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Kyle M

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Posts posted by Kyle M


  1. Trip: Pasayten Wilderness - Tatoosh Buttes - Ptarmigan Peak - Lago

    Trip Date: 07/08/2020

    Trip Report:
    Last week, Anthony Marra Danny Bradley and I ran an incredible 42 mile, 11k gain loop in the Pasayten Wilderness. Took us 14 hours. We started at Slate Pass, ran down the Middle Fork for a long ways, traversed the ridge from Tatoosh Buttes over Ptarmigan Peak to Mt. Lago, then back out. The ridge between Dot and Lago has some class 3, and is very aesthetic and fun. It was the quintessential Pasayten experience, with broad valleys, wildflower meadows, epic ridges, tundra, and a helluva lot of blowdowns. To me, this was one of the most wild and stunning routes I have ever done. Bless that Pasayten magic.
     
    The Middle Fork Pasayten trail has a ton of blowdowns past the Fred's Lake turnoff. Tatoosh Butte trail is fine, once you get above the burn. Descent down Lago sucked.
     
    IMG_20200708_110200231.thumb.jpg.5c345d3905d8b15434b39b2252995b06.jpg
    Middle Fork Pasayten from Tatoosh Buttes.
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    Cruising along the buttes.
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    Magical trail.
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    Running down Ptarmigan Peak.
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    Dropping off Dot Mountain.
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    Epic tarn on south side of Ptarmigan.
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    Dot Lakes.
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    Final ridge to Lago.
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    Lago summit.
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    Sunset near Slate Pass.
    Gear Notes:
    Trail running gear.

    Approach Notes:
    20 ft up to Slate Pass, and then down down down!
    • Rawk on! 3

  2. Trip: Teanaway - Iron, Teanaway, Bills, Marys, Bean, Earl, Navaho, Freedom, and Miller

    Trip Date: 06/21/2020

    Trip Report:

     

    Peter, Matt, Steven and I climbed nine peaks in the Teanaway on the solstice, starting at the Iron Peak trailhead and ending at the Miller/Bear trailhead. We stayed true to the ridgeline the entire way, with the exception of Earl to Navaho. Snow conditions were primo, supplying water and excellent boot skiing. The technical crux was definitely the ridge between Marys and Bean, which yielded some class 4-5 on excellent rock. The SW ridge of Bills also had some steep, exposed class 3.

     

    It came out to 20 miles and 10k gain and took us 9:20. So much great bang for your buck in this area. Nice way to kick off summer!

    https://climberkyle.com/2020/06/21/the-teanaway-traverse/

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    Iron Peak.

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    On the ridge between Marys and Bean.

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    Looking back on the Marys Bean traverse.

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    Navaho from Earl.

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    Great boot skiing down Navaho towards Freedom.

    Gear Notes:
    Running shoes. 1L water.

    Approach Notes:
    All pretty straightfoward.

    • Like 1
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  3. Initial release of the new Cascade Ice Climbing guidebook!!! https://cascade-ice.com/.
     
    A few weeks ago, I shared a list of obscure alpine ice climbs in Washington. It was met with a surprising amount of enthusiasm. @DPS, who has climbed many of these routes himself, reached out to me about turning the list into a true online guidebook. So I went out (more like hunkered in my room) and built us a website. It includes detailed route descriptions, caltopo approach maps, and tons of great photos. Currently, we only have 8 awesome routes up, mostly just routes I've done, but we hope to have 20+ routes by next winter!
    We're still early on in the development of this site, so I welcome feedback / advice. If you have info/pictures for a specific route you'd like to see here, we might be able to work together to get it up!
    To follow along with updates, new routes added, follow our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Cascade-Ice-106832897688029/.
    And for the computer nerds out there, yes, our code is open source and you can check it out here: https://github.com/Washington-Ice-Climbing/ice-conditions-map.
    • Like 1

  4. Trip: Sperry Peak - East Face Gully Attempt

    Trip Date: 11/29/2019

    Trip Report:

     

    Sorry I didn't post this for a few months, but basically I was scared of others going up there, turning around and seeing the massive ice flows on Sloan, and poaching our prize. But what's done is done so now I want to share what I learned from an attempt of the East Face Gully of Sperry over Thanksgiving 2019.

     

    This trip report (http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7980139) caught my attention and Sperry became the focus of my fall alpine efforts. The east face is a beautiful 3000 ft wall with just an hour approach! This gully looked absolutely sweet, like some moderate mixed/snow/ice route. This was the only report I could ever find, so it was hard to know what to expect.

    Fall 2019 was very dry for us. At elevations below 5000 ft, there was no snow come mid November. Then, right before Thanksgiving, it dumped about a foot down to 3000 ft and got extremely cold (highs in the 30s in the lowlands). Good for ice right?

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    Sperry. Approach slabs on the left. Gully obvious in the middle.

    Daniel and I drove up to the trailhead and hiked into Wirtz Basin around sunrise. We could immediately tell we were in trouble. The 3rd to 4th class approach slabs looked like they were covered in thin verglass and fresh powder. We started up them, but decided we wouldn't be soloing them (Daniel was pretty new to ice climbing at this point) so we tried going through the dense trees to the right. This was impossible, running into steep cliffs and powder on no base. We bailed back to the slabs.

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    Typical climbing in the approach slabs.

    We broke out the rope and I led up the right side of the slabs on WI1-2 R where sometimes your crampons would bust through to the rock. It was very insecure, albeit easy. Just not what Hyalite prepares you for. I belayed Daniel off a small bush and then we scrambled up higher. Then to the right there was a little WI3 near vertical step for 20-30 ft that might have taken 6 cm screws. I now realize this was the "little icy step" Jim referred to in his trip report. Damn, those guys were tough. Another veggie belay brought Daniel up.

    The next section involved climbing atop branches while getting soaked in powder. Then we traversed across more 3rd class slabs covered in fresh powder in crampons. My crampons were brand new and suffered dearly.

    Finally, we were staring up the gut at the gully, around 4000 ft. It was near noon and the strong sun was causing snow to constantly cascade down the gully. It looked absolutely icy and beautiful! Certainly one of the most beautiful gullies I've ever seen, but we were too late to continue. The powder would have been heinious.

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    We stopped here. But the ice looked so good!

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    Sloan, with the lines already forming.

    We rapped off trees back down to the valley floor. We took a walk further up Wirtz Basin and admired the incredible geometric features of Sperry. It is truly one of the underrated great mountains of the North Cascades. There were all of these cutting edge mixed ice routes that went 1000 ft up the SE face in the deep chimneys and cuts, but then they just petered out into nothing. There were even some chimneys like hundreds of feet deep and perfectly angular. I could just imagine Colin Haley deep in the darkness, climbing some great new route. I'd love to come back in the summer and climb one of the huge 2000 ft rock routes Beckey mentions that never get climbed anymore. I think the east face gully could be a great summer scramble, 3000 ft of scrambling with basically no approach. This is an incredible mountain. This looks like an incredible route. We'll be back!

    PB290040.thumb.JPG.48ffcab51c1d83f873315945c8ea6d5e.JPG

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    Inspiring SE side of Sperry. I've seen another mountain like it.

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    Serious ice potential further up the valley.

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    Cool easier ice potential up on Morning Star.

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    Great north face of Sperry. Wonder if that route has seen a repeat?

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    North face Big Four.

    Lessons learned:

    * this is a tricky route to nail in proper conditions. If that low snow hadn't fallen, the approach slabs would've been dry (like they were for Jim), but would the gully had been filled in? Probably not this year. We needed more snowfall above 4000 ft. Or if just a bunch of snow falls to 3000 ft and consolidates, but you can still drive to the trailhead, that'd work also. Or just climb this route in mid winter consolidated conditions with a sled access.

    * The approach slabs are really the only way to go. Don't try to go around.

    * those old timers are tough mothertruckers.

    Gear Notes:
    A few screws, some rock gear.

    Approach Notes:
    Short, probably one hour if you can drive to the trailhead. But the slabs can be cruxy...

    • Like 5
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  5. With some time on my hands with the quarantine and all, I decided to compile some research. Here's a list of "forgotten" Cascade alpine testpieces (ice focused) or FACTs. Feel free to add some others I left out! Who's gonna be the first to tick the entire list?

    I apologize for all the weird formatting. I just copied this post from my blog https://climberkyle.com/2020/03/22/forgotten-cascade-alpine-ice-routes/.

    I90

    I90 climbs offer the best access and easiest conditions to predict. There are undoubtedly many more climbs to be discovered in this area with easy access, generally good rock, and surprisingly rugged little mountains.

    • Mt. Kent, North Face (multiple variations): the greatest north face in the Snoqualmie region with many long 1000 ft lines. Bonus: you can see conditions from I90 near exit 42 while driving west! This has been super high on my list to explore.
    • Snoqualmie Mt, North Face (multiple variations): an abundance of mixed ice lines like the classic New York Gully and the lesser known Pineapple Express and Blue Moon.
    • Abiel Peak, North Face (multiple variations): the “Ben Nevis” of the PNW has many shorter alpine ice and mixed lines.
    • Bryant Peak, Hot Tubbs: Maybe this route hasn’t been around long enough since Jacob and I published it, but it reportedly hasn’t seen much action, so I think it’ll be forgotten soon enough…
    • Summit Chief Mountain, North Face: Colin Haley said this line had “more ice climbing than any other Cascade ice climb” he had ever done at the time. Big compliment. The North Face is much like Dragontail, just fatter.
    • Peak 3964, False Idol: An incredible 10 pitch ice route off the Middle Fork Snoqualmie that needs very cold temps to form. I believe this is just scratching the surface of the ice potential in the Middle Fork.

    US2

    US2 offers some hotspots like the Stuart Range, with its steep granite peaks, and a sprinkling of other incredible routes in the Lake Wenatchee area. Weather is generally colder and drier on the east side, which is good for ice.

    Mountain Loop

    Close to Seattle but tragically overlooked, the peaks of the Mountain Loop are as rugged as anywhere in the North Cascades but with surprisingly decent winter access. The myriad of big climbs in this little region speaks volume to the incredible terrain.

    • Big Four Mt, North Face (multiple variations): multiple routes, including the famous Spindrift Couloir. This is a mighty north face, and routes often take multiple days.
    • Hall Peak, North Face: little brother to Big Four supposedly has some ice routes.
    • Three Fingers, NE Face: This is a big route on a surprisingly big mountain. I believe there’s much more potential on the east side of Three Fingers.
    • Whitechuck Mt, E Face Couloir: A very aesthetic couloir ice/mixed route. Access can be challenging unless it is a very low snow year.
    • Whitehorse Mt, E Couloir: This steep route splits the Squire Creek Headwall for a fantastic line. I think it might even be visible from Darrington?!
    • Sperry Peak, E Face Gully: Another beautiful, long, moderate ice/mixed route that likely varies in technicality from fall to spring.
    • Sloan Peak, Full Moon Fever: This route climbs the weakness on the NW Face of Sloan. Having been at the base, I can say there is HUGE potential all over the place near the route.
    • Sloan Peak, Superalpine: I certainly hope this climb isn’t forgotten, as Porter and I believe it is truly the best moderate alpine ice route we have climbed in the Cascades (better than Cosley Houston or the NW Couloir of Eldorado), but I know how things go around here…
    • Lake 22 Headwall: who would think that one of the greatest alpine walls in the Cascades was just a short hour drive and hike from Seattle? There are so many unclimbed 2000 ft lines up this face, and you can get conditions updates by searching Instagram!

    Highway 20

    Highway 20 undoubtedly has many huge ice lines, but difficult winter access has limited exploration. During lower snow years, the Cascade River Road could be a great area for exploration and development.

    • Eldorado Peak, NW Ice Couloir: This route was sort of “remembered” in Fall 2019 when probably 20 parties climbed it (me included), but it’s a fantastic easier route, so I’ll leave it here.
    • Colonial Peak, North Face (multiple routes): The mega line Watusi Rodeo offers 4000 ft of front point terrain and is “easily” accessible all winter. First Date is another attractive route.
    • Pyramid Peak, NE Face (multiple routes): Home to some challenging mixed/ice routes on a wonderfully aesthetic peak.
    • Graybeard, North Face: Everyone seems to report this deceptively big route deepened their sense of mortality.
    • Davis Peak, No Milkshakes: the north face of Davis Peak is supposedly the steepest vertical mile drop in Washington.
    • Silver Star, West Face Couloir: Originally planned as a ski descent, it actually turned out to be a huge ice climb! Visible from the highway, but you probably need a sled to get up there.
    • Cutthroat Peak, Cauthorn Wilson: Gaining popularity lately, can be climbed right before the highway closes or after it opens.
    • Early Winters Couloir: This one is sort of a classic and can be climbed in both fall and spring.

    Highway 542

    The areas around Baker and Shuksan are generally well explored, but still offer great adventure. The Black Buttes are one of the centerpieces for hard alpine ice climbing.

    Mt. Rainier / Tatoosh

    This area is dominated by the mountain, but I’m guessing the Tattosh have good stuff and certainly easy access.

    Mt. Hood

    I don’t know much about Hood, but I’m sure there are some great routes that are infrequently climbed, so I’ll take suggestions here!

    • Like 2
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  6. Way to go boys!!!! It's cool you guys found a different start variation this time, since I know the pitch we climbed the first time probably isn't in most of the time. Hopefully others get on this route, it's a true gem of the Cascades. Best moderate alpine ice route in the Cascades IMHO (I'm not biased, right?).

    • Like 1

  7. Trip: Sloan Peak - FA: Superalpine (WI3-4, 1000')

    Trip Date: 02/28/2020

    Trip Report:

     

    On February 28th, 2020, @PorterM and I made what we believe to be the first winter ascent of the West Face of Sloan Peak. We climbed an incredible line approximately 1000 ft long of WI3-4 and steep snow climbing before our route joined the final 600 ft of snowfields to the summit. On the very final ice step, I suffered a short fall on rotten ice and a heinous top out and broke a few bones in the right side of my face. We bailed down the route and skied out. So technically, I guess we didn't finish the route, so say what you want about it.

     

    Our route started with a WI4ish pitch followed by hundreds of feet of stellar WI3 rambly flows in a gully just to the climber's right of the true west ridge spur on Sloan Peak. In our eyes, this was the only way up the true west face under WI4+/5. The whole face is loaded with huge free hanging daggers and wild lines. A competent WI6/M6 climber in the right conditions could send some absolute world class lines up there.

    I shared a lot more details, reflections on the accident, and route beta on my blog: https://climberkyle.com/2020/02/28/fa-sloan-peak-superalpine-wi3-4-1000/. Hopefully some others can get up there and finish this magnificent climb or poach some of the other unclimbed lines.

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    Our route. up to where I fell. We were about to join the corckscrew route and head out.

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    We climbed the gully on the right side of the photo.

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    First pitch crux.

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    Moving into the wonderful ice gully.

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    Porter leading on that fat, fun, rambly WI3. The climbing in the gully was generally easy, sustained, and super fun!

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    Incredible flows on the west face.

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    Some helpful beta.

    Gear Notes:
    Screws, maybe a few small rock pieces and a picket.

    Approach Notes:
    Skin/hike forest service road 4096, then meander up Bedal Creek to the base of the west face.

    • Like 4
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  8. Trip: Colfax Peak - Cosley Houston

    Trip Date: 12/09/2019

    Trip Report:

    Andrew Dyer and I boarded the last car on the Cosley Houston train this fall and climbed it on a beautiful December day. The route was in good shape, it seemed. 60m pitch of easy ice and snow to the crux. The crux was probably 15 feet of near vertical and then 15-20 feet of vertical to slightly overhung, pretty real for an ice newb like me. It was definitely the hardest lead of my life. I played it safe and placed 6 screws, increasing the pump greatly but at least I felt safer. I stopped a few feet short of the end of the ice so I could build a solid belay with screws. We bypassed the second ice crux, instead taking AI2 to the right. Overall, the snow conditions we quite good on the route, boot top pow with firm snice beneath.

    The descent down the Coleman was a little tricky. We had to go far skier's right to find some key bridges across some huge crevasses. Skis from 8000 ft down to the Heliotrope Trail made things rather pleasant. My first turns of the season were pow turns!

    Thanks to Andrew for a rad day in the alpine. It took us 12 hours, but we definitely lost time booting in the pow, my super slow crux lead, and wandering down the Coleman, looking for bridges. Obviously, conditions will be changing very rapidly with the storm currently, but at least we found no real signs of instability up there. Let the snow begin!

    https://climberkyle.com/2019/12/13/colfax-peak-cosley-houston-wi4/PC090134.thumb.JPG.38103d5d6b3be53df3fd4899a4f9bd4b.JPG

    Colfax, Polish route looks good to go.

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    That infamous pillar.

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    Snowfield above the crux.

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    Final steps, Lincoln in the background.

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    Sunset pow! Much wow!

     

    Gear Notes:
    10 screws, 60 m single rope. I would do a 60 m twin rope next time and just double it over for the crux.

    Approach Notes:
    Hiked to the top of the Hogsback, skinned to 8000 ft, booted to the start of the route. It would definitely not be worth it to carry skis over at this moment, too many zig zags and ups and downs on the descent.
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  9. Trip: Lennox Mountain - Goat Basin Ice Climbs FAIL

    Trip Date: 11/30/2019

    Trip Report:

    TLDR: the approach is pretty heinous without snow coverage. Lots of climbable ice, even in the lower basin at 2500 ft, but the approach terrain is confusing, brushy, and rugged. 

    Long version:

    I've long been curious about the Dave Burdick ice routes in Goat Basin beneath Lennox Mountain. There's not much information about them expect for when Dave originally went up there himself. During this recent coldsnap, I was wondering where to find substantial ice and this seemed like a good shot: north facing basin fed by large snowfields above. Flow is the issues during this old season cold snap, but the north slopes of Lennox are large enough that I thought there'd be enough water to form ice.

    We drove up the Money Creek Road, which is in good shape. Through the trees, it appeared we saw ice up there. We parked near a pullout and tried to find a place to cross Money Creek. We found a spot where I could make it across the icy boulders with trekking poles, but my buddy unfortunately fell in. We dumped his boots out on the other side and dried out some of his clothes. I'd recommend just fording.

    We started up on the west side of Goat Creek. The amount of blowdowns was ridiculous and movement was really slow, so we bailed westward, finding an open clearing at the base of an avalanche slope. This was very brushy and we couldn't see our feet, but at least it was easier than the dense forest. Then we got onto some dry rock creekbeds. It wasn't brushy, but all the rocks were covered in frost and ice, making for slow travel. Eventually this creekbed joined again with Goat Creek and we walked up the west bank of Goat Creek.

    At this point, we started to see a bunch of long ice gullies coming down into this lower valley, down to an elevation of about 2500 ft! These lines were about 1000 ft long, with many sections of WI2-3. Like a mouse is drawn to shiny things, we decided to try exploring one of these. But our vision of the lower sections was obscured by alder and terrain, so it was difficult to choose which one. Eventually we made our choice and climbed out of the steep river bank. The alder got really bad as we got closer to the climb, and the boulders had snow on them underfoot, pretty nasty.

    When I reached the base of the climb, I was disappointed to see that the entire 100+ ft first pitch, formerly obscured from us, actually began in a pool of water and was too thin down low. Additionally, there was another cliff below us that prevented traversing to the next flow to our left. The terrain is deceptively complex out here, a maze of alder and canyons, much like the kind of narrow topographical canyons you see in the Wenatchee or Yakima foothills. Bummed, we retreated to the valley floor, only to find that the alder had unzipped my pocket and my phone was missing. We retraced my steps using the GPS in the alder, but never found it. Time for an upgrade, I guess.

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    The first pitch of our long proposed route. Everything above it looked great.

    Back at the valley floor, we decided to move leftwards and try to ascend the boulder slope on the SE side of the valley that would lead us to Goat Basin. Alder kept us pinned on the riverbed, but it became entangled in a slot canyon, necessitating some spicy ice slab scrambling to get around the riverbank. On the way back, we would cross the river a few times to avoid this.

    Going up the boulder field, the snow got deeper and movement slower. Eventually we just gave up. From here, we finally had a good viewpoint of all the lower flows. If we had this view to start the day, we could've seen the way of bypassing some lower wet pitches and getting on the beautiful upper flows. But alas, it was too late in the day, I was pretty beat up mentally by the rugged approach (we covered only like ~1 mile), so we started the painful descent down the snowy boulders.PB300073.thumb.JPG.08f5317f1a9e9fb1bfa3ba17f8140253.JPG

    Good view of the lower valley. Lots of good looking low angle lines.

    We nailed the routefinding on the return trip and did everything in probably half the time. It's amazing what a little beta can do.

    It was pretty disappointing to not get on any ice even with the cold temps we have had, but conditions in the Cascades are deceptively bad right now. I guess this is the price I pay for being an adventurous climber and explorer. I am new to travel in the mountains in this sort of shoulder season and am learning so much about when and where to go and when to just stay home. I have no doubt the actual Goat Basin climbs were in, as these lower ones were in above 2500 ft. I would not recommend this approach under anything but a mid winter snowpack. The brush and boulders are really bad, but with a few feet of snow, it could be pretty fast. Just be careful because the slopes are subject to significant overhead avy danger. The Money Creek crossing would be a pain at any time of year.

    Big thanks to Chris for always enjoying my crazy adventure ideas and staying positive. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone and our sufferings will be vindicated.

    Gear Notes:
    Screws and ropes and tools, used none of them sadly.

    Approach Notes:
    It's rough. Stick west of Goat Creek initially, then cross back to the east side as you ascend to Goat Basin.
    • Like 1
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