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PorterM

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PorterM last won the day on November 19

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  1. ice climbing 2018/2019 OR/WA Ice Conditions

    Lots of very fun ice to be had above heliotrope! We found mostly cold dry ice. Conditions were generally not conducive to leading (short pitches with snow below or thin ice or not hard enough to justify it, ymmv). There is ice to be had! Up and left of where the trail goes right to heliotrope (trigged a wind slab below this) Same area as above FAT flow to the west of the trail on the way up, kind of wet, very easy, about 80-100ft same as above (this ice is grin worthy) Up and to the right of the last climb (cliff band below heliotrope) (sorry for the quality) same as above Hope this inspires some hope for the winter to come!! ~Porter
  2. There was a little spice to be had, nothing unreasonable though!
  3. Trip: Argonaut Peak - North East Couloir Trip Date: 11/17/2018 Trip Report: Yesterday Conrad and I climbed the North East Couloir of Argonaut. We found fun, and challenging conditions. We left Leavenworth around 3:20am and were headed up the trail by 4:00am. We moved quickly along the trail to the spot we had decided we would branch off and cross mountaineers creek. Upon crossing, we filtered more water and started our bushwhack as it became light. After a while in the trees we ended up in a small boulder field and found a string of cairns. Though headed more toward Stuart we opted to follow. This proved to be fruitful as they led us toward the tree finger that allows one to avoid the bushwack from hell in the slide alders. We followed the beta from Jens Holsten posted on a previous TR that said "Here is the beta: After crossing Mountaineers Creek, cross over a wooded rib or two and then head straight south through the woods. DO NOT enter the boulder field until you have literally walked out the end of the woods as far south as the trees extend. At this point you can hook back left on a talus finger that avoids all that nasty bush whacking." Posted on a TR from 2011. This beta proved to be key and accelerated the approach. We ascended the talus and frozen dirt and caught up to a group of three. We never were close enough to talk as we went futher left to climb some approach ice smears. Approach Ice Once in the Couloir we soloed up to the first rock step. This had a steep smear of ice and proved to be great fun. The ice filled the crack enough that I had to run it out on the smear but felt pretty secure. From here we unroped and continued booting up the snow with a few sections of easy rock mixed in. We passed the alternate route that Jens mentions and opted not to take it due to it appearing to not take any gear. (Thin ice line in right of photo, will definitely take if I climb this again) Above this there was another steep rock step which we climbed on its right and turned out to be a one move wonder, one hook over the top followed by lots of grunting to pull myself up the to top of it. Following this pitch we unroped and continued all the way to the notch looking south. Should have gone right to gain the snow slopes at some point but we ended up here and wrapped around on to the south face. We found what looked to be our easiest line up from there and Conrad led this feature up mostly rock with a snow dusting to the snow slopes (sorry, no photo, but it was very difficult and pretty heady, glad I didnt lead it). We booted up a nasty breakable crust to the summit ridge. This was exposed but fairly easy and we opted to solo everything. After a summit snack around noon (I think??) we retraced our steps and following one rap on tat we were in the col at the top of the couloir. (Photo climbing on to summit) Retracing our steps: We continued down the East ridge another 30ft to another tat anchor and rapped from here into the top of a snow gully leading south.We booted down this to the flatter southern slopes. We chose to descend the col between dragontail and colchuck peak to colchuck lake so we started our sunny slog to there. Once at the col we could tell light was starting to fade and we had long since finished out water so we didn't lollygag. We started down the Colchuck Glacier and quickly hit the bergshrund. There was a thin snow bridge that we chose not to trust and instead took the leap... We found lots of steepish exposed glacial ice and spent a lot more time on the front points as we climbed down toward the lake. Eventually we ran out of snow and ice and switched to approach shoes and started walking down the rocks (now covered in frost). We made it to the trail right about when we needed our lights and has a nice (read: long and tired) walk out, arriving back at the cars at 7:00. For future fall climbers, the thin ice line to the right in the third photo appears that it would be a very fun alternate route. This is a very fun fall alpine route! GPS Track, (disclaimer, we didn't follow the best route 100% of the time) http://www.movescount.com/moves/move254799988 Gear Notes: We took 3 screws and never placed one, but would still take one or two because ice was around. A few nuts and a few cams from fingers up to bd #2 proved to be most useful. Had pins but never placed any. Approach Notes: Follow the cairns if you find them and take the tree finger up as much of the talus slope as you can (stay further right than you'd expect).
  4. Mentor for an aspiring alpine climber

    Hey Tavish, I'm also at western. I lean far toward the alpine and ice side of things but would be psyched to climb with you. Ive done some alpine rock (really dont feel good leading alpine rock harder than 5.9 on gear tbh) but I seek out alpine ice whenever it exists. (Bakers N Ridge, Lib Ridge, Colfax etc...) I also guide on Rainier and in the N Cascades so I have spent lots of time on glaciers and have my glacier skills (and teaching) pretty dialed. Sounds like you crush rock like no other! Shoot me a text and we can talk. My normal climbing partner is graduating after winter so I'll definitely be looking for someone to get after harder stuff in the alpine. ~Porter McMichael (509) five 5 for - 3744
  5. Need ice tool suggestions for harder routes

    I use Grivel North Machine Carbons for almost everything even sort of steep. Climbed DKH with them as well as Lib ridge, Bakers N ridge etc... I really like that they can be as light as 440g a piece with the ice pick. I usually run one this way and one with a hammer (540g I think) for a light weight and capable combo. I think for anything WI5 or harder I'd like an offset (nomic style) tool but NMC's were perfect on the Cosley Houstan (WI4 or 4+) this past weekend. That being said, Quarks are also a great all around tool as are carbon cobras, it comes down to what you like the swing of and can get cheapest. My climbing partner has elite climb salamandras, those are a stellar alpine tool I think. So light and climb ice VERY well, also picks are very cheap for them and you can get an adze and hammer. Many many options in this category, try them all if you can, if not get whats cheapest I suppose?
  6. Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley-Houstan Trip Date: 11/10/2018 Trip Report: Yesterday Peter and I took a spin up the Cosley-Houstan finding excellent conditions. There is a lot of info on the route out there so I'll just detail how we climbed the route and anything others should be on the lookout for. With cold temps and a clear sky we left Bellingham to 5:30am. We left the parking lot, with race skis (aka suffer sticks), at about 7:10. We cruised up the trail and decided to start skinning just bellow the Coleman glacier. Here, we have always gone straight up toward Colfax in the past but there was a highway of a skin track headed west. We decided to take the highway and ride the ridge to colfax, this proved to be a waste of time. Upon traversing the ridge and taking one short ski run in excellent snow we started breaking trail up toward the route. Conditions looked good and the whole north face was holding a bit of rime. We got to the base of the climb around 11:45 and started transitioning. I went to put on my crampons and realized I'd made a mistake. I had dartwin toes with camp nanotech heels, the problem was that I had a semi auto toe bail that needs a normal crampon strap but the camp's have an elastic strap with a plastic buckle. Improvisation was needed, 30 minutes and some cordage later my crampons were on, but still not perfect. The first pitch looked easy so we opted to simul though a few screws to a belay at the base of the vertical ice. With my cold hands and janky 'pons, I opted to let Peter "have" the money pitch (thanks Peter). He launched up the steep water ice. Cold temps (~20F) led to brittle, chandelier ice. His first real swing into the pillar lead to a deadening thunk as the ice under my feet shifted. Peter stitched up the first steep section and pulled out over the top with a single screw left. (We brought 7 and I was belaying from 2). He brought me up to the 1 screw and 1 axe belay. After reinforcing the anchor he led the next 40ft of sub vertical ice to a picket belay. From here I led around the corner to the right to see the second curtain of ice, it looked far too thin to climb. I attempted to place a 13cm screw at the base and bottomed out half way in, and it didn't look any thicker up higher. I wasn't about the try it because at this point we were simuling with 2 mediocre screws between us. I chose a line up a sub vertical section of snice to the right of the steepest ice, this proved fruitful and positive but was protection-less. Above this I dug into a small cornice and gave Peter a meat belay through this steeper section. At this point we were on terrain we had climbed a few weeks prior on the west ridge. We opted to put the rope away and just climb to the top (taking the correct/left line this time around). We topped out around 3:00 or 3:30 and knew we had about an hour of light left. But we also had skis... The descent was rapid and we were able to down climb instead of rappel to get back on the Coleman. We moved as quickly as possible through a combo of skiing and booting around some very large cracks (the largest requires a long end run the the east). We went from summit to off the glacier in a bit over an hour in mostly excellent snow. After wandering around in the dark for a bit we found our shoes and started the walk back to the car. Total time was 11hrs 50min. I think this a reasonable time, we likely climbed the route faster than most as we only did 3 real pitches but we also took a very circuitous route to the base of the climb. I'd say get out there and climb it soon but freezing levels are going up to 11k so... Maybe just enjoy my cell phone photos for now. Fighting through some wind Wallowing up toward the first pitch. Peter gets the goods. Peter on the best neve around above the last ice step Pulling though on to the top Crampon shenanigans Beta photo of the polish route Gear Notes: 7 screws (would rather 8) 3 pins, didn't use any. Approach Notes: Skinny skis on fresh pow.
  7. Trip: Colfax Peak - West Ridge Trip Date: 10/14/2018 Trip Report: Brief TR and pictures from the west ridge of Colfax yesterday. Huge thanks to Eric Carter for bringing this line into the light and being willing to give a go beta-less. We had his beta so it was perhaps a less stressful endeavor. Sunday morning we looked at the C-H, hoping it would be in, but expecting it wouldn't be, and it wasn't (but getting there). So we wrapped around Colfax (on a pretty major boot pack) to take a look at the west ridge. With hard snow and a fun looking line we started up, following occasional faint boot marks from Eric's party. We opted to solo as we both felt comfortable with the positive, stiff, snow. Climbing was straight forward and very fun up the first steep section to gain the ridge, steepest slope was likely around 55-60 degrees. We followed the ridge to a rock face and saw the snow couloir down to the south, we tied an equivocation hitch, rapped into the gully, pulled and coiled the rope, and continued up. The gully was very easy, perhaps 45 degrees on great snow and steepening up to 55ish near the tight exit with some alpine ice. Here we followed the cliffy headwall left and after a steep soft down-climb into the upper chutes of the C-H (probably the scariest part of the climb, but would be easy to protect with pickets). From there we followed the standard route up to the summit, encountering our steepest climbing (65 degrees? Maybe a few steeper steps? Never actually measured) and a mix of hard snice (snow/ice), breakable crust over powder, and more stiff snow. We had a blast as we wove our way up the chutes toward the top. We must have had our heads down as we climbed because about 150ft from the top we missed an obvious left hand gully that has an easy top out. Instead we ended up with 15 to the top of very steep snice and rime covered rocks, we pitched this out, and Peter lead us to the summit plateau and belayed me up. Route took 3hrs bottom to top only stopping to rappel and pitch out the last section. We descended the East ridge (one rap on good tat) and had to end run a crack on the Coleman all the way to the east, long detour, just as Carter mentioned. Lots of new snow up there but with cold temps things stayed solid and we never punched through any cracks. Colfax ice, sorry no better photos, upper curtain on C-H is not yet fat enough for our ability. Looking at the start of the West Ridge Missed everything until we were in the couloir Sorry I didn't get many photos, here is the first stretch of the upper gullies of the C-H Next 2 photos we are already too far right to have an easy top out Baker, large y shaped crack requires an end run to the East One short rappel on tat to get off the east ridge and to the col between Baker and Colfax Long afternoon shadows as we near the trail Fun route, deserves more ascents!! If I were to grade it I'd say grade 3, steep snow 65deg ?PG13?. Not sure this route would always get a danger rating, would depend on what the gullies do in the spring, maybe they'd be easier to protect and slightly lower angle. Gear Notes: Brought screws, pins, cams, and nuts, used none. Approach Notes: Heliotrope trail
  8. Nice work! headed up tomorrow to climb something up there and may keep this in the back pocket as you did since none of the ice routes on Colfax will likely be in..
  9. Trip: Mt Rainier - Kautz in a day Trip Date: 07/15/2018 Trip Report: A few days ago Jay and I made a single push climb of the Kautz Glacier. After an 11pm alarm in Ashford we left paradise at 12:30am, and stood atop the mountain by 8:30. We chose to each take 2 tools and a small glacier rack and rope but we ended up opting to solo the entirety of the route. For those looking at climbing the route soon there are moderately big cracks above the ice chutes before crossing the cleaver. Nothing show stopping but definitely big enough to make you think. That aside, the route is in excellent condition and I encourage anyone who's thinking about it to head up there! Here are a few pretty pictures... Jay always adheres to the 3 F's of mountaineering. Fashion, Fashion, and Fashion Gear Notes: Minimal, rope, harnesses, 2 screws, 2 pickets, glacier rack, didn't use any of it Approach Notes: Pretty straight forward
  10. Well done! Did that route last fall except we went North twin to south twin with a single 15m rappel on North twin. We got lost in the woods coming off south twin so that is a clear benefit of your route. Either way, fun day in the mountains, not done everyday either which makes it fun!
  11. Awesome TR! fun to read and great pictures!
  12. Trip: Mt Rainier - Liberty Ridge Trip Date: 05/27/2018 Trip Report: Finally ticked off a climb that Peter and I had been eyeing all winter. On Thursday we were trying to decide between Liberty Ridge and the Tantalus traverse in BC. Given the good forecast and knowing the route was doable we opted for Rainier. After a late arrival Friday night, we leave the car around 4 in the morning from the White River Campground (4200ft). Three miles later we are post holing so we opt for skis and start skinning up toward St. Elmo Pass as the sun rises. We crest the pass (7,500ft) and can see the Winthrop Glacier below us. After a fun slide down with skins still on we rope up and skin across and down the glacier. Skinning downhill while tied together and surrounded by crevasses is very difficult... Eventually we get off the Winthrop and skin up Curtis ridge to where we can see the Carbon Glacier. It is brown cracked up mass, we also can see Liberty Ridge and it looks to have less snow that we hoped. The bergschrund on the west side of the ridge is also open meaning we will have to gain the ridge at its toe. We drop all the way down to the Carbon Glacier and began skinning toward the toe of the ridge. After some tense hops over open crevasses and nervous glances at the seracs above us we reach the place where it appears people have been gaining the ridge. The rock is a loose combination of glacial till and basalt blocks. As we debate where the best place to gain the ridge is, about 400lbs of rock pour off the ridge and on to the snow a ways up ridge from us. With the cliffs around us looking like jenga towers we decided it would be best to get on the ridge line asap. After 30ft of steep loose scrabbling we are on the ridge and relieved. We progress up hill through thousands of feet of loose rock, finally reaching thumb rock around 3pm (10,800ft). It feels like a longer day than it really was. We dig out a snow bivy pad and put down our pads and sleeping bags and crawl in. We sleep from about 4 till 7:30 before getting up, restless. We realize that the snow in the bottles in our sleeping bag are melting slower than we had hoped. We bum some water off the other group camped at thumb rock, which saves us from snuggling with quite so much snow (thanks!) After a spectacular avalanche rips down the Willis Headwall next to us we crawl into our sleeping bags with soft bottles full of snow to melt for the following day. We sleep soundly until at 12:40 I awake to crashing rocks. Moments later I hear a whirring of something flying through the air and a slam as something hits my sleeping pad, inches from my head. Peter and I are immediately awake and looking around. We find a baseball sized rock, wedged under Peters backpack, between our heads. Hearts pounding, sleep does not return. We lay there, tense, until 1:30 as we hear the other party starting to move. Already awake and knowing we move faster than them we pack up camp and head uphill by 2am. Cold temps brought solid snow and we move efficiently unroped through a firm bootpack on 45-55 degree snow. This continues through the hours of dawn and as the sun rises we pass under the black pyramid and find a spectacular sheet of ice ahead of us. We get the rope (30m) out for the first time of the day and tie into each end. My hand are cold and Peter takes the first block. As the rope runs out we start to simul climb. We simul for a few hundred feet before Peter uses his last two screws the belay me up. From there I lead out the next few hundred feet until I am down to 2 screws and belay him up. He leads from there to where the angle is so low we feel good soloing again(12,600ft). Rope back in the pack we start up toward Liberty Cap, thinking we still have as far to go as we have already gone. I still feel good but Peter, normally faster than me, is not moving like his normal self. We take a break at a safe spot and finish the last of our water, Peter is out of food so we share some gorp that was nibbled by a mouse at the trailhead and I was saving for last. He complains of some headache and nausea, I learn here that he hasn't been over 11,000ft. With no way down except up, we moved slowly upward. Over the top of Liberty Cap (14,100) we skin down to the col between Columbia Crest and Liberty Cap. Having no interest in more ascent we decide to boot across the Emmons to meet up with the standard route there. Once on the standard route, we unrope and switch back to skis to ski perfect corn down to Camp Schurman(9440ft). A little boot up to the top of the Inter Glacier and we ski through calf deep slush (ACL snow) to the bottom of Glacier Basin (6,000ft). Shoes back on our feet and Peter feeling better, we walk/jog the last 4mi to the car (4200ft). Together we consumed almost a gallon of water from the car, next time we know a stove is worth the weight. Route from Curtis Ridge Really fun volcanic junk... More fun low on the ridge Aesthetic bivy Some time between 2am and sunrise Sunrise a few hundred feet form the ice Perfect stairs as we approach the ice Easy, fun, solid ice Peter feeling like a champ on the descent Gear Notes: 6 Ice screws, 2 pickets, quick reaction time Approach Notes: Road open to White River CG, gained ridge near toe on the east side.
  13. [TR] Mt Baker - North Ridge 05/20/2018

    Sure did, much to our surprise. Would have thought the snow pack had become isothermic enough to only have to worry about loose wet and wet slab but apparently not. Be careful out there.
  14. Trip: Mt Baker - North Ridge Trip Date: 05/20/2018 Trip Report: Quick conditions update for Mt Bakers North ridge for anyone interested. Peter, Lael, and I left Bellingham, skimo gear in hand, at 4:15 Sunday morning. We left the car (.5 mi from trail head) in running shoes at 6:00am and cruised up to heliotrope, past a big group of guided skiers. We continued in our comfy shoes (in the rain) up the snow to the last flat before the steep face leading to heliotrope ridge. Here we left the shoes and booted up to the start of the Coleman glacier. With light skis on our feet and rain only getting harder, we zipped across the Coleman, motivated to stay moving quick by crashing in the fog above as seracs fell from the Coleman headwall. After crossing by an unnervingly fresh debris field we were at the base of the north ridge and threw the skis back on the packs. It was decision time and with a few sucker holes in the clouds (and a knowledge of the forecast) we decided to continue moving upward. Our choice proved fruitful (despite post-holing in the deep slush with no boot pack) and we began to feel ourselves nearing the top of the clouds as we approached the ice step. Peter led a full 30 meters and made an ice screw belay at the top of the ice step, he then dropped the rope so I could lead it too. From the belay I pushed upward in the first firm snow of the day (more on this later) as Lael followed up the ice. We gained the ridge proper and were living large as the sun came out. We the saw what appeared to be another ice step which was confusing because Peter soloed the route the week before and saw no such thing. Upon closer inspection the 5ft high vertical face that stretched across the North West face of the ridge was clearly an avalanche crown (probably several days old). With no where to go but up we chopped a step and bouldered up this small face onto snow we now knew was somewhat unstable so we stuck to the ridge proper from then on. Again post holing we pushed for the summit, anxious that we would be too late for firm snow to ski. We arrived at the summit around 1pm and wasted no time skinning over to the top of the roman headwall. Skins ripped. Boots locked. Dropping in! Slushy mank... The skiing sucked but it sure beat walking. We skied back into the clouds and cruised down as fast as our quads could to heliotrope ridge then back down to the trail. Skis back on the pack and running shoes on, we jogged down the trail to the car. Whole ordeal took just a bit under 10hrs. Lael hauls up the Coleman Post Holing up the Ridge Cruising up... Ice pitch near the top of the clouds Ice Pitch Ridge Selfie! Steep ridge after the ice pitch Spicy crown proved to be a V3 boulder move Clouds Breaking Sunshine on top! Back in the fog after the ski Thanks for reading, hope this helps someone! Gear Notes: 5 ice screws, glacier stuff, 2 tools each Approach Notes: Road is open almost to the parking lot
  15. Trip: Mt. Hood - Devils Kitchen Headwall Trip Date: 04/22/2018 Trip Report: Peter and I took advantage of brilliant weather this past weekend to go climb Devils Kitchen Headwall on Mt Hood. I'd been eyeing this route all winter, waiting for the conditions and weather to align and allow an attempt. After Peter and I ran a 1500m time trial on Friday (4:03 and 4:05 respectively) we decided that due to lots of snow forecasted in the North Cascades and none in the South, we would head South to Mt. Hood. We left Bellingham Saturday afternoon and spent a surprisingly chilly night near the timberline parking lot. Following our 3:30 alarm we were skinning up hill by 4:15 in some bitter cold temperatures. Icy snow slowed our skinning progress a little (think drunk figure skater) and we opted to boot starting not far after the resort ends. We were in the crater around sun rise (~6:15) and then traversed around and got our gear sorted at the base of the route. We soloed steep snow to the first ice pitch where Peter took the sharp end and took us over the first two ice steps, which were in beautiful condition. The day was starting to warm and I finally got the blood flowing to my fingers so I took the next pitch, a full 60m with one ice screw to a picket belay. Peter got to my belay and continued up climbers right (planning on doing the right hand variation) but deemed that way to be entirely unprotectable and the climbing over the top looked difficult (rime in the sun is hard to climb....) He down climbed back to my belay and I started to lead out climbers left but found a steep drop of rime, leading me to realize that we had already stared up the right variation gully. Peter belayed me as a down climbed the rime face and started up the correct gully to another picket belay. Once Peter arrived, we un roped and soloed the steep snow and rime to the top, revealing a hot, beautiful summit. After some snackage and packing up we traversed toward our planned ski descent of Leuthold couloir. As we walked the highly exposed ridge we eyed a fun looking line that dropped down to our left, back into the crater. Seeing how far down the planned descent was, and not wanting to lose vertical feet on foot when we could ski, we opted to drop in here (not sure what it was, but it was a few hundred yards west of old chute). Skiing was extremely steep and hard (for our limited ability and 700 gram skis...) We survived and skied to the car by about 1:30. Hope everyone had a great weekend! Route is the obvious gully of the center, we branched left when we got near the top. We should have gone left earlier. Looking up the first, pitch, lots of good ice. I should have taken pictures but it was cold! Gear Notes: Small ice rack, pickets, standard stuff. Approach Notes: Follow highway of people...
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