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Found 237 results

  1. Climb: Northern Pickets-The "Savage" Traverse (Whatcom -> Ghost) Date of Climb: 6/30/2004 Trip Report: Let me start by warning you of the ridiculously lengthy trip report you are about to (or not) read. If you don't feel like wading through my mental dribble, feel free to skip to the bottom where I'll give a brief summary. If you want the full version, read on, and hopefully enjoy the story! The long story made long: A month or so ago Wayne approached me with an idea for an extended trip up in to the Northern Pickets. We had chatted before, but had never climbed together. Apparently my reputation for doing stupid shit was enough to convince him that I might be interested in little exploration of this amazing area. We both figured that it's good for new partners to do a "trial" climb together, and what better place to do that then the most remote wilderness in the lower 48? After mouth gaping at the awesome pictures from the southern pickets traverse last year, I was sold. I had never been into the Pickets, north or south, and I was about as excited as a 17 year old with dad's car and a box of condoms on prom night. Early last week the weather reports were calling for a rather extended high pressure system and some scattered clouds. It sounded like it was time to make this thing happen. The plan was to enter the Northern Pickets via the Little Beaver Drainage and start traversing from Whatcom Peak and to get as far as we could, exiting via Access Creek and Big Beaver Trail. We headed in with no beta aside from the map. Leaving Tuesday night we arrived at the Ross Lake Resort parking lot and car camped. I reminisced the days of my mom rocking me to sleep as I drifted off to the sweet lullaby of rednecks in big trucks and retirees in RVs struggling to make it up the grade of SR20. After a leisurely packing session and breakfast we made our way down the trail to the Ross Lake Resort boat dock. Despite my veins surging with enthusiasm, I couldn’t quite shake the thought of exactly how much goat ass walking back up this trail was going to suck. Right on time Brett, the friendly neighborhood boat driver showed up to shuttle us off to the glory, sin, exotic women and designer drugs of the Little Beaver Trailhead. Thirty minutes later we arrived at the boat dock, disappointed to find out that the National Park Service lied and, in fact, there would be no drugs, women, sin or glory. Despite my disappointment we headed off on the Little Beaver Trail. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. The sign pointed towards a general area where we just *might* find the trail but wasn’t kind enough to let us know which one of the thirty winding trails would actually take us up the drainage rather than to another campsite, a shitter, or a bear box. I think it was literally thirty minutes before we finally started heading the correct direction. Yes, the Mounties would be proud of our elite navigation and route finding skills. Seventeen and a half miles laid between us and Whatcom Pass. To pass the time Wayne and I discussed the fact that unlike normal approach distances, seventeen and a half miles was so ridiculous that we couldn’t actually comprehend how far it was. Normally you can think to yourself “ok, six miles, that’s just like doing the Colchuck lake approach and then walking around the lake.” I didn’t quite have anything to compare this approach to, so I simply decided to compare it to something that sucked a lot. Turns out, I was pretty much right on. The Little beaver trail is quite overgrown in places and would make a most excellent place to get mauled by a bear as you are pushing through the easy but head high brush. It’s also a really great place to practice your advanced river crossing techniques, which I believe the 8th edition of “Freedom of the Hills” will cover. If I remember, there were a bunch of your standard stone hops, a nice several hundred foot long boots off, near ball soaking wader and finally, my personal favorite, a several hundred foot BW4 schwack to altogether avoid a giant washout created when the mighty rains of October gave the big “fuck off and get out of here” to the Little Beaver Trail. I was feeling altogether great until the last 500 or 1000 vertical feet of the climb to Whatcom pass. It was at that point when all seventeen and a half miles and the last mile of super steep trail hit me all at once. Low on sugar and water I crashed when I hit the first bivy spot a few feet above the pass. Fifteen minutes later Wayne shows up, scaring the hell out of me since I had managed to fall asleep on the ground already. Apparently he hit the same wall and decided forward progress needed to be halted all of a hundred feet below me. A bivy spot was selected, water was collected, food was eaten and bugs were swatted. It was just another day in the mountains. After a leisurely start we made our way up from the pass towards Whatcom Arm. As I said, it was my first time in the area, and I was blown away. The climb up the north ridge of Whatcom is classic, in my opinion. It starts as a beautiful snow ridge, turning into a steepish snow climb and finishing with a short scramble. It is certainly nothing technical or difficult, but a natural line on a great looking mountain in an amazing place. After summiting Whatcom, we made our way down to the Challenger glacier and roped up for the mega-bake oven crossing. The Challenger Glacier, and Mount Challenger itself again blew me away. The brief (and cool!) 5.7 summit finish found us at the top, with me mouth gaping once more. It was here that we got our first link at the insanity that was about to take place – traversing the alpine ridge of the Luna Creek cirque. The cirque certainly looks big on the map, but I think we were both pretty stunned at just *how* big this place was. Crooked Thumb, the next summit on the agenda looked quite a ways away. Getting off Challenger was the first obstacle and that proved to be troublesome enough. This was where we encountered the nastiest climbing of the trip; a scary traverse over some of the loosest and most exposed ground I have seen. The footing was nothing better than god awful, consisting of shattered small rocks and high angle loose dirt. Hand holds were provided by loose rocks on the right, and to the left was your consolation prize for fucking up: a big ass fall. Hours and hours of traversing, rappelling and more traversing got us to the summit of Crooked Thumb peak. It’s hard to explain just *why* the climbing is so difficult, but we think it centers around the fact that there is nothing that actually resembles easy ground on that ridge. Most of it is certainly non technical, consisting of 3rd, 4th or low 5th class, but it makes you always stay on edge. You can’t screw up anywhere. The second issue is that the ridge is just gendarme after gendarme. It’s much more involved than what you can see from a distance, or even lower in the valley. While some of the gendarmes might only be a few feet, it’s simply the fact that there are so damn many of them. More often than not, the choices for getting down were either extremely exposed down climbing or a rappel. At some point just before the summit of Crooked Thumb we hit our first interesting gear issue; we had no more rap webbing. This wasn’t because we didn’t bring enough either. We just found so much ground that had to be rappelled we were burning through webbing like weed at a Jamaican family reunion. It was at this point that we realized exactly how committed we were. There are virtually *no* bail points from this ridge. It drops steeply off both sides the number of rappels to get off in most locations would make bailing impossible. We figured the first legitimate place we could bail would be the Phantom-Fury Col, and that was a long way off at this point. We certainly weren’t thinking we would bail at this point, but the reality of the situation began to enter our mind. The ground between beyond us, particularly up and over Phantom peak looked very time consuming. Given the rate we had traveled all day, which we both believe was quite respectable, it was reasonable to assume it would take another solid day to get over Phantom. Given the fact that we would have to start bailing off slings, gear, etc. at some point, this prospects looked rather grim. Hours of more of the same climbing finally found us over Ghost peak and a few hundred feet below its summit with fog blowing in and the light fading. Wayne and I were both wasted. A full day of mentally tiring climbing, four summits and not enough water had taken their toll. In addition the weather looked like it could definitely go downhill at any point at which point the situation was going to get a hell of a lot more interesting. We decided it would be in our best interest to bivy before we made a tired mistake, so we got to work clearing a small ledge and making the best site we could given the location. We had no snow, so we would have to go without cooking and split the last 20 ounces or so of water we had. With the thoughts of deteriorating weather, a completely isolated and remote setting and the seriousness of the situation, sleep was not easy to come by. At 5:30 we climbed out of our bags to slightly better weather but the presence of plenty of clouds. We knew the weather was a crapshoot at this point. We could get lucky, or we could get rained on. Getting rained on would mean pushing our situation to a whole new level. Moderate ground would become very time consuming and difficult ground way well become impossible. It was time to bail. Several hundred more feet beneath Ghost peak we reached a very narrow and nasty looking snow gully. It didn’t look like a very reasonable bail out option, but I started to consider it. Wayne was about 50 feet ahead of me leading up the other side of the gully when we commented that it was impassable and we’d have to find another way. I reeled him back in and told him I thought we should consider trying the gully. He wasn’t optimistic it would go and, frankly, neither was I. For some reason, however, I held a glimmer of hope and thought we could make it work. The reality was that I thought the option of going up and over Phantom to the Fury-Phantom Col bailout looked even more improbable given the circumstances. With that we decided to give the gully a go. The gully featured the steepest snow down climbing I have ever experienced. It was narrow, unforgiving and frankly quite nerve racking for me. Our one saving grace was that the gully seemed to experience very little rock fall despite looking like a perfect bowling alley. At the bottom of the first snow finger we encountered a crux to get off the snow and onto a rock ledge which we would rap off. The only way to the rock was by down climbing off the side of the snow finger which was literally overhanging, due to melt out from the surround rock. Thankfully the moves were easily accomplished due to our advanced snow/ice tools: a light axe and a ski pole with the basket removed each. A rappel down the rock step and another long section of snow found us at the top of the glacier. The glacier itself proved to be another obstacle despite the fact that we thought we were now home free. No less than two wondrous bergshrunds separated us from easier ground. We first rapped off the only picket we had then were forced to rap twice down a rock wall to get around the second bergschrund, burning a pin and a stopper. The glacier was a fairly broken mess, requiring some weaving and retracing of its own. Getting off the damn thing and onto the moraine was even more excitement as slabby bedrock, much of it running with water, was interspersed with small sections of talus. The key was connecting the talus sections by traversing across low angle or flat sections of slabby bedrock. I believe Beckey mentions this part of the cirque as possibly “impassable” and it’s pretty damn close. The real nerve racking experience of the trip was finally over. It was only physical pain from here on out. We made the climb to Luna Lake where we enjoyed a few hours of sleeping in the sun, a hot lunch, gear drying and endless amounts of water. Luna Lake was a beautiful oasis as far as I am concerned. After our rest we made the climb to Luna Col, which I actually found quite a bit easier than I expected. I think the ability for me to get my mind “off edge” made things seem a lot better. We ran into a party of seven camped at Luna Col, including Wayne’s friend (Marty, I believe?) and our very own Iain. It was cool to put some faces to names. We of coursed laid the whole sappy story on them, hopefully providing some pre-dinner entertainment. We were both dedicated to running up and down Luna since it’s a selected climb and neither one of us had an desire whatsoever to return to the area for a while to climb it. Thankfully it’s a quick summit from Luna Col, especially without packs. As Marty, Iain and crew prepared to make burritos for dinner we quickly departed to find a camp lower in the valley to enjoy some deluxe freeze dried goodness. We ended up making a bivy on a stunningly beautiful knoll overlooking the lower part of the Access Creek drainage. Luna towered impressively above the valley until the clouds came in and obscured it. We then settled in under the ‘mid for some sleep. I, for one, enjoyed one of the best nights of sleep I have had in a while, a sharp contrast to the night before. We awoke with only one goal for the day: make it to the Big Beaver boat landing before 6pm, when our boat was schedule to arrive to take us back to the land of beer, cars and TVs. Of course, before we could think of that, we had Access Creek to attend to. I’ve had several people describe it as “not that bad” so I’m thinking we screwed it up. It was pretty bad. After the events of the past three days, neither one of us were in the mood to schwak, but schwak we did. The sight of the Big Beaver Creek was a welcome one. Of course, the Northern Pickets just don’t like to make anything easy so a ford of the very fast moving creek was required, followed by another twenty to thirty minutes of schwacking to find the actual trail. The trail was a blessed site, at least for a mile or two, before I began to curse the trail just like the ridge, the snowy gully, the glacier, the moraine and the schwak before it. The damn think went on forever. I received some joy from the amazing trees along the trail but I mostly just wanted to see Ross lake and the boat dock. We finally caught sight of the dock after what seemed like a day of walking. In reality we were hiking quite fast given our tired legs simply for the fact that we wanted out ASAP. Jumping into the lake (falling in my case) finished off the trip and was a welcome reward. The Big Beaver dock is quite a busy place, and we enjoyed telling our tales to the various families and couples that came and went. A kind couple gifted us a couple of welcomed beers. Bless their kind hearts! Right on time our ride back to civilization arrived, complete with the beer and chips care package we had left with Brett three days prior. It was good to be going home. Oh, and yes, the walk up the hill really sucked. In summary, the trip kicked ass. In four days we summated five peaks in the Northern Pickets, two of which I am sure hardly ever get climbed. All five were new summits for me, and all but Challenger were new for Wayne. I can hardly call this a failure. More than anything, however, the experience was worth it. The situation was intense and quite nerve racking at times, but we did what we had to do and we did it well. The Northern Pickets, in my opinion, are just brutally amazing. I have been plenty of remote places in the cascades, and plenty of places where travel is difficult, but nothing like the unexplored parts of the Luna Creek cirque. She doesn’t give you anything easy, and that is just the way it should be. The long story made short: Wayne and I traverse the Northern Pickets from Whatcom Peak to Ghost Peak. We entered on the Little Beaver trail and Whatcom Pass and left through Big Beaver, via Access creek and the Luna creek cirque. We got off the ridge and down to the Luna Cirque glaciers via a steep and nasty snow gully. We climbed Luna peak on the way out. Peaks summited were Whatcome, Challenger, Crooked Thumb, Ghost and Luna. Da' Numbers: 43+ miles 17,500+ feet 5 summits 4 sore legs 2 scratched up bodies and god knows how many rappels. Gear Notes: Small alpine rack, a bunch of webbing, a picket, super light bivy gear. One particularly useful piece of gear was a #2 trango ballnut. I felt that the traverse should be more difficult so I dropped this into oblivion shortly before ghost peak. Approach Notes: *The Little Beaver trail is really fucking long and washed out in a bunch of places. It also is quite overgrown (but passable) in many places. *The Big Beaver trail is also really fucking long, esp. when you are tired. *The guys driving the boats for Ross Lake Resort are awesome. *Beer is a wonderful thing.
  2. So, on accident, jja and I climbed the South Face, Center Route on Concord Tower (TR on why we did this will come later). Beckey has limited information, but still calls it 5.7 A3. We encountered some 5.9 climbing, loose shit, and general WA Pass rottenness. Does anyone have any information on if this route has been freed? I would presume that it has, but we were curious. Note: I wouldn't descend this route. A more sure-fire descent would be the South Face, East side route. Thanks Greg_W
  3. I've long been puzzled by the lack of information about the first winter ascent of Mt Olympus. In the Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains (3rd Ed., 1988, p. 220), attempts by Pete Schoening and friends in the late 1940s and early 1950s are mentioned. These attempts are documented in the Mountaineer Annuals (1948, p. 54, and 1959, p. 63). In one attempt, Schoening reached the foot of the summit rocks, only to find them so coated in rime as to be unclimbable given the group's limited equipment. The Climber's Guide mentions the International Geophysical Year (IGY) party led by Ed LaChapelle, which wintered on the Snow Dome in 1957-58. It says they did not climb the main peak of Olympus. The guide concludes: "In all likelihood, Olympus has now been climbed. Unfortunately, there is no record." Well, that's not right. In the March 1965 issue of Summit magazine (p. 18) Richard Springgate writes that on New Year's Day (presumedly 1965) he, with John Norgord, Jan Still and John Wells, all members of the University of Washington Climbing Club, made the first winter ascent of Mt Olympus. They approached on foot via the Hoh River, climbing to the summit from the IGY hut during their fifth day out. How could the authors of the Olympic Climber's Guide have missed this? Is there a later edition of the guidebook where this has been corrected? The 1965 climb may deserve credit as the first winter ascent of Olympus made conventionally from the Hoh Ranger Station. But, in fact, it was not the first winter climb. In a 1997 interview with Stella Degenhardt of the Mountaineers History Committee, Jim Hawkins of the IGY team revealed that he climbed the true summit solo on January 5, 1958, during one of his stints at the research station. We was accompanied by Roger Ross, a U.W. meteorology student who, according to Hawkins, "was not a mountain person at all and would have no part of it." If you know anything more about the history of winter climbing on Mt Olympus, or any reason why the Hawkins and Springgate climbs should not be recognized as pioneering ascents, let me know.
  4. Climb: Summit Chief Mountain-North FAce Date of Climb: 4/18/2004 Trip Report: Dave and I climbed the North Face of Summit Chief Mtn today after hiking into the base of it (via the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie) on Saturday. The conditions were fantastic, and we encountered more actual ice than I have ever before seen on a Cascades alpine-ice route. I think that the route took use about 5.5 hours and then about 2 hours to descend via a couloir on the west side. Joe Catellani, ever generous, clued Dave and I into the face a while back, and mentioned that it was probably unclimbed. Whether it had been climbed or not, it was a fantastic route, very similar in character and difficulty to the 1971 route on the North Face of Dragontail. We chose a line just right of the central rib, but many different routes would be possible on this face - generally harder to the right and easier to the left. Dave had a digital camera, so some pictures should probably surface fairly soon. Gear Notes: We had only 2 ice screws, but wished we had 3-4. The rock is quite compact (although not very loose), so knifeblades were useful. Approach Notes: Bikes, hiking, snowshoeing.
  5. Climb: Mt Buckner-North Face Date of Climb: 2/20/2004 Trip Report: Sky, Corey, and myself left Seattle butt-ass early on Thursday morning with plans to climb and ski the north face of Mt. Buckner. After a brief delay to discuss speed limits on hwy 20 with Trooper Joe, we were on our way up Cascade River Road. We were stopped by a large blowdown just past m.p. 18. One final gear organization, and we set off walking up the bare road. ~1/2 mile later we found continuous snow and were able to start skinning. The trip up the road was uninspiring as the views up to the peaks was obscured by low hanging couds. We left Cascade River Road just past Midas Creek. Skinned through open slopes and timber generally following near the creek until we broke above timberline. Here visibility began to become an issue. Solid white out conditions made the going a little slower than normal. But periodic clearings gave us glimpses of the route up towards the Quien Sabe Glacier. Up and around the moraine, and it was moderate slopes all the way up to near 8,000'. There the clouds broke and the peaks began to appear. Johannesburg, Forbidden, Eldorado, Boston, looking like islands floating in the clouds as the layer began to lower and break apart. We camped at ~8200' below a rock outcropping very close below Boston Peak. The next morning crystal clear skies greeted us and lifted spirits. After a leisurely breakfast and gear packing session we were off. Sky lead up the slopes towards the notch immediately S. of Boston Pk. that we were hoping to use to gain access to the Boston Glacier. Postholling was a pain, but it got worse as we entered the gully and encountered sloping slabby chossy crap covered by powdery, thin snowcover. Crampons were employed and a few tricky moves over a couple of rock steps led us to a steeper snow gully leading right for the notch. Sky was leading up and when he shouted "Holy Shit!, Holy Shit!" I thought that things were either really really good or really really bad. When he yelled again, "It's all good!", all questions were erased. The Boston Glacier reached right up to the notch where we were standing, and rolls endlessly away to the NE. To the E. was Buckner with the NF clearly in view. Man it looked sweet. With little time to enjoy the views we donned skis and enjoyed nearly 1500 v.f. of pure Boston Glacier pow. From our low point we put skins on and began climbing towards the face. And we kept climbing, skinning all the way to just past the bergschrund. There we strapped skis to packs and kick-stepped up the face. Climbing was straightforeward, and moderately steep. Highly enjoyable, with the Boston Glacier rolling away far below. Summited at 2:00, and enjoyed the views to peaks in all directions. The notch where we accessed the glacier looked so far away and our ski tracks down the glacier seemed insignificant on the mass of ice. With little time to linger Sky began the ski descent. He stopped a little ways down to shoot some pics of Corey and myself on the descent. The skiing was simply awesome. Wind buffed, soft, powder down the entire face from the summit. All to quickly we were back at our skin track, and began to climb back up to the notch. At the notch we decided to rappel rather than deal with downclimbing, and although it took a bit longer, provided much more piece of mind. At camp we decided to spend the night rather than ski out in the dark. The next morning was another blue bird day and we packed camp and enjoyed ~3000' of fine buffed out powder before finding crusty conditions lower down in the forest. A quick ski out the road and back to the car. PBR's were cracked and swilled, and the outing came to an end. ~Ross
  6. Climb: The Chopping Block-SE Route Date of Climb: 2/15/2004 Trip Report: I climbed the Chopping Block today after hiking in yesterday via Goodell Creek and The Barrier. The entire Goodell Creek valley (and I would imagine most N Cascade valleys) has plenty of evidence of November's torrential rains. The Goodell Creekbed is about 4 times wider in places, and the landslide that came down the opposite side of the valley is enormous. The SE route was moderate - mostly steep snow with a couple tricky mixed sections. I originally planned to stay up for Monday, but the avalanche hazard seemed to be rapidly growing. I believe this was probably the first winter ascent of The Chopping Block - If you think or know otherwise, please let me know. Gear Notes: -altimeter would've been useful -50m 6mm cord -Camp XLH 130 harness (4.5oz) -DMM Bugette -Snowshoes very useful
  7. On Saturday November 8th JayB and I climbed a 5 pitch mainly ice line on Mt. Shuksan between the Upper Curtis Glacier and the Sulphide Glacier. The route is approximately 200 meters left of Hells Highway. P1: Climb corners and ramps on rock left of the overhanging ice for 60m to access the ice above. 5.?? P2: Traverse right 5m onto the ice and then climb for 60m. WI3+ P3-P4: Climb ice for two 60m pitches. WI2 P5: Climb glacial ice and neve for 60m to top out on the Sulphide. AI2 I have not found any information about this line from talking to people, or from Fred’s guide, or from Alex and Jason’s new ice guide. Does anyone have any information about the line that JayB and I climbed (i.e. name, rating, previous ascents)? If it doesn’t already have a name, I propose calling it “Satan’s Sidewalk.” Satan’s Sidewalk WI3+ 5.?? 250m Notes: - If the bottom pitch comes in it would probably be an awesome WI4 or 5 pitch. - The views from the climb are absolutely beautiful. The whole time you have Mt. Baker behind you and a very crevassed Upper Curtis Glacier below you. Go get it boys. Whack ‘em tools. You want ice; get this before the snow comes. Someone else climb it and tell me what you would rate the first pitch. I haven’t climbed much rock in crampons so I don’t have a feel for the rating. The first pitch was the crux of the route, though. Pictures are posted in the gallery. Picture 1: The Route Picture 2: Traverse Picture 3: Scary belay Picture 4: JayB climbing ice. Picture 5: Another pic of JayB climbing ice. A Trip Report might follow, as there were some good moments like climbing the last pitches in the dark by headlamp and topping out to a beautiful moon and clear sky.
  8. Jordop and I went up to the Vasiliki Ridge last night and today to do a new route. I'd been up before and did Clean Break, and remembered what a shitload of rock was up there. So we headed up with no particular objective, just scope something out and climb it. The best line we saw was to the the left of Never Enough (don't bother), on the East Face below the snowpatch of a spire unnamed and unlisted in the Beckey Guide. The problem with a lot of the crack systems in the Valiski Ridge and Wine Spire/SilverStar area is that the cracks tend to end in nowhere, or start above nowhere if you know what I mean. We were very tempted by many splitters that would require bolts to get to, or bolts to finish so we didn't bother with the E.face of this mtn. We did bother with the East Ridge, however, after a night of drinking, eating spicy thai vomit, a bonfire, UFO gazing, and wildfire spotting. (I must point outt there there was hardly any snow up here, so in a heavy snow year, some cracks may be attainable). Anyway! Feeling rather shitty and lethargic from the night debauchery(sp?) we slogged to the E.Ridge and headed on up. Jordop got the 1st pitch. A super FUN 5.8 open book with cool gymnastic roof moves. A full 60m. Then I got the rope and we simuled anywhere from 4-7 pitches (I don't frigging know?) of belay killer block, awesome jams, cool chimneys, flakes, horns, dirt, and trees up to around 5.8 straight up the crest of the ridge to a very large ledge that winds all the way around to below the rest of the Valisiki spires (Vasilike tower, the Acropolis, and Charon Spire). Once again the cracks were awesome but either ended abruptly, or started way the fuck off the deck. So we walked over to the South Face and finished the route. Jordan got a sweet 10a chimney, to hands, to layback, to double crack stemming. The dude was cool and clean. Da man. My turn..... ...this is where things get hazy... All I know is that I was still screaming at my belay. Jordop can comment on this if he wants. 10d X. The rock turned to unbelievable shit, none of my cams would've held a fall (even the #4 stacked in moss/mung), and it was a leaning offwidth with one foot stemming on verticle gravel. Anyway, we all calmed down a did the final pitch to the top. The top was really quite amazing. The was a plank of rock bridging the gap of about a 1,000" drop, and a huge figging cave outta nowhere, and a tiny ass summit that we had to sling to rap off of. No trace of passage. So we think we went the best way, maybe not the last few pitches, but it would've been desperate anyway but the lame-o semi-walk up, aka, descent route (even more desperate due to the epic gravel slog). We rapped the last few pitches, then traversed sketchy sand ramps toward Burgandy Col, the back down to the base on the loosest talus this side of the Mississippi (3 shoe emptyings). Back at camp we scoped some more, and we agreed that the E.faces had pretty much been tapped out as far as asthetic free climbs are concered. Grap yer aiders and get ready to reach some awesome jam cracks if you got the time on the other faces. Also, THERE ARE A SHIT LOAD*10^10 OF NEW ROUTES, EVEN MOUNTAINS, just waiting to be climbed at the areas of WA pass (even a grade VI). Some big routes right of the fucking road! I won't give em away, but go find em! Oh, what the hell did we climb? It's the obvious buttress just right of the arrow pointing to "The Acropolis" and the left most summit of "Ares Tower" on pp290 Red Fred 2000 edition. Our tower is not on the topo map on pp.292 but would be on a perpendicular line between Ares and Acropolis, as we traversed beneath them on the descent. "Carlos Rossi Memorial Tower" Fist Ascent Jordan Peters, Mike Layton 9/13/2003. III, 5.10d X. Around 10pitches or 1000' I think. Max Blow Factor: 8.0 Avg Blow Factor: 3.0 Quality Rating: 3 shoe emptyings outta 4 Long live Carlos Rossi, damnit.
  9. On July 30th Martin Volken from North Bend and Kurt Buchwald from Snoqualmie completed the ridge crest traverse from Spider-Formidable Col to the summit of Mount Formidable. The ridge is about 2 km long, involves a lot of exposed 4th and easy fifth class climbing and some pitches of 5.6 to 5.7 climbing in the center section. We spent 11 hours moving from the Col to the summit of Formidable and approximately 13 hours from camp to camp. It can be said that the ambiance is of classic North Cascades grandeur and the ridge has a wild and exposed feel in many places. It resembles the Torment-Forbidden traverse in many ways. The rock quality ranges from very good to poor. In most places it is ok. In the many notches along the way one finds deteriorating iron laden rock (hence the notch), and shortly above the notches the rock quality generally improves. When the climbing is "hard", the rock seems reliable. The route features more complicated ups and downs than the T-F traverse, but it is more reasonable to bail off the route in two or three places. All in all the route can be split in three sections. Section one goes from the Spider-Formidable col to a distinct summit that we called the 2-county summit (Chelan and Skagit). Section two goes from the 2-county summit to the first reaches of the Formidable Glacier. Section three goes from the Formidable Glacier to the summit. The second section is certainly the most complex and most time consuming, even though the "hardest climbing" occurs on the first section on the way to the 2 county summit. We could not find any info on previous attempts in the summit register, the Beckey guide, the AAJ or by talking to local cascade climbing veterans. The route seemed virgin in terms of impact. We would like to claim this as a first ascent, but would certainly not want to take undeserved claim. If you have any info, feel free to let us know. We ended up rating the route at Grade 4, 5.7 Here is a basic route description: Reach the Spider-Formidable Col via the Ptarmigan traverse route. From Spider-Formidable col at 7350 feet start moving NW and go around rotten tower on the left into the first notch. Get onto better rock and climb generally near the crest to a big flat and easy ridge. From here climb a blocky ridge on good rock generally staying a bit north of the crest to the top of a first distinct tower. From here rappel into the next notch or down climb on the north side of the ridge. This is a distinct spot. You are at the base of a two pitch headwall that leads up towards the "2 county summit". Climb the 2 pitch headwall at 5.6 - 5.7 slightly north of the ridge. Rock is good. Ambiance is awesome. An easy but exposed block ridge will bring you to the "2 county summit" from there. From here climb over small towers or go around on the south side and gain a horizontal section of walkable terrain but stunning exposure. Continue down on easy terrain to the next notch. (Here is an ideal first bail spot to the south) From here continue up a steep and very narrow tower. Exposure is great and rock is good. Now follows a series of lofty gendarmes that involve steep rappels. Be prepared for slower going and harder bail-outs here. Eventually you will gain the notch that leads to a distinct summit just east of the Formidable Glacier. Here is another bail out opportunity to the south. One can also scoot around this summit on the north and reach a small lobe of the Formidable Glacier quite easily. The crossing of the described summit does not present any new challenges, but the rock is not that good. From the Formidable Glacier col we stayed on the crest. It takes a little longer than the described southern ledges in the Beckey guide, but the scenery is wild and the rock is good... From the summit go back down the ridge a short way and then start descending a distinct couloir heading south. At the bottom of the couloir follow easy 3rd class terrain generally trending left a bit until you reach the upper snow fields. Equipment: Good alpine rock boots (Garmont Tower Gtx, La Sportiva Trango S etc), medium size alpine rack, hard hats, light crampons and ice axe for descent ,bivy gear, maybe a light stove (there is snow on the way). There is a good photo of the ridge in the Beckey guide and there will be a photo summary of the traverse on the Pro Guiding Service website in about a week or so. (proguiding.com)
  10. This past weekend Mark Bunker (Marko), Wayne Wallace (Wayne1112), and I finished off a long standing project of ours. Our goal was to enchain all of the peaks in the Southern Pickets East-to-West (the East ridges are generally steeper than the West ridges). Mark and I made our first attempt last summer, and got to the Terror-Blob col before being thwarted by weather. Wayne and Jens Klubberud made an attempt earlier this summer, and were defeated by weather after making it to the Inspiration-Pyramid col. The first day we hiked in, and climbed Little Mac, East McMillan, and West McMillan, to a bivy at the col between West McMillan and the gendarmes to its West. The second day we climbed Inspiration, Pyramid, Degenhardt, Terror, and the Blob, to a bivy on the West (lower) summit of the Blob. The third day we climbed East Twin Needle, West Twin Needle, the Himmelhorn, the Ottohorn, and the Frenzelspitz, and then descended to a bivy in Crescent Creek Basin. Along the way we also climbed the named but less significant Blip and Dusseldorfspitz. Today we climbed the Chopping Block as a bonus, descended the Barrier, and hiked out. We believe that the East ridges of the Blob, East Twin Needle, and Himmelhorn are all new routes. The Blob went at 5.9 and the East Twin Needle (on which we actually climbed more of a SE rib) at 5.9+. The East ridge of the Himmelhorn comprised the crux of the entire traverse, with a steep, exposed pitch of 5.10+ (bold lead by Wayne the ropegun). We all agree that it is one of the best climbs we have ever done, and highly reccomend it to those seeking a fantastic alpine adventure!
  11. Here is a link to the trip report. Click here for chestbeating. [ 10-21-2002, 01:17 PM: Message edited by: Dru ]
  12. "Back of Beyond Buttress" -North Face/Buttress of Unnamed Peak. First Ascent Sept 14th, 2002. Jordan Peters and Mike Layton. III+ (or D+) 10b. 9p. Apporox 1500' (maybe less). Approach time 1.5 hours. Climbing time 5-9 hours? Descent time 30-40 min. Suggested Rack (not our rack though):small set medium nuts, camsn to 3" plus double or tripples on the hand size cams(red alien to yellow camalot), one 50-60m rope. Tired after a long day at WA pass, I drove to Abbotsford to meet "Jordop" for the 1st time. We were planning on doing the route Dru was hidding in the chehalis range. We saw it and turned it down, and drove to another place to look at another mtn. It looked neat, but far and not so steep. We had one more option that was feasible so we drove into Kookipi creek to look at the mountain Dru was teasing Jordop with. It looked ok, but we turned that one down too. Kookipi creek is a "new" area that just recently opened due to logging. I can't tell you how to get there yet, becuase I don't know myself. Jordop will surely provide us w/driving direction. It is 3 hours from Vancouver, however on a 2wd road out of Boston Bar. My only problem was a flat tire from the previous drive, and I barely got it inflated w/a can of old tire sealant. Anyway, we turned the mtn down after turning our heads to the left. We both nearly shit ourselves. ACross the valley lay an unnamed, unclimbed, and beautiful granite peak! Granite flanks came down on all sides as it swept around a cirque headwall into another higher summit. It's unglaciated north side has a razor ridge coming down (looks like a Mohawk) to an unbelievably steep perfectly clean blank granite headwall slab. I'm talking super clean, and super blank looking. We quickly packed for a 2-day adventure and headed straight down from across the mountain for 300 feet to the river, and straight up open timer w/a couple dense sections (w/wild raspberries and blueberries!) for an hour to a bivy sport. A nice little stream ran along the base of the talus at a high meadow, where we ditched our packs and grabbed our ropes and gear. I need to mention that this is GRIZZLEY bear country and you MUST be careful! Blinded by the magnificance of this north buttress, I kept my head down (to keep the puke in) and charged up the talus to the base of a 4-500" near vertical apron of perfect, flawless granite. When I looked up, my heart sank. It was almost blank. Almost. On the very left hand of the wall were 4 thin crack that ran parallel up the entirety of the face. They seemed to peter out just as one started up again, but there looked to be a few scary blank sections. We started up! Jordan took the first pitch. The first part was a fist size perfect splitter of lengandary beauty. Then awesome moves over a small roof to a PERFECT handcrack. I cheered him on as he struggled and sweated up this imposing crack. Off belay! Shit, I guess I had to do the next pitch. I followed up and couldn't believe this crack. Perfect! Amazing! I was laughing while climbing. Damn nice lead! My turn. The crack continued straight out of the belay but looked like it ended. The crack to the left looked like it started thin and continued higher where the belay crack ended. Okay, so I travered over 15' w/no pro nearly shitting my self to the crack and it bottomed out and turned into a seam, so I travered back to the belay already pumped and scared. I was excited to continue up the original crack becuase it look like something right out of a 4 star squamish pitch. It was! It was soooo sweeet and fuckin' hard. It petered out and I did a traverse left to another crack and belay Jordan over. He seemed equally impressed and was pretty pumped (especially after one section). He lead up another perfect perfect hand crack that lead straight up until he too ran out of gear (why I belayed there). My turn again, another perfect crack, to a traverse right to another crack that got kinda weird at the very end, right unde a huge undercling block. Luckily it was only 10 or 20' of not perfect, but pretty good rock to the top of what were are calling the "Endurance Slab" since I wanted to name the climb the Endurance Buttreess, but that seemed a bit much for the whole climb. Anyway it was 4 pitches of absolutely amazing 10b climbing on every pitch. It could be done in 3 pitches, but you'd need a lot more pieces and have to be really good. The exposure is unbelievable, I was petrified on my hanging belays, and while leading. IT's just straight down 400 or more feet! Gulp! We topped out on the Endurance Slab and were now on the main ridge crest. I looked like it was gonna be easy going on low fifth to the summit, but we thought wrong! It turned out to be challenging and tons of fun. Lots of little 10-40' cruxes. Jordop will post a topo and I suggest you follow our line. We did a lot of scoping around and this should be the best way to go. Jordan's fist pitch on the ridge was an super-awesome 5.7 groove jam to a 5.9 corner on totally solid granite (n.ridge of stuart solid). My pitch was some fun moves to a 20-30 foot 10b corner that was soooo hard! No feet for every other move. It may be harder if it was any longer. I continued pulling a fun and easy roof block (I almost tunneled under it!). The next pitches got easier and easier on super solid rock. Near the top the rock was still very solid, but loose rock was on some ledges. The 2nd to last pitch sported a wide, vertical crack easily avioded on the left. We thought it sporting to do it anyways, and I totally flailed up it. 10c/d, but contrived and not part of the route. It took us 9 pitches to get to the unclimbed summit. We made a cairn and enjoyed to view of unclimbed peaks and walls an few hours drive from Vancouver. And as if we didn't have all the luck that day, the desent only took 30 minutes to the bivy site. Walk down from the summit towards the car, make a right into a grove of trees, and walk down a low angle talus gully. You'll see it going up. Very easy and no routefinding. We packed up our useless packs full of food and camping gear and got back to the car. The hike out is very quick, and the slog uphill at the end is much easier than say, the one at the Wine Spires at WA pass. What a fantastic route, day, and a partner! This route has the makings of a classic, and it's easily done car to car (or house to house) from Vancouver or Bellingham. I'm sure Jordop will post our topo and photos once we get them developed and you'll understand that I'm not overexaggerating just b/c we were the ones who did it that this route really is this good. One more thing. Should we write to the CAJ and how, and same goes for McLane if he updates his guide? Can we name the peak? If not, is it unethical to give it an un-official name? [ 09-15-2002, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: michael_layton ]
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