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Kyle M

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Kyle M last won the day on January 31

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  1. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier Trip Date: 04/20/2019 Trip Report: Jacob Krantz and I climbed the Ice Cliff Glacier (AI2, 60-70 degree snice) on Stuart on April 20th in 21+ hours car to car. We climbed three pitches of mostly steep snice and a little AI2 on the left side of the lower ice cliffs. The upper couloir was sustained and exposed at 50+ degree snice with a short bit of true WI2, but very secure climbing. The right hand exit had no cornice issues, although massive cornices still loom over the majority of the couloir. We chose not to go to the true summit since it was in the clouds and we were tired. The descent down the couloir to the Sherpa Glacier was extremely icy and grabby on skis and we actually chose to downclimb some of it. Lower glacier was awful breakable crust. All in all, about 24 miles, 8000-9000 ft gain, and one wild day of suffering and adventure in the mountains. For a more detailed, TR, see https://climberkyle.com/2019/04/20/mt-stuart-ice-cliff-glacier-ai2-60-70-degree-snice/. Entering the broad basin at 5400 ft. Looking up at the Ice Cliff Glacier. Starting up steep snow to the base of the cliffs. Leading up through steep snice and easy ice. An incredible setting! Looking up the exit couloir. We took the notch on the right. Soloing a nice AI2 bulge in the constriction in the couloir. Topping out on the route! Our little "summit" for the day. Sherpa Peak. First few turns into the couloir. It only got steeper and icier... Spooky loose wet slide that took out our skintrack through the woods, on a NW aspect in the basin around 5400 ft. Must have happened during the late afternoon at some point. Gear Notes: Used 2 pickets, 5 screws. One might want more pickets if you want to protect all the steep snice. Approach Notes: Road was skinnable a little before the Eightmile trailhead, but melting fast. We kept skis on all the way to Stuart, although just barely in places. Creek crossings were generally easy to find. The section after you leave the Stuart Lake trail is brushy. Be prepared.
  2. [TR] Humpback Mountain - Humpback Flows 02/07/2019

    Great job everyone! We're starting the renaissance of ice climbing here in the Seattle area! (okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration) But regardless, this is an awesome crag and it will be fun to watch conditions on it and see other lines go down! It just proves that there's ice in almost any winter here, but it might move around.
  3. Good to hear some multiyear perspective! Skinning by the look interesting, but I did not realize how big and awesome they were until I got underneath them. They make the ice routes in the Alpental Valley look short and thin by comparison (although the Alpental climbs are coming in well this week). They're definitely worth the approach in my mind.
  4. Thanks! Although I do not have multi year evidence, I think the Melakwa Flows will come in regularly each winter, unless it is super cold or ridiculously warm. The large snowfield above it to feed meltwater, its direct solar aspect, and its relatively high elevation of 5000 ft mean that it will likely experience extensive freeze thaw cycles at some point during the winter or spring and form. They might not be as fat many years, but I would expect them to be there. They were already forming in mid November this year when I first saw them. The line on Bryant Peak I see to be more ephemeral and probably a result of the warmer temps we have had this winter. It needs probably many weeks of good freeze thaw to form, but it does always have that snowfield above to feed it. The routes on Lennox that Alpine Dave discovered look very cool and hopefully I will get out to them in time. I believe they are just as good as when he climbed them, but people are conservative and generally like to follow where there are recent trip reports and where others are going. The climbs on Lennox have a few things not going for them: significant approach (compared to say, Alpental ice), significant avalanche hazard, and you cannot see them from a major road or trail. That last point is maybe the biggest factor. Almost all popular ice climbing in WA (and maybe elsewhere, but cannot really say) is easily visible from a road or trail. People don't want to potentially "waste" a whole day carrying their tools and rack around and not get to climb anything. If we assume that ice forms in the same density elsewhere in the Cascades as it does in the established areas, then there's hundreds of lines waiting to be climbed out there, even without snowmobile access. Part of our goal with these climbs was to show what potential is out there in our backyard and inspire others to explore. We are not by any means good or even experienced ice climbers, but we are young and naive, and that naivety led us to think that there was more ice out there than just the Alpental Valley, even on a 50 degree weekend. And it was only one valley over...
  5. Trip: Bryant Peak, Melakwa Flows - Possible FAs: Ice routes on West Face Bryant Peak (WI4, 60-70 degree snow) and Melakwa Flows (WI4-) Trip Date: 01/27/2019 Trip Report: On the warmest weekend of a warm winter here in Washington, Jacob Krantz and I set out to explore some undocumented ice lines near Snoqualmie Pass I had spotted earlier in the winter. We did some research on the internet, Beckey Guide, and WA Ice guidebook but found nothing about these climbs, so these are possible FAs or FRAs at least. We climbed an awesome 4 pitch route on the West Face of Bryant Peak to the summit and a fun 2 pitch route in an area I've been calling the Melakwa Flows. The Melakwa Flows are an incredible group of ice flows of varying grades near Melakwa Lake. It's mind boggling to think we could not find anything about climbs in the Melakwa Flows, considering they are probably one of the densest concentration of reasonably accessible ice climbs in WA, especially impressive considering the warm temps lately. Hot Tubbs (WI4, 60-70 degree snow) West Face Bryant Peak Although only 4-5 pitches, we thought this route was awesome, offering a substantial amount of moderate ice, steep snow, and wild exposed summit pitch. It packed a lot of punch for such a short and accessible route. We also managed to stay in the shade the whole time, starting around 10 am. We'd love to see others get after it and some other possible ice lines on the west face! P1: Climb thin low angle ice to the vertical WI4 curtain. Send the curtain then continue up easier terrain to set a belay in fat ice. P2: Climb up progressively steepening fat ice to a WI3+ bulge. Above, continue up another 20-30m on 45 degree snow to a group of trees for the belay. P3: This is a long pitch (~80 m). Simul climb up snow, trending left as the cliffs force you. Establish a belay on a snag at the notch on the spine of the North Ridge. Watch cornices here. P4: Traverse right across wildly steep and exposed snow (60-70 degrees) on the north face, using trees for protection. At the third and tallest tree, make a few thin ice or mixed moves up a slab and continue straight up another 10-20m to the summit ridge. Descent: hike down the west ridge a few hundred feet until it flattens a little, then make a single 60 m rappel off a big tree down to the bottom of the west face. Approaching the first pitch. Top of the flow is part of the second pitch. Jacob crushes the WI4 crux. Looking up at the second pitch. Navigating between the two pillars at the top felt like WI3+ to me on lead. The ice here was FAT! Simulclimbing bomber snow on the third pitch. Steep exposed snow traverse to start pitch 4 out onto the north face. It was super unconsolidated and unsupportive. Would have been terrifying if it wasn't for all the trees! Jacob finishes the last bit of steep snow to the summit ridge. Walking along the wonderful summit ridge of Bryant, Kaleetan and Chair in the background. The Line of Fire (WI4-) Melakwa Flows These routes are on a cliff band just north west of Upper Melakwa Lake, easily visible from the upper lake. They look like they have considerable avalanche danger above, so beware. Even though we approached in the dark from our camp Sunday morning at Melakwa, we still only got in one two pitch route before this face got blasted by the sun and snow started coming down. The ice was often pretty soft to take screws, but I imagine if you hit this area in a cold snap or even just normal temps it would be incredible! It is a total ice playground, with easily a dozen routes 150-300 ft long ranging from a rambly WI3 to free standing WI5 pillars! There were incredibly fat sections of ice by WA standards. We hope this inspires others to go explore this gold mine of WA ice climbs! P1: find your way through mixed terrain or thin ice up to the base of the FATT pillar. The pillar is vertical or near vertical for 15 feet and super bomber, WI4-. Make a belay in some thick ice across the snow ramp above. You could skip this first pitch by ascending the snow ramp to the right. P2: A long pitch (~150ft) of rambling WI2-3 terrain, with at least half a dozen WI3 steps one to two body lengths in height. It's choose-your-own-adventure here. Total type 1 fun. Except for at this point, I was on lead getting pummeled by huge clumps of snow. It was still awesome. We ended at a big tree anchor. Descent: Single 60 m rappel down to the steep snowfield ramp, down climb as quickly as possible to get out of the line of fire. Climbing steep snow to the base. We took the pillar in center right of the photo. Jacob led up this thin section to gain a ramp leading to the pillar. We don't recommend this start. There were other options to the left. Approaching the beautiful pillar. So big and wide. An abundance of options on the second pitch. There's even more rambly ice to the left out of this photo. Me leading some awesome WI3 fun. This was right before I started getting pummeled I believe. Looking down from the top of P2. It looks like mostly snow, but you cannot see all the little ice steps from above. It was very high quality. Approximate location of the flows. As temps cool down next week, I think these climbs will just get better and better. If there's awesome WA ice on a blistering hot weekend like this, it ain't so bad! So get out there and send, WA ice climbers! Want more beta and photos? Check out my full trip report at https://climberkyle.com/2019/01/27/new-snoqualmie-pass-ice-climbs/. Gear Notes: We used 9 screws of varying lengths (much of the ice is quite thick actually, but still bring the stubbies), 1 picket, 8 slings, a few nuts. Double 60 m ropes are nice for the rappels, but there are walk off options also. Prepare to make you own rap anchor if you don't fine ours. We brought cams and pitons also but never really used them. Approach Notes: Either approach up the Denny Creek Trail to Melakwa Lake or over Bryant col (north saddle of Bryant) via Great Scott Basin from Alpental like we did. It took us 3 hours with overnight packs from Alpental to the West Face of Bryant, and about 3 hours from the Melakwa Flows back to Alpental with similarly heavy packs. Note there is considerable avalanche danger on these approaches, so proper gear and training is recommended.
  6. Trip: Northern Chiwaukum Range - Chiwaukum Brush Battle Trip Date: 09/23/2018 Trip Report: After plans changed last minute, I had to search for a solo trip idea for Sunday. I really didn't feel like driving super far but weather looked suspect on the west side of the Cascades once again, so I figured the Chiwaukum Mountains would be a good compromise. I scratched together a rough idea: park at White Pine TH, take the direct route up the ridge south to North Chiwaukum, descend to Larch Lakes trail, from Cup Lake ascend to the summit of Big Chiwaukum, descend by the Grace Lakes and down the Wildhorse trail back to the car. It would include peaks, scrambling, pristine lakes, and lots of fall colors! Well, it had most of that, and some more I didn't ask for... I had only heard of the direct route up to North Chiwaukum in the winter, but I can verify it works when in not snow cover too, as long as you have a tolerance for thousands of feet of steep (and in my case, terribly wet and slippery) brush. All the downed leaves and branches were slick from a storm the night before and I sometimes had trouble gripping. Poles were helpful. The first bit was the worse. There was a brief moment when I began to reconsider my decision in a thicket of Devil's club and downed trees. I then realized I had to embrace the futility of all my actions to find peace with my struggles. The zen of bushwhack. Around 4200 ft the ridge got less steep and a faint climber's trail appeared at times. It kept getting better and eventually, close to 6000 ft, I got my first views of the valley nearby. At this point, I was thoroughly soaked and a cold wind was blowing over the ridge. Pretty soon the trees were covered in rime ice. It was cold. The cold had advanced the stages of the larches to a nice yellow behind the icy covering. When I got to the ridge at 7000 ft, it was full on gnar. No trees for protection, just barren icy tundra. I tagged the summit of North Chiwaukum 3 hours in. The (imaginary) views were exceptional. As I contoured toward the saddle to the SE, I dropped beneath the clouds briefly and was treated to a beautiful little basin with sparkling ice covered larches! There indeed was hope. Stepping over that saddle in the raging wind, I was treated to an incredible spectacle: raging clouds spilling over the Chiwaukum Crest, Larch Lake surrounded by yearning larches who in short time will earn the status of golden, and carpets of red, yellow, and orange sprawling across a deep valley. It made me want to cry. All was good. I descended through a short scrambly section and then started to weave my way down the path of the least resistance. This quickly became the path of greater resistance, as I got sucked into some nasty alder and had to burrow through a creekbed for a good 15 minutes to get out. When I finally reached the bottom of the valley, and looked back, I saw that there was an easier path climber's right. I went down more with the streams in the middle. Finally on a trail, I had a nice stroll to Larch Lake and was even able to jog a little. The larches were just getting going and in another week they'll be in their prime. I filtered some water and appreciated the lake. It was Enchanment like! Great granite walls and larches studded all the way up the mountainsides. I then proceeded a few hundred feet up to Cup Lake. Here, I met one family, the only party I would see all day expect for close to the White Pine TH. We were once again socked in the clouds and it even hailed a little. I explained to them my plan and that I at least had to get over the crest somehow to get back. I think they took pity on seeing a skinny boy with such a tiny little vest pack in such poor conditions. I had counted on "Partly Sunny" by the afternoon as NWS promised, but it seemed things were going the other direction. I was doing fine on time, just over 5 hours in, but with the poor visibility and a dying GPS, I wasn't sure about continuing to Big Chiwaukum. I knew that once I entered the clouds I wouldn't be able to see more than a hundred feet and there was a lot of tedious terrain in front of me, so I made the decision to pass on it and instead go back over Deadhorse Pass. I didn't know anything about the route over Deadhorse Pass, but if a horse made it up (and then died) as the name suggested, it couldn't be that bad right? Still, the pass looked suspiciously steep on a map and I got glimpses of cliffs through the clouds. I got a compass bearing and started up towards the pass in minimal visibility, but cliffs kept pushing me right. I was getting a little concerned, but then out of the darkness on the left emerged a cut through the cliffs: a passageway! This gully looked loose, but would hopefully go. It was pretty easy down low, but got pretty loose and insecure up top. The fresh rain had really stirred the soil up. Still, it wasn't as bad as the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney (sorry, California, your "classic" route might be the worst scramble I've ever done) after two weeks of continuous afternoon thunderstorms. I topped out and was greeted with a blast of cold wind. If coming from the other side, there were a few other similar looking gullies, not sure which one is the right one but they all look kinda spooky from the top: I headed down from the pass pretty quickly. It was pretty eerie. It got super still as I walked through this spooky basin. Watch out for the shadow-creatures appearing out of the mist. Or the wet bushes trying to soak you. Let's be honest, hypothermia is the real threat in the Cascades. After this flat basin, I was greeted with a bunch of steep cliffs and unattractive gullies. I inspected four or five of them like an unimpressed suitor before settling on the one that seemed "least ugly". It was class 2, but weird loose, slippery class 2 that had me maybe more uncomfortable than I was when I free soloed the West Ridge of Stuart. I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old. Finally being of legal drinking age will do that I guess. From here, the fun wasn't over. As I got lower, the brush got thicker and thicker once again. And this time, I really got soaked. Not like, mama I peed my pants damp. Like, Mommy I fell in the toilet wet. My pants actually clung to my skin, they were completely soaked. I was getting pretty tired of this brush, but I guess it was my own doing. One thing about solo trips is you have no one else really to blame for your follies. It's nice to be self-reliant but it's also nice to have a scapegoat (and partner for support and safety, of course). I generally trended skier's right and felt like it sorta worked. After about an hour, I finally found a climber's trail. My speed greatly increased and then at about 4900 ft, I hit the Wildhorse trail, elated to out of the brush. From here, I was able to cruise down the trail back to the car, for a round trip time of just under 9 hours. Total, it was about 15 miles and 7k gain with nearly all the gain off trail. In good weather, the views would be great. I think it's a cool route because of the lack of established climber trails or cairns, but it's not for everyone. I'd love to see someone complete it or even throw in some other Chiwaukum peaks. The falls colors are second to none. The Chiwaukum are massive, lonely peaks. They hold a very special place in my heart. Here's a map showing my track in red. Blue shows the extension I wanted to do. Gear Notes: UD running vest, Z poles, some clothing that would become wet, LS ultraraptors (tripled in weight because of water) Approach Notes: Go straight up. Basically due south from the parking lot.
  7. Nice work! We were the party ahead of you guys. Thanks for picking up that picket we dropped!
  8. Trip: Dragontail Peak - Triple Couloirs Trip Date: 03/31/2018 Trip Report: Climbed Triple Couloirs yesterday via the bypass of the runnels. Weather was great, but route was pretty bony. There was very little ice thick enough to take a screw and a lot of slabby poorly protected mixed climbing, which was interesting considering we had never climbed mixed before and only had started ice a few months ago. Snow was okay, just slow. Dragontail conditions: We soloed all the couloirs. First couloir was pretty fast. We got to the base of the runnels and decided to pass on that. One other party behind us climbed the runnels and said it was "The hardest mixed climbing they had ever done before". We continued up the 1st couloir another 150 ft and then started a pitch up to the left. One 80 m pitch to the rap anchor at the base of the 2nd couloir. It had a nice icy/mixed corner that actually feature the fattest ice we would see all day, enough to get in a 10cm screw! The final part of this pitch had some sketchy traversing on rotten sugar snow on top of bare rock slab. I had to do some major excavation to find features in the rock slab underneath to use: Short rap, then the crux mixed chimney (but protected well) to the base of the 2nd couloir. 2nd and 3rd couloir were very unconsolidated and full of rotten sugar snow on top of slab in places, which made for exhausting breaking trail sliding around and stepping pretty deep, but at least there's a ladder of steps now. 60 m pitch between 2nd and 3rd couloir was relatively easy mixed, but very poorly protected. Solid 50ft runout between pieces. This pitch was a rope stretcher, and all I could find for a belay anchor were some partially screwed in stubbies... Not much pro around here as I said. Up the 3rd couloir: There was one short last WI2 step in the 3rd couloir, soloed it. Last walk to the summit: Summit photo of Stuart: Descent to Aasgard: 8 hours on route, 1 hour back down to lake from the summit. Descent was pretty firm in places down Aasgard. Some good WI features near the top of Aasgard. Some evidence of shallow wind slab avalanches in the couloirs, but we didn't notice any current activity. Gear Notes: Gear: nuts, angles (used once), cams .2-1 (small cams very useful), 10cm and 13 cm screws (bring the stubbies), pickets (not used, snow was too soft), 60m rope. Approach Notes: No flotation needed as the trail to Colchuck is packed, although the post holing across the lake was pretty bad. Be careful on the lake, one guy punched through and got his boot wet. Snow was consistent from about 2.5 miles up the road on.