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jstluise

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Posts posted by jstluise


  1. Trip: Mt. Rainier - Tahoma Glacier

    Trip Date: 07/03/2020

    Trip Report:

     

    The Tahoma Glacier piqued my interest the last couple seasons as I explored new routes for my next Mt. Rainier climb. The low starting elevation, long approach, and remoteness of the route was especially appealing to me. Covering that distance and elevation on a route that receives very little traffic would be a fun challenge and great test of mountaineering skills. I was also excited to experience the mountain up close from a different perspective since I had only been on the west side of the mountain once before during a Wonderland Trail hike.

     

    However, with the park shutdown due to COVID-19 we were uncertain if we would get a shot at the Tahoma Glacier before it was too late in the season. We planned the climb for the weekend of June 19th and were excited when MRNP announced they would reopen that very weekend. Unfortunately, as the date approached the weather was not looking too promising. Reluctantly, we postponed the climb to the 4th of July weekend when we both had time off work. This time the weather forecast was looking stellar: clear, light winds, and cold (~11000' freezing level). And we would have a full moon. Game on!

    Our plan, which we later learned would be a bit ambitious, was to reach high camp (~9600') on day 1 (Friday), summit Saturday morning, and either exit the same day or stay one more night and hike out Sunday morning. For the approach, we decided on the more direct Emerald Ridge/Tahoma Glacier approach over the St. Andrews Park/Puyallup Cleaver approach. We knew we were getting into the tail end of the season for the route, but with our good snowpack this year we were optimistic that we could navigate the lower Tahoma without too much trouble. Also, there seemed to be an option to bail to the Puyallup Cleaver shortly after gaining the Tahoma Glacier if we found the glacier to be too broken up.

    The two of us set off from the West Side Road parking lot (2850') at 10:30a with cool temps and a partly cloudy sky.  After a short hike on the road we arrived at the beginning of the Tahoma Creek Trail, marked by a drum for disposing of blue bags and a "trail closed" sign not far off the road. The Tahoma Creek Trail follows the Tahoma Creek until it joins with the Wonderland Trail at the impressive suspension bridge across the creek at 4200'. From there, you continue on the Wonderland Trail to the top of Emerald Ridge where you can gain the lower Tahoma Glacier.

    We followed the Tahoma Creek trail and other tracks the best we could, but with parts of the trail washed out we eventually lost it and ended up hiking along the edge of the floodplain. We kept our eyes peeled and in time we saw some cairns and orange marking tape at around 3500' which led us back to the proper trail. From then on, the trail remained intact and joined up with the Wonderland Trail where we continued on to the top of Emerald Ridge, passing by the occasional Wonderlander. Consistent snow began around 5200' which is where we stashed our trail runners and booted up.

    Tahoma Creek Floodplain:

    Tahoma Creek Floodplain

    We parted ways with the Wonderland Trail at 5600' and made the short scramble to the top of Emerald Ridge and the toe of the Tahoma Glacier (6000'). Here we took a break and donned our glacier gear while taking in the views of Glacier Island and the true size and length of the Tahoma Glacier. Getting onto the glacier was straightforward and the cracks were small and manageable all the way up to a flatter area of the glacier at 7200'.

    Top of Emerald Ridge, looking back at the Wonderland Trail:

    Top of Emerald Ridge, looking back at the Wonderland Trail.

    Toe of Tahoma Glacier, Glacier Island on the right:

    Toe of Tahoma Glacier, Glacier Island on the right.

    At 7200' we stopped to assess our progress. It was already 6:00p (7.5 hours from the car) and we still had a good amount of glacier to cover to get to high camp. We were also low on water so we would need to melt some snow to replenish our bottles before continuing. At our pace, it didn't seem feasible to reach high camp that night at a reasonable hour and be ready to summit the following morning. We discussed our options and ultimately decided to establish a low camp at 7200' for the night, move up to high camp the next day, and summit on Sunday morning instead. We were due back home Sunday night, so that would leave us with a long hike out after summiting Sunday morning, but this plan would give us the best chance for success and make the trip much more enjoyable. Luckily the weather for Sunday was supposed to be just as good as Saturday. We set up camp and called it a day.

    Lower Tahoma Glacier:

    Lower Tahoma Glacier

    View from Camp 1, looking toward Tokaloo Spire:

    View from Camp 1, looking toward Tokaloo Spire.

    Sunset from Camp 1:

    Sunset from Camp 1.

    On Saturday we woke up to clear skies and a great view of the upper mountain that was covered in clouds the day before. We took our time getting going and scoped out a route up the lower glacier. It was definitely more crevassed than what we had already traveled and the best looking route was in the direction of the Puyallup Cleaver and the looker's left side of the glacier. We broke camp and set off around 10:30a.

    Morning view from Camp 1, looking toward the summit:

    Morning view from Camp 1, looking toward the summit.

    On the way up to Camp 2:

    On the way up to Camp 2.

    The crevasses we encountered on the way up to high camp were growing in size but were still easy to cross with a short hop or snow bridges. Nothing too sketchy even with the sun beating down and snow quickly softening up. Our route did meander a bit as we searched for the most efficient way up the glacier, so it did take longer than expected. We reached 9400' at 2:00pm where we thought about setting up camp. This is where we would have joined the Tahoma Glacier had we taken the St. Andrews Park/Puyallup Cleaver approach; however, the ramp to get off of the Puyallup Cleaver did not look to be in the best shape. There was likely a path off the ramp onto the glacier, but we were glad we chose the approach that we did.

    Ramp at 9600':

    Ramp at 9600'.

    After a long break we pushed on a bit further through ankle and shin deep slush up to 10400' where we found a good spot for a high camp. I had read about other parties camping at this location as well. It was 4:30p at this point, 6 hours after leaving camp 1. From here we finally got a really good view of the upper glacier and the potential routes. Earlier in the day we saw that the looker's right side of the glacier may be a good option, but now we could see right up the center of the glacier and the Sickle variation. The Sickle looked to be in good shape with not a lot of evidence of icefall, but the seracs at the top of the route were intimidating. We decided against the Sickle and to attempt one of the other routes. We would make that decision in the morning under the full moon light once we gained some more elevation. We set up camp, ate, melted snow, and tried to get to sleep as the sun was setting. I fell asleep to the very faint sounds of 4th of July fireworks way off in the distance.

    Upper Tahoma Glacier:

    Upper Tahoma Glacier

    Camp 2:

    Camp 2

    Sunset Amphitheater:

    Sunset Amphitheater

    Tahoma Glacier:

    Tahoma Glacier

    The next morning we set off at 2:00a under a very bright full moon that lit up the mountain. It was right around freezing with no wind and the snow had firmed up nicely. We were excited to start the journey up the main route, but less than 30 minutes out of camp we thought the trip was over. We found ourselves on an island of ice with a pretty sporty jump to continue on. We contemplated it for a while but just didn't want to risk it, especially on the descent when the snow would soften up. Damn! That jump seemed like the only way, but we backtracked some and skirted around where we got stuck and luckily found a crossing! Phew! We wondered if this was going to be the theme of the entire ascent. We continued on and at this point chose to continue right up the center of the glacier rather than traversing over to the far right side option we saw.

    Full moon:

    Full moon

    Contemplating the jump.:

    Contemplating the jump.

    The snow conditions were great and took crampons very well which made for very efficient stepping. We took the path of least resistance and just crossed our fingers it would go. There had to be at least half a dozen times when we thought our luck ran out, but a lone and thinning snow bridge (which probably wouldn't last another week) was there to let us continue on. Besides the first obstacle we encountered we didn't have to do much backtracking, but we did have to snake our way around the crevasses to find acceptable crossings.

    We each carried a traditional axe and had a few screws and two pickets between us. We contemplated bringing a tool, but from all the beta we could gather a tool wasn't really necessary on this route. Turns out that was the right call. We did encounter a couple short sections of solid ice compared to the rest of the route which was a nice sun crust. Front pointing and a low dagger axe took care of the ice sections, but we did protect them with a screw and picket while simul climbing.

    Short ice section:

    Short ice section.

    Soon we found ourselves at the top of the glacier where the slope begins to ease up at around 13000'. With the main part of the climb behind us it was just a slog up to the summit! We ascended directly up the west side onto the summit plateau and reached on Columbia Crest at 8:30a, 6.5 hours after leaving camp.

    Sunrise:

    Sunrise

    Liberty Cap:

    Liberty Cap

    Summit Crater:

    Summit Crater

    Summit Headstand!

    Summit Headstand!

    After getting some pictures on the summit and saying hello to a party of 4 that came up the Kautz, we dropped off the summit for a break and then took off back down the mountain at 9:15a. Being western facing, the Tahoma Glacier doesn't get sun right away in the morning which is good since we wanted to be down off the bulk of the upper glacier before it started to warm up. The descent went well and we followed our tracks down. We did downclimb one of the ice sections with some protection, but other than that we moved fairly quick down the glacier. We returned to camp at 12:15p, 3 hours after leaving the summit.

    Tahoma Glacier, Puyallup Cleaver, St. Andrews Rock:

    Tahoma Glacier, Puyallup Cleaver, St. Andrews Rock

    Tahoma Glacier:

    Tahoma Glacier

    Tahoma Glacier:

    Tahoma Glacier

    It would have been nice to take it easy and stay another night, but we still had a long road ahead to get back to the car that day. We made some water and packed up camp, then took off down the glacier at 2:00p following our tracks from the day before. The hike out was uneventful and we covered the 9 miles and 7500' back to the car in 5.5 hours, descending a total of 11500' for the day.

    Success! What a climb! We both felt really proud to do this route. It was a true test of our endurance and mountaineering skills, especially with navigating the very crevassed glacier. Oh, and we had the entire glacier to ourselves...we didn't see a single person between leaving the Wonderland Trail and the Summit. Being on our own without any tracks to follow made the trip even better.

    Day 1,        Car to Camp 1, 6.7 miles, +4400', 7.0 hrs

    Day 2, Camp 1 to Camp 2, 2.5 miles, +3200', 6.0 hrs

    Day 3, Camp 2 to Summit, 2.8 miles, +4000', 6.5 hrs

    Day 3, Summit to Camp 2, 2.8 miles, -4000', 3.0 hrs

    Day 3,         Camp 2 to Car, 9.0 miles, -7500', 5.5 hrs

    Total Mileage = 23.8 miles

    Total Elevation Gain/Loss = 11500'

    GPX track can be found here: https://caltopo.com/m/7M3P

    Google Earth 1

    Google Earth 2

    Gear Notes:
    Light glacier rack, a couple screws. Used screw and picket on icy section. No need for a 2nd tool.

    Approach Notes:
    Approached via Emerald Ridge/Tahoma Glacier.

    • Rawk on! 1

  2. Just did a quick look around and there is a trip report from a couple days ago that says the road is passable:

    https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report-2020-05-27-0675102672

    Out of curiosity, can you point me to the webpage where it says the road is closed?  I wasn't able to find anything.  We were planning to climb Glacier Peak last weekend but we postponed because of the weather.  I wasn't aware of the possible closure, that would have been a surprise!


  3. Welp! I had a change of heart! I switch to the Cubes and that's gonna be my final decision. After my test of the Towers, I continued to wear them both around the house and the Cubes grew on me. They seem to fit my foot/ankle better without any pressure points across the top of my foot and most importantly lock my heel down better without really cranking on the laces.  I think a lot of it has to do with the Cube's upper being more flexible out of the box, and I suspect the Towers will fit similarly after some break-in.  But, because the Cube's feel good now I'll play it safe and go with them.  I took them out on the trail yesterday and they felt really good, no heel lift at all.

    My one minor gripe with both shoes is the "climbing zone" toe when hiking on a damp trail.  The toes are slippery!  Just something to get used to and be aware of I guess depending on the trail, so overall not a big deal.  I'm sure the toe is great on rock!


  4. 13 minutes ago, JasonG said:

    I would add that I always carry Leukotape on any mountain trip now.  THE BEST tape out there for dealing with hot spots.  Truly amazing stuff that will stay on for days and come off without taking your skin with it.

    Leukotape is awesome!  I was introduced to it a few years ago and quickly added some to my first aid kit.  I've been fortunate over the years to not have many blister/hot spot problems but I'm glad I had the Leukotape last year when we climbed Jefferson.  I wore my mountaineering boots on the long approach and due to my laziness of not stopping to tighten/readjust the boots, I ended up with some hot heels by the time we got to camp.  Threw on some Leukotape and my heels were happy all the next day.  First time I used the stuff and was definitely impressed with how well it stuck and stayed in place.


  5. After much deliberation and wearing the boots around the house, I decided to go with the Towers. I took them out for a few miles on a nearby trail and they felt okay. I did get some heel rub, but I kind of expected that with new stiff boots on mostly flat trail. They did feel a bit looser across my foot than what I'm used to, but it wasn't like they were sloppy.  Still, this likely contributed to the heel rub.

    In my OP I mentioned the toe box size.  I realize now that I should have been talking more about the midfoot.  While the Towers might have a touch more room in the toe compared to the Cube, a lot of the difference I was feeling was across the midfoot.  After the hike I played with the lacing and I was able to get them feeling better across the midfoot, similar to the Cubes. The area around the tongue on the Towers are just a bit stiffer because of the traditional tongue, so it takes a little more effort to snug them down.  Easier to do on the Cubes with the different tongue.  So I'm hoping with a little break-in the Towers will get better across midfoot.

    Not sure what the point of this post was.  Maybe just to say that shopping for new boots is the worst! :crosseye:


  6. 3 minutes ago, kmfoerster said:

    This. I don't know how, but I swear its true.

    Interesting! Are we talking during each trip or over the life of the boot? With my Lowas the toe box is always a bit snug at the start of each trip but loosen up as the day goes on. Rinse and repeat for the next day or trip. But they're leather.


  7. Thanks for the input.  I agree they both seem like great options for climbing around the PNW.  Looking forward to using one of these on long approaches...I've done way too many trail miles in my Lowas :D I suppose the Cubes may have have better durability in the upper with protection from the exoskeleton, but there still is some exposed mesh like on the Towers.  This will be my first synthetic boot so I'm interested to see how they hold up.  The best part is I'll be saving 19 oz. over my Lowas and 8 oz. over my Asolos!

    As far as the rocker goes, I'd say they are pretty much identical.  I wore one of each at the same time around the house and didn't notice a difference besides the slight volume difference in the toe box I mentioned before.

    unnamed1.thumb.jpg.74fa1ae8dfdcbcee5fab34f7fa1fbd34.jpg

    unnamed3.thumb.jpg.06fa23d7f7bf5dfb118a1846b758ba52.jpg

    unnamed2.thumb.jpg.9e929a4fd33e2d51ff8e8653813d49f3.jpg


  8. I'm looking for a new boot to bridge the gap between my Lowa Mountain Expert mountaineering boot and my Asolo Powermatic 200 backpacking boots.  I've had the Lowas for 10+ years and only use them a few times a year.  They're nice but overkill most of the time for when and what I climb.  Everything else I've managed to get away with using the Asolos.  With something in between I could wear them for pretty much everything I do.

    At first I tried out the Trango Tower Extremes, Trango Tower, and Scarpa Charmoz.  Extremes were more than I need.  Charmoz were nice, but the Towers felt the best.  Was ready to settle on those, but decided to try the Trango Cube as well.

    The Tower and Cube feel very similar, which was kind of expected because the outsole/midsole are similar.  The Towers do have slightly more room (height) in the toe box.  The difference is in the uppers, with the Cube having the unique seamless upper with rubberized exoskeleton.  Pretty neat.  The Cube also has the adjustable tongue which I guess is cool, but I didn't notice too much difference in playing with it.  I've read a couple accounts of the eyelets pulling out of the exoskeletons, but other than that a majority of the complaints for both boots come down to wear of the outsole and rand.  So it seems both boots are also pretty similar in terms of longevity.

    I'm still leaning towards the Towers because of the slightly larger toe box, but just wondering if anyone else has experience with either of these boots that could sway me one way or the other.  Same sole stiffness.  There's only a 1/2 oz difference in weight between the two pairs.  The Cubes have a slightly higher price tag.

    Thanks!

    --------

    Oh, and if someone runs across this looking for sizing info, I can confirm the Cubes run small like all the reviews say.  The Towers are true to size for me.  I bought the Towers in 43.5 and 44, and Cubes in 44 and 44.5.  In terms of size comparison, Tower 43.5 = Cube 44, and Tower 44 = Cube 44.5.  The outsole/insole lengths match up exactly for those sizes.  Not sure why La Sportiva did this...maybe so they can say a 44 Cube is lighter than a 44 Tower, which is true, but when you compare models of the same length they are nearly the same weight.


  9. Really interested in skiing Fuhrer Finger this year if anyone else wants to plan something or already has plans and is open to adding another person.  Happy to just climb to the top of the Finger or Wapowety Cleaver and ski from there, but totally game for making a run at the summit and skiing off the top!

    Background: multiple Rainier summits (several DC, a couple Emmons, Gib Ledges, Kautz) along with plenty of other similar climbs.  Strong skier.  Avy 1 and WFA.

    Let me know!


  10. These came off my 2010ish Dynafit Manaslu skis.  Thought I would throw them up here in case someone is looking...I'm not sure if they were used on any other Dynafit skis.  The plastic bits are trashed (one is okay, partly broken but still has screw holes intact) but the metal pieces are good which someone might be needing.  Just send me a few bucks for shipping and they're yours.

    20200314_141747.thumb.jpg.57d1fb39b989fa3b6a07f1d30bedf965.jpg

    20200314_141815.thumb.jpg.679bdc45b51ebd8048cf4caf74039e23.jpg


  11. 11 hours ago, ScaredSilly said:

    Nice sleuthing and good conclusion to the snow pack.

    I've found the historical snowpack data to be useful when planning trips, particularly spring ski tours when there is a question of road/trail access and if a route is in or not.  After reading a trip report I'll just compare that year's snowpack data to the current year.  If anyone else runs across this thread the snowpack data can be found here: https://climate.washington.edu/snowdepth/


  12. It was an awesome climb and I'm surprised too that it isn't busier.  Definitely one that I would do again. I'm curious how the permitting system work when it is implemented next year...

    @ScaredSilly, that is interesting.  I took a look at the snowpack data for Mt. Hood (closest station to Jeff) and it may explain things a little bit.  This year the snowpack was average or slightly above earlier in the year then tapered off in the spring.  The year you climbed it, 2014, the snowpack was well below average early in the year but then picked up quite a bit in the spring, which may explain the wide open shrund (lack of winter snowfall) and more snow on the summit ridge (more spring snow).  

    Capture.JPG.8889037042d698f958a76d2d8dccc1a5.JPG

    • Like 1

  13. Trip: Mount Jefferson - Jefferson Park Glacier

    Trip Date: 07/05/2019

    Trip Report:

    Jefferson Park Glacier was in our sights, but warm weather in the forecast made us a bit wary.  The freezing level was around 13k with overnight temps on the summit in the low 40s.  Glacier Peak was also on our list, so we opted to play it safe and plan for that instead.  However, as the weekend approached the weather forecast was improving slightly for Jefferson and turning poor for Glacier Peak.  Jefferson it is!  I was excited since this would be my first climb in Oregon.

    On Friday afternoon, five of us met up at the Woodpecker Ridge trailhead.  On the drive in we took note of conditions on the north ridge and the summit block.  The ridge looked completely covered and the northwest face of the summit pyramid was a mix of snow and rock.   Now the question was what the Jeff Park Glacier looked like and what we would find on the narrow ridge connecting the top of Jeff Park Glacier and the north ridge.  At around 14:45 we took off on the trail in the direction of Jefferson Park.  We considered camping at Jefferson Park, but discussed knocking off another 1000' and camping higher on the ridge so we could get a better look at the glacier in daylight.  The skies were clear with the occasional cloud and the absence of trees on the trail made for a warm approach.

    Shortly after reaching the Whitewater Trail junction, we turned uphill for the ridge that sits east of Russell Creek and leads up to the toe of Jefferson Park Glacier.  It seemed like 6800' was a common area to camp so that's what we aimed for, though there were also accounts of camping at 7400'.  At this point we were still unsure of our descent route (Russell or Whitewater), so we planned to camp lower to avoid any unnecessary climbing back up to camp if we returned too low on the ridge.  There was the occasional patch of snow on the way up the ridge and eventually we found a good spot around 6900'.  It seemed like we were the only group up on the ridge.

    The lower shrund was long and extended well east under the active rockfall area, but looked easily passable.  It was hard to tell what the upper shrund looked like so we would have to until morning to find out.  With warm weather still in the forecast, we planned for a 0200 departure time so we could start getting some daylight as we approached the cracks on the glacier.  The forecast also called for some breezy conditions the next day which we were beginning to experience at camp.  After melting some snow we retreated to our tents with alarms set for 0100.

    It was 50°F when we woke up with clear skies and a light breeze.  We gathered our gear and at 0200 were off, heading up the ridge.  Shortly after, we passed a small bivy site at 7400' and then were standing on the glacier where we geared up as a team of 2 and 3.  Still all by ourselves, we picked a direction and started uphill in the dark.  Not too long after, we saw headlamps appear on the ridge to our left.  A team of 5 was moving along the ridge and I thought they were heading up the north ridge route, but eventually they descended and joined us on the glacier at nearly the same elevation.  We found out later they were camping in Jeff Park.  They were moving pretty quick and passed by.

    The snow was in great shape, not too soft and not too hard which made for easy steps and good purchase with the crampons.  There was a thick enough crust that you wouldn't punch through but it was still possible to drive your axe shaft all the way in to self belay as the grade steepened.  As the other group reached the crevassed area below the shrund with a hint of daylight, they roped up and began placing pickets and simul climbing.  This slowed their progress a little bit and we climbed to their left to avoid any ice debris from them, but unfortunately we didn't give them a wide enough berth.  A large dinner plate sized chunk of crust released from their party and started falling between the two groups.  We tracked it in the low light and at first it looked like it would miss us like some smaller ice pieces that fell before, but this chunk moved differently.  The piece whizzed by me (2nd to last) less than 10' away and struck the last person in our party.  He saw it coming and was able to somewhat shield himself where it hit his chest and arm, but it still took him off his feet and knocked the wind out of him.  After a short rest and assessment, he just had a sore arm and ribs and nothing appeared to be broken.  It could have been a lot worse...

    We continued towards the lower shrund, moving a bit further climber's left to avoid another incident while keeping an eye out for rocks above.  The grade steepened to about 35° as we skirted around the lower shrund, but with the great snow conditions we felt very comfortable.  The 2nd tools remained stowed and we didn't place any pro.  Once we were above the lower shrund and traversed under Mohler Tooth we finally got a good look at the upper shrund to find a small crack that was easy to cross.  Here we took a break while we waited for the other party to climb this section since it would have been a little crowded.  After the other group was clear, we crossed the shrund and cruised up to the saddle between Smith Rock and Mohler Tooth.  It was around 0700 at this point.

    The ridge looked to be snow free, so we stowed our crampons and waited for the group to get out in front of us so we weren't right on their heels.  The ridge climbed nicely.  Our lead did place a few cams and slung a few rocks along the way since we brought them, but it really didn't feel entirely necessary if you're comfortable with scrambling.  I feel like I've climbed more exposed terrain that was classified as 4th class.  The last part of the ridge before joining the north ridge was still covered in snow/ice, so maybe that portion is the low 5th class climbing I read about once it melts out.  We put our crampons back on and finished the ridge to reach the north ridge.  The group in front of us decided to descend down a snow gully to the glacier instead of finishing the snowy part of ridge, so we were finally able to get past.

    Now on the north ridge, we started the trek south to the summit pyramid.  The snow was still firm and there was an old boot pack, so we made quick work of the ridge.  The summit pyramid was a mix of snow, ice, and rock like we saw the previous day from the drive and it looked like the route to the summit was all snow/ice.  At this point we grabbed our 2nd tools and the group of 3 lead the way.  The first portion was a fairly steep (~60°?) mix of snow and ice, but we were able to make good purchase with the tools and crampons.  A couple cams were placed and there was good ice for a screw.  This first portion topped out at a rappel station at the base of the large snow patch, about a third of the way up the summit block.  This was probably the toughest section to climb, but looking back at the pictures we likely could have made things easier by traversing a short ways under the summit block before heading up.  But it was still fun climbing nonetheless!

    We then hiked up the snow and began a traverse south, underneath and to the west of the summit.  The route would continue south and eventually turn east to wrap around the south side of the summit.  This was the second portion of steep climbing, albeit easier than the first.  Once again we protected this with a couple cams and a screw before reaching the plethora of slings at the summit.  We made it!  The summit was just big enough for the five of us to hang out and take in the views.  From here we contemplated our descent route.  The Whitewater Glacier was our default and there looked to be a nice rappel off the south of the summit down to snow which could then be easily downclimbed to the Whitewater (compared to making the traverse underneath and to the west of the summit pyramid to Red Saddle).  The Russell Glacier was also an option, and with the still firm snow conditions and a good bootpack heading down the Mill Creek Glacier, we decided to give that option a go.

    We rapped off the west side of the summit, down to the snowy traverse section, and then downclimbed to the rappel station we first encountered on our way up.  At this point the other party was beginning their climb up the summit pyramid.  Another rappel and we were off the summit pyramid and heading down the Mill Creek Glacier.  We followed the tracks and had a rough idea where we were heading based on views from the summit and a GPS route, but soon the tracks disappeared and we were left just making the steep snow traverse toward the Russell.  We took the path of least resistance and soon found ourselves crossing a scree field before eventually reaching the Russell at 8600'.  I think we took a pretty good route to the Russell.  Perhaps earlier in the season with more snow one could traverse higher and enter the glacier at a higher point, but with the current conditions we found ourselves at a good spot on the Russell.  Higher up there was a lot of exposed scree and the rockfall was very active.

    The next challenge was to descend the Russell and find a good traverse back to camp to avoid hitting the ridge too low and having to climb back up.  Scree was the theme of this portion.  We descended the Russell on snow, but soon had to start traversing which led to plenty of scree fields separated by snow patches.  Again, we took the path of least resistance while aiming high.  Eventually we found ourselves to the west of our ridge with only about a 300' climb back up to camp.  Not ideal, but I think we took the best route we could all things considered.  If we did it over again this time of year, I think we would opt for the Whitewater descent.  I think the Russell earlier in the season with more snow coverage would be a good option, but once the scree starts to show it makes it a bit of a pain especially since most of it is a traverse.

    After a rest at camp, we packed up and headed down the ridge and out to the trailhead.  It was a long day but a great day!  A good mix of glacier, rock, and ice.  Excellent weather and stellar conditions.  I'm happy to put down Jefferson as my first Oregon volcano!

    Time Stats:

    DAY 1:

    (time, duration, split time, elev, total gain, leg gain)
    14:45,  00:00, 00:00, 4500',        +0',        +0', Woodpecker TH Start
    18:10,  03:25, 03:25, 6900', +2400', +2400', Arrive Camp

    Day 1 Splits:

    03:25, TH to Camp

    Day 1 Total:

    03:25

    -----

    DAY 2:

    02:00,  00:00, 00:00,   6900', +2400',       +0', Leave Camp
    02:30,  00:30, 00:30,   7450', +2950',  +550', Start Jeff Park Glacier
    06:50,  04:50, 04:20,   9950', +5450', +2500', Top of Jeff Park Glacier
    09:05,  07:05, 02:15, 10180', +5680',  +230', Gained North Ridge
    11:00,  09:00, 01:55, 10495', +5995',  +315', Summit
    14:50,  12:50, 03:50,   8580', +4080', -1915', Gained Russell Glacier
    17:00,  15:00, 02:10,   6900', +2400', -1680', Arrive Camp
    21:00,  19:00, 04:00,   4500', +0000', -2400', Woodpecker TH End

    Day 2 Splits:

    09:00, Camp to Summit
    06:00, Summit to Camp
    04:00, Camp to TH

    Day 2 Total:

    19:00

    Day 2 Splits (excluding major breaks/waits)

    06:20, Camp to Summit
    05:00, Summit to Camp
    03:00, Camp to TH

     

    GPS Route/Track:

    Our route can be seen and exported from here: https://caltopo.com/m/GB6S

     

    Photos:

    Woodpecker trail approach:

    _7052213_2.thumb.jpg.6468e90eaa35e30b46c6647bec07a5be.jpg

    IMG_20190705_161614_2.thumb.jpg.a4ba60a07ee7a5e68cedc7498e2bada6.jpg

     

    Jeff Park Glacier:

    IMG_20190705_174820_2.thumb.jpg.43a1c173e5f5b94aa138746e91c16809.jpg

     

    View from camp:

    IMG_20190705_193252_2.thumb.jpg.6a235e0fc11816395f02e5f486af9808.jpg

    IMG_20190705_204019_2.thumb.jpg.e9ec39a7196cc2c14095fc604a062f9a.jpg

     

    Other party ascending Jeff Park Glacier (below lower shrund):

    IMG_20190706_050826_2.thumb.jpg.0c56fe5c77854099558d7c7d8aba7a74.jpg

    IMG_20190706_052635_2.thumb.jpg.13513a671bf167384513985ba9bb96da.jpg

     

    Skirting lower shrund (Mohler Tooth to the right):

    IMG_20190706_052056_2.thumb.jpg.31ba0f096d7dd933a8d12c4a345c6df0.jpg

    IMG_20190706_053726_2.thumb.jpg.996892c04592e4ef93428e7b78c8798e.jpg

     

    Upper shrund (Smith Rock to the right):

    P7062335_2.thumb.jpg.ed27075e451470df53c343978b8de3eb.jpg

     

    Smith Rock:

    P7062339_2.thumb.jpg.c589063cc183f543c53823bcad386f18.jpg

     

    North ridge and summit:

    IMG_20190706_071842_2.thumb.jpg.ae2bdb8d569c183bf8ea8ba0e54884fe.jpg

    20190706_090906_2.thumb.jpg.476475aa3ba3358249275023b9303bab.jpg

     

    Summit pyramid:

    IMG_20190706_093425_2.thumb.jpg.6fcbdb01eaf2064baa0bb7bc6fecd8a0.jpg

     

    Looking back (north) at the north ridge:

    IMG_20190706_093434_2.thumb.jpg.15964e8b8a3f605d66394158ce75083e.jpg

     

    First pitch on the summit pyramid:

    2EC7FDC9-1217-4A97-A383-30BE40B5FD87.thumb.jpg.f5e9b655220a203c6f681a48a970a4d4.jpg

     

    View from summit:

    P7062416_2.thumb.jpg.1a9a7caad00105b2043b26360b999863.jpg

     

    First rappel:

    P7062449_2.thumb.jpg.3c0173ff0cfa6ed47fbb37d50b50f9d2.jpg

     

    Traverse to Russell:

    IMG_20190706_142627_2.thumb.jpg.947e993eaa0e52bd926e04095cd935be.jpg

     

    Heading down the Russell:

    IMG_20190706_150347_2.thumb.jpg.75a2214eaa6db34bff40800d5c0cd2d7.jpg

     

     

     

    Gear Notes:
    Glacier gear, 2nd tool, light rock rack and a few screws. We had one 60m rope and one 30m rope. The 60m was nice to have for the rappels.

    Approach Notes:
    Woodpecker Ridge Trail
    • Like 1
    • Rawk on! 2

  14. Thanks for the info.  We thought we were going to forego Jefferson and head up to Glacier Peak instead, but it's looking like some weather is moving into the Glacier Peak area this weekend and the forecast for Jefferson has slightly improved.  So we're going to give Jeff a shot.

    Good to know about the Russell, and being able to traverse over to Jeff Park Glacier.  Wasn't sure about that and didn't want to camp too high.  Seems like if you camp around 6800' you should be able to get back pretty easily...higher up at around 7400' I'm not sure.  Was planning on the Whitewater, but we'll scope it out when we're up there, the descent down Mill Creek Glacier and getting over to the Russell does look steep which could be interesting in the slop.


  15. Thanks for the responses.  Unfortunately it is looking like the forecasted overnight temps for the summit may not even get into the 30s on Saturday morning, so yeah...sloppy.  Sounds like it may be doable, but we may bail and save it for another time.  The next couple days would probably be much better with freezing levels at 10k.

    Quick question on the route, specifically getting off the summit and onto the Whitewater - I've read accounts of rapping off the summit (Which direction? South to Red Saddle?) as well as retracing the route to the base of the summit pyramid and then doing the steep traverse along the west side to Red Saddle.  And also rapping off the east side from the base (north side) of the summit pyramid?  Seems like there are a few options to get onto the Whitewater...just curious what the preferred way is.

    Thanks again!


  16. We were considering tackling Jeff Park Glacier this coming weekend, but it is looking like it will be pretty warm (freezing level shooting up to around 13k).  That may steer us away to another objective, but I'm looking for advice from others that have been up on the route around this time of year.  I anticipate the rockfall to be quite active while trying to cross the shrunds, and the north ridge to be sloppy.  Thoughts?  Thanks! 


  17. Trip: Colchuck Peak & Dragontail Peak - North Buttress

    Trip Date: 08/11/2018

    Trip Report:

     

    After thru-hiking the Enchantments a couple years ago, it has been on my list to get back in the area and tackle some of the surrounding peaks.  I'm not sure why it took so long!  Just looking for a scramble, we decided to do the North Buttress route on Colchuck Peak and then hit Dragontail on our way to Aasgard Pass and back down to Colchuck Lake.  From a bit of reading it seemed that staying on the west side of the ridge would make for some class 3/4 scrambling, while staying on top of the ridge would give some low 5th class climbing.  We had some awesome weather, great views, and fun climbing.

     

    We arrived at the trailhead Friday night and after a quick bivy we were on the trail shortly after 4:30am the next morning.  We cruised up to Colchuck Lake in a couple hours and arrived at the southwest corner of the lake where the approach toward the Buttress begins.  It was light out by then and we were pleasantly surprised to see clear blue skies.  It was quite hazy the day before due to the wildfires but the incoming weather system must have pushed the smoke out.  We stopped at the lake edge to filter some water and then off we went up the talus field toward the notch/col on the route.

    The scramble up to the notch was straightforward, basically just hugging the right side of the lower talus field and before crossing over some of the vegetation to the upper slope which contained more scree.  From there we just made our way straight up the gully to the notch.  It took about 45 minutes to ascent the 1,100' to the notch (6,800') where we could finally get a good view of the route, as well as views off to the west where Sherpa Peak and Mount Stuart sit.

    View of Colchuck Peak and the North Buttress.

    View of Colchuck Peak and the North Buttress.

     

    From the notch we could see a couple options.  There was what looked like an easy traverse but it seemed a bit far off the ridge.  This may be a way to the Northwest Route but we decided to stay as high as possible on the ridge which turned out just fine.  The first couple hundred feet of scrambling was a bit slow.  There was definitely come class 4 mixed in and at points we were directly on the crest so we had nice views of Colchuck Lake, Colchuck Glacier, and Dragontail Peak. 

    A little exposed.~7000'

    A little exposed.

     

    Eventually this beginning section was over and we started to really gain some elevation.  At this point the route turned into an easy class 3 scramble where we followed goat trails most of the time.  At points where the trails began to traverse more and deviate off the ridge, we abandoned the trail and went up where more fun and interesting climbing was.  A bit of exposure in spots but the holds were easy and plentiful.

    One great part about this route is that you're in the shade the entire time!  The weather definitely cooled down from the day before, but not being in the direct sun was sure nice.  It was clear during the climb up to Colchuck with some clouds off in the distance past Mount Stuart.  We also got to see a helicopter circling Mount Stuart multiple times.  It sounds like a hiker broke their leg, according to the Seattle Times.

    The rest of the route up until just below the summit was easy going and fun.  About 200' below the summit we ended up heading directly up the south side which probably had the most exposure so far in the climb, but we felt comfortable on the rock.  There may have been a way around the west side of the summit at this point but we didn't investigate because the route we took looked doable.  After that section of climbing we hit the summit!  It was 10:30am, a little over 3 hours since leaving the lake.  We were moving at a comfortable 1000' an hour.

    Colchuck Lake, Colchuck Glacier, and Dragontail Peak from the summit of Colchuck Peak.

    Colchuck Lake, Colchuck Glacier, and Dragontail Peak from the summit of Colchuck Peak.

     

    After a quick break we were on our way down to the col between Colchuck and Dragontail, then on our way back up toward Dragontail.  Easy scrambling up the gully before we gained the ridge and traversed over to the summit just as a party of 3 was on their way down.  At this point we were getting some light cloud cover which gave us some shade.  We were on the summit by 12:30pm.

    Looking down Colchuck Glacier.

    Looking down Colchuck Glacier.

    Argonaut Peak, Sherpa, and Stuart.

    Argonaut Peak, Sherpa, and Stuart.

    Colchuck Glacier seen from the ascent up Dragontail.

    Colchuck Glacier seen from the ascent up Dragontail.

    Summit of Dragontail Peak.  Looking toward the upper Enchantments.

    Summit of Dragontail Peak.  Looking toward the upper Enchantments.

    Pano at the top of Dragontail.

    Pano at the top of Dragontail.

     

    We had some lunch on the summit and then off we went down and towards Aasgard pass.  At this point I realized I forgot about the snow traverse.  Luckily the snow was soft and there was already somewhat of a boot pack so getting down wasn't too bad.  And we were glad we decided to bring trekking poles as they helped some too.  If the snow was harder I think an ice axe would have been nice to have.

    Looking back at the snow traverse.

    Looking back at the snow traverse.

     

    We made our way down Aasgard pass and back to the lake.  A quick break for some water at the lake and we were back on the now very busy Colchuck Lake trail.  We arrived at the car at 5:00pm, just shy of 12.5 hours.  Here are some stats:

     

    Splits (excluding breaks at lake and summits):

    -Car to Colchuck Lk. - 2:00

    -Colchuck Lk. to Colchuck Peak - 3:15

    -Colchuck Peak to Dragontail Peak - 1:30

    -Dragontail Peak to Colchuck Lk. - 1:40

    -Colchuck Lk. to Car - 2:00

    Car-to-Car Total Time: 12.5 hours

    Mileage: ~13.3 miles

    Elevation Gain: 6'800'

    Bluetooth Speakers on the Trail: 5

     

    Here is our route and the approach to the North Buttress from Colchuck Lake:

    GPS Track

    GPS Track.

    North Buttress Approach.

    North Buttress Approach (track drawn on ridge is not exact).

     

    We had a great time on this route!  Fun scrambling with options for more exposed terrain.  And you can't beat the views!  I'd recommend this route to anyone that is looking to get off the beaten path and would prefer a scramble over one of the true rock climbing routes in the area.

    Gear Notes:
    Helmets. Trekking poles were useful for snow traverse and descending Aasgard.

    Approach Notes:
    Obvious trail that splits off (right) the main trail at SW corner of Colchuck Lake. Follow talus field up and to the climber's right, which leads to a gully below the notch.

    • Like 1
    • Rawk on! 1

  18. Trip: Mt. Rainier - Kautz Glacier

    Trip Date: 07/13/2018

    Trip Report:

     

    I met up with two fellow CC'ers at Paradise on Friday morning for an attempt at the Kautz.  It was going to be a busy weekend on the mountain which was evident by the line of climbers waiting for the guide house to open at 7am, but we would soon discover that we would have the route all to ourselves.

    After getting our permit we were back at the cars to gather gear and discuss whether or not we wanted to descend the Kautz or carryover and descend the DC.  We eventually agreed on the carryover, and given the excellent weather forecast we left the tent at the car with plans of an open bivy either at High Castle or just below the rock step.  We took the essentials and had our packs down around 35 lbs which was a nice change of pace.

    By 9:15am we were on the trail and heading towards Glacier Vista where we then dropped down onto the lower Nisqually.  The Fan is melting out and showed plenty of signs of rock fall so we aimed for the Wilson gully which looked to be in much better shape.  We roped up and it was an easy trek across the Niqually and up the gully.  There were some cracks starting to open up in the gully but nothing major.

    From there it was a straight shot to the ridge where we then ascended to just below the Turtle snowfield (9400') where we found plenty of running water.  It was around 3pm by this time so we took a good break to replenish our water, have a snack, and enjoy the views.  We all felt good so we continued on up to Hazard.

    By 5:30pm, just over 8 hours from the parking lot, we arrived at 11,100' just below the rock step with a handful of bivy sites to choose from.  There was a fair bit of wind but unfortunately none of the bivy sites offered much protection.  We did find running water here as well (though it slowed to a trickle by morning).  After taking a quick look at the ice chute we settled in for the evening.  By this time we had not seen any other parties on the route and we were all alone at Hazard.  We did find out after the climb that another party did start out later than us and was bivying at the Castle.

    I think I managed to get a few hours of sleep with the wind beating down on us all night.  I've definitely slept better.  We got a bit of a late start, but by 4:30a we were on the move and we were at the base of the ice chute at 5:15a with some good light on the route.  We used our rope to rappel off the rock step.  The anchor looked to be in good shape, but the fixed line has seen better days.

    The first ice step was full of penitentes which made for easy solo climbing.  We each had an axe and a tool, though the tool wasn't really necessary on the first step.  We continued above the first step on the lower angle snow towards the second ice step which looked to only have a short section of alpine ice toward the top.  As the steepness began to increase we were still on dense sun cupped snow which made for fun climbing with a tool.  This was my first time on steep terrain with a tool so it was a good introduction.  I continued up to where the ice began and waited for my more experienced partners to solo the ice.  I almost followed but with it being my first time on steep alpine ice had them build a quick anchor and belay me up through the short section of ice.

    With the ice chute out of the way we continued upwards toward the top of Wapowtey Cleaver, easily navigating the crevasses.  We didn't quite touch Wapowtey Cleaver before turning NW toward the saddle between Point Success and the summit.  By 10:30a we were on the summit!  It was a bit breezy so we snapped some pictures and then retreated into the crater for a break at register rock.  We were all alone on the summit as well which we expected since the DC climbers were probably on the summit closer to sunrise.

    At 11:45pm we started down the hot and slushy DC route.   We made good time and got see the impressive icefall that happened earlier in the week.  We hustled through this section and arrived at Muir just after 3pm.  After a good break to grab a snack and pack some gear, we slogged down the Muir snowfield and were back to the cars by 5:30p.

    This route was new to all of us and we had a blast!  Being away from the crowds and in a new area of the mountain was really great.  And I think this was a perfect route for me to experience steeper, more technical terrain.  I'm looking forward to getting on more steep ice in the future.  Thanks Kevin and Phil for a awesome climb!

     

    Paradise to Hazard: 8 hrs

    Hazard to Summit: 6 hrs

    Summit to Muir: 4.5 hrs

    Muir to Paradise: 2.5 hrs

    Total Mileage: 14.1 miles according to the GPS

     

    Photos and GPS track courtesy of Kevin

    IMG_20180713_100219.thumb.jpg.a4f60736d70ca2abd9bb213504e7d637.jpg

    Wilson Gully:

    IMG_20180713_112415.thumb.jpg.dd6a99cfa95942d2c999fdcc1597112f.jpg

    Ice Chute:

    IMG_20180713_180354.thumb.jpg.f24a3f4cc5b96e3a7e36807ad4c6b933.jpg

    Sunset:

    IMG_20180713_205630.thumb.jpg.0ffb60869e635c31e40273911017233a.jpg

    Approaching first step:

    IMG_20180714_052222.thumb.jpg.55274f275972994ea4f2bfaa73a1a6e9.jpg

    In the first step:

    IMG_20180714_052907.thumb.jpg.bf156a692d47d266c906c3ef1f63e97e.jpg

    Approaching second step:

    IMG_20180714_054256.thumb.jpg.8d0a59131bf707d4b9822275c8c1e5d6.jpg

    Looking down the chute:

    IMG_20180714_061837.thumb.jpg.b6e0ec2e3a362084e133f6f7addfa525.jpg

    Belay:

    IMG_20180714_063056.thumb.jpg.f11b576c830097aa2e0be687f7c69871.jpg

    Above the chute/Wapowety Cleaver:

    IMG_20180714_090807_1.thumb.jpg.779b2aa6138ac107ab700b4bee5cc9fe.jpg

    Summit headstand:

    IMG_20180714_103741.thumb.jpg.2af88a81fb6eadfddb20eeab092f968c.jpg

    Icefall from above:

    IMG_20180714_123502.thumb.jpg.d8f95f63df68a49d714d405de896132c.jpg

    Icefall from below/Ingraham Flats:

    IMG_20180714_143440.thumb.jpg.02f4af5dec08a8f6427fa192f0def227.jpg

    GPS Track:

    Capture.thumb.JPG.46be3886a6564d69175a237cf46a8956.JPG

    Capture2.thumb.JPG.e07095c5122c6a8a0fbfb0e5d2e36545.JPG

     

    Gear Notes:
    Standard glacier rack. Ice axe + tool. 6 screws.

    Approach Notes:
    Wilson Gully. Running water at Upper Castle and at Hazard if it is warm enough.

    • Like 1

  19. @Bdubs, when were you on the route?  Three of us started out Friday morning, bivied around 11,100', and hit the summit Saturday morning (carried over to the DC).  We also took the gully approach.  We were all alone on the route, but did see what looked to be some headlamps coming up the lower Nisqually (maybe the Wilson) at around 3am when we woke up Saturday morning.  Thought maybe it was a group doing it in a single push but we didn't see anyone the rest of the morning before we were out of view of the Kautz.

    Edit: just saw @dave schultz's TR on the single push up the Kautz and down Tahoma.  Those are the lamps we saw Saturday morning.  Nice work, Dave!

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