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Found 150 results

  1. A couple years back, a number of my friends gathered in Bend, Oregon. The occasion was the wedding of our good friend Eric, who was to be married the next day. He and his fiancée grew up a couple blocks from each other in Bend. They had been best friends since first grade, but it wasn't until a couple years after college that they finally acknowledged what was obvious to everyone else: they were a perfect match and deeply in love with each other. Anyway, the day before the Saturday wedding, we took Eric up to a cabin on Elk Lake, which is out near Mt. Bachelor, for the bachelor party. On the way there, my friend Dan and I noticed some cliffs along the road. Sure, they looked loose, shattered, and flaky, but hey, it was rock--or at least something that vaguely resembled rock. We drove on and arrived at the cabin at Elk Lake, where typical bachelor party festivities commenced: heavy drinking, smoking of strange aromatic substances, lighting each other on fire with lighter fluid, etc. After a couple hours of such fun, Dan and I got the brilliant idea of returning to the cliffs down the road to do some altered climbing. The two minute approach to the cliffs crossed a field of sharp, shattered talus that appeared fresh off the cliff. It seemed that the cliff was actively eroding at a very rapid rate. As we discussed whether or not we should hike around and set up a toprope, Dan amused himself by throwing rocks at the cliff face. Each rock he threw caused a small avalanche of rockfall, as plates of crumbly volcanic choss broke free from the face. By comparison, the rock at Frenchman's or Peshastin was bulletproof granite. We stopped at the base of the most obvious feature of the cliff: a wide dihedral 100+ feet high. The dihedral appeared slightly more solid than the flaky unprotectable faces nearby. It looked like there might be protection in the corner, but it was hard to tell, because there was a bulge at about 20 feet that prevented us from seeing what lay above. Since enough Obsidian Stout renders once absolutely 100%invincible, I decided to lead it. Dumb. I bouldered up easy ground to just below the bulge, where I found one uninspiring placement in fractured rock. Hoping there would be some real protection available above the bulge, I sketched up and over the slightly overhanging section. Bad idea. There were some positive holds, but I dared not touch them for they appeared to be attached by nothing more than cobwebs and chance. Once above the steep section, I found myself committed and in serious groundfall territory. The corner where I was hoping to find pro was nothing more than a shallow, flaring moss and grass filled groove. I smeared and stemmed in the slippery, insecure dihedral, my feet oozing down and out as I tried to excavate some pro. No luck. At this point, I started to feel a little less than invincible. Maybe I should have had another beer before beginning this venture. While I was only 25 or 30 feet up at this point, I was convinced that I couldn’t down climb the bulge—I didn’t trust the one piece of pro I had in below it any more than I trusted the absurdly loose rock I would have to downclimb. That option seemed like a guaranteed groundfall. Up seemed like the best and really the only option. Another 15 or 20 feet above it looked like there might be some gear. Like mirages in the desert, the apparent protection opportunities dissapeared as soon as I reached them. Down was not an option. Falling was not an option. Upward and onward! Climbing as conservatively and delicately as possible, ("light as a feather!") I was expecting the whole dihedral to spontaneously exfoliate at any moment, killing me and burying my belayer. At 70 feet, I finally got found a decent placement (the first and last one) that gave me confidence that I wouldn’t ground out. I doubled it up and continued. The last 35 feet was exciting. I moved out onto the right arête, which was like climbing a teetering stack of broken dishes. Nothing seemed to be attached to anything. The last move was a joy. Facing a 70 footer into a corner if I fell, I had to climb up and then through a dead, barely rooted pine tree. I flopped over the edge at the top, punctured and bleeding from the tree adventure. I was physically, emotionally, psychologically wrecked, and yet I was flying--perhaps even higher than when I started the climb! If the rock had been solid, the whole climb would have been easy—maybe 5.8 max. But given the incredible shittiness of the rock, I had climbed what felt like 5.10, because I was only willing to commit my existence to the few semi-solid holds hidden among a plethora of worthless ones. After a few minutes of recovering and rejoicing, I set up an anchor off a few trees and belayed Dan up. As he climbed it, pulling and kicking off rocks ever other move, all he could say was “holy shit” over and over. When he arrived at the top we just looked at each other, laughed and had the same thought—“let’s get back to the bachelor party and have a beer or eight!” As we walked down, we wondered if anyone else had ever been stupid enough to climb this line. I have no idea, but we took the liberty of naming the line anyway. In honor of Eric’s wedding the next day, we named it “To Death Do Us Part Dihedral” 5.8 R/X. Epilogue: The next day at the wedding we told Eric’s dad (a Bend local) of our adventure. He told us a story that made our name for the climb even more appropriate. Apparently a few years earlier, a guy killed his wife at this very same cliff. He told the police that he and his wife were climbing and had an accident which resulted in her death. But after the police brought in some climbers to help the police investigate the guy’s story, the police concluded that he’d murdered her, and tried to make it look like a climbing accident. I can only guess what the climbers helping the police investigate the incident might have said: “Nobody in their right mind would climb here—there’s no way to protect it, and the rock is so crappy it’d be suicidal!!!” I’d give the climb no stars, and recommend it to none but my mortal enemies, yet the experience was unforgettable! [ 02-18-2002: Message edited by: Uncle Tricky ]
  2. Trip: Meulefire and Indecision - East Face Date: 8/2/2008 Trip Report: It has long been a goal, nay, a lifetime dream of mine to climb every peak in the Repulsive 69. To those not in the know, the Repulsive 69 is a list of the sixty-nine most obscure and unappealing peaks in the Cascades. Inclusion in any “Selected” or “Classic” guidebook is an automatic disqualifier for this list. No one has completed the Repulsive 69, as two of its peaks are as yet unclimbed. As far as the race for completion goes, Dallas (aka Obi Wan) has a comfortable lead with sixty some odd. Scott (aka The Moat Master) is a distant second with twenty-twoish. I am unsure of the exact number, he keeps his count secret. Jason (aka Snaffle Bait) is in the running with nineteen. I am trailing the pack with a measly fifteen. Jill (aka Dr. Jill) has climbed twelve, but she has a lot of spare time and could easily catch me. I needed a few of the grand boys ticked this weekend to pad my lead over Jill and gain on Scott. I pulled out the cell phone and started calling prospective climbing partners. What would it be this weekend? Seapho Peak? Berge Mountain? Canadian Border Peak? Or the ever-elusive South Hozomeen? Damn caller ID. Ever since I set my sights on completing this list, most of my regular partners won’t answer the phone anymore. Just when I was ready to give up, the phone rang. Caller ID listed Scott. “Wanna go climbing this weekend?” he asked. “What, couldn’t find anyone else?” I retorted. “Shut up and be at my house at seven AM, and make sure that you are not followed”, was the answer. “Where are we going?” I inquired. “I’ll tell you on the way. I have an FA route scouted on one of the 69”. An FA on one of the 69! This would be our golden ticket to Cascade mountaineering history! I could hardly contain myself. I arrived bright and early at Scott’s place packed to the gills and ready for anything. “Lose the rock shoes.” he said. What was I thinking? This was one of the Repulsive 69, not exactly known for their quality rock. Once out of cell range, he finally revealed the objectives, Meulefire and Indecision, with the added possibility of Little Johannesburg or Repulse! This would be an epic weekend indeed! Fisher Basin The approach to Silent Lakes Silent Lakes. Muelefire in the background. After a quick march over Easy Pass and up Fisher Basin to the Silent Lakes, we dropped our packs and ran up Fisher Peak. To enjoyable for inclusion in our list! The next day we set out for the crown jewels of Grizzly Basin, Indecision and Meulefire. We summited Arriva to check out our prospective route, the North Ridge on Meulefire, and said hi to Mr. C. on the summit. The ridge looked good, but getting on it looked difficult. Too many gendarmes and notches. Well, we would have to get this mighty one via the dog route. The North Ridge on Muelefire After traversing down heather slopes to Grizzly Basin, the real business on Meulefire began. We started climbing what quickly became fourth-class scorist. For the uninitiated, scorist is a combination of forest and blocky scree that is common on sub-alpine slopes in the Cascades. Scorist has ratings from class one to class five, and further gradations reaching 5.9. The rating system is quite similar to the commonly used YDS. I watched Scott pull a figure eight over a u-shaped fir tree, spraying needles everywhere. “Nice move!” I yelled. After the scorist, we emerged to a seemingly never ending field of steep heather interspersed with steps of unusually shattered rock balanced precariously at their angle of max repose. Scorist attained We finally reached the summit ridge and followed to a notch just NE of the summit. Beckey says one lead of 5.2 to the summit. Who needs rock shoes for 5.2? And what exactly is 5.2? Well, in exploring my low fifth-class boundaries, my grade-inflated head was certainly wishing for some sticky rubber! The next 30 meters were enjoyable climbing on surprisingly solid rock! I guess that it can’t all be bad. We topped out and looked over at Indecision. To our untrained eyes, the summits looked to be the same height. A ten-minute scramble took us to the top of Indecision. The last entry in the summit log was from Roger Jung, on a solo traverse from Fisher in 2003. The author contemplates 5.2 The summit of Muelefire. Another tick! Joe and Joan Firey and John and Irene Meulemans made the first ascent of Meulefire in July of 1966. However, Indecision, the higher peak according to Beckey, was not climbed until 1972. The question arises, why didn’t the Firey and Meulemans crew, who were prodigious peak baggers and FAers in their day, climb both peaks when the other summit was only ten minutes away? Beckey’s guide lists Meulefire as a lower sub-summit of Indecision massif. Perhaps this is comeuppance for the Fireys and Meulemans, who nabbed the first ascent of Arriva the day prior in 1966, when Beckey and crew had climbed the slightly lower East Peak in 1940. After a rap off the summit, and an interminable steep scree, slab, and heather down climb, we got lucky and rapped through the scorist to Grizzly Basin. The next day, unable to recall what the traverse to from Fisher to Repulse looked like, we climbed Fisher again. It would certainly be a coup to pull off on ascent of Repulse, the namesake of the Repulsive 69! The traverse had been done the opposite direction by Roger Jung back in 2003, but it was too involved for us on our last day. Oh well, this is how the ball bounces when you are bagging the big boys. We decided to get Little Johannesburg on the way out. The second run up Fisher. Black peak and the N Ridge of Repulse in the background. But like so many of these Repulsive climbs, the mountain had other ideas. On the traverse down to Fisher Basin, Scott slipped and took out a chunk of his palm on a talus block. We limped our way back over Easy Pass under the scornful gaze of Little Johannesburg and to the car for some warm beer. Little Johannesburg patiently awaits our eventual return and conquest. Another two of the proud giants vanquished, and my list closer to completion! Graybeard. A worthy peak but it made Nelson's book. There will be blood The price paid Gear Notes: Forget the rock shoes, eye protection (for scorist), first aid kit. Approach Notes: Over Easy pass, hang a left up to Fisher Basin, take obvious gully up to col, good camping at Silent Lakes.
  3. Trip: Cascades - Colchuck Balanced Rock/Girth Pillar/Thin Red Line Date: 7/12/2008 Trip Report: Photos http://isc.astro.cornell.edu/~don/pictures/v/friends/joe/joe_climbing/ (copy and paste if the link does not work) Here is a 3-in-1 trip report of a few stellar Cascade climbs. While staying with my friend Kyle in Bozeman on an ice climbing trip to Hyalite in January, the plan was hatched: a week of Cascade granite. My job was to develop the tick list. That was the easy part—the list has been accruing dust on a post-it note over my computer at work for a year: West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, Girth Pillar, and Thin Red Line. And we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The Nelson guide and cc.com have some great info so I’ll keep it short—and of course, the full details are in the photos. Day 1: West Face – Colchuck Balanced Rock This route lives up to its reputation. Needless to say, I’ll go back and do this route anytime—just ask and I’ll drop everything. Its one of the best lines in all the Cascades. We left the car at 5am and returned at 9:30pm. The main bottleneck was that we were the FOURTH team on the route. We took an hour nap at the base of the first pitch, a short 10+, and another hour break waiting for the groups to clear the 5.11 corner crack and aid pitches above. As everyone says, the corner crack is really sustained fingers and small hands so I took a couple hangs. Unfortunately, the traverse pitch under the roof was really wet so Kyle had to aid a bit. Pitch 7 had a beautiful 5.9 crack leading into the 5.12- roof, which he onsighted free! I went for it, missed the awkward hand jam at the lip and took a hang over space, but I’ll definitely try it free next time! The 5.9+ chimney was a hoot (East Face of Lexington and Hyperspace were perfect “warm-ups” earlier this season) and it was an easy simul climb to the summit from there. Gear: Double rack to 3”, 1 #4 cam (5.12-, C1, 8 pitches, Grade 3) The line up below pitch 5 5th pitch: the 11- corner The 7th pitch: below the 12- roof Day 2-4: Girth Pillar – Mt Stuart This route offers the full meal deal: technical ice, exposed steep climbing on a big mountain, and lets not forget, a technical glacier decent (especially when done in the dark). We bivied in the scree between the Sherpa and Ice Cliff Glacier, woke at 3:30am and headed up the Ice Cliff. Kyle climbed in his approach shoes and aluminum crampons with an axe while I carried a light tool with my leathers and steel crampons to lead the ice step on climbers left of the ice fall. We didn’t carry screws, but I recommend a couple screws depending on your comfort level, and when I come to think about it, for v-threads if you have to bail. I led the step with both the axe and tool, then dropped both down to Kyle and built a rock anchor on the adjacent rock wall. A dirty gulley of snow led to the approach pitches. On the Ice Cliff, Climbers left below the step The short step I took the first block, 3 approach pitches of 5.6-5.8 steps and the first pitch on Girth Pillar. The bottom of the crack was a bit wet so I climbed up the corner 15’ before making a wide step left into a sweet 5.10 crack to a small ledge. I set up the haul line for the pack but this was a major slow down—I don’t recommend hauling on an 8.1mm rope with a tibloc—I shredded my sheath quite a bit to retire my third rope. Kyle led from here, including a cruxy finger traverse at 10+. For the third pitch, Kyle took the obvious line up the center of the pillar, which offered over 100’ of solid hand jams. At a white sling, you have an option to cut left into the original 11c, but this is where the left half of the pillar collapsed in the 90s. After a short OW, easier simul climbing led to the false summit. Pitch 1 of Girth Pillar Pitch 2 The short OW above the pillar Here is where we messed up: the descent. If we got it right the first time, we would have saved 4+ hours and likely gotten back to the car on day 2. However, we misread the beta and traversed on the south side all the way to the base of Sherpa Peak before regaining valuable feet lost to descend the gulley at the far (climbers) right. After 1,500’ of downclimbing 40 degree snow, we found a rap station over the schrund at dark. I’ll spare you the details, but we zigzagged left and right in a moonless night before finding our way down to our bivy by 3am. Like the guidebook says, stay to the climbers right and downclimb slabs and snow to a short rap. Avoid the gulley and climbers left. We hiked out the next morning and drove to Mazama. Gear: 1 axe/tool each, double rack to 2”, 1 #3, 8.1mm haul line and a 60m single. (5.11, 9 pitches, Grade 5) Day 5: Rest, EAT, pack Day 6-7: Thin Red Line – Liberty Bell We were both excited to aid climb—Kyle especially. For some reason, 7 pitches of aid and an A3 crux lured us over Liberty Crack which offers more free climbing than aid. Plus, this would be our first big wall, complete with hauling and an overnight bivy—a perfect warm-up for Yosemite. We slept in a bit and started the route at 7am. After an unobvious first pitch of 5.9, we had 7 pitches to aid and haul. With a pulley and ascenders, the hauling was quick and easy for each pitch. Kyle led the A3 corner hammerless, me the A2 roof, Kyle the A2 arch and wild 5th pitch which entailed a pendulum, hook move, and A2+ double roofs. I continued on 2 long pitches of aid and free climbing to reach a small roof below the M&M ledge at dusk. Kyle finished it up and set up our anchor on the M&M ledge. We stayed anchored in all night on a small sloping ledge. We finished up 4 more pitches of 5.7/5.8 to the top the next morning, downclimbed and rapped over the Overexposure route to the Concord-Liberty Bell col. We reached the Blue Lake Trailhead at 2pm, and after 32 hours, we could finally take off our harnesses. Pitch 2 Pitch 4 Pitch 5 Following Pitch 5 Our bivy on the M&M ledge Gear: Double rack to 3.5”, 2 sets of stoppers, metolious brass aid nuts, HB brass set (highly recommended), small cam hooks, a talon, large hook, 3 sets of aiders, 2 sets of ascenders (1 for hauling, 1 for jugging), pulley. 1 small pack, 1 large pack with haul line, food (no stove), 7 liters of water. We also carried a hammer, 4 copperheads, chisel, 5-6 various knifeblades and lost arrows that we never had to place—it goes clean so you can leave the hammer at home. (5.9 C3, 12 pitches, Grade 5)
  4. Trip: Wyoming Mashup - Date: 5/20/2008 Trip Report: *Not sure if this belongs here or in the ice forum...? Summary: Day 0: PDX -> SEA -> BZN -> Yellowstone National Park Resort Day 1: The Silver Cord (3 p/175 m), Yellowstone -> Devils Tower Day 2: Devils Tower: Bon Homme (Horning Variation), Belle Fourche Buttress (1st 2 pitches), One way sunset (1st 2 pitches) Day 3: McCarthy North Face (4 p) Day 4: Devils tower -> BZN -> SEA -> PDX Details: So after a great start to ice season it all came to a grinding halt when I took the plunge to purchase a second home and rent my first one (JayB enter stage left ). Two months of looking/inspecting/bidding/closing/packing/moving/unpacking/renting/etc etc flew by and suddenly it was May! Shit! Where did ice season go!?!? I wanted (needed???) a last ice fix before summer set in and it sure wasnt going to happen around here. I needed a partner and some ice pronto. I tracked down Bryan who had just finished his first semester of grad school unscaved and begged him into a little ice climbing. Made some calls and sent some emails and determined that assuming the road was open the silver cord would likely be in. The Silver Cord Cascade: Yes not my photo. And no I dont know the difference between a cascade and a waterfall. The story with the Silver Cord is it is located in the grand canyon of Yellowstone National Park... the Cord most definitely forms every year however as the Park doesnt plow the roads in winter one either has to have a sled and/or ride the snow coach in addition to skinning to access the cord. Basically the math is 3 days for 175 meters of ice. So why not just wait until the road is open? Most years by the time the road is open/plowed the cord has already melted out. Due to these logistics involved the cord hasnt seen many ascents even though it checks in @ WI3+. But we were in luck! The road was open (so they said... more later), the temps looked good so I packed my bags, threw in my rocks shoes in case the predicted west coast heat wave made it out east and hopped a plane to BZN. Bryan grabbed me @ the airport and we headed south. We managed to get to the park just before dark. After some sleep we go back up and left the car by 5 am... we found the road wasnt actually open as far as they said it was so we walked some road to the trail head. As one walks along the top of the canyon rim you end up rapping down the cord and then climbing back out. We found the cord using JoJo's excellent beta, rapped the route, climbed and were back to the car by noon. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park: !!! Pitch 1: Pitch 2: Pitch 3: Water ice in May... gotta love it. We were hoping for some more ice so we called Jay @ the Silvertip Mountain Center to see how things were holding up @ Cooke City. Jay told us things were sliding and it was suppose to be 60 tomorrow... alas: good bye 07/08 ice season (though I hear Cali Ice is still in!) After a quick soak in the boiling river we headed east for the devils tower. Boiling River: Gotta love the natural hot springs Moo? We made it to Devils Tower by 11 or so... I'd never been to Devils Tower before so Bryan ran me around the next two days on a mini sampler of the tower (emphasis on mini... the tower is HUGE!). Stem box: Wide: Hands: 5.5 my ass: Tips to hands: Woof? McCarthy North Face: Tips to ringlocks: Summit views: MisterE: eat your heart out Epilogue: So yeah: devils tower is worth the trip... I'm hoping to get back out there this fall. Hundreds of multipitch trad routes! Cheers to Bryan to another great trip, JoJo for great beta, and Frank for letting us dirtbag at his place Gear Notes: BEAR SPRAY! We saw lots of grizzly tracks
  5. Found on second pitch attached to a # 7 BD stopper. Couldn't get the nut but I got your biner. Identify the taping scheme (colors & pattern) and I'll gladly return it.
  6. Trip: Mt Rainier - Fuhrer Thumb + Survival Date: 5/6/2008 Trip Report: May 4-6, 2008, Mt Rainier, Fuhrer Thumb + Survival Summary: The Fuhrer Thumb is a beautiful ski line. But summit fever can get you in deadly serious trouble in the blink of an eye. Whiteouts and high winds at 14000 feet can suddenly leave you in a desperate survival situation. Steam caves in the crater are disgustingly humid, but better than freezing to death out in the open. And sometimes you are lucky enough to survive your stupidity, maybe even learn from your mistakes, and live to ski another day. I hope that by sharing this story, I can help myself digest one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and also give others some insight about what to do and what to avoid in a dire survival situation atop a big mountain. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fuhrer Thumb and Finger area, with our ascent route in blue. Zoomed view with a better angle of the Fuhrer Thumb. Details: We set off to ski the Fuhrer Thumb on the south side of Mount Rainier, a nicely steep couloir of 40-45 degrees, narrower but with a more sustained fall-line than its better-known neighbor the Fuhrer Finger. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies and 7500-8000 ft freezing levels on both Sunday and Monday, so we planned a one-day push overnight with light packs. We registered just before the Jackson Visitor Center closed at 6pm on Sunday May 4, with the park rangers remarking at our lack of gear, but trusting that with 40 Rainier summits between the two of us, we knew what we were doing. We started skinning uphill at 9pm, hoping to summit (9000+ ft of gain) in about 12 hours + nap breaks. We ascended the Nisqually on skis to about 7600 ft and eventually switched to booting with crampons as the slopes steepened and became hard-frozen near the Wilson Glacier. Routefinding through the one major crevassed area was complicated somewhat by the new moon and near-total darkness, but this area is easily avoided by heading up a gentler ramp to its right (if you can see). Yet the dark night sky was also brilliant with stars, and punctuated several times by the brief blazes of meteors. We reached the foot of the Thumb at 10200 ft at 3am and took a lengthy sitting nap break under a rock overhang, at the base of a steep cliff on the couloir's right side, just a few feet from the small bergschrund marking the head of Wilson Glacier. Starting up the Fuhrer Thumb just above our nap spot, with the Wilson Glacier bergschrund just to the left. Steep views down the Thumb, with Mt St Helens in the distance. We awoke at dawn to find unexpectedly gray skies and thick high clouds, but despite the weather concerns we eventually started up the steep slopes of the Thumb at 6am. Snow conditions were a mix of nice supportive crust perfect for cramponing and arduous breakable crust, causing postholes up to a foot deep. We each climbed using Whippets on our ski poles (two for me, one for my partner), and the single ice axe we'd each brought stayed on our packs throughout the climb. Above the top of the Thumb (11400 ft), we continued directly up the eastern edge of Wapowety Cleaver, avoiding the eastward traverse onto the Nisqually Glacier which looks quite broken up around 12000 ft, with crevasse navigation issues likely. The downside of choosing the crevasse-free Wapowety is that there are several sections of steep 50-55 degree sidehill snow slopes from 12200-12500 ft, which are arduous and exposed in spots, perched above rocky cliffs with a long drop down onto the Nisqually. In the midst of these steep sections the weather worsened around 9am, with light snowfall, gusty winds, and a large lenticular cloud enveloping the entire summit plateau. We took another break on a small flat spot near 12300 ft, which turned into a long nap for my ski partner after we debated whether to just pull the plug and ski down. We decided to at least wait a bit and see, and the weather did improve within a couple of hours, brightening to mostly sunny skies and much lighter winds with only wispy fragments of the lenticular remaining. I fired up the Jetboil to make about 2.5 liters of water, easily enough to see us through to the top. So at noon we headed upward once more, hoping to polish off the last 1900 vertical to reach 14158 ft Point Success, the second highest of Rainier's three 14000 ft peaks, in a couple of hours. Map of routes: Gray: Our ascent route; the switchbacks on the Nisqually are very approximate in location and number. Red: My initial ski route and subsequent reascent to the crater rim (also approximate). Green: Travels around the crater rim the next morning. Blue: My ski descent from the rim to rejoin the ascent route, the rest of the ski descent followed the ascent route. The next 200 vert above our nap spot were the steepest of the entire route, and we split the exhausting post-holing duties, diagonaling up the sun-softened slopes. Atop the flat summit of Wapowety Cleaver at 13000 ft, we took another break to switch back to skins, since the slopes above were not very steep and it looked to be no problem to skin all the way to Point Success. We zigzagged left and right through a field of large crevasses, but by 13400 ft the powdery snow atop a firm crust on the upper Nisqually Glacier was making skinning difficult for my partner. She switched to booting on foot and headed more directly towards Point Success, while I continued skinning a switchbacking track with ski crampons providing occasional support. My last glimpse of her was just after 2pm, as I headed out of sight around a minor rib on a long rightward switchback. The weather remained mostly sunny with light winds as I made the final leftward switchback, and I snapped a photo of Point Success from about 200 yards away along the ridge at 2:40pm. Hard work ascending the steepest part of the route on Wapowety Cleaver. The last bit of ridge to Point Success, still mostly sunny at 2:40pm. Six minutes later, I stood atop the peak in a sudden whiteout and strong gusty winds. The temperature was 14 F, winds 30+ mph from the west, and my altimeter read 14220 (+62 error). There was nowhere to hide from the elements atop the narrow summit crest, so I stood with my back to the wind and waited. And waited. Occasionally shapes which looked like human form, complete with skis on pack, appeared through the mist along the ridge to the east, and I yelled my partner's name each time, but in vain as all turned out to be illusions in the drifting fog. Wind-driven rime was rapidly coating my pack and clothing, so I switched over to ski mode and skied back down my skin track after about 20 minutes atop the peak. I assumed my ski partner must have turned around when the winds and whiteout hit, and I thought that I'd be able to ski down and cross paths with her soon. Little did I know that my friend would arrive only minutes later atop the ridge to find my skin track leading to an empty summit, and a partner who had abandoned her. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Things got much worse from here. My skin track down the ridge was rapidly filling with wind-driven snow, and following it down became impossible, as visibility for snow features was less than 10 ft. I navigated by altimeter and dead-reckoning, trying to hold a 14060+ contour (including a mental correction for altimeter error) which would put me at the saddle separating Point Success from the summit craters, and from which I could easily ski down the fall line to intersect my ascent route. Unfortunately, I made a nearly-catastrophic navigational error. I held a contour just a bit too low, probably only 20 vertical feet low, but that's hundreds of feet of horizontal error in the flat featureless vicinity of the saddle. The distance I had skied was hard to gauge in the whiteout and strong tailwind pushing me along. I suddenly halted as a dark black feature appeared about 50 feet to my right. What?!? I realized that I must have overshot the saddle and was now on the uppermost Tahoma Glacier, standing just below a gaping bergschrund. The sudden fear and panic of being lost in an unknown field of crevasses in a whiteout was gripping me. I pulled my seldom-used compass out of the bottom of my pack, turned 180, and began following my track back away from the crevasses. It was painfully ironic to know that my two GPS units were sitting warm and dry at home while I was lost and freezing in a whiteout at 14000 ft. At least I had a nice waterproof topo map of the summit region, and could attempt to navigate by compass. I eventually found the 14000+ ft saddle (or is it really closer to 14040 ft?), an extremely windswept spot marked by numerous exposed rocks. The west wind was now about 40-50 mph, and I spotted a small snow-cave like shelter, about the volume of an office desk. I considered crawling inside for relief from the wind, but nearly an hour had already passed since I left Point Success. I decided it would be best to simply ski across the saddle and try to descend the Nisqually to reach our ascent track, and hopefully reunite with my ski partner. I thought the winds might ease on the opposite side of the saddle, but they didn't. I continued downhill to about 13900 ft, pushed from behind by the relentless wind as I held a wide snowplow stance to maintain walking speed, and unable to see much beyond my ski tips. The fear of plunging into a gaping crevasse, the same ones I had switchbacked around during the ascent, was overpowering me. I stopped and sat down. I knew that I was in very serious trouble, and for the first time in my life, realized that I might actually freeze to death, my life thrown away uselessly, lost in a featureless plain surrounded by crevasses which I could not see. There had to be a way out, I couldn't die here. I pulled out my cell phone, thankfully warm in an inside pocket and switched off to preserve its battery, and discovered upon turning it on that I had 2-3 bars of signal. I tried the MRNP number at 4:15pm, but couldn't connect. Next, 911, and it went through! Such a relief. I explained my location and predicament in great detail, several times to make sure that elevation and position had been recorded correctly, and the operator told me to stay put and that Mt Rainier National Park would call me back. Then nothing for a while, so I called my ski partner's phone, connecting to her voicemail after 3 attempts and leaving a detailed message with my location, apologizing for my foolish summit fever which had put us in this situation, and wishing that she was doing well. I then saw that I had new voicemail, and discovered a message: "Amar, this is David Gottlieb, climbing ranger at Mount Rainier. My number is 360-569-2211 x6028. Get back to us. Talk to you soon. OK, bye." I had met David a couple of times at high camps, and even remembered talking with him in July 1999 at Camp Schurman about the various routes he had skied. At least the rangers knew about my dire predicament, including the detailed location info I had given 911 (or so I thought at the time: it turns out they did not get the 911 recording, and the only info they got from 911 was that I was at "15000 ft on Mount Rainier". Ridiculous.) Over the next day, I would make a total of 49 cell phone call attempts, including 30+ to MRNP, several to voicemail, and several to another friend hoping that he could contact the park. Of that, only these 3 successfully connected, all between 4:15 and 4:30pm on May 5. By turning the phone off between each set of 3-4 call attempts and keeping it warm with body heat, I still had about 2/3 battery life remaining afterwards. I thought about my ski partner a lot, probably caught just like me somewhere out in the storm. The decisions we had made beforehand about gear and going lightweight, the way we had pushed each other onward and upward when either of us had lagged, and my final overwhelming push and desire to summit, even when it was clear that she was much more tired than me and just wanted to turn around and ski back down. She's the best and most inspiring ski partner I've ever met, and I knew that I had let her down. But the immediate issue was hypothermia, and worse, severe frostbite or actually freezing to death. I'm not very tolerant of cold at all, with poor circulation in the extremities, and I doubted that I could survive an exposed bivy with minimal gear at 13900 ft, in 40-50 mph winds with temperatures dropping below 10F overnight. My clothing consisted of top/bottom lightweight Capilene long underwear, soft-shell pants (REI Acme), and microfleece top (TNF Aurora). Insulation included a thick fleece vest, a newly-bought hooded puffy (Montbell Thermawrap Parka), and my super-warm Feathered Friends Volant down jacket with hood (still inside my pack). Shells consisted of Arc'teryx Theta SK bib pants and an Arc'teryx Alpha LT jacket. And thankfully, I did have lots of gloves and hats: 2 fleece hats, a fleece helmet liner, a thin balaclava, OR Alti Mitts (heavily insulated and waterproof, with insulated liner), OR Couloir ski gloves (insulated waterproof), OR Omni gloves, and 2 pairs of OR PL 100 liner gloves. A lot of clothing for sure, but not enough for me to survive overnight in that situation unless I kept moving or found shelter from the wind. There were only two options: descend the climbing route as best I could and hope to drop below the whiteout before falling in a crevasse, or climb back up to the crater rim and try to find a steam cave to bivy inside of. I tried option 1, trying at first to slowly ski down but realizing that I would have to switch to cramponing on foot. This would reduce the risk of skiing into a gaping crevasse, but greatly increase the risk of plunging into a hidden one. Around 13800 ft, I decided to turn around and climb back up, 400+ vertical to the rim. I headed due north, hoping to reach the Nisqually bergschrund, and then traverse rightward along it to a safe-enough crossing, providing access to the crater rim. I reached the schrund at 5:30, a huge opening about 20-30 ft high, with enough room for many to camp inside, but the wind was whipping through its length and powdery snow was flying everywhere. So traverse along it I did, and as expected it narrowed farther eastward, eventually becoming only a foot or two wide with numerous snow bridges across it. I crawled across one of them, and I could see exposed rocks just beyond. At least I was now safe, but it was time to get warm and fast. The bergschrund at the head of the Nisqually Glacier. I reached the crater rim around 6:20pm, a bit over 14200 ft, and immediately found an entrance leading to a large steam cave. I descended 15 ft into a first chamber, large but barely tall enough to stand up in, and then slithered and crawled through 3-4 ft high passages another 20 feet down, reaching an excellent large chamber with several hot fumaroles along one side and a steep passage angling directly back up to the surface about 30 ft above, providing a welcome glimpse of daylight without letting too much weather inside. Definitely home for the night, and maybe much longer if the weather did not improve. I went back to the surface to retrieve my gear and planted my skis in an X outside the entrance, hoping that any climbing parties that might reach the rim the next morning would see it. The steam cave just inside the crater rim, looking down the first entrance. The interior of the upper part of the steam cave. I set up the Jetboil to melt snow for water, but within seconds I had tipped it over, dousing its flame completely and unable to relight it due to all the snow packed into the burner. This was a potential disaster: without a way to make liquid water, I would probably get hypothermia if I kept eating snow even within the relatively warm (almost freezing) steam cave. But then an idea: I filled the Jetboil cup with snow, put the lid on, and sat it against the hottest nearby fumarole. This one sounded like a camping stove, hissing out a powerful jet of steam and gas which was intolerably hot to the touch and thankfully nearly odorless. I suspected its temperature was close to the boiling point of water, about 185 F at 14000 ft. I knew that volcanic gases typically include H2O, CO2 (carbon dioxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), CO (carbon monoxide), and H2S (hydrogen sulfide). The latter three are all poisonous, with CO being odorless and thus quite insidious, SO2 having a noticeable pungent smell, and H2S with a noxious rotten eggs smell, so prevalent on other Cascade volcanoes such as Mt Baker and Mt Hood. I knew that this fumarole had almost none of the stinky sulfurous gases, and hoped that any CO would be minimal to avoid any effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Within a few minutes, the snow had melted in the Jetboil cup, and 15-20 minutes produced half-liter quantities of water as hot as tea. I was stoked: As miserably wet and humid as the cave was, I had found a source of both unlimited warmth and unlimited hot water at the summit of Mount Rainier. I knew I could survive for days if necessary with no fear of either hypothermia or dehydration. But food was another story: a quick inventory revealed only 1 pack of 4 Nutter Butter cookies (250 cal), 1 pack M&Ms peanut (250 cal), 1 pack M&Ms plain (240 cal), 1 Chewy Dipps granola bar (140 cal), 1 Chewy granola bar (100 cal), and 1 Kudos bar (100 cal) = 1080 calories. I decided not to eat any of it that night, saving it all for the next day. Although I knew I needed food, especially after the exertion of climbing nearly 10000 vertical feet in the past 21 hours, for some reason I was just not very hungry. Also, I realized with relief that I felt no discernible effects from the altitude. I've always felt so lucky that I handle altitude better than most people, and in numerous previous trips from sea level to 14000+ feet in under 24 hours, I had never once experienced any altitude-related illness. I'm very fortunate in that regard, and the majority of people would experience some symptoms of AMS for sure under a forced bivy at 14000 ft less than a day after leaving sea level, with HAPE or HACE a real possibility for a smaller fraction. So darkness came and I cuddled up next to the fumarole, still always brewing another batch of hot water in the Jetboil cup and making sure to drink plenty. I tried turning my headlamp off at first, but realized that I needed the small comfort of being able to see around me in such an alien environment and so I kept it on most of the rest of the night. LED headlamps are great, I knew I had dozens of hours of battery life remaining. My clothes were already soaked, as the rate of condensation on any exposed surface was the most rapid I've ever seen. Any object would be dripping wet within a minute or less. Nevertheless, being hot and damp was much better than cold and damp, and so I kept rotating various sides of my body close to the fumarole, using my crampon bag as a deflector to reduce or re-aim the stream of hot gases in a needed direction. When my feet got cold inside my ski boots, I could just place them directly atop the fumarole and they'd be back warm within 10-15 minutes. I was wearing all my clothes except the down jacket, which I tried to carefully preserve inside its Sil-Nylon stuffsack within my pack. The down would be useless within the steam cave environment, rapidly turning into a heavy sodden mess, but it might be essential to my survival the next day outside on the mountain and so I had to keep it dry. Despite the heat from the fumarole, I shivered constantly through most of the night, with relief usually only for a few minutes after drinking a cup of hot water. My hands stayed nicely warm and dry for several hours inside the insulated waterproof Alti Mitts, but eventually they soaked through too and my fingers soon looked like prunes. My soaking wet fingers the next morning. I slept fitfully, mostly not well at all, and had my longest nap from 4am to 5:30. I awoke on Tuesday May 6 to a shocking surprise: there was daylight visible out through the opening of the cave! Given the forecast for deteriorating weather throughout the week, I could not believe my good luck. With nice weather, I thought that climbers and especially guided parties would certainly be reaching the rim shortly. I planned to ask them for food and for assistance in descending via whatever route they had climbed. I also probably needed some dry clothes, since my sodden garments would quickly freeze into a stiff suit of armor outside in the expected 10 F cold. Looking up the second entrance from home sweet home. It took me forever to get ready, eat some of my food, and prepare to go outside. I shook out my wet outer layers, donned the mercifully still-dry down jacket, and climbed out to the surface just after 7am. Partly sunny, cold but not too cold, and winds light, W 10-15 mph, with visibility past Mt Adams. WOW. The crater rim in the morning. I realized that my cave was about 100 yards west of where the normal climbing routes reach the low point in the crater rim, so it was important to leave a message over there for the climbers who would surely be arriving shortly. So I walked over to the low point, which was marked with 2 wands, and scratched out the words, "Help! 100 yds west", in a smooth patch of snow with my ski pole. I also moved my crossed skis from the original cave entrance to the second entrance, which was closer to the low point. I tried several more cell phone call attempts to MRNP, to no avail. As expected, my outer layers had frozen stiff in the cold air, so I retreated to the steam cave to thaw them out. Looking down into my cave, with the west part of the East Crater rim in the distance. By 9am it was time to head back out again. I thought for sure that climbers must be getting up there already, but in any case I decided that I'd walk around the inside of the crater rim and try to place cell phone calls in each different direction, hoping to get a stronger signal. To avoid the hazard of accidentally falling into thinly snow-covered steam cave entrances, it is best not to walk too close to the inside of the rim, so I walked in arcs passing through the middle of the crater and connecting to points on the east and north rims, and forcefully probed with both ski poles just in case. The floor of the crater was scoured to bare blue glacial ice in many spots, cut in a couple places by thin, 6-12" wide snow-filled cracks that were deeper than I could probe. Each time I reached the rim, still no luck with the cell. By now, I was almost at Columbia Crest, the true 14411 ft summit of Mt Rainier. I walked over to the summit register, located in a steaming area of fumarolic bare ground just below the summit, and thumbed through the old entries. The last entries were from April 17, and before that from autumn of 2007. At 9:50am, I added my own lengthy page, describing what had happened and my worries about my ski partner and about how I would make it down. I climbed up to the Crest, took in the grand views once again, and made several more unsuccessful cell attempts. Columbia Crest, with the West Crater rim beyond. The day was becoming gloriously warm and sunny, with winds dropping to nearly calm and temps rising to near 20 F. Nothing at all like the NWS forecast. My clothes were drying on my body, and I felt really good despite the lack of food and sleep, with no ill effects from the previous day's exertion. So I decided to set myself a deadline: if no climbers or helicopter had appeared by noon, I would simply ski down the upper Nisqually to rejoin our ascent route, and ski the Thumb as originally planned. I hoped that by noon, the snow on the steepest parts of Wapowety Cleaver (50-55 degree SE facing slopes) would be softened enough to hold an edge. If I could get past that crux safely in my probably somewhat weakened condition, the rest of the run down the Thumb and Wilson Glacier would be cake in any snow conditions, even if parts were still breakable crust. At 10:45am, I headed back across the crater to my cave, and carefully repacked all my gear. Everything was disgustingly wet, and much of it covered in a muddy hydrothermally-altered clay which forms the soil within the steam caves. I melted and drank a final liter of water, and planned to eat snow as needed to stay hydrated during the ski descent. If everything went well, I should be able to ski out to Paradise in about 2 hrs, even including the short climb back up to Glacier Vista. 12:10 pm: My pack and gear are all back at the surface, with skis still crossed above the cave entrance. By noon I was back out on the surface with my pack and gear, making final preparations to ski down. But wait - - - I heard a helicopter! And there it was, climbing upwards towards the rim from far below me. It quickly approached and circled around me twice, as I waved a single hand to let them know I was OK. I assumed that it would land in the crater, but then it took off down the mountain, so I thought that maybe the rangers think I'm OK and don't need a ride. Only later would I be told that the chopper had an engine malfunction light of some sort come on, and was forced to descend without me, while MRNP staff scrambled to locate a backup chopper in case it was needed. 12:19 pm: The MRNP rescue helicopter circling around me. So back to peace and silence on the rim. I'd had the summit all to myself for nearly a day, and still no climbers had appeared. As I prepared to click into my bindings, I noticed that the Dynafit fittings on my boots were clogged completely with mud. I used a Leatherman tool to chip the mud out of my boot fittings, which was very difficult since it appeared that the hydrothermally-altered clay had set into something as hard as plaster. Given the steepness of parts of the descent, I could take no chances with the typical Dynafit accidental pre-release bullshit, so I made sure the fittings were super clean and then locked the toes too for good measure. Looking across at Point Success from high on the Nisqually Glacier. (Sorry, bad photo, camera was fogging up.) I skied down the Nisqually Glacier at 12:40pm, a completely surreal feeling given the events of the previous 22 hours. I crossed the bergschrund somewhere near where I had crawled across it the evening before, and quickly located portions of the skin track of our ascent route. The 1-2 inches of new snow during the storm had been heavily windblown, and so only obscured small portions of the track. The ski down to 12500 ft was easy, albeit on an unpleasant mix of crust, windpacked powder, and a few patches of bare glacial ice. Unfortunately, the steepest parts of Wapowety Cleaver had not softened enough, and I was forced to sideslip much of the most exposed parts, using my uphill (right) Whippet as an anchor at times. The steepest step, only about 10 ft high but that had to be 55+ degrees, required sidestepping carefully while anchored with the uphill hand. And then I was safe, or so it seemed. But far below, a marine layer had filled the valleys to well over 8000 ft, and it was thickening. I hoped to avoid another whiteout on the glaciers below. Looking down the vertiginous Fuhrer Thumb, with Wilson Glacier and the marine layer clouds far below. The snow improved greatly below 12000 ft, becoming almost corn-like in spots. In the Fuhrer Thumb, the previous day's breakable crust had solidified enough to hold a skier's weight, and the descent was thoroughly enjoyable on a mix of edgeable crust and proto-corn. Hitting the Wilson Glacier at 10200 ft, I found the nicest snow of the day, fine spring corn on the cruising rolls down to 9000 ft and the edge of the marine layer. This whiteout was as dense as the one on the summit yesterday, but with nearly dead-calm winds and no real problems. I followed footsteps back to the Nisqually, and then the huge cattle-stampede track of a crevasse rescue class back to the moraine and Glacier Vista. Snow conditions were complete mushy glop in the whiteout, but I didn't care one bit. I had made it down off the mountain, alive and well. Corn and ski tracks on the Wilson Glacier. I reached the ski dorm at the edge of the parking lot at 3pm, and a single thoroughly-sodden packet of M&Ms still remained uneaten. I had survived my first major epic, and now I was desperate to make sure my ski partner had, too. To my great relief, there was a note on my car from climbing ranger Thomas Payne, informing me that she was safely off the mountain and that I should contact David Gottlieb at Longmire as soon as I got back. The ski dorm at Paradise. Safe at last. I drove down to Longmire, and went through a lengthy debriefing and interview process with the climbing rangers, a necessary bureaucratic process since an official search-and-rescue mission had been launched. They told me my ski partner had downclimbed the Kautz Glacier from Point Success on foot, in harrowing whiteout conditions down to 12000 ft, and then skied the Turtle back to the Nisqually Glacier and Paradise by 8:15pm the night before, and stayed at the ski dorm overnight. They said I could see her, but only after the interview and timeline of events was complete. As I was finishing my signed statement of events leading to the SAR, she finally walked in and we were both so relieved and overjoyed to see each other again, both safe and sound. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm not sure what will happen to me going forward from now on. It's going to take some time for me to process what happened and decide if I need to make some changes in my mountain travel habits and my degree of acceptable risk. Certainly I think the GPS is going back in my pack, for any trip of significant size. The only other thing that would have helped in the whiteout is being roped up the entire time, which is certainly worth considering for any such trips in the future. And at least I lost some weight during the trip: From the morning of May 3 through this afternoon on May 7, my weight has decreased from 144.4 lbs to 140.0, with body fat decreasing from 14.9% to 12.3%. This equals a loss of 4.3 lbs of body fat, which would supply about 17000 calories, and luckily it appears that I managed not to burn a significant amount of muscle mass. That would have changed for sure had I been forced to spend longer up there with no more food. Thanks to David Gottlieb, Chris Olson, Matt Hendrickson, Joe Franklin, and all the other climbing rangers and staff at MRNP who assisted in the planning and execution of my SAR mission. Although I made it down safely without assistance this time, it was only because of an unexpected lucky break in the weather, and my situation would have otherwise become increasingly desperate had the foul weather continued. And thanks most of all to my trusty ski partner and dear friend, for forgiving me and for still wanting to go skiing with me after this. I'm so glad you got down safely. "Hey dude, where are we skiing tomorrow?" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [font:Courier New]MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA 345 AM PDT SUN MAY 4 2008 SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL BUILD OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON TODAY. SKIES WILL CLEAR AND THE AIR MASS WILL WARM TODAY. THE RIDGE SHOULD PERSIST INTO MONDAY. ONSHORE FLOW WILL INCREASE MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY AS A WEATHER SYSTEM REACHES THE AREA. AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH WILL DEVELOP OVER THE REGION MIDWEEK. SUN SUN MON MON TUE NIGHT NIGHT SUMMIT (14411 FT) 11 15 15 14 9 E 9 W 25 W 30 W 28 W 35 CAMP MUIR(10188 FT) 25 27 27 28 20 SE 10 W 14 W 20 W 11 W 25 SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 7500 FEET. SUNDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 8500 FEET. MONDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 8000 FEET. MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 8000 FEET. TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET. TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 4500 FEET. WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS AND NUMEROUS SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3500 FEET. THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3500 FEET. FRIDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5000 FEET. [/font]
  7. Hi CC-ers, Could you please visit our site when you have moment? This expedition site is the proof that you can achive a lot even on the intermediate route as WB. If you are genious like our exp leader... He did something for all of us, we couldn't even imagine at our first coffee meeting several months ago. http://cleanenergydenali08.com/ Zoran
  8. Trip: Mt Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier Date: 4/12/2008 Trip Report: After a bus to and a high-speed train from Grenoble, a lovely evening in Paris, a two-hour flight to Amsterdam, a five-hour wait in Amsterdam created by flight delay, and an eleven-hour flight to Seattle, Ryan was nice enough to nab me from SEATAC Friday evening circa seven. Four hours after leaving me at home, most of which I spent drinking Génépi liquor and raving to my roommates about France and Les Hautes-Alpes, he reappeared with his new kick-ass ski buddy Monika and they were ready to go to Leavenworth. There was a bit of discussion about what route to ski. Colchuck Peak's NBC was mentioned, but I thought that a hot day and early sun would guarantee a death slurpee there. We needed to get high and find shelter. I knew just the line for the job: Ice Cliff Glacier: so protected, so high, so steep, so lovely. What better way to cure jet lag than a long approach after a short nap? Ryan skis toward Mt Stuart after a pleasant ~12 km approach from Icicle Creek Road. Mt Stuart: the Ice Cliff Glacier and its couloir are hiding in the shadows to the left of the summit and false summit We had some fun playing on the blue ice of the glacier... Monika enjoys some ice - we didn't have to climb this, but it was good to avoid exposure below a menacing serac. This chunk of ice required a small amount of air time on the descent. When Casey and I skied the couloir two years ago, it took a good edge, but it was none too soft. This time we found chunky pow that made for some wickedly fun steep skiing. Monika and Ryan get at the cornice, while I offer them a rope between kicking snow onto them and taking pictures. Monika and Ryan approach the true summit. Monika is a ripper; she's so good that she levitates over vertical rocks on her skis. La trace raconte l'histoire... No, actually, she was on rappel, as Ryan is here. He was just holding her rope. He didn't hold my rope. Jerk. The snow was incredible. Ryan finds his groove. Wonderful steep turns down the whole couloir! In case you can't tell, Monika is shredding the steeps. Ryan enjoys his turn on the same. Ice cliff bulge from above... ...and from below. This route is definitely a steep skiing classic. The Stuart Range is holding a ton of snow this spring. Everybody go bag some lines! Triple Culos? I have lots of material from the Alps; so much that it's overwhelming. Coming soon... after I do some work. Gear Notes: Carried and used 1 metric shit-tonne of gear; it was heavy. Approach Notes: The Cascades kicked my ass after sipping expressos in the Alps. Sky and Ryan au Refuge d'Argentière two weeks ago. We're here; we're there; we ski steeps everywhere.
  9. Earlier this morning I took out the trash...something I should do more often. On my way back in the building I discovered a secret gem! I immediately called one of my climbing partners and told him to get over to my house with all his gear. We were going to climb some ice this afternoon! He arrived at my house about an hour later completely geared up (full pack and all), ready to go. Inquisitive, he kept pushing me for information on the climb I found. I explained that it was actually a very short approach and he didnt need his Das Parka today. I suprised him by offering to drive as well. We walked out the front door, loaded up the car and drove around to the back of my building. There it IS!!! We unloaded the gear from the car and got ready to go. I spent some time contemplating which route to take....drytooling up the stucco, the hanging curtains, or the attatched pillar (main line). Ice was falling everywhere from the warm sun, as well as being Afraid my neighbors were going to come out telling us how unsafe we were, I decided to make the long trek back inside my apartment to get my rope, helmet, and a few screws. Unfortunately, I forgot my draws and biners. Good thing I carry a biner on my keychain! That seemed to do the trick!!!! Oh, if you havent noticed, I forgot my harness as well. Didnt seem to think it would be too much of a problem to tie into my beltloop. I was a little worried after I couldnt get the first screw all the way in, tho I continued on... I realized how costly this adventure could be. Not so much for my physical being...but financially...as we heard my landlord next door start yelling out the window at us, I politely retreated. Until another day! Aaaaah Ice climbing in Minnesota! Its right outside your backdoor!
  10. Several in the Mt. Hood thread (including admins) have suggested that a separate topic be started for speculation, but no one ever starts one. So here, I'm doing it. If you don't like speculation or 'what if' or debate over what might have happened or regurgitation and analysis of info. derived from press conferences, interviews, and the media, this isn't your place. And if you don't want to post to this thread, don't, but then don't post to the other one either, cause this one is here now. You have no excuses. Cheers!
  11. Trip: Mt. Goode - Megalodon Ridge ( IV+ 5.10- ) Date: 9/6/2007 Trip Report: Last Wednesday, my friend Sol Wertkin and I headed out to the North Cascades National Park on an attempt to stretch a little more summer into what was rapidly becoming fall. The intended destination was a climb of the complete East Ridge of Mt. Goode. After seeing photos and encountering the ridge last month, I knew it would be a "big fish to fry" hence Sol coined it the " Megalodon Ridge" in honor of the biggest and scariest fish to ever swim the seas. The ridge runs from L->R across the skyline. On the first day we approached the base of the technical climbing and had a perfect bivy on the ridgeline before it steepened up. A few drops of rain fell on us, but by morning it looked as though things might clear up. After crossing some icy snow in the morning, we started up the ridge, with the summit often lurking in distant clouds. Dan Hilden and I had climbed this first part on a traverse a few weeks ago, but bailed off due to 40lb packs, and very little climbing gear. We made one 50m rappel and began swapping leads along the crest. The position was amazing, with alpine lakes below us, and the sun coming out just when we needed it. The rock wass often pretty good along the crest, with memorable highlights including a 5.8 finger crack and another overhang corner of the same grade. Soon the steep wall of the SE peak began to loom closer ahead of us. Sol fired off the first headwall pitch, which ended up being a splitter 5.10- hand crack to a nice belay ledge. I got the next pitch which started up a perfect corner before stepping left and doing some delicate stemming to the top. A bit of scrambling brought us to the last pitch on the SE peak, which Sol lead through with scanty protection. "No life Guard on Duty" here... From the SE Peak we skirted the steep glacial ice by climbing through the moat. Ross and Sky skied from near here ~5,000' down to Bridge Creek a couple years ago, that just blows me away. Some steep solid rock and an au-cheval crest led us up to the final pinnacle before Black Tooth Notch. We had joked around for much of the climb about all the potential shark-themed names, which was fitting as our crux involved this pitch climbing down into Black-Tooth Notch. I belayed Sol down and across the wall to the notch, with several thousand feet of exposure to bridge creek below his feet. He protected this lead perfectly and memorized nearly every move so as to feed me beta as I seconded the traversy downclimb. It ended up being overhanging 5.10 climbing, but it brought us back "on the map" and past all major obstacles. From there we did one long running belay to the summit. It was late and we were tired, so we did some quick construction and settled in for a night on the highest point in the National Park. An amazing sunset and meteor shower had us in awe all night. The next morning's chilly sunrise was a nice sight as well... As Sol says "Livin' the dream, life is Good(e)" Yesterday we made the 5,000' descent down the south side of the mountain to Park Creek and were thankful for the cool fall breeze on our 19-mile hike back to the car. There was also a forest fire that provided some temporary entertainment. This was a really fun trip with a great partner. The summit bivy spot is (obviously) highly recomended by us both. The register which was there last summer is gone now though... Gear Notes: Standard climbing rack. Should have included goldfish crackers to complete the fish theme. Approach Notes: Up N.Fork of bridge creek for 2 miles, turn left and cross the creek through open clearings when the ridge is obvious.
  12. Climb: 6 Days and 6 Routes in The Pasayten Wilderness -Part 1 Date of Climb: 7/28/2004 Trip Report: My best friend, and in 6 weeks - best man, is named Owen. He is as solid a person and climber as I have ever known. We use to climb most weekends together, now that he lives in Colorado, we still plan at least one big trip together each year. Together we’ve carried heavy loads into the Winds, the Sawtooths and the Cascades, climbed spires and descended canyons in the desert southwest, frozen our arses off on a bivi ledge or two. This year the plan was the Bugaboos. We were gonna go for it dude! Do a Grade VI on Howser man… or at least a mess of Grade V’s. But plans can change. Six days of cragging, that was the sum total of my climbing this year by mid-July. Of course breaking my ankle at the end of March had a lot to do with it. It didn’t change the fact that I was out of shape and the few day trips I had done on moderate routes left me hobbled and limping by the time I was headed back to the car. The Bugaboos were not happening, it would be too painful to get all the way in there and have to bail because my body was a POS. We needed a trip with less climbing and more importantly less expectations. As I had managed a fair bit of backpacking with my fiancé in the prior month we settled on a trip to Wall Creek, a remote valley just north of the border that lies below the granitic peaks of Grimface, Matriarch and Macrabe. As it turned out the ankle was healed, the weather was perfect, the wilderness exquisite and the climbing incredible. What follows are photos and notes on what might be the finest trip I’ve ever done. Getting There We left town on the evening of Thurday, July 22nd timing it perfectly with the heatwave that washed through the area. Projected highs in nearby towns were 102 degrees. From Bellingham it’s 234 miles and about 4.5 hours to the Centennial Trailhead. From Highway 3 the last 30.4 miles are on the Ashnola River Road, almost all of it an excellent 2wd gravel road. We pulled into the very obvious trailhead near midnight. Day 1 Friday, July 23rd In the morning we packed up….. Getting into the head of Wall Creek took less than five hours on an excellent trail. Follow the Centennial trail for about 4 miles to the obvious signed fork and take the right hand branch. All blow-down has been removed making for a moderate and enjoyable hike. The meadows are beautiful and pristine. Plans for climbing in the afternoon turned into a chilly swim in a nearby lake, a bit of bouldering and much swatting of mosquitoes. Day 2 Saturday, July 24th Matriarch - South Pillar “Good from far, but far from good!” Actually it’s not that bad, just not the classic one hopes it will be. The 3-pitch direct start is composed of the worst kitty-litter granite choss I’ve climbed. Immediately afterwards the rock becomes much better, in fact excellent, only to deteriorate once again on the final crux moves. With the recommended indirect start the route goes at 5.10b. Be prepared to pull the final roof on mediocre rock with fall potential onto a slab. A recommended line, though not one to center your trip around. We topped out by noon and decide to climb another route rather than eat bugs down in the meadows. We descended a loose gully next to the pillar, grabbed our shoes and hiked over to Grimface. Grimface – Southeast Chimneys Established by Bob Cuthbert and company in 1973 this is an intriguing route that ascends a long series of moderate chimneys on the southeast side of Grimface. In fact of the routes six pitches only one of them is not a chimney and it’s a wide crack! A trickle of water at the base of the route kept us from dieing of dehydration and a large shady cave sprinkled with goat droppings allowed for a long, cool midday siesta before we started the climb. The rock quality is excellent and the chimneying is sustained back-and-foot work. Though generally low-angle, gear is intermittent at best and a fall would have serious consequences. Not the best route for a 5.7 leader. I would however call the route a CLASSIC. There just aren’t many climbs where one can practice such a well-known and interesting technique. The neighboring “Mother of Invention” route looked excellent as well. Either route would make a great finish to the G-M-M traverse for a strong party. To descend we walked down the scenic NW ridge then enjoyed some amazing scree-surfing back into Wall Creek. We must have dropped 1500’ in ten minutes and made it back into camp after a thirteen hour day. Day 3 Sunday, July 25th The Deacon – The Nose Owen starting up Pitch 2 I’ve always been intrigued by the description of The Deacon in the Red Beckey Guide. A friend of mine, Steve Barnett, did the first ascent of the north face in 1973. Unfortunately he can’t remember doing it. Oh well! This is a beautiful formation in a very remote valley. The rock is generally excellent, though a bit vegetated and occasionally loose. The Nose, established by Peter Doorish in 1991, is a very good, albeit serious route that follows a cunning path up one of the only lines of weakness on the face. Maybe even a backcountry classic for the grade. From our camp in Wall Creek we hiked up to col with Ewart creek then traversed meadows and boulder fields to the base of The Nose. The route description in the Beckey Guide is concise but adequate, you won’t have a lot of other options. After starting on the nose for two pitches, the route moves onto the left side of the north face and remains there until almost the summit. It in fact joins the 1973 Barnett-Anderson route on top of the obvious pillar on the north face contrary to what is written in the Beckey Guide. Bring a medium rack to 4”. You will need micro nuts and tiny TCUs to build a good anchor between the 5.10 pitches. The wall is steep, the ledge is small, and the crux is right at the start. Thanks to Owen for leading both crux pitches in style. A brief, very exposed, downclimb into the first notch, followed by one 80’ rappel into the first SE gully, then a quick traverse into the next gully and a lot of scrambling led back to the base of the route in less than an hour. By the time we got back to camp we had been on the go for over twelve hours, our pace had been anything but fast. Day 4 Monday, July 26th Uninspired to slog back up the scree below Grimface, Matriarch and Macrabe we decided to head to the Cathedral Lakes area for the remainder of our trip. It was a very good decision. We found easy travel through meadows and boulder fields on the northwest side of the Deacon , climbing about 1400’ before reaching the top of the expansive ridgeline separating Wall Creek from Cathedral Creek. Owen with Cathedral and Amphitheatre Peaks in the background From here a steep descent led to more beautiful meadows and open forest in the head of Cathedral Creek. Within two hours of leaving camp we entered a strange clearing in the forest. More to follow later.....Part 2 - The Homeland Gear Notes: see report Approach Notes: see report
  13. Trip: Gunsight Peaks Traverse - "Gunrunner" IV 5.10 Date: 7/11/2007 Trip Report: John Scurlock Photo A long-winded TR from a long, windy climb... The Gunsight range is a N-S trending ridgeline of fantastic granite near the southern end of the Ptarmigan Traverse. With four named summits over 8,000' tall and several intermediate pinnacles, it made the perfect candidate for an early July destination. Dan Hilden (Dannible) and I spent 3 full days climbing up there this week, and completed 2 new routes, plus the second ascent of the E. Face. The first day we were tired from the approach, so we didn't aim for anything too big, but found an exciting climb anyhow. I'll let the pictures tell the story... The route begins in the obvious corner which splits the face. We had to downclimb into the icy moat, so the first pitch is about 15' longer than it looks. The first pitch was splitter fingers/hands and ended at a nice ledge. Dan escapes the moat... The next pitch Dan lead around to the right, then straight up through wild loose overhanging chimneys. Here's looking straight down past my shaking toes: The last pitch was an easy romp to the summit where we found great views of Dome and Sinister. Artsy rope throw photo on the descent After playing in the spotlight of a natural cannonhole, we headed back to camp and sorted gear out for the next day. On July 9th we circled around the range along the Chickamin Glacier to the north end, well past the NE peak. We found some great hand cracks which lead to the ridge crest at its terminus and began the traverse. Wide stemming into a perfect hand crack... From the ridge crest we climbed south on fantastic granite above the Chickamin and Blue Glaciers. N->S allows you to climb the steep North faces and descend the south sides of the peaks. Pitch 2 climbs to the left (East) side of the crest and featuresan amazing 5.8 corner and face crack. The day definitely had more of a "climb" feel than a level traverse, and we'd both fully recomend it if you have a complete day in the area. Along the way we had one single rap from the NE peak and one double rap from the middle peak. The fourth pitch on the route was a well-protected face climb leading to an exposed roof on golden rock. We summited the Northeast peak in 7 or 8 pitches, and the climb to there would be a fun grade III. The last pitch to the NE summit actually began by circling around to the right (West) and climbing a chimney and then through the hole in the back of an enormous roof to the top. From there it was on to the North and Middle summits. The West face, in profile on the right, is still awaiting a FFA. There was one spot while climbing up the the North Peak where we were in a face crack which ended, so we pendulumed to the right to join other features. Apart from this bit of aid, the entire climb was done free, and I think we could have avoided it if we had looked ahead more carefully. By the time we summited our third peak (the middle one) I was feeling dehydrated and exhausted, but Dan found his second wind and led on as the sun set. He lead up to the top of the South Peak as the stars came out in force, and we rappeled down onto the Blue Glacier in the dark. The next morning we went to the East Face of the middle peak to climb the route which Sol (Frosty_the_tradman) and friend did last summer. (By the way, congrats to Sol on getting married last weekend, your route is fantastic too!) We broke up the pitches differently, and belayed on comfy ledges. See their trip report for more details. Above this splitter hand crack step right then up the finger crack and continue up the crack in the R-facing corner, over the lip(crux .10d), and to a big ledge. This elminates the need for a hanging belay and as long as you save one hand-sized cam for the last 15', it should be easy gear-wise, because of changing crack sizes. The second to last pitch features a beautiful delicate slab climbing. This face is in shadow all afternoon, and the sunset topout gets a Blake-and-Dan thumbs up. This was a fun trip and Dan is a great partner and camp chef. It was nice climbing with another young punk for once, as we have a combined age of only 41. [edited to add topo -porter] Gear Notes: Single cams Blue alien, #3 Camalot, #4 Camalot Double cams Green alien - #2 Camalot One set of nuts Crampons, Ice axe Should have brought more pringles... Approach Notes: Agnes Creek via Stehekin 3786-3784-Gunrunnertopo.doc
  14. Trip: Index, Vesper, Sperry, Big 4 MadManMisAdventure - Date: 7/30/2007 Trip Report: the omens were bad to begin with - a wedding full of fat people the night before - bad booze and mind numbing conversation - a few hours of sleep, plagued by half images of Being Behind the Cue Ball again - rain on the road in the dark up to seattle and layton's place - a total lack of mind-altering medications to salve the soul woken up by a querolous layton in my red devil, parked halfway up on the curb at a non-dmv approved angle outside his swankish new abode - an hour of desperately needed sleep on a couch exactly half my height, a cigarette, a coffee, and an uncomfortable elevator ride w/ a complete stranger later we were on the road to methadonia for steep granite - the spitting rain shoulda been a warning to stay at home - good thing we went though, as quite the adventure unfolded: 1. the rock being completely cluster-fucked for free-climbing, mike and i lucked into discovering a secret project area, just a 30 second walk away from a beer n' tobaco vendor - we dreamed wistfully of the day when the weather would clear and we could take our keenly honed sick-skills back to the wall! mike near the top of our new crag - the mist enshrouded and verdant town walls beckoning us beyond SEND MOTHERFUCKER! 2. the second and greater adventure came when layton left his mithril-woven jacket and sacred cell-phone behind on a park bench - we did not discover this till returning to the traffic paradise of seattle and after hours of showing folks at the uw rock how to Get It Done - finally discovered that a hobo named charles had picked it up - only took the 30th call to the phone for him to figure out how to answer - his english was pretty poor even by 13th century standards, but eventually we got to the heart of the issue, which was he'd give us the phone back if we got him some beer, as after all "it's near the end of the month, man, you know?" - getting directions was another affair altogether, and as his last ride in a motorized carriage was probably back during the hoover administration, almost more useless than if we'd just driven in circles around index screaming his name my cornhole, worried that we might be walking into a deliverance-style situation, which i've done enough times in my life now to know better, admonished me to procure a butter-knife from a fashionable bavarian eatery before the drive out to index - niether of us had planned on what unfolded - charles had been evicted from a derilict trailer by the charming gay couple that had bought all the local land, but they'd been gracious enough to let him keep squatting in a tent in the woods, guarded by 2 ill-tempered horses, which laughed at my wannabe-bowie knife and proceeded to nip layton a couple of times - i tell you, that man has an uncanny, almost animal, allure to him! a whole caste of motley characters enabled this ultimate, and succesful, adventure - the applachian americans who assisted in decephiring our directions despite the fact that mike used the phrase "retarded redneck" within the first 3 seconds of meeting them, the meth-addled teenage redskin standing point on the corner of 2 dirt roads in the woods who, in the time honored tradition of his people, necesitated we barter his useless directions in exchange for our cigarettes, the entire household of budweiser drinking, hungry-man/pot-pie eating folks that somehow seduced mike into their hovel before descending upon him with forks and spoons intent on consuming him raw and screaming, "ger," the land-owning, cocktail-swigging gentleman who was so crestfallen at our refusal of his invitation to come on up to the a-frame for some drinks and a hot-shower, etc. a night i shall not forget until i also forget the lyrics to "karma chameleon" on the climbing end of things, and for anyone who's still reading, i recommend as a fun solo outing - linking up the n face of vesper, to a walk/scramble over to the south summit of big 4, then back to a scramble up to sperry - did this over the next 2 days, when my squamish partner went AWOL - my first trip into the monte cristo area and fun to be mostly alone in - the climbing on vesper's quite sane and enjoyable as a solo (the benefit of not taking all that heavy gear being that you can instead carry the same weight in booze and not skimp on the training while pumping-up the party-tude) - bivying in the swirling clouds of the summit while listening to brain-candy only to awake to Rage and a lumiscent moon was ethereal i'm out of creative things to say Gear Notes: Total Consciousness not required Approach Notes: many moons, paleface, many moons
  15. Trip: Gunsight range - West face-north peak Date: 7/25/2007 Trip Report: Inspired by CC.com trip reports Jens (Holsten) and I got on a boat last week and headed towards the fabled gunsight range. Though this website can sometimes be a waste of time, even a repository for spray and slander (mine own included) I feel sort of obligated to return the favor, as without the info gleaned here our trip may have never been. Anyway, enough bullshit. The trail up Agnes creek was uneventful right up to five mile camp, where the trail crew had stopped. Immediately after this we encountered the aforementioned hundreds of blow-downs and developed a cowboy like posture after so much straddling. A light cloud cover didn't do a whole lot to abate the heat, but it was better than nothing. We had hoped (foolishly) to knock off the approach in a marathon afternoon, but after reaching the spruce creek turn off decided to bivy. This was a smart decision, as darkness would have found us stranded on a 50 degree hillside suffering in the rain. Instead we camped on the river and ducked in the tent when the light showers hit. Not a whole lot to say about the next day, just some straight suffering up a hill. Blake and company humbly understated this phase of the journey, we were just glad to find the mountain. Several hours later we hopped onto the blue glacier in the afternoon heat, hoping not to get creamed by an ice fall. We walked right by what was to be our basecamp, intent on making it over to the chikamin. After some sketchy recon we discovered our mistake and settled in to one of the most amazing bivies ever. Wednesday morning we ambled over the pass above our camp and roped up for the super loose step down onto the gigantor chikamin glacier. A mellow crampon session found us at the base of the west face, I only fell into one talus hole where I nearly lost control of my bowels. The route is gained off a rad traversing ledge which beats the hell out of some ungainly moat. As almost everyone else has said the rock quality is superb, if a bit grainy the higher you get. If this wall was a little closer to the road I don't think this would be the case. Anyway, I headed up just to the right of Blake's cairn and wound my way towards the fabled crux pitch. It seems like Nelson and Dietrich (I think that's his name) veered right on the second pitch and climbed a very thin corner before moving back left to the belay which supposedly needs bolts. Again, no bolts were found in situ, leading us to conclude that Jim Nelson had a bad memory. The second belay would be more comfortable with bolts, but they certainly aren't necessary. Jens tentatively made his way upwards, made a tenuous move left of thin flakes and was still unconvinced that the pitch would succumb to our assault. However, move by move, he found unanticipated decent holds, good gear, more positive flakes (a trademark of this wild wall) and uncanny knobs, all of which took him past the crux to a well deserved victory whoop. Here he is crushing. I also managed to scrap my way up this stellar pitch, which left us exhilarated but also a little nervous about the rest of the climb, which wasn't quite over yet. The next crack system looks sort of like a hand crack off the belay, unfortunately its a shallow flaring flake. It does accept gear however, and after a little bit of pansying around I commited to the steep lieback. Another flake follows the first, and I did a little more pansying, unsure if our relatively light alpine rack would get me to the next stance. Luckily the crack finally turns into hands, where I was able to recover enough to run it out to a little knob belay where I plugged in the last of my gear, the four camalot and a blue alien. Here's Jens following. The final bit of steepness supposedly contained some crux wideness, which Jens so graciously allowed me to lead, but it ended up being a little less difficult than the third pitch, which didn't dissapoint me in the least. Jens led one more shorty to "flat ground" and we eventually found a way up onto the crazy summit blocks. The library is about to close so I'm just going to leave it at that for now. I'll give everybody some time to slander and wrap it up when I get the chance. Suffice to say, the rock is good, almost as good as Index. Maybe even better than Mt. Stuart.
  16. Trip: Forbidden - NW Face, with a near disastrous descent. Date: 7/26/2007 Trip Report: On July 25 Blake, AJScott, and I headed up to the Boston Basin with our sights set on the NW Face (really a ridge) of Forbidden. This was my third trip up to the basin, and I had been telling Aaron and Blake how easy the trail was all morning, but somehow I managed to lose the trail in the first avy path, forcing us to shwack straight up for an hour to get to the basin. We were planning on bivying at the west ridge notch, but the prospect of lounging in the sun for the rest of the day and not having to carry bivy gear any higher stopped us at the high camp. Boston and Sahale Forbidden. To get to the notch we climbed the rightmost "catscratch" just left of the couloir. The next morning Aaron and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:33 for coffee and tea, and got Blake up when our breakfast burritos were ready. At about 5 we were on our way up the glacier. We were told that the couloir was out (on a side note, someone left a rope sitting at the base of the couloir), so we decided to go up one of the gullies to the left. One mid 5th pitch lead to easier ground, and before long we were at the base of the west ridge. We downclimbed to skiers left for a while, then made a couple of 60m raps down to the snow. From the top of the glacier we belayed a traverse down and to skiers right to a 2 pin rap anchor that would get us over the gaping shrund. I went first, and ended up having to do a free hanging rappel down to the knots in the end of the rope, and a swing and quick axe placement to get over to other side of the shrund; I was then able to direct the other guys to a better spot to come down. From there it was an easy walk down to a ramp that put us on the ridge. Aaron rapping the huge icecliff. The ridge is pretty much amazing. The first half was class 4 with a little loose rock here and there, but fun climbing. A short simul pitch up an arete just past a neat ridge top sidewalk took us to the crux, which was a short but steep 5.8 fistcrack (could be bypassed to the left), and a pitch of fun 5.7 face climbing. From there we simul climbed 2 long low class 5 pitches on spectacularly clean and solid rock to the summit. This route deserves far more attention than I think it gets. It is like the west ridge in terms of rock quality, but a little steeper and about 3 times longer. I would say that it is the best moderate climb that I have ever done. Aaron called it a mini north ridge of Stuart. If you are up for the alpine shenanigans on the approach, seriously climb this route. After relaxing for a while on the summit we quickly downclimbed the west ridge, and once at the notch I told Aaron that we should be at the car by 8 or 9. I spoke too soon. Aaron found a reasonable way to downclimb all the way to the snow in one of the gullies and was way ahead of us, but Blake and I went a different way and decided to do a rappel because of all of the loose rock. At the base of the gully I started to pull our ropes, and a few rocks came down. Blake suggested that we get out of the line of fire, so he moved to the left of the gully, and I to the right. As I continued to pull the rope we heard the terrifying sound of a big rock coming down, and at the last moment I decided that Blake's spot looked more protected, and ran in that direction. The next few seconds happened slowly. I felt a horrible pain in my leg, saw a big rock and my shoe flying down the slope out of the corner of my eye, and gave a loud yell. I think we both knew in an instant that things had just gotten bad. I lifted my pant leg and a stream of blood squirted out a ways. I sat in shock holding pressure on the deep gash while Blake clipped me into a #2 Camalot anchor, grabbed my medical bag (which happened to be in my coat pocket because we had decided to leave my pack at camp), and went down to get my shoe. I quickly decided that my leg was not broken, which put my mind at ease because it meant that I would get to climb more this summer. I managed to stop the bleeding and bandage myself up, and somewhere along the line slid down a few inches to put my weight on the anchor. I suddenly heard a huge crack behind me. Blake yelled something and shoved me aside and in my numb state of shock I watched a several hundred pound block roll past where I had just been sitting. “Wow, things just aren't going well.” It turns out my weight on the anchor had caused the Camalot (which was destroyed in the process) to tear the flake off, just as Blake was working on setting up a better anchor. Without much discussion we decided that it was time to go. Blake found a crack to place the only nut that we had left (Aaron had the rack, and was way below us at this point) to lower me down to the glacier. Once on the glacier I glissaded and limped down to camp as Blake ran ahead to start packing up. Once I got back to camp we ate some dinner donated by our friendly neighbors (if you read this, thanks again), and Blake and Aaron packed up our packs, dividing up most of the weight between themselves as the marmots watched curiously. Under normal conditions it is reasonable to get to the trailhead in about an hour. We left a little after 8 and got down there at about 1. The walk out went pretty much as one might expect: a lot of swearing, some clenching of teeth, and a snail's pace. By 4am I was doped up in the Skagit Valley Hospital, chatting with the doctor about how great the mountains are. I got 6 stitches and can't really walk all that well for now, but things could have been a whole lot worse; in fact things went about as well as they could have in that situation. The point: Never get too comfortable or let your guard down in the mountains. Once you do, they will kick your ass just to remind you who's in charge. Rockfall has been my biggest fear for a long time, but for some reason I was not paying enough attention to it in this case. Climb with people who you think you can trust in stressful situations, and don't go out there if you aren't sure that you can keep your head on straight when the shit goes down. Aaron and Blake get two thumbs up as partners, as they really stayed calm, and were super helpful on the way out. Thanks guys. Oh, and if you climb with Blake, remind him that he might want all of that food that he may have left behind at the last minute. Gear Notes: Carry a medical kit and know how to use it. It doesn't need to be huge, you can only do so much out there, but you should be able to stop a good amount of bleeding to stabilize a person. Sure you can improvise bandages, but it is nice to not have to think about things and be creative when everything is crazy. I had a wide gauze roll, a sponge, tape, a triangle bandage, and was glad to use it all. We bootied about 4 nuts, 1 pin, 2 slings, an atc, and could have taken 2 ropes (though one was bleached white). Approach Notes: Road still closed at the Eldorado TH. This adds about 2.75 miles to the Boston Basin approach.
  17. Trip: Valhallas -> Mt. Olympus --> Bailey Range --> High Divide Date: 7/5/2007-7/12/2007 Trip Report: My friend Douglas and I just completed a 77-mile, 8-day traverse through the most rugged and beautiful parts of the Olympic Mountains. We began with a 2-day bushwack up the South Fork of the Hoh River and up the steep ridge just north of Valkyrie Creek, which brought us to a range of peaks to the southwest of Mount Olympus known as the Valhallas. This area is probably only accessed by a couple parties a year. The Valhallas appear like mineature Bugaboos, although the climbing is a bit crumblier (although still plenty fun!). After a day of climbing in the Valhallas (a day of rain – our only day of poor weather the entire trip - prevented more peak-bagging), we traversed over to Olympus via the rarely travelled Hubert Glacier. We crossed over the summit, and headed for Bear Pass at the south end of the Bailey Range. Two days of traversing the Bailey Range brought us to the High Divide. On the eighth day of our adventure we hiked out the North Fork of the Hoh River (on a trail!). I posted some photos and a more detailed description on my climbing webpage: http://sabegg.googlepages.com/valhallas Enjoy! Approach Notes: prepare for a physical challenge!!
  18. 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
  19. Trip: Mt. Robson - Emperor Face, House-Haley (FA) Date: 5/25/2007 Trip Report: Excited by a good forecast, Steve House drove north from Bend on Wednesday afternoon for his 7th attempt on Robson's Emperor Face. Fortunately all of the more talented climbers he approached could not go, so we met up in Seattle and hit the road up to Robson on Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon we flew with Yellowhead Helicopters to the Helmet-Robson col, and left the col at 4:30am on Friday to approach the Emperor Face by descending the ramped ice-fall above the Mist Glacier. We climbed the face in two long lead blocks, both seven pitches long. My block had longer pitches (about 80m on average) and moderate climbing, then Steve's block had normal-length pitches (about 55m on average) and much more difficult climbing. Our route roughly followed the gully system immediately left of the Stump-Logan, but on the last pitch we suddenly encountered 3 fixed pitons. Presumably Stump and Logan finished a little bit to the left of the arete that is shown in most photos. Our route shared at least the last pitch with theirs, and perhaps the last two pitches. I reached Steve's belay at the top of the headwall at 11:30pm, and we spent the short night sitting on a small ledge chopped from the ice. In the morning Steve led two easy mixed pitches up to the crest of the Emperor Ridge, which we then crossed onto the upper SW Face. We traversed across the South Face, me now feeling very sick for some reason (I think a bug that I have had ever since Patagonia), and joined the Wishbone Arete in deteriorating weather. The upper Wishbone Arete included some funky gargoyle climbing, and we topped out in a whiteout at 1:00pm. We descended the Kain Route and then Steve hiked up to retrieve our camp at the Helmet-Robson col while I sat and contemplated vomiting. Our camp-to-camp time was approximately 36 hours. On Sunday we descended the Robson Glacier (sometimes stressfully off route due to the whiteout), and then hiked down to Kinney Lake, leaving the last 7km of walking for Monday morning. I probably won't have time to post pictures until July, unfortunately.
  20. OK folks here it is...the long awaited CC.com photo contest voting. We got a little busy with other stuff (life, work, hospital stays, etc) so sorry it took so long, but here it is. The rules are simple....just like last year you can vote for one photo in each catagory. After 10 days, we'll check out the results and award the winners. Happy voting! The voting ends April 20th at 8pm, and you'll be alble to see the results then. The voting is at the bottom and finalist pictures are below for reference when voting: Catagory: Cragging Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Catagory: Alpine Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Picture 15: Catagory: Scenic Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Picture 15: Picture 16: Picture 17: Picture 18: Picture 19: Catagory: Skiing/Boarding Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: There is no picture 8. Any votes for picture 8 will be disregarded. Picture 9: Catagory: Bouldering Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Catagory: Ice Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Catagory: Humor Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11:
  21. There’s a sweet 5.9 granite handcrack in Renton. I saw some exposed rock near an elementary school and that tipped me off to the multi pitch crag beyond the fence. The best climb is a two pitch handcrack kind of like Classic Crack in Leavenworth. Someone had already established this and about three other similar climbs in the area. I’ve done it everyday that it’s been dry, since I live nearby, and I want to be the first to solo it. I can’t believe there’s such good granite on the Westside!
  22. Trip: Mt. Index - Index Peak Traverse Date: 2/2/2007 Trip Report: Mark Bunker and I climbed the Index Peak Traverse yesterday, leaving the car at 4:30am, and returning very worn out at 3:30am this morning. Conditions were generally excellent, and we worth both amazed by how much ice there was all along the traverse. The first pitch on the North Face of the North Peak was almost bare rock, but conditions got consistently more wintery as we went, with the North Face of the Main Peak holding the most snow and rime. On the North Face of the North Peak, we climbed one ice pitch above the bowl, and then traversed right to climb the upper North Rib. There was a second ice pitch above the bowl that looked like very nice WI3, but we didn't take it because we weren't sure where it went. In retrospect, I think it would have been a much better route - more direct and faster climbing. On the North Face of the Middle Peak we climbed a gully system about 50m to the left of the standard summer rib, which had a nice section of WI3 and was I think a much better option for winter. On the North Face of the Main Peak we roughly followed the summer route until the traverse across the gully on the NW Face. Once in the gully we decided to climb directly up it to the summit ridge rather than traverse to the W Ridge as in summer. The descent was straightforward but long and tedious. The chockstone in the gully is completely covered, so no rappels are necessary.
  23. Trip: Cerro Torre - Marsigny-Parkin-West-Face Date: 1/5/2007 Trip Report: I'm just recently back in Seattle from a three-week trip to Argentine Patagonia. Kelly Cordes and I based out of Campo Bridwell, and quickly established a gear cache up at the Niponino bivouac below El Mochito. For most the trip the weather was very bad, and we passed the time eating, drinking, bouldering, sport climbing, hiking, and sleeping. Finally, when our return flight was approaching, an excellent weather window arrived at the last moment. There were four days of almost perfect weather. The best weather window I had seen in two previous trips was about 48 hours of good weather. On the first day of the window, Jan. 4, we hiked up to the Niponino bivouac and tried to go to sleep early. We left Niponino at 2:30 am on Jan. 5 and hiked up the glacier below Cerro Torre's South Face to the base of the Marsigny-Parkin route (aka "A la Recherche Des Temps Perdues"). We started up the route at about 5:30 am, and climbed it in 8 hours, with 5 really long simul-leads, using ropeman ascenders to make the simul-climbing safer. The crux of the Marsigny-Parkin was moderate at perhaps M5, but the route was very sustained: consistently WI3-4, with almost no snow-patches on which to rest calves. We divided the climb into two massive lead blocks: Kelly led all 800m of the Marsigny-Parkin to the Col of Hope, and I led all 600m of the West Face from the Col of Hope to the summit. Just above the Col of Hope we stopped to melt snow, rest, eat, and drink. Soon above the col we reached The Helmet, which provided some tricky routefinding and steep unconsolidated snow, but we were able to surmount it on the right side. The mixed pitches beyond, in the dihedral, were moderate and went quickly. I started up the headwall pitch at 9:30pm, and finished just before dark. It was difficult considering how tired I was by then, and because of the angle (sustained vertical ice. Other parties have claimed overhanging, but I don't think it was quite that steep.), but the ice was actually very good. Above the headwall we decided that routefinding in the dark would be too tricky, so we dug/chopped ourselves a little ice-hole to get out of the wind. We spent about six hours melting snow, eating, and "homo-huddling" (we hadn't brought sleeping bags). The first pitch on Jan. 6 climbed up a natural tunnel in the ice to above the first mushroom of the summit ridge. The second pitch wormed into another tunnel to climb the second mushroom. The third pitch of the day was the crux of the route, and involved vertical and then overhanging snow climbing, followed by two aid moves off of pickets. The best peice of pro was a gigantic V-thread that I made by tunneling through the ice for about 3 meters. The final pitch climbed the summit ice mushroom (same as the Compressor Route finish), and was quite easy. We were surprised on top to not see any sign of ascents via the Compressor Route, given the beautiful weather. The view was spectacular, and it was surreal to stand on top of a mountain that I'd been dreaming of for 10 years. We descended by the Compressor Route, using a single 70m rope most of the time (for anyone attempting the Compressor Route, I would reccomend taking just one 70m rope for both the climbing and rappeling), and eventually stumbled back into Niponino at 2:30am on Jan. 7, exactly 2 days after leaving. We believe that we were the first party to succesfully link these two routes together. Also, I believe that our link-up is one of three routes on Cerro Torre that have been finished to the summit without using Maestri's headwall boltladder (the other two being the standard West Face route and Arca de los Vientos).
  24. Trip: Cerro Aconcagua (22841 ft / 6962 m) - Polish Glacier direct Date: 1/5/2007 Trip Report: Last year I got the itch to climb a big mountain. Thinking about where to go, last spring I saw Brad Marshall's post here on cc.com looking for teammates for a 2006-2007 expedition. He was offering to do all the logistics planning, from airport-airport. Not knowing Argentina or the mountain at all, I signed up. Brad's trip report is here It was also appealing that this wasn't a guided trip, so after base camp we would be on our own. And it was affordable =). The Polish Glacier direct route looked good, offering some moderate glacier climbing at altitude, with an easy descent route. So, I teamed up with Mark Hinton from Colorado. We had previously met once on a training climb of the Rio Grande Pyramid in Nov. We seemed to get along good, so what the heck? Arriving in Mendoza just before Christmas, I met my 9 teammates: Mark, Brad, Sue, Hakno, Lyle, Rob, Dana, Alan, and Jim. 4 Canadians and 6 Americans. We enjoyed the culture of Argentina while prepping for the climb. Finally, on Dec 26, we started our approach hike up the Vacas Valley: We passed many frustrated people glad to be leaving. They shared stories of high winds & shredded tents, and all were leaving without getting to the summit. My friend Erik later told me this was called "La escoba de dios", or "the broom of God". Luckily this passed before we arrived. The end of the 2nd day, we got our first views of the peak. Looking up some 12000', it was most impressive: Eventually, we turned up the narrow Relinchos Valley and made the last few miles to base camp (called Plaza Argentina), just under 14k: Here began the hard work, and after a rest day we began hauling our gear up the mountain and continued acclimatizing. The route up to camp1 was interesting, and featured multiple sections of penitentes: Finally, we were staged at camp2 and took another rest day. Although we had a small snowstorm (couple inches of snow), our first potential summit day, Jan5, had a good forecast and we were excited. Camp2 offered by far the best views we had seen: By this time, we were getting used to tent life. We used Mark's EV2, which was pretty comfortable for me, considering that I am 6'2": We scouted out the lower glacier the day before our climb: photo courtesy of Mark Hinton Finally, the day had come. After a quick breakfast, we headed out by headlamp around 0430. There were electric storms coating the valleys below us, but it was clear above 20k. By about 10am, clouds started rolling in. Luckily there was little wind, and enough breaks in visibility to occassionally spot our next landmarks for climbing the route: Most of the glacier was snow (of various conditions and quality), and so the going was pretty straighforward. We simul-climbed, placing pickets and moving pretty well. The route steepens as you progress, and the crux was the 2nd rock band. This featured the only ice on the route, and was pretty fun to climb. After this, the only obstacle is the last, steep (>50deg) snowdome to reach the summit plateau. This seemed to go on forever, but finally we topped out. Visibility was poor, so I pulled out my gps. Unfortunately, it said the summit was about 1/3 mile away and 400' higher. Turns out this was a pretty easy hike, and the summit is actually a small hill on the plateau. Amazingly, the deep snow simply disappeared as we climbed the last 200', and from the top the descent trail (normal route) was obvious. We descended back to camp2 in about 3 hours, moving pretty slow (but steady), and crashed hard. The next day another snowstorm moved through and dropped maybe 4" of snow. After a rest day at 19400', we loaded up everything (= heavy packs), and headed back to the comforts of base camp: At base camp, I celebrated my birthday and enjoyed some beer, pizza, and parilla (bbq). I ended up selling my boots, rope, ice screws, runners, and summit pack to some guides who had lost their gear in a mule accident. I got more money than I would've on ebay, and they got a good deal since climbing gear is so expensive in Argentina. Mark and I had been the first from our expedition to summit, so we waited and eventually the rest of the team descended to base camp. All in all, 5 of 10 made the summit. The other 3 climbed the Polish Traverse route that we descended. Unfortunately, 1 of our teammates was earlier flown down from base camp due to being very sick, but by the time we made it to Mendoza he had recovered and gone to Buenos Aires to party. The hike out was scenic but long! We were all pretty excited about showers, wine, and good food. Prior to the 20 hours of travel back to the US, we went wine tasting and enjoyed some of Mendoza's finest: Uno mas, por favor: Looking back, it was a great trip. Mark was a great ropemate. Brad's planning efforts gave everyone a good shot at the summit. Everyone on the team was nice and all provided their own contributions to a fun adventure. Our schedule had great weather overall, and being there over the holidays meant few people on the mountain. I recommend the Polish Glacier direct for those with experience on moderate snow & ice looking to push themselves on a bigger mountain. Gear Notes: ice axe + ice tool, 60m 1/2 rope, pickets, couple ice screws, strong tent, mules Approach Notes: Vacas Valley - Relinchos Valley - Plaza Argentina - Ameghino Col - Polish Glacier
  25. 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!):
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