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Found 161 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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]
  4. 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...
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. Trip: Cutthroat Wall - Easy Getaway (F.A. III 5.10-) Date: 8/29/2007 Trip Report: This TR is going to read like the boring blow-by-blow climb description that it is, but that's in hopes of providing adequate info for folks to go get on it and have some fun. Upon climbing one route on the Cutthroat Wall, I was eager to go back and investigate the clean looking roofs and corners to the left of what we'd done in early August. Last weekend, Dan Hilden and I headed up to check it out. Bryan Burdo was a late scratch on the roster for this climb as well, after he dropped his tennis shoes off a new route on SEWS and was left with just rock shoes and sandals. His Methow valley cragging guide should be out within a month, and his North Cascades Rock (WA Pass Area) guide by next spring... Anyhow, we braved the 45 minute approach from the car and began the climb ~40' to the left of The Perfect Crime on a perfectly flat granite patio. From the base, one can locate a series of clean L-Facing corners which serve as good landmarks for the route. A vertically striped dihedral (the Zebra corner) is especially obvious. The climb went very well, with fun moves, some nice challenges, and a few spots where the cliff seemed made for climbing. Pitch 1 (5.10-) Up left on a slab to a clean crack and obvious overlap/roof. This roof move can be protected from above with a blue alien. From here, climb up and left (easy slab), past another steepface, to beneath a large roof. Pitch 2 (5.9) Start up the R-Facing Corner with stemming and finger cracks. Past tree, move left (delicate undercling) into the clean orange corner. Move right out of the corner and belay. Pitch 3 (5.9) Face climb up and right, then follow clean cracks (layback, mantle) back up and left to a short splitter finger crack, ledge, and belay below short overhung RFC. pitch 4 (5.9) This pitch leads to the base of the striped corner visible from below. Power up the short overhung corner and face climb up and left into a crack. (Don't get tempted rightward into the blank corner) Follow this crack up to a tree at the base of the corner Pitch 5 (5.9) Again begin by fun moves up another overhung corner, then follow the beautiful/clean Zebra Corner crack upward. The top of the corner was seeping from the prior day's rain, so we "walked the plank" rightward across a solid/safe block and along the ledge to the right. If dry, consider following the corner to the top and doing an undercling out right for the directissima. Pitch 6 (5.10-) This pitch looks imporbable but works out great. Face climb up to the base of a L-facing corner below roofs. Jam the corner, climb left through the roofs, and continue jamming and laybacking up into the granite chimney. Follow the chimney to a large pine at the base of an obvious long corner. Pitch 7 (5.10-) Jam or layback the perfect hand crack up past a tree to some roofs. Undercling/jam through the roofs to the very top of the corner, step right, belay. (From here, one can downclimb rightward ~30 to get to the belay ledge before the last pitch of The Perfect Crime, whish is a *** pitch featuring splitter cracks on the far right edge of the buttress.) Pitch 8 (5.9) Head up the obvious chimney straight above. Good pro can be placed deep inside, and one can then move to the outside edge to climb though. I found this great fun. Dan, with a pack on, had a differing opinion. Follow the lower-angle stemming slot to a 5.5 hand crack on a slab, and belay above. From here, unrope or belay one more pitch (low 5th) to the flat summit. The rock quality on this climb is as good as Rebel Yell and better than anything else I have climbed on in the Washington Pass area, but the climb is only an hour from your car. All the cruxy bits are well protected and could be A0ed. I think it'd take a strange climber to not enjoy this route quite a bit. The only drawback is the pine needeles on ledges, but maybe with some traffic this would change. We also found an OLD rusty, and completely unmarked bent piton on p2, so maybe someone did the whole route back in the 60s and didn't tell anyone... who knows. I'd enjoy re-climbing it and leading the pitches Dan took as well, so if you are looking for a partner, send me and email. From the top, you can scramble up to the ridge and look down on the Hwy 20 hairpin, and of course see much of the North Cascades as well. Descent: walk across the flat summit terrace (cairn) to where the crest narrows before you'd need to scramble up again. Look for a pine tree on the right with a yellow runner. Make one 20m rappel down to the right, then contour at that elevation, skier's left around the head of a gulley and walk down/left on timbered rib to the base of the wall. Mini Topo - Big Version Linked Below http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/503/Complete_topo.JPG Green Writing goes with Green Topo, pitch-by-pitch Gear Notes: One set of nuts Cams from finger tips to #4 camalot (only needed if you avoid the chimney and do the last pitch of The Perfect Crime) Doubles in finger-hand sizes Approach Notes: From the Cutthroat Lake TH, walk up the old road bed for ~5 minutes, then head left up the hill into the brush. The brush is moderate at first, then the forest is pretty open and easy until moderate brush for the last couple hundred feet. The route begins at the far right (west) side of the wall. From the base of this route, the toe of the "Snout" is a ~10 minute level traverse across open ground, so one could combine a climb of those routes as well.
  9. Trip: Mount Shuksan - Northwest Arayete III 5.9 Date: 8/6/2007 Trip Report: On August 6th Matt Alford and I climbed an enjoyable rock route on the northwest side of Mount Shuksan. The route follows the crest of a fine arete on good rock for nine pitches to the summit of a prominent horn above the White Salmon Glacier. Though dirty at times, the position is incredible, the rock is solid and every pitch is sustained for it's grade. I had first seen this arete at least twelve years ago while descending the glacier and thought it both beautiful and improbable due to a lack of features. Ever since the idea of climbing it has been knocking about in my head. I'm not sure what took so long but it was great to turn that idea into a reality! As it worked out the rock here (Green Schist) is horizontally banded and the rock is just littered with positive jugs and pockets that allow moderate climbing up imposing walls. We left the car at first light and reached the base of Winnies Slide four hours later. From here a short descent led to the base of the arete. There was significant shrund that made accessing the rock a bit problematic. We end up rappelling off a bollard to reach a ramp on the left side of the arete. A good ledge system on the right side could probably have been used as well. Matt takes the first pitch. Fun, juggy face climbing was followed by a 100' of 5.8 friction right up the crest of the low angle arete. The gear grew increasingly sparse until he had to run it out maybe 40' to the belay. A second short easy pitch led to a much steeper wall. P1 Frictioning up the crest of the Arete The third pitch exemplified what makes establishing new routes such an amazing experience. We're at the base of a steep blank wall. On the left is a filthy corner system full of grass. Out right a few weaknesses lead towards a steep arete and the possibility of good climbing around it's edge. The grassy corner will go, but the climbing will suck. The traverse out right is a total mystery. Will it go? Is there any gear? Whats on the other side? What if I can't make it? P3 Working things out on the crux traverse Intending to head up the corner I find myself heading out right instead. Focusing on protection I find that the apparently blank wall has a few narrow seams obscured by lichen that allow me to place several solid pins. Soon I'm at an obvious crux move. Cleaning some loose blocks off a small ledge I watch them freefall to the glacier. Hesitating I close my eyes, focus on my breathing, feel the chill in the cool shade, listen to the ice creaking and groaning below. Eventually I just run out of reasons to stand still so I commit, stemming wide, finding a small uncling, shifting over and reaching for the crest of the arete. Grabbing solid jugs I pull over the corner and find myself on a beautiful wall of clean, orange rock. IT GOES! P3 Matt pulling around onto the beautiful orange wall So many intense experiences tend to just slide away. Things no longer "stick" like they once did. But this one is different, this one set deep. I'm going to remember exactly how wonderful it felt to pull around that corner for a long time. The fourth pitch was the best of the climb, awesome juggy 5.7 climbing on near vertical rock with great gear. Soon we're at the base of the imposing upper arete. The climbing looks improbable but once again the rock turned out to be covered in positive holds. Staying about 40 feet left of the arete Matt is able to climb more or less straight up the wall on 5.7 rock to a belay in an alcove. P4 More Arete P6 Starting up the steep upper wall Climbing through a grungy 5.8 roof I find super featured 5.6 rock on the crest of the steep arete for a full ropelength. Matt quickly leads another long pitch of fun corners to a fixed pin belay at a small roof. A final short pitch up clean slabs ending with an easy arete brings us directly to the summit. Unreal, the route unfolded far better than we could have imagined! P7 Stellar climbing on the crest of the Arete P9 It Ends like it Begins…. It's late in the day so we snap a quick summit shot and get moving. An easy scramble down the backside gets us to the Upper Curtis Glacier. After following some mountain goat tracks we picked up the boot track leading back down the mountain. In my exhausted state the entire descent seemed somehow timeless as if it took no more than half-an-hour. Yet many hours and a beautiful sunset later we reached the car with the last of the dieing light. Well there's already a Northwest Arete and a Northwest Rib on the mountain so Matt (grudgingly) agreed to name our route the Northwest Arayete after someone I know. Gear Notes: Rack to 3.5" with a double set of very small to medium nuts and small to 1” cams. A few short knifeblades and bugaboos recommended. Approach Notes: Follow Fisher Chimneys Rt to edge of White Salmon Glacier (bivi sites) then descend a few minutes on steep snow or ice to the base of the arete. Potential Shrund problems getting on the rock.
  10. Trip: Index, Vesper, Sperry, Big 4 MadManMisAdventure - Date: 7/30/2007 Trip Report: the omens were bad to begin with - a wedding full of fat people the night before - bad booze and mind numbing conversation - a few hours of sleep, plagued by half images of Being Behind the Cue Ball again - rain on the road in the dark up to seattle and layton's place - a total lack of mind-altering medications to salve the soul woken up by a querolous layton in my red devil, parked halfway up on the curb at a non-dmv approved angle outside his swankish new abode - an hour of desperately needed sleep on a couch exactly half my height, a cigarette, a coffee, and an uncomfortable elevator ride w/ a complete stranger later we were on the road to methadonia for steep granite - the spitting rain shoulda been a warning to stay at home - good thing we went though, as quite the adventure unfolded: 1. the rock being completely cluster-fucked for free-climbing, mike and i lucked into discovering a secret project area, just a 30 second walk away from a beer n' tobaco vendor - we dreamed wistfully of the day when the weather would clear and we could take our keenly honed sick-skills back to the wall! mike near the top of our new crag - the mist enshrouded and verdant town walls beckoning us beyond SEND MOTHERFUCKER! 2. the second and greater adventure came when layton left his mithril-woven jacket and sacred cell-phone behind on a park bench - we did not discover this till returning to the traffic paradise of seattle and after hours of showing folks at the uw rock how to Get It Done - finally discovered that a hobo named charles had picked it up - only took the 30th call to the phone for him to figure out how to answer - his english was pretty poor even by 13th century standards, but eventually we got to the heart of the issue, which was he'd give us the phone back if we got him some beer, as after all "it's near the end of the month, man, you know?" - getting directions was another affair altogether, and as his last ride in a motorized carriage was probably back during the hoover administration, almost more useless than if we'd just driven in circles around index screaming his name my cornhole, worried that we might be walking into a deliverance-style situation, which i've done enough times in my life now to know better, admonished me to procure a butter-knife from a fashionable bavarian eatery before the drive out to index - niether of us had planned on what unfolded - charles had been evicted from a derilict trailer by the charming gay couple that had bought all the local land, but they'd been gracious enough to let him keep squatting in a tent in the woods, guarded by 2 ill-tempered horses, which laughed at my wannabe-bowie knife and proceeded to nip layton a couple of times - i tell you, that man has an uncanny, almost animal, allure to him! a whole caste of motley characters enabled this ultimate, and succesful, adventure - the applachian americans who assisted in decephiring our directions despite the fact that mike used the phrase "retarded redneck" within the first 3 seconds of meeting them, the meth-addled teenage redskin standing point on the corner of 2 dirt roads in the woods who, in the time honored tradition of his people, necesitated we barter his useless directions in exchange for our cigarettes, the entire household of budweiser drinking, hungry-man/pot-pie eating folks that somehow seduced mike into their hovel before descending upon him with forks and spoons intent on consuming him raw and screaming, "ger," the land-owning, cocktail-swigging gentleman who was so crestfallen at our refusal of his invitation to come on up to the a-frame for some drinks and a hot-shower, etc. a night i shall not forget until i also forget the lyrics to "karma chameleon" on the climbing end of things, and for anyone who's still reading, i recommend as a fun solo outing - linking up the n face of vesper, to a walk/scramble over to the south summit of big 4, then back to a scramble up to sperry - did this over the next 2 days, when my squamish partner went AWOL - my first trip into the monte cristo area and fun to be mostly alone in - the climbing on vesper's quite sane and enjoyable as a solo (the benefit of not taking all that heavy gear being that you can instead carry the same weight in booze and not skimp on the training while pumping-up the party-tude) - bivying in the swirling clouds of the summit while listening to brain-candy only to awake to Rage and a lumiscent moon was ethereal i'm out of creative things to say Gear Notes: Total Consciousness not required Approach Notes: many moons, paleface, many moons
  11. Trip: Les Cornes - Springbok Arete Date: 8/1/2007 Trip Report: Last week we climbed the celebrated Sprinbok Arete in the Anderson River Valley of BC. What a route! It was my second attempt after adventureboy and I failed to even find the river valley last year. We left bham in the early afternoon on wednesday figuring to have plenty of time to make the approach and bivy near the base. Unfortunatly it was like a waking re-occuring nightmare, and we spent many hours wandering around on the wrong logging roads, lost, trying to make sense of it all. Luckily it all came together, and we made it to the roadside, bug-infested bivy around sunset, intent on now climbing car to car. A 5 am start saw us alder-ing our way up to the base which wasn't nearly as bad as others have made it sound. A little schwacky but its short, there is a path to follow, and you gain very little elevation. The Arete from the base: I started us off on the first block. Four mediocre pitches and a bit of simul-climbing brought us to the base of the fierce fingercrack of pitch 7 (McLane), where we swapped blocks. Scenic: Tyree lead on up the hard 5.9 fingercrack and the off-width, but whoops, ended up on the wrong wide crack. We climbed a clean long off-width to the right of where we were supposed to be. After fucking around for a little bit we rapped off a nut back to the route. Ty smoked the orange head wall pitch hooting and hollering, having a good ol' time. Awesome and steep. Flakes, fists, and hands: The quality of the rock kept on improving as we continued on via a fun flake traverse. I took over for the 10c fingercrack, and the immaculate 5.9 layback and elegant slab above. Quality: Ty took us to the summit from there via never-ending finger locks. A quick pound and we moved on to the au cheval. "Gut-churning" Compared to Gato Negro the descent was casual. The worst rap was prolly the first one. And the running water was well appreciated. 4 raps and some downclimbing brought us back to the base. Overall we did the route in 10 pitches with some simulclimbing. Car to car in 15 hours. Its the best route i've climbed in BC and lies somewhere in my top 5 favorite alpine rock routes. The grades are nice and stout. Highly recommended. Because you can never get enough Steinbok: Gear Notes: Twin 60's. Rack of doubles to #2, singles through new #5. Couple RP's. Approach Notes: Dont ask me.
  12. Trip: Gunsight range - West face-north peak Date: 7/25/2007 Trip Report: Inspired by CC.com trip reports Jens (Holsten) and I got on a boat last week and headed towards the fabled gunsight range. Though this website can sometimes be a waste of time, even a repository for spray and slander (mine own included) I feel sort of obligated to return the favor, as without the info gleaned here our trip may have never been. Anyway, enough bullshit. The trail up Agnes creek was uneventful right up to five mile camp, where the trail crew had stopped. Immediately after this we encountered the aforementioned hundreds of blow-downs and developed a cowboy like posture after so much straddling. A light cloud cover didn't do a whole lot to abate the heat, but it was better than nothing. We had hoped (foolishly) to knock off the approach in a marathon afternoon, but after reaching the spruce creek turn off decided to bivy. This was a smart decision, as darkness would have found us stranded on a 50 degree hillside suffering in the rain. Instead we camped on the river and ducked in the tent when the light showers hit. Not a whole lot to say about the next day, just some straight suffering up a hill. Blake and company humbly understated this phase of the journey, we were just glad to find the mountain. Several hours later we hopped onto the blue glacier in the afternoon heat, hoping not to get creamed by an ice fall. We walked right by what was to be our basecamp, intent on making it over to the chikamin. After some sketchy recon we discovered our mistake and settled in to one of the most amazing bivies ever. Wednesday morning we ambled over the pass above our camp and roped up for the super loose step down onto the gigantor chikamin glacier. A mellow crampon session found us at the base of the west face, I only fell into one talus hole where I nearly lost control of my bowels. The route is gained off a rad traversing ledge which beats the hell out of some ungainly moat. As almost everyone else has said the rock quality is superb, if a bit grainy the higher you get. If this wall was a little closer to the road I don't think this would be the case. Anyway, I headed up just to the right of Blake's cairn and wound my way towards the fabled crux pitch. It seems like Nelson and Dietrich (I think that's his name) veered right on the second pitch and climbed a very thin corner before moving back left to the belay which supposedly needs bolts. Again, no bolts were found in situ, leading us to conclude that Jim Nelson had a bad memory. The second belay would be more comfortable with bolts, but they certainly aren't necessary. Jens tentatively made his way upwards, made a tenuous move left of thin flakes and was still unconvinced that the pitch would succumb to our assault. However, move by move, he found unanticipated decent holds, good gear, more positive flakes (a trademark of this wild wall) and uncanny knobs, all of which took him past the crux to a well deserved victory whoop. Here he is crushing. I also managed to scrap my way up this stellar pitch, which left us exhilarated but also a little nervous about the rest of the climb, which wasn't quite over yet. The next crack system looks sort of like a hand crack off the belay, unfortunately its a shallow flaring flake. It does accept gear however, and after a little bit of pansying around I commited to the steep lieback. Another flake follows the first, and I did a little more pansying, unsure if our relatively light alpine rack would get me to the next stance. Luckily the crack finally turns into hands, where I was able to recover enough to run it out to a little knob belay where I plugged in the last of my gear, the four camalot and a blue alien. Here's Jens following. The final bit of steepness supposedly contained some crux wideness, which Jens so graciously allowed me to lead, but it ended up being a little less difficult than the third pitch, which didn't dissapoint me in the least. Jens led one more shorty to "flat ground" and we eventually found a way up onto the crazy summit blocks. The library is about to close so I'm just going to leave it at that for now. I'll give everybody some time to slander and wrap it up when I get the chance. Suffice to say, the rock is good, almost as good as Index. Maybe even better than Mt. Stuart.
  13. Trip: Mt. Stuart - Girth Pillar via lower N Ridge Date: 7/27/2007 Trip Report: A couple days ago, Kevin N. and I found this route in great shape. Seems a bit has been written here before; I'll echo the general sentiment that the Pillar features some of the finest rock climbing in the Cascades. 3 pitches of steep, sustained, and thought-provoking climbing in stupendous position--words and pictures fail. Go climb it. Left Mountaineers Cr to climb the lower N Ridge (fun rock by itself), then gained the Ice Cliff Gl above the calving seracs. Surmounted minor firn/neve difficulties to make good time to the pillar (hit the base of the business mid-morning, and Stuart greeted us w/ an impressive clamor of snow shedding from the NE Face slabs). I drew the first pitch, which had negligible wetness, fun moves and a good wake-up call for the steepness above. Kevin sent the p.2 crux on-sight, and I followed cleanly--we were stoked. The third and last pillar-pitch rocks--high mountain woody time. The Sherpa Glacier descent is probably past its prime, but we had the glacier gear along, and 'twas nice to get our dried husks out of the sun. Currently the descent--fairly technical with hard snow and loose rock--was probably more taxing for me than the ascent (fatigue?). Rapped once to clear a 'shrund, burning some of our booty. (We netted 8 stoppers and 2 'biners, one a bitchin'...neutrino! On the Girth Pillar! Imagine that.) I'd be curious if anybody can corroborate AlpineDave's posting in another thread: " I'm surprised no one has mentioned rapping one of the buttresses further East from the Sherpa glacier. I've read a report of people climbing close to the base of the West Ridge of Sherpa, and then rapping down to the basin below. Sounded pretty strait forward, with maybe 8-10 single rope rapps at existing stations. " I've not done the NW Buttress descent, but am casting about for the best option this time of year. The Teanaway/Ingall's approach would've been WAY hot late last week, and didn't fit well w/ our plans. We didn't see any humans on the N side. For several hours during the climb, a hummingbird accompanied us with its sound effects--cool. Hiked down in the cool of the early evening. Encountered a porcupine, and a beautiful, resident buck both on way up and down. On the wildlife topic, the friendly bugs also embraced us with open mandibles and proboscises, always spurring action. Arrived in der hamlet w/ a flat tire to fix, just past kitchen closings. Contented w/ the Champagne of Beers and chips for the tired drive home. Kevin passed out in the passenger seat; I only passed out once (Chevy Chase style), luckily while stopped at a Monroe traffic light. Some pics, a few more in the gallery: leaving rock for the glacier: step of vertical snow: Pillar shots were challenging, with sunlit glaciers and shadowed climbers. You photog's out there please chime in w/ advice on how to get a good shot in these conditions, sans flash. One attempt yielded an impressionistic result--the blur appropriately connoting K's speed (and steeze): K following p1: This pic's for the special edifier (caption = "not exit 38"): sendbot: a more chill portion of the descent: go that way: Gear Notes: medium large rack was good to have.
  14. Trip: Forbidden - NW Face, with a near disastrous descent. Date: 7/26/2007 Trip Report: On July 25 Blake, AJScott, and I headed up to the Boston Basin with our sights set on the NW Face (really a ridge) of Forbidden. This was my third trip up to the basin, and I had been telling Aaron and Blake how easy the trail was all morning, but somehow I managed to lose the trail in the first avy path, forcing us to shwack straight up for an hour to get to the basin. We were planning on bivying at the west ridge notch, but the prospect of lounging in the sun for the rest of the day and not having to carry bivy gear any higher stopped us at the high camp. Boston and Sahale Forbidden. To get to the notch we climbed the rightmost "catscratch" just left of the couloir. The next morning Aaron and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:33 for coffee and tea, and got Blake up when our breakfast burritos were ready. At about 5 we were on our way up the glacier. We were told that the couloir was out (on a side note, someone left a rope sitting at the base of the couloir), so we decided to go up one of the gullies to the left. One mid 5th pitch lead to easier ground, and before long we were at the base of the west ridge. We downclimbed to skiers left for a while, then made a couple of 60m raps down to the snow. From the top of the glacier we belayed a traverse down and to skiers right to a 2 pin rap anchor that would get us over the gaping shrund. I went first, and ended up having to do a free hanging rappel down to the knots in the end of the rope, and a swing and quick axe placement to get over to other side of the shrund; I was then able to direct the other guys to a better spot to come down. From there it was an easy walk down to a ramp that put us on the ridge. Aaron rapping the huge icecliff. The ridge is pretty much amazing. The first half was class 4 with a little loose rock here and there, but fun climbing. A short simul pitch up an arete just past a neat ridge top sidewalk took us to the crux, which was a short but steep 5.8 fistcrack (could be bypassed to the left), and a pitch of fun 5.7 face climbing. From there we simul climbed 2 long low class 5 pitches on spectacularly clean and solid rock to the summit. This route deserves far more attention than I think it gets. It is like the west ridge in terms of rock quality, but a little steeper and about 3 times longer. I would say that it is the best moderate climb that I have ever done. Aaron called it a mini north ridge of Stuart. If you are up for the alpine shenanigans on the approach, seriously climb this route. After relaxing for a while on the summit we quickly downclimbed the west ridge, and once at the notch I told Aaron that we should be at the car by 8 or 9. I spoke too soon. Aaron found a reasonable way to downclimb all the way to the snow in one of the gullies and was way ahead of us, but Blake and I went a different way and decided to do a rappel because of all of the loose rock. At the base of the gully I started to pull our ropes, and a few rocks came down. Blake suggested that we get out of the line of fire, so he moved to the left of the gully, and I to the right. As I continued to pull the rope we heard the terrifying sound of a big rock coming down, and at the last moment I decided that Blake's spot looked more protected, and ran in that direction. The next few seconds happened slowly. I felt a horrible pain in my leg, saw a big rock and my shoe flying down the slope out of the corner of my eye, and gave a loud yell. I think we both knew in an instant that things had just gotten bad. I lifted my pant leg and a stream of blood squirted out a ways. I sat in shock holding pressure on the deep gash while Blake clipped me into a #2 Camalot anchor, grabbed my medical bag (which happened to be in my coat pocket because we had decided to leave my pack at camp), and went down to get my shoe. I quickly decided that my leg was not broken, which put my mind at ease because it meant that I would get to climb more this summer. I managed to stop the bleeding and bandage myself up, and somewhere along the line slid down a few inches to put my weight on the anchor. I suddenly heard a huge crack behind me. Blake yelled something and shoved me aside and in my numb state of shock I watched a several hundred pound block roll past where I had just been sitting. “Wow, things just aren't going well.” It turns out my weight on the anchor had caused the Camalot (which was destroyed in the process) to tear the flake off, just as Blake was working on setting up a better anchor. Without much discussion we decided that it was time to go. Blake found a crack to place the only nut that we had left (Aaron had the rack, and was way below us at this point) to lower me down to the glacier. Once on the glacier I glissaded and limped down to camp as Blake ran ahead to start packing up. Once I got back to camp we ate some dinner donated by our friendly neighbors (if you read this, thanks again), and Blake and Aaron packed up our packs, dividing up most of the weight between themselves as the marmots watched curiously. Under normal conditions it is reasonable to get to the trailhead in about an hour. We left a little after 8 and got down there at about 1. The walk out went pretty much as one might expect: a lot of swearing, some clenching of teeth, and a snail's pace. By 4am I was doped up in the Skagit Valley Hospital, chatting with the doctor about how great the mountains are. I got 6 stitches and can't really walk all that well for now, but things could have been a whole lot worse; in fact things went about as well as they could have in that situation. The point: Never get too comfortable or let your guard down in the mountains. Once you do, they will kick your ass just to remind you who's in charge. Rockfall has been my biggest fear for a long time, but for some reason I was not paying enough attention to it in this case. Climb with people who you think you can trust in stressful situations, and don't go out there if you aren't sure that you can keep your head on straight when the shit goes down. Aaron and Blake get two thumbs up as partners, as they really stayed calm, and were super helpful on the way out. Thanks guys. Oh, and if you climb with Blake, remind him that he might want all of that food that he may have left behind at the last minute. Gear Notes: Carry a medical kit and know how to use it. It doesn't need to be huge, you can only do so much out there, but you should be able to stop a good amount of bleeding to stabilize a person. Sure you can improvise bandages, but it is nice to not have to think about things and be creative when everything is crazy. I had a wide gauze roll, a sponge, tape, a triangle bandage, and was glad to use it all. We bootied about 4 nuts, 1 pin, 2 slings, an atc, and could have taken 2 ropes (though one was bleached white). Approach Notes: Road still closed at the Eldorado TH. This adds about 2.75 miles to the Boston Basin approach.
  15. Trip: Valhallas -> Mt. Olympus --> Bailey Range --> High Divide Date: 7/5/2007-7/12/2007 Trip Report: My friend Douglas and I just completed a 77-mile, 8-day traverse through the most rugged and beautiful parts of the Olympic Mountains. We began with a 2-day bushwack up the South Fork of the Hoh River and up the steep ridge just north of Valkyrie Creek, which brought us to a range of peaks to the southwest of Mount Olympus known as the Valhallas. This area is probably only accessed by a couple parties a year. The Valhallas appear like mineature Bugaboos, although the climbing is a bit crumblier (although still plenty fun!). After a day of climbing in the Valhallas (a day of rain – our only day of poor weather the entire trip - prevented more peak-bagging), we traversed over to Olympus via the rarely travelled Hubert Glacier. We crossed over the summit, and headed for Bear Pass at the south end of the Bailey Range. Two days of traversing the Bailey Range brought us to the High Divide. On the eighth day of our adventure we hiked out the North Fork of the Hoh River (on a trail!). I posted some photos and a more detailed description on my climbing webpage: http://sabegg.googlepages.com/valhallas Enjoy! Approach Notes: prepare for a physical challenge!!
  16. Trip: Gunsight Peaks Traverse - "Gunrunner" IV 5.10 Date: 7/11/2007 Trip Report: John Scurlock Photo A long-winded TR from a long, windy climb... The Gunsight range is a N-S trending ridgeline of fantastic granite near the southern end of the Ptarmigan Traverse. With four named summits over 8,000' tall and several intermediate pinnacles, it made the perfect candidate for an early July destination. Dan Hilden (Dannible) and I spent 3 full days climbing up there this week, and completed 2 new routes, plus the second ascent of the E. Face. The first day we were tired from the approach, so we didn't aim for anything too big, but found an exciting climb anyhow. I'll let the pictures tell the story... The route begins in the obvious corner which splits the face. We had to downclimb into the icy moat, so the first pitch is about 15' longer than it looks. The first pitch was splitter fingers/hands and ended at a nice ledge. Dan escapes the moat... The next pitch Dan lead around to the right, then straight up through wild loose overhanging chimneys. Here's looking straight down past my shaking toes: The last pitch was an easy romp to the summit where we found great views of Dome and Sinister. Artsy rope throw photo on the descent After playing in the spotlight of a natural cannonhole, we headed back to camp and sorted gear out for the next day. On July 9th we circled around the range along the Chickamin Glacier to the north end, well past the NE peak. We found some great hand cracks which lead to the ridge crest at its terminus and began the traverse. Wide stemming into a perfect hand crack... From the ridge crest we climbed south on fantastic granite above the Chickamin and Blue Glaciers. N->S allows you to climb the steep North faces and descend the south sides of the peaks. Pitch 2 climbs to the left (East) side of the crest and featuresan amazing 5.8 corner and face crack. The day definitely had more of a "climb" feel than a level traverse, and we'd both fully recomend it if you have a complete day in the area. Along the way we had one single rap from the NE peak and one double rap from the middle peak. The fourth pitch on the route was a well-protected face climb leading to an exposed roof on golden rock. We summited the Northeast peak in 7 or 8 pitches, and the climb to there would be a fun grade III. The last pitch to the NE summit actually began by circling around to the right (West) and climbing a chimney and then through the hole in the back of an enormous roof to the top. From there it was on to the North and Middle summits. The West face, in profile on the right, is still awaiting a FFA. There was one spot while climbing up the the North Peak where we were in a face crack which ended, so we pendulumed to the right to join other features. Apart from this bit of aid, the entire climb was done free, and I think we could have avoided it if we had looked ahead more carefully. By the time we summited our third peak (the middle one) I was feeling dehydrated and exhausted, but Dan found his second wind and led on as the sun set. He lead up to the top of the South Peak as the stars came out in force, and we rappeled down onto the Blue Glacier in the dark. The next morning we went to the East Face of the middle peak to climb the route which Sol (Frosty_the_tradman) and friend did last summer. (By the way, congrats to Sol on getting married last weekend, your route is fantastic too!) We broke up the pitches differently, and belayed on comfy ledges. See their trip report for more details. Above this splitter hand crack step right then up the finger crack and continue up the crack in the R-facing corner, over the lip(crux .10d), and to a big ledge. This elminates the need for a hanging belay and as long as you save one hand-sized cam for the last 15', it should be easy gear-wise, because of changing crack sizes. The second to last pitch features a beautiful delicate slab climbing. This face is in shadow all afternoon, and the sunset topout gets a Blake-and-Dan thumbs up. This was a fun trip and Dan is a great partner and camp chef. It was nice climbing with another young punk for once, as we have a combined age of only 41. [edited to add topo -porter] Gear Notes: Single cams Blue alien, #3 Camalot, #4 Camalot Double cams Green alien - #2 Camalot One set of nuts Crampons, Ice axe Should have brought more pringles... Approach Notes: Agnes Creek via Stehekin 3786-3784-Gunrunnertopo.doc
  17. Trip: Salish Peak & Roan Wall linkup - 17 pitches 5.10+ - Date: 6/20/2007 Trip Report: Yesterday Darin Berdinka and I climbed two new grade III routes near Darrington. The are both recently completed and feature flawless granite in a beautiful spot. We did them in a day 16 hours round trip. Approach using the Squire Creek Trail towards Three Fingers, and the Roan Wall is on your right, easily noticeable from the head of the valley. Ours was probably the 4th ascent of both of the routes, but they deserve lots of visitors. The Roan Wall has a 5.8 bolted pitch, a 5.4 cracks pitch, then a bit of scrambling before 8 more pitches up the steep wall. Mostly small edgy face climbing, although the last 3 pitches have cracks mixed in. Locate bolts on the above bulge to begin climbing. The 5th (crux) pitch involves a leftward move close to the belay The last 3 pitches have fun crack climbing. Then you top out and are a short walk from this: Scramble off the top of the Roan Wall by walking along to the left, then across to the base of Salish Peak. Every pitch is mixed crack and face, with lots of fun exposed moves. The 3 hardest moves are all somewhere in the 5.10 range and you could AO on a draw. Pitch 1 Darin had told me that the face move was 5.11something and I A0ed without trying it out. He freed it on TR and said it was more like .10c The 6th pitch was spectacular face and crack... maybe the best of the route. You can rappel the route in 5 double-rope rappels, using fixed stations. The black webbing/grey mammut runners are ours. From the base of the route, we high-tailed it back to the car in 3:40, because I insisted to Darin that we complete the day wihout headlamps. After all, the solstice is good for something, right? (The trailhead is at the base of the landslide in the distance) Cheers to Chris Greyell for putting up the routes, and to Payless Shoes, whose $20 sneakers passed the test. Also, the gas station in Darrington gives out all its hot food for free after 10pm:hcluv: , so thanks to Darin for putting up with my erratic driving when my hunger-crazed brain payed more attention to Taquitos than turns on the highway. Darin was a great partner even though he originally tried to get me to leave Bellingham at 2:30 AM! This linkup is one of the best rock climbs I've done, it should be high on the to-do list!
  18. Trip: Mt. Robson - Emperor Face, House-Haley (FA) Date: 5/25/2007 Trip Report: Excited by a good forecast, Steve House drove north from Bend on Wednesday afternoon for his 7th attempt on Robson's Emperor Face. Fortunately all of the more talented climbers he approached could not go, so we met up in Seattle and hit the road up to Robson on Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon we flew with Yellowhead Helicopters to the Helmet-Robson col, and left the col at 4:30am on Friday to approach the Emperor Face by descending the ramped ice-fall above the Mist Glacier. We climbed the face in two long lead blocks, both seven pitches long. My block had longer pitches (about 80m on average) and moderate climbing, then Steve's block had normal-length pitches (about 55m on average) and much more difficult climbing. Our route roughly followed the gully system immediately left of the Stump-Logan, but on the last pitch we suddenly encountered 3 fixed pitons. Presumably Stump and Logan finished a little bit to the left of the arete that is shown in most photos. Our route shared at least the last pitch with theirs, and perhaps the last two pitches. I reached Steve's belay at the top of the headwall at 11:30pm, and we spent the short night sitting on a small ledge chopped from the ice. In the morning Steve led two easy mixed pitches up to the crest of the Emperor Ridge, which we then crossed onto the upper SW Face. We traversed across the South Face, me now feeling very sick for some reason (I think a bug that I have had ever since Patagonia), and joined the Wishbone Arete in deteriorating weather. The upper Wishbone Arete included some funky gargoyle climbing, and we topped out in a whiteout at 1:00pm. We descended the Kain Route and then Steve hiked up to retrieve our camp at the Helmet-Robson col while I sat and contemplated vomiting. Our camp-to-camp time was approximately 36 hours. On Sunday we descended the Robson Glacier (sometimes stressfully off route due to the whiteout), and then hiked down to Kinney Lake, leaving the last 7km of walking for Monday morning. I probably won't have time to post pictures until July, unfortunately.
  19. OK folks here it is...the long awaited CC.com photo contest voting. We got a little busy with other stuff (life, work, hospital stays, etc) so sorry it took so long, but here it is. The rules are simple....just like last year you can vote for one photo in each catagory. After 10 days, we'll check out the results and award the winners. Happy voting! The voting ends April 20th at 8pm, and you'll be alble to see the results then. The voting is at the bottom and finalist pictures are below for reference when voting: Catagory: Cragging Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Catagory: Alpine Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Picture 15: Catagory: Scenic Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11: Picture 12: Picture 13: Picture 14: Picture 15: Picture 16: Picture 17: Picture 18: Picture 19: Catagory: Skiing/Boarding Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: There is no picture 8. Any votes for picture 8 will be disregarded. Picture 9: Catagory: Bouldering Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Catagory: Ice Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Catagory: Humor Picture 1: Picture 2: Picture 3: Picture 4: Picture 5: Picture 6: Picture 7: Picture 8: Picture 9: Picture 10: Picture 11:
  20. Trip: Utah Desert Tower Tour - Date: 3/20/2007 Trip Report: My wife Michelle and I just returned from a two week trip climbing desert towers around Moab, Utah. Overall we had a great trip, climbing 11 routes on 10 towers (actually 9 towers and 1 mesa). Our first stop was Arches National Park. We decided to warm up on Off Balanced Rock, North Chimney (5.7). The 100-foot runout on the second pitch was a little unnerving but luckily the chimney was fairly secure. Here's a shot of me taking a picture of Michelle coming up the chimney: On top of Off Balanced Rock: Next stop was the obligatory Owl Rock, Olevsky Route (5.9), definitely a must do tower for anyone visiting Arches. Michelle rapping off: That evening we hiked out to Delicate Arch for the sunset. Next it was time for the Fisher Towers. It rained a little the night we got there, so climbing Ancient Art the next day was out, as climbing dry mud is bad enough. Instead we did the really cool hike through the towers and out to a viewpoint. Later that evening it seemed to dry out enough to give Lizard Rock, Entry Fee (5.9) a go. Leading up: Michelle on top: The next day we headed up to do Ancient Art, The Corkscrew Route (III 5.10d) The route climbs up the central chimney then up the highest point on the left. Following the first bolted crux: The summit has to be one of the top five coolest spots in the world that I have been. We came back down and I decided to give a go at The Cobra (5.11 R). I mean, how much longer is this thing going to be there? I had to get it while I still could. Chalking up under the lip: One more day in the Fisher Towers and we wanted a little bit more, so we climbed the Kingfisher, Colorado Northeast Ridge (IV 5.8 C2). Kingfisher, the route ascends the left side of the tower: This was actually Michelle's favorite route of the whole trip! Not because the climbing was that great - mostly a bolt ladder with a few very C2 mud placements and some good free-mudding. But the overall line, exposure, and summit were fantastic. Looking straight down the Northeast Ridge: Summit views - The Titan, Echo Tower, and Cottontail Tower: Next stop was Castle Valley. We of course had to do the obligatory route on Castleton Tower- the Kor-Ingalls (III, 5.9). Castleton Tower: The route follows the central dihedral: The line is good, but the climbing leaves a bit to be desired. The crux offwidth is only cruxy because they tell you to bring so much god-damned gear up the route and you have to squeeze up the thing with all this crap. In reality you only need a number three Camalot and 4 quickdraws to lead the crux pitch. Anyways, cool summit. Michelle coming up the crux OW/Chimney: The Rectory came with many recommendations, and although it is a mesa and not a tower, it still has a tower feel and is a really cool desert formation. The Rectory is the Mesa in the foreground, the route climbs directly up the facing wall: We climbed Fine Jade on the Rectory (III, 5.11a). The first two pitches are the crux and are both interesting and sustained. The warm up pitch is a steep but short 5.10d hand-OW-hand crux. Michelle following the first pitch: We hiked across the Rectory to watch some climbers on the Honeymoon Chimney of The Priest. Climbers on Fine Jade, The Rectory: Later that afternoon we decided to climb the North Chimney of Castleton Tower (III, 5.9), as many people consider it the better of the two moderate routes. The first pitch was ultimately classic. Two parallel cracks, mostly hand jamming, and interesting moves for an entire 150 feet. The second pitch, however, was mostly junk and I linked all the way to the notch in exactly 200 feet. Michelle following the first pitch: The next mission was Sister Superior, Jah Man (III, 5.10c). Another fine desert route, with a stout but short crux on the 3rd pitch. And one of the finer chimneys in the area - the Sister Squeeze chimney on the 2nd pitch. Sister Superior: Up close: Looking down the 3rd pitch: On the summit looking toward Castleton and the Rectory: And for the final hurrah we took the long drive out and climbed Moses, Primrose Dihedrals (IV, 5.11d). Moses is the tallest tower: The route is everything it's cracked up to be - short but sustained pitches, interesting climbing, and an awesome position. Michelle coming up the 4th pitch: Pitch 5: Summit success: Gear Notes: SuperTopo: Desert Towers - a great guide for these routes. Approach Notes: High clearance 4x4 recommended - even for parking lots.
  21. Me in Yosemite, 1965 FA Smith Rocks, 1995:
  22. Sobo posted a message today that made me realize that I had once joined him for an afternoon of ice climbing when he was up north about 10 years ago. I've climbed with a lot of random people over the years; most of whom I've forgotten and probably wouldn't recognize - however for some reason certain encounters stand out. Climbing with sobo was memorable for 2 reason... We climbed well into the dark and upon topping out on the second climb (Ripple - a classic mellow ice route that forms fat and sticky every year from October - March) I turned around and saw the comet Hale-bop glowing on the horizon above the canyon wall. It was a beautiful sight -- the stars glowing bright and this huge burning comet right in front of me. I think of the comet everytime I climb Ripple (which is at least a few times / season)... and only many occasions I've sat at the belay anchors and described the sight to various climbing partners. The second reason it was memorable was because sobo had a space blanket taped inside his helmet and when I asked him why he told me a long story about a forced bivy on some Cascade wall. I went home and taped my own space blanket inside my helmet and lo and behold a few years later found myself stuck on a route well after dark. It was cold as shit and after we dug a little ledge in the snow I pulled off my helmet and with pride showed my partner the space blanket that was still taped inside. Apart from sobo I've experienced a couple other memorable climbs with random people - including a rather frightening experience where some random guy whom I had never met till that morning (I called a random number posted on a bulletin board) decided to solo an ice route. Half way up his pick broke and he hung on one tool freaking out and screaming obscenities for 15 minutes until he got up the nerve to downclimb to a ledge where he could replace his pick and finish his solo. All the while I was standing at the base mentally preparing myself to watch a guy fall 100' to his death. Random climbing partners are kind of like one night stands... if the climbing or company was good then you'll have a clear recollection. Likewise if the climbing or company really sucked you'll remember the story for years! Any good stories out there about random people you've met and climbed with???
  23. Trip: Snow Cr Wall - N.Dih.Direct-Swing and a Prayer Date: 2/3/2007 Trip Report: Saturday Gary Yngve and I,Wayne Wallace, climbed the thin line left of White Slabs route on Snow Creek Wall. It went in 5 long pitches and was extremely difficult.The route got gradually harder as we went, which helped because we were both O-T-Couch. The intital 2 pitches went up fantastic thin ribbons up ramps and micro gulleys. Though thin,hard,and awkward they entertained us for the fist 120 meters emensly. At times the ice was 4 inches wide, half inch thick!They ended up in a wide curtain that felt very thick though an inch and a half deep.I ran this out 100 feet to reach the stance below the overhanging ice crux pillar. The ice pillar was short but extremely strenuous due to the overhanging angle. After that we entered a Scottish style ice gulley, more fun, though Gary had to relieve himself midway with a S3 bowel flush while following. Pitch 4 went up thin ice in the dihedral until the ice ran out then became very difficult dry tooling in a long sketchy lead. Many times I felt I would fall and die on the runout. Pitch 5 was easier though the deep snow and short hard sequences drained any energy we may have had available. Topping out after 8 hard hours we reveled in the glow of our first climb together. Hats off to Peter for dropping the hint of this climb,and Rat and Caps for exploring to make this an enticing prospect and wonderful testpiece. Thanks< Wayne and Gary Gary will follow with the pics, Cheers and hope to see you at the Mongo/Erden show this Thursday Gear Notes: Screws, pins and cams to 3"
  24. Trip: Mt. Index - Index Peak Traverse Date: 2/2/2007 Trip Report: Mark Bunker and I climbed the Index Peak Traverse yesterday, leaving the car at 4:30am, and returning very worn out at 3:30am this morning. Conditions were generally excellent, and we worth both amazed by how much ice there was all along the traverse. The first pitch on the North Face of the North Peak was almost bare rock, but conditions got consistently more wintery as we went, with the North Face of the Main Peak holding the most snow and rime. On the North Face of the North Peak, we climbed one ice pitch above the bowl, and then traversed right to climb the upper North Rib. There was a second ice pitch above the bowl that looked like very nice WI3, but we didn't take it because we weren't sure where it went. In retrospect, I think it would have been a much better route - more direct and faster climbing. On the North Face of the Middle Peak we climbed a gully system about 50m to the left of the standard summer rib, which had a nice section of WI3 and was I think a much better option for winter. On the North Face of the Main Peak we roughly followed the summer route until the traverse across the gully on the NW Face. Once in the gully we decided to climb directly up it to the summit ridge rather than traverse to the W Ridge as in summer. The descent was straightforward but long and tedious. The chockstone in the gully is completely covered, so no rappels are necessary.
  25. Trip: Cerro Aconcagua (22841 ft / 6962 m) - Polish Glacier direct Date: 1/5/2007 Trip Report: Last year I got the itch to climb a big mountain. Thinking about where to go, last spring I saw Brad Marshall's post here on cc.com looking for teammates for a 2006-2007 expedition. He was offering to do all the logistics planning, from airport-airport. Not knowing Argentina or the mountain at all, I signed up. Brad's trip report is here It was also appealing that this wasn't a guided trip, so after base camp we would be on our own. And it was affordable =). The Polish Glacier direct route looked good, offering some moderate glacier climbing at altitude, with an easy descent route. So, I teamed up with Mark Hinton from Colorado. We had previously met once on a training climb of the Rio Grande Pyramid in Nov. We seemed to get along good, so what the heck? Arriving in Mendoza just before Christmas, I met my 9 teammates: Mark, Brad, Sue, Hakno, Lyle, Rob, Dana, Alan, and Jim. 4 Canadians and 6 Americans. We enjoyed the culture of Argentina while prepping for the climb. Finally, on Dec 26, we started our approach hike up the Vacas Valley: We passed many frustrated people glad to be leaving. They shared stories of high winds & shredded tents, and all were leaving without getting to the summit. My friend Erik later told me this was called "La escoba de dios", or "the broom of God". Luckily this passed before we arrived. The end of the 2nd day, we got our first views of the peak. Looking up some 12000', it was most impressive: Eventually, we turned up the narrow Relinchos Valley and made the last few miles to base camp (called Plaza Argentina), just under 14k: Here began the hard work, and after a rest day we began hauling our gear up the mountain and continued acclimatizing. The route up to camp1 was interesting, and featured multiple sections of penitentes: Finally, we were staged at camp2 and took another rest day. Although we had a small snowstorm (couple inches of snow), our first potential summit day, Jan5, had a good forecast and we were excited. Camp2 offered by far the best views we had seen: By this time, we were getting used to tent life. We used Mark's EV2, which was pretty comfortable for me, considering that I am 6'2": We scouted out the lower glacier the day before our climb: photo courtesy of Mark Hinton Finally, the day had come. After a quick breakfast, we headed out by headlamp around 0430. There were electric storms coating the valleys below us, but it was clear above 20k. By about 10am, clouds started rolling in. Luckily there was little wind, and enough breaks in visibility to occassionally spot our next landmarks for climbing the route: Most of the glacier was snow (of various conditions and quality), and so the going was pretty straighforward. We simul-climbed, placing pickets and moving pretty well. The route steepens as you progress, and the crux was the 2nd rock band. This featured the only ice on the route, and was pretty fun to climb. After this, the only obstacle is the last, steep (>50deg) snowdome to reach the summit plateau. This seemed to go on forever, but finally we topped out. Visibility was poor, so I pulled out my gps. Unfortunately, it said the summit was about 1/3 mile away and 400' higher. Turns out this was a pretty easy hike, and the summit is actually a small hill on the plateau. Amazingly, the deep snow simply disappeared as we climbed the last 200', and from the top the descent trail (normal route) was obvious. We descended back to camp2 in about 3 hours, moving pretty slow (but steady), and crashed hard. The next day another snowstorm moved through and dropped maybe 4" of snow. After a rest day at 19400', we loaded up everything (= heavy packs), and headed back to the comforts of base camp: At base camp, I celebrated my birthday and enjoyed some beer, pizza, and parilla (bbq). I ended up selling my boots, rope, ice screws, runners, and summit pack to some guides who had lost their gear in a mule accident. I got more money than I would've on ebay, and they got a good deal since climbing gear is so expensive in Argentina. Mark and I had been the first from our expedition to summit, so we waited and eventually the rest of the team descended to base camp. All in all, 5 of 10 made the summit. The other 3 climbed the Polish Traverse route that we descended. Unfortunately, 1 of our teammates was earlier flown down from base camp due to being very sick, but by the time we made it to Mendoza he had recovered and gone to Buenos Aires to party. The hike out was scenic but long! We were all pretty excited about showers, wine, and good food. Prior to the 20 hours of travel back to the US, we went wine tasting and enjoyed some of Mendoza's finest: Uno mas, por favor: Looking back, it was a great trip. Mark was a great ropemate. Brad's planning efforts gave everyone a good shot at the summit. Everyone on the team was nice and all provided their own contributions to a fun adventure. Our schedule had great weather overall, and being there over the holidays meant few people on the mountain. I recommend the Polish Glacier direct for those with experience on moderate snow & ice looking to push themselves on a bigger mountain. Gear Notes: ice axe + ice tool, 60m 1/2 rope, pickets, couple ice screws, strong tent, mules Approach Notes: Vacas Valley - Relinchos Valley - Plaza Argentina - Ameghino Col - Polish Glacier
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