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Michael Telstad

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Everything posted by Michael Telstad

  1. Trip: Picket Range - Southern Pickets Enchainment Trip Date: 8/4-7/2022 Trip Report: It's Pickets season folks! Kurt and I were supposed to be in the Bugaboos last week, but unstable weather encouraged us to stay local and sample a little bit of what the Pickets have to offer. Between weather and work on Monday, we had a pretty tight schedule that was surely going to be a challenge. On Thursday we slept in and got a casual start. AM rain was forecasted, and "all" we had to do was hike in to the base of little Mac spire. As we drove north, the rain poured down. By the time we reached the trailhead there was blue sky poking through, but all the brush was thoroughly soaked. The hike up went on for an eternity, and I was beginning to understand why the Pickets see so little traffic. By the time we made it to the alpine, we were drenched from head to toe, and the cold wind made for some rather uncomfortable slogging up to camp. Thankfully by the time we arrived, we were mostly dried out apart from our feet, which wouldn't fully dry out for another day. Day 2: Little Mac, East Mac, West Mac, Tower 1, Tower 5, Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt. A cold and windy night brought us to a cold and windy morning, but the clouds had finally cleared and we could see our first peak. The brush and soil on little mac was still wet from the day before which made for some pretty unnerving scrambling up the first half of the mountain, but once the sun hit things began to dry out. Little Mac and East Mac went pretty smoothly with mostly scrambling and a couple pitches of roped climbing to the summits. West Mac however provided a little more adventure as Kurt tried to quest up some roofs in the middle of the east face but was thwarted and had to downclimb half a pitch. Thankfully we found the easy way and were off to the races. The East Towers sucked up so much time, and honestly I don't remember what we did to get through them. Huge props to Jeff Wright for remembering all the beta and writing such a detailed trip report. I wish I had that good of a memory.... or maybe I'd rather forget. Surfin' the East Towers Inspiration was Classic! By far the best climbing on route. Super straightforward, fun and engaging crack climbing. A large panel of the west face of Inspiration fell off some time recently, taking one or more of the rap anchors with it. This involved some downclimbing between stations and lots of loose rock on the rappels. At least one new station would be needed to fully rap the face. Rapping through the rock scar "Hey Kurt, I found the anchor!" Low on water, we brewed up below Pyramid and rested for the rest of the climbing ahead. Kurt took the leads up Pyramid and quested us up into some hard 5.10 roofs that ended up bring the crux of the entire traverse. We still have no idea where that 5.8 chimney is. Or where we were for that matter. We forgot to take a picture on top of Pyramid, so here's number 7! Summit 8! Having lost a fair bit of time, we raged up Degenhardt at sunset. Racing the fading light, we traversed along the ridge over to the base of Terror and the supposed "excellent" bivy. We didn't have to climb with headlamps! A cold wind howled up the north side, sending morale plummeting. The only somewhat flat spots were on the frigid windy side of the ridge so after an unsuccessful attempt to rig up my tarp to block the wind, we opted to engineer our own spots to the south. We were both somewhat successful in digging out our own bivys, and went to bed late and exhausted. Day 3: Terror, The Rake, The Blip, East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, Dusseldorfspitz, Himmelhorn The next morning came too soon and we started with Terror for breakfast. The east ridge went quickly and the mountain most definitely didn't live up to the name. Summit of Terror for the actual ninth summit. The Rake, similar to the East towers sucked up an incredible amount of time. We went too high on the first gendarme and had to downclimb the ridge to get to the 5.7 traverse. The rest was just slow route finding up along over and below the ridge. Low on water and with a lot of climbing still ahead of us. We brewed up again below The Blip, four more towers standing between us and camp, two of which being the 5.10 cruxes of the route. Summit 10! Wonderful rap anchor off The Rake. We cruised over the Blip and up the lower pitches of East Twin Needle. A little intimidated by the 5.10 crux, I took the lead up the spectacular knife edge ridge to where it kicks back to a slight overhang. With my pack feeling heavy, I sized up the moves above me, poked my head around to the left and balanced my way around the corner. Skipping the crux. With that out of the way, we raced down up and over West Twin Needle and over to the base of the intimidating East ridge of Himmelhorn. As the only one who brought rock shoes, I took this crux pitch as well. Pulling around the corner I was greeted by a fixed nut, and wild face climbing on hollow sounding rock. It wasn't all too hard, but by feet and calves were pumping out from the heavy pack and everything we had done up to that point. Thankfully I pulled it off without a hitch, and all the hard climbing was behind us. This pitch is probably only around 10a/b, but I absolutely would have called it 10+ if I had climbed it as an onsight first ascent. The overnight pack certainly doesn't help. Summit 13 and the east ridge of Himmelhorn trying to intimidate us. Dusseldorfspitz! Gipfel 14! Day 4: Ottohorn & Frenzelspitz The next morning at the Himmelhorn-Ottohorn col I woke up to sunlight casting off the mountains around us. I must have turned off my alarm at some point and fallen back asleep without realizing it. Kurt forgot to set one as well. Neither of us were upset by the extra half hour of sleep, but knew we needed to get things moving if we wanted to get out at a reasonable hour. Don't roll over! A quick jaunt up and down Ottohorn started day four. The effort of the last three days weighted on our legs, but the lack of overnight packs made it feel less like a chore. We carried a rope and rack up for the supposed 5.6 summit block, but they never saw any use. Once back down at the col, we scrambled down to the north and around the east face of Ottohorn to reach Frenzelspitz. I don’t think we took the same route as Priti and Jeff, but regardless it got us where we needed to go at loose 4th class with tiny bits of low 5th. Continuing this trend, we scrambled up to the base of the last pitch of Frenzelspitz where Kurt took the sharp end and led us up a short pitch to our final summit. We have a serious problem. This was summit 16. Someone teach us how to count. The descent went pretty much as expected. Lots of knee pain and schwacking took us around Crescent Basin, down stump hollow and out along Goodell creek. Huge thanks to Wayne, Jeff and Priti for all the beta. I can’t imagine how much longer everything would have taken without those detailed topos for every climb and descent. Both Kurt and I were blown away that the FA team of three did it in almost the same timeframe as us, and even tacked on the Chopping Block! Gear Notes: Single rack .1-2 doubles .4-1, One rack "nice" nuts and a half rack leaver nuts, 10 single runners & 4 doubles, 30 feet 5mm cord for rap anchors, 60m 8.5mm rope, Light Axe and Crampons Approach Notes: Over the river and through the woods, then up up up and some more up through more forest until you're finally in the alpine oh god.
  2. Trip: Guye Peak - A slightly more improbable than usual ascent of the Improbable Traverse Trip Date: 07/22/2022 Trip Report: Late last Thursday Joe and I made the questionable decision to try and dawn patrol the Improbable Traverse. Neither of us had climbed the route before, nor did we do much research, which in hindsight may have saved us a headache or two. At the time we were blissfully unaware of the massive rockfall event that happened last November. A quick search here would have informed us. However lately CC isn't the place I go for up to date condition reports, being that i'm often one of three users logged on at any time . A quick mountain project browse provided no info other than it hadn't been climbed this year. Long story short the route has been obliterated, and it would take a heroic amount of trundling and sweeping to revive it. All the pitches up to the traverse got bombed and are absolutely plastered in dirt and loose rock. We'd heard it the route was loose, but this seemed a little extreme. The flexing pin at the start of the traverse is still there, and the only reason I knew where to go. The pictures and beta I had weren't quite lining up. It was at this point that I realized what had happened, and made the decision to try and top out rather than bail with our short 40m rope. Traversing out I came across a large 40x40ft rock scar where the routes 5.8R crux used to be. Already 20ft out, I snaked my way over and down some insecure sloping edges which provided the routes new crux at somewhere around 5.9+ downclimbing. Once on a larger foot ledge I was able to keep traversing to the end of the rock scar and onto the original route. All told it was somewhere around a 50+ foot mandatory runout off the old tied off flexing pin. If it was R before, it's likely X now. The worst part by far was the top of the left trending ramp that exits the main face. This section cuts straight through the middle of the main rockfall zone and is now composed of the loosest unstable blocks held in by dirt I have ever climbed. It's hard to state exactly how nasty it was without sounding terribly dramatic, but It was bad. I was worried the entire slope was going to fall away around me. This pitch had no acceptable protection. Basically what I'm trying to say here is don't be dumb and climb this like we did. The lower pitches are right beneath an active rockfall zone and we are lucky we didn't get taken out. We were both late for work. Gear Notes: Just don't. But if you do, a few KB's might be useful on the new traverse. Approach Notes: Same as is ever was
  3. Trip: Mount Triumph - Memento Mori Trip Date: 08/29/2022 Trip Report: On Sunday, Duncan and I hiked out to Triumph with an open mind, and not quite enough food. We planned to repeat @rat & @lunger's east face route Memento Mori, but were open to more adventure if another line spoke to us. Turns out those jerks swiped the good one. The route was overall pretty high quality, with a good ratio of solid to portable holds. As far as we can tell, we followed their existing route except for pitch 5. Duncan build his belay at Tom's frayed rope (a single pink tricam girth hitched to a sling with the remains of a rope clove hitched to a non locker... yikes dude), which set me up for the hanging corner above. This roof went at probably 10- R due to an enormous moss clump that I had to face climb around on good, but unprotecable rock. The rest of the pitch offered little for pro, but enjoyable face climbing when the rock was good. My understanding is that Eric and Rolf belayed lower and face climbed up and right? Having pins made this belay feel comfortable, but are not necessary. Pitches six and seven are easy to follow and fun! Again, I used a beak to beef up the pitch six belay, but it was probably not necessary. Pitch Eight is the only one that didn't quite make sense. The FA description said to "Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge". I walked left and scrambled around to said ledge at fourth class. However to the right is a short corner that looks like it goes at 5.9ish. I'm assuming that was just a typo, but would love to hear if we missed something. We chose to skip the alpine experience and descend the NE ridge sans shiver bivy, getting back to the car around 9pm for a full day out in the mountains. Approaching up P1 4th/low5th It's a big imposing wall! Pitch 2 is pretty spectacular Starting up P3 Starting up our P5 "Bet ya can get a turf stick with the alpine hammer" -Duncan Ralph I climbed hard right, up the face and back left into the corner. Can't say I recommend this variation. Duncan cleaned Tom's remaining gear. Future parties shouldn't rely on this for routefinding. Pitch 6 low angle corner P7 is straight up fun climbing! @rat & @lunger, did you climb this corner to the right? What a wall! Gear Notes: Double rack very small to #1 and single #2-#4, Full range of nuts incl. brass We used a long knife blade and #2 beak. I was glad to have them, but Duncan was indifferent. 70M rope would give you more anchor flexibility Crampons Approach Notes: Standard NE ridge approach. Access the glacier from top left and traverse over to the base of the route.
  4. That just looks horrible. Good job taming the moss and saving us all from having to go take a look.
  5. Oh no! That woulda been a dream. As you can maybe see from my last picture on day two, we were pretty strung out and racing the fading light to get to the base of Terror. Probably walked (stumbled?) right by it!
  6. [TR] Mt Stuart - West Ridge 08/20/2022

    Saw this over Stuart two springs ago before I knew what it was. Gave me the chills. I was pretty sure the aliens were here and it was all over.
  7. [TR] S Pickets - Himmelhorn - Wild Hair Crack? 08/20/2022

    That route looks really enjoyable! Wish it had been part of the traverse. We downclimbed a ways down the choss gully on the N side to the Frenzelspitz access ramp. It wasn't all too bad, and we passed one or two good looking rap anchors. I can't really imagine committing down that in a cloud though...That would be scary. Climbing Stoddard into the traverse would be so much fun! I agree here. We barely touched our axes on the traverse. It wasn't until descending the H/O col that they were truly needed. I bet if you climb it late enough in the year with a low enough snowpack, you could get away with no axes. However you'd also have no water soooooo.
  8. Saw your van on our way up to Newhalem Thursday morning! Had a hunch you'd be doing something cool out there. Nice work!
  9. Rope Solo Systems for Free and Aid?

    I've done a fair bit of free and aid rope soloing with the grigri+microtrax setup and really like it. I actually wrote a TR about soloing Beyond Redlining on here a little while back which sorta shows my system and I explain it in the comments. Re: backup knots, I personally only tie releasable slipknots on pitches I think I might fall on, otherwise the rope is either stacked in a bag at the anchor, on a ledge or dangling free below me. My standard protocol for long free routes is below. Aid is pretty similar but usually involves hauling. 1.)Build ground anchor using the rope 2.)Climb the pitch. Try not to fall 3.)Build anchor and fix line with enough slack to rap the pitch 4.)Pull up remaining tail and stack it at the anchor 5.)Rap pitch while cleaning all but necessary directionals. 6.)Clean bottom anchor. 7.)TR solo (or jug) back up the pitch. 8.)Reset system and start at #1 Happy to answer any more specific questions!
  10. Tonquin Valley / Mt Geikie

    Marlin Thorman and Duncan Ralph were planning to go out there a couple years ago. I think the border was closed due to COVID so they had to change plans. They would likely have all the beta.
  11. Trip: Posthole Peak - [FA?] North Face Right Side (WI3 M4) Trip Date: 01/16/2022 Trip Report: My motivation to spray has been dwindling lately, as such this trip report is a couple months late and will not be as detailed as past reports. In mid January Kurt Ross, Erik Richardson and I ventured into the WA Pass area with plans to repeat the Keena-Williams on Silverstar. While driving over on Saturday night, Kurt and I got word from Erik that the route wasn't in, and his recon informed us that both skiing, and booting conditions were far from ideal. We nearly turned the car around two or three times, but the prospect of a break from the W-side rain kept us on course. As we waffled over what to do, I remembered some cool N-facing walls behind Blue Lake that might hold some potential. The straightforward access and low commitment made this an easy decision. The next morning Erik towed us up the highway, and we skied from the blue lake TH up to the lake. Upon laying eyes on the faces, the main things we noticed was A: they look really cool in the winter, B: a distinct lack of ice (duh), and C: All of the coolest lines had big(enough to kill you) cornices hanging over them. The overhead hazard and warm temps gave us real pause, and we doddled around the base for a while trying to make a call. Eventually we decided on a mellow looking smear on the right side of the left wall (posthole peak). This route had the smallest cornice, and seemed like it would climb the fastest to limit our time in danger. The first third of the route consisted of good low angle ice that somehow wasn't covered in snow. I lead an 80+m pitch of mostly WI2 with a single vertical 12ft step to a screw belay. My next pitch started with some more easy water ice in a groove up to a snowfield. This pitch ended with some trenching to get to a bad rock belay (beaks and KB's). Kurt took over the lead here and lead us most of the way to the top in one ~140m pitch. The first half was snow with an easy mixed step up to 50M of fun albeit very snowy M4 to just below the ridge. I took over the sharp end again and lead a funky pitch of tree climbing and trenching in steep/deep snow up to the ridge crest. At this point we unroped and continued scrambling along the ridge with hopes of reaching the summit before sunset. About half way along the ridge, I fell in a hole while breaking trail, while Kurt was either coming over to laugh at me or help me out, he triggered a large cornice break presumably by just plunging his tool too far to the left. Luckily we had both stayed far enough to the side that we were both safe, but it was a great example of how far back cornices can break. There was roughly three feet of flat rock exposed by the now missing chunk of snow. Poor Erik was out of sight and likely assumed we were both gonezo. With the sun now fully set, and plenty more complex ridge ahead of us, we opted to turn around and investigate our descent options. The ridge took us down to an easy couloir that would be really fun to ski in better conditions. For us it was rather firm booting down to our skis at the base. Large chunks of cornice debris covered our skin track from earlier in the day, solidifying our choice to avoid the more threatened routes. The ski out was err... character building. To the best of my knowledge this was a new route. If anyone has info on previous winter ascents on these walls I'd love to hear about it. Kurt (left) & Erik (right) Following P1 Kurt Leading out on P3 Erik following the snowy mixed awesomeness Questing into the night. Goode in all it's winter glory above Erik's head. Gear Notes: Standard winter alpine rack w/ maybe a couple extra 10-13cm screws Approach Notes: Sled to the Blue Lake trailhead. Skin or boot up to and across the lake.
  12. Trip: Esmeralda Peaks - [FA] Moonlight Serendipity (WI2 M5+ 1,200ft) Trip Date: 11/21/2021 Trip Report: Last Sunday @Kyle M, Kurt Ross and I set out to investigate rumors of early season ice in the Esmeralda Basin area. A couple sizable blowdowns stopped our drive early, diminishing any hopes of even making it to our intended climb. With zero expectations, we decided to go for a walk up the road and see if we could get eyes on anything cool. We took our sweet time walking up the road, stopping to look through binoculars at everything that vaguely resembled ice. We nearly dropped all our climbing gear at the trailhead, but decided to keep it for “training weight”. Luckily we did, as we shortly got eyes on the NE face of Esmeralda’s NE peak. A discontinuous series of ice smears, chimneys and ramps seemed to form a potential route up the face, but we figured it was still too early. Possibly against our better judgement, we decided to “go scout the approach” and soon found ourselves scrambling up fun WI2 smears on the lower flanks of the face. Our route followed easy terrain that angled left and then traversed hard back right to where the face steepens abruptly. A very convenient dike feature splits the face for almost its entire height, and proved to be the key to our success. I kept leading, and scratched my way up a fun albeit poorly protected section of chimney. From here I had my fill for a little bit, and let Kurt take over the sharp end. An easy connector pitch took us up to a decision point. The chimney/dike feature continued above us, but seemed to hold ever steepening iced up rock climbing. With the little amount of daylight we had left, we opted to bypass this to the left via a tricky and somewhat loose chimney that seemed like it would take us to easier terrain, and the summit. Kurt casually lead the pitch, seemingly unfazed by the toaster oven sized block he dropped on his head. The sun set on us as we were following this pitch, and brought us to another decision point. We hadn’t prepared for a day of this magnitude and were running out of food and water fast. We could either bail now and call it a good scouting mission, or keep going in hopes of the summit, and a quick walk off. We opted to push onward into the night. From this point the climbing was largely on snow, apart from the odd rock step, or awkward bit of shallowly buried slab. Two more pitches brought us to an imposing headwall we hadn't seen from below. I was starting to worry that our climb was done there. While we could have likely found a route up the steep dry rock, it was far too late in the evening to start such drytooling shenanigans. Our last option was to keep traversing right to search for a way around it. Much to our surprise, a perfect rock ramp cork screwed around the summit block, taking us to the top of the wall. Once atop our little summit, we saw a long complex rock ridge that unfolded in front of us. Continuing to the true summit would have taken us several long pitches, and more hours than we had. We had climbed to the top of the wall we intended, and were more than happy with how things unfolded. The descent involved a couple pitches of down leading and about six or seven double rope rappels off trees and bushes. We hiked out hungry under the almost full moon, and got back to Seattle at two in the morning the next day. Kyle will likely write a more in depth blog post in a couple days. While clearly not representative of the conditions we encountered, the topo below shows more of the wall than is visible from below. Gear Notes: Single rack .1-3, nuts, beaks, KB's and a Spectre came in handy. Screws were not required for the conditions we encountered. 10's and 13's would be best. Approach Notes: Walk, drive or sled to the Esmeralda Basin TH. Hike up the trail for a little under a half mile before crossing the creek and picking your way straight up to the face. If you can drive to the trailhead, this climb is VERY easily accessible.
  13. That wall sees a lot of sun, so needs better temps. We hope to go back out there later this season.
  14. But then we would have missed out on the four mile moonlight hike down the road!
  15. They go by lots of different names. Beaks, birdbeaks, peckers, tomahawks. I think we're thinking of the same thing though.
  16. Trip: Stuart Range - Stuart Range Traverse Trip Date: 08/30/2021 Trip Report: I was Initially a little hesitant to write this report as it was certainly nothing groundbreaking, I don’t really have any super helpful beta and it just kinda felt like I was stroking my ego. Anyhow, here is a short report of beta I wish I had for the traverse. I'd also like to echo that this is basically a long dry sidehill. If you are expecting a bunch a great climbing, think again. It felt like a dangerous hike. The other day I climbed the Stuart Range Traverse over about 31 hours, including a 7ish hour nap near Prusik. I decided to start on the W-ridge of Stuart via Ingalls and out to the Snow Lake Trail. This is the straightest line on the map, and that appealed to me for some reason. Thankfully my friend Alastair was generous enough to shuttle me back to my car the next day. Thanks bud! The first crux for me was getting over to the east side of Sherpa. It seemed that one with a rope could easily rap over the other side of the summit and continue on their way, unfortunately I didn’t have that luxury. I chose to down climb the S couloir a little ways, and then follow a ledge system around the mountain to the east. This worked out in the end, but was time consuming and a bit circuitous. The next crux for me came at Argonaut. In classic fashion, I had only gathered just enough beta (literally just a picture looking up the S-face) to not fully epic, but not quite enough to know where I was going. I opted for the first gully (pictured below) up to the ridge, hoping for straightforward traversing to the base of the S-face. I encountered anything but. This side of the mountain consists of an incredible grouping of gullies, towers and fins. While striking, it makes for slow arduous travel. I later learned that other solo travelers had dropped low down to approach the face straight on. This would probably be faster/less stressful, but not nearly as cool. I eventually got where I needed to go. Getting off of Argo was definitely the most stressful part, and the spot that I really wish I had a rope. I ended up walking down to a 2-bolt 1-pin rap anchor, and down climbed from there. This bit was loose, slabby and just no fun. While not necessary, a rope here would be really really nice, especially after all the terrain you’ve already covered for the day. This spot also seems to seep earlier in the season, so a rope might be required most of the year. I believe there is a rap/downclimb route to climbers left that may skip it. More downclimbing on better rock took me down to the basin. A small snow patch below Argo provided a tiny trickle of water for me to fill up with. If It wasn’t for this, I would have only had one liter for the rest of the traverse. The rest of the traverse is mostly walking unless you stick to the ridges. The snow free walk off of D-tail is chill and cairned right now. I’ll certainly be taking this route in the future for getting off D-tail late season. There is a small glacier at the pass between Boola Boola Buttress and Lil A. When I hiked by, there was standing water between the dirt and ice. This may be a spot to fill up, but I didn’t look too closely at how nasty it was. GPS track found HERE Here's a photo dump for inspiration Gear Notes: 60m 6mm tag line, Dyneema sling for harness, Reverso + Locker would be a perfect rap kit. Minimum 3L water storage. Good music to keep you company. Brought rock shoes but never used them. Trail gaiters are $$$! Approach Notes: Choose your own adventure
  17. [TR] Stuart Range - Stuart Range Traverse 08/30/2021

    The high traverse I took was like 5.5/5.6 and didn't take all that long, but rapping would be SOOO much nicer.
  18. [TR] Stuart Range - Stuart Range Traverse 08/30/2021

    I actually didn't bring a rope, the rap kit mentioned in the gear notes is what I should have brought. I chose to bring a bivy kit in lieu of a rap line because my ride wasn't coming till the next day.
  19. [TR] Goode Mountain - Megalodon Ridge 08/29/2021

    This will be an invaluable resource for future parties! Nice job finding the better approach and 4th class bypass!
  20. Trip: Mount Goode - Megalodon Ridge Trip Date: 07/19/2021 Trip Report: “Hey bear!” I shout, followed by a convincing monkey call from Sean. We are only a couple hundred yards away from the trail, but swallowed deep in the eight foot tall slide alder of the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Maybe we’re off route, maybe there is no route. A couple days prior Sean and I had been throwing around ideas for the weekend. Sean was interested in something hard on CBR, while I was craving some choss and adventure. Being the great friend and partner that he is, Sean agreed to my idea of Goode, and adjusted his schedule to fit mine. Meeting at the parking lot on Sunday, I ask Sean how comfortable he is soloing most of the ridge. He’s psyched on the idea, and I’m psyched to slim down the rack. I ditch the 4 and a few other pieces. With that I grab a couple bubbly waters to stash in a creek along the way and we’re off. In classic fashion, Sean takes off jogging almost immediately, it feels so good to be moving. The hiking flies by and we soon find ourselves stumbling down an alder infested hillside down to Bridge Creek. With no obvious entry point on the other side, we start hiking upstream along the river bank until the alder overtakes us, and we’re forced to wade up stream in the biting glacier melt water. Just in time for my feet to go fully numb, I find a narrow tunnel through the brush and out of the river. After a brief bout of screaming barfies we’re off and moving again. From this point, things got a little weird. All previous reports of this route seemed intentionally vague about how to gain the ridge. The alpine basin that looked like steep meadows on the map proved to be alder choked waterfalls. After re-reading Dan’s TR, I’m pretty sure we cut up the hill too early and endured some hellish bushwacking. Following the waterfall a little further seems like a better idea. Once re-birthed from the thicket, we followed a loose low 5th class gully up to the ridge crest. Freedom at last! The trudge up the treed ridge felt like it went on for eternity. Every roll, followed by another buttress and so on. It was at this point in the day that the true enormity of Jens and Dan’s single push effort set in. We were tired, and the idea of continuing up the ridge did not appeal. Maybe with tiny packs and perfect approach beta, but even then... As we tucked in for the night, a small plane flew circles around the summit. I assumed it could only be John Scurlock. After a nice night nestled into a bed of heather, we woke with the sun and enjoyed a warm pot of coffee to start the day. The initial part of the ridge proper was phenomenal. Highly textured white stone flowed up the mountain in a stunning spine feature. This section up to the first point would be a classic route on it’s own. I can not overstate how good the rock was through this section. Just perfect scrambling. Now atop point 8200, a cold wind ripped from the shady south side, adding to the intimidation of the ominous drop off ahead. Rather than onsight down-solo into the abyss, we opted to rope up here and simul down to the notch. This section did not boast the same quality rock, but made for comfortable down climbing with adequate protection. Once down, we again unroped and began back up to SE peak. Scrambling across this ridge was an incredible experience. I found myself falling into a flow state unlike much other. The climbing isn’t too hard, nor very sustained, so you are really able to enjoy the movement. Finally below the headwall, we roped up again. I lead a long somewhat loose and scary pitch of 5.9 slightly to the right of the FA party’s route. It went, but I can’t say I recommend it. Sean then took the lead, and after bailing on a N-side option, led an incredible 55m pitch up and left through splitter corners and up a striking arete feature. This pitch onward is definitely the same route that the FA party took. The last ~70m pitch took me up a very poorly protected arete composed of brick sized loose blocks up onto the ridge. As Blake says, “no lifeguard on duty here”. Sean questing the wrong way. Now with the biggest obstacle behind us, we basked in the sun before unroping and scrambling down to the snow patch, and top of the ski line. Things had gone very smoothly up to this point, so we took our time hanging out and brewing up. Sitting there looking at the steep grey ice, and rotten gendarmes was making me nervous. We only had one chintzy light axe between the two of us and no crampons. If there wasn’t a way around, we would be in a pretty bad spot. As we scampered further up the ridge, I theorized how we could dead-man some rocks to rap down the snow and swing over to the other side. Once over the ridge, I was relieved to find a casual (albeit shitty) scree slope taking us around the back side. More scrambling took us through looser and more convoluted gendarmes up towards the Black Tooth notch. Roping up one last time, I lead down and around the final gendarme into black tooth notch. I found this pitch to be easier than the proposed 5.10 grade, probably 5.8 or 5.9 and truly well protected. Maybe after 11 hours of FA questing with big packs this could feel like 10-. A short simul block took us to the summit and nap time! Having mentally prepared for an epic 12+ hour day, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive on the summit in the early afternoon with plenty of day to spare. We had full water bottles and a full seven hours to nap and enjoy the views. Life is Goode! The descent sucked, and the hike out only sucked for the last hour. Too many good photos to share in this TR. Our full photo album can be found HERE Gear Notes: If Simuling/pitching out most of the ridge Double rack .1-2 Single 3&4. If scrambling all but the cruxes, a single rack .1-3 should be fine. Small cams in the .1-.2 range are most useful. Fish themed snacks. Approach Notes: IDK, try and gain the ridge as soon as possible? Follow the waterfall? Maybe someone who has done it right will chime in.
  21. Trip: North Early Winters Spire - Labor Pains (Retro Bolt) Trip Date: 06/21/2021 Trip Report: I know, I know, I'm sure someone will be upset that retroed this hardman test piece but hear me out. Labor Pains has been on my to-do list for years, but I was just too intimidated by its reputation. I knew that when I did eventually climb it, I wanted to replace some of the hardware to make it less of a death route, all while retaining it's character. Since I wasn't able to get permission from the FA party, I committed to doing it in the best possible style I could manage. I self belayed every pitch in it's original state, then replaced the hardware I felt was warranted on the way back down to clean the pitch. I placed 3 bolts total, all hand drilled. As far as the climbing goes, I thought the grades listed on the topo were largely quite soft. The one exception being the 11a mantel on P4. If climbing this with a partner, rope drag would be a serious concern. I might actually consider climbing this with half ropes to mitigate the drag, but proper slingage should help considerably. P1 5.0: Start up Chockstone route, then traverse up and left, through a loose chimney system to the ledge just below P2. Confident parties should just solo this, however the looseness should be taken into account. P2 5.10: Climb the somewhat crumbly right facing corner system. This pitch protects well enough, and is the only pitch you really want the #3 and #4 on. The bulge is much easier than 5.11. Once above the bulge, slab left to a thin corner system and up onto the sloping ledge above. Looking down P2 from just above the bulge. P2+ 5.9?: I recommend moving the belay up to the ledge above. A horizontal overlap and sloping ledge will provide a good stance for the next pitch. You could even move all the way up to the base of the thin cracks if you wanted to. P3: 5.10+: Aim for the obvious thin crack above. This "mini west face" is actually a double crack, with the easier of the two being the right crack. Once through the seam, traverse left below the roof, and look for the bolt around the corner. I determined this bolt to be in good shape, and not yet in need of being replaced. I re-drove the piton above it, and it can be adequately backed up by a .1 cam just to the left of the pin. Replacing the pin with a bolt would be nice, but I determined the pin, supplementary cam, and proximity to the bolt to be safe enough. Continue over the bulge on cool flakes to where you will now find a new shiny bolt. This used to be a rusty pin behind a flake. The pin turned out the be pretty damn good, but certainly not sustainable. More somewhat runout climbing takes you to the right, then back left to the newly updated bolt anchor. Broke my tuning fork before I was able to remove the old button head. It now suits as a good spot to hang your shoes. The old pin, and the new protection bolt. P4 5.11a: From the bolted anchor, step up on good edges until you can reach the new bolt up and right. Slab your way hard right under the loose flakes to the sloping ledge. A thin crack which takes good pro will take you up and over a steep bulge. The topo calls out a "not so great fixed pin" which was gone before I got there. If you are already feeling some rope drag, I recommend belaying on the slab just above the mantel. The remainder of the route climbs flakes and cracks up and left on licheny but easy terrain. The previous runout straight off the P4 belay. The new bolt that protects you from falling straight onto the belay. Overall I thought this routes reputation was a bit overblown. In it's previous state, all the hardest climbing was well protected, but some falls could have been catastrophic. As it stands now, I truly believe I was able to retain the adventurous excitement of the route, while mitigating the danger. It is still PG13, as bolting all the runouts would be unreasonable. Get on this route, It's really fun! Gear Notes: Double rack from micro to #2. Single #3 & #4. Standard rack of nuts plus some brassies might come in handy. Many shoulder length slings. 70m rope to take advantage of the W-face raps. Approach Notes: Standard Blue Lake approach
  22. [TR] North Early Winters Spire - Labor Pains (Retro Bolt) 06/21/2021

    I'm aware Steve passed away. I was also aware that it had some bolts replaced already. Regardless of the previous rebolt, consensus was still that the route was in unnecessarily dangerous condition. Both parties I know who have climbed it, Wayne Wallace and John Plotz both agreed that some pins should be replaced with bolts, and the anchor updated. It seems that I may have been off base adding the bolt above the P3 anchor. However I stand by my decision, and believe that it retains the character of the route. If I hear from enough people who have climbed the route that the bolt is not acceptable. I am happy to spin it out and mask the hole.
  23. [TR] North Early Winters Spire - Labor Pains (Retro Bolt) 06/21/2021

    I wasn't able to find contact info for them. I honestly didn't try too hard though...
  24. Trip: Chair Peak West Face - [FA] The Upper West Side (WI4+ M4) Trip Date: 01/18/2021 Trip Report: Yesterday @Doug_Hutchinson and I skied out to the west face of Chair with low expectations and too much weight on our backs. As far as I can tell, this face has seen little to no winter climbing activity and was completely off my radar until @Kyle M showed me some photos. Our route started by slogging up ~700ft of steep firm snow with a couple easy ice chokes along the way. Nothing worth roping up for. The sun starts hitting the lower snow slopes around 10am, so I would recommend timing things so you start climbing no later than 10:30. After the slog we arrived at the head of a small alcove where we kicked out a platform and roped up. Gear for a belay is hard to come by, take what you can get. I took the first pitch which ended up being a tricky 20m M4 left facing corner system. Nothing was ever really that hard, but protection was difficult, and the rock quality left something to be desired. A really cool looking super direct mixed pitch can be found just to the right and would probably go at M7. Doug then took the lead on the money pitch. While only about WI4+, this pitch proved to be a pretty serious lead. The crux required climbing into an alcove behind a detached curtain, grabbing a rock hold with your right hand and swinging over a bulge above your head. Not your usual WI4. This pitch took good 10 and 13cm screws, but not always where you want them. One could probably bail back to the snow from here with 2 ropes. Moving forward we climbed a full 65 meters of scrambly snow/rock/ice up to a scottish looking headwall, and up a ramp to the left. Belay off a small tree that may be buried in different conditions. I have a hunch you can go either right or left, not sure which is easier. A short sketchy mixed pitch took us up to the false summit. Not hard, just tenuous and poor pro. ^Placing the only piece on the pitch ^The piece The route finished with a classic Au Cheval alpine ridge traverse with snow and ice on the north side, and warm dry rock on the south. This traverse is VERY poorly protected, and definitely not straight forward. Descent: There are two good options for the descent. The best option by far, is to do this route as a carryover, foregoing the skis and descending the normal route to the east. This requires very firm conditions, but would be much shorter. Since we left our skis in the Melakwa valley, we were forced to descend that direction via a long snow gulley opposite of the standard rappel anchor. The first rappel shares the piton anchor with the standard descent, just in the opposite direction. We left a piton and nut anchor 60M down to the left for future parties. This rappel only got us half way to the next worthy tree, luckily the snow was good for down climbing, but we were well aware of the exposed cliffs below. Two more raps off trees took us to the schrund. Ski back over Bryant col, or for bonus points, continue out via the second half of the Chair peak circumnav in the dark. Link to my Strava track can be found HERE for approach and descent help. Get on this climb! We thought it was pretty classic, and likely not in good condition very frequently. Reach out to me with any beta needs! Thanks to Kyle M for this photo! Green is the route, Red is the descent, and the Yellow dots are rap anchors. The last rap is in a bushy tunnel that may be difficult to find for future parties. Gear Notes: Single rack .2-2, stoppers, KB's and Bugaboos. 6-10 Screws 10-16cm most useful. 2 Pickets brought but never used (per usual). 60m twin ropes. Approach Notes: Ski or boot up and over Bryant/Chair col via pineapple basin. Descend over to Melakwa lake, and up to the base of the wall.
  25. [TR] Mt. Index - Lake Serene photo trip 03/23/2021

    Those are incredible! Definitely the best picture I've seen of the north face. Would you ever consider taking close up photos certain faces upon request?
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