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Everything posted by suge

  1. Trip: First Ascents in the Stikine Area - Various Date: 8/9/2007 Trip Report: Well, I know that the title promised multiple first ascents, but what we really have is one first ascent, one failed fA, and one second ascent. But, that is a rather long title. I'll be brief here, and direct people with more interest to my website: http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html'>http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html The website has vastly more photos and text. Myself and two Vancouverites headed up north for another trip into the Stikine-Edziza area. We float planed into Yehiniko Lake, shown on this fine map: From Yehiniko, we bushwhacked and swam our way (70 stream fords!) up Quattrin Valley and onto Quattrin Glacier, climbing it to a col that was to be a basecamp for about a week. We first tried a new route on White Rabbit: The West Ridge. White Rabbit has been climbed once before, via a different route, mostly snow and a short ice pitch. The West Ridge is substantially longer and all rock. Below is a shot showing White Rabbit and our general route: We approached up a glacier, climbing approximately 1500 feet to the top of a ridge that we called Blaster. Even in August, the glacier was in excellent condition. From the top of the ridge, we traversed along and then descended deeply to a notch, where we could gain the West Ridge itself. The rock quality changed radically from the notch. Blaster Ridge was generally solid and strong, whereas the West Ridge of White Rabbit was truly a horrifying experience. I would have loved to be on the nice, solid rock of the Olympics. It was poor enough that we only roped for one pitch, as there were few places strong enough to take protection and not rip out. The route is mostly exposed fourth class on crumbly rock, with some extensive sections of mid fifth class work. A white out came, making it difficult to gauge our progress. After approximately 8 hours of climbing, we decided to turn around on the ridge, as we had not brought bivy gear with us. The photo below shows our approximate ending location Being in a white out, it was difficult to tell exactly where we ended our climb. From subsequent observations, I believe the higher one to be correct, though there is a chance the lower one is. We pounded two pitons to rappel past a particularly difficult section of rock. On this rappel, rock broke loose (oddly enough, not caused by the rope or us - It just came loose) and cut most of the way through one of our half ropes at the 40 meter mark. This left us with 60, 40, and 20 meter strands. We rappelled once more, slinging a large block with webbing. We made it back to camp in the middle of an ice/rain storm around 7 pm. I,personally, was glad to have survived. After a day of rest, we headed to the other side of the col to try for a reasonable looking peak above us. As far as we know, this has not been climbed before by any route. We've taken to calling it Doormouse, a bastardization of Dormouse, from Alice in Wonderland, wherefrom White Rabbit is also taken. The Doormouse yielded easier than did White Rabbit. From our camp at the col, we climbed scramble up rock and snow to gain the moderate glacier below the peak. In the photo below (taken from two days earlier on White Rabbit), you can see the approximate approach route. The glacier started at a moderate 30 degrees, but quickly stiffed to 40 degrees, and eventually to 45-50 degrees near the top. The glacier gained us approximately 2000 feet and dropped us at the base of the East Ridge. The rock here was much better than that found on White Rabbit. We climbed 4th class and low fifth class rock, trying to get on top of the ridge. We roped for one pitch of 5.6 rock and that got us to the top of the ridge itself.In the below photo, you can see me coming up this pitch. From there, easy class 2-3 terrain, non-exposed, led along the ridge. The ridge narrowed to a knife edge and then dropped into a notch. We built an anchor there and set out 20 meter strand to rappel down into the notch. We left the rope in place to use to climb back out on our return. This was a fine idea, as none of really wanted to lead the off width to get back up. It runs about 5.9 or 5.10a. From the base of the notch, we built another anchor and Mike led the 5.6 pitch up and out of the notch. The below photo shows us rappelling it on the way down. The climbing route runs to the right of the rope. Once we were all up, the rest of the route was easy class 2 walking over talus to make the summit. Views from the summit are extensive. The below photo shows the Scud glacier. The prominent peak to the left is Mount Hickman, which has seen one ascent, by Fred Beckey and others. To the far west, there was several prominent peaks. The right most peak is, I believe, Mount Ratz. The left most is, I think, The Devils Thumb. Sorry for the grain, but this is a 100% crop taken from a 70 mm lens. To the south and east is Mount Hoole, named for a Matis guide for Campbell, one of the early explorers of the region. As far as is known, it has not been climbed. It doesn't look easy,though the approach isn't too difficult. It is the prominent peak in the center of the below photo. Finally, we got a good look at Dokdaon, which was first climbed in 1967 by a group of four from Seattle and Alaska. It has not been climbed since. We built a cairn on top and then retreated back down the peak, retracing our climbing route. The climb up and out of the notch proved to be a rather challenging off width affair, with lots of the obligatory cursing and swearing. It is in the 5.9-5.10a range, but because we left the 20 meter strand, we could do it on top rope. Round trip was in the 12 hour range. After another day of rest we moved our camp from the col down to the base of Dokdaon, where we also had a food cache. Weather was cooperating and we intended to summit Dokdaon the next day. However, this is the Coast Range and good weather just doesn't last. For five days we were pinned down by unpleasant weather. It usually didn't rain/sleet too hard or too long, but visibility was poor enough that climbing wasn't really an option. The above photo shows a stretch of nice weather when Mike and Bob went for a stroll to the top of the Scud. They summited a minor peak, presumably also a first ascent, in a white out. We called it The Count, though they thought it more of a bump than a peak. Our time was running out, so one morning we forced the issue and went for it. From our camp on the Scud, we climbed glacier, generally in good condition though with some snow bridges of dubious quality, to gain the south face of Dokdaon. We should have continued traversing the snow around the mountain, but instead took to a snow finger than gained us a lot of elevation. Here is shot of Bob on the traverse around the mountain. You can see that here, on top of the glacier, the terrain is really rather moderate. Why we gave it up for the snow finger is unclear at this moment. In the below photo, the red route is the climbing route, the blue the descent. It would have been better to take the blue route on the way up. Our climbing route eventually dumped us onto more difficult class 4 terrain that was necessary, with some loose rock thrown in. There were some exposed sections. Here is a shot on a higher up snow finger. The weather, of course, closed in on us and we were in a complete white out when we summited. Fortunately, there wasn't much precip. Below is summit shot of Bob with the cairn that we found from the 1967 group. We also found an empty tin of sardines. As we descended it was clear that there was a better route down: Just go straight to the snow. This was much easier than our climb and we got to the glacier fairly easily. In the white out we had to be careful not to get lost (visibility was under 20 meters), but came across some cougar tracks in the snow to follow back to our ascent tracks. Round trip was about 10 hours. Our time was more or less up, for we still had to traverse the Scud glacier, then the Scud Valley, out to the Stikine for a jet boat pick up. Here is a map showing our entire route. In the below photo, the top lake is Yehiniko, where we flew in, and the ending point is the Stikine. The big glacier is the Scud. The traverse out was, shall we say, painful. The bushwhacking was really nasty and I would not do it again. Instead, I would fly in and out of Yehiniko. Here are some shots of the traverse out. Looking north back to Dokdaon. Looking south down the Scud - our route out. Nearing the end of the Scud, we start to worry about ice falls, as we getting close to the 1000 feet in elevation level. We reached the end of the Scud and found nothing to worry about for ice fall. The next day the weather took a turn for the worse, and this misty crappy would sit on us for the next few days as we bushwhacked. For a while the flood plain of the Scud was nice walking, except when we got stuck in quicksand. But the river is big enough that we were not about to try to ford it, and when the river pinned us against the edge of the valley, we had to bushwhack through thick Devils club and slide alder to get over these headlands. This is a "clear" section of bushwhacking. When we were lucky, we found some rocky areas to traverse, instead of fighting the bush. Below is one of the headlands we had to cross. Here is Mike on a nice section. We frequently found grizzly trails to help us along. Bushwhacking is never fun, but when you have a mountain axe, two technical tools, and a picket on your pack, it is even worse. To get down off of one headland, we rappelled down a steep gully using slide alder as a rope. Bob's mother made us about 15 pounds of raspberry fruit leather. We never got tired of eating it. Here, you can see true joy in Bob's face as he digs into some of it. The sun also came out for the first time in 3 days, so we were able to dry out soaking gear. On the next to last day, we had some furious bushwhacking to do. Here, I fight my way into a wall of green. Believe it or not, I found a squirrel trail to follow. The "trail" was perfect for someone standing 10 inches off the ground. We had a harder time of it. We made it to the Scud Portage, a short cut between the Scud and the Stikine. We had hoped it would be a pleasant meadow walk. Well, it wasn't. In fact, the first time we tried it we got so turned around that after 2 hours of work, we ended up back at the Scud. The next day we walked a bearing instead. The devils club was thick. Finally, we made it out to the Stikine. I was very happy. Our jet boat got us a few hours later and took us upriver to the hamlet of Telegraph Creek. Along the way, we passed the spectacular Sawtooth Range. From Telegraph Creek, we flew back to Yehiniko and then drove back to Vancouver. -------------- So, what is left to do up there? Everything. Almost nothing has been climbed. The 1967 group also summited Ambition and Endeavour. We had plans for these but weather didn't work out for us. Here is the east face of Ambition. The 1967 people did not take it, but instead snuck around the left. Their route is a scary class 4 traverse, according to them. I suspect their class 4 is rather more difficult than what we think of class 4. Endeavour is the mountain to the right of Ambition. It is in the left of the below photo. The peak to the right is unnamed and unclimbed, but we took to calling it The Nipple. The snow route on the left we scoped out from Dokdaon and looked like a good climb in the 50 degree range. Access to the area, via Yehiniko Lake, is very straightforward and much easier than most in the Coast Range. Again, lots more information and text can be found at http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html One last photo before I end this thing. Taken on the flight out. It speaks for itself. Gear Notes: See http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html Approach Notes: See http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/scud/index.html
  2. I'm heading down to Aconcagua in December with some friends to climb Aconcagua and am pondering boots. I did some searching and it seems most guiding services want plastics. We're going without a guide, so there is some flexibility here. I have a pair of Sportiva Nepal Evo GTXs that I really, really like. I wore them for 3 weeks in varying conditions in the northern Coast range last summer (see Scud trip report). I also have a pair of Koflach Degre's that have a lot of miles on them and are nice in snow. While we're drinking pints, the route up is the Polish Direct. Otherwise the Normal route. So, not much snow and the plastic will be a bit clunky. The main advantage that I can see is the warmth and the ability to put the liners into my sleeping bag at night. Given the rubble nature of the route, I'd rather be in the Sportivas. Various searches turned up various opinions, with some people summiting in lightweight boots and others freezing in plastics. Any opinions here? My feet are pretty neutral while on the move, though they can get cold if I'm standing around. I could bring something like Hotronics as a back up for summit day. Things get a bit more complicated if I take the plastics as the liners are pretty old and really need to be replaced. But, where to buy high altitude liners? Koflach stopped making plastics and a quick (but not thorough) search of gear companies didn't turn up much. Any thoughts?
  3. Resoling Climbing Shoes

    Just wanted to chime in with some recent experience. I had my Katana's resoled at Rock and Resole in Boulder, CO. The cost was $39 including shipping both ways, with C4 rubber. Now, the neat thing is the time: 1 week, from when I sent the shoes to when I got them back.
  4. Which sole?

    I'm going to resole my Katana's and this is the first time I've done it. I've got options of: 4 or 5 mm Sportiva XS grip 4 or 5.5 mm 5-10 C4 5-10 Onyx Thin 4 or 5 mm Sportiva XSV To be honest, I have no idea what to choose or even if it particularly matters at my ability level. People have told me that they really like the C4 stuff. But what size? The original soles took a pounding in the toes. Any suggestions? If it helps: I climb outside, mostly at Frenchmen's Coulee or alpine routes (have a different pair of shoes for that). The Katana's are my gym shoe (where I spend most of my time in the winter), where I mostly boulder at the V2-4 level.
  5. Trip: Mount Hood - South Side Date: 2/17/2008 Trip Report: I'm getting older and fatter every day, and this winter isn't helping my waistline at all. With all the snow this winter, alpine climbing has pretty much been a distant memory and I've been spending more time drinking beer at the Harmon than in the backcountry. But then the weather decided to take a break. Clear conditions and a favorable avy forecast, a rare treat on a weekend. So, The Great Destroyer, V Girl, Kevin "I'm not a 140 pounds" G., and I decided to head down to Mount St. Helens. The only problem was that the Forest Service decided not to plow the road to the snow park. So, we went to Mount Hood, where the Forest Service there can apparently plow a road 3500 feet higher than the St. Helens one. Hood was looking good on the drive through Portland. The guy in the pickup didn't really like me blazing away with my camera, but there wasn't a whole lot he could do about it. Later on, Hood lit up with amazing alpinglow. We got some beds in the Mazama lodge and, after a beer and dinner in Gub'mint Camp, went to sleep at 8:30 pm. Its been more than 6 months since my last alpine start, and I wasn't super happy about waking up at 1:30 am for this one. Yeah, I know I was in a lodge and got to sleep in a bed, but I've gotten soft in the last 6 months. When your only training is putting away pint and pint of IPA, this is bound to happen. We drove up to Timberline and, after some beacon checks and filling out paper work, we were headed upslope, alone, at 3:40 am. The air temperature was pleasant, in the 30s, and there was little wind. We had the moon to guide us for a while, but that soon set and we were reduced to headlamp navigation. That means we used our headlamps to find the ski lifts and just followed those. Navigationally hard Hood is not. After about two hours we had gone beyond the ski lifts and passed two groups of climbers, one of which had camped out. The east began to get light as we crossed 9000 feet. Below, TGD rests for a bit before starting the push to the Hogsback. As the sun rose, we were treated to a shadow of Hood cast down upon Portland. The snow was perfect for easy cramponing, but eventually became too icy to make skinning feasible. Below, you can see Jefferson and the Sisters lighting up, with the rest of our party coming up. Below them is the beginnings of about 15 Mazamas on their climb up. The obligatory crop and blow up of Jefferson, the Sisters, and Broken Top. We climbed past Crater Rock and got a good view of what we had ahead of us. The Hogsback with a waiting climber on one end. The Pearly Gates with several climbers inside. Only, the bottom two climbers were not moving. There were two climbers above them, and they seemed to be having a lot of difficulty. In the below photo, you can see the waiting climber on the Hogsback and the two stuck climbers at the base of the Pearly Gates. We regrouped and ate lunch (at 8:30 am!), consisting of sundried tomato roasted turkey sandwiches with pepperjack cheese, courtesy of V Girl, who will be taken on every single climb I ever go on (TGD almost proposed). The two bottom climbers still hadn't moved, but the waiting climber had run out of patience and had crossed the Hogsback and was in the process of climbing around them. We moved up into the sun, finally, at the base of the Hogsback where we could warm up. After watching the episode in the Pearly Gates climbers still hadn't moved, but seemed to still be healthy and seemed to be getting ready to climb down), we decided to contour over and take the West Crater Rim route. Some old steps led over there and the snow had been super stable so far. TGD and I headed out in front as V-Girl and Kevin "I need a nickname" G. finished un-freezing their fingers. We got to the top of the Hogsback in time to see the other two climbers at the base of the Pearly Gates, and then detoured to the left through awkward snow. The tracks were several days old and the steps had to be re-kicked by TGD. Normally this wasn't too bad, but occasionally he'd just hit ice, making for slow progress. We slowly rounded (in the now roasting sun) the corner and ran into a climber who was coming down from the top. He had gone through the Pearly Gates and found the climbing to be difficult at best, with a lot of ice. After we rounded the corner, I took over and kicked step s up the 45 degree slope to the rim. There were some old steps from time to time, which helped a lot as the snow was pretty icy. At 9:40, we topped out all alone. The climber who had come down must have been the solo climber waiting at the Hogsback. So, where were the other two climbers? Had they also gone down? Or were they still working their way up? We celebrated on the top for quite some time. Kevin "You know my name" G even did the worm. The Mazamas and a few independents slowly filtered in. After nearly an hour, two tired looking climbers came up from the Pearly Gates. It wasn't clear if they were the two we saw or not, and they looked too tired to answer and questions we might have. It was getting hot out and so at 11 we set off for the descent. TGD had hauled his skis all the way up so that he could ski all the way down. With the super icy conditions, the steepness, and the narrow constriction, we were all pretty sure that he was going to die, but watched anyways. Slowly he slipped away and made it past the worst of the ice. We down climbed, follow the Mazama groups. I spied him ripping turns further down, then cresting over the Hogsback, and continuing down the other side. Those of us on foot were all jealous. After the down climb, I followed the now massive boot track that TGD and I had kicked out in the morning down to the Hogsback, and then down the Hogsback to the top of Crater Rock, where I found him sunning himself, pleased like a cat who just found a mouse to play with. Our party eventually regrouped and, after dodging a second ice fall that had tumbled down, we set out for the Lodge and beers. Keving eventually picked up his skis and was able to get a bunch of turns in on the way down to the lodge. V-Girl and had to walk down. Eventually we got to the parking lot, de-geared, and met the others in the Lodge where, the beer was flowing liberally. Now, this was the kind of training I was used to! None of this climbing stuff. Just glass after glass of frothy goodness. Gear Notes: Axes and crampons. If you're going to go into the Pearly Gates, a second tool and perhaps screws, harnesses, and ropes would be a good idea. Approach Notes: Road to Timberline is well plowed. Snow is in good condition for hiking, but is pretty icy in places for skiers.
  6. Nepal EVO's and bham

    Cross the border and head to MEC in Vancouver. That is where I got mine. Beautiful boot that climbs rock really well!
  7. next?

    In terms of the southwest, there is a ton of stuff on the BC side of things. See my trip report for some of the easier to get to objectives. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/751648#Post751648 Here is a teaser: This is (roughly) the East face of Ambition. The mountain has been climbed once in 1967 via a ridge on the other side. The East Face hasn't been climbed. And another: The prominent mountain in the middle is Hoole, which hasn't been climbed by any route (that I know of). Both of these mountains have, by Coast Range standards, easy access (2-4 days with minimal bushwhacking and manageable river fords).
  8. Sorry, I should have added that after my experience, I thought that another climber might have better luck. I handed off the pack and he is currently testing it this winter time. The ideas should work, and hopefully he will have more success than I did.
  9. Not to put a damper on things, but I tested 40L (I think) one of these out for a local gear shop and could really say that I liked it. The strap system isn't really all that obvious. In order to get the side compression straps to function securely I had to double back them, meaning I couldn't adjust them on the fly. Perhaps I didn't have all the pieces, but I also couldn't rig the top pouch and have full compression: There just were not enough straps and connecting pieces (of which their are several types). I never could figure out how to put an ice axe onto the pack. I'm sure you can, but I couldn't figure it out. No one has ever accused me of being the brightest candle, but I've strapped a few axes on in the past. Because of the unique rigging system, you can't just walk into a gear shop and get replacements or add ons for your pack. Finally, there was a pouch up front that looked like it was designed to hold crampons. Well, my crampons didn't even come close to fitting in there. Not even half way in. Additionally, the pack can only be called light weight in comparison to a Bora 65 or similar porker. My 40 L MEC pack weighs about the same. The materials and suspension are all standard grade in most, but the pack inexplicably uses lightweight nylon in places, such as the extension collar, where seams on ultralight packs are apt to tear. So, rather than using the ultralight stuff throughout and having a truly light pack that you'll thrash in a season, you now have an average weight pack that you'll need to have repaired or replaced every season. Why not just get an average weight pack with a standard compression system that will last for more than a season? If you want ultralight, buy a genuine ultralight pack. I really, really wanted to like the pack going in. The suspension looked solid and I'm a sucker for clever ideas. But the ideas confused me at times with their utility. Granted, I didn't have an instruction manual for the pack and, again, I'm not the quickest of people, but I really should have been able to figure it out on my own.
  10. Fibraplex carbon fibre tent poles

    I used a single pole for my tarp during my PCT hike in 2003. Before then, and after, I logged maybe 30 nights outside with it. I only had a couple of nasty weather days where high winds taxed it, and it did just fine. Camped on an exposed butte in the Grand Canyon, a storm came in and thrashed me with high winds. The pole bent and bent, but came through without any visible damage. I probably wouldn't change poles for a tent that my life might depend on, but if it is for more casual use, then they should be ok.
  11. Beta on thailand

    I put up a TR last year, which is way buried. http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/659961#Post659961 Most climbers head to the Tonsai-Railey area in the south or Chiang Mai in the north. If you head south, fly to Krabi, taxi to Ao Nang, and then boat to Tonsai or Railey. Tonsai is the most dirt bag like, but it is being developed and a lot of cheap places are now way in back, far from the water. You can walk from Tonsai to Railey East, West, and Phra Nang pretty easily. There are two main guidebooks (Sam Lightner, Wee Changrua). Both are ok, though I'd give a slight nod to Wee's book. I'd bring both, though, as they disagree on star ratings and worthiness on some really key climbs. Prices for food/housing are about double (sometimes triple) what you would pay in the rest of Thailand outside of Bangkok. In terms of climbs, the area is, I think, rather soft for the ratings. Of course, some climbs are pretty brutal for their grade, but for the most part I found them easier than at, say, Vantage. Once you get used to the steep, featured limestone, there are tons of climbs. I didn't do any of the multipitch stuff, but people raved about Humanality (4 pitches, about 10d) and Lord of the Thais (5 pitches, about 12b). Try climbing in the early morning before the sun gets hard. I would generally hit the rock around 6:30 or so and get a few pitches in, then retreat for breakfast. The air was a lot cooler and we could hit climbs that were popular with no one around. If you want to try something different, there is good climbing near Lopburi, a few hours outside of Bangkok. You can see some info at http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/thailand2/lopburiclimb.html There is a really good 5-6 pitch 5.9+ called Waltz for a Lovely Wife. There is a harder, but stunning looking 6 pitch 10b/c route called Corcovado on the crag also. You'll need your own transport to get to the crag, which is accessed through a local monastery.
  12. Visions of fall climbing!!!

    When it sucks here, it is nice somewhere else. Tonsai Wall, Tonsai, Thailand Dum's Kitchen, Tonsai, Thailand Humanality (left part of Tonsai Wall), Tonsai, Thailand Tonsai Wall, Tonsai, Thailand The Thaiwand, Railey, Thailand
  13. Trip: Vantage - Feathers - Various Date: 4/14/2007 Trip Report: So, I know this isn't the most original posting, but it might help people get through the week a little better. A crew from the Tacompton area headed East to Vantage for some drier weather and to get back on rock after a winter of plastic holds. Two days of solid weather, good climbing, and getting back into the mind set of leading ensued. There are loads of places to climb at Vantage, but we concentrated on the Feathers for the simple reason that they were closest to our beer stash. ------------- The conditions at Vantage are extreme, so Wayne made sure our Everest quality Wenzel was anchored right. Later on in the day (during a beer break), we watched a tent lift off in a gust and settle thirty feet away in some sage. Being nice, we returned the tent to its original position and staked it out. The gear inside must have been a mess and we realized that the owners, who left while we were climbing, must have thought someone rifled their stuff. So, if you're reading this, such was not the case. ----------------- Here is Sonny attacking a 10b next to Don Coyote as a warm up. ----------------- After getting in a few leads, including an awesome 5.9 and the far end of the Feathers, it was time for some beer back at the cars, the whole reason we went to the Feathers instead of the King Pins. There were some climbers drinking Steel Reserve as well. Steel Reserve? What, is PBR too expensive? ------------------ After relaxing on a 5.7, Tom's head was sufficiently clear to try the 5.10a to the left of Don Coyote, his first attempt at leading a 10. The route is pretty much straight up. Tom cranked pretty hard, but couldn't pull the move to the chains due to Popeye arms. Considering it was his first lead at the grade, he rocked. Sonny set out to lead it and retrieve some gear. The was getting low on the horizon, making for some interesting lighting. Sonny getting ready to make the last move to the chains. Yeah, the Feathers have some scenic quality. The climbing ended and we returned to the cars for some dinner and beers in the increasing windy (and cold) campground. We managed to stay up late enough to see the sun go down and the stars come out, but not by much. In the morning, and by morning I mean when the sun actually got to us and brought some warmth back to us (i.e 9 am), we hit the rock again. There was a party climbing what we wanted to, so we stopped and watched the Steel Reserve drinker as he led a 5.4. We waited for them to finish, then followed them over to a 5.7 and watched Steel Reserve guy lead a 5.7. I had watched this dude back clip every single bolt the day before, but his friends must have finally straightened him out over night as he managed to avoid doing it on this 5.7. This moron had also Z-clipped his PAS the day before, but had figured out over night that letting it hang low wasn't the wisest of plans and had it slung tight in the morning. He hung out a foot away from the chains for about 5 minutes before finally stepping up on the huge platform below them. Maybe he was enjoying the view or something. Come to think of it, that red shirt looks a lot like my red shirt. The moron also seems to be wearing a helmet that looks just like mine and even has my name written across it. Must have stolen it in the night or something like that. After a few more climbs we packed it up and headed back to Tacrackton, hopefully with all the winter rust polished off.
  14. It works every time. And, it is even cheaper than the beast. What's not to love?
  15. Integral Designs eVENT Thru Hiker??

    I've used a lot of eVENT jackets over the past few years. The ID jacket (not thruhiker) is cut very narrow and tight. You can get a light fleece underneath, but anything puffy will get squashed. The hood won't fit over a helmet. It is one of my main hiking jackets and I've spent a lot of time in it. Durability is good, but the inside part of the lower back is beginning to wear out. I've climbed in it before, but never on anything with serious weather. You do need to wash it frequently. Weight is minimal (9 oz). Breathability is excellent. I've also used LOKI's alpinist shell jacket, and like it a lot. I climbed a fair amount in it and it is more appropriate for alpine use. Fortunately, I got it on sale for about 40% off, which made it much more reasonable in price. The fabric seems thicker than the ID jacket. It is longer cut, with more room to layer underneath. The hood can mostly fit over a helmet, though it is a bit tight. There are built in mitts that I like and use a lot. There is also a built in face mask, which I also like a lot. Durability is great and the jacket came through a season of climbing, capped by three weeks in the Stikine (see TR in the BC section). No damage to jacket. Breathability is also excellent. Lastly, there is a Rab eVENT jacket that I've just recently started using (I don't think you can buy it) and like alot. It has a full on helmet compatible hood and is cut for alpine activities. It weighs in a 16 oz and is a really sweet piece. I haven't spent enough time in it to say much more, but I suspect that it will be my main shell this spring time. In short, eVENT works very well. Durability is superb and breathability is as advertised.
  16. Thanks for all the kind words! The Coast Range is just massive and begging to be explored. Some suffering is required, but mostly you just need time and some maps. We came out of the trip pretty healthy, though there was one broken arm, some torn tendons, and the Devils Club spines didn't rot out of my hands, arms, and legs for more than a month. There are years and years of trips in this immediate area, and lifetimes in the greater range. I'm not sure what the peak in the background of the Hoole shot is, but I suspect that it is false Hickman. This is the Mount Hickman as listed on the Canadian government maps, but isn't the actual Hickman. Hickman is, I think, further right, out of the shot.
  17. Dan Pakula from Stikine Riversong picked us up. He runs between Telegraph Creek and Wrangell and his website is http://www.stikineriversong.com However, the Stikine, as it turned out, was big enough and slow enough where we came out that our float plane pilot could have picked us up there. As we're on pretty good terms, it would have been cheaper than the jet boat, which we had to hire as a charter.
  18. Yet another view of the same area, but taken in mid June of this year.
  19. Trip: Mount Cruiser - South Corner Date: 6/30/2007 Trip Report: What was supposed to be a four day Sawtooth Fest got weather-ed out to just a single climb of Mount Cruiser. I'm sure everyone is shocked that the weather didn't cooperate, but remember that we forgot to sacrifice Vancouver Bob the other weekend on Demonslayer. The approach is via Flapjack Lakes, where we camped in the rain on Friday and awoke to semi-blue skies on Saturday. The approach up to the lakes is snow free, and the trail out to Gladys Divide is snow free for a little while. By the time you reach the lower basin, you're in the snow. But, you also get some good views of the Sawtooth Ridge. Cruiser is not the phallic thing in the middle. Rather, it is on the far right. Doesn't look like the standard photo of Cruiser? That is because the standard picture is taken from the other side of the ridge, where the climbing happens. Instead, locate the left most notch. That is Needle Pass and is where you want to head. We cramponed up and started moving to the upper basin where we could gain a snow finger. Here is a photo of Needle Pass after we came down. Note the big needle in the middle. The snow is in excellent shape and stays well below 35 degrees for most of the climb up to the notch. It stiffens to near 35 degrees at the top. Good depth now and it should stay around for another few weeks at least. Below you can see Steve working his way up the last portion of the snow finger to the base of the needle at the notch. The Needle looks like a fun, if airy, climb, with a nicely overhung arete on the right. We lounged for about an hour here before starting the scramble over to the base of the climb. The initial part of the scramble featured wet, slimy rock, which we chose to simul. The route heads up a bit and then traverses over to the Mildred Lakes side (ie. opposite from Flapjack lakes) of the ridge. The scramble was longer than expected, but fun enough and the exposure was thrilling. We moved along and then descended a bit to get a nice view of Cruiser. This is the view that we thought we'd get from near Gladys Divide, but it is on the opposite side of the ridge. Unfortunately, a big, massive snow moat was in the middle of the gully we had to descend. The moat is about 15 feet high, and oddly shaped: The other side plunges very steeply before mellowing out. Our day was running a bit long by the time we were all collected and ready to go. After a bit of exploration, we realized that we could bypass the moat, but that it would take a long, long time and we had nothing to protect the steep snow on the other side. We opted to turn around at this point. Views into the interior Olympics were fantastic, but we couldn't see the tops due to low clouds. A big, expansive glacier was spotted, which we suspect is on Mount Anderson. Can anyone ID? We retraced our steps down to Needle Pass, then made rapid work of the snow slope. The Horn (or is it the Fin?) looked really tempting and very accessible. Now, I can't go climbing without doing some climbing, so I located a suitable boulder and sent a new V12+ problem, which I called Pork Buns. Everyone else agreed that it was really VB-, and that I can't send something by hanging on the rock and then jumping down, but I'm standing by my story. Gear Notes: Well, you'll want a cool bandana if you attempt Pork Buns. Climb Cruiser and let me know what rock pro to bring. Approach Notes: Hike up almost to Gladys Divide. Spy Needle Pass, which has a big, whomping needle in it. Climb up about 700 vertical feet to the notch. Head east-ish (away from Needle) and scramble up the ridge line. Traverse along, following a faint climber-esque trail, generally on the Mildred Lakes side of the ridge. Traverse about 0.25 miles on airy terrain until you see Cruiser. Get stuck by the moat if you go in the next few weeks. In early season, it looks like approaching from Mildred Lakes is the way to go. You're going to climb on that side afterall. The tricky part would be the brush down low, but once past it looks like a long, straightforward snow slog.
  20. Sounds like things have melted out quite nicely! How much snow was still in the gully leading up to Needle Pass?
  21. Trip: Mount Thompson (Thomson) - West Ridge Date: 7/28/2007 Trip Report: This being the political season, I set out with three friends to try to answer the burning question of, "Will Fred run?" Although none of us especially cared about this central objective, we did want to pay a visit to the oracle that would be sure to have the answer. If anyone had the answer, you see, it would have to be Fred's namesake peak. That the mountain was named well before Fred was born didn't dissuade us. Nor did the fact that the mountain is actually spelled Thomson, not Thompson. Waking up at 3 am almost stopped me, but the alure of gas station coffee at my favorite Union 76 forced me out of bed. The dude behind the counter was shaving when I bought 20 oz of House Special Blend. It was going to be a long day. Mount Thompson is one of the prettiest peaks in the Alpine Lakes, but is a bit of a grunt in. The 7 miles along the PCT to Ridge Lake went quickly in the cool early morning air. Not sure of the water situation on the other side of Bumblebee Pass, we filtered a few liters before traipsing another 1/2 mile to the drainage gully leading to the pass. The correct gully is easily spotted (just before a sharp right bend in the trail) and there is a good climbers path up it. The others had elected to go old school and hike and climb in boots, but I am enough of a sissy that I was shod in trail runners and would later switch into rock shoes for the climb. The off trail travel had worried me (in trail runners), but the climb over Bumblebee Pass was easy. The West Ridge is the left sky line of the above photo. The scree and talus slope leading up to proved more stable than it looked from the pass, although it was better on the left. After stashing gear in the basin, which had a nice flowing stream in it, we headed up the slope to left of the small dogtooth in the notch. We scrambled over and around (on the left) a few obstacles (easy, but exposed class 3) and up to a cramped platform where we could set up an anchor and go. The first pitch goes up a narrow ramp without much protection and into a gully with some loose rock. Bill got the first pitch, which he seemed pretty happy with. The first pitch goes up 30 meters to a bushy tree that we could spot from the belay station, just after exiting the chimney. I took the second pitch and rumbled directly up the ridge, zigzagging and building in my usual rope drag. I passed a stuck #1.5 tricam on the lower portion, clipping it, of course, and a stuck metolius curved hex higher up. The climbing was generally fun and straightforward, and very exposed. About 35-40 meters gets you to a solid, scenic, and very airy belay ledge with a big boulder slung with recent tat. After spennding 14.5 minutes working on the stuck hex, Bill came up for pitch 3. Bill stretched out 50 meters of rope in short order, taking a right trending route up the ridge crest and to a big slab, which he motored across to a small island of trees. It seems this is the normal pitch 3 and 4 run together. There were some run out spots, but the climbing is pretty easy. Just don't fall. Below is a photo from the top of the false summit showing Jayson in the center right at the island of trees belay spot, with Joel coming across the slabs in the center left. I took pitch 4, which featured fun, though provoking climbing (at times). There was a bit more slab to take care of, and then some face climbing up and around some overhangs. I stretched out all 60 meters and made it to some big boulders on the false summit to sling for an anchor and brought Bill up. In the below photo he is exiting the ridge proper and gaining the slabby stuff on top of the false summit. We chilled on top of the false summit for a while to shout beta down to the others, and then proceeded up to the true summit. There is a short, very exposed class 4 section that I belayed Bill up, and then he set a handline for me and the others to use. View to the false summit from the true summit. Here is Joel coming up the handline to the true summit. The gully below him drops several hundred feet mostly straight down. The view from the summit was pretty staggering. From left to right on the ridgecrest we have, I think, Overcoat, Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, Lemah, and Chikamin. In the far distance you have Mount Stuart. We lounged for a while before setting down the east ridge scramble route.A very short distance down, and to the left, we found a solid rap station. One short rap gets to another station, and that gets you to scramble land. There is a well defined scrambling path to follow and the terrain eases as you lose elevation. Thompson is one of the very best climbs that I've done: Moderate, very airy, and solid rock. As a one day climb it is excellent, but tiring. A two day climb would involve hauling overnight gear, and it isn't clear that you actually gain anything by doing so. Here are some times for those interested. 5:40 AM: Leave trailhead. 10:15 AM: First climber sets off. 1:45 PM: First team summits. 3:15 PM: Begin descent. 5:15 PM: Reach PCT again. 8:00 PM: Reach trailhead again. So, 14 hours and 20 minutes car-to-car. An excellent way to spend a Saturday. Of course, we didn't find out, and still don't care, if Fred will run or not. Gear Notes: A set of nuts and some medium cams is sufficient. We put in a #3 BD and #3.5 Friend, but only once. Joel and Jayson used more cams than nuts. Bring three or four double runners to ease rope drag. Clip the two fixed pieces on pitch 2. A 50 m rope would be fine for the descent, though you'd have to use shorter pitches or simulclimb on the ascent. A 70 m rope would let you run pitches 1 and 2 together. Approach Notes: Take the PCT and don't bother with short cuts. The commonwealth basin trail can cut off 1.1 miles, but is slower than the big PCT. You might save 10 minutes, but you gain annoyance. Bumblebee Pass is accessed by a significant drainage just before a sharp right bend in the trail, 1/2 mile past Ridge Lake.
  22. I thought the rock was pretty good, and the climbing was fun, if not terribly challenging. Lots of exposure gives it a solid alpine feel.
  23. Trip: Mount Rexford - West Ridge Date: 7/25/2007 Trip Report: A long, more detailed report can be found at: http://www.pierce.ctc.edu/faculty/cwillett/local/rexford/index.html Originally we had planned to climb the east ridge of Rexford, but various issues came up that put onto the more moderate (ie, shorter) West Ridge. The climb is excellent, and the North and South Nesakwatch towers would make for a great extended jaunt on solid granite. The logging road leading to the "trailhead" is in awful condition and you will need a high clearance, 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it. We drove in a Honda Element and scraped the underside very badly in places. The "trail" runs through a clear cut for a while, then gains forest and becomes more distinct. However, it is fairly brutal, gaining 900 meters in about 3 kilometers. It is listed in 103 Hikes in BC, and has the steepest grade of anything in there. We found ample camping near the base of the towers and melted snow (plenty still) for liquid. Time up was about 4 hours from the car. The climb is mostly 4th class and route finding is easy, but the terrain is very exposed and the 4th class stuff requires some technical work, but nothing serious. Some might rope up for certain segments. There are cairns to help you find your way at various stategic points. After a lot of 4th class, you get to the top of the false summit. Traverse easily around the right side of a small gendarme to where you can sling a boulder for an anchor. The pitch to the summit is short and features a fun chimney. Dubious tat on top can be rapped on. There is a strong, recent cordellette on the false summit that will get you down to some more tat (recent), which will get you down to where downclimbing is easy. 4-5 hours up from camp to the summit. Here are some photos, all courtesy of M. Bennett. Our camp site. From left to right, North Nesakwatch, South Nesakwatch, and Rexford (false summit in the clouds). A view of the west ridge, which is the massive, prominent ridge running off to the right side of the below photo. Route finding is easy and there are multiple ways up. Baker in alpenglow. The summit of South Nesakwatch. There is an off width crack to be negotiated, but it can barely be made out in the photo below. Vancouver Bob atop the false summit. We scrambled here, but the main face of it looked pretty challenging (and fun!). Me leading the 5.5 chimney up to the true summit. The chimney has plenty of hands, but required a little muscle to get out of, as the hands disappear a little on the exit until you get your feet fairly high. The others had an easier time of it. There is a cross and summit register on top. Bob had a hot date back in Vancouver, so we didn't spend a lot of time lollygagging on the summit. Gear Notes: Most of the route can be scrambled via airy 4th class terrain. Some may want to belay a few sections or have a handline set. We had 1 short (7 meter!) roped pitch below the false summit. The only real roping you need to do is from the false to the true summit. I put in a small nut, and a #1 and #2 camalot on the way up. Bring slings and rap rings to augment dubious tat. Approach Notes: The logging road from the Riverside campground on the Chilliwack river is in really awful shape due to active logging. You will need a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle. If you have a passenger car, park at Riverside and walk up the 5.6 kilometers. Or choose a different peak. The climbers trail can be followed with care, and improves after you leave the clear cut. It is always steep, however, and there was a lot of suffering on the way down.
  24. Lightweight backpack?

    Take a look at ULA. Although built for long distance hiking, I've been using several of their packs for climbing. Alpine rock and glacier climbs. I took the Catalyst to the top of Rainier last weekend. The link is: http://www.ula-equipment.com
  25. Trip: Mount Rainier - Disappointment Cleaver Date: 7/15/2007 Trip Report: The Big Fatty looked good in the early AM from the Paradise parking lot. No clouds, warm sun, and we even had a sherpa, in the form of Dominc, to haul our rope up to Muir for us. Kevin (who badly needs a nickname), The Great Destroyer, and myself decided that the omens were favorable for a climb, despite contradictory forecasts from NOAA. We found our friend Bob in the parking lot gearing up for the same climb, but with a bevy of hot women climbers, and a dude, from the WAC. What Bob's secret is, I know not. Maybe I should join the WAC and find out instead of groping Kevin. Our plastics squeaked on the pavement leading from Paradise, though they were drowned out by our constant yammering about how much they hurt our feet. When the weather is good, it is, of course, time to complain about something. As we began to reach the snow line, something else came down from heaven for us to complain about. Some clouds. Not many. Surely, the weather would be kind to us. Surely those wispy clouds forming on the summit would burn off or blow off. And, there was no doubt that they would be gone by tomorrow morning. And most certain of all was that I would find a hot climbing wife at Camp Muir. We lollygagged quite a bit, including a posh 30 minute break in the sun at 8100 feet, where we found running water. A few skiers passed us by, some day hikers rumbled through, and a group or two with ropes on their backs, not fortunate enough to have a Dominic around, trudged along. The wispy clouds on top of the mountain had, er, solidified into something a bit less pleasant by the time we reached Muir. Still, the NOAA point-and-click forecast showed nice, mild conditions for our summit day, and NOAA is never wrong when they tell you winds will only be 5-10 mph. The fact that the Great Destroyer had checked a different forecast that predicted 50 mph winds didn't depress us at all. For, in the worst case, we could always covort with Bob and his ladies at Muir. We reached Muir after 4 hours of snow plodding and settled in for hydration and people watching. I needed to modify some of my clothing for the warm temperatures we faced. I tend to overheat easily, especially in my nether regions, and so cut myself a vent in a strategic location. It was also convenient for scratching, and I highly recommend people make such modifications in their pants. Below photo by Kevin. The Great Destroyer found a comfy spot in the sun to catch up on sleep, but was booted off of it when the a RMI group returned from a successful summit and needed the table to collect group gear on. Below photo by Kevin. By the late afternoon the sun was in full force and the clouds gone from the mountain. There was joy at Muir, though Bob's women seemed more interested in getting ready for their climb tomorrow than in anything we might have to say. I found this hard to believe, given my fine social skills, but they stayed hard at work practicing skills while I drank soup and tea. Some of us had other things to drink. By 6pm we were asleep in the shelter, though as I was the only one with earplugs, I was the only one who really slept. Midnight found several climbers returning from a summit attempt, turned back by high winds. A few other parties set off for their attempt as we snoozed a bit more in a silly hope that the winds might die off in an hour. When the RMI trains headed out, we could wait no longer. At 2am we set off, though stopped frequently to talk with climbers returning with tales of high winds, driving sand, and generally miserable conditions. We were delayed further as I battled with Kevin and the Great Destroyer to turn around from this foolish attempt. Winds blasted us as we neared Cathedral Gap, pushing us around like little dolls. "Come on! Let's just go a little further, you turd." The straw that broke my back was watching the headlights of the RMI train making steady progress up the cleaver. And so over the gap we went to the comparative shelter of Ingraham Flats, where we met another group making a retreat. The route across the lower Ingraham and to the base of the cleaver had only one large crevasse jumps, but several step overs as well. At the base of the cleaver we met yet another group retreating. The route up the cleaver was easy enough, with the lower half on rock and the upper on snow. We reached the top of the cleaver as it was beginning to get light out. Below photo by Kevin. We were still somewhat protected from the winds, but looking higher up we could see a solid layer of grey higher up, whipping by at a horrendous rate. We could also see the RMI trains making steady progress up the Emmons. This, of course, meant that we had to go on. Below photo by Kevin. Normally the DC route is pretty direct, but the upper Ingraham broke up oddly and a long traverse over to the Emmons is necessary. Just past the cleaver we reached a crevasse and snow bridge crossing that many had warned us about. Their dire tales made it sound very dangerous and thin. In reality, it was a quite pleasant, 3 foot wide bridge, followed by a short down climb. Two pickets had been left to protect it. Once it melts out, in a couple of weeks, the route will become more difficult. Below photo by Kevin. We finished the traverse and began meeting our first successful summitteers. We also met the full force of the wind. Moving up the endless switchbacks, we broke 13,000 feet and got into the thick of the grey mass. Later, NOAA would report winds blowing at 40-50 mph sustained, with gusts to 65 mph. The RMI groups were returning, along with a few independent climbing parties. It seemed that we were the last group on this side of the mountain. Crevasses on the upper Emmons were moderate, with only a few step-overs. The wind was thrashing us hard and visibility was very low, but the top wasn't far. We topped out around 9 am, finding no one on the crater rim. The wind continued to blast and a white out closed down all visibility. Below is a shot from the Paradise-cam about the time we were on the summit. Pleasant it was not. Thanks to Jayson for thinking of us and downloading this. The altitude and the winds were beginning to affect me as we crossed the crater for the actual summit. I couldn't get my camera back onto my hipbelt. I paused to dry heave a few times. I convinced myself that I was on top of Shuksan. Shuksan? At the far end of the crater, a minute from the top, I turned back, believing that going an additional 100 vertical feet was going to push me over the edge. Kevin and the Great Destroyer continued on. Instead, I thought it a good idea to stand on the rim, in the full force of the storm, and shout obscenities at the winds, complete with artful hand gestures. I still thought I was on top of Shuksan. Below photo by Kevin. I continued to rant and rave at the storm when they returned, though seemed to return to a more normal status when the clouds parted for a moment and Paradise, far below, could be seen bathed in sunlight. No, I wasn't on Shuksan. We re-roped and headed down in a white out after an hour on top. Progress wasn't rapid, but that was probably for the best, as I could barely make out the Great Destroyer, tied in on the middle of the rope. The wind subsided as we reached the lower reaches of the Emmons and by the time we reached the bottom of the cleaver, via a new snow track that RMI had kicked in on their descent, the skies were beginning to clear. The slow grind back to Muir was pleasant enough, with the exception of a wind storm that hit us at Cathedral Gap, blowing hard enough to force us to our knees and bringing forth cries of pain from sand and grit hitting us at 80 mph. Once clear of the gap, the wind, of course, died down. We stumbled into the shelter at 2 pm and rapidly drank down the beverages we had hauled to the top. Results were predicatble. Gear Notes: Standard glacier gear. Goggle are highly recommended. Approach Notes: The route to the cleaver is in good shape, with only one actual crevasse hop and two or three step overs. The route up the cleaver is about half to 3/4ths on snow, the rest on rock. From the top of the cleaver, make a big right turn and traverse across several snow bridges that may not last much longer. Gain the Emmons and head up the switchbacked boot track.