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PorterM last won the day on November 19 2018

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  1. Trip: Snoqualmie Mountain - New York Gully Trip Date: 03/16/2019 Trip Report: Lael and I climbed New York Gully yesterday on Snoqualmie Mtn. We had great conditions and were treated to warm temps and high quality ice. We left Bellingham around 5, left the car around 7 or so on skis. The approach was fairly straight forward once we found the right parking lot/skin track (which took a bit, below is a pic with the approach laid out and where to park.) We left our skis on the ridge before dropping down to the north side of the mountain. The boot pack to the base of the route was slow and tiring as I post-holed about hip deep. We started up the route around 11, opting for the Direct NY Gully variation (mostly because we were so done with post-holing but also because there was another group right behind us and I was hoping this would space us out). Forecasts called for freezing levels around 6-7k so we expected any ice to be pretty rotten. It actually turned out to be pretty good! First pitch of the Direct variation was very high quality and quite fun. Only got one piece of gear but the climbing wasn't very hard. We then met up with the normal route and belayed there because the other team was a bit ahead of us. The next pitch was shorter, a left-hand traverse to another belay as we were moving a bit quicker than the team ahead of us. They were very nice and then allowed us to pass at the base of the box gully. We had a 60m rope so I knew there would be some simuling and communicated such to Lael. I had 9 draws and led about 90m through the box gully to near the 5.8 crack. I had to run it out more than I'd like given that the climbing wasn't super easy. It was a blast of a pitch though, the ice was good, the movement was fun and it was practically bolted with the pins in there. In fact, I don't think I placed more than a piece or two on the whole pitch, just clipped fixed pins. Lael followed every pitch much faster than I lead them. I topped out at a nice crack for a 3 piece belay from which we climbed about 40ft to the base of the 5.8 crack. It wasn't as hard as it looked but conditions were in our favor. I traversed to the base and put in a #2 then racked my axes and took off my gloves since it was sunny and warm. I jammed up the crack, pulled on the old webbing around a chock block in the top, clipped a biner on that webbing, and just like that, the crack was done. The difficulty didn't immediately ease though. I got out my axes and climbed some pretty steep turf and ice to a tree which I passed in favor of a rocky spine to belay off of. From here we traversed across a solar face with some pretty bad roller balls, so we simuled across to the trees where we unroped and headed for the skis, got there around 4:30 so we spent perhaps 4hrs or 4.5hrs on the route, in 6 pitches. The snow was atrocious from a whole day of sun and warmth but it still beat walking down! Had a great day of fun and hard climbing. Gear Notes: single rack from .4 to 3, 2 knife blades, 1 13cm screw (would have liked more), some nuts. 60m single. Approach Notes: Short, but a bit slow..
  2. Wow, what a trip! Thanks for sharing!
  3. Solid! looks like a fun winter route!
  4. question Light alpine shoes?

    Maybe look at the scarpa zodiac tech gtx? Same idea as the trangos but far more flexible and a more supple upper. Theres also the ribelle tech OD. Both will climb rock well and are semi auto crampon compatible but the zodiac seems to fit your requirements a little better (and are far "cheaper")
  5. 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
  6. There was a little spice to be had, nothing unreasonable though!
  7. 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).
  8. 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
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. 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..
  13. 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
  14. 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!
  15. Awesome TR! fun to read and great pictures!