Colin_A replied to Colin_A's topic in North CascadesFrom the last third of the Elephant Butte (Stetattle Ridge) route.
Colin_A posted a topic in North CascadesTrip: Pickets: Alone on the West Side - Hannegan to Diablo Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: On August 15-18 I completed the West Side Pickets traverse beginning at Hannegan TH and finishing at Diablo dam. Becky describes the trip as "serious and taxing". He was right! The Pickets have been on my mind for some time now, and in particular the mysterious West Side. After crossing Luna Cirque on July 30, I decided to return as soon as weather permitted, and find out what the other side was really like. Overall it was an amazing adventure, and I had to really push myself to be equal to the challenge. The hardest section for me was definitely between Pickell and Picket passes, but the general theme was that I found the routes to be non-obvious and non-intuitive, and therefore time consuming to find. Low snow cover exposed small sections of technical climbing, and while I was able to surmount all the obstacles without a rope, one would be really useful for short rapells. Coming out of McMillan Cirque the icefall hazard was extreme---watch it in this area. The Elephant Butte high route was incredibly scenic, but tough; don't expect things to magically become easy after crossing McMillan pass. The Pickets are not to be trifled with for sure; in comparing the difficulties I found the West Side to be vastly harder than the East, but isn't it the challenge that makes it all worthwhile? I don't claim to have all the answers---I made many mistakes---but if you're seriously considering a route in this area e-mail me and I'll help you any way I can. I had alot of support from family and friends on this one; thanks everybody! I've wanted this traverse to come true for a long time... Gear Notes: Axe, crampons, pile of maps, 1st Endurance Ultragen, LaSportiva Exum Ridge shoes, Nozone pack, and 2 iPods! Approach Notes: Hannegan trail in good shape; brush is getting big on Brush Creek; cable car works good. Sourdough trail is well graded.