arriving at the snowy basin below the south summit, I headed for what I thought was the “obvious snow gully” described by the climbing guide (left side of ridge). I climbed 40-degree snow before scrambling up a short section of loose dirt and scree to a 4th-class step I would need to overcome to top the south ridge. I wondered whether I had chosen the right route. A sling hanging from a nearby tree suggested I was on the right track, so I headed up the rock. The holds were small and a bit unnerving, but they got me to the ridge-top, where I eyed the summit rocks: Online and guide book descriptions of the summit ridge had me expecting the worst -- a foot-wide arete with 800-foot drop-offs. As I approached this stretch, though, I realized the arête posed a minor obstacle. The exposure was not nearly as bad as I expected. The summit Ridge and Mt. Washington (looking back): An easy scramble of the summit block delivered me to the top. Finally. The ascent took only about 3.5 hours, about two hours less than I expected. The weather was perfect and the views spectacular: Washington and Ellinor: Sawtooth Ridge: Mt.Stone and Mt. Anderson: After a half-hour enjoying the summit, I headed down near a cairn placed on the ridge –- north of the route I ascended. This Class 3 path was safer and easier than my route up. Down-climbing the vegetated slabs was tedious and slow. I constantly felt a bit exposed due to the poor hand-holds and loose, down-sloping, vegetated rock beneath me. After reaching the lower basin, I briefly struggled through slide debris and alder before locating my ascent path and heading down the steep hillside. The straight-forward descent took about 3 hours. This was a great climb. I will be back.
  8. davidk, skeezix, curtveld -- thanks guys. It was a memorable trip. Curtveld: I didn't see a report on your Inspiration climb. Which route did you take? I see west ridge, east ridge, and south face routes in Beckey's guide.
  9. Trip: West McMillan Spire - West Ridge Date: 9/13/2008 Trip Report: First, for those of you interested only in route conditions, here you go... On Sept. 13: As you can see, there’s a lot of snow. I did not have any difficulties moving from snow to rock. There was a small moat in places. This was my first climb of West McMillan Spire, and I found conditions to be terrific. The report: The Picket Range has intrigued me since my first visit to the North Cascades, in September 2003. I did a bunch of easy scrambles on that trip, including a hike up Trappers Peak -- from which I first laid eyes on the Pickets. At that time, with only a handful of climbs under my belt, I never would have considered a trek among these glacier-flanked, intimidating spires. My interest in the subrange grew after reading about its reputation as the most rugged alpine region in the lower 48. What choice did I have? I had to go. Only one Pickets peak appeared to have a climbing route feasible for a guy with limited technical mountaineering skill traveling solo: West McMillan Spire. The Terror Basin / West Ridge route sounded like a challenging scramble within my abilities. With a few days off, and a promising weather forecast last week, I decided the time was right to explore the Pickets. I arrived at Newhalem Campground around 9 p.m. Thursday after a brutally slow drive through Seattle-area rush hour traffic. I’ll never do that again. In the morning, I found the Goodell Creek way trail next to a large boulder near the parking area at Goodell Creek Group Campground. I left around 8:20 and hiked the brushy but well-defined path to its intersection with the Terror Basin climbers path (about 1.5 hours) -- which is marked with a big stone arrow in the middle of the trail. The path shoots straight up the hillside. I don't think I've ever gained so much elevation in so few steps carrying a full pack. After about two hours of relentless elevation gain, I emerged in the subalpine to awesome views. From there, the climbers path is easy to follow through heather and mountain hemlock until a major dry creek bed crossing, where the route seems to break off in several directions. I had read reports directing me to climb the creek bed for 100 to 200 feet before locating the path next to a cairn. There were a bunch of cairns, and several paths that faded away. After wasting a few minutes searching for the “right” trail, I continued on my northeast bearing and eventually located a fairly well-defined path in the heather. (On my return trip, the way path I followed delivered me to the creek bed higher than the creek bed cairns, where water still flowed). The scenery along this traverse is fantastic: Mt. Triumph: Mt. Despair: I followed the path to a notch overlooking Terror Basin, then descended steeply over loose rock and snow to the rocky basin. I guessed the climb would take about five hours round-trip from the basin, so I planned to head directly for the summit if I reached the basin by 2 p.m. -- which was exactly when I arrived. However, clouds had enveloped the peaks by the time I set up my camp at a bivvy site near a large boulder and snow melt creek. My climb would be postponed to Saturday. I’ve never had so much time to relax on a climbing trip. I passed the time by enjoying the scenery, taking photos, thinking deep thoughts, and picking out my climbing route after the clouds finally lifted: I saw a couple of guys descend from the notch in late afternoon. They headed for a camp closer to the peaks. I tried to retire early, but ended up moving my gear and camp after getting harassed by mice running over me and nibbling at my bivy sack near by head. Mice sketch me out a bit. When I awoke around 4:30 a.m., it was quite windy and cold. So I stayed in my bag until first light, when I arose to this: For those unfamiliar with the peak and route, it follows the snow/glacier at far left, then heads up the long, moderate rock ridge. I left camp around 7 a.m. and traversed north-northwest over easy granite and heather to a glacial lake outlet. Cairns mark at least a couple of possible routes. I passed through the other climbers’ camp before the creek crossing, and caught up to them low on the ridge. They were waiting for high winds to die down before heading for Inspiration Peak. One of them told me they would keep an eye out for me on my way down McMillan Spire. Thanks guys! Inspiration appears to be quite a hairy climb. I shot this from McMillan’s West Ridge: The two dots in the middle-bottom of the frame are the climbers getting started (the leader is near the edge of a crevasse). I heard Terror Glacier ice break off and tumble at least twice during my climb. The much mellower McMillan Spire route heads up nice granite slabs, a low-angle glacier, steep snow, and steep, loose rock to the col between Inspiration Peak and the spire. The 30-minute climb up the easy granite (Class 1-2) was fun and beautiful. I strapped on crampons before climbing the hard glacier and higher-gradient (35-40 degrees) snow near the gully leading to the col. The exposure was not bad: a broad, open snow slope. I exited the glacier to the right below the end of the snow finger extending up the gully, then climbed a couple of Class 3 rock steps to gain access to a loose rock gully that delivered me to the west ridge. I never set foot on the Inspiration-McMillan col proper. Based on trip reports I had read, I expected some exposed Class 3/4 scrambling on the ridge. Instead, I encountered easy and loose Class 2 and slabby Class 3. Even near the narrow ridge top, I never felt exposed. I arrived at the summit around 9:40. Wow, what a beautiful, lonely, and special place -- well-worth the considerable physical effort (about 8,500 feet of elevation gain in total). Just amazing: I spent about 45 minutes at the summit before an uneventful and straightforward trip down. I saw just one small crevasse off my route to the right as I descended the sun-softened snow and glacier. I packed up and left the basin around 1:45. A parting shot of McMillan Spires, Inspiration Peak, Mt. Degenhardt, Mt. Terror: The hike back to the campground took about 4.5 hours. I was too tired for the five-hour drive to Portland so I picked up some IPA and pasta in Marblemount and spent another night at the Newhalem Campground. This was a great climb -- one of my favorites. Physically demanding, relatively safe, and unbelievably scenic. Gear Notes: Ice Axe, Helmet, Crampons
  10. Fettster: Thanks. I do have a couple of shots of the moat. The first shot is looking back down toward the saddle. The second photo is the awkward step/crux.
  11. Mt. Jefferson’s reputation as the toughest summit in the Oregon Cascades has kept me away from this mountain for years. I usually climb alone, so reports of nightmarish rockfall, treacherous ice traverses, and a crumbly 400-foot technical summit pinnacle pushed this climb outside my comfort zone. I certainly did not envision climbing Jefferson without a partner or protection. Mt. Jefferson became a bit more accessible in my mind, though, after reading a couple of CC trip reports for the peak’s easiest route, the South Ridge. Climbing this line to the base of the pinnacle sounded simple and looked straightforward on my map. From there, I thought, the summit would be within my reach if the rock at the top was solid Class 3/4 rather than sketchy 5.1 and if snow conditions were good for the “Terrible Traverse” across the west face to the pinnacle’s north side. I decided I would climb the south ridge to take a close-up look at the traverse. I figured there was a strong chance I would be turned back by poor conditions or the supposedly huge exposure. As it turned out, ideal conditions made the climb far easier and more mellow than I anticipated. I backpacked about 8 miles from the Woodpecker Ridge trailhead to Shale Lake late Thursday (8/28). Jefferson from the lake: I left my camp around 6 a.m. and headed northeast past Shale Lake between the south and southwest ridges. I followed a climber’s path through stands of mountain hemlock and subalpine meadow, then climbed boulders and scree up to the south ridge below its convergence with the southwest ridge. The view south on the way up was very cool. The landforms and peaks from Jefferson to The Sisters sure are beautiful: After gaining the South Ridge, about 2 miles from the lake, I took a break next to a small stream draining a snowfield to drink and fill my water bottle. Running water seems to be pretty scarce on this route in summer. I continued over looser, more tedious terrain up the south ridge toward the steep, rocky spine that leads to the “Red Saddle.” I climbed directly up this ridge (easy Class 2/3) to an overlook with an unnerving view of Jefferson’s two pinnacles and the “Terrible Traverse.” I knew the trek across the west face was exposed, but the near-vertical gradient of the snowfield surprised me. The Terrible Traverse: Summit pinnacles: My climb to the saddle took about 3.5 hours, meaning it was only 9:45 and the sun had not yet hit the summit’s west side. I would have plenty of time to stare down the route and check out the snowfield. I hoped the snow would be hard enough that crampons would provide security, yet soft enough to allow deep ice axe penetration for an effective self-belay. As it turned out, it didn’t matter. As I walked the way path toward the traverse, I realized there was a moat between snow and rock just wide enough to permit passage. Apparently, I had picked the perfect time to solo this route. The moat appeared to extend the full length of the traverse. I carefully made my way across the moat below the summit towers. I felt exposed at only two points: a small snow step that required crampons and ice axe, and a short but somewhat awkward 4th Class step along the moat -- which proved to be the crux of the climb for me. The traverse went quickly -- and with no expenditure of adrenaline. As I crossed the shoulder and headed north, I could not believe my good fortune. On the north side, I followed a climber’s path southwest toward the top. My route up the summit block also was easier than expected -- little loose rock, no ice, no Class 5. Instead, I found dry, solid rock and large ledges. Most of my climbs over the last couple of years have been in the Olympics, where the rock quality is pretty poor. So my perception of what constitutes “good” rock may be somewhat skewed. Still, Jefferson’s pinnacle seemed very solid. On the line I chose, the lower section was mostly Class 3 with some Class 4 near the top. A couple of exposed steps required extra caution, but overall it was a surprisingly mellow scramble. The weather was perfect, and haze from recent fires obscured views only a little. It was beautiful. I love Mt. Jefferson’s position in the transition zone between wet forests and high desert terrain. Hood from summit: Down-climbing was relatively easy, with one or two somewhat awkward steps, and the traverse back to the Red Saddle was straightforward. I ate lunch near the saddle before heading down to the South Ridge. I arrived at my camp around 2:30, packed up my gear, and hiked out. This was a great climb -- thanks in large part to the ideal conditions. Besides my obvious good fortune with the moat, I heard no rockfall during my traverse and summit block scramble. I also was able to avoid most of the scree-slogging on the way up by hiking on boulders, and the route-finding from Shale Lake was easy.
  12. [TR] Anderson's Thumb - N Ridge 8/18/2008

    Cool climb John. Thanks for the report. I love that area.
  13. Thanks John. Yep, Martin was a pretty cool/easy scramble up top. I think that chute you describe was filled with softening snow, and I opted for scrambling the rock above it. I nearly headed down that chute, but decided to down-climb the same way I came up. I don't think I chose the easiest route, but it was fun. I recall reading your report about that ridge traverse a while back. Really impressive trip. I had your description of the Martin scramble in the back of my mind when I decided to pass on attempting Mt. Mystery and give Martin a shot. Paul
  14. Trip: Martin Pk.- Mt. Fricaba-Hal Foss Pk. Date: 7/17-7/19/2008 Trip Report: This trip report is a little dated, but my photos turned out pretty well so I thought I'd share.... Conditions were fantastic July 17-19 as I explored the alpine area beyond Royal Lake. I climbed Martin Peak, Mt. Fricaba, and Hal Foss Peak from a camp on a bench above upper Royal Basin. This was my first trip to this region of the Olympics. I was impressed. After dealing with road construction along Highway 101, I got a late start and did not reach upper Royal Basin until 7:30 p.m. Thursday. I decided against trying to negotiate the steep divide between Royal and Deception Basins so late in the day. Instead of camping in Deception Basin, as I had planned, I found a beautiful camp site high above Royal Basin that I deemed outside of the reservations-only area. This was my view of Mt. Deception at sunrise Friday: In the morning, I climbed over the ridge southeast of upper Royal Basin, descended steeply, and crossed Milk Creek, which originates on Mt. Fricaba’s north side. Mt. Fricaba’s northern aspect: I ascended snowfields, talus, and scree on Fricaba’s northeast side to incredible views: Morning fog and a sea of peaks: Olympus: Hal Foss Peak and Mt. Mystery: Mt. Deception and Deception Basin: I then descended loose rock down Fricaba’s west side into beautiful Deception Basin, and hiked to Hal Foss Peak’s northwest flank. Foss Peak from slope north of Deception Basin: About an hour of Class 2 scrambling and hiking moderate snow slopes brought me to an easy Class 3 finish and more breath-taking scenery: Deception Basin from Foss Peak: The Needles from Foss Peak: I had wondered about the route up Mystery from Deception Basin. It did not look good from my perspective. The glacier did not appear to be a major obstacle, but the climbing above the ice looked pretty sketchy -- steep, loose rock with cliffy exposure. Mt. Mystery from the divide between Royal/Deception basins: The divide east of Mt. Deception appeared nearly vertical from afar. The route I chose, though, was steep but fairly easy. I topped the ridge at a notch just east of the mini-peak next to Deception, descended a 40-degree snow slope, and hiked through upper Royal Basin back to my camp late Friday afternoon. I surveyed Martin Peak from my camp, trying to identify a line to the summit. From this perspective -- basically due west -- the route described in the Olympic climbing guide looked pretty intimidating. The guide, though, assured me that routes up to the Deception-Martin ridge were straightforward, so I decided to give it a shot Saturday morning. Martin Peak from Upper Royal Basin: I hiked through Royal Basin, ascended a snowfield south of the Surprise Basin terminal moraine, and climbed steep, loose rock to more solid and higher-gradient terrain. About an hour of Class 3 scrambling over solid ledges and ramps led me to the ridge top -- but I was too close to Mt. Deception. The ridge couldn’t be traversed to Martin Peak from this point, so I down-climbed, headed north a bit, and ascended rock above a snow-filled gully up to a large notch that provided access to an easy ridge scramble to Martin's summit. Again, the views were spectacular: Mt. Deception: Glacier west of Deception summit: The climbing guide’s Martin Peak Route 1 description is short but accurate. The path I chose was solidly Class 3, with a little exposure at times. Good hand-holds and solid ledges made it a relatively mellow outing. The ascent took me 2 hours, 45 minutes from my high camp. The descent and hike back took about two hours. I enjoyed a last meal at my beautiful camp before heading out. A great trip. Gear Notes: Axe, helmet, crampons
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