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bellows

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Posts posted by bellows


  1. Trip: Mt Index - Hourglass Gully

    Trip Date: 06/05/2020

    Trip Report:

    "The struggle of man against man produces jealousy, deceit, frustration, bitterness, hate.  The struggle of man against the mountains is different.  Man then bows before Something that is bigger than he.  When he does that, he finds serenity and humility, and dignity too."

    -  Northwest local & former Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas 

     

    Seeking some serenity in these nationally troubled times, last Friday I headed up Mt Index via the aptly named Lake Serene.  Spent the night in my truck at the trailhead and headed out under headlamp at ~2AM.  Reached the lake in a couple hours, then another hour around the west side of the lake as dawn broke.  From the snowy saddle above the lake at ~3050’, it’s a choose your own adventure up the brushy east ridge with two distinct class 4 slabby steps the way I went.  After the ridge leveled out, I traversed to the left for a bit, turned the buttress at 4200’, and then had continuous well consolidated snow all the way up the hourglass gully to the ridgetop below the summit.  From there an easy walk to the summit going somewhat clockwise to avoid cliffs and cornices.  Some moats are developing at the hourglass constriction, and in the center/left couloir immediately above.  They were well bridged, but could get difficult getting in/out/over when they melt out.

    Looking down at Lake Serene from near the 3050' saddle:

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    Looking up the first slabby 4th class step on the East Ridge:IMG_6383.thumb.JPG.a1e0b5341b29a8c02e4c957986b3881a.JPG

    Upper East Ridge, hourglass gully on the left, mostly out of sight :

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    Good snow conditions inside the gully:

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    Looking down from partway up the gully:

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    Summit views!

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    The descent took almost as much time as the ascent, mostly due to copious breaks enjoying the scenery, but also some downclimbing in the couloir and the hourglass constriction, and two rappels on the east ridge.

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    After not seeing a soul all day, I ran into TONS of hikers on the trail to Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene.  Lots of younger and diverse folks enjoying nature.  I think that’s a good thing, and look forward to this new generation getting bored with the trail hikes and venturing further and higher into the mountains to find some serenity and humility, and dignity too.


    Back to the truck early afternoon feeling very mentally refreshed.  

    Gear Notes:
    Crampons, axe, 60m rope for 2 raps on the east ridge

    Approach Notes:
    Lake Serene
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  2. Good observation @ScaredSilly.  Despite the low o2 readings, ultimately I think I acclimatized to the altitude fairly well.  My only real symptoms throughout the trip were a little trouble sleeping and headaches in the middle of the night, especially the first nights at each camp.  The first night at Nido I woke up thinking my head was going to explode, took an o2 reading in the 60’s, and sat up and took deep breaths for awhile watching it climb into the 80’s and feeling the headache dissipate.  I did this every couple hours.  During the daytime things were relatively good and I felt strong.  In retrospect, the pulse oximeter probably caused me more stress than anything. I’m still not exactly sure how to correlate the readings with how I felt.  


  3. Trip: Cerro Aconcagua - Ruta Normal

    Trip Date: 02/02/2020

    Trip Report:

    Back when the world was more normal, I took a solo two week trip to Argentina to climb Aconcagua: 

    Day 1 (Thursday January 23rd): Fly out of Seatac – Santiago - Mendoza
    Day 2: Land in Mendoza, get permit & supplies, drive to Penitentes (el ~8500) for the night at Hotel Ayelan
    Day 3: Start of climb.  Hike to Confluencia (el ~11,100)
    Day 4: Side trip to Plaza Francia at the base of the South Face for acclimatization, second night at Confluencia
    Day 5: Move to Plaza de Mulas (el 14,100)
    Day 6: Scramble nearby Cerro Bonete (el 16,417), second night at Mulas
    Day 7: Carry water & gear to Camp Canada (el 16,600), third night at Mulas
    Day 8: Carry gear to Nido de Condores (el 18,200), fourth night at Mulas
    Day 9: Move to Nido, skipping over Camp Canada
    Day 10: Acclimatization hike to Camp Colera (el 19,700), second night at Nido
    Day 11 (Sunday February 2nd): Summit (el 22,841), return to Nido for the night
    Day 12: Descend to Mulas
    Day 13: Hike out, return to Mendoza, rearrange flight home
    Day 14: Fly out of Mendoza - Santiago – LAX - Seattle
    Day 15 (Thursday February 6th): Land back in Seattle 

    It’s hard to capture two weeks in limited pictures, but here goes.

    The park entrance off the main highway between Mendoza and Santiago, Chile has a great view of the mountain with the summit visible as the bump on the right. With limited vacation time, I increased my time efficiency (and fuel inefficiency) by renting a car at the airport in Mendoza and driving myself around.  This meant I didn’t have to faff around with bus schedules and figuring out transport to/from the trailhead, and also allowed me to get my permit in Mendoza, get some last minutes supplies of fuel, lighters, meat & cheese, and drive up to Penitentes all in the first day so I could spend my first night at elevation.  As an added bonus, I drove up to the Christo de Redeemer statue on a winding mountain road to a pass at El 12,572 where I spent 30 minutes walking around at altitude.
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    The start of the hike to Confluencia was beautiful on wide trails through grassland with the mountain dominating the view in front.

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    Confluencia, home for my first two nights on the mountain.  My North Face Assault-2 tent is barely visible near the big yellow and white domes on the lower right.

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    The first night at Confluencia when my appetite was high, I splurged a bit and bought a nice dinner from my mule service provider.  From then on out it was lots of ramen, rice, and freeze dried.

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    To help my acclimitization, I took a side trip up to Plaza Francia and the massive South Face of Aconcagua on my second day of the climb:IMG_5489.thumb.JPG.ed3f8cc4b9996446719007bd99a7b546.JPG

     

    Heading up to Plaza de Mulas on the third day.  Helicopters were a common sight shuttling gear & supplies & the occasional climber up the valley.  Even more common were the mules who do the bulk of the heavy lifting.  I used Grajales Expedicions mule service to carry ~50lbs worth of gear from the trailhead straight to Mulas.  I was relatively cheap and well worth it.  Along with shuttling your gear, it comes with filtered drinking water and toilets and trash service at Confluencia and at Mulas.IMG_5524.thumb.JPG.89d77fe52b46ecefecc9b20075555dfd.JPGIMG_5529.thumb.JPG.620b805d7ec2a0b6495660e888691733.JPGIMG_5531.thumb.JPG.9167240e480c8b731b080d72093360bb.JPGIMG_5550.thumb.JPG.8b7b0cdb283c81a3dbb17351dab84b31.JPGIMG_5552.thumb.JPG.2a856fd02d9b0989cac8bba95888a852.JPG

     

    Plaza de Mulas is a bustling place with tons of climbers from all over the world.IMG_5615.thumb.JPG.e1d8fb3726d9863e9e6c1bad7eb37ea0.JPGIMG_5603.thumb.JPG.44c9d88d8a7ad685b6b52b2ac475285d.JPG

     

    There are rangers and doctors at Plaza de Mulas checking on climbers from both independent and guided climbs.  I brought a pulse oximeter to periodically check my SpO2 which hovered in the 70's for much of the trip.  The rangers also posted a weather report every couple days.  Mulas has cell reception (Verizon) so I was also able to check mountainforecast and other websites, but invariably the ranger forecasts were more accurate.  My ideal itinerary had me planned to summit on the 4th or 5th, but forecasted high winds had me push the envelope a bit and go for the summit a couple days earlier.

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    Summit day!  I got up at 2AM and was hiking by 3AM.  I hiked relatively fast early on, but as I got higher my pace slower considerably. First light right below Independencia:

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    Traversing the Gran Acarreo.  By this time my pace had slowed to about 5 second rest steps.

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    Resting at La Cueva below the Canaleta.  The summit looked SO close from here, but was still over an hour away.

    IMG_5792.thumb.JPG.d3cf550dc09a8434a5839e2876193a2c.JPG

     

    On the summit ridge:

    IMG_5798.thumb.JPG.b319c3dba2cfecc8a534fed811a758d9.JPG

     

    On top about 1pm in the afternoon.  I spent all of two minutes on top.  I had severely rushed my acclimatization schedule because of the weather forecast, and my hypoxic addled brain was well aware that I needed to get down quickly.  Looking back a couple months later and summit day is definitely a fuzzy memory.IMG_5804.thumb.JPG.9eab6ade839aa87c7f5b4aa180f91de9.JPG

     

    A day later back at Plaza de Mulas I splurged on the best pizza I've ever had.

    IMG_5844.thumb.JPG.b90cc03ad144c8b9c315f6f7d3813bc5.JPG

     

    Mules once again carried the bulk of my gear down from PdM to the park entrance, and I had a pleasant hike out enjoying the thick air and satisfaction of a climb well done.  And finally beer in Mendoza!

    IMG_5904.thumb.JPG.4d1ec6c51c38ee459b75ae5011df29e8.JPGIMG_5909.thumb.JPG.21f3c211175e4d5f90aa0248f3465537.JPGIMG_5920.thumb.JPG.35648c729551213be7e5405480f48097.JPGIMG_5922.thumb.JPG.721404422115196d9c397d7d26b171a7.JPG

    Gear Notes:
    Carried an ice axe and crampons but never used either since it was an incredibly dry year. For footwear I wore trail runners all the way to Nido. For the upper mountain I used La Sportiva Baturas with Mountain Tools Supergaiters.

    Approach Notes:
    Grajales Expedicions is top notch for mule service A rental car can save a few days on the trip total if you don't have three weeks of vacation. Easy free longterm parking at the trailhead.
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  4. Trip: Mt Logan - Fremont Glacier

    Trip Date: 08/04/2019

    Trip Report:

    "Did you go far..." a gray haired lady happily chirped at us, 100 feet from the parking lot. 

     

    "Yeah..." John and I muttered back at her in unison, giving her the shortest answer possible, not breaking stride as we trudged past.  

     

    We weren't trying to be rude, but our minds were focused on the truck, cold drinks, clean clothes, and comfortable shoes.  The longer answer is that we climbed Mt Logan over three days via the Thunder Creek valley and the Fremont glacier.  And yeah, it was far, clocking in around ~46 miles total.

     

    Thankfully much of that is on trail, ~18 miles to Thunder Basin Camp on Saturday.  Temps were cool enough and with enough shade that the hike in was relatively pleasant.  John and I had each been up the trail on independent solo attempts in the past couple years.

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    Sunday we were moving my 8AM, up towards Park Creek Pass then the long traverse across alp slopes towards the Fremont Glacier.  We lost the climbers trail several times, but it was never critical.  Just keep traversing.

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    A tough aspect of Logan is you never really see the summit until you’re on top of it.   

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    The snow feature to access the scramble is melted back quite a bit, but not overly concerning.  We lugged a rope which was nice to have for peace of mind, but not a critical piece of gear.  The backside was more exposed than I expected, but is well cairned and stays mostly 3rd class unless you get off route.

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    Views were worth it!  Seems like you can see EVERYTHING from up there.

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    Monday was a long hike out on sore feet.  Sorry to the nice lady trying to say hi...
     

    Gear Notes:
    nothing unusual

    Approach Notes:
    long
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  5. Trip: Mix Up Peak - East Face

    Trip Date: 07/22/2019

    Trip Report:

    The weather was too nice on Monday to spend it working for the man, so I ditched work and headed out to the alpine.  The east face of Mix Up is a fun moderate climb with a couple pitches of low fifth and some of the best 3rd class scrambling I’ve ever seen.  Good times!


    Views from Cascade Pass and Mix Up arm.

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    First view of Mix Up East Face.  Go through the lefthand U notch and circle around back to the righthand V notch.  The moat was fine on the left.

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    I self belayed a short low fifth class 10m pitch directly up from the V notch to a rap anchor, then scrambled up to the top of the east face shoulder.  Surprisingly I ran into a party of 4 out-of-staters climbing the route right before the infamous white staircase.  The staircase looks intimidating from afar, but the rock is clean, grippy, and FUN!  And mostly only 3rd class despite the exposure down to the Cache Glacier.

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    A final low fifth class 20m pitch at the top brought me just right of the summit.  The summit register was a fun read and I spent some time snacking, enjoying the views, and chatting with the other 4 climbers as they made their way up.  One of them “Ram” was making his fifth ascent of the peak.  Fred Beckey June 25th, 2006, age 83!

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    Two raps off the summit block and two raps down to the V notch got me off the technical terrain and a nice walk back to the truck ~10 hours after leaving.  Overall a very worthwhile climb, I can understand why Ram was making his fifth trip up there.
     

    Gear Notes:
    60m rope and light rack to 2" worked well

    Approach Notes:
    Easy peasy
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  6. I really hope this can be fixed.  There are TONS of trip reports prior to the site change where the photos no longer show up, including ones where the pics were hosted in the cc.com gallery.  I know it can't be fixed for non-existent sites, but if the photos were on cc.com then hopefully it can get corrected.


  7. Trip: Buckhorn Mountain - High Traverse

    Trip Date: 11/18/2018

    Trip Report:

    Sunday was summer-like t-shirt weather in the Olympics!  I took advantage and did a high traverse over Buckhorn, NE Buckhorn, Iron, and Worthington from the Big Quilcene valley.  The views were incredible and the terrain was engaging albeit a bit chossy.  Surprisingly, despite the traverse being well above 6000' elevation, there was zero snow on the entire thing.  The difference between the Olympics and Cascades right now is significant. 

    Approximate route:5bf5bf1e17307_BuckhornTraverse.thumb.PNG.3d14b8b42797cc0c25f91dded83441d0.PNG

     

    Foreshortened view of Buckhorn(s) and Iron from the Big Q trail:IMG_1872.thumb.JPG.fddec5797b77f3801c1119bc76d4f9b1.JPG

     

    Marmot Pass:IMG_1876.thumb.JPG.ea99ffce56aea801d2adbbd21943bc66.JPG

     

    Buckhorn from Marmot Pass.  The main peak is an easy walkup on trail:IMG_1880.thumb.JPG.52d59c972447fae9fa5ae49cc8a61f12.JPG

     

    Constance, Warrior, and Inner Constance from Buckhorn trail:IMG_1882.thumb.JPG.5f307553e10a30aa2b66ffb9838ca79e.JPG

     

    Mystery, Fricaba, and Deception from Buckhorn trail:IMG_1883.thumb.JPG.462842b24efeb3a9712ed1d14889206b.JPG

     

    View of the traverse from the top of Buckhorn.  NE peak in the middle, Worthington on the left.  Iron is hidden behind the NE peak.IMG_1885.thumb.JPG.5b5c1a2edb5847fd0900d0d1880db758.JPG

     

    The descent off NE Peak (pictured here) was easily the crux.  In general, stay on the east side and pick your way down various chimney/groove/ledge systems.  It's never more than 4th class, but a rope could be useful here. IMG_1905.thumb.JPG.52d1edb21382ae04857ca2458e9cf6b3.JPG

     

    Choss lovers delight:IMG_1902.thumb.JPG.a8c7747cf7d0be2af220ecc52e55eba5.JPG

     

    Easy slopes up to Worthington:IMG_1910.thumb.JPG.88c65f83522764727883ed988896760c.JPG

     

    Looking back on the traverse from Worthington.  Iron Mountain is middle left, NE Buckhorn middle right, and Buckhorn proper on the right.IMG_1912.thumb.JPG.93e531a427d12983348ce99b0f335d95.JPG

     

    Big Q Valley from Worthington:IMG_1916.thumb.JPG.0671f00451d1915f0adbe20af1a573b7.JPG

     

    After tagging Worthington I dropped down on the east side and traversed below cliffs back to ~4800' on the Big Q trail to avoid any bushwhacking.  A staged bike and a continuation over Hawk, Welch and all the way to Townsend (pictured here) would be a great alternative exit:IMG_1918.thumb.JPG.a2748d385a4c778571e4da8a9640e9ea.JPG

     

    That'll do summer 2018, that'll do...

    Gear Notes:
    Helmet!

    Approach Notes:
    Nice trail
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  8. Looks wintery! I’m amazed at the snow level difference between the Cascades and the Olympics right now. I was on & around Buckhorn on Sunday, almost a thousand feet higher than Lundin, and was in a t-shirt all day and didn’t come close to stepping on any snow. Maybe it’s the rain shadow, but what a difference.

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