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Kuato

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About Kuato

  • Rank
    stranger
  • Birthday 12/03/1975

Converted

  • Occupation
    Conspiracy Theorist
  • Location
    Bellingham, WA
  1. Apparently the climb sees so few climbers they don't even bother with a summit registry, couldn't find one anywhere around the summit.
  2. Trip: American Border Peak - SE Traverse Chimney Route Trip Date: 07/14/2018 Trip Report: Cascade Pass Road was still closed past the Eldorado parking area. Well shit! Time for plan B. Or Plan A if you like an epic climb for the ages! I texted DanO and asked if he was ready for some pain, he said sure. I see several reports of American Border Peak being climbed in September and I thought, "Why not try it in mid July and take one for the team?". Twin lakes parking was packed because the weather was perfect and it was the weekend. We arrived at the trailhead and were on the move at 11:30 am. There were several patches of snow to cross along the way to High Pass which was a bit tedious but it was part of the glory of early season. Once to High Pass we started down into the 1st gully. A word of advise, stay low in the gully and wrap around the bottom of the rib through the trees to the 2nd gully. We went high in the 1st gully to cross to the 2nd gully and it resulted in slow travel and a skinned ass, again adding to the glory. 1st Gully from High Pass 2nd Gully looking toward 6300' Gully to Col The second gully was quite pleasant, less rock and lots of green. We aimed for the notch at 6300'. Getting up to the col and down to the 3rd gully required some patience with the loose rock. We reached camp at the base of the talus slope in the 3rd gully at 6:00 pm. 3rd Gully from 6300' Col Camp at the base of the talus in the 3rd Gully DanO decided he was fine with hanging out at camp for summit day so I left for the summit solo at 5:45 am. It has been said that this route to American Border Peak has lots of loose rock and that is the absolute truth. Make peace with slipping constantly or it will drive you insane. Rocks will be falling so if you are climbing in a group, keep it tight or spread out. The terrain is steep to go along with the loose rock so make sure of your footing or pay the piper. I topped out on the 6900' col at 7:15 am. I was happy to see the snow was not an issue for the SE traverse to de Gaulle's gully. After getting to the top of de Gaulle's gully, I had to take some time to figure the best option for crossing the snow covered, steep hillside as well as the snow filled gully up to the ledges. It was gut check time. I decided to climb down and diagonal to the base of the snow and edge along to the base of the snow gully. The snow gully was steep and the snow was not in the greatest of conditions. I followed some goat tracks up the snow gully carefully kicking steps and planting my ice axe. I love mountain goats! They always seem to be looking out for me on the mountain, like guardian angels. I was very happy to make it to the top of the snow gully without incident. Once to the top of the snow gully I could see the route had very little snow remaining. The ledges leading to the chimney were wide enough to move fairly quickly. There are 3 chockstones wedged in the chimney. The bottom chockstone requires the most skill to climb. Since I was going solo, I decided to do the 4th class work around to get above the bottom chockstone. The rest of the chimney is still solid 5th class so take your time. Once to the top of the chimney you will have to go under the top chockstone and wiggle through a hole commonly referred to as the keyhole. It is a tight fit so you will probably need to push or pull your pack through separately. There is a great camp site below the summit after the keyhole. The summit from the keyhole is class 3 to 4. I finally reached the summit at 10:45 am. The view was great and I was feeling good. Time to head down. I started down from the summit at 11:20 am. There was a new rappel sling around the top chockstone complete with a donut, very nice. I had a 40m static rappel rope that worked perfect for the rappel down the chimney. There is a second rappel station halfway down the chimney. I rappelled the majority of the way down the snow gully then worked my way across the ledges above the snow to get to the top of de Gaulle's gully. The rest of the descent to camp was loose rock slipping and sliding but controllable. I arrived at camp at 4:00 pm. DanO was happy to see me alive and in one piece. The summit and back took a lot of time. I needed to be back home the next day so we decided to pack up camp and head out. We made it back to the car at a midnight exhausted and happy to be done. The night was beautiful and full of stars. This is a challenging climb and I am glad that I waited a few years to get more experience on other climbs before attempting it. This will go down as one of my favorite climbs. We are not freaky fast climbers and we are not super slow either. Taking that into consideration, here are the times for the climb. Day 1: 11:30 am (left car) to 6:00 pm (camp) - 6.5 hours Day 2: 5:45 am (camp) to 10:45 am (summit) - 5 hours, 11:20 am (summit) to 4:00 pm (camp) - 4hr40min, 5:30 pm (camp) to Midnight (car) - 6.5 hours. Total time for Day 2 - 18 hours Doing this climb earlier in the year is a lot slower than later in the year. If I had to do it again, I'd do it in 3 days and enjoy the experience. We brought crampons, ice axes, trekking poles and a 40m static rappel rope and we used everything. Gear Notes: Crampons, Ice Axe, Trekking Poles, 40 meter static rope, Helmets Approach Notes: Started from Twin Lakes parking lot.
  3. The weather was looking good for the weekend so I texted DanO, we decided to hit Columbia Peak. The peak was supposed to be mostly class 3 with some class 4 sections, according to what I had read, which sounded perfect for late season. We parked at the gate of the new road going to Monte Cristo and started riding our bikes at 7:30am. We arrived at Monte Cristo and parked the bikes. We made it to Poodle Dog Pass at 10:30am. The weather was perfect, classic fall hiking. We made it to the turn off at 5100' at about 12:00. We were making good time so we decided to bag the summit on day 1 while the weather was holding out. We dropped all non-essential gear and started for the summit at 1:00pm. We started hitting snow around 5300' on the route. The climber's trail was half covered in snow. We were in solid snow by the time we hit the base of the 1st gully. The rock step to get to the 1st gully was solid 4th class maybe low 5th class for about 20 feet. The gully itself was basic class 2 on loose rock (thankfully covered in snow). Once to the top of the 1st gully we ran into a ledge heading to the right toward the SW Face. The ledge was also class 2, but snow covered, so travel was slow and steady. The ledge went around the corner to the base of the SW Face. There was an 8 foot section of low 5th class rock to get into the SW Face gully. The SW Face gully was partially covered in snow and wet rock. The rock in the gully was down sloping, loose and steep, combined with the wet snow, the SW Face had our full attention. A slip would have been bad so we traveled slow and sure. We stayed to the left side of the gully as much as possible since it had the best options. Clouds started moving in and covering the gully and summit block. We made it to the base of the summit block and attempted to corkscrew around to the top (per the standard route) but the snow was making the route up dangerous with a piss poor runout to certain death. DanO decided he was happy making it to within 50 feet of the summit and elected to wait for me to summit via the SW face of the summit block. I found some decent holds going up the middle of the summit block on what looked to me to be low 5th class. I went for it. The summit view is supposed to be fantastic. The only view I had was of the inside of a cloud, but the summit was achieved at 5:30pm. We started down carefully making sure our holds were good since the traction was less than ideal. We made it across the ledge at the top of the class 2 gully just as the sun was going down. The view was incredible as the sun split between a high and low bank of clouds. I imagined this is what the dawn of time must have looked like as life was birthed into the great vastness of existence. I could not help but smile and nod my head at the display we were witnessing. One moment in time I will never forget. We broke out the lights and worked our way back via GPS to our gear stash at 9:30pm. We worked our way back to the main trail on the ridge to setup camp. We left camp at 11:00am and were back at the car by 3:00pm. This climb is commonly rated as a class 3 with sections of 4th class, I'm assuming in dry conditions sans snow. I would rate the climb we did as having more class 4 than class 3 with sections of low class 5. The rock is loose, steep and down sloping. I would not recommend doing this climb when it is wet. Gear Notes: We brought overnight supplies, mountaineer boots, trekking poles, ice axes & crampons. We didn't use the crampons. I was glad that I brought a water proof shell layer as the temp dropped and the wind picked up heading to the summit.
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