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The Real Nick Sweeney

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Everything posted by The Real Nick Sweeney

  1. Trip: Mt Hood - Yocum Ridge Trip Date: 03/12/2020 Trip Report: Got on Yocum Ridge with one of my most solid partners on Thursday, March 12 2020. You can read my full trip report and blog post on my site, Spokalpine. Here's some additional notes for potential suitors: This is a wild climb! Sustained moderate technical difficulties from bottom to top with a few cruxy sections means that you need calves of steel. Nerves of steel certainly help too, because protection is very limited on the hard pitches. Being able to comfortably solo AI3/WI3 is a huge asset and probably necessary to get up this thing. I'm not talking about what gets passed for WI3 in the PNW, either... think legit WI3 with bulges and vertical sections. I've talked to a few people who think the route could earn an AI4 rating but I don't think there was anything sustained enough to earn that grade. Not that it matters, because it seems impossible to grade rime ice on the typical waterfall/alpine ice scale. It's so unstable and difficult to protect... this isn't the place to use your perfect A-frame technique that works so well on waterfall ice. Distributing weight between your tools and foot placements is required. If you swing more than once or twice into a placement, the whole placement likely disintegrates and you're left trying to find somewhere else to swing. As I was placing a screw on the first crux, the tool I was hanging off of pulled 4 inches through the shitty ice before it hit a blob of blue ice that would support me. This was especially hair-raising considering the massive exposure on either side of the first gendarme. My experience on Yocum Ridge was intense and satisfying. After the climb, Kyle hit the road back to Portland and I drove to Hood River to stay the night. After a good dinner and some galavanting with new friends from the local bar, I sat alone in a park along the river. 24 hours earlier, Kyle and I had left Timberline for our climb. The famous Nietzsche quote "...if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you" bounced around my mind. After staring into the very literal abyss on either side of Yocum Ridge, I was more focused on the figurative. Yocum Ridge took most of what I had to give - and in return, it gave back to me. The mark of a truly challenging and worthwhile climb. Gear Notes: Three pickets, six screws (3x 10cm, 2x 13cm, 1x 17cm), pitons, small cams (used up to .75), nuts (tiny to medium sizes). I would not get on this route without a rope system that enables long rappels. We did one rappel that was 55 meters. Approach Notes: Easy as it gets
  2. Great job guys and thanks for the conditions beta. That is a wild route! My partner and I climbed it on 3/12/20. I'll post up our TR in another thread.
  3. Trip: Boston Basin - Torment-Forbidden Traverse in a day Trip Date: 08/03/2019 Trip Report: This was a big day for us! My legs are still aching and I've been sleeping like a dead man. I love the North Cascades. Check out the full trip report on my site: Spokalpine Gear Notes: Single rack .2-2, a few nuts, 60m twin rope Approach Notes: It's not bad, really
  4. I will go back to the Cordillera Blanca again. Maybe not for my big trip next year, but in the next 5 years for sure. The ease of access is amazing for such huge, dramatic peaks. Feel free to contact me with questions on climbing and logistics there, I learned a lot over the last couple of trips!
  5. Trip: Cordillera Blanca, Peru - Tocllaraju - NW Ridge (D) (and others) Trip Date: 07/09/2019 Trip Report: I've posted a few trip reports on my site for my second trip to Peru's Cordillera Blanca. This range has many incredible objectives, relatively easy logistics, and is CHEAP compared to high altitude climbing areas elsewhere. Here's my report from Tocllaraju: https://spokalpine.com/2019/07/26/tocllaraju-6034m-northwest-ridge-d-ai4/ Gear Notes: Some screws, two ropes, pickets can be bought in Huaraz. Approach Notes: Make the donkey carry the good stuff
  6. That was our original goal. It looks awesome and I'd like to do it, but I'm not totally sure that I can convince myself to do that approach again for a while...
  7. Trip: Eldorado Peak and Dorado Needle - E Ridge and NW Ridge Trip Date: 06/16/2019 Trip Report: Conditions are quite good in the Eldorado area right now. We made a casual ascent of Eldorado on our approach day and climbed the NW Ridge of Dorado Needle on Sunday. The climbing was easy but damn... that descent to the car was pretty punishing. Full trip report and photos: Spokalpine Gear Notes: Crampons/Axe for Eldorado. Light rock rack for Dorado Needle. Approach Notes: Wear a knee brace
  8. Thanks Jason, seems like C-W is best done very early on a cloudy day. DPS, sounds sporty! I was very relieved when I saw we’d be able to sneak past the cornice.
  9. Trip: North Early Winters Spire - Early Winter Couloir (III AI3 M4+) Trip Date: 04/20/2019 Trip Report: I've been dreaming about this route for years, ever since I saw it in the Supertopo guidebook for Washington Pass. It seemed so rad, but also hard, so I kind of wrote it off. With a last minute partner and plan, we got the thing done. Thanks Dane! This was a really good route, one of the best couloirs I've done. Go get it! You can view the full TR and photos on my site: Spokalpine Strategy Notes Start early to maximize your time on firm snow, but not too early because sleep is important. Be prepared to aid climb the cornice pitch, but hopefully you’ll be able to bypass it with moderate mixed or AI3 ice. The descent follows the standard summer descent on bolted anchors until you reach the chockstone in the West Couloir. There is a piton and nut anchor in the skier’s right hand wall that gets you down past the chockstone with a single rope. Gear Notes: One 60m rope is sufficient. There are no fixed anchors on route, but it seems that a descent could easily be done with a single 60m rope by leaving rock gear if bailing. We brought cams .2-3 (small sizes most useful), nuts (small sizes most useful), 5 ice screws (useless), two pickets (one would be ideal), and 5 pitons (angles and lost arrows). Approach Notes: Walk straight toward it
  10. Trip: Selkirks - High Traverse (III 5.4) + Harrison Peak Trip Date: 08/18/2018 Trip Report: This was a super-fun day of playing in the mountains. We kept it casual and still did the route in 10 hours, including a stop at Harrison Lake for a swim. If you're in the area and have a day to spare, this is a fun objective! For more info and photos, check out the full trip report. Gear Notes: Nuts, cams .3-2, 60m rope (but any length will work) Approach Notes: Wet bushwhack to Beehive Dome from Pack River road, but it's impossible to get lost.
  11. Scott, you're the man. Thanks to all of you for your hard work. I'd like to go back for the Great White Corner before this season is done!
  12. He simply slipped off of the slabs while he was walking near the cliff edge, where all the waterfalls are at. 90 foot fall. It was bad.
  13. Trip: Forbidden Peak - West Ridge Trip Date: 08/04/2018 Trip Report: I had a great climb of Forbidden Peak before being involved in an attempted rescue. The climber fell on the slabs below Forbidden while descending. It was a tough day, and I understand that there had been two accidents in the two days prior to this one. Be safe out there, and make sure that you have some form of communications available. Here's a link to my TR: Spokalpine Gear Notes: 60m rope (we used a 60m twin folded in half – perfect system for this route!), single rack .3-2, nuts, 6 alpine draws and four double length slings. Neither of us brought boots or climbing shoes, opting to do everything in approach shoes. Aluminum crampons worked well for the short snow section and my superlight CAMP Corsa Nanotch axe was great, as always. I was really happy with our gear choices. You never really need to carry more than a liter of water in Boston Basin because water is so easily available from the multitude of streams and snowfields. Make sure that you have some form of communications device in case of emergency – I believe that an Inreach is the best option given its capabilities. Approach Notes: Easy
  14. Trip: Cutthroat Peak - North Ridge Trip Date: 07/27/2018 Trip Report: This was a great day out! Although this route is shorter and easier than the South Buttress, it is a worthy climb and feels much more remote. A couple of runout pitches must be overcome before getting onto the awesome granite of the ridge. Full trip report: Spokalpine Gear Notes: Single rack .4-3, nuts, one 60m rope Approach Notes: We came from Washington Pass.
  15. Trip: Cordillera Blanca - Various Trip Date: 07/10/2018 Trip Report: I had a great two week trip to the Cordillera Blanca from 6/29-7/13. I planned this trip intending to use it as a recon to aid in planning future trips. I was able to take detailed notes on logistics and make many great contacts in the area. We spent time in the Ishinca Valley climbing Urus Este and Ishinca, and attempting Tocllaraju. This trip was supported by the American Alpine Club's Live Your Dream Grant - thanks. I wrote up a few short trip reports, linked below: Urus Este Ishinca Tocllaraju attempt Gear Notes: Cheap pickets are available in Huaraz. Bring everything else. There are some rentals of old-school gear available if you forget anything. Approach Notes: Burros are cheap - make them haul your shit!
  16. Trip: Cutthroat Peak - South Buttress Trip Date: 06/17/2018 Trip Report: I had a nice day out on Cutthroat Peak on Sunday. I’d recommend crampons and an ice axe for now. Check out the full report at Spokalpine. Gear Notes: Medium rack, many slings Approach Notes: Easy to follow, except the creek crossing
  17. Congrats! That route looks great! It's amazing how melted out things are. We were on Liberty two weeks ago and I felt that it matched up with typical July conditions for the most part.
  18. Trip: Mt Rainier - Liberty Ridge Trip Date: 05/28/2018 Trip Report: Below is the text of my trip report for Liberty Ridge. To see the full trip report with photos and strategy/gear notes, please visit my site: Spokalpine. Kyle, Zach and I climbed Liberty Ridge on May 26th-29th, 2018. Together, we achieved a collective dream - a dream that felt too intimidating for me to imagine just years ago. Liberty Ridge is an exceptional line in an absolutely wild setting, splitting the North Face of Mt Rainier between Willis Wall and Liberty Wall, two of the most dangerous alpine walls in the lower 48. According to the National Parks Service, the route sees around 100 climbers making attempts each year, with a 30-60% success rate depending on the year. We found varied conditions on consistently steep, varied and technical terrain. After getting our permits at the White River Ranger Station on Saturday morning, we casually started hiking toward the mountain. Today was going to be a easy day, and conserving energy was a key part of our strategy. We lollygagged up the trail, through snowfields, and over St. Elmo's Pass. Once we dropped onto the Winthrop Glacier, we roped up. Crossing the glacier was straightforward and we did not need crampons in the soft snow. Soon we found our way onto Curtis Ridge, where we caught our first view of the route. All three of us sat down on Curtis ridge and gawked at the climb. It is huge, steep and scary looking! The first thing I noticed, however, was how broken up the Carbon Glacier looked. There appeared to be no access to the right side of the ridge - where the route normally goes, given that the right side of the ridge is lower angle than the left. We could tell that the Liberty Ridge itself was already in mid-late season conditions, with significant rock melted out low on the route and blue ice glaring in the afternoon sun above the Black Pyramid. This was not going to be a snow slog. After a nap, we set up camp and watched a team start up the Carbon Glacier alarmingly late in the day. The terrifying seracs (ice cliffs) that cap Willis Wall threaten the Carbon Glacier with significant avalanche hazard, and the wall itself is constantly shedding rock. The team placed their tent on the Carbon Glacier, directly in the path of anything that came off the wall, but at least they weren't right underneath it. At one point, I poked my head out of the tent to watch a D3 (massive) avalanche rip off of the Willis Wall - the debris cloud came very close to the bivy site that the team chose. That seemed akin to playing Russian Roulette, but I guess that everything is a matter of degrees. There were two smaller avalanches later in the evening. In the morning, we dropped onto the Carbon Glacier at about 7200' and started moving toward the ridge. This was a gnarly glacier! I could see hundreds of crevasses, and you never know what's lurking under the surface. There's always a moment when you step or jump over a crack when you can see into its depths - many of these crevasses simply faded to black because they were so deep. Thankfully, there was a good boot pack from previous teams, which we followed in a circuitous path to the toe of the ridge. Here, we scrambled up a "boulder problem" that felt spicy given that we were wearing crampons, had 30 pound backpacks, and still were roped up for glacier travel. What really made this exciting was the extremely poor nature of the rock on Mt Rainier - I don't think any of the holds we used were actually attached to the mountain. A high right foot was key. Finally, we were on Liberty Ridge! Once we gained the ridge proper, I coiled up the rope and stuffed it in my pack. We cruised upward on alternating snow and rock. Normally, climbers take snow slopes on the right side of the ridge, but we stayed on or near the ridge crest. There was another exciting boulder problem before we reached Thumb Rock on snow slopes. We arrived at Thumb Rock around 9:15am - it had been a short morning of climbing, but we knew the next day would be massive. We ate, drank water, and napped like it was our job. Eventually, we had dinner and went to bed early. Unfortunately, my inflatable sleeping pad popped and no longer held air - so I slept on the rope, which I coiled onto the floor of the tent. To add insult to injury, the winds picked up and kept me awake all night. When the alarm went off at 2am, I was ready to get up. We packed our bags and started soloing upward on the steep, hard snow. The wind was absolutely blasting but the skies were clear. After passing through the constriction above and to the left of Thumb Rock, we encountered more easy mixed climbing. The sun was starting to rise and we realized just how high (and exposed) we were. Soon, we had covered 2000 vertical feet and climbed around the Black Pyramid. We roped up here, agreeing to simulclimb the consistent 55-60 degree ice. Kyle did a fantastic job leading 800+ feet of ice in two simul blocks with one ice tool and one ultralight mountaineering axe - beastly! As we were nearing the top of the ice, we heard a massive rumble. We glanced over to the Willis Wall and watched an absolutely massive avalanche rip. Zach actually saw the serac collapse that started the event - he estimated that the ice block that released from the serac was 300 feet by 100 feet in size. This was without a doubt one of the most impressive things I'd ever seen. Kyle, Zach and I could hardly believe that we had a front row seat to such massive natural destruction. We spoke with an avalanche trainer on another climbing team who called it a D4 avalanche - huuuuge. Humbling. We stayed roped up after the ice pitches, climbing steep snow and névé through the bergschrund which offered no technical challenge. The wind was getting especially brutal at this point, making it even more difficult to breathe than normal at 14,000 feet. Several times, I was knocked off balance by a gust of wind - classic Mt Rainier conditions! Finally, we reached Liberty Cap (14,112') which is the logical end of the Liberty Ridge climbing route. We discussed going to the true summit at 14,401', but we'd already done what we came to do. I led us down the Emmons Glacier to camp Schurman with only a few helpful suggestions from my partners on route finding and glacier safety - thanks guys. They both have experience on the Emmons glacier, but it seemed like a good opportunity for me to practice glacier travel and navigation. I feel like a pretty knowledgeable climber, but there is always more to learn. This was a worthy outing for my first climb on Mt Rainier - an undisputed classic. Gear Notes: Extreme Alpinism Approach Notes: Don't fall in a hole
  19. Trip: Silver Star Mountain - Silver Star Glacier Trip Date: 05/19/2018 Trip Report: Current conditions on Silver Star Mountain are pretty good for Skiing. Unfortunately, I booted my way up SS Glacier on 5/19 via Silver Star Creek! It was a lot of work in bad conditions. Snow coverage became consistent around 5000 feet. Full trip report: Spokalpine Gear Notes: No crampons needed Approach Notes: Silver Star Creek
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