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pugetgold last won the day on June 23 2020

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About pugetgold

  • Birthday 01/11/1976


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    Seattle, WA

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  1. Trip: Argonaut Peak - Northwest Arete Trip Date: 06/21/2020 Trip Report: Climbed the Northwest Arete on Argonaut over this solstice weekend, with camp on snow in the north basin. The rock climb was snow free, and the approach snow couloir was in good shape (though starting to deteriorate and with fresh rockfall - more on that below). This is an enjoyable and under-appreciated route. I'm posting this trip report mainly to provide an update on seasonal conditions as well as to alert folks to a hazard in the approach snow couloir. The couloir is still very much "in", though a couple holes are starting to emerge as of June 21. More importantly, as detailed in the photo below, there is fresh rockfall near the top of the couloir on the right side, with several microwave-sized (and a couple refrigerator-sized) boulders perched precariously on melting snow. This rockfall has scoured the right side of the couloir and induced an avalanche below; the avalanche debris is not visible in others' photos (e.g., on WTA site) from earlier in June, so it is definitely recent. Therefore, I would strongly recommend staying to the left side of the couloir if you attempt this route yet this year. (I would guess the left side would be passable for another week+). We did the rock climb as 5 long(ish) pitches, and found it a terrific climb. Though not sustained, each pitch has its share of solid 5.6 moves -- some of them steep, exposed, even thrilling -- but all of them reasonably protected and with straight-forward (enough) route-finding. (If you need a bit more guidance than that, Tom's beta here is excellent, as others have noted.) Finding the rappels is, contrary to some claims, also straight-forward, but if you'd like a diagram to boost your confidence, see also the annotated photo here. Lastly, we found the gully we took on the descent to be arduous (due to loose scree) at the top, but then straight-forward face-in down-climbing, followed by plunge-stepping (glissadable for you thrill seekers) directly back down to the north basin (and our camp). Gear Notes: We took a set of nuts (very useful) and a single set of cams from fingers up to 3 inches, with doubles in the 1" and 1.25" (purple and green) sizes. Used all the cams on at least one pitch. Ice axe, crampons. Approach Notes: Beta on routefinding for mountaineers creek is ample elsewhere, so won't cover that here. Up higher, snow coverage on the slabs below the glacier is just *barely* continuous, but we didn't feel like testing the tiny snow-bridges, so we did a short section of 4th class (low 5th?) wet slab/corner climbing as noted in the photo. On descending the next day, we instead found (and reinforced) a rappel sling on a tree in the next weakness/gully to climber's left (north) along the slab, where one rappel got us back down to snow.
  2. Trip: Dome Peak - Dome Glacier - Main Summit Trip Date: 05/23/2019 Trip Report: Dome Peak, May 22-24 2019 A mid-week hint of a break in the weather tempted us to Dome Peak. We chose Dome from several alternatives since the UW’s GFS model consistently showed it staying dry, in what was otherwise forecast by NOAA as three rainy days in the Cascades. The gamble worked! The Downey Creek trail is just glorious to “6-mile” (seems closer to 7 mi) camp - easy-going, soft trail bed, old growth forest. From there, travel and route-finding up the Bachelor Creek trail was easy enough until the notorious slide alder section. There, Beckey vol. 2 describes crossing to the south side of Bachelor Creek at ~4000 ft (as do a report or two on this site) and Nelson / Potterfield vol 1 describes the crossing at ~3,750 ft. But some Mountaineers' trip reports describe an alternate approach that worked well for us. In short, still following the trail on the north side of Bachelor Creek at about 4,100’, cut uphill (north) into the slide alder. A straight-forward, low-grade bushwack takes you up to the timber. We did our part to improve it by sawing out a couple dozen 1- to 2-inch branches that made the trail difficult to spot or pass. Currently a pink ribbon marks where the slide alder bushwack gives way to timber, and from there the trail is but a whisper, but it doesn’t really matter because the way is easy going on an uphill traverse until about 4,500 where there is a log to cross to the south side of the creek. 4,500’ also marked the start of continuous snow. In the open valley bottom, the snow was soft, which made for very slow going (post-holing) and covered any signs of the trail. In the timber, the snow was firmer and easier going, so we headed uphill, gaining the ridge between Bachelor Creek and Itswoot Creek at a col at 5540’ that is just above the word “Skagit” on the USGS Dome Peak quad. Once on the ridge, we traversed to the col above Cub lake, with nearly continuous views of Dome Peak (see photo), and large bear tracks. The way was mostly snow on the ridge, interspersed with patches of steep heather and a third class move or two to round the high point on the ridge (on the south side). The descent to Cub lake was about half snow, half heather and rock. We camped in snow on a knob just beyond the lake (see photo). There were wolverine tracks nearby. The climbing route up Itswoot Ridge and over to Dome glacier was almost entirely snow, and straight-forward, but for bad post-holing at the lower elevations where the snow hadn't frozen overnight. Higher up, the crampon conditions were perfect. The summit ridge was mostly snow, and though we continued out on it with a couple pickets, a delicate cornice blocked the way at the true summit block (see photo, looking SW). With huge exposure on the right, 45-degree softening, wet snow on the left, building clouds and a thunderstorm in the forecast, we called the exposed snowy ridge 'good enough' and began descending. By now the snow had softened considerably, and postholing made the way fairly slow-going. But the clouds retreated (temporarily), and we were still all smiles. We returned to camp just before the rain started, and the lightning plus thunder. The next morning the rain eased at about 7 am, and we began our drizzly hike out. We liked the ridge traverse so much we repeated it on the way out, and the rest of the way as well. Gear Notes: Took two pickets (used both on summit ridge) and one purple link cam (didn't use, couldn't access rock) Approach Notes: Downey Creek trail glorious, Bachelor Creek route getting clearer with greater use
  3. I almost died in the west ridge gully once due to ice fall from melting blocks on the granite slab above. Haven't been back since, but this TR gives me, uh, Inspiration! Do you have a high-res version of the sunrise picture of Triumph? I was over in that basin on 9/2, would like to zoom in and see if I can spot us. Can return the favor with a suitably high-res shot back at Inspiration on same morning....once i get my film scanned.
  4. What a great adventure. Were the crampons and axes needed on the descent?
  5. In retrospect we should have. It just seemed like it might take us a lot of time to find it, and we hadn't done that rap before, so we went with the more known, if long, route to Eldorado-Dorado needle col, plus that way would give us a better view of the NW face couloir route. But as stated above, that extra distance, and some hesitation about the route quality when viewed from the col, led us to bail. Had we rappelled and just gotten right to the base and started up it, it may well have been fine!
  6. Nice report! We were the party of two you saw heading for the NW face couloir. Our plan was to approach it early Monday from the Eldorado - Dorado Needle Col, as in Nelson-Potterfield Vol II, and not try to rappel down from the Eldorado-Dean col as in a couple reports on this site. The snow on the north side was looser - not as consolidated, and there was a nontrivial steep snow down climb out of Eldorado -Dorado Needle Col. Plus, viewed from that col, the NW face couloir looked pretty bony about 1/3 of the way up - no sign of ice, and lots of signs of loose snow over rock. Given that, and the extra energy we had spent in deep snow with snowshoes, we decided to retreat, and booted up the NE face instead. When we passed the top of the couloir we felt a little wistful for having bailed - because the conditions looked pretty good at the top of it! -- but it was still a great outing.
  7. Went up West Ridge of North Twin this past Sunday May 14 - route is mostly melted off, but ice axe very handy for a handful of steep snow sections on route (as well as for glissade off the north side.) For the most part these can be avoided by sticking to the south side of the ridge, though that sometimes mean harder (4th class) rock moves. Approach roads are bikeable to about 3,100 feet at the moment.
  8. Trip: Mount Buckner - North Face Date: 7/4/2016 Trip Report: Climbed Buckner's North Face as a party of three Sunday-Monday July 3 and 4. Route is in very good shape, with the bergschrund/moat easily passable on the far left. Snow was firm, which enabled some step-kicking lower down, but from about 8600' (just below where the North couloir enters) to near the summit it was mostly front pointing or french technique. (By contrast, the North couloir route did not look so good - messy moat at the bottom and from the top looked mostly dry but for some thin brittle ice covering a few rocks.) Visibility while on route was more-or-less confined to the route itself, but for some beautiful fleeting views of Ripsaw Ridge and Boston Glacier. From the summit, the descent to the southwest was almost entirely snow (some of it also quite firm higher up, which we backed down with two axes). On descent we had limited visibility, with increasing high winds and snow and, ultimately high winds and rain. Delightful. The gully at about 6400' out of Horseshoe basin, used to gain Sahale Arm, was easy to spot, both because it is just above the small flat bench/knob at 6400' that is prominent on the USGS quad, but also because it was full of snow and appeared like an obvious way up. The 3rd/4th class rock scramble just above that was made more difficult by the ~inch of snow that had just fallen. Gear Notes: Took three pickets and used all three in the steep section above the bergschrund. Could have used more if we had them, but we all felt comfortable given the conditions. Took two ice screws and didn't use them. Each climber had one standard axe and one tool. One 30 m rope for the three of us. Approach Notes: We approached up Boston Basin, via the Quien Sabe glacier and then via the Boston-Sahale col, climbing partway and then traversing Boston peak to access the Boston glacier up high (as in Nelson/Potterfield volume I). That glacier has a bergschrund up high on Boston peak (just below the point where we accessed it) that we avoided by downclimbing a rib of rock to skiers right. After crossing the glacier (most crevasses still strongly bridged), we camped on a small flat spot on the glacier just below and west of the North Face route. Stunning evening view of Forbidden and Logan.
  9. Trip: Sherpa Peak - North Ridge Date: 6/26/2016 Trip Report: Climbed North Ridge of Sherpa over two days, Sat/Sunday June 25/26 in mild sunny conditions. Route was mostly snow-free (and existing snow can be easily traversed or avoided with no need for axe or, at least when warm, crampons either). A great wild, alpine climb. We mostly followed Jim Nelson's description in Selected Climbs vol II, plus Matt Lemke's trip report. Gaining the ridge at about 7,200 was, for us, a couple pitches of 5.7 climbing, seemingly harder than Nelson has it, though consistent with Beckey who says that two pitches of 5th-class are needed to gain the ridge. We also encountered a couple other mid-to-5.7-ish moves between here and the major notch, and though route-finding was rarely obvious, it was almost always fun. A few snowfields are persisting on lower angle terrain, but they can either be skirted (via moats) or stepped across without difficulty. There was no snow on the technical portions of the climb. We followed descent as in Matt Lemke's trip report, which was spot on for the southeasterly descending traverse, but thankfully for us, we had perfect plunge-stepping from Sherpa pass (~7050 ft) back down to 5800'. Times were as follows: Sat 3:00 pm- left Stuart Lake trailhead Sat 6:15 pm - Arrived at camp (fantastic flat sandy site on bench at about 5800', just downstream and 50' above moraine in upper basin of Mountaineers creek) Sun 7:00 am - left camp Sun 3:30 pm - summit (20 min) Sun 7:00 pm - back at camp Sun 10:00 pm - back at car Approach notes: There is a fairly well trodden path between the Stuart Lake trail and the upper basin of Mountaineers creek, but it can be hard to follow due to considerable dead-fall. In general, after leaving the Stuart Lake trail at that trail's first switchback, crossing the creek, and avoiding the swamp, it closely follows the west bank of Mountaineers Creek all the way to the talus field below the upper basin that starts at around 5,400'. The east bank may look tempting at times, but it becomes more brush higher up and the trail on the west bank is far faster. Having lost the trail early on way up, and staying mostly on it on descent, we can say it's worth the little bit of time it takes to stay on it, because it is much faster going (saved us roughly 30 min. on descent). Gear Notes: About ten cams up to 3". A set of nuts and a couple hexes (1", 2") for good measure. Ice axe (used) and crampons (did not use). Approximate route: En route:
  10. Thanks for this great TR! My partner and I camped up Mountaineers creek on a bench above the moraine below Sherpa pass Saturday eve before climbing Sherpa's North Ridge on Sunday. I swore I heard voices below us but figured I was crazy. Seems likely it was you on your descent!? Saw your summit entry.
  11. Trip: Mt. Shuksan - North Face Date: 6/5/2016 Trip Report: The route was in good shape. With overnight temps on the route in the mid to upper 40s (but clear), the snow was just firm enough for good step-kicking. Any softer and it would have been too loose and largely unprotectable. We started the base of the North Face at 4:30 am, 30 min before sunrise, and reached the broad col at top of north face at 8:00 am. At this date, once the sun came up we were in sun almost the entire way. Aim for a colder night! There was a narrow snow bridge spanning a crevasse at about 7,000 feet, above the first icefall. After it melts, parties may be able to swing wide left to get around it, though we did not investigate this option. Gear Notes: We took 6 pickets and placed one, just below one steep section of soft snow on the north face. Approach Notes: The approach from the White Salmon ski lodge to the basin immediately below the White Salmon glacier is almost snow-free, making for an arduous 5+ hour bushwack each way. Going with more snow coverage would make for much easier travel, or traversing much higher on open slopes as in Steph Abegg's detailed trip report.
  12. I was in a party of two that climbed Reid headwall that same day - we may have been the party that passed your camp by 4:15 by your time, though we thought it was more like 4:45. In any case, I think we probably got pelted by a lot more ice than you, judging from your report, and from the Leuthold party of three we talked to on the summit. Regardless, wonderful photos, and glad you had a good time.
  13. Trip: Mount Hood - Reid Headwall Date: 4/10/2016 Trip Report: Party of two left Timberline at 2:00 a.m., roped up and left at Illumination Saddle at 5:00 a.m., finished the Reid Headwall at 8:30 a.m., and reached the summit at 9:45 a.m. We intended to follow the left-most route variation but through a series of navigation decisions we ended up climbing one of the center-right variations and topped out on the West Crater Rim. The snow conditions were good (firm neve) but as we climbed the headwall we were pelted with waves of small pellets of snow and ice. We used pickets to protect the narrow snow-bridge crossing of the sizable bergschrund and ice screws in a narrow couloir near the top but did not need protection for the remainder of the route. Temperature was near freezing, it had been a clear night, and winds were moderate (~10-15 mph), but still there were several larger (golfball to baseball-sized) chunks of ice that came whizzing down, and each of us got hit by a couple of these on helmeted heads or shoulders. The party we talked to that did Leuthold couloir didn't seem to get as much of this -- and this TR from same day confirms: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1147904.
  14. We scrambled it, though ended up on some fairly sketch 4th / low 5th class ledges, as did another party we encountered en route. See if you can find the 3rd class ledge as advertised.
  15. Trip: Mount Challenger - Easy Ridge / Perfect Pass Date: 7/4/2015 Trip Report: Climbed Mount Challenger as a party of two over four days over this blistering hot weekend. Conditions are similar to JDT's trip report from 6/10/2015, but much less snow and water on Easy Ridge and Perfect Pass. Several tarns are still available on Easy Ridge, but they may not last long, as they are small (~50-100 ft2) and many others are completely dry. Plenty of water at Perfect pass, however. From Perfect pass, we downclimbed to the glacier. From there, the glacier travel was very straight-forward. As JDT indicated, the bergschrund crossing is not a problem - there is still a very large snow bridge across it and the detour used by peter_mcb in his 7/29/2014 trip report is not needed. Gear Notes: Took two pickets, several small nuts, and a purple link cam. Used none of this. Approach Notes: Location of Chilliwack River crossing is easy to spot - as other posts have indicated, it is 5 minutes after you first spot the Chilliwack, at elevation 2850 ft, and is an obvious trail down to the river.
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