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Found 154 results

  1. 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
  2. Trip: Assguard Pass - Assguard Pass Std. Route Date: 6/21/2009 Trip Report: Went up to Colchuck to try our metal on the Cascade jewel Assguard Pass. Our objective: Who doesn't want a piece of this? WARNING! THIS PHOTO CONTAINS FORESHORTENING! We whooped up yelps of Alpine Joy to be on such a route Some hideous stack of rocks that surround this beauty This is what we came for Until we meet again fair lady Some other junk we saw get sum Gear Notes: tennis shoes
  3. Trip: 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.
  4. Trip: Alaska - The Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier Date: 4/25/2009 Trip Report: Summary: April 23: PDX -> SEA -> ANC -> Talkeetna. April 24: Spent most of the day waiting to fly (weather); Paul/TAT flew us to the Ruth camp late in the day (~7 pm). April 25: Toured up glacier/scoped routes. Started snowing around lunch. Snowed through the night and most of the next day. April 26: Snow stopped in the morning. ~1' of new snow when it was all said and done! April 27: Mix of sun and clouds for the day. Toured down to scope The Escalator on Mt Johnson April 28: Climbed The Escalator on Mt Johnson April 29: Rest day April 30: Climbed Wake Up on Mt Wake May 1: Picked up by TAT/returned to Talkeetna. ()^3 and ()^2 May 2: Talkeetna -> Urgent care -> ANC -> SEA -> PDX left to right: Mt Johnson and Mt Wake Details/Pics: I've put this trip off way to long. For the past few years running I've attempted to put a trip together only to have work or something else squash my plans. This year was looking like that... the best I could do was a little over a week off and the list of people willing to gamble the money on a week trip to the gorge was very short. I dont blame them... the odds of spending the week eating, sleeping and shoveling out the tent were good. I managed to find someone willing to take the gamble and met Doug for the first time in the SEA airport. We were in Talkeetna Thursday evening. Friday was a mixed bag of rain, snow and mostly dense fog/clouds... I was skeptical we'd be able to fly but Paul managed to find a window in the system and get us in Friday evening right before the next storm arrived. Fly TAT or plan on spending a few extra days in Talkeetna Saturday morning started out as mixed clouds and sun so Doug and I + Team Harro (who were also in the gorge but looking at some different routes) toured up the glacier to scope the approach to the Root Canal as we'd heard Stirred was in very nice. Shall we go see? Saturday tour By the time we got back to camp the weather had taken a turn for the worse... it snowed through the night and most of Sunday. Common occurrence on Sunday When the storm was all said and done Monday morning ~1 foot had fallen so we let everything shed and settle on Monday. Post storm: Avy on Bradley We headed down the glacier on Monday while things settled and shed to scope out The Escalator on Mt Johnson The Escalator on Mt Johnson On Tuesday we got an alpine start and climbed the The Escalator on Mt Johnson. The Escalator starts with ~3 pitches of WI3/snice which we simulclimbed. Following the initial ice step is a long snow field that lead to the upper runnels (see route pic above). The snowfield Start of the runnels The runnels had it all: soft snow (technical wallowing!), neve, the occasional alpine ice/snice and of course powder over rock. Good times. Hot runnel action As the mountains were still shedding the recent snowfall we had to deal with the semi regular wet sluff. Shower time for John Doug holding his rope out of a slide The runnel ended on the summit ridge which we followed to the top. Where's John? The ridge had a few rock steps We stopped just short of the true summit which is actually a cornice that at the time overhung the north face... a few days prior to our ascent a Polish dude had cracked part of it off as he attempted to stand on the "very top" and had to jump to safety as the "summit" at that time fell down the north face!!! The standard descent is to the Johnson/Grosvenor col and down via downclimbing + some raps. Definately rated on the jingus scale. Please dont squish me We found The Escalator to be extremely moderate (WI3, 5.5, snow!) and long (at least by Cascade standards... 4000'+ !!!) but would have a hard time recommending it to someone unless it was cold temps and they understood the descent has some healthy objective hazards. Still... a great route! I guess we were the 7th (???) or so ascent of the route (3 of those in 2009). Wednesday was a rest day... we spent the day napping, eating and drying stuff out. Wednesday Yard Sale Wednesday views from camp (l-> r): Church, Johnson, Wake, Bradley Thursday we headed back down the glacier again for a swing at Wake Up on Mt Wake. Wake Up follows the obvious gully on the right hand side of the face to the ridge and then the summit ***Note the monster hanger above the North face. This will be of interest later in this TR*** Though we overslept our alarm by an hour (route name irony?) we still managed to start the route fairly early. Start of the route. Note hanger again. Lower portion of the route Approximately 1/3 or so up the route the above mentioned hanger released. Before (note glacier floor) After. I wonder if I still have skis? Some video taken just after the the above pics were taken [video:youtube] We kept rolling (as once on the route you arent under the hanger) and soon reached the supposed WI5 crux. Mid crux which was awesome flutings and a little wet Looking down the crux We found the crux to be maybe WI4 (Cody 3+ ) and very enjoyable. From there the route dogs right towards the summit ridge. You work you way through snow mushrooms and gargoyles. To The Top! Awesome terrain Looking back down Much to our enjoyment the ice continued! We worked our way through more mushrooms and a few short rocks steps Rock step Mushroom negotiations Ice is nice We found a way to gain the ridge with minimal cornice tunneling Gaining the ridge It was nice to be back in the sun! Sunshine! Faced with the earlier avy and the fact that we knew our descent sported a similar cornice we opted to not continue to the summit (weak) and head for the descent couloir before it got any more sun. Wild nice views on the descent [video:youtube] We did one rap on the way to the descent couloiur and one more to get into it. We bombed down the couloir as quickly and safely as possible and began the search for our skis. We were in luck! Though scattered they were intact! These were originally standing up next to each other Doug found his crampon and ice screw bags approximately 1/4 mile down the glacier! Evening commute home We found Wake Up though not as moderate or long as The Escalator still fairly tame (WI4, 5.8) and we both greatly enjoyed it. Our CAN friends Damien and Jimmy attempted the same route the next day and as they were racking up @ 2:30 am the same hanger released again! They ran for safety and though they were both pelted were not injuried! We all flew out on Friday and after an unpack/dry out/repack session proceeded to and (some more than others). Saturday we headed south to ANC minus a quick stop @ intensive care... one of the CANs managed alcohol poisoning after the previous night's festivities... I guess that's what happens when you go switch from kokanee to PBR Shameless Plugs: This trip wouldnt have happened or went as well as it did if it wasn't for: - Doug for taking a chance and going on a bigger trip with someone he had never met before. Thanks for a great trip dude! :tup: - Mark Westman/Joe Puryear/Marcus Donaldson/Roger Strong for answering all my beta/route/gear questions - Team Harro for the Mid and Stove boards and Talkeetna shuttle service - Kurt Hicks for hooking up a ride to ANC - Team Good Times (the CANs) for the ride back to ANC. You fuckers can party like god damn rock stars! - Jared (CO) and Tim (all over) for all the great beta and warm wine (It goes straight to your head!) And most importantly I am deeply indebted to both Rob Shaul/Mountain Athlete and Mark Twight/the Gym Jones staff (Rob and Lisa) for providing me both the tools and motivation to make this trip a success (at least in my eyes it was). Due to a house remodel at the start of this year I had only touched an ice tool twice and had been in the rock gym maybe five times or so leading up to this trip. Regardless of this thanks to their programming design advice and insight I was still able to make 2 routes happen in the 4 climbing days we had during our short trip. Many, many thanks. [soapbox]I find it comical that climbers will gladly drop $$$ on new gear (that they only end up selling a few years later when something "better" comes out) but refuse to spend any $ on a training seminar... something they will "own" the rest of their life and will only improve/enhance their climbing. Go figure.[/soapbox] Until next year Gear Notes: Peanut butter quesadillas! Approach Notes: TAT sucka!
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!!!
  16. 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)
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. Trip: Two White Boys on a Big White Hill - Cheam Peak - Random NW couloirs Date: 5/24/2008 Trip Report: So.... I was thinking of going and doing an alpine route last weekend but the weather was going to be super hot with frequent avalanches... I ended up going to a youth confrence in Chilliwack instead. I had e-mailed my friend Jared from mission to go climbing last weekend and when the trip was cancelled we postponed the trip to this Saturday ... our plan was to climb up to the NW bowl of CHeam peak and then hike low angled snowslopes to the toe of the West Ridge to gain the summit. He picked me up at 6:00 at my house and we drove over to the pulloff from the highway where we were to begin our ascent.. We hiked up the creek draining the NW bowl and then moved into the trees to avaid some huge cliffs in the gulley, It was a major slog but we eventually dropped bak into the gulley (now filled with snow) to gear up and hike into the NW bowl... we started up the gulley and just as we were about to get into the NW bowl we got a phonecall.. my other climbing friend Lorne said, "if you look up towards the toe of the west ridge what do you see", and I was like, "holy crap! Its you!" He and his Dad decided to run up to the west ridge earlier to ambush us for no apparent reason.. they didnt go to the peak but they left a cool pattern in the snow for us to look at. We talked and they took off down while we kept climbing up the NW bowl... it was getting hot in the sun and we skirted around the west side of the bowl so we wouldn't get killed by stuff falling on us, it got so hot on the snow that we had to stop and take off our pants and wear just our gore tex shell pants with boxers underneath. We eventually started getting bored of doing the easy snowslope route that Al and Lorne had done so I started looking for an alternative. There were some rock towers above the west side of the bowl and it looked like there was a cool gulley going in between them so we set off to climb this mysterious gulley. We ditched our packs at the base of the gulley and Jared set up a quick belay with my lucky tri-cam and his ice axe. The belays were not really nessecary in the first gulley but we had lots of time and used them anyways, all we had brought was an 8mm, 30m scrambling rope so I led up 30m to a tree sticking out of the snow and belayed Jared up and past me another 30m where he set up a makeshift belay with his ice ax. We stuck to the shady edges of the Couloir where the snow was firmer and less sketchy.. I led up again and set up a belay on a couple crappy bushes and then Me and Jared did some simul-soloing to the top of the first couloir. From the top of the first couloir the slope joined another steeper snowlope going up towards the ridge crest. We switched leads and diagonally ascended the slope for a few more short pitches. Jared's final lead to the crest was quite steep (60 degrees) From there we climbed a cool ridge and up a last short slope (with a vertical buldge of snow) to the toe of the weat ridge... It was getting late and we didnt want to slog all the way to the top so we glissaded and plunge stepped down easier angled slopes back to our packs and then hiked all the way down the trees and creek back to the car at the Highway. Overall the route was super fun with plenty of excitement but not at all scary... there was no gear on any pitches, we climbed from belay to belay. Approach Creek Old Snow Bridge Cliffs in gulley Almost in the NW bowl Our route starts in between those rock towers Slogging it out in the Bowl Crap bush belay Starting second snowslope, above the couloir Jared Leading on the second snowslope Heading up more steep snow, Yes Im wearing aviators Looking down the second snowfield Red Pyramid Me leading a super fun section Jared on a steep section Final Ridge Posing at the top of our climb Big Cheam Packing up Snow Pattern Descending Gear Notes: A few slings for tree belays, light rope, ice axe, crampons not nessecarry... aviator sunglasses and my lucky tri cam are a must! Approach Notes: Up drainage to big cliffs, up forest to bowl... up snow to couloir.
  20. Trip: Wyoming Mashup - Date: 5/20/2008 Trip Report: *Not sure if this belongs here or in the ice forum...? Summary: Day 0: PDX -> SEA -> BZN -> Yellowstone National Park Resort Day 1: The Silver Cord (3 p/175 m), Yellowstone -> Devils Tower Day 2: Devils Tower: Bon Homme (Horning Variation), Belle Fourche Buttress (1st 2 pitches), One way sunset (1st 2 pitches) Day 3: McCarthy North Face (4 p) Day 4: Devils tower -> BZN -> SEA -> PDX Details: So after a great start to ice season it all came to a grinding halt when I took the plunge to purchase a second home and rent my first one (JayB enter stage left ). Two months of looking/inspecting/bidding/closing/packing/moving/unpacking/renting/etc etc flew by and suddenly it was May! Shit! Where did ice season go!?!? I wanted (needed???) a last ice fix before summer set in and it sure wasnt going to happen around here. I needed a partner and some ice pronto. I tracked down Bryan who had just finished his first semester of grad school unscaved and begged him into a little ice climbing. Made some calls and sent some emails and determined that assuming the road was open the silver cord would likely be in. The Silver Cord Cascade: Yes not my photo. And no I dont know the difference between a cascade and a waterfall. The story with the Silver Cord is it is located in the grand canyon of Yellowstone National Park... the Cord most definitely forms every year however as the Park doesnt plow the roads in winter one either has to have a sled and/or ride the snow coach in addition to skinning to access the cord. Basically the math is 3 days for 175 meters of ice. So why not just wait until the road is open? Most years by the time the road is open/plowed the cord has already melted out. Due to these logistics involved the cord hasnt seen many ascents even though it checks in @ WI3+. But we were in luck! The road was open (so they said... more later), the temps looked good so I packed my bags, threw in my rocks shoes in case the predicted west coast heat wave made it out east and hopped a plane to BZN. Bryan grabbed me @ the airport and we headed south. We managed to get to the park just before dark. After some sleep we go back up and left the car by 5 am... we found the road wasnt actually open as far as they said it was so we walked some road to the trail head. As one walks along the top of the canyon rim you end up rapping down the cord and then climbing back out. We found the cord using JoJo's excellent beta, rapped the route, climbed and were back to the car by noon. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park: !!! Pitch 1: Pitch 2: Pitch 3: Water ice in May... gotta love it. We were hoping for some more ice so we called Jay @ the Silvertip Mountain Center to see how things were holding up @ Cooke City. Jay told us things were sliding and it was suppose to be 60 tomorrow... alas: good bye 07/08 ice season (though I hear Cali Ice is still in!) After a quick soak in the boiling river we headed east for the devils tower. Boiling River: Gotta love the natural hot springs Moo? We made it to Devils Tower by 11 or so... I'd never been to Devils Tower before so Bryan ran me around the next two days on a mini sampler of the tower (emphasis on mini... the tower is HUGE!). Stem box: Wide: Hands: 5.5 my ass: Tips to hands: Woof? McCarthy North Face: Tips to ringlocks: Summit views: MisterE: eat your heart out Epilogue: So yeah: devils tower is worth the trip... I'm hoping to get back out there this fall. Hundreds of multipitch trad routes! Cheers to Bryan to another great trip, JoJo for great beta, and Frank for letting us dirtbag at his place Gear Notes: BEAR SPRAY! We saw lots of grizzly tracks
  21. Trip: Mt Rainier - Fuhrer Thumb + Survival Date: 5/6/2008 Trip Report: May 4-6, 2008, Mt Rainier, Fuhrer Thumb + Survival Summary: The Fuhrer Thumb is a beautiful ski line. But summit fever can get you in deadly serious trouble in the blink of an eye. Whiteouts and high winds at 14000 feet can suddenly leave you in a desperate survival situation. Steam caves in the crater are disgustingly humid, but better than freezing to death out in the open. And sometimes you are lucky enough to survive your stupidity, maybe even learn from your mistakes, and live to ski another day. I hope that by sharing this story, I can help myself digest one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and also give others some insight about what to do and what to avoid in a dire survival situation atop a big mountain. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fuhrer Thumb and Finger area, with our ascent route in blue. Zoomed view with a better angle of the Fuhrer Thumb. Details: We set off to ski the Fuhrer Thumb on the south side of Mount Rainier, a nicely steep couloir of 40-45 degrees, narrower but with a more sustained fall-line than its better-known neighbor the Fuhrer Finger. The forecast called for mostly sunny skies and 7500-8000 ft freezing levels on both Sunday and Monday, so we planned a one-day push overnight with light packs. We registered just before the Jackson Visitor Center closed at 6pm on Sunday May 4, with the park rangers remarking at our lack of gear, but trusting that with 40 Rainier summits between the two of us, we knew what we were doing. We started skinning uphill at 9pm, hoping to summit (9000+ ft of gain) in about 12 hours + nap breaks. We ascended the Nisqually on skis to about 7600 ft and eventually switched to booting with crampons as the slopes steepened and became hard-frozen near the Wilson Glacier. Routefinding through the one major crevassed area was complicated somewhat by the new moon and near-total darkness, but this area is easily avoided by heading up a gentler ramp to its right (if you can see). Yet the dark night sky was also brilliant with stars, and punctuated several times by the brief blazes of meteors. We reached the foot of the Thumb at 10200 ft at 3am and took a lengthy sitting nap break under a rock overhang, at the base of a steep cliff on the couloir's right side, just a few feet from the small bergschrund marking the head of Wilson Glacier. Starting up the Fuhrer Thumb just above our nap spot, with the Wilson Glacier bergschrund just to the left. Steep views down the Thumb, with Mt St Helens in the distance. We awoke at dawn to find unexpectedly gray skies and thick high clouds, but despite the weather concerns we eventually started up the steep slopes of the Thumb at 6am. Snow conditions were a mix of nice supportive crust perfect for cramponing and arduous breakable crust, causing postholes up to a foot deep. We each climbed using Whippets on our ski poles (two for me, one for my partner), and the single ice axe we'd each brought stayed on our packs throughout the climb. Above the top of the Thumb (11400 ft), we continued directly up the eastern edge of Wapowety Cleaver, avoiding the eastward traverse onto the Nisqually Glacier which looks quite broken up around 12000 ft, with crevasse navigation issues likely. The downside of choosing the crevasse-free Wapowety is that there are several sections of steep 50-55 degree sidehill snow slopes from 12200-12500 ft, which are arduous and exposed in spots, perched above rocky cliffs with a long drop down onto the Nisqually. In the midst of these steep sections the weather worsened around 9am, with light snowfall, gusty winds, and a large lenticular cloud enveloping the entire summit plateau. We took another break on a small flat spot near 12300 ft, which turned into a long nap for my ski partner after we debated whether to just pull the plug and ski down. We decided to at least wait a bit and see, and the weather did improve within a couple of hours, brightening to mostly sunny skies and much lighter winds with only wispy fragments of the lenticular remaining. I fired up the Jetboil to make about 2.5 liters of water, easily enough to see us through to the top. So at noon we headed upward once more, hoping to polish off the last 1900 vertical to reach 14158 ft Point Success, the second highest of Rainier's three 14000 ft peaks, in a couple of hours. Map of routes: Gray: Our ascent route; the switchbacks on the Nisqually are very approximate in location and number. Red: My initial ski route and subsequent reascent to the crater rim (also approximate). Green: Travels around the crater rim the next morning. Blue: My ski descent from the rim to rejoin the ascent route, the rest of the ski descent followed the ascent route. The next 200 vert above our nap spot were the steepest of the entire route, and we split the exhausting post-holing duties, diagonaling up the sun-softened slopes. Atop the flat summit of Wapowety Cleaver at 13000 ft, we took another break to switch back to skins, since the slopes above were not very steep and it looked to be no problem to skin all the way to Point Success. We zigzagged left and right through a field of large crevasses, but by 13400 ft the powdery snow atop a firm crust on the upper Nisqually Glacier was making skinning difficult for my partner. She switched to booting on foot and headed more directly towards Point Success, while I continued skinning a switchbacking track with ski crampons providing occasional support. My last glimpse of her was just after 2pm, as I headed out of sight around a minor rib on a long rightward switchback. The weather remained mostly sunny with light winds as I made the final leftward switchback, and I snapped a photo of Point Success from about 200 yards away along the ridge at 2:40pm. Hard work ascending the steepest part of the route on Wapowety Cleaver. The last bit of ridge to Point Success, still mostly sunny at 2:40pm. Six minutes later, I stood atop the peak in a sudden whiteout and strong gusty winds. The temperature was 14 F, winds 30+ mph from the west, and my altimeter read 14220 (+62 error). There was nowhere to hide from the elements atop the narrow summit crest, so I stood with my back to the wind and waited. And waited. Occasionally shapes which looked like human form, complete with skis on pack, appeared through the mist along the ridge to the east, and I yelled my partner's name each time, but in vain as all turned out to be illusions in the drifting fog. Wind-driven rime was rapidly coating my pack and clothing, so I switched over to ski mode and skied back down my skin track after about 20 minutes atop the peak. I assumed my ski partner must have turned around when the winds and whiteout hit, and I thought that I'd be able to ski down and cross paths with her soon. Little did I know that my friend would arrive only minutes later atop the ridge to find my skin track leading to an empty summit, and a partner who had abandoned her. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Things got much worse from here. My skin track down the ridge was rapidly filling with wind-driven snow, and following it down became impossible, as visibility for snow features was less than 10 ft. I navigated by altimeter and dead-reckoning, trying to hold a 14060+ contour (including a mental correction for altimeter error) which would put me at the saddle separating Point Success from the summit craters, and from which I could easily ski down the fall line to intersect my ascent route. Unfortunately, I made a nearly-catastrophic navigational error. I held a contour just a bit too low, probably only 20 vertical feet low, but that's hundreds of feet of horizontal error in the flat featureless vicinity of the saddle. The distance I had skied was hard to gauge in the whiteout and strong tailwind pushing me along. I suddenly halted as a dark black feature appeared about 50 feet to my right. What?!? I realized that I must have overshot the saddle and was now on the uppermost Tahoma Glacier, standing just below a gaping bergschrund. The sudden fear and panic of being lost in an unknown field of crevasses in a whiteout was gripping me. I pulled my seldom-used compass out of the bottom of my pack, turned 180, and began following my track back away from the crevasses. It was painfully ironic to know that my two GPS units were sitting warm and dry at home while I was lost and freezing in a whiteout at 14000 ft. At least I had a nice waterproof topo map of the summit region, and could attempt to navigate by compass. I eventually found the 14000+ ft saddle (or is it really closer to 14040 ft?), an extremely windswept spot marked by numerous exposed rocks. The west wind was now about 40-50 mph, and I spotted a small snow-cave like shelter, about the volume of an office desk. I considered crawling inside for relief from the wind, but nearly an hour had already passed since I left Point Success. I decided it would be best to simply ski across the saddle and try to descend the Nisqually to reach our ascent track, and hopefully reunite with my ski partner. I thought the winds might ease on the opposite side of the saddle, but they didn't. I continued downhill to about 13900 ft, pushed from behind by the relentless wind as I held a wide snowplow stance to maintain walking speed, and unable to see much beyond my ski tips. The fear of plunging into a gaping crevasse, the same ones I had switchbacked around during the ascent, was overpowering me. I stopped and sat down. I knew that I was in very serious trouble, and for the first time in my life, realized that I might actually freeze to death, my life thrown away uselessly, lost in a featureless plain surrounded by crevasses which I could not see. There had to be a way out, I couldn't die here. I pulled out my cell phone, thankfully warm in an inside pocket and switched off to preserve its battery, and discovered upon turning it on that I had 2-3 bars of signal. I tried the MRNP number at 4:15pm, but couldn't connect. Next, 911, and it went through! Such a relief. I explained my location and predicament in great detail, several times to make sure that elevation and position had been recorded correctly, and the operator told me to stay put and that Mt Rainier National Park would call me back. Then nothing for a while, so I called my ski partner's phone, connecting to her voicemail after 3 attempts and leaving a detailed message with my location, apologizing for my foolish summit fever which had put us in this situation, and wishing that she was doing well. I then saw that I had new voicemail, and discovered a message: "Amar, this is David Gottlieb, climbing ranger at Mount Rainier. My number is 360-569-2211 x6028. Get back to us. Talk to you soon. OK, bye." I had met David a couple of times at high camps, and even remembered talking with him in July 1999 at Camp Schurman about the various routes he had skied. At least the rangers knew about my dire predicament, including the detailed location info I had given 911 (or so I thought at the time: it turns out they did not get the 911 recording, and the only info they got from 911 was that I was at "15000 ft on Mount Rainier". Ridiculous.) Over the next day, I would make a total of 49 cell phone call attempts, including 30+ to MRNP, several to voicemail, and several to another friend hoping that he could contact the park. Of that, only these 3 successfully connected, all between 4:15 and 4:30pm on May 5. By turning the phone off between each set of 3-4 call attempts and keeping it warm with body heat, I still had about 2/3 battery life remaining afterwards. I thought about my ski partner a lot, probably caught just like me somewhere out in the storm. The decisions we had made beforehand about gear and going lightweight, the way we had pushed each other onward and upward when either of us had lagged, and my final overwhelming push and desire to summit, even when it was clear that she was much more tired than me and just wanted to turn around and ski back down. She's the best and most inspiring ski partner I've ever met, and I knew that I had let her down. But the immediate issue was hypothermia, and worse, severe frostbite or actually freezing to death. I'm not very tolerant of cold at all, with poor circulation in the extremities, and I doubted that I could survive an exposed bivy with minimal gear at 13900 ft, in 40-50 mph winds with temperatures dropping below 10F overnight. My clothing consisted of top/bottom lightweight Capilene long underwear, soft-shell pants (REI Acme), and microfleece top (TNF Aurora). Insulation included a thick fleece vest, a newly-bought hooded puffy (Montbell Thermawrap Parka), and my super-warm Feathered Friends Volant down jacket with hood (still inside my pack). Shells consisted of Arc'teryx Theta SK bib pants and an Arc'teryx Alpha LT jacket. And thankfully, I did have lots of gloves and hats: 2 fleece hats, a fleece helmet liner, a thin balaclava, OR Alti Mitts (heavily insulated and waterproof, with insulated liner), OR Couloir ski gloves (insulated waterproof), OR Omni gloves, and 2 pairs of OR PL 100 liner gloves. A lot of clothing for sure, but not enough for me to survive overnight in that situation unless I kept moving or found shelter from the wind. There were only two options: descend the climbing route as best I could and hope to drop below the whiteout before falling in a crevasse, or climb back up to the crater rim and try to find a steam cave to bivy inside of. I tried option 1, trying at first to slowly ski down but realizing that I would have to switch to cramponing on foot. This would reduce the risk of skiing into a gaping crevasse, but greatly increase the risk of plunging into a hidden one. Around 13800 ft, I decided to turn around and climb back up, 400+ vertical to the rim. I headed due north, hoping to reach the Nisqually bergschrund, and then traverse rightward along it to a safe-enough crossing, providing access to the crater rim. I reached the schrund at 5:30, a huge opening about 20-30 ft high, with enough room for many to camp inside, but the wind was whipping through its length and powdery snow was flying everywhere. So traverse along it I did, and as expected it narrowed farther eastward, eventually becoming only a foot or two wide with numerous snow bridges across it. I crawled across one of them, and I could see exposed rocks just beyond. At least I was now safe, but it was time to get warm and fast. The bergschrund at the head of the Nisqually Glacier. I reached the crater rim around 6:20pm, a bit over 14200 ft, and immediately found an entrance leading to a large steam cave. I descended 15 ft into a first chamber, large but barely tall enough to stand up in, and then slithered and crawled through 3-4 ft high passages another 20 feet down, reaching an excellent large chamber with several hot fumaroles along one side and a steep passage angling directly back up to the surface about 30 ft above, providing a welcome glimpse of daylight without letting too much weather inside. Definitely home for the night, and maybe much longer if the weather did not improve. I went back to the surface to retrieve my gear and planted my skis in an X outside the entrance, hoping that any climbing parties that might reach the rim the next morning would see it. The steam cave just inside the crater rim, looking down the first entrance. The interior of the upper part of the steam cave. I set up the Jetboil to melt snow for water, but within seconds I had tipped it over, dousing its flame completely and unable to relight it due to all the snow packed into the burner. This was a potential disaster: without a way to make liquid water, I would probably get hypothermia if I kept eating snow even within the relatively warm (almost freezing) steam cave. But then an idea: I filled the Jetboil cup with snow, put the lid on, and sat it against the hottest nearby fumarole. This one sounded like a camping stove, hissing out a powerful jet of steam and gas which was intolerably hot to the touch and thankfully nearly odorless. I suspected its temperature was close to the boiling point of water, about 185 F at 14000 ft. I knew that volcanic gases typically include H2O, CO2 (carbon dioxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), CO (carbon monoxide), and H2S (hydrogen sulfide). The latter three are all poisonous, with CO being odorless and thus quite insidious, SO2 having a noticeable pungent smell, and H2S with a noxious rotten eggs smell, so prevalent on other Cascade volcanoes such as Mt Baker and Mt Hood. I knew that this fumarole had almost none of the stinky sulfurous gases, and hoped that any CO would be minimal to avoid any effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Within a few minutes, the snow had melted in the Jetboil cup, and 15-20 minutes produced half-liter quantities of water as hot as tea. I was stoked: As miserably wet and humid as the cave was, I had found a source of both unlimited warmth and unlimited hot water at the summit of Mount Rainier. I knew I could survive for days if necessary with no fear of either hypothermia or dehydration. But food was another story: a quick inventory revealed only 1 pack of 4 Nutter Butter cookies (250 cal), 1 pack M&Ms peanut (250 cal), 1 pack M&Ms plain (240 cal), 1 Chewy Dipps granola bar (140 cal), 1 Chewy granola bar (100 cal), and 1 Kudos bar (100 cal) = 1080 calories. I decided not to eat any of it that night, saving it all for the next day. Although I knew I needed food, especially after the exertion of climbing nearly 10000 vertical feet in the past 21 hours, for some reason I was just not very hungry. Also, I realized with relief that I felt no discernible effects from the altitude. I've always felt so lucky that I handle altitude better than most people, and in numerous previous trips from sea level to 14000+ feet in under 24 hours, I had never once experienced any altitude-related illness. I'm very fortunate in that regard, and the majority of people would experience some symptoms of AMS for sure under a forced bivy at 14000 ft less than a day after leaving sea level, with HAPE or HACE a real possibility for a smaller fraction. So darkness came and I cuddled up next to the fumarole, still always brewing another batch of hot water in the Jetboil cup and making sure to drink plenty. I tried turning my headlamp off at first, but realized that I needed the small comfort of being able to see around me in such an alien environment and so I kept it on most of the rest of the night. LED headlamps are great, I knew I had dozens of hours of battery life remaining. My clothes were already soaked, as the rate of condensation on any exposed surface was the most rapid I've ever seen. Any object would be dripping wet within a minute or less. Nevertheless, being hot and damp was much better than cold and damp, and so I kept rotating various sides of my body close to the fumarole, using my crampon bag as a deflector to reduce or re-aim the stream of hot gases in a needed direction. When my feet got cold inside my ski boots, I could just place them directly atop the fumarole and they'd be back warm within 10-15 minutes. I was wearing all my clothes except the down jacket, which I tried to carefully preserve inside its Sil-Nylon stuffsack within my pack. The down would be useless within the steam cave environment, rapidly turning into a heavy sodden mess, but it might be essential to my survival the next day outside on the mountain and so I had to keep it dry. Despite the heat from the fumarole, I shivered constantly through most of the night, with relief usually only for a few minutes after drinking a cup of hot water. My hands stayed nicely warm and dry for several hours inside the insulated waterproof Alti Mitts, but eventually they soaked through too and my fingers soon looked like prunes. My soaking wet fingers the next morning. I slept fitfully, mostly not well at all, and had my longest nap from 4am to 5:30. I awoke on Tuesday May 6 to a shocking surprise: there was daylight visible out through the opening of the cave! Given the forecast for deteriorating weather throughout the week, I could not believe my good luck. With nice weather, I thought that climbers and especially guided parties would certainly be reaching the rim shortly. I planned to ask them for food and for assistance in descending via whatever route they had climbed. I also probably needed some dry clothes, since my sodden garments would quickly freeze into a stiff suit of armor outside in the expected 10 F cold. Looking up the second entrance from home sweet home. It took me forever to get ready, eat some of my food, and prepare to go outside. I shook out my wet outer layers, donned the mercifully still-dry down jacket, and climbed out to the surface just after 7am. Partly sunny, cold but not too cold, and winds light, W 10-15 mph, with visibility past Mt Adams. WOW. The crater rim in the morning. I realized that my cave was about 100 yards west of where the normal climbing routes reach the low point in the crater rim, so it was important to leave a message over there for the climbers who would surely be arriving shortly. So I walked over to the low point, which was marked with 2 wands, and scratched out the words, "Help! 100 yds west", in a smooth patch of snow with my ski pole. I also moved my crossed skis from the original cave entrance to the second entrance, which was closer to the low point. I tried several more cell phone call attempts to MRNP, to no avail. As expected, my outer layers had frozen stiff in the cold air, so I retreated to the steam cave to thaw them out. Looking down into my cave, with the west part of the East Crater rim in the distance. By 9am it was time to head back out again. I thought for sure that climbers must be getting up there already, but in any case I decided that I'd walk around the inside of the crater rim and try to place cell phone calls in each different direction, hoping to get a stronger signal. To avoid the hazard of accidentally falling into thinly snow-covered steam cave entrances, it is best not to walk too close to the inside of the rim, so I walked in arcs passing through the middle of the crater and connecting to points on the east and north rims, and forcefully probed with both ski poles just in case. The floor of the crater was scoured to bare blue glacial ice in many spots, cut in a couple places by thin, 6-12" wide snow-filled cracks that were deeper than I could probe. Each time I reached the rim, still no luck with the cell. By now, I was almost at Columbia Crest, the true 14411 ft summit of Mt Rainier. I walked over to the summit register, located in a steaming area of fumarolic bare ground just below the summit, and thumbed through the old entries. The last entries were from April 17, and before that from autumn of 2007. At 9:50am, I added my own lengthy page, describing what had happened and my worries about my ski partner and about how I would make it down. I climbed up to the Crest, took in the grand views once again, and made several more unsuccessful cell attempts. Columbia Crest, with the West Crater rim beyond. The day was becoming gloriously warm and sunny, with winds dropping to nearly calm and temps rising to near 20 F. Nothing at all like the NWS forecast. My clothes were drying on my body, and I felt really good despite the lack of food and sleep, with no ill effects from the previous day's exertion. So I decided to set myself a deadline: if no climbers or helicopter had appeared by noon, I would simply ski down the upper Nisqually to rejoin our ascent route, and ski the Thumb as originally planned. I hoped that by noon, the snow on the steepest parts of Wapowety Cleaver (50-55 degree SE facing slopes) would be softened enough to hold an edge. If I could get past that crux safely in my probably somewhat weakened condition, the rest of the run down the Thumb and Wilson Glacier would be cake in any snow conditions, even if parts were still breakable crust. At 10:45am, I headed back across the crater to my cave, and carefully repacked all my gear. Everything was disgustingly wet, and much of it covered in a muddy hydrothermally-altered clay which forms the soil within the steam caves. I melted and drank a final liter of water, and planned to eat snow as needed to stay hydrated during the ski descent. If everything went well, I should be able to ski out to Paradise in about 2 hrs, even including the short climb back up to Glacier Vista. 12:10 pm: My pack and gear are all back at the surface, with skis still crossed above the cave entrance. By noon I was back out on the surface with my pack and gear, making final preparations to ski down. But wait - - - I heard a helicopter! And there it was, climbing upwards towards the rim from far below me. It quickly approached and circled around me twice, as I waved a single hand to let them know I was OK. I assumed that it would land in the crater, but then it took off down the mountain, so I thought that maybe the rangers think I'm OK and don't need a ride. Only later would I be told that the chopper had an engine malfunction light of some sort come on, and was forced to descend without me, while MRNP staff scrambled to locate a backup chopper in case it was needed. 12:19 pm: The MRNP rescue helicopter circling around me. So back to peace and silence on the rim. I'd had the summit all to myself for nearly a day, and still no climbers had appeared. As I prepared to click into my bindings, I noticed that the Dynafit fittings on my boots were clogged completely with mud. I used a Leatherman tool to chip the mud out of my boot fittings, which was very difficult since it appeared that the hydrothermally-altered clay had set into something as hard as plaster. Given the steepness of parts of the descent, I could take no chances with the typical Dynafit accidental pre-release bullshit, so I made sure the fittings were super clean and then locked the toes too for good measure. Looking across at Point Success from high on the Nisqually Glacier. (Sorry, bad photo, camera was fogging up.) I skied down the Nisqually Glacier at 12:40pm, a completely surreal feeling given the events of the previous 22 hours. I crossed the bergschrund somewhere near where I had crawled across it the evening before, and quickly located portions of the skin track of our ascent route. The 1-2 inches of new snow during the storm had been heavily windblown, and so only obscured small portions of the track. The ski down to 12500 ft was easy, albeit on an unpleasant mix of crust, windpacked powder, and a few patches of bare glacial ice. Unfortunately, the steepest parts of Wapowety Cleaver had not softened enough, and I was forced to sideslip much of the most exposed parts, using my uphill (right) Whippet as an anchor at times. The steepest step, only about 10 ft high but that had to be 55+ degrees, required sidestepping carefully while anchored with the uphill hand. And then I was safe, or so it seemed. But far below, a marine layer had filled the valleys to well over 8000 ft, and it was thickening. I hoped to avoid another whiteout on the glaciers below. Looking down the vertiginous Fuhrer Thumb, with Wilson Glacier and the marine layer clouds far below. The snow improved greatly below 12000 ft, becoming almost corn-like in spots. In the Fuhrer Thumb, the previous day's breakable crust had solidified enough to hold a skier's weight, and the descent was thoroughly enjoyable on a mix of edgeable crust and proto-corn. Hitting the Wilson Glacier at 10200 ft, I found the nicest snow of the day, fine spring corn on the cruising rolls down to 9000 ft and the edge of the marine layer. This whiteout was as dense as the one on the summit yesterday, but with nearly dead-calm winds and no real problems. I followed footsteps back to the Nisqually, and then the huge cattle-stampede track of a crevasse rescue class back to the moraine and Glacier Vista. Snow conditions were complete mushy glop in the whiteout, but I didn't care one bit. I had made it down off the mountain, alive and well. Corn and ski tracks on the Wilson Glacier. I reached the ski dorm at the edge of the parking lot at 3pm, and a single thoroughly-sodden packet of M&Ms still remained uneaten. I had survived my first major epic, and now I was desperate to make sure my ski partner had, too. To my great relief, there was a note on my car from climbing ranger Thomas Payne, informing me that she was safely off the mountain and that I should contact David Gottlieb at Longmire as soon as I got back. The ski dorm at Paradise. Safe at last. I drove down to Longmire, and went through a lengthy debriefing and interview process with the climbing rangers, a necessary bureaucratic process since an official search-and-rescue mission had been launched. They told me my ski partner had downclimbed the Kautz Glacier from Point Success on foot, in harrowing whiteout conditions down to 12000 ft, and then skied the Turtle back to the Nisqually Glacier and Paradise by 8:15pm the night before, and stayed at the ski dorm overnight. They said I could see her, but only after the interview and timeline of events was complete. As I was finishing my signed statement of events leading to the SAR, she finally walked in and we were both so relieved and overjoyed to see each other again, both safe and sound. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I'm not sure what will happen to me going forward from now on. It's going to take some time for me to process what happened and decide if I need to make some changes in my mountain travel habits and my degree of acceptable risk. Certainly I think the GPS is going back in my pack, for any trip of significant size. The only other thing that would have helped in the whiteout is being roped up the entire time, which is certainly worth considering for any such trips in the future. And at least I lost some weight during the trip: From the morning of May 3 through this afternoon on May 7, my weight has decreased from 144.4 lbs to 140.0, with body fat decreasing from 14.9% to 12.3%. This equals a loss of 4.3 lbs of body fat, which would supply about 17000 calories, and luckily it appears that I managed not to burn a significant amount of muscle mass. That would have changed for sure had I been forced to spend longer up there with no more food. Thanks to David Gottlieb, Chris Olson, Matt Hendrickson, Joe Franklin, and all the other climbing rangers and staff at MRNP who assisted in the planning and execution of my SAR mission. Although I made it down safely without assistance this time, it was only because of an unexpected lucky break in the weather, and my situation would have otherwise become increasingly desperate had the foul weather continued. And thanks most of all to my trusty ski partner and dear friend, for forgiving me and for still wanting to go skiing with me after this. I'm so glad you got down safely. "Hey dude, where are we skiing tomorrow?" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [font:Courier New]MOUNT RAINIER RECREATIONAL FORECAST NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA 345 AM PDT SUN MAY 4 2008 SYNOPSIS...AN UPPER LEVEL RIDGE WILL BUILD OVER WESTERN WASHINGTON TODAY. SKIES WILL CLEAR AND THE AIR MASS WILL WARM TODAY. THE RIDGE SHOULD PERSIST INTO MONDAY. ONSHORE FLOW WILL INCREASE MONDAY NIGHT AND TUESDAY AS A WEATHER SYSTEM REACHES THE AREA. AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH WILL DEVELOP OVER THE REGION MIDWEEK. SUN SUN MON MON TUE NIGHT NIGHT SUMMIT (14411 FT) 11 15 15 14 9 E 9 W 25 W 30 W 28 W 35 CAMP MUIR(10188 FT) 25 27 27 28 20 SE 10 W 14 W 20 W 11 W 25 SUNDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 7500 FEET. SUNDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 8500 FEET. MONDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY. FREEZING LEVEL 8000 FEET. MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. FREEZING LEVEL 8000 FEET. TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5500 FEET. TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH SCATTERED SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 4500 FEET. WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. SCATTERED SNOW SHOWERS AND NUMEROUS SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3500 FEET. THURSDAY AND THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 3500 FEET. FRIDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF SHOWERS. SNOW LEVEL 5000 FEET. [/font]
  22. Trip: I Love the Desert Date: 4/28/2008 Trip Report: This spring I was fortunate to make a really fun desert Southwest tour with my wife Michelle and a few other friends. We visited Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada. During the trip I climbed 32 desert towers and a half dozen other routes. First stop was Colorado National Monument. It was pretty cold, but we managed to climb Independence Monument, Otto's Route (III, 5.9). Colorado National Monument, with Independence Monument on the right: A close up: The route was pretty "cool" with snow all over the ledges, But fun none-the-less. Love the history of the route with all the manufactured holds and staircases. You can see one of the staircases in the pic below, and Michelle is grabbing on to an old pipe hole: With temps dipping down to 10-degrees, we decided to head farther south to the Moab area. We did a quick climb of South Six Shooter, South Face (II, 5.8). On South Six Shooter Peak, with North Six Shooter in the distance. It snowed on us, so dreaming of warmer weather we decided to head farther south into Arizona. We had long wanted to climb in the Superstition Mountains outside of Phoenix. The Superstitions. The Hand, the Tower, and the Prong are the first three towers on the lower left. The larger Grandfather Hobgoblin Spire is on the right, but blends in a little with the cliff behind: The rock at the "Supes" is really interesting, some kind of crazy conglomerate. The protection is often sparse, and when there are bolts, well... One of those plant towers: The first day we did a collection of towers on the northwest side of the range. We climbed The Hand (5.6), The Tower (5.8 R), The Pickle (5.4), The Periscope (5.4R), and The Prong (5.6). All of them were unique little climbs and summits. Very cool. The Hand: Here is Michelle at a small belay on The Hand. The 3-pitch route we climbed was called the Razor's Edge and the climbing was on a 3-foot wide, steep ridge crest: The Tower had 25-feet of unprotected, overhanging 5.8 climbing to start the route, then a long and thoughtful 5.7R pitch above that. It felt good to get on top of that sucker. The Pickle was fun - it looks steep and hard from the base but it really is only 5.4. The climbing is on huge cemented together conglomerate rocks. Michelle rapping off the Pickle. The next day we woke up for two more climbs of Grandfather Hobgoblin (III, 5.9), and the really fun North Buttress, Spider Walk (III, 5.6). Here is Grandfather Hobgoblin, the 4-pitch route climbs up to the notch on the left, then right up to the summit: Looking down at Michelle atop the first pitch: View from the summit out towards the suburban sprawl: After rapping down we went directly over to the North Buttress. Spider Walk takes an improbable looking line (for 5.6), meandering up 4 pitches of run-out slabs, with hard to find bolts, then up a chimney/crack system up a very cool feature. Here's a shot of the North Buttress. The route starts on the left side, then works its way up to the chimney near the top: Michelle following the second pitch: At the end of the route, you can scramble up to a high spire that overlooks everything. A final sunset: Next stop was Red Rocks, Nevada. We spent a few days climbing Dark Shadows (5.8), Frogland (III, 5.8), Sour Mash (III, 5.10a), then met with our good friends Chin and Raleigh and climbed Eagle Dance (III, 5.10c A0) and then a twisted variation of The Gobbler and Yellow Brick Road (III, 5.10c) on Black Velvet Wall (this to bypass the cluster on Dream of Wild Turkey's and other routes). Hiking up to Eagle wall: Me leading the second pitch of The Gobbler, with Raleigh belaying: Michelle following Sour Mash: All in all we had a great week in Red Rocks, with splitter weather and pretty moderate crowds. Next stop: Zion. I really love Zion, and this is partly why: We only had a chance to spend two days here. The first day was a bit of a lazy day. We rode up canyon in the shuttle and climbed The Pulpit, Original Route (5.9, C1) - a cool little spire at the end of the road. Here's Michelle following the one and only pitch: Day 2 we climbed the Iron Messiah (III, 5.10) a 10-pitch route on the Spearhead. You gotta love chimneys to like this route: High on the route (see Michelle at bottom of crack and shuttle bus below), the second to the last pitch was a stellar 200-foot corner. It had been a few years since visiting Zion and I was really psyched to climb there again if only for a couple days. Michelle had to head back home and my buddy Jim flew down to meet me for some climbing around Moab. Our first stop was the Bridger Jack Towers in Indian Creek. In two days we climbed Sparkling Touch Tower (5.11-), Thumbelina Tower (5.11), Sunflower Tower, East Face (III, 5.10), Easter Island Tower (5.10), and King of Pain, Vision Quest (III, 5.10+). Shadow of the Bridger Jacks on the desert floor: Jim's picture of me leading Thumbelina, a great single pitch of 5.11, and a cool spire to boot! Jim's picture of me leading the first pitch of Sparkling Touch: The King of Pain. Vision Quest climbs the split between the two towers: Here's Jim in the 5.10 slot on Vision Quest. After this pitch, I won't disagree with the guidebook description calling the route "burly". Jim taking the lead on the last pitch of Sunflower Tower. South and North Sixshooter can be seen in the distance. I was psyched to finally climb on these towers. The ease of access, quality rock and routes, and relaxing atmosphere made for a great couple of days (and a great warm up for Jim!) Next we headed into Canyonlands National Park. We stopped by the ranger station and got a permit to camp down on the White Rim for a couple days, then later that afternoon we climbed Washer Woman, In Search of Suds (III, 5.10+). The route was super-classic just like everyone said it would be. Gotta be one of the most unique looking towers in the desert. Can't wait to see what it looks like when that chock stone falls out! Washer Woman and Monster Tower: Looking down from the last pitch, with Monster Tower behind: Jim's pic of me leading the final summit block: Gotta love that rappel! Next we headed into Monument Basin. Our first objective was the ultra-classic Standing Rock, Kor Route (III, 5.11). You can tell this route gets climbed a ton because there is no loose rock or mud typical of the area to speak of. I can only imagine what it must have been like on the first ascent. Jim's pic of me leading the great roof (way easier than it looks from below): Jim following the second pitch: That afternoon we climbed the Shark’s Fin, Fetish Arête (III, 5.10c R). This route doesn't seem to get as much traffic and one gets a taste for some more authentic Monument Basin climbing. This picture was taken from Island in the Sky. The route follows the lower angled right side for 5 fun pitches: Jim's pic of me starting up the first pitch: I thought the 1st and 3rd pitches were more R rated than the 5.10b R second pitch according to the guidebooks. Jim rappelling off of Shark's Fin - awesome rock striations: ....continued...
  23. Trip: Mt Stuart - Ice Cliff Glacier Date: 4/12/2008 Trip Report: After a bus to and a high-speed train from Grenoble, a lovely evening in Paris, a two-hour flight to Amsterdam, a five-hour wait in Amsterdam created by flight delay, and an eleven-hour flight to Seattle, Ryan was nice enough to nab me from SEATAC Friday evening circa seven. Four hours after leaving me at home, most of which I spent drinking Génépi liquor and raving to my roommates about France and Les Hautes-Alpes, he reappeared with his new kick-ass ski buddy Monika and they were ready to go to Leavenworth. There was a bit of discussion about what route to ski. Colchuck Peak's NBC was mentioned, but I thought that a hot day and early sun would guarantee a death slurpee there. We needed to get high and find shelter. I knew just the line for the job: Ice Cliff Glacier: so protected, so high, so steep, so lovely. What better way to cure jet lag than a long approach after a short nap? Ryan skis toward Mt Stuart after a pleasant ~12 km approach from Icicle Creek Road. Mt Stuart: the Ice Cliff Glacier and its couloir are hiding in the shadows to the left of the summit and false summit We had some fun playing on the blue ice of the glacier... Monika enjoys some ice - we didn't have to climb this, but it was good to avoid exposure below a menacing serac. This chunk of ice required a small amount of air time on the descent. When Casey and I skied the couloir two years ago, it took a good edge, but it was none too soft. This time we found chunky pow that made for some wickedly fun steep skiing. Monika and Ryan get at the cornice, while I offer them a rope between kicking snow onto them and taking pictures. Monika and Ryan approach the true summit. Monika is a ripper; she's so good that she levitates over vertical rocks on her skis. La trace raconte l'histoire... No, actually, she was on rappel, as Ryan is here. He was just holding her rope. He didn't hold my rope. Jerk. The snow was incredible. Ryan finds his groove. Wonderful steep turns down the whole couloir! In case you can't tell, Monika is shredding the steeps. Ryan enjoys his turn on the same. Ice cliff bulge from above... ...and from below. This route is definitely a steep skiing classic. The Stuart Range is holding a ton of snow this spring. Everybody go bag some lines! Triple Culos? I have lots of material from the Alps; so much that it's overwhelming. Coming soon... after I do some work. Gear Notes: Carried and used 1 metric shit-tonne of gear; it was heavy. Approach Notes: The Cascades kicked my ass after sipping expressos in the Alps. Sky and Ryan au Refuge d'Argentière two weeks ago. We're here; we're there; we ski steeps everywhere.
  24. Hi CC-ers, Could you please visit our site when you have moment? This expedition site is the proof that you can achive a lot even on the intermediate route as WB. If you are genious like our exp leader... He did something for all of us, we couldn't even imagine at our first coffee meeting several months ago. http://cleanenergydenali08.com/ Zoran
  25. Trip: Mt. Goode - Megalodon Ridge ( IV+ 5.10- ) Date: 9/6/2007 Trip Report: Last Wednesday, my friend Sol Wertkin and I headed out to the North Cascades National Park on an attempt to stretch a little more summer into what was rapidly becoming fall. The intended destination was a climb of the complete East Ridge of Mt. Goode. After seeing photos and encountering the ridge last month, I knew it would be a "big fish to fry" hence Sol coined it the " Megalodon Ridge" in honor of the biggest and scariest fish to ever swim the seas. The ridge runs from L->R across the skyline. On the first day we approached the base of the technical climbing and had a perfect bivy on the ridgeline before it steepened up. A few drops of rain fell on us, but by morning it looked as though things might clear up. After crossing some icy snow in the morning, we started up the ridge, with the summit often lurking in distant clouds. Dan Hilden and I had climbed this first part on a traverse a few weeks ago, but bailed off due to 40lb packs, and very little climbing gear. We made one 50m rappel and began swapping leads along the crest. The position was amazing, with alpine lakes below us, and the sun coming out just when we needed it. The rock wass often pretty good along the crest, with memorable highlights including a 5.8 finger crack and another overhang corner of the same grade. Soon the steep wall of the SE peak began to loom closer ahead of us. Sol fired off the first headwall pitch, which ended up being a splitter 5.10- hand crack to a nice belay ledge. I got the next pitch which started up a perfect corner before stepping left and doing some delicate stemming to the top. A bit of scrambling brought us to the last pitch on the SE peak, which Sol lead through with scanty protection. "No life Guard on Duty" here... From the SE Peak we skirted the steep glacial ice by climbing through the moat. Ross and Sky skied from near here ~5,000' down to Bridge Creek a couple years ago, that just blows me away. Some steep solid rock and an au-cheval crest led us up to the final pinnacle before Black Tooth Notch. We had joked around for much of the climb about all the potential shark-themed names, which was fitting as our crux involved this pitch climbing down into Black-Tooth Notch. I belayed Sol down and across the wall to the notch, with several thousand feet of exposure to bridge creek below his feet. He protected this lead perfectly and memorized nearly every move so as to feed me beta as I seconded the traversy downclimb. It ended up being overhanging 5.10 climbing, but it brought us back "on the map" and past all major obstacles. From there we did one long running belay to the summit. It was late and we were tired, so we did some quick construction and settled in for a night on the highest point in the National Park. An amazing sunset and meteor shower had us in awe all night. The next morning's chilly sunrise was a nice sight as well... As Sol says "Livin' the dream, life is Good(e)" Yesterday we made the 5,000' descent down the south side of the mountain to Park Creek and were thankful for the cool fall breeze on our 19-mile hike back to the car. There was also a forest fire that provided some temporary entertainment. This was a really fun trip with a great partner. The summit bivy spot is (obviously) highly recomended by us both. The register which was there last summer is gone now though... Gear Notes: Standard climbing rack. Should have included goldfish crackers to complete the fish theme. Approach Notes: Up N.Fork of bridge creek for 2 miles, turn left and cross the creek through open clearings when the ridge is obvious.
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