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Found 246 results

  1. Location: Cape Horn Columbia Gorge. Take Cape Horn road, off Hwy 14, to the end (gate). Continue walking down the road (this is a private drive way) to the rail line. Follow the rail line west, down stream, (this is BNSF private property). Approximately 100 yards short of the rail tunnel, the climb can be found on a cliff band 50 yards up and above the rail. Route: 50m WI4 The first 10 meters lays back a bit, then sustained WI4 to the top. The ice ends in frozen brush. 5 meters through the brush to a rap tree. The water weeps out of the tree line above the cliff and is not associated with a major drainage. This climb was repeated today by Yeman, Andreu, Tohper and Jeff. The name Wind Walker seemed appropriate given the 60mph wind gusts we were climbing in. The Gorge ice right now is in better shape than most people can remember. Yeman and I also climbed Nancy's Run today, in awesome shape. Tomorrow may its last day. Peter
  2. Trip: Mt Stuart - FA: King Kong - Gorillas in the Mist Direct Direct Date: 9/9/2016 Trip Report: On September 9th I completed a long-term project on the West Face Wall of Mt Stuart: King Kong, AKA Gorillas in the Mist Direct Direct AKA The Joe Puryear Memorial Route - 11d, 900ft. It took multiple attempts over many years and is my most meaningful first ascent to date. This climb was a tribute to fallen alpinist Joe Puryear who died in Tibet in 2010. A lengthy trip report can be found on my blog which recounts not only this ascent but the first ascents of Gorillas in The Mist, Gorillas Direct, and my many failures/attempts in between: Sol Wertkin Blog
  3. First Ascent of Epiphany (10 pitches, 5.8) and Revelation Peak, Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie. <<< WARNING: Despite the moderate grade, this is a serious route. Expect to find loose rock, challenging route finding, runout slab climbing, unfriendly shrubbery, and questionable protection. If those don't deter you read on and be sure to bring gloves for the approach and descent. Your hands will thank you. Also, when descending off the peak don't go too far North. Backtrack toward the top of the climbing and rap steep SE-facing slabs. I'd suggest thrashing down the forest just right (East) of the major gully that heads NE. You'll inevitable be doing some rappelling through shrubbery and forest, but it's not dangerous. We think you're more likely to encounter loose rock or possible dead ends in the gully. You'll eventually intersect a NNW-SSE gully that provides easy rock hopping back to the trail. Maybe you can find a better direct finish or a better route off the peak. Be safe. Have a grand adventure! >>> On Sunday, 8/28/2016, Kurt Hicks and I (Rad Roberts) climbed a new route (Epiphany) on what we believe is an unclimbed peak (now dubbed Revelation) West of the Pulpit. This is about 2 miles south of Garfield Peak, a few miles north of Mailbox Peak, and a mile north of the Pratt River. Our line was ground-up, on-sight, bolt-less, and all-free, involving 10 pitches of climbing up to 5.8 and several hundred feet of simul-climbing and roped scrambling over 1300 vertical feet. Grade III. Old growth forest, a pristine alpine cirque, a large cliff, and an unclimbed summit make for a great setting. Climbers comfortable with off-trail navigation, sub-alpine scrambling, and runout climbing up to 5.7 would enjoy this route. Most pitches are 5.fun with just a few crux moves. A few well-placed bolts would make this a more user-friendly outing and allow one to stick to the cleanest rock rather than wander around looking for gear placements. This peak was added to the Alpine Wilderness in 2014, so bolting would need to be done by hand. ......... When I was eight, my friends and I explored the forests of suburban New Jersey, climbed trees and rocks, caught critters in creeks, and generally roamed free until it started to get dark and we had to head home for dinner. The excitement of finding new climbing trees, fishing holes, or hidden corners of the forest was incredibly energizing. I've gotten bigger and older since those days, but my passion for wilderness exploration still burns bright. Technology has changed the game. Poking around the internet one night this summer, I found a cliff near the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River that basic research suggested was large, clean, granitic, and unclimbed. On a sultry summer evening, I headed out to get a closer look. My initial approach involved a heinous section of prickly devils club and a tangle of rotting trees. This is par for the course in sub-alpineering, and I was prepared with gloves and long pants. I made it over to a tongue of old growth trees, swam through some alder, and reached a giant talus field in a sublime cirque below an immense granite cliff. The rock was so hot you could have cooked eggs on it. I sat under a tree, soaking in the silence, and spotted the obvious place to start: a hand crack in a giant, clean dihedral. I could only see the first 60 meters or so, but satellite images suggested this would lead to a clean slab below a maze of towers and ramps that guarded the summit. It looked like a worthy adventure. On my way back down to the trail, I found a much better approach line, with only 100 feet of bush whacking. I marked the line on my GPS, left a few cairns, and hiked back to the trailhead in the dark. Before driving home, I dipped in the cool Middle Fork river. I was so excited about going back I couldn't sleep, my mind going over and over how we might climb this sleeping giant. The next day, I pitched the adventure to Kurt with a few choice images and the lure of a grand adventure on a big unclimbed wall. Like any good sand bagger, I downplayed the potential for scary runouts, dense and prickly vegetation, and hazards on the unknown descent. Kurt has enough experience to know when he's being hoodwinked, but he still agreed to join me. We've climbed and explored together in research for his I90 corridor guide, which will hopefully be out next year, but this would be our first new route together. Climbing with Kurt is like hitting the EASY button. He is an AMGA-certified guide with many years of experience guiding clients in the Cascades. He quickly dances up all kinds of mountain terrain, keeps ropes neat and tangle-free, and rigs rappels and anchors in seconds. Plus, he has great hair. We left the Middle Fork trailhead at a very civilized 6:15 AM just two days after my recon mission. 45 minutes later, we left the trail on a faint path, dived into the undergrowth at the appointed spot, and were ascending among old growth trees just a few minutes later. We managed to avoid the slide alder, crossed cleanly to the upper talus, and soon found ourselves at the base of the route. Easy. I started up the first pitch dihedral a little after 8 AM. The rock was polished and clean with a few moves of damp 5.8 hand jamming at the crux. I stopped around 30 meters because our larger gear, which I'd already placed, would be needed for the next section. Kurt fired off some nice clean 5.8 moves early in the second pitch and cruised up easier ground on clean rock with sparse protection, a theme that would repeat for much of the line. I climbed up to a slightly steeper section and cruised off right, lured by splitter hand cracks that promised some protection. It turned out these "cracks" were under, behind, or alongside blocks or flakes that seemed poised to pitch off the wall if a cam or climber's hand pulled hard on them. So I slung some shrubbery, went back onto the main slab, and continued to a crack with a few good cam placements. Kurt lead a lovely low angle slab for a pitch and I led another nice pitch with great rock, aiming for a small tree on the left of the giant granite bowl. This slab climbing was mostly 5.fun but required attention due to the sparse protection. Right near the end of the rope I found two of the best cracks of the day for the anchor. After two more slab pitches we were at the base of several steep rock ribs separated by deep, dark clefts. We followed clean rock for two more pitches up and right toward a treed ramp I'd spotted on satellite images. At the right end of the ramp, we swam through dense, short trees a hundred feet right to a break in the cliff. It looked possible to climb a steep step to the next tier. But when I climbed up to try, I found the one inch tree I planned to sling for protection had roots behind a block that moved immediately, and there were no cracks nearby. No good. I backed down and moved right toward another steep section of cliff. To get there, I had to step out onto a giant detached block on a sloping ledge with a crack behind it. I was careful not to dislodge the beast with my foot or place gear behind it. But the rock band above it was harder than it had appeared from below. It would involve a strenuous vertical lie-back on a rounded licheny edge with a one inch tree in pine needles for protection. There was no obvious protection above, and the moves would not easily be reversed if it turned out to be a dead end, so I backed off again, unwilling to risk a dangerous fall. So we moved another 50 feet right where the vegetation ended in a drop off below a wide vertical arete. There, we found a 30 foot feature with fun, airy 5.8ish moves with a nearby tree for protection and stemming. It was a nice rock rib in a great position. Kurt then scrambled right and climbed an exposed ramp to easier ground. We simul-climbed and scrambled about 200 vertical feet to the crest, moved right to bypass an imposing tower, and continued up toward the top. The final section was a narrow rock rib split by a lovely crack in a truly outstanding setting. And then we were on the summit. There were no cairns or other evidence of prior human passage. Any route other than ours to the summit would involve technical terrain and significant bushwhacking. These factors, combined with the absence of signs of prior human passage encountered on our ascent or descent, make us think this peak had not been previously climbed. For curious peak baggers, the topo shows the summit just under 3900 feet. The saddle with the Pulpit Peak to the East is at 3540, for a prominence of about 350 feet. We may never know whether we were the first or not, and perhaps it doesn't matter, but that perception enriched our experience. We soaked in the late afternoon light for a few minutes before rappelling down steep, clean granite on the Northeast side of the peak, aiming for a gully on the North side of the peak I had seen on my recon mission. Three double rope rappels and a single rope rappel put us down in the target gully. We followed it until it seemed prudent to move into the forested rib to the right. It turned out this was a bad idea. The brush was fairly dense, the woods were pretty steep, and we had to cross several stands of dense Devil's Club over our heads. At this point, I should mention that the gloves I'd loaned Kurt had large holes that exposed his bare fingertips. He ended up spending the next few days pulling tiny spines from his swollen digits. Sorry, Kurt. My gloves were quite new, but the spines still found unprotected flesh to prick. Sub-alpineering at its finest. Down, down, down we went. Eventually it got dark enough that we had to turn on our lights. We did three short raps off trees over drops too steep to safely downclimb. Finally, we arrived in the creek bed I'd ascended two nights earlier. This boulder-strewn drainage was easy to descend, and we soon made it to the trail and hiked back to the trailhead. The night was capped with a cold beer and a cool dip in the Middle Fork around 10 PM. In a world that seems to tug us in a dozen digital directions at once, it is a great luxury to find focus leading rock pitches and have long uninterrupted conversations on the trail. We felt grateful to have shared an amazing first ascent to a virgin summit less than an hour from Seattle. The climbing was quite moderate, the rock quality was good to excellent, and the position and summit were outstanding. Climbers aspiring to repeat this line should understand that there is a fair amount of loose rock to avoid in places, protection is sparse and sometimes tricky to place, and the descent is non-trivial. We have ideas for a better descent and may return to hand-drill a few bolts that would allow climbers to stay on the cleanest rock and mitigate runouts. Message me for suggestions and for help finding the painless approach line. Epiphany and Revelation are part of the 2014 expansion of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, so please tread lightly. Anyone who has climbed Infinite Bliss on Garfield, which is about a mile or so to the North, knows the rock changes from clean granite down low to shattered rock up high. That never happened on Epiphany/Revelation. The climbing may look rather scrappy in photos, and I won't suggest it's perfect, but we were continually surprised at how solid the rock was and how much fun the climbing was. I loved the days of my youth in the forests of central New Jersey, but my body, spirit, and aspirations outgrew those woods. I am very, very grateful to have a host of majestic wilderness adventures hiding in the mountains of our backyard. Revelation Peak from the MF road. Note the lower 3 pitches are obscured by foreground trees. Approach via Pratt River Trail. 2.2. miles. Ascend x-country to the start. Our descent back to the trail. It might be better to rappel back down the Southwest Face. MF forest on my Friday recon The lower cirque in the afternoon sun. MF SnoQ in the background. The cliff. When you enter the forest you're aiming for a giant fallen cedar log. Follow this to a second and then up into open forest. Passing a large cedar in open forest. This approach is about as friendly as sub-alpine x-country travel gets. Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Pitch 2 Pitch 2 Looking back down pitch 3. Starting up pitch 4. Looking back on the start of pitch 5. Later in pitch 5. Looking back from the top of pitch 5. Better two lobes than none? Looking up pitch 6 Pitch 7 (8 for us as we went to the left to look at those deep clefts) Finish pitch 7 at a tree belay reminiscent of the one at the base of the Split Pillar on the Grand Wall at Squamish. Looking down the large slab from the middle of pitch 7. Pitches 7 and 8 from a vantage to the left of the line. The tree upper center is the belay. The traverse pitch 8. End of the traverse pitch 8. The top of pitch 9, the arete by the tree, with some wild towers in the background. Steep scrambling above pitch 10. Scrambling above pitch 10. We bypassed this tower by heading down and right on the NE side of it, traversing, and then ascending again. The final rock rib to the summit. So how do we get off this thing? The second double rappel. Third double rappel. It's not sub-alpineering unless you are rappelling through dense shrubbery in dark. Actually, we now believe this can be avoided.
  4. On Sept. 14, Chris Mutzel and I climbed a ~1,000' new route on the NNE-facing arete of Fallen Angel: Act like you're having fun III 5.10+. (John Roper, who climbed the peak from the S side decades ago, has an area-appropriate name for this striking feature: the "Grim Reaper Arete".) After a 100' or so of soloing, we climbed a total of 8 roped pitches to the summit. The pitches went 5.6, 4th, mid-5th, 5.8+, 5.10+, 5.10, mid-5th, and 5.9 (although there might be a mid-5th alternative for the last traversing pitch). Big-picture photos from John Scurlock and John Roper, respectively, below. In Scurlock's, the line drops towards the viewer (along the clean arete), and then winds a bit through the ledges to the left; in Roper's, the line initially drops down the right skyline, and ultimately foots to the left of the tree in the foreground. Approach notes: I took a gamble and lost on this one. Looking at satellite imagery, I had hoped we'd be able to approach from the north by tying into some suspected old-ish growth timber (there was some) on the climb up from the W fork of Newhalem Cr to the basin below our objective. If it worked, it would cut off a lot of distance and 1000s of v.f. vs the S-side approach from the Monogram Lk / Lookout Mtn trailhead. While we did quite well from the car at Newhalem Cr to the final climb from its W fork to the basin, above that we encountered just about every terrain obstacle the subalpine Cascades have to offer--somewhere high up on the BW scale, perhaps even establishing "New Wave" Bushwhack Ratings. A physical, but not mental, respite was offered by a sustained stretch of moss-coated 4th class frog-chimney that got us through the lower cliff bands: (I'm advancing my "little buddy" walking/bashing stick ahead of me.) Bottom line: approach from the south and enjoy a longer but scenic alpine tramp, unless you want to embrace the aforementioned travel and route-finding challenges. (I’ll buy good six-packs for anyone that repeats our approach and reports back with an optimal way up to that basin.) The climb itself was great. The rock, even the junky-looking first pitch, was quite solid and clean, requiring only sporadic, expected alpine gardening. The harder technical climbing, all ~3 pitches of it, was high quality, fun climbing on bright gneiss. Some was downright Index-like. We swapped leads, with Chris drawing the crux 5.10+ pitch 5--spectacular--which traveled near and then on the edge of the arete. On this pitch he expertly avoided a belayer-slayer that I inadvertently trundled while following, which marred our otherwise pure ascent as I weighted the rope to avoid a crushed foot. A reminder that you can't afford to lose focus for a second out here. Chris climbing the crux: Me following the crux: My 5.10 pitch 6 was more like a 15' boulder problem followed by scrambling on the arete's crest. Then we had two more pitches of rambling peppered with boulder moves over a sub-summit and the summit. We didn't find a reported register, but probably just overlooked it. Summit views from this western outpost of the N-Central Cascades were unique. Descent: from just W of the summit, we used a single 70m rope to make 4 rappels (all slung horns) down the South face; first directly down a rib, then angling skier's left to alight on an exposed ramp that you can down-climb E, which is where you need to go anyway to gain a notch that gets you back to the basin. (Unless you approach from / camp on the S of the peak, which I recommended above.) We were back at the bivy by 4pm, drinking big cans of beer. Given the complexity of the return route to the car, we decided to spend another night at comfortable bivy rather than risking the descent in fading light or night. Despite the extra workload imposed by my approach mistake, we had a blast (particularly on the rock) and recommend this route. Origin of the route name: C is relentlessly ebullient, so high on the climb it felt appropriate to yell the eventual route name before snapping a photo--this provided both a good belly laugh, and a mantra for the long 'shwhack back to the car. There are a few more photos in the gallery. And over here are even more photos, and a phone video Chris took of me trundling and muttering "explosion". Gear notes: Medium rack; tri-cams were money, brought pins but didn't use them. Compact ice tool useful for the occasional gardening. We didn't bring crampons, but you would want them earlier in the season, or when sensibly approaching from the south.
  5. On August 13 and 14, Rolf Larson and I -- henceforth little and big jackass respectively -- pioneered a line on the North Face of South Hozomeen (properly: Hozomeen Mountain, South Peak). If you've seen it, you know this thing is intimidating and steep. (By some objective measures, this peak is one of the steepest in the lower 48, and "... the South Peak ... has the steepest North Face of any peak in the Northwest.") We'd gawked at it from N Hozomeen three years ago, speculating that a massive, slanting dihedral feature might be the only feasible route for mortal climbers. Turns out it was feasible, just. Our line begins directly beneath the overhanging summit, travels more or less straight up to gain what we've dubbed (in respectful honor of Fred) the feature, and then primarily grinds up the right-hand facet of the giant corner to reach the summit ridge a couple/few pitches from the summit. ( BTW, big props to Beckey bros and crew, who summitted this beast in 1947 via the SW route. Inspiring. A movie honoring Fred worth sponsoring, if you somehow missed it: ) North Face, IV+, 5.9. 13 pitches to the W ridge, plus a short pitch to join the top of the SW route and then take in its crux pitch. We shiver-bivvied on a sloping ledge 11 pitches up, perched on the exposed right margin of the dihedral, a couple thousand feet above the basin--pretty cool. As far as we know, no other route has been established on this face. The pitches went 5.8, 5.8, 5.8, 4th, 4th, 4th (80+m, some simul-climbing), 5.7, 5.7, 5.8, 5.8, 5.8, 5.9, and 5.7. The last half+ (7 pitches) followed the Pissburger Dihedral. Then an easy pitch on the crest, and the "5.6" final pitch of the standard SW route. [Apologies for so many words and so few photos--album link below. Google recently shut down Picasa, with which it was easy to re-size and embed photos--the new product lacks functionality, and I lack time for extensive photo shenanigans.] This photo courtesy of Jason Griffith; belays marked w/ circles: For context, here's a shot of both Hozos taken from SE Mox Peak a few weeks ago. S Hozomeen is on the right, its north face is in shadow: https://goo.gl/photos/LpzJ1EdPNKHfLpDr5 And a shot of little jackass climbing high on the route (p. 11): https://goo.gl/photos/3ooZbpTG3An1Faah6 Should note that the moderate technical difficulty ratings belie the comprehensive difficulty of the route; this is not straightforward climbing, and careful route-finding and hold selection is mandatory. Some of our 60m 'moderate' leads took well over 1.5 hours! As mentioned above, the first three pitches go straight up to an easy ledge system that then yields the long dihedral. These first three pitches were quite solid and a lot of fun; a recommended crag with easy access . But the corner ... In an effort to give you a flavor for climbing the Pissburger Dihedral, here's a too-common scenario: launch from the belay, hope to protect it soon, find a crack behind a meager flake maybe 15-20' up. Maybe you put in an appropriate-looking nut, but a yank pulls right through as the flake expands. You slot in a crappy cam with a 1 in 50 chance of catching a leader fall, though if you whip it might slow you down, so you leave that mostly ornamental gear hanging there and hope for more soon. You wend, hem and haw to and fro and yonder, tapping and kicking holds to test. Up and right, back down; up and left, decide right is better; then up and right again. A number of deliberate, committing moves and 30-40 more perspiring feet above the ornament, you spy a small patch of vegetation in a faint corner. Out comes the compact ice tool. Scrape, scrape, scrape at this scratch card hoping to reveal a prize, only to find a shallow, flaring "crack"; try a nut, a sideways nut even - nope - maybe the tricam trick that 'worked' earlier will go here - nuh-uh. Poop your pants a little. Search the horizon for anything. Resolve to continue, ensuring you can reverse the moves. Higher still another ornamental piece gives you the false confidence to continue ... ok, so it's pretty much soloing. The 5.9 crux pitch (p. 12) above where we spent the night was stimulating in this manner too, and magnified thanks to the way it traverses above some large overlaps/roofs (and well above a tiny tri-cam). Overall, we can't really recommend the route. Had hoped the giant dihedral would hold a nice crack system. It had a crack, but for the most part it was comprised of very rotten and decomposing rock, or filled with copious humus. Not appealing; on one of my leads I ventured to the corner only to be rebuffed in horrific fashion by the rock peeling away at the slightest touch. So we were forced to find our way up the right-hand facet of the corner via sparsely-protected face climbing. Only near the top did some splitter briefly reveal itself. Squamish. The album for our trip, in not-so-great Google Photos (click on "i" to see captions): https://goo.gl/photos/SmEcZZ2r9BhFy3ZTA And the photo linked below courtesy of - who else - John Scurlock; shows an oblique view from the east, and our line rises to the first bench/notch to the right of the summit. https://goo.gl/photos/Z25Bs4QdRM7z2Tnq9 Thanks to little jackass, we onsighted the descent of the standard SW route, which felt long, exposed, and tedious, especially after a sleepless night and many hours of hyper-vigilance. My impish spouse tried (with some success) to implant this earworm as we departed in the evening: ... so every once in a while the cheeky, existential lyrics would humorously rebound in the Pissburger. A rewarding trip, with many fun/funny moments, and a fair bit of suffering; the whole package arouses that fight or flight instinct. Feel fortunate to have solved (and survived) this problem. Gear notes: We brought a large rack to 4", doubles to 2", large set of nuts, and definitely bring tri-cams through hand-size; used the small black tri-cam more this trip than I have in all previous combined. We had pins and used two to augment our shiver-bivy anchor. Did not bring a bolt kit but wished we had. Double ropes. Compact tool, but no crampons required.
  6. Trip: Twin Sisters Range - Little Sister - North Face - 5.4 3p (FA) Date: 7/24/2016 Trip Report: Last weekend, Lisa and I went into the Twin Sisters range to check out the area. It was our first time there and we were inspired by recent beautiful photos from the area and the mention of many moderate routes in the new guidebook. On Saturday, the weather was much worse than predicted and we arrived at camp near Green Creek soaked from bushwhacking through underbrush. After looking up at the hills around us covered in clouds, we decided to set up camp. As the afternoon wore on, the weather improved a bit and we climbed Green Creek Arete. This route has some fun pitches towards the top, but is a lot of work to descend back down. It would make much more sense to climb this route and then continue on the north side of the ridge to climb the South Twin as part of a traverse of the range or something, rather than descending back down to Green Creek. Starting the descent: For Sunday, we wanted to head up the glacier and go climb something up there. To get up the glacier, you don't just go straight up the drainage to the base of the glacier, as there are cliff bands there that would make ascending difficult. Instead, we scrambled up slabs to the left and then traversed onto the glacier fairly high up: The views of Baker in this area are gorgeous: Up on the glacier, we ran into Darin and his partner, who were off exploring some unnamed peak in the area. At this point, we were still deciding which line we were gonna climb. Darin pointed out some lines on the N/NE side of the Little Sister that as far as we knew, had not been climbed and looked to have some good rock. So Lisa and I figured we'd check it out. We ended up climbing approximately this line, which as far as I can tell is likely a first ascent: It consisted of three pitches of climbing up to 5.4 in difficulty. The rock was remarkably solid with remarkably little loose rock strewn on the route for something that hadn't been climbed. There are many possible variations on this route on both the right and left. P1 (5.4, 40m): Start on the slabs just left of the top of the snow finger on the N face. These slabs are criss-crossed with cracks everywhere and can take all kinds of pro. One could follow the slabs further left to the Arete, but I wanted a bit of more vertical climbing. I found this by going straight up to where the slab hits a bit of a headwall. The headwall was very blocky, and while vertical, was probably only about 5.4. After the few moves up that, there was a few more slabby moves until I reached a belay just below another steep section. Looking back from near start of P1: Coming up on the headwall, with some easy blocky moves just left of center: P2 (5.4, 40m): This pitch started up another steep bit (5.4) through a bit of offwidth/chimney-type terrain, then you go up a big easy corner and then eases off into some lower angle slabs and scrambling up and right to reach a nice belay ledge. Looking down from P2: Higher on P2: Belay ledge with a view: P3 (5.0, 70m): From the belay ledge, scramble/climb straight up slabs to the summit, probably mostly 3rd/4th class but the exposure made it feel like some 5.0 climbing. From the belay ledge, our 60m rope did not reach the rap anchors near the summit and we simuled for ~10m. Looking up at P3 towards the summit: Lisa following up P3: Descent: We rappelled from the slung anchors at the summit back down the N Face. After that 1 30m rappel, we scrambled down a bit of a corner system to the ledge where P2 started. From there, we scrambled down skier's left and traversed across a deep gully onto the NW ridge. We did another 30m rappel here from a horn we slung and that brought us down close to the snow. Nice views at the top: Gear Notes: We had a single rack 0.3-2 and it was plenty. The glacier is mostly low angle and could be done without crampons/axes if the snow is not too firm, though we had both and found them helpful. The last bit of snow up the snow finger to the base of our route on the Little Sister was steep enough that I definitely wanted an axe, but this could potentially be bypassed by getting onto the rock lower. Approach Notes: Here's our approach track: The crossing near the cars is on some narrow logs lashed together with thin cords by climbers: The climber's trail after the Elbow Lake turnoff is copiously marked with blue ribbons and reflective blue diamond markers on trees. It's probably the best marked climber's path I've ever seen anywhere, someone put a lot of work into it. However, the last section just before you get to the Green Creek crossing is still quite overgrown and a bit scwhacky. This might improve over time as the area seems to be getting more popular (we saw 2 other parties in there).
  7. Trip: Dragontail Peak - Direct North Buttress "Iceline Bling" WI5+ M4 (FA) Date: 4/3/2016 Trip Report: Climbers: Priti Wright-led 1st pitch (WI4) Jeff Wright-led 2nd pitch (WI4) (scribe/photos) Craig Pope-led crux 4th pitch (WI5+ M4) (photos) Went up to Dragontail Peak looking for some new ice! Camped at Colchuck Lake and got the bino's out. We spotted a nice-looking line just climber's left of Dragontail's toe. Ended up being 5 pitches (most were 60m) with 2 sustained pitches of WI4 and one thin crux pitch of WI5+ M4. After the crux pitch, easy snow leads to the first couloir of Triple Couloirs just below The Runnels. Super fun route! We've done lots of research and found no evidence that this line has been climbed. If anybody *knows* that this line has in fact been climbed before, please *respectfully* leave a note (with evidence, if possible), and we will definitely correct this TR. Thanks! Priti leading up the first pitch (WI4) Following, higher up on the first pitch Jeff leading up the second pitch (WI4) Craig and Priti following the second pitch Craig moving the belay on easy snow (P3) to the base of the crux pitch Happy Jeff Priti following the gnar on the crux pitch (P4, WI5+ M4) Craig on an outcrop where "Iceline Bling" meets Triple Couloirs Gear Notes: Took rock pro and pitons pretty well. 6 screws (10cm, 13cm), small alpine rock rack, KBs, Spectre Approach Notes: No snow on Eightmile Rd 3/4 of the way
  8. Trip: “The Circumvention”, aka. Fan-Wallace-m5+, FA Date: 1/11/2016 Trip Report: http://cascadeclimbers.com/plab/showphoto.phpphoto=110317&title=p1170012&cat=500“ The Circumvention”, aka. Fan-Wallace is located above Source Lake area. To the right of Flow Reversal, and Resistance Is Futile, yet left of where people skin up to Chair Peak. Best approached from the Flow Reversal area, up and right, reaching a sweet thin gully with turf hooks and thin ice. When it gets steep, there could be an exciting direct finish to the pitch, or the obvious off-width crack to the left. We did it in 3 short pitches, but best to do it in 2. Move the belay high enough to see the leader either finish on the ice daggers, or the exciting “Fan” finish to the steep ramp up and right. 60m ropes just reach the bottom. Pins, stoppers, screws and specters are all handy. more on blog
  9. Trip: Vesper Peak - True Grit II 5.8 - another new route Date: 9/25/2015 Trip Report: After intermittent work over the last two seasons I finished up another new route on the North Face of Vesper Peak. Once again extensive cleaning revealed a sustained moderate line in an outstanding position. The highlight of the climb is a long finger crack up the middle of the headwall followed by positive face climbing to a great belay perch. Some of the climbing is only so-so but overall I was pretty happy with the end result. Belays are all bolted and protection is about 50/50 bolts and gear. Bring a rack to a #2 Camalot including small-to-large stoppers and some extra finger to off-finger cams. Seasons starting to get a bit long in the tooth up there but it should be doable for a bit longer if you don't mind the chill and give it a day or two to dry out after rain. Pitch Description P1 Easy climbing on clean granite. Step left to a bolted belay below an obvious narrow chimney. 5.4 ~200' P2 Up a groove to the squeeze chimney then a difficult move onto a short bolted slab. The chimney can be avoided by moving right into a short corner (watch for loose blocks at it's top) 5.8 100' P3 A nice pitch. Slab, then a shallow corner, pull over a small overhang and follow jigsaw rock to a tiny belay ledge. 5.7 100' P4 Climb the long sustained splitter with a crux step across where the crack disappears briefly. Fun juggy climbing leads to a belay at the crest of the headwall. 5.8 120' P5 A short scruffy pitch of easy face and slab climbing leads to the top of the face. 5.6 (not 5.8 like in the image below!) 80' Click for Larger Image Looking down the headwall at the intermittent finger cracks Climbers on Pitch 4 of the Ragged Edge Gear Notes: Bring a rack to a #2 Camalot including small-to-large stoppers and some extra finger to off-finger cams. Approach Notes: See Ragged Edge TR
  10. Trip: Mile High Club - a new alpine rock route near Vesper, Sperry and Morningstar Peaks. 7 pitches, 5.10a. Date: 9/12/2015 Trip Report: Mile High Club is a new alpine rock route that Darin and I put up this year. We hope you will climb it and enjoy it. The purpose of this TR is to provide information on how to find and climb the route. First ascent stories can come later. We believe this route has all the ingredients of a modern classic: excellent climbing, solid rock, a striking feature and summit, grand alpine views, and a quick and easy approach and descent. The route ascends the southwest-facing buttress of a striking 5280 foot sub-summit of Morning Star Peak. The buttress is a very prominent feature on the east side of Headlee Basin, and it dominates the view from Headlee Pass. The rock, part of the Swauk formation, is metamorphosed sandstone, littered with positive holds, and devoid of continuous cracks. Mile High Club offers seven pitches of excellent face climbing and exposure on the crest of the buttress. Its low elevation and southwest exposure should give it a long season compared with other alpine rock routes. Although this route is fully bolted, climbers must be prepared to handle steep snow in spring, multiple rappels on the descent, and some loose rock on ledges. Care should be taken to avoid knocking rocks off the right side of the route as these will shoot down the approach gully. For this reason, climbers are advised to wear helmets for the short scramble in the approach gully and avoid lingering there. Hikers on the Sunrise Mine trail can hear and see climbers on the route. They could misinterpret shouts among climbers as calls for help and might even activate an un-necessary rescue. This is exactly what happened to the first ascensionists, who were greeted at the base of the route by a hovering helicopter with a spotlight and at the trailhead by a full search and rescue operation. Season: May through October. Approach: ~2 hours, 2100 feet elevation gain. Drive about 28 miles east on the Mountain Loop Highway, turn right on FR 4065 (1 mile past the Dickerman trailhead), and follow it about two miles to the Sunrise Mine trailhead. NW Forest Service pass required. Follow the Sunrise Mine trail approximately two and a half miles to the last major switchback (~4300 foot elevation) before the trail begins zig zagging up to Headlee Pass. Leave the trail and begin a surprisingly easy traverse northeast across talus toward the Mile High buttress. Pass just above a large flat-topped boulder near the first set of trees. Follow a natural passage through the small stand of trees to a second open talus field. Continue across open heather and talus, cross a strip of trees near a rocky bluff, and ascend to the obvious red gully right of the Mile High Buttress. A convenient seep just before the Mile High gully provides water through mid-season and for a few days after rain. Scramble up and left on rubble-strewn ledges to a lone fir tree. Pass the tree on a ledge to a single belay bolt at the beginning of the route. Route: Pitch 1: Hero climbing up and left on steep jugs leads to a beautiful face and arête. 115 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 2: Continue up the featured face to a belay on the crest. 70 feet, 5.9. Pitch 3: Cross a large ledge and ascend a 30 foot headwall with some cracks and good holds. Easier climbing leads to the base of the next headwall. Note that an intermediate anchor about 15 feet right of the climbing line and 10 feet above the lip of the lower headwall is used on the descent. 150 feet, 5.9. Pitch 4: Step right and climb a clean face to the base of a dihedral. 70 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 5: Climb the stunning dihedral and exit up and right to an airy belay. 80 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 6: Head up the lower arête, balance on top of a large flake, and climb a beautiful face to a spectacular arête. 115 feet, 5.10a. Pitch 7: Make a tricky move or two on a vertical face, cross ledges to the final headwall, and follow a clean ramp to the summit. 100 feet, 5.8 Summit: According to USGS maps, the peak is 5280 feet above sea level. This inspired the route’s name. There is a summit register with a secret. Please do not post photographs online or otherwise spill the beans. The idea is that only those who have visited the summit and become members of the Mile High Club will know its secret. Descent: Rappel the route using the pitch 3 intermediate anchor. Avoid a pendulum on the Pitch 7 rap by lowering down to the large flake before walking left to the belay. The starting ledge is several hundred feet above the ground and rather exposed. Climbers might want to traverse back to the starting bolt before unroping. It's possible to pull the rope on the final rappel from that position. Gear: One 70 meter rope, 12 quick draws, and a few shoulder length slings. First Ascent: Darin Berdinka and Rad Roberts, September, 2015. View from the point where you depart the Sunrise Mine Trail. The 5280 peak is on the left. View of the approach from the route. The trail is in the sun in the upper right. The MHC gully is in the lower left of the frame. Route overlay Another route overlay The start of Pitch 1 The top of Pitch 1 Pitch 2 Pitch 3 About to head onto moderate terrain on Pitch 3. Pitch 4 Start of Pitch 5 Nearing the top of Pitch 5 Approaching the arete on Pitch 6 Arete on Pitch 6 Arete on Pitch 6 Pitch 7 just below the Mile High summit On the summit at sunset with Sperry and Big Four in the background. A taste of the alpine ambience: Mile High Club is the right profile in this photo taken from the road. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” - John Muir.
  11. Trip: Mt Triumph, new route on east face - Memento Mori, aka the Tom Thomas Memorial Route Date: 9/12/2015 Trip Report: Rolf and I finally got our stuff together this summer and enjoyed discovering a new line on Mt Triumph. It travels directly up the east face: Memento Mori (aka, “the Tom Thomas Memorial Route”), 8 pitches, 5.9+. Approx. 10 hours on the route. The NE ridge is of course off to the right, and quite a ways left/south is a 1985 route put up by Doorish and Cudkowicz; theirs tops out on the south ridge at perhaps mid-height (?). Our belays are thinly marked in blue: A powerful moment en route occurred while climbing by Mr Thomas’s frayed rope hovering above our belay at the top of pitch 4. It’s been nearly 30 years since this kindred spirit passed, yet a stark reminder lingers in this spot. Affecting and sobering, even for crusty, salty types. The route is characterized by a ton of juggy and often steep 5.8ish climbing, with many passages of 5.9, perhaps harder through the pitch 7 roof. The route primarily travels on surprisingly solid Skagit gneiss, excellent climbing rock by our standards. As with all mountain routes, there’s some loose rock, but many suspicious-looking blocks didn’t react to striking/kicking tests and were quite solid. The route deserves more traffic than my photos indicate—an off day in that department. The tufts of vegetation are sparse and easily gardened when (infrequently) necessary. Get on this thing! It offers solid adventure and aesthetic pushing and pulling. Below is an uncharacteristic amount of beta to encourage traffic—suggest you ignore it for maximum enjoyment. p1 - From the glacier, 4th/low 5th slab leads to the large ledge left of a huge chimney. Possibly 3rd/4th if you want to climb directly under the chimney. p2 – Begin just left of the crack system leading to the white roof. Climb parallel cracks then commit to leftmost crack up left ramp. 5.8+, 60m p3 – Climb the left-facing corner, with light rock on right and darker gray rock on left. When it clamps down, move left to a thin crack on the exposed left facet of the corner. Face climb to a semi-hanging belay. 5.9, 55m Rolf follows p3: p4 – Continue up and slightly right to a pin belay below the end of the frayed rope hanging from the 1988 accident. The belay was exposed to some minor rockfall but options were limited. 5.8, 40m Rolf launches p4: p5 – The changing corners (and changing again) pitch. A piece of work, this long fun pitch moves out over the roof below, immediately exposed, and requires some route-finding attention; I was grateful for our two ropes here. Begin by traversing right and up approx. 15m, making moves over an exposed rib and crack/chimney, then wend your way straight up adjacent corners and ribs, switching and picking the easiest possible way—which will still be steep, airy, and engaging. Belay at the base of the obvious lower-angled chimney/corner system. 5.9, 60m+ p6 – Up the corner and chimney system, skirt to the left of the big roof, find a key belay that affords shelter from potential looseness on the next steep pitch. 5.8, 40m p7 – Surmount the roofs above, including a little bit of palming/stemming in a corner, to a good ledge. A short pitch but one of my favorite leads in recent memory. 5.9+, 30m A couple poorly lit pics of Rolf moving up p7: p8 – Step left to a strenuous boulder move gaining another ledge, then ramble rightward up to a good finish in a brightly scarred but solid corner near the ridge crest. Hit the NE ridge where it backs off to scrambling a couple hundred feet below the summit. 5.9, 45m While these all had their moments, pitches 5 and 7 exemplify one kind of incredibly engaging climbing that draws me to the mountains. Should’ve taken a pic of Rolf following on pitch 5, but was flat tripping on the quality and quantity of climbing. And of course, the views of the Pickets were typically inspiring. More pics here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/2015_09_12MtTriumphNewRoute?authuser=0&feat=directlink We descended the South ridge for the complete alpine experience. Night befell us while still above the glacier, so we endured—I mean enjoyed—a shiver bivy on an exposed ridge. (Speaking of meditating on death: avoid an overnight cuddle with a skeleton.) While apparently neglected recently, this descent is actually kind of fun, and now is shored up with fresher tat. Nice moody light show on the next morning’s descent: Gear Notes: Medium-large rack up to 4", pins, glacier gear. Opinion: double ropes desirable. Approach Notes: As with NE Ridge approach, Thornton Lakes trail etc.; gain glacier where reasonable. (We approached Friday late afternoon and barely caught enough light to suss lines and make a try Saturday morning.)
  12. Trip: Cathedral Provincial Park / Pasayten - Faith FA, Sentinel Direct, Grimface traverse Date: 7/19/2015 Trip Report: Unstable weather in the Bugaboos sent us to Pasayten via Cathedral Provincial Park, and at Blake's recommendation we focused our attention on the Deacon. It was a fantastic trip. We repeated the Sentinel Direct route, did the first ascent of Faith (5.10, 6 pitches, grade III, ground-up, onsight) on a cliff that we don't think has been climbed before, and finished with a classic ridge traverse on Matriarch, Macabre, and Grimface. Team shot at the trailhead. There is more fuel in the Wall Creek forest than I've seen anywhere. It's just a matter of time before the whole area explodes in a firestorm. Be careful. We lost the trail in a swampy area and were escorted up valley by a squadron of black flies. Yes, they're trying to bite you, but don't let them get into your head or you're going to be miserable. Zen. [video:youtube] The forest gave way to alpine meadows ringed by granite towers. The natural beauty of this area is just as inspiring as the climbing. Meditating on the hard-won view while ignoring the cloud of flies. At the trailhead, I discovered I'd left my sleeping bag in Seattle. Oops. A few layers of extra clothes and our tent made the nights bearable, but Brandon spurned my spooning overtures, so I usually woke up around 4 when it was too cold to sleep. By 5 it was getting light anyway. Dawn among the larches. The meadows come to life. We headed for the Deacon, a North-facing cliff with a few routes. We did Sentinel Direct, which starts in the right-facing dihedral on the left side of the wall. Brandon lead the first pitch, a lovely splitter crack and corner. Brandon lead the second pitch in good style. It involved an awkward move into a small corner with 5.10 fingerlocks before escaping left to a more moderate hand crack. I made the mistake of pulling out on a crack getting into the corner and pulled off a toaster-sized block. We both launched off the wall. The rope caught me and the block sailed to the talus below. The third pitch was a 5.7 blocky, rampy, chimney to the top of a tower. I started on my block by leading a fun 5.9 stem pitch. Apparently you're supposed to traverse right on a ramp before the top of the offwidth crack. I ended up doing a hand traverse and heel hook to get past a large wobbly block guarding the belay without weighting it. The next 10- pitch was fun face and flake climbing. It's important to always maintain 3 points of contact. Very serious business, this climbing is. A 5.10 face move led to a nice chimney. I lead a 70m 5.8 rope stretcher and Brandon took us quickly up another blocky pitch to the top. Thunder boomed around us as we unroped and headed for the summit. There is some fantastic, exposed block hopping to get you past a tower over to the summit. When I raised my hand at the summit it buzzed from the electric charges in the air. Time to go down. Cathedral Peak was getting soaked but it looked like we might stay dry. Or not. [video:youtube] We quickly headed down the E gully, which we learned is quite friendly even when wet. The evening cloud formations were beautiful and bizarre. And the sunset was lovely. The next morning we got an earlier start and focused our attention on an unclimbed line we'd spied on the large cliff to the right of the Deacon. We're calling this cliff the Bishop, because the central feature looks like a giant chess piece or pointy church official. It's the same height as the Deacon and has clean, steep rock. Our line went up an obvious corner on the right side of the cliff just right of where I'm pointing. I lead up a series of corners and small roofs on super clean rock. 5.9 45 meters. One of several good, short corners on the pitch. Around 35 meters I escaped right up a clean, blocky buttress leading to a large ledge. Brandon lead the second pitch, which had one 5.9 move and continued for 35 meters to a small belay. Future parties could link this with the first part of pitch 3. I then lead up the third pitch, stepping right onto a lovely but unprotected buttress next to a super thin crack. I was able to garden just enough gear placements to make this safe and arrived at a giant ledge after 60 feet. Above us, the cracks looked like dead ends or unprotectable seams. And the rock was steep. We thought if we traversed left toward the main wall we might find a passage. Bailing would not be easy as there were not a lot of cracks up here, but we had faith something would work out. At a large ledge I headed left for about 50 feet, including a couple of exposed moves, to a good belay at a ledge and crack. We'd call pitch 3 5.7R, 30 meters. Following the first part of the third pitch before the ledge traverse. Brandon continued left, not sure if anything would go. He worked his way up and left past the left end of a large roof. This was the key to the route. It opened up a magical passage on a rightward trending ramp through otherwise steep and blank terrain. Pitch 4 ran 5.7R, 45 meters to another giant ledge. We moved the belay left 80 feet and up 20 feet to the base of a corner below several cracks. I chose the one that went straight up from the belay. It turned out to be quite physical. At the crux, I had a crappy heel/toe cam, my hands on rounded holds, and had to blindly place a #3 in a flare. I find that the best climbing experiences are the ones where the outcome is in doubt but you somehow keep it together and succeed. I was unsure if I would send or whip off this pitch until I sank my hand into a great jam just below the lip in this photo. 25 meters, 10c. Brandon lead a wonderful series of hand cracks that went straight to the top of the wall. A finish with an explanation point! 35 meters, 5.10a. It's hard to explain the feeling of launching up a wall into the unknown. I've only done it a few times, but it's not like any other type of climbing I've experienced. You must solve the physical and mental puzzles of climbing and placing all your own gear as you go, as with any trad onsight, but you also have to figure out where the route should go, how to handle loose rock, what gear to save that you might need above, and how much risk you are willing to take. It's about having faith in your partner, faith in your abilities and experience, faith in the gear, faith in the rock, faith that you'll be able to piece together a clean line to the top, and faith that you can back off safely if necessary. Not blind faith, mind you, but faith borne out of experience and a deep awareness of each of these elements. As you climb, a stream of details are gathered by the conscious mind and merged with a river of intangibles that filter in through the peripheral subconsciousness of your mind's eye. They combine, as in a flow state, and turn thoughts into actions. Actions into experience. Experience into memory. The satisfaction that comes from a ground-up, onsight, multi-pitch route worthy of repeat ascents runs deeper than words can convey. It is the joint creation of the climber as artist and the natural canvas of the rock. Authorship is shared. It is vertical wilderness exploration. There is only so much you can see from the ground. You have to go for it to see what will emerge. The world is not completely known, despite what the internet might lead you to believe. Adventures can still be found by those who seek them. Partnership makes it richer still, a shared experience. I am deeply grateful for all of these. This time there was no thunderstorm. We marveled at the summit tower and dreamed of future lines on the wall. The backside of the mountain is a low angle plateau with great views of Cathedral and many other peaks. More alpine wild flowers. The descent was a super easy walk down a solid low angle ridge to the Northeast back to Deacon's basin. The next morning we tried a new route on another cliff, but what looked good from a distance turned out to be vegetated and unpleasant up close. So we down climbed and headed off to do the Matriarch, Macabre, Grimface traverse. It was a lovely and relaxed afternoon outing in our approach shoes. There are lots of interesting rock features, bolts where you need them, And great views on a perfect summer afternoon. More wildflowers. Views of the Deacon and Bishop are in the upper right, with Cathedral in the background. The perfect end to a perfect trip. A chill in the air socked in the peaks as we left for home. The climbing is stunning here, but the nature was even more inspiring. Please tread lightly if you visit this pristine wilderness. Back at the car, we were eager to dive into the river and start planning our return. Special thanks to Blake for providing great suggestions and Brandon for being the perfect partner, even if he does hog the only sleeping bag! We had an odd conversation at the US Border at Sumas: Border guard: Where do you live? US: Seattle, Mt Vernon. Border Guard: Do I know you? Have you come through here before? Me: We were here a few weeks ago, were you here? Border Guard: No. Are you wanted anywhere? Me: (Pause) Just at home by our wives. Border Guard: Well, don't hurry back. He handed our passports back and waved us through. We ignored his advice and hurried home to our loved ones. Gear Notes: Doubles to #3 Camalot plus single #4 Camalot. We had a 70 meter rope, but a single 60 meter cord will suffice. A sleeping bag would be nice! Approach Notes: Approach via Wall Creek. Stay on the trail on the East side of Wall Creek. There are good campsites in the top of the basin. Please keep this area pristine.
  13. Trip: Tower Rock - FA - Rapunzel's Back in Rehab - C1 Date: 7/15/2015 Trip Report: The Beast - don't be fooled, them thare are full-grown trees Tower Rock, 2 hours from everywhere, appears oddly neglected - Brown Beckey's got the tiniest blurb of the single route up it done in 1982 (anyone know of a second ascent? i can't find anyone who's tried it) but no picture n' no topo - tim olson's oregon rock guide has some more detail than beckey, but still the vast monolith appears to have continued unloved tower's just south of randle, an unladen swallow's flight from the cispus river - the face is gigantic,something like 1200 feet tall - the rock is basaltic, according to beckey, but like nothing i've seen - like over-baked brownies, it's composed of a hodge-podge of components - incredibly solid and compact, it's cross-hatched in all directions, crackless, and crumbles into bricks and blocks of all conceivable sizes - the tower looms over it's talus field, fiercely steep, it's upper-wall reminiscent of the right side of el cap, incredibly bulging and over-hanging tower is composed of two giant faces seperated by a ledge/fault system that was the path taken by the first team to climb the face - currently, after 7 days of effort, our route climbs the lower wall - it'll be just as much work to finish the upper wall, if the rock quality holds as it currently exists yeah, there's a lot more to go, but as it stands, what's there is 600 feet tall and a great day-tripper's aid adventure already - i figure the worst that can come of telling folks about this now before it's complete is that some other sad fools can go do it for me trip the first: fuck, this happened so long off i wonder if my recollection's right at all - me n' bill n' ben in the late winter - a burr up their bespectacled asses about a mythical 10-pitch free route up a largely untouched tower - the plan to hike to the top then set a rap-line down the likely route - out of town on a friday night to the frightful fall of rain - ghetto camp before the gate in gales of damnable damp - the roar of frogs - the next morning the most sordid thang - endless hours uphill w/ drill n' bolts n' chains in the continuous cloud-fuck n' frenzied chilly breeze - near the summit gob-smacked to gain a blazed trail barely a mile from a seasonal road - the top a huge disappointment, it characterized by clouds and beaming rainbows and rock so rude they rarely accoladed the attribution - soon there after the weekend righteously concluded and me around for the sweet family on the sabbath trip the second: on the reconnaissance earlier, dejected at finding a kitty-litter summit, we'd paused after a tortuous overladen descent on the boulder field and pondered on future options - a man w/ an aid-climber's conscious could do a take on "infinite bliss" and find a bitching way up the crazy big blank face - it was sure to take a mort of mortal work, but bill n' geoff are true gentlemen all measured and solid for this kinda goofy shit - we banged up from p-town on a friday night and made camp up at the turn around on the forest road - stumble-fucking up the forest we arrived amazed and ready to ramble on - many mozzies n' deer flies this damned trip - pitch 1 went quickly between geoff and bill, the later bounding up free on low-angle stacked mossy talus to make an anchor atop tier 1 - me i got tier 2 - all bolts at first until i no longer feared the ledge, then lotza 2-hook moves in a row until reaching the top of the tier where i left a fixed hook to protect a low-angle romp to the second anchor - we retired to camp n' soggy fires n' fulsome screeching music - day 2 we jugged to the top of p2 and bill and geoff got up a ways before yielding to me, whereupon i drilled n' hooked to a high point we marked w/ red tat before descending and returning to our troubled and lonely little lives - i recollect getting a true n' glorious drunk on in the passenger seat n' slumbering back to vantucky geoff putting up the first pitch on the scrubby, compact low-angle first tier the artist as a young asshole ascending the second steeper tier geoff workign on pitch 3, the first steps onto the very steep lower wall trip the third: lovely ospreys n' robins round the lake - pete n' pam play camp hosts - camp weddings n' nightly fishing sheenaningans - muskrats n' pond-skimming swallows - bastard mozzies n' mean biting flies, mostly in obeisance for the first couple cold days, but growing in malevolence as the weather waxed towards wicked hot - the sweet ne face of Tower almost totally shade-soaked for the mid-morning riser - kids n' retirees n' rv's n' jumping trout n' tame dogs - the listless routines of an aimless life - awake w/ the sun - fresh shits n' dewy breakfasts - a short but grim uphill grind through steep forest w/ plentiful windfall, shirt soaked through by the time we hit the sunny talus field at the base but soon blessed w/ shade - warm juggy work to start and then to the serious business - fear frenzies despite being armed w/ all the wonderful war machines of modern man - a long time of terror n' toil - the day dispatched, we make a rapid descent, each time by a different winding way - beer n' stripping soaked clothes off at the mercifully close car - me auolde yosemite food bin rummaged through for a desperate dinner, usually of beer n' tobacco n' pringles n' whatever benevolent bill threw my way - an hour or so of bird-watching n' binge-reading on maggie thatcher's frigid teeming fucking bush - to sleep at the post-gloaming in a grand 6-man tent alone, racked out on a queen sized inflatable air mattress, wrapped in down and dozy drunkenness - the night passed moaning to sore muscles as i twist n' turn until the dawn drags me to my addled senses, then it all runs off the reel much as it reckoned the day before... first several days of murmurings n' mumblings w/ just me n' bill (me a damn baby in comparison to my venerable and august elder - that baby weighing in at a mean 250 bare-nekkid pounds and a coward to boot of course) - bill a bastion of genteel sincerity that must sadly have bitch-left this world many generations ago - me strangely silent of song for days - my mind scrambled and saddened by the robust requirements of 6-weeks of family-left sorrows gone off in the valley - eventually songs to lift my times and shape my senses - "mining for gold" by the cowboy junkies running on an eternal loop in my mind - long after-shocks of "burn down the mission" caused by geoff for sure after 3 days of toil we grow weary and call in the cavalry - the silverman boys gonna come down n' save us from our misery - we make a rest day out of walking the mountain side w/ them, then retiring to the big boulder to pound pbr's n' provide Adult Supervision - they lounge around camp afterwards, contemplating on crashing the redneck wedding well under-way - we smoke bales of weed n' cackle n' cough n' find high times are treasure enough in this wicked world - eventually all good things must get on the bus w/ gandhi though and they roll off into the night in the hms revenge, ready i hope to return for more the last day done-off as surely as a band-aid - after a fearful arduous jug up the wild steep fixed lines ole bill baits the question ("good news or bad?" - which would you take?) - - dedication to a last day of determined work - 5 hours of bolting and hooking on endless steep traversing ground until i was gut-wrenched at what it was likely to take me to get get back to bill - epic amounts of gear left as i rapped into the void and quickly grew dependent on bill to reel me back in - the retreat then fully declared we rapped n' ruminated n' laid our plans like parchment paper, all of it ultimately putting us on sweet terra-firma w/ a fuck-load of gear to get off - surprised by bill's pronouncement of this day, i had no proper pack to cram all the crap into eventually we ambled on down the way, me overloaded like a gypsy carnival-whore w/ rope-bags aplenty such that i swooned on multiple occasions as the straps cut into me wind-pipe and i passed yards off unyielding to gratuitous thoughts, my mind in a true and lovely gray place - the last night spent in part w/ militant california-paul, such as exemplar of that shakespearean clap-trap about sounding of fuck-all and negative fury, yet yielding nothing our objective from the relative sanity of the rv park n' its teeming trout pond white-boys jugging the first 2 tiers - at this angle the lower wall takes up most of the entire frame, but the upper wall's just as big n' steeper 700 feet of ropes n' route-making machine just starting the second pitch bags of bolts n' drills n' bullshit - starting to install pitch 4 geoff at the top of p4, kyle jugging up to the mid-pt anchor closing thoughts: happy to share the discovery w/ the nw brethren - leave yer self-righteous bolting morals at home w/ yer bitches - the place went unloved for a reason - the only cracks evident are where awful rock-fall is just a geologic fart-in-a-stiff-wind away - if intending to push the route higher (what's there is plenty for a day-tripper), please let me or bill or geoff know so one of us can come along - perhaps a dozen separate lines could be pushed to the top in the same style, each likely to take weeks n' 1000$ to put in place - recon trip to the top found almost no real rock up there - at some point all lines must turn to awful kitty litter, but maybe it'll go anyhow? topo as it currently stands - hope to see this fucker get taller in the fullness of insensible time Gear Notes: - up to 30+ draws if clipping all bolts - 2 bathooks (talons can work, but they risk blowing out the drilled holes) - ideally 2 70 meter ropes, but 2 60'S can work if careful - cheater stick not bad idea, as many of the bolts were installed by a fear-fucked orangutan at his max reach - lower off tat or quick-links/biners for follower at traversing parts - helmets essential - much potential for rockfall of all sizes, especially if hauling or jugging - base area very dangerous in strong winds or if below climbers on first 2 approach pitches - upper pitches largely protected from natural rockfall (be careful up there ) Approach Notes: Exit 68 off i5 - east on 12 to randle (about an hour) - right (south) turn at randle (follow signs for tower rock RV park) - quick left about a mile south of randle, then another turn right about 6 miles later - rt turn at tower rock RV park/cispus learning center signs - left onto logging road (75?76?) just a 100 yards before rt turn to tower rock forest service camp (or straight for another mile to the RV park) - forest road is closed at gate near main road during winter/early spring - about 1 1/2 mile up road (stay on main road at split a 1/2 mile up) there's a turn around (about .25 mile past a steep switchback) - from there you can continue in car but there's no turnaround - walk or drive 1/4 mile to road-end - at wierd stone-forest-altar begin hiking up steep forrested slope - about 45 minutes to base - occasional game and human trails, generally trending right and up - copious windfall in middle section of trail - steeper for last 1/3 of trail - idea is to skirt talus field on right and join base from tree at right edge of wall - 1st bolt is just 5 feet off ground near clump of trees about 50 feet above a huge lounge-like boulder that is a great/safe observation spot descent: currently rapping from top of p5 to top of p4 is extra-ordinarly hard - in the future ideally there'll be a rap line straight down through p5 - for now be prepared to leave a fixed line to get back to the top of p4 and for the first rapper to have to haul the second back over - descending from the top of p4 requires 2 70 meter ropes or a stop at the mid-pt anchor (no rings) - the rap overhangs but you just barely touch the wall at the mid-pt anchor - use terrain to help you rap in the right direction
  14. Trip: The Himmelhorn - South Face-"Stonehenge" (FA) Date: 7/6/2015 Trip Report: The Himmelhorn, South Face First Ascent (“Stonehenge”) Jason Schilling and Tim Halder. 7/6/15. 5.10, 8 pitches 1400’ “We were born too late. Roper’s already been here. We’re just picking up his scraps.” Tim mused as we gazed up at the unclimbed South Face of the Himmelhorn. Maybe so, but he nor anyone else had ventured onto the big face in front of us. We wondered if there was a reason for its neglect as we tried to agree on a safe but proud line while lounging amongst the wildflowers of the Crescent Creek basin. I’d like to think that I’ve paid my dues in the Pickets. I spent three nights stormbound on the summit of Mt. Fury in 2008 with Donn Venema and Steph Abegg. Donn and I wore parallel sleeping grooves into the ice during that first bout of Picket's purgatory and I’d often wake up with his legs draped over mine or with his hot breath on the back of my neck. Fortunately we got along well. He invited me into the range for three extended trips in two years and became an alpine mentor and great friend to me. Donn and I sampling the bourbon at Perfect Pass during happier times (photo by Steph Abegg) The next year I was back with Donn and Steph and new partner Steve Trent. The trip came to a crashing halt when Steve was injured badly in a fall on the North Buttress of Mt. Terror. I stayed behind to care for Steve and help with his helicopter rescue and ended up spending four dark days in a coffin-sized crack waiting for another storm to clear. Although it took a while for me to recover phsychologically from that episode, I eventually emerged with a renewed passion for the mountains and climbing and a profound reverence for partnerships that make the alpine experience so worthwhile for me. That event changed my life in many ways. It exposed me to a wider circle of climbers and brought several people into my life that have since become dear friends. Tim was one of them. Tim and I were supposed to go the Sawtooths this summer to climb some of the classics and fish in the alpine lakes. A gentleman’s trip of alpine leisure. But when I asked him if he was interested in a week of route exploration in the Southern Pickets, he succinctly responded “yes sir!” Tim likes to sell himself short as a mediocre rock climber, but he has several things going for him which make him an exceptional partner on remote and unknown alpine trips. He’s an elite endurance athlete with an incredible motor. He’s also an elite joker. His accents on one pitch can range from Russian to British to Indian. But most importantly, he’s a gamer. Put him at the crag, and he’s bored and disinterested. Put him on an unclimbed face in the cascades or the Himalaya, and he steps up to the plate, big time. He’s an alpha choss-dog who’s quite capable of pulling a difficult technical move at 20,000 feet with an overnight pack on. A perfect partner for the Pickets. We shouldered monster packs on July 3rd and headed up through what Tim describes as a “medley of suffering” from the jungle of Goodell creek to a bivy at the breezy and scenic col below the Chopping Block overlooking the Crescent Creek basin and its namesake spires. Snow was scarce in the basin approaching the col and the water situation later this summer could be grim for that spot, unless the snowfield on the slopes above persists. We had our eye on the easternmost tower of the Rake as a warm up. Wayne Wallace informed me of it a few years back in the Index parking lot, mentioning that it was unclimbed as far as he knew. It looked short enough and reasonably solid. We were wasted from the approach and needed a short introductory objective to get acclimated with the Pickets. The Turret, right of center, above the Terror/Rake col After a leisurely morning at the col, we moved camp into the Crescent Creek basin amidst a collection of large boulders scattered about the heather. We were perfectly situated next to a stream with intimate views of the Crescent Creek Spires. Some snow persisted in the gully leading up to the Terror/Rake col, but soon we were directly beneath the tower, scouting our options. The rock directly above the col appeared compact and difficult, so Tim led off slightly left on loose ground. I followed with an exciting and airy pitch on improving rock. Tim took over on the final pitch as we simul-climbed easy 5th class terrain to the summit. We saw no evidence of an ascent and figured we may be the first to climb the tower. John Roper has since informed us that he had climbed it back in 1984, naming it the Turret. We were indeed picking up his scraps. Nevertheless this was a good introduction to what lay ahead. We spent the next day lounging and recovering at camp and took a leisurely stroll through wildflower meadows to scope the south face of the Himmelhorn. The South Face of the Himmelhorn, center We even had time to sew It probably sees an ascent every other year or so, by either the standard route put up by Ed Cooper, George Whitmore, Glen Denny, and Joan and Joe Firey in 1961, or the highly regarded Wild Hair Crack climbed by John Roper, Silas Wild, and Russ Kroeker in 1981. The face looked complex, but had several options. We considered the far left line that would lead past an interesting and steep dihedral before mellowing out on a long traverse of the summit ridge and its various pinnacles. The direct line looked most interesting to us, finishing on the summit tower and I was thrilled when Tim suggested it. Our plan was set for the following morning. Having nearly melted off of the first ascent of Golden Horn’s East Face the week prior with Joe Sambataro, I wanted to avoid another flirtation with heat stroke. We left our camp at four the next morning under clear skies and some of the warmest pre-dawn temps I’d ever experienced in the pickets. We were on the snow at 5 and started up easy ramps and ledges. The climbing was straightforward and fun and took us to a grassy col where we finally pulled out the rope and rack. Jason picking a line low on the South Face. Above us lay a feature we called the shield. It was three pitches of impressively solid rock. Tim led out on blocky, intermediate terrain for the first pitch and I followed with an attempt on an incredible looking dihedral. Tim start out on blocky ground on the first pitch of Stonehenge, the South Face of the Himmelhorn. I had to clean the lower part of the crack to reveal perfect hand jams but soon dead-ended at an unprotectable and flaring wide crack. I traversed left onto solid face climbing followed by a brief lieback and great hand jams. The rock went from solid to excellent as we moved higher. Jason encounters varied and solid climbing on the second pitch of ‘Stonehenge’ on the South Face of the Himmelhorn. “Tim’s Flake” on the fourth pitch Tim works past the incredible flake on the 4th pitch as the summit tower looms above Soon we were at the base of the summit tower and I lobbied for going straight up it to the summit. Surely we could find something that would go and take us to the top in 2 pitches or less. The rock was compact and steep. I had a cruxy traverse with poor feet but good protection down low and then the protection vanished. I aimed for a salvation crack 40 feet above my last possible piece of protection. The climbing was exhilarating. Pushing my fears aside, I moved past the runout difficulties to steep and joyous cracks and a belay 2/3 of the way to the top of the tower. Jason leads up the steep and runout 6th pitch. We were confronted with steep rock and sparse protection above, so Tim opted for a wild traverse on solid but unprotectable pock-marks to a notch between the summit tower and a pinnacle. Following the airy traverse of the 6th pitch The difficulties were over! He let out a whoop after reaching the notch and brought me over to his scenic belay overlooking the Mustard Glacier and wild McMillan Cirque. From there it was one cruiser pitch to the summit on low 5th class on deteriorating rock. It’s funny how so many of these N. Cascades peaks turn to rubble right at the top. I spied an old Kodak film register whose vintage seemed to be way before my time. We were amazed to find the original summit log from 1961 in the canister as well as the Roper and company’s chronicle of the Wild Hair Crack. The original summit register from 1961 We lounged on the summit for an hour, reveling in the views and the warmth, overjoyed with the climbing that was now behind us. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this moment and the shared creative experience with Tim felt like a gift. The rest of the trip was all downhill, more or less. We spent our last night at the Chopping Block bivy, partying with the meager libations at hand, and watching Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge,” in honor of our new route’s name. I could finally relax with the satisfaction of successfully returning to the range where I had learned and suffered so much. And it was reassuring to know that Roper had left a few blank canvases untouched and that more await for those who are willing to put in the effort. Summit or Siberia! (somehow my rotated photos reverted to their orignial state once they were uploaded to this server) Gear Notes: Double ropes, Double-cams from .4 to 3 Approach Notes: Goodell Creek to end of road, cross Terror Creek, then up up up like little hobbits to the Chopping Block ridge bivy.
  15. Trip: Golden Horn - East Face - F*@$ The Pain Away (FA) Date: 6/27/2015 Trip Report: Eight years ago, I just wrapped up an awesome week of climbing CBR, Girth Pillar, and TRL (aid) with my buddy Kyle and was keen to check out some other areas around Washington Pass. I hiked in the 10 miles along the PCT from Rainy Pass to scramble Golden Horn with Ty, Jaga, and my wife. We had just started dating and she had never climbed or scrambled, so I thought I'd throw her in the fire and see if it worked out - I guess it did! A short report is also up at Alpinist.com: Crumbling Holds and Expanding Cracks: Sambataro and Schilling's New Route on Golden Horn. From the ridgeline, you get a sneak peek of the impressive, unclimbed east face. Around the corner, Gordy Skoog and Jim Walseth did the first ascent of the Northeast Arete (Class III, 5.8) in 1979, with Lowell Skoog leading a KOMO-TV film crew to document the climb a year later. I knew it would involve some choss from my recon and rumors afield, but I’ve been eyeing those photos since we got back from our 5-year stint in Colorado. My partner Jason "Spiceman" and I have spent the last couple winters making the drive to climb ice in Cody, but this would be our first alpine trip together. We started hiking in via Swamp Creek off Highway 20 at 5:00 PM on Friday after work, involving some easy bushwacking and a steep sandy slope to gain the PCT. It required only 3.5 hours and 5 miles to reach camp at Snowy Lakes vs the 10 mile hike along the PCT. We left camp Saturday morning around 4:30am, scrambled up scree from the southwest and dropped down the east side via a snow couloir. Crampons and a tool/axe made the descent straightforward. We traversed to the base of the east face and started climbing at 6:30 am to allow enough time for the 1000-foot face, but this meant we were baking in the sun for over half the climb. Our 5 liters of waters just lasted to the summit. We hit the summit around 5:30pm and opted to stay an extra night in camp to rehydrate and recover. Pitch breakdown -I led the odd pitches, Jason even. We each onsighted our leads and followed clean: 1. 5.7 off snow to large bench, moved belay 2. 5.9 good cracks 3. 5.10+ linked intermittent cracks and finished with a boulder sequence on slopers – good rock 4. 5.10 R good rock led to a 20 foot stretch of kitty litter and poor protection, dubbed “Pitch of Terror”. It reminded me of the “Rite of Passage” pitch on King of Swords of the Diamond and my pitch on McNerthney Pillar of Mt. Waddington where a block fell in my waste. Kudos to Jason for committing to the terrifying expanding cracks and decomposing holds to top out this pitch clean! 5. 5.8 leftward ramp 6. 5.9+ on good rock 7. 5.10 intermittent kitty litter 8. 5.10 crack and bouldery finish 9. 5.8 corner/gulley 10. 5.6 gulley continued 11. 5.6 scramble to summit block First Ascent of East Face, "F*%# the Pain Away," 11 pitches, 5.10+ R. The name is an inside joke from listening to Peaches on our 13-hour road trips to Cody. For a good laugh, check it out on .For the first alpine climb of the season, it was quite the adventure with a strong and equally crazy partner. Topo of our route and the NE Arete climbed in 1979. Photo by Lowell Skoog. Our approach line from the InReach GPS/messenger The approach up the Swamp Creek drainage View of the East Face from the ridgeline at sunrise. Getting stoked! Tower at Sunrise Views from Snowy Lakes of Tower, Hardy, and Golden Horn Approach down the gully Jason at the base, ready to take on the hot sun Me starting up the first pitch with the east face above Jason starting up the second pitch on clean granite Jason following pitch 3, a highlight of the climb and the 10+ crux is shown here, transitioning from a crack around the corner to slopers. Jason heads off into the unknown of Pitch 4 with the soon-to-be-terrifying kitty litter above him Jason following Pitch 5 Me coming up pitch 6, and psyched to get a break from the hot sun Me heading out into the unknown of pitch 7, starting with another band of loose rock and doing his best to hold the rock together and get some pro And last but not least, the summit shot - the classy version! Gear Notes: Double rack to #3 would work well. We also carried #4 and #5 cams (largely unnecessary), knifeblades (but never placed any), and didn't leave any gear or anchors as you descend the standard scramble route. Tool and/or crampons for descent down gully. Approach Notes: Swamp Creek approach. See topo map.
  16. Trip: Colfax Peak - North Face "Ford's Theatre" 500' AI4+ (FA) Date: 4/20/2015 Trip Report: Yesterday, Andrew Fabian and I skipped work and put up a fourth route on the north face of Colfax. The previous three noted in the Alpinist blog after Colin Haley put up his route earlier this month. I spotted the potential route back in February when I climbed to the col west of Colfax to get a cell phone call out to my wife. I’ve been itching to get on it ever since. Most of the route is hidden from the approach and previous beta has only speculated about seeps coming out of the rock forming the lower ice. ref: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/738732/2 It does indeed connect to upper snowfields and eventually tops out with the last 100’ of the Cosley-Houston. The route is in great shape, climbing 3 pitches of steep ice before mellowing out on steep snow gullies to the eventual summit. It’s a spectacular setting, with amazing views of Lincoln Peak and the Thunder Glacier cirque, and the Salish Sea far off in the distance. The climbing is fun and sustained, but with not many belay options after the first pitch. A bold party could likely combine the second and third pitches into one long pitch and avoid hanging screw belays. Big credit to Andrew for making the route go and rope gunning the hard pitches! Typical view of the North Face of Colfax. Polish route center left (hanging pillar not touching down). Cosley-Houston center right. The bottom portion of Ford's Theatre just visible to the right before it disappears behind rock buttresses. Before commiting to the climb we hiked up to Point 8704 to get a good view of the route and verify it would go, center left over Andrew's shoulder. Heading up to the base of the climb. I led the first pitch, a short 20m WI3 pitch to a great belay cave and nice stance. Enough snow gets blown into the cave to create a bomber picket anchor, saving screws for the next lead. Pitch 2 immediately gets down to business with a short free standing pillar and continuing up steep hard ice. Here Andrew leads out, with Lincoln Peak watching the action on Ford's Theatre while Assassin Spire creeps up right of Lincoln and the Wilkes-Booth route sneaks up from behind... Andrew stopped at a hanging belay ~30m up the WI4+ second pitch. From here we hung/aided/gumbied across an awkward traverse to move the belay before Andrew fired the last ice pitch, also AI4+. Steep! Looking down from the new belay for the final ice pitch. Steep snow Looking up the last 100' shared with Cosley-Houston All smiles on top: Overall we thought it's an outstanding route, slightly harder than Cosley-Houston but a good alternative for anyone looking for something new. With the snow fields feeding it from above I'm guessing that if C-H and the Polish are "in", so is this route. Gear Notes: We took 10 screws of various length. A couple more would have been nice. Pickets were also key for a bomber belay anchor on pitch one and for the top of the last ice pitch. Also nice for the upper snow fields. Small rock rack and pins carried but not used. Approach Notes: No sweat!
  17. Trip: Lincoln Peak - Wilkes-Booth Route (NW Face) Grade 4+ AI4+ Date: 3/13/2015 Trip Report: Lincoln Peak Wilkes-Booth Route (NW Face) AI4+ Grade 4+ ~2000 ft. FA- M. Rynkiewicz, D. Coltrane 3/13/2015 Michal Rynkiewicz and I climbed the NW face of Lincoln peak via a combination of glacial, alpine, and water ice, with steep snow fields and amazing ridge traversing mixed in. I was inspired to climb this route by a 2010 TR of Assassin Spire by the phenomenal Cascade hardman Tom Sjolseth. His trip report included a few choice picture of the NW face of Lincoln with big inspiring flows that would possibly lead to the summit of Lincoln. Given that and the great snow conditions we have been having this year I didn't really have a choice but to go out and give it a try. We were a little concerned with the warm temps and recent snow, but upon views of the start we couldn't resist. We climbed the route in a single push from the Heliotrope ridge trailhead ascending the NW face and descending the SW face (Standard) route. It was a big day and one of the most amazing routes I have had a chance to climb in the Cascades. I feel very fortunate to be blessed with outstanding partners and to be allowed passage by this amazing mountain. Sunrise on the Sisters Looking at first pitch on Descent. This is the same start as for Assassin Spire and the route shares the lower portion with Shooting Gallery until you get to the upper Ampitheatre. Starting up the first pitch. The upper half of this pitch is the crux with poorly protected overhanging ice of dubious quality. looking down at the overhanging glacier while cruising up through the first snow field. Vertical ice curtain headed up to the glacier. Michal climbing the glacier to gain the upper amphitheater. This was a fun step of glacial ice with good protection. First views of the ampitheatre. We climbed the obvious flow in the middle. It was about 120m of amazing WI3+ plastic ice like I have never seen in the Cascades. We climbed it in two long pitches. There are other climbs to be had along the face. Climbers right is a slightly easier variation that would traverse in to the main flow, and climbers left the gully would probably go with a bit of shenanigans at the top. Setting up an anchor for the first pitch. Michal Starting out the first pitch, this pitch was a full 70 meters with a little simuling on 60m ropes. this was the harder of the two pitches with a few vertical step of ice that had good features. So Much Ice! Starting out the second pitch. This was the easier of the two with one short 85 deg. section at the start and about 50m to the top of the flow. Cruising the upper snow field with the amphitheater below. Amazing ridge climbing along bomber snow and rime. Assassin Spire is the rocky spire down and right. Navigating the upper ridge to the first sub summit. From here we had to downclimb a short portion of rime ice to get to the last pitch to the summit. Looking back at the downclimb section. Such amazing position. Michal Working his way up the last technical pitch to the summit. Looking up the gulley to the summit. This was another full 60m pitch, but relatively easy. Summit Selfie! All that was left was getting off #2 on the hardest peaks in Washington. Just downclimb 2000 ft of steep snow... Out of the danger zone and glad to be heading back. From here we traversed back along the north side of the peak to Heliotrope ridge. Thanks again to my amazing partner for the commitment, and strength to get this huge climb done. Special thanks to The Tom Sjolseth for getting after it and sharing the stoke! I would have never known this was an option without his beta. Daniel Coltrane Gear Notes: 9 screws, 3 pickets, small rack to 2", set of Nuts, and small set of pins, 60m rope Mostly used screws and pickets. Approach Notes: Approached from Heliotrope ridge across the lower portion of the Thunder Glacier.
  18. Trip: Mt Rideout - Minus Six (NE Face) - 400 m WI3 70 deg. Date: 3/10/2015 Trip Report: The north couloir (aka Minus Five) on Mt Rideout was first climbed by Don Serl, Joe Bajan and Joe Buszowski in January of '83. A classic line that runs straight to the summit. In Feb. 1994, Rob Nugent and Bob Koen took an obvious left forking ramp out of the north couloir, traversing a couple hundred meters left across the midheight ledge of the face to reach a parallel gully to the left, which was followed to the summit ridge with some slabby 5th class rock to exit. Last Tuesday, Maxim de Jong and I climbed a separate gully left of the North Couloir to reach the same Nugent/Koen traverse and finishing gully. I guess the question that is brought up by this is, when is a variation to a variation a new route or not? The line we climbed was independent of the North Couloir throughout, so going by the numbering scheme for the Sumallo Cirque Max thought up in the 90s, our route would be Minus Six Couloir as it's the next line left of Minus Five, which is itself five gullies left of Zero Gully. I'd thought of Sumallo Cirque winter routes for a couple weeks but couldn't find an interested partner and/or was too busy with work. When Max became free, we originally tried to climb this on Sunday the 8th but only brought his pickup, no quad. When we ran into deeply rutted ice crust/snow at the gated bridge, 5 km down valley from the road end, we decided to come back in the midweek with his quad. With the quad, we were able to follow past snowcat, snowmobile and quad trails all the way to near the pulled-out bridge over the west fork of the Sumallo. We walked from there to the base of the face in about an hour. I thought we were there to climb Minus Five, but when we neared the base, I ended up heading into the next gully to the left, just following my nose. Max came along behind and said "Oh, this is where we retreated the last time". Max and Shaun had tried it once before but retreated from below the crux WI3 due to heavy spindrift and wind slab avalanches.We looked at the potential lower traverse into Minus Five and it looked like crap - unbonded melty ice over sloping rock - which left the straight up option as our only option Max coming up to where we started to belay. The straight up option was a narrow runnel of good ice but it was also a spindrift chute from the upper ledge. We waited out a few white powder douches before getting a stable spell. I led through and Max followed. Heading out from the belay, bottom of the ice visible A 60m pitch of WI3 with 5m of near-vertical to start and a long runnel of moderately good ice and snice followed, a couple screws and a couple good nuts helped. I belayed at a widening in the gully above as it opened out to the base of the mid-height ledge that crosses the face. Max led thru and out onto the ledge. We headed right and up to a point overlooking the North Couloir, which we still thought we were going to climb. Max heading to the junction with the Nugent/Koen. I had been supposed to bring pickets but forgot them, so at this point I had untied from the rope and was soloing next to it as that seemed a marginally safer technique. The snow was pretty stable, and there wasn't ,much chance of either of us coming off. The descent down the Nugent/Koen ramp to get into Minus Five looked feasible, but 100-150m of steep downclimbing didn't seem like the best way to make progress either. We saw a lwdge that might cross directly into the north couloir, but it also crossed a couple ribs, with unknown difficulty on the far side of the larger one, and we thought it might be time consuming. So we decided to head left and into the upper Nugent/Koen couloir line, even though we'd seen from below that it had a humungous cornice at the top. We traversed back left across the upper edge of the shelf for about two and a half pitches (some simulclimbing) to get into the upper gully. The rock varied between OK and total shit, so I ran it out 50 m, found a nut, simuled another 50 m, found a horn to sling to back up a crappy pin, and then belayed just beyond when the rock changed back to OK and a splitter nut crack appeared. Max led through into the Nugent/Koen gully. Traversing The upper gully was moderately angled but the cornice at the top looked like a cruise ship's bow hanging out over us, and it had not one but two crown line fractures! It was kinda intimidating. We found one or two sheltered belay spots along the sides of the couloir to huddle under while picking our way up. Max in the couloir Trying to decide which exit to take. We could see two possible ways around the cornice - a gully out right, or traverse a shelf right below he cornice to turn it on the left. I elected to go left. Heading up to the left exit. The left exit was one of the scariest places I have ever been in in the mountains. My helmet was a few centimeters from bonking the underbelly of the cornice, which hung out over my head a couple of meters. I know people bivy under these in the Himalaya and stuff but I couldn't help but think "this thing could drop at any second and if it does I'm fucked." When I got out to the left edge of the cornice, where it kicked back to just less than vertical, I was so relieved, and so worried about the rope cutting in to the overhanging part if I went any further, that I buried Max's old "experimental design" snow fluke and my tools in the snow and belayed right there. Max came up and led through over the bulge and onto the welcome flatness of the east ridge. Max with a couple of meters of steep snow left to go to the top. Once we topped out on the ridge we thought briefly about summiting but weather coming in and a desire to get off the mountain down a gully that we knew had more large cornices saw us decide to just head down. We found away around those cornices, and downclimbed the Silvertip-Rideout col gully all the way back to our tracks from the morning, where snow conditions relented enough that we could finally take off our crampons and plungestep back down the hill. We got back to the quad right at dark, for about a 12 hr round trip day. It was a good route - certainly not the longest on the mountain, but involving some fun terrain. I suppose I still need to go back to summit Rideout, though. Gear Notes: Small-med nuts, a couple pins, 4 tricams, 2 hexes, 4 ice screws (1 ea. 10 cm, 14 cm, 17 cm, 19cm), one "experimental design" flexible aluminum snow fluke from 1990. Should have broght a couple pickets. Single 8.something mm 60 m rope. Approach Notes: Big pickup with quad in back.
  19. Spring Mountain - FA: TickTac 2/22/2015 Trip Report: As promised, the windfalls have been taken care of, and the approach is clear and straightforward, taking about 25 minutes. Friend Chad and I put up a new 35 M pitch that goes from P1 of Ticktock and moves up left to find a nice arete feature that parallels Romantica's P2, ending in a set of belay bolts on a spacious ledge. It's 5.7+/5.8 and makes for a fun outing on great stone (typical of the area). We rapped Ticktock and dug the moss out of the cracks (which had not been scrubbed since 2005). It is in pretty good shape now, just needs a little rain and wind to flush. Gear Notes: 10 draws Approach Notes: Easy
  20. Trip: mount garfield west peak - preiss route Date: 7/22/1999 Trip Report: As I have never done an official trip report on this climb, I will now. In mid-July 1999 I was under the west peak of mt Garfield, in the woods trying to find the beginning of the rock wall. After traversing in from the trees, left of the rock wall, I gained the large ledge with a weak waterfall on its left side and an obvious stair stepped rock “gully” next to the waterfall. I then made a few difficult, (for me) un-roped moves just below and right of the obvious stair stepped rock. After approx. 60-80ft of climbing the easier “stairs”, I set up my first belay. The belay was in the first crack I came too, on the right side of the “staircase”. After rappelling and retrieving my pack I re-climbed the pitch. At the belay and staying on self-belay I exited the stairs, moving out right slightly to some fun 5.8-9 slabby rock with a few good cracks/pockets to add protection. After A full pitch I reached a shelf with a couple small pools of water on it. After retrieving my pack I went up, angling left, climbing easier rock un-roped until I reached the base of the great slabs. I then climbed sub-par 3rd-4th class rock un-roped, which seemed like awhile (6-700 feet?), eventually aiming for a small, thick stubby tree on the upper right side of the face. From here I self-belayed out of the tree via a few fun moves and went on to the next small tree patch. After retrieving my pack I decided to bivi here. It was only around 630-7pm but I felt like resting some. The tree patch had a few small trees and sandy ground but was tilted and not very comfortable. Looking back I should have went one more pitch and got to the large shelf below the upper headwall. But at the time I didn’t think of it and I can’t remember if I could even see it from where I was. I didn’t bring a stove so I ate my cold sandwich and tried to sleep. I awoke at 4am and started climbing at 430. Still un-roped, I climbed the hard to protect slabby rock. I reached the large ledge in less than a rope length. When on the large shelf below the headwall, I traversed it to its left side and self-belayed a fun (5.7) blocky corner. This pitch ended at a small sandy notch. After retrieving my pack I continued self- belayed up from the notch via a few thin moves (5.9+) with a solid thin crack for protection. After these few moves I reached easier rock on the rib. I continued up easy rock without the rope on until I reached what looked like my last obstacle, a rock wall of maybe 60-80 feet. I tried it with the rope in my pack but I felt it was little hard at the time, and I didn’t want to do something stupid, so I broke out the rope again. It seemed it was in the 5.8/9ish range with good protection. And then was finished. I walked A little down and left thru a small gap in the trees to the gentle northern slopes, then walked right 40-50 feet and climbed the back side of the final 30 foot summit rock. It was 1230pm. little did I know I would miss work the next day as I had a mini epic descent, but that’s another story. Preiss route IV 5.8/9 west peak mt Garfield July 1999. I belayed 4-5 harder pitches (with good pro) out of aprox 14-16(?) pitches. I took my camera but unfortunately I forgot to load the film before I left my car. Small/med rock rack to 3 inches. didn't need pins http://www.cascadeclimbers.com/plab/data/504/medium/2014-11-21_21_29_57.png[/img]
  21. Trip: 11 Day Pickets Traverse - W Fury - "Scorned Woman" (IV, 5.6) Date: 9/15/2014 Trip Report: After enjoying an amazing 7 days in the Pickets last summer with my high school friend Matt, we made plans to join forces for another trip this year. This time we would head in via Little Beaver to Whatcom Pass, carry over Whatcom Peak, descend to Perfect Pass, carry over the rarely-climbed W Challenger, traverse to Pickell Pass, carry over Swiss and the West & East Peaks of Mt. Fury, descend to Picket Pass, carry over Himmel-Otto Col, descend to Crescent Creek Basin, climb Twin Needles and Degenhardt, and exit via The Barrier and Terror Creek. This was obviously a full agenda, but based upon our successes last year I figured this would be a challenging yet rewarding adventure. It turns out I was sort of right. In an ideal world, we’d be able to complete this trip in 7 days. Matt told his contact we’d be out for 7 days, but that it was possible to be held up by weather for an additional 2 or 3. But this is the Picket Range, a place where plans and reality seldom agree. Leading up to the day of departure, I intently listened to the weather forecast, using all available resources. The last forecast I got before our departure indicated weather was going to be excellent for the first four days of the trip, then moisture would be moving in for a day or so, then it was to clear again. Weather at that time in our trip would definitely cause us to return late, so we both decided to pack for 9 days just in case. By some stroke of luck, my friend Mike H informed me that my friends Don B, Carla S, Mike C, and Brett D were going to be heading in to climb Luna Peak on Thursday AM. I contacted Don and asked him if we could share the boat ride up lake. Don was glad to have us on board, and we would all be saving money by filling the boat to capacity. So it was settled – meet at 0815 Thursday at the Ross Lake boat dock. Matt and I met in Federal Way that morning since I was visiting with my parents in Dash Point. Before meeting the boat at Ross Lake, we dropped off Matt’s car at Goodell Creek, our intended exit route. It took a little more time than we thought to handle all the logistics, and we wound up having to sprint down to the lake to be there right at 0815 sharp. But we made it! Before long, we were being dropped off at Little Beaver landing, and our adventure had begun. Day 1 – Little Beaver landing to Twin Rocks Camp 15 miles, 1100 ft gain, 500 ft descent With heavy packs, we set off up the dark, forested valley. Wild mushrooms greeted us frequently, and Matt found a few Chanterelles and Oysters. They looked delicious. We arrived in a deserted Twin Rocks Camp a bit tired from the heavy packs, but eager to get above tree line and happy to find a place to bed down for the night. We saw nobody between Little Beaver landing and Twin Rocks Camp. Day 2 – Twin Rocks Camp to Whatcom Pass 4 miles, 2500’ gain I was able to get a weather forecast in the morning that reinforced the one I heard before we left – weather moving in by Sunday night. As we made our way up to Whatcom Pass, the trail became brushier and fairly overgrown. At one point, the trail goes right at a creek crossing, but we missed it and crossed the creek. Immediately after crossing the creek, we saw the flagging upstream on the opposite side. We crossed the creek again back to the trail, but not before getting wet feet from rock hopping on slippery rocks. We stopped to try to dry our boots for an hour or so, and it helped a bit, but feet were still damp. By the time we got to Whatcom Pass, we decided to stay there so we could use the several hours of available daylight to dry out our socks and boots. We did not want to go into this trip with wet feet! Given our itinerary, we would ostensibly be on Fury on Sunday night. In light of this, we aimed to get to Pickell Pass on Sunday, a relatively safe spot to sit out the weather. Day 3 – Whatcom Pass to Whatcom Peak summit via N Ridge, and down to Perfect Pass 2.25 miles, 2400’ gain We awoke to beautiful blue skies and no wind, and we got started from camp around 9AM. We made our way up the N Ridge of Whatcom Peak, which was mostly rock with just a small amount of snow remaining (entirely avoidable). The climbing steepened a bit and there were bits of class 4, but for the most part it was exposed class 3 with marginal rock. Before long, we were standing on the summit enjoying the views we came for! Alan Kearney had signed the summit register that morning. In the register, Alan wrote that he was up there photographing the Challenger Glacier as part of an effort to depict glacial recession in action. He will be putting these photos up on his website and comparing them with photos he took in the 70’s. You can check that project out at http://alankearney.com. After savoring the views for a while and enjoying the warm temperatures and brilliant sunshine, we descended to Perfect Pass in perfect boot-glissading conditions. It took all of 10 minutes to get there. In camp early, we decided to lounge around and relax. It got hot that afternoon and we sought shade to cool down. As the evening wore on, the moon rose behind Challenger making for excellent photo opportunities. Day 4 – Perfect Pass to W Challenger summit to Pickell Pass 4.5 miles, 3000’ gain From Perfect Pass, we headed up the ridge to the glacier. Along the way, we encountered a memorial plaque commemorating the men who died on Firewood One on a SAR mission on the way to Redoubt Peak on September 11, 1980. It was interesting and sobering to see the crash site and find bits and pieces of helicopter on the way up. The setting is sublime. Heather and rock intertwine with small ponds that give way to dramatic views of jagged N Cascades peaks. May these men rest in peace in this beautiful little slice of our world. The Challenger Glacier is fairly broken up right now, and getting to the true summit of Challenger would be interesting (but not impossible as some recent reports suggest). Still, we weren’t aiming for the true summit of Challenger, we were aiming for the rarely-climbed West summit. Getting to the base of the W summit involved some careful crevasse avoidance and end runs and cramponing on hard ice with aluminum crampons, but it could have been worse. The route to the summit of W Challenger is best approached from the South to avoid a sketchy, rubble-filled gully on the N side. From the base of the rock it’s about two or three pitches of low to mid fifth class climbing (loose) to reach the summit. On top, we found the original summit register Kodak can with the Fred Beckey first ascent page still in it – all in perfect condition. What a treat. Rappelling back down the route involved delicate avoidance of loose rock and creative anchor-building skills, as the existing anchors I found left something to be desired. Continuing on, we descended through a notch between Middle and West Peaks to the glacier below, and traversed the W side of the Northern Pickets over to Pickell Pass. Days 5 & 6 – Tentbound at Pickell Pass Sunday night it started to cloud up, and by Monday morning we were in the soup. Visibility was nil when we awoke Monday morning as expected, and it was COLD! I had forgotten how cold it can get in September in the N Cascades. With our route ahead going over W Fury, we needed good weather, so we were prepared to sit it out for 2 days. It didn’t rain at all on Monday, but on Monday night into Tuesday it torrentially downpoured all night with freezing rain. When we awoke Tuesday morning, we had a sheet of ice on our tent. Fresh snow adorned the N flanks of the surrounding mountains. We needed Fury to be without high winds, we needed to have good visibility, and we needed the route to be free of ice-glazed rock. Until these three conditions occurred, I was unwilling to venture forward. During our stay at Pickell Pass (one of the most remote points in the lower 48 states), we saw nobody. However, we did have an odd-looking airplane fly over us less than 200 vertical feet above our heads. The plane came from Picket Pass, flew low over Pickell Pass, and continued to fly low out towards Challenger and flew directly into a large cloud and disappeared. We didn’t hear any explosions, so hopefully he made it out OK. Day 7 – Pickell Pass to Swiss Peak Wednesday morning dawned clear but windy. I would say winds were sustained at 30 gusting to 45. We were cold sitting around in all of our clothes at camp. These were not ideal conditions for being in the mountains – let alone climbing Fury – and so we felt the safest choice was to wait it out and see if the winds would subside. We knew we needed to contact someone back home to let them know we were OK, but we could not get cell phone reception to do so. We were concerned that people would be worried about us back at home, but we didn’t really have a choice.. we were at the very minimum 2 days in from the nearest road. We had a discussion that morning about changing our itinerary to exit via Access Creek, mainly due to uncertainty about the condition of Himmel-Otto col and the need to get out to the road faster so we could contact our loved ones before they could notify authorities of our late arrival. By about noon, the winds had calmed down enough and the sun had been out long enough to warm up the atmosphere a bit and give us the confidence we needed to continue on. We had listened to the weather forecast that morning and it indicated that warm temps were on their way back and it would be clear for the foreseeable future. So with that, we packed up camp and headed up towards Fury. I had done an E  W Fury traverse with Fay Pullen in 2009, so I was familiar with the route between the peaks and over to Luna Fury Col, but wasn’t sure about the route up from Pickell Pass. There is a W Ridge route reported by others, and I wanted to get up and take a look at it from Swiss Peak so I could see what we were getting into. So with that, Matt and I climbed Swiss and looked over at the route, and to our dismay the entire N side of Fury was coated in ice and snow. This would make climbing dangerous with our aluminum crampons and light axe, and so we decided to try and find another [new] route. By this time, it was already 3:30PM and we only had 4 hours of daylight remaining. Instead of trying to get up and over Fury today, we would play it safe and camp below the summit of Swiss Peak and get an early start on Thursday morning on a new route I had spied from Swiss Peak. I did not know how involved this route might be, so I wanted to give us all the time necessary. It turns out that was a smart choice. We bivvied at ~7500’ that night in the basin below Swiss Peak under clear, starry skies. It got so cold our water bottles froze completely solid. I would guess temps dipped into the mid-20s. Day 8 – Swiss Peak to W Fury Bivouac We awoke early to a very cold morning. We got a little bit later start than we wanted to as it was difficult to get moving in the colder-than-expected temps. Besides, we wanted a certain snow section on route to soften up before we got to it, as our aluminum crampons would be sketchy on the ice-hard snow. We started up a steep section of mid fifth class rock that eventually laid back to class 3-4. The route then crossed a steep (65 degree) snow finger, before entering into more steep rock just prior to gaining the crest of Mongo Ridge. From the crest, we descended into steep, loose gullies on the opposite side (class 4) that we opted to climb instead of the crest with our heavy packs and rather meager rack. From here, the route is a bit of a blur but we stayed right of the crest of Mongo Ridge, climbing over several very exposed towers along the way to the summit. In all, our route involved about 1000’ of climbing once we left the snow leading up to the col between Swiss and Fury. I would rate our route Grade IV, 5.6. As it was getting late in the day, we bivvied atop a very exposed tower on the crest of Mongo Ridge, about 200’ below the summit of W Fury. What a spot! I slept tied in, Matt opted to forgo the anchor. Throughout the night, I could hear a snafflehound in the rocks below me and plastic crinkling. I again tried to get cell phone reception that night, but could not. Day 9 – W Fury Bivouac to camp below E Fury When morning came around, Matt found that the little snaffle had stolen his headlamp! Strangely, all of our food remained untouched. We got going around 8AM from our bivy spot, and carefully made our way over to the summit among loose rocks. We signed the register on W Fury (Fay and I were the last to sign it in 2009), and continued on towards E Fury. It took Fay and I roughly 3.5 hours to traverse the ridge on our 2009 trip, so I was optimistic that Matt and I could climb it in roughly a similar amount of time. What I neglected to factor in was that we had a couple of things conspiring against us. For one, we had to ration our food because we were so overdue. This meant stretching 9 days worth of food into 11 somehow. As a result, we were both extremely low on energy. Also, we were carrying heavy packs. My pack going into this trip was about 75 pounds. While climbing Fury, I would guess it was at least 60. This made for extremely slow going. We eventually made it over to E Fury, but it took about 5.5 hours. By the time we got over to E Fury, we were tired. I tried again to get cell phone service, but I couldn’t get it. Not even a text message would send, despite my phone showing I had 3 bars of reception. That night we camped about 1200’ below the summit of Fury on some slabs. Day 10 – E Fury Camp to Luna Camp We were now in a mad dash to get out to the trailhead before a rescue could be called on us. We left camp and made our way down through Access Creek and out to Luna Camp. I saw a Blackhawk chopper flying over the Pickets and wondered if they were looking for us. We arrived at Luna Camp about 7PM after about 10 hours on the move. Hiking the trail 17 miles out to Ross Dam was not an option until daybreak. Day 11 – Luna Camp to Home We awoke early and continue our march out to the lake, hoping to flag down a boat on a busy, sunny September day on Ross Lake. About ½ mile from the lake, we encountered an NPS ranger who asked us if we had seen any bedraggled climbers. I said, “you guys aren’t looking for us are you?”. She held up a picture of both of us and that’s when we knew they were. It turns out Matt’s Dad (rightfully concerned with our late arrival) called the Ranger Station. They made the decision to send out two choppers, a ground team, and the ranger we ran into near Ross Lake. Crap. In retrospect, Matt and I both dropped the ball on this one. We should have been better at communicating our plan to our loved ones and to each other. My parents (who I usually leave my climbing itinerary with) are in India right now, and could not be contacted. Had they been contacted, I know for a fact my Dad would have said not to send out a rescue. I was carrying a PLB on this trip (a Res-Q-Link) and unfortunately that little tidbit of information was never relayed to the NPS. If they had known that I had a PLB, they would not have sent out a rescue. The problem is, I self-permitted for this trip because we had a boat to catch and a car to drop off, and I never contacted anyone at the ranger station personally. Had I spoke to a ranger at the time I permitted, I probably would have mentioned the fact that I had a PLB with me. I regret having valuable resources wasted on us. I understand the NPS is working with limited resources, and I feel terrible that this situation occurred. Still, it is a lesson learned and next time both Matt and I will better communicate our plans to loved ones (that are actually inside the country). This is the first time I have ever been overdue from a climb. It may not be my last, but next time I will have a better plan in place to prevent something like this from happening again. Thanks to the NPS and everyone involved in the search, and especially Kelly Bush who called my climbing partners seeking information and who went the extra mile to find us. She retired last summer, but still does some orchestration of rescues and other work for the Park. Her expertise and knowledge will be sorely missed. Mt. Challenger from the approach to Whatcom Pass. Matt hiking up the Little Beaver Trail to Whatcom Pass. Meadow below Whatcom Pass. Mt. Challenger and Whatcom Pass Trail. Matt hiking above Little Beaver Valley. Matt stops to appreciate the view of Mt. Challenger. Moon rising over Eiley-Wiley Ridge. Little Beaver. Mt. Challenger from our camp above Whatcom Pass. Sunset from camp. Alpenglow on Challenger. Matt hiking up to the N Ridge of Whatcom Peak. Matt takes in the views. Whatcom Peak and the Whatcom Glacier. Matt on the snow arête on the N Ridge of Whatcom Peak. Matt scrambling on Whatcom Peak. Matt scrambling. Looking down the W Face of Whatcom Peak. Matt on Whatcom Peak. Boot glissading down to Perfect Pass. Baker & Shuksan from Perfect Pass. Challenger at dusk. Hozomeen. The moon rising over Challenger. A pond near Perfect Pass at dusk. Matt at sunset at Perfect Pass. Matt scrambling up to W Challenger. Matt looks into the headwaters of Baker River. R.I.P. Near the memorial site. The N Cascades. Matt and Whatcom Peak. Looking into the headwaters of Baker River. Triumph, Despair, and Pioneer. Little Beaver Valley and the Challenger Glacier. Matt ascending Challenger Glacier. Matt on W Challenger. Matt on W Challenger summit. Matt rappels on W Challenger. The top of the Challenger Glacier. W Challenger. The notch. Matt downclimbs below the notch. Matt rappels below the downclimb below the notch. Matt walking down the S Challenger Glacier. The S Challenger Glacier. Matt and the Challenger massif. Sunset at Pickell Pass. Spectre and Swiss. Looking down Picket Creek from Pickell Pass. Mongo Ridge and W Fury. Spectre, Swiss, and W Fury. Matt and camp at Pickell Pass. Matt hikes above the Goodell Creek headwaters. Again. Mongo Ridge. Our bivi below Swiss Peak. Looking into Goodell Creek from our camp. Matt climbing a crappy gully on W Fury. Interesting rock. One of the several towers along the ridge. Matt looking tired. Dusk over E Fury at our bivi site. Matt at the tower bivi. Looking down from the tower bivi. Matt rappels. The S Pickets. Matt just below the summit of W Fury. The register. Looking back towards the upper ridge. Luna Cirque. Matt appreciates the N Pickets. The S Pickets from the summit of E Fury. Outrigger. Matt descends Fury Glacier in late season conditions. Crevasses were not small. Luna Lake. Matt on the ridge between Luna and Fury. Matt looks down on Luna Lake. Huckleberries were prime! Hucks.
  22. Trip: Liberty Bell - East Face - F.A. Liberty and Injustice for All (5.12- 200m) Date: 9/5/2014 Trip Report: Liberty and Injustice takes a line generally 10m to 20m or so to the right of Thin Red Line. It is characterized by solid edges and thin crack features. It has a distinctly different feel than either Liberty Crack of TRL. The cruxes are mostly short boulder problems that lead to good holds and progressively easier climbing. Both of the 5.12- cruxes also come at the beginning of the pitches which should make them fairly easy to workout and then send. Two of the pitches share climbing with Liberty Loop, an obscure aid route established by Pete Doorish, Chris Chandler and Jim Langdon in 1975. A couple of their old 3/16" bolts can be seen along the way. A couple of the bolts snapped right off with a slight touch of the hammer! The gear is a mix of bolts and small cams. Some may find the small cams to be tricky to place but they are solid once they go in. Overall the protection is very solid but the occasional move has to be done above your gear. After 5 pitches (about 200m of climbing) it joins at the top of pitch 7 on Thin Red Line. Future parties can either continue on or rappel with two ropes from here. The rap is straightforward. From the top of P3 skip the P2 anchor and go straight to the P1 anchor. All anchors are two bolts with fixed biners. I established this route solo over 8 days of work. I'd planned on doing it ground up but after a fair bit of consideration I thought that pre-inspection would create a better overall experience and would reduce the risk of a botched and contrived route. I'm pleased with how it turned out. I redpointed the route rope solo which definitely added to the excitement and challenge for me! It turns out it is kinda scary to not have anyone holding the brake strand of the Gri-gri when you are pulling tenuous moves of 5.12.... Click for hi-res version... Yep that is Liberty Bell. Looking at the P2 face. really good and not that hard 5.11 or so. Great 5.12- climbing here. The gear is a bit exciting but solid. Pitch 4 corner and excellent climbing. I got a bit wet up there a few times... Pitch 5 boulder problem. not that hard once its figured out. Looking up at P5 thin crack. one move of 5.11 that is tricky to figure out. Old bolts from Liberty Loop. I left the old sling and bolt for everyone to admire. Gear Notes: Bolts and Cams... See the topo for the spray Approach Notes: 20 minutes from the road.
  23. Trip: Leaning Towers - First Ascent - east face of Hall Peak Date: 8/16/2014 Trip Report: Are you an alpinist or alpine rock climber or even just a frequenter of the Patagonia catalog? If the answer is yes then chances are you’ve heard of the Bugaboos and chances are… you haven’t heard of the Leaning Towers. They are a group of three notable peaks 50 miles south of the Bugaboos. They feature similar age granite (granodiorite) to that of the Bugs but the 16 km approach that requires a significant amount of bushwhacking keeps the crowds away. The first ten days of August Winter Ramos and I spent bushwacking our way to the best alpine granite that either of us have climbed on. In our days in the range, we established two new routes on the east Face of Hall Peak: - The Direct East Buttress of Hall Peak (IV, 5.9+, 17 pitches, ~2000') - Post Credit Cookie (II, 5.10A, 4 pitches) The Leaning Towers are best viewed from the air; they are composed of three major named peaks. Given a hint after two of our friends had put up a new route on the east face of hall peak the previous year , we aimed directly at the largest buttress on Hall Peak's East face. The LT's are ~50 miles south of the Bugaboos. One of the best (legal) ways to get into the range is via the Dewar Creek Trailhead and then a hike up the pass just above Bugle Basin and down into the drainage below hall peak. This trailhead is accessed out of Kimberley, B.C. ~50 km of dirt roads. We horse packed in the first 12 k; then shouldered our big packs to hike up and over the pass. If you hit it early season enough there will be plenty of snow to make for easy going. At the top of the pass, we found our first view of Hall Peak's DRAMATIC east face. A night at the pass was followed by an epic descent into the most remote and exclusive bouldering area in all of British Columbia. Only a two day approach! This bush on the up had us hiking straight up the creek. UP, UP and UPPPP! we went until we were camped just below Hall Peak and our prize. The "Direct East Buttress" is in the centre of the above photo. This comes after a compilation of others routes in the ranges shows how much rock remains untouched! (Lines courtesy of Ryan Leary) With a bit of a rest day and a chance to scout around for our descent route, we racked up very soon after arriving to try for the Direct East Buttress. A 20 minute walk from camp at 5:00 AM had us at a nice ledge below our first pitch of climbing. The most intimidating feature on the lowers portion of the route is a large roof we could see through camp. Expecting something super hard, we brought out aiders and a few pitons. Winter found a sneak through on airy 5.9 moves. The rock was SPECTACULAR, lots of cracks only requiring moderate cleaning in spots where a bit more traffic would make for perfect climbing. Awesome face climbing just to the right of the main ridge (which is overhanging at this point), we connected cracked systems with a bit of slab all at 5.9! Winter led the crux pitch of the route, 40m of 5.9+ splitter hands! Our face climbing ended a the notch below a large gendarme on the direct south buttress, from here it was meandering mid-5th ridge climbing. After 17 pitches, some shortened for lack of gear and rope drag, we reached the summit!!! WOOT! From here it was a bit of down climbing 4th class slab, a few rappels, some steep snow and we were back to the col where we rappelled onto the snow field above camp. (image courtesy of Ryan Leary and John Scurlock) (image courtesy of Ryan Leary, NOTE, WE FOUND YOU NEED A DOUBLE ROPE RAPPEL TO REACH THE GROUND ON THE NORTHERN TIP OF HALL PEAK) Followed this climbing day with a day of rest, when we slept and played around placing pitons in our campsite practice wall The day after a much needed 24 hours of rest; we felt just leaving would be a bit sad. After taking two days to get to such awesome granite, why not keep rock climbing? A jaunt placed us just below the shorter northern aspect of Hall Peak. We spied a good crack system and ended up putting up a four pitch 5.10a we called "Post Credit Cookie" The first pitch was the 10a crux, clean cracks and fun lie backing and stemming moves gave us a fantastic intro to this face of hall peak. Then came another quality 5.9 pitch. The third pitch was 5.9 with an exposed slab and then low-5th You top out 100m to the south of the fixed rappel anchor. A quick double rope rappel takes you back to the snowfield above camp. We descended, packed up, and hiked partway out. We tried the high road on the way out, sticking to moraines and sidehilling on moraines on the northern side of the peak just adjacent the pass we were aiming for. A cold campsite for the night, then more STEEP bushes followed by three single rope rappels through vertical bush put us on an endless block field to the pass, we recovered some stashed gear and then down the other side. Even though it was incredibly hot, we relaxed our weak knees at Dewar Creek Hotsprings. Finally back at the trailhead several hours later we headed back down that isolated dirt road, looking forward to dinner in British Columbia's own Bavarian Village (Kimberley, B.C.). Block Tower and Wall Tower still offer large and probably HARD objectives. Wall Tower has no completed routes up its east face Hall Peak, thanks again! Get after it! Will be posting more writing and photos at my blog Gear Notes: We brought 2 60m half ropes. Full double rack to 3, with one 4. Could probably get by with single rack to bd .5 then doubles .5 to 3, single 4. If you are thinking of leaving the 4, we used it every pitch Approach Notes: Horse packers help a lot! http://raftkimberley.com/land-adventures Brad helped pack us in the first 12 km. Give yourself two days on the approach. Also! Would like to thank the Mazama's for helping to support our expedition!
  24. Trip: Mt Despair, N summit - NE ("Bipolar") Buttress, 3700+', 5.9 Date: 7/28/2014 Trip Report: Low. (Our first glimpse of the double buttress from banks of Goodell Cr.) High. (Rolf climbs the final snow arête of the N Ridge to the N summit of Mt Despair. The highpoint of the NE Buttress is barely in view on right. Pickets background.) Route summary: the NE Buttress (“Bipolar Buttress”) of Mt Despair, ~3700’ net vertical relief of climbing and scrambling; a few hundred more are climbed thanks to multiple rappels into notches along the way. Difficulties up to 5.9. (Rolf nailed the name.) I think we belayed a total of 9 pitches, 8 on the buttress and 1 to attain the N ridge? This shot taken from the southeast shows the NE Buttress toeing down into Goodell Cr. Photo courtesy of John Roper, taken from the Roost. We began climbing at the base of the big open book in the area of lighter rock on the lower buttress. The feature can also be seen in the background of this shot taken from Mt Terror last summer: And here: Trip summary: a delightful tour of Picket-ness proportions; we approached via Goodell Creek, climbed Mt Despair via the soaring NE Buttress/N Ridge continuation, descended Despair’s west flank, and ultimately exited via Triumph Pass and Thornton Lakes trail to a bike, where the lucky loser of roshambo commenced the 8ish mile ride to retrieve the car. Lots of ups and downs. (On a map, this looks like a reasonable horseshoe route. Plan for three demanding days.) More-enterprising types might more fully express this route by traversing from the N to the S summit, thence to Triumph Pass and home; we left this for future work due to budget constraints of calories and time. A good thing too, as I botched the de-proach; in a monomaniacal fit of hubris, neglected to thoroughly research the route from Triumph Pass to the Thornton Cr trailhead, instead relying on simply a map and odd recollections. As a result, deep into the third day, we achieved new psychological limits by rat-schwacking up a 600+ vf stretch of steep, dense brush. My bad, brah. A soi-disant Cascades dignitary pronounced this a Last, Last Great Problem of the Cascades, while the other side of same mouth pronounced it “table scraps”. The Bipolar Buttress is more akin to eating a spilled gourmet meal off the floor, tasty if a little dirty--the floor in this case is the Goodell Creek valley. The NWMJ notes Roger Jung used Goodell to score FWAs on Mt Fury, but my contacts with real Cascades dignitaries yielded little info re: optimal access in the brushy summer. Sundry, pleasant surprises await those who in future travel this way. Route description/photo blast: Scrambling the lower buttress. Around 1300’ of mostly solid and well-featured scrambling up to low fifth class. Chimney moves to finish the lower buttress difficulties. From top of lower buttress, we rappelled into a notch; a party could bail from here at relatively low cost. Beyond this point, costs increase. Rolf leading out of a notch after a rappel. A very deep cleft in the upper buttress weighed on our psyches during the whole climb; the most technical pitches had occurred climbing out of smaller notches after rappelling into them. This deeper cleft can be seen in Tom Sjolseth’s picture from the N. Only the upper buttress is visible here, extending left—the cleft is near the summit of the buttress. With apologies to Jimi Hendrix, this is the Manic Depression. New lows were hit upon closer viewing of the chasm. The wall we needed to climb appeared very steep, overhanging in places, and meager viable lines looked difficult to access. We rapped in and scoped around, finally settling on a route beginning maybe 50’ to the south of the notch: a right-trending stair-step ramp kept the climbing at a reasonable grade. Watch for loose rock here. Rolf led the first pitch, and I got the leftovers; a bunch more rambling (an exposed stretch felt like the TFT) and we found a dee-luuuuxe bivy site on heather near the high col, where the two E-side glaciers meet. Views into the Pickets were available all day, and made even more enjoyable by respite. Smoke filtering in from eastern Washington provided color. Mr Bo Jangles S Pickets N Pickets The next morning we crossed the high col, climbed a 70m pitch of rock to attain the N Ridge, and then continued on its final snow arête. This pic shows the upper buttress (blocks view of lower buttress) on the right, with Goodell Cr far below. Descent was made by downclimbing to the notch S of the N summit, then down the W side of the peak; one rappel required. Demanding tour, but rewards with sweeping views and ambiance. Bunch more photos here: https://picasaweb.google.com/ewehrly/2014_07_28MtDespairNEBipolarButtress?authuser=0&feat=directlink [Might add or swap out some photos upon receipt of Rolf’s.] Gear Notes: Medium rack with several pins, but never used them. Axe/crampons. Lithium. Single 70m rope. Approach Notes: See above.
  25. Trip: Gorillas in the mist - Date: 7/14/2014 Trip Report: Jon and I enjoyed this route last weekend. Being hot it was the perfect choice as it gets no sun until later in the afternoon. It has the feel of a big-time Cascades route. If you haven't checked it out yet here is a link to mine, and the other reports I could find. I am hoping someone has info on the direct finish, thanks Gorillas