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  1. Trip: Black Peak - NE Ridge Trip Date: 08/24/2019 Trip Report: We climbed Black Peak via the NE Ridge, camping at the TH so we could get an early start. GPS Tracks Timeline: 5am - Leave TH 8am - Leave Wing Lake (after filling water) 9:30am - Arrive notch 10am - Start climbing ridge 10:30-11:30am - Deal with being off route in a shooting gallery 1:15pm - Summit 3:30pm - Wing Lake 6:15pm - TH Approach Leave from the Rainy Pass TH Hike along the trail to Wing Lake (~4.5 mi, ~2500' gain, ~500' loss) Strike out towards the saddle on the NW side of the peak (~1200' gain) Gaining the saddle In snowy conditions you can just kick steps straight up, with a short section (60m?) of particularly steep snow. See my previous TR on my attempt during snowy conditions. In dry conditions (what we had today), it's mostly a scree climb, with a short section of blocky 3rd/4th class scrambling. We crossed two small snow patches, though we might have been able to avoid the second one. We hit the snow around 9am so it was firm but not icy. All four of us had ice axes and approach shoes and two of us had microspikes. The microspikes were definitely helpful, but not totally necessary. The ice axes were also a nice safety backup, though perhaps could also have been left behind. The steeper snow patch was short and would have run out onto the rocky patch below, but not over a cliff. Once through the snow, we headed up the climbers right side of the slope leading up to the saddle, staying on relatively solid blocky terrain. We trended up and slightly climbers left, eventually working our way along a high ledge to the left to the saddle. Word on the street is that if you attempt to gain the saddle by starting on the left side of the slope, there's much sketchier terrain, with more kitty litter over rock. The climb Once on the saddle, we walked across some scree and then soloed up a short 4th class step. We then walked across a wide ledge and more scree around the left side of the ridge until we hit a gully. There we roped up and started simul climbing, as two rope teams of two, each on 30m ropes. We headed straight up the gully, which was mostly solid rock, until we gained a small notch. From here, we made a major routefinding mistake, dropping far back down the left side of the ridge and traversing along some easy terrain. We realized we were too far below the ridge (maybe 60m below?) and took a sharp right up a gully. Unfortunately, this turned out to be steep, loose and hard to protect. We were in two rope teams of two, and the rope movement of the first rope team dropped a ton of rocks on the second. Our last climber was hit in the helmet with a baseball sized rock. We had good communication between the teams though, and we eventually made it up the gully. Once back on the ridge, the rest of the climbing felt overwhelmingly better. We just stayed on the actual top of the ridge absolutely as much as possible, almost always climbing up and over gendarmes instead of around them. I don't think we dropped more than 10-15m below the ridge line for the rest of the climb. It was mostly 4th or low 5th, extremely exposed climbing along the ridge. There was one ~15m steep section of rock, maybe 5.5 or 5.6. There was definitely some loose rock, though not nearly as bad as the rock in our off-route gully, and overall I found the climbing to be fun and engaging with excellent views. Near the summit, the angle eased considerably and we were able to pass quickly along 4th class terrain on the right side of the ridge until we reached the summit block. From there we soloed up to the summit. We did the climb essentially in two long simuls, though frequently with only one piece per rope length. The descent We downclimbed the same north side of the summit we'd come up, then walked around to the S ridge descent. We looked closely for cairns on the entire descent, and we were able to make the whole descent without once needing to use our hands to scramble (the first time I climbed Black via the S. Ridge, I remember I ended up doing a short section of scrambling - turns out that was unnecessary). Gear Notes: - 30m rope - 0.3 to 2 - doubles: 0.4 to 0.75 - 10 nuts - 8 singles - 7 doubles - 2 tied doubles - 2 cordalettes There was no place where large gear was necessary, but I was happy to have my #2 in reserve a couple times just so I could quickly place and move on. A few more pieces might have let our simuls be less run out, or we could have placed more often and done it in 3 simul pitches instead. Approach Notes: -
  2. @G-spotter Honestly can't tell if you're being sarcastic. Yes the ridge climb itself is extremely straightforward... I didn't track GPS during the climb for that reason. But there are many stories of people getting off-route on the summit bypass descent, so I did track that.
  3. Trip: Mount Sir Donald - NW Ridge Date: 9/3/2017 Trip Report: Jason, Andrew, Jean, Kala, Russ and I climbed Mount Sir Donald as the finale to our 10-day road trip in Canada. Rough timeline Saturday, 12:30pm: Left TH 3:30pm: Lower bivy, 30min break for water (slow approach due to one person feeling sick) 5pm: High bivy Sunday, 6am: Leave col, start climbing 11am: Summit 11:30am: Leave summit, begin bypass descent 12:30pm: Regain ridge 6pm: base of final rappel (slowed significantly by other parties, more on that later) 9pm: Back at TH (a soloist asked to join our group for bear-safety on the hike out, but he was recovering from frostbitten toes so we again moved extremely slowly) GPS Tracks Photos Relevant route conditions There's no snow remaining on the route or descent - no ice ax or crampons necessary There's a small trickle of water at the low bivy, and a tarn a little higher up There's a small patch of snow at the high bivy at the col that could be used as a water source. Other than this, there's no water above the low bivy There's one river crossing with no bridge at ~6700'. Most our party removed shoes and waded across. I climbed to 6800' and found a place to just jump directly across. Approach There's a decent trail the whole way. There are a couple river crossings, one without a bridge. One person wasn't feeling well so we took it really slow, and we also stopped to fill up water at the low bivy. My GPS track from the low bivy to the high bivy takes the worst way up. It turns out that there are much nicer trails either to climbers left (on top of the moraine) or far climbers right (the normal route if you don't pass through the low bivy). At the high bivy, we were able to squeeze spots for three 2-person tents. Climb The climb itself is pretty darn straightforward - you climb up the ridge the whole way. We did it in four simuls, using a rack of cams to 1", a set of nuts, and 12 slings, with ~20m of rope out between us. We could have gone further with more slings, or even just more biners to clip to the multitude of tat anchors. We were slowed a little on the climb by the teams ahead of us, and I also was definitely feeling the altitude. Descent For the descent we debated quite a bit which route to take, but eventually chose the summit bypass, downclimbing the ridge, and then the bolted rappels. I personally feel very comfortable roped up on solid rock, but especially dislike scrambling on steep loose scree. The summit bypass had a bit of this, but we think we might not have found the best route for the beginning of the bypass. We did eventually get on a *relatively* nice trail with cairns, that even I was comfortable on. (See GPS Tracks.) Once back on the ridge, we did a little simul-down-climbing and a few rappels on tat before making it to the bolted stations: Bolted rappels 1-2 Down-solo a short distance Bolted rappels 3-10 Scramble down scree ledges, a rappel or two on tat while looking for the remaining bolted rappels Bolted rappels 11-12 are further away from the dihedral than the park brochure makes it look. Also, we realized that you can actually make it down in one rappel on a 60m rope from station 11, with just a little down-scrambling at the base. Beta photo showing the approximate scramble route between the 10th and 11th rappels. Photo credit: Jason Curtis Another pair in our group made it to the base ~1.5hrs ahead of the rest of us (they hadn't gotten cut off by the large line-cutting group, although they were stuck behind the rock-dumping pair (see rant below)), so they kindly returned to the high bivy col and grabbed our pre-packed bivy gear and brought it down for us. For us, the combination of good weather, long weekend, and the Bugaboos being closed meant that the route was pretty overcrowded. We estimated there were 30+ people on the climb. We encountered the worst behavior I've ever seen in the alpine, so here's a rant on the topic that I'm getting off my chest.. Some personal opinions on climbing etiquette and passing other teams. It is okay to pass other teams if: 1. You ask them politely and they say "yes" OR you can do so with no inconvenience to them AND 2. You are capable of moving significantly faster than them afterwards, such that you only slow them down during the time you are actually passing them Some examples of this: Good: Two soloists who passed by us as we were simuling up the ridge. They cruised on by without slowing us down for more than about 15 seconds. Not great: A pair of simul-climbers, who were still roped up on the summit bypass descent route, who hugged Kala's heels so closely that they and their dragging rope dumped a pile of rocks on her, didn't apologize, barely got ahead of us in time for the rest of the descent down the ridge, and then proceeded to dawdle their way down the mountain, slowing down the 20+ people behind them, because they "weren't worried how long it would take them to get down" Questionable: A group of ~6 people who scrambled around to the side of us while we were doing one final rappel on tat before getting to the first bolted station, because we saw there were already 3 teams waiting in line anyway. I suppose this one is questionable, because technically their scramble was faster than our rappel, but in our minds we were already in line for the next rappel, and we were just choosing the slightly safer option since we had extra time anyway. Worst: The team who *actually cut in front of Kala and Russ as they were waiting in line for the first bolted rappel, literally pushing other people out of the way to get their rope set up first*. I believe this team was a subset of the aforementioned group of ~6 people who cut around us. I'm still mystified how they thought this was acceptable behavior - isn't learning not to cut in line and not to push other people something you do in kindergarten? When we confronted them about it, they refused to admit they'd done anything wrong. A separate personal opinion on doing many sequential rappels: A competent team simul-rapping on a single rope is pretty much faster than any other possible rappel set-up. Double-rope raps are not faster - they take longer to set up and run a higher risk of getting stuck. Fixing a bunch of ropes is not faster, unless some members of the team are incapable or extremely slow at setting up rappels themselves. We have at least one data point for this, as we had to cumulatively wait ~1.5+ hrs for the line-cutting team to get their multitude of ropes fixed, and yet by just doing a series of efficient single-rope simul-raps as a pair, we reached the base only about 2 minutes after they did. Gear Notes: Rack of cams to 1", a set of nuts, 12 slings. Simuled with ~20m of rope out between us.
  4. Trip: Dome Peak - Dome Glacier / NE Ridge Date: 7/26/2017 Trip Report: Jason and I climbed Dome Peak via the NE Ridge on our way through the Ptarmigan Traverse GPS Tracks from camp at White Rock Lakes to camp at Itswoot Ridge: https://www.gaiagps.com/datasummary/track/2b3afe8d8465a790700149239e86b1d1/?layer=CalTopo From camp at White Rock Lakes, we traversed across to Dana Glacier, following a fairly obvious trail. Jason and I wanted to climb Dome so we chose to attempt a shortcut to it by crossing the Dana glacier to the Dana-Dome col, rather than crossing through Spire and traversing back to the Dome Glacier. This worked great, with just a short step of 3rd class climbing to get over the Dana-Dome col to the Dome glacier. From here we hiked up to the glacier, and decided to rope up. Crossing the glacier, we had to leap over a few crevasses, but they were so small that this was more fun than worrisome. We aimed for the rock col to the north of Dome (at ~8500') and found a rough path that led up the short section of loose rock and dirt to cross to the Chickamin Glacier. (For anyone wondering, there was a great bivy site here.) After a short ascent up a steepish snow slope, we found ourselves at the base of the NE Ridge. We did a bit of scrambling up the rock and dirt until we got to a more exposed section of ridge with snow on the south side. The snow was pulling away from the ridge, forming a comfortable, protected-feeling moat that we traveled in for a little ways. We'd heard the climbing got fairly exposed, and we still had the rope and tiny rack with us, so once the snow started to run out we decided to set a picket anchor and belay the remaining section to the summit (~45m). Jason led out and managed to place our entire rack of 3 pieces (one cam and two nuts), then he tied off the rope and I just used it as a handline. As advertised the climbing was fairly easy but quite exposed. We hung out on the summit a bit, then reversed our tracks and downclimbed back to the snow. The snow conditions were great so crossing the glacier on the way down was extra fun - we did it at a full jog, leaping over the tiny crevasses without breaking stride. Round trip time from the Dana-Dome col was ~3.5hrs. Rough timeline: Dana-Dome col: 1:30pm Dome-Chickamin col: 3pm Summit: 3:45pm Dana-Dome col: 5pm Gear Notes: .75 link cam 2 medium-sized nuts 1 cordalette 2 slings
  5. Trip: Mount Formidable - South Face Date: 7/21/2017 Trip Report: Jason and I climbed Mount Formidable via the South Face on our way through the Ptarmigan Traverse GPS Tracks from Spider-Formidable col: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/2Y8CiNjYYGoF0RJltK090zkK We had camped at Kool Aid lake for our first night, then took a leisurely morning to wake up, break camp, and hike up to the Spider-Formidable col. The red ledge seemed to be in decent shape - there was still a snow finger giving fairly easy access to it although the last few steps were steep and right above a big moat - definite no-fall zone. We roped up for the Middle Cascade Glacier - we passed a few open crevasses but barely even had to work to navigate around them. At the Spider-Formidable col there are two notches. The West one looks more inviting from above, but the East one is definitely easier. We reached the col around 12:30pm, then took a break at the slabs below the col for our party of 7 to regroup and discuss plans. Several people went off to climb Spider Mountain (word is that it is even looser and less fun than Formidable), a couple rested at the slabs, and Jason and I took off for Formidable. Just as we were approaching a nice bivy site below the saddle in the ridge that led to Formidable, we saw Russ and Josh descending from the col, having just climbed Formidable. We stopped to chat with them for a few minutes and get some beta, since all we had was the Becky guide description. We left the bivy site around 1pm, easily ascended to the saddle and descended the steep gully, then crossed a snowfield, passed below a rib on some choss, and crossed another snowfield to a ridge (the "rock shelf" marked in the photo below) which we gained with a couple 3rd or 4th class moves. This ridge was marked with a cairn which was visible from across the snowfield (although we hadn't noticed it until we got up close). Beta photo showing the view from the saddle above the steep gully. Photo credit Jason Curtis) From there we followed the ridge up to a higher snowfield. We ascended the snowfield and exited it to the right onto some rock. We then ascended and traversed left, up increasingly loose and spooky rock (ugh). At one point, we traversed on a ledge around a steep gully - there was a bit of a 4th class move and we might not have thought to go that way if we hadn't seen a cairn and rap slings on the other side. Beta photo of the gully we traversed around on ledges. Photo credit Jason Curtis From there we basically wandered our way upwards, following occasional cairns, and eventually reaching a ridge which we traversed up and to the west a bit to the true summit. We summitted around 3pm, and were back to the bivy site by 5pm. We passed some rappel anchors on the way down but didn't use them (no rope, and I'm not even sure how helpful they would be). It took us 4 hours round trip from the bivy site - we moved really quickly over the snow (perfect conditions for a light jog), but extremely slowly and cautiously on the loose scrambling. Gear Notes: Ice ax Mountaineering boots 1 cordalette (unused)
  6. Trip: Ptarmigan Traverse - Date: 7/25/2017 Trip Report: Jason, Ellie, Dylan and I did a 5-day Ptarmigan Traverse, collectively hitting up Magic, Spider, Formidable, Le Conte, and Dome Peak along the way. We actually started as a party of seven, with Lisa, Jon, and Chris, but the three of them turned around a couple days in. In preparation, we put together a Caltopo map with various tracks and relevant markers, and retroactively added our own track (from Days 2-5), including tracks up Formidable and Dome: https://caltopo.com/m/10Q3. For anyone looking for route beta - check it out! Day 1: Cascade Pass to Kool Aid Lake 6mi, 4000' gain, 2000' loss The most notable part of this day was the heavy packs. There was also a bit of a steep traverse above cliffs on the way to Cache col from Cascade Pass, and then there was a steep step to get up Cache col. Dylan, Jon, and Chris climbed Magic while the rest of us lazed. Day 2: Kool Aid Lake to Formidable 3mi, 1600' gain, 600' loss (excluding Formidable) The red ledge was in pretty good shape, with a snow finger all the way up to gain the ledge. The last few steps were quite steep and right above a moat, so definitely a no-fall zone. We roped up for the Middle Cascade Glacier and passed by a few crevasses, but didn't have to do anything special to avoid them. There are two notches at the Spider-Formidable col - the West one looks more inviting from above, but the East one is definitely better. From some slabs just below the Spider-Formidable col, our party split up with one group going to do Spider and one group (just me and Jason) going to climb Formidable. Formidable Trip Report The weather hadn't been great all day, and half of our party (3 of the 7) decided to turn around here and return to Cascade Pass the next day. The rest of us resigned ourselves to the damp weather and rejoiced that we wouldn't have to do the car shuttle on the other end. Jon and Dylan ran out to climb Le Conte as a parting effort. Day 3: Spider-Formidable col to White Rock Lakes 6mi, 2000' gain, 2600' loss Day 3 was just a bit of a slog. We found the steep snow finger leading up to the ridge to Le Conte. We decided to put on crampons (might as well, since we carried them all that way) and hiked up the couloir. The snow never got above 45 degrees, so it was steepish but not too uncomfortable. We roped up and put on crampons for the Le Conte Glacier, which had a bit more navigation required than the Middle Cascade, but still was relatively straightforward. Other reports mention a snow bridge across a large crevasse, but it was still covered up for us. Back on the west side of the ridge, we crossed below Sentinel and seriously considered climbing it. Dylan decided to go for it, but the rest of us had had enough loose 3rd and 4th class scrambling and decided to continue on. (He didn't summit though - he only had beta from the Beckey guide which referenced a snow finger that didn't seem to be in anymore.) We found some cairns that dropped us easily onto the South Cascade Glacier, which we crossed without roping up. From there we passed through Lizard col, and descended the steep snow and loose rock down to White Rock Lakes, where we made camp. Day 4: White Rocks to Itswoot + Dome Peak 4mi, 2000' gain, 1800' loss (excluding Dome) From camp we traversed across to Dana Glacier, following a fairly obvious trail. Jason and I wanted to climb Dome so we chose to attempt a shortcut to it by crossing the Dana glacier to the Dana-Dome col, rather than crossing through Spire and traversing back to the Dome glacier. This worked great, with just a short step of 3rd class climbing to get over the col to the Dome glacier. Here we split up, with Jason and I going off to tag Dome while Dylan and Ellie headed to make camp on Itswoot ridge. Dome Peak Trip Report Day 5: Itswoot to Downey Creek TH 13.5 miles, 800' gain, 5500' loss The Bachelor Creek 'schwacking was surprisingly full-on given that we were following a decent trail the entire time. Or maybe I should say the trail was surprisingly good considering how full-on the bushwhacking was. It's just that most of the time you could barely see the trail at your feet through the bush and clouds of biting insects. The 'schwacking ramped down at about the same rate as the agony of feet clomping down miles of trail in mountaineering boots ramped up - by the end I could hardly walk. The less said of this day the better. Gear Notes: Ice ax Mountaineering boots Crampons (aluminum) 60m rope
  7. @Gabe - Yes... when I climbed Stuart N ridge last year, we descended via the gully you circled in red. At the time we thought that was the correct Cascadian descent, but perhaps not? @Jason - Yeah, the bivy site was really windy! A couple times I was actually worried I would be blown off the ledge, and I ended up taking the pole out of my bivy to reduce its surface area
  8. Trip: Mount Stuart - West Ridge Date: 7/16/2017 Trip Report: Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/MrSbeOqIOfPymAxB2 GPS: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/UjcSKYSvzIHrQuvRpM9lUSJM Rough Timeline: Friday: 7pm: Leave TH (actually ~1.5mi before Esmeralda TH) 9:30pm: Arrive at bivy before Ingalls Lake Saturday: 5am: Wake up 5:45: Leave camp 7am: Base of Route 8am: Summit 9:30am: Ingalls Lake 11am: Base of 2nd gully (break for lunch) 1pm: Top of gully 3pm: Top of Long John's Tower 5:30pm: Bivy just below W Ridge notch Sunday 6am: Wake up ~7am: Start roped climbing from notch 11:30am: Summit 12pm: Leave summit 4pm: Ingalls Creek Trail 7pm: TH Friday Hiked in almost all the way to Ingalls Lake and bivied. Saturday Tagged Ingalls via South Face - it was 5.fun! We did it in one long simul pitch. We rappelled with one 60 meter rope - one rap from the top, the second rap was about ~15' short from the base of the face, but we downclimbed it. Then we scrambled down further to a 3rd and final rap back to where we started. Back at Ingalls Lake, we took the nice trail to base of second gully. As advertised, we did ~1500' of 3rd and 4th class scrambling up the gully. There was a small amount of routefinding to make sure we stayed in the correct gully. Eventually we exited to the right. As soon as we crossed the ridge, we could see Long John Tower - pretty intimidating. We had to cross short section of steep snow to get over to the tower. It was okay with approach shoes, microspikes, and ice ax, although we didn't love it. We caught up to a 2-person team ahead of us who only had one ice ax between them and decided to belay the snow section. The 2-person party ahead of us stayed roped up to lead the right-side route up the tower. There was still some snow on that side, but it didn't look like it was in the way of the normal route. We started climbing alongside their rope, but as we got to the more difficult climbing (definitely 4th class, questionably 5th class), the leader (or his rope) started dumping a ton of small and medium-sized rocks on us. I grabbed onto one of their pieces and huddled against wall, then downclimbed and waited for them to finish dropping shit. We ended up roping up ourselves while we waited. When we got up to that section, we crossed a number of ledges with loose rocks on them, but it was possible to be careful and mostly avoid dumping rocks on each other. From the notch behind the tower, we climbed over and down. We had to do another short downclimb on snow to get onto rock (maybe ~20ft down). Then we went down, around a buttress, then back up a gully quite a ways looking for the "tunnel underfoot". I kept looking to the right side of the gully looking for the tunnel, but we'd gone so high I was ready to give up and just look for any route. Nearing the top of the gully, I saw two cairns that marked the tunnel - although even then I almost missed it. I marked a waypoint of the tunnel, and my GPS track makes it look like it was ~100' gain from the lowest point to the tunnel although somehow it felt like more. From here we followed the ledge/trail down several sloping slabs until we got to the more exposed sloping slab that other people mention - it was a bit of a move to downclimb it. Then we continued our descending traverse across and down gullies and around several rock buttresses. We never figured out what other people refer to as "God's Cairn" - the balanced boulder on top of a tower that you're supposed to pass below before heading up a gully to the West Ridge notch. We did see something fairly tower-like, but no balanced boulder on top of it - maybe it has since fallen? We eventually got to a wide gully leading all the way up to a notch - the GPS tracks we were following and the side of the group ahead of us confirmed it was the gully leading up to the West Ridge notch. There was still snow here - enough to have some snow melt for us to fill up water, but not enough that we had to actually walk on it. We saw a big bivy ledge just below and to the right of the notch - we scrambled up onto it and saw we could fairly comfortably fit all three of us. We discussed pressing on and trying to top out, but we weren't sure if we'd be able to bivy on or near the summit and we were pretty tired, so we just set up camp. I did scramble up from the bivy to confirm that we were in the right place, and found the obvious notch to cross over to the North side, as well as three more bivy sites that could probably sleep ~6 more people. Sunday We had a lot of trouble with the routefinding on the actual pitched climbing. We'd planned to do it in two long simuls. Instead, I think we ended up on the harder, more wandery variation of the summit block, and ended up doing four pitches of about ~5.6 (with some simul-climbing for each one). P1 Ellie led the first pitch and got to what we're pretty sure is referred to as the "tiny notch" - that crosses back to the South but had so much rope drag through the notch she had to stop - she probably went just about 60m total. From her notch, we looked down and could see one of the bivy sites we'd passed on our way up to start roped climbing. We weren't sure if this meant we were in the right place or not though. P2 From there, assuming we were at the right notch, our beta said to do a descending traverse across a ledge and then up the face, but Tanya ended up leading more directly up instead. Her route was at least 5.6 at times, and ended up on a ridge. Her lead was also perhaps a bit longer than 60m. P3 From where she stopped, I downclimbed to a fairly broad ledge, led out 30m across the ledge and then started heading up a wide gully that looked like it would probably go. The climbing was perhaps 5.6 again, and there were some pretty big loose rocks and hollow-sounding flakes which made me nervous. I continued up and exited right after about another 40m, then around a boulder that took me up to a nice ledge with a small shiver bivy in the corner. I probably could have kept going, but I was worried about my followers simuling the hard section below me (I guess I placed my microtraxion too low), so I stopped to belay. P4 From there Tanya took the lead again up to the right, past an awkward move and on to some twin cracks - probably 5.6 or 5.7. I think it was less than 60m to the summit. Once on the summit, we saw that there were plenty of bivy spots - the entire top of the descent is littered with them. Descent We followed cairns and GPS tracks in the descending traverse to skiers left, passing innumerable bivy sites. Eventually we hit a section of steep now at the top of the Cascadian Couloir (maybe 300 vertical feet?), but chose to pick our way down the kitty litter + rock scramble to skiers right of the snow instead. At the bottom of the scramble, we had to downclimb perhaps 100' of steepish snow to get back to rock. Not the most comfortable in approach shoes + yak tracks, but we got down it. There's also a rappel sling that we could have used instead of downclimbing. From there, it was just endless scree descent. We followed GPS tracks that took us down the Cascadian shortcut - a gully that breaks off right from the Cascadian at about ~7000'. I had done the full Cascadian descent last time, and IIRC it was actually worse than the shortcut - harder routefinding and a couple steeper sections. We took a trail that broke off from the shortcut gully at ~6000' and took that the rest of the way down (although "trail" is a strong word for it - it went in and out of being obvious, dumped us out in a meadow only to pick back up again at the base of the meadow, etc.) This route eventually popped us out on Ingalls Creek Trail only a short ways from the turnoff to Longs Pass. Gear Notes: Ice axe Approach shoes + microspikes Rock shoes Single rack to 2" (brought extra gear to lengthen simul pitches) 60m rope
  9. Trip: Argonaut Peak - NW Arete Date: 6/17/2017 Trip Report: Ambrose, Aurelio, David, and I climbed Argonaut NW Arete for BOEALPS ICC Alpine 2. I wasn't particularly stoked to be assigned to climb Argonaut NW Arete again as an instructor, after having such a miserable time on it as a student two years ago. However, given it was earlier in the year and a higher snow year overall than 2015, I was hopeful that the approach couloir would be in this time around, which would make for a much better climb. It turned out that it was, but that didn't prevent the climb from being adventurous in its own special way... Rough timeline: Saturday 5am: Leave Seattle 8am: Leave Stuart Lake TH 9:30am: Leave Stuart Lake trail 12pm: Finish 'schwacking / get on snow 2:15pm: Base of Couloir 3:15pm: Notch @ 7600' 3:45pm: Start climb 7:45pm: 1st team tops out ~9pm: 2nd team tops out Sunday 7am: Wake up 7:30am: Leave bivy spot 8am: Leave summit 9am: Find rappel slings 11am: Finish rappels 12:30pm: Colchuck-Dragontail col 1pm: Colchuck lake 3:30pm: TH GPS Tracks Full photo album here Saturday Despite having done this climb two years ago, the routefinding through the Mountaineers Creek area still proved difficult. To some extent this was because I mostly tried to let the students do the navigation, and also because I didn't think we'd taken the best route last time either. Last time we had followed cairns that had led us, if not astray, then at least not on the most direct route. This time we followed a different set of very convincing cairns that led us in a slowly ascending traverse up a boulder field. We eventually realized our mistake and had to backtrack a bit to drop back down to the creek. We also crossed the creeks several more times than necessary, mostly because we were using GPS maps on our phones to help navigate and the creeks on the maps didn't quite line up to reality. However, it wasn't ever particularly challenging to find crossing points. Next time: try plotting a course directly between these two! We followed my beta from last time and stayed in the trees to avoid 'schwacking through slide alder, and we eventually popped out into the boulder/snow field. It was still mostly snow, although we were occasionally on rocks or dirt as well. It sounded like the team from two weeks ago was able to bypass the slabby step / bergshrund entirely on snow, but it had melted out quite a bit since then. From below, we could see that we couldn't go around around the bergshrund on snow, so we decided to go for the slabs. The other three took a route going somewhat up the middle, but I thought I remembered going up the left side last time, so I tried out that route. With water running down quite a bit of the slab, and in mountaineering boots instead of hiking boots, it was definitely spicier this time around. At one point, I tried to exit the slabs about halfway up on some decent-looking cracks up the short wall to my left, but gave up after a big piece of rock broke off as I tried to climb. Instead, I just committed to the slab moves and generally found decent feet the whole way up, albeit under running water sometimes. I did ultimately exit the slab to the left on some nice big holds. The other three weren't enthused about their way either, and broke out the ropes. When I topped out, I also dropped a rope for them. Their route in blue, my route (roughly) in red. Later, we looked back at the bergshrund and saw that it looked like it might have been passable to just go directly over it - the edges were not undercut at all, and it looked like it would be just a several foot step down, over some slabby rock, and then back up. There was running water at various points on this approach, so we all filled up before heading up to the couloir. This year, there was plenty of snow in the couloir, making for a blissfully straightforward and uneventful climb. It gets a bit steep - three of us had mountaineering boots and crampons on, but Ambrose only had hiking boots and microspikes, so the rest of us ended up kicking the steps for him. Finally - the climb! We spent a little while racking up, and then started the climb, hoping that we'd be able to finish it and bivy on the summit. Our backup plan was to re-evaluate after the first two pitches, and if we were running low on time, fix the ropes and return to the notch to bivy. P1. Remembering the pain of rope drag last time, I encouraged David to make P1 go as far as the rope would take him - all the way to the base of the P2 face if possible. This worked great. It also started snowing, very small flakes that seemed inconsequential P2. I led up the face, traversing right on small ledges until I couldn't go further, then headed back left a bit up some cracks. I think I led a little bit into what Tom describes as P3, as I ended at a nice big belay ledge under the "15ft slab with cracks". The snow briefly turned to hail. When Ambrose got up to me at the belay, we discussed briefly whether we should continue or try to return to the bivy notch, and agreed to press on. P3. For "fun", David went directly up one of the cracks in the "slab with cracks". It wasn't actually very fun or well-protected, and I'd probably recommend what I did the first time, which is to traverse all the way left, then follow the easy ramp up and right. P3 ended at the base of a fairly steep corner. By this time, the snow turned into a light drizzle, and with a windbreaker rather than a true shell, I was starting to get pretty cold. P4. I let David lead again, since I'd already led most of the pitches as a student. I remembered P4 being both a rope-stretcher and running out of gear. David found this as well - he was completely at the end of the rope, stretching to try to get anchor pieces in. By now, it was out-and-out raining, but we were committed on the route and thought that continuing up was better than trying to bail. P5. I remembered the corner after the small flake at the beginning of P5 being the crux last time, but it didn't seem nearly as bad this time around. David didn't even realize he'd done what I had warned him was the crux, and he spent the rest of his lead worried the crux was still ahead. Unfortunately, he also ended up a bit off route - after the flake and the corner, the route drops down to a decent ledge, and he continued on to a gully at the far end. He led up the gully, but then, with a lot of rope drag and still thinking the crux was ahead, he built an anchor and brought me up. As I followed, I realized that we were probably too far to climbers right, so when I took the lead I quested up and to the left. Luckily, I was able to find a pretty good place to traverse left over into the easier gully that led up to the end of the route. Bivy After this, there is just a short scramble to the summit, and the terrain becomes fairly ledge-y. There was already a nice 2-person bivy spot, and while David and I were waiting for the others to finish the climb, we got to work doing some rock gardening to make two more small bivy spots. It had been windy and rainy for a while now, and starting to get dark, and we were all ready to eat some food and go to sleep. There was still a bit of snow here, and more on the summit, so we were able to melt it for water. Unfortunately, after dinner, Ambrose returned to his bivy spot to find that his bivy had blown away, with his sleeping pad and bag inside. We rallied as well as we could, giving him all of our hot water bottles, and both ropes for pads, and he climbed into Aurelio's bivy, and the three of them all shared the 2-person spot. He and Aurelio shivered through the night, but surprisingly no one seemed even mildly hypothermic in the morning. Sunday We woke up to a complete white-out, and hustled out of bed anxious to get off the mountain. We packed up, tagged the summit, and then scrambled down to the east. (The summit tunnel had a fair bit of snow in it, but was still just barely passable - although easy to miss if you don't know it's there!) The snowfield was still entirely covered, and a little hard, so we put crampons on to kick steps. We found the rappel slings without too much difficulty, thanks to the waypoint I'd marked last time around. Like last time, we double-rope rappeled down the face, then a little ways down and across the snow couloir - then dropped down over a small notch to slings on a tree. Actually, finding the second set of rappels was a little challenging, and involved several of us just rappeling into the couloir and searching around. (I marked this 2nd set of rappels this time around) From here we double-rope rappelled again, but in hindsight we should have done it as two single-rope rappels (we passed a good anchor midway down) - as it was, it took three of us pulling on the rope with full body-weight to pull the ropes. The remainder of the descent was uneventful - we had snow all the way across the traverse behind Colchuck, found several places with water to fill up, and then had snow all the way down Colchuck Glacier. Gear Notes: Cams .3-2, doubles .5, .75 1 set nuts 13 doubles, 1 single 2 cordalettes. It was really helpful to have a full rack on the long pitches - it was much more doable (and enjoyable!) than the small rack I had last time. I think we could have brought fewer slings though. Approach Notes: The approach couloir is still in - and I'd guess it will stay that way for at least another couple weeks.
  10. Trip: Black Peak - Northeast Ridge / South Ridge Date: 6/3/2017 Trip Report: For ICC Alpine 1, we attempted to climb Black Peak via the Northeast Ridge. We bailed from the ridge due to the snow conditions and summitted via the South ridge instead. I was the only instructor, with students Alex, Sara, and Scott. tl;dr beta: Snow conditions on the ridge and our limited snow protection turned us around from our attempt of the Northeast Ridge. The South Ridge still had some steep-ish snow sections, and we chose to approach the summit via a false summit about 20m south of the true summit, roping up for a short, exposed 4th class ridge traverse. Avalanche danger due to warming snow was very real - a large cornice-triggered avalanche crossed our Saturday tracks and we saw many other similar debris paths. See all photos here Rough timeline: Saturday 6am: Leave Seattle 8:50am: TH 9:20am: Leave TH 11:30am: Heather Pass 2:10pm: Camp (7100') Sunday 5:10am: Leave camp 6:20am: Reach notch (8200') 7:30am: Decide to bail 9am: Back to camp 9:15am: Leave camp 10:45am: Reach ridge (8200') 12:20: False summit 12:45 True summit 1pm: Leave summit 2:30pm: Camp 3pm: Leave camp 6pm: TH Saturday On Saturday, we left from Seattle early to give ourselves plenty of time for the approach, in case the snow conditions were slow. The parking lot at the trailhead was still snowed in. Trying to let the students take charge with navigation, I didn't say anything as we walked past the trailhead sign (other teams had mentioned the trail starts behind the sign, but isn't obvious under the snow), so we walked to the end of the parking lot first before turning back and finding the trail. We made it to Heather Pass uneventfully. The snow is melted out to the summer trail in a few places, but mostly we were kicking steps. We also passed signs of major (but not recent) avalanche debris - a large swath of trees completely knocked down. After Heather Pass, the route traversed under corniced ridges on the way to Lewis Lake. One of the cornices looked quite large, and like a serious avalanche risk, especially with the warm weather at noon. We had read some recent trip reports mentioning this, and had decided to bring full avy gear (each person with beacon/shovel/probe). We decided to go ahead with crossing under it, trying to space out a bit and move as quickly as possible. On our way back on Sunday afternoon, we saw that part of the cornice had fallen, and had triggered a large avalanche, obliterating our tracks. We thought it had likely happened within 4-5 hours of our passing. The remaining approach went a little slower. We decided to camp at a small melted-out knoll above Wing Lake (~7100'), since it got us a little closer to our objective for Sunday. We found running water here - a tiny glacial-melt creek. We all initially cleared out bivy spots in the snow, but then I found a nice patch of mostly flat dirt in the trees, and moved my bivy there. (There would have been plenty of room for tents, but part of the ICC is sleeping in bivvies.) It was around 4pm, so with plenty of time left in the evening, Alex, Scott, and I went on a scouting and step-kicking mission up towards the NE Ridge. By this point in the afternoon, the snow was soft and great for step-kicking, and we made good time up to about 7600', where had a good view of the ridge. There was still snow all the way up to the ridge, with a few open rock patches making the runout more dangerous. We could also see a cornice on the start of the ridge, but weren't sure whether it would be passable on the west side once we had gained the ridge, and didn't want to approach closer given avy concern with the afternoon snow. Sunday We left camp around 5:10am, and made good time up our pre-kicked steps, very thankful to our past selves. The snow was quite hard, so we put crampons on as soon as we left the steps. The snow gets steep (45-50+ deg) for about the last ~200'. We solo'd up, but in hindsight probably would have preferred protecting it. Once on the ridge, we could see that the cornice dropped steeply but not impassably to the west - we could even see steps crossing it. We sent Scott out with our two pickets to lead across. Unfortunately, he got to the end of his 30m rope before he was even a quarter across, which left us with a math problem: how to get two teams, each with one 30m rope, across a ~120m cornice, with only two pickets. After much deliberation, we concluded that we were not comfortable with any of our possible options. If we'd had either 60m ropes, or more pickets, or both, we probably would have pressed forward. Instead, we bailed from the ridge, making two 30m rappels, each on a single picket. Scott downclimbed on belay to clean the pickets. We still wanted to get the summit, so we headed back to camp, took a quick break, and then started up the route to the South Ridge. This route was much more straightforward. There were still sections of snow, and even at 11am, the snow was hard enough that we were grateful another party had already kicked most of the steps for us. We were mostly able to follow cairns. Near the summit, what we thought was the normal 4th class final gully would have been accessed by a sketchy traverse across steep snow above a cliff. So instead, we decided to take a more direct scramble route up to a false summit to the south of the true summit, and then were able to rope up for a very short (~15-20m) traverse across an exposed ridge to the true summit. The downclimb, return to camp, and de-proach to the cars was uneventful except for crossing the large avalanche debris crossing our Saturday tracks. Gear Notes: 2 pickets 2 30m ropes 2 light alpine racks, lots of doubles (mostly unused, since we didn't go up the NE ridge) Crampons Ice axes Avy gear (beacon, shovel, probe) Approach Notes: There's still snow the whole way from the trailhead, with just a few short sections of melted out trail. Avalanche danger due to softening snow was very real, especially with large cornices hanging over the route.
  11. Trip: Mount Stuart - Complete North Ridge Date: 7/30/2016 Trip Report: We climbed Stuart via the Complete North ridge, approaching from the South via Ingalls Pass and descending by the Cascadian and over Long's Pass. Time-relevant beta The road is no longer blocked off a mile before the Esmeralda Basin trailhead! The washout isn't entirely fixed, but our tiny two-seater Honda Insight was able to make it over the bumps so it should be passable to anyone. There's some snow remaining on the descent from Goat Pass to the base of the route. It was passable in approach tennies (although I didn't like it much) The melting glacier means there is water near the base of the route. There's still snow at the bivy sites at the 8200' notch. We brought a stove but were actually able to fill up on water just from drips from the melting snow. There's ~20m of relatively steep unavoidable snow near the top of the Cascadian descent. However, there's also a rap anchor, so we just set up a quick arm rappel. Route The lower four pitches of hard climbing and the two on the gendarme were very obvious. Other than that, our beta generally was "follow the ridge". Unfortunately, we weren't very good at micro-navigating and kept finding ourselves climbing harder-than-expected, lichen-encrusted rock. Probably the best beta to follow is: if it seems hard and/or has lichen on it, there's probably an easier way. We got better at this on the second day and had a much more enjoyable time. Timeline Sat 0430: Leave car 0630: Ingalls Lake (paused for short water stop) 1030: Reach base of route (paused for lunch) 1100: Start climbing 1830: Reach bivy site at notch (including 45min of being passed) Sun 0600: Start climbing 1130: Reach Gendarme 1530: Summit! 1630: Leave Summit 2000: Reach Ingalls trail 2230: Car Photos Photo Credit: Jason Curtis Google Earth views of our route (GPS track here: http://peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=686309) Bags packed in the car the night before: Goats at the North end of Lake Ingalls Topping out at Goat Pass: Following the 5.9 pitch: Collecting the snow melt at our bivy at the notch: Looking back somewhere on the ridge: Obligatory "slab with crack" photo: Starting up the slab with crack: Looking back at the party of three behind us, who apparently believed in ropes but not pro (needless to say they were much faster than us): That party quickly passed us. The leader went on to solo the first pitch of the Gendarme, although he did belay his followers up: Summit shot: Summit register: Alpenglow: Gear Notes: - SR .3-3, plus a .75 link cam and extra #2. Probably could have gotten away with fewer cams, but I was happy to have them on the Gendarme pitches - 1 microtraxion - greatly extended the length of simul pitches we were willing to lead, since we could place it above hard moves to isolate the leader from a follower fall - 8 singles, 4 doubles - 60m rope (30m would have worked except we wanted to haul packs on the Gendarme) - No boots/crampons/ice axes, just approach tennies and one pole each - We shared a single bivy sack and sleeping bag (and each had a puffy and long johns) and were toasty warm all night. The notch was very windy in the middle of the night, so we were glad to have the bivy sack. Approach Notes: Descent We followed beta from Ilia's trip report: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1141828. It was generally accurate, although I wouldn't have called the cliff drops "easily passed" by hugging the left side. Those step downs definitely involved loose rock, some downclimbing, and even a bit of bushwhacking. Ilia's report also mentions a trail cutting to the right at a flat spot somewhere between 5900-6200'. We never saw the cairn or the trail breaking off from the couloir itself, so we just blindly forged into the forest a little ways and then gave up and headed back to the couloir and happened to cross the trail (this was just below 5900' but the trail must have started higher). It was a lovely trail through forests and meadows as advertised - definitely worth finding! When he climbed the West Ridge last year, Jason had taken a "shortcut" descent route which has some similarly uncomfortable sections, but at least spits you out on the Ingalls Creek trail 15 minutes closer to the junction with Long's pass: http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=565928.
  12. Trip: Colchuck Peak - North Buttress Couloir Date: 6/19/2016 Trip Report: Russ, Evan, Chris and I climbed Colchuck Peak via the North Buttress Couloir for ICC Alpine 2. We hadn't found much beta on climbing the route this late in the year, so we were a little concerned whether the route would be in. Our first view of Colchuck from across the lake. Our route to the base of the climb shown in red. The couloir itself goes diagonally up to the right but is hidden from view here. The lower half of Colchuck Glacier was almost entirely melted out, but we were able to follow a snow finger on the right (West) side up to a morraine. Unfortunately, the snow didn't make it continuously all the way to the couloir so we had to cut over some rock. We then immediately saw that the entrance to the couloir was guarded by a moat. Another ICC team reached the start just ahead of us and had navigated around the moat on 4th class terrain to the right. We followed their lead and found relatively easy climbing to get around the moat. The view of our route from the moraine. At this point we roped up into two teams, each on a 30m rope. However, since we only had 4 pickets between all of us, we decided that the teams would take turns leading with all the gear, leaving it in place for the second team to "pink point". This worked very well, allowing us to reach the notch in four long simuls. The sun had already been warming the couloir before we even got on it, so the snow was mostly softish. The angle was fairly sustained at 45-50 with perhaps some steeper sections up to 60. Just before the end of the first long simul (~400ft), we encountered the rocky step which required some 4th or maybe low 5th moves. Meanwhile the other ICC team had soloed the entire way to the notch (they brought ice tools, which probably helped) so they cruised ahead. However, when we got to the notch, they were just throwing ropes to rappel. They'd apparently lead out a little ways past the notch and found only unprotectable slab with powdery snow on top. (It seems likely that earlier in the year this is more snow-covered and therefore less of problem.) While they were starting their rappels, we climbed up a bit on the opposite ridge to try to get a better view of the route. Russ thought he saw a viable route starting a little higher than the other team had gone, where the slabs flattened out. We decided to at least try it out. Russ led out first and once he made it over a short step he saw a clear path forward over mostly 2nd/3rd class rock covered in a few inches of snow (probably mostly just from the snow from yesterday). He took all the gear, again planning to make it a long simul pitch. I foolishly decided to take my crampons off at this point, thinking the next bit would be mostly rock. This was alright for the first 30m or so, but once we were past this rocky traverse we got onto the Northwest face and back onto steep snow and ice, so I paused at a picket to put my crampons back on. I was extremely grateful for that decision since the remainder of that pitch was fairly steep (60+ degrees) and icy in sections. Evan led out next, bringing us the rest of the way up the face to another notch, finishing up the steep snow section of the route. From here we went around to the right for some 3rd/4th class scrambling. We kept going right until we couldn't go any further, the scrambled up to the left and onto the summit. We descended by the Colchuck Glacier route, where a fast glissade helped us get back to the lake in 1.5 hours. Timeline 5:00am - Leave trailhead 6:30am - Colchuck Lake 8:30am - Base of couloir 10:30am - Notch 1:30pm - Summit (30min) 5:30pm - Cars GPS Track here: http://peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=667213 Gear Notes: Each team of two had a 30m rope, two pickets, one ice screw, and a small rock rack (0.5-1 cams, ~5 nuts, 2-3 slings). However, we had the second team in each simul-pitch "pinkpoint" the route so that we could share gear between the teams and make our pitches twice as long. We used all the pickets and most or all of the rock gear, but we never placed a screw. Everyone had crampons and a single ice ax. Ice tools would have been nice, but we got by without them.
  13. Trip: WA Pass - Liberty Group Traverse Date: 9/16/2015 Trip Report: For our BOEALPS ICC grad climb, Coco, Ilia, Priti and I did the Liberty Group Traverse. Given that it was 26 pitches by the guidebook, we figured it would be a great exercise in alpine efficiency: Liberty Bell - Beckey Route (5.7-, 4p) Concord Tower - North Face (5.7, 3p) Lexington Tower - North Face (5.7, 3p) North Early Winters Spire - Northwest Corner (5.9++, 5p) South Early Winters Spire - South Arete (5.5, "10"p) 3:05am: Approach Our day started at 2:30am waking up at Lone Fir campground, and we managed to start up the Blue Lake trailhead by 3:05am. Unfortunately, Coco seemed to have gotten some food poisoning and had been throwing up all night. Amazingly, she was still game for giving the traverse a try, so we just took the approach a little slower. After a bit of navigational difficulty and some bushwhacking in the dark, we made it to the Liberty Bell notch by about 5:30. ` 5:50am: Liberty Bell - Beckey Route Coco decided to sit out the first climb to give her nausea a chance to settle down, so Priti led Ilia and I up the Beckey route in the dark. We chose to free solo the single 5.7 slab move on the fourth pitch to save some time, scrambled up the rest of the way to tag the summit at 7:00am, and completed the two rappels back to the notch. Luckily by this time, Coco was not feeling worse and we decided to continue with the traverse. Priti starting up the chimney/tunnel on the Beckey Route in the dark, while Ilia belays 7:30am: Concord Tower - North Face Ilia had climbed the North Face of Concord Tower before, so he and Coco went first. The three pitches went smoothly - Ilia remembered a convenient bolted anchor at the top of pitch 2 that he had noticed last time he climbed it. We summitted at 8:50am, then did two bolted 30m rappels south to the Concord-Lexington notch. Coco following on the second pitch while Ilia belays from a bolted anchor. 9:30am: Lexington Tower - North Face Lexington Tower from Concord-Lexington notch Coco decided to do some leading even though she was still feeling sick. The first moves to gain the ledge on the first pitch are awkward (as advertised), and she actually slipped and fell before getting her first piece in, and Ilia executed a very graceful spotting catch. She was fine though and got right back up and led the rest of the tower. As on Concord, Priti let me lead all the pitches since we planned for her to lead all of the Northwest Corner. The last pitch was just 4th class, but we stayed roped up for it since we had to go up and over the summit to continue the traverse to the south. We summitted at 10:30am, then went down the south side of the summit perhaps 20ft to some rap slings for a single 20m rappel to a notch. From here we traversed along a ridge and a large ledge (would make a great bivy spot!). At the very south end of the ledge there are some rap slings on a tree for a 30m rap. We changed into approach shoes to descend and traverse a scree gully to get to the base of the Northwest Corner route. The ledge south of Lexington Tower, with NEWS in the background. 12:10pm: North Early Winters Spire - Northwest Corner (Boving-Pollack) We got a great view of the Northwest Corner route from the ledge south of Lexington At this point we were about right on our predicted schedule, and we were optimistic that we'd be able to complete the NW Corner in time to take the SW Rib route up SEWS, which we preferred to the South Arete. Priti started the lead, and we smoothly worked our way up the first two pitches (the first three by supertopo). However at the belay station for the third pitch (the first crux, with the zig zag flakes) we found ourselves behind a party of three climbers. They were incredibly gracious and let our entire group of four pass them at the tiny belay ledge between pitches three and four - if we ever figure out who you guys are we're happy to buy you some beers! Waiting below the party of three while their leader worked up the zig zag flakes on Pitch 3. Pitch 3, the first crux pitch, is a set of zig zag flakes which are wide enough at the top to be unprotectable without a #6. I laybacked them and barely managed to make it up without taking or falling - I would not have been happy leading them. Pitch 4, the second crux pitch, is a long "5.9" offwidth corner, which all four of us found incredibly difficult. We called it a 5.9+++ or perhaps a 10a/b, but maybe that's just because it was a burly offwidth. I was lucky enough to have Priti to rope-gun it for me, but Ilia and Coco had to get a little more creative. Luckily, it protects well with wide gear up to #5. Priti and I wrapped up Pitch 5, scrambled up and tagged the summit right at 3pm, and then returned to a sandy ledge to wait for Coco and Ilia, who topped out around 4pm. While they tagged the summit, we set up the first rappel. However, instead of going south for the normal descent via the Chockstone route, we went west to descend via new bolted anchors on the West Face, which Priti had done earlier in the summer. She couldn't remember if they required single or double rope rappels so we set them up as doubles, but we could have done them all in single rappels. I think we ended up doing three 30m raps followed by one 60m (the 60m was not necessary though). On the way down, Priti had a very very close call - as she was setting up a single-strand rappel on a gri gri, she accidently set it up on the short ends of the EDK, and had actually unclipped her personal anchor before realizing the mistake. We reached the base of the route at about 5:30pm and took some time to hydrate, eat, and discuss which route we should take up SEWS. Unfortunately, between waiting behind the other party and taking a while to complete the route ourselves, we had run far behind schedule. We decided that ~2 hours before sunset wasn't enough to finish the SW Rib before dark, and resigned ourselves to the South Arete. 6:30pm: South Early Winters Spire - South Arete I led two simul pitches to the summit of SEWS - one for the first two "real" pitches and one for the remaining 4th class scrambling. Ilia and Coco managed to do it in one simul. We summitted at 7:15pm, just before sunset at 7:30! Priti led a simul down to the rappels while Ilia and Coco just free-soloed. It was just getting dark enough to need headlamps as we did the two rappels, completing the descent at 8pm 10:00pm: Back at the cars! Gear Notes: With the short approach, Priti and I brought a full rack to 4", plus doubles in cams from .4-4, 8 single slings and 5 doubles. We had intended to bring a #5 but miscommunicated at the parking lot who was bringing it. It would be have definitely been useful on P4 of the NW Corner, and if we'd done the SW Rib we'd probably have had Ilia and Coco leave theirs placed for us on the wide pitches. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I think a #6 could be used to better protect the zig zag flakes on P3 of the NW Corner.
  14. Trip: Argonaut Peak - NW Arête Date: 7/12/2015 Trip Report: Nick, Jim, David and I climbed the NW Arête of Argonaut for the Alpine III outing of our Intermediate Climbing Class. Approach We left the trailhead at 9am - a relatively early start for the approach so we expected to have a good bit of extra time to hang around at the bivy site. None of us had been on the Lake Stuart trail past the Colchuck lake turnoff, so we were all suitably awed by the gorgeous meadow that presented our first view of our objective. First glimpse of Argonaut, looking out across a gorgeous meadow on the Stuart Lake Trail Shortly after this meadow we found the turnoff for the Mountaineers Creek climbers trail - right around 4700'. As advertised, the trail was quite difficult to follow but the trees were thin enough that we just kept a course in approximately the right direction. The trail became much better defined when we met up with and followed the creek again. Eventually we emerged into a boulder field, fenced in by the infamous wall of slide alder. We'd heard other parties were able to almost entirely bypass the slide alder by staying low in the boulder field and traversing west to get to the real treeline. We followed this beta and found it accurate - we only had to do perhaps 50ft of moderate 'schwacking through slide alder to get to the real trees, and ascending from there was significantly easier. After this we ascended up through talus until we encountered some slabby scrambling. Nick, in mountaineering boots, was less than stoked about the slab but we were able to make it go. Slabby scrambling From here we were finally able to get our first good look at the snow finger. To our disappointment, it was immediately obvious that the snow no longer connected on either side of the big rock. We decided to "take a closer look" anyway, and plotted a course up the right side of the rock. The couloir leading up to the base of the climb. Our route shown in red goes to the right of the lower big rock and to the left of the higher big rock. The bivy site is just over the saddle from the left side of the higher rock. This "closer look" turned out to be more committing than we expected. By the time we realized how sketchy and unprotectable the thin snow bridge and exposed rock was, we didn't feel any better about going down than going up. We moved right into some very loose, wet, scrambling to get off the thin snow bridge. NOTE: for anyone considering attempting this route for the rest of this year: I would strongly recommend against it. I think the route was not "in" when we attempted it and is only going to get worse as more snow melts out. Looking back at the snow bridge. We stopped here and decided to try to protect the next section. At this point we all felt very uncomfortable with the terrain, so we built the best anchor we could (a bomber 0.75 cam and a questionable sling) and Jim led out over some wet slab and the rest of the way past the big rock. We were grateful we'd left early enough this morning to have a large margin of safety before dark, and therefor feel like we could take the time to protect this section. Jim leading out on the slab. We weren't in a great spot for digging out gear, so Jim tied in with a bowline-on-a-coil (guess it's useful after all!) and Nick did his first hip belay "in the wild". We continued up the snow finger and worked our way left of the upper rock. Once again, the snow didn't connect the whole way and we had to do more sketchy scrambling. At one point, David's step blew out and he started skidding down the slope. Nick grabbed hold of him at about the same time he managed to actually arrest. He stopped just barely in time before he would have run out of snow and started tumbling down rock. We were shaken, but still agreed that going up felt less dangerous than down - there were no obvious places for a rap anchor. Shortly after this, we topped out at a small notch and found the bivy site just down the other side. Bivy site. I've seen many references to it being at 7400', but it's actually closer to 7600' and on the west side of the saddle (we had missed this important piece of information in collecting our beta). Not pictured to my left is the tree at the start of the route. Climb As others have said, Tom Unger has a great route description for this climb: http://www.tumtum.com/climbing/routes/01-05-13-Argonaut.txt. My main comment would be that his pitches are all fairly long - probabably at least 50m each - so rack up accordingly or plan to cut the pitches short. P1: We accidentally cut this pitch a bit short and ended up with heinous rope drag on P2, which meant we had to cut that short as well. Looking up at Pitch 1 from the bivy site P2: Tom says 'traverse right, working up ledges where possible'. I would say 'ascend the face, traversing right on small ledges where possible'. As I mentioned, I ended up with heinous rope drag while trying to traverse, and also ran low on gear, so I stopped this pitch at a small ledge in the middle of the face rather than on a better ledge higher up. Once David got up to me, we moved our belay about 20ft up to the better ledge so that Nick and Jim could do the full pitch 2 in one go. Nick working on Pitch 2. Photo taken from my small ledge anchor. P3: I did the 6ft step as a lieback. From there we ended up on a broad ledge below the '15ft slab' that Tom mentions. Rather than climb straight up the cracks in the 15ft slab, we traversed all the way left to an easy ramp that ascends and traverses right. The '15ft slab'. P4: Pitch 4 was pretty much as advertised by Tom's description. It was long and I was low on gear and ran it out a bit, but managed to make it to the obvious right-facing corner that is the start of Pitch 5. P5: We all au cheval'd the flake. The corner after this flake had probably the hardest moves of the route - we agreed 5.7 at least if not 5.8. I also ran low on gear and high on rope drag about 30m into the pitch so I built an anchor midway up the gully and let David finish out the climb. The right-facing corner at the base of Pitch 5. Tom's route actually goes right out of this picture almost immediately. Summit: We finished up the climb with a scramble to the summit, which involved crawling through a tunnel and then a couple of moves in a nice protected area to get on top of the true summit. The final summit block, past the tunnel. Descent From the summit, we actually went back down into the tunnel and followed it east. Supposedly you can also walk around the South side to bypass the tunnel, but who wants to pass up a summit tunnel!? Looking back on the summit tunnel From there we did some exposed scrambling down the east ridge, then a traverse below the snow field to the rap slings. We actually found some bolted anchors first, but they would have landed us on the north side of the col instead of the south. Found the rap slings! We did a double rope rappel down into the main gully then up to a small notch on the other side of the gully, then scrambled down ~10ft to a tree for a second double-rope rappel down to the South side of the Argonaut-Colchuck col. There were plenty of midway rappel slings to make it work with single rope rappels. From here we went on a nice jaunt through meadows and boulders to traverse over to the Colchuck-Dragontail col. We were able to glissade down part of the Colchuck glacier, but it was mostly melted out so we also had to do ~1000' of descending loose glacial moraine. (A general moral of this story: the climb is probably significantly easier when there is actually snow in the correct places along the route.) Timeline Saturday Leave Seattle: 6am Arrive TH: 9am Leave TH: 9:30am Start climber's trail: 11am Base of Couloir: 2:30pm Bivy: 6:30pm Sunday Start climb: 5:15am Summit: 12pm Leave summit: 12:30pm Find rappels: 1pm Finsih rappels: 3pm Colchuck-Dragontail col: 4:30pm Colchuck lake: 6:45pm TH: 9:15pm GPS Track here: http://peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=546814 Gear Notes: Ice ax and crampons for the snow finger on the approach and the Colchuck glacier on the descent. We brought a light alpine rack and about 10 alpine draws. Given how long the pitches were and the frequent gear anchors, if I did it again I would bring a standard rack and a few more draws.
  15. Trip: Sherpa Peak - West Ridge Date: 6/27/2015 Trip Report: Hoping to avoid the blistering heat predicted for Saturday, our BOEALPS ICC team of Meredith, Laura, Lisa and I left the Esmerelda trailhead at about 8:30pm Friday night so we could hike up to and bivy at Long's Pass. We arrived in late dusk, about 10pm and were surprised to be immediately attacked by swarms of mosquitoes even though there was no water in sight and little vegetation. We left camp at 5:15am on Saturday and began the long approach. We passed Ingalls Creek, stopping briefly to refill water, and continued on to meet up with the Ingalls Creek trail. From there it was a 20 minute walk to the correct climber's trail up a meadow. (If you take the climber's trail up the first meadow instead of the second, it goes up the Cascadian Couloir.) The correct turnoff is at N 47.45402, W -120.89633. We took the turnoff into the meadow at about 6:30am and followed a good climber's trail until about 5000' at which point it petered out and we simply did an ascending traverse right up the meadow. We then bushwhacked directly through the thick vegetation around the creek at about 5100' - the bush was quite thick but only lasted perhaps 100 ft and then we were through to the other side. Past this bushwhack, we followed beta that said to ascend the gully, staying left of the ridge until 5800' and then traverse over the ridge into the next drainage. We did this, keeping the creek on our left and the ridge on our right and generally had a terrible time up steep loose sand, dirt, and rock, although we managed to avoid any bushwhacking. We thought perhaps staying closer to the creek for longer might have worked better, or even ascending on the left side of the creek, but it was hard to say. We also weren't sure if there was a particular reason that 5800' was the best place to traverse over - we didn't see any obvious cliffs but felt it was best to stick to a route that we knew would go. Once we hit 5800' we traversed over the ridge, then descended back down a bit into the drainage, coming down at about 6000' where we happened to find a cairn. From there we could see Sherpa peak and the infamous balanced rock and the col with the bivy rock where we planned to drop our overnight gear. We worried about being cliffed out if we went directly up the climber's left side of the drainage, so as we ascended we traversed climber's right where we could see that the talus connected the whole way. (On our descent though we made it go without such a large detour to climber's right.) We finally arrived at the bivy rock at 7400', dropped overnight gear and left at 11am. We were running almost an hour behind schedule at this point, partly due to the navigation being more challenging than expected. We made our way to the notch closest to Sherpa - there were isolated patches of snow but most of us were in approach shoes so we stayed on the talus. We left our packs right before a steep but short scramble that led up to the notch itself. We started the actual climb at about 12pm. From here, the pitches were pretty much as advertised. We had been hoping to simul-climb the first four pitches, but struggled with rope drag and ended up pitching most of it out. We found the pitch 5 crux to be surprisingly difficult - it certainly didn't feel like 5.4 but perhaps we missed easier moves - the crux for us ended up being good hand jams in very in cramped quarters, and felt more like 5.7 at least. Our whole team of four was finally on the summit at about 4:30pm, much too late to scramble over to balanced rock and give it a go as we had been hoping. For us, the descent was: - a short downclimb from the true summit across exposed slab to a good rappel anchor - a single rope rappel to the top of the crux pitch (p5) - a single rope rappel to the bottom of the crux pitch - an unroped scramble back to a rappel anchor at the top of p3 - a single rope rappel past an obvious rappel anchor further down and skiiers left to a somewhat hidden rappel anchor. This anchor was on the North side of the ridge whereas we had climbed up on the South side. - a very short (~10m?) single rope rappel around a corner skiiers left to a rappel anchor, which put us back on the top of the open-book face of pitches 1/2. There was an awkward move to make it around the corner on rappel, which is why we stopped the rappel there instead of continuing to an anchor further below, but maybe we could have combined this section with the earlier rappel. - a double-rope rappel down the open-book face back to the notch. (This could easily have been two single-rope rappels but we had two ropes and it was pretty straight down so we made it a double.) We were very worried about getting the rope stuck but were able to walk far enough away on the ridge to keep the knot from getting stuck We got back to camp at the bivy rock at 9pm. We were once again surrounded by personal clouds of mosquitoes, which followed us all the way down from the notch and set up camp with us at the bivy site. I personally spent about 2 minutes total outside of the bug-mesh safety of my bivy the entire evening, strongly considering skipping dinner so I wouldn't even have to spend that long. Sunday morning we left camp at about 6am, accompanied by our personal clouds of mosquitoes. We generally followed our approach route, although we stayed climbers right down the drainage and mostly found talus that connected the whole way, with a very small amount of bushwhacking. We ended up traversing back over the ridge a little lower than we had on our approach, but still near 5800'. On the descent down the gully, we tried descending down climbers left of the stream and mostly found the same horrible loose dirt, rock, and sand we'd found on our way up, so eventually we went back climbers right of the stream and stuck to our approach route. We got back to the Ingalls Creek trail at about 10am, suffered up and over Long's Pass in the sweltering heat, and were back at the cars by about 1pm. Approximate timeline: Ascent - TH to Long's Pass: 1.5 hrs - Long's Pass to Ingalls Creek: 45 min - Ingalls Creek to turnoff to climber's trail: 20 min - Climber's trail to entry to drainage: 2 hrs - Ascent up drainage to bivy rock: 2 hrs - Bivy rock to notch: 1 hr - Notch to summit: 4 hrs Descent - Summit to notch: 4 hrs - Notch to camp: 45 min - Camp to Ingalls Creek Trail: 3.5 hrs - Ingalls Creek Trail to TH: 3 hrs Gear Notes: (For one student/instructor pair) 60m rope Gear .3-2", odd nuts (5-13) 6 single, 6 double alpine draws, 2 tied doubles Approach shoes and rock shoes No ice ax, crampons, or pickets GPS Track here: https://www.gaiagps.com/public/7Mb1UnJdCzksELkAS1T7oa7h/
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