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Everything posted by Tom_Sjolseth

  1. Trip: Mt. Index - Traverse - North -> Middle -> Main Date: 7/7/2010 Trip Report: The Mt Index Traverse – North, Middle, and Main Wayne's trip report can be found here. Wayne and I linked up on Monday for a great traverse of the three summits of Mt. Index. The trailhead was packed when we pulled up, due in no small part to decent weather and it being the tail end of a four-day Fourth of July weekend. Lucky for us we spied a parking spot right next to the TH sign, and saddled up. We arrived at Lake Serene a little over an hour later. People were everywhere, but our destination was the W side of the lake which appeared to be deserted. We made camp on a flat slab and went to bed early. Tuesday morning, we were up at 6:00. It was a perfect bluebird day.. just what we needed to dry out the wet vegetation that existed from the days prior. By the time we were moving at 7:30, the sun was blazing and things were drying out nicely. We ascended talus slopes to the NW end of Lake Serene, where we crossed over a rib and began to ascend a steep drainage running off of the N peak. We encountered very steep brush and heather slopes with rocky steps. The rock was surprisingly solid where we needed it. We roped up at the beginning of the NE Rib arete, and remained roped up until the false summit. The climbing was exposed and enjoyable. Wayne preparing to tackle the brush on the N Face of N Index. The view up the N Face from low on the route. Looking down. The town of Index and Index Town Walls from the N Face. Typical climbing on the N Face of Index. Mt. Persis from somewhere on the N Peak of Index. Wayne climbing solid rock on the NE Rib of N Peak. Wayne approaching the summit of N Peak. The summit of N Index. Impressive relief. Once on the false summit, we traversed class 3 terrain to the true summit. The views from the summit are amazing, revealing a huge jumble of jagged rock and steep, relentless and incredible cliffs. The traverse to the Middle summit looked improbable at best – very steep, very rugged everywhere. We looked for a summit register, but could not find one. We stayed for about 15 minutes on the summit drinking water, eating, and enjoying the impressive views. Looking down more than 4000’ to the valley below. Wayne readying the rappel. Notice the old tat behind. None of it was fresher than 5 years old. Steep traversing. Wayne rappeling on the way to Middle Peak. More downclimbing. Gorgeous. Views along the traverse from N to Middle Peak. Relief ... A long way down. A view of the Middle Peak from the traverse. Wayne on the ridge crest. Good grief, more relief! Wayne. Middle to Main. Soon we were packed up and heading down towards the Middle Peak. We descended about 200’ of class 3 into a W-facing fully. From here, we found a ledge that traversed around to the SW side of the 1st gendarme below the N summit. From here, we made a very committing rappel into the abyss. Rigorous routefinding ensued and after three more rappels and quite a bit of downclimbing, we finally made it to the intimidating N-Middle notch. It is hard to describe the ruggedness of the N-middle notch. Vertical walls surround and drop away 4500’ to the valley bottom. Of all the places I’ve been in the mountains, this is one of the most rugged places I’ve been. From here, we didn’t have a whole lot of info on what to do next, but a steep wall directly in front of us looked like it might offer a good route. Wayne led off (thanks Wayne) up mid-fifth rock with sparse pro (solid, but few fractures). After about 50’ of climbing, we came to an overhang. The overhang looked difficult, so we descended about 20’ and gained a gully system to climber’s right. Super sketchy, fairly sustained and difficult climbing ensued (~5.9) under sparse pro. This pitch was a full 60m and we were glad to have our ‘A’ game on this day. After this pitch, we worked our way up and over a gendarme, before dropping down to a most perfect bivy platform on a flat slab between the two summits of Middle. The views from here were amazing, and we we fortunate to get a lot of time before the sun set to enjoy them. Sunset from our bivy spot. The view to the N from our Bivy. This morning we were moving by 7:45 and summited Middle via some involved routefinding, but generally staying E of the crest. We found two summit registers on Middle Peak, one from Don Goodman and Chris Robertson in 2004, and one buried below the summit rocks in an old Kodak film cannister. Routefinding our way to the Middle Summit. Wayne approaching the summit of Middle Index. Steve who? The Main Peak as seen from Middle Index. From the Middle peak, the terrain doesn’t relent one bit, and we were once again working hard to find a good route. It seemed like there were seldom ever two ways to climb something, it’s either you find the magic door or you don’t. We wound up mainly downclimbing Middle Peak, but did a few raps too. We found running water here. A little moat crawling between Middle and Main. Running water below Middle and Main. Wayne on solid rock. Wow! Lake Serene framed through the gap. The last notch between Middle and Main is also in an amazing position, and the views are unbelievable. Here, we climbed up and left on relatively easy rock (5.5), and then up again to a belay. From here, we stayed on the crest of the Wedge Gendarme until we could climb up and right towards a prominent gully on climber’s right. We crossed the gully high on a loose bench, then continued on up steep heather slopes to the summit of Main. Traversing ledges below Main. More enjoyable climbing on solid rock. A look back at Middle from Main. More solid rock! Wayne approaching the summit of Main Index. One last look at beautiful Lake Serene. This traverse epitomizes (to me) the ruggedness the Cascade Range has to offer. It is unbelievable to me that the first ascentionists ventured onto this traverse with archaic gear and no information whatsoever, not even the knowledge that the route would go. It is an extremely impressive alpine route – one that will test every skill you have. The trip out to the car was hot, but we eventually made it. Thanks to Wayne (again) for being such a great partner.
  2. Go-to Training Hikes

    When I lived in Everett, I used to lap Teneriffe's Kamikaze Falls. It's about 3.4 miles and 3700' gain one way. Just after my 37th birthday I did it 4 times in a row for nearly 15k' gain and 28 miles in about 10.5 hours. Not sure where else you can get that kind of gain that quickly, and it's an interesting hike.
  3. Perfectly captured in photos - thanks for bringing them to us.
  4. Cascade River Road open to it's end!!

    Should you update your blog to reflect that it's open? As of July 3rd, it still has a closure alert and says the road is gated at milepost 21.
  5. [TR] Davis Peak - South Ridge 6/3/2017

    Great photos as usual. I have been wondering what impact the fire had on that route. Your trip looks quite different than the one I did up there in January of 2010. I missed the view that time, so I went back up a few years later. Amazing viewpoint.
  6. Mt Baker - North Ridge Questions

    Agree with Kurt. This year is a different beast with the late spring and lots of snow still lingering up there (it probably got quite a bit last night). I'd give it another few weeks or so, then it'll resemble May conditions in normal years.
  7. Icy Peak summit info needed

    We climbed the SE summit which is the highest point on Icy Peak. It was really straight forward, blocky climbing with ample holds.
  8. Icy Peak summit info needed

    More info here. My notes (and memory) say a short section of 4th class. I remember it feeling very straightforward and secure.
  9. [TR] Dragontail - Triple Couloirs 4/23/2017

    Wow, that is fat. I don't think I've ever seen the runnels that stacked.
  10. The approach itself looks like a helluva practice run for J-Berg. That is a proud line. Way to pick another plum.
  11. [TR] Johannesberg - NE Rib 1951 8/26/2016

    Lunger, I'd climb it again.
  12. [TR] Johannesberg - NE Rib 1951 8/26/2016

    Blue collar is right. It feels like a different route every time I climb it. Is the summit register still up there?
  13. Strong work yet again from the Jedi masters of craptastic and vertical choss. I remember looking down on that face thinking "yikes".
  14. [TR] Mount Buckner - SW Slope 7/16/2016

    The Black Warrior Mine is located in upper Horseshoe Basin. You can still see the steel rails for the mine cars and some mining artifacts. Giant steel cables that used to hold the ski-lift style tram cars can be found linking the upper and lower basins. See here.
  15. Photos didn't turn out for me, but damn nice work. Sounds like a grand adventure.
  16. Price Glacier In Shape?

    These photos were taken June 9, 2013 from Nooksack Tower. It certainly looks climbable to me. I'm not sure what the fascination with that route is though, seems dangerous for what you get.
  17. It's getting to be that time of year again when the rain begins to fall and the winds begin to blow. That can only mean one thing - the Bulger Party! This year's Bulger Party will be held Saturday November 7th at the Mountaineer's Clubhouse in Sandpoint. Flyer attached. If you know anyone who has finished the Bulger list this year, please e-mail the Bulger committee (e-mail address is listed on the flyer) and let them know. I hope to see you all there.
  18. Trip: 9 Days from Silver Creek to Little Beaver - (8/18-26, 2013) - Devil's Tongue, Redoubt, Mox Date: 8/18/2013 Trip Report: The Plan It’s been a while since my Dad and I have taken a trip together into the mountains. As a youngster, trips into the mountains with Dad were frequent, and a formative part of my life. Despite being “retired” now, his schedule is busier than ever. Babysitting grandchildren, managing a game reserve in Botswana, interminable yard/house work, traveling around the globe… free time for Dad has never been at such a premium. As I begin to pursue certain professional endeavors, my availability for climbing trips will also soon be at a premium. With that in mind, we decided an extended trip into the mountains was in order. In coming up with a plan, certain things had to be taken into account. Like, for example, the fact that Dad is 69 years-old now, has an artificial knee, and is collecting Social Security. At a time when most Dads should be going to AARP meetings and getting prostate exams, mine is planning a trip into some of the most remote and rugged terrain the North Cascades has to offer. After going back and forth on destination, we ultimately decided on a trip through the Chilliwacks to try to climb some peaks on the Bulger Top 100 list, a goal of my Dad’s for quite some time. Although only 10 peaks remained for him, many of them could be considered difficult, including the Moxes and Redoubt. Above all else, we expected to share some great times in the North Cascades, a place near and dear to both of us. As the years go on, opportunities to get out together become limited, and with that in mind, we intended to make the most of it. So in the end, we decided on an 11 day traverse from Silver Creek to Little Beaver, with ambitions to climb several peaks along the way. Even if we only accomplished half of what we set out to do on this grand traverse, we would be happy for the opportunity to share some time together in one of our favorite places on earth – the North Cascades. This is the story of our journey. Day 1 We couldn’t reserve the boat heading up lake until 10AM on Sunday the 18th. Being that our day 1 was long, we needed to make good time. The boat driver did a great job of landing us along the shoreline N of Silver Creek, about ¼ mile S of the International Boundary. This is a route that worked out great for Stefan and Greg on their ascent of Devil’s Tongue (in a DAY!) in May of 2009. With 11 days worth of provisions (including rope and climbing gear), we set off up the dry forested ridge at about 11:15 AM. Travel for the first 400’ or so was hampered by tight timber resulting from past logging operations, but the forest soon opened up and easy travel ensued all the way to the ridge top. Unfortunately (for Dad) we hit several wasp nests along the way. Before reaching the ridge, he suffered at least 5 stings while I (in front) missed out on the fun. Water was scarce on the way up, and we were glad to be packing several liters each from the lake. Views along the ridge were supreme, with high green meadows adorning the flanks of Canadian hills one valley to the N. There are some ups and downs along the ridge, but the terrain is pleasant. The mosquitoes (on the other hand) were NOT! Just as Fay Pullen had mentioned in her trip report of Devil’s Tongue from Galene Lakes, the bugs for us were terrible.. some of the worst mosquitoes either of us have ever experienced. By about 5 PM, we were in camp on a flat patch of grass at a 5960’ saddle between points 6545 and 6434. After setting up the tent, I needed to find water. There was no water source and no snow patches nearby. Knowing I would probably have to go as far as the basin below Devil’s Tongue, I grabbed my headlamp and 9 liters of carrying capacity and headed out to climb Devil’s Tongue (and get water). Devil’s Tongue is still a long ways off from camp – much farther than it looks on the map with a lot of up and down and going around pinnacles and such. Along the way, I entered Canada. After paying respects to our neighbors to the North, I continued on, arriving at the summit of Devil’s Tongue at dusk (2.5 hours from camp). Due to a combination of factors, I only took one photo on day 1, a photo of the DT register, with two familiar parties signed in. I arrived back in camp with 9 liters of water at midnight. It took 3 hours to get back, mainly due to having to down climb in the dark. It was a long day for me (~8500’ gain, 5500’ of that was with a 75 pound pack!). Day 2 We awoke late due to light rain in the morning. We were headed down into the brush, and we had hoped to give it time to dry out. By about 10AM, we were moving, descending into Silver Creek. Our goal for today was to find a route up into Silver Lake via an obvious bench between 4400’-4600’. When we reached the bench, it began to rain again. We decided to sit it out rather than get completely soaked in the brush on day 2 of an 11 day trip. After sitting around for about 4 hours, the rain finally let up and the sun came out, drying out the brush fairly fast. We again moved on, but now it was 3PM and routefinding was getting tricky. We kept hitting walls and buttresses and deep clefts that didn’t show on our USGS map. At one point, we made a rappel in the forest. Frustrated, we decided to call it a day early and set up camp in a rocky cleft on a good, flat slab at 4500’. Day 3 Today, we needed to get to a camp on the W end of Silver Lake. We had talked to only a couple of people who had been up the headwall before, and they both said it was brushy. “Godawful” is one adjective used to describe it by a well-known local climber. I would definitely say godawful is an apt descriptor of the route up the Silver Creek headwall. In fact, in terms of tough approaches in the Cascades, I think Silver Creek ranks highly. Other approaches traditionally thought of as difficult (such as the route up the Barrier into Crescent Creek Basin, Access Creek, Eiley/Wiley Ridge, etc.. pale in comparison). Steep forest sprinkled with slick duff laced with dense brush interspersed with class 3-4 rock capped with a smattering of voracious insects just about sums it up. My Dad (who has done some of the most heinous bushwhack lake approaches in the range) said this was the most difficult approach he has ever done. Maybe it’s because we had 11 days worth of gear.. or maybe it’s because we’re soft. Either way, I agree. After passing a few amazing waterfalls, we soon broke out of the brush and came to heavenly open heather slopes high above Silver Creek and Ross Lake. Our moods lightened and we bounced up towards Silver Lake. Our first view of Silver Lake was jaw-dropping. Definitely the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen. I had been eager to get back here ever since my first visit to the lake 10 years prior. Getting around Silver Lake was surprisingly easy, beginning high, then doing a descending traverse to the shore line, completing the last half of the traverse within 12” of the shore. We found an amazingly flat, clean rock slab within 100’ of shore that night for camp. The bugs were very light, and we were finally able to enjoy ourselves. Day 4 Day 4 dawned clear, and we headed up towards the pass between Custer and Spickard. Here, we dropped our packs and continued on towards the summit of Custer. I didn’t remember the traverse to Custer being as crappy as it was, but sure enough – it is! The views to the lake and surrounding peaks from Custer’s summit are amazing. After signing the register, we headed back down to our packs. One interesting thing though.. as we were up on the ridge, we saw a helicopter fly up to Silver Lake from Depot Creek and land pretty much directly where we were camped the night before. One man got out, went to the water, got a sample and hopped back in the chopper. The chopper then flew off to the E towards Hozomeen. See photos below of chopper.. Satisfied, we decided to call it a day and set up camp on a beautiful heather bench amid a grove of larches, about 400’ below the Silver Lake Col. That evening we enjoyed a great sunset over the Chilliwack Lake Valley. Day 5 Today we had planned to climb Spickard, then head to camp at 7200’ on the Redoubt Glacier to set up for the Moxes and Redoubt. That morning, while listening to the forecast on the radio, the weather appeared to be headed south over the course of the next few days. After much discussion, my Dad and I ultimately decided to forgo Spickard and instead climb the more difficult NW Mox that day on the way to Redoubt Camp. Instead of dropping all the way to Ouzel Lake and going back up the other side, we settled on a high traverse under the flanks of Spickard – which worked out quite well. One obstacle – a 35’ glacier ice step – caused us a bit of a problem, but we were able to work through it with a little bit of ingenuity. Soon we found ourselves headed up NW Mox. Along the way we had some excitement when a ~5000# boulder broke free from a gully I was climbing. I was being careful around it because I knew it was barely perched, but only a slight nudge was all it took to send it into motion. It cracked my brand new helmet and left me with some abrasions, but I was able to jump out of the way in time. I understand that these are risks we take while climbing, and they are risks I am willing to accept. In retrospect, despite recognizing the potential threat ahead of time, I should have been even more careful and not touched the boulder at all. Lesson learned.. thankfully only at the expense of a few scratches. The sidewalk in the sky that is the route up NW Mox was every bit as enjoyable as I had remembered it from before. Beautiful views in both directions, relatively solid and fun scrambling, followed by an exciting summit pitch all make this a really great climb. The summit register here is falling apart.. the cap is cracked wide open and the ziplock bag is full of holes. This peak appears to be getting a lot of traffic lately as evidenced by its busy register that was only recently placed. The retreat back to the glacier and our packs was uneventful, and we continued on to camp at 7200’ by maintaining a high traverse. Day 6 Our goal for today was to climb Redoubt. When we awoke, the weather was iffy at best. Clouds swirled all around, and it threatened to rain all morning. Being unsure what the weather was going to do, we hung out around camp for a bit to see if things would improve. Things did improve slightly as the day went on, enough so that we felt OK heading out to climb Redoubt. Routefinding up Mt Redoubt was a bit of a challenge, despite having climbed it before (7 years ago). Near the top I strayed too far right and we wound up on some 5.7ish loose rock. I should have moved one gully left to climb through the cannonhole (we never did climb through the cannonhole). After signing in one of two summit registers (??), I proceeded to leave my ice axe on the summit. Not noticing until I got down and running out of daylight due to our late start, I didn’t have time to go back and get it. The descent back to camp on loose talus was unpleasant.. more so than I remember from last time I climbed it. They say the memory is the first thing to go. That night it rained a little bit. Signs of things to come? Day 7 Today’s goal was to climb SE Mox, but things were damp when we awoke and it was cloudy and breezy. Hanging over our heads was the uncertainty of what the weather would bring in the days to come, and the fact that we were still a minimum of 3 days in from our exit point at Little Beaver. After much discussion, we reluctantly pulled the plug on SE Mox and decided to continue on closer to Whatcom Pass in case the weather completely deteriorated and we had to make a dash for it. The weather continued to be cloudy all day, and by 2PM, it began to drizzle. Traversing some of the loosest talus I’ve ever seen while wet was a challenge to say the least. If ever there were terrain that mandated the use of trekking poles, the area between Redoubt Col and Cave Lake is it! Loose, steep, and wet. Find an adjective that is the exact opposite of fun and you would be completely justified in applying it to this traverse. Luckily, the traversing is short-lived, and we soon found ourselves at Cave Lake. The drizzle began to intensify a bit, so we decided to set up the tent to get out of the rain. Eventually we decided to just camp here at Cave Lake on a beautiful heather bench with great views to Challenger and the Pickets. The rain eventually let up and the sun came out. We were happy to have the intensity of the August sunshine to dry out some of our gear and fuel us with motivation. Day 8 Today dawned clear, much to our surprise! We were up early and off to a camp somewhere around Tapto Lakes, where exactly we didn’t know. The traverse here is especially scenic, with splendid views in all directions. Chilliwack Lake, Mt. Challenger, The Pickets, Bear Mountain, Shuksan.. all the peaks were out and basking in the summer sun. After a brief bout with crappy talus again, we gained the ridge and left it all behind. We would stay on this high ridge all the way to our next camp high above Middle Lakes. As we neared camp, skies began to cloud up again, and the telltale sign of impending weather – lenticular clouds – engulfed nearby peaks. There was no question weather was coming in, and we were happy with our decisions to forgo peaks and accelerate our schedule. We set up camp on a splendid patch of grass on a high ridge at ~6400’ with commanding views of a very close Mt. Challenger and Whatcom Peak. That evening, the clouds continued to build. Listening to the weather forecast, things had gotten considerably worse, and they were predicting an incoming storm with high winds in the Strait and showers in Seattle (w/ rain in Vancouver). Sure enough, it rained hard and steady all night. Day 9 Although we were so close to Redface and Indian Peaks, two goals of ours for this trip, the steady soaking rain and threat of even worsening conditions caused us to cut things short and head out to Little Beaver Landing. The brush on the way down to Whatcom Pass was all wet, and we were completely soaked by the time we hit the pass. We didn’t stop until getting to Ross Lake 18 miles later. Luckily we were able to get one of the pleasure boaters to inform Ross Lake Resort that we were ready to be picked up early. Within 2 hours, the boat arrived and picked us up. The whole trip back to the dam we were engulfed in heavy rain and winds. Despite not accomplishing all of our climbing goals on this traverse, we accomplished the one goal that counted most: spending time together as Father and Son. To me, this beats ticking off peaks on a list. One interesting thing to note: we didn't see a single person the entire trip (except for the guy who got out of the chopper). I hope you enjoy the words and photos. TRIP STATS: UNKNOWN – Will try to figure out later.
  19. That was in 2008. Sean waited for me at the pass below.
  20. [TR] Mesahchie Peak / Ice Fall Coloir (PICS!)

    Taken on 8/1/15
  21. Nice, another Pickets strike! Nice work in relatively late season (this year). Phantom was definitely one of the neater summits I've climbed. Although, I had a little different view than you guys did... I topped out in a fine mist with zero visibility all alone. It felt pretty remote!
  22. Expanding North Cascades NP

    Not in favor for many reasons. I don't think it will happen either.
  23. [TR] Johannesburg - '57 NE Rib 7/4/2015

    On that climb with Steph, we started too high and got into some funky terrain right from the start. On successive climbs, I have always started about 100' higher than you did (in this photo). At any rate, nice work on an interesting route.
  24. [TR] Johannesburg - '57 NE Rib 7/4/2015

    A character-builder. Nice work. "After a couple hours of tedious, hot, dry, 5th class bushwhacking, Chris peered over through a break in the trees: “hey look, it’s the start of the ’51 route.”" I'm a bit confused how, after a couple of hours of climbing, you looked over and saw the start of the 1951 route. The two routes start in almost the same place - in fact, Beckey says the 1957 route actually starts higher up the C-J Couloir than the 1951 Rib. Is it possible you started way too low on the 1957, or am I misreading that? I've always started the route at ~3900'. Beckey says to get on at 4400' for the 1951 Rib, and 1000' up the C-J Couloir (which would be 4500' - which doesn't make sense) for the 1957 Rib. I'm fairly positive both ribs can be fairly easily accessed from the same ramp at ~3900', about 400' up the CJ Couloir from the river crossing.
  25. Bears and your food around Glacier Peak

    Rad said it right. The people who spend a lot of time in the Cascades know bears are not a problem except in rare instances at camps popular with city-slickers. Bears just want to avoid you. I have hiked and climbed in the N Cascades for more than 30 years, and my Dad more than 60. I know a lot of people who get out in the Cascades frequently, and all over, and not one person I know has ever had a problem with bears getting into their food. Ever. You might have hypothetical explanations, but experience speaks. I don't worry about bears the majority of the time unless I'm in a well-used camp where you get a lot of the sledneck/city-slicker crowd (Beaver Landing comes to mind). That said, I always keep a clean camp. Just use a little common sense and you don't need to worry about it. If a bear comes after my food when I'm using it as a pillow, you can be sure it's already been habituated.