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  • PNW Climbing/Skiing Event Calendar

Found 151 results

  1. Climb: Spectre Peak-Haunted Wall. FA. IV 5.9+ 2100' Date of Climb: 8/14/2006 Trip Report: Wayne and I had a big adventure and then I got home with the pre-spray all rigged up. Then I went to sleep and woke up tired and had to wait to type the real trip report until I finished eating breakfast and getting some shit done aroudn the house goddamnit
  2. Climb: Gunsight Range-Various Date of Climb: 8/7/2006 Trip Report: My good friend Martins Putelis and I spent Aug 1-8 in the fabled Gunsight Range. We spent the first couple days slogging our way up through Bachelor Creek and over to the Dome/Chickamin col with some pretty monstrous loads. We climbed Dome, and then traversed the Chickamin Glacier to an immaculate bivy on the nunatak directly beneath the W Face of the North Gunsight Pk. The Chickamin had a few thin bridges, and was gained via a sketchy downhill leap across a five-foot gap in a broken snowbridge. Near the summit of Dome: Tower of Babel Bivy: We gave the W Face of the North Pk. a shot on our first day. P1 went fine, but we had a hard time locating the line to pull the roof and access the prominent cracks above on P2. Figuring we had plenty of time we bailed off with intentions to return. With plenty of time left in the day we scoped a different line in the cirque and gave it a whirl. The first pitch lived up to everything we had heard about the range, splitter fingers on perfect, clean, well protected granite, it clocked in at about 9+. P2 was a differnt deal a loose yet fun 10a chimney we dubbed the Hall of Hollows: We rapped from the top of p2, stoked on an adventerous and fun first day in the range. Day 2 saw us traversing onto the Blue Glacier to see if this hook-em-dook-em about the top of the 1979 Skoog/Brill line on the E face of the Main pk. falling off was really true. Well, it was, its gone. Not wanting to waste the day, we looked to the right of the line onto the NE face to see if anything else would go. We spotted a few nice looking cracks that lead to a prominent flake breaking the headwall above. what the hell, lets do this. The climb couldn't have gone any better, splitter, mostly well-protected, onsight, and all free at 10c. FA: NE Face Main Gunsight Pk. III 5.10c Sol Wertkin and Martins Putelis August 7, 2006 P1: from the moat crossing at the very bottom of the face work left on ledges and ramps to the base of two prominent hand-sized cracks to the right of the 1979 line, just left of a dark corner 5.6 P2: Climb the twin hand cracks to a ledge, move just right and climb wild eroded out dyke fist crack, move left, mantle, and continue via face holds to a good belay 5.10b Martins getting ready to mantle: Looking up the twin cracks from the base: P3: Traverse right via prominent flake, mantle and continue up, look left around corner to perfect splitter, climb splitter to arete belay 5.10a. Martins seconding P3: P4. Work up thin corner on right, move left to prominent flake seen from below. Pull bulge on left-hand side of flake into mind blowing splitter in amazing position. Continue up to slab of E face and climb left via runouts to good belay on base of the SE ridge. A long pitch 5.10c Beginning of P4: Pulling into the splitter: P5: Continue up moderate and airy ridge to summit. 5.7 SE ridge with Sinister in the background: The next day we woke up late and climbed the unique and fun South Cannonhole Ridge on the S Gunsight Pk. Its a super fun ridge that besides the memorable traverse is quite easy. Martins starting the traverse: Myself contemplating the Cannonhole: Stoked, we bowed down to the Gunisight gods and thanked them for the great time. Gear Notes: NE Face: Glacier gear, double set of cams to #3,one #4. Double ropes. Cannonhole ridge: single set to #3, nuts, single rope. Approach Notes: just pm if you really want this stuff.
  3. Climb: Gunsight Peaks-West Face & South Ridge Date of Climb: 7/10/2006 Trip Report: Just The facts: July 8-10 saw myself and John Frieh climb the North, middle, and South Gunsight Peaks. We did the 2nd ascent of the North Peak's W. Face (new route or variation of the 1986 route), and we believe our route on the South Peak was a new line entirely. It was a great trip to a very remote spot. The Narrative: On the morning of the 8th, we set out from the Agnes Creek trail, and climbed to the Chickamin Glacier where we set up camp for a few days in the "Patagonia of the North Cascades." We were really hot, tired, and dehydrated from the approach, but decided to give the 1986 Nelson/Dietrich route a try, on the towering West face. I led a 40m pitch of sustained 5.9 on awesome granite. I climbed past two sets of bail gear, one of which we believe belonged to Forest Murphy's attempt a few years ago. (He had previously told John that they were off-route). After stopping at a saucer-sized belay perch and bringing up John, he lead up about 20' to where a wide roof intersected our line and all cracks thinned out. I was nervously trying to balance on my one-foot belay ledge when I heard a sasquatch-like scream and saw John flying through the air. He had taken a ~20' fall and was luckily caught by a 1/2" cam he'd placed below the roof. We decided to call that our "recon" attempt and go back to the shade of our tent and re-hydrate. On the 9th we braved the 5 minute approach back to the route, climbed back up to the first day's belay spot, and John led out again. We were able to work together to ID a likely looking crack to get past our prior high spot, and some A1/A2 moves on hand-tied aiders got us past the roof and into a set of good looking flakes. The next pitch (#3) was my lead, and I started out with some free moves up to 5.10ish before resorting to A0 cam-hanging as the crack widened and flared. With a mix of aid and free moves I lead to the next belay and John got the security of a top-rope on a beautiful fist-jam flake pitch. Too much fun... For pitch four, the flake/corner system went through a couple of small roofs and continued to be fairly vertical the whole way. John was grateful for the #5 camalot as he climbed up more vertical granite to a belay at the first moderately comfy ledge on the face. I followed mostly free, but with some definite rope-tugging on sections as well. From here I grabbed, the rack, and led straight up into P.5, a dark corner straight over our heads. This was a really fun free lead for me, as I knew we were getting close, and the climbing was a good mix of stemming, face features, and crack jams. The top of the corner visible from the belay spot is the top of the route. You literally mantle up from the corner onto the flat summit terrace. From the exit move atop P.5, you could easily flick a rock out a few feet and it would free-fall to the base of the wall. We didn't see any of the three bolts used by the 1986 party, we climbed the wall in 5 pitches (as opposed to their 7) and we encountered bail gear of other climbers who felt that they were NOT on the previously established route. We don't know how much is shared between the two lines, but maybe Jim Nelson could add some input. It's rad to consider that the only other ascent of that face was done the year I was born. After looking at the old summit register and reading the autograph of some guy named Fred Beckey, we scrambled to the North/Middle peak notch, and climbed a solid pitch of low-5th class to that summit as well. On the 10th, John and I decided to try to climb the South Peak as well. From the Gunsight-Blizzard Col we climbed North along the ridge crest, before dropping off the ridge to the right. It would be best just to stay to the right of the ridge on easy snow and slab. Eventually we reached a clean right-facing corner and began the route. The corner went at 5.7, and I led up and continued to the ridge crest on cool chickenheads and face features and belayed up John. From here John took the lead on a balancy and memorable traverse pitch across a giant cannonhole, and into the last notch before the South Peak. From here, one more pitch of mid-fifth class led to the south summit. From this summit, you can rappel the last pitch, and then make one overhanging 90' rappel onto the snow down the east side. We're calling this the South Ridge - South Gunsight (Grade II, 5.7, 3 pitches) Overall this was an amazing few days in the mountains. Thanks John Scurlock for the really inspirational photos! (Scurlock's shot of the 3 summits) Gear Notes: glacier gear, full set of nuts, full set of cams, pink tricam. Approach Notes: Should have been a week or two later for ripe huckleberries.
  4. best of cc.com Cassin Ridge TR

    Denali’s Cassin Ridge had, for me, long held a place as a route that was too technical, too big, too scary, and just too hard to even think about trying. Road trips down south, ice seasons in the Rockies, and winter aid in Squamish, slowly began to change my perception of the route into something climbable. I jokingly mentioned the route to Nick Elson after a day of dry tooling in Squamish and to my surprise and excitement he seemed just as keen to try the route as I was. Nick is a solid rock and ice climber and I knew his ability to climb 5.12 (in the gym…) would be our secret weapon on the 5.8 crux’s… I left the Rockies in February to go tree plant on the coast and make some money for the trip. While coastal planting is great for the wallet and physical conditioning it can be horrible for my psyche. In 50 days of planting over 40 were raining and our cut blocks were either just below or just above the snowline. I prayed my frozen feet and hands were a side effect of the creatine I was taking to try and put weight on for the trip. Nick miraculously sent our applications and fees in and the date was set for a May 10 arrival. I left the coast on May 5th and in a flurry shopping and packing (throwing everything in my van) Nick and I set off from Vancouver on the 4 day drive to Talkeetna. Once in Talkeetna we went to the Ranger station and prepared ourselves for a stern lecture on the dangers of climbing and the importance of safety. I nervously sat as the ranger pulled out our resumes and eyed them closely. To my surprise he looked up and said “looks like you boys have a lot of cold weather climbing experience, lets take a look at the route shall we?” The Ranger in fact, almost seemed to have more confidence in our ability to climb it then we did! Maybe he had our resumes mixed up with 2 other climbers? He took us through a slideshow of the route with pictures from the year before that I must admit, made the route look quite challenging. Acclimatization Once at base camp we sorted gear for our cash and packed up 14 days of food fuel to acclimatize on the West Buttress route. After dinner nick quickly became nauseous and promptly vomited into the vestibule. He reassured me this was standard practice for him while acclimating at “altitude”. Base camp is at 7200ft. We spent the next 5 days getting to the 14000ft camp and taking care not to push to hard. Once at 14k we set up shop for the week and dug in. Other than 110kph winds (160kph were recorded at 17k) we had an uneventful week at 14k with 2 short day trips up to 17k on the upper West Rib to Acclimatize. We spent the week reading, writing, eating, cross wording, and listening to American radio on my mp3 player. 2 weeks after leaving base we were acclimatized as we were going to get and sick of sitting in our tent day after day; despite the quality of entertainment in people watching at the 14k camp. It truly is an international jungle! There’s ALWAYS something going on up there. Helicopters flying up to pick up injured climbers, tents blowing away, team breakdowns, a guy who fell down the orient express (miraculously was uninjured), fixed line drama, craziness! With the weather forecast predicting a high pressure system building we happily packed up camp and headed back down to base camp to grab our gear and food for the Cassin. Base Camp As usual, the forecast ended up being wrong. Well, sort of. It was originally forecast to be good, but the next day was changed to a “strong” low pressure system, but actually turned out to be sunny for the next few days with a forecast of snow in the next few days. We frustratingly waited for that elusive 4 day forecast of high pressure from the north, it never came. We made use of a sunny day and climbed the SW ridge of Mt. Francis. A beautiful 4000ft IV 5.8, 60 degree snow route 15 min from base camp. More dustings of snow kept us in camp as we impatiently read the last few of our books; a depressing book about hunting and killing cocaine lord Pablo Escobar and the first 2 adventures of Harry Potters. We got our break just as it appeared Harry had discovered who had opened the chamber of secrets… Cassin Day 1 At 8:00pm that night Nick and I went as usual to the base camp manager’s tent to listen to the nightly forecast. To our surprise it was calling for sunny weather for a few days then a chance of snow and then clearing later in the week. It wasn’t the strong high pressure we wanted but it was the best forecast we’d had in a week. We also felt that after a week we were beginning to lose our acclimatization and if we didn’t go now we’d have to reacclimatize at 14k and drop 5000ft down the west rib to the base of the route; instead of going up the quicker but more dangerous Valley of Death. We quickly took down camp and discussed a few last minute gear details. 1 pot or 2? Shovel or no shovel? Fleece jacket or not? What do we need 2 pots for? 1 pot would do for our bowls as well. Nick wanted nothing to do with the shovel but it seemed I had an irrational attachment to my shovel and so ended up bringing it. In the warmth of the evening sun I left my fleece jacket and brought just the shoeler, gore-tex, and down. Neither of us brought over boots. Decisions I would later regret. For rack we brought 6 cams, 5 nuts, 7 screws, 3 pitons (#5, #6 bugaboo and a ¼ angle), and 8 slings. We brought 5 days of food and fuel for a week. My meager food was the least I had ever brought for 5 days. My food bag had 45 gu gels, 10 yogurt granola bars for breakfast, 5 sesame snaps, 5 fruit bars, 2 Cadbury chocolate bars a pack of soup and 3 dinners. We left base camp a 9:30pm and set off towards the valley of death. The valley is so called for the kilometers of serac lined valley that threaten to crush anyone who enters. In the few minutes we were at a lookout overlooking the valley from the 14k camp we saw a serac collapse and the powder rush over one of the safer spots on the route, the so called “Safe Camp”… Hard snow and a trail to follow allowed us move fast through this dangerous, awe inspiring valley. Once at the safety of the west rib couloir we set up the tent for a few hour sleep and to brew up before heading up the first crux, the Japanese couloir on the Cassin Ridge. 5 hrs later and not so refreshed we hiked the short distance to the base of the Japanese couloir and Nick started up what was one of the tougher pitches of the route; a short vertical section over the bergshrund on extremely rotten ice was a difficult and eye opening pitch. We had assumed we would be able to simul-climb the 9 pitches up the couloir but the amount of ice and rocks being knocked down the narrow gully and attention demanding nature of the climbing forced us to pitch out 9 calves burning, pick dulling, energy sapping pitches to the first and very small Cassin Ledges camp at 13600ft. This small rocky ledge is about 4ft by 10ft and just fit our bibler tent. Cassin Day 2 The next morning nicks lungs felt like they were being squeezed in a vice, and he was in obvious pain. Not exhibiting any other signs of pulmonary edema and not wanting to go down we took a rest day and hoped the problem would heal itself We ate a half dinner to conserve food. Cassin Day 3 Nicks lungs felt sufficiently good enough to continue and other than a large amount of blood in his shit that morning (still no clue what that’s from) felt good to go. One mixed pitch led to a 5.8 pitch that would take us to the start of the cowboy traverse. The cowboy traverse is a 7 pitch knife edge ridge that starts steeply at 45 degrees with steep drops on either side. The last 1/3rd of the ridge is a less steep corniced ridge that requires traversing at 60 degrees. This ridge is extremely difficult to reverse and once completed commits one to the 6000ft of climbing to the summit. Conditions on this feature vary from year to year and even within the month. It can be unprotect able snow or calf burning blue ice that takes bomber screws. Luckily we found it in nearly perfect condition with a few inches of bonded snow on top of ice screw protect able ice. The small amount of snow on top of the ice allowed us great rests and secure climbing and we were able to simul-climb the arête in 2 leads to allow us to swap gear. The winds were now picking up and snow began to fall and we decided to pitch camp at “the most spacious camp on the whole route” , a flat spot at the top of the arête and at the base of the snowfield leading to the first rock band. Cassin Day 4 A short pitch through a shrund took us to a snowfield that led to the base of the first rock band. 3 mixed pitches took us to a difficult mixed/mostly rock pitch (off route) followed by another distressingly steep mixed pitch (possibly off route). My technique of pulling on gear came to an abrupt stop when no gear could be placed to pull on. After much thrashing and swearing and a disturbingly long time later I belayed nick up. We simuled up the next 2 pitches to the top of the first rock band where a short snow slope led to, as the guide book says, a “small exposed bivy” at 15700ft. A small ledge had already been chopped and even after some more chopping by us the tent still hung distressingly over the edge by a good 10 inches. While chopping the ledge Nick put a fist sized hole in our single wall tent, possibly to increase ventilation, I assume. We anchored the tent to screws and axes and tied, mostly, everything in, including ourselves. Strong winds and snow kept us awake most of the night. Lack of snow to build a wall now left us exposed to any winds that ripped across the mountain. Cassin Day 5 By morning, blowing snow had accumulated halfway up the tent wall on the side against the ledge wall and was pushing us, and the tent, further off the ledge. The wind was now howling outside it was quickly obvious we could not move in these conditions. I boiled a liter of water each and locked ourselves in the tent. By noon the gale winds had blown most of the snow clear from between the tent and the ledge but unfortunately the snow had also acted as a stabilizing force for the tent. The winds would at times nearly flatten the tent and threaten to rip us off the ledge. By evening the snow had stopped but the winds had further increased and the situation was becoming more serious by the minute. That evenings forecast was predicting “an extreme high wind warning for the upper mountain and a strong low will persist over the mountain for the next few days. Fuck. Snow was blowing in the vent hole nick had created and high winds all day and night had shaken any condensation off the walls onto our bags. My -30 down sleeping bag was now a very heavy and expensive nylon sheet; with a frozen ball of down on either side of the baffles. Damage control, Nick and I flipped to see who had to go outside and tighten guy lines make new guy lines, move the tent in, tighten it in and try and prevent the destruction of our sole shelter. I lost. As quickly as possible I tied string and slings and equalized our tent but no matter what I did it still seemed to that the major gusts would flatten the tent if someone wasn’t bracing it. It was at this time I noticed we might have a small problem. Our windscreen had blown away. No big deal, I couldn’t seem to find the pot lid either, hmmm. My heart slowly began to race as I realized that our only pot was no longer where it had been and that all three were probably airborne over the south face of Denali. At least that’s one (or 3) things less that I now have to carry. I told Nick in a good news bad news type way and all he replied was “At least we have the stove”. Indeed. That night the wind continued to howl and we both stayed up all night with our backs against the windward wall trying to brace it and find a position comfortable enough to allow some sleep. None would work and we eventually resigned ourselves to staying up and bracing and catching ourselves dozing when a massive gust would come and threaten to throw us off. Neither of us talked much. My mind was racing. My sleeping bag was useless. I put all my clothes on and shivered in my nylon sheet. Both poles were now badly bent in multiple places. If the tent collapsed we’d be fucked. What the fuck were we going to make water in? The mental math of rapping 3500ft with one rope and sparse gear was to unappealing to think about. Not to mention reversing the Cowboy Traverse. Besides, Nick and I are both Taurus’, stubbornness is our strong point. Cassin Day 6 I woke out of a half sleep to find my lungs killing me. They felt like what Nick had described to me on day 2 at the Cassin ledges. I hoped it was from crouching all night to brace the tent but took a dex and diamox to calm my now racing mind. Some time in the morning the wind eased up and we decided we had to move. Our shovel blade would have to do to melt water in. Any water we had to melt from here to the summit would have to be melted in our shovel blade. This time consuming process took over 2 hrs to melt 6 liters. We packed up camp and headed up the second rock band. By the time we’d melted water and got moving it was the afternoon and we only went several pitches before getting to a sheltered bivy at 16500ft; the last for several thousand feet. We decided to stop here instead of risk another exposed night above the rock band. My lungs were killing with every breath and I was glad not to be gaining much more than several hundred feet elevation since the last bivy. We camped on an abysmally small ice ledge next to a rock wall but at least it offered some shelter. After repeated failed attempts to heat water enough to cook our dinner and even trying to heat it in the foil container we resigned ourselves to several spoonfuls of cold, slushy, crunchy, Mountain House Kung Pow Chicken. Motivation was gone, food was critically low. I lay awake all night listening to my lungs and my grumbling stomach. The lower half of my body hung off the ledge. Morning couldn’t come quick enough. Cassin Day 7 and 8 We debated having a rest/storm day but with no dinners, not enough food to last, and a ledge that closer resembled a sloping couch we would hardly be recovering enough to warrant a rest. My breathing seemed so constricted that I didn’t want to spend another night on the mountain. We joked it was summit or fly (as in a rescue helicopter). We spent the next few hours brewing in the spindrift and wind and then packed up with the goal of carrying over the summit to the17k camp on the West Buttress. 2 more rock pitches led us to the top of the second rock band and the end of the technical difficulties. All that separated us from the summit was 3700ft of non technical snow and rock. After a long break we set off up steepening slopes on hard wind slab to frustratingly slow knee deep wind drift. We seemed to be going maddeningly slow according to the topo elevations. Nick broke trail through a tough deep section and my wheezing lungs could barely keep up. We stopped around 18000ft to listen to the 8:00pm weather report on our FRS radio. Partly cloudy and 80kph winds above 17k was the forecast. The best it had been all week. After a Chuck Norris joke and listening to some ranger talk we set off with renewed spirits. I drank the last of my now frozen water and had a last GU gel. In the increasing cold and high winds, melting more water on the shovel would be next to impossible. We resigned ourselves to pushing over the summit. Luckily my energy seemed to be increasing and nick and I pushed hard to the summit in the increasing midnight cold. My feet slowly lost warmth and stopping became unbearable. I had to keep moving to keep them from freezing. Landmarks kept coming quicker than expected and nick and I quite quickly found us at Kahiltna Horn at 20000ft; just 320ft shy of the summit! The wind was now howling over the summit ridge our thermometer showed -30C and with the wind at over 90kph the wind-chill was down to over -65C.We ditched our packs and raced the few hundred feet to the summit. Nick told me he felt like shit, and had trouble keeping his balance. Not unusual for the amount of food and water we had consumed over the past few days but also a symptom of life threatening cerebral edema. Excitement turned to the urgency of getting down. We got back to our packs and nick flopped on his with a tiredness he’d never shown before. I took out a dex and diamox pill and he quickly took them with the last sip of his water. I yelled through the wind we had to get down and we quickly put our packs on and headed down. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves breaking trail through knee deep snow, I though this route was a highway?! We later found out that no one had summited for 8 days because of storming conditions and high winds. No shit. The pace was agonizing, my lungs would burn if I walked to fast and nick would collapse in the snow every few hundred meters. After a few hours of that we made it to Denali Pass and could finally see the first signs of people! I broke off in knee deep powder and only after several hundred meters realized there was a wanded route to our left that would hopefully offer firmer snow. I began to cut over but the exhaustion forced me to stop every few feet and collapse in the snow. Nick, feeling renewed energy in the lower elevation took over the breaking and dragged my now exhausted ass into the 17000ft camp; 17hrs after leaving our high camp on the Cassin. We set up the tent and melted some water in a borrowed pot and collapsed in the tent for a few hours. My lungs still hurt and after a few hours sleep we packed up to get to the warmer 14000ft camp where we had a fuel and much needed food cash. I scrounged some tasty waffle treats and some chocolate from a party who was bailing and nick and I savored our first non gu food in a while. We continued with renewed energy to the 14k camp and spent a long time just sitting on our packs in the warmth staring at nothing and everything. It was over. For the first time in days I felt relief wash over me. We’d made it. Stefan Albrecher
  5. Climb: Index-Davis-Holland/1st pitch of Lovin Arms Date of Climb: 6/17/2006 Trip Report: Hansel ropegunned me up Davis-Holland and the 1st pitch of Lovin Arms today. I also had a pitch of copenhagen for the first time since junior high, and the rock achieved much more clarity. Also time sped up, and i heard chanting voices. Notes: -The first pitch is indeed wet! Slimey in fact. It is slightly harder in these conditions. -There were no mosquitos, but beware of ants at the top of the first pitch! -Beware, the girl working the coffee shop in Goldbar is not as cute as I remember. -520 is closed today. Don't go there. -Sparks is a wonderful after climbing beverage. -There is a lizard living on the ledge at the top of pitch 3 of Davis-Holland. -Though it rained on the drive out, it didn't rain while we were climbing. We stopped at 1st pitch of Lovin Arms because it looked like it was gonna, but it didn't. -pictures on a disposable camera, so wait for developement. -I heart Index -Nobody dropped coils on us today. -I had a Layton pinchy experience starting on the third pitch. Even though I was following, it was intense. Thanks to Jeff for allowing me to rap first on the last rappel. -Jeff told me a story about how he once beat up this dude(it was self defense!):
  6. Climb: Dragontail -TC ski descent Date of Climb: 4/4/2006 Trip Report: Skied the Triple Couloirs on Dragontail Peak yesterday. I had tried to get into Dragontail a few times already this year and had been turned back each time for various reasons. I had vowed not to go back until there was a more favorable forecast and potential for better conditions....well, the forecast wasn't great, but I had become somewhat obsessed so after a quick stop to grab coffee for the road and to fill my thermos with an excessive amount of caffeine I left Seattle at 11:30 on Mondy night. After a long and sleepy drive, my spirits were lifted as I got near Leavenworth as the stars began poking through the clouds. Mountaineers Creek road is still gated at the bridge so I started skinning up the road at 2:30am. Shortly I had to carry my skis because large sections of road are melted out, but soon enough there was continuous snow. I arrived at Colchuck Lake at 7 just before the sun began lighting up the upper ridges of Dragontail and Colchuck. -Object of my desire I had wanted to climb the route, but there was a considerable amount of new snow and I wanted to avoid an epic wallowfest as well as becoming a spindrift sandwich in the runnels, so I opted for skiining up to AssMaster Pass and up south side of dragontail. After endless swithchbacks I arrived at AssMaster. The sun was shining and warm and for once there was not hurricane force winds ripping through the pass, so I rested a bit and soaked up some rays. Skinning the snow creek glaciers was a bit of a chore as the sun had turned the snow to glop and an incredible amount began balling up on my skins, once on the south side of dragontail I was so tired of the snow balling that I carried my skis for the final couple hundred feet or so. -Stuart from the summit From the summit I skied back down the south side for a short bit then traversed a kind of sketchy exposed east facing slope to the top of the TC. -Looking down the upper couloir I was a bit nervous about dropping in blind, not knowing the snow conditions but these fears were alleviated in the first couple of turns as conditions were perfect. Snow was soft but not deep, just kind of chalky punchy powder. Each couloir is exposed in its own way. The fall line of the upper couloir actually funnels down to skiers left out over the north face, so stay right...I crossed a little wind lip about half way down the upper couloir and continued. -Turns in the upper couloir Between the upper and second couloirs there was an interesting rock/ice step that I negotiated somewhat gingerly before hopping the last few feet. The second couloir is dead straight and fairly steep and is perched directly above the ice runnels section. -Looking down the second couloir Again I found perfect snow conditions although I had to pay a bit more attention to the sluffs. At the edge of the runnels I anchored into a piton and made the first of three raps. I'm glad I didn't try to climb the route because the runnels were thin. Not much ice to be found, just a lot of snow over rock. -Close up of the climbers right side of the runnels Down in the hidden couloir more great turns led down to the entrance of the TC and a little exposed bit above a rock band led out to open slopes above Colchuck Lake...phew, I finally could breathe and relax. The ski down to the trail from the lake in the afternoon sun was an interesting mix of deep mushy glop, falling into holes, and generally trying just to stay on my feet. Down on the road I was suprised to see how much more snow had melted out just that day, but there is still a ton of snow on the upper 2 miles or so which will probably take a fair amount of time to melt out. Ross Gear Notes: Some pitons for rappel anchors Approach Notes: Road is an annoying mix of skiining and walking then finally continuous skinning.
  7. best of cc.com Fun when it's done

    Fun when it’s done Methow Valley News Dec. 7, 2005 Adventures don’t always have to be "fun" to be fun. For example: # A few years back, three friends and I decided to attempt "The Inferno," a rarely climbed route on South Early Winters Spire. Still suffering from the previous night’s debauchery, we trudged upward toward the spire, our brains baking under the July sun like slugs on blacktop. Soon, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring the water, didn’t. We were so thirsty we simply wrung out our sweat-soaked T-shirts to get a drink. At the base of the route, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring lunch, didn’t. All we had was a pound of beef jerky which, when you are dying of thirst, is as appealing as a sand sandwich after crossing the Kalahari Desert. The first part of the route was steep and loose enough to qualify as exciting. Imagine climbing a teetering stack of refrigerators as tall as the Space Needle. Then we arrived at the hard part: a "5.10c overhanging, flaring five-inch crack." Translated into regular language, that means, "Run screaming in the other direction." There, already 500 feet off the ground, we discovered whoever was supposed to bring the big gear necessary to climb this section, didn’t. Covering oneself in bacon grease and throwing slices of Spam at a starving grizzly bear seemed like a sane idea compared to continuing upward. Fortunately, we brought along a madman – I’ll call him Mr. Peru – who volunteered to lead the pitch. Grunting like a constipated wildebeest while screaming self-motivational profanities creative enough to make the saltiest of sailors blush, Mr. Peru climbed. Although more dehydrated than our beef jerky, we survived and now laugh about the time we got singed by The Inferno. # The first couple of backhoe operators I approached to dig a waterline up the extremely steep hill behind my place looked at the job, laughed, and told me it was impossible. Finally, I found someone willing to dig the trench. But, he cautioned me, it was much too steep to backfill – I’d have to do that by hand. No problem, I thought. "Help wanted backfilling the Infinite Ditch of Woe," said the signs I posted on bulletin boards around the Methow. I figured it was truth in advertising: 500 cubic yards – or 50 dump trucks worth of dirt – would need to be moved by hand. By the next morning I had assembled a crew of seven people eager to make some money. Upon seeing the Ditch of Woe, one person quit before even picking up a shovel. By lunch, the crew had shrunk to five. The next morning, only four people showed up for work. At noon on the second day, two more workers suddenly remembered a bunch of other pressing commitments they had to attend to, and left. Some four days later, when the last shovelful of dirt was thrown into the trench, only one woman and I remained. The Infinite Ditch of Woe broke some spirits, but also created a lasting friendship. # As the rains of last January pounded down, our dreams of snowboarding powder melted faster than an ice cube in a hot tub. But we were determined to make the best of our weeklong trip to British Columbia’s Kootenay Mountains. Sure, the area has a bunch of fancy commercial hot springs – but who wants to pay 10 bucks to soak amongst a crowd of blubbery Canadians and screaming kids? We decided to hike in to a backcountry hot spring, which was why we were now lost in a forest in a heavy downpour, wallowing through chest-deep snow. After wading two waist-deep creeks, we finally found the hot spring. We shed our soaking clothes and plunged our hypothermic bodies into the hot pool. The hot sensation lasted only three seconds. A torrent of icy melt water pouring into the hot spring made the pool about as warm as the Methow River in March. The soggy, snowy trek back to the car was a character building experience. "O-o-o-one, p-p-p-please," I said. Shivering uncontrollably, I handed my 10 dollars to the cashier back at the fancy commercial hot spring. "Pretty nice, eh?" said a well-fed Canadian as I eased into the steaming hot pool amongst a crowd of shrieking children. "H-h-h-heaven," I replied. # Looking back, it’s often the worst of times that make the best of memories.
  8. Climb: South East Mox Peak-The Devil's Club, First Ascent of the East Face Date of Climb: 9/1/2005 Trip Report: THE DEVIL’S CLUB -First Ascent, East Face of "Hardest Mox", sub peak of SE Mox*. Mike Layton and Erik Wolfe 8/31-9/1, 2005. 2,400' climbing, approx 25 pitches. Grade V+ 5.9+ A2-** *According to John Roper, the E Face of SE Mox is on what is known as "Hardest Mox" and the summit still remains unclimbed. **what the heck is V+, 5.9+, A2-??? Not a clue. It took 18 hours of climbing, so a bit longer than any of the grade V’s with the extreme seriousness of the situation factored in The 5.9+ is a "conservative" free grade. The small amounts of aid we all freed by the leader or the 2nd, but due to the poor pro and funky placements, we felt it a bit harder than A1, but a bit easier than A2. We wanted to make sure there was plenty of room for squabble and speculation by giving this route our plus and minus ridden rating. Go climb it and make up your own grade if you want. The following trip report is written by both Mike and Erik, but under my screen name. Any direct quote or use of Erik’s voice will be in italics. We both enjoy writing about climbing very much, so this is going to be long. In fact, this is less a trip report and more of a short story about the grand adventure we had. If your as ADHD as I am, we included a TON of photos and maybe some bold font if you can’t read this whole thing. I know I wouldn’t be able to.. Blue is our line, red is the descent. Sunday. Pre-Trip Briefing . "Why does every alpine climb I do involve someone puking before the climb?" My question remains unanswered while Erik is in the bathroom of the Waterfront Tavern vomiting up the remains of his rotten halibut during a "logistical briefing" of our upcoming climb we had been meticulously planning for weeks. Monday. Bellingham to Perry Creek. 12 hours on the go. "Are we really epicing this early in the trip?" Yes is the answer to this question, fully realized only partway into the approach! 4am. I’ve gotten 2 hours of sleep and I’m driving through pouring sheets of rain. Erik sits in the front seat, mowing down on his Jack-in-the-Box Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich, desperately trying to tune out my crapulent vocalizations of Carly Simon’s, "Nobody Does it Better." "No, but somebody is doing it a lot worse." Boy scouts on a canoe trip ruin a perfectly good rainbow while we patiently wait in the drizzle for our water taxi to take us up from Ross Lake Dam and into the heart of darkness. Will, the ship’s captain, told us that Fred Beckey had taken a few trips on his boat, and that "he was the one who always wears polyester dress pants because they never wear out, and a backpack that looked like it had been through a war." Erik tells Will some pirate jokes I'm ready for my Tom Collins now, Buffy We had packs loaded for six days in the backcountry with every piece of technical equipment and clothing known to modern man...and 2.5 liters of Canadian whiskey to boot. The heavy packs ruined a perfectly good and flat 4.5 mile trail up Little Beaver Creek to Perry Creek. Luckily for us, huckleberries abound and we gorged ourselves to the full capacity of our stomachs. 2 hours, 4.5 miles. We were makin’ some pretty good time! ....until.... Without pause or exaggeration the Perry Creek drainage remains the worst approach we have been a part of. We were raped and sodomized by the forest. We tried to go up the steep riverbed only to by shoved around and bullied by the slippery rocks. It was drizzling on and off the whole time. One mile. Four Hours. Enough said. We made camp only 1.75 miles from leaving the main trail after 7 hours of intense slogging and stumbling on a soggy gravel bar, utterly worked over. I will need years of therapy to deal with the dehumanizing, savage, brutal beating we received. The forest seemed to mock foreward progress and took delight at fucking us over almost every slow horrid step of the way. But and evening in my betalite tarp all but dispensed our emotional trauma and physical abuse that day had ruthlessly dealt. Erik dealt in his own way: a deck of cards and game of cribbage. While we sipped our whiskey from cups and cereal bowls the evening’s activities took an intellectual nose dive when the game turned to crazy 8's and we decided to build a fire. This is when the notion of the "Devil’s Club" came into our heads. We were both initiated by cuts and splinters, and the plant seemed to rule the land. Erik played DJ on the walkman speakers as I used our machete to cut and sacrifice the plant to the gods. Things get weird...really weird Tuesday. Perry Creek to Mox Peak basin. 8.5 hours on the go. "Erik, put em on, it’s GREAT! They’re kinda like a pre-moistened towelette!" We cringe as we dawn our cold wet socks and shoes. We were immediately back in the river after a rainy night. The sky was thick with clouds and our only sun break oddly occurred at the exact same time it started to rain again. By 2pm we were hypothermic and drenched. Our path took us in and out of the ice cold river and the car wash of sopping wet slide alder, devil’s club, and blueberry bushes. We were making better time than yesterday’s 1/4 mile an hour - today we were up to a full ½ mile an hour. We stopped to build a fire, dry out, and have some hot coffee and whiskey to ease the soul. Things went from shitty to wretched in the forest. It just went on and on and on in an endless valley of tangled vegetation. Spirits we so low the trip would have probably ended if we weren’t so far back there and the easiest way now was to keep going into the unknown. We cut out of the river and headed up to a more open forest when the devil’s club finally let us through (with a little help from the machete). "It’s getting better already, and I’m going straight uphill," Erik sighed as we grabbed roots and vines to claw our way up the dirt slope. Erik voiced concern about fallen trees in the forest to which I relied, "Who cares about deadfall? I just want my dignity back!" We were able to try and keep some levity by joking and screwing around. We invented a whole new sport, Log Walkin’, and constantly exclaimed, "Oh! There’s the trail." Going under logs we exclaimed, "I hate me some underlogging," and over them, "I’ve loves me some log walking!" Finally, when an entire tree was pulled through our crotches, we’d call it "Arbor Birthing." "I love me some log walkin !!" We could finally make out the lower 1/3 of the peaks in the cirque and camp seemed just a stone’s throw away when the suffering downshifted into Dante’s 9th circle of hell. The thickest bush I’ve ever encountered (worse than a hike from Talkeetena to Denali in Alaska I’ve done) slowed us to a soul crushing crawl. I inhaled a mosquito and doubled over in a seizure of coughing spasms. My eyes ran with tears. I wasn’t sure if I was crying from the cough or from being so fully beaten down. I let the tears flow as I uttered the most violent string of expletives to ever pass my lips. I managed to curse every rock, tree, bush, tree, river, mountain, and valley in this godforsaken hole. "GOD HAS NO PLACE IN THIS VALLEY!" I was in my own personal hell. We made camp in the Alaskan bush with Mox and a dizzying array of walls, buttresses, and glaciers encircling us, but never getting a good view of anything. We went to sleep just as the rain once again began to fall. We were exhausted from the 16 hours of approaching. Never again, we both said. Never again. We were joking about route names that night, and a few good one that captured the approach were, "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and SUCK," and "Kingdom of Sodomy." Wednesday. Mox basin to 7200' bivy on East Face. 9hours on the go. The clouds were breaking up as we headed off, terrified, sore and beaten with our smaller, considerable lighter packs, ready for 2 days on the wall. We reached the base of the wall at 10:30 to clearing weather and got our first look at the immensity of our project: 1000 feet of steep slab to 1500 feet of undulating vertical gneiss. Holy Shit. The entire approach from the trail had taken roughly 16 hours of hiking. If a team went the fastest way possible, it would be hard to get to the base of the wall in under 14 hours. It could be possible to come in from the West on better trails, but it would be a big risk to get to the Mox Peaks col, and not know the condition of the glacier below. It was quite broken and descending down in heavy packs was out of the question. We put 50 feet of rope between us and stared simul-climbing from the center of the base of the wall for the 1st 400 feet of climbing up to 5.9. The rock was solid, but protection and route finding was the biggest challenge. This would prove to be a consistent element of the rest of the climb. Erik proudly led the next 600 feet and I led the next 400 feet. We passed a rap sling around a tree and a button head bolt, the final high point of the last party to attempt the wall - 37 years ago by a party from Portland, according to Harry Majors from his post on cascadeclimbers.com. We (and the Portland party) found that the best rock and easiest route finding was on the far right side of the east face. spider on the route Erik on route Thankfully there was a small ledge to bivy on. We cleared a small space, barely big enough for both of us to lay squeezed up next to each other. The wall above got drastically steeper for the final 1,500 feet, and the way looked pretty improbable. To get a head start on the next day, I led a pitch up the vertical wall, and took forever trying to get the courage to run it out on very hard terrain while fighting for gear. My placements got increasingly creative, but a solid pin halfway up the pitch eased my mind. When I rapped back down to the bivy, the pin came out with two easy whacks from my ice tool and two pieces popped from the tight rope. We sipped on our small bivy flask to wash down the sleeping pills and hunkered down to a cold and windy night. The wind didn’t let up the whole night, coming in large gusts to remove any gathered warmth from our bags and ½ bags. Thursday. 7200' back to Mox Basin camp. 17.5 hours on the go . "is it gonna go?" Instead being warmed by the sun on an east facing wall in the morning, we woke to cloudy skies and threatening rain. We had better get a move on! Pitch after pitch ate the day away, many of the pitches zig-zagging across tiny run-out ledges to find ways through overlaps and overhangs. Protection continued to be a battle of nerve and creativity, the run-out got worse, and loose rock threatened to end the climb and our lives like missiles from the wall. Mike on route "Fatigue, hard climbing, and the commitment level were taking a toll on my energy and mind set, and after a while I told Mike I couldn’t lead any more. He grabbed the rack without hesitation, and proceeded to tear up pitch after scary pitch. At one point, I poked my head over onto the belay and said, ‘Mike? Honestly. You are my Hero." Mike on route At some point during both days of climbing John Scurlock flew over us several times. I told John to look for a red emergency flare to shoot from the wall if we were in trouble. Not for a rescue, that would be impossible, but more to have John NOT see a flare and ease his mind. Thank you John. You provided me the inspiration to do this, I never would have had the psych to go do this wall unless I got a bird’s eye view from your plane with my own eyes. And thank you for flying by both days to check on us. It was a sight for sore eyes to see your familiar yellow plane circling overhead. Erik on route When Erik gave me the sharp end for my extended lead session I kept saying, "Okay. One more pitch and I’m calling it." The climbing got out of control and Erik told me later that he knew I must have really wanted this thing the way I was climbing, "So much sketchy shit, the mind boggles." My mind did boggle. We were now fully committed. Every pitch of the upper headwall felt like I was playing Russian roulette with the rack. The pressure of forcing a way up, constantly trying to dig for gear and getting very little, worrying about poor belay anchors, not knowing if I’m gonna totally blank out, and just the whole enormity of the situation almost got to me. I cried on one of my leads. I tried to seize control of my mind and calm down before Erik got to the anchor so he wouldn’t see how fucked up I was. Mike finding a way We both pushed and pushed until we were spread to the limit of our physical and mental capacity. Erik ran out of food and water hours earlier and I was hoarding the last few sips I had left to get us up and down alive. It was full on until the very last pitch. Our route stuck to the right edge of the east face and I could see the summit up ahead. Above the rock was devoid of cracks and solid rock, so we traversed over to the NE ridge to get a look at the decent. A short scramble to the summit of "Hardest Mox" led to a heartbreaking fully day’s climb over ridges and gendarmes to the summit of SE mox, an unknown amount of rappels into the extremely broken glacier. One more easy pitch to the summit would have committed us to another full day of trying to get off the peak. John Scurlock told me later that he saw this on his flight and hoped to God that we wouldn’t try going that way to get down. Mike totally committed We had to regain control of the situation and get off this mountain. We had completed the East Face and were so close to topping out, but we felt that if we summited we would have climbed past the point of no return. So we put a Joker playing card in a plastic bag to mark our ascent, shook hands, and decided to rappel the entire route! Joker on top Erik did the most amazing job of getting us off the headwall. I honestly cannot believe how he pulled out all the stops to do full rappels in the dark through overhangs and unknown gear for anchors. Of course, the ropes got stuck immediately after our 1st 200 foot vertical rappel. I tried to jug up on Tiblocs on single line and just got totally cluster fucked and was taking forever. Erik has way more experience jugging, and he proudly and courageously began the shitty jug up the 200 feet of rope, completely exhausted and dehydrated. Shadow of Mox and the Perry Creek approach "The ropes got stuck within 10 feet and I felt a twang of THE FEAR. I started to jug the line, and after about 20 feet, I looked at Mike and said, ‘I can’t do this, Mike!’ He replied, ‘You HAVE to. There is NO OTHER WAY. We will die up here.’ The seriousness of the situation really sunk in then, and with that understanding, I found the reserve to do the rest of the ascent. We were not going to die on the wall. When I got to the top, I was tripping hard from the effort, the world seemed to take on a surreal quality. When I pulled up the ropes to re-toss them, they were horribly tangled and I almost began to cry. It seemed as if the mountain was unwilling to let us descend." Erik giving it all he's got The first rappel took an hour and a half. Not a good start. Fortunately that was our only stuck rope in the 13 rappels down the east face, and tree ridden NE ridge. We had many near misses of rocks bombing down from above, and one chopped the lead rope. It was pitch black and the both ropes were tangled in a pile on a thin ledge on my rap. I saw an almost complete cut in the lead rope in the tangle, so I had no way of knowing how far into the rap the rope was cut. To make matters worse, the rope looped around a horn 30 feet above me when I wasn’t paying attention on my way down. The question was, when I pull my way up to get the rope unstuck, will the chopped section appear during my ascent? I got the rope unstuck and began my search for the core-shot. We were both so relieved when the rope was cut only 5 feet from the end. It was fortunate too, since we were now out of rappel slings, so we used the chopped end to rap off of. Future Routes I told Erik he was my hero for jugging the line when he had nothing left already, and for setting such amazing anchors so quickly with nuts and pins, and stretching the raps to the full lengths of the rope in the complete darkness. Nobody could ask for a better climbing partner. Our relief was overwhelming when the ropes made familiar "whoomp" sound when they hit the talus at the base of the mountain. We had finally finished our $200 rappel. Future Routes We were forced to bushwack through intense alder in the middle of the stream, because we could not find our tent in the darkness! We knew it was in the talus right next to the river. Cold and wet, and this time tired to the limits of our endurance, we found the tent at 3:30 am and collapsed inside. Erik and I chillin after the climb Friday. Mox Basin to Little Beaver trailhead. 10 hours on the go . Since our boat pick-up was on Saturday, we had no time to rest. We were pretty sure it wasn’t going to take us the 14 hours it had coming in, but we didn’t want to risk missing the boat. That day was agonizing, as was every day, but we were so numb to misery by this point, we just kept plodding away. Final Goodbye to Mox...maybe? As we were traversing a ridge, I crushed a bee’s nest in the ground, and Erik, being right behind me, took 3 stings. The descent out took only 10 hours, with better weather, drier less slippery rocks, 20-20 hindsight of the best way to go, lighter packs, and going downhill. As well, we had stashed a 6-pack of Rainier Ale at the launch, with some salmon and crackers. We just kept thinking about the beer. We put batteries into the mini-speakers, and the Beastie Boys brought us back a little, setting a good rhythm. Erik’s foot and hand were swelling considerably, as well as the "sting in the tail." The descent had a sting in the tail as well, two actually. The last mile to the launch crosses up a 500' switchback, and the word "suck" came up a lot. Time slowed to a crawl on the last two hours. It's tiring being a supermodel We finally reached camp at 7:30 to much celebration, put off only a little by the absence of one of our beers. We still had ourselves an fine Irish drunk, finishing the remaining whiskey as well. Mike somehow found the energy to "house-party" dance on the bear box and grill. An unbelievable amount of shit was talked from climbing to the low quality of Bellingham radio stations before we both passed out. Psycho Dance Party 8:00AM Saturday. The Last Mile. The inevitable hangover was supposed to be tempered by a swim in the lake, but the clouds were rolling in fast and heavy and it was too cold, so we nursed our coffees and packed leisurely. The boat ride dumped us off to a crowded launch of people out-bound. We totally forgot it was the start of Labor Day weekend. Erik bummed some ibuprofen from a hiker for the swelling and hangover. When it kicked in he exclaimed, "Now I be profen!" The final sting in the tail awaited us, as the last mile to the highway was another 500' grind. Constant calls of "take!" and threats of bivying just before the car, or setting of the red flare were uttered during the final bit. We popped some music in the stereo, and ignored the disdainful looks from passing hikers. At 11:00, The General 2000 was a sight for sore eyes. Erik looked at me with tired eyes and summed it all up by saying, "Mike, if you ever do this to me again, I’ll fucking kill you!" Our Serious Moment For Pause and Reflection (b.s.) Not so dashing on the ride out Final Thoughts. As for the climb, there are numerous walls and buttresses in the Perry Creek basin. Adventure awaits on these, and on the left and middle sections of the East face of our peak. Our packs weighed about 65 pounds for six days worth of food, and a free rack with two ropes. The other parts of the East face have way less cracks and more bulging sections, and substantial aid climbing far exceeding our ability await. It would be a monestrous task getting extra aid gear and the inevitable extra amount of food for a much longer stay on the wall. There are few, if any, ledges to bivy on. I want to take a moment to thank Erik Wolfe for being such an outstanding and competent partner. There were hundreds of times our hearts sank and we should have given in, but he remained determined to finish the job...regardless of the fact that he knew nothing about the approach or true magnitude of climb. I only provided him with enough detail to fuel his imagination and get him excited about the trip. And even though the suffering scale peaked into the red zone many a time, he never blew up at me, instead he stoically took the abuse, or yelled at the ropes and trees instead of me. I am amazed at his skills as a climber, and he absolutely knocked my socks off with his amazing job on the descent. We would have spent another night out for sure if he didn’t did deeper than he ever had before and pull off such an amazing job. Thank you so much Erik! I also want to thank John Scurlock for taking time to send me photos on his slow connection, asking me to fly with him even though I had never met the guy or annoyed him with requests for photos. Thanks for believing in me John. Darin Berdinka was one of the few people that said, "I bet you guys pull it off" when everyone else I told about my plan scoffed or said it wouldn’t go. Thanks to Justin Thibault for letting me borrow your crampons and pins when I was too broke to buy any gear for this. And thanks to Pete Herst for letting me borrow your haul bag in case my 3500cu pack couldn’t manage 6 days worth of crap. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone who actualized this long term goal of mine. Wonder what’s next? (note. erik's quote got cut off at a very bad point. i re-included it. sorry erik) "I have to start off by saying I shouldn’t have done this off the couch. Too much work and not enough climbing this summer have left me heavy and out of shape. It seems that more our unwillingness to accept defeat, and our inexhaustible positive attitude were what got us up this approach and wall. Mike is an amazing partner. He seems, like Shackelton, to know when to stare fear in the face and smile back at his troops. His patience about my slower pace was inexhaustible, and route-finding ability sterling. I would have brought about a 100 lb pack if Mike hadn’t walked me through the essentials. This was my first multi-day back-country trip, you see. Also: Thank you Darin Berdinka for having faith in our abilities, John Scurlock for making us feel not so quite alone. Thanks, Justin, for the pins: they were invaluable. This was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will not soon be forgotten. I’ll never do it again. One’s life expectancy become severely foreshortened by too much of this foolishness. Oh, and to all of you that said I was a sport-climber, go get the second ascent, Fools." Gear Notes: Alpenglock for possible partner bailure, or for taking the easy way out. Deadly nightshade berries are growing on the approach just in case you forget the alpenglock. Approach Notes: Dante's tour of nine circles of hell I took this from John's Plane Last Month. Can you name all the peaks? I knew you could.
  9. Climb: TR- Johannesburg Mt. -CK route F.A. Grade V, 5.10b, AI 3+ Date of Climb: 8/27/2005 Trip Report: I figured I'd take my first stab at a trip report with this format: Several summers ago Loren Campbell and I attempted a direct line on the North Face of Johannesburg but had to retreat due to steep blank sections of rock. After some planning, we went back for round two with the same line. Johannesburg has always been a favorite mountain of mine to climb because on each trip J-burg seems to pull out something new from up its sleeve. In addition, the approach is perfect for someone as lazy as myself. The trend in the last couple of years has been to traverse lots of peaks or run routes together to get one big "climb". For those looking for a good adventure, Johannesburg delivers plus I was told that the North aspect has the greatest vertical rise in one horizontal mile anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska? --- Last Saturday I picked Loren up at 1:00am in Issaquah, and after packing gear we left the cascade pass parking lot at approx. 4:30a.m. We traversed below the fan and the beautiful steep red wall that I always thought would make a great sport wall and passed several more sections of rock until we got to our start. We climbed through various pitches up to 5.8 until we were cliffed out by an World Wall 1-"esque" overhanging wall that ran all the way right to a waterfall. (The 1985 Kloke route takes slabby ramps to the right of the falls and goes up and onto the other side of a huge prow). After tryiing three different options we were ready to throw in the towell. I felt stupid because I'd promised Loren we'd make it through this section even if meant aiding through with pins, hooks, mashies, or whatever other monkey business was required- At the lot, I just packed a free rack. I decided to give on last overhanging chimney that was just left of a 15 foot horitzontal ceiling a try. I started up a face and then cut into the mossy chimney. Luckily it was late August and the moss was dry. Any earlier in the summer it would have been wet and unclimbable. I pulled through and let out a whoop of joy. The packs hauled easily out in space for the pitch. The belay would allow a base jumper a clean jump all the way to the talus. It wasn't like penguins in bondage at squamish or anything but the pitch was solid "index" 5.10. We scrambled up the slabs with the huge snout of the glacier looming above us. We were going to climb the left of the two beautiful hanging glaciers. The 1985 route was on the other side of a huge butress and pulls on to the right of the two hanging glaciers. We scrambled up 1,000 feet of low to mid fifth class rock.until we came to a prow of rock to the right of the start of the left hanging glacier. Just then, a huge section the size of 3 houses of the glacier calved off and scoured excatly over the rock we'd just climbed. Then as we were uncoling the rope, another mini willis wall size section cut loose. We were scared shitless. Had we stopped for 5 extra minutes lower on the route we'd have been toast. The snout of the glacier was overhung and onion peeling away. We agreed we'd have to get up a little ways on the rock and then climb onto the glacier. The snout of the thing looks small from the road, but when you are by it it makes the ice cliff glacier on Stuart look like snqoqualmie's bunny hill. We climbed about 200 feet of 5.7 rock untill we were able to downclimb onto the glacier. As soon as I saw the upper glacier, I was afraid that we were stuck and would have to traverse onto the slabby wooded ridge route that is in the Nelson Volume 2 guide. We figuered we'd give the glacier a go. Loren masterfull led off and we were using two tools right from the get go. We spent hours climbing in and out of crevasses trying to pick a line through. It was the most monkey business I'd ever done on a glacier in my whole life. Near the top, our hearts sank as we found oursleves dead ended. One crevasse that overhung a whole pitch blocked our path. We found a moat wall to the right that we were able to climb. Loren masterfully led a beautiful vertical AI3+ pitch to pull us through. We were thankfull for spending the last five winters doing a lot of waterfalls. We reached the top and traversed onto ramp where an ice wall brought us to the end of the snow arete of the before mentioned select climbs route. We trudged on to the summit. The glacier was like climbing up the ice cliff glacier on Mt. Stuart in mid summer two or three times. I was beat. We topped out and decided to descend beacuse the weather forcast for Sunday was poor. We descended and reached the CJ col at 2:30am and bivied. We'd been climbing for 22 hours except for the 1 hour of hiking across the talus. Next morning we hiked out Doug's Direct. The route was by far more committing than any of the numerous grade V's I've done in the Cascades. Pictures to come. Go do it! I'll give you a topo. Gear Notes: full rock rack, rock shoes, 2 ice tools each, ice screws packs were hand hauled on vertical and overhanging pitches. Approach Notes: easy 1 hour approach
  10. Climb: Back of Beyond Buttress 2nd Ascent-Original Route Date of Climb: 8/19/2005 Trip Report: Longpause and I did the much coveted 2nd ascent of Back of Beyond Buttress last friday. She said she'd write the TR, if I posted the photos and wrote a little, so here i go. I'll be boring so she'll have to fill in the details with lies and hyperbole. After 3 years of multiple failed attempts by other parties on Jordan Peters and my route which we wholeheartedly attest to be one of the best alpine rock climbs anywhere (forest fires, road issues, lost, broken bones, as has been reported to us) Longpause and I serendipitously strolled in and out and had a wonderful time. Better than I remember actually. Here is the original TR http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/threadz/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/61928/page/0/fpart/all/vc/1 have fun cutting and pasting that link Anyway...what can i say. Longpause was SOLID. She fucking soared up her pitches, and ran it out a little to boot. Made me feel like a total pussy. I'd belay at the end of the 5.8 section just above the fun overlap move on the 1st pitch. 2nd pitch is long and steep with a spicy traverse. Go straight up from the belay on p.1, go up for a long time until you are bear hugging a detached flake and traverse left into the next crack on face holds. go up a few feet (10 feet?) and do an even scarier traverse left into the 3rd crack system. you'll see a white cleaned out crack that takes a blind #1 camalot. this is your belay too. save two #1's and a .75 for this belay. go straight up again on pitch 3 until a thin sharp ledge is reached just below the top of the enduracne slab. good place for a belay. the rock is whitish yellow here. there's a tree to the right (don't go there to belay, bad rock) and above are bottoming grooves you need to pinch. the 4th pitch is short. after the slab you'll see a bunch of dead snags. go left past the one directly above the slab, and into a corner system with the next dead snag. amazingly fun and steep cracks and jugs. a 5.9 pitch (finally!) 6th pitch goes up and right into a hopefully obvious thin 10b corner that is super pumpy and technical. after that it's a 5.8-4th class ridge for a while on great rock and fun exposure and cracks. walk off...go down and right hugging the edge. avoid the 1st gully, it blanks out into a cliff, go down to the 2nd in a grove of trees and you should easily see the ground. walk out. no raps. stash your crap at the base of this so you don't have to go back to he base of the climb. take a compass bearing on the hike out b/c the valley bottom gets confusing in the dark if you left the car at noon and screwed around on the summit. The Playa's Longpause on the 1st pitch. Purrrfect! Looking down atop pitch 2 on the only rest i could find. Longpause follows the most amazing of pitches Longpause 1/2 way through the traverse yup, she hogged the camera time... Longpause on top, scopin' routes. And, rounding out the exerience with some mellow squamish craggin! so any camera tilt was unintentional, i was busy belaying or climbing at the same time. i did rotate the photos as best i could, but had to crop some after doing so. it's way steeper than it looks from a distance or the base especially so before you go screaming "camera tilt" go climb it 1st. you'll never complain about tilt or soft grades or crappy rock on any inch of this climb. Gear Notes: tripple set of camalots .5 to 1, double set of cams yellow alien or metolius tcu and #2 camalot. single set blue alien, green alien, red alien (or grey tcu, blue and orange tcu), and a #3 and #3.5 camalot. small selection of nuts, 10-14 slings and draws. one rope cuz bailing isn't much of an option until the top of the slab (one rope rap off to climbs left atop the slab to bail into gully)...it's straight in hand for most of the route with few constrictions...pumpy! water year round in the talus if you want to camp, great bivy spots, lots of bouldering proj's too. lake at top of cirque. many many 1-3 pitch climbs everywhere. amazing bivy opps on summit! lots of mountains to climb everywhere. B.O.B. is about 9 pitches III 10b..should take a solid party 6-7 hours up from base. the slab is ultra sustained jamming on pure granite joy. the upper ridge is super fun. Jordans topo isn't that great. The 10b pitch on the ridge is on the crest as is the rest of the climb, not to the left. p1 5.8 1/2 rope legnth p2 sustained and long 10b, most of the rope. best single pitch in the alpine i've ever come across p3 same p4 1/2 rope 10b p5 full rope 5.9-10a var p6. 10b corner full rope p7. 5.8 steep but ledgy cracks on ridge crest full rope p8-9 sections of short steep cracks on mostly easy ridge. simul or solo if you got this far without freaking out. the summit is a ways from here, but well worth the hike. great bouldering proj's on white sierra granite. BRING BIKES JUST IN CASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hint hint hint hint hint Approach Notes: 1.5 no more to base. 45 min schwack, 45 min talus. Boston Bar on Hwy 1, left to North Bend. Cross Fraser River. Go N, left on Nahatlich (sp?) FSR for a while, Left on Kooapi creek FSR just after crossing the creek, drive a bit, right off spur road after 10-15min that crosses river and has a yellow gate, cross bridge with yellow gate and turn right (head north) road wraps around into the valley, you'll see a double summit mountain. park car. walk road across massive cross ditch (impassible) for 1/2 mile, BOB should become clear within minutes from car. Go directly across from mtn. Sorry again for the boring TR. I wanted to spray more, but it's your turn damnit! Found jordan's original TR from Bivouac.com...a bit less harrowing than the story goes... "With the summer drawing to a close I was still itching to get out and do some nice rock routes. I had some nice trips here and there but had mostly wasted my time wandering around looking for elusive stone, becoming quite proficient at bushwacking and "terrain finding" but also not doing very much climbing. I was also wearing thin the patience of my partners and my typical "bushwacks to nowhere" were beginning to earn me a bit of a reputation among my friends! So it was that I called on Mike in the hope that his ability and energy would get us up something. We had originally planned to head into a corner of the Chehalis for a poke around but weren't all that blown away with the bushwacking involved. After stopping way up a spur off the Harrison West FSR, Mike noticed that his water bladder had exploded during the rough drive and had completely drenched all his belongings in his duffel bag, clothes, guidebooks, everything. So we resigned ourselves to driving around looking at possible routes to do, one by one finding something wrong with each of them until I was starting to wonder if the trip wasn't destined to turn into one of those drinking tours of far flung southwest BC rec sites. We then decided to find some rec site for the night, check out one last area in the morning, and then likely head into the Anderson Range in the afternoon, hike up to a bivy below Springbok Arete in the evening, and then flail up it as fast as we could the next day, and since the daylight was down to about 13 hours, probably end up bivying on the summit to avoid doing the notoriously bad descent off of Les Cornes in the dark. Well when we awoke at 5:30 near the Nahatlatch River the next day, we decided that it was getting a bit cold to try to bivy without gear on the summit of Les Cornes. So without any real plan, we headed up the Kookipi Creek FSR to have a look at a modest peak which Drew had needled me about previously. It looked okay, but not spectacular. The cracks looked dirty, but since we were out of ideas, we thought we would go for it anyway. Well then we rounded the corner of the road and saw this sweeping buttress of beautiful proportions. We were blown away at the beauty of the line. We stopped short though at the blank and hard-looking slab at the base of the ridge. It looked hard, but through binoculars from the road it looked as if there might be cracks somewhere on it. We quickly packed up food and bivy gear in case we ended up spending the night and headed off down to the end of Kookipi West, passing a old guy working on the tree harvesting equipment who seemed humbly non-plussed at our plans but offered to "send some boys in" if we weren't out by the next night. We struck down to the river through open forest, crossed the river and plunged into some pretty physical bush, emerging at a boulder field after about an hour to discover blueberries and wild raspberries growing all over the place. Fearful of the "berry runs", we had to stop ourselves from gorging and promised to feast on the way back. We headed up easy boulder fields towards the base, trying not to look up because we feared we would vomit instantly if we looked directly at what we could feel in our peripheral senses to be breathtaking. Strange, guttural sounds (mountain orgasms?) soon came from our mouths as we looked up and drooled. Here was a slab, 400 feet high, that if transported to Squamish would be the centre stage. Brilliant finger and tip cracks darted out here and there, but none appeared to be continuous or go the full height of the slab to gain the buttress crest. Blank roofs blocked passage at the right end of the slab. After half an hour of sussing and "what ifing", we found the line. A perfect crack at the left end of the slab went straight up and just when it died out a second opened up to its left. The second crack died out in ten feet and a third continued for a rope length where it looked as if we would be forced right to the edge of the roofs to gain the crest. Getting across the crack systems was my greatest fear, so I quickly offered to do the first pitch to leave Mike with the traverse! I started up the Yosemite quality hand and fist crack which led out left where a small roof is passed on bomber jugs to gain the "real crack". It had been some time since I had climbed hard, probably two months since I had been on a crack this imposing, so I set off jamming as hard as I could, Mike below me yelling encouragement as I "shit" and "fuck"ed my way up, throwing cams in everywhere, just wanting to get to the belay before I died. I got to the end of the first crack, threw a cam in, yelled "take" and spent a good fifteen minutes gasping and shaking my arms out. One of the finest pitches I have ever done or seen. Seeing that the crack was the same size for the entire slab, I knew that we would need to be creative with the belays to save the gear for the leads. I banged and bent two shallow knifeblades into a seam, equalized them with the cam, tied off, and belayed Mike up. Belays on steep slabs with no ledges are always cozy affairs with elbows in teeth, farts in the face; sorta like two cats with their tails tied together strung over a clothes line! Now the crux began. Mike heads off left on a blank undercling to try the next crack over -- no gear and I'm watching my knifeblades bounce, lookin down at the air and thinking, "man, please don't fall!" The second crack bottoms and has no gear, so Mike gingerly reverses back to the belay and sets off up the main one for another twenty feet, more 10b grunting at the limit, stuffs in a cam, rests on edges, and then begins one of the hairiest looking traverses I've witnessed in the mountains. Ten feet to the second crack, shit, it's still thin and discontinuous. Ten more feet to the third crack and it's good. Mike gets fifteen feet up it, runs out of gear and dies. A short pitch, but you'd need lots of gear, long slings (falls!) and cojones grandes to go much further. I follow, crapping myself on the traverse -- good feet but no hands so you're leaning into the wall, milkin it -- to another "cat fight" belay. We feel like we're on a miniature Lotus Flower headwall but without the chickenheads to save you from jamming! By taking the first pitch, I was hoping to leave the brunt of the hard stuff for Mike, but with the short second pitch I was once again contemplating the battle ahead. I set off and my mind starts trying to shut me down, corrupting me into yelling at Mike, "shit, man, this crack's gonna end, we're screwed," and him yelling back words that were less encouragement than threats! I felt like I was some fourteen-year-old Eastern Bloc gymnast training for the Olympics, the coach constantly reminding me of the consequences if I failed! At least if I were a gymnast then I would be able to get some shady performance-enhancing drugs! I'm hanging there from slipping jams on stuff that would be my crux at a road-side crag, with nary a belt of Scotch or a pull of "special" to ease the mind. I can only go about twenty-five metres and I'm done. Arms and gear give out. Luckily the crack has eased off a bit and I can get some nuts into the belay. Mike pulls out the guns to finish the crack and is forced to head right on a nice traverse over to meet the left edge of the roof that cuts across the slab, finishing up rough and licheny flakes to belay from a boulder on the crest. Seconding from a hanging belay is always stirring: I pulled the gear and had to go straight into the jams, zero-to-sixty! Up I go, thankful that this was Mike's lead cause it's just as hard as everything before. We flop down in the sun, heads spinning and thankful to get off what we could only call "The Endurance Slab". It would look possible to retreat from this point down the shrubby east face, but you won't want to. We agreed that if the rest of the route was fourth class crap, it would still be a classic. Well, it wasn't. Crap, that is. I take what is now the fifth pitch and head up fun corners, grooves, and flakes, pulling on stuff that should by all means be death blocks, but here in candy land are completely solid. Features everywhere, I just chose the most direct and appealing line, aiming for the crest of the buttress. I set up a good, three piece anchor and admire the view. A full 50m, 5.7 with 5.9 near the end. Mike dislodges a block seconding and we watch it sail down in one swoop to the boulders below, emitting a large, thundering crack. We hoped the guy across the valley didn't hear that and send in some boys! The sixth pitch was more fun 5.7 up to a corner (right of an off-width) so imposing that Mike just had to try it. He shook and swore but made it up about thirty feet of solid 10b, too thin to get a good foot in, and then rode the exposed arete with edges to a belay. Seconding was a challenge as the pack wedged against the right wall and kept me from getting onto the arete. The seventh pitch relented to mid-fifth on nice features, with some loose stuff on ledges now, but was cut short by rope drag. But we had now gained the crest and knew that the battle was over. One last, almost trivial, obstacle remained. From the seventh belay ledge rose a mean, vertical hand crack, only about 12 feet high, but to be sporting we tried it anyway. Mike threw himself at it, fell once and then jumped for the rounded lip. Probably 10c, but it looks like you can avoid this on either side. The last two pitches were both fourth class with some minor fifth class steps, easy all the way. We unroped and scrambled up to the top of the buttress, placing a small cairn before we began the heather and dirt descent back down. We gained a notch at the top of a rock gully that in 45 minutes led back to the base where we picked up our unnecessary bivy gear, pausing to admire the purity of the line and only then noticing that in nine hours we had only eaten about two energy bars with one litre of water each! We walked back out down the boulder field, missing the berry bushes entirely and encountering some bad bush, but it didn't matter, we were too out of it to care! In fact, when we hit the Kookipi mainline, we were so disoriented that we had to get out of the truck to find the sun setting in the west to figure out where we were. This was a beautiful climb, one of the finest I can remember doing. It took us eleven hours round trip from the car and could easily be done in a day from Vancouver. A great way to end the summer; I'd been swinging for a while, it was nice to finally hit one! "
  11. Climb: Northern Pickets-Old Guys On Vacation Date of Climb: 8/3-10/2005 Trip Report: This TR got a bit long (hey, it was a long trip), so here's the short version for those that aren't interested in the novel below. An old climbing partner and I just got back from 8 days in the Northern Pickets. We went up Little Beaver trail to Whatcom Pass, over Whatcom Peak to Perfect Pass, across the Challenger Glacier and up Challenger, down around into Luna Cirque, up the North Buttress of Fury, down and across to Luna Col, up Luna, and finally down Access Creek to Big Beaver and to Ross Lake. Awesome trip in every respect! We just couldn't have had a better time. Details, nostalgic ramblings and photos follow. My longtime partner Mike and I did our first climb together, the NR of Stuart, back in '77, when we were 29 and 27, respectively. I'd been climbing for several years by then. It was Mike's first climb. Since then, we've done a ton of alpine climbs together, but somehow never got into the Pickets. In particular, we never got to Fury. I've had the North Buttress on my list for (literally) decades. And even though I plan on climbing for many more years, once you're well into your fifties you have to start to realize that there are some climbs on that tick list that you better get to soon if you're going to get to them at all. Something like the NB of Fury is going to eventually become not only too difficult as a climb, but also just too damn hard to get to! For various reasons, Mike hadn't done much climbing at all since 1999, but he always stays in shape, his rock skills have stayed intact, and he was up for a big trip into an area he'd never been. We actually went in to do Fury's NB last year, but I took care of that attempt by busting up my ankle on the second day (some details here). The trip immediately got put onto the schedule for this year. We were all set to go in on July 6. I was packed and had driven up to Seattle the day before. But the deteriorating weather forecast finally hit rock bottom, so we bailed. A good thing, since the forecast held and it rained a lot that week. We would have been miserable. Mike's next window was August 3-10, so we rescheduled for then. My original thinking was to schedule 8 days for a trip that should take us about 6 solid climbing days, giving ourselves 2 days to either sit out weather or tackle some extra objectives. Maybe Crooked Thumb, and maybe a traverse to Fury's west summit. Or, we could blow through it in 6 days and come out early. As departure day arrived, though, it was apparent that we would probably not have any bad weather days. We were definitely in shape to make this a 6-day trip but, as Mike reminded me a few times, we were Old Guys on Vacation and should concentrate less on trying to accomplish everything in sight and more on enjoying the adventure. So we decided to ease up our pace, drop any thoughts of adding other peaks, and just take all 8 days to do Whatcom, Challenger, Fury and Luna. Definitely a big enough job in itself. So that's exactly what we did and it turned out to be the right choice. Every day was completely manageable, we never got beat up, we typically started our days late and finished early, slept 8 or 9 hours every night, stayed well hydrated, and had plenty of time to relax and read and just enjoy where we were. We paid the extra bucks for the boat ride to Little Beaver trail, both to save a few trail miles and because we'd never hiked that trail. We both started the 8 days with packs at just over 40 pounds w/o water. We spent our first night 14 miles in at Twin Rocks camp. The next day started with the grind up to Whatcom Pass, where we headed up the north side of Whatcom. We were only headed as far as Perfect Pass, so we spent an hour or so on top of Whatcom before running the 15 minutes down the snow to the pass. Challenger Glacier from summit of Whatcom Peak Baker and Shuksan from our camp at Perfect Pass The next morning we decided to head up the ridge a ways before getting onto the Challenger Glacier. I was curious about what was up there for future camping possibilities (plenty of flat ground and great views if you can find water) and, while dropping directly onto the glacier from the pass would still go, the lower glacier is getting pretty broken up. We eventually got onto the glacier near 7000' and made a more or less level traverse, with no crevasse issues, to Challenger Arm. We dropped our packs there and ran up to the top, again spending an hour or so on the summit. We eventually headed back down, grabbed our gear, and moved down the eastern end of the glacier and just around the corner to a knoll at 6000' overlooking Luna Cirque. Great camping, water nearby, and wonderful views of Fury. A great place to obsess about the North Buttress and worry about just how bad the lower section would be. The North Buttress of Fury from the summit of Challenger The North Buttress of Fury from campsite at 6000' knoll below Challenger Glacier Day 4 was by far our easiest. Even though I'd read that dropping into the cirque from here was pretty straightforward, you almost have to do it to believe it since it looks incredibly imposing from across the way at Luna Col. It was, in fact, no problem at all, and in under 3 hours at an easy pace we were down at a huge flat sandy area that makes a great campsite. I took a hike over onto the rock-covered glacier and up to the base of the North Buttress, just to get a better idea of what we were up against the next day. Mike found water about 10 minutes away. It was very early in the day, so we headed over to the stream with water containers, books, and all of our sweaty, dirty clothes. We had a very relaxing afternoon, reading, rehydrating, and rinsing out all of our clothes and drying them on the rocks in the sun. Oddly, our shirts still smelled really bad afterwards. Go figure. The next day was really why we were here. Last year we came in via Access Creek and, before I trashed my ankle, our plan was to do the NB as a day trip from a camp at Luna Lake, then continue across to do Challenger before heading out Wiley Ridge. This year we decided to come in from the north and do the climb with full packs. I was really inspired by the trip last year done by the trio of mvs, Der_Wanderer and highclimb. Definitely one of the most impressive trips I've seen written up on this board (TR here). I had a copy of their photo of their right (west) side approach to the buttress (found here on mvs's website) and we totally adopted their very apt terminology of key points on the route. The Ramp, the Swan, the Mudslide, etc. (my mantra for the scary lower section was that everything will be just fine once we reach New Zealand). Their experience on that approach was very helpful for our routefinding. Thanks guys! [While I'm at it, I know I've PM'd iain, wayne w, colin, mvs and I think a few others for info on this route. Thanks to all for the beta!] The morning of the Fury climb was the only time we even pretended to get an early start. Although we'd be carrying full packs and were planning on camping on Fury's summit, we still wanted to get underway fairly early. We slept fairly well, even though we were hearing lots of stuff coming down the walls of the cirque. Kinda disconcerting when you're heading up one of those walls the next day. We were up by 5:15 and moving in just under an hour. After grabbing water along the way (we started with 3 liters each and, of course, found we could have tanked up much higher on the route) and gearing up at the base of the route, we were climbing by a bit after 7. We were well rested, well fed, well hydrated, and had that spring in our step that only comes from sporting freshly laundered underwear. With clean clothes, we were lookin' damn spiffy and we knew it! I just re-read The Trio's TR thread and we clearly had very similar feelings about the lower section you have to climb before reaching the ridge crest. It's scary and has some real objective danger. You just have to hope you aren't in the wrong place when the peak decides to unload a random fusillade of rock or ice. It's enough of a crapshoot to have you asking what level of objective danger you're willing to accept. I'm sure it's safer at other times in other conditions. On our day it wasn't necessarily an easy call, but the risk level seemed acceptable and we felt we could stay out of the firing line most of the way. We followed pretty much the same line The Trio did, with a few changes. There was less snow, so we exited the lower Ramp earlier and climbed more directly up to the base of the next Snowfinger. We climbed easy rock on the left side of the Snowfinger, both because the snow was discontinuous, and because staying farther left kept us farther away from any rockfall from above. It was between the Ramp and the Snowfinger that we witnessed our only bad rockfall, as several volleyball-size missiles sailed past us on the right at a velocity that was absolutely chilling. It was one of those times you realize that, if you're in the wrong place, it wouldn't matter in the slightest that you were wearing a helmet. We moved up in relative safety, hugging the left side as much as possible, until we were at a last protected nook and had to move out right, much more into the danger zone, and deal with the Mudslide. Again, there was less snow for us than in mvs's photo, so we had to more or less climb a couple hundred feet of the Mudslide itself. The Mudslide is a lovely streak of hard remnant ice that is totally infused with black coarse sand. Maybe 35-40 degrees. Very hard and very dirty and very much exposed to rock and ice from above. After very carefully discussing and analyzing all the variables of rockfall, icefall, temperature, slope gradient, snowcover, etc., we decided that our best option would be to use the next few hundred feet as an opportunity to get a feel for our VO2 Max and probe the limits of our anaerobic threshold. In other words, we felt we should run like hell. So off we went at top speed onto the black grit highway. I could just feel my aluminum pons dulling with every step. We moved as fast as we could and soon arrived, gasping, at a slightly protected spot just left of the top of the highest snow. We just seemed to have black wet sand all over us. We took off our filthy crampons with our filthy hands and stowed our filthy axes. Did I mention we had rinsed out all of our clothes the day before? We weren't looking so spiffy anymore. We quickly moved up and left on fairly easy rock, moving further out of danger, and were soon at New Zealand. As I had been assuring myself, everything was indeed just fine now that we were here. New Zealand is a pair of snow patches that kinda mark the place where you are out of serious danger, above the Mudslide, and ready to actually get on with climbing the buttress proper. I liked New Zealand a lot. This is on our last clean snow. That dark streak ahead is The Mudslide. Mike de-cramponing after the sprint up the Mudslide We kept moving up and left through a fair amount of loose rock and soon arrived at the crest. This was probably exactly where The Trio hit the crest. They reported a 5.8 pitch here. I'd almost be tempted to bump it up to 5.9, but maybe that's my pack and boots talking (we didn't bring rock shoes). Above that we simulclimbed at a pretty good clip until we arrived at a comfortable, sunny flat spot at about 7000', just before you either do a short rap or downclimb to a notch. At this point we were clearly looking great for time and would summit fairly early in the day, so we quit trying to hurry at all. We took a long break here, eating and enjoying the sun and the views. Mike took the lead for a couple pitches, we did a lot more simulclimbing, and we eventually found ourselves at the final snow arete to the summit ridge. What a great way to finish this climb! Mike coming around a very cool and exposed blind corner pitch about mid-buttress. I remember this same pic from The Trio's slide show. Mike on the final snow arete below summit of Fury. Pure fun climbing this with the summit now so close. We arrived at the summit at about 3:30, 9 1/2 hours after leaving camp and about 8 1/2 hours from the bottom of the buttress. Carrying full packs up a big route like this is definitely a chore, but it was great to arrive at such a cool summit, after all that work, and not have to think at all about leaving. A few clouds were moving in and it was definitely cooler than it had been. Nothing threatening. Just some marine stuff moving through to enhance the view a bit. We set up our tent on the highest snow, just a few feet from the summit rocks, melted snow, had dinner and enjoyed a great sunset. Our camp on Fury's summit. Any middle-of-the-night excursions were done carefully. The fall to the left is a couple hundred feet to rocks. The fall to the right is about 4000 feet down the NE Face to the base of the buttress. Sunset from Fury with clouds rolling over the Luna Cirque crest. Slesse in the distance. The next day we got an aggressive alpine start of 11:15 AM and started the trek across to Luna Col, our destination for the day. I had done the SE route before and we had no descent issues. We took our time, as usual drinking tons of water at every opportunity. We found far less snow at Luna Col itself than the last 2 years, but water was only 2 minutes down the west side. We spent the rest of yet another lazy afternoon and evening reading and relaxing and enjoying looking back into the cirque. The next morning we actually got up early enough to start hiking up Luna at about 6:30 AM. We settled for the false summit, since we had a ways to go today, and since we wanted to continue our very rewarding habit of just doing nothing on the summit for about an hour. We eventually headed back down, packed up, and were headed down by about 10. We had a permit for 39 Mile camp, which gave us about 5 miles of trail to cover once down Access Creek. We again weren't in a big hurry. We'd both been down Access Creek before. All I can say about the trip down is that the upper basin was a nice place to stop and soak our feet before the brushfest, and the huckleberries are great right now. At Big Beaver we didn't take even a second to look for a log, being quite happy to grab another opportunity to get our feet wet. We traded boots for Aquasocks and easily forded the stream. Four miles later we were setting up for our last night at 39 Mile camp. This day was actually a pretty long one, and we were asleep pretty quickly. The next morning we had only 5 miles to the boat dock and it was a really pleasant cruise with what were by now very light packs. I arrived at the dock with not one ounce of food left and a pack down to 33 pounds. When I was thinking about how this trip would go if everything fell into place, there were 4 moments in particular I was looking forward to and that I knew would be especially satisfying. One was sitting on top of Fury with the NB a done deal and not having to go anywhere right away. Then there was sitting at Luna Col, the Fury descent out of the way, on our last night up high, looking back at most of our recent few days of travel. Third was the pleasure of hitting the Big Beaver trail after getting down Access Creek. And, the last moment I was really looking forward to was this: Our boat was scheduled for 11:30. We arrived at just after 10 to find 4 hikers from Hannegan trailhead waiting for a boat they said was on its way. We'd been thinking about swimming for too long to miss it, so off went the boots and in went we. We probably only lost the slightest fraction of the accumulated sweat and bug juice and sunscreen, but it felt great and allowed us to drive home feeling something less than totally gross. The boat was there within 10 minutes, had room for us, and since we had prepaid, the other party gave us $15 cash to cover half the fare. The trip was wrapping up just great! We hit the store at Newhalem positively craving some instant ramen and Clif Bars, but somehow walked out with beer and potato chips instead. Signed out at the ranger station, grabbed burgers at Good Food, and hit the road for home. We felt incredibly lucky to have an 8 day trip into the Pickets turn out so well. The weather was perfect. Every day went just as planned. We accomplished everything we were after. It was hard to not smile all the way from the top of Fury (well, okay, the smile went away for a while coming down Access Creek). It was our first serious climbing adventure together in several years, but all the alpine teamwork clicked like it always had. Taking the extra time allowed us to stay energetic the whole time and to really avoid ever feeling trashed. We covered lots of new terrain for both of us, managed to do a long sought after route on Fury, and simply had fun every day. I didn't even break my ankle this time. It was a really gratifying trip with a great partner and old friend. Good times! Old guys on vacation. Gear Notes: Rack of 11 pieces - A few pieces more than enough. Kinda depends on how often you want to stop and rerack. No ice or snow pro and none needed. 30m single rope - This worked really well for us. I had a 50m that I just wasn't using, so I chopped it to save weight on this trip. Fine for glacier travel, and long enough by at least 20' for the Challenger rappel. On Fury it was fine for the 2-3 short sections that we pitched out, and better than a longer rope for all of the simulclimbing. Betalight with betabug - Just bringing groundsheets for under the Betalite would have been at least a pound lighter, but bringing the bug insert was worth the extra weight. We spent most nights with just the bug net up, and there were enough flies and mosquitoes that it made it far easier for us to get in our critical 9 hours of slumber each night. Boots - i.e. no rock shoes. There was only the one 5.8ish pitch early on the crest of Fury where it would have been nice to have rock shoes. For everything else on the route, I was much happier in boots. Ice Axe - no second tool needed Crampons - Aluminums worked great for me. Fuel - We took 2 large MSR canisters for my GigaPower. We boiled about 4 cups each of 7 evenings, and about 3-4 cups for 5 mornings, and melted about 5-6 liters worth on top of Fury. We came out with about 1/2 ounce left in one of the canisters. Cell phone - I tossed this in after reading about others getting cell reception up high in the Pickets, and I got a good signal a week before from West MacMillan Spire. We checked and got a signal on Challenger, Fury and a great signal on Luna. If we had this last year, Mike would have had to only hike from Luna Lake to Luna summit instead of all the way out to Ross Lake when I got injured. We did use ours to change our boat pickup and to make sure we'd find room at 39 Mile camp. Ibuprofen - The staff of life. Approach Notes: Little Beaver trail had a few easy to follow detours and some minor brush. No complaints at all. The whole area is very dry up there. Water was always somewhere, but I'm sure less available than in normal years. The SE Glacier route on Fury is far drier than it was in late August 2 years ago, as is Luna Col and the route down to Access Creek. The stream at 39 Mile camp which was raging at the end of July last year is now dry. We saw no one at all from just below Whatcom Pass on the Little Beaver Trail the morning of day 2, until we reached Luna Camp on the Big Beaver Trail the afternoon of day 7.
  12. Climb: FRA-Acid Baby III+ 5.10 approx 1000' climbing-Dan Cappellini, Rolf Larson, Mike Layton Date of Climb: 7/31/2005 Trip Report: "Now that we've climbed together, I think you're ready to meet Dan," Rolf stated at 6am in Leavenworth. The three of us had a blast doing a fantastic climb up on Asguard Pass across from the NE face of D-tail. All three of us knew of the line, although they tried to get me to do d-tail madness or the boving route instead. i made lies why we needed to do this route. We get to the base. Crap, this is gonna be quick. What looked like a 4-5 pitch climb now looked like 3 pitches max. At least it'll be over quickly...We got back to the car at 10:30pm. I posted a topo (too big for here) in my gallery. I'll add the link on my next post when i put up the photos. Anyway, our climb ACID BABY turned out to be unrelently steep, quality, and a clean line. I pegged out the contrive-o-meter when my pitch came up by trying to go directly up the roof in the center of the face. After an hour-long battle with gear and fear I backed off. I had a 1/2way in nut, a grey tcu that kept pulling out when i moved, an RP between two removeable stones, and a belayer-slayer i was standing on trying to make the impossibe (for me) reach up over and aroudn the roof. I fell and nearly shat myself in the process. The nut pulled, but came to a stop when the remain metal that was touching the rock somehow held. My RP and TCU blew out. I got real bloody! After a lot of "gosh mike, you're retarded" Rolf slung his balls over his shoulder and gave the roof a go. Much swearing and "careful" grumbling later, Rolf downclimbed my horror show, not as excited to be lowered off my nut as I was. "Well if Rolf couldn't do it," I though.... Anyway, I got the seat of SHAME while Rolf took the obvious and way better way to go up super exposed cracks, ridges, and traversing. Dan and I got stellar pitches, and more stellar pitches led to the top. Turned out to be about 1,000' of climbing all pitches very physical and almost every pitch in the 5.10 range, two being very sustained 5.10. Maybe my photos will do it more justice then my not so good TR (i'm tired and don't have time to post this later). We topped out on top of Enchantment peak after fully burying the CONTRIVE-O-METER on top by doing a sweet pitch of climbing on a large steep slab covered in cracks. We just couldn't stop climbing....well actually we all we bitching pussies by the summitt. If I think of anything else important to the actual route, i'll post it. Rolf and Dan are free to call bullshit, i don't care. feel free to downgrade it to I+ 5.6 55meters. anyone know the name of this tower? if it has one that is. Gear Notes: set and a half cams up to 4", nuts Approach Notes: can't see the tower till you're almost there
  13. Climb: The Mythical Bellingham Big Wall Date of Climb: 7/21/2005 Trip Report: For many climbers in Bellingham the Twin Sisters Range is the place were we first cut our teeth in the mountains, climbing the west ridge of the North Twin or more often than not failing on an attempt of the South Twin Sister. The rest of the range is somewhat of an enigma. During the month of July I made several forays into the east side of the range. While the west side of these mountains is a wasteland of clearcuts and decomposing logging roads, on the east side we discovered soothing old growth forest, wild rivers, impressive glaciers, lots of solitude and some great multipitch climbing on the unique and enjoyable olivine these peaks are composed of. Last February my wife and I decided to check out the Elbow Lake Trail. After we navigated the washed-out crossing of the Nooksack River the trail immediately began a gentle climb through impressive stands of huge trees in the drainage of Green Creek. Occasional openings in the forest afforded glimpses of steep walls near the creeks headwaters. Green Creek Arete II 5.6 On July 1st Allen Carbert and I returned to see if these walls measured up to the grandure of my memories. After a half hour on the trail we plunged straight into the forest and began traversing further into the Green Creek drainage. While the underbrush was thick and wet we made good time and after an hour of thrashing we broke out along the bank of the creek. This is a wild spot with great views of the Green Glacier to the west and Mount Baker and Lincoln Peak to the east. After crossing the creek we headed up the enormous talus slopes that define the upper regions of this drainage. One east facing wall stood out, steep, clean and bordered by an impressive gendarmed arete. Four hours after leaving the car we stood near its base. Intimidated and running short on time we decided the arete would be a perfect choice for the day. Like many routes in the Sisters the climbing was much easier than it looked. We scrambled up delightful 3rd and 4th class rock before slipping into rock shoes for a clean exposed slab on the crest of the arete. The horizontal section turned out to be exciting 3rd class scrambling right along the massive drop of the east face. We roped up for a 100' pitch of 5.6 cracks on more clean, solid rock before a final bit of scrambling led to...nowhere. The arete simply ended on a minor high point of the long ridgeline seperating the drainages of the Green and Sisters Glaciers. We built a small cairn and ate lunch while enjoying the unique views of the Sisters Glacier which looked to be no more than a 45 minute walk away. We had choosen to carry over and decided to descend by heading east along the ridgeline. After cresting a highpoint marked 5179' on maps we headed down through open meadows then more thick forest. At 3600' in elevation we hung a hard right, dropping back into the drainage of Green Creek. A steep descent led to an even steeper gorge where we once again crossed the creek before climbing back up to the trail. Eight and half hours after leaving we were back at the car, satisfied with a great day in the local hills. The Mythic Wall III 5.10 On July 21st Michael Layton and I climbed the wall. The huckleberries in the forest were now in prime season and we stopped every five minutes to gorge ourselves. Somehow we still managed to reach the face in a little over three hours. As we roped up an enormous black spider crawled across the start of our route. What in the hell is this thing? The climbing was excellent. Almost every pitch was steep, solid and sustained with adequate protection. Stemming up corners, linking face cracks, pulling over roofs on jugs, we had a great time. What loose rock there was we would pitch off into space watching it freefall for hundreds of feet before exploding into shrapnel. Michael led the crux pitch, a series of discontinuous cracks up the center of a steep, clean face. On the next pitch, intimidating roofs were passed on great holds. As Mike followed he easily pulled off the only belay-slayer on the climb, a 5' tall flake that exploded over the previous belay ledge. Four and half hours after starting we topped out in the still blazing sun. We had climbed the route in 6 pitches ( 5.8, 5.9+, 5.4, 5.10-, 5.9, 5.7) and decided to call it The Mythic Wall as it felt like we had just done that mythical alpine rock climb we've always wanted to find in the mountains near Bellingham. We downclimbed the Green Creek Arete (easy 4th class from topout) reaching our packs in about an hour. On the way out we cooled off in the creek before thrashing back out to the trail, the truck and, to celebrate, the North Fork Beer Shrine. Either of these routes are well worth doing, particularly if you live in the Bellingham area. While the approach certainly takes some effort it sure is nice having multi-pitch alpine rock climbs so close to home. Mythic Wall Route Description At the top of the scree gully below the wall the route begins on the left side of the large wet chimney (year round water?). P1 (5.8, 55m) Start directly below the only tree on the lower face. Pass a horizontal fault at 40', pull through steep black rock then follow ramps and corners to the tree. P2 (5.9+, 45m) Hard moves off the belay, then climb up and right until you can traverse right into discontinuous corners. Follow these to a large ledge splitting the face. P3 (5.4, 25m) Walk left then traverse up and left on a loose-looking but solid rock. Belay near another tree below face cracks on the smooth wall. P4 (5.10-, 40m) Link face cracks up and right (crux). When they end at a L-facing corner pull out right around the corner onto an easy face. P5 (5.9, 40m) Climb a nice L-facing corner, then pull a roof. Hand traverse left below the next roof into a fun dihedral. Below more roofs move out left to a belay. P6 (5.7, 20m) Steep flakes lead to the ridgeline. Gear: rack to 3.5", including a full set of TCUs or Aliens, micronuts and a double set of cams from 2" to 3.5". The wall can be seen in shadows on page 41 of Red Fred. It's above the "ek" in "Green Creek". Approach From Mosquito Lake Road follow the Middle Fork Nooksack River Road about 11 miles to the signed Elbow Lake trailhead (elevation 2200'). Ford the river on log jams and reminants of the old bridge then pick up the trail again 100' downstream. Follow the trail about a mile to a sharp switchback at 2700'. Leave the trail here dropping down into gentle forest and a crossing Hildebrand creek. Continue traversing up valley through thick huckleberrys and occasional dense firs trees. The best travel seems to be around 2750' in elevation. Once you reach Green Creek the wall and the long talus slopes to reach it should be obvious. 3-4 hrs. Descent Down climb the arete or hike east along the ridgeline passing a high point then descending into forest. At 3600' turn right and head straight down to Green Creek. We forded the creek around 2300' then climbed back up through devils club reaching the trail around 2500'.
  14. Climb: Northern Picket Range-Surviving the Fence (N Picket full ridge traverse) Date of Climb: 7/16/2005 Trip Report: FOR IMMEDIATE AND PREMATURE RELEASE Seattle, WA - On July 16, 2005 Wayne Wallace and Josh Kaplan completed the Northern Picket Range summit ridge traverse, also known as the "Cascade Nonfecta." Sponsering and recording the event was their chief sponsor, "Uncage the Bowels." UTB coordinated the timing effort, hiring experts from Mountaineering Inc. to make sure the effort was "official." The final time came in shortly less than 6 days. In the highest standard of UTB productions and mountainspeedclimbing.org records it must be disclosed that the two elite alpine mountain endurance speed climbers did not operate the speedboat used to travel ross lake. For additional information please contact Uncage the Bowels productions. Summits: Luna -> E Fury -> W Fury -> Swiss -> Spectre -> Phantom -> Ghost -> Crooked Thumb -> Challenger Gear Notes: Used: 60m 8.1mm half rope 50m 7mm perlon rap line BD firstlight tent ghetto-rigged with skipoles instead of real poles super light bivy gear 1 akpine hammer each medium alpine rack Should have had: I should have had rain gear like Wayne did. Approach Notes: Used Access Creek for approach and Eiely-Wiley Ridge for the deproach.
  15. 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.
  16. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Cascade Trifecta Completed in Record 28 Hours Back-to-back climbs of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood, dubbed the Cascade Trifecta, were accomplished in a record 28 hours and 1 minute by two endurance athletes from Boulder, Colorado. Buzz Burrell, 53, and Peter Bakwin, 43, departed the Paradise parking lot at Mt. Rainier at 2:42 AM, June 9th, and arrived at the Timberline Lodge parking lot at Mt. Hood at 6:43 AM, June 10th, after climbing the standard routes of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood, and driving by car between each of the three volcanoes. Mt. Rainier (14,411 ft.), Mt. Adams (12,281 ft.) and Mt. Hood (11,249 ft.) are the three highest volcanoes in the Oregon/Washington Cascade range. Accomplishing the feat required Burrell and Bakwin to traverse 42,000 vertical feet of elevation change (21,000 feet of ascending) over 36 miles. A link-up of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood in a single effort has never before been documented. The effort by Burrell and Bakwin is a newly established mountaineering speed record. Adverse weather and snow conditions on Rainier and Adams slowed the climbers considerably from their planned schedule. In one instance, Burrell fell into a crevasse on Mt Rainier upon the collapse of a snow bridge. Burrell was able to extract himself from the crevasse while belayed by Bakwin. Both climbers were well-equipped and are skilled mountaineers. “We had hoped to go under 24 hours,” said Bakwin, “but we know that would be very hard, and conditions were not optimal, especially on Rainier where we had to move slowly to stay safe.” He added, “The trip was especially rewarding for me, since I had never set foot on any of these beautiful mountains before.” The Cascade Trifecta was documented and verified by Uncage the Soul Productions, a video and photography production company based in Portland, Oregon. The Uncage the Soul team consisted of 11 videographers and photographers staged in advance of the climbers on each of the three peaks. The team verified departure and summit times, took over 700 photographs, 8 hours of video footage, and assisted the climbers with route finding, but offered no additional climbing or transportation support. John Waller, organizer of the Uncage the Soul Productions documentary team, was not only impressed with their athletic accomplishment, but the attitude with which the climbers approached the Trifecta. “Even though they had this goal of doing the Trifecta as fast as they could, you never got the impression that this was their top priority. It was to have fun, and enjoy the experience. These two things would not be compromised for the sake of shaving off a couple of minutes from their overall time. They were very interactive and social with our team, stopping frequently to talk, snap photos, and express their appreciation for our efforts.” Additional information about the Cascade Trifecta, including video, photographs, and a detailed written description are available from Uncage the Soul Productions. Contact Information: John Waller, Uncage the Soul Productions Tele: 503-970-9357 Email: jq_waller@mac.com URL: www.uncagethesoul.com ###
  17. best of cc.com Wanted - Belayer!

    hahahaha! I about spewed my beer out of my nose and fell off my chair when I read this post. For more humor, please read any other post on the site. *note: this in no way reflects the majority of MN climbers
  18. OK, i fixed some MAJOR errors (i was REALLY REALLY drunk when I 1st wrote this trip report), but i'd like to tighten this up to 500 words. any good ideas. i am a very bad editor. Fecal Hoarding on Cuttroat Peak: Well I'm totally wasted on tequilla from from a post-climb depression/celebration of a succesful ascent of that E.Face Coulior on Cuthroat Peak. I think it's called the Cauthorn Wilson or something. Since I'm totally fucking drunk, I'll give this trip report from the perspective of my feces which I hoarded througout the day: I forced my master to awaken at 2am and hypnotically sugested that he quaff his regurgitated coffe vile he brewed hours earlie to help coax me out of my early alpine start slumber. Well it was to damn early and the coffee wasn't strong enough, and as each crunch from the hard snow sent parastalic waves of anger through me. I knew my time was near as each jolt tried to jostle me from me moorings. Unforetunately as dawn broke below the route, my arch nemisis "Pinchy" kept me at bay as my master haphazardly climbed well above his so called "partner". Sending showeres of ice and snow onto his cursing belay bitch, Pinchy held me from my destiny. Alas! My master hast forsaken me!! Thoughts of imentent death were all my master could think of as he manged to live through the rapidly melt and delaminating crux pitch of ice. Where was I during this insane fight with potential energy, gravity and mortality? I was lurking in the bowels, biding my time, and waiting for pinchy to lose control. Master's so called "partner" led a easy WI-4 pitch and belayed Master and I from a tied off shrub and sunken ice-tool. I was begining to force my way into Master's concsciousness until the sight of that belay, and master's next lead all but destoyed my will. Pinchy quickly regained control. My master prayed to his god as he pinched Pinchy tighter and tighter as his death fall potential increased with every sketchy, shaky, sugar snow over slabby step, slipping, but somehow gaining ground. 60, 70, 80 degree slush and powder snow barely held his feet, nary his useless ice-tools. Every inch was a mile, every step was a step toward the grave for yours truly. Would I ever experience the taste of freedom and witness the sweets smells, sights, and sounds of the outside world that I have only experience my previous existance as a jumbo steak burrito? Master could not use his tools on the near verticle slush-mare! He punched the snow with his hands and packed in more snow until it became dense enough to swing his tool into. Instead of pushing down on the snow, Master would bear hug the snow to keep it still attached to the mountain. Master was looking at a 400' whipper onto the none-to-secure belay, as the sun's pulsing rays oscillated down upon the ever-softening snow pack. At last, a cam, a pin! Master was off belay! Such relaxation caused my power to become almost overwhelming as my noxios gas of joy escaped from his churning bowels. The oppresive heat almost overcame him, as master looked across the sweeping range of the North Cascades. But Master's attention was quikly divered. "Fools!" my master thought when he saw two climbers approaching the entrance gully to the climb below him. I knew that this late in the day would be foolish, even to a turd worming his way to freedom. Master hoped they would turn around or perish. The climbers realized their error in timing, and turned around. Master smirked and brought up his partner. On the summit my master tried with all his might to keep me at bay. There was little room and he was emabarrase to show me to this climbing partner of his. I was writhing and screaming with indignity. To "top-off" the summit is the greatest honor one of my charcter can possilbe have, and my horrible master would deny me this fate. Oh! Cruel Master! Many stupid rappels later led master to a 1,000' long down climb which he downclimbed just fine. His partner however, took about 45 minutes longer, all the whilee cursing masters good name! His partner called him reckless for descending so fast un-roped! But this was my doing. Master would finally have to stop and wait. Master did just that, and squatted while looking upon his downclimbing partner. The sun was blazing. The time was at HAND!!! Pinchy was exhausted and had no power over me anymore. I leaped for freedom into the new world which my tribal leaders of yore told me of during my rite of passage through Master's G.I. tract. I steamed and coiled upon the snow, all the while his partner downclimbed slowly. I was buried this day upon the southern flanks of Cutthroat peak, but i exist still as part of everything. I have become the soil, the water, the air, and the animals. I speak now of a universal tale of battels between man vs. mountain and, my kind vs. Pinchy, gatekeeper of the underworld.
  19. A day after Highway 20 opened a friend and I went up to climb something at WaPass. "Slowshoes? Who needs them?" I said, starting up the shady, north facing heavily treed slope. .5 seconds later I postholed thigh deep with both feet and resorted to crawling. (Alpine Tip #1: there is nothing undignified about crawling when necessary.) Unfortunatly we'd left the slowshoes back in town and I forgot my roll of ducktape, which is helpful in constructing redneck gaiters. (Alpine Tip #2: simply tape the legs of your acid washed jeans to you boots and you are good to go.) We postholed for another half hour. Given as how we were still within pissing distance of the car, my partner started expressing doubts that we could make it back to Twisp in time for work that afternoon. Blood seeped from my shins and knees where the ice crust hit at each sinking step. I counted my blessings that great white sharks are rare in these parts. (Alpine Tip #3: beware of potentially voracious wildlife.) I promised my pardner that as soon as we reached the steep part, or the open part, or the sunny part or the rock part that everything would be better. However, my partner appeared to be suffering from some sort of posthole-inspired lunacy and began laughing hysterically until fully horizontally incapacitated in the snow and either unwilling and/or unable to get back up. I suggested a five-minute break. (Alpine Tip# 4: A PhD in psychology--or equivalent independent study thereof—can be helpful in sandbagging others and/or yourself. Ten minutes later, we lowered our already very modest expectations and proceeded back to the road. (Alpine Tip #5: Retreat can be a noble cause.) Two miles up valley of Silver Star creek, on the other side of the highway (the south facing slope) there is a clearing and a waterfall next to a small rock crag. Higher on the slope there is another cliff with a prominent right facing corner. It looked interesting. (Alpine Tip #6: When in doubt, lower expectations and proceed to lower elevations.) We hiked up to the waterfall in open, snow-free forest. Invisible from the road, there is a rock grotto off to the right of the waterfall. There is a beautiful looking arete, although the rock appears somewhat kittylitteresque. It would probably make a nice sport pitch or TR. (Alpine Tip #7: Theoreticals infuse even the most mundane with boundless possibility.) Instead, we harnessed up and I headed up the chimney/corner to the left of the arete and right of the waterfall. It starts off with a short boulder problem up a dead tree wedged in the corner, then moves into a very nice hand crack/stem box over some more dead trees and debris. Then come two different chimneys--also short, but quite fun, solid and exciting. (Alpine Tip #8: “Exciting” means treading thru the land of fight or flight where loss of bowel control is often associated with survival efficiency.) The crux is moving out of the second chimney onto the face--accomplished by pulling on an anemic little shrub of questionable vigor. It's an exciting move: the last gear is quite a ways below and the vegetative state of the tiny twiggy bush is not particularly inspiring. (Alpine Tip #9: When recollecting an experience, imagined reality and real reality merge and become one indistinguishable truth.) Once you commit to the shrub, there is another crack for gear, and a lieback/stem move to reach the dirt slopes above. We called this pitch Posthole Redemption, 5.7. Not destined for destination or classic status, but a nice surprise. (Alpine Tip #10: Good surprises are nice; bad surprises should not be all that surprising.) At the top of the pitch, we put our boots back on and continued uphill, traversing to the right and eventually coming to the other crag we'd seen from the road. This is a nice chunk of solid granite. The most obvious natural line is a huge right facing corner leading up to a big roof. In that corner is a nice hand and finger crack—filled with Bluebunch Wheatgrass. For a gardening aficionado such as an ice-axe-wielding Martha Stewart on meth, it would be probably be protectable all the way. Since time was a factor; we opted to toprope the pitch. (Alpine Tips #11: Time is a timeless excuse for moral and/or ethical failures.) The beginning of the right variation is an awkward mantle and traverse left to the crack--unfortunatly not significantly protectable. The left variation is easier and probably the way to go on lead as you could get some gear in. We called this pitch "Posthole in One." (Alpine Tip#12: The option of toproping a pitch means you are not alpine climbing and invalidates all previous eleven Alpine Tips.) Once in the corner, it’s easy stemming and likely good gear if gardened. Gear on the roof traverse would be possible and desirable to avoid a pendulum back into the corner. The final fingercrack/stem problem would be better on lead than toprope given the slabby corner splat factor. (Apline Tip #13: see Alpine tip #7) I ended up rapping off my dog’s leash, which still exists as fixed gear around the big pine 100 feet up this pitch. (Alpine Tip #14: Don’t believe anything you’ve heard until it’s a matter of necessity--and even then be skeptical.)
  20. 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.
  21. Climb: White Chuck - East Face Couloir Date of Climb: 2/27/2005 Trip Report: Look at the pics then read Justins post "A Message from Necronomicon:" a little further down the page. It's far better than my slop In the beginning of February, when Dave Brannon and I were finishing up the Northeast Ridge, it became readily apparent that the east face of White Chuck was big, steep and split by a very deep coulior. With a little help from John Scurlock I managed to get an excellent photo of the east face. Ummmm....that looks good. Gene Pires, Justin Thibault and I climbed the route on our second attempt on February 27th. First climbed in September 1970 by Ron Miller and Ben Guydelkon, it had all the making of an un-classic. The CAG admonishes, "best climbed in late summer when dry", "scare protection" and "hard hat recommended". In a veil of ice and neve we figured it might be a very good climb. On the first attempt too much new snow and too little time turned us around before we even saw the face. Though the weather had become unseasonably warm we returned over the weekend to try again. On Saturday morning Justin managed to coax his truck up to 3100’ on FSR 2435. From there we slogged up logging roads and a scenic wooded ridge reaching the basin below the south side of the peak in the late afternoon. At around 5000’ temps in the shade hovered around forty degrees. But north-facing slopes still held fine powder snow giving me some sweet turns, and us hope for decent conditions in the shady couloir. Justin and I passed out in the sun while Gene summoned the energy to pack down part of the approach for the following morning. Just before sunset John Scurlock made a serious of terrifyingly fast and tight circles around the peak in his yellow rocket plane. Sunday we left camp at 4 AM and traversed up to a “chair-like” pinnacle on the southeast ridge of the peak. We dropped down a very steep ramp to the base of the face and began a long, miserable traverse through breakable crust. At first the route appeared to start with a blank rock wall. As we ascended the debris cone at its base a beautiful ice-choked chimney appeared, leading up to the left. Starting up the first pitch Ultimately the climb was far better than we could have imagined. With occasional simu-climbing we broke the climb into seven long pitches, the last ending forty feet from the summit. Two pitches in the middle consisted of steep neve. The other five were primarily beautiful runnels of water ice sometimes no more than 1’ wide. While a majority of the climbing was WI3 or easier the second pitch had a difficult crux of vertical and rotten snow covering thinly iced chockstones with hard-fought protection that felt pretty serious. All photos by Justin Thibault. Below the long, beautiful runnel of pitch 3 Leading off for the summit Descending the Northwest Ridge One of the boyz below P6 We topped out maybe eight hours after starting the climb and took a long rest before beginning the exposed and tedious descent back to camp. Justin, Gene and I all felt that this route was quite classic and deserving of repeats. During a normal snow year there would likely be more wallowing, less ice and a big cornice to surmount at the top. We thought a fair rating in current conditions was WI3 mixed 5.8 R. Gear Notes: Plenty of screws Pickets Pins - KB to Baby Angle small rack to 2.5”
  22. Climb: Mt. Snoqualmie, NW Face-Pineapple Express Date of Climb: 2/9/2005 Trip Report: On my third attempt this year, Roger Strong and I finally climbed the line going up the longest part of the NW Face of Mt. Snoqualmie. It starts just left of the lowest point of the face in a hidden right facing corner. 7 long mixed pitches lead up and then right to an intersection with New York Gully. Follow last 2 pitches of NYG to the top. 1000' of primo Snoqualmie pass mixed climbing. We dubbed the route Pineapple Express, grade IV, 5.8, M6, WI3+ R. Gear Notes: 60M rope,pins,nuts, cams, and lots of slings Approach Notes: Straight up Phanthom Slide, then drop into Thunder Creek basin and traverse to lowest point of face.
  23. Climb: Mt. Stuart: (winter ascent)-Complete North Ridge Date of Climb: 12/24/2004 Trip Report: Mt. Stuart: Attempted Winter ascent of the complete North Ridge. Wayne called me 2 weeks before Christmas and said we had a good weather window coming up the few days before Christmas. So on Tuesday, December 21, the official start of winter, we made the drive over to Leavenworth and bivied in the parking lot at the Ranger’s station. We arose early and organized our gear under the lights in the McDonalds parking lot and then headed up Icicle Creek. We crossed our fingers that the gate at Eight Mile Creek would be open. It was, but within ¾ of a mile the difficulties began. As the road became steeper it became apparent my 4-runner was not going to make it up the pure ice road. We came to a stop, tires spinning and it was all we could do to keep from sliding backwards. Wayne got out to help push against the side of the car to keep it from sliding over the edge and down into the abyss and immediately fell down. We nursed the 4-runner down to a dry patch on the side of a switchback and then proceeded to give it another shot by trying to keep two tires in the slightly softer crunchy snow on the inside shoulder. We didn’t make it past the original high point and had to nurse the car back down to the dry spot, Wayne donned crampons for better traction the second time. The only way we were going to get up this road was to put crampons on the tires, so back to Leavenworth we went. $175 and an hour later we were back at the road and this time we had no problems with 4 new chains on the tires. It was probably close to 11:00 by the time we finally started the hike on the Stuart Lake trail and up Mountaineers Creek. We carried snowshoes, but ditched them on the knoll right after crossing the creek on a log. We were following a fairly fresh set of boot tracks on top of an older set of snowshoe tracks for a while, but when they headed off in the “wrong” direction, we abandoned them. We made camp behind a large boulder just past the small bench and proceeded to decorate a small tree with our cams, picket and ropes. We wanted to have some sense of a Christmas spirit in this desolate, moonlike landscape. Laying in the tent that night, it almost seemed like day. The almost full moon was so bright I could have read a book outside. I have a difficult time falling asleep before 11:00 so while Wayne snored, the demons danced in my mind. Looming above us in plain view was the complete north ridge and so far nobody had been successful in making a winter ascent of the lower portion. The upper section had been done in winter. We hoped to connect the entire route. But who was I to think I was up to this task. I felt significantly small and unqualified. I had never even been on the lower ridge in summer and it was 1986 when I did the upper. It was also 1986 the last time I jumarred and Wayne said I would be doing quite a bit. We waited until daylight to make breakfast and gear up for the day. We hiked up onto the moraine below the Ice Cliff glacier and followed its sweeping curve around to the base of the North Ridge. Sheltered from the wind behind a large boulder, we donned harnesses and racked up and Wayne started up some 4th class rock which proved more difficult then it looked. Not wanting to place gear yet, we searched further left for a better access and found a steep snow gully which brought us to the base of the first pitch. Our plan was to fix two rope lengths and return to camp for the night. Wayne actually aid climbs quite fast, and after some difficulty with a squeeze slot where he had to take off his pack, he tied off the rope. I jugged and off Wayne went for pitch 2. This section is steep and surmounts a small overhang. I worked out the bugs of jumarring, and joined Wayne at a stance by a small tree. Above loomed a long thin crack, not vertical, but steep. The going was slower here because there was ice in the crack. Wayne informed me he actually used his breath to melt some ice for a few placements. He watched cams shift on ice. When a loop of rope hanging down caught on something, I had to untie my end and drop it down in an attempt to free it. It barely gave Wayne enough rope to reach the top where he made an anchor of one pin, one ice screw and 2 cams. He then rapped and cleaned while I pulled out our second rope and readied it for the rap to the ground. It was extremely windy, but we got down with out any issues and descended back to camp. We chose an easier route than going back down the moraine by following a snow gully and skirting the lower boulder field on the far side. This set us up for an easier ascent in the morning. It was about 4:00 by the time we got back. Fixing 3 pitches had taken o lot longer than we thought. The moon and demons were in full effect that night. I knew tomorrow would be a big day and we had no idea what conditions would be like on the ridge. I questioned myself why I did this. I knew once on the ridge, retreat would be difficult until we reached the notch where the regular route joined. Thank god for sleeping pills. We awoke at 2:30 and were off by 3:45. We carried no bivy gear. We geared up at the large boulder. It was my first time jumarring by headlamp, but by the time we were up the second rope, it was just beginning to dawn. Above we could see the summit shrouded in clouds, and it was extremely windy. Weather was moving in. We debated going down, but talked ourselves out of it. The ridge looked incredibly steep and exposed. The demons came back and I pushed them away as Wayne headed up the next pitch in the early morning light. He was aiding again, but informed me it was only a short section and I should just aid myself and not mess with the ascenders. Once I began climbing again, things calmed down for me. My focus was only at each small task or move at hand and my concentration kept the elements at bay. For the first time since leaving Seattle, I actually felt settled. It was just me and the mountain and my focus on climbing. Nothing else penetrated to mess with my head. I don’t remember each pitch, just different sections. As we moved up, dry rock became more iced with verglass. We each had one regular ice tool and a small Grivel third tool. I carried etriers and the jumars bundled on my gear loops on my left side. Wayne lead all the pitches for speed. The ice runnel pitch should have been my lead, but Wayne was cold and wanted to move again. It was a fabulous pitch of thin ice that snaked up through the rocks. “Super Alpine” I called it and I secretly imagined myself climbing in Chamonix. An easier snow slope brought us up into an alcove with only one way out, a traverse across polished slab. Wayne tensioned and then climbed with his tools in verglass and boots on slab, then up over a small roof. Above the terrain became more blocky with much more ice filling the voids and the climbing became true mixed. We donned crampons and climbed with both tools. Many moves consisted of moving across a bulge of rock onto thin ice. Unconsolidated snow filled the cracks and crevasses and needed clearing. At one point we abandoned the true ridge and climbed on the face to the right for 4 or 5 pitches before we could regain it. Finally, I lead a short section of rotten snow that required much clearing to regain the ridge. It was steep and there was about an inch crust and underneath, loose granular snow. The crust would break in large slabs and slide down, and the 18 inches of snow underneath was not bonded to the rock and wouldn’t accept any weight. I was afraid of the whole thing sliding. I excavated to rock for the last few moves and flopped onto the ridge. It was 4:00. One more tricky traverse brought us to the notch and there was no question as to which way to go. We were out of time and the entire upper ridge, although bathed in moonlight, would be another full day. We rigged a rap and headed down. The gully was much steeper and longer than I remembered and we ended up making 4 rappels combined with steep down climbing. The Stuart Glacier was awash in moonlight. We packed the ropes and gear and began our long walk back to camp. I don’t think I’ll have a more memorable Christmas Eve. This high alpine environment was almost surreal in the bright moonlight. I was warm and content with what we had done. We hadn’t made the summit, but had climbed the often attempted lower section. We never stopped the whole time and we got to the tent by 8:15. Wayne immediately crawled in, while I made hot drinks. We were too tired to eat, but I lingered outside for another hour enjoying the view. The demons were gone and I was content. Later, I would have the uncanny feeling that it was someone else who did the climb. The next day, Christmas, we hiked out in deteriorating weather. The drive over Stevens Pass was in a full snowstorm. At least for a while, we had a white Christmas. Gear Notes: full rack, one ice screw, ascenders, 2 ropes Approach Notes: Chains required for Eight Mile road if still open. We did not need snowshoes for Mountaineer Creek approach, but maybe neccessary now.
  24. best of cc.com cascade Mt. Poetry

    Let's hear your rhymes for a Cascade Mountain. Here's one to start it off. Luna Peak from Ruth Mt. Luna seems so far away It glides in the mist, It sleeps in East, It silently sits, In its realm it will stay. Within the sea of peaks and valleys, No other can compare. It’s spine a stairway, To the faraway air. Someday I will meet you, Someday I will hear, The rivers roar below From atop your perch from over there.