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Found 150 results

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Trip: Index, Inner Wall - The Route of All Evil- 5.9. PG Date: 6/21/2010 Trip Report: I cleaned and put up a route at Index over the last couple weeks. Most likely a FFA and FA but let me know if you know otherwise. Checked all available sources already. It's left of the 5.10d View from the Bridge. Overview. See far left. Here are the pictures- Photos Thanks Todd for the belay. Gear Notes: Two number ones, two number twos, and a yellow alien. Approach Notes: To the left of Toxic Shock at the Inner Wall.
  4. Trip: Zzzion - Retards Drive South For Da Wedder Date: 2/13/2010 Trip Report: zzzzzzzzion!!! – my u-tard cherry – seems an apt appellation – when yer but 1 of 2 retard dirt-bag aid-types too broke to fly n’ rent n’ only have a 4 day window to zip down to the world of the sun n’ be back, you pretty much spend any moment yer not actively driving or climbing sleeping – i felt litle fear though, accompanied by sound legal counsel in my boy geoff, who dusted off and rewired together his swede-wagon to mount the campaing– my worst memory of the trip awakening in fuck-tard utah in the zero-dark hour to the cruel visage of The Colonel glaring down at me, daring anyone to Fuck With The Chicken Foo! so, best perhaps to jump strait to the scenery porn? not wanting to spoil my onsight, i studiously avoided looking up any beta on our intended route – prodigal sun – for a route w/ that regal title, it suuuuuure don’t get much solar radiation – in the 2 days we spent on the wall, we felt direct warm-fuzzies for about 17 1/2 minutes – what a great call! drive 18 hrs to somewhere it ain’t fucking raining n’ shitty to climb a route in the Great Big Bowl of Frozen SunLess Sandstone? at least we got to see tour-ons walking around in shirts n’ t-shirts the whole time? the prodigal sun at about the height of the empire state building soars up, twice as tall as the picnic lunch wall at smiffistani rocks – the 2 times i got kicked square in the nutz there this past fall was fine practice for suffering down south sooooo tasty! mostly thin cracks that gobble up dmm offset nuts, linked by the occasional bolt ladders that are actually large angle pins pounded n’ glued into drilled holes high on the wall – view to the southwest – i have no clue what i’m looking at but goddamn it looks purty! the fantastic fin at the bottom a fine objective in itself w/ its funky catwalk running from peak to peak sooo kewl looking! the view south – always nice to be able to heckle any would-be carjackers from an excellent position to call fire-missions in from to the east – the walls of angels landing on the left – saw some homeboys spend 2 evenings messing w/ a route on the far end – my eye was drawn to the massive arch on the good (south) side of the canyon – a sandstone version of mideast crisis in Da Valley! dude, just like mideast crisis (at least if you add 2 more giant roofs!) the n wall of angels landing in the couple a winter minutes a day it gets sun – the spectacular crack on left soooooo tasty! to the climbing pRon – we left at 9 the first night - my lawyer and i arrived late afternoon on day 1, stupid w/ sleep, but determined to do somethang dammit ‘fore the day was done – i zoomed up pitch 1, reaching the anchor at dark, then fixed our static line and zipped down to honor the spirit of the law by portaleding it on the first bolt of the route next morning i linked in pitch 2, hauled n’ geoff commenced up pitch 3 your friend n’ humble narrator had plenty of time tap-dancing in the meat-locker to savor the sweet, sweet sunshine across the way and stare up at a bobbing hairy man-taint i swung up on pitch 4 – looking down at p3 top from the first couple bolts/rivets up (take 2 rivet hangers or fucking nuts that actually have sliding heads!) – fantastic fun clean-aid above, skipping a spacious intermediate belay to the chair of forgetfullness at p4 top i reckon you could score this day 2, if you count the fart-in-a-stiff-breeze that was day 1 – at any rate, geoff headed out on p5 as evening loomed, getting us to the anchor at 4 1/2 by nightfall – typical big-wall clusterfuck ensued as he tried to set up the ledge on top of himself and a shit-ton of ropes n’ baggage, w/ only 2 bolts to work from – i jugged up and eventually helped move the whole camp down a bolt below where the wall is flat and perfect – despite some initial signs of The Great Fear, my attorney reached deep into his sleeping bag, pretended he was in a happy place, and felt The Great Glow i had home-made pizza and a liter of burgundy and 20 craptacular class-a carcinogens, so you know i was happy (a few hours later I replaced the liter of vino w/ 3/4 of a liter of rarified piss, so i reckon the balance only Made Me Stronger? the magic minutes! our 1 glance of the sun the whole trip! i contemplate the Great Leap below awakened in the cloudy dawn, we packed up and unfucked our camp – geoff finished off the bolt ladder that is the second part of pitch 5 – our time-schedule was a Cruel Mistress – my attorney had a date w/ The woMan on wendsday morning, so there was no question of fucking up the timing – if we finished to the summit, hauling through the no-doubt-nightmare of the exit chimneys, undoubtedly we’d leave so late he’d end in a state prison, so instead we resolved to leave our pig behind atop p5, and climb at least to p7 top before heading back down the wall starting up p6 – c2 – note to self: next time bring the fucking pink tri-cam! the first part of the crack was wicked hard, and ultimately had to be overcome w/ the dr. suessian stick-clip contraption geoff strapped together out of waste products from cold-war era nuclear submarines – i had a moment to stare down while he dug it out of the bottom of the haul bag and observe exactly where i like to stick my nutz would you believe that nut is not even a year old? it counts as alpine if you can see snow, right? what classification do you get if you walk through snow wearing your nike flip-flops, fresh from fording a knee deep flood? my legal counsel seemed a bit concerned reaching p6’s top, but i brow beat him into commencing up 7 – the suessian salvation quickly did it’s service! i heart navajo sandstone so young, but so haaaaaawt! so geoff didn’t dig it so much when the angle relented to free climbing world and the texture of the rock took on the consistency of the beachbreak at mid-day – he bailed 2/3 of the way up 7, and i took the helm, reaching an anchor w/ 3 pins/bolts, but no webbing – time was tightening, and rapping back down from the top of the next pitch appeared problematic – at any rate, there was no way we could top out through snow-crusted chimenys and then navigate our way back down the raps to the pig w/o tempting fate to fuck us, so we had to say so-long, just 2 pitchs from the top-out – siiiiiigh – maybe when it’s sunny n’ summerious? looking up at the last aid-pitch – rumored to be the crux, it looked straitforward enough – arching crack to a pendulum to a long bolt ladder where you can’t clip a thing to the exit chimneys? geoff lowering off from p7 top – great fun leading through there – tied off pin n’ sandy horseshit to some good hidden gear – tired of chopping ropes, i gave the edge a nice treatment our descent went quite quickly – we rapped back to the top of 6, then to the top of 5 where our shit was stashed, then double roped to the intermediate belay at 3 1/2, then to the top of 2, then to the ground – i celebrated our return to solid Earth w/ a piss the constiency of maple-syrup recalled to the realm of mere mortals, we celebrated as only hedonists can, then headed off, bound for that Big Slow Boat home! geoff n’ the wistful glimpse back, only a steep sand plunge-step to a frozen fording to the car – by the time we pulled out of the p-lot i’d had my 2 liters of sangria and was off on the great big nod Gear Notes: offset nuts a must have! wish i'd brought more than a red tricam! stick clip nice to have on p6 n' 7 Approach Notes: drive until you go fuckign crazy, then drive somemore - still only 100$ each!
  5. Trip: Mt. Hood - South Sizzle Date: 4/18/2010 Trip Report: Just what everyone wanted to see, ANOTHER South Side TR. Well, sit down and shut up cause here it is: We wanted to see the sunrise from the summit so we got there early. I could have sworn there was a Starbucks portable coffee shop in the parking lot cause there was a ton of cars and campers...even a tent. There were old ladies rolling mob deep into the place. I started to get nervous thinking I'd get shown what time it was by someone who was actually at Woodstock so we randomly hid their Carter Liver pills, got our shit together, and hauled ass. Once on our way we beat feet to the top of Palmer. It was epic, like Mt. Everest only not. We nearly got lost but the ski lift towers saved our lives. Good thing there wasn't a cloud in the sky or it would have been certain death. Once we got to the Palmer lift house it took 10 minutes to recover. We looked down the hill to see what looked like a Chinese celebration following us up. FUCK THAT! The next section up to Cathedral can only be described as a scene out of a Krakauer novel, epic yet smooth as cheerleader's ass. All rock formations covered in nothing but finely crusted snow. No skins or snowshoes needed. A quick look back brought the heavy reality of the situation to the forefront, the geriatrics parade was catching up to us! Damnit, Damnit, Damnit...They must have brought their oxygen bottles! We hauled ass up to the Hoggsback where we put on our crampons. One of the guys had some technical issues but after a half of a roll of duct tape and some bailing wire he was back in action...but then the unthinkable happened...a solo climber had caught up to our group! He must have cheated his ass off and used our perfectly broken tracks. The lone soloist carried Ice tools and spoke of a far away place laden in water ice called the Pearly Gates. He stated that in no uncertain terms should a daredevil attempt this death defying feat without tools and protection. After some conversation amongst my team of righteous friends we decided the course toward the Old chute would be better for drinking and grab-assery. By this time the Chinese New Year celebration had showed up and one group started up the Hoggsback after the Soloist. Once to the wall they started to break the trail to the Old chute, however, in a twist of fate they became perilously lost in a chute much too early. We made our way to the chute right of the old chute and up to VICTORY!!! (The lost climbers regained their bearing and followed us) At the top we met the Soloist and another group, all taking different routes. The sun rose and we took turns getting suntans and telling Yomamma jokes. We made our great escape before the AARP tried to hit us up for early memberships. We landed at the bar for a round of Ice Axe. The beer was refreshing but the waitress got snooty when she thought I made light of her "glandular problem"...we DID do her a favor by eating the extra pastries regardless of what she thinks. Look Ma, no hands! Did someone spill some honey? "Excuse me sir, we just climbed your mountain and what we need to know is...will you serve us your beer?" Gear Notes: Speedos and flip-flops, we took all the usual shit but this is all that was really needed. Approach Notes: The weather couldn't have been better. If you put Mt. Hood off for another day you may as well quit because you probably missed the best day of the year.
  6. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge Date: 7/27/2007 Trip Report: A couple days ago, Kevin N. and I found this route in great shape. Seems a bit has been written here before; I'll echo the general sentiment that the Pillar features some of the finest rock climbing in the Cascades. 3 pitches of steep, sustained, and thought-provoking climbing in stupendous position--words and pictures fail. Go climb it. Left Mountaineers Cr to climb the lower N Ridge (fun rock by itself), then gained the Ice Cliff Gl above the calving seracs. Surmounted minor firn/neve difficulties to make good time to the pillar (hit the base of the business mid-morning, and Stuart greeted us w/ an impressive clamor of snow shedding from the NE Face slabs). I drew the first pitch, which had negligible wetness, fun moves and a good wake-up call for the steepness above. Kevin sent the p.2 crux on-sight, and I followed cleanly--we were stoked. The third and last pillar-pitch rocks--high mountain woody time. The Sherpa Glacier descent is probably past its prime, but we had the glacier gear along, and 'twas nice to get our dried husks out of the sun. Currently the descent--fairly technical with hard snow and loose rock--was probably more taxing for me than the ascent (fatigue?). Rapped once to clear a 'shrund, burning some of our booty. (We netted 8 stoppers and 2 'biners, one a bitchin'...neutrino! On the Girth Pillar! Imagine that.) I'd be curious if anybody can corroborate AlpineDave's posting in another thread: " I'm surprised no one has mentioned rapping one of the buttresses further East from the Sherpa glacier. I've read a report of people climbing close to the base of the West Ridge of Sherpa, and then rapping down to the basin below. Sounded pretty strait forward, with maybe 8-10 single rope rapps at existing stations. " I've not done the NW Buttress descent, but am casting about for the best option this time of year. The Teanaway/Ingall's approach would've been WAY hot late last week, and didn't fit well w/ our plans. We didn't see any humans on the N side. For several hours during the climb, a hummingbird accompanied us with its sound effects--cool. Hiked down in the cool of the early evening. Encountered a porcupine, and a beautiful, resident buck both on way up and down. On the wildlife topic, the friendly bugs also embraced us with open mandibles and proboscises, always spurring action. Arrived in der hamlet w/ a flat tire to fix, just past kitchen closings. Contented w/ the Champagne of Beers and chips for the tired drive home. Kevin passed out in the passenger seat; I only passed out once (Chevy Chase style), luckily while stopped at a Monroe traffic light. Some pics, a few more in the gallery: leaving rock for the glacier: step of vertical snow: Pillar shots were challenging, with sunlit glaciers and shadowed climbers. You photog's out there please chime in w/ advice on how to get a good shot in these conditions, sans flash. One attempt yielded an impressionistic result--the blur appropriately connoting K's speed (and steeze): K following p1: This pic's for the special edifier (caption = "not exit 38"): sendbot: a more chill portion of the descent: go that way: Gear Notes: medium large rack was good to have.
  7. Trip: Pickets - South to North Ski Traverse Date: 2/17/2010 Trip Report: Over six days of glorious high pressure, the prolific Jason Hummel and I skied from Stetattle ridge to Hannegan Pass road through the southern and northern Pickets. With a few variations, we followed the route of the 1984 Skoog traverse. Most notably, we omitted the summit of Fury and finished on the Mineral high route, skiing over Mineral and Ruth mountains instead of hiking along the Chilliwack trail. We encountered variable but mostly good ski conditions, and some interesting route finding. As anticipated, the crux proved to be finding a reasonable way onto Mt. Fury from the bottom of McMillan Creek cirque. Going over the Southeast Peak seemed unreasonable in winter conditions, so we found a way up the creek and falls draining the Southeast Glacier. Unsure of the details of the route the Skoogs took to cross from Luna to McMillan, we opted for the devil we knew and traversed to Luna col. The ski down into Luna was the powder run of a lifetime--super stable, Valdez style snow, with Fury as a backdrop. Unforgettable. I kept thinking to myself, "This is like the Haute Route 10,000 years ago." The solitude and austerity of the Range make it easy to overlook that the traverse is really an enjoyable, reasonable tour; no technical shenanigans required. The heinous reality of retreating down any of the valleys simply made it extra important to check the weather forecast before dropping into McMillan. Don't leave home without your UHF/VHF radio! I will post photos when I wake up in about a week. Approach Notes: Stetattle ridge is long, but two days riding the ridge let the avalanche hazard subside before we entered really serious terrain. We hiked to 4,000 ft. on the Sourdough Mt. trail, then travelled almost exclusively on skis for the remainder of the six days. Literally ten minutes of road walking brought us to the car.
  8. Climb: Chiwawa Mtn.-NW Face Date of Climb: 3/6/2005 Trip Report: Dave Burdick and I climbed a new route on Chiwawa Mtn this past weekend, after spotting the awesome-looking line in John Scurlock's new pictures. On Saturday we snomobiled up the Chiwawa River Road (with a snowmobile generously lent by Phil), and then skied up the Chiwawa Basin Trail (lot's of dirt skiing involved). We woke up early yesterday and hiked up to the Chiwawa-Fortress col, and then made a descending traverse to the base of the NW Face. Our route climbed the very obvious gully/chimney in the center of the face, starting mostly on ice, and gradually becoming more mixed. The climbing was fantastic although hard, and the route was the best mixed climb I've ever done. Our last pitch bailed out of the chimney onto the face on the right, but if some strong mixed climbers head in there they'll probably do the direct finish. Dave had his digital camera, so I expect we'll see some pictures soon. Chiwawa Mtn, NW Face New Route: "Intravenous" - IV, WI4, M6. Gear Notes: Reccomended Gear: -60m rope -5 knifeblades -a few small nuts -cams up to #1 camalot -2 stubby, 2 17 cm screws Approach Notes: The Chiwawa River Road is starting to get bare, so snowmobiling won't be a good option soon. However, the route sees no sun, so it will probably be in for at least a few more weeks, and perhaps the road will be drivable by then.
  9. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Gorillas in the Mist - IV 5.11 Date: 7/8/2009 Trip Report: Mt. Stuart is one of the Cascades' most iconic and complex peaks. With such prominence, fame, and extensive development, one might think that all significant new routes have been climbed. However, excellent routes do at least remain unfinished. Inspired by the pictures from an attempt by Mark Allen and Mike Layton, as well as a desire to climb or unearth a new hard route on the Enchantment's premiere peak, Sol Wertkin and I were excited to give the West Stuart Wall a go. Work and anniversary obligations had cut Sol's available climbing time down to one day, so I contacted Jens Holsten to see if he wanted to head up to the peak with me on day one, in order to fix the first few pitches and have Sol meet us on day 2. Jens was stoked to join the team, but insisted we could go alpine style. Of course Jens also insisted it would be 90 degrees on the summit and we didn't need to bring backpacks. Caveat Emptor when getting beta from Mr. Holsten. NOAA was predicting breezy and cool conditions, so we all brought along windshirts. It's summer right? We left the trailhead at 5am and after a few hours ended up at Goat Pass, near the start of the West Ridge. The West Stuart Wall rises up maybe 900' from the snow... but where the hell was it? The face had seen various activity in the past, and we found 2 bolted anchors (stamped '1993') as well as runners low on the route. Perhaps it was a rappel route, perhaps it was someone's unfinished (or aided) project, or perhaps it had already been sent in its entirety. We didn't know and didn't really care. Roping up at the base, we knew we'd have some solid, memorable, and steep climbing. Edited/explained down below - after contact with the 1993 folks, it sounds like this climb was a new route to the top of the wall and the peak Jens led off pitch one, following the OBVIOUS clean hand crack, mantle, and chimney to a belay on the right. This pitch was probably the crux of the route at 5.11- and would see nearly constant traffic if it were located at a crag in the icicle. Steep, with solid rock and great gear, it set the perfect tone for the wall. Top of P1 The next pitch headed up and left across 2 bottomless corners and hanging aretes, 5.9 with positions to keep the adrenaline going. Jens' final lead was the mental crux for us, but shouldn't deter future parties. He headed up and left from the belay, past a 4" crack, and shouted "Watch me" as he launched into the unknown. Sol and I, unable to see the climber, witnessed a large handhold get ripped from the wall, and the simian sounds of grunting and vomiting as Jens styled the 'monkey traverse.' Did you throw up? No way man... just a little dry heaving Jens would go on to finish the pitch in style. The followers both cleaned out the hand traverse crack, and future parties should find no shortage of solid gear all along this pitch. 5.10+ Sol about to 'go ape' Finishing the Monkey Traverse Did you see that big block come flying off? ...uhh yeah, we thought it was you From here Sol took over, finding a yosemite v-slot, and an immaculate finger crack and stem box to another perfectly flat ledge. 5.10- Pitch #5 headed up and right, with a bouldery 5.10 crux move, belaying at the first significant ledge system on the wall. We continued across the 'skywalk traverse' to the right and set off again. I took the lead for a 30m pitch of 5.8 (but mostly easier) on what we thought would lead up to the West Ridge, but we hadn't finished the wall yet. From a belay in the clean V-slot/groove, I followed up a long immaculate right-facing corner, with hand and fist cracks through a small roof, and finger cracks up a slab to the hanging belay, our first belay spot that was not a comfortably flat ledge. This pitch was 55m of sustained 5.8 crack climbing. From the hanging belay, a short hand crack lead straight up to the West Ridge, and I mantled over the top with a 'whoop' and monkey shout. We started up the West Ridge in a fog, with winds steadily increasing. Winding around towers and hidden pinnacles, the rock was more and more covered in ice. Soon our rope and cams were iced up as well. The wandering terrain and numerous gendarmes kept us guessing, and as darkness fell, we knew it was time to quit fighting the conditions. The three of us settled in for a memorable bivy of uncontrolled shivering, made more so by the presence of 0 sleeping bags, no stove, no puffy jackets, and 2 30liter packs in which to stuff our six wet feet. I don't know the temperature, but Jens' water bottle froze. We joked about getting lost on a mountain which we had all climbed before, but kept our spirits high thinking about the quality terrain we'd covered. In the past few years 3 of the Enchantments' 4 biggest peaks had seen new or 're-discovered' hard, excellent rock climbs. Solid Gold and Der Sportsman had been unearthed on Prusik, Dragons of Eden was re-climbed on Dragontail, and The Tempest Wall established on Colchuck Balanced Rock. With a climb of the West Stuart Wall, the 4th peak had fallen into place and Stuart's modern rock climb established. Our platonic spooning subsided at 4AM, and Jens started things off right by breaking out the breakfast of champions, in the form of one "Worthers Original" for each of us. No longer climbing inside a cloud provided a significant morale boost, and Sol thawed out our semi-functional cams with his mouth, once again establishing the value in being full of hot air. After a quick summit stop to revel in the sun, we headed to the Sherpa Glacier where soft snow allowed us to descend a few thousand feet back to the valley bottom in no time. With today being Sol's anniversary, he knew his wife would be especially nervous about our delayed return (and extra jealous of all the spooning enjoyed by Jens and myself). We hustled back to the car and enjoyed our true breakfast, the creek-stashed beers we'd left 30 hours before. EDIT: It turns out that Mark Makela and Geoff Sherer did some climbing on that wall in 1993 and put in the bolts, going up with full-on wall gear, and fixing ropes. They made it up what would be most of the pitches, using a mix of aid and free, but never completed the last few on wall. In any case, it's an amazing climb that should be on the list for future parties. Approach: Just north (around to the left) from the toe of the West Ridge, near Goat Pass. Route starts in the middle of the face, you can't miss that pitch. Gear Notes: Single Blue and Green Alien, 2x Yellow alien to #3 Camalot, single new #4 camalot. Set of nuts. TOPO: HUGE VERSION
  10. Trip: Enchantment Traverse - Continuing Bromance With Peter Croft Date: 9/18/2009 Trip Report: Having been a bit disappointed at getting shut down on the Mt. Stuart leg of my traverse, I obsessed the following week on the 2nd half of it: Dragontail-Prusik-Snow Creek Wall (optional, maybe happened, maybe not). I knew there would be more water than I could ever drink, and an easy trail to turn the mind off. Both of these factors were reassuring. Friday, I got the day off work, grabbed the weather window and hit it. I stashed my bike at the Snow Creek trailhead, and drove to Stuart Lake T.H. For Dragontail, I chose Backbone Ridge because it's a better route than Serpentine. I relish the exposure for the four pitches on the fin. The off width was a bar fight as usual, and I ended up having to take my pack off 1/2 up the pitch and hang it from my chalk bag strap. This pitch out of the way, the rest of the route went well and was incredbly fun. I hung out briefly on the empty summit, and busted it for Prusik. I walked out out on the snowfield and found it icy. I saw myself sliding for life in my tennis shoes and made the executive decision to head east around the south side of Witche's Tit, and descend that way. This was convenient and didn't add any extra time to the day. Prusik Peak, the next stop on the Croft tour. The West Ridge held no surprises. The solid, reliable granite was a welcome contrast to Backbone's sometimes suspect holds. Being without a rap rope this time, climbed the slab and downclimbed it just to make sure I could do it. Again, I got to an empty summit, the theme for the day. Downclimbing took 15 minutes, much faster than the raps! From there, I made the only wrong decision of the day, which was to descend through Shield/Mese/Toketie Lakes. I thought I would be able to cut off time vs. the snow lakes descent. I knew from past experience the Toketie drainage spits you out approximately 1/4 mile from the snow creek wall trail. And, from what I remembered the trail was very direct. Hiking by Shield and Mesa lakes, with Temple Ridge forming a picket fence behind them, I was reminded just how beautiful these lakes were. Enhanced by the fact they were deserted too. I got to Toketie Lake quickly enough, snapped a few shots of imposing Toketie Wall, and this is where the fun ended. The last time I descended Toketie drainage, it was fairly straightforward with minimal schwacking. That was about 6 years ago. Now, brush is everywhere. At times it was over my head. Add to that brush endless downfall. Brittle branches collapsing under my feet. Endless logs to cross. And no sign of any trail. I was even cliffed out a couple times. I saw my chances on Outer Space slipping slowly by, pissed off at myself for not taking the snow lakes trail. I finally hit the valley bottom, and found a good log to cross snow creek, but it was 6:15 already. Dannible mentioned enthusiasm ebbing and flowing. Though demoralised by the eternal schwack down Toketie, I hit one of those bursts. I got to the log crossing at snow creek wall and didn't even have to decide. I grabbed the chalk and shoes and headlamp and headed up. Physically I knew I could do it given this newfound energy. Mentally, I was wary. And there were a couple moments on Outer Space where I had to force myself to just concentrate on the next foothold. But overall, Outer Space went as expected, topping out in fading light. I was able to sprint down the backside reaching the base of SCW right at dark. I reached my bike and started the slow ride mostly uphill. About 1 mile from 8 mile road, I noticed my right peddal feeling lopsided, and by the Classic Crack crag, it snapped off completely. I was shocked. This bike is a workhorse, having taken me from Astoria to Tijuana without even a flat tire! I coasted down to the start of 8 Mile Road, dismounted and started walking back to the Stuart Lake Trailhead. And believe me, the irony was not lost on me. Details: Hiking: 6:00am Climbing Backbone: 9:07am Summit: 11am Base of W. Ridge Prusik: 1:28pm Summit: 1:58pm Snow Creek Wall Crossing: 6:20pm Start Outer Space: 6:33pm Top Outer Space: 7:21 Back at Crossing: 7:58 Back at car: 11:15pm Mid-offwidth shell shock Colchuck Bidding adieu to the offwidth Greeting the rest of the route Fun fin cracks Summit Rainier from Dragontail Looking towards Prusik Summit Prusik Toketie Lake and Toketie Wall Top of Outer Space, SCW
  11. Trip: Torture Memo #3: Embracing the Schwack - Craggies Rock Glacier Exporation, No Dice Basin Date: 9/16/2009 Trip Report: TR: Craggies Rock Glacier Exploration 9/16/09 Sphagnum moss, No Dice Creek If you’ve waded through the first two chapters of this 3 part series, perhaps because you’ve lost use of your arms and legs or Netflix is late shipping the Temptation Island series, you’ll recall that Max (a friend’s 21 year old and ‘student’, of sorts) and I had one more double plus secret bonus mission to complete on our six day alpine short course before heading home. I climbed the Craggies, bordering the Pasayten Wilderness, several weeks back. From West Craggy’s summit I could see that the basin to the north, above No Dice Lake, was filled with what appeared to be a rock glacier. Was there ice under there? Apparently, an informal survey team several years ago had found ice under a very similar rock glacier on Bigelow Peak’s (Sawtooth Wilderness) north side at about the same longitude and elevation. Max and I had to go in and try to find out. Craggies Rock Glacier, from West Craggy’s summit ridge Max hadn’t had a chance to enjoy any bushwhacking yet; this would be a perfect opportunity to do so. Max embraces The Schwack, No Dice Creek We got going just before 7:00, passing the Pickwickian, Tre-Bark clad predator who’d helpfully reminded us that very morning of the wilderness area prohibition on bikes (and hang gliders) even though we were neither taking our bikes nor going into the wilderness area, as he stealthily patrolled the quarter mile apogee from his camper’s strong gravitation. He was after deer. I couldn’t help thinking; why not just walk onto someone’s lawn in Winthrop, close your eyes, point any direction, and let fly? Or just drive Hwy 20 at night? Mind you, hunting for an animal that tastes like freezer burned goat’s ass is not a sport I pretend to understand. After the two quick miles of trail to Eightmile Pass we dropped onto a game trail and traversed to No Dice Creek. I instructed Max to avoid Creek bottoms whenever possible, so started to do just that. We stayed in or near the creek bottom nearly the entire two miles to the lake. No Dice Basin, from near Eightmile Pass After 3 hours or so we emerged from the jungle to spectacular No Dice Lake, where pan sized trout leapt out of the sun warmed shallows onto dry lakebed, they were so happy to see us. We should have duct taped frying pans to our shoes. A strong, chill wind roared through the larches. Beneath the Craggies dark precipices, the Rock Glacier snaked towards, guarding its secrets. No Dice Lake Craggies Rock Glacier, from No Dice Lake I discovered a camp site. “Why do yahoos always leave a half burned Jiffypop packages in their fire pits?” “What’s Jiffypop? Is it some kind of soda?” It was then I realized that Max and I, from a relativistic standpoint, were borne of two entirely different universes in space time. To be sure, the digital age is a form of time machine that compresses past and present; I caught Max humming Jim Croce’s “Car Wash Blues” on the hike in, but still, the planet that forged his experience is an alien one. It has twice the population as the one I came from, for starters. It also has World of Warcraft and Oxycontin addicts, no privacy, a collapsing environment, a collapsing economy, a fully militarized, humorless, police state mentality, corporate supremacy, a record number of Americans living in the streets or in prison…thank God it still has the Dick’s Deluxe. That, and you no longer have to gap your points. And you can still rant and rave, but now you can have a much larger audience. I just hope some new technology never compresses future and present: the parking would be horrific. Larches Larix occidentalis, No Dice Lake The rock glacier itself consisted of ‘flowing’ rills, the top of which were covered with heavily lichened rock, indicating that the rock was relatively stationary. Between the rills were ravines of fresher, non-lichened rock. At about 6860’ elevation, we came upon what appeared to be a sink hole in one of the ravines. It’s bottom was filled with ice and silt. It was multi season ice, for sure, but we couldn’t determine the depth, of course. Frozen snowmelt from last year? Exposed glacial remnant? We certainly couldn’t tell, but the cause of the sink hole remains an interesting mystery. Max descends into a sink hole, Craggies Rock Glacier Ice at the bottom of the sink hole Other than the sink hole and a few more pieces of sculpted ice at the bottom of a couple of caves, the rock glacier was dry. Larch snag and Big Craggy, Craggies Rock Glacier On the way out, I remembered one of the reasons I love to hike in the fall so much Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum, No Dice Creek Eyelash pixie cup Scutellinia Scutellata, No Dice Creek Hygrophorus sp., No Dice Creek Elfin saddle Helvella sp., No Dice Creek Waxy caps (hygrocybe), lichen, and moss, No Dice Creek Alien fungus, No Dice Creek [video:youtube]mWa9hMrEq8Q Gear Notes: B52s, Agent Orange
  12. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - FA: The Tempest Wall IV 5.10 A2 Date: 8/28/2008 Trip Report: In order to be a succesful climber in the Pacific Northwest you have to be able to adapt. Plans set in stone for weeks, even months, can be shut down at the last minute with alarming regularity; fickle cascade weather being the main culprit. Such was the case last week as the slowly increasing chance of precipitation crescendo'd at 4 in the afternoon with 100%. Our second attempt at a large north cascades project would have to be postponed, and we were back to the drawing board. Worse yet, blake could ditch me completely and head out on an extended trip amongst clearer horizons in the Idaho Sawtooths. The Enchantments were are best bet and i had to think fast. The Google chat box quickly filled with ideas for the range: Boving Route to Solid Gold, the Girth, Der Sportsman. Blake shut each one down. I was scrambling for ideas when he replied: new route on CBR? i saw a line to the right. It was on, and i was hyped. He claimed thin cracks through headwalls, aid for sure, so we brought the kit and caboodle. The approach was more comical than usual, quite cold, and a bit stormy. The first day we scoped things out, found a line, and fixed the first pitch. Blake threw down a mix of mostly free with a bit of aid, a badass heel-hook, and even placed a knifeblade while free climbing. Pitch 1: We went to bed that night a bit intimidated by our chosen line. The next day we woke up early to a brisk morning and numerous cups of coffee. I taught Blake how to jug on pitch 1: The weather was worse than the day before, clouds were blowing through, and we were being hit by intermittent mist and drizzle. At least we'd be dry under here: What really can i say about the roof. The lead felt like I was in a trance. Did it take me 20 minutes, or 2 hours? I had to stop at the base and ask myself if I really was going to do this. The problem being, enough gear to get me to where? In the end it worked out fine, and yes, I think it will go free, it's mostly gold camalots! Colchuck Reality Crack. Cilogear! Being that it was all the same size i had to backclean our two two's out the last half of the roof and then all the way up to the belay. I tagged them to Blake and he embarked on his first real aid pitch ever. Self-portrait of Blake enjoying a steep learning curve: We named the ledge atop the roof the "yin-yang ledge", and the next pitch which starts with the more moderate aspect of the roof crack, "The Lighter Side of the Moon." Fun free climbing up good dirty cracks. Blake starting out: Myself seconding: An easy 5th class pitch led us to the base of the headwall which began with akward free up a pillar then onto the face. It soon turned to aid up a series of dirty corners and roofs. I short fixed a couple belays when the ropedrag got bad or i needed gear. The finale involved an aesthetic set of triple cracks and brought me to a great stance ontop of the headwall. I was stoked to give up the lead up to this aid gumby: Actually Blake was doing a great job his first day out aid climbing and he pushed us on up the next pitch. Aid through a flare lead to a fun moderate corner crack and a slightly sketchy belay. Darkness fell as I seconded, and i quickly remedied Blake's nest with a solid angle that we fixed. We could tell we where near the top and we really wanted to be off the face. The day had been cold and long and we were getting pretty worked. Aid led up to a dirty wet corner, a heelhook mantle, then a short chimney put me on the ridge, "The Great Escape." I hooted and hollered and then Blake did too. Three simul pitches got us to top and the Tempest Wall was sent. A moderatly painful morning-after was tempered by the idyllic alpine ambience. The Tempest Wall With a scrub, everything but the roof will proabaly go free at 5.11-. I think the roof will go somewhere around 12c or so. It'll be one hell of a fight at the lip. Rack of doubles from black alien to .75, 3 #1's, 4-6 #2's, 2 #3's, a single #4, set of nuts, dbl set of rp's, few pins or not.
  13. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - The Scoop III+ 5.11c (FA) Date: 8/9/2009 Trip Report: During a trip to climb the west face (III 5.12a) on Colchuck Balanced Rock (CBR) last year, Evan and I were amazed at the lack of development of lines to the right. We decided on the spot that we had to try and find a new route next year. We took a large number of high-resolution photos and trudged our way back down the gulley to Colchuck lake. Over the winter, we spent time studying the photos, drooling over several possible lines, but one particular feature kept catching our eye: a large dihedral carved out of the rock about halfway up the face. It almost appeared as if a giant had used an oversized ice cream scoop to dig it out, creating a sharp dihedral at the bottom and slowly “scooping” out into an overhang. Not knowing what was in store for us, we knew we would need another strong climber along, so we contacted our friend Stewart, and put in for two separate four-day permits. Our first trip began on an early morning in June, with three of us slugging heavy packs up the loose gully to CBR. We set up camp amongst the white bus-sized boulders at the bottom of the route, and started setting up for the unknown. Although dirty, the first three pitches were dispatched onsight and free (9, 10a, 10a) leading us to a large ledge that seemed to be the launch point for a wide variety of lines up the second half of the face. We were now finally face to face with scooped dihedral that we had been dreaming of during the rainy Seattle winter. Even though we were now directly below the pitch, it was impossible to tell if there was a crack in the dihedral or whether it was simply a copperhead seam. Stewart set off aiding the pitch and we held our breath in anticipation. With every foot of progress came questions from below, “Is there still crack above you? Does it pinch off? What size is it?” As he continued to climb and remove the thick lichen, we were simply amazed that it continued to dish up a beautiful finger crack that widened into occasional hand jams near the final overhanging 20-foot section. It looked like the line might go free, but the major concern was the lack of good foot holds most of the way, and lack of rests for over 120 feet of the full 200-foot pitch. If it would go, it was going to be one hard pitch for sure. On the third day, we started late in the cold spring temperatures and wind and soon found ourselves sitting on a spacious ledge at the top of the scoop pitch. Across a slab twenty feet to our left started yet another long dihedral, angling up into two large ominous roofs. It was our luck that there was a small sloping ledge that allowed us to traverse across into the thin crack and up to a very dirty corner. The crack was filled with decades of accumulated dirt, moss, and plants and at this point we knew we had to go back into aiding and try to return and eventually free the pitch. A couple of hours and twenty pounds of dirt later, we came to the first of the roofs. It was almost as by design that a small knob appeared for a foot below with a hand crack under the roof allowing us to traverse to yet another ledge. The second roof appeared to be even harder than the first, requiring climbing up, traversing, and down climbing again to get back out and left to the end and into the final dihedral. The edge of the roof provided a unique “fang” feature that allowed for a nice rest following the delicate traverse. Again due to the dirtiness of the cracks, we aided through this section to gain a large ledge system several hundred feet below the summit. We knew from climbing the west face route the year before that we were about four easy 5th class pitches from the top, but due to weather we proceed to rappel down the route. On the last day, we headed up to give our first try at the scoop pitch to see what it would require to eventually lead it. After several runs on top rope, we knew we might be able to eventually lead it, but it would take everything we had to get it. We rappelled to the ground and headed back to the car in a mid-June snowstorm. So far we had everything that we were hoping for: a new route on CBR that was completed ground up, and never required a single piton or a bolt. Now the question was, would the line go free? Six weeks later, we found ourselves on the long hike back up to CBR, this time leaving most of the aid gear at home with the hopes of going into full free mode. We had two major goals: top out the route and free the three pitches that were previously aided. The first goal was fairly easy, after topping out on pitch 6, the three of us roped up and simul-climbed to the summit. The second goal was a little harder. On the summit day, each one of us tackled one of the remaining aid pitches, with only pitch 5 going free at 5.10b on the first go. After some additional cleaning, pitch 6 eventually went free at 5.10a, making it an excellent final pitch to the route. The scoop pitch evaded us for three days and we were worried that we may not be able to send it at all on this trip. On the last day, we got a late start and headed back up to launch ledge and Evan’s last go at the lead. The cold temperatures were perfect for friction, but unfortunately were also good for creating numb fingers and toes, not great for the sharp crack and featureless dihedral. To warm up, Evan lowered down pitch 3 and took a warm up lap to get the blood flowing. After a 5 minute rest and a few deep breaths, he launched off the ledge and sent it on his first go of the day. The last remaining pitch now went free at 5.11c. There was little discussion or argument about the name of the route; due to the dominance of the feature on pitch 4, we all agreed to name the route “The Scoop”, III+ 5.11c, 10 pitches. Stewart and Matt figuring out where to start the route: Stewart leading p2 (in the v-slot): Stewart belaying Evan up p2: Matt leading p3: Stewart finds a hidden crack below all the lichen: Evan starting the Scoop: Below the first roof on p4: Start of the overhang on p4: Evan on the Scoop p4: I'm not sure the tape helped here: Stewart coming across the groove: Stewart leading p5: Evan and Matt coming up p5: Matt on p5: Matt leading p6: Simul-climbing to the top: Evan and Stewart at the top of CBR: Matt, Evan, and Stewart after the clean send: Our river beers were waiting at the car: Topo (PM me for a higher res image): Routes on CBR:
  14. Trip: Dragontail - Dragons of Eden V 5.11+ A2 Date: 7/9/2008 Trip Report: Jens Holsten and I repeated Dragons of Eden on Dragontail on July 9th. We left the car at 4:20 and returned 20 hours later. The route is one of a kind. First ascentionest Wayne Wallace wasn't exagerrating when he said the headwall contained "el cap type illness." The only thing we could compare it to was the headwall of the Salathe. The climbing was splitter, steep, stout, and DIRTY! Hats off to Wallace and McGowan for their impressive 1989 first ascent. We threw down and free'd as much as we could given the dirty and lichenous conditions. The route is easy to find and begins with a loose and dirty 5.10 hand crack. Looking down from P1: When i read in the topo, "Butterballs to the Gripper," i thought, yeah right. But it's true. Sharp steep fingers, lead to pumpy thin hands and a perfect hands gripper finale. The fingers were grainy with a full-on layer of kitty litter in all directions. Jens took a couple times on lead, and i was just barely able to climb it clean on second. Cleaned up it would be one of the best pitches anywhere, 11c all day: This is a perfect route to haul a bag up: The crux pitch. Great 5.10 climbing leads to the top of the pillar, dirty insecure face climbing leads to thin fingers in a corner. This pitch was super dirty, even on second you couldn't free more than 2 or 3 moves without falling after your smears crumbled away. It will be sick when cleaned and free'd. Dirty, loose, and somewhat scary 5.10 climbing began The Great White Headwall: The second headwall pitch is tied with the butterballs pitch for best pitch on the route. Ridiculously exposed and overhanging crack climbing out both roofs. Jens had an impressive onsight of this one, and i followed clean too. The trail line says it all, 15+ ft out: The 11c/d last pitch was the dirtiest of the route and was so sketchy in its current state that is was climbed mostly on aid by us both. It must be a awesome finish when clean, topping out on a perfect ledge, just like long ledge on el cap. Jens on the headwall: Topping out: The NE buttress was scenic, dirty, and neverending. Two long simulblocks lead us to the finishing notch, and two raps got us down to aasgard. Overall, a great day out, and an awesome first climb with Jens. When cleaned and freed it will be an ultra-classic freeclimbing testpiece for the area. Gear Notes: We bought a triple set of cams and set and a half of nuts, and it wasn't enough! Bring: set of hybrids, double set from blue to red alien, 3-4 .5 camalots, 3-4 .75's, 3-4 #1's, 3 #2's, 2-3 #3's, and a single #4. Two ropes. Approach Notes: Topo is perfect, CLICK . We skipped the contrived first 3 pitches and used the jingus approach ledges. Route is easy to find.
  15. Trip: Mount Shuksan - Northwest Arayete III 5.9 Date: 8/6/2007 Trip Report: On August 6th Matt Alford and I climbed an enjoyable rock route on the northwest side of Mount Shuksan. The route follows the crest of a fine arete on good rock for nine pitches to the summit of a prominent horn above the White Salmon Glacier. Though dirty at times, the position is incredible, the rock is solid and every pitch is sustained for it's grade. I had first seen this arete at least twelve years ago while descending the glacier and thought it both beautiful and improbable due to a lack of features. Ever since the idea of climbing it has been knocking about in my head. I'm not sure what took so long but it was great to turn that idea into a reality! As it worked out the rock here (Green Schist) is horizontally banded and the rock is just littered with positive jugs and pockets that allow moderate climbing up imposing walls. We left the car at first light and reached the base of Winnies Slide four hours later. From here a short descent led to the base of the arete. There was significant shrund that made accessing the rock a bit problematic. We end up rappelling off a bollard to reach a ramp on the left side of the arete. A good ledge system on the right side could probably have been used as well. Matt takes the first pitch. Fun, juggy face climbing was followed by a 100' of 5.8 friction right up the crest of the low angle arete. The gear grew increasingly sparse until he had to run it out maybe 40' to the belay. A second short easy pitch led to a much steeper wall. P1 Frictioning up the crest of the Arete The third pitch exemplified what makes establishing new routes such an amazing experience. We're at the base of a steep blank wall. On the left is a filthy corner system full of grass. Out right a few weaknesses lead towards a steep arete and the possibility of good climbing around it's edge. The grassy corner will go, but the climbing will suck. The traverse out right is a total mystery. Will it go? Is there any gear? Whats on the other side? What if I can't make it? P3 Working things out on the crux traverse Intending to head up the corner I find myself heading out right instead. Focusing on protection I find that the apparently blank wall has a few narrow seams obscured by lichen that allow me to place several solid pins. Soon I'm at an obvious crux move. Cleaning some loose blocks off a small ledge I watch them freefall to the glacier. Hesitating I close my eyes, focus on my breathing, feel the chill in the cool shade, listen to the ice creaking and groaning below. Eventually I just run out of reasons to stand still so I commit, stemming wide, finding a small uncling, shifting over and reaching for the crest of the arete. Grabbing solid jugs I pull over the corner and find myself on a beautiful wall of clean, orange rock. IT GOES! P3 Matt pulling around onto the beautiful orange wall So many intense experiences tend to just slide away. Things no longer "stick" like they once did. But this one is different, this one set deep. I'm going to remember exactly how wonderful it felt to pull around that corner for a long time. The fourth pitch was the best of the climb, awesome juggy 5.7 climbing on near vertical rock with great gear. Soon we're at the base of the imposing upper arete. The climbing looks improbable but once again the rock turned out to be covered in positive holds. Staying about 40 feet left of the arete Matt is able to climb more or less straight up the wall on 5.7 rock to a belay in an alcove. P4 More Arete P6 Starting up the steep upper wall Climbing through a grungy 5.8 roof I find super featured 5.6 rock on the crest of the steep arete for a full ropelength. Matt quickly leads another long pitch of fun corners to a fixed pin belay at a small roof. A final short pitch up clean slabs ending with an easy arete brings us directly to the summit. Unreal, the route unfolded far better than we could have imagined! P7 Stellar climbing on the crest of the Arete P9 It Ends like it Begins…. It's late in the day so we snap a quick summit shot and get moving. An easy scramble down the backside gets us to the Upper Curtis Glacier. After following some mountain goat tracks we picked up the boot track leading back down the mountain. In my exhausted state the entire descent seemed somehow timeless as if it took no more than half-an-hour. Yet many hours and a beautiful sunset later we reached the car with the last of the dieing light. Well there's already a Northwest Arete and a Northwest Rib on the mountain so Matt (grudgingly) agreed to name our route the Northwest Arayete after someone I know. Gear Notes: Rack to 3.5" with a double set of very small to medium nuts and small to 1” cams. A few short knifeblades and bugaboos recommended. Approach Notes: Follow Fisher Chimneys Rt to edge of White Salmon Glacier (bivi sites) then descend a few minutes on steep snow or ice to the base of the arete. Potential Shrund problems getting on the rock.
  16. Trip: Dildorado - West Ridge Rapege Date: 7/3/2009 Trip Report: charlie don't surf, and joshk sure as fuck don't aid climb, so what for us star-crossed companions to do on my great big summa'thrills? dildo-rado - west ridge - dude - seriously - easy, long rock climb - you'll dig it i pick the soundtracks, the routes pick me - i try not to think too much about it - just go w/ a good goofy fuck and it'll all go well, no? so josh threw it out there, and for my sins i said sure so, here she looks from the dildo/dildo needle col, our descent/approach from pimpe-station #1 at the base of eldo's east ridge but wait, i'm getting ahead of meself - this was supposed to be a thing about how much i sport a happy hardon for frumpy frau jo'berg - seriously, how can anyone stomach walking up the eldorado creek approach, seeing this vision w/o wanting to run strait back down to the car to tear ass up to the pass for a texas-rules steel-cage death match w/ the Big Bitch? shit, no - this was going to be a cook-book tr - sangrias above the sibley! [video:youtube] an hour of slurping down these brainbusters, during which i swallowed a slurry of pesto, tunafish salad and french bread, left me enjoying hte wonders of the macro button on the new rat cam - i wanna treat some poor assholes herpephobia by wallpapering his whole room with pix like these but saying, "don't worry, it won't bite" fat, drunk n' stupid, i felt in prime condition to take on the final ascent to the eldo glacier and our evening's frivoliaties about the bivy - both josh and i sported the alpine stereo throughout the trip, and it smoothed over the awkward parts, like where we felt like we were supposed to be making meaningful conversation with each other, discussing our emotions and grand philsophical views of life, our taste in matchbox cars and feelings towards movies with gladiators in them - mostly the non-stop tunage served to Keep the Weasels on the Verge - LL Cool J's "i can't live w/o my radio" seemed of particuliar significance this trip [video:youtube] we bivy'ed on a prime chunk of real-estate, a bare slab by daypool (magically dissappears at night, only to reappear by day ) - we spent the evening drinking wine n' vodka, smoking poorly rolled cigarretes and eating lasagna, looking at all the lack-luster scenery why must the moon ruin all fine shots? by the time it had come to tend to sleep, i'd worked meself into rare-aould form - the stars had that extra-twinkle you look for in a premium sparkler, and the boom of warmth once in the tent and out of the wind turned tori amos' voice into a great golden bird that carried me to a far-away place, full of doe-eyed beauties capable of things the english-langauge was never meant to convey - at any rate, far, far away from filthy mother-fuckers such as yourselves emerging from the time-fog in the dawn, we set no speed records in getting packed up for our day's objective - a descent down to the toe of the west ridge, a quick run up, then a little-house-on-the-dead-injuns stroll down to camp for a rock-star finale en route to the dildo/dildo needle col, we enjoyed the local luge scene to some oakenfold melodies [video:youtube] the descent was strait-forward enough, and once at 6400 feet we easily traversed over to the base of the ridge - i distinctly remember thinking, thank fuck i don't have to walk back up THAT at this point we felt in line w/ the chi of the beta-bastard - broad gully up, over some slabs - check we stopped atop the coursing slabs for our last dose of water - did i mention i only brought a single liter bottle for storage - and it was blindingly bright n' hot? and that somehow it was already noon on a route that supposedly takes 9 hours to top out on? we weren't certain were this big bastard of a ridge was best to get on, but close as we could glean from the beta, it involved getting into a chimney-ish thing that would climb to the crest in a few pitches - this snow blobbish area looked just right - the only problem, upon getting up to it, was that is was protected by a giant moat, only surmountable by a vertical-limitish inspired full run n' jump onto the blob we sniffed off to the left of the moat/blob, figuring if we could just reach the crest of the ridge, all would be fine from there - figuring on goode'ish style climb, we'd left the rock shoes at home - this didn't help when the first line we tried turned into a pro-less smear fest that led to the Land of Little Hope - we stepped back down to the glacier and went even further left - deceptively difficult traversing on the generally crackless, featureless gritty slabs left us quickly despondent - why the fuck was it so hard to get on route? 2 pitches up - josh follows me to the "don't fall dumbass, there's no anchor here" belay goddamit, why does reality always have to get between me n' my mellow? roasting in the sun, dark rocks painful to the touch, we opted to eschew trying to regain the snow-blob chimney as the traverse over appeared suck-ass - instead josh took us up a rope-length, then i another along a leftwards traverse below rotten roofs that ended in both of us looking at each other, the time, our minimal water and non-high-tech shoes, our whole busted framed-out take on life and all and resoundingly resolved, the twain of us, to "fuck this shit" i'd like to forget about the next 6 hours of so of my life - i recall combining raps on rotten blocks and horns to downclimbing to finally re-reaching the snow and the bizarrely steep slabs below that, then the awful gut-rending retracing of our steps back up 2000 feet to camp, the western sun savaging us each step upon the way - the cruel twist of josh's ipod containing some, but not all of the "use your illusion" albums - shivering in the sudden dusk of the "unsavory gulley" below the col - i reached camp a defeated man, a mean man, a mike tyson biting off your ear even though i'm still gonna lose goddamitt kinda man - i crawled into the bottom of my sleepng bag and tried not to think about the cavalier decision to make my second dinner of the trip a "character-builder" i.e. essentially nothing eventually some hot water reduced the chills of the heat stroke i'd worked up, and the night did it's magic thing - i drifted from my mental moorings and ran along a swiftly filling tide, the dam-stocks of the earth burst and bedlam flowing before them, a cacophony of voices and sounds, full of the proverbial sound and fury that signifies nothing - i can't remember a bit of it now, but i recall it was a fine example of something, that's for certain 'round 11 or so in the following a.m., the hub-bub of megateam after megateam strolling on by inspired us to emerge into the blast furnace, eat our paltry breakfast (yum...stale bread and chilied mangoes!) and lie around alot, contemplating an excursion to the top - we recalled it was america-does-you-in-the-ass-and-brags-about-it-to-its-friends-day - we spent a far part of the mornign screaming: "america - fuck yeah!" [video:youtube] finally we motivated up the hill - it was my first visit to eldo's top, but i was familiar w/ the uber-famous summit ridge shot, though perhaps not to see it so deeply resembling a frozen version of the somne, circa 1916. we ran down from the summit while the masses plyed their ropes up and down the Savage Crevasse Field! [video:youtube] "does this mountain make my johnson look small?" the walk out was wonderful of course - scorching - no food except 5 little gummy guys - you know, the kind that look like plastic toy soldiers and taste like sour apples? my favorite is the grenade throwing dude - what a hero - total sgt york bullshit - it inspired me to starve, and to get momentarily lost near the waterfalls, and in the boulder field - we took comfort in seeing the broken on the rack and crucified by the wayside crew on 9 or so guided climbers miserably played out along the lower trail, the lead gaggle complete w/ member passed on in the middle of the steep path, collecting talus the evenign of the 4th of july was a wonderful thing - we bathed in the sibley and drank shiraz - we laid around marblemount-me and drank shiraz - we cursed at good food for being closed and drank shiraz - we laid behind a boxcar, smoking all kinds of things, drinking shiraz - we barely managed to walk out of the buffalo's bullsack or wahtever it's called and drive to the ross lake overlook on the 20, where we passed out by the curbside in the twilight glow, the feast of a thousand fuck-all mosquitoes that made our lives needlessly hellish by sunrise at 4:20, whereupon we fled in horror to mazama, too whooped even for a washington pass approach - some coffee at the general store inspired us to go to fun rock, but the sweltering heat and our radiating sun-flesh flushed us like cosmic turds into the methow, whereupon the day improved substantially i enjoyed the tree by the general store with its barbed wire and pole locked in a borg-ish struggle w/ the juniper that was once behind it don't get excited kids, i've been trying to reduce my smoking by insisting on only the worst hand-rolled, dried out bullshit leaf cigs modern man can make - the upgrade on the $3 walmart white hat i heartily endorse though we anchored the cooler in the swirling wonder of the methow and spent the next 6 hours jumping off the mega-fuck-fun boulder across from the prime rib parking lot, weathering out an unceasing torrent of tourists who no-doubt disdain drunken, farmer-tan-fried redneck phreaks such as meself - i enjoyed meself at least fuck climbing - shade and rivers meant to climb all kinds of glorious thigns after this rest day, but rain and clouds at wa pass compelled our return to seattlestan and the fine female forms of fremont
  17. Trip: Trout, Steins, Twin Pillars - the usual Date: 4/20/2009 Trip Report: Lets first REWIND to the last day of tax season april 15th, also the day I took another henious CPA exam. Directly, afterwards I proceeded to Spirit Mt. and go up and than down, but thats why they are still in business. Anyways, the next day I left for a little TC action. No partner, just betting on the TC community and just good clamberin' folk. Thanks, to Aaron and Sara for letting me join in as a random number 3, and to stan for showing up from portland, to climb on friday. Once again, TC offered great climbing with good people. My time at TC went something like this: I met a set of wonder twin's that pointed me to the long march through the space between to find the monster that saught my soul. Two days, not another sole in sight cept' the buddies on the other end of the rope. The river is getting warmer and the campground will soon be full of wild master baiters. On friday, stan and i parted ways with a shared beer and promises of climbs yet to come, he was off to smith to getter done on his proj. I was headed to stiens for three days of .....unknown, but with the unknown came the ability to climb whatever i wanted each day. Saturday: Rays food place, loaded up on all sorts of wonderful car camping food and bev's. Drove out the gravel roads way away from town to the gnar. Tyler, had a declassified uber duper secret topo drawn, from a buddy about a couple possible routes on the formations around the steins pillar. Sideshow Bob: Begins on downhill side of unnamed fomation before stiens. Sweet f7 with solid bolts and anchors, the ledges leave plenty of room for the "now." four pitchs of climbing that you wouldn't really like. looking down p1 , leading p2, "if you wanna get real wild you should stop and pull the camera up, real men take photo's on lead." the final pitch sucked hindsight for the day- don't make animal grunting noises around blind corners there could quite possibly be 20+ people having a wonderful saturday afternoon until some smelly grunting hippy came slogging along. camp at the bone yard.... "dude there is another fucking skeleton out here...is that like six?" sleep until 9am....think thats cause we were drinking tell...? drive 45+ more minutes east to the Twin Pillars...tyler had really wanted to climb to this summit, and I just asked that he take me on an adventure. We couldn't make it to the trail head because of snow...so we just trompped through the "bad burn forest" for an hour 45. We both relished in the sunlight and dead pines. -"so what do you think we should take, is there any mention of gear?" "or whats on top" maybe these? -"we should just take it all" coping the most up to date information so we began on what we thought was the middle of the north face but...it wasn't. "i would much rather climb that overhanging crack than this loose face" so off we went to this corner thing that we now believe to be the campfire variation to the north face route. Stoked about the solid rock more on lead shots... we summited and head back across the landscape trying to beat the sunset....we both made it back to the truck sans headlamp. at the truck we found our beer, beats, and “the now” “why don’t more people understand the importance of how great a day of adventure can be?” proceed to party with brats and beer 4/20/09 Wake @ 11:00am…dingle around for a little while, eat, celebrate the wonderful holiday, arrive at the stiens pillar around 1:00pm, caffeinated and happy. We had hopes of the east face but it was 80 degrees and we wanted nice comfy ledges and shade. So the regular route it was. Solo p1, f fun. Tyler styled p2, this is me following the short traverse. P5 lil aid, lil free Continue up the regular route, summit in the sun and celebrate a couple more times. WTF: why no summit register Gear Notes: the "now" Approach Notes: follow the gravel road
  18. Trip: Jubilee/Waddington Knight Inlet - Various Date: 7/18/2008 Trip Report: Finally, the long “awaited” promised TR to Jubilee/Waddington. Sorry for delay, been sick. It is also a bit long. To all mountaineering aficionados: Perusing the book shelves is a very dangerous proposition. For lo and behold I spied a glossy book with this breathtaking picture on the front. Not only on the front but throughout the book. Guide to the Waddington Range by Don Serl. Very dangerous stuff books. Instead of lining some helicopter pilots pocketbook we figured we could build our kayaks and get an enjoyable slightly extended trip out of it. 2 years of saving vacation and a couple grand to build our kayaks later and we were ready. Dreams of perfect weather and solid snow bridges girded our enthusiasm. Food, um yummm: Basically it came down to SUGAR/NUTS/BEEF JERKY/SALT. For sugar we got 10lbs of chocolate from Boehms Candy only took 7lbs though. Tons of Candy bars and Pecan Rolls with extra pecans and butter. Salted Almonds 4lbs, toasted pecans 1.5lbs. 10lbs of beef jerky we made ourselves from meat we got on sale for $2lb. We also took 3 loaves of banana bread since it keeps for 3 weeks. For salt we took fritos and corn nuts. Did you guys know that fritos have 3100 cal/lb??? Corn nuts are 2600cal/lb. Dang they tasted good. Expensive though. Only thing higher per lb is butter and pecans/almonds. Took several forms/flavors of crackers. Took spaghetti noodles with beef bullion and cup-o-soups for flavor since they pack very nicely. Why would anyone buy “dried noodle anything” at REI is beyond me. Buy the noodles for a fraction of the price and add your own spices. Noodles by definition are “dried” food. Not to mention the packaging those foods come in are VERY heavy!!! Well….. I was sick for several months leading up to the trip, the story of my life, making me rather out of shape for hauling 90+lb packs around. Left 2 days late on our 4 week trip. Not an auspicious start, but it was a start! We drove North from Issaquah in my Brothers Mazda RX-7 with both kayaks on the roof, 4hp engine in back with enough gas for 200 miles worth(20+gallons)cruising with all of our food and gear for 4 weeks. Took the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver island and drove north to Kelsey bay. There we met a local who showed us a map allowing us to take logging roads 20 miles north saving us several hours in the kayaks. Packed the kayaks and took off in the morning with the tide. At noon we stopped on a rock outcropping for lunch as we headed out up the fabulous Knight Inlet. Now our cruising speed is around 7 knots and Knight inlet is not a kind place for those who are having engine trouble. There is no place to “beach” we found a rock shelf and wiggled around on it to get the engine off and cleaned. The engine would not restart without being very rich. We thought the choke lever had popped off leaving it running rich. Nope. After several hours of fiddling around we finally pulled the entire carb off and tore it down finding tons of black crud in the carb from when we had burned some old gas in a previous trip trying to get rid of it. DOH!!! <> Oh well. Lesson learned. The wind had kicked up and was whipping along at 20+ knots creating 3 to 4 foot waves. When you are sitting in a kayak with your butt 4 inches below the water surface a 2 foot wave means that your eyes are basically level with the top of it. Now 3 and 4 waves swallowed and wallowed our kayak as we chugged along. You would get on top of a wave and would “surf” down at 15 knots speed and then come to an abrupt halt as you climbed up the other side of water. In the meantime the next 4 foot wave decides to crest over the rear of the kayak and sending foaming water up to my brothers chin. I so wished I had a waterproof camera!!! We were desperately trying to find a beach as we had our outrigger kayak loaded too front heavy and was being buried completely under water and we were getting worried. The only thing we saw were cliffs. I saw a small speck of island on the map and hoped it had at least a nook to hide in. Instead it had a shingle of rock that was accessible at high tide. Lucky us, it was high tide. We hauled the kayak and outrigger out of the water onto the barnacled rock shelf. Now we are sitting perched on a rock shingle/shelf watching the water receed from high tide and found ourselves perched on top of a cliff. OOPS! Looking at the tide charts we see that the next high tide at 5:30 in the morning is 30inches lower than high tide today!!! Oh crap. Oh well, time to eat and sleep! We found the best sleeping spots imaginable, 4” thick moss. SWEET. At high tide the next morning we pushed the kayak and outrigger kayak over the cliff and finally got it into the water at high tide without falling over the cliff edge ourselves and going for a swim. In an hour of cruising we found the only beach in the entire 75 mile trip going up Knight inlet. An absolutely stunning spot. Ate Breakfast and kept cruising. We thought we would get some water from a stream entering Knight Inlet… oops a 200 foot waterfall greeted us instead. Knight inlet is an amazing spot. Ringed in cliffs on all sides. Here is one mountain rising 7500 feet straight out of the water. Several thousand foot granite cliffs are common and unclimbed. If they were in Yosemite they would be exceptional. We finally hit the end of Knight inlet and ditched our kayaks on the loggers platform at the Dutchmans Head where their fuel tanks were. We got permission from loggers who were there. HOLY COW THE HORSE FLIES!!! The only good thing was that as soon as the sun goes down they all dissapear. Killed 10 in one swat! It wasn't the only high count swat either. I am not pulling your leg either! Lets just say we didn't stick around to take pictures! Thankfully the loggers gave us a ride to their loggers camp saving us 3 miles of walking through bear country. Did I mention Bears? Yea, bear poop everywhere on the road. The loggers joked that the bears never crap in the woods, but only on their logging roads! Think cow patties littering the road like goose poop. We only saw 1 bear on the trip to camp though. Loggers Camp With some judicious begging the loggers took us up the road as far as they could towards Mt. Jubilee saving us an added 10 miles of walking in bear country with nothing more than "pepper spray". Lets just say that after being dropped off and looking at the littering of bear poo everywhere, we uh, made some "noise" as we walked and hoped that mama grizzly bear wasn't too hungry. The easy walking didn't last as we got off the main logging road and onto an old "logging road" We camped on the only flat spot we could find, an old log bridge. Oh did I mention that my brothers toe was over twice its normal size. He limped to this spot and we did not move for 5 days. It seems he had picked up the kayak trying to move it off the rock shelf 2 days previous and dropped it on his toes. The next day Nate tried walking on it and in less than a half mile was huge and very painful. Then the weather moved in. Our spirits were bleek to say the least. A clearing in the clouds for a couple hours and we packed quickly and sprinted up a couple thousand feet through logging slash and cliff bands as we dodged into heavy timber wherever we could find it. It turned to rain again and we found the last bit of old logging road and stayed there for 2 days collecting drinking water off the tent. Weather cleared again and we lugged our +90lb packs up into the alpine terrain. Couldn’t see a thing as it was nothing but clouds but we got to dry out and sleep on heather!!! 3 more days of rain, sleet, snow and it cleared finally!!! Nate's toe never really healed but was ok to at least walk on slowly. TONS of FRESH SNOW up higher and very warm temperatures made very slow going with fresh snow on top of slush. We decided to go on the south side of Jubilee on the Chaos glacier since the views were so much better! We spent several hours trying to get down onto the glacier itself in order to gain access to Mt. Jubilee’s East Ridge our desired route. Anyone up for some icefalls? With the warm temps there were huge blocks ripping off of them. The Whitemantle range is spectacular from the Chaos Glacier. Climbing on 45 degree slush deeper than the knees with cliffs below is draining to say the least and threw down our tent on the first flat spot we found that wasn’t a crevasse. Our hopes buoyed by some of the best scenery in the world we set off for the summit of Jubilee and the east ridge. It was not to be, Giant crevasses littered our path. Tried left, center, and right. 20 foot, 40 foot gaps rent the east ridge route with ice cliff steps above the rents. The route had obviously changed than what was published as a gentle walk in the guide book. These crevasses wouldn’t even have had snow bridges in mid season let alone on August 1st. Looked at the SE ridge route and it was cut several spots by more giant crevasses and nasty loose red crumbling rock to bypass around them on its ridge which we had scrambled over the day before to gain access to the Jubilee Glacier. Moved Camp to a more scenic spot on the East ridge of Jubilee with monster crevasses around us and hoped for some colder temperatures as we were wallowing in slush. Since the night before we had been aruging about the fact that we were sleeping with our heads in a downward position we decided to do some snow engineering creating a "bubble-level". The guide book said the North ridge was a spring only option, but we had already decided that the SE ridge was a loose rock death ride, and the east “gentle” ridge was impassable. So, off we set. The weather changed and was nice and cold. We got to the schrund right beneath the summit and were turned back by yet another gaping crevasse. To the true north face were more gaping monster crevasses and the summit schrund joined the east ridge impassable crevasses. Skunked on a mere 9000 foot summit!!! You have got to be kidding me right? Guess not. To see how Gigantic these crevasses are. Look at this picture. Follow our tracks over the snow bridge down to the black spot which is our tent. These babies were easily 200 feet across and who knows how deep, I didn't go checking out the edge all that closely!!! It was now 2 weeks into our trip, and 0 summits, 1 broken toe, and horrible snow conditions. We looked at eachother took in the sights, sighed and said, “I think we have pushed our luck far enough. There is no way we will be able to get up Waddington in conditions like this, not to mention to it and back before our vacation runs out even in perfect weather conditions.” We packed, dumping extra food into a crevasse and watched the cirrus clouds as they told us what waited for us if we stayed, more crummy weather. Now that we knew the crevasse maze, we practically sprinted off the shoulder of Jubilee, broken toe and all. Walked out with the advantage of gravity back to our Kayaks and took off before we were eaten by a grizzly bear, cougar, or horseflies. On a humorous note, we walked back through where we camped and noted that there is no need to bury your poop. Every spot we had “done our thing,” it was completely cleaned out paper and all!!! Nice!!! An all new meaning to bear breath! Fired up the engine and made a most memorable trip out knight inlet to the one beach in the entirety of knight inlet. Next day made it back to the car 3 weeks after we had left it. Put the spark plugs back in since the engine floods when it sits, hooked up the battery and headed for home. After taking the ferry back to Vancouver side our battery died. So we bumbled into a gas station and begged charge time off of people all night long. The battery was old and needed replaced. After the charge time from good Samaritans we made it back across the border and coasted into a Wal-Mart parking lot where we bough a new battery and made it home. Will I go back??? OH yea! Saving vacation time as we speak and thinking of going up Bute inlet and taking bikes for the 20+ miles of main logging roads to the Waddington glacier. Will just pay the helicopter guys the money to drop food in for us. 95lb packs are NOT enjoyable at all. When on snow, they aren’t bad, but going through logging slash? Someone shoot me please. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Entire time in the brush was probably less than a day of cursing, but we spread it out over a week due to a broken toe and RAIN. What was bad was the soaking wet brush above your heads. Most importantly will also pay attention to snow conditions better the year before and the weather.com reports for the area. If we had paid better attention we would have known that the weather had been very good in the spring and early summer and the crevasses wide open and left sooner.
  19. Trip: Salish Peak & Roan Wall linkup - 17 pitches 5.10+ - Date: 6/20/2007 Trip Report: Yesterday Darin Berdinka and I climbed two new grade III routes near Darrington. The are both recently completed and feature flawless granite in a beautiful spot. We did them in a day 16 hours round trip. Approach using the Squire Creek Trail towards Three Fingers, and the Roan Wall is on your right, easily noticeable from the head of the valley. Ours was probably the 4th ascent of both of the routes, but they deserve lots of visitors. The Roan Wall has a 5.8 bolted pitch, a 5.4 cracks pitch, then a bit of scrambling before 8 more pitches up the steep wall. Mostly small edgy face climbing, although the last 3 pitches have cracks mixed in. Locate bolts on the above bulge to begin climbing. The 5th (crux) pitch involves a leftward move close to the belay The last 3 pitches have fun crack climbing. Then you top out and are a short walk from this: Scramble off the top of the Roan Wall by walking along to the left, then across to the base of Salish Peak. Every pitch is mixed crack and face, with lots of fun exposed moves. The 3 hardest moves are all somewhere in the 5.10 range and you could AO on a draw. Pitch 1 Darin had told me that the face move was 5.11something and I A0ed without trying it out. He freed it on TR and said it was more like .10c The 6th pitch was spectacular face and crack... maybe the best of the route. You can rappel the route in 5 double-rope rappels, using fixed stations. The black webbing/grey mammut runners are ours. From the base of the route, we high-tailed it back to the car in 3:40, because I insisted to Darin that we complete the day wihout headlamps. After all, the solstice is good for something, right? (The trailhead is at the base of the landslide in the distance) Cheers to Chris Greyell for putting up the routes, and to Payless Shoes, whose $20 sneakers passed the test. Also, the gas station in Darrington gives out all its hot food for free after 10pm:hcluv: , so thanks to Darin for putting up with my erratic driving when my hunger-crazed brain payed more attention to Taquitos than turns on the highway. Darin was a great partner even though he originally tried to get me to leave Bellingham at 2:30 AM! This linkup is one of the best rock climbs I've done, it should be high on the to-do list!
  20. Trip: Lemolo Peak (erstwhile Hardest Mox) - NE Buttress ("After Hours") V 5.10- R Date: 9/12/2008 Trip Report: Summary: On 9/12 and 9/13/2008, Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly climbed the NE Buttress of the 8501' summit to the E of SE Mox Peak. The NE buttress on right division of dark and light, John Scurlock photo: A shot from the other side on our descent: From what we can tell, our route shares several pitches with Layton and Wolfe's E Face line "The Devil's Club", somewhere in the middle third of the ascent. "After Hours" (appropriate for several reasons) takes a direct start on the NE Buttress toe, and ends at the summit of what some have referred to as "Hardest Mox", the apparently heretofore unclimbed peak to the E of SE Mox. We continued to SE Mox Peak from there, adding a bit more engaging climbing. I believe that we are the first ascentionists of this peak, and hence can derive a little fun naming it. If this is the case, in keeping with the naming convention of Mox ("twin") Peaks, we propose Lemolo Peak; "Lemolo" is Chinook jargon for wild, or untamed. Klone (Chinook for "three") Peak would also be appropriate, but is already taken in Washington. If this summit is not worthy of a separate name, then no sweat--I already had my fun. I think that Rolf (aka the Bard of Leavenworth) is crafting a TR in iambic pentameter; until then, the following must do... Overview: Day 1, approach from Little Beaver to c. 5000' bivy in Perry Creek basin; 9 hours. Day 2, finish approach to 6000' rock start, and climb to 8200' bivy; 13.5 hours. Day 3, proceed to 8501' summit, then ridge traverse to SE Mox 8504', and descend to camp via gullies and unnamed glacier SE of Mox; 9 hours (ish?). Day 4, thrash homeward; 7 hours even, every minute fun. More detailed notes and pictures (I took all pictures; when the Bard isn't writing, his other job is male supermodel): On morning approach day 1, Jack Mtn and Nohokomeen Gl: Early part of roped climbing on day 2, somewhere around 7000': I was pretty worked from the day 1 approach, and started to get some hand cramps about 1000' into the climb; so Rolf took up the yoke and led the majority of the steep headwall in the middle third of the climb. He drew the crux pitch, which among its cruxes, included pulling a roof over suspect gear. Rolf reached into his puny reservoir of Solid and cruised the pitch—-one of the most impressive leads I'll witness. It was here that I believe he threw an alpine berserker gang-sign. No time for pics, but after following the pitch, I took a shot back at its traverse element: You might be able to make out some tat from MnE's rap 3 years ago. Additionally, looking at this pic from Mike's report, I surmise that while those guys went up and left from that point, we went up and right, cutting back left eventually. Here's Rolf making his way through more roofs: Some exposure from this belay, looking down at the buttress: At about 7500', I led what we jokingly referred to as a "comeback pitch" left and then up one of the few clean splitters we encountered, very exposed, then Rolf zagged back right across the buttress crest: The climbing was exposed and a lot of fun; I like the Bard's term for it, "cerebral", ha. Another shot a bit higher, ~8000': We had enough daylight to search around for bivy sites between 8000 and 8300, and settled on a then-windless site at 8200'. Temps were dropping a bit more steeply than we expected; we'd left our sleeping bags in favor of a lighter jacket-and-backpack bivy, and paid for our insouciance. We were so giddy about our situation, that we giggled convulsively through the night. Here's the alpine rat burrowing in for Led Zeppelin's "you shook me" all night long: Took some solace from the views; underexposed Picket Range: After the sun came up and I drank from my partially frozen water, we scrambled up and roped up for teetering stacked blocks to the summit (Mt. Spickard background): Last pitch to the yet-unclimbed 8501' summit: Shot of Pickets from tippy-top: Now we have to go over there--SE Mox: The traverse involved a 60m rap, a scoot around a gendarme, then a few more pitches of climbing on a ridge--actually very cool climbing. Even more pics, first is looking back at Rolf and the gendarme, I think: Then Rolf leading toward SE Mox, Mt Redoubt background and NW Mox foreground: Finally, views of 1) Lemolo from the summit SE Mox; 2) Challenger et al; 3) Bear's NF etc.: Then the ultra-brutal chossy galore descent of several gullies to the glacier: This tried our dessicated patience. Staggered into a deserved camp celebration of the finest 2-course meal (I guess everything does taste better with tuna), brews, bourbon, chocolate. Last day parting shot: And then beers and plunges at Ross Lake while waiting for our boat; deeeeluxe. I can now fully appreciate and salute Mike and Erik's journey into the unknown 3 years ago. Pretty certain I'd not take 4 days off to go after this big endeavor without their information posted here--thanks fellas. I remember reading about the brotherhood you guys shared, and held hope for similar with Rolf--nope. Our partnership is built on mutual disrespect and loathing; we share a vile and putrid love, and feed most from each other's misery. I'm not happy until you're not happy. Nevertheless, the Bard is a solid partner and I look forward to future adventures--this was an exceptionally stellar one. Gear Notes: -medium rack, with pins that did not get used. tri-cams employed often. -while no metal used, much extracted; our route intersected rap stations enough such that we bootied bountifully. -no plants were harmed in the development of our product. Approach Notes: Jungle fever Nihilism (or Zen Buddhism, according to one’s preference)
  21. TWISPTED REALITY (A monthly opinion column) Snafflehoundus terriblus Methow Valley News / July 6, 2005 The shenanigans of snafflehounds can drive even the most pacifistic of people to a state of rodenticidal rage. Two climbers apparently coined the term snafflehound in 1938 while climbing in the Bugaboo Mountains in Canada. During the night, cat-sized rodents ate their rations, their ropes and their boots. They named these voracious animals “snafflehounds.” The same species of snafflehound that terrorizes climbers and campers is the most notorious rodent in the Methow. Technically, snafflehounds are bushy tailed wood rats, or Neotoma cinerea . Most in the Methow simply refer to them as pack rats. Because of their nocturnal noisiness and petty larceny, pack rats are undesirable housemates. However, they tend to move in uninvited. As anyone who has ever tangled with a snafflehound will attest, evicting these wily and tenacious critters is no easy matter. My first snafflehound experience started out subtly enough. Coins, silverware, carabiners and screwdrivers started disappearing. Lacking faith in my short-term memory, I figured I’d just misplaced the items. One night I looked out my window and witnessed a huge rodent with big ears and a furry tail dragging my cordless drill off the deck. It all started to make sense. Then the snafflehound moved in. I hardly slept the next week. Each night, all night, I lay in bed while the snafflehound inside the walls and ceiling scratched, chewed and made a racket louder than a dance troupe of drunken cloggers brawling on a tin roof. Intending to relocate the snafflehound, I bought a “Have-a-Heart” brand live trap. The rodent ignored it. Instead he chewed a hole through the mosquito screen on my window, pilfered my alarm clock and proffered a huge pile of pack rat scat on my pillow. Murder in my heart, I returned to the store and bought a supposedly lethal device called “The Better Rodent Trap.” I baited it with peanut butter and dog food. As evidenced by the yellow puddle next to the sprung (but empty) trap the next morning, all the trap did was scare the piss out of the snafflehound. As if to mock me, the snafflehound chewed apart my phone cord, stole an engraved compass with sentimental value, peed on my favorite chair, and ate the cover plus the first 47 pages of Mammals of the Northwest. Once again I returned to the store, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. This time I bought an old-fashioned rat trap: nothing fancy, just time-tested, spring-loaded death. Or so I hoped. Each night I would bait it with tasty treats. Each morning I would discover the trap sprung, the bait gone. Out of respect for the snafflehound’s escape artistry, I named my elusive nemesis “Houdini.” Nearing wits end, I turned to Sun Tzu for advice. “Pretend to be weak, that your enemy may grow arrogant. Hold out baits to entice him. Feign disorder, and crush him,” wrote the ancient Chinese military philosopher in his book, The Art of War . As if conceding defeat, I abandoned my cabin to the snafflehound and slept outside on the porch. Inside, I scattered dog food on the floor to lure the pack rat and lull him into complacency. Sensing an ambush, Houdini kept a low profile for several days. I sweetened the bait, laying out a shiny galvanized joist hanger, a pair of dice, a socket set and some chopsticks. That night, I heard the snafflehound dragging something across my floor. I jumped out of my sleeping bag and through the open door into my cabin. Momentarily startled by the sight of a sleep-deprived madman naked as a plucked turkey and wielding a .357, the pack rat froze, eyes wide, nose twitching. Before I could shoot, Houdini darted behind the books in my bookcase. Intent on rodenticide, I slowly pulled book after book off the shelf. Finally, the rat was cornered somewhere between Desert Solitaire and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas . I split the difference and shot Mark Twain through the spine. Huckleberry Finn and the snafflehound exploded in a deafening blast of blood, fur, guts and literary greatness. I had finally succeeded in relocating the snafflehound - to another plane of existence. I slept well for a month. Then the next snafflehound arrived. But that’s a different story.
  22. Trip: The Sphinx - N Ridge, Phyllis' Engine - Std Route Date: 9/6/2008 Trip Report: Fifteen years ago I was sitting in Westerns' Wilson Library flipping through Canadian Alpine Journals when I came across an amazing photo of a guy climbing some of the cleanest most splitter granite I had ever seen. The route was Vertex on the west face of Isosceles Peak located in a remote corner of Garibaldi Park. The climb sat on my short list of places to go but never made the top until last week when Gene Pires and I found ourselves staggering up the Helm Creek Trail under heavy packs laden with rock gear and aspirations for an aggresive four day itinerary. The following morning as we stumbled across loose talus and suffered demoralizing losses of elevation it became apparent that we were no longer the paragons of fitness nor the alpine titans we once thought we were. Isosceles would be left for another journey and we instead settled for several less commiting climbs located above the Sphinx Glacier. The following photo is as close as we got. Isosceles Peak, Crosscut Ridge and Mount Luxor THE APPROACH Garibaldi Park is different. The rugged and steep valleys of the North Cascades are replaced by the gentler sculpted terrain typical of volcanic areas without being dominated by the classic volcanic cone. The high peaks in this area are granitic and Garibaldi itself sits far to the south. With the exception of the long drop to Gentian Pass the entire eleven mile approach to the alpine is a gradual ascent on good trails, open meadows, mellow glaciers and gentle ridges. Helm Meadows The infamous Black Tusk towers over the first part of the approach. Cinder Hills If you follow the Alpine Select approach description literally by hiking all the way to Cinder Flats and then circling around The Cinder Cone you'll add an extra hour of wandering through a chaotic and tortured landscape of shifting cinders, dust and scattered animal bones. Both tiring and interesting. Helm Glacier The Helm Glacier is an oddity. More arctic than alpine, it oozes down across an otherwise barren landscape. Why is it here? How much longer will it last? First View of Castle Towers and The Sphinx After about 8 miles and 4000' of gain you finally get see your destination. Unfortunately you also see the steep 800' drop to Gentian Pass. Nothing comes easy. Gentian Pass No trails, no cairns, no footprints. The Perfect Campsite After eight-and-a-half hours of travel we finally scrambled off the backside of Polemonium Ridge to find a perfect campsite. Flat heather meadows, a small stream, boulders to sit on and an impeccable view. Garibaldi Sunset Tantalus Range at Sunrise Garibaldi Lake in the foreground. The Sphinx - North Ridge II 5.8 Campsite near the Glaciers Edge As described earlier, on the morning of the second day we found difficult and time consuming terrain between Polemonium Ridge and The Sphinx Glacier. Realizing that we didn't have the time or energy for Isosceles we set up camp on an airy perch near glaciers edge and climbed The Sphinx that afternoon. Crossing Sphinx Glacier An absolutely wonderful journey. It's almost three miles across with numerous deep schrunds and crevasses to navigate. Threading the Shrunds Garibaldi Lake in the background. Near the Base of the North Ridge The route is only about 500' in length. We climbed a 200+' pitch of low-5th class on blocky granite, then another 200+' pitch up a fine slab split by numerous enjoyable cracks. The final pitch is short and stout, starting up a steep crack and corner system before finishing with a wild slightly overhung handcrack. Near the top of Pitch 1 looking east to Isosceles Fine cracks on Pitch 2 Sphinx Summit Pose Based on the summit register the Sphinx appears to receive one to two ascents a year. A majority of those are by the North Ridge and a majority of those are by Garibaldi Park Rangers. Presumably they canoe across Garibaldi Lake, significantly shortening the approach. N-E-S Facing Panorama from Summit of Sphinx In every direction there are endless glaciers and summits even more remote. How often do they get climbed? PHYLLIS' ENGINE - Standard Route II 5.8 The Smokestack On the third day we climbed Phyllis' Engine. The tower is about 300' tall and is made of some the cleanest, finest stone I've climbed in the mountains in recent memory. The standard route climbs the convex slab on the right side then the back of the summit block in three short pitches of 5.8. There are several other excellent looking lines as well. Heres a view of The Entire Engine. Summit Block Geometry The geometry was more reminicent of a desert tower than of your typical northwest spire. Looking down at the first belay Starting the Second Pitch We skipped the see-through chimney in favor of some nice looking cracks to climbers left. Second Pitch cracks Gene following the easy cracks. Looking South from below the summit block Glaciers everywhere. THE DEPROACH Descending Polemonium Ridge After climbing Phyliss' Engine we packed up camp and begin the long trip back home. Black Tusk in the distance. Iceman or Gene? Helm Glacier Pass Helm Glacier Basin One last night was spent in the barren plain below the Helm Creek Glacier. We stayed up late bullshiting and watching the stars come out. The following morning we reached the car in a little over three hours. Total travel time of seven hours from the Sphinx Glacier to the parking lot. One last look - Sunset over Sphinx Glacier Gear Notes: Lightest 50m rope you can get Set of nuts and cams to #3 Camalot Approach Notes: 30+ miles ~10k feet of vertical 6 pitches
  23. Trip: Sloan Pk.-(FA)-SE Ridge - Probable FA of the SE Ridge of Sloan Peak Date: 9/7/2008 Trip Report: It was time to follow up on a few lines that I have schemed on in the past. 12 years ago I saw a super steep ridge directly above the Corkscrew route where it exits the glacier. It is the cliff on the right skyline. The Corkscrew (CS) Route is the grassy ramp below. Jared and I mounted a spirited attempt the Labor Day weekend before, only to get snowed out half way up the Bedal Creek approach. With renewed vigor and yet still more clouds, Lane an I went after it this weekend. All clear pictures were taken late Saturday or summit day, Sunday. Seems the west side sogginess was to prevail. With newly soaked shoes, we dispatched the approach . Up high, the clouds began their dramatic uplift. Lane and the "Snowpatch Spire of Washington" Monte Cristo Backdrop We then settle into an amazing bivy light show-yet again I am a lucky photographer lately I know I drove Lane nuts with taking a 100+ photos of him. A cold night led to the same in the am. At 8 am we got after the snow-crossing and the lower ramp and got above and into position to do the obvious Dihedral that caps into a big , crackless roof. Route goes up the Black Blocks(pitch 1, 5.2) on left and into the thin cracks on right of dihedral. Lane following 5.7 , pitch 2 I then traversed right onto the crazy-angled East Face! On to a fist crack, and then into the steep thin face section that also served as the crux. Pitch 3, 5.10a, Reachy, "Reach for the Nickel Pitch" Scary, steep and committing! After a crazy mantel left, I sent the final mossy, wet, yet fun dihedral finish. Pitch 4 , 5.10a. We were then stoked to be at the top of the steep part of the lower buttress. What is amazingly fun about Sloan is the upper bench to the left , lets you "Shop" for your finish. I have done 2 lines now on the SE Face and they have both been 4 stars! Pitch 5, contrived, yet 5.9+ Our route takes the lower left dihedral and goes right and straight up from there > Sloan is a blessed and cursed peak. It is blessed with great granite in places,and soaring walls. It is also cursed with huge ledges and western dampness and weather. I have had several great trips there, and it will be the sight of many awesome routes in the future! Cheers to your future with the highly-accessible -Sloan Peak Gear Notes: Cam to 3, several bugaboos
  24. Trip: Ocean Racing - Pacific Cup 2008 Date: 7/19/2008 Trip Report: I’m not a rock star, I’m just a guy who happens to sail. I haven’t really been active in a year or two, but when the stars aligned and an opportunity arose to sail Pacific Cup with the Portland-based 70-footer Rage, I didn’t hesitate. Well, ok, I did. The last thing you want to do is get on a boat with folks you haven’t sailed with before, and it just doesn’t click. Especially on the ocean! So I signed up with the provision to sail Swiftsure first as a tryout. The forecast leading up to this year’s Swiftsure certainly predicted what might happen. Driftsure. There weren’t any storm systems coming in. Swiftsure always seems like Groundhog Day for Seattle-based sailors: the logistics mean only one or two options to get to Victoria, so depending on your needs you either hop the Clipper or hop the Blackball on Friday. My need was “fast” so I found myself on the Clipper in good company with shady characters Leslie Snodgrass, Ian Beswick, and Mark Bunker. (Yeah, for those of you who don't know, Mark sails!) In short order we landed in Victoria and I made my way to the hotel where Rage’s skipper, Steve Rander, and crew were congregating, and finally introduced myself in person. The race? Well, like the logistics the options are usually only fast and slow, and for those of you who sailed it this year, it was the same for us as it was for you: slow. We escaped through Race Passage, but Saturday was extremely light, with the wind filling in only around sunset from the Southwest near shore. But it was a beautiful day, and we toughed it out on Rage with lots of sunblock. (One can never complain if it’s not raining.) When the wind filled in we finally started having some fun! Coming back from the Bank, we power reached along at 15 knots with the Moon out, the tiller was handed to me for the first time, and I got a chance to get a feel for the boat that I would become intimately familiar with over the coming months. It was …balanced. Driving Rage was like driving a well-behaved Olson 30. There was a little more warning if you were doing something wrong, a feeling I latched onto immediately as critical for night sailing on the ocean. After passing Neah Bay, the wind clocked aft and we hoisted the “Big Doyle”, Rage’s largest spinnaker, at 4,500 sq feet of cloth. (You read that correctly!) With enough sail up to supply a small African nation with .75 oz nylon, we burned down the course and finished in time for breakfast. I was in! Rage during Swiftsure. The strange sail is a jibtop drifter, which is what we had for light sailing before we bought the Code 0 for Pacific Cup. For Pacific Cup, Steve delivered the boat to Alameda right after Swiftsure. It was mostly motor-sailing. The crew started congregating in Alameda a week before the race, to help prepare the boat for the race. This year Rage sailed with 8 folks, including some familiar faces that Steve has sailed with for over 25 years now: his cousin George Gade and his friends Jim Cullison and John Rea. They made jokes about being called “The Geritol Crew” but nothing about any of these guys is remotely old. The other four members of the crew were Portland-based sailors Brian Barnett, Denny Damore, and Joe Bauschelt, and myself. I can still remember how much work and planning we did when I sailed Vic-Maui in 2002, but provisioning for Rage, where the boat and crew that have done the race many times, was far easier: everything already has its tried-and-true place, the menu is the same menu as last time, and everyone knows what to bring. One still has to agonize over spare parts, dive the boat, and finally strip any weight, but that can go quickly the last few days. Before we knew it, we were motoring out to the start on Saturday morning. As we motored up the shipping channel and under the Bay Bridge, the wind built as we’d expected it to. The start was a 3:50 start off Saint Francis YC, just shy of the Golden Gate. It was a typical San Francisco day on the bay, with winds to 25 and foggy conditions. We had left the dock late and only had a short time to get the things in gear, but we got to the starting area with double-reefed main and #4 up, and started on-time with the rest of our fleet. Tacking out under the Golden Gate, as this was my first time, was everything it was hyped to be: on your ear, going out under this huge span, in the fog. Coupled with trading tacks with other 70-footers, it was pretty exciting! But soon the wind eased significantly, we shook out a reef, put up the #3, and started the long reach that characterizes the first several days of a Pacific Cup. Only a few hours from San Francisco, and the fleet parted ways. Rage trading tacks with Flash, a TP52, heading out the Golden Gate. The first two days were uneventful, though very fast, sailing. We settled into our watch routine. Most of the time we plugged away at around 16 knots, trying to figure out how to get the leach cords just right so that our leaches and luffs wouldn’t flap so much. Sea state was rough but typical. Only one member of our crew had a brief bout of seasickness. Eventually we shook out the second reef and then finally on the second evening, when the sailing angles were moving but not quite to spinnaker territory, switching out the #3 jib, the largest upwind sail Rage carries, for a Code 0. The angles on a big boat are different than those of smaller boats because the boat moves so fast through the water that your apparent wind is always forward. Even when true wind is at 160 degrees, Rage is moving so fast that your apparent might only be 120 or even 100 degrees, depending on wind strength. George Gade driving Rage hella fast on the second day. On the third day out of San Francisco, the wind had moved aft enough that the Code 0 was no longer cutting it; time for the Big Doyle. We brought the bag up on deck and hoisted the chute, and presto change-o, we were on our way. Except something looked a little funny with the ‘chute. Hmmm? Oh! We had mistakenly hoisted our smaller, fractional Doyle 2.1oz spinnaker on the masthead halyard. The spinnakers both have the same color scheme, so it wasn’t that easy to tell right away. So we brought up the right spinnaker bag, and did a bareheaded douse and hoist to change to the Big Doyle. Except, on the hoist, the Big Doyle caught on something and we put a huge tear in the foot of the sail. So down came the sail again, we hoisted the spare masthead ‘chute, and we took the Big Doyle down below and started sewing it back together for the rest of the day. During the night, the weather pattern that would remain for the rest of the race materialized: large-scale, squally, stormy weather. Sometime during the night, the masthead halyard block decided to leave this Earth, and our spare masthead spinnaker came down in pieces. In what would become an unfortunately nightly “All-Hands” exercise, we recovered all the soaked pieces of the destroyed kite, and hoisted the 2.1oz Doyle for the remainder of the night. Under spinnaker early in the race. In the morning Steve went up the mast to replace the destroyed masthead block. Later that morning, to our horror, the webbing lashing on the active fractional halyard block failed, and the 2.1oz Doyle came down as well, this time thankfully in one piece. The Big Doyle was ready to go, though, so we hoisted it with great care, and later Steve once again went up the mast, this time to re-lash the fractional halyard block and reinforce the other blocks as needed. With the Big Doyle, Rage was once again doing max-VMG down the course, gaining at least 2 knots of boat speed on average with the larger sail up. Steve Rander up the mast. It was not to last. In the middle of the night once again, Steve rounded Rage up while driving through one of these frequent storm cells, and the Big Doyle’s head ripped clean off, shearing both luff tapes from stem to stern. Each of these tapes is 89 feet long - that’s a lot of luff tape!! We called “All Hands”, recovered the pieces of the sail, and got the boat sailing under the 2.1oz Doyle again. The next day we started sewing. And sewing, and sewing. During the day, as our compass heading crept further and further towards North, we chose to gybe the boat onto port pole and head South. It was the favored gybe and we had to make some Southing eventually. So we gambled. We decided to see what happened and make a call the next day to gybe back if needed. Now, without a sewing machine, 89 feet of luff tape does not get sewn quickly even with 4-5 guys on it, so on this day we only finished sewing about 50% of the tapes. In the afternoon, we saw a sail on the horizon, the first since we’d started! Was it a big boat, or were we starting to pass the slow boats ahead of us? It turned out this was the Cal 20 “Black Feather”, single-handing in a (different) race to Hawaii, sailing wing-on-wing! The boat disappeared astern as quickly as it arrived, and evening came, then night. Sewing. Even before I got up for midnight watch, the boat was overtaken by another storm cell, Rage moved to the next quantum of speed, and Jim Cullison started talking to Steve about a fishing boat on the horizon. Then, when closer, the on-watch spotted the strobes that marked the nets, and Rage apparently narrowly missed becoming entangled in these. The motion of the boat indicated we were going faster than usual and the on-watch was nervous for some reason. I geared up and got on deck. It was pitch black. One couldn’t see anything past the instruments, not even the front of the boat! Brian responded to my concern with “Yeah, it’s been kind of a sketchy ride...” While my driver’s responsibility was rapidly approaching with the watch change, I had never sailed a boat this big in these conditions, so gratefully gave the first turn driving to Steve. Driving Rage like this, at sustained 18 knots with no horizon and only the feel of the boat and a globe compass - the digital compass didn’t update fast enough - felt like driving a missile. A guided missile, and you were the guidance. It was difficult and required complete concentration. A mistake here was unthinkable. My turn came and it was tricky to keep the boat going the right direction. On the horizon, again, we found a very dim but unmistakable masthead light, which we soon passed to starboard and astern. This boat turned out to be Buzz Off, having their own ordeal of a race. After another hour the insanely dark conditions yielded, the wind eased a bit, and we returned to normal. Dawn broke and another full day of sewing ensued, where we finished up sewing the luff tapes. Otherwise, this was uneventful sailing on an empty ocean. We gybed onto starboard again, having made as much Southing as we wanted. We hadn’t seen any animal life (or trash!) to speak of, and aside from the Cal 20, Buzz Off, and the fishing boat no sign of anyone else out here. Another dark, stormy night of sailing was ordered up, and we sailed through Guided Missile mode ‘til dawn still with the trusty 2.1oz Doyle. At dawn we crossed ahead of another big boat on port pole by only a half a mile. Who was it? By now our fleet knew we had gone South, and we had wondered if anyone would follow us. Well someone did: it was Criminal Mischief! We finished patching up the Big Doyle by taping the head, then sewing through the tape, and in the afternoon we launched the sail again. The repair held! I finally felt some positive emotions again, after being depressed for days that we were unable to make any time on our competitors with the trusty-yet-underpowered 2.1oz Doyle flying. That Criminal Mischief was hanging with us (they would go on to finish the race first in our class) seemed just wrong. In the evening, trying to make the big sail last and completely uncharacteristic of Steve in general, we made the call to take the Big Doyle down for the night. We had no sewing thread left, and we wanted to get to Hawaii! It was perhaps a good thing: that night we wrapped the 2.1oz almost hopelessly around the forestay during a period of light air, and it took a good two hours of “All Hands” and strong pulling to get it down the forestay, painstakingly unwrap it, and re-launch it. Rage, moments after losing the top of its mast. In the morning, at watch change, we hoisted the Big Doyle again. I drove for an hour then handed the tiller to George. Perhaps 30 minutes later and 350 miles from Hawaii, we were overtaken by an intense squall, and, this being the first time all race where we got hit by a squall such as this and had the big sail up, the boat started driving forward really fast. Now normally on Rage fast is 16,17, and even 18 knots. But George got the boat to 19.5 knots, when suddenly a large noise from up-top, followed by a funny-looking everything, happened. We looked up. At first we thought a masthead halyard block had been destroyed again, as the sails were still kind-of up but something weird….wait…there was no masthead! The top six feet of the carbon fiber mast had sheared off! The Big Doyle came down, slowly, the mainsail came down, slowly and of its own accord, and we scrambled to bring the sails back on board in one piece. The Big Doyle filled with water, though, and eventually had to be cut away to reduce the rapidly building loads on the boat. That was painful. Everyone took a second to regroup. No one was seriously hurt, but Brian had some rope burns. After a short break, we got to business. We still had fractional halyards, so I went up the mast and jury rigged a new main halyard under Steve’s instruction. We then double reefed the main, and hoisted it, to get under way. Finally we launched the fractional spinnaker, and only 2 hours after we lost the top of the mast we were again sailing at 14 knots towards Hawaii. Steve spent a good part of the day aloft ensuring the mast section, tangled in the rigging, wouldn’t come down and hurt anyone and wouldn’t tear up the remaining sails. We also had to figure out new systems to support various sails and sail controls. Tradewinds. This was on day 8, the day we broke our mast section, and it was the first nice day of the whole race for us. The remaining night and next day to Hawaii were not without additional trials. The wind lightened considerably at times, and our ETA got longer and longer. We got slammed by some more monster squalls, and dodged some of them too. At one point, on starboard pole, I was driving a compass heading of 320 degrees due to these crazy squally winds! This close to the islands, we finally started seeing other boats. We saw Cirrus and the J120 JWorld, and others throughout the day. Then, 100 miles from the finish, while we were having our evening wine and cheese on an otherwise sparkling and fantastic evening, the head ring on the 2.1oz gave out and the trusty sail dropped on deck, still in one piece. We hoisted a reserve fractional spinnaker in no time, determined to make the finish any way possible. Close enough to Hawaii that nothing was going to stop us. After dark we approached Oahu and sailed for what seemed a long time up its windward coast, to the finish line. Somewhere out there over the last miles was a Moore 24 (that had started this race nearly a week before us), and we strained to find them in the murk and confusing lights, to avoid running them down. The finish line was completely confusing, and we only realized we had finished when the Race Committee called us and informed us we had just finished, and asked for our time! Despite being tired, we navigated the unlit channel into Kaneohe Bay and anchored out efficiently, to speed our way to shore where family and friends were waiting for us! So at about 2am local time we all sat down for sushi and Mai Thais, after what anyone would describe as an eventful sail to Hawaii, and told our story. Alex driving with Joe trimming, on the last morning, 200 miles from Hawaii. The squall line behind us would soon overtake us, but we were on the correct side of this one and for 2 hours launched doing steady 16-17 knots. Rage anchored out. Part of the reason we do this: empty beach on the North shore of Oahu.
  25. Trip: Ptarmigan Speed Traverse Date: 8/14/2008 Trip Report: Colin Abercrombie and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 18:10 from the Cascade Pass parking lot to the Downey Creek trailhead. We set out at 2:05 am and reached the Suiattle River Road at 8:15 pm. The weather was perfect and the glaciers were in great shape. We did the Ptarmigan in 2004 which was very helpful for routefinding purposes. Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 02:05 Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 55:03 / 55:03 / 03:00 Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 2:13:13 / 1:18:09 / 04:18 Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 4:59:33 / 2:46:19 / 07:05 Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 6:20:09 / 1:20:36 / 08:25 White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 9:50:45 / 3:30:35 / 11:56 Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 11:54:44 / 2:03:59 / 14:00 Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 13:41:32 / 1:46:48 / 15:47 Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 16:29:45 / 2:48:12 / 18:35 Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 18:09:36 / 1:39:50 / 20:15 [Car at Milepost 12.5: 20:48:24 / 2:38:48 / 22:54] After doing the car shuttle Wednesday afternoon and evening, we rested at the Cascade Pass parking lot. At about 1 am we were awoken by icefall from the hanging glaciers on Johannesburg. The thunderous noise persisted for over 5 minutes. We set off at 2:05 am and after 55 minutes of walking and jogging we were at Cascade Pass. We continued up Mix-up arm and then ascended to Cache Col arriving while it was still dark at 4:18 am. On the descent towards Kool Aid Lakes we descended a little too low instead of traversing boulder fields. Once we realized the mistake we began an ascending traverse meeting up with the route heading towards the Red Ledge. The Red Ledge was straightforward with no moat issues yet. Once we rounded the corner, we saw the magnificent icefall of the Middle Cascade Glacier as the sun was rising. Mount Formidable. The Middle Cascade Glacier icefall. Sunrise over Formidable. On the ascent to Spider-Formidable col, we had to make a small backtrack due an open bergshrund spanning from rock walls to the right to the center of the glacier. Ascending left of center was straightforward and we were at Spider-Formidable col in under 5 hours from the start. Buckindy Region The steep snow from Spider-Formidable col was quite hard in the early morning and we downclimbed for a couple hundred feet before beginning a fast traverse down to mosquito infested Yang Yang Lakes (the only spot we encountered any mosquitoes). At Yang Yang we were met by a couple climbers who had fallen very ill and could not complete the traverse. We took their contact information and passed on their desire to be rescued to the rangers and sheriff’s office. A quick ascent up to the saddle north of Le Conte Mountain brought us to the awesome traverse over to the Le Conte Glacier with up close views of glacial ice hanging over the rock buttresses and the wild Flat Creek basin. Flat Creek Basin Old Guard and Sentinel At Sentinel Saddle we met Cascade Climbers JoshK and Ivan who were doing a south to north traverse. We chatted for a few minutes and then I continued the walk to Lizard Pass which was amazing with views in every direction. We took a break at the spectacular White Rock Lakes for photography and refueling. South Cascade Glacier Lizard Pass. Gorgeous White Rock Lakes. Dana Glacier Re-energized, we made great time up to Spire Col on the Dana Glacier, which was also in great shape. Sweet contrast. Taking the third gully on skier’s right from the col, we made it down to Itswoot Ridge fast. The classic view of Dome Peak Dakobed and Glacier Peak Traversing the basin down to Cub Lakes took longer then expected and the short but steep climb up to Cub Pass in the 90 degree heat was physically taxing. We thought gravity would take us down Bachelor Creek, not so fast! The upper part of Bachelor Creek is actually in decent shape and you can reasonably follow the path through the slide area. The most difficult section was the lower Bachelor Creek where thick brush made travel very slow. The brush, consisting of salmonberry, slide alder, and a sprinkling of nettles, has gotten thicker since our last visit and affecting a greater length of trail. We finally reached Downey Creek and knew the Suiattle River was not far. After a break, we jogged the final 6.5 miles, arriving at the Downey Creek trailhead at 8:15 pm. We were not looking forward to the extra 8.5 miles of road walking due to the washouts at MP 12.5 and 13, but the road is flat and it goes by fast. Once we started walking we were able to reach the car in less than 2.5 hours, arriving at 10:54 pm. Four summers ago after spending 4 nights on the Ptarmigan we would have never thought to do it in a single push, let alone 18 hours. In discussing this trip, we had hoped to go under 20 hours, but knew it could run longer a la Mount Fury last week. We were able to exceed expectations on the traverse portion, and despite Bachelor Creek taking longer than expected, a steady, consistent effort throughout the trip allowed us to make great time. Knowing the route and the smooth conditions on the glaciers were helpful. We left just enough energy to navigate brush-choked Bachelor Creek. The Ptarmigan is a classic traverse for good reason - the terrain and scenery are amazing! To traverse all of it in less than one day was very rewarding. Gear Notes: axe, crampons, sunscreen Approach Notes: A few snow patches left on the traverse to Cache Glacier. Stay left of center on Middle Cascade Glacier unless you want to jump an opening bergshrund. The brush on lower Bachelor Creek is indeed getting worse. The 8.5 mile walk on the Suiattle River Road is flat, easy, and fast. It is possible to drive around the washouts but it is dicey and definitely not suitable for larger vehicles unless you want to park in the Suiattle River.
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