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Found 161 results

  1. Trip: Pickets - South to North Ski Traverse Date: 2/17/2010 Trip Report: Over six days of glorious high pressure, the prolific Jason Hummel and I skied from Stetattle ridge to Hannegan Pass road through the southern and northern Pickets. With a few variations, we followed the route of the 1984 Skoog traverse. Most notably, we omitted the summit of Fury and finished on the Mineral high route, skiing over Mineral and Ruth mountains instead of hiking along the Chilliwack trail. We encountered variable but mostly good ski conditions, and some interesting route finding. As anticipated, the crux proved to be finding a reasonable way onto Mt. Fury from the bottom of McMillan Creek cirque. Going over the Southeast Peak seemed unreasonable in winter conditions, so we found a way up the creek and falls draining the Southeast Glacier. Unsure of the details of the route the Skoogs took to cross from Luna to McMillan, we opted for the devil we knew and traversed to Luna col. The ski down into Luna was the powder run of a lifetime--super stable, Valdez style snow, with Fury as a backdrop. Unforgettable. I kept thinking to myself, "This is like the Haute Route 10,000 years ago." The solitude and austerity of the Range make it easy to overlook that the traverse is really an enjoyable, reasonable tour; no technical shenanigans required. The heinous reality of retreating down any of the valleys simply made it extra important to check the weather forecast before dropping into McMillan. Don't leave home without your UHF/VHF radio! I will post photos when I wake up in about a week. Approach Notes: Stetattle ridge is long, but two days riding the ridge let the avalanche hazard subside before we entered really serious terrain. We hiked to 4,000 ft. on the Sourdough Mt. trail, then travelled almost exclusively on skis for the remainder of the six days. Literally ten minutes of road walking brought us to the car.
  2. Trip: Zzzion - Retards Drive South For Da Wedder Date: 2/13/2010 Trip Report: zzzzzzzzion!!! – my u-tard cherry – seems an apt appellation – when yer but 1 of 2 retard dirt-bag aid-types too broke to fly n’ rent n’ only have a 4 day window to zip down to the world of the sun n’ be back, you pretty much spend any moment yer not actively driving or climbing sleeping – i felt litle fear though, accompanied by sound legal counsel in my boy geoff, who dusted off and rewired together his swede-wagon to mount the campaing– my worst memory of the trip awakening in fuck-tard utah in the zero-dark hour to the cruel visage of The Colonel glaring down at me, daring anyone to Fuck With The Chicken Foo! so, best perhaps to jump strait to the scenery porn? not wanting to spoil my onsight, i studiously avoided looking up any beta on our intended route – prodigal sun – for a route w/ that regal title, it suuuuuure don’t get much solar radiation – in the 2 days we spent on the wall, we felt direct warm-fuzzies for about 17 1/2 minutes – what a great call! drive 18 hrs to somewhere it ain’t fucking raining n’ shitty to climb a route in the Great Big Bowl of Frozen SunLess Sandstone? at least we got to see tour-ons walking around in shirts n’ t-shirts the whole time? the prodigal sun at about the height of the empire state building soars up, twice as tall as the picnic lunch wall at smiffistani rocks – the 2 times i got kicked square in the nutz there this past fall was fine practice for suffering down south sooooo tasty! mostly thin cracks that gobble up dmm offset nuts, linked by the occasional bolt ladders that are actually large angle pins pounded n’ glued into drilled holes high on the wall – view to the southwest – i have no clue what i’m looking at but goddamn it looks purty! the fantastic fin at the bottom a fine objective in itself w/ its funky catwalk running from peak to peak sooo kewl looking! the view south – always nice to be able to heckle any would-be carjackers from an excellent position to call fire-missions in from to the east – the walls of angels landing on the left – saw some homeboys spend 2 evenings messing w/ a route on the far end – my eye was drawn to the massive arch on the good (south) side of the canyon – a sandstone version of mideast crisis in Da Valley! dude, just like mideast crisis (at least if you add 2 more giant roofs!) the n wall of angels landing in the couple a winter minutes a day it gets sun – the spectacular crack on left soooooo tasty! to the climbing pRon – we left at 9 the first night - my lawyer and i arrived late afternoon on day 1, stupid w/ sleep, but determined to do somethang dammit ‘fore the day was done – i zoomed up pitch 1, reaching the anchor at dark, then fixed our static line and zipped down to honor the spirit of the law by portaleding it on the first bolt of the route next morning i linked in pitch 2, hauled n’ geoff commenced up pitch 3 your friend n’ humble narrator had plenty of time tap-dancing in the meat-locker to savor the sweet, sweet sunshine across the way and stare up at a bobbing hairy man-taint i swung up on pitch 4 – looking down at p3 top from the first couple bolts/rivets up (take 2 rivet hangers or fucking nuts that actually have sliding heads!) – fantastic fun clean-aid above, skipping a spacious intermediate belay to the chair of forgetfullness at p4 top i reckon you could score this day 2, if you count the fart-in-a-stiff-breeze that was day 1 – at any rate, geoff headed out on p5 as evening loomed, getting us to the anchor at 4 1/2 by nightfall – typical big-wall clusterfuck ensued as he tried to set up the ledge on top of himself and a shit-ton of ropes n’ baggage, w/ only 2 bolts to work from – i jugged up and eventually helped move the whole camp down a bolt below where the wall is flat and perfect – despite some initial signs of The Great Fear, my attorney reached deep into his sleeping bag, pretended he was in a happy place, and felt The Great Glow i had home-made pizza and a liter of burgundy and 20 craptacular class-a carcinogens, so you know i was happy (a few hours later I replaced the liter of vino w/ 3/4 of a liter of rarified piss, so i reckon the balance only Made Me Stronger? the magic minutes! our 1 glance of the sun the whole trip! i contemplate the Great Leap below awakened in the cloudy dawn, we packed up and unfucked our camp – geoff finished off the bolt ladder that is the second part of pitch 5 – our time-schedule was a Cruel Mistress – my attorney had a date w/ The woMan on wendsday morning, so there was no question of fucking up the timing – if we finished to the summit, hauling through the no-doubt-nightmare of the exit chimneys, undoubtedly we’d leave so late he’d end in a state prison, so instead we resolved to leave our pig behind atop p5, and climb at least to p7 top before heading back down the wall starting up p6 – c2 – note to self: next time bring the fucking pink tri-cam! the first part of the crack was wicked hard, and ultimately had to be overcome w/ the dr. suessian stick-clip contraption geoff strapped together out of waste products from cold-war era nuclear submarines – i had a moment to stare down while he dug it out of the bottom of the haul bag and observe exactly where i like to stick my nutz would you believe that nut is not even a year old? it counts as alpine if you can see snow, right? what classification do you get if you walk through snow wearing your nike flip-flops, fresh from fording a knee deep flood? my legal counsel seemed a bit concerned reaching p6’s top, but i brow beat him into commencing up 7 – the suessian salvation quickly did it’s service! i heart navajo sandstone so young, but so haaaaaawt! so geoff didn’t dig it so much when the angle relented to free climbing world and the texture of the rock took on the consistency of the beachbreak at mid-day – he bailed 2/3 of the way up 7, and i took the helm, reaching an anchor w/ 3 pins/bolts, but no webbing – time was tightening, and rapping back down from the top of the next pitch appeared problematic – at any rate, there was no way we could top out through snow-crusted chimenys and then navigate our way back down the raps to the pig w/o tempting fate to fuck us, so we had to say so-long, just 2 pitchs from the top-out – siiiiiigh – maybe when it’s sunny n’ summerious? looking up at the last aid-pitch – rumored to be the crux, it looked straitforward enough – arching crack to a pendulum to a long bolt ladder where you can’t clip a thing to the exit chimneys? geoff lowering off from p7 top – great fun leading through there – tied off pin n’ sandy horseshit to some good hidden gear – tired of chopping ropes, i gave the edge a nice treatment our descent went quite quickly – we rapped back to the top of 6, then to the top of 5 where our shit was stashed, then double roped to the intermediate belay at 3 1/2, then to the top of 2, then to the ground – i celebrated our return to solid Earth w/ a piss the constiency of maple-syrup recalled to the realm of mere mortals, we celebrated as only hedonists can, then headed off, bound for that Big Slow Boat home! geoff n’ the wistful glimpse back, only a steep sand plunge-step to a frozen fording to the car – by the time we pulled out of the p-lot i’d had my 2 liters of sangria and was off on the great big nod Gear Notes: offset nuts a must have! wish i'd brought more than a red tricam! stick clip nice to have on p6 n' 7 Approach Notes: drive until you go fuckign crazy, then drive somemore - still only 100$ each!
  3. Trip: Enchantment Traverse - Continuing Bromance With Peter Croft Date: 9/18/2009 Trip Report: Having been a bit disappointed at getting shut down on the Mt. Stuart leg of my traverse, I obsessed the following week on the 2nd half of it: Dragontail-Prusik-Snow Creek Wall (optional, maybe happened, maybe not). I knew there would be more water than I could ever drink, and an easy trail to turn the mind off. Both of these factors were reassuring. Friday, I got the day off work, grabbed the weather window and hit it. I stashed my bike at the Snow Creek trailhead, and drove to Stuart Lake T.H. For Dragontail, I chose Backbone Ridge because it's a better route than Serpentine. I relish the exposure for the four pitches on the fin. The off width was a bar fight as usual, and I ended up having to take my pack off 1/2 up the pitch and hang it from my chalk bag strap. This pitch out of the way, the rest of the route went well and was incredbly fun. I hung out briefly on the empty summit, and busted it for Prusik. I walked out out on the snowfield and found it icy. I saw myself sliding for life in my tennis shoes and made the executive decision to head east around the south side of Witche's Tit, and descend that way. This was convenient and didn't add any extra time to the day. Prusik Peak, the next stop on the Croft tour. The West Ridge held no surprises. The solid, reliable granite was a welcome contrast to Backbone's sometimes suspect holds. Being without a rap rope this time, climbed the slab and downclimbed it just to make sure I could do it. Again, I got to an empty summit, the theme for the day. Downclimbing took 15 minutes, much faster than the raps! From there, I made the only wrong decision of the day, which was to descend through Shield/Mese/Toketie Lakes. I thought I would be able to cut off time vs. the snow lakes descent. I knew from past experience the Toketie drainage spits you out approximately 1/4 mile from the snow creek wall trail. And, from what I remembered the trail was very direct. Hiking by Shield and Mesa lakes, with Temple Ridge forming a picket fence behind them, I was reminded just how beautiful these lakes were. Enhanced by the fact they were deserted too. I got to Toketie Lake quickly enough, snapped a few shots of imposing Toketie Wall, and this is where the fun ended. The last time I descended Toketie drainage, it was fairly straightforward with minimal schwacking. That was about 6 years ago. Now, brush is everywhere. At times it was over my head. Add to that brush endless downfall. Brittle branches collapsing under my feet. Endless logs to cross. And no sign of any trail. I was even cliffed out a couple times. I saw my chances on Outer Space slipping slowly by, pissed off at myself for not taking the snow lakes trail. I finally hit the valley bottom, and found a good log to cross snow creek, but it was 6:15 already. Dannible mentioned enthusiasm ebbing and flowing. Though demoralised by the eternal schwack down Toketie, I hit one of those bursts. I got to the log crossing at snow creek wall and didn't even have to decide. I grabbed the chalk and shoes and headlamp and headed up. Physically I knew I could do it given this newfound energy. Mentally, I was wary. And there were a couple moments on Outer Space where I had to force myself to just concentrate on the next foothold. But overall, Outer Space went as expected, topping out in fading light. I was able to sprint down the backside reaching the base of SCW right at dark. I reached my bike and started the slow ride mostly uphill. About 1 mile from 8 mile road, I noticed my right peddal feeling lopsided, and by the Classic Crack crag, it snapped off completely. I was shocked. This bike is a workhorse, having taken me from Astoria to Tijuana without even a flat tire! I coasted down to the start of 8 Mile Road, dismounted and started walking back to the Stuart Lake Trailhead. And believe me, the irony was not lost on me. Details: Hiking: 6:00am Climbing Backbone: 9:07am Summit: 11am Base of W. Ridge Prusik: 1:28pm Summit: 1:58pm Snow Creek Wall Crossing: 6:20pm Start Outer Space: 6:33pm Top Outer Space: 7:21 Back at Crossing: 7:58 Back at car: 11:15pm Mid-offwidth shell shock Colchuck Bidding adieu to the offwidth Greeting the rest of the route Fun fin cracks Summit Rainier from Dragontail Looking towards Prusik Summit Prusik Toketie Lake and Toketie Wall Top of Outer Space, SCW
  4. Trip: Torture Memo #3: Embracing the Schwack - Craggies Rock Glacier Exporation, No Dice Basin Date: 9/16/2009 Trip Report: TR: Craggies Rock Glacier Exploration 9/16/09 Sphagnum moss, No Dice Creek If you’ve waded through the first two chapters of this 3 part series, perhaps because you’ve lost use of your arms and legs or Netflix is late shipping the Temptation Island series, you’ll recall that Max (a friend’s 21 year old and ‘student’, of sorts) and I had one more double plus secret bonus mission to complete on our six day alpine short course before heading home. I climbed the Craggies, bordering the Pasayten Wilderness, several weeks back. From West Craggy’s summit I could see that the basin to the north, above No Dice Lake, was filled with what appeared to be a rock glacier. Was there ice under there? Apparently, an informal survey team several years ago had found ice under a very similar rock glacier on Bigelow Peak’s (Sawtooth Wilderness) north side at about the same longitude and elevation. Max and I had to go in and try to find out. Craggies Rock Glacier, from West Craggy’s summit ridge Max hadn’t had a chance to enjoy any bushwhacking yet; this would be a perfect opportunity to do so. Max embraces The Schwack, No Dice Creek We got going just before 7:00, passing the Pickwickian, Tre-Bark clad predator who’d helpfully reminded us that very morning of the wilderness area prohibition on bikes (and hang gliders) even though we were neither taking our bikes nor going into the wilderness area, as he stealthily patrolled the quarter mile apogee from his camper’s strong gravitation. He was after deer. I couldn’t help thinking; why not just walk onto someone’s lawn in Winthrop, close your eyes, point any direction, and let fly? Or just drive Hwy 20 at night? Mind you, hunting for an animal that tastes like freezer burned goat’s ass is not a sport I pretend to understand. After the two quick miles of trail to Eightmile Pass we dropped onto a game trail and traversed to No Dice Creek. I instructed Max to avoid Creek bottoms whenever possible, so started to do just that. We stayed in or near the creek bottom nearly the entire two miles to the lake. No Dice Basin, from near Eightmile Pass After 3 hours or so we emerged from the jungle to spectacular No Dice Lake, where pan sized trout leapt out of the sun warmed shallows onto dry lakebed, they were so happy to see us. We should have duct taped frying pans to our shoes. A strong, chill wind roared through the larches. Beneath the Craggies dark precipices, the Rock Glacier snaked towards, guarding its secrets. No Dice Lake Craggies Rock Glacier, from No Dice Lake I discovered a camp site. “Why do yahoos always leave a half burned Jiffypop packages in their fire pits?” “What’s Jiffypop? Is it some kind of soda?” It was then I realized that Max and I, from a relativistic standpoint, were borne of two entirely different universes in space time. To be sure, the digital age is a form of time machine that compresses past and present; I caught Max humming Jim Croce’s “Car Wash Blues” on the hike in, but still, the planet that forged his experience is an alien one. It has twice the population as the one I came from, for starters. It also has World of Warcraft and Oxycontin addicts, no privacy, a collapsing environment, a collapsing economy, a fully militarized, humorless, police state mentality, corporate supremacy, a record number of Americans living in the streets or in prison…thank God it still has the Dick’s Deluxe. That, and you no longer have to gap your points. And you can still rant and rave, but now you can have a much larger audience. I just hope some new technology never compresses future and present: the parking would be horrific. Larches Larix occidentalis, No Dice Lake The rock glacier itself consisted of ‘flowing’ rills, the top of which were covered with heavily lichened rock, indicating that the rock was relatively stationary. Between the rills were ravines of fresher, non-lichened rock. At about 6860’ elevation, we came upon what appeared to be a sink hole in one of the ravines. It’s bottom was filled with ice and silt. It was multi season ice, for sure, but we couldn’t determine the depth, of course. Frozen snowmelt from last year? Exposed glacial remnant? We certainly couldn’t tell, but the cause of the sink hole remains an interesting mystery. Max descends into a sink hole, Craggies Rock Glacier Ice at the bottom of the sink hole Other than the sink hole and a few more pieces of sculpted ice at the bottom of a couple of caves, the rock glacier was dry. Larch snag and Big Craggy, Craggies Rock Glacier On the way out, I remembered one of the reasons I love to hike in the fall so much Puffball Lycoperdon perlatum, No Dice Creek Eyelash pixie cup Scutellinia Scutellata, No Dice Creek Hygrophorus sp., No Dice Creek Elfin saddle Helvella sp., No Dice Creek Waxy caps (hygrocybe), lichen, and moss, No Dice Creek Alien fungus, No Dice Creek [video:youtube]mWa9hMrEq8Q Gear Notes: B52s, Agent Orange
  5. Trip: The Xedni Skaep - The Xedni Esrevart Date: 8/22/2009 Trip Report: This trip report is (mostly)true, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent. (for some reason Firefox won't view this many images, try IE) The Xedni Esrevart You've been wanting to do the crossing for years, ever since you bagged the North Spire in '99. One of the three legs of the blue collar triple, a Northwest test piece for a so called hard man. But being this far over the hill do you still have what it takes? Or is this just your conniving mind making a promise that your long past prime body can't hope to keep? The serious attempts began in '06 with a couple attempts every year, most ending with bad conditions, with failure, with defeat. Watching the weather every day the week before and writing it down on the calendar. Several dry days are needed beforehand so the rock will be dry on the climb. The metamorphosed gabbro is slippery like glass when wet, especially on the North face of the North Spire. You hike in the 3,000 ft to the base and it's wet, so you go back down. You hike in to the base and there's low cloud cover with 30ft visibility, so you go back down. You hike into the base with clouds, you climb up to the start of the first technical pitches and wait an hour for the clouds to dissipate, they don't so you go back down. You hike in to the base and it just doesn't feel right. Your watch tricks you by going into 2nd time zone mode and you think you've lost an hour, so you go back down. Are you ever never ever going to tag this elusive climb? Are you ever going to get the conditions and have a high energy day at the same time so you even get the chance to face your fears and prevail? For every climber knows, fear is the mind killer. You have to control your fear in this arena or it will bite you bigtime. And the stakes on this one are as big as the exposure, as big as it gets, unrelenting on all sides, a narrow rocky ribbon in the sky, a thin fragile line of life or... a thick hard line of death. The gear is all lined up, over and over, it's written on a list, it's dialed and re-dialed. You cut the contact mirror in half. You find the lightest harness, you buy the lightest stove with a smaller fuel bottle. You take the back off the cell phone, look at that, the battery holds without it. The re-used energy drink bottle is a 3rd of the weight of a purpose bought water bottle. The big savings is the 5mil tech cord, 60m weighs 3 lbs, rapping like a spider on a thread but it's all good. Look at the mini lighter, is it full of fuel? Empty it to less than half, how many times will it still flame? Enough. You weigh the pounds and shave the ounces. The toughest choice is shoes, free solo 5.7 you want the rock shoes, but many sections have steep trees with pine needles under them and sand and dirt not to mention the moss and heather. You need some tread also for all this slippery stuff, so settle for the Guide 10's and the rock shoes. Being so far over the hill, if you're going to have any level of success, you have to find and possess an edge or two or a dozen, like think smarter not harder. Rock Jedi mind tricks. They're exchanged straight up for the long lost exuberance and all out strength of youth. The largest concession will of course be time. Age will slow everyone but if you can control the logistics to allow more time the same end result can be reached. Also you must never no never underestimate the power of the unmitigated mind. The mind that conquers and controls the mind killing fear will also defeat the depth and breadth of the task of slipping undetected, unmolested past the usual limitations of an age compromised physical state. The decomposing decay and degradation of the unassailable march of time must be held at bay, must be pushed back and away, avoided, altered, and circumnavigated. Wipe off the rustling maggots, maybe there's still some good muscle underneath. You startle awake at 12:30 am in the am. Car camping at Stevens Pass the night before, 4,000ft of acclimation. That being one of the rock Jedi tricks. The occasionally present small voice, is it guardian angel or guardian demon dependent on current condition of existence? It softly whispers two words in it's barely discernible voice. Is it ever real or has it always been just a mind illusion? Yes. Whatever it is, it's two words "hard snow". Dammit dammit dammit, don't say that, no don't say that. Chop off an hour of precious deep sleep and wake at 3:30 am and drive the 70 miles one way back to the house to get the crampons. So the planned and intended trailhead start time of 5:00 am gets pushed out to 7:00 am. Leaving the car to bust up the trail, but the uncharacteristically bad August weather presses down trying to smother the dream. It's murky low clouds obscuring the objective. It's doubt, uncertainty, lack of vision harshly weighing in. But by this point in time, in life, it really doesn't matter anymore. It will be just one more defeat in a long line of them, stretching back for years. The mind grindingly shifts gears to the fall back position. Put it on ignore and get on with whatever happens, because "this is the path where no one goes" and that at least is some small consolation. To the lake by 8:30, save the data on the alti watch. Documentation for the forum TR just in case the impossible occurs and you actually make it up this thing. The lake and peaks are partly covered with wispy clouds, it still looks iffy but maybe that chance is hiding somewhere there. Traverse the lake, stash the ski sticks and approach shoes, climb the talus and scramble the approach slabs and trees and brush. To the base of the normal first roped pitch by the late hour of 10. Maybe the detour back to the house is just a mind trick to get you to let go of time. So what if there's a force bivy when the daylight ends? If you can't do it in two days, hang up your shoes and hang down your head. Being a practitioner of the Nelson method, you jamb the pieces of foam in the heels of the Guides. Jamming your toes tight for the necessary precision of technical ground. Vegetated mossy steps and a ramp gully, the rock is dry but all the vegetation wet. Every foot placement must be scrutinized for moisture. Repeatedly wiping the shoe bottoms on the other leg like a cricket, a rock Jedi cricket keeping his feet dry for the grip. Then the first point of real neck in da noose commitment on this narrow rock sky path high above the howling hounds of doom. The 2nd pitch turning the "sudden exposure" 5.6 corner. The start is a short unexposed slab above thick brush that would catch and hold a fall, up thin edges and stepping out, over and above the abyss. Do you look down or do you not look down? You must look down because it's a mind killer fear test and this is just the start. Taste it and if you like it and can stand it take a bigger bite, you need a healthy appetite for this dish of mind killer fear, for there is surely a feast of it ahead if you're ever going to prevail. And today it seems to taste okay, and surprise surprise, the clouds are thinning....there must be something wrong, this just can't be true? Or can it? Up into the bowl with the two chimney's. A larger one below and a smaller one above. Your route diverges from Becky's description at this point. Heck most of the climb has more than one option, when the description is so vague how do you even know if it's the regular route or a variation? Face climbing up from the left on 5.6, it's compact and smooth, looking up there's old pins and weathered tat. It starts getting thinner, look around for easier ground, but everything else is harder, steeper. Small voice "there is no gimme here". Suck it up or go down. A few thin moves up then a thin traverse in closer to the big chimney and up face near it's left side and around it to it's top. A circuitous path but good foot edges most of the way, then scramble the bowl above up to the base of the 2nd smaller chimney. It looks like it would go without the pack but if there's an easier way why grovel or engage in a tedious chimney haul? Sure enough straight right and up some 5.5 and you're back on easier ground. This "variation" puts you right at the start of the treed ledge traverse. Ahh the safety of some brushy Cascade goodness. A narrow treed ledge crossing between bouts of mind withering exposure. Walk softly, tread lightly, do no damage and leave no trace. Do nothing to disturb the Rock God's garden. His extra special hair trigger death blocks are teetering above the chasm. They patiently await to smash down on the heads of lowly humans who degrade his life's work. And an interminable life it is from your perspective. Think of it, the time it takes to plan and shape the path of the magma flow, to erode the softer surrounding rock. The time it takes to build and shape these spires with eons of weathering exposure. How could you expect him to take it lightly if you dared to disrespect and defile his pristine creation? One pitch across the anorexic crack addict body width ledge to the North face bowl, it goes, on tip toes. The narrow treed ledge goes straight over to the polished North face bowl and meets it about 1 pitch from the 1000 ft sheer unobstructed cliff at it's bottom. So again your looking down the chasm, and again it's nipping at your heels. It's even wetter on this side where the sun never hits. All vegetation and moss are sopping wet, but still the rock is dry. The shoes get wet it's unavoidable, so you're constantly drying them. Half a pitch up, one foot slips, but the other foot and both hands are secure, it happens while shifting weight. Downclimbing and try to traverse to the true North ridge because TR's have mentioned it is an alternate. A 15 to 20 minute detour and it's a no go, thicker brush, more rotten rock and it's all wet, traverse back. Besides the normal 3 to 4 point solo rule there's a clutching brush rule, where available 2 or 3 branches for each hand. Branches from different plants when possible. Back into the gully of the bowl, this time paying even more attention to keeping the shoes dry. Working the stem harder. The first pitch in the gully is mostly 5.5 stemming and has a small treed ledge one pitch up. Then up the right side of the gully for a pitch of exposed 5.6 face, some positive edges, some rounded. The angle eases then half a pitch of brushy scramble to the notch at the base of the upper North ridge. Huge exposure down the West side, the biggest yet, and it just keeps getting bigger. Break out the Aces in the hole and stash the Guides, always keeping the double death grip, with thoughts of House on North Twin. The story of a single boot leaving it's partner behind and dancing down on gravity into the abyss. The ridge looks and at first feels harder than it was years ago, more exposed if that's possible, but once started it flies by. The shining sun drying the brush, the clean solid rock, the sharp rough positive edges, past more tattered rap points up up up and onward. The mixed forest heather rock above also seems longer than before and the Guides go back on to grip the differing terrain. Looking back in case there's retreat, the top of the ridge is un-obvious, remember this tree, this slab, this rock. Lots of scrambling heather and trees and then a section of bare rock before the summit. There's really not that much looseness on the entire North face climb, the real loose teetering blocks are mostly at the summit, and they are all around. A different voice? "disturb nothing!!". Yes Master Rock God, yes Master. Delicately balanced death blocks hovering over the abyss, angled downward and resting on small points, do not touch them, do not even breathe on them. And do not even forget. You will have to climb below them. The first summit, the timer captures the single Index finger for posterity. Then as promised there is a gift for Eve, two pale rose colored diamond stud earrings carefully placed in the summit rocks. Well sorry of course, it's cubic zirconia, because that's all one step above dirtbag affords. And after all it's the thought that counts. She will like them, although she didn't answer this time when near the start her name was called. Perhaps angels are otherwise occupied at times, who really knows? Rest in peace babe, rest in peace. Speaking of time it's precious, for it's already one o'clock, the zenith of the day. So read and carefully ponder the route notes. What little info Becky provides is as clear as Skykomish river mud at flood stage. Downclimb (how far?) until it's possible or impossible to traverse if you can find it, or you can rap off the West side after you downclimb the South West then back right over up or you can go around left up down back right left and down over right back and rap from the lower tower on it's West side and down and traverse if you can find it and rap again, if you can find the rap point or the traverse... or not. Or whatever. The psyche until now has continually seesawed between 90 percent gripped and guarded confidence, alternating pretty evenly at varying intervals depending on a variety of circumstances. At this point it leans toward the gripped. Voice "it's been hard up to here, but it just gets harder". You're at another key point of commitment, furtively sneaking further out on the plank, the chance of return diminishing behind you with increasing difficulty. The TR's have said it's loose and it is, but it's not impossible. Climbing down knocks small rocks loose and they rattle off and down, chasing the beckoning call of gravity. Listen to them very carefully, for this is another mind killer fear test. And if you listen closer, can you hear the howling hounds of doom? Frustratingly the traverse without raps is never really found and you climb over and back up to the top of one of the gendarmes and crawl to the edge to try and see the way. It looks so steep and blank everywhere, impassable, a phenomenon that will present itself multiple times during the remainder of the traverse. Only an up close inspection reveals the way, and at times dead ends are followed out and back before that way is found. Back down the gendarme and down around it's East side on ever steepening slopes and back up and around to it's South West side. To a tattered rap point, one anchor is just a jammed knot on a sling faded to whitish gray. A rope stretcher 30 M rap puts you down on a sloping 5.5 ledge, and tech cord doesn't really stretch all that well. Voice "I hate ropes". Please, it's okay. However on pulling the rap you don't whip it properly and the cord then proceeds to Houdini itself into a trick knot that jams behind a flake. And it's not okay. Dammit...No amount of flicking and whipping will free it. Luckily it's only some 5.5 up to where it's stuck. Take another chunk of not unlimited time and climb up, unstick it, and climb back down. Exasperatingly still not finding the traverse to the North Middle notch, but traversing non the less ends up at another rap point above the notch. Now to face your biggest mind killer fear, you're largest doubt and most persistent uncertainty. Looking down and across at the opposite face, the ultimate crux of the route, and also the point of no return, where the nearest safe exit becomes up and over. The Becky described 5.7 reputed to be a sandbagged 5.8. It's dead vertical with a bulge. From this vantage point it looks thin if not blank with a crack system on the upper sections. The rap anchor is another mankfest but it's acceptable, so flake out the cord and another full 30 M rap to the notch. And a small and very exposed notch it is, not even flat enough for a single bivy. Barely a flat enough spot to set the pack and stash the cord. The notch is about a 50 degree sided edge that gets steeper about 10 ft down and is only about 3 feet long. Not big enough to land on from even 5 ft up the crux pitch. Do you climb with the 20 pound pack or do you trail the cord and haul it? The pitch looks like it might hang up a haul, so you decide to carry the weight of the pack on this, the crux pitch. You can just climb up and see how it goes, if it's too tough you can always down climb and haul. Take some deep breaths and try to gain some composure, you can do this. You break out the Aces again and the chalk for the first time. You're going to need every edge in the arsenal if this thing is going to go. The ultimate mind killer fear test of the climb. Will you pass the test? Go go go go go!!!. It's steep, it starts okay but gets thin, thinner, bulge... steeper... sandbagged crimps. You don't want to admit it but you start to sketch a little, moving too fast, not finding the easiest way. Maybe the constant exposure and the physical difficulty of the task is starting to make itself felt. But you can't back down now, not after getting this far. Besides it's safer to keep going up and over from this point. A few sketchy moves and then there it is, at full arms length, a thank Rock God big sharp and positive edge. "You did it the hard way". Oh well, at least you did it without falling. The climbing eases just a little, but it's a full pitch before the 2nd pitch of 5.6 takes you to the finish on the ridge. A very large weight, that you've been trying your best to ignore for pretty much the entire climb up to this point... is suddenly lifted. And a much older and larger burden of the years of failure, of turning around too many times in defeat, feels like it may be finally ending. From now on whatever happens happens, but if you do your best and keep on your toes, this baby should go. You suck down another Gu and start on the second quart of water. The Gu seems to be working just fine and there's been no solid food today so that makes it an even more effective mind trick. Every time you start to lag just zap another dose. The 2 quarts of water seem to be going just about right, not too thirsty yet. Hopefully you'll make it to the main summit tarns tonight. The stellar climbing scramble continues on the ridge. Sunny dry rock, not too loose and just enough positive cut holds. With the occasional detour around Rock God garden banzais and through heather, and of course the constant mind killer fear exposure on both sides, right along with the continually awesome views. Ridge climbing is just like they say, sort of like being on a summit the entire time. It all goes hand in hand, this mix of everything alpine, the 10 percent of pleasure and fun letting you know the 90 percent of work and suffering is all worth it. The climbing up to the middle false summit is straightforward route finding and you go left around it and an easy scramble continues to the middle summit. Pausing just long enough for the requisite poser pic, this time a two finger salute. The descent down to the last notch is just like the first one from North Peak. The route finding is tedious and problematic, without much of a mention from the guidebook of what to expect. At some point you just let go and follow your instincts or the voice inside your head. Or are you just conversing with yourself? Either way you manage to get down. Some slab, crack, face, a reddish chimney, some trees and brush, and somewhere along this descent there is another rap with another manky anchor. You are also getting a good view of the route up the Main peak. You see what looks like the "wedge gendarme" as Sir Becky describes but it's not really certain, and it sort of looks like there's two of them. This view also has the good or bad fortune to see the problematic and exposed exit gully, and it looks just as described, a real howling hounds of doom sketch fest. A veritable snot slippery rotten choss gully of uber doom and gristling death. Lurking skulking scheming to throw the near exhausted and unwitting wanabee climber from his tenuous grip. Desperately scratching scraping tumbling smashing, down down down into the cold, uncaring, and unforgiving abyss, off to get the chop. The chop chop chop of death. No no no no no. Above all else in this life you are a survivor. If it's at all possible to stay alive, you will stay alive. You will either control the situation or avoid the circumstances that lead to a premature demise. You will continuously and vigorously pursue that ultimate objective with every fiber of your being. You will live through this. The notch between Middle and Main is the same as the previous notch. A very small sharp edged feature flanked on each side with ever steepening gullies quickly going down to un-climbability. Looking at the start of the climb up the Main Peak from just above the notch it appears to be vertical and blank. Mossy vertical gullies and chimneys off to the left and blank sheer walls and gullies to the right. And again only when descending to the notch and getting right up close to the opposing wall does the way appear almost magically before you. It's a thin series of foot edges and holds going off to the right. It's six pm, only a couple hours till dark. You hit up another Gu and a gulp of the water that's almost gone. You follow the thin climbing to the right and it turns into a nice rock chimney gully with plenty of stemming opportunities to rest your weary arms. The gully turns into a steep heather slope, and since it's North facing it's pretty wet from the previous days of cloud cover. Even with the Guide's traction you are having trouble maintaining grip for the feet in this steep wet vegetation. Somewhere along this field of steep wet heather the maximum points of contact mantra that every solo climber must follow comes to the fore. While moving a foot higher up the other foot slips. Both feet slide down and the adrenaline shot hits like a bolt of lighting. The product of eons of evolution, with the exposure it's been trickling all day, but now a full dose of nature's organic instant speed is slammed home to the bloodstream with a vengence. The heather is thick and strong here and the grip of both hands instantly forces in further, holding that much harder until both feet regain purchase. "I thought you were going on a long fast ride down?" Not even, not now, not ever. You arrive at the base of the wedge gendarmes and find a way up around the left one. It's gets steeper on clean solid rock and you gain the crest. An old pin along the way lets you know at least someone else has been here. You climb along the crest until you achieve the notch between the two gendarmes. But it's going to be very difficult to climb the notch between them, and it looks pretty problematic to anchor a rap. After some hesitation and indecision you decide it will waste too much precious time so you look around for an alternate way. Back below the gendarmes it looks like a traverse may go. You backclimb the way you came and traverse under the towers. It's very winding and a bit technical, but it's doable and you find a way across to a narrow ridge that drops to the Northwest below the right gendarme. You look up and again you can see the heinous death gully, the exit. There's just a bit of technical ground to get up to the gully. At this point you unwittingly unknowingly slip your neck into an unbreakable tech cord noose. It's subtle softly quiet and your distracted by the temptation of the exit. Up to this point the rock has been almost entirely of a positive strata and not really ever close to impossible loose. You eye this climbing traverse to the start of the exit gully crossing and without thinking proceed to climb. It quickly turns into a frightening gripping sketch fest. Apparently the avoidance of the described route, climbing and descending the wedge gendarme is going to demand retribution. The rock becomes increasingly loose and the edges are all pointing the wrong way down. Every other hold is loose and the ones that bang solid are suspect, cracked and thin. You side pull and undercling on most everything that holds because there's nowhere to pull down. Feet are smearing and small edges. Breathing, concentration, your heart creeps up in your throat, you get past the point of an easy return and dare to keep on into the dangerous difficulty. Finally, thankfully after a half pitch of harrowing insecurity and gristling exposure it eases and you're up and on the side of the evil exit gully. Hit another Gu, a small replenishment for the wracked out body and gulp the last of the water. Something anything to hold you back from the desperate edge. Sit and rest and take a breath. Focus. This time on the final crux you resolve to not descend into a sketchfest like at the primary crux. The rock is looser here, a bit chossy, there's no margin for error so you must make no error. Careful observation reveals a couple of possible crossings. You traverse to the nearest one and get a look up close. It's friable rock with nothing for the hands, a long reach to only one foot hold in the center of the gully on which you will have to match feet and then reach again to the other side. The extra sense says it smells like the way everyone goes, but looking closely at the foot hold it's a small knob that's cracked at it's base. Roped it would go but it's not good enough for soloing. You back out of the gully and scramble a pitch up it's left side to another spot that looks good from below, but a close inspection reveals it's totally blank. You climb back down to the first location for further inspection and low and behold there's another possibility. Above the foot hold knob a small dihedral parallels the gully up. "Careful the rock is rotten" I know, it's chossy and friable but it's a really good stem. You climb up a half pitch and another possible traverse comes into view. It goes with good hand and foot holds and a long reach across to a solid juggy flake. It goes it goes it goes. And it goes safe and without the gripping sketch. Another pitch or so of 5.5 traverse and the difficulties ease. Is that it? Are you off and safe? Or was that not really the exit gully? You turn the corner and the mountain starts facing more to the west. There's some more heather but it's dryer on this aspect where the sun has been shining. You downclimb one last bit of steep rock in spite of an easier alternative. Your mind and body maybe not wanting to let go of the mad thrills of this beautiful climb. Up up up heather and rock slopes, it's still quiet a ways but every step up more sure that you will succeed this time after all the trials and tribulations that brought you to this point in alpine time and space. The final bare rock summit slope, thank the Rock God, thank the guardian angel, thank the mountain's spirits... Eve and the rest. You have arrived at the summit of Main Peak! You have done the traverse! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHH HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The sun is getting low and as you watch the mountain horizon starts to bite into it. For once some time is taken to soak in the view, the sight, the sounds. The small town and winding road below, the lonesome whistle of a faraway train reminding you of childhood, of a time long ago and far away. The glimmering sound and lakes out in the hazy distance, the mighty volcanoes and near and distant ranges, all on view before you during this short time as a humble visitor of one of the thrones of one of the mountain Gods. For this brief interlude the pawn views the world as would a king. The view and pictures are good and you sit long enough to need another layer, for as the sun goes so does the warmth depart. In the back of your mind of course you're still not safe for you know the descent gully is loose and you're not sure what condition it's in considering the differing weather patterns this year has brought. Of course the alpine mantra applies, that the summit is only half the way home. But maybe on a traverse like this the "summit" is somewhere far back around the ultimate crux, and surely the technicality is easier from this point onwards. There's also the confidence of having already done the descent. So the epics that have plagued so many competent climbers when vague descriptions fall short and the visibility goes away with the frequent cloud cover will surely be avoided. Climbing, traversing down Southwards to the tarns at the pass your tired mind doesn't remember it being this far and you wind around in the dark for a ways. The headlamp seeking, showing the way past the wind's banzai trees, the fairy's meadows, and the glacier's sculpted rocks. Past the exit gully and down to the snow and water of the tarns. The two quarts of water went about right to get you past the final crux but the thirst has relentlessly advanced since that point. So by the time you reach the clear cold and clean water of the tarn it's as appreciated as it should be. Much more so than normal everyday life. Alpine climbing condenses, distills life to it's base and primary facets. Life and death, the necessity of a flawless physical execution in moving up and down over dangerous exposed terrain. The demand to continuously place one foot and hand in front of the other without falter or fail. Water and food. Energy and rest. Clear sunny sky, and wind and cloud and rain, storm, snow, and ice. Darkness and light. Hunger and food. Thirst and water. Two quarts of water and back up past the descent gully which is inspected as far as possible by the headlamps thin beam. Looking down the mountain's gullet, looking for the way out, the safe passage past it's rocky teeth. A small cairn in case of low visibility in the morning then up to look for bivy spots. There's plenty of flat places around this summit but you need something out of the wind and away from the chilling snow. A nice spot is found a few feet from the precipitous drop down the East side, but nestled at the edge of big boulders so it feels somewhat safe. It's going to be a force bivy, you've sort of known it all along. A bare-bones forced shiver bivy. The climb is done in a day car to car but not by you at this point in your de-composure. As a compromise you've gone light for the steep technical climbing. No sleeping bag and just an ultralite bivy sack and a 1/4" foam pad. You'll sleep in the light puff jacket and the rain gear. Maybe you can't technically call it sleep. You'll lay down with eyes closed and shiver the night away scrunched up in the fetal position. Trying to find that one position where the knees and shoulders don't constantly ache. The weight compromise has included food, one piece of bread, one piece of cheese, two ounces of olive oil. That's it. The rest is Gu, which works fine when your on the move but wears thin at camp. You don't even feel that hungry for some reason, so you eat half the food and drink some water. You watch the stars, the stars always there but unseen in the city. The big dipper is crystal clear and it's tilted just right to hold it's fullest cup, sort of signifying the climb so far. Sleep does not come for it's too cold, after seeming hours the dipper's cup has hardly moved, so you decide to heat the water for warmth. You haven't even needed the stove and fuel that was brought, so put it to some good use now. The only problem is there's only two quarts so if used for heat you won't have any to drink. Oh well you can drink in the morning. Tediously heat the water, careful not to spill. It only lasts a short time but you finally get a brief few hours of much needed sleep. You heat the bottles more than once, so hot they leave small burns on your chest, but it allows sleep so no matter. You've had your brief time of fun, now for the art of suffering which defines most of alpinism. The dawn finally breaks, it's overcast with the smallest touch of rain and darkish clouds surrounding the horizon. You crawl to the edge and take some pics of the stormy daybreak. You quickly throw everything in the pack, take the requisite summit pic with the triple fingers extended for the record. It's cold and your half beaten body protests at first even going down, but go down you must for while this is a nice place to visit you can't stay especially with no sleeping bag and no extra time alloted away from the grindstone. Down down down, the exit gully is mostly free of snow but wet. Careful of all the loose rock because your climbing in the gully below it for at least a thousand feet. Down to the 5.6 crux, you thought you might downclimb it but in a somewhat weary condition you break out the cord for one more rap. It goes without incident, a freehanging drop to above the last vestiges of gully snow. Down down down. To the talus field and traverse to the saddle of the ridge above the ancient sacred lake. A brief time to enjoy the view then find the thin winding trail in the sky, down the ridge, down down, hanging on roots and branches, downclimbing past the Mounties rap points. Getting worn, tired, now you hit the pass, down down more talus to the lake so very serene. There's still some snow but you find a path littered with debris for traction. Walking the edge of the lake, soaking in it's stillness and beauty. Watching looking you are now below the summit crossing you so recently made, back to looking up but now with the memory that you at least once looked down on all this. Retrieve the gear at the lake, pause to rest and eat before leaving it again, engage the tourons in idle gossip. "you climbed that?" Yes and shiver dozed like a decrepit fetus during the night, repeately burned by heated water bottles. "no kidding?" I wish I was, no not really, it was great, the time of my life. Down down down, the steep hiway trail takes it's final toll, you move more slowly and rest more often. Only by measured steps will you reach the end. Down down down, to the trailhead, to the car. The most dangerous part of the trip is still ahead, the drive home past the drunken drivers on the two lanes of death hiway. Past the cell phone talkers that should never ever have been given a license. You stop at the clandestine campgrounds to talk to your long time friend, the one that told you to "just do it". To tell him, yeah dawg, I just did it. "Damn that's awesome man". We converse for a while easy and relaxed, with a mutual admiration and respect. Brothers of the alpine discipline. You take a short rest and eat before the trip back. "you drive safe now hear me?" Yeah man. Back on the hiway, a quick look up at the peaks in all their splendid majesty looking down at the pawns, now including one of them that dared to at least briefly share that view. THIS MUST BE THE WAY THE OBJECTIVE OBSCURED BY OPPRESSIVE CLOUDS THE CLOUDED LAKE WITH THE DESCENT SADDLE ON THE RIDGE ABOVE LOOKING UP AT THE START ON THE SKYLINE LOOKING DOWN FROM NEAR THE START THE NORMAL START OF ROPED CLIMBING, RED SLING UNDER ROOF LOOKING DOWN THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING UP THE FIRST PITCH LOOKING DOWN THE 2ND PITCH LOOKING AHEAD ON THE TREED LEDGE, IT HUGS THE CLIFF LOOKING DOWN THE NORTH FACE BOWL, A 7 PITCH WALL IS DWARFED BELOW. LOOKING UP THE NORTH FACE BOWL THE SHORT SCRAMBLE PITCH AT THE TOP OF THE NORTH FACE BOWL EXPOSURE DOWN THE WEST SIDE THE START OF THE NORTH RIDGE CLIMBING TALUS AT THE NORTH SUMMIT AND HORNS SOUTH OF THE SUMMIT A HORN AND MIDDLE AND MAIN FROM NORTH THE RIDGE GOING TO MIDDLE FROM NORTH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE FALSE, MIDDLE, AND MAIN BEHIND, FROM THE TRAVERSE LOOKING BACK TO NORTH LOOKING BACK TO NORTH, YOU CAN SEE THE FIRST NOTCH EXPOSURE DOWN THE EAST SIDE TO THE LAKE LOOKING BACK AT MIDDLE NORTH AND MIDDLE FROM THE ASCENT OF MAIN THE SKULKING BRISTLING DEATH GULLY EXIT LOOKING BACK AFTER THE EXIT GULLY, MUCH OF TRAVERSE BETWEEN SUN/SHADE LOOKING AHEAD PAST THE EXIT RAINIER FROM NEAR THE SUMMIT SUNSET FROM THE SUMMIT OF MAIN TARN WATER BY HEADLAMP BAREBONES FORCED SHIVER BIVY SMALL TOWN AT NIGHT DAWN STORM SKY TARN AT THE PASS DOWN THE DESCENT GULLET DOWN THE LAST RAP UP THE LAST RAP LOOKING TOWARDS THE SADDLE AT THE TOP OF THE RIDGE ABOVE THE LAKE IT'S A MAGICAL MYSTICAL PLACE, JUST ASK THE SNAFFLES BACK AT THE LAKE BACK AT THE LAKE, GOD'S "JUST DO IT" SWOOSH (from a previous trip) LITTER DETAIL FROM THE WEST FROM THE EAST And please remember, walk soft, climb clean, and leave no trace. Gear Notes: A mini lighter with most of the fluid emptied out so it weighs less. Modded Go-Lite Breeze pack, 1 garbage bag, sunglasses w/scarf, 1/2 REI mirror, 1 extra contact, read glasses w/case, 5 band aids, altimeter watch, compass, hand written route description, becky photos, cell w/no back, camera w/ultralite case, chapstick, keys, cards, cash, TP, pen, duct tape, 3 mini no-climb beaners, 5ct 3/4 gear straps. Smallest swiss army knife. Light zip shorts, med polypro top/bottoms, 1 touk, 1 pr polypro socks, HH ureathane raincoat and full zip pants, thin gloves, columbia puff jacket, knee brace, 1/4"x 3/4 insolite pad, integral ultra-lite bivy sack. 2 qts water in re-used energy drink bottles, 26 lemon-lime GU's, 1 sm piece bread, 1 sm piece cheese, 2 oz olive oil, 1 TI stove pot(handles removed), 1 snowpeak stove, w/small fuel, 1 ultra-lite lighter, 10 vitamins including Ginkgo. 60M 5mm tech cord w/thin stuff sack, 2 4mm prusiks, Bugette rap device, ultra-lite harness, 3 spectra shoulder slings, 25ft 5mm cord, 3 lockers, 3 ultra-lite beaners, 2 TI pins, 2 short BD blades, BD Venom hammer, hybrid strap on alum cramps w/steel tips, HB carbon fiber helmet, chalk bag, Guide 10's, Aces. Total pack weight w/all food and water, 20 pounds. Approach Notes: Take the path where no one goes.
  6. Trip: West Fork Ruth Glacier, Alaska - The Rooster Comb, DIrect North Buttress Date: 4/15/1980 Trip Report: OK, this all happened a long time ago, so here it is, to the best of my rapidly aging recollection: In late April 1981, Keith Royster and I had been camped on the West Fork of the Ruth glacier with a couple of friends for two weeks. We were waiting for a weather window long enough for a 3-day alpine style ascent of the unclimbed North Buttress of the Rooster Comb. The pattern had been 2 to 3-day periods of stormy weather separated by a day of clearing. We knew from our experiences of the previous three seasons spent on the Ruth that if we were patient that pattern would reverse, and we could expect a 3 to 4-day period of fine cold conditions. Rooster Comb routes Bivy sites We both had climbed other Rooster Comb routes on those earlier expeditions. Scott Woolums and I had bagged the first ascent of the Rooster Comb’s main summit in 1978 via the SE Face. In 1979 Jeff Thomas and I made an ascent to the NW summit from the top of the col between the Rooster Comb and Mt. Huntington. In 1980 Keith and Leigh Anderson climbed a new route up the NW Face to the NW summit. Each year we looked at the North Buttress and vowed to come back and give it a shot some day. That day was rapidly approaching for Keith and I, but the current weather was less than perfect. It WAS good enough for a bush pilot from Talkeetna to land on the West Fork just above our camp and drop off two British climbers, Nick Colton and Tim Leech. They post-holed over to our camp, introduced themselves and announced that they were going to climb our route the next morning. After the brits left to set up their camp we convened a hasty war council. We could beat them to the base; our gear was packed and we had skis. In a footrace we could move much faster that the post-holing brits and get on the route ahead of them. But we knew the weather, and it wasn’t going to be good. We had seen the lower buttress disappear under enormous avalanches more times than we could count. At best there would be continuous spindrift for most of the route. It was a huge decision… did we want the first ascent or the best ascent? In the end we decided to wait for the weather. We were climbing for fun, we told each other, not glory. Five days later Nick and Tim were back from their epic. Or maybe it was just a typical day on the crag for them, being crazy brits and all. The constant spindrift had slowed them down dramatically in the lower third of the route, and they had bypassed the crux section of the gully by aid climbing around to the right. If we couldn’t be first, maybe we could score some points on style. Now finally the weather was becoming settled, and we hoped most of the new snow had fallen off the route, because we were going to go that night. It seemed to us that, after weeks of watching the face over the past three years, the big avalanches cut lose in the mid-afternoon. By starting the climb at 10pm, we could be out of the lower gully before noon. Even in late April there is plenty of light for gully climbing at night. We blasted off right on time, leaving our skis at the base of the route. The lower gully was classic, with excellent snow and ice up a twisting gully, perfect granite on both sides. We climbed together, moving fast, the leader placing pro until out of gear. Sometime before dawn we switched leads at Nick and Tim’s first bivy platform, set dead center in a wide section of the gully. I was nervous just stopping there to belay. It must have been a nasty bivy in the conditions they were climbing in. Keith in the lower gully By 10am we were feeling like we were in safer ground, with most of the lower gully below us. About that time our friend Jim Olson was at the base to retrieve our skis. From the center of the West Fork he watched a massive avalanche fall into the gully below us. A cornice had let go from high above and it scoured the gully, then washed out halfway across the West Fork. A half-hour slower and we would have been right in the firing line. As it was, we were blissfully unaware of our close call. At about the halfway point, the gully becomes discontinuous as it runs into a prominent 500-foot rock band. We set our first bivy where the snow and ice of the lower gully met the rock band. It was a very small platform, maybe two feet wide, but well protected by the overhanging bulge of rock above. We spent the night in sleeping bags and bivy sacs at –20F. I had a miserable night, not cold, but cramping up on the narrow snow ledge. Even my facial muscles were cramping, locking my eyes shut. About 30 feet right of our platform, the next pitch began with a 30 foot section of vertical rock, beyond which the gully picked up again, though quite a bit more steep than it had been. Keith made quick work of the rock, and led up the gully a ways before bringing me up. I got a really sweet lead up the gully to the base of the crux pitch. This is the point where Nick and Tim had climbed out to the right, bypassing the heinous, rotten vertical ice hose that the gully had just become. I was not unhappy that it was Keith’s lead! Keith led up some beautiful gully ice to the foot of the overhanging 40-foot chimney partially filled with some really crappy looking ice. He put in an ice screw that MIGHT have held a light fall, and headed straight up. It was mostly a very scary looking stem, with his backpack and right shoulder against the rock wall on the right and his feet kicking holes into the rotten ice curtain on the left. It was a monster effort, and I was sweating bullets for him until he finally pulled over the top. Definitely a no fall situation! Keith on the heinous crux pitch Keith continued on easier vertical mixed ground and banged in a belay. I jugged past the heinous chimney, thinking all the while what a scary lead it must have been. I lead off from Keith’s belay, first traversing left to follow the remnants of the gulley, now degenerated into vertical ice-filled cracks. Protection was scarce, and my first piece after traversing left was a number 1 stopper. I climbed up another twenty feet of ice-covered rock, heading for a three-inch wide runnel of ice. At the base of the runnel I was REALLY looking for a placement, and there in the base of the crack was a fixed pin left by Nick and Tim. I hit it a couple of times with my north wall hammer. It rang true and I and clipped in. WHEW! I set my axe and north wall hammer into the ice of the runnel and grabbed hold of the sling I had clipped to the fixed pin to lean back for a good look up the ice runnel. Suddenly the rock broke, the pin pulled, and I was forty feet lower, upside down over 2000 feet of air. Hanging from the number 1 stopper, I watched my snow shovel fall back to the glacier. I looked over at Keith as I slowly rotated in the air. He told me, “Stop screwing around Kerr, I’m freezing over here!” I got back on the rock, and looked up to see my ice tools waiting for me, still stuck in the runnel. The pitch had been hard with tools. Climbing back up to them barehanded was “interesting”. Once reunited with my tools, I banged the pin back in and scampered up the ice. For the first time in two days I climbed into the sun. I anchored in and brought my frozen partner up. In a couple more easy pitches we were above all difficulties and built a commodious bivy ledge. The next morning we kicked up the summit snowfield and pulled out the flask for a quick summit celebration. The weather was still holding perfect, and we enjoyed the 360-degree view for a few minutes before starting down the ridge that led to the col between the main summit and the NW summit and plateau. The descent to the col was exciting ridge climbing, ending in a long free rappel into the col. The climb up to the NW summit ridge was not difficult and we walked west across the plateau to the top of the wide gully that leads down to the Huntington/Rooster Comb col. It was late and we decided to bivy in the bergschrund before descending to the col. Unfortunately, we were out of food. After we dug our way down into the crevasse and set up our bivy, I told Keith I was going out to find us some dinner. He looked at me like I had been smoking too much pot. I crawled out of our cave and crossed the top of the descent gully to the base of a large rock. I dug at the snow and rock for a few minutes, then reached into a hole in the rock and retrieved the bag of food and fuel that Jeff Thomas and I had left there the year before. Keith was suitably impressed with our foresight when I returned with a huge meal for two and a pint of stove fuel. We started down early the next morning, and made two rappels down the gulley. We were crossing the giant cornices of the col barely an hour after we started down, working our way across to the west side, and the safest descent route to the West Fork. I knew the way down from the Huntington/Rooster Comb col really well. I’d made two round trips over the col in 1979 on our way to Mt. Huntington’s SE side, and one round trip in 1980 to gain the East Ridge of Mt. Huntington. It’s straightforward snow and ice climbing, made a game of terrifying Russian roulette by the huge cornices and seracs that threaten every part of the face. This is definitely not a place to stop for a picnic, and Keith and I fairly flew down the face, reaching the glacier in about two and a half hours. Crossing the Huntington/Rooster Comb col on the descent We felt great after the climb. We had managed to cut a full day off the first ascent time, climbed the crux gulley pitch, and done it in a spell of perfect weather. The North Buttress is the most classic line in the West Fork, in my book, and I put it at the top of my personal list of achievements. Some days after we got back to base camp, Nick and Tim returned from climbing a new route on the West face of Mt. Huntington. You had to hand it to those two; they really maxed out the possibilities on their visit to the West Fork. Two years later Keith and I skied back into the range from the North, destination: the Colton/Leech route on Mt. Huntington. But that is another story… Since our ascent in 1981 this route has only had one other successful ascent. Gear Notes: Lightweight alpine rack (screws, one picket, assorted pins), 160m double 9mm ropes, sleeping bags/bivy sacs, MSR stove, 3 days food/fuel
  7. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - The Scoop III+ 5.11c (FA) Date: 8/9/2009 Trip Report: During a trip to climb the west face (III 5.12a) on Colchuck Balanced Rock (CBR) last year, Evan and I were amazed at the lack of development of lines to the right. We decided on the spot that we had to try and find a new route next year. We took a large number of high-resolution photos and trudged our way back down the gulley to Colchuck lake. Over the winter, we spent time studying the photos, drooling over several possible lines, but one particular feature kept catching our eye: a large dihedral carved out of the rock about halfway up the face. It almost appeared as if a giant had used an oversized ice cream scoop to dig it out, creating a sharp dihedral at the bottom and slowly “scooping” out into an overhang. Not knowing what was in store for us, we knew we would need another strong climber along, so we contacted our friend Stewart, and put in for two separate four-day permits. Our first trip began on an early morning in June, with three of us slugging heavy packs up the loose gully to CBR. We set up camp amongst the white bus-sized boulders at the bottom of the route, and started setting up for the unknown. Although dirty, the first three pitches were dispatched onsight and free (9, 10a, 10a) leading us to a large ledge that seemed to be the launch point for a wide variety of lines up the second half of the face. We were now finally face to face with scooped dihedral that we had been dreaming of during the rainy Seattle winter. Even though we were now directly below the pitch, it was impossible to tell if there was a crack in the dihedral or whether it was simply a copperhead seam. Stewart set off aiding the pitch and we held our breath in anticipation. With every foot of progress came questions from below, “Is there still crack above you? Does it pinch off? What size is it?” As he continued to climb and remove the thick lichen, we were simply amazed that it continued to dish up a beautiful finger crack that widened into occasional hand jams near the final overhanging 20-foot section. It looked like the line might go free, but the major concern was the lack of good foot holds most of the way, and lack of rests for over 120 feet of the full 200-foot pitch. If it would go, it was going to be one hard pitch for sure. On the third day, we started late in the cold spring temperatures and wind and soon found ourselves sitting on a spacious ledge at the top of the scoop pitch. Across a slab twenty feet to our left started yet another long dihedral, angling up into two large ominous roofs. It was our luck that there was a small sloping ledge that allowed us to traverse across into the thin crack and up to a very dirty corner. The crack was filled with decades of accumulated dirt, moss, and plants and at this point we knew we had to go back into aiding and try to return and eventually free the pitch. A couple of hours and twenty pounds of dirt later, we came to the first of the roofs. It was almost as by design that a small knob appeared for a foot below with a hand crack under the roof allowing us to traverse to yet another ledge. The second roof appeared to be even harder than the first, requiring climbing up, traversing, and down climbing again to get back out and left to the end and into the final dihedral. The edge of the roof provided a unique “fang” feature that allowed for a nice rest following the delicate traverse. Again due to the dirtiness of the cracks, we aided through this section to gain a large ledge system several hundred feet below the summit. We knew from climbing the west face route the year before that we were about four easy 5th class pitches from the top, but due to weather we proceed to rappel down the route. On the last day, we headed up to give our first try at the scoop pitch to see what it would require to eventually lead it. After several runs on top rope, we knew we might be able to eventually lead it, but it would take everything we had to get it. We rappelled to the ground and headed back to the car in a mid-June snowstorm. So far we had everything that we were hoping for: a new route on CBR that was completed ground up, and never required a single piton or a bolt. Now the question was, would the line go free? Six weeks later, we found ourselves on the long hike back up to CBR, this time leaving most of the aid gear at home with the hopes of going into full free mode. We had two major goals: top out the route and free the three pitches that were previously aided. The first goal was fairly easy, after topping out on pitch 6, the three of us roped up and simul-climbed to the summit. The second goal was a little harder. On the summit day, each one of us tackled one of the remaining aid pitches, with only pitch 5 going free at 5.10b on the first go. After some additional cleaning, pitch 6 eventually went free at 5.10a, making it an excellent final pitch to the route. The scoop pitch evaded us for three days and we were worried that we may not be able to send it at all on this trip. On the last day, we got a late start and headed back up to launch ledge and Evan’s last go at the lead. The cold temperatures were perfect for friction, but unfortunately were also good for creating numb fingers and toes, not great for the sharp crack and featureless dihedral. To warm up, Evan lowered down pitch 3 and took a warm up lap to get the blood flowing. After a 5 minute rest and a few deep breaths, he launched off the ledge and sent it on his first go of the day. The last remaining pitch now went free at 5.11c. There was little discussion or argument about the name of the route; due to the dominance of the feature on pitch 4, we all agreed to name the route “The Scoop”, III+ 5.11c, 10 pitches. Stewart and Matt figuring out where to start the route: Stewart leading p2 (in the v-slot): Stewart belaying Evan up p2: Matt leading p3: Stewart finds a hidden crack below all the lichen: Evan starting the Scoop: Below the first roof on p4: Start of the overhang on p4: Evan on the Scoop p4: I'm not sure the tape helped here: Stewart coming across the groove: Stewart leading p5: Evan and Matt coming up p5: Matt on p5: Matt leading p6: Simul-climbing to the top: Evan and Stewart at the top of CBR: Matt, Evan, and Stewart after the clean send: Our river beers were waiting at the car: Topo (PM me for a higher res image): Routes on CBR:
  8. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Gorillas in the Mist - IV 5.11 Date: 7/8/2009 Trip Report: Mt. Stuart is one of the Cascades' most iconic and complex peaks. With such prominence, fame, and extensive development, one might think that all significant new routes have been climbed. However, excellent routes do at least remain unfinished. Inspired by the pictures from an attempt by Mark Allen and Mike Layton, as well as a desire to climb or unearth a new hard route on the Enchantment's premiere peak, Sol Wertkin and I were excited to give the West Stuart Wall a go. Work and anniversary obligations had cut Sol's available climbing time down to one day, so I contacted Jens Holsten to see if he wanted to head up to the peak with me on day one, in order to fix the first few pitches and have Sol meet us on day 2. Jens was stoked to join the team, but insisted we could go alpine style. Of course Jens also insisted it would be 90 degrees on the summit and we didn't need to bring backpacks. Caveat Emptor when getting beta from Mr. Holsten. NOAA was predicting breezy and cool conditions, so we all brought along windshirts. It's summer right? We left the trailhead at 5am and after a few hours ended up at Goat Pass, near the start of the West Ridge. The West Stuart Wall rises up maybe 900' from the snow... but where the hell was it? The face had seen various activity in the past, and we found 2 bolted anchors (stamped '1993') as well as runners low on the route. Perhaps it was a rappel route, perhaps it was someone's unfinished (or aided) project, or perhaps it had already been sent in its entirety. We didn't know and didn't really care. Roping up at the base, we knew we'd have some solid, memorable, and steep climbing. Edited/explained down below - after contact with the 1993 folks, it sounds like this climb was a new route to the top of the wall and the peak Jens led off pitch one, following the OBVIOUS clean hand crack, mantle, and chimney to a belay on the right. This pitch was probably the crux of the route at 5.11- and would see nearly constant traffic if it were located at a crag in the icicle. Steep, with solid rock and great gear, it set the perfect tone for the wall. Top of P1 The next pitch headed up and left across 2 bottomless corners and hanging aretes, 5.9 with positions to keep the adrenaline going. Jens' final lead was the mental crux for us, but shouldn't deter future parties. He headed up and left from the belay, past a 4" crack, and shouted "Watch me" as he launched into the unknown. Sol and I, unable to see the climber, witnessed a large handhold get ripped from the wall, and the simian sounds of grunting and vomiting as Jens styled the 'monkey traverse.' Did you throw up? No way man... just a little dry heaving Jens would go on to finish the pitch in style. The followers both cleaned out the hand traverse crack, and future parties should find no shortage of solid gear all along this pitch. 5.10+ Sol about to 'go ape' Finishing the Monkey Traverse Did you see that big block come flying off? ...uhh yeah, we thought it was you From here Sol took over, finding a yosemite v-slot, and an immaculate finger crack and stem box to another perfectly flat ledge. 5.10- Pitch #5 headed up and right, with a bouldery 5.10 crux move, belaying at the first significant ledge system on the wall. We continued across the 'skywalk traverse' to the right and set off again. I took the lead for a 30m pitch of 5.8 (but mostly easier) on what we thought would lead up to the West Ridge, but we hadn't finished the wall yet. From a belay in the clean V-slot/groove, I followed up a long immaculate right-facing corner, with hand and fist cracks through a small roof, and finger cracks up a slab to the hanging belay, our first belay spot that was not a comfortably flat ledge. This pitch was 55m of sustained 5.8 crack climbing. From the hanging belay, a short hand crack lead straight up to the West Ridge, and I mantled over the top with a 'whoop' and monkey shout. We started up the West Ridge in a fog, with winds steadily increasing. Winding around towers and hidden pinnacles, the rock was more and more covered in ice. Soon our rope and cams were iced up as well. The wandering terrain and numerous gendarmes kept us guessing, and as darkness fell, we knew it was time to quit fighting the conditions. The three of us settled in for a memorable bivy of uncontrolled shivering, made more so by the presence of 0 sleeping bags, no stove, no puffy jackets, and 2 30liter packs in which to stuff our six wet feet. I don't know the temperature, but Jens' water bottle froze. We joked about getting lost on a mountain which we had all climbed before, but kept our spirits high thinking about the quality terrain we'd covered. In the past few years 3 of the Enchantments' 4 biggest peaks had seen new or 're-discovered' hard, excellent rock climbs. Solid Gold and Der Sportsman had been unearthed on Prusik, Dragons of Eden was re-climbed on Dragontail, and The Tempest Wall established on Colchuck Balanced Rock. With a climb of the West Stuart Wall, the 4th peak had fallen into place and Stuart's modern rock climb established. Our platonic spooning subsided at 4AM, and Jens started things off right by breaking out the breakfast of champions, in the form of one "Worthers Original" for each of us. No longer climbing inside a cloud provided a significant morale boost, and Sol thawed out our semi-functional cams with his mouth, once again establishing the value in being full of hot air. After a quick summit stop to revel in the sun, we headed to the Sherpa Glacier where soft snow allowed us to descend a few thousand feet back to the valley bottom in no time. With today being Sol's anniversary, he knew his wife would be especially nervous about our delayed return (and extra jealous of all the spooning enjoyed by Jens and myself). We hustled back to the car and enjoyed our true breakfast, the creek-stashed beers we'd left 30 hours before. EDIT: It turns out that Mark Makela and Geoff Sherer did some climbing on that wall in 1993 and put in the bolts, going up with full-on wall gear, and fixing ropes. They made it up what would be most of the pitches, using a mix of aid and free, but never completed the last few on wall. In any case, it's an amazing climb that should be on the list for future parties. Approach: Just north (around to the left) from the toe of the West Ridge, near Goat Pass. Route starts in the middle of the face, you can't miss that pitch. Gear Notes: Single Blue and Green Alien, 2x Yellow alien to #3 Camalot, single new #4 camalot. Set of nuts. TOPO: HUGE VERSION
  9. Trip: Dildorado - West Ridge Rapege Date: 7/3/2009 Trip Report: charlie don't surf, and joshk sure as fuck don't aid climb, so what for us star-crossed companions to do on my great big summa'thrills? dildo-rado - west ridge - dude - seriously - easy, long rock climb - you'll dig it i pick the soundtracks, the routes pick me - i try not to think too much about it - just go w/ a good goofy fuck and it'll all go well, no? so josh threw it out there, and for my sins i said sure so, here she looks from the dildo/dildo needle col, our descent/approach from pimpe-station #1 at the base of eldo's east ridge but wait, i'm getting ahead of meself - this was supposed to be a thing about how much i sport a happy hardon for frumpy frau jo'berg - seriously, how can anyone stomach walking up the eldorado creek approach, seeing this vision w/o wanting to run strait back down to the car to tear ass up to the pass for a texas-rules steel-cage death match w/ the Big Bitch? shit, no - this was going to be a cook-book tr - sangrias above the sibley! [video:youtube] an hour of slurping down these brainbusters, during which i swallowed a slurry of pesto, tunafish salad and french bread, left me enjoying hte wonders of the macro button on the new rat cam - i wanna treat some poor assholes herpephobia by wallpapering his whole room with pix like these but saying, "don't worry, it won't bite" fat, drunk n' stupid, i felt in prime condition to take on the final ascent to the eldo glacier and our evening's frivoliaties about the bivy - both josh and i sported the alpine stereo throughout the trip, and it smoothed over the awkward parts, like where we felt like we were supposed to be making meaningful conversation with each other, discussing our emotions and grand philsophical views of life, our taste in matchbox cars and feelings towards movies with gladiators in them - mostly the non-stop tunage served to Keep the Weasels on the Verge - LL Cool J's "i can't live w/o my radio" seemed of particuliar significance this trip [video:youtube] we bivy'ed on a prime chunk of real-estate, a bare slab by daypool (magically dissappears at night, only to reappear by day ) - we spent the evening drinking wine n' vodka, smoking poorly rolled cigarretes and eating lasagna, looking at all the lack-luster scenery why must the moon ruin all fine shots? by the time it had come to tend to sleep, i'd worked meself into rare-aould form - the stars had that extra-twinkle you look for in a premium sparkler, and the boom of warmth once in the tent and out of the wind turned tori amos' voice into a great golden bird that carried me to a far-away place, full of doe-eyed beauties capable of things the english-langauge was never meant to convey - at any rate, far, far away from filthy mother-fuckers such as yourselves emerging from the time-fog in the dawn, we set no speed records in getting packed up for our day's objective - a descent down to the toe of the west ridge, a quick run up, then a little-house-on-the-dead-injuns stroll down to camp for a rock-star finale en route to the dildo/dildo needle col, we enjoyed the local luge scene to some oakenfold melodies [video:youtube] the descent was strait-forward enough, and once at 6400 feet we easily traversed over to the base of the ridge - i distinctly remember thinking, thank fuck i don't have to walk back up THAT at this point we felt in line w/ the chi of the beta-bastard - broad gully up, over some slabs - check we stopped atop the coursing slabs for our last dose of water - did i mention i only brought a single liter bottle for storage - and it was blindingly bright n' hot? and that somehow it was already noon on a route that supposedly takes 9 hours to top out on? we weren't certain were this big bastard of a ridge was best to get on, but close as we could glean from the beta, it involved getting into a chimney-ish thing that would climb to the crest in a few pitches - this snow blobbish area looked just right - the only problem, upon getting up to it, was that is was protected by a giant moat, only surmountable by a vertical-limitish inspired full run n' jump onto the blob we sniffed off to the left of the moat/blob, figuring if we could just reach the crest of the ridge, all would be fine from there - figuring on goode'ish style climb, we'd left the rock shoes at home - this didn't help when the first line we tried turned into a pro-less smear fest that led to the Land of Little Hope - we stepped back down to the glacier and went even further left - deceptively difficult traversing on the generally crackless, featureless gritty slabs left us quickly despondent - why the fuck was it so hard to get on route? 2 pitches up - josh follows me to the "don't fall dumbass, there's no anchor here" belay goddamit, why does reality always have to get between me n' my mellow? roasting in the sun, dark rocks painful to the touch, we opted to eschew trying to regain the snow-blob chimney as the traverse over appeared suck-ass - instead josh took us up a rope-length, then i another along a leftwards traverse below rotten roofs that ended in both of us looking at each other, the time, our minimal water and non-high-tech shoes, our whole busted framed-out take on life and all and resoundingly resolved, the twain of us, to "fuck this shit" i'd like to forget about the next 6 hours of so of my life - i recall combining raps on rotten blocks and horns to downclimbing to finally re-reaching the snow and the bizarrely steep slabs below that, then the awful gut-rending retracing of our steps back up 2000 feet to camp, the western sun savaging us each step upon the way - the cruel twist of josh's ipod containing some, but not all of the "use your illusion" albums - shivering in the sudden dusk of the "unsavory gulley" below the col - i reached camp a defeated man, a mean man, a mike tyson biting off your ear even though i'm still gonna lose goddamitt kinda man - i crawled into the bottom of my sleepng bag and tried not to think about the cavalier decision to make my second dinner of the trip a "character-builder" i.e. essentially nothing eventually some hot water reduced the chills of the heat stroke i'd worked up, and the night did it's magic thing - i drifted from my mental moorings and ran along a swiftly filling tide, the dam-stocks of the earth burst and bedlam flowing before them, a cacophony of voices and sounds, full of the proverbial sound and fury that signifies nothing - i can't remember a bit of it now, but i recall it was a fine example of something, that's for certain 'round 11 or so in the following a.m., the hub-bub of megateam after megateam strolling on by inspired us to emerge into the blast furnace, eat our paltry breakfast (yum...stale bread and chilied mangoes!) and lie around alot, contemplating an excursion to the top - we recalled it was america-does-you-in-the-ass-and-brags-about-it-to-its-friends-day - we spent a far part of the mornign screaming: "america - fuck yeah!" [video:youtube] finally we motivated up the hill - it was my first visit to eldo's top, but i was familiar w/ the uber-famous summit ridge shot, though perhaps not to see it so deeply resembling a frozen version of the somne, circa 1916. we ran down from the summit while the masses plyed their ropes up and down the Savage Crevasse Field! [video:youtube] "does this mountain make my johnson look small?" the walk out was wonderful of course - scorching - no food except 5 little gummy guys - you know, the kind that look like plastic toy soldiers and taste like sour apples? my favorite is the grenade throwing dude - what a hero - total sgt york bullshit - it inspired me to starve, and to get momentarily lost near the waterfalls, and in the boulder field - we took comfort in seeing the broken on the rack and crucified by the wayside crew on 9 or so guided climbers miserably played out along the lower trail, the lead gaggle complete w/ member passed on in the middle of the steep path, collecting talus the evenign of the 4th of july was a wonderful thing - we bathed in the sibley and drank shiraz - we laid around marblemount-me and drank shiraz - we cursed at good food for being closed and drank shiraz - we laid behind a boxcar, smoking all kinds of things, drinking shiraz - we barely managed to walk out of the buffalo's bullsack or wahtever it's called and drive to the ross lake overlook on the 20, where we passed out by the curbside in the twilight glow, the feast of a thousand fuck-all mosquitoes that made our lives needlessly hellish by sunrise at 4:20, whereupon we fled in horror to mazama, too whooped even for a washington pass approach - some coffee at the general store inspired us to go to fun rock, but the sweltering heat and our radiating sun-flesh flushed us like cosmic turds into the methow, whereupon the day improved substantially i enjoyed the tree by the general store with its barbed wire and pole locked in a borg-ish struggle w/ the juniper that was once behind it don't get excited kids, i've been trying to reduce my smoking by insisting on only the worst hand-rolled, dried out bullshit leaf cigs modern man can make - the upgrade on the $3 walmart white hat i heartily endorse though we anchored the cooler in the swirling wonder of the methow and spent the next 6 hours jumping off the mega-fuck-fun boulder across from the prime rib parking lot, weathering out an unceasing torrent of tourists who no-doubt disdain drunken, farmer-tan-fried redneck phreaks such as meself - i enjoyed meself at least fuck climbing - shade and rivers meant to climb all kinds of glorious thigns after this rest day, but rain and clouds at wa pass compelled our return to seattlestan and the fine female forms of fremont
  10. Trip: Assguard Pass - Assguard Pass Std. Route Date: 6/21/2009 Trip Report: Went up to Colchuck to try our metal on the Cascade jewel Assguard Pass. Our objective: Who doesn't want a piece of this? WARNING! THIS PHOTO CONTAINS FORESHORTENING! We whooped up yelps of Alpine Joy to be on such a route Some hideous stack of rocks that surround this beauty This is what we came for Until we meet again fair lady Some other junk we saw get sum Gear Notes: tennis shoes
  11. Trip: Cheam Peak - North Face Date: 6/10/2009 Trip Report: After my grade 12 graduation this past weekend I wanted to kick off my summer by doing something big and committing and to do it solo. I look up at the North side of Cheam every day and I had noticed that the 1976 route on the North Face looked to be in nice condition, so I put that on my itenerary. Cheam Peak has some burly relief on the north side rising just about 7,000 ft from the highway to the summit, the first half of this gain in elevation is mostly steep, dense bush and the upper half is composed of a mixture of steep snowlopes cut by steep rock bands of crumbling choss.... perfect! I packed up my bag, bringing no rope, harness, or protection other than my ice tools. I threw in some food, 2 liters of water a sweater and some shell pants too. My parents forced me to carry crampons even though I knew I wouldn't need them.... I mean seriously, I'm graduated! I set me alarm for 5:15 AM and slept a few hours, then I had some breakfast got dressed and woke up my Dad to give me a ride over to the base of the mountain. He dropped me off on a powerline road branching off the Highway just East of Bridal Falls. I started hiking up at 6:00, hit the creek draining the face in a few minutes then reached the wooded ridge I would follow a few minutes later. I was hiking up a bear trail low on the approach when I ran into a big black bear. I the bear politely let me pass and I had no other encounters for the next two hours of thrashing up the ridge. At 8:00 I emerged from the forest onto the moraine and snowlopes below the North Face. I got my first real view of my objective then and was rather intimidated by the large steep face. I ate some food then hiked up the snow to the left of a large rocky outcrop then cut back right onto the knoll at the top of the outcrop. I started the technical climbing above the knoll at 9:00. I traversed some steep snow right of the knoll, then skirted around the bergshrund on some rocks to the left. I climbed up a short but terrifying rock step made up of crumbling, wet choss sprouting moss and grass. It was probably only about 5.4 but it was extremely dicey, especially the last 15 ft which was pretty near vertical. Above this I hit the long, right trending snow ramp leading to the NW ridge. This section was tiring and took a long time, I had to be careful not to slip and fall down the face but not linger too long and get hit by rocks falling from the summit. By the time I reached the upper NW ridge I was pretty tired of snow so I avoided the upper section of the ramp by climbing rocks to the right. The headwall was surprisingly easy but very exposed and the rock was awful. The last 200 ft to the summit was loose, exposed and steep, but 4th class gravel covered ramps led to the summit ridge and I topped out just west of the summit at 1:00. A few victory whoops later I was on the summit enoying some 'pop tarts' and cold water. I descended the west ridge then glissaded easy snow slopes into the bowl below the NW face and hiked a long ridge beside the drainage gully draining the NW face. The descent was quite fast and I reached the Highway at 4:00 PM, making this a 10 hour round trip... not bad. Overall the route was pretty loose and exposed but definitely worth doing once. For a grade like 5.4 and snow to 45 degrees it is quite serious. Definitely my biggest, most commiting solo yet. Pics: A long way to go... from the approach. Me and the North Face.. Objective Up the snow and rock bands, then around the corner onto the ridge. Looking down the NW ridge... I came up from behind the ridge. Looking west shortly before topping out. Self Timed shot of me on the Summit. Edited photo showing my route, I had much less snow, the rock crux isnt even exposed in this shot! Gear Notes: Ice ax... if you plan on using ropes and crap bring some LA pitons and runners and leave everything else at home. Approach Notes: Bushwack... lots of it.. unrelenting... look out for bears and wasps, I ran into both.
  12. Trip: Trout, Steins, Twin Pillars - the usual Date: 4/20/2009 Trip Report: Lets first REWIND to the last day of tax season april 15th, also the day I took another henious CPA exam. Directly, afterwards I proceeded to Spirit Mt. and go up and than down, but thats why they are still in business. Anyways, the next day I left for a little TC action. No partner, just betting on the TC community and just good clamberin' folk. Thanks, to Aaron and Sara for letting me join in as a random number 3, and to stan for showing up from portland, to climb on friday. Once again, TC offered great climbing with good people. My time at TC went something like this: I met a set of wonder twin's that pointed me to the long march through the space between to find the monster that saught my soul. Two days, not another sole in sight cept' the buddies on the other end of the rope. The river is getting warmer and the campground will soon be full of wild master baiters. On friday, stan and i parted ways with a shared beer and promises of climbs yet to come, he was off to smith to getter done on his proj. I was headed to stiens for three days of .....unknown, but with the unknown came the ability to climb whatever i wanted each day. Saturday: Rays food place, loaded up on all sorts of wonderful car camping food and bev's. Drove out the gravel roads way away from town to the gnar. Tyler, had a declassified uber duper secret topo drawn, from a buddy about a couple possible routes on the formations around the steins pillar. Sideshow Bob: Begins on downhill side of unnamed fomation before stiens. Sweet f7 with solid bolts and anchors, the ledges leave plenty of room for the "now." four pitchs of climbing that you wouldn't really like. looking down p1 , leading p2, "if you wanna get real wild you should stop and pull the camera up, real men take photo's on lead." the final pitch sucked hindsight for the day- don't make animal grunting noises around blind corners there could quite possibly be 20+ people having a wonderful saturday afternoon until some smelly grunting hippy came slogging along. camp at the bone yard.... "dude there is another fucking skeleton out here...is that like six?" sleep until 9am....think thats cause we were drinking tell...? drive 45+ more minutes east to the Twin Pillars...tyler had really wanted to climb to this summit, and I just asked that he take me on an adventure. We couldn't make it to the trail head because of snow...so we just trompped through the "bad burn forest" for an hour 45. We both relished in the sunlight and dead pines. -"so what do you think we should take, is there any mention of gear?" "or whats on top" maybe these? -"we should just take it all" coping the most up to date information so we began on what we thought was the middle of the north face but...it wasn't. "i would much rather climb that overhanging crack than this loose face" so off we went to this corner thing that we now believe to be the campfire variation to the north face route. Stoked about the solid rock more on lead shots... we summited and head back across the landscape trying to beat the sunset....we both made it back to the truck sans headlamp. at the truck we found our beer, beats, and “the now” “why don’t more people understand the importance of how great a day of adventure can be?” proceed to party with brats and beer 4/20/09 Wake @ 11:00am…dingle around for a little while, eat, celebrate the wonderful holiday, arrive at the stiens pillar around 1:00pm, caffeinated and happy. We had hopes of the east face but it was 80 degrees and we wanted nice comfy ledges and shade. So the regular route it was. Solo p1, f fun. Tyler styled p2, this is me following the short traverse. P5 lil aid, lil free Continue up the regular route, summit in the sun and celebrate a couple more times. WTF: why no summit register Gear Notes: the "now" Approach Notes: follow the gravel road
  13. Trip: Jubilee/Waddington Knight Inlet - Various Date: 7/18/2008 Trip Report: Finally, the long “awaited” promised TR to Jubilee/Waddington. Sorry for delay, been sick. It is also a bit long. To all mountaineering aficionados: Perusing the book shelves is a very dangerous proposition. For lo and behold I spied a glossy book with this breathtaking picture on the front. Not only on the front but throughout the book. Guide to the Waddington Range by Don Serl. Very dangerous stuff books. Instead of lining some helicopter pilots pocketbook we figured we could build our kayaks and get an enjoyable slightly extended trip out of it. 2 years of saving vacation and a couple grand to build our kayaks later and we were ready. Dreams of perfect weather and solid snow bridges girded our enthusiasm. Food, um yummm: Basically it came down to SUGAR/NUTS/BEEF JERKY/SALT. For sugar we got 10lbs of chocolate from Boehms Candy only took 7lbs though. Tons of Candy bars and Pecan Rolls with extra pecans and butter. Salted Almonds 4lbs, toasted pecans 1.5lbs. 10lbs of beef jerky we made ourselves from meat we got on sale for $2lb. We also took 3 loaves of banana bread since it keeps for 3 weeks. For salt we took fritos and corn nuts. Did you guys know that fritos have 3100 cal/lb??? Corn nuts are 2600cal/lb. Dang they tasted good. Expensive though. Only thing higher per lb is butter and pecans/almonds. Took several forms/flavors of crackers. Took spaghetti noodles with beef bullion and cup-o-soups for flavor since they pack very nicely. Why would anyone buy “dried noodle anything” at REI is beyond me. Buy the noodles for a fraction of the price and add your own spices. Noodles by definition are “dried” food. Not to mention the packaging those foods come in are VERY heavy!!! Well….. I was sick for several months leading up to the trip, the story of my life, making me rather out of shape for hauling 90+lb packs around. Left 2 days late on our 4 week trip. Not an auspicious start, but it was a start! We drove North from Issaquah in my Brothers Mazda RX-7 with both kayaks on the roof, 4hp engine in back with enough gas for 200 miles worth(20+gallons)cruising with all of our food and gear for 4 weeks. Took the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver island and drove north to Kelsey bay. There we met a local who showed us a map allowing us to take logging roads 20 miles north saving us several hours in the kayaks. Packed the kayaks and took off in the morning with the tide. At noon we stopped on a rock outcropping for lunch as we headed out up the fabulous Knight Inlet. Now our cruising speed is around 7 knots and Knight inlet is not a kind place for those who are having engine trouble. There is no place to “beach” we found a rock shelf and wiggled around on it to get the engine off and cleaned. The engine would not restart without being very rich. We thought the choke lever had popped off leaving it running rich. Nope. After several hours of fiddling around we finally pulled the entire carb off and tore it down finding tons of black crud in the carb from when we had burned some old gas in a previous trip trying to get rid of it. DOH!!! <> Oh well. Lesson learned. The wind had kicked up and was whipping along at 20+ knots creating 3 to 4 foot waves. When you are sitting in a kayak with your butt 4 inches below the water surface a 2 foot wave means that your eyes are basically level with the top of it. Now 3 and 4 waves swallowed and wallowed our kayak as we chugged along. You would get on top of a wave and would “surf” down at 15 knots speed and then come to an abrupt halt as you climbed up the other side of water. In the meantime the next 4 foot wave decides to crest over the rear of the kayak and sending foaming water up to my brothers chin. I so wished I had a waterproof camera!!! We were desperately trying to find a beach as we had our outrigger kayak loaded too front heavy and was being buried completely under water and we were getting worried. The only thing we saw were cliffs. I saw a small speck of island on the map and hoped it had at least a nook to hide in. Instead it had a shingle of rock that was accessible at high tide. Lucky us, it was high tide. We hauled the kayak and outrigger out of the water onto the barnacled rock shelf. Now we are sitting perched on a rock shingle/shelf watching the water receed from high tide and found ourselves perched on top of a cliff. OOPS! Looking at the tide charts we see that the next high tide at 5:30 in the morning is 30inches lower than high tide today!!! Oh crap. Oh well, time to eat and sleep! We found the best sleeping spots imaginable, 4” thick moss. SWEET. At high tide the next morning we pushed the kayak and outrigger kayak over the cliff and finally got it into the water at high tide without falling over the cliff edge ourselves and going for a swim. In an hour of cruising we found the only beach in the entire 75 mile trip going up Knight inlet. An absolutely stunning spot. Ate Breakfast and kept cruising. We thought we would get some water from a stream entering Knight Inlet… oops a 200 foot waterfall greeted us instead. Knight inlet is an amazing spot. Ringed in cliffs on all sides. Here is one mountain rising 7500 feet straight out of the water. Several thousand foot granite cliffs are common and unclimbed. If they were in Yosemite they would be exceptional. We finally hit the end of Knight inlet and ditched our kayaks on the loggers platform at the Dutchmans Head where their fuel tanks were. We got permission from loggers who were there. HOLY COW THE HORSE FLIES!!! The only good thing was that as soon as the sun goes down they all dissapear. Killed 10 in one swat! It wasn't the only high count swat either. I am not pulling your leg either! Lets just say we didn't stick around to take pictures! Thankfully the loggers gave us a ride to their loggers camp saving us 3 miles of walking through bear country. Did I mention Bears? Yea, bear poop everywhere on the road. The loggers joked that the bears never crap in the woods, but only on their logging roads! Think cow patties littering the road like goose poop. We only saw 1 bear on the trip to camp though. Loggers Camp With some judicious begging the loggers took us up the road as far as they could towards Mt. Jubilee saving us an added 10 miles of walking in bear country with nothing more than "pepper spray". Lets just say that after being dropped off and looking at the littering of bear poo everywhere, we uh, made some "noise" as we walked and hoped that mama grizzly bear wasn't too hungry. The easy walking didn't last as we got off the main logging road and onto an old "logging road" We camped on the only flat spot we could find, an old log bridge. Oh did I mention that my brothers toe was over twice its normal size. He limped to this spot and we did not move for 5 days. It seems he had picked up the kayak trying to move it off the rock shelf 2 days previous and dropped it on his toes. The next day Nate tried walking on it and in less than a half mile was huge and very painful. Then the weather moved in. Our spirits were bleek to say the least. A clearing in the clouds for a couple hours and we packed quickly and sprinted up a couple thousand feet through logging slash and cliff bands as we dodged into heavy timber wherever we could find it. It turned to rain again and we found the last bit of old logging road and stayed there for 2 days collecting drinking water off the tent. Weather cleared again and we lugged our +90lb packs up into the alpine terrain. Couldn’t see a thing as it was nothing but clouds but we got to dry out and sleep on heather!!! 3 more days of rain, sleet, snow and it cleared finally!!! Nate's toe never really healed but was ok to at least walk on slowly. TONS of FRESH SNOW up higher and very warm temperatures made very slow going with fresh snow on top of slush. We decided to go on the south side of Jubilee on the Chaos glacier since the views were so much better! We spent several hours trying to get down onto the glacier itself in order to gain access to Mt. Jubilee’s East Ridge our desired route. Anyone up for some icefalls? With the warm temps there were huge blocks ripping off of them. The Whitemantle range is spectacular from the Chaos Glacier. Climbing on 45 degree slush deeper than the knees with cliffs below is draining to say the least and threw down our tent on the first flat spot we found that wasn’t a crevasse. Our hopes buoyed by some of the best scenery in the world we set off for the summit of Jubilee and the east ridge. It was not to be, Giant crevasses littered our path. Tried left, center, and right. 20 foot, 40 foot gaps rent the east ridge route with ice cliff steps above the rents. The route had obviously changed than what was published as a gentle walk in the guide book. These crevasses wouldn’t even have had snow bridges in mid season let alone on August 1st. Looked at the SE ridge route and it was cut several spots by more giant crevasses and nasty loose red crumbling rock to bypass around them on its ridge which we had scrambled over the day before to gain access to the Jubilee Glacier. Moved Camp to a more scenic spot on the East ridge of Jubilee with monster crevasses around us and hoped for some colder temperatures as we were wallowing in slush. Since the night before we had been aruging about the fact that we were sleeping with our heads in a downward position we decided to do some snow engineering creating a "bubble-level". The guide book said the North ridge was a spring only option, but we had already decided that the SE ridge was a loose rock death ride, and the east “gentle” ridge was impassable. So, off we set. The weather changed and was nice and cold. We got to the schrund right beneath the summit and were turned back by yet another gaping crevasse. To the true north face were more gaping monster crevasses and the summit schrund joined the east ridge impassable crevasses. Skunked on a mere 9000 foot summit!!! You have got to be kidding me right? Guess not. To see how Gigantic these crevasses are. Look at this picture. Follow our tracks over the snow bridge down to the black spot which is our tent. These babies were easily 200 feet across and who knows how deep, I didn't go checking out the edge all that closely!!! It was now 2 weeks into our trip, and 0 summits, 1 broken toe, and horrible snow conditions. We looked at eachother took in the sights, sighed and said, “I think we have pushed our luck far enough. There is no way we will be able to get up Waddington in conditions like this, not to mention to it and back before our vacation runs out even in perfect weather conditions.” We packed, dumping extra food into a crevasse and watched the cirrus clouds as they told us what waited for us if we stayed, more crummy weather. Now that we knew the crevasse maze, we practically sprinted off the shoulder of Jubilee, broken toe and all. Walked out with the advantage of gravity back to our Kayaks and took off before we were eaten by a grizzly bear, cougar, or horseflies. On a humorous note, we walked back through where we camped and noted that there is no need to bury your poop. Every spot we had “done our thing,” it was completely cleaned out paper and all!!! Nice!!! An all new meaning to bear breath! Fired up the engine and made a most memorable trip out knight inlet to the one beach in the entirety of knight inlet. Next day made it back to the car 3 weeks after we had left it. Put the spark plugs back in since the engine floods when it sits, hooked up the battery and headed for home. After taking the ferry back to Vancouver side our battery died. So we bumbled into a gas station and begged charge time off of people all night long. The battery was old and needed replaced. After the charge time from good Samaritans we made it back across the border and coasted into a Wal-Mart parking lot where we bough a new battery and made it home. Will I go back??? OH yea! Saving vacation time as we speak and thinking of going up Bute inlet and taking bikes for the 20+ miles of main logging roads to the Waddington glacier. Will just pay the helicopter guys the money to drop food in for us. 95lb packs are NOT enjoyable at all. When on snow, they aren’t bad, but going through logging slash? Someone shoot me please. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Entire time in the brush was probably less than a day of cursing, but we spread it out over a week due to a broken toe and RAIN. What was bad was the soaking wet brush above your heads. Most importantly will also pay attention to snow conditions better the year before and the weather.com reports for the area. If we had paid better attention we would have known that the weather had been very good in the spring and early summer and the crevasses wide open and left sooner.
  14. Trip: Lemolo Peak (erstwhile Hardest Mox) - NE Buttress ("After Hours") V 5.10- R Date: 9/12/2008 Trip Report: Summary: On 9/12 and 9/13/2008, Rolf Larson and Eric Wehrly climbed the NE Buttress of the 8501' summit to the E of SE Mox Peak. The NE buttress on right division of dark and light, John Scurlock photo: A shot from the other side on our descent: From what we can tell, our route shares several pitches with Layton and Wolfe's E Face line "The Devil's Club", somewhere in the middle third of the ascent. "After Hours" (appropriate for several reasons) takes a direct start on the NE Buttress toe, and ends at the summit of what some have referred to as "Hardest Mox", the apparently heretofore unclimbed peak to the E of SE Mox. We continued to SE Mox Peak from there, adding a bit more engaging climbing. I believe that we are the first ascentionists of this peak, and hence can derive a little fun naming it. If this is the case, in keeping with the naming convention of Mox ("twin") Peaks, we propose Lemolo Peak; "Lemolo" is Chinook jargon for wild, or untamed. Klone (Chinook for "three") Peak would also be appropriate, but is already taken in Washington. If this summit is not worthy of a separate name, then no sweat--I already had my fun. I think that Rolf (aka the Bard of Leavenworth) is crafting a TR in iambic pentameter; until then, the following must do... Overview: Day 1, approach from Little Beaver to c. 5000' bivy in Perry Creek basin; 9 hours. Day 2, finish approach to 6000' rock start, and climb to 8200' bivy; 13.5 hours. Day 3, proceed to 8501' summit, then ridge traverse to SE Mox 8504', and descend to camp via gullies and unnamed glacier SE of Mox; 9 hours (ish?). Day 4, thrash homeward; 7 hours even, every minute fun. More detailed notes and pictures (I took all pictures; when the Bard isn't writing, his other job is male supermodel): On morning approach day 1, Jack Mtn and Nohokomeen Gl: Early part of roped climbing on day 2, somewhere around 7000': I was pretty worked from the day 1 approach, and started to get some hand cramps about 1000' into the climb; so Rolf took up the yoke and led the majority of the steep headwall in the middle third of the climb. He drew the crux pitch, which among its cruxes, included pulling a roof over suspect gear. Rolf reached into his puny reservoir of Solid and cruised the pitch—-one of the most impressive leads I'll witness. It was here that I believe he threw an alpine berserker gang-sign. No time for pics, but after following the pitch, I took a shot back at its traverse element: You might be able to make out some tat from MnE's rap 3 years ago. Additionally, looking at this pic from Mike's report, I surmise that while those guys went up and left from that point, we went up and right, cutting back left eventually. Here's Rolf making his way through more roofs: Some exposure from this belay, looking down at the buttress: At about 7500', I led what we jokingly referred to as a "comeback pitch" left and then up one of the few clean splitters we encountered, very exposed, then Rolf zagged back right across the buttress crest: The climbing was exposed and a lot of fun; I like the Bard's term for it, "cerebral", ha. Another shot a bit higher, ~8000': We had enough daylight to search around for bivy sites between 8000 and 8300, and settled on a then-windless site at 8200'. Temps were dropping a bit more steeply than we expected; we'd left our sleeping bags in favor of a lighter jacket-and-backpack bivy, and paid for our insouciance. We were so giddy about our situation, that we giggled convulsively through the night. Here's the alpine rat burrowing in for Led Zeppelin's "you shook me" all night long: Took some solace from the views; underexposed Picket Range: After the sun came up and I drank from my partially frozen water, we scrambled up and roped up for teetering stacked blocks to the summit (Mt. Spickard background): Last pitch to the yet-unclimbed 8501' summit: Shot of Pickets from tippy-top: Now we have to go over there--SE Mox: The traverse involved a 60m rap, a scoot around a gendarme, then a few more pitches of climbing on a ridge--actually very cool climbing. Even more pics, first is looking back at Rolf and the gendarme, I think: Then Rolf leading toward SE Mox, Mt Redoubt background and NW Mox foreground: Finally, views of 1) Lemolo from the summit SE Mox; 2) Challenger et al; 3) Bear's NF etc.: Then the ultra-brutal chossy galore descent of several gullies to the glacier: This tried our dessicated patience. Staggered into a deserved camp celebration of the finest 2-course meal (I guess everything does taste better with tuna), brews, bourbon, chocolate. Last day parting shot: And then beers and plunges at Ross Lake while waiting for our boat; deeeeluxe. I can now fully appreciate and salute Mike and Erik's journey into the unknown 3 years ago. Pretty certain I'd not take 4 days off to go after this big endeavor without their information posted here--thanks fellas. I remember reading about the brotherhood you guys shared, and held hope for similar with Rolf--nope. Our partnership is built on mutual disrespect and loathing; we share a vile and putrid love, and feed most from each other's misery. I'm not happy until you're not happy. Nevertheless, the Bard is a solid partner and I look forward to future adventures--this was an exceptionally stellar one. Gear Notes: -medium rack, with pins that did not get used. tri-cams employed often. -while no metal used, much extracted; our route intersected rap stations enough such that we bootied bountifully. -no plants were harmed in the development of our product. Approach Notes: Jungle fever Nihilism (or Zen Buddhism, according to one’s preference)
  15. Trip: The Sphinx - N Ridge, Phyllis' Engine - Std Route Date: 9/6/2008 Trip Report: Fifteen years ago I was sitting in Westerns' Wilson Library flipping through Canadian Alpine Journals when I came across an amazing photo of a guy climbing some of the cleanest most splitter granite I had ever seen. The route was Vertex on the west face of Isosceles Peak located in a remote corner of Garibaldi Park. The climb sat on my short list of places to go but never made the top until last week when Gene Pires and I found ourselves staggering up the Helm Creek Trail under heavy packs laden with rock gear and aspirations for an aggresive four day itinerary. The following morning as we stumbled across loose talus and suffered demoralizing losses of elevation it became apparent that we were no longer the paragons of fitness nor the alpine titans we once thought we were. Isosceles would be left for another journey and we instead settled for several less commiting climbs located above the Sphinx Glacier. The following photo is as close as we got. Isosceles Peak, Crosscut Ridge and Mount Luxor THE APPROACH Garibaldi Park is different. The rugged and steep valleys of the North Cascades are replaced by the gentler sculpted terrain typical of volcanic areas without being dominated by the classic volcanic cone. The high peaks in this area are granitic and Garibaldi itself sits far to the south. With the exception of the long drop to Gentian Pass the entire eleven mile approach to the alpine is a gradual ascent on good trails, open meadows, mellow glaciers and gentle ridges. Helm Meadows The infamous Black Tusk towers over the first part of the approach. Cinder Hills If you follow the Alpine Select approach description literally by hiking all the way to Cinder Flats and then circling around The Cinder Cone you'll add an extra hour of wandering through a chaotic and tortured landscape of shifting cinders, dust and scattered animal bones. Both tiring and interesting. Helm Glacier The Helm Glacier is an oddity. More arctic than alpine, it oozes down across an otherwise barren landscape. Why is it here? How much longer will it last? First View of Castle Towers and The Sphinx After about 8 miles and 4000' of gain you finally get see your destination. Unfortunately you also see the steep 800' drop to Gentian Pass. Nothing comes easy. Gentian Pass No trails, no cairns, no footprints. The Perfect Campsite After eight-and-a-half hours of travel we finally scrambled off the backside of Polemonium Ridge to find a perfect campsite. Flat heather meadows, a small stream, boulders to sit on and an impeccable view. Garibaldi Sunset Tantalus Range at Sunrise Garibaldi Lake in the foreground. The Sphinx - North Ridge II 5.8 Campsite near the Glaciers Edge As described earlier, on the morning of the second day we found difficult and time consuming terrain between Polemonium Ridge and The Sphinx Glacier. Realizing that we didn't have the time or energy for Isosceles we set up camp on an airy perch near glaciers edge and climbed The Sphinx that afternoon. Crossing Sphinx Glacier An absolutely wonderful journey. It's almost three miles across with numerous deep schrunds and crevasses to navigate. Threading the Shrunds Garibaldi Lake in the background. Near the Base of the North Ridge The route is only about 500' in length. We climbed a 200+' pitch of low-5th class on blocky granite, then another 200+' pitch up a fine slab split by numerous enjoyable cracks. The final pitch is short and stout, starting up a steep crack and corner system before finishing with a wild slightly overhung handcrack. Near the top of Pitch 1 looking east to Isosceles Fine cracks on Pitch 2 Sphinx Summit Pose Based on the summit register the Sphinx appears to receive one to two ascents a year. A majority of those are by the North Ridge and a majority of those are by Garibaldi Park Rangers. Presumably they canoe across Garibaldi Lake, significantly shortening the approach. N-E-S Facing Panorama from Summit of Sphinx In every direction there are endless glaciers and summits even more remote. How often do they get climbed? PHYLLIS' ENGINE - Standard Route II 5.8 The Smokestack On the third day we climbed Phyllis' Engine. The tower is about 300' tall and is made of some the cleanest, finest stone I've climbed in the mountains in recent memory. The standard route climbs the convex slab on the right side then the back of the summit block in three short pitches of 5.8. There are several other excellent looking lines as well. Heres a view of The Entire Engine. Summit Block Geometry The geometry was more reminicent of a desert tower than of your typical northwest spire. Looking down at the first belay Starting the Second Pitch We skipped the see-through chimney in favor of some nice looking cracks to climbers left. Second Pitch cracks Gene following the easy cracks. Looking South from below the summit block Glaciers everywhere. THE DEPROACH Descending Polemonium Ridge After climbing Phyliss' Engine we packed up camp and begin the long trip back home. Black Tusk in the distance. Iceman or Gene? Helm Glacier Pass Helm Glacier Basin One last night was spent in the barren plain below the Helm Creek Glacier. We stayed up late bullshiting and watching the stars come out. The following morning we reached the car in a little over three hours. Total travel time of seven hours from the Sphinx Glacier to the parking lot. One last look - Sunset over Sphinx Glacier Gear Notes: Lightest 50m rope you can get Set of nuts and cams to #3 Camalot Approach Notes: 30+ miles ~10k feet of vertical 6 pitches
  16. Trip: Sloan Pk.-(FA)-SE Ridge - Probable FA of the SE Ridge of Sloan Peak Date: 9/7/2008 Trip Report: It was time to follow up on a few lines that I have schemed on in the past. 12 years ago I saw a super steep ridge directly above the Corkscrew route where it exits the glacier. It is the cliff on the right skyline. The Corkscrew (CS) Route is the grassy ramp below. Jared and I mounted a spirited attempt the Labor Day weekend before, only to get snowed out half way up the Bedal Creek approach. With renewed vigor and yet still more clouds, Lane an I went after it this weekend. All clear pictures were taken late Saturday or summit day, Sunday. Seems the west side sogginess was to prevail. With newly soaked shoes, we dispatched the approach . Up high, the clouds began their dramatic uplift. Lane and the "Snowpatch Spire of Washington" Monte Cristo Backdrop We then settle into an amazing bivy light show-yet again I am a lucky photographer lately I know I drove Lane nuts with taking a 100+ photos of him. A cold night led to the same in the am. At 8 am we got after the snow-crossing and the lower ramp and got above and into position to do the obvious Dihedral that caps into a big , crackless roof. Route goes up the Black Blocks(pitch 1, 5.2) on left and into the thin cracks on right of dihedral. Lane following 5.7 , pitch 2 I then traversed right onto the crazy-angled East Face! On to a fist crack, and then into the steep thin face section that also served as the crux. Pitch 3, 5.10a, Reachy, "Reach for the Nickel Pitch" Scary, steep and committing! After a crazy mantel left, I sent the final mossy, wet, yet fun dihedral finish. Pitch 4 , 5.10a. We were then stoked to be at the top of the steep part of the lower buttress. What is amazingly fun about Sloan is the upper bench to the left , lets you "Shop" for your finish. I have done 2 lines now on the SE Face and they have both been 4 stars! Pitch 5, contrived, yet 5.9+ Our route takes the lower left dihedral and goes right and straight up from there > Sloan is a blessed and cursed peak. It is blessed with great granite in places,and soaring walls. It is also cursed with huge ledges and western dampness and weather. I have had several great trips there, and it will be the sight of many awesome routes in the future! Cheers to your future with the highly-accessible -Sloan Peak Gear Notes: Cam to 3, several bugaboos
  17. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - FA: The Tempest Wall IV 5.10 A2 Date: 8/28/2008 Trip Report: In order to be a succesful climber in the Pacific Northwest you have to be able to adapt. Plans set in stone for weeks, even months, can be shut down at the last minute with alarming regularity; fickle cascade weather being the main culprit. Such was the case last week as the slowly increasing chance of precipitation crescendo'd at 4 in the afternoon with 100%. Our second attempt at a large north cascades project would have to be postponed, and we were back to the drawing board. Worse yet, blake could ditch me completely and head out on an extended trip amongst clearer horizons in the Idaho Sawtooths. The Enchantments were are best bet and i had to think fast. The Google chat box quickly filled with ideas for the range: Boving Route to Solid Gold, the Girth, Der Sportsman. Blake shut each one down. I was scrambling for ideas when he replied: new route on CBR? i saw a line to the right. It was on, and i was hyped. He claimed thin cracks through headwalls, aid for sure, so we brought the kit and caboodle. The approach was more comical than usual, quite cold, and a bit stormy. The first day we scoped things out, found a line, and fixed the first pitch. Blake threw down a mix of mostly free with a bit of aid, a badass heel-hook, and even placed a knifeblade while free climbing. Pitch 1: We went to bed that night a bit intimidated by our chosen line. The next day we woke up early to a brisk morning and numerous cups of coffee. I taught Blake how to jug on pitch 1: The weather was worse than the day before, clouds were blowing through, and we were being hit by intermittent mist and drizzle. At least we'd be dry under here: What really can i say about the roof. The lead felt like I was in a trance. Did it take me 20 minutes, or 2 hours? I had to stop at the base and ask myself if I really was going to do this. The problem being, enough gear to get me to where? In the end it worked out fine, and yes, I think it will go free, it's mostly gold camalots! Colchuck Reality Crack. Cilogear! Being that it was all the same size i had to backclean our two two's out the last half of the roof and then all the way up to the belay. I tagged them to Blake and he embarked on his first real aid pitch ever. Self-portrait of Blake enjoying a steep learning curve: We named the ledge atop the roof the "yin-yang ledge", and the next pitch which starts with the more moderate aspect of the roof crack, "The Lighter Side of the Moon." Fun free climbing up good dirty cracks. Blake starting out: Myself seconding: An easy 5th class pitch led us to the base of the headwall which began with akward free up a pillar then onto the face. It soon turned to aid up a series of dirty corners and roofs. I short fixed a couple belays when the ropedrag got bad or i needed gear. The finale involved an aesthetic set of triple cracks and brought me to a great stance ontop of the headwall. I was stoked to give up the lead up to this aid gumby: Actually Blake was doing a great job his first day out aid climbing and he pushed us on up the next pitch. Aid through a flare lead to a fun moderate corner crack and a slightly sketchy belay. Darkness fell as I seconded, and i quickly remedied Blake's nest with a solid angle that we fixed. We could tell we where near the top and we really wanted to be off the face. The day had been cold and long and we were getting pretty worked. Aid led up to a dirty wet corner, a heelhook mantle, then a short chimney put me on the ridge, "The Great Escape." I hooted and hollered and then Blake did too. Three simul pitches got us to top and the Tempest Wall was sent. A moderatly painful morning-after was tempered by the idyllic alpine ambience. The Tempest Wall With a scrub, everything but the roof will proabaly go free at 5.11-. I think the roof will go somewhere around 12c or so. It'll be one hell of a fight at the lip. Rack of doubles from black alien to .75, 3 #1's, 4-6 #2's, 2 #3's, a single #4, set of nuts, dbl set of rp's, few pins or not.
  18. Trip: Ocean Racing - Pacific Cup 2008 Date: 7/19/2008 Trip Report: I’m not a rock star, I’m just a guy who happens to sail. I haven’t really been active in a year or two, but when the stars aligned and an opportunity arose to sail Pacific Cup with the Portland-based 70-footer Rage, I didn’t hesitate. Well, ok, I did. The last thing you want to do is get on a boat with folks you haven’t sailed with before, and it just doesn’t click. Especially on the ocean! So I signed up with the provision to sail Swiftsure first as a tryout. The forecast leading up to this year’s Swiftsure certainly predicted what might happen. Driftsure. There weren’t any storm systems coming in. Swiftsure always seems like Groundhog Day for Seattle-based sailors: the logistics mean only one or two options to get to Victoria, so depending on your needs you either hop the Clipper or hop the Blackball on Friday. My need was “fast” so I found myself on the Clipper in good company with shady characters Leslie Snodgrass, Ian Beswick, and Mark Bunker. (Yeah, for those of you who don't know, Mark sails!) In short order we landed in Victoria and I made my way to the hotel where Rage’s skipper, Steve Rander, and crew were congregating, and finally introduced myself in person. The race? Well, like the logistics the options are usually only fast and slow, and for those of you who sailed it this year, it was the same for us as it was for you: slow. We escaped through Race Passage, but Saturday was extremely light, with the wind filling in only around sunset from the Southwest near shore. But it was a beautiful day, and we toughed it out on Rage with lots of sunblock. (One can never complain if it’s not raining.) When the wind filled in we finally started having some fun! Coming back from the Bank, we power reached along at 15 knots with the Moon out, the tiller was handed to me for the first time, and I got a chance to get a feel for the boat that I would become intimately familiar with over the coming months. It was …balanced. Driving Rage was like driving a well-behaved Olson 30. There was a little more warning if you were doing something wrong, a feeling I latched onto immediately as critical for night sailing on the ocean. After passing Neah Bay, the wind clocked aft and we hoisted the “Big Doyle”, Rage’s largest spinnaker, at 4,500 sq feet of cloth. (You read that correctly!) With enough sail up to supply a small African nation with .75 oz nylon, we burned down the course and finished in time for breakfast. I was in! Rage during Swiftsure. The strange sail is a jibtop drifter, which is what we had for light sailing before we bought the Code 0 for Pacific Cup. For Pacific Cup, Steve delivered the boat to Alameda right after Swiftsure. It was mostly motor-sailing. The crew started congregating in Alameda a week before the race, to help prepare the boat for the race. This year Rage sailed with 8 folks, including some familiar faces that Steve has sailed with for over 25 years now: his cousin George Gade and his friends Jim Cullison and John Rea. They made jokes about being called “The Geritol Crew” but nothing about any of these guys is remotely old. The other four members of the crew were Portland-based sailors Brian Barnett, Denny Damore, and Joe Bauschelt, and myself. I can still remember how much work and planning we did when I sailed Vic-Maui in 2002, but provisioning for Rage, where the boat and crew that have done the race many times, was far easier: everything already has its tried-and-true place, the menu is the same menu as last time, and everyone knows what to bring. One still has to agonize over spare parts, dive the boat, and finally strip any weight, but that can go quickly the last few days. Before we knew it, we were motoring out to the start on Saturday morning. As we motored up the shipping channel and under the Bay Bridge, the wind built as we’d expected it to. The start was a 3:50 start off Saint Francis YC, just shy of the Golden Gate. It was a typical San Francisco day on the bay, with winds to 25 and foggy conditions. We had left the dock late and only had a short time to get the things in gear, but we got to the starting area with double-reefed main and #4 up, and started on-time with the rest of our fleet. Tacking out under the Golden Gate, as this was my first time, was everything it was hyped to be: on your ear, going out under this huge span, in the fog. Coupled with trading tacks with other 70-footers, it was pretty exciting! But soon the wind eased significantly, we shook out a reef, put up the #3, and started the long reach that characterizes the first several days of a Pacific Cup. Only a few hours from San Francisco, and the fleet parted ways. Rage trading tacks with Flash, a TP52, heading out the Golden Gate. The first two days were uneventful, though very fast, sailing. We settled into our watch routine. Most of the time we plugged away at around 16 knots, trying to figure out how to get the leach cords just right so that our leaches and luffs wouldn’t flap so much. Sea state was rough but typical. Only one member of our crew had a brief bout of seasickness. Eventually we shook out the second reef and then finally on the second evening, when the sailing angles were moving but not quite to spinnaker territory, switching out the #3 jib, the largest upwind sail Rage carries, for a Code 0. The angles on a big boat are different than those of smaller boats because the boat moves so fast through the water that your apparent wind is always forward. Even when true wind is at 160 degrees, Rage is moving so fast that your apparent might only be 120 or even 100 degrees, depending on wind strength. George Gade driving Rage hella fast on the second day. On the third day out of San Francisco, the wind had moved aft enough that the Code 0 was no longer cutting it; time for the Big Doyle. We brought the bag up on deck and hoisted the chute, and presto change-o, we were on our way. Except something looked a little funny with the ‘chute. Hmmm? Oh! We had mistakenly hoisted our smaller, fractional Doyle 2.1oz spinnaker on the masthead halyard. The spinnakers both have the same color scheme, so it wasn’t that easy to tell right away. So we brought up the right spinnaker bag, and did a bareheaded douse and hoist to change to the Big Doyle. Except, on the hoist, the Big Doyle caught on something and we put a huge tear in the foot of the sail. So down came the sail again, we hoisted the spare masthead ‘chute, and we took the Big Doyle down below and started sewing it back together for the rest of the day. During the night, the weather pattern that would remain for the rest of the race materialized: large-scale, squally, stormy weather. Sometime during the night, the masthead halyard block decided to leave this Earth, and our spare masthead spinnaker came down in pieces. In what would become an unfortunately nightly “All-Hands” exercise, we recovered all the soaked pieces of the destroyed kite, and hoisted the 2.1oz Doyle for the remainder of the night. Under spinnaker early in the race. In the morning Steve went up the mast to replace the destroyed masthead block. Later that morning, to our horror, the webbing lashing on the active fractional halyard block failed, and the 2.1oz Doyle came down as well, this time thankfully in one piece. The Big Doyle was ready to go, though, so we hoisted it with great care, and later Steve once again went up the mast, this time to re-lash the fractional halyard block and reinforce the other blocks as needed. With the Big Doyle, Rage was once again doing max-VMG down the course, gaining at least 2 knots of boat speed on average with the larger sail up. Steve Rander up the mast. It was not to last. In the middle of the night once again, Steve rounded Rage up while driving through one of these frequent storm cells, and the Big Doyle’s head ripped clean off, shearing both luff tapes from stem to stern. Each of these tapes is 89 feet long - that’s a lot of luff tape!! We called “All Hands”, recovered the pieces of the sail, and got the boat sailing under the 2.1oz Doyle again. The next day we started sewing. And sewing, and sewing. During the day, as our compass heading crept further and further towards North, we chose to gybe the boat onto port pole and head South. It was the favored gybe and we had to make some Southing eventually. So we gambled. We decided to see what happened and make a call the next day to gybe back if needed. Now, without a sewing machine, 89 feet of luff tape does not get sewn quickly even with 4-5 guys on it, so on this day we only finished sewing about 50% of the tapes. In the afternoon, we saw a sail on the horizon, the first since we’d started! Was it a big boat, or were we starting to pass the slow boats ahead of us? It turned out this was the Cal 20 “Black Feather”, single-handing in a (different) race to Hawaii, sailing wing-on-wing! The boat disappeared astern as quickly as it arrived, and evening came, then night. Sewing. Even before I got up for midnight watch, the boat was overtaken by another storm cell, Rage moved to the next quantum of speed, and Jim Cullison started talking to Steve about a fishing boat on the horizon. Then, when closer, the on-watch spotted the strobes that marked the nets, and Rage apparently narrowly missed becoming entangled in these. The motion of the boat indicated we were going faster than usual and the on-watch was nervous for some reason. I geared up and got on deck. It was pitch black. One couldn’t see anything past the instruments, not even the front of the boat! Brian responded to my concern with “Yeah, it’s been kind of a sketchy ride...” While my driver’s responsibility was rapidly approaching with the watch change, I had never sailed a boat this big in these conditions, so gratefully gave the first turn driving to Steve. Driving Rage like this, at sustained 18 knots with no horizon and only the feel of the boat and a globe compass - the digital compass didn’t update fast enough - felt like driving a missile. A guided missile, and you were the guidance. It was difficult and required complete concentration. A mistake here was unthinkable. My turn came and it was tricky to keep the boat going the right direction. On the horizon, again, we found a very dim but unmistakable masthead light, which we soon passed to starboard and astern. This boat turned out to be Buzz Off, having their own ordeal of a race. After another hour the insanely dark conditions yielded, the wind eased a bit, and we returned to normal. Dawn broke and another full day of sewing ensued, where we finished up sewing the luff tapes. Otherwise, this was uneventful sailing on an empty ocean. We gybed onto starboard again, having made as much Southing as we wanted. We hadn’t seen any animal life (or trash!) to speak of, and aside from the Cal 20, Buzz Off, and the fishing boat no sign of anyone else out here. Another dark, stormy night of sailing was ordered up, and we sailed through Guided Missile mode ‘til dawn still with the trusty 2.1oz Doyle. At dawn we crossed ahead of another big boat on port pole by only a half a mile. Who was it? By now our fleet knew we had gone South, and we had wondered if anyone would follow us. Well someone did: it was Criminal Mischief! We finished patching up the Big Doyle by taping the head, then sewing through the tape, and in the afternoon we launched the sail again. The repair held! I finally felt some positive emotions again, after being depressed for days that we were unable to make any time on our competitors with the trusty-yet-underpowered 2.1oz Doyle flying. That Criminal Mischief was hanging with us (they would go on to finish the race first in our class) seemed just wrong. In the evening, trying to make the big sail last and completely uncharacteristic of Steve in general, we made the call to take the Big Doyle down for the night. We had no sewing thread left, and we wanted to get to Hawaii! It was perhaps a good thing: that night we wrapped the 2.1oz almost hopelessly around the forestay during a period of light air, and it took a good two hours of “All Hands” and strong pulling to get it down the forestay, painstakingly unwrap it, and re-launch it. Rage, moments after losing the top of its mast. In the morning, at watch change, we hoisted the Big Doyle again. I drove for an hour then handed the tiller to George. Perhaps 30 minutes later and 350 miles from Hawaii, we were overtaken by an intense squall, and, this being the first time all race where we got hit by a squall such as this and had the big sail up, the boat started driving forward really fast. Now normally on Rage fast is 16,17, and even 18 knots. But George got the boat to 19.5 knots, when suddenly a large noise from up-top, followed by a funny-looking everything, happened. We looked up. At first we thought a masthead halyard block had been destroyed again, as the sails were still kind-of up but something weird….wait…there was no masthead! The top six feet of the carbon fiber mast had sheared off! The Big Doyle came down, slowly, the mainsail came down, slowly and of its own accord, and we scrambled to bring the sails back on board in one piece. The Big Doyle filled with water, though, and eventually had to be cut away to reduce the rapidly building loads on the boat. That was painful. Everyone took a second to regroup. No one was seriously hurt, but Brian had some rope burns. After a short break, we got to business. We still had fractional halyards, so I went up the mast and jury rigged a new main halyard under Steve’s instruction. We then double reefed the main, and hoisted it, to get under way. Finally we launched the fractional spinnaker, and only 2 hours after we lost the top of the mast we were again sailing at 14 knots towards Hawaii. Steve spent a good part of the day aloft ensuring the mast section, tangled in the rigging, wouldn’t come down and hurt anyone and wouldn’t tear up the remaining sails. We also had to figure out new systems to support various sails and sail controls. Tradewinds. This was on day 8, the day we broke our mast section, and it was the first nice day of the whole race for us. The remaining night and next day to Hawaii were not without additional trials. The wind lightened considerably at times, and our ETA got longer and longer. We got slammed by some more monster squalls, and dodged some of them too. At one point, on starboard pole, I was driving a compass heading of 320 degrees due to these crazy squally winds! This close to the islands, we finally started seeing other boats. We saw Cirrus and the J120 JWorld, and others throughout the day. Then, 100 miles from the finish, while we were having our evening wine and cheese on an otherwise sparkling and fantastic evening, the head ring on the 2.1oz gave out and the trusty sail dropped on deck, still in one piece. We hoisted a reserve fractional spinnaker in no time, determined to make the finish any way possible. Close enough to Hawaii that nothing was going to stop us. After dark we approached Oahu and sailed for what seemed a long time up its windward coast, to the finish line. Somewhere out there over the last miles was a Moore 24 (that had started this race nearly a week before us), and we strained to find them in the murk and confusing lights, to avoid running them down. The finish line was completely confusing, and we only realized we had finished when the Race Committee called us and informed us we had just finished, and asked for our time! Despite being tired, we navigated the unlit channel into Kaneohe Bay and anchored out efficiently, to speed our way to shore where family and friends were waiting for us! So at about 2am local time we all sat down for sushi and Mai Thais, after what anyone would describe as an eventful sail to Hawaii, and told our story. Alex driving with Joe trimming, on the last morning, 200 miles from Hawaii. The squall line behind us would soon overtake us, but we were on the correct side of this one and for 2 hours launched doing steady 16-17 knots. Rage anchored out. Part of the reason we do this: empty beach on the North shore of Oahu.
  19. Trip: Ptarmigan Speed Traverse Date: 8/14/2008 Trip Report: Colin Abercrombie and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 18:10 from the Cascade Pass parking lot to the Downey Creek trailhead. We set out at 2:05 am and reached the Suiattle River Road at 8:15 pm. The weather was perfect and the glaciers were in great shape. We did the Ptarmigan in 2004 which was very helpful for routefinding purposes. Location (Elevation): Time Elapsed / Split / Real Time Cascade Pass TH (3,600 ft) : 0 / 0 / 02:05 Cascade Pass (5,392 ft) : 55:03 / 55:03 / 03:00 Cache Col (6,920 ft) : 2:13:13 / 1:18:09 / 04:18 Spider-Formidable Col (7,320 ft+) : 4:59:33 / 2:46:19 / 07:05 Yang Yang Lakes (5,830 ft) : 6:20:09 / 1:20:36 / 08:25 White Rock Lakes (6,194 ft) : 9:50:45 / 3:30:35 / 11:56 Spire Col (7,760 ft+) : 11:54:44 / 2:03:59 / 14:00 Cub Pass (6,000 ft+) : 13:41:32 / 1:46:48 / 15:47 Bottom of Bachelor Creek (2,440 ft) : 16:29:45 / 2:48:12 / 18:35 Downey Creek TH (1,415 ft) : 18:09:36 / 1:39:50 / 20:15 [Car at Milepost 12.5: 20:48:24 / 2:38:48 / 22:54] After doing the car shuttle Wednesday afternoon and evening, we rested at the Cascade Pass parking lot. At about 1 am we were awoken by icefall from the hanging glaciers on Johannesburg. The thunderous noise persisted for over 5 minutes. We set off at 2:05 am and after 55 minutes of walking and jogging we were at Cascade Pass. We continued up Mix-up arm and then ascended to Cache Col arriving while it was still dark at 4:18 am. On the descent towards Kool Aid Lakes we descended a little too low instead of traversing boulder fields. Once we realized the mistake we began an ascending traverse meeting up with the route heading towards the Red Ledge. The Red Ledge was straightforward with no moat issues yet. Once we rounded the corner, we saw the magnificent icefall of the Middle Cascade Glacier as the sun was rising. Mount Formidable. The Middle Cascade Glacier icefall. Sunrise over Formidable. On the ascent to Spider-Formidable col, we had to make a small backtrack due an open bergshrund spanning from rock walls to the right to the center of the glacier. Ascending left of center was straightforward and we were at Spider-Formidable col in under 5 hours from the start. Buckindy Region The steep snow from Spider-Formidable col was quite hard in the early morning and we downclimbed for a couple hundred feet before beginning a fast traverse down to mosquito infested Yang Yang Lakes (the only spot we encountered any mosquitoes). At Yang Yang we were met by a couple climbers who had fallen very ill and could not complete the traverse. We took their contact information and passed on their desire to be rescued to the rangers and sheriff’s office. A quick ascent up to the saddle north of Le Conte Mountain brought us to the awesome traverse over to the Le Conte Glacier with up close views of glacial ice hanging over the rock buttresses and the wild Flat Creek basin. Flat Creek Basin Old Guard and Sentinel At Sentinel Saddle we met Cascade Climbers JoshK and Ivan who were doing a south to north traverse. We chatted for a few minutes and then I continued the walk to Lizard Pass which was amazing with views in every direction. We took a break at the spectacular White Rock Lakes for photography and refueling. South Cascade Glacier Lizard Pass. Gorgeous White Rock Lakes. Dana Glacier Re-energized, we made great time up to Spire Col on the Dana Glacier, which was also in great shape. Sweet contrast. Taking the third gully on skier’s right from the col, we made it down to Itswoot Ridge fast. The classic view of Dome Peak Dakobed and Glacier Peak Traversing the basin down to Cub Lakes took longer then expected and the short but steep climb up to Cub Pass in the 90 degree heat was physically taxing. We thought gravity would take us down Bachelor Creek, not so fast! The upper part of Bachelor Creek is actually in decent shape and you can reasonably follow the path through the slide area. The most difficult section was the lower Bachelor Creek where thick brush made travel very slow. The brush, consisting of salmonberry, slide alder, and a sprinkling of nettles, has gotten thicker since our last visit and affecting a greater length of trail. We finally reached Downey Creek and knew the Suiattle River was not far. After a break, we jogged the final 6.5 miles, arriving at the Downey Creek trailhead at 8:15 pm. We were not looking forward to the extra 8.5 miles of road walking due to the washouts at MP 12.5 and 13, but the road is flat and it goes by fast. Once we started walking we were able to reach the car in less than 2.5 hours, arriving at 10:54 pm. Four summers ago after spending 4 nights on the Ptarmigan we would have never thought to do it in a single push, let alone 18 hours. In discussing this trip, we had hoped to go under 20 hours, but knew it could run longer a la Mount Fury last week. We were able to exceed expectations on the traverse portion, and despite Bachelor Creek taking longer than expected, a steady, consistent effort throughout the trip allowed us to make great time. Knowing the route and the smooth conditions on the glaciers were helpful. We left just enough energy to navigate brush-choked Bachelor Creek. The Ptarmigan is a classic traverse for good reason - the terrain and scenery are amazing! To traverse all of it in less than one day was very rewarding. Gear Notes: axe, crampons, sunscreen Approach Notes: A few snow patches left on the traverse to Cache Glacier. Stay left of center on Middle Cascade Glacier unless you want to jump an opening bergshrund. The brush on lower Bachelor Creek is indeed getting worse. The 8.5 mile walk on the Suiattle River Road is flat, easy, and fast. It is possible to drive around the washouts but it is dicey and definitely not suitable for larger vehicles unless you want to park in the Suiattle River.
  20. 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.
  21. Trip: Yosemite Valley - Steck Salathe Date: 7/26/2008 Trip Report: TR - Steck Salathe 7/26/08, with Scuffy B. (note: images throughout are lifted from the web, we took no camera) Late 90’s, Camp 4 It’s my first time in the Valley after learning to climb on steep southeastern sandstone. We think we’re solid 5.10- climbers, but are getting bouted by “easy” routes and belay changeovers since we’ve never done anything over 3 pitches, nor anything on granite, nor any cracks that you can't cheat around on face holds. Royal Arches is a dawn to dusk affair thanks to our superb efficiency, but after a few weeks things start to click and we’re firing off the easy classics. After ticking a bunch of 3-star routes, we’re sitting around the fire, swilling cheap malt liquor and wondering what to do as our last route before we have to leave. “Hey, you guys should go do the Steak and Salad,” Matt (a semi-local) offers. “The what? How hard is it?” “Steak n Salad, the Full Meal Deal, Steck Salathe on the Sentinel. It’s only 5.9,” he says, barely suppresing a snicker. The rest of the crew heartily supports his suggestion. “It’s one of the 50 Classics, you gotta do it!” Thankfully, we were feeling strong and opted for the “harder” Serenity-Sons. At some point in the next couple of years I realized that almost all long classics involve at least some token wide climbing. After a religious experience leading p3 on the Kor-Ingalls, and a headfirst backwards 20 foot dive out of the crux of Reeds Direct, I resolve to learn how to climb this stuff, to keep the brushes with death down if nothing else. Burly Ask a group of climbers to describe it, and the word you’ll hear most often is “burly”. The Steck Salathe carries a bigger aura than perhaps any free climb of its rating in the country. “Major sandbag”. “Mandatory on the aspiring hardman circuit” “More demanding than Astroman.” “The hardest thing I’ve ever done” are all tossed out. The number of benighted parties is legion and as the route has changed over the years due to rockfall or things breaking off, the rating became a bigger and bigger sandbag. Are you ready? At some point, as I climbed more wide stuff, the SS became a goal. I knew it would take a lot of work to get my skills in order since I was about a 5.8 wide guy on the sharp end. Luckily, I moved to Josh and hooked up with the Fish. Over the next two winters, he drug me up wide stuff all over the monument. I belayed and watched, asked questions, and then moaned my way up them. Living in the valley in the summer, I paid dues on the 5.10 wide circuit, spent a month in Vedauwoo and got to climb with guys who are both exceptionally talented and love the wide...like Jaybro and Grug. After a February Wide Fest in Josh, I saw Scuffy come within a few inches of choking down the Throbbing Gristle. I casually asked if he would be interested in doing the route this summer. “Yeah, I’ll do it with ya”. Uh oh. We agreed on sometime in July. Unfortunately I started working again in April , blew a finger pulley right after, and had climbed exactly zero pitches of trad since March. Instead I did crossfit stuff, road biked, and bouldered on plastic. Not the best training to say the least. I kept asking myself: Are You Ready? The list of wide climbs I’d done in the last 18 months gave me some comfort, but I’d find out soon enough. The Day of Reckoning I left Redlands Friday morning, and was sitting in El Cap meadow eating pizza by early afternoon. Rendezvous with Scuffy was set for around 10:00 at Hardin Flat. He pops in, we set the alarms for 4:20am and hit the sack. Normally I get a little apprehensive before a big climb, but I feel calm and sleep easily. We both climb enough wide stuff that I figure we’ll move faster than average parties, but we still want an early start to avoid any other parties on the route. We take a single 60m rope, 1.5 liters of water each (somehow I dropped a half-liter on the approach and only had 1 liter for the route), headlamps, a half-set of wires, double cams from blue tcu to 3 camalot and a 4 and 4.5 camalot. Our bivy gear consisted of a bic lighter and nothing else. We both wore pants and a light weight long sleeved shirt. I wore thin neoprene knee pads under my pants, Scuffy went true hardman style with no kneepads. Neither of us wore helmets. We stride up the 4 Mile Trail at an easy pace and reach the base in about an hour. Ro-sham for the choice of leads, I win. I choose evens thinking that will give me the Narrows lead. At about 7:00 Scuff starts up the first pitch. He’s smooth and although the topo says left side in, he goes right side and floats on up. I follow left side in and get a rude surprise at the difficulty of this “5.8” pitch. Damn, this thing is going to live up to the hype. We had planned to link 1 & 2, but I’m not sure if we really did. Either way, I planned to run the next pitch to the base of the Wilson Overhang. I then got off route, back on route, and hosed myself with rope drag. I ended up stopping on a big ledge with a couple of fixed pins mid way up ST p3. The views were already fantastic. I tell Scuffy I've been listening to the hardest, heaviest, meanest music I own for the last several days so that when I get in one of those tough spots, that will be running through my head. And it's true...a steady stream of Motorhead, Ministry, Metallica, Iggy and the Stooges, Tool, etc were my internal soundtrack on this thing. Scuffy started up the first real obstacle of the route, the Wilson Overhang. After a false start or two trying to decide which side in, he dispatched it with a little heavy breathing. It looked hard. Flaring and overhanging, but at least with gear in the back. As I followed this pitch I realized that it can be done a couple of ways...either staying on the outside, with no gear at about 5.8+, or crammed haflway back in the flare at 5.10-. If I had been smart, I would have climbed up, cleaned the gear, down climbed and then went up the outside. Instead I grunted through in the back. I thought the “5.8” squeeze section at the end of the overhang harder than the actual flare/overhang itself.10a? Ok. Next up was the option of an unprotected 5.8 flake, or a 5.9 squeeze that I’ve heard many claim as the true crux of the route. I was planning for the flake. As I reached a spot about 6’ under the squeeze I looked out at a horrendously sloping foot ramp that looked improbable as a place to traverse to the flake, which is out of sight. So I continued up. Next thing I know, I’m committed to the squeeze, left side in. Everything is going ok until I can’t fit my chest through the squeeze. I try to exhale and move, no dice. I look right and see the flake and that the sloping foot shelf was indeed the move. “This is becoming a comedy of errors on my part” I think. I take tension, swing out right and latch the flake. “Unproteced"? Bullshit. The flake is slightly flaring, but does take gear and is easy for 5.8. Scuffy is forced to follow my jingus action since I had gear in just below the crux of the squeeze and then nearly the same level in the flake. I’d hosed him and he had to climb up part of the squeeze, slide back down, and then do the flake. So far, I’m not holding up my end of the partnership. I’ve had the easy pitches and still fucked them up. Scuffy runs the next pitch through the 5.8+ ow, about 4”, which is not too bad with some good footholds on the face next to the crack. The next couple pitches to the top of the buttress are unmemorable rambling up discountinunous cracks and jumbled blocks. We stayed to the left. The ST topo shows a 5.6 squeeze just prior to the tunnel through. We see what looks like 5.6 squeeze above and Scuffy heads up, soon topping out on the flying buttress itself....As I follow and reach the tunnel through spot, I realize our mistake. I recognize the tunnel from a pic I’d seen somewhere and continue to the top of the buttress. We rap down to the bivy ledge and pull the rope. The bivy ledge is pretty deluxe. Then we look down the last 10 feet to the start of the next pitch, DOH! We fucked up again. Make sure you rap to the bolts at the start of the next pitch. Luckily there was a passage/tunnel off the ledge that traversed sloping loose dirt with a slip guaranteeing a quick trip to the base of the Sentinel, that led to the base of the pitch. Here it is just behind the climber, and again from below (both from Zander’s excellent TR) At this point, we were already feeling incredibly worked. I had been rationing water since after the Wilson and knew it was going to be a big issue for me since I couldn’t eat/fuel without something to wash it down.The way we’d pitched it out was different from what I’d imagined when choosing odds or evens when I won the ro-sham-bo. Instead, I would get this pitch , Scuffy the slab, me the supposed crux, Scuffy the narrows. “Hmm, this is probably actually better for me,” I thought, since slabs are not my strong point. I peeked at the topo...5.9 fist and lieback, stance, 5.8 lieback, casual. I bust through the “5.9” and it seems light duty, but cool climbing with gear about anywhere you want it. Then I reach the “5.8” lieback. Looking back now, this was probably the technical crux of the route for me. I found it an incredibly insecure couple of moves groping and trying to pull into a lieback off a flake/ear feature way above my head and pasting feet onto blank vertical granite, above bad gear. I came fairly close to pitching off. As Scuffy is coming up I sense he is at that spot since he stops to puzzle out the move for a second. Next thing I know “WHoa!” jingle jangle wham. Damn, he pitched. But in 20 seconds he’s already pulled back on and finished the pitch without further ado. Our belay is just below this overlap, so as Scuffy leads out on the slab I can’t see anything. Soon he’s finished the pitch and I start following. Not too bad at first, then I unclip the last pro before the move to the hole. I’m looking at a longish penji fall if I blow this, so nervously smear with no hands to step into the hole. Thankfully everything sticks. The rest goes easily enough with a smeary move at the 5.9 crux that is typical for the grade...pure faith in your feet with little or no handholds. This pitch probably protects better for the leader than the follower...something to consider if one of your team is weak on slab. I look up at the next pitch, the supposed crux, and decide it doesn’t really look too bad. Getting a little bit of a second wind, I start up. A tcu goes in a seam, the 4.5 just above, and I commit to the flaring squeeze. It’s hard and slow work, but not too technical or awkward. After about 20 feet you get a nice respite when you can cram your ass in and rest. Just above is the first of the hangerless “bolts”. I don’t know what the fuck this particular piece of hardware is, but it ain't a bolt. Looks almost like a slightly larger star-dryvin type nail in a sleeve. This one is very confidence inspiring since the “nail” part of the thing sticks out about an inch from the end of the sleeve , the sleeve is split, and the whole thing slopes downward about 20 degrees. If anything could use an upgrade, it’s this museum piece timebomb. Sliding a nut over it, I started to sense the seriousness of my situation. “Just concentrate on moving upward” I chanted inside my head. One move at a time, keep your breathing in check, and always Rule #1 (don’t thrash). The pitch looks like this: Another 15 feet or so higher is the second hangerless rivet thingy. It also sticks out out of the sleeve a bit, but looks much much better. I’m psyched to clip it. The pitch soon eases off in difficulty, if not in effort required. By now, my throat is completely raw and my uvula is swelling, touching my tongue and making me feel like there is something caught in my throat and that I have to swallow continuously. It sucks, but as I keep saying to Scuffy “I’m getting what I came for...a first class ass kicking”. Scuffy follows smoothly and steadily. Next up, the fearsome Narrows. Everyone has seen the pics of people getting into this hole/squeeze, so here’s one looking up into it: Scuff places the 4.5 at the lip, moves up as high as possible in the back-foot , places the 4 a little higher, and commits. The next few feet are rough. After struggling for a good 5 minutes and making and subsequently losing about 6” of progress several times, he questions if he can actually climb it. I try to encourage him but I know his abilities and if he is having problems, it doesn’t bode well for me either, and I know he can sense that in my voice. I tell him to just yard on the 4, but it is too far to the side to really do any good. After much struggling and a little cursing, he’s in the beast and motors to the top. In my state of fatigue I figure I only have one shot to get this done without resorting to aid. I get my torso in and recall Yo’s advice “be solid on arm bars, it’s like arm bar campusing without feet for a few moves”. And that’s just about what I did, a few alternating arm bars and then you get a decent edge that’s hard to use. I manage to go from pulling down on the edge to rotating into a chickewing with a palm on it and further turning it over until I’m almost mantling it from a chickenwing. A heel toe goes in and I’m in there for good. The only problem is, after moving up a few feet. I can’t turn my head and can’t fit through. It all looks the same width to me so I yell up...”which way at the tighest spot, left or right?”. So I move over a foot or so and squeeze through. Now, whoever rated the bit after you exit the squeeze until the end of the pitch is a sadistic bastard. Topo says 5.7. Ummm, yeah. BULLSHIT. Felt like insecure 5.9 to me and I was on TR. At this point I’m destroyed. Just fucking wrecked. I’ve only felt this way once in my life and that was trying to get October Light in Vedauwoo clean on TR after Grug onsighted it like it was 5.8. My face was numb and tingling, I was sort of giggling, dizzy, and felt like I’d taken about a half-tab of acid and some narotics. It was a welcome feeling knowing the worst was behind us, but looking out at the valley it seemed like it we were losing light quicker than I expected. In reality, the valley has filled with smoke during the day having been clear that morning. The sun was just a barely visible red orb amidst the smoke. The next pitch is another long assed, runout but very easy 5.7 chimney where you squeeze behind a couple of chockstones and belay on the top one. When I called off belay at the top of this one, I just wanted it to be over, wanted my mommy, a blanky, and a nap. As Scuffy joined me, I thought we had a 50/50 chance of finishing this thing in the dayliight. Since everyone says don’t try the descent for the first time at night, and since we were both completely out of water and suffering from it, I really wanted off this bitch NOW. I knew the next two pitches would link and told Scuffy “go all the way to the tree”. He blasted through the 5.7 mantle pitch, only slowed down slightly at the 5.9 flakes seen here: And was soon at the base of the last 20ft or so of 5.7 double cracks leading to the tree ledge. And then time stood still. What I didn’t realize was there were two different sets of double cracks about 5’ apart and Scuffy had basically no gear for either set and didn’t know which was correct. After a while it was basically dark and I started yelling at him to get moving, aid it if you have to, etc...little did I know what he was actually facing up there...no gear, dark, horrendous rope drag, etc. I follow and keep right on going up the last pitch. Right as Scuffy joins me on top and we untie, I start dry-heaving from the dehydration. It’s a horrible feeling, wretching and writhing and knowing there isn’t a damn thing in my stomach to throw up. “We gotta get down to the creek, I can’t stay up here like this” I tell him. “You ok with that?”. He’s game and we soon start down the descent...in the dark...first time for both of us. I have to stop every 10min and sit for a couple minutes to keep from dry heaving more and to get some juice back in my legs. The descent is actually very easy since I’d read several different descriptions of it and knew more or less where we were supposed to be going. We reached the creek after about an hour. Now with water, we rested a bit, I choked down a gel and continued. A couple of well placed cairns made the slabby section no problem and in another hour and change we were back at the 4 Mile. I spent the next two hours sitting in the Lodge lobby sipping down 3.5 liters of diluted powerade until I finally had saliva in my mouth and urinated for the first time in about 12 hours. It was physcially the hardest day of my life by a wide, wide margin. Go get some. Gear Notes: We took smaller half of a set of nuts, double blue tcu to 3 camalot, single 4 and 4.5 camalot. Approach Notes: Up the 4 Mile Trail to just before the creek, then talus and 3rd class ramps to the base.
  22. Let's hear 'em!!! mine... Smiff: finish of darkness, a flying rat (aka pigeon) literally exploded out of the last pocket...almost wobbled off... or NRG: Stuck my fingers into one of the famous letterbox slots there and heard something that sounded like crinkling newspaper...i could feel this sort of scratching on my tips...pulled them out and a fucking deathstar exploded into my face...yellow jackets came out at warp speed and stung the shit out of me...promptly lobbed off for a good 20 footer...bastards!!!
  23. 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)
  24. Trip: Dragontail - Dragons of Eden V 5.11+ A2 Date: 7/9/2008 Trip Report: Jens Holsten and I repeated Dragons of Eden on Dragontail on July 9th. We left the car at 4:20 and returned 20 hours later. The route is one of a kind. First ascentionest Wayne Wallace wasn't exagerrating when he said the headwall contained "el cap type illness." The only thing we could compare it to was the headwall of the Salathe. The climbing was splitter, steep, stout, and DIRTY! Hats off to Wallace and McGowan for their impressive 1989 first ascent. We threw down and free'd as much as we could given the dirty and lichenous conditions. The route is easy to find and begins with a loose and dirty 5.10 hand crack. Looking down from P1: When i read in the topo, "Butterballs to the Gripper," i thought, yeah right. But it's true. Sharp steep fingers, lead to pumpy thin hands and a perfect hands gripper finale. The fingers were grainy with a full-on layer of kitty litter in all directions. Jens took a couple times on lead, and i was just barely able to climb it clean on second. Cleaned up it would be one of the best pitches anywhere, 11c all day: This is a perfect route to haul a bag up: The crux pitch. Great 5.10 climbing leads to the top of the pillar, dirty insecure face climbing leads to thin fingers in a corner. This pitch was super dirty, even on second you couldn't free more than 2 or 3 moves without falling after your smears crumbled away. It will be sick when cleaned and free'd. Dirty, loose, and somewhat scary 5.10 climbing began The Great White Headwall: The second headwall pitch is tied with the butterballs pitch for best pitch on the route. Ridiculously exposed and overhanging crack climbing out both roofs. Jens had an impressive onsight of this one, and i followed clean too. The trail line says it all, 15+ ft out: The 11c/d last pitch was the dirtiest of the route and was so sketchy in its current state that is was climbed mostly on aid by us both. It must be a awesome finish when clean, topping out on a perfect ledge, just like long ledge on el cap. Jens on the headwall: Topping out: The NE buttress was scenic, dirty, and neverending. Two long simulblocks lead us to the finishing notch, and two raps got us down to aasgard. Overall, a great day out, and an awesome first climb with Jens. When cleaned and freed it will be an ultra-classic freeclimbing testpiece for the area. Gear Notes: We bought a triple set of cams and set and a half of nuts, and it wasn't enough! Bring: set of hybrids, double set from blue to red alien, 3-4 .5 camalots, 3-4 .75's, 3-4 #1's, 3 #2's, 2-3 #3's, and a single #4. Two ropes. Approach Notes: Topo is perfect, CLICK . We skipped the contrived first 3 pitches and used the jingus approach ledges. Route is easy to find.
  25. Trip: Prusik Pk. - Solid Gold III 5.11a Date: 6/14/2008 Trip Report: Wanting to get as far away from the sherpa glacier as possible and equally motivated by this, and this, this past saturday, Dave Elder and I climbed Solid Gold on the south face of Prusik Pk. We'd have to agree with first ascencionest Wayne Wallace when he describes the route as a "masterpeice" as we were truly amazed by the flawless rock and splitter climbing. The topo was great and so was the rack. We didn't use the 1/4 incher at the first belay, and we didn't nail because we missed the last pitch entirely. I started up what I thought was 5.8 cracks that led to the perfect 5.11a corner, and, before I had a chance to second geuss myself, was soon cranking out a 10c "changing corners" style variation that topped out on the ridge. Though the new variation is rad (right of the 5.11 corner), anything described as perfect on this route is worth another go, and i'm sure it won't be long until i'm slogging out there again... Dave starting to feel the stoke: One hell of a crag, the impeccable south face: Holy crap, P1, the solid gold pitch: Here's looking back down at P1, fingers in a corner, bad ass: Myself seconding P2: Beginning P3, we easily linked P3 & 4: The P4 "changing corners" variation: Topped out on the west ridge: The really cool thing about this climb, is that its actually just the hardman sit-start for the classic west ridge: Insert monkey call here: BOOM! Gear Notes: Double set to #2, single #3. One rope. Approach Notes: Mostly snow free to upper snow lake
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