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Found 149 results

  1. Trip: Slesse Twice in a Day - Date: 7/15/2013 Trip Report: It's been a long time since I posted a report here. But I think some of you may enjoy this read. Here's a link to the report on my blog. Slesse Trip Report Cheer, Marc-Andre Gear Notes: Rock shoes, one tool, strap on pons for my tennies. Approach Notes: Watch out for bears.
  2. Trip: Yosemite Valley - Steck Salathe Date: 7/26/2008 Trip Report: TR - Steck Salathe 7/26/08, with Scuffy B. (note: images throughout are lifted from the web, we took no camera) Late 90’s, Camp 4 It’s my first time in the Valley after learning to climb on steep southeastern sandstone. We think we’re solid 5.10- climbers, but are getting bouted by “easy” routes and belay changeovers since we’ve never done anything over 3 pitches, nor anything on granite, nor any cracks that you can't cheat around on face holds. Royal Arches is a dawn to dusk affair thanks to our superb efficiency, but after a few weeks things start to click and we’re firing off the easy classics. After ticking a bunch of 3-star routes, we’re sitting around the fire, swilling cheap malt liquor and wondering what to do as our last route before we have to leave. “Hey, you guys should go do the Steak and Salad,” Matt (a semi-local) offers. “The what? How hard is it?” “Steak n Salad, the Full Meal Deal, Steck Salathe on the Sentinel. It’s only 5.9,” he says, barely suppresing a snicker. The rest of the crew heartily supports his suggestion. “It’s one of the 50 Classics, you gotta do it!” Thankfully, we were feeling strong and opted for the “harder” Serenity-Sons. At some point in the next couple of years I realized that almost all long classics involve at least some token wide climbing. After a religious experience leading p3 on the Kor-Ingalls, and a headfirst backwards 20 foot dive out of the crux of Reeds Direct, I resolve to learn how to climb this stuff, to keep the brushes with death down if nothing else. Burly Ask a group of climbers to describe it, and the word you’ll hear most often is “burly”. The Steck Salathe carries a bigger aura than perhaps any free climb of its rating in the country. “Major sandbag”. “Mandatory on the aspiring hardman circuit” “More demanding than Astroman.” “The hardest thing I’ve ever done” are all tossed out. The number of benighted parties is legion and as the route has changed over the years due to rockfall or things breaking off, the rating became a bigger and bigger sandbag. Are you ready? At some point, as I climbed more wide stuff, the SS became a goal. I knew it would take a lot of work to get my skills in order since I was about a 5.8 wide guy on the sharp end. Luckily, I moved to Josh and hooked up with the Fish. Over the next two winters, he drug me up wide stuff all over the monument. I belayed and watched, asked questions, and then moaned my way up them. Living in the valley in the summer, I paid dues on the 5.10 wide circuit, spent a month in Vedauwoo and got to climb with guys who are both exceptionally talented and love the wide...like Jaybro and Grug. After a February Wide Fest in Josh, I saw Scuffy come within a few inches of choking down the Throbbing Gristle. I casually asked if he would be interested in doing the route this summer. “Yeah, I’ll do it with ya”. Uh oh. We agreed on sometime in July. Unfortunately I started working again in April , blew a finger pulley right after, and had climbed exactly zero pitches of trad since March. Instead I did crossfit stuff, road biked, and bouldered on plastic. Not the best training to say the least. I kept asking myself: Are You Ready? The list of wide climbs I’d done in the last 18 months gave me some comfort, but I’d find out soon enough. The Day of Reckoning I left Redlands Friday morning, and was sitting in El Cap meadow eating pizza by early afternoon. Rendezvous with Scuffy was set for around 10:00 at Hardin Flat. He pops in, we set the alarms for 4:20am and hit the sack. Normally I get a little apprehensive before a big climb, but I feel calm and sleep easily. We both climb enough wide stuff that I figure we’ll move faster than average parties, but we still want an early start to avoid any other parties on the route. We take a single 60m rope, 1.5 liters of water each (somehow I dropped a half-liter on the approach and only had 1 liter for the route), headlamps, a half-set of wires, double cams from blue tcu to 3 camalot and a 4 and 4.5 camalot. Our bivy gear consisted of a bic lighter and nothing else. We both wore pants and a light weight long sleeved shirt. I wore thin neoprene knee pads under my pants, Scuffy went true hardman style with no kneepads. Neither of us wore helmets. We stride up the 4 Mile Trail at an easy pace and reach the base in about an hour. Ro-sham for the choice of leads, I win. I choose evens thinking that will give me the Narrows lead. At about 7:00 Scuff starts up the first pitch. He’s smooth and although the topo says left side in, he goes right side and floats on up. I follow left side in and get a rude surprise at the difficulty of this “5.8” pitch. Damn, this thing is going to live up to the hype. We had planned to link 1 & 2, but I’m not sure if we really did. Either way, I planned to run the next pitch to the base of the Wilson Overhang. I then got off route, back on route, and hosed myself with rope drag. I ended up stopping on a big ledge with a couple of fixed pins mid way up ST p3. The views were already fantastic. I tell Scuffy I've been listening to the hardest, heaviest, meanest music I own for the last several days so that when I get in one of those tough spots, that will be running through my head. And it's true...a steady stream of Motorhead, Ministry, Metallica, Iggy and the Stooges, Tool, etc were my internal soundtrack on this thing. Scuffy started up the first real obstacle of the route, the Wilson Overhang. After a false start or two trying to decide which side in, he dispatched it with a little heavy breathing. It looked hard. Flaring and overhanging, but at least with gear in the back. As I followed this pitch I realized that it can be done a couple of ways...either staying on the outside, with no gear at about 5.8+, or crammed haflway back in the flare at 5.10-. If I had been smart, I would have climbed up, cleaned the gear, down climbed and then went up the outside. Instead I grunted through in the back. I thought the “5.8” squeeze section at the end of the overhang harder than the actual flare/overhang itself.10a? Ok. Next up was the option of an unprotected 5.8 flake, or a 5.9 squeeze that I’ve heard many claim as the true crux of the route. I was planning for the flake. As I reached a spot about 6’ under the squeeze I looked out at a horrendously sloping foot ramp that looked improbable as a place to traverse to the flake, which is out of sight. So I continued up. Next thing I know, I’m committed to the squeeze, left side in. Everything is going ok until I can’t fit my chest through the squeeze. I try to exhale and move, no dice. I look right and see the flake and that the sloping foot shelf was indeed the move. “This is becoming a comedy of errors on my part” I think. I take tension, swing out right and latch the flake. “Unproteced"? Bullshit. The flake is slightly flaring, but does take gear and is easy for 5.8. Scuffy is forced to follow my jingus action since I had gear in just below the crux of the squeeze and then nearly the same level in the flake. I’d hosed him and he had to climb up part of the squeeze, slide back down, and then do the flake. So far, I’m not holding up my end of the partnership. I’ve had the easy pitches and still fucked them up. Scuffy runs the next pitch through the 5.8+ ow, about 4”, which is not too bad with some good footholds on the face next to the crack. The next couple pitches to the top of the buttress are unmemorable rambling up discountinunous cracks and jumbled blocks. We stayed to the left. The ST topo shows a 5.6 squeeze just prior to the tunnel through. We see what looks like 5.6 squeeze above and Scuffy heads up, soon topping out on the flying buttress itself....As I follow and reach the tunnel through spot, I realize our mistake. I recognize the tunnel from a pic I’d seen somewhere and continue to the top of the buttress. We rap down to the bivy ledge and pull the rope. The bivy ledge is pretty deluxe. Then we look down the last 10 feet to the start of the next pitch, DOH! We fucked up again. Make sure you rap to the bolts at the start of the next pitch. Luckily there was a passage/tunnel off the ledge that traversed sloping loose dirt with a slip guaranteeing a quick trip to the base of the Sentinel, that led to the base of the pitch. Here it is just behind the climber, and again from below (both from Zander’s excellent TR) At this point, we were already feeling incredibly worked. I had been rationing water since after the Wilson and knew it was going to be a big issue for me since I couldn’t eat/fuel without something to wash it down.The way we’d pitched it out was different from what I’d imagined when choosing odds or evens when I won the ro-sham-bo. Instead, I would get this pitch , Scuffy the slab, me the supposed crux, Scuffy the narrows. “Hmm, this is probably actually better for me,” I thought, since slabs are not my strong point. I peeked at the topo...5.9 fist and lieback, stance, 5.8 lieback, casual. I bust through the “5.9” and it seems light duty, but cool climbing with gear about anywhere you want it. Then I reach the “5.8” lieback. Looking back now, this was probably the technical crux of the route for me. I found it an incredibly insecure couple of moves groping and trying to pull into a lieback off a flake/ear feature way above my head and pasting feet onto blank vertical granite, above bad gear. I came fairly close to pitching off. As Scuffy is coming up I sense he is at that spot since he stops to puzzle out the move for a second. Next thing I know “WHoa!” jingle jangle wham. Damn, he pitched. But in 20 seconds he’s already pulled back on and finished the pitch without further ado. Our belay is just below this overlap, so as Scuffy leads out on the slab I can’t see anything. Soon he’s finished the pitch and I start following. Not too bad at first, then I unclip the last pro before the move to the hole. I’m looking at a longish penji fall if I blow this, so nervously smear with no hands to step into the hole. Thankfully everything sticks. The rest goes easily enough with a smeary move at the 5.9 crux that is typical for the grade...pure faith in your feet with little or no handholds. This pitch probably protects better for the leader than the follower...something to consider if one of your team is weak on slab. I look up at the next pitch, the supposed crux, and decide it doesn’t really look too bad. Getting a little bit of a second wind, I start up. A tcu goes in a seam, the 4.5 just above, and I commit to the flaring squeeze. It’s hard and slow work, but not too technical or awkward. After about 20 feet you get a nice respite when you can cram your ass in and rest. Just above is the first of the hangerless “bolts”. I don’t know what the fuck this particular piece of hardware is, but it ain't a bolt. Looks almost like a slightly larger star-dryvin type nail in a sleeve. This one is very confidence inspiring since the “nail” part of the thing sticks out about an inch from the end of the sleeve , the sleeve is split, and the whole thing slopes downward about 20 degrees. If anything could use an upgrade, it’s this museum piece timebomb. Sliding a nut over it, I started to sense the seriousness of my situation. “Just concentrate on moving upward” I chanted inside my head. One move at a time, keep your breathing in check, and always Rule #1 (don’t thrash). The pitch looks like this: Another 15 feet or so higher is the second hangerless rivet thingy. It also sticks out out of the sleeve a bit, but looks much much better. I’m psyched to clip it. The pitch soon eases off in difficulty, if not in effort required. By now, my throat is completely raw and my uvula is swelling, touching my tongue and making me feel like there is something caught in my throat and that I have to swallow continuously. It sucks, but as I keep saying to Scuffy “I’m getting what I came for...a first class ass kicking”. Scuffy follows smoothly and steadily. Next up, the fearsome Narrows. Everyone has seen the pics of people getting into this hole/squeeze, so here’s one looking up into it: Scuff places the 4.5 at the lip, moves up as high as possible in the back-foot , places the 4 a little higher, and commits. The next few feet are rough. After struggling for a good 5 minutes and making and subsequently losing about 6” of progress several times, he questions if he can actually climb it. I try to encourage him but I know his abilities and if he is having problems, it doesn’t bode well for me either, and I know he can sense that in my voice. I tell him to just yard on the 4, but it is too far to the side to really do any good. After much struggling and a little cursing, he’s in the beast and motors to the top. In my state of fatigue I figure I only have one shot to get this done without resorting to aid. I get my torso in and recall Yo’s advice “be solid on arm bars, it’s like arm bar campusing without feet for a few moves”. And that’s just about what I did, a few alternating arm bars and then you get a decent edge that’s hard to use. I manage to go from pulling down on the edge to rotating into a chickewing with a palm on it and further turning it over until I’m almost mantling it from a chickenwing. A heel toe goes in and I’m in there for good. The only problem is, after moving up a few feet. I can’t turn my head and can’t fit through. It all looks the same width to me so I yell up...”which way at the tighest spot, left or right?”. So I move over a foot or so and squeeze through. Now, whoever rated the bit after you exit the squeeze until the end of the pitch is a sadistic bastard. Topo says 5.7. Ummm, yeah. BULLSHIT. Felt like insecure 5.9 to me and I was on TR. At this point I’m destroyed. Just fucking wrecked. I’ve only felt this way once in my life and that was trying to get October Light in Vedauwoo clean on TR after Grug onsighted it like it was 5.8. My face was numb and tingling, I was sort of giggling, dizzy, and felt like I’d taken about a half-tab of acid and some narotics. It was a welcome feeling knowing the worst was behind us, but looking out at the valley it seemed like it we were losing light quicker than I expected. In reality, the valley has filled with smoke during the day having been clear that morning. The sun was just a barely visible red orb amidst the smoke. The next pitch is another long assed, runout but very easy 5.7 chimney where you squeeze behind a couple of chockstones and belay on the top one. When I called off belay at the top of this one, I just wanted it to be over, wanted my mommy, a blanky, and a nap. As Scuffy joined me, I thought we had a 50/50 chance of finishing this thing in the dayliight. Since everyone says don’t try the descent for the first time at night, and since we were both completely out of water and suffering from it, I really wanted off this bitch NOW. I knew the next two pitches would link and told Scuffy “go all the way to the tree”. He blasted through the 5.7 mantle pitch, only slowed down slightly at the 5.9 flakes seen here: And was soon at the base of the last 20ft or so of 5.7 double cracks leading to the tree ledge. And then time stood still. What I didn’t realize was there were two different sets of double cracks about 5’ apart and Scuffy had basically no gear for either set and didn’t know which was correct. After a while it was basically dark and I started yelling at him to get moving, aid it if you have to, etc...little did I know what he was actually facing up there...no gear, dark, horrendous rope drag, etc. I follow and keep right on going up the last pitch. Right as Scuffy joins me on top and we untie, I start dry-heaving from the dehydration. It’s a horrible feeling, wretching and writhing and knowing there isn’t a damn thing in my stomach to throw up. “We gotta get down to the creek, I can’t stay up here like this” I tell him. “You ok with that?”. He’s game and we soon start down the descent...in the dark...first time for both of us. I have to stop every 10min and sit for a couple minutes to keep from dry heaving more and to get some juice back in my legs. The descent is actually very easy since I’d read several different descriptions of it and knew more or less where we were supposed to be going. We reached the creek after about an hour. Now with water, we rested a bit, I choked down a gel and continued. A couple of well placed cairns made the slabby section no problem and in another hour and change we were back at the 4 Mile. I spent the next two hours sitting in the Lodge lobby sipping down 3.5 liters of diluted powerade until I finally had saliva in my mouth and urinated for the first time in about 12 hours. It was physcially the hardest day of my life by a wide, wide margin. Go get some. Gear Notes: We took smaller half of a set of nuts, double blue tcu to 3 camalot, single 4 and 4.5 camalot. Approach Notes: Up the 4 Mile Trail to just before the creek, then talus and 3rd class ramps to the base.
  3. Announcing the winners of the 2013 CascadeClimbers Almost Annual Photo Contest presented by American Alpine Institute. First, thanks to our wonderful sponsors who stepped up in a major way this year to offer the most prize value we have ever had. Sponsors are American Alpine Institute, Rab, Seattle Bouldering Project, and Mountain Gear. Big thanks also to BackcountryGear in Eugene. Second, thank you to all the entrants. This year did not disappoint and we again had some remarkable submissions. Hopefully next year we can offer a better system for display and voting which gives these photos justice. Third, we will be announcing some random winners in the coming days we just need to do some nerdy database stuff to select some winners. The Winners by Category! Rab Alpine Category -- Rab Xenon Jacket goes to JasonG AAI Cragging Category -- $330 AAI Gift Cert goes to bramski AAI Scenic Category -- $330 AAI Gift Cert goes to wfinley Mountain Gear Skiing & Boarding Category -- Mountain Gear Backcountry Essentials Avy Package goes to Alasdair Seattle Bouldering Project Bouldering Category -- 6 month pass to Seattle Bouldering Project goes to Winter Rab Ice Category -- Rab Infinity Jacket goes to lukeh Humor Category -- $120 BackcountryGear.com + (2) 1 Month SBP passes goes to scottwesh Lastly the new AAI Video Category -- $330 AAI Gift Cert goes to lukeh big pimpin sandbagger Winners. Drop me a PM to claim your prizes.
  4. Trip: Big Four - north face Date: 3/25/2013 Trip Report: Eric and I left Sunday afternoon and bivied near the ice caves at the base of Big4. We got there just as the sun was leaving. I hadn't seen that part of the Mountain Loop before, and was in awe of the impressive face above. Ski conditions looked questionably thin in many places on the face, I think we both thought that our planned effort was likely going to result in us turning back from poor conditions, but we did have a light rack and thin rope to deal with minor shenanigans if need be. Early in the morning we started up through a tricky cliff band next to a resonant waterfall. The climbing involved some monkeying around on vegetation since there was a lot of rotten snow over rock. Once above, we traversed a broad sloping bench to gain the central rib. The rib held knee+ deep unconsolidated pow. The going was slow, and we alternated skins and booting. From the road, there looked to be a few potential options on the face. We climbed up with those options in mind, and let the conditions dictate our direction. We ended up making an unplanned climbers left traverse then up a right trending icy gully to easier ground that led to the summit. The skiing was great. We found some variable and ice in spots, but there was also a lot of powder. The rib especially held amazing quality snow and really fun featured terrain. We didn't want to exit the face via the waterfall cliff band we had climbed up, so we traversed left, but missed the snow exit and ended up making a short rap off a tree. our line on big four by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2367 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr bigfour by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2392 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2398 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2403 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2408 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr variable conditions in steep trees by danhelmstadter, on Flickr steep trees by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2426 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2419 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr bigfourtwo by danhelmstadter, on Flickr
  5. Trip: mt rainier - liberty ridgeDate: 7/5/2010Trip Report:doug (cbcbd), bob (bob g, fka dirtbag_packwork) and i climbed rainier's liberty ridge route july 2-5.The route is in excellent condition, and our plan was to do it over 3 days with camps around winthrop/carbon glacier and thumb rock, followed by summit/descent. unexpected storm resulted in an additional (bonus!) bivy a bit above 13k ft.on day 1 we left the ranger station around 14:30, walked out of white river trailhead around 15:30, and reached the top of st elmos pass around 18:30. the clouds were rolling in by then, but the weather was fine. there were tracks from previous parties that we followed through a small crevasse jumble, stopped at the edge of winthrop glacier, and established camp at 20:00.the weather was ok, it was drizzling, and there was some wind from NW direction.day 2 was mostly warm and sunny. much sun screen was used. before dropping on carbon, we saw a party of two head out, and wondered why they had turned around. we roped up after crossing the bergschrund at the toe of the ridge, but unroped after getting up onto it. then followed the seemingly endless climb up the snow slope in baking temps. we followed lower on the ridge under all rock bands, and ascended the final slope toward thumb rock at 17:00. the weather was calm, there was a consistent cloud cover down below, and no wind. another party of 2 was camping at thumb rock. they had been there since 9:30 that morning, and were planning to start climbing very early.b/c we got to camp late and still had to make water, we got up later, at 1:30, and began ascending climbers' left of the ridge around 3:00. the party ahead of us was barely visible. we made good progress. our pictures from previous day showed some rock bands directly above thumb rock, so we decided to lean climbers’ right and go around on snow. this put us on a NW-facing slope, and around 5:30-6:00 we began to feel the wind picking up from that direction.we climbed very consistently, but visibility was decreasing and wind was becoming stronger and colder. around 8:00 we saw the other party stopped before an ice wall ahead of us. the weather had turned, and by this time it was becoming extremely cold, stormy, and we could barely see. we discussed making a stop and digging in, talked to the other party, but they were confident to continue. we found a corniced cave, dug it out, and pitched our tent to try to wait out the storm. the wind got stronger for the next few hours, and we could still occasionally hear the climbers above, taking siege of the wall! we let them know that we were parked below, in case they decided to come down.frozen hair!by mid-day we had decided to stay put until the following morning, and wait until the wind had calmed. we had a nice view of clouds from our cave, we watched lenticulars forming like giant alien spaceships, listened to the snow beating the tent, and drank hot chocolate. although we did not have much extra food, we did have a full large canister of fuel, and were not concerned about water or staying warm. it was still extremely gusty, but we hoped it would clear during the night. trying to get into the tent against the winddoing campsite chores: chopping ice for melting [video:vimeo] 2010-07-03 rainier LR 1 from veronika on Vimeo. [video:vimeo]2010-07-03 rainier LR 2 from veronika on Vimeo. in the morning it finally got quieter. we packed up and left at a leisurely 7:30. although it was again cloudy, it was better than the previous day. we began by ascending a long, less-than-vertical slope of neve with occasional patches of wind-buffed snow, which then gained some patches of solid blue ice. we roped up and simuled for a few hundred feet. there were two sections of more technical ice, but fine with three screws and simuling. doug leads the second part of the ice sectionthen followed a few hundred feet on iced-over snow, and finally the summit hump! we reached liberty cap around 10:20, and the weather was windy but friendly. after a short break we began descending towards emmons. we reached camp schurman at 14:00, 6,5 hours after leaving our cave. another person at the camp told us that the party ahead of us had come into camp schurman at 23:00 the previous night, 14,5 hours after we last saw them. we were glad to hear that they had descended safely. we were back at the car at 17:15.
  6. Trip: Three Fingers - east face couloir Date: 3/9/2013 Trip Report: On days when it's not raining, There's a great view of Three Fingers from eastbound 20 out of Anacortes. Sometime recently I made that drive on one of those days when the sky is fine art. Cool cloud formations and late afternoon sun hit the mountain just right, and got me thinking about going up there for a closer look. The approach went well, the bush'wackin wasn't very grim, and I made it to my bivy spot by a boulder near the foot of the slope below the east face with time left to kill. I started my ascent in the dark hours of the morning, and soon my decision to leave skins behind became a nagging regret. The snow went from supportable easy going, to variable knee deep, but with a few healthy curses I made it to the base of the couloir before the sun started really cooking the wall above. Conditions made for slow going up the couloir. To make it easier, I followed the edge of a runnel that hugged climbers right. I kept my head up as much as possible to watch for big sh*t, there was debris coming down everywhere. Most of it small, but I did get bashed a couple times. The couloir topped out on a high shoulder, and I continued up moderating slopes towards the middle summit. The snow was much different above the shoulder, about a foot of consolidated cold snow overlay an ice crust. The entire ridge line was corniced except for a little notch just right of the rimmed summit nub. I aimed for that notch. I was about about 20 feet below it when I felt and heard a sickening WUMPH. No slab cut out, but It was a clear indication of instability in those final feet below the ridge, and the consequences were high. I backed off a few steps and clicked on the skis. Ski conditions were good, the slight double fall line nature of the couloir naturally managed my sluff. Timing seemed about right since the sun had softened up the icy parts, and left the couloir just after I skied it, I suppose I could have got started a little earlier to help avoid the ice/rockfall on the climb. 100_2229 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr Stoked about my new crampons from Jim's shop. 100_2226 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr John Scurlock photo John Scurlock image by danhelmstadter, on Flickr climbing above shoulder shoulder by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2243 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2254 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr morning sunhit morninglight by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2228 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr
  7. Trip: Distal Phalanx - Busted Distal Bicep Couloir Date: 2/10/2013 Trip Report: I woke in the bed of my truck five minutes before my alarm went off bleary eyed to headlights from an approaching car around the bend of highway 20 near it's west side winter closure. At that hour of morning it could only be my friends Ryan and Eric who had already been up and driving for hours. It didn't take very long before we found ourselves scrambling in the dark up steep muddy embankments and unpredictably punching through the shallow rotten snow in the bush of Colonial Creek. We reached it's headwaters at the crack of dawn, welcoming open blue skies and deepish light snow. At one point on our upwards zigzagging, I caused a snow bridge spanning a large glide crack to loudly fail just by getting too close. From a col high on Colonial, we looked far across the Neve drainage to the beautiful couloir on Distal Phalanx that was our ski objective. By that time, it seemed doubtful we'd make it since the day was already getting old. We talked about our options, and changed our minds several times. The difficult conditions and amount of elevation gained had ate up a lot of time, and we knew we would be setting ourselves up for an epic by continuing towards Distal Phalanx. Still collectively undecided, Ryan said something about epic days being memorable, the logic seemed right, the beautiful an slightly scary view of the couloir on such a bluebird windless afternoon seemed to call us at that moment of indecision, and we dropped down to the valley towards the Distal Phalanx with smiles. We alternated trail breaking up the deep snow in the couloir, dodged a couple ice chunks, found some wind affected snow, and topped out to find the sun low and red on the horizon. I was last to drop in, and triggered a slab after just a few turns. Eric and Ryan were in safe zones on the side of the couloir as the lanch trucked past them. It got dark quickly and we skied the lower section with headlamps. Hours of skinning back up to the col under starlight followed. We got a bit turned around high on the Colonial/Neve/Paul Bunion's Stump massif, but found the way with not too much sweat, and skied mostly enjoyable powder down through a developing marine layer to Colonial Creek. We milked what we could of the deproach through the woods on skis, we had to pack the skis when it got too patchy and clustered with deadfall to ski. We still had a ways to go. The snow was rotten in spots so every 20 steps or so, one of us would unpredictably punch through, with unseen hazards below, and we were sidehilling next to the creek which was steep in places. Somewhere near our creek crossing Ryan took an unlucky digger from punching through the shitty rotten snow in a bad spot, and hurt his arm. His bicep looked weird and he couldn't bring his forearm up very far. Ryan is one tough dude, I could hardly tell he was injured as we made our way out, even though I knew he was in pain. Eric and Ryan drove back to Seattle that night. I just heard from Ryan that his Distal Bicep tendon is torn. In all we gained 11,000+ feet of elevation and took 22.5 hours car to car. It seems that there are several approach options, and in 20/20 hindsight, it is clear that we chose an approach that given the conditions we found, may have not have been ideal. I didn't take many pictures, and this one below is courtesy of Ryan. The Busted Distal Bicep Couloir is in the distance. Ryan Lurie Image by danhelmstadter, on Flickr climbing by danhelmstadter, on Flickr lateday topout by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2161 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr
  8. Trip: Incredible Hulk - Positive Vibrations Date: 9/3/2012 Trip Report: I concluded a really fun six week summer road trip with this stellar route. I’d done it before in 2009 but it is worth doing again and again. Jed and I met up in Reno, I was driving from the Tetons where my wife and I had just had a blast climbing the Exum Ridge and Irene's Arete. Jed flew in from Chicago. We got our permit early the next morning and we made the hike in to the base in two hours from Twin Lakes. Hulkamania: We had enough time that we really could have done the Red Dihedral that afternoon but I figured we’d want to be feeling pretty fresh for the PV. Jed started us off the next morning at first light, climbing awkward cracks with a distinct 10a crux passing a small roof. I fired us up the next pitch, a short 10c tips splitter and some easy but runout face climbing that gains two bolts on a nice belay ledge. First pitch: Jed continued up the 5.8 corner above, then across the delicate traverse which ends with a somewhat spicy, but short, sideways 5.11a sequence to gain a handjam, then a jughaul to the belay, another pair of bolts. Beginning of pitch 3. The crux traverse is just above the roofs. Pitch 4 is 5.10c and is a great stemming and bridging corner, with two distinct bulges. Gear is anywhere you want it. I passed a set of bolts and continued up a thin and tenuous finger crack in a corner with a hard stem and crack switch right at the end, a long 50 meter pitch. Jed following p4: Jed took us up a fantastic pitch towards the prow of the Hulk’s west face. Multiple cracks lead to a single crack which begins wide and tapers to thin hands, a rather awkward and strenuous section that felt a little harder than the 10a rating would suggest, but soon gives way to an extended section of splitter hands. Pitch 5: I now tackled the crux pitch which begins in a smooth corner with intricate stemming and some pretty dicey gear; suspect tiny cams (incl. #000 and #00 C3’s), a mishmash of rp’s, and the need for long slings due to having to protect mainly in the crack on the left wall. Just after I got the gear arranged and started going for it, my foot skated and I whipped onto an HB brass nut and blew the redpoint. After a unnerving runout to the roof where you can finally get some good gear, I continued past burly underclings with crispy feet into a steep, sustained, and incredible crack that passes a bulge on thin hands. A little unnerved from the fall, I dogged it a bit through here until I got my mojo back, and then continued on up in better style as the crack becomes a stellar finger jamming extravaganza on an open wall with incredible exposure. Due to rope drag (and being a bit worked) I made a belay at a small stance just below the 5.11 crux. Up to here the pitch rates 5.10d although I thought overall it is much harder (due to being physical and sustained) than the next section of technical 5.11a fingers. Jed coming up p6: I led us past the 11a thin fingers and face sequence passing a wildly exposed overhang with a ton of air beneath the feet! I pressed the pitch another 15 meters higher and belayed below the next set of splitters. Jed leaving the belay to start following the 11a section. Exposure and beautiful rock! The next pitch begins with steep, strenuous fingers and thin hands, giving way to another incredible hand crack. The angle lets off but then the pitch gets harder, with a difficult face move to the next crack right, then cranking hard up a sustained off fingers jam crack that never seems to let up. At the end, make an improbable step down and left to gain a great belay ledge. 5.10d. Jed in Splitterville: It just stays awesome. The next pitch can go to the very top if you have a 70 meter rope and a lot of endurance and don’t mind spacing your pro, a lot. I took it only 40 meters before I wimped out and belayed; I was low on hand sized gear and our rope was a 60m. The corner starts easily enough but becomes sustained 5.10b hand and fist jamming up a very steep corner and past a roof. A short distance above the roof I made a belay in the crack system at a blockier area, about 10-15’ right of a solitary bolt on the prow that makes no sense. Jed took us to the ridge from here, moving to the right and climbing another phenomenal finger, thin hands, then hands, hands, hands crack!!! Last pitch on the wall: From here, if you don’t plan to rappel Venturi Effect (70 meter rope mandatory) continue along the ridge- not entirely trivial. Apparently you can stay right on the crest and go through a chimney between flakes, but both times I’ve now stayed down and left. This is not entirely straightforward and is rather dirty and loose. After a couple ropelengths of “mostly” 4th and low 5th you join the Red Dihedral for the final 5.8 crack and the classic wormhole exit onto a bench just below the top. Jed coming on through: Jed on the summit, psyched: This route is at least as good as the Rostrum, maybe better because it is up in the mountains, and it’s longer. The rock is flawless, if the pictures don’t already demonstrate. Go do this thing. If it’s super windy at the base, consider another route- the upper part of the route is extremely exposed as it is right on or near the prow. The next day we got a more civilized start and ran up the Red Dihedral, the third time I had done this classic. Not quite as quality as the PV, but this is sort of like saying, for example, Seasoned in the Sun in Squamish isn’t as good as Exasperator. Do them both. Now. Gear Notes: Set of stoppers including rp’s, long slings. Double rack of cams from tiny stuff (#000 or grey tcu) to #3 BD camalot, with triples from 0.3 BD to #2. Nothing bigger than a #3 needed. Could avoid some of the triples perhaps, but most pitches are quite long so you either would have to break them up more, or run it out a fair bit. 70 meter rope could be useful especially if wanting to rap Venturi Effect. I’ve heard that rope hangup can be an considerable issue if choosing that course. Approach Notes: Climbers trail seems to get better by the year. Supertopo beta is out of date, there’s now a good log crossing and no wading in swamps is needed. Trail begins climbing the slope well to the looker’s left of the canyon entrance, then eventually traverses into the canyon. 2-3 hours from Twin Lakes. Bikes are NOT ALLOWED any longer on the initial part of the trail.
  9. Trip: Mt. Shuksan - South Couloir Date: 1/20/2013 Trip Report: I am so happy to be out and about pain free in the mountains again. I've been plagued by a nasty debilitating hip pain since summertime. I tried a bunch of different treatments for it, none seemed to work until I got a shot of cortisone in the bursa at the top of my femur bone a few days ago. Phew. A couple days before I got the shot, I was taking a lackadaisical drive up the Baker Lake road with my dog. I noticed a striking line on the South side of Shuksan. south couloir by danhelmstadter, on Flickr I formed a plan to go explore it - if my hip ever got healthy, which I was doubtful it would. The first part of the day felt like a familiar Shuksan experience, I got a bit of a late start (but was able to grab a coffee and use the facilities at the White Salmon Lodge), snow was good for travel, good weather etc... I was stoked to run into my friend Russell Cunningham on the White Salmon. The summit was beautiful, and the pyramid gully skied ok. summit by danhelmstadter, on Flickr I was a bit reluctant to start sking towrds the South Couloir for several reasons, and almost wanted to go check out the NW Couloir. But with the thought that I could always turn around (moon + good weather) I proceeded as planed. I dropped in and enjoyed great springlike snow with some variable in places as to be expected. The couloir is about 2000 vertical feet, and the whole South face about 5500'. Towards the bottom of the couloir the slope steepened then cliffed out. I made a steep downwards traversy scramble on mixed shallow rotten snow, ice, and chossy rock. Luckily the rock had enough solid positive holds. It was scary and felt a little dangerous at times. scramble by danhelmstadter, on Flickr 100_2150 by danhelmstadter, on Flickr A bit more steeps after the scramble, then wide open slopes with heavy snow. I stuck to skiers left through the trees for the remaining skiing, to avoid cliffs that lie everywhere else at the bottom. It was getting dark as I reached the valley at 2000' elevation on the Baker Lake side. I skinned many moonlit hours up to, and over the Shuksan Arm back to my truck at White Salmon. More Photos... roll at top of the south face roll by danhelmstadter, on Flickr Couloir entrance couloir entrance by danhelmstadter, on Flickr zoomer zoomer by danhelmstadter, on Flickr sundown set by danhelmstadter, on Flickr
  10. Trip: Shuksan - Circumnavigation + Summit Date: 1/21/2013 Trip Report: In our eternal quest to get a sunburn in every month of the year (turns out you can get burned in January in the North Cascades), Gord, Kit, Chad and myself made plans to spend a couple of days on Mt. Shuksan. Chad had driven all the way in from southern ID for a N. Cascades sampler, and the conditions lined up nicely to get him way up high in the range.On the way out of the lot on Sunday morning we ran into the one and only Daniel Helmstadter, newly back in ass-kicking action. He promptly dropped us like we were standing still (which we did frequently based on the silly overnight loads we carried), and we never saw him again. He had a First Descent on the south side of Shuksan to get to, but I'm somewhat certain he has teleportation abilities as well. That man can move! We, however, took our time getting to camp at the top of the Fisher Chimneys, but still arrived with time to watch a spectacular afternoon. We didn't even need to level a spot for the Megamid- fantastic! In the late afternoon we saw Jason4 and a group head down Winnie's slide The night was as long as expected, but not too cold. We were reluctant to leave our sleeping bags and camp in the morning, not rolling until around 0800. Up the Upper Curtis, through Hell's Highway, and up the Shulphide to the summit gully, we found ourselves booting up to the tippy top around noon. We ended up belaying a short bit from the gully to the summit ridge, mostly on the way down. Dan had kicked some great steps that made a lot of it easier. Unlike him though, we left our skis at the base. What a view! The summit of Shuksan never disappoints, but especially in winter. Wow. Chad was suitably impressed as the view was a bit different than the Tetons (his home range). We had the summit to ourselves, naturally, but couldn't stay too long due to the short days. We returned to our skis at the base of the summit pyramid and proceeded to circle the mountain's north side via the Crystal and Hanging Gls. A scenic way to complete the tour, and we were back at camp without too much delay. Packing up camp went quickly,and soon we were faced with the unpleasant ski down the VERY firm White Salmon with full packs. That was certainly a theme on the trip- great climbing conditions but generally poor ski conditions. Ski crampons were very useful. We battled the usual shenanigans in the valley bottom, getting back up to the parking lot around 1730. The gate wasn't locked, and we were soon in Kendall wishing Gord well on his way back across the border. Another North Cascades adventure complete! Pics: Skinning up the White Salmon Camp Chad admires the view north Gord exploring above camp Baker from camp Lower Curtis Icefall Dan, you are THE MAN. I think there are two of his First Descents visible, maybe more. Topping out on Hell's Highway Skinning up the Sulphide In the Summit gully Kit topping out on the summit ridge On the summit Looking east to Icy, the Pickets, and beyond Dropping onto the Crystal Gl. Pausing at the transition between the Hanging and Upper Curtis Gls. Skiing the Upper Curtis Gord hanging on near Winnie's Slide Gordo Fausto always leads the way for his North American clients. What a handsome man! Gear Notes: Ski crampons, whippet, boot crampons, axe, helmet, rando rope- all useful and used. Approach Notes: Park at the White Salmon Lodge. You can't miss it.
  11. Trip: Ptarmigan Traverse FKT - Date: 8/16/2012 Trip Report: Uli Steidl and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 12:17, a new FKT (fastest known time). It has been three years since I last enjoyed the Ptarmigan Traverse so it was time to come back to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cascades and refresh the prior FKT, which was set by Colin Abercrombie and me on July 28, 2009 (14:36) . This time I was joined by distance running legend Uli Steidl who has innumerable running victories and accolades to his name from road marathons to mountain running to ultras. Conditions were very similar to 2009 with nearly identical weather (hottest days of the summer). Prior to this run I figured somewhere in the 12 hour range was possible and we were able to hit that target finishing the traverse in 12:17. We started at the Cascade Pass trailhead at 4:49 am and finished at Downey Creek Bridge at 5:06 pm. Overall, the 2 hr, 19 min improvement from the 2009 time was due to a consistently faster effort throughout the traverse (see comparison below). I attribute this to more route experience and dialing in on nutrition and hydration, which helped keep energy levels high especially in the second half of the traverse. Bachlor Creek was as lovely (brushy) as ever although we avoided making any time consuming errors in the brush and the Downey Creek Trail felt as long as I had remembered. The 8.5 mile jog along the Suiattle River Road seemed especially needless because there were five forest service vehicles parked at the Downey Creek Bridge. In fact, the closed portion of the road is in better shape than the open part! It seemed like they were prepping the road, perhaps for opening? [video:youtube] Comparison: 2012 vs. 2009 vs. 2008 (difference 2012 to 2009) Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 0 Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 43 / 48 / 55 (- 5) Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 1:39 / 1:50 / 2:13 (- 11) Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 3:26 / 3:40 / 5:00 (- 14) Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 4:10 / 4:26 / 6:20 (- 16) White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 6:25 / 7:11 / 9:51 (- 46) Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 7:52 / 8:54 / 11:55 (- 1:02) Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 8:55 / 10:16 / 13:42 (- 1:21) Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 10:51 / 12:48 / 16:30 (- 1:57) Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 12:17 / 14:36 / 18:10 (- 2:19) Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 04:49 Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 43:10 / 43:10 / 05:32 Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 1:38:34 / 55:24 / 06:27 Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 3:25:37 / 1:47:02 / 08:14 Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 4:10:17 / 44:40 / 08:59 White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 6:24:54 / 2:14:36 / 11:14 Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 7:52:01 / 1:27:07 / 12:41 Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 8:54:49 / 1:02:47 / 13:44 Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 10:51:23 / 1:56:34 / 15:40 Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 12:17:15 / 1:25:51 / 17:06 Gear Notes: Axe and crampons Footwear: La Sportiva Nutrition: First Endurance EFS and Ultragen, energy bars Approach Notes: Typical Bachelor Creek brush
  12. Let's hear 'em!!! mine... Smiff: finish of darkness, a flying rat (aka pigeon) literally exploded out of the last pocket...almost wobbled off... or NRG: Stuck my fingers into one of the famous letterbox slots there and heard something that sounded like crinkling newspaper...i could feel this sort of scratching on my tips...pulled them out and a fucking deathstar exploded into my face...yellow jackets came out at warp speed and stung the shit out of me...promptly lobbed off for a good 20 footer...bastards!!!
  13. best of cc.com Wanted - Belayer!

    hahahaha! I about spewed my beer out of my nose and fell off my chair when I read this post. For more humor, please read any other post on the site. *note: this in no way reflects the majority of MN climbers
  14. Trip: Picket Range - Complete Enchainment Attempt Date: 9/2/2011 Trip Report: On September 2nd Jens Holsten, Dan Hilden and myself (Sol Wertkin) began an 8 day attempt at the Complete Picket Range Enchainment. While we came quite short of our original goal, we were able to complete the 2nd ascent of the Souther Picket Range Ridge Traverse (Bunker, Haley, Wallace 2003) and push it forward a bit to the North through Picket Pass, and over Outrigger and Luna Pk before exiting via Access Creek (15 summit in total). Day 1: The Three McMillan Spires Day 1 is a true ass-kicker, gaining over 10,000 vertical feet, and unfortunately I had been here before, 2 years earlier Blake Herrington and I had made an attempt at the Southern Traverse, completing 5 peaks before bailing out via fried nerves and weather via Terror Creek. We had fallen short of our intended itinerary on day 1 bivying between the East and West McMillan Spires. It was with this knowledge that I set the alarm even earlier this time around. As predicted, we approached as a weather system cleared the area and lucky for us an amazing high pressure window graced us for the remainder of the trip. The days objectives: SE Face of Little McMillan 7,600 ft, East ridge of East McMillan 7,992 ft, and the East Ridge/Face of the West McMillan Spire 8,000 ft. Though the packs were heavy, the views were incredible, the rock wasn't half bad, and the psyche was high. Myself celebrating the Triple Cumbre We were happy to have completed our goal for the day, but undeniably worked from the long approach and rock climbing with such heavy packs. We settled into the bivy just as it became dark. Day 2: The East Towers Traverse to Inspiration Peak We slept in until nearly 8 am on day 2 rationalizing that to complete such a big undertaking we would need to periodically recover. I began our late start pushing the rope on familiar terrain around the East Towers towards Inspiration. I was able to gain precious time compared to Blake and myself's onsight attmept and within a few hours we were starting up beautiful stone low on Inspiration Pk's East Ridge. Jens led on, scaling Inspiration's two beautiful crux pitches. It was here, at the base of the 5.9 pitch on Inspiration, where, 2 years earlier, I had come as close to dying as I ever have in the mountains. A microwave sized block that Blake was stemming on came loose and crashed onto the belay ledge from 50 ft. I narrowly escaped by jumping barefoot off the ledge with just enough play in my tether to dodge the missle. It felt strange to be back at the scene of the incident and was a relief to climb on uneventfully. The traverse over the E and W Summits of Inspiration 7,880 ft was as aesthetic as ever. But my oh my, where had the time gone? By the time we descended the W Ridge of Inspiration it was nearly 4 in the afternoon. On my previous attempt Blake and I had pioneered frightening new ground at 5.10R on our next objective, The Pyramid. Not feeling the need to launch into another late day epic on Pyramid we made the hard decision to bivy there and tackle it first thing in the morning. We had fallen incredibly short of the first ascencionest itinerary (in which they had amazingly moved on through Pryamid, Dengenhart, and Terror to a summit bivy on the Rake), but felt it was a necessary decision considering the time of the day and the enormity of our objective. Day 3: The Pyramid, Dengenhardt, Terror, and The Rake Our third day began with a more traditional alpine start and Dan took the lead and nailed it. Climbed The Pyramid the right way and it was a great route. Dan on the 5.8 crux of the East Ridge of The Pyramid Near the summit of The Pyramid 7,920 ft Mt. Degenhardt, 8,000 ft, was an easy scramble and we kept trucking on towards Terror. It was near the base of Terror where I had given Blake, "the look." The look that says, "dude, i'm done, it's over," and we had bailed. This time around I just focused on placing one foot in front of the other, and really didn't look ahead too much at the exceedingly intimidating East Ridge of Terror. We knew that Wayne and party had had a hair-raising experience scaling it's loose flanks so we just focused on finding the best path. And we did, and it wasn't so bad. Myself, leading our first pitch on the East Ridge of Mt. Terror Jens on the Summit of Mt. Terror, 8,151 ft. While the ascent wasn't so bad, the descent sure was. Loose unprotected down-climbing characterized the descent and before long we were strung out on a steep face searching for anchors or a way to continue down. Eventually we found some very old pins, and rapped off into the col, a disgusting place, perhaps the loosest col of them all. On the menu for dinner was the Rake, and Jens took the lead for the first and crux pitch. Loose climbing took Jens out of view and before long it was only his breathing and moans that we could decipher. I could tell the climbing was hard and that for the first time of the trip Jens was, "going for it." In the face of steep overhangs, Jens had set two OK nuts, equalized them and embarked on a 9+ traverse across "solid" edges, running it out 50-60 ft to a belay. Luckily for Dan and myself we were able to get intimate with some super-choss and keep the protection slightly more sane as we followed. Endless simuling ensued as we traversed onto the true ridge of the Rake. The rock quickly changed and we climbed phenomenal stone around the East Summit. Jens climbing into the golden hour on the Rake DFH getting his follow on Loving it Late-night belay duty Climbing at night, deep in the Pickets, high on the Rake, isn't the most relaxing endeavor. But things continued to unfold well. We wandered around many false summits and gendarmes and finally late into the night we heard a distant "monkey-call"from Jens and knew that we had finally arrived at the West Summit of the Rake, 7,840 ft. A short rap into the high col ended a long day. A wind-protected bivy we affectionately named,Ice Station DarkStar. We were in deep now. Day 4: East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, and the Himmelhorn We awoke to a crisp morning on day 4. I started off the day wandering down the long west ridge of the Rake towards the Twin Needle Spires. Looking back at the Rake As we approached the summit ridge of the E Twin Needle the rock got better and better. Crescendoing with a wild pitch of 10- to the summit, 7,936. Jens leading through terrible rope drag DFH Scary downclimbing (a theme for the trip) got us off the E Twin and we simuled up the West Twin. The Himmelhorn, the crux of the traverse (10+), was wildly intimidating. Jens got're done, finding the right path up the sheer north face. We pushed on over the summit, down the backside, where two long rappels took us to a good bivy at the Ottohorn-Himmelhorn col. Day 5: The Ottohorn We again woke up late, intending on first bagging the Ottohorn via it's 3rd class East Face, and then the Frenzelspitz. We were worked from the previous's day's climbing and moved slowly out of the bivy with quivering legs and throbbing fingers. Unfortunatly, our romp was not to be as new rockfall just below the summit proved too unsafe to tackle unroped. Dejected, we turned around and headed back to camp. We rested for a couple hours, discussed the high proabability that the complete objective was not to be, and headed back up the Ottohorn, this time with a rope and rack. Dan led us to the to summit via two quality pitches of solid 5.7. We returned to camp and continued resting. Day 6: Outrigger Pk (SE Fury) Though our fifth day had been predominatly characterized by resting we still awoke to day six tired, sore, and HUNGRY. Our rations basically consisted of 4 bars and 4 GU's for breakfast, lunch and snacks, a Mountain House meal for dinner and a group instant potato meal as a second dinner/before bed snack, with some random sausage, cheese, and extras here and there. Somewhere in the ballpark of 1400-2000 calories/day. While this works for the first few days, by day six you've burned through your reserves and you can't help but feel the effects as you start to metabolize your muscles. Nonetheless, as we rapped off into the Ottohorn-Himmelhorn coulouir I began to formulate my, "let's keep going" speech to be delivered after we easily tagged the Frenzelspitz and effortlessly galavanted across Picket Pass. Jens, aka "Alpine Man" preparing to do work in the Ottohorn-Himmelhorn coulouir A long double rope rappel onto the snow, led to another long double rope rappel, lots of downclimbing, and more rapping. While we were at times just 10-15 ft away from tromping up the 4th class East Face of the Frenzelspitz, the late-season snow was laying the "smack-down" on our spirits with hard sun-cupped conditions and impassable moats. Nearly 4 hours after first rapping into the coulouir we crested the snow to solid terra-firma. It was a strange mental space in that we were now deeper then ever, but at the same time, finally off of the demanding 5th class terrain of the Southern Range. Any wishes of sending the Frenzelspitz collapsed into the impassable September moat as did my Pattonesque speech. What do you know, more sketchy downclimbing moved us up and over Cub Scout Pk, and onto Picket Pass. On a route punctuated with many highpoints it was interesting to feel equally moved by the brush and sub-alpine trees of Picket Pass, our first major low-point in a number of days. We hydrated and pushed on up and over Outrigger (SE Pk of Fury)7,757 ft. via aesthetic slabs, exposed ridges, and golden staircases. Chossy downclimbing led us off of Outrigger onto the flanks of the SE Glacier of Fury, which we elegantly traversed down and onto a heather basin, beneath a large ridge connecting Fury and Luna Pk. We reached running water and a fine bivy high on the ridge just a hour or so into the dark night. Day 7: Luna Pk The next morning we awoke to sore bodies and breathtaking views. The effort of the past few days was layed out in front of us and we could finally get the feeling that we had accomplished something. The beautiful high ridge route continued on and before too long we were ditching our packs and heading up to tag Luna. Great view of our route from high on Luna Pk, 8,331 ft From Luna we descended and traversed steep heather slopes into Access Creek. Jens strung-out in the heather We continued descending through the brush of Access Creek to the forest of the Big Beaver Valley and Luna Camp. Day 8: The Deproach 12+ miles of hiking found us in the heat of the valley and finally back to the car. We had the great pleasure of celebrating our adventure with good friends who happened to be in the area. I can't give enough thanks to the many folks who helped us out on this endeavor including Cheryl and Adam Mckenney of Leavenworth Mountain Sports, Jim Nelson of Pro Mountain Sports, Teresa Bruffey/Outdoor Research, John Race and Olivia Cussen of the Northwest Mountain School, Geoff Cecil, Blake Herrington, and of course Wayne Wallace. Wayne's advice, psych, and willingness to let us give his project a go proved instrumental in our success. We were awed by his bold leads while on route and kept discussing that we couldn't imagine a more committing objective than solo on the Mongo Ridge. On our final day of preparations we orchestrated a phone consultation with Wayne where we hurriedly jotted down notes in the drizzle of a Safeway parking lot as we picked his brain. This beta sheet proved quite valuable (I will scan it and post up). Gear Notes:I plan to blog in detail about the gear we used for this objective in the near future. I will link the blog post here. Links: Jen's Blog: Always Upwards Day 1 & 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Dan's Blog Colin Haley's original TR for the Southern Ridge Traverse AAJ: Walking the Fence Josh Kaplan's original TR for the Northern Enchainment (Kaplan, Wallace, 2005) NWMJ: Northern Pickets Enchainment We sure do live in a special place to be able to embark on an adventure of this magnitude just a few hours from home.
  15. Trip: Shuksan - Price Glacier via NE Chute+NE Rib linkup Date: 8/3/2011 Trip Report: Zloi54 and I climbed one of the 50 classics of NA list – the scary Price glacier on Shuksan - over 08/01 – 08/04/11. After my arrival from PDX on Sat 07/30, we arranged for a car shuttle between Nooksack Cirque TH and Bagley lakes picnic area. Hwy 542 was then blocked by snow and gated to Austin Pass, but is reopened now. A 30% chance of showers predicted for our Sunday’s approach turned out to be 100% full on rain and meant open biving in the ditch for two nights at Nooksack cirque TH while waiting for the weather to clear. Day 1. Approach to the Nooksack Tower. Nooksack Cirque TH (2200’): Two whitewater crossings of Ruth Creek right off the TH are currently in the brand new “fir tree” state: After about 3 miles on the Nooksack Cirque trail, we took the climbers trail down (just past Wilderness boundary sign) to the Nooksack river. Getting to the old log crossing along the riverbank sucked - due to high water level this year I guess, but traversing 20’ above it made the trick. Nooksack River crossing (another classic by itself) is still solid and welcomes visitors: Sticking with the faint trail in the alder (about 50 m to the left of Price Creek) on the other side of Nooksack river was not that bad and brought us to the open moraine above Price lake. Price Lake down below: North side of Shukshistani represents: “Open moraine” quickly turned into snow moraine as we continued towards the glacier: Some beta advised NOT to head up to Price gl before the cirque seriously cliffs out. Probably being retarded, this is what we ended up doing: we headed up way early through the steep moat-mined snow, and then climbed nearly vertical muddy rock with tools and hauling packs. Getting to Price glacier somehow came at high price of wasted energy and time. The cirque below from the approach: Approaching Nooksack Tower on Price gl: Getting to the Nooksack Tower bivy sites took some imagination for crossing the crevasses below. The approximate line, looks easier than it was in reality: Camping out by the Nooksack Tower (6600’): Sunset and dreams about Canada: Day 2. Upper Price glacier. We started at the base of Nooksack tower at sunrise, sprinted through the sketchy ice chute being constantly fed by the material from the looming above ice cliff, and then squeezed through a couple of fragile chimneys before hitting safer ground somewhere in the middle of Price gl: At this point, routefinding choices had to be made and while trying to compromise between the contradictory beta “to stay on the left” vs “to stay on the right” of the gl, we went up in the center (red line): The ice was good, took screws well and we could not see any major obstructions ahead. Yet. Z coming up first ice pitch: More ice above: Z coming up on the traverse: I then led an 80 deg snow dome and hit a dead end in the maze of overhanging ice walls and our further progress had significantly slowed down. After trying a few options, we rapped down in the underground and begun traversing east (left) through the system of corridors and chimneys, most of which we soloed. The plan was to somehow get on the above snowfields to approach the rock band by the main shrund from the left where things were least broken up. Rapping down off ice features: In the crevasse chimneys: Contemplating the overhangs: By 7 pm we run out of options and pitched in the tent in between the ice walls with the haunted Nooksack Tower watching us for the second night in a row. I am not sure how often people do that, well we had no other choice: Another sunset by Nooksack Tower: Day 3. Upper Price gl., NE chute and NE Rib. For the lack of options on the east side of Price gl, we retraced our steps through the chimneys in the seracs, downclimbed and rapped down to the point where we could get to its west (right) side framed by a vertical serac wall and steeper snice slopes. Z heading up the right side of Price: West side of Price: Finally we got to the main shrund on Price, passing through which would have taken multiple overhanging raps as was later confirmed from my vantage point in the NE chute. The green line to the main shrund and traverse to the NE chute: We made a good call on the safest option of all: the NE chute with its scary entrance made of delicate soft ice flutings over 100 feet deep cracks and its monstrous ice roof right above our heads ready to collapse at any moment. The entrance to the NE chute: Typical terrain: Z coming up on the traverse to the center of the NE chute: Z heading up the easy snow above the second shrund in the NE chute: Z climbing up to the NE shoulder to find a bypass to the Crystal glacier – a “no go” in the current conditions: After he downclimbed the snow, I traversed and went up the NE Rib made of good and bad rock. Z traversing to the NE rib: Amazing views of Price lake down below: Solid alpine rock above on P2 - highly recommended: Z starting up on the P3 of the NE rib finish: After we had finally crawled across one of the endless knife edge snow ridges, we found no summit pyramid to our delight, but another corniced ridge which I think is a part of the Hanging glacier. So, we camp again. By the Hanging glacier snow ridge this time. And we run out of food. Day 4. Summit Pyramid and Fisher Chimneys descent. Next morning we climbed up and over the Hanging glacier cornice and thank god landed on the easy slopes of the North face top out. Just about time. The Summit pyramid from the north is looking mighty: While traversing across the Crystal gl and up the summit pyramid, we spotted the chopper making its way towards us. It turned out the authorities were concerned that we are 3 days overdue (including one extra day we bivied at the Nooksack cirque TH waiting on weather) but provided us with so needed food for our descent! What a treat! Baker from the summit pyramid: Hells highway was in the straightforward shape as was the lower crossing to Winnie’s slide. We took the skiers right variation of the Fisher Chimneys. After two raps over snow covered rock, we downclimbed 50 deg snow with a tool (no crampons were needed), and then merged with the left FC variation and downclimbed the rest on more often than not dry rock all way down to the moat. Traversing the snow covered boulder fields was OK, but getting through the moat on the last rap off the tree took more time than expected. There are a couple of options here: either shorter 10’ overhanging steps to get on the snow slope or a 20’ vertical section, both requiring crampons and a good tool. The descent to lake Ann was under snow, and will probably be for another month. We took the shortcut through the snow-covered slopes rather than sticking to the trail in the trees. Gear Notes: 5 screws, 3 pickets, rock pro to 1 inch, KBs could have been helpful, and were brought but not used because I am lazy. Approach Notes: Nooksack Cirque to Lake Ann carryover
  16. Trip: Violence, Alcohol and Shenanigans in NW China - Kingata Shan Date: 6/24/2005 Trip Report: This is the story of a trip I took with my friend TJ in 2005. At the last minute, we jumped on an expedition going to Northwest China after I received an "spammish" email from a man named Yoehan who was located somewhere in Central Asia. Most people would just click "Delete" and forget about this suspicious email. But not me. Having a habit of getting myself into a bit of trouble at times, all in the interest of extracting a good story...I threw caution to the wind, wired some money to some bank in China and started packing. After all, the price was right, I was unemployed with some spare cash. And, I had a cool partner, TJ. For me, I have noticed that as the years pass, the reality of an experience (what really happened) can sometimes morph into something else...memories of events that happened 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago become plastic and evolve into something else...they slowly emerge as similar events with small, convenient adaptations...adaptations that tend to paint ones-self in a better light, or adaptations filled with hyperbole to make for better story telling. Over time, these people and places and events become mythical in your mind...and only a quick reference to a journal entry (if one exists) bring you back to what really happened. This is the story of our trip to China. I cannot attest to its truth or accuracy, although it travels along the general path of truth, often times these stories start drifting towards the gutter... Sometime around Memorial Day in 2005, I hopped on a flight to Beijing. The plan was for me to travel the "Silk Road" to Urumqui in the Xinjiang Province of China, and meet TJ there about a month later. From there we would travel to Kashgar to meet our "Permit Procurement Officer", later to be known as our "Provision Procurement Douchebag", Yoehan , who was based in Urumqui. We would then join some Slovenians for an expedition to climb some "unclimed" peaks. The price was low, and we had moderate expectations. So, for several weeks I made my way up the Silk Road with a tiny backpack, while TJ got to schlepp my climbing gear halfway across the world. I got the better half of the deal for sure. At least I think that is what happened... A few shots of my journey up the silky road... These guys were pretty stoked to see a white guy...this was in a small village up in the hills...the guy on the motorcycle was the local Karaoke champion. At least I think thats what they told me... Normal sights along the road which parallels the old Great Wall... Meat soon to be festering in 120+ degree afternoon heat...too hot for even the flies. I finally arrived in Urumqi after a very hot 3-week tour up the Silk Road by bus. Midday temps were over 120 degrees. Luckily there were swimming pools all over the place, and I made a habit of going swimming to cool off. The only problem was that the Chinese, who are suppoedly obsessed with the size of the white-man-unit, would continually stare at my junk in the shower room. Kinda creepy. Kinda confidence-inspiring. I finally met TJ in Urumqi for our flight to Kashgar. It was great to see a familiar face. Traveling on my own was fun, and the Chinese are very friendly people, but it was great to be with someone who wasn't staring at my junk all the time. Hey Buddy! The overweight charges in China are completely ridiculous, $100 per extra kilo. Now, I am NOT saying that Chinese people are stupid, but this is the first time of many over the next several weeks where we found ourselves muttering "Stupid Chinese..." So, with ice screws and all the climbing gear we we about $4000 overweight. We wore our entire climbing kit on the plane! Arriving in Kashgar by plane, we gathered our bags and headed out into the reception area, looking for our man, Yoehan. Well, we found him! Dressed in tight black Beavis-like shorts and a black shirt with a Commie hammer and sickle...bursting belly peeking out underneath, he was a behemoth of a man. He welcomed us to Kashgar in a deep Northern European accent, and pointed us in the direction of our taxi. He seemed OK. Just OK, and from there it just went downhill... Yoehan, en route to Base Camp... Our first order of business the next day was to buy food and get our gear ready so we could leave Kashgar the next morning, bright and early. Yoehan had agreed to provide a most of the camping gear...base camp tents, cooking gear, "schlingies", etc. Since he told us that he had all that stuff ready to go(he WAS our Provision Procurement Douchebag(PPD) after all), we ended up drinking instead. Buying vegetables could wait. We awoke the next day a bit hung over, but psyched to get on the road westward towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-China border, where Johan told us we would hire some camels to take us to our base camp. From base camp, we would spend a month or so bagging "unclimbed" peaks in the Kingata Shan(Range). But, yet another caveat. Yoehan informed us in the morning, in his confirmed dutch-accented voice that the team of Slovenians that would be joining us were arriving in Kashgar a day or two late. We would have to wait in Kashgar at least another night. Ugh! I guess we would just have to get drunk again. At least that would give us some more time to get to know Yoehan. Finally, buying vegetable in the Kashgar market... At some point, the Slovenian team of three arrived over the Kunjerab Pass from Pakistan, and we were ready to roll. These Slovenians were cool guys, despite having weird names, and one of them was going to make of film of the expedition! Sweet! We would be on camera! You can see the film here: Kingata Film by Anze Cokl The plan was to hire a bus to take us to a small village, then take camels to base camp. At least that was the trip Yoehan sold us... Somewhere around this time, he told us that he "doesn't do rescues". Cool. I think it was about this time he told us how he was recently beaten to a pulp for impregnating a local Uighur girl. But, that part is foggy... Yoehan, dispatching disparaging remarks to our cook, Jaink, who didn't really understand what he was saying anyways... The idea of camels taking us to base camp sounded exotic to me. I have to say that the camels were about 50% of the reason for me going on this trip. In the end, it turned out that we didn't need any camels after all...all we needed was a bloody truck! So, without even ONE CAMEL, we ended up DRIVING right to our base camp. Yoehan and Jaink negotiate with the local Kyrgyz for passage... Well, we got to base camp after after negotiating passage with the local Kyrgyz herders, and getting the bus stuck several times. By this time, we had been around Yoehan for about 3-4 days, and he was drunk pretty much the whole time. Not only that, but he wore the same clothes every day...could he possibly continue like this for a whole month in the mountains...drinking incessantly and wearing the same clothes? What we discovered was truly horrifying. At any rate, we had arrived at Base Camp. It was super easy to get there, and it was beautiful! Locals "helping" us unload the truck Mustagh Ata in the distance: At this point, if you're still reading...you're probably wondering if we are going to do any climbing on this trip...and that what we were starting to wonder, too... But, now that we were finally at Base Camp, all we had to do was eat, try our best to deal with Johans considerable alcoholism and perceived impending violence(he started saying angry things about this point), eat, and climb. Oh, yeah, we had to keep an eye on the local Kyrgyz...who looked innocent enough, but were milling about our camp constantly...obsessed with our high-tech trinkets like swiss-army knives, condoms, and sunglasses. Dont ask about the condoms, please. Local Kyrgyz: Innocent looking, but deadly! How can you ever trust a moslem with an "I heart Jesus" hat?? Don't forget the condoms! Kidding. IT WAS TIME TO DO SOME CLIMBING! We were hoping to climb Kingata Tagh, 6760 meters. But first we settled on a little acclimitization climb of a non-technical peak nearby, Karajira IV. None of these peaks seem to have official names, but Yoehan assured us that Karajira IV is both unclimed, and also actually named Karajira IV. We spent two full days bagging Karajira IV...really just a long slog up yak-slopes, then steep rotten snow... TJ heading up Yak-slopes, with Kingata Tagh in the distance. She would be our nemesis, that dirty girl! The descent path of one of the Slovenians...he had AMS pretty bad...note how un-straight is boot path is!! Summit of Karjira IV: We bagged Karajira IV just minutes after the Slovenians did. Of course, they claimed the first ascent for their country, and we shamefully walked the 8 hours back to Base Camp with our tails between our legs... We then spent a few days in Base Camp recouperating. We passed the time by playing frisbee with the locals and shooting the yaks with a slingshot! Frisbee! Yak Abuse! Treasures abound around Base Camp! By this time, Yoehan was starting to become quite the shit-show. He doesnt use sunscreen, so he had returned from two days on the glacier with his skin red, blistering, and peeling. At the Base Camp dinner table he would pick his scabs, then dip his scab-moistened hands into the sugar jar to sweeten his tea. Absolutely disgusting. He was starting to run out of alcohol, and began getting very grumpy. He had not yet bathed, and was still wearing the Beavis shorts and the hammer-sickle t-shirt. Also, he got diarrhea ("tin shits" as he called it) up on the mountain somewhere, and instead of going outside the tent to shit in the middle of the night, he thought it better to squirt his diaroeah (how many ways can you spell diorreah, anyways?) in our ONLY cooking pot small enough to take up high on summit day. He shit in our cooking pot. WTF?!!? He claimed that since he boiled water in it afterwards, that it was OK. "Don't worry about it", he said. Mommy, where do "Tin Shits" come from?? Disgusted by Yoehan, we were amped to get up-valley and give a shot at Kingata Tagh... The valley where our upper base camp was located: Kingata Tagh from advanced Base Camp... Long story short, we spent about 10 days high on the mountain trying to climb Kingata Tagh. The weather was crap. Every morning we would wake to blue bird skies, and every day around 11am the storm clouds would come in to deposit about 3 inches of graupel. Despite the crap weather, we finally made a dash for the summit as our last days of our trip were approaching. After putting in a high camp around 6100 meters, we ended up getting turned back by steep ice climbing that we were not prepared for...neither of us felt healthy. At high camp: High on the mountain on our summit push...Pakistan and a bunch of other "Stans" lurk on the horizon... Four weeks of of living on crappy Chinese food had taken their toll. The last days we were subsiding on Chinese "Powerbars" that weighed as much as a dime. The night we ate the mystery meat was a momentous one! Disappointed, and completely exhausted and hungry, we packed up our high camp, then our ABC and headed back down to Base Camp where we could spend one last day with Yoehan before heading back to Kashgar. Seems as if Yoehan had run out of alcohol while we were up on the mountain...and he had gotten very ornery. Very ornery. Honey badger-type ornery. Yoehan was getting angry. He started talking about how much he hated Americans. And about how noble Stalin was for doing "what he believed", etc. I could tell that something bad was going to happen. But, we got packed up the next day and left Base Camp without incident... Yoehan sits while others do the work: Departing the enchanted land of the Kyrgyz: Finally arriving back in Kashgar, we decided it was time for a little celebration. The celebration would include myself, TJ, the three Slovenians and, unfortunately, Yoehan. The night started off normal enough. But, eventually, we found ourselves sitting at an outdoor table at a main junction in Kashgar...drinking fairly heavily. Yoehan, excited to have unlimited amounts of alcohol at hand (and access to Uighur prostitutes), began to get drunk...and belligerant. He started yelling to everyone withing earshot that I was a CIA spy. Then, moments later, pushed his chair back, pulled out a leather man...and moved to stab me. TJ, hating Yoehan like no other, stands up, rears, and hauls off a punch across the table into Yoehans jaw, sending him flying backwards in his chair. It was awesome. I think that was the only time TJ ever punched anyone in his life. Turned out the Yoehan had actually pulled out the corkscrew part of the leatherman, not the knife...but, that is besides the point. Moments before the "Leatherman Incident" Well, our party quickly dissipated after the melee, and we all said our good-byes and headed to bed. But not Yoehan. He kept drinking. And drinking. One of the Slovenians was sharing a room with Yoehan for the night. When he awoke at 5 am, this is what he saw. Frightening: The next day, TJ headed home, I headed to Kyrgyzstan, and Yoehan probably got drunk and bought a few whores. Classy guy. At least I THINK all this stuff happened. Things are starting to get foggy...I think I will burn my journals and continue to let reality morph into myth. BTW: You can see a more detailed trip report here: Gear Notes: Bring your own cooking pot. Approach Notes: Go halfway around the world, then turn right.
  17. Trip: 4 climbs in the Canadian Rockies - Yukness, Hungabee, Huber, Temple Date: 8/24-28/2010 Trip Report: Scott Bingen, Steve Trent, and I just got back from a climbing road trip to the Canadian Rockies. We climbed 3 summits in Yoho NP (BC) and also climbed Mt. Temple in Banff NP (Alberta) before heading home. It was a fun trip, full of massive mountains, spectacular scenery, and ubiquitous Rockies choss. Day 1 - Aug 24 - Yukness Mtn The first day we took the bus to Lake O'Hara (avoids walking 11km along road), hiked a couple of hours to the basin below Opabin Pass where we established camp, and then scrambled up Yukness Mountain for some stellar views of the park. A friend named Demetri (from Canmore) joined us. Day 2 - Aug 25 - Hungabee Mtn + Abbot Hut The second day the four of us (Scott, Steve, Demetri, and I) climbed the West Ridge of Hungabee Mountain, which is the highest summit in Yoho National Park and lies on the continental divide between BC and Alberta. This climb represents the epitome of Rockies climbing: massive, chossy, tricky route-finding, and spectacular summit views. We had reservations at Abbot Pass Hut, so despite the fact we got down to camp as the sun was setting, we packed up to hike 3.5 hours to Abbot Pass. Demetri had to work the next day, so he hiked out. The grueling ascent in the dark was all worth it when we were greeted with a fire burning in the wood stove and water already boiling on the stove. Day 3 - Aug 26 - Mt. Huber The third day we woke up to a brilliant morning at the cozy Abbot Pass Hut. After the long day the day before, it was nice to just relax in such a beautiful spot. But it wasn't long before I began to get antsy to climb some of the mountains towering around us, so I left to go climb Mt. Huber (via the Huber Ledges route, since I preferred to have a partner if I went up the more technical route from Abbot Pass), while Scott and Steve opted to hang out at the hut. I reconnected with Scott and Steve evening at the Lake O'Hara parking lot, and we drove to Canmore to stay with some friends. Day 4 - Aug 28 - Mt. Temple Finally, before heading back to Seattle, we took advantage of a 1-day weather window to climb the nearby Mt. Temple in Banff National Park. Interesting note: Mt. Temple had been the location of my first hike and camping trip when I was 3 months old (see photo below). As usual, I've posted a full trip report on my website: Canadian Rockies Part I (3 climbs in Yoho NP): http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/britishcolumbia/yoho Canadian Rockies Part II (Mt. Temple): http://www.stephabegg.com/home/tripreports/britishcolumbia/temple
  18. 1)Read the rules/info here before voting: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1012183/Re_Best_Trip_Report_Voting_Con#Post1012183 2)I'll start the nominations off with my own: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=495658 "Layton-Wolfe. September.05" From the objective, to the route, to the writing - I can't remember a better candidate for "Greatest TR Ever" than Mike and Erik's TR from their FA on the East Face of Mox Peak. 4/7 Update: Changed the thread title to better reflect the main idea of this contest.
  19. Trip: Patagonia - FA. The Washington Route - Fitzroy Date: 2/8/2011 Trip Report: This last season down in Patagonia was my 5th season of toiling and suffering down there. Finally after all of those years I feel like I've actually gotten to climb some stuff. But it wasn't until the last week of my trip this year that I made it up the Fitz. Its was a long time coming.... During the first week of February the weather forecast started to show a possible 4 day weather window. The only problem for us was we were suppose to catch a plane back the states right in the middle of the goods. As the predicted weather approach it became apparent that we’d have to change our tickets for an attempt at the Fitz. A few frustrating hours on the phone and 1k and spent we were good to go. I kept telling myself it better be worth it…. I've been burnt before changing tickets down there. On Monday the 7th we packed our bags and made our way through Piedre Fraile and onto the bivi at Piedra Negra. As luck would have it, the weather Monday night wasn’t so great. Just past midnight it started to sprinkle. To save weight on the approach we opted for no tent, so we sat there in a light rain deciding what to do. After much contemplation we decided we should just get up and start. It was 12:45am. To our dismay the glacier hadn’t yet frozen as we made our way from Paso Guillaumet to the base of La Brecha. We had figured the it would only take us 3 hours from camp to the base but it ended up taking nearly 5. Which wasn’t that much of a problem but it meant we would then be climbing the Brecha in the full effect of the sun. Not fun nor that safe. Onwards and upward we went climbing right threw the waterfall that was starting run down the Brecha. Due to the running water we were forced to stop on top of the Brecha in the sun for a couple hours to dry our clothes. At this point we were starting to run way behind. Little did we know were about to fall way behind schedule as we traversed to base of the south face. A few years ago we had covered this same terrain and has cruised right across it. This time we found boiler plate hard blue ice. Our old worn out aluminum crampons were drastically inadequate as well as our single light weight ice tool. Late in the evening it became glaringly apparent that we were going to need to bivi before we even got on the “route.” We were both a little frustrated and morale was going down. With out any obvious bivi sites available we had to keep traversing farther to the base of the California route, even though this was taking us out of the way. Thankfully we reached the base of a large ice slope where we could excavate a decent platform for the two of us. We had a great view of our proposed new route up the south face which did give us hope as it didn’t look to intimidating. On Wednesday the 9th we started up the real business of the route, which first involved making a short traversing pitch across the ice slope and then a 60m rappel down to the base of the system (a place where we had nearly been before but had to continue past to find the bivi.) I had lead a good majority of the climbing the day before as it was more of the alpine variety which I’m slightly more efficient at then Kate, so now it was Kate’s turn to take the lead and get the rope up. The first couple pitches were on good rock but unfortunately they were choked full of ice. She slowly chopped the ice out of the cracks resorting to a mix of aid and free. The rope moved up at a steady pace though. It wasn’t until a couple pitches up that the ice had disappeared allowing Kate to move and an even more rapid pace. I followed behind doing whatever it took to get up the pitch, this often involved “poor man’s jumaring,” which is just yarding up the rope in between pieces and then Kate would take the rope as tight as she could. ( I can’t even remember how many times in my guiding days did I tell clients to never do that….) Kate lead on through a variety of cracks but most were in the hands to fist to off-width size. After getting set slowed down by poor conditions yesterday it felt nice to be moving efficiently on good rock in good conditions. Pitch after pitch fell below as we continued up sustained cracks. After 12 pitches or so we veered right at our first opportunity, hoping for easier terrain. Kate turned over the lead to me at the first ledge we came to as she had been leading for over 8 hours and was properly cooked. The steepness eased up and after a few more pitches we reached a point where we started simul-climbing up the 4th class terrain that lead to the final snow slope. Both of us had really hoped to top out in the light but that just wasn’t in the cards for us. We stumbled up the last easy 100m and reached the summit just before 11pm to tired and hungry to be that excited. A short discussion ensued about rappelling through the night but we choose the much more conservative and colder option of spending the night on the summit. For some unknown reason Kate and I had opted to NOT bring a sleeping bag up Fitz. This was undeniably a very very poor choice. Our teeth literally chattered all night long. No amount of spooning was going to keep us warm. We put chemical warmers into our boots and hot water bottles in our jackets, this barely helped. But each and every chatter of the teeth were quickly forgotten as the sun rose and illuminated our location on top of Fitzroy. The excitement finally hit. Somehow we had managed to climb a new route on Fitz. This one won’t soon be forgotten.
  20. Trip: Breithorn, Pollux, Castor, and Monte Rosa - Various Date: 7/29/2005 Trip Report: Ever since my brother got me my first ice axe and introduced me to mountain climbing, one mountain above all fascinated me...the Matterhorn. In 2005 I had the funds, partner, and time off to pursue that dream. When my friend Rod and I arrived in Zermatt, the Matterhorn was in perfect climbing condition.We decided to acclimatize a bit with a climb of the Breithorn (4164 meters)We ascended the west ridge to the summit, then dropped back down and climbed the central summit (4159 meters) We had hired a guide, Larry Dolecki, to maximize our chances of success and time. We met up with him in Zermatt and decided to do another acclimatization climb of the Obergabelhorn SE ridge before trying the Matterhorn. We approached the Arben Hut via bolted ladders. We awoke to a white out storm, and retreated back to Zermatt. We waited one day, hoping the weather would improve. It would take a long spell of good weather before the Matterhorn was in shape, so we decided to climb whatever we could until then. We took the cable car to Klein Matterhorn and headed onto the Verra glacier hoping to find better weather on the Italian side of the mountains. We dropped down to the Gnifetti Hut and enjoyed the pleasures of hot food, warm beds, international company, and alcoholic beverages. The next morning dawned clear and we were treated to views towards Mont Blanc. Our next goal was to climb Liskamm (4527 meters) as a traverse going west to east and end up near Monte Rosa. We headed up to the west ridge, but high winds turned us back a few hundred feet from the west summit. We headed back and climbed Castor (4228 meters) instead. We traversed south below Liskamm and descended the Gren Glacier to the Monte Rosa hut. The next morning we awoke early with about a hundred other climbers and started climbing by headlamp. The hut is at about 2795 meters(9200 feet), and the Monte Rosa summit is 4634 meters(15,199 feet). We passed all but two parties on the glacier and soon were on the rocky west ridge. The rock was a little verglassed, but soon we were on the summit. Unfortunately, it was socked in, so we didn't get to enjoy the view. We returned to the hut, rested and hydrated, then crossed the Gorner glacier and hiked up to Gornergrat to catch the train back to Zermatt. The weather improved and gave us a nice view of both Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn (alas with new snow). We enjoyed a rest day, then headed back up to climb Pollux (4092 meters). Another storm came in and dropped another half foot of new snow, and so ended my hopes of climbing the Matterhorn on this trip. I must say I still had a great time! Gear Notes: Standard glacier gear. Ear plugs and a sleeping sack for the huts. Approach Notes: From Zermatt, cable car and train access and well marked trails make approaches pretty easy. If you want to stay in the huts, make reservations...they fill up early in peak season. We were turned away from the Margherita Hut.
  21. Trip: Banks Lake ice with ropegunning wife - various Date: 12/11/2010 Trip Report: A week ago I tied the knot with the decision to secure myself a partner for life. Now a week later I tie a different knot. We both love ice, had never climbed WI together, so on Sat, 12/11, we finally got the chance to test our new marriage against some icicles!! Banks was looking promising so we drove up late from Seattle on Friday and slept in the Osborn bay Fish and Wildlife camping area (none of those climbs are in). Sat we got a lazy start, overcast, temps around 34 degrees in the morning, and headed to the Devil's punchbowl area. Lots of big ice debris below many of the climbs although we didn't see anything big coming down during the day. Trotsky's folly looked delaminated at the top and ready topple so we skipped it and headed up to start with Trotsky's Revenge. The wife asked me if she could have the first lead of the day. Now, I might be new to this but I know you should not be arguing with the wife. Gotta please the woman! The topout was a little hollow, but doable. The chimneying was great fun! At that time we saw two cc.com allstars coming up - John Plotz (telemarker)and Kyle Flick. They hopped on the punchbowl while we finished off Revenge. We chit-chatted and swaped climbs, running up punchbowl before the last remaining icicle falls off. Feeling good we finished off, waved adieu to Plotz and Flick, and headed over to Pee Wee's. We beeline to the right flow, which is the better looking one of the area. It's steep but the blobs, previous traffic, and thankfully short length (we just doubled up our 70m half rope), made it doable for me with much shaking out Pretty tied up When V runs up it I'm getting antsy to get off this flow since every small kick or swing she makes just reverberates all the way up the climb, reminding one that ice is a temporary ever-changing medium Very happy with our pump we packed up and headed a little north to complete the day with huge plates of delicious Mexican food at La Presa. Here's looking to future climbs and following some hard stuff my wife puts up for me!!
  22. Climb: SEWS-The Passenger IV 5.11c Date of Climb: 8/30/2006 Trip Report: Tyree and I climbed the Passenger route last Wednesday. We had an awesome time, and found the route to be steep, clean, well-engineered, and well-protected. The grades seemed a bit inflated. We thought the crux pitch felt a bit more like 11c, not 12a. And as far as length goes, we did the route in an easy 7 pitches, not the published 9. , Proabaly not a grade V, more like short grade IV. Either way, hats off to Bryan Burdo and crew, it is a fine route on some of the best stone i've touched at the pass. The red Fred description of this route is a bit ambiguous. For those who want a bit more beta, here it is. The route starts towards the bottom of the south face on the left side of the lowest buttress. Scramble left on a ledge system for about 30 ft to a tree and a set of twin cracks. P1: Climb up the twin cracks to a roof, undercling left. More crack, then face, leads to a bolted belay. 2 bolts. 5.10d, 165 ft. Quality climbing on P1: P2: Climb fingercrack to roof/bulge. Crank through bulge and continue up via steep corners. Belay beneath large roof at fixed pin. 1 bolt. 5.11b, 60ft. Below the bulge: Roof, Roof: P3: Good moves crank throught the first roof. Continue up steepening thin crack to second roof. Awesome moves through second roof lead to a bolted belay. 5.11a, 70ft. Loving it: Get some Ty: P4: Move left via difficult slab traverse. Continue up to bulge, crank through bulge and traverse right to wild finish. 8 bolts. 5.11c, 70ft. P5: Chimney up right side of largest roof. Pull over roof into good handcrack. Belay at grassy stance. 2 fixed pins. 5.10c, 180ft. P6: Climb mildy dirty, left-hand crack, without getting spit out into the abyss. At bulge below roof, traverse left on face to tree clump and belay. 5.10d, 90 ft. P7:Continue trversing left to good crack, follow up to loose top out. 5.7+, 60ft. Ty and his Doo-Doo Space Pistol: The route is classic, if your up for the grade, go get it. 1 to 2 sets of cams to 3 inches, nuts.
  23. Trip: Bugaboos - Many Date: 8/15/2010 Trip Report: Bugaboos trip Aug 15th - Aug 22nd Dave and I awoke dizzy and blurry eyed on the Sunshine Coast after a friends wedding. The night before we vowed to be on the 0815 ferry back to Vancouver. We ended up on the 1300 ferry and feeling severely hung over. Not the alpine start we wanted for our Bugaboo trip… After shopping, eating, and driving to the gravel access road, we finally set up the tent and passed out at 0130. An early rise had us hiking by 0700. Two hours and 15 minutes later we were dropping gear in Applebee and heading up the Snowpatch/Bugaboo col. It was only about 1pm by the time were walking behind Snowpatch spire. Our original plan was to go solo the west ridge of Pigeon, then bivy the night and do the Beckey-Chouinard the next day. Instead we did Wildflowers, 5.9, on the back of Snowpatch. By the time we were setting out bivy gear beside Pigeon it was later than expected and we were really feeling the lack of sleep of the previous days. Our prospects did not look good for the B-C… Wildflowers [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4261.jpg[/img] After a cold and windy bivy the alarm finally went off at 0330. The conversation went, How do you feel? Not good... Me neither... We should probably just suck it up and go anyway. Shit… After the decision was made it became much easier. 4th class scrambling at the start of the Beckey-Chouinard [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4321.jpg[/img] Scott following low crux on Beckey-Choinard [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4339.jpg[/img] The B-C lived up to all the hype. Pretty much 1000 meters of 5.8-5.9 hand cracks. We were on the summit by 1320. Raps took about 1.5 hours with double ropes. If you have the energy, I would highly recommend the 5.10 finger/hand crack variation around the squeeze chimney. It was probably the best pitch of climbing on the whole route and that chimney looks ugly. Dave following 5.10 variation on Beckey-Chouinard. Squeeze chimney visible on left of pic. [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/P8170024.jpg[/img] Our only difficulty came on pitch 15 (Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche guide book), the tension traverse or 5.10 + variation. The problem was we somehow missed this pitch… The confusion started as Dave lead pitch 13. The book reads, “Climb the gully over chockstones to where it steepens into a capped corner. Climb the second crack on the left wall to belay at the base of a long, shallow, right facing corner (5.9 60m) 14: Follow the corner to a two-pin belay at a small notch (5.8 30m).” This is then supposed to be the tension point, then a 5.6 gully to the top. Dave takes off and I notice that he is at about 55m, I shout this information at him, but probably due to wind he doesn’t hear it. I interpret this as he is ignoring me. The rope goes tight and I start simul-climbing. Once I can see what’s happening I can see the capped corner referred to in the book and the cracks up the left wall. Dave is way up on the left arête of the gully having climbed what appears to be the second crack on the left. I followed up the left wall, which was 5.9-5.9+ train track hand cracks, awesome. He builds a belay at the base of a long shallow right facing corner. Seems like we have followed the book perfectly but appear to now be in a 5.6 gully that goes to the horizon and we have not seen a pin or small notch anywhere. I jump on lead and take us to the top, which was in fact the correct summit with a 20m rap and then 4th class to the true summit. In hind sight you are supposed to go all the way to the capped corner than climb the crack 2nd to the left FROM THE CORNER. So really we turned two pitches of a chockstone filled gully, a weird 5.8, and tension traverse, into an 80 m pitch of solid continuous 5.9 hand crack. We thought we should pass this information on to the original assentionist. The letter is as follows. [font:Times New Roman]Dear Mr. Fred Beckey and Mr. Yvon Chouinard: My friend Dave and I recently climbed your world famous route up the SW Buttress on South-Howser tower. I can see why it is such a sought after climb, wow, what a route! Amazingly sustained at its grade and the line is stunning. We noticed that between pitch 13 and 15 the quality is slightly less than average, and many people require a tacky tension traverse. We would like to let you know that we have now fixed your route to follow the ethics with which it was originally intended by trading aid for crack climbing. We have posted the necessary changes in a popular climbing forum. Scott and Dave [/font] All kidding aside, it really was a simple mistake that I am sure many have made before us… Oops. I hope all our route finding problems end up this well. The next day we woke up late and did Surfs Up, 5.9. Dave got off route and in all fairness I think most parties that climb that route go astray somewhere (this must have something to do with the guide book describing “follow the corner” when about 10 corners exist in close proximity). This time we weren’t lucky as on the B-C. I lead through a 5.10 + roof with bottoming fingers, then we had to rap over to the proper dihedral. Dave finished the route up following amazing hand cracks with awesome exposure. Scott following up high on Surfs Up [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4481.jpg[/img] [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4491.jpg[/img] The following day we did the Cooper-Kor on Pigeon spire 5.9, A0. This route was really amazing mostly because of it’s positioning on the wall. Dave and I also really like the alpine feel of the tension traverses way up on the exposed wall. We haven’t done too much of that stuff so it was neat to run across that wall. The slabs and one 5.9 finger crack were quite wet, making it a bit tricky. Dave following the slab pitch [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/P8190096.jpg[/img] The weather started to move in that evening. So the next day we went to Crescent Spire and climbed Paddle Flake Direct 5.10. Again, more amazing crack climbing that was surprisingly steep. We then climbed the 5.10+ roof McTech after as a single pitch. Good way to finish a short day. Scott leading roof McTech [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4613.jpg[/img] The weather was really not looking so good for the next day so we went off to climb Sunshine Crack 5.11- on Snowpatch. It is a good one to climb in unsettled weather because it has bolted rap stations down the entire route. The low 5.10 off width is a bit of a bar fight, but very doable, just a lot of grunting… This route continues with amazing jamming pretty much the entire way, passing through 4 roofs. The 5.11- roof is only about 1 move and is softer than the grade implies. Two pitches from the top it started to snow while Dave was leading. Shit. By the time I was brought up to his belay stance it was a full on blizzard. Encouraged by the sound of another party’s cheers after pulling through a roof below us, I tied into the sharp end and took the rack. Half way up this long pitch, and fairly run out, Dave yells up “Scott! Check it out, there is significant snow accumulating on the ropes.” Thanks Dave, that’s very helpful at this point… Arriving safely at the top and bring Dave up, we snapped a couple pics and rapped out. The raps went better than expected considering the ropes were being blow horizontally below the rappeller. Scott leading 5.10 offwidth on Sunshine [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4622.jpg[/img] Gearing for final 5.10 pitch on sunshine (in the snow) [img:center]http://i758.photobucket.com/albums/xx222/Scott_Burrell/IMG_4644.jpg[/img] We rolled into camp, grabbed out gear and ran out to the car. We were back in Vancouver by 0245 in the AM. Gear notes for Sunshine: Take doubles to and including #4 camalot, and one #5 camalot. You can push the # 5 up once or twice and then the angle of the crack backs off. You can leave the #5 clipped to the anchor at the top of pitch 2 (the off width) because it isn’t needed after that. The double #3’s and #4’s are nice for the top pitch. Sunshine was by far the best climbing of the whole trip. That route is amazing. Gear notes for the Beckey-Choiunard: We took doubles up to and including #3 camalots, and one #4 camalot, and a 3rd # 2 camalot. You could definitely do it without the triple #2’s, but we simul-climbed a lot of it and it was nice to have extra of this very common size on the route. You can also make an argument to leave the #4. It was placed but we did not climb the chimney so it wasn’t “necessary,” depending on your comfort level. Crazy awesome trip!
  24. Trip: Prusik Pk. - Solid Gold III 5.11a Date: 6/14/2008 Trip Report: Wanting to get as far away from the sherpa glacier as possible and equally motivated by this, and this, this past saturday, Dave Elder and I climbed Solid Gold on the south face of Prusik Pk. We'd have to agree with first ascencionest Wayne Wallace when he describes the route as a "masterpeice" as we were truly amazed by the flawless rock and splitter climbing. The topo was great and so was the rack. We didn't use the 1/4 incher at the first belay, and we didn't nail because we missed the last pitch entirely. I started up what I thought was 5.8 cracks that led to the perfect 5.11a corner, and, before I had a chance to second geuss myself, was soon cranking out a 10c "changing corners" style variation that topped out on the ridge. Though the new variation is rad (right of the 5.11 corner), anything described as perfect on this route is worth another go, and i'm sure it won't be long until i'm slogging out there again... Dave starting to feel the stoke: One hell of a crag, the impeccable south face: Holy crap, P1, the solid gold pitch: Here's looking back down at P1, fingers in a corner, bad ass: Myself seconding P2: Beginning P3, we easily linked P3 & 4: The P4 "changing corners" variation: Topped out on the west ridge: The really cool thing about this climb, is that its actually just the hardman sit-start for the classic west ridge: Insert monkey call here: BOOM! Gear Notes: Double set to #2, single #3. One rope. Approach Notes: Mostly snow free to upper snow lake
  25. Trip: Assguard Pass - Assguard Pass Std. Route Date: 6/21/2009 Trip Report: Went up to Colchuck to try our metal on the Cascade jewel Assguard Pass. Our objective: Who doesn't want a piece of this? WARNING! THIS PHOTO CONTAINS FORESHORTENING! We whooped up yelps of Alpine Joy to be on such a route Some hideous stack of rocks that surround this beauty This is what we came for Until we meet again fair lady Some other junk we saw get sum Gear Notes: tennis shoes