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Found 256 results

  1. Trip: Dirty Face Peak/Lake Wenatchee - Dirty Face Drool (FA) Date: 2/9/2014 Trip Report: Some climbs are harder than others to complete and the mighty Dirty Face Drool took me three attempts over four years to finally find the right conditions. This climb is probably of little significance to most everyone but me, but since this climb is right out the back door of my cabin; it has haunted me since I first saw it quasi-form in 2009. It is a south facing climb on Dirty Face Peak ½-mile past (west) of the Lake Wenatchee Ranger Station: It probably comes in for about 36 hours most years but the light colored rock creates a reflector oven to amplify the sun and quickly destroy it. Overview shot from a previous attempt which shows it better without today's fog and new snow (P1 hidden and not well-formed): My first attempts involved slabby mixed climbing up to M5 on P1 (I freaking hate slabby dry tooling) to find P2’s vertical curtain in not-yet-touched-down dagger shape. With the skiing continuing to be uninspiring, I was able to convince my favorite reluctant ice partner, Moira Armen, to give it a shot Sunday with promises of skiing by lunch when it turned into a dry tool fest. Surprise! We found stellar ice on a very high quality route. It went in five 40-60M pitches. Today, the climbing went up to casual WI4ish with lots of snow covering the frozen drainage in between fun curtains and shorter steps. P1 - easy today since all ice/no DT required. (Ice is obscured by last night's snow) P2 (so fat today!) P3: P4 was a move-the-belay pitch. Final pitch: The walk off was super easy with gorgeous Lake Wenatchee and Nason Ridge to add to the ambiance. And, we still were able to ski lots of laps at Stevens in the afternoon. PS - Every WA ice climb that I have done this year I think will probably be the last one of the season but two days after doing this climb (as in earlier today 2/11/2014) Justin Busch and I climbed really fat ice below Red Mtn. It is still out there if you go looking. Gear Notes: Screws only today but lots of rock gear used on previous attempts. Approach Notes: Oh yeah, that. Trespassing is technically required to reach this soon-to-be classic but the lots between the highway and the base of the climb are still undeveloped so park at the ranger station and walk softly.
  2. Trip: Miyar Valley, Himachal Pradesh (India) - New Routes in the Sir Don Chuuudong Terrordome Date: 8/30/2013 Trip Report: Sometimes trips come together so well, that I almost weep with joy when I think about it. This is one of those trips. The bug hit me as I was sitting in the Victoria Theater in San Francisco for Reel Rock back in 2012. I was completely mesmerized…I was watching Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk climb Mt. Meru in India. My mind was set, I wanted to go somewhere far away and climb something that hadn’t been climbed. I hadn’t done an international expedition since my trip to China back in 2005. I was craving adventure. So, during the intermission of the film fest, I texted the most "available" climbing partner I know to casually gauge his interest in a trip like this. Jason (Spiceman) immediately texted back - he said was on board for some international climbing shenanigans...and we started scheming. We thought about going to Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan or China, but ended up deciding on the Miyar Valley in India’s Himachal Pradesh. Freddie Wilkinson had put a bug in my ear a few year back in Cuba, saying that the Miyar had loads of accessible, moderate routes just waiting to be climbed by a moderate guy like myself. Done. Luckily, Jason isn’t moderate. Sure, I am in decent shape, can carry a backpack, and am experienced at suffering…but I would need to bring a ropegun along to ensure success. We eventually added another “comrade” to our team, Sandeep. This was particularly awesome because Sandeep is an inherently funny guy and is also a rope gun. Not only that, but as you might guess he speaks Hindi (and not only the dirty words, like me). Sandeep also had a friend in Manali who could organize all the transport, base camp equipment, food, cooks and horsemen - and also help us navigate the confusing climbing permit process requirements in India. The Secret: Just don’t tell anyone! Our Steeley-Eyed RiCkShaW dRiVeR. We didn’t see him blink once in the heavy traffic. After a 3am arrival to New Delhi and a watching a morning monsoon storm from our shoddy guesthouse balcony in central Delhi, Jason and I jumped in a rickshaw taxi for a harrowing ride through New Delhi rush hour, our huge bags (full of heavy climbing gear) bulging from the three-wheeled-near-death-machine. 16 hours later we arrived in Manali, Himachal Pradesh - the jumping-off point for our three-week climbing expedition. Jason, at the “bus station” in Delhi…the bus eventually came a while later. We were quickly greeted by Sandeep’s friend Omi and his friendly entourage, and spent a couple days in Manali acclimating to the time zone and Indian culture before heading up to the hills. Sandeep arrived a day after us, with his parents in tow. Soon, Jason and I began to call his parents “Uncle” and “Antie”. It was a special treat to get to spend time with Sandeep's family, and once our big van was packed up to take us 9 hours to the trailhead, his mom and dad jumped in with us to enjoy the ride to the trailhead! Jason, Sandeep and Sandeep’s mum – along with our unloaded van. Our first hurdle was to brave the monsoon-sodden roads, and cross the Rohtang Pass, a couple hours in a bus from Manali. I was never really frightened on the 25 mike drive to the pass, but I was intoxicated by watching the road unfold in front of us. The higher we drove, the hairpins got tighter, the road muddier, the sides of the road became nearly overhung. Then the mud gets deeper, goopier. The mud is the consistency of a Wendy's frosty, the color of chocolate milk - perfect for mud wrestling. Traffic on the way to Rohtang Pass… Our van driver Sano repeatedly takes us inches from a precipitous cliff, or passing within a whisper of large trucks as oncoming traffic closes in. Part of it feels dangerous, part of it seems like a symphony. Either way, it works...and I think that some of the uptight Seattle drivers could use some of this traffic experience for a bit of perspective. In Udaipur, the last town before heading up the remote and sparesly-populated Miyar Valley, we paid homage to the local Hindu god in a hillside temple. I felt as though our souls were cleansed, and we were cleared to violate the mountains at will. Before we left Udaipur, we passed a shop with a large "Cold Beer" sign outside. I sighed to myself - no more beer for 3 or 4 weeks. At the last minute Sandeep convinced me to buy a couple packs of smokes. Buying sashes before entering the local temple in Udaipur… Jason, emerges from the temple ready to CrUsH! Eight hours after leaving Manali, we were finally driving up the Miyar River Valley, hoping to make our way to the trailhead that night. Other cars weren’t the only obstacles on the way to the Miyar trailhead… Entering Miyar Canyon from the town of Udaipur, you would never imagine there is a vast wide valley above. Canyon walls are steep and tight. The road is in-cut into the cliffs in some places. The fact that there is a road here at all, is rather amazing in itself. Our progress up the Miyar Valley was halted by a stream overflowing at a road crossing. The heavy rains had brought down large rocks onto the "roadway", and the stream was flowing fast enough that we decided to wait till morning, when there was less water flowing, to cross. Well, after much shenanigans and deal-making by Sandeep, we eventually found our way across the side-stream with the rest of our gear, and started up the Miyar Valley on foot, following eight horses carrying provisions for a month in the mountains. Sandeep straightens out the confused horsemen… Loading up the horses was a bit of a shit-show, but most of our stuff made it to base camp without falling off… As we hiked up-valley for the nest three days, the shepherds and flocks were making their way downhill, on their way to lower climes (Punjab or lower Himachal Pradesh) for the winter. Huge herds of sheep filed around us like air over an airfoil. We hiked for two days, up-valley, through open, huge expanses - with nothing barring our advance besides the occasional rock fence to find our way through. A quick smoke break with the shepherds… A guy can get lonely up in the mountains for a month. Don’t judge! On our second day hiking up the Miyar Valley, the side valleys started to reveal glaciers a few thousand feet higher up - we could start to see big mountains up these drainages but the clouds kept their true appearance a mystery. Still, seeing high peaks above us got us excited to start climbing! We probably started walking faster without knowing it. Mount Doom Looms Above! The sheep guarded the best bouldering spots… Four days after leaving Manali, we found ourselves at what we call "base camp"...a spot in a meadow, not far from the termini of the Miyar, Takdung, and Chuudong Glaciers. Our little tent city was a relaxing place to call home for three weeks. A fresh spring nearby provided clean water, and the flat land around was perfect for throwing the frisbee. Base Camp views weren’t bad! Our cooks, Jogu and Sanu, held down the fort for us while we were higher up in the mountains. And, while we were in base camp they provided us with TONS of delicious Indian food to recharge our batteries. The kitchen tent, with our cooks Jugu and Sanu. After our long journey from Seattle to base camp, we were ecstatic to find ourselves at the base of the peaks we had been looking at for months - from photos taken from previous expeditions we found on the Internet and in the American Alpine Journal. We had read about these peaks several times - but to actually see them in person - it was very inspiring. Our first couple days at base camp we spent trying to acclimatize to the altitude. Base camp was at about 13,000' above sea level - the peaks we hoped to climb were around 19,000'-20,000'. So, we had a lot of elevation to gain to attain our summits. With the help of some 2000-3000' high acclimatization hikes, and a little boost from Diamox, we decided to head up the Takdung Glacier three days after arriving at base camp. We packed up with full alpine climbing gear and enough provisions for 6-7 days. Yard Sale! Gearing up for our first trip up the Takdung… Our packs were heavy! Our sights were set on 4 or 5 prominent peaks up a side-valley of the Miyar - the Takdung. We hoped that at least one of these unclimbed peaks would provide a reasonable, yet technical and enjoyable, route to its summit. We were hoping for 5.10 rock climbing and fun snow/ice climbing. All we could do was hope. And start hiking. Up. Up. Up. The hike up the Takdung was, frankly, a bit brutal. We were hiking in a large boulder field for miles. Our speed was tortoise-like. Carrying a huge pack, while hopping from one loose rock to another, while not fully acclimatized to the altitude proved to be a challenge. We took a ton of breaks, often times supporting our heads on an adjacent boulder to help us from passing out! BUT... we continued up, up, up. Talus as far as the eye can see… Up and down, actually. The glacial moraines were anything but straightforward, and we did a lot of zig-zagging, back-and-forth, up and down the loose boulders that lay atop the miles-long sheet of ice that is the Takdung Glacier. By 5pm, we were exhausted after 9 hours of toil, and decided to stop for the night - at a rather grim spot that I called "Camp Drear". The setting was unsettling. Wet gravel provided a soggy base for our tent, the clouds provided us with short bursts of graupel every 15-20 minutes, and the glacier provided water that was silty grey. Camp Drear! It wasn’t that bad, really. But perhaps more of a downer was the appearance of the mountains surrounding us. The quality of the rock looked loose and crumbly, and basically unclimbable. The glaciers, that provided access to the peaks called "The Ogres"(which we hoped to climb) looked melted out, steep, and the lower slopes were constantly peppered with rockfall and avalanches from above. Avalanches came down from Ogre II constantly… Thankfully, as we continued up the glacial valley on the second day, the appearance of the mountains, and consequently, our attitudes, improved. We were finally motivated by the peaks of the Upper Takdung… We climbed through, and eventually above, a large icefall on the Takdung Glacier, and we found ourselves on clean ice glacier terrain - MUCH easier terrain to travel than the boulder hopping hell we had to endure on the lower glacier. Jason takes a breather in the thin air… We eventually found a reasonable spot to camp on the upper Takdung Glacier at around 17,000' elevation. When we arrived at camp, we were each at various stages of hypoxia, fatigue and cheerfulness (grumpiness). We quickly got the megamid tent set up, hunkered down for the night, and discussed our options for climbing an unclimbed tower that lay to the east of us, across the width of the glacier. Oh Boy! Sanjana Peak is in the middle of this photo. The next morning, Jason and I packed up the ropes and climbing gear and made the two-hour walk across the glacier to scope out possible routes up the unclimbed peak. We saw what looked to be a decent, steep, crack system leading from the base of the peak to slightly easier terrain above. We roped up, and Jason led off, up the virgin crack. He led a wonderful pitch of 5.10b-ish climbing a full 70 meter rope length above the glacier. This is what I brought the rope gun for! Jason, about to head up off the deck on Sanjana… Very happy with the quality of the rock, and our prospects for climbing the mountain the next day, we let out a loud series of signature crow calls, yelps, yee-haws, yah-hoos and other esoteric phrases from the base of the mountain. Sandeep could hear us a mile below at camp. We left the ropes anchored to the mountain that night, to give us a jump start the next day - then hiked back to camp. That night we went to bed with high spirits, and with a plan to start climbing the mountain as soon as the sun hit it - around 8:30am. I guess we should have started earlier. The Upper Takdung at before the sun comes up… Our high camp, below the back side of Neverseen Tower… Jason and Sandeep, making their way to the base of Sanjana Peak… The next day, everything started well enough...we re-climbed the first pitch of rock as quickly as we could, then started swapping leads up the mountain. Stoked to be heading up! Around 8:30am here… Sandeep awaits at the top of Pitch #1… Sandeep led the second pitch up a nice line of cracks and face holds. I led a long, but fairly easy pitch of ridge climbing, with a cool, airy, hand traverse over a "whales-back" feature. Definitely airy, and I was euphoric with where I was finding myself. Looking down from the whalesback… We were all in a pretty good mood. We were making progress, and the sun was shining on us - at that point. Feeling “dreamy”. Around noon, pitch #5 or so… All smiles in the sun! A few more pitches up, we were getting higher and higher on the mountain, and started to encounter snow and ice, which slowed us down a bit. It was also starting to get later in the afternoon. I started to think about the prospect of having to descend (rappel) in the dark...not the greatest scenario, but not as bad as sleeping on the summit. I was still hoping it wouldn't come to that. Later in the afternoon on Sanjana, starting to get tired and cold… As usual, the clouds threatened in the afternoon. This day, we were lucky. The terrain was snowy, and it was cold enough to warrant boots in lieu of rock shoes. I was also mega-paranoid of the frostbite my toes had endured on Mt. Waddington, and I didn't want a repeat of that episode. I led one final pitch in my rock shoes, half of which consisted of kick-stepping into 40-degree snow-on-slab. My feet were freezing by the time I arrived at the belay, and I changed into new socks, boots, and chemical foot warmers. Ahhhhh. It was getting darker by the minute now, and we kept making progress upwards...but we couldn't yet see the actual summit - just more walls above us. We Have To Be Getting Close, Right?!?? Darkness still creeping in, Jason led a pitch of iced-up 5.9 cracks in his rock shoes, leaving slings for Sandeep and I to follow on aid in our boots. It was a great lead - and it took us to the base of what seemed to be the summit pyramid. I led a traversey pitch in boots that required a tender foot on loose rock, a bit of aid, and some very trusting moves across large blocks to what HAD to be the base of the summit pyramid. By the time I had a secure anchor set up, it was pretty much dark. I put on my down jacket. I was already wearing all of my clothes that I had packed. Following on aid in climbing boots. Donning his headlamp, Sandeep led up a short pitch if iced-up cracks to a huge block. I heard a declaration of "the summit" from below, and was relieved to be at our high point. The wind was starting to pick up, and I REALLY didn’t want to spend the night in the open, on the summit, at 19,500'. I followed Sandeep and Jason up to the summit via more aided climbing, and we had a pow-wow. It was about 9pm. After some initial disagreements, we decided it would be best to stick out the night on the summit, and take our time to safely decend in the early morning light. And so it began, "The Summit Bivouac"... Being a fairly hyper guy, who also gets cold easily, I'm not sure how I made it through the night without losing my mind. For 9 hours, we huddled on that summit, most of the time crouched behind a huge boulder that was a windblock. But, I got cold sitting still, so I would get up every 30 minutes or so and take off my boots and warm up my tender toes with my hands. Then, I would bang my headache-drenched head against a rock to alleviate the pain - which was made worse by being tormented by watching Sandeep actually SLEEPING, just a meter from my feet. Jason seemed to fade in and out of sleep through the night, occasionally appearing conscious and mumbling something incoherent. As the night wore on, and the moon began to rise, I saw a terrible sight. Above us, looming like Mt Doom, was another tower. A tower that looked steep and formidable. I laughed an evil laugh to myself. We were not on the summit after all! And it pained me to think we had more climbing to do before we could descend in the morning. The view of the final summit pyramid at first light… Hours passed, eventually, somehow...And by 5:30am, we roused each other into a light level of consciousness - we were all very tired and a bit delusional, BUT we wanted to climb to the summit before leaving this mountain. Jason tied in and led a snow pitch to the base of the ACTUAL summit pyramid. Feeling a bit groggy after a shivery night… Spiceman bravely heads off to the base of the summit pyramid… To get to the summit, one more rock climbing pitch was required - Sandeep deftly led this pitch on aid, and I belayed him while being about 7/8 asleep. Jason looked on with one eye open, one closed. Eventually, Sandeep yells "belay off", and Jason and I head off to tag the summit around 9am. Jason and Sandeep on the airy traverse… Tim heads across the horizontal crack, feeling for tiny hand holds… We Got This! The final final final climb to the summit! Three tired comrades atop Sanjana Peak. We decided to name the peak Sanjana Peak, after Sandeep's late sister. The Cascade Route, goes around Grade IV, 14 pitches, 5.10b, A1. We were all extremely exhausted, but we began the descent with the first of nine 70-meter rappels that would take us down to the Takdung Glacier. We had one stuck rope(my fault) and I prusik-climbed up nearly the full 70 meters to fix the situation. I was completely exhausted after that, and I won't make that type of rope mistake again. Jason catches 40 winks on the descent… Just a couple more raps to get to the glacier now… By 4pm, we were back at camp - 34 hours after leaving. We didnt say much to each other before crashing into out sleeping bags - we ate dinner, fell asleep, then woke up the next morning and hiked 8 hours down the boulder field, and back to the paradise of base camp. We ate heavily for the next three days, gorging ourselves on Jogu's cooking. Dal, curries, chapatti, chai, coffee, custard. We ate and ate and ate. Negotiating the boulder fields of the Takdung… On our first rest day, I celebrated my 40th birthday. I am not one to place a lot of importance on birthdays, but I have to say that being on an expedition and climbing new mountains with friends is a pretty awesome way to spend it. Our cook, Jogu, was kind enough to make a wonderful cake with chocolate frosting, using just a kerosene stove. My 4oth Birthday present from Jason. Gummy Bears, whiskey, jerky and an FA – not a bad birthday at all! This guys showed up at camp every day. His name was Sir Donald Chudong. We still had about 9 days left in the Miyar, so we headed up the Takdung one more time to tackle a couple more peaks we had our eyes on. The weather had become quite fickle, and every day an afternoon cold front would move in and it would start to snow on us. With the bad weather hounding us, we opted to try a less technical peak this time. A snowy peak at the end of the Takdung looked appealing, and we set off to claim the prize of its summit. Jason and Sandeep scheming about our next objective… After a long day of glacier hiking, gully scrambling and boot-kicking, we dug out a little snow pit to hunker down for the night. Immediately, it began to snow, and at 5pm we were zipped in our bivy sacks for the night. We were all starving, but couldn't bear sitting out in the cold and blowing snow to cook our food. The amazing view from the ridge above the Takdung Glacier… Quickly setting up camp as the usual nasty weather comes in… The long slog across the Upper Takdung… A cold and frosty morning… A fitful night brought a beautiful, sunny morning. The sun slowly warmed our frozen boots and bodies. Lulled into complacency, we stalled getting out of camp and didn't head up the steep snow of the peak until 9am. By 9:15, snow had started to fall, and it was COLD. My tender toes really hurt and I screamed in pain as we progressed up the 19,500-foot mountain at the head of the Takdung. Sandeep, at the final rock step on Mt. Sealth… Luckily, Jason was feeling great, and he led about 4-5 pitches of steep snow to the base of the summit. A quick scramble on compact rock brought us to the top if the peak, which we named Mt. Sealth - the name of the Duwamish Chief who worked with Doc Maynard to accommodate white settlers in the 1850’s. Cold, tired, and a bit frustrated with the fickle weather, we started rappelling down the mountain. 2-3 hours, and 9-10 rappels later, we were back on the Takdung Glacier. Just one of the many v-threads we did to get down from Mt. Sealth… We were all exhausted the next day, and we decided to head down to base camp, leaving the splendor of the upper Takdung behind us. We were almost out of food, and the graupel-y weather had broken our spirits a bit. But, we also felt like our time on the Takdung was a success, and we headed back to base camp with our heads held high. Another long day of boulder hopping with heavy packs brought us down to base camp, and the comforts that go along with it - food, frisbee, warm weather. The last full day at base camp, Jason and Sandeep were still stoked. They headed out at first light and climbed a new rock route right above camp on a feature called David 62 Nose. Climbing on solid granite, they reached the summit just as the daily dose of graupel was being deposited on them from the heavens. They called their 7 pitch, 350m climb the Emerson-Owen Route, with difficulties to 5.10a. The route took them most of the day, but it was a high-quality ascent - and it was another first ascent! Way to go guys! David 62 Nose, from base camp. Jason, on the lower section of D62N. Higher up on David 62 Nose. And, so quickly it was over! The next day, the horsemen arrived with five strong beasts, and we hiked back down valley to the roads-end in a long single day push. Before we knew it, we were drinking whiskey and eating chicken under electric lights. Another day of driving, and we were back in Manali, with wifi access at our fingertips. That night Sandeep was off in a taxi to Haryana, soon after Jason was off on a cramped bus to Leh, and I bought an Enfield Bullet. The climbing trip was over, but it couldn’t have gone much better. Two new peaks, three new routes, a great cultural experience - and great times with comrades. Near perfection. Just like they used to say in those Old Milwaukee commercials: “Ya know, It doesn't get any better than this!” Summary: Sanjana Peak(5,937m), southwest ridge, first ascent (Tim Halder, Sandeep Nain, Jason Schilling) Mt. Sealth(5,968m) east ridge, first ascent (Tim Halder, Sandeep Nain, Jason Schilling) David’s 62 Nose, southwest face, Emerson/Owen Route, new route on face (Sandeep Nain, Jason Schilling) Some Parting Shots… Three Comrades, below Sanjana and Trento Peaks… View of the Upper Takdung… Myself with our adopted dog “Scrambles”. Gear Notes: The whole kit. We used everything except the #5 and picket. Food from Trader Joe's was very handy. Maggi noodles get old when you have them for breakfast and dinner 5 days in a row. Approach Notes: 1 day airplane travel, 20 hours road travel, 4 days on foot.
  3. Trip: Bonanza Peak, Washington - FA: The Oregonian Route Date: 9/4/2013 Trip Report: First Ascent Trip Report The Oregonian Route a.k.a NW Buttress of SW Bonanza Peak (Slightly closer than the Soviet Route but also not really the “North Face”) 5.9+, 2200’ (1600’ new) Grade V A few other Statistics: Six days, 36 miles of hiking, 43 hours on route, 2 bivies We also wish to express our gratitude to Steph Abegg for her vision and research digging up the Soviet Route and documenting it. SW Bonanza Peak (right) and West Bonanza Peak (left) seen from the west. (Photo: Steph Abegg) 1. NW Buttress, “The Oregonian Route.” 5.9+ V. Keena and Bonnett 2013. 2. W Buttress, "The Soviet Route." 5.9+/5.10 V. Bershov et. al. 1975. (Overlay as documented by 3rd ascent party) When looking for some alpine mischief to get into this summer we stumbled across Steph Abegg’s excellent trip report from her third ascent of the Soviet Route. To our delight, we noticed a parallel buttress starting slightly uphill to the northeast. A bit shorter, probably a bit steeper, just as remote. Within moments we were smitten, ready for adventure, ready to go climb and explore the vertical world, ready to overcome obstacles… and of course there were many more than we had anticipated. Approaching Bonanza Peak has become increasingly complicated as of late due to the Holden Mine remediation to the east (the quickest approach). Since we were constrained by work schedules, we opted for a combination of mountain biking and hiking over about 30 miles from the west up the Suiattle River to Suiattle Pass. This approach offered shorter driving time, low cost, and schedule self-determination, but unfortunately no quality bushwhacking. The loaded rig. The west side approach also possessed the customary WA mountain road condition; limited use during construction. Riding past the work and gradually ascending the narrowing gravel road for 10 miles led to the FS-26 – Glacier Peak Wilderness boundary. We then hiked the following, respectively: Suattle River trail, PCT to Suiattle Pass, hiker trail to Cloudy Pass, finally cross country to Bonanza Col (South of Grant Glacier). MTB approach Great bridge near Suiattle River- PCT trail junction North Star Mtn and the cross country route taken to the Col (far right bench). High camp Finding ourselves still in dense fog and rain on a drab fourth dawn we were becoming worried about getting climbing weather before we’d have to pack up and leave. Just as the meteogram had predicted, however, the weather began to lift, just slightly, around midday (visit pataclimb.com for a great description on how to generate meteograms for climbing). With intermittent fog and less-frequent drizzle, we decided to pull the trigger. The approach and first afternoon of climbing was made continually challenging by the banks of fog and drizzle that continued to lethargically glide by. However we were grateful to have a “window” and excited to be climbing! We made the traverse from the top of the col, past the Soviet Route buttress, to the first climbing technicalities in an hour and a half (enough time to surf some stellar scree). Erik on the talus approach. At 3pm we began by making a somewhat sketchy approach-shoe traverse up the toe of the pocket glacier to the north. Gaining rock a few dozen yards uphill and left of the lowest point of the buttress, we were immediately making near-vertical 5.8-5.9 moves. The toe of the NW buttress. Climbing began on the upper left side Looking up from pitch one We continued ascending moderate terrain with more challenging moves for seven pitches to the lower ledge. The climbing was often loose, sparsely protected, somewhat lichen-covered, and wet, but with excellent position on the crest of the buttress. We only wish we could have seen the view! Erik making moves Banks of drizzle moving by added special "zest" to the evening. Seth Arriving at the lower ledge at about 10pm, we quickly prepped a flat talus surface and snuggled into our lightweight bivy system (1 bag + 1 foam + homemade nylon wedge + 1 small siltarp). We were excited to notice stars that night, and generally slept surprisingly well. We awoke at daybreak to clear skies(!) Morning light on N. Star Mtn and Glacier Peak from bivy 1 ledge. And… A near-vertical wall punctuated by several significant overhangs rose for over 600’ above our bivy ledge. Given the quality of the rock and length of the route, we considered beginning to rappel. As the light slowly increased, we were able to make out a small ledge system, traversing left to regain the buttress crest. This pitch ended up having the highest quality rock of the route and gave us the emotional pump we needed to keep going. It was 6:30am with the makings of good weather. First pitch of the day on great rock Working up and left around loose overhangs We continued for 8 pitches up arêtes and troughs, generally staying just left of the buttress crest, eventually reaching the talus field below the summit block. We climbed in micro-blocks of two pitches because we found leading over the loose and/or steep terrain mentally and emotionally taxing. We were surprised to notice that the rock was often better in the troughs and on vertical terrain, while the lower-angled arêtes tended to be looser. With a report of a party’s Soviet Route attempt ending in rockfall injury earlier this summer, we were very careful to position belays out of the line of fire. Up and slightly left (north) of the arete proper. Note the airborne rock- a constant working up the lesser vegetated troughs At the talus field, we considered bivying again since it was already 4pm, but decided to continue, breaking the remainder into two blocks: ascending the upper Soviet Route (Seth), and the descent (Erik). Some simul-climbing led us past the upper ledge (used to bivouac presumably by the Soviets) and on to the summit block. Three more pitches gained the summit in waning daylight. Summit of Bonanza SW looking west Summit of Bonanza SW looking north. Can you name any peaks? Looking east form the summit at the two higher sub peaks and Isella Glacier (right) THE DESCENT We had planned to descend the south ridge using rappels and down climbing. We had scoped the bottom portion of the ridge from camp, but standing on the summit saw a long section of sharp ridgeline leading down to what we had seen below. It looked like the descent would require several rappels down a loose knife-edge arête just to reach the ridgeline. That descent seemed like a bad idea even in the daylight, as did trying to bivy on the summit. Following previous party’s routes along the ridge to the northeast would also require extensive 4th/5th class climbing in the dark. As light faded, Erik spotted a talus bench between the upper and lower Isella Glacier, exposed by glacial recession. We quickly slung a boulder and started to descend as the ledge disappeared into darkness below us. A rope caught on the second rappel and was bravely fetched on lead by Seth. After three rappels we made our home again amongst talus, a few feet from the cliff edge. Though our thirteen hours of movement did evoked sound sleep, smashed up cheese wraps and celestial beauty were not missed. As the sun rose and we were pleased finally to be in position to benefit from its warming rays. As Erik brilliantly led the downward charge, we moved quickly in and out of technical terrain toward the toe of the main Isella Glacier far below. Erik and.. Seth, feeling fine in the shine (finally) Due to an excellent choice of rappel anchors we got to shower off in waterfalls during two rappels down to the sculpted bedrock below the glacial toe. We quickly coiled the ropes and walked out of the serac-fall zone, grateful to be back on terra firma! (belated) Summit Snickers. Background: Isella Glacier basin, the descent ledges, and the SW summit. The 2nd bivy was at the last snow patch before the summit Seth had to be back at work the following morning so we kept moving through camp and down the trail. Unbenounced to us, our last challenge still lay ahead. Six miles from the trailhead, tendinitis in Erik’s knees began limiting his ability to walk. Quickly Seth took all the weight while Erik staggered down the trail leaning on two trekking poles. Fortunately we were able to continue slowly to our bikes and arrived at the car just after 2 AM, twenty two hours after leaving our second bivy. A caffeinated drive, a divine shower at NOLS PNW, a quick goodbye, and Seth caught the 9:40am Edmonds/Kingston ferry with 12 minutes to spare! Gear Notes: Cams: triples in fingers, double to 2.5",single 3", and a tiny fella. Stoppers: rack of nuts and RPs. Two 60m ropes (we used an 8mm and a 9.6mm)and lots of single slings with a few doubles. Approach Notes: Park at mile post 11, FS-26 and give workers excess tomatoes to let you ride bikes past. Ride 10 miles to Glacier Peak Wilderness boundary. Hike Suiattle River trail taking PCT North at their junction. At Suiattle Pass take trail to Cloudy Pass. Navigate to Bonanza/North Star Col. 36+ miles total.. Or take the ferry/bus from Chelan.
  4. Trip: Vesper Peak - The Ragged Edge Date: 8/18/2013 Trip Report: Back in August Gene Pires and I wandered up to the north face of Vesper Peak to check out the steeper and much neglected eastern half of the face. We managed to climb the obvious exposed edge along its right-hand side. The position and the underlying rock quality were generally fantastic but the climbing itself was horrible due to a thick layer of lichen, heather and dirt that covered the face. Rock cruxes were protected by beaks, belays tended to be marginal and the actual crux involved mantling across a series of quivering hummocks. A good time was had by all (I think) but it sure as hell wasn’t anything you’d recommend to a friend. So when I finally finagled two days to myself rather than hang out with friends, or go somewhere new or actually get in some pitches I carried a 70 pound pack of bolting, cleaning and bivi gear back to the summit of Vesper Peak. A dozen retro-bolts and fifteen hours of scrubbing later the end result is a potentially enjoyable six-pitch 5.6 or 5.7 rock climb in a stellar setting. The rock is excellent, the climbing is sustained at a very moderate grade, the position is spectacular and the protection and belays are solid and well situated. It’s pretty easy to overestimate the quality of your own routes but this has to be one of the better moderate and accessible alpine rock climbs on the west side of the Cascades. I should point out that what we did was essentially a series of major variations to the “Center Route” established in 1969. The fourth pitch was shared in common and probably the first pitch of the original start otherwise we had stayed further right near the edge. Pretty bold climbing they did back in the day. Until nature gives it a solid pressure washing the grit left behind from cleaning will inevitably collect in some of the cracks and edges I scrubbed. If someone heads up there this year consider bringing a small stiff bristled brush or at least a nut tool to clean off some holds. Would be psyched to hear feedback if anyone climbs it. Click image for larger version Approach Description The trail fades out as you enter the basin between Vesper and Sperry Peaks. Cross the outlet of the lake and follow an obvious talus ridgeline up to a col between the peaks. The climb is accessed by a ledge system that cuts across the north face of Vesper at about 5800’ elevation and begins at a small notch overlooking the Vesper Glacier. Allow 3+ hours for the approach. Walk out the ledge on steep exposed heather (snow until mid-late summer?). When you can’t walk any further either (A) scramble up over an obvious chockstone formed by a large, thin flake to a belay ledge or (B) as a variation backtrack a bit and figure out an exposed 3rd class traverse down and around the toe of a buttress before scrambling back up to an obvious and clean 5.6 layback crack (better start). The 3rd class slabs at mid-height on the first pitch could easily be accessed after climbing the lower half of the north face as well. Route Description: The ratings below are potentially soft. Bring a full set of nuts small to large and a single set of cams from #0 TCU to #3 Camalot with extra #0.75 and #1. Original Start - Red Line P1) Climb approximately 60’ of low-5th terrain to 3rd class slabs. Continue up the obvious flaky gully and arrange a gear belay just below a short overhanging wall (low-5th 170’). P2) Traverse right on a long, thin ledge then a short gully to a fixed belay on the skyline (4th 60’). Slightly contrived variation start with better climbing - Blue Line P1) Climb a nice layback flake then a low-angle groove to 3rd class slabs. Traverse hard right then follow the highest grassy ledge system approximately 40’ to a gear belay below a faint white dyke splitting a slab (5.6 160’). Note that you can also reach this belay from the original start as well. P2) Climb the dyke past three bolts to a thin ledge. Traverse right and up a short gully to a fixed anchor on the skyline (5.7 90’). P3) Step right then traverse back left on positive edges towards the skyline. Find a bolt then continue up a nice arête protected by fixed pins. Arrange a gear belay atop a heather ledge (5.7 95’). P4) Step right and climb steep, stacked blocks. Easy zig-zag cracks above lead to a fixed anchor. I aggressively trundled loose and semi-loose blocks off this pitch but some caution is still advised (5.7 95’). P5) Step right again and climb straight up in an exposed position. At the second bolt traverse right 50’ to a fixed anchor on the skyline (5.7 80’). P6) Follow the nice arête to a final touch of heather and the summit. (5.5 130’). Walk off to the southeast. A lot of the greenery in the following three photos is now gone. Never heard good things about the lower wall. Maybe a direct starts needs a scrub-down next year.
  5. Trip: North Hozomeen Mtn - Zorro Face, IV 5.9 Date: 8/31/2013 Trip Report: “squamish?” Written at the end of a planning email for Hozomeen which addressed some nagging details, this would become our refrain throughout the trip. Labor Day offered a nice climbing window, and our list of objectives included just plain ol’ good times at Squamish, which typically promises immediate rock, clean rock, solid rock, protectable rock—all conspicuously (or suspected) absent at our objective. Most likely, many of you are aware of the opening passage in Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels: “Hozomeen, Hozomeen, most beautiful mountain I ever seen, like a tiger sometimes with stripes, sunwashed rills and shadow crags wriggling lines in the Bright Daylight, vertical furrows and bumps and Boo! crevasses, boom, sheer magnificent Prudential mountain, nobody’s even heard of it, and it’s only 8,000 feet high, but what a horror when I first saw that void the first night of my staying on Desolation Peak waking up from deep fogs of 20 hours to a starlit night suddenly loomed by Hozomeen with his two sharp points, right in my window black – the Void, every time I’d think of the Void I’d see Hozomeen and understand – Over 70 days I had to stare at it.” Later in the novel: “The void is not disturbed by any kind of ups or downs, my God look at Hozomeen, is he worried or tearful?... Why should I choose to be bitter or sweet, he does neither? – Why cant I be like Hozomeen and O Platitude O hoary old platitude of the bourgeois mind ‘take life as it comes’…” “take life as it comes” indeed. This is a useful mantra when approaching the west face. We had suspected an approach from the N down a gully would grant us access—Colin Haley’s blog post seemed to confirm this suspicion. However, this approach is nontrivial; the initial gully third-class down-climb, while loose, and dangerous, pales next to the shenanigans required to cross several precipitous ribs to our targeted launch point. A slip at any point spells an unpleasant end in the valley a couple thousand below. The approach took us a tedious and painstaking 4.5 hours (this after a first day of humping heavy loads 11+ miles to a camp just N of the peak.) Camp in that basin; S and N Hozomeen left to right, with the west (Zorro) face mostly out of view; some of its northern margin on the right skyline. Our approach continues down (out of view) from the furthest notch on right. Views during approach included the Picket range. Approach soloing; downclimbing skills or funeral bills. squamish? “take life as it comes”, also a useful mantra when trying to piece together leads up loose, sometimes friable and/or vegetated and/or wet, mostly welded shut (read: sparsely protected) metamorphosed basalt. The stuff is also called Hozomeen chert and was valued by the Salish for making knives and arrowheads. Hozomeen apparently is native Salish for "sharp, like a sharp knife." Looking up at much of our (foreshortened) route, which tends left to the central summit in this pic. Finally at the base, we decided to take it one pitch at a time, figuring we would try to retain the option to bail. squamish? Rock, paper, scissors, Rolf wins first lead this time. End of rope. I follow and gain an appreciation for the climbing challenges this Hozomeen chert will proffer; sparse pro and selective handholds will be the order of the day. I lead up a second long pitch to the only evidence of human visitation: a ¼ inch bolt and a bail ‘biner. Someone came, saw, and turned around; foreboding. (We did not see any other indication of passage higher than this.) After a couple pitches of metamorphosed basalt, we were talking about turning around too. But we could see trees on ledges above, and figured we could still bail in a relatively safe and reasonable manner. squamish? The land of milk and honey beckoned us. The third pitch required an exposed step-around with muddied feet; expletives drifted down to my belay. No pics. My pitch 4 went steeply up to a ledge, and traversed left; we were somehow making our way, and could still bail. Rolf’s face at the pitch 4 transition betrays some of our uncertainty. During his pitch 5 lead, some curses and words in the wind, “I wanna go home”. It was probably just the wind; he would’ve said simply, “squamish?” I’d like to forget pitch 6. I was forced up a steep 5.9 corner/arête with a paucity of gear. And what few pieces there were went into mungy and rotten fissures. Loose rock abounded, and without gear, there was no way to constrain the ropes from sending it down. Rolf didn’t get hit, but reported that he dutifully tied knots below his brake hand in case he was knocked out—so sensitive to my needs. I grunted up to a fat ledge, and Rolf managed to follow without getting shelled. Then Rolf drew one of the plum pitches, the seventh. 5.9+, climbs a nice corner (but with a section of unavoidable decking potential), then a tricky traverse to another corner, up and then traverse again to the only belay opportunity. Again, only so much gear and rope management was possible; missiles flew by my safe belay spot, but a few also threatened while climbing—somehow, no carnage. This wouldn’t happen in … Rolf up the p7 corner. Hand jams!?! Pitch 8 had a couple steep sections. Here Rolf discerns which holds to clean and/or trust. Pitches 9 and 10 stretched the ropes, continuing up the “corner” system we had identified as a weakness. More 5.9 (mostly easier) runouts. At the belay at top of pitch 10 I placed the only iron we used, a crappy pin to back up a solid piece and a marginal piece. For pitch 11, Rolf raced the sunset to a ledge. Uncharacteristically, this pitch didn’t stretch the rope; he thought we should take the bivouac bird in hand. I thought we were close to the summit and could possibly manage to climb to the top in the twilight-soon-to-be-night. He pointed out that idea was risky, and his logic prevailed. In retrospect it was definitely the right move. “take life as it comes”, also useful for shivering through the beautiful folly of an exposed bivy on a sloping ledge one nasty pitch from the summit. We’d brought some warm clothes but could have been warmer. All in all, the bivy wasn’t so bad, and definitely not as miserable as our unplanned bivy on Lemolo Mox across the way. Hozomeen wasn’t done with us. In the morning, I put together a long and winding pitch on some of the worst rock and pro conditions on the face—one strong cup of coffee, scary to the last drop. But it got us to the summit ridge! Unfortunately, the only spot to belay again made rope-disturbing rubble unavoidable. On the finishing moves, Rolf got clocked right in the helmet with a softball-sized rock, but was ok. Shudder. Top of our climb, just North of the summit, shortly after getting rocked. Glad to have done it. Another Scurlock masterpiece. Our route makes its way up to the left-facing corners directly below the summit. Our bivy occurred on the relatively large snow patch right below the summit. In the background is the Southwest Buttress, climbed many years ago by some hardcores. Kerouac again: “And I will die, and you will die, and we all will die, and even the stars will fade out one after another in time.” But we won’t die on Hozomeen. Hopefully not in Squamish either. But I will climb again at the latter. Both Rolf and I have mildly obsessed over this face for years, and were gratified (gruntled, even) to execute our vision. I expected technical demands exceeding 5.9, but given the challenges of Hozomeen chert, was glad for the limit. Probably half the pitches had some 5.9 moves, depending on what you trust for holds. We stretched the rope for most of the 12 pitches of pure adventure. I am fortunate to have a teammate like the curmudgeon: rich in experience (old), strong (for his weight), solid (old), and somehow able to check my relentlessly positive delusions. Thanks hardcore. A couple summit shots: And more pics. BTW, we descended the North Face route, rested, ate and drank, packed up and marched to car. The mosquitoes for the last couple miles were some other $#!+. Gear Notes: Single set of nuts. Tricams up to hand size v useful. We took lots of small cams, but the doubles would actually be better in the mid-range. Approach Notes: Nontrivial. Day 1, due to tons of rain the day before, we elected to take the scenic Skyline trail instead of the steep bushwhack. Day 2, follow your nose and low sense of self-worth.
  6. Trip: Waddington Range - Bicuspid Tower - FA of "On a Recky" Date: 7/23/2013 Trip Report: This is the follow up to Ben's McNerthney Pillar trip report. I was waiting to confirm some details of past routes on the face and I got backlogged getting my place ready to sell here in Boulder so we can move back home to Washington. It’s time to end my 5-year hiatus from the Cascades! And for the record, that jump shot with Peter Rabbit only took one go… [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3686/9556712328_58681c0bd1.jpg[/img] Now then, after a much-celebrated rest day wandering around in the hot sun after coming down from Waddington, Ben and I went on a reconnaissance trip to scout out the Stilletto Glacier approach and potential new lines on Dentiform Peak. With Bicuspid Tower as a secondary objective for the day, we planned to leave a rope and rack at the base for a full attempt the following morning. The idea was that with the path dialed and lighter packs the next day, the approach could be done in 1.5 hours. I had called Graham Zimmerman from the sat phone the day before to see what he knew of routes up there. I just happened to catch him after he flew out of the Revelations with Scott and gleaned some more beta from their 2012 trip. After all, we still had a few more days of high pressure overhead so we wanted to make the most of it. As we left camp at 5:30am, our packs still felt heavy. I struggled to keep up with Ben on the initial third class scramble to the snow ramp leading to the middle section of the glacier. Could it have been that I wasn't fully recovered from McNerthney? Hmmm... We threw in the occasional wand to track our path but, this being our first go; we traversed too high and had to retrace our steps to reach the opposite end of the Stilletto Glacier. And with only a hundred feet to go, we came to a rather intimidating snow bridge requiring a narrow traverse and steep exit on soft snow. I believe Ian Nicholson had a similar obstacle in 2005 that he dubbed "Crunch Time.” After 2 short belays, we were across and at the base in 3 hours from Sunny Knob – turns out GZ was right on about approach time first go. [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3704/9553979235_cd8a362826.jpg[/img] Serras, Stilletto, Blade, and Dentiform [img:left]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7301/9553987657_1faed1ec9f.jpg[/img] Phantom Tower and Grand Cappaccino centered in photo Yet, bone-white granite and clean continuous cracks caught my eye on the steepest face of Bicuspid, and I soon lured Ben into my increasing frenzy to attempt a new route ground up and onsight. While much shorter, Bicuspid's splitter cracks looked more appealing than the various potential lines up Dentiform. And as if I needed any more justification, continuous cracks on clean granite were the perfect juxtaposition from McNerthney’s complex, adventure climbing. Only a tiny moat lay at the base and we found a nice ledge to switch into rock climbing mode. We left a pack, boots and crampons at the base of the climb with the plan of rapping back to the base. Bicuspid Tower sits just west of ridge line proper. If you plan on climbing Stilletto, Blade, or Dentiform from the Stilletto Glacier, it is far easier to rap down the opposite side onto the Upper Tellot. A short jaunt will take you to Plummer Hut. Ben led off the first series of 5.8 clean cracks rightward to reach a prominent ledge below the steepest part of the face. From here, it was like being in a candy store with numerous cracks to salivate over! The two furthest right led to a massive left facing corner crack, but thin unprotectable seams blocked the way and I wasn’t interested in aiding. I considered traversing high into one, but the possibility of a 40-foot sideways whip if I slipped out of a thin 5.11 corner did not sound…fun. On the far left, numerous wide cracks had their appeal too, but I had a hunch Ian may have climbed that part of the face. [img:left]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7321/9553995917_4a85d09610.jpg[/img] Pitch 1 Instead, We opted for the center crack splitting the face with changing corners. Fortunately, narrow ledges off right and left provided options for pro and stances to suss out each section. I led up with an ice tool and a few knifeblades in case I had no other gear options. Fun 5.10 climbing, some flaring cracks, and a hand traverse with a quick heal hook led to the first crux of the route, a tricky 5.11 sequence of slopers and crimps where the crack pinched down to a thin seam. [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3736/9556739566_e269e2603d.jpg[/img] Pitch 2 Pumped and psyched to get it clean, I set a belay after the crux in a small alcove since I was running out of gear. The third pitch only proved to be more amazing! A thin 5.10 crack with perfect pro and stems lead into amazing splitter hands on par with the middle 5.9 section of Thin Fingers at Index. And that’s no exaggeration! Ben took the 4th pitch, a 5.9 V-slot angling right. Most of the chock stones were solid yet he moved with stealth around a few loose blocks since I was right below. [img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5460/9553951403_fa7b876b87.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3773/9556713334_8be3219efe.jpg[/img] Photos of splitters on Pitch 3! [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3705/9556804042_1161e6a05c.jpg[/img] Pitch 4 - the V-slot We made it through the steep section of the face, but the climbing difficulty didn't subside. Directly above, we climbed a short 5.10 corner into 5.9 face cracks to a large ledge. I initially climbed further up and left but the face blanked out and I down-climbed to the base of an intimidating R-facing crack. Ben came up and I passed the remaining gear to Ben. Ben headed up the 6th pitch, but we left behind a couple finger-sized pieces at camp and the rock around the crack flaked off small chips as Ben worked his way up. Ben led through some strenuous finger locks to reach a tricky pod. After a few solid goes and proud whips, we swapped sharp ends and I climbed up to Ben’s high point. A wide stem on a small flake and mantle move brought us above the pod, but the crack above required an insecure layback. Past this 5.11 section, I continued up and around a tricky 5.10 stem to reach the top of the east summit. [img:left]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7381/9556794352_dae9e2eda0.jpg[/img] Pitch 6 - the second crux pitch Wowie! Amazing cracks and stout cruxes on a clean continuous 6-pitch new route is dubbed “On a recky” since the best climbs are often those unplanned and not in a guidebook. [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3794/9553939105_5747127b11.jpg[/img] Route topo with previous known routes roughly marked We slung a large block and completed three full 60-meter raps down to our packs. We radioed Tim once we were across “Crunch Time” and wandered back into camp just after dark. After 17.5 hours, we were back in camp enjoying a hot meal and taking in the stark contrast yet unreal fortune of adding this spectacular new route to our second ascent of McNerthney. The next day, day 7 of the trip, I woke up exhausted, debating whether to join Tim and Ben on a final mission to hike up to Plummer Hut that day for another climb. Tim heads off mid-day while Ben and I rest a bit more at Sunny Knob. After eating, sleeping, and wandering around aimlessly a bit, we take off around 6:30pm. I plug the headphones in and head across the lower Tiedemann to the 1000-ft moraine of loose ball bearings. With that surmised, easy snow leads up and around the Claw peaks to Plummer Hut with only a short gully of rotten orange rock in between. 2.5 hours later, we plop down next to the Hut and eat a small meal to enjoy the sunset. Tim has his eyes set on Serra One in the guidebook and we make plans to head up the next morning. [img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5494/9553971985_e089688abc.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3731/9556734840_5bcc6e9481.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5345/9556711448_9f91a72656.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2834/9556751366_3bb01053a7.jpg[/img] Sunset and dusk shots from Plummer Hut A long but straightforward approach up the Tellot Glacier led us to the base. We stepped across a small schrund and traversed across ice to the base. We roped up midway, which was smart because the snow bridge eventually collapsed leaving one of us dangling our feet in the crevasse. Tim led off and we started simuling behind. Fun moderate climbing up to 5.7 brought us to the summit of Serra One. [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3693/9556727370_45f0f0949d.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3830/9553935431_5a5e5f2d10.jpg[/img] The ridge travels down to Stilletto Needle, Stilletto, and the Blade. Behind us, the Serras’ complex ridgelines lead into the Asperity/Tiedemann massif. We could see Sunny Knob far below as well as the upper half of McNerthney Pillar. Yet another amazing 360 degree view of the Waddington Range with bluebird skies and peaks as far as the eye could see! It’s never a dull moment tied in with Ben and Tim and they break into a Spanish conversation as we summit, capping the trip off with wild shouts of “quesadilla” and “seven layered burritos.” [img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5336/9556731716_777bf6ac85.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3818/9556715102_5488148549.jpg[/img] We head back to the hut, repack, and charge back down to Sunny Knob, psyched with the continued fortune. We verify that weather is on its way so we opt to fly out 3 days early. We do our best to finish the booze and eat all the left-over goodies that night, prepping to fly out the next morning on day 9 of the trip. The chopper arrives on time and we enjoy our final ride out back to civilization. 5 years in Colorado with only a short trip to the Ruth Gorge back in 2011 meant I hadn't been in real mountain terrain with complex glaciers for far too long. I was lucky to have 2 great partners I'm psyched to rope up with when I return to Washington. Hope to see you out there! [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3725/9556712888_d0daabac3c.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5322/9553940011_1dbebb37cc.jpg[/img] [img:left]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3690/9556727314_91b3ee69e6.jpg[/img] Map of the Waddington Range with our travel shown in blue over the course of 8 days Photos by Joe, Ben, and Tim
  7. Trip: Revelation Mountains - Apocalypse (First Ascent) - A Cold Day in Hell Date: 4/7/2013 Trip Report: Well, since I'm now back in the normal "work world" and the adventures of the spring are nothing more than a distant memory, I guess it's time to spray about them. This was the first big Alaska climbing trip I did this year when I made my annual pilgrimage to the Revelation Mountains, located at the extreme western end of the Alaska Range. Since 2008 I have been to the "Revs" every year and have plucked off quite a few hidden gems in this seldom visited range. This year was particularly frustrating since we had to wait nearly two weeks to fly in due to the Revelations' fickle weather patterns. Apocalypse Peak is one of the highest peaks in the Revs at 9,340 feet. It was also the tallest unclimbed peak in the area and has always been on my hitlist. The 4,500 foot West Face is one of the most impressive walls in all of the Revelations. This peak looks like it belongs more in the Kichatnas. Several big walls, that are larger than El Capitan, jut skyward in daunting profile. April however, is a time for ice routes, so Aaron Thrasher, Jason Stuckey and I went sniffing around the West Face for a weakness that just may allow us access to the upper mountain. We were pleased to find the perfect "sneak" as Aaron called it. On the right side of the West Face, a weakness revealed a thin vein of ice dribbling several thousand feet down from a long and narrow couloir. It was an obvious line and we wasted no time in giving it an attempt. Aaron was out of time and had to fly out, so Jason and I started the next morning. The climb began with a beautiful rivulet of grade four ice, which we simulclimbed over about 300 feet. A steep gully of snow lead to more lower angle ice which went on for nearly 1000 feet. More steep snow lead to one of the route's crux pitches, a rapidly melting vein of grade five alpine ice that was no more than shoulder width for almost 200 feet. Just as Jason began seconding the pitch, my friend Conor flew by as he picked Aaron up from the glacier. They took an amazing shot of us on route. We continued up a steep gully that offered scant protection and eventually found a great narrow bivy just as the sun faded behind the peaks to the west. We chopped the ledge out for about an hour and then set up our First Light and enjoyed the rest. The next morning we set off early and immediately encountered more steep, cruxy ice pitches before the angle kicked back to 60 degrees. We simulclimbed most of the upper face, placing tons of ice screws and the occasional piece of rock gear. We eventually exited the technically challenging terrain but had lots of steep and very exposed snow plodding to contend with. We got to the summit ridge and could see that the north summit, a quarter-mile away, was about ten feet taller. We had to tag it...it was a first ascent. With only two pickets we resorted to trust. I wouldn't fall, if he wouldn't fall. Deal. The notoriously bad weather of the Revelations was no where to be found and we enjoyed perfect views the whole trip. The summit was extremely small, only one of us could stand on top at a time. The Apocalypse is one of the few Revelation peaks with a detailed history. It was been attempted several times by crusty Alaskan climbers in the 1980s, but has not even been tried for almost 30 years. Dick Flaharty of Fairbanks spent ten days on the central big wall, climbing 1,500 feet before encountering a band of poor rock. He was so enamored by the mountain however, that he named his clothing company, Apocalpyse Designs, after the peak. A year or two later, Karl Swanson of Talkeetna attempted the central snow line on a solo mission, but turned around when an avalanche poured over his head and nearly took him for the final ride. I was astounded to discover that he was less than 500 vertical feet from the summit. So close!!! We rappelled back to our high camp and had enough food to stay for another night. We had perfect weather and didn't feel rushed so we decided to enjoy our success and the perfect bivy. In the morning we continued our descent and touched ground by late afternoon. A major inversion had me shivering all the way to camp, and we were not surprised when our thermometer had bottomed out at -20. The next morning it was even colder, and when Paul Roderick from Talkeetna Air Taxi picked us up, he said it was -35. Another wonderful trip to the Revelations is in the books. Can't wait to go back next year! Hey Jens...you game? Check out my feature article in the 2013 American Alpine Journal (available in August), which fully details the history and potential of the Revelation Mountains. Thanks for reading! -Clint Helander Gear Notes: Tons of ice screws, a few pickets, a handful of rock gear (pins, a few nuts, some cams). Approach Notes: You gotta pay to play! A very expensive flight!
  8. Trip: Mt Terror, Southern Pickets - Central Buttress of South Face III 5.9 Date: 7/13/2013 Trip Report: Rolf and I climbed this (likely) new route last weekend, provisional name = Fear and Loathing. Grade III (approx 6 pitches; we did 5 1/2 with a 70m), 5.9 adventure climbing on mostly solid (and well featured) Skagit gneiss. Another objective the next day turned us back, but we'll always have Terror. And loathing. After the most enjoyable and casual 6.5 hour approach (it's an acquired taste) to our camp near the Chopping Block, we could look across lovely Crescent Creek basin at Mt Terror. Hard tellin' not knowin', a route up the face sure looked improbable. We took a casual approach, waiting for the sun to get on the rock (frosty night), and weighed a number of potential routes. The most viable options appeared to be the butresses on the left, center, and right. We agreed the most aesthetic was the buttress snaking up most directly to the summit. Our route - poorly marked in red - goes up the barely lit central buttress to the summit: I didn't take v many pics, my camera was thawing out. And sorry ladies, no butt pics of Rolf on lead--he seemed to quickly disappear from view, as befits a rat. For first lead, I won rock paper scissors, and got probably the best pitch of the route. Up a steep juggy corner (careful hold selection), then a rising, more solid and exposed ramp, that at times gave that familiar feeling of pushing you off toward the void. Some 5.9 on this pitch, an engaging exercise putting together the pieces. Looking down pitch 1. Rolf's pitch 2 took the chimney/gully, 5.8 or 5.8+?, to a nice belay and decision point: the central buttress, or east buttress of the south face? We stuck with our original plan. For p 3, I hung a left and sent an easy boulder prob to gain the ridge crest and a spate of more sustained climbing before it relented to more wandery rambling. 5.8+ again? I stuck to the buttress crest, but there are certainly variations on this ledgy gneiss. Looking down p3 from a belay on the crest, just below a prominent tower; you can see the east buttress off on the left. Rolf's pitch 4 skirted the tower on the left; more moderate climbing, but also greater loose rock management. From his belay, I climbed some steeper rock (nice corners) and then ledge systems, carefully constraining the course of the rope to avoid dislodging some slayers. Super fun pitch, with fine air and views. Top of p 5; mt despair central background. For the last pitch, Rolf ran up a steepish blocky and juggy section, which then backed off to the remaining summit scramble. Nice views both ways along the Southern Pickets. L to R: McMillan spires, Inspiration, Degenhardt Glacier. We then boogied down the West Ridge route and then the couloir back to our packs. For fun and moderate climbing on mostly good rock, in a remote setting, I recommend this climb. More pics. Gear Notes: Tri-cams useful. Brought pins but did not use. Approach Notes: Lovely walk to Crescent Creek basin. There's now a non-high-wire-walking log that takes you across Terror Creek.
  9. Trip: New route on "Peak 33" in Salmon River Range - NW prow Date: 7/2/2013 Trip Report: Once again, Pat does a great job of describing a new route we put up, possibly the first on the North side, of a delightful cliff above lake 33 in the Salmon RIver mountains near McCall. I'll just link that post on the Idaho Outdoors Forum. Peak 33 trip report. I had been waiting for the opportunity to do this for two years. The rock is solid and well featured, but the cracks above the winter snow line are full of moss. Someone with time on their hands could pick a 4 pitch line, rap from the top and clean the cracks, then have a great climb from the bottom. Gear Notes: Take a wire brush plus a smallish alpine rack. Long slings for girth hitching trees are essential. Approach Notes: Stay left on the approach to take the correct col into lake 33. It's not well marked. Once off the lake fork creek valley floor, follow the cairns to the col and down the other side to avoid cliffy spots. Great camp sites at the base of the cliff, with water, or down by the lake a 20 minute steep hike below.
  10. Trip: Blade Runner FA + info on 18 new routes at Shangri La, X38 ONE PAGE PRINTABLE TOPO ADDED BELOW. Date: 10/12/2012 Trip Report: Blade Runner First Ascent (Shangri La new route info follows). We like to think that our best days are ahead of us. As climbers, we believe that if we train harder, learn new techniques, and buy the right gear we’ll break through to a new level. This works for a while, but the tides of time are against us. At some point we must pass our high water mark. Most of us won’t recognize this milestone until months or years later, but sometimes you know when it happens. Mine was 8am on October 12th, 2012. For 15 years I’d been on a 5.9 to 5.10 plateau. There were always excuses. Grad school, post-doc, start-up, kids, remodel. Years of weekend warrior climbing rolled past. The tide finally turned in 2006 when I took a job across the street from the UW climbing gym. I started bouldering regularly and met new partners. Two of them, Alex and Scott, opened up my eyes to the world of new route development. Together, we put up a handful of 5.9 and 5.10 lines in the Deception area of Exit 38. That summer I climbed my first 5.11 in 15 years. 5.11 is barely a warm-up for strong climbers, but for me this was a breakthrough. For almost two decades, 5.11 had been a psychological barrier, an impenetrable ceiling through which I thought I would never pass again. This made me wonder what my potential really was. At 38, I knew I didn’t have long to find out, so I set a goal to climb my first 5.12 before I turned 40. It was a long shot, but if I tried I might bump up to a new level and be able to climb routes that had long been out of reach. There were obstacles. I was working full time, managing our home remodel, and riding the night train of two small kids with a third on the way, but I did climb. First ascents on the Shangri La cliff at Exit 38 marked a slow but steady rise in my abilities. 2007 Guillotine, 5.10. A gear-protected corner with a sharp flake in the middle. History Book, 5.10. A gear-protected crack with an ancient piton. Small Arms Fire, 5.10. A sustained route with small holds on a steep slab. 2008 Metamorphosis, 5.10+. A two-pitch line on a 300 foot face with a mix of bolts and gear. Crouching Tiger, 5.10+. A route with sloping features and rock as rough as #100 sandpaper. Forty came and went without a 5.12 redpoint, but I did climb some great 5.11s around the Northwest. The following year, I found three spectacular lines at Shangri La at my limit. To climb them, I had to learn a new process: find solutions for each crux, rehearse the moves, draw a detailed map, visualize the sequences, work to link sections, and then go for the redpoint. This type of mind/body training is not new. Tony Yaniro was one of the first US climbers to build a training wall that simulated the specific movements he needed for his project. Top climbers of the day scoffed at his approach, calling it cheating, but our bodies are remarkable machines that adapt to the challenges we present to them. If you want to get good at pull-ups you train by doing pull-ups. If you want to get good at certain climbing moves you train by doing those moves. In 1979, Yaniro’s training paid off when he established The Grand Illusion, then the hardest route in North America. On the mental side, repetition of movements creates muscle memories that allow our bodies to perform complex motor functions. Once these muscle programs, or motor engrams, are mastered they can be played back with minimal conscious input. Watch a toddler try to eat with a spoon for the first time and you’ll appreciate how complex this task really is and how much focus is required to learn new tasks. What enables us to eat our cereal without spilling while walking down stairs and talking on the phone? We’ve mastered each of these tasks through repetition. Interestingly, we can also train for complex movements through visualization, or virtual rehearsal, where we imagine ourselves performing the task. Thus, training your mind actually trains your body, and vice versa. Achieving mastery of complex motor functions allows us to focus on higher levels of control, such as managing fear, optimizing arousal levels, relaxing unnecessary muscles, and staying focused in stressful situations. Even strength can be traced back to mental training, when we consider that strength training is driven by motivation, discipline, planning, and self-assessment. Free your mind and your body will follow. I started using these tools and was able to do three 5.11 first ascents: 2009 Free Radical, 5.11-. A striking line on an exposed arête. Hidden Dragon, 5.11. Four different cruxes spread over a hundred feet. Hypertension, 5.11+. A hard opening and then several more cruxes. But I still hadn’t climbed 5.12. The few I'd tried felt impossibly hard. It didn’t help that I was spreading my energies across different sub-disciplines: bouldering indoors, setting routes in the climbing gym, climbing routes outdoors, developing new bolted routes, and climbing in the mountains a few times per year. Time was flying past. If I was going to cross the 5.12 threshold I needed to focus on that goal. In early 2010, I found my first target: Rainy Day Women at Little Si. It suited my style, with three bouldery sections separated by good rests. I found solutions that worked for me, drew a detailed map, rehearsed, and tailored my training to the three cruxes. On March 14th everything came together. The final crux, which had felt desperate on previous attempts, went smoothly and I made the redpoint. I was elated, but RDW is known to be soft for the grade, so I looked for my next target. I’d heard Lay of the Land was good, so we gave it a try. As before, I made a plan, drew my map, visualized the sequence, and trained for the crux. I planned to skip a bolt near the end that was difficult to clip and created rope drag. The second trip out I made it to the anchor but missed a key foothold and fell trying to clip the chains. I added that foothold to my mental map and sent the route on our next trip. The satisfaction of climbing a route is usually immediate and fleeting, but this was deeper and grew over time. One route might be a fluke, but not two. I’d started across the elusive 5.12 threshold. Two months later, I bolted a spectacular line at Shangri La that I knew would be in the 5.12 range: Skullduggery. It was continuously overhanging, sustained, and technical. New routes are particularly enticing for me because they represent unsolved puzzles on unexplored terrain. Maybe a few will become classics that people will climb for decades to come. Skullduggery had all the right ingredients, but I couldn’t link the moves. Psychology shows that motivation is highest when the chance of success is around 40% to 60%. Above 80%, we assume we’ll succeed and don’t bother preparing. Below 20%, we probably don’t think it’s worth the time and effort to try hard. But it’s not that simple. Creativity, visualization, rehearsal, and route-specific training can dramatically increase the odds of success on a route. Finding a solution to the crux that matches your skills and strength might increase the overall odds of success from 2% to 20%. Rehearsing sequences makes you more efficient and gives you more energy for the final cruxes, perhaps increasing the overall success rate from 20% to 60%. But you have to choose the right objectives. Skullduggery was a perfect goal for me in 2010 because it represented a possible first ascent just beyond my limit. I drew a map that detailed 68 hand and foot movements, rehearsed the moves, and trained for specific movements. Being strong enough to do the moves doesn’t guarantee success. The proper mental state is also essential. I needed to be calm but psyched to give 100%, energized but relaxed, and, perhaps most importantly, focused on the process and not on the outcome. Zen. On a cool summer morning in July of 2010, after two weeks of rehearsing and training on a fixed line, I went up with Jens to go for the first ascent of Skullduggery. Fortunately, that morning I was in the zone, that rare space where mind and body perform seamlessly as one. It was almost as if I was a detached observer watching a carefully choreographed gymnastics routine. I sent the route first go. Oddly, it was both anti-climactic and deeply satisfying. Skullduggery was the hardest route I’d ever climbed and is definitely harder than the four other 5.12a routes I climbed in 2010. As far as I know it hasn’t been repeated. Fifty feet left of Skullduggery is a clean overhanging face whose crux involves improbable moves on a protruding blade of rock. This feature inspired the route’s name: Blade Runner. The day I climbed Skullduggery, Jens and I tried Blade Runner. We could do the opening moves but were completely shut down by the crux. There were features, but we couldn’t work out how to use them. My brain wrestled with this puzzle on and off over two years. I would envision a solution, get excited, and go try it. Each time, I was shut down and went home thinking I would never climb the route. But I kept turning the puzzle over and over in my mind. In the summer of 2012, I made a close inspection of all of the features on the route and started working in earnest to find a solution. Idea #1: Grab two sloping holds and do a huge dynamic leap to an undercling and sloper that must be caught simultaneously. Fail. The slopers aren’t as positive as they look, the footholds are crappy, and the catch holds are too far away. Idea #2: Lie back up the left side of the blade. Fail. This is very strenuous, and the blade ends well below the next set of holds. Idea #3: Knee bar up the cleft left of the blade. Fail. The wall where you place your feet slopes away so this is challenging, and the knee bars end where the blade ends, well below the next set of holds. I wasn’t making any progress. Truth be told, there were times I was tempted to chip a hold. A tiny foot chip on the blade, or an incut in the arch, might allow me to get past the crux. I have a chisel and hammer. No one would know. But I would. And I would be bringing the route down to my level instead of meeting the challenge presented by nature. So I refrained, as I always have, even if it meant I would never climb the route. Instead, I started to break the problem down into smaller puzzles. Idea #4 and Solution Part 1: I figured out I needed to lie back on a vertical sidepull above the blade to reach the next set of holds. Getting to the vertical sidepull became the new crux. I tried to get my left foot up onto a high hold to set up the lie back. Fail. I can’t get my foot that high without falling because the handholds aren’t in the right positions. Idea #5 and Solution Part 2: I figured out I could get a heel/toe cam on the flat wall of the blade and use this in opposition with the sloping rail to move up to the vertical sidepull in a compression sequence. The new crux became the transition between the compression sequence and the vertical sidepull. Fail. If you compress too hard you fly off when you try to bump your hand up to the vertical sidepull. But this can be fixed. Idea #6 and Solution Part 3: I needed to work out how to move into and through the compression moves, maintaining high body tension, without pushing myself off when I made the bump to the vertical sidepull over my head. Small adjustments to foot, hand, and body positions, as well as force angles and force magnitudes, were going to be critical. After many hours on the rock I found an optimal combination and could just barely make the compression to sidepull transition. I’d solved the hardest part of the crux but still needed to move over to the next holds out left. Idea #7 and Solution Part 4: Maintain tension and pinch the blade between my feet to push out left to a crimp. This feels strange, but it works. The opening moves needed to be more efficient so I would have enough energy for the crux and the hard moves beyond it. The section after the crux would provide unexpected challenges and an amazing sequence as well, and, of course, I would need to link it all together, but I was zeroing in on my solution. I wrote a map that detailed 75 precise hand and foot movements from start to finish. After each work session I updated this choreography. Now I needed to link the sequences together, figure out where and how to clip the bolts, and train my mind and body to perform the route. To prepare for Blade Runner’s crux, I trained to compress two sloping sidepulls while maintaining high core tension and balancing on my right tiptoe. From this position, I had to bump my right hand to the vertical sidepull over my head. What had once seemed impossible was beginning to loom on the horizon as something I might just pull off. But time was running out. It was October. We’d had the longest continuous run of good weather in a decade, but the winter rains were on the way. I trained for the specific movements I needed for the route, rehearsed and refined my solution for the crux, worked out the most efficient path for sequences before and after the crux, and started to put it all together. When mind and body are primed for peak performance there is a window of opportunity to break through to a new level. I had entered that window for Blade Runner, but it wouldn’t be open for long. On October 6th, I went out with Ed to try to climb the route. Unfortunately, I had a cold and was on pseudoephedrine. Attempt #1: I moved smoothly through the opening but fell at the crux due to lack of body tension. I rested, but the pseudofed wouldn’t allow my heart rate to return to baseline. Attempt #2: I got through the crux but fell on one of the last hard moves after burning too much energy clipping the last bolt. Attempt #3: I made it through the crux but fell below my previous high point. Attempt #4: I fell at the crux, too spent to maintain enough body tension to make the bump to the vertical sidepull. I needed a little more strength, a better foot sequence after the crux, and a better strategy for clipping or skipping the last bolt. We went home. I rested on Sunday, did movement-specific training on Monday, refined my foot sequence, and planned to skip the last bolt. I felt ready, but the Fates were about to intervene. The long-range forecast showed a wall of rain coming on Friday, October 12th that would shut us down for the season. Several partners said they could go out on Saturday the 13th, but that would probably be too late. My window was about to slam shut. I was 44 and had three growing kids, a growing list of minor injuries, and a job that was growing more fun and more demanding. There was no guarantee I’d be strong enough, healthy enough, or have enough time to climb Blade Runner in 2013, or perhaps ever. I made two back-up plans. The first was duct tape. Blade Runner is steep enough that only three of its holds get wet after a light rain. I dangled from the rope and fashioned duct tape tents and drain systems for these holds in case I had to make an attempt on Saturday in the drizzle. The second plan was to call Jens and ask if he would go on a Friday dawn patrol mission. Thankfully, he knew how much I wanted this and was willing to give it a shot despite a mediocre forecast that showed rain starting around 10am. We planned to leave my house at 6am. My wife would take the kids to school. Thursday evening I ate a hearty meal, got the kids to bed, packed the gear, took a hot bath to relax the body and mind, and went to bed early. Then my wife’s pager went off. A patient in Bellingham needed emergency surgery. If the patient came down Friday morning I’d need to take the kids to school and we wouldn’t get to the crag until at least 10. By then it would probably be raining. Kids and patients come before climbing, of course, but it felt like the Fates were taunting me. The patient came to Seattle at 11pm, and my wife did surgery until 1am, so I was free to go at 6am as planned, assuming there were no more emergency calls. There weren’t. I woke at 5:20am. It was pitch dark, but I saw water running down the window and heard rain gently pattering on the roof. Everything was wet. I looked at the forecast for North Bend. 70% chance of rain for 7am and 8am, 30% for the rest of the morning, then 60% for the rest of the day. The window had slammed shut. Should I text Jens and tell him to stay in bed? I’ve worked too hard to give up now, and he was probably already on the way over. Let’s just go take a look. Jens arrived at 6am and we drove East through the rain. There was no wind. The wall of rain was marching slowly and steadily East toward Blade Runner. Was the crag wet? Would the duct tape keep the holds dry? There was no way to know until we got there. Amazingly, we emerged from the leading edge of the advancing rain when we reached North Bend. I turned the windshield wipers off. The highway was dry. We got to the trailhead just before 7am. Everything was still dry. Either the sky was about to open up or the forecast I’d seen was wrong. We would soon find out. We hiked up to the Shangri-La cliff. Temps were cool. The rock was dry. All was calm. We didn’t know how much time we’d have before the wall of rain was upon us, but I needed a warm-up so we quickly climbed Crouching Tiger. Then it was time for Blade Runner. I knew I wouldn’t have enough strength for a lot of attempts, and the rain could start falling any minute, but I stayed calm. I was ready. I’d climbed the route many times in my head. It was time to climb it in real life. I tied into the rope, put my shoes on, climbed up to clip the first bolt, and then climbed back down again. I closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out, in and out, to get my heart rate down. After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and cast off: crossover from the undercling into the first lieback, twist my left leg as I move into the second undercling (the opening flowed smoothly) clip the bolt at the crux, set my heel-toe cam on the blade, move smoothly into the compression sequence, tense the core, bump to the vertical sidepull (my mind was empty but focused) pinch my feet on the blade, press to reach the small crimp out left (I was now through the crux but had fallen past here before) keep weight on small footholds, skip the last bolt, deadpoint to a good hold (just a few more hard moves) reach left to the pinch, pop to the undercling (almost done now - breathe) cross through with the feet, balance on two slopers, lock a heel hook down, and move to the final sloping sidepull...Clip. Clip. It was done. The impossible dream had been realized. It was 8am on October 12th, 2012. I’d reached my high water mark. Jens tried the route, and then we removed the quick draws and pulled the rope. By the time we reached the car the rain had started. It wouldn’t stop for over a month, and the whole cliff would be soaked until spring. Blade Runner was one of the most rewarding experiences in my 22 years of climbing not because it was the hardest route I’ve ever climbed, but because it required a huge mental and physical investment that pushed me beyond my perceived limits. I’ll probably never climb a harder route. I’m OK with that. But twenty feet right of Blade Runner is an even steeper, more intimidating line that looks amazing. I’m sure it’s way too hard for me, but maybe I’ll just go take a look... ……………………. Shangri La Details on 18 new routes in the Shangri La area of X38 -Please pack out all trash. Obvious pathways away from the crag are on the lower approach so please don't soil them with human waste. Please leave carabiners on anchors for lowering a la Nason ridge. Enjoy! ………………………… Most of these routes get good sun exposure and dry fast. The start of History Book and one section of Guillotine are prone to seepage after a lot of rain, but most other routes dry quickly. Blade Runner and Skullduggery face South and are best climbed in the early morning or on a cloudy day. Metamorphosis faces East and can be hot on a summer morning. Route distribution*: 5.8 3 5.9 1 5.10 7 5.11 5 5.12 2 * - Ratings are subjective. Proposed ratings are suggestions based on how the routes might compare to similar routes at the Lower Town wall at Index. I will enter these on Mountain Project. Feel free to suggest your own ratings so we can arrive at a consensus. …………………………………….. Printable topo Approach notes: Orientation: The Far Side area of X38 has several East-facing crags in a line: Interstate Park, Eastern Block, Squishy Bell, and Headlight Point crags. Ellie's Sweet Kiss is a very popular route in the middle of Interstate Park. Shangri-La is on the Eastern and Southern faces of the large rock formation across the giant talus field East of these crags. A few Far Side maps: Driving map Roads and topo for X38 Far Side Crags map Far Side trails The trails map is not to scale. Winter Block is almost directly above Shangri La. Hiking directions: Go to the Far Side parking lot. Start up the trail that starts just N of the bridge over the SnoQ river. When the trail forks go left, then an immediate right/straight, cross a wet area on a tiny boardwalk, then go left. Gritscone is in front of you at this point. Follow the wide trail, avoiding turnoffs to the right. When the trail steepens turn left into the forest at a small saddle. Follow the trail up steeply to the where it flattens out. Turn right on one of the side trails and make your way to the line of cliffs that includes Interstate Park, Eastern Block, Squishy Bell, and Headlight Point. Shangri La is East of the obvious talus field East of these cliffs. There are two ways to approach Shangri-La from the talus field: 1 - Aim for an obvious dead snag on the buttress that is about the same level as Ellie's Sweet Kiss. To get there, follow a series of easy but exposed ledges that start below some brush on the E edge of the talus. Pass below a large pine and head to the dead snag. From the snag, scramble down about 25ft of 4th class to the East. This brings you to the base of the wall. The first obvious feature is History Book, a left-leaning dihedral. You may notice some chains at the top of the face near the dead snag. This is the anchor on Small Arms Fire, which is a rap in and climb out route. 2 - Follow the talus down to the bottom of the buttress, cross under the bottom of the buttress on a faint trail that passes a giant tree with a cable on it. When you get to a smaller talus field, go straight up hill. When the talus ends at the forest go straight up to the base of the Shangri-La crag with History Book and Guillotine and Skullduggery. You'll know you're in the right place when you see a giant corner with a huge flake about 40 feet up (Guillotine), and several bolted lines. To get to Metamorphosis and Magic Carpet Ride, go right at the top of the little talus field mentioned above. View of the talus and upper and lower approaches from the top of Ellie's Sweet Kiss. Looking back past Shangri-La with Ellie's Sweet Kiss in the background. Looking up at the 4th class scramble. It's easier than it looks. ……………………………………… The following routes are on a wall on the left side of the guillotine corner. From left to right: Science Friction = 5.10d bolted face with two friction cruxes. Left of History Book. 5 bolts. 15 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2012. History Book = 5.10a trad crack in a left-leaning dihedral. Follow the crack to chains at the top of the cliff. DO NOT trust the ancient rusty aid piton! A standard rack will suffice. 20 meters. FA (ground-up onsight) Roberts, August, 2007. Crouching Tiger = 5.10c bolted roof and face climbing. Start 10 feet left of History Book, head up and right to the first bolt, and then go straight up over a series of small roofs. 8 bolts. 20 meters. FA Roberts, October, 2008. Hidden Dragon = 5.11c (11+ if shorter than 5’9”) bolted face and roofs. Start 8 feet right of History Book. This route has four different cruxes, multiple roofs, and a clean upper dihedral. 12 bolts. 29 meters. FA Roberts, July, 2009. Hypertension = 5.11+/12- bolted face and roofs. A stick clip might be wise as the bouldery crux is off the ground. Requiring power, balance, and body tension, this route will test your versatility. 13 bolts. 28 meters. FA Roberts, September, 2009. Guillotine = 5.10b trad crack and flake in a giant corner. Enter the corner near the first bolt of Free Radical (a solid cam can be placed at the lip if you’re a purist). Climb up to and past the namesake flake on the right wall and follow the corner to its end. Then clip a fixed nut and make some airy moves up and right to the chains. A standard rack is fine. 22 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2007. Free Radical = 5.11a bolted route on the arête right of Guillotine. Outstanding moves in a great position. Shares an anchor with Guillotine. 9 bolts. 22 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2009. Hangman = 5.10a bolted face and roof with fun friction moves at the top. This starts at the Guillotine/Free Radical anchor and goes a full 30m to chains. You can link Free Radical and Hangman for a 52 meter pitch. You'll need about 23 quickdraws to get up and a 60m rope to get down. 13 bolts. 30 meters. FA Roberts, June, 2007. The following routes are on the overhanging face right of Guillotine: Bladerunner = 5.12c? (5.11 to V6 to 5.11) overhanging bolted face on pristine rock. Unrepeated. This route takes a striking line up the super-clean, overhanging face right of Free Radical. It has a devious crux that requires core strength and creativity. Easy to top rope after climbing Guillotine or Free Radical, but be sure to use the Bladerunner anchor as there is a sharp roof above that could damage the rope if you TR from the Guillotine/Free Radical anchor. Overhanging, South-facing exposure keeps this route dry most of the year. 4 bolts. 10 meters. FA Roberts, October, 2012. Skullduggery= 5.12b? Unrepeated. A bit of skullduggery (an act of trickery or deception) may be needed to get up this steep, technical, and sustained line Overhangs 17 feet in its 40 foot length. Starts fifty feet right of Free Radical. A worthy test piece. Use the hand line to ascend the slab. Belay/start at the bolt and fixed cam that anchor the hand line. 5 bolts. 13 meters. FA Roberts, July, 2010. Open Project = 5.12+ or harder route on an overhanging face right of Skullduggery. Bolted. The following routes are on walls around to the right from Shangri-La. To get there, descend a trail about 100 feet and then veer left into the next amphitheater. Three routes are ready for climbers: Meta Cliff: Metamorphosis = 5.10d adventurous two pitch line up the center of a 300ft face. If you stand at the giant tree, look up and left at a big face. Metamorphosis p1 (10+) climbs up the center of this. The first pitch starts at a small roof at the ground, gear goes in a small crack, two bolts lead past a bulge, gear protects moves up higher, and there is one final bolt before the belay just below a large ledge (5.10+). The second pitch starts up a flake and vertical crack, moves up and left and then back right past bolts and gear, follows three bolts up thin and exposed face climbing, passes a short crack before a ledge, and ends with a bouldery finish past a bolt (5.10+). You could continue up 4th class terrain to a bolted anchor at an airy perch atop the Shangri-La cliff. Rap with one or two 60m ropes. Ropedrag might be bad if you try to link the two pitches. Note: it is best to belay for the first pitch very low at a divot in the vegetation. Start climbing in tennis shoes and change to rock shoes at the small roof. Needs an approach trail. Gear from small cams to #2 camalot. 50 meters total. FA Roberts, May, 2008. Metaphysics = 5.11R? (5.10R to a well-protected V3 crux at the roof to a 5.10 upper section). Unrepeated. This trad line follows the start of Metamorphosis to the flake below the first bolt. Place cams in a diagonal crack on the face 6ft below this flake and then traverse straight right 6 feet. Follow holds straight up and over the obvious roof. There is good protection in cracks on the slanting roof section. Climb up to the second roof, place gear, and zag up and left to the anchor at the top of the first pitch of Metamorphosis. Microcams to a single #4 camalot for the last placement. FA Roberts, November, 2011. Magic Carpet Ride = 5.8ish trad crack up a series of corners. This is on the large slabby face about a hundred feet right of Metamorphosis. Head up to a large tree. Pass this and continue up to the higher of two left-traversing cracks. Follow a series of corner cracks/dihedrals to the top of the buttress. You’ll see the scrub line. Turn the last roof on the right and follow a mossy ramp to anchors up and left. This route is about 40 meters and will get better with more traffic. You can rappel with two ropes, just barely get down with a single 70 meter rope, or rap to the tree with a single 60 and rap again or down climb. Standard rack. 40 meters. FA Roberts, April, 2008. Unnamed = 5.9ish bolted line. This starts about fifty feet right of Magic Carpet Ride. Follow a scrub line up and right toward a small roof and a bolt. Follow a line of bolts up nice but slightly dirty climbing. Bolts are in a line but some zigzagging is needed to climb past the roof. It’s about 35m to the anchors so bring two ropes. Nice moves all the way to the end. 10 bolts? FA Krawarik, 2009. The following climb is on a face above the giant tree below the buttress with the dead snag. This can be approached by rapping in from chains at the top of the buttress next to the dead snag. Direct approach from the bottom may be developed. The following climb starts at the base of a large pine just uphill from the dead snag. Drive By = 5.8 bolted arête and face in a great position with excellent views. Clip one chain, skip the next chains. Put a long runner on a bolt 15 or so feet higher, and then aim for the slab/arête feature above you. There are several bolts on the slab leading to a final mantle. Rap the route. Be careful not to drop things on parties below. 25 meters. 8 bolts. FA Roberts, Krawarik, Anderson, May, 2007. Unnamed = 5.8 trad corner above Drive By that needs some gardening but is still fun. 27 meters? Standard rack. FA Krawarik, Locke, June, 2007. The following climb is on a face above the giant tree below the buttress with the dead snag. This can be approached by rapping in from chains at the top of the buttress next to the dead snag. Small Arms Fire = 5.10c bolted face with thin, balancy moves in a great position. Rap down to the starting anchor from chains near the dead snag. Lead out or do a top belay. 6 bolts. 20 meters. FA Roberts, August, 2007. The following route is quite close to Headlight Point, on the way to the lower approach to Shangri-La. Approach: Headlight Point is the first cliff you get to when coming from the Gunshow area. It is the Southern-most crag of easy (5.6ish) climbs on the trail. Right behind those climbs, is a tree and a dirt ramp that leads a few meters down into the forest. Follow the ramp a few feet. Skirt a bush, drop a few feet along a tiny talus field, and head across to the obvious cliff. A large flat rock at the base of a tree marks the start of Third Stone from the Sun. To continue to Shangri La, follow the small cliff to its end at the giant talus field. Cross that and head for the approach that goes below the bottom of the large buttress as described above. Third Stone from the Sun = 5.11c bolted overhanging face. Lots of action in a small package. 5 bolts. 11 meters. FA Roberts, June, 2011. Photos: History Book Crouching Tiger low Crouching Tiger middle Crouching Tiger high - McClellan Butte in the background. Hidden Dragon Red line is Hidden Dragon. Green is Hypertension. Both continue out of sight above. Guillotine Free Radical is the arete right of Guillotine, which Ian is climbing here. The Guillotine flake is visible on the left. Free Radical is the arete left center. Blade Runner is right center and ends at the visible chains. Duct tape engineering on Blade Runner Skullduggery Skullduggery Yellow is Metamorphosis. Red is Metaphysics. Metamorphosis is the yellow line. I'm approaching the top of Metaphysics. Both routes share a belay. Metaphysics Metaphysics Small Arms Fire Gopro shot from the top of Small Arms Fire. The dead snag is 10 feet behind me. Third Stone from the Sun Don't forget to hit the swimming hole! stay tuned for more... THANKS TO MANY GREAT PARTNERS AND HELPERS OVER THE YEARS: Alex, Scott, Jens, Matt, David, Ed, Michael, Mike, Blake, Leland, Frank, Scott, Ryland, and others. Gear Notes: See route descriptions above. Approach Notes: X38 Far Side trails. See details and links above.
  11. Trip: Strobach - FA: Adrenalepherine WI 5 & Others Date: 1/11/2013 Trip Report: Sorry it has taken me so long to get this up. I have wanted to share a few photos from a trip Craig Pope, Tim Stabio and I had to Strobach over the Janurary 10th weekend. My 28th birfday was the previous wednesday and the excitement was high for a camp out at strobach. The temps were fabulous, air clean and crisp and the fire warm. I won't bore you with anymore boring details on how fun it was to camp at the base and just get to some photos Day 1: Tower of Power Tim doing the needful Craig following... This route was in great shape, technical to start and beautiful one swings to finish, smiles all the way. 2nd up I took Craig over to the base of Hate Pony and Ponderosa Pillar. Craig took a liking to the center line that climbs the narrow pillar and traverses the thin plate of glass to the top shield of Ponderosa. What resulted was a five star classic with good gear throughout. FA: Adrenalepherine WI 5 50m Craig Pope, Tim Stabio, Bryan Schmitz 1/12/13. Route takes pillar and corner left of Ponderosa and exits right shortly before the roof. Craig Pope getting closer In his element Day 2: Unholy Baptism Craig leading a very thin first pitch Tim styling the second pitch crux section Thanks for a great birthday weekend fellas, it was one to remember. ice is for drinks Gear Notes: the usual ice stuff Approach Notes: sloe shoes for us without a snowmachine...
  12. Trip: Entiat, WA - FA Frigus Manus WI5+ 60M Date: 1/22/2013 Trip Report: Wayne Wallace and I spent two days up the Entiat this weekend. Friday we climbed What do Aredenvoirs Eat? and Tyee Falls. We scoped some new lines at about the 20.5 mile marker I believe and headed up to them Monday morning. Wayne took a crack at a sketchy looking mixed line but there is not natural pro on worse than shitty rock. He wise-fully made the choice to bail. We moved over to the left and climbed what we believe to be a FA which we called Frigus Manus. This named seemed fitting after my hands got so cold I had to have Wayne send up my thicker gloves. We rated it WI 5+. It was a full 60M to the belay. It is worth doing and should be in for awhile! Things up the Entiat are looking really good and should be in this weekend. Seems like the only place around with really good ice. Park right past Tyee Falls ranch at the first little pull out on the left hand side of the road and find the boot pack over the bank. River is frozen well enough. Sorry no time to write an in-depth narrative of the climb like for Goat's Beard. Too busy right now with other things. Approach Notes: Snowshoes needed. Walk up hill. We had horrible snow conditions took about 1.5-2 hours.
  13. Trip: Strobach - Hate Pony (FA) Date: 1/6/2013 Summary: First Ascent of Hate Pony WI4 M4 Katie Mills Todd Eddie and John Frieh January 6 2013 Details: Took FIVE others into Strobach on Sunday... new record for most people at Strobach on a given day? We split into two teams of three: Brad, Rebecca and Nate fired out Sad Cebu (currently in crap conditions) followed by Sudden Change of Plans (excellent conditions) while Katie, Todd and I ran laps on Ice Dreams (excellent conditions) followed by the first ascent of what is listed as Unclimbed A in the book. I've had my eye on Unclimbed A for a few seasons now; even though the hanger hadn't touched down it was the most filled in I had ever seen it including just enough ice to negotiate the roof on it's left side. Excited to get up the remaining "Unclimbed" route from Alex's excellent guidebook. Shout out to Todd for leading Ice Dreams for his very first time climbing water ice. Ever. And of course one for Katie for making sure we all were "appropriately hydrated." Until next time Todd. First time climbing Water ice. On his very first lead. Bona fide Oh hey! HATE PONY Gear Notes: Gear to #1 camalot for Hate Pony + 1-2 10 cm screws 0.5 camalot key piece IMO Petzl Darts for dealing with the super thin ice on Hate Pony Approach Notes: Likely the best snowshoe track ever. You're welcome
  14. My wife and I decided to enjoy the first day of the year doing some exploratory climbing. We made what we believe to be the first ascent of what we are calling Alta Falls. Alta Lake is a beautiful little lake surrounded by surprisingly large cliffs. Perhaps this area may support rock climbing in the future. Approach took about 40 minutes. Exactly 35 meters of climbing. One rappel with a 70 meter rope left no room to spare. Off of the N. Cascades Highway, follow signs to Alta Lake State Park. (Located approximately 4 miles from the City of Pateros.) The climb is visible from the road due west of the first camping area.
  15. Trip: Squire Creek Wall - Skeena26 III, 5.9, FA Date: 9/17/2012 Trip Report: SKEENA 26 III, 5.9 (12 pitches) Bill Enger, David Whitelaw, Yale Lewis A couple of months back, my buddy Bill and I completed our third line on Squire Creek Wall. It's located way around to the south, past the Illusion Wall, Chickenshit Gulley and all that. We picked the last big chunk on the left and turned up a real jewel at a fairly relaxed standard. Its not like these things are a mystery. The features are more or less in plain sight from the trail. A short, fairly flat three miles and its all obvious. A pair of binoculars and its almost indecent. Its been right there all along, soaking up the famous northwest sunshine. Every once in awhile, basking on our bivy ledges we'd get to talking, passing the bourbon eh? " Well ya know," somebody would begin. "There's that stuff around to the south. We talked about it for years but with no real sense of urgency. Finally one autumn the Rodeo had been completed and we had to stare at each other and blink. Two buttonheads without a cause. At odds with the rest of the world since day-one D-Town has rambled on with the barest minimum of love for just over forty years. Too far, too weird, too low angle, too obscure, too wet. Two-thousand feet tall?? Two ropes?? Two hours from Seattle? Fuck that! Sometime last century, in a sort of cedar-smeared socialist epiphany we peasants smashed our machines and marched into the forest naked save for the hand-drill, and a crown of devil's club. Now the hammer has taken us full circle and despite the cold sweat of watching the tool so arthritically pound out the dust it is indeed the wilderness we have come for. Like Heidi's grumpy grampa, sequestered. By degrees we have been forgetting our old ways; road trips, guidebooks, beta?, campgrounds, this climb or that. No trails, no rangers, no fees, no pools, no pets. You just pay up front and place your bets. The not knowing isnt mearly a part of it, it's the heart of it. So we went around the corner to the south. We had no idea how to even get there. It was after all, the remote side of Squire Creek Wall; fabled for being unreachable. One November we walked up the trail and took pics of the southern ramparts with a dusting of new snow on them. Later,in spring we skiied up the road and attempted to snowshoe up the big hillside beneath the Illusion Wall. We didnt get very far but we learned a few things. The hillside is steep, but the forest provides sufficient cover so that there is little underbrush. It's only as you approach higher elevations that the lowland giants give way to the famous hundred-acre tangles of matted, down-sloping cedars and broken logs. While the sane played at Vantage this last spring, Bill and I thrashed around in the forest and the flies and the melting snowbridges until we found a workable path. It was getting to be a bit over the top! We were many many weekends into it before we even got an unobstructed look at our mail-order bride. In June we cramponed up snow gullies and tiptoed around huge psuedo-seracs and tilted snowblocks until we found a camp fairly near the base of the wall. There was snow everywhere. Cornices along the summit periodically cut loose and sent thousand foot cascades of shaved ice down the rock. The sun came out, the snow blocks fell over, waterfalls spewed out of big corners hundreds of feet above us, and the whole place sparkled. In all fairness we didn't know what to think. At least I didn't. It was different. It wasn't what I had imagined. We gaped for hours and wondered if it would play. The cirque arched around us in the sun like a collosal necklace with waterfalls for jewels and we agreed that the prize was worth the walk. Now with a light load and some solid prior knowledge the approach can be sent in around three hours. There would be no high-ledge bivys this time. Just a shady base-camp with prayer flags and our ubiquitous water cubes. From camp, a ten-minute hike across boulders, grass and wildflowers brings one to the start of the route with only minimal aggravations. What a summer we had! While the rest of the nation struggled with heat waves and forest fires Darrington became our always-sunny summer camp in the Sierras. We baked in the sun and it never rained. As usual, occasional guests and girlfriends joined us in the dirt and the heat and in particular Yale Lewis' hard work packing gear, jugging lines and shooting video helped us immeasurably. The route steadily advanced by a pitch or two per weekend. To our good fortune, the gully below camp held snow until late August, which in turn provided water for cooking and slush for our margaritas. Nobody said this pioneering shit had to hurt ALL the time! Bill on Pitch 1 Pitch 1 Drilling on Pitch 5 Dave on Pitch 5 Bill on Pitch 7 Photos by David Whitelaw, Bill Enger Squire Creek Wall, South Face Skeena26 in blue photo by John Scurlock The south side of Squire Creek Wall isn't as steep as the Illusion Wall or even Slab Daddy it's just that the rock is so exceptional and the setting so perfect. The stone is brilliant white and peppered with textures, bumps and knobs. When it gets a little steeper, the knobs get a little bigger and there are good places for gear on many of the pitches. This is a friendly route of high quality and though the first pitch touches 5.9 at a couple of polished spots most of the rest of the route is 5.4- 5.6 with sporadic freak-outs of up to 5.8. We tried to make a route that a 5.8 leader would find reasonable. We just went with the flow, and followed the knobs for a dozen pitches. Gear Notes: Standard rack to 3 1/2"
  16. Trip: Mt Wake (Ruth Gorge) - S Face via Johnson/Wake Col "The Cook Inlet" (FA) Date: 10/22/2012 Summary: First Ascent of the South face of Mount Wake via the Johnson/Wake col on October 22 2012. John Frieh and Jess Roskelley. “The Cook Inlet” 4,500', V AI4 M4 Details: On October 21 around 4 pm, Jess Roskelley (Spokane, WA) and I, John Frieh (Portland, OR), flew from Talkeetna to the Ruth Glacier below Mt. Dickey in the Ruth Gorge. We were able to scope out two possible lines before it got dark. After some discussion we decided to attempt an unclimbed line on the south face of Mt Wake. On October 22 we crossed the schrund at 9 am (late start due to what little sun Alaska gets this time of year) and made slow but steady progress up to the Johnson/Wake col. We bypassed the serac (crux) on the climbers right with a few pitches of AI4 and 100% premium Ruth Gorge "cracker jack consistency" granite mixed climbing. From the col we climbed through some mixed bands (M4) to reach the summit of Wake shortly before sunset. Nine hours of daylight is as short as it sounds. We retraced our steps back to the col where we took a coffee/perpeteum brew stop before continuing the descent into the night. Minus an almost unroped crevasse fall (me) it was largely uneventful. We reached our skis around midnight (15 hours skis to skis) where we opted for a nap before continuing the ski back to basecamp in the morning. Later in the morning on the 23rd Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi picked us up and brought us back to Talkeetna to make for a brief 40 or so hours in the range. Many thanks to John Calder for the ANC logistics, Paul Roderick and the TAT crew, and Jess Roskelley for taking a chance climbing with a complete stranger. Jess is a solid climber who I look forward to climbing with again. Also many thanks to my Gym Jones family for the continued guidance and encouragement. Much respect. Home in the Range Bedtime chores October 22 Jess Above the col Jess's first Alaska First Ascent Gear Notes: Two FAs in Alaska in October both on Petzl Lynx; they are quickly becoming my favorite crampon. Lots of Wild Squirrel Approach Notes: Smash and Grab style climbing in the Alaska Range would not be possible without the expertise and service that Paul Roderick and Talkeetna Air Taxi provides. The best of the best. Fly TAT! The MAN: Paul Roderick
  17. Trip: Mt Burkett - NW Face "Can't Knock the Hustle" (FA) Date: 10/6/2012 Summary: First Ascent of the Northwest Face of Mt Burkett on October 6th 2012. John Frieh and Doug Shepherd. “Can’t Knock the Hustle” IV 5.8 M4 AI4 Details: During last year’s ascent of the East Arete of Burkett Needle I was able to scope out at least the start to a possible line on the Northwest face of Mt Burkett. That, coupled with Mr John Scurlock’s excellent photos, gave us just enough beta to warrant an attempt once a weather window was identified which, unfortunately, is often the crux of climbing in the Stikine. The Stikine attempted to “wait me out” all summer with a consistently crappy forecast before finally offering a weather window, thinking I had given up for the season. Nice try weather gods. On October 5th Doug and I flew from SEA to PSG where stubborn cloud cover resistant to burning off resulted in us getting flown into the Burkett glacier late in the day. We used the few remaining hours of daylight to approach Mt Burkett and used the same camp Dave Burdick and I used in 2009. The following morning (Oct 6th) we rolled out of camp around 5:30 am (???) and after some crevasse crossing hi jinx (see below) we reached the Burkett Needle/Mt Burkett col. We promptly dropped over, descended until we found a logical point to gain the face. Simul climbing blocks followed as we slowly unlocked the face. We found classic north face climbing: granite mixed climbing, ice and steep snow which reminded me of the NW face of Mt Stuart... only longer. We topped out around 4 pm (???) and after a few pics we rappelled and downclimbed the Golden Gully route. More glacier hi jinx, again in the dark, before finally hitting camp around 9 pm made for a ~16 hour camp to camp time. The following morning we did the short hike down to pickup where Wally promptly grabbed us just before 11 and brought us back to Petersburg for a ~43 hour round trip. The Northwest Face “Can’t Knock the Hustle” (IV 5.8 M4 AI4) represents the 6th ascent of Mt Burkett. Many thanks to Dieter Klose for support and allowing us to climb while the Icecap was “closed for the season” and to our pilot Wally from Temsco Air. Lastly, a huge shout out to Doug for sucking it up and getting it done on this one considering he is 6 weeks post toe surgery. John Frieh Doug Shepherd Pictures: Yes we have more. I will be showing them plus some from Mt Dickey on Oct 22 in Vancouver, BC (CANADA!) and sometime later this year at Mountain Gear in Spokane. If you're in the area I would be stoked if you can make it Glacier travel hi jinx Approaching the col Low on the face Higher on the face Yes it was really windy Gear Notes: 10 screws, #00 c3 -> #3 c4, rap material, picket Wild Squirrel Vanilla Espresso Approach Notes: Wally is the man
  18. Normandy 5.12 (a/b?) 10-12 quick draws w/Chain Anchor. #1 Camalot optional after 5th or 6th draw Starts off obvious block on left side of the Beach ledge just to the left of Between the Cheeks and Heavens Rear Entry Vehicle. Follow bolts. Steep, bouldery face climbing and two roofs lead to an airy, narrow, stemming finish.
  19. Trip: Colchuck Balanced Rock - Accendo Lunae Date: 9/5/2012 Soapbox Alert Climbers are basically the only user group to visit the cirque at CBR. Any garbage is ours. Any tape, piles of wood, campfires, and human waste is ours. Any rangers that visit the area go to police us. Lets keep this place pristine and set a great leave-no-trace precedent. I'd love to go up there is 20 years and have it look like it did 20 years ago. -------------- Earlier this summer I was up at Colchuck Balanced Rock for the day to try and climb a route we hoped would incorporate the best and hardest climbing on Let it Burn with some new pitches and the crux of the West Face. Scott Bennett, Graham Zimmerman and I began via the 5.7 and clean 5.10 pitches on the West Face, then followed Let it Burn for 3 pitches (which are each really amazing, thanks again Max and Jens for the work on that route!) Scott following Let it Burn's crux pitch From here we started up our new pitch #1. From the belay between Let it Burn's two 5.11+ pitches, we moved right and into a thin splitter. My friend Scott began to free climb, but neon lichen and a bit of grainy rock shut him down. We tagged him up a spare tennis shoe to use for scraping, scrubbing, and cleaning up the pitch, and he aided up to a ledge. He worked out a few sequences on TR and then pulled his gear and pulled the rope. Scott came very close to sending on his first go, but slipped out of a thin hand jam near the top. (Scott, lichen my tennis shoe) The three of us were sharing a single liter of water on the route, which gets about 3x as much sun as anything else up there, yet Scott donated his water ration to me as I strapped on shoes for a lead go. Using the gear beta he'd worked out, but putting together my short-guy sequence on the go, I flashed the pitch, but it was a fight until the end. Even though this pitch wasn't long, it felt harder than the crux of Let it Burn and much harder than anything on the West Face, so I think 5.12- is about right, but it might clean up a bit and be easier. Although I could have kept leading, I didn't have much of the gear I'd need to continue and the next stretch of stone had the leader moving right over a sharp, clean flake, not where I wanted my 8.4mm ropes running. I belayed up Scott and Graham and got the rest of the gear. New pitch #2 began with some really creative and memorable flare climbing on immaculate white stone, with a good crack for wires and thin cams. After a rest in an alcove, I got some great gear above my head in the roof, and did the double-handjam pull-up to turn the lip. I'd been hoping that the crack continued above the roof, and was really happy to find good thin hands jams for quite a ways. The roof is a rope-eating feature, but a blue alien sized cam can be slotted into a horizontal once you've pulled the crux, to direct the rope out of the pinch. I mantled up after the corner, and then face climbed slightly right to the belay which folks normally reach climbing straight left from under the roof on the West Face. From here we joined the crux pitch of the West Face, and finished up the chimneys. By the time we did the "5.8" chimneys, it was fully dark, but it actually got brighter as we simulclimbed to the summit, as the moon was nearly full and very welcome for our summit and descent. I joked about calling our variant "Let it Face West" but in honor of the moonlight and in homage to the route "Let it Burn" we decided to name it "Accendo Lunae" which is latin for burning, or ascending moon. Naming a 2-pitch variation to two existing routes is perhaps a little silly, but at least it should make route discussion and differentiation a little easier. With steep splitter climbing, excellent protection, good belay ledges, and sustained pitches at the 5.10+ to 5.12- grade, "Accendo" is probably my new favorite rock climb in the area. Gear Notes: Double set of cams to #2, with one #3 and one #4. Standard set of wires. 60m rope is fine.
  20. Trip: Exfo Dome- Proxima Wall - Ancient Melodies (of the Future)III, 5.11- Date: 8/19/2012 Trip Report: Danny Coltrane and I finally finished a new route on Exfoliation Dome in Darrington last weekend. This route is situated on the southern flank of Blueberry Hill, and provides a unique view of the buttress route and summit massif, along with some really exciting climbing on great features. In 2001 or so, good buddy S. Packard and I did an exploratory foray up the right hand margin of this wall, getting a long 3 pitches up and blanking out completely on a vertical smooth headwall before resorting to a few desperate bathooks to a ledge. The new route shares the first pitch of our 2001 effort and the previous high point anchors situated at the bottom of P4. Fast forward 2 kids, 2 dogs, a goldfish, a dozen years, lots of beer, a few pounds of penalty weight, and several new routes in between; I was drawn to the place once again in 2011. A big thanks to good friend JR Storms for humping loads on several occasions! Upper right flank of BBH P2 View from Blueberry rt Workin the veggies Frog pond on the sidewalk P4 Part way up P3 Route tops out at the gendarme straight up from my sexy head Danny on P3 crux traverse Pronounced rib at P1, top of approach gully
  21. Trip: Black Peak's West Peak - NW ridge (and N Buttress) IV 5.7ish - FLA Date: 7/21/2012 Trip Report: Rolf Larson and I climbed this route on Saturday. We are not aware of previous ascents—and speculate this could be a first and last ascent, aka FLA. This 3,000' ridge/buttress climb impressed me when Dan Helmstadter and I were en route to a ski of Black Peak's (East and main summit) NW Face. Pic from my May ski trip with Dan: Pic from a climb/ski of Arriva a week before, early May. W Peak is on right, and the long buttress/ridge extending toward the viewer is what we climbed: It looked so classic, the long ridge with steep walls falling off to a glacier, ending in a high and scenic N Cascades summit. And it was. Classic. Uber-mega-meta-classic. Much better than any Internet meme. Sorta like the N. Ridge of Stuart (only longer) combined with the Torment-Forbidden Traverse (only steeper), and a High-Priest-like blockheaded finish. Purity of line, quality of rock, a graceful climbing partner: these are things devoutly to be wished. The pictures don’t do it justice, one must experience the climb for one’s self; a tonic for the soul, as Rolf might say. But probably not. Looking at the limited pics, we thought there could be some steep, more-difficult climbing. We were loaded for bear and a bivy—rope, a medium rack, light bivy gear, a stove, climbing shoes, and too much food. All but the rope ended up training weight—we made 2 raps, but otherwise the stuff stayed in the packs while we rambled up the scenic ridge, with lots of 3rd and 4th class scrambling, and difficulties up to 5.7 or so. As is often the case, the most difficult climbing usually occurred on the best rock. The approach was made over the northern col between Black and its 8395’ point to the north. Spicy downclimbing ensued to snow, then finally to the base c. 5800’ after running under looming seracs. The pics tell the rest of the story; this thing was long. Our first look during the approach, from the col: Near the start (from these humble beginnings), poor pic: Looking down initial stretch; photo doesn’t show considerable exposure here: Still much to do: We passed this gendarme on its right, but in retrospect would’ve enjoyed going over it On the torment-forbidden-esqe section (Rolf’s photo): Still more to go: Gramps hikes up his britches Rappin’ The rock quality suffers no comparison. And gets even better: final summit block Hard to believe this was a ski slope a couple months ago Some more scenics and action shots are here. We enjoyed this route, but as subtly hinted, were hoping for more difficult lines along the way. Still, motoring up a long climb is always a splendid way to spend a day.
  22. Trip: WA Pass - FA Southern Man 5.9+ C1 (5.11d) ;Recently Reported Date: 8/8/2008 Trip Report: NORTH CASCADES: WASHINGTON PASS South Early Winter Spire (S.E.W.S) F.A. SE Corner “Southern Man ” IV 5.11d (C1 5.9+) Mark Allen, Leighan Falley, Joel Kauffman Aug-24h 2008 Trip Report By Mark Allen Index Photo showing Southeast face of South Early Winter Spire (S.E.W.S.) at Washington Pass in the North Cascades. The South Arête on the left and East Buttress on the right. ~ Photo Tom Smith A. Beckey-Leen 1968 “Direct East Buttress” IV (5.9 C1) or 5.11 B. Allen-Falley- Kauffman 2008 “Southern Man IV 5.9+ C1 C. Anderson-Myher-Richardson-Young 1965 “Lower East Buttress to Southeast Face” IV 5.8 A2 D. Marts-McPherson 1966 “Inferno Route” III 5.9 A2 E. Briody-Yoder 1984 “Inferno~ Direct Finish” IV 5.10c F. Windom - Co. 2000 “Escargot” IV+ (5.11 Ao) 5.12 G. Burdo-Johnston 2007 “Hitch Hiker” IV+ (5.10+ C1) or 5.11 H. Burdo-Doorish-White 1991 “Passenger” V (5.11b Ao) or 5.12 I. Coultrip-Sanford 1977 “the Midnight Ride” IV 5.9 A4 (There is little known of this route. Recent explorations have suggested that it might not have been established as previously once thought) After we put this line up, Burdo cleaned it a few rounds and pulled the free ascent with a partner (rope-gun) the next summer. Its seen 4 free ascents since. All parties are impressed with the classic quality and position. If your looking for a new free climb at a high grade go check it out. This southern face holds a very striking steep and direct line. I planted a photo of this feature in Joel’s mind in 2006 and he was been line-drunk ever since. Leighan was on vacation from Talkeetna Alaska fresh off the “Ruth Gorge-Eye Tooth” and was up for some goose chasing. Background Activity on the Southeast Corner of South Early Winter Spires By 1965 all sub summits of the Liberty Bell group had seen ascents, but the steepest and tallest faces still lay untouched. This fact was exactly what Donald Anderson, Paul Myhre, Jim Richardson, and Margeret Young knew when they hitched a ride from Fred Beckey and Dave Beckstead on the bumpy dirt road leading to Early Winters Creek in June 1965. This was the first year the groomed, but primitive, access road was open leading to the trail head for the Early Winter Creek Trail heading to the East side of the Liberty Bell Group. This road eventually opened completely and soon become the North Cascades Highway. Paul Myhre described hanging off the side of an over crowded Volkswagen filled with gear, his three partners, and the Becky party (Myhre, 2008). The two parties had hopes to pioneer climbs on steeper aspects of the alpine spires at Washington Pass. Many climbers shared this hope beginning the second but most influential surge of climbing history at Washington Pass in 1965. The first visiting climbers in 1937 had a much longer trek from the Twisp River trail over Kangaroo Pass before reaching the group of granite domes and spires know to them as ‘The Towers’ named by naturalist Martin Gorman in 1897 (Beckey, 2000). Kangaroo Pass would be the standard approach for all routes climbed until the new access of 1965. During the first ascent of any of the Liberty Bell Towers the 1937 party climbed South Early Winter Spire (S.E.W.S.) via the Southwest Couloir. They renamed the Massif ‘Mount Liberty Bell.’ It is unclear if they intended to name the entire row (three major peaks and two minor) or just the highest point known today as South Early Winters Spire. North Early Winter Spire (N.E.W.S.) was referred to as ‘Middle Peak of Liberty Bell Mountain’ after its first ascent in 1950 also inferred to the entire massif as being the ‘Liberty Bell’ (Beckey, 2000). Fred Becky and his brother Helmy climbed the first ascent of the South Arête on the recently named ‘Mount Liberty Bell’ in 1942. With increasing popularity and route activity Jim Crooks and Fred Beckey would later see the “need for the classic bell [shaped tower] to be separated from its southern counter part” (Beckey, 2000) and named the proximal twin spires North and South Early Winters Spires as a tribute to the mechanical weathering process that he suspected sculpted them. The Liberty Bell Group was no secret to the aspiring Washington climbing community. In 1965 the improvement of access now made the steeper aspects attainable by a few miles on trail. Climbers would kick of this milestone surge by establishing Liberty Crack, the East Buttress Direct, and West Face if N.E.W.S, the Southeast Corner of S.E.W.S. and make the first attempt at the Independence Route (Beckey, 2000). In June of 1965 the Beckey and Myhre groups walked the trail parallel to the highway construction and beheld the East faces of the enchained Liberty Bell Group. This was the first time most of the climbers had been to the Liberty Bell Massif. The teams climbed up to the spires out of the glacial carved Washington Pass where small surveyor and logging teams continued to clear the swath for the highway. Beckey and Beckstead circumnavigated the massif to pioneer the West Face Route on N.E.W.S. later to become one of the best free-climbs in the Liberty Bell group at grade II 5.10d. Anderson, Myhre, Richardson, and Young found themselves with bivi gear and racking heavily with pitons at the base of the East Buttress of S.E.W.S. They would be attempting to gain the crest via any route possible (Myhre, 2008) and would be the first team to attempt any of the steep East faces of the Liberty Bell group and first route with an on route bivi. The Myhre party later found themselves 500ft up and two-days out on the Southeast Corner. At their high point new Lost Arrows fixed a pendulum for the four climbers to cross the Southeast face. These artifacts left behind would be of the 50 pitons placed during the rather circuitous but groundbreaking ascent on any of the ‘Mount Liberty Bell’ spires steep East aspect. Only weeks following the exploration of Myhre’s party, several parties were also inspired to explore the area after seeing a photograph in a local Seattle newspaper showing two engineers leaning against a bulldozer in the proximity of Washington Pass. The striking skyline of the Liberty Bell group in the background captivated Steve Marts and Don McPherson (Marts, 2008). Don McPherson would have remembered this aspect having seen these towers during several of his ascents in the 1950’s on the Silver Star Massif prior to climbing with Marts in 1965. The two were prompted to achieve the same goal, establise new routes on the abundance of rock newly accessible in the North Cascades. Marts and McPherson invited Fred Stanley to join them come up Early Winters Creek. The trio had much larger ambitions than any party to date. They had visions of the much bolder plumb line on the East Face of Liberty Bell Mountain. They were successful and appropriately dubbed the new line ‘Liberty Crack’. McPherson and Marts came back the following year and naturally gravitated towards the weakness centrally located in the Southeast wall of S.E.W.S. This route would most famously become known in 1984 for the Off-Width crux above a skewer-shaped snag that Jim Yoder would free and directly finish out the headwall at IV 5.10c known as the “Inferno Route” (See Index Photo Line D). Joel Kauffman stepping of the Trianlge Ledge on to what we thought was new ground~Photo Mark Allen Concept of the Line Standing from the hairpin we pieced together the line of objective. I spotted three pitches of the East Buttress via the 1965 Lower East Buttress-Southeast Face variation and up to the major ledge called the Triangular Ledge. Here our reconnaissance would need to step off and continue up a 450ft dihedral system running continuously to the top of the Southeast Corner Buttress of S.E.W.S. (Beckey occasionally describes the arête feature making the left flank of the East Buttress of S.E.W.S as the Southeast Corner). I envisioned this potential line to the summit free of bolts and in a single push. Few routes IV and higher that share this statistic like 1985 Child-Goldie Silver Star-East Ridge IV 5.9, 1987 Burdo-Reeses’ Freedom Rider IV 5.10d, 1985 Child-Goldie Silver Star-East Ridge IV 5.9, 1991 Grossman-White Stellar Eclipse IV 5.11a on the west face of Silver Star, and 2005 Goldie-Johnston Gato Negro IV 5.10d. Further; these routes first ascents were done clean, all-free, on-sight, with out bivi gear, fixing, or use of hammers. Savage Clean This new route would need to be aided yet would not receive bolts in contrasts the route just proximal; the 1968 Direct East Buttress, with two pitches of hand drilled bolt ladders (which is core-town in its own right). This line disserved a visit. Forty-three years after the 1965 quartet established the inaugural bivi on the Triangular Ledge, Joel Kauffman racked up and took our first two exploratory pitches off that same ledge. I would read later the 1965 party last had climbed this pitch in a mixed-free-and-aid style (See photo above). The rock Joel climbed was excellent granite. The slightly left leaning 5.9+ crack had a classic nature with untraveled spice. Finger cracks, grooves, LB cracks, and face on a very protectable pitch of increasing difficulty. Joel found two more pins circa 1960 near the top of his pitch. Not up to date on the details of 1965 ascent we were not sure how far the artifacts would go. (See Index Photo line C and Photo above and photo bellow) Joel snaps a photo from the Alcove of Leighan Falley and Mark Allen following the 5.9+ pitch. Here the climbers approach the LA pitons the 1965 “Lower East Buttress-Southeast Face” party used in a two-pitch pendulum to a landing bellow. In 1966 this landing became the top of the Inferno off-width established by the 1966 Marts-McPherson “Inferno Route” on Pitch 5 (See Topo). ~Photo Joel Kauffman Once back at home I began to piece it all together. I learned the rather traversing 1965 Lower East Buttress-Southeast Face route begins on the northeast side of the East Buttress of S.E.W.S. They climbed a few pitches of the East Buttress then ran a high traverse on the Southeast face. During the wide cracks on the Lower East Buttress the party hand drilled two ¼ inch bolts for the 5”off-width too wide for bongs to protect (still spotted today sans-hanger). Reaching the triangular ledge the party bivied for one night. In the morning the quartet climbed a left-leaning crack for 130ft onto Southeast face (see both photos above). Myhre recalls the climb being busy with four climbers and that their line reflected interest of getting off the face with limited time. At the high point of the alcove they placed two pins for a pendulum and headed southwest escaping the steep crack system. This involved a two-pitch pendulum before the party gained the ramp system now better known to lead off the 1966 Inferno route. (See Index photo Line C and Topo). They continued to the summit via the South Arete. FA Account On August 24, 2008 8:00am the three of us rack up at the hairpin-turn on the North Cascades Highway thirty-six years after its inception. It’s first time our comrades Dan Otter and Andy Polocheck have been to the pass and prep for the Becky-Leen Direct East Buttress. The five of us ramble up to the S.E.W.S East aspect. The two teams simul-seage the mid-5th lower pitches and each take our own corners on the lower East Buttress. Our party coincidently takes the 1965 variation to the right while Andy and Dan take the 1968 Beckey-Leen corner to the left. Taken the variations we did that day added a fantastic historical reflection to the climb. I foundmyself at the belays wondering what it would be like to discover these lines. What it might have been like two decades ago to be aiding up the 5.9 crack in boots pounding in pins. Did they vision hundreds of climbers float these pitches free in hand-crack bliss with racks of cams. While inspecting the old bolts I applauded the contemporary bloke who removed the hangers seeing that a 5” cam is a cleaner and safer to way protect the crack. Our parties topped out on the triangular ledge. Getting there was like intermission. From our box seats of the Southeast Corner we could scope across the Southeast face from the Direct East Buttress to the Berdo-Johnston 07’ “Hitch Hiker.” Gaping off the ledge we spotted Tom Smith and Kevin Newell on the Leland Windham route affectionately known to the Methow valley locals as The Slug Trail (striking similarity) or Escargot (because most parties thus far pull on draws). Just around the corner Joel’s acquaintance Cole and partner were climbing the Passenger and audible whooping would drift to our ledge. Our friends are all over the place. This made a good day to be exploring. The moral was highly influenced by the partnerships, good weather, and good souls on the wall. Joel quickly led our pitch 4 off the ledge. Leighan and I seconded the pitch. We were surprised to confirm the climbing was good and the rock sound. Inspecting the 1965 knife blades they were in fantastic shape. I pulled the bail sling from the old iron and continued into the hanging alcove belay. The three of us hung like bats out of the roof crack. We were cramped. The leader needed to leave and soon. We reracked and Joel continued his block head on. Looking down at our progress we observed the yellow and orange lichen painted crack leave the triangular ledge and run continuously though the roof belay then strait up the Southeast Face. The dihedral was continuous all the way to the top. Steep. So much for 5.8 hand cracks to the summit. The dihedral was a left facing corner for 100ft to a small roof where the dihedral changes to right facing for the remaining 300ft. The rock was good and steep. Joel reported good climbing and let us know of his status with a raven call. The line was clean having no hint of previous passage. Off Belay. Lines fixed. Mark Allen cleaning pitch 5. The team was always reminded of the steepness by plum lines and hanging belays ~Photo by Joel Kauffman The upper headwall is surprisingly vertical. Loose rock cleaned from the route almost leaves your attention before audibly striking the lower face hundreds of feet down. The dihedral yields its slight overhanging nature and allows for clean jugging to the next piece without touching the wall. Relieved to get to Joel’s belay I regret to find it is hanging. I am comforted by the two 1- inch cams and half-sunk peton that stuborly would not drive or yield to cleaning The aid climbing is dragging out the day and the next pitch is dirtier than the last. Contrary to our aim for fast climbing the chance to free-climb off the anchor is lost. With our remaining rope I begin to short fix the steep dihedral while Leighan jugs the back of my line. The crack runs the face beautifully and the aid is straightforward. This is the first time I feel the burden of failure lift and the line fall to our efforts. Finishing the line simply means stretching out the rope as far as I can. Near the top I am able to free-climb and scamper up the final jams and mantels to a ledge. I excitedly engineer an anchor and fix the line after a 195ft pitch. After several minutes I nervously watch our light fade to gray. I take this time to pick the lichen out of my hair and teeth. Joel pops up and we quickly rack him. 50ft left to the crest. We top out and now it’s very dark. During the descent of the South Arête I think about our luxury of this 2008 alpine crag. Being benighted simply brings a different experience. The well-rehearsed descent will take the same amount of time regardless. Contrary to the 1960’s ascent we can run the Blue Lake trailhead back to the car and beer. If it were only that straight forward. We did not leave a car in the upper-lot but at the hairpin-turn on Highway 20. With zero traffic on the road at 11:00pm and a 1-½ miles of the pavement between the car and us we attempt to see the positive in the situation. We all want to be done. “Stars are nice.” No reply. A few cars did pass us but the American fear of cereal killer hitchhikers has penetrated the psyche. We did not receive assistance, not even brake lights. The August 24, 2008 climbing team. Mark Allen, Joel Kauffman, and Leighan Falley from leftto right. The decision to attempt “Southern Man” was made shortly after this photo was taken the day prior on the summit of the North Early Winter Spire’s “West Face Route”. ~Photo Mark Allen As a 2008 climbing party we wondered about the pins found on the route. What was the full story? The adventure for us did not begin stepping off the triangular ledge but after I started digging into decades of Washington Pass History. I was surprised to find my time travel take me back to the beginning. The Historical significance of our 2008 climb was not because of any boldness or style but because it’s resurrects old storys of Cascade masters. Currently the route Southernman has seen a hand full of free ascents first projected by Bryan Burdo and (?) in 2009. The grade of the route has been changed to IV 5.11d after several days of cleaning and climbing. This route by several climbers is reviered as on of the more classic hard free routes currently at the pass. LINK TO HIGHER RES TOPO Sources 1. Beckey, Fred W. Cascades Alpine Guide. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Seattle, WA: Mountaineers, 2000. 2. Burdo, Bryan, and Brooks White. North Cascades Rock. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Seattle, WA: Rhinotopia. 4. Marts, Steve. "Your Washington Pass History." Telephone interview. Sept. 2008. 5. Paul, Myher. "Your Washington Pass History." Telephone interview. Oct. 2008. 6. "Original Activity at WA Pass." Beckey, Fred, E-mail to the author. Sept. 2008. 7. Burdo, Bryan. "Known Washington Pass History." Telephone interview. Oct. 2008 8. Copyright WSDOT © 2008. "Birth of a Highway." Washington Department of Trasportation. Aug. 2008. Gear Notes: See Topo Approach Notes: Park at the hairpin. Approach as per East Butt Direct
  23. Trip: Aasgard Pass - The Valkyrie Date: 6/26/2012 Trip Report: I was joined by a couple buddies in an attempt to climb Acid Baby the other day. But when I realized I had forgotten a lot about the route and I'd rather be lost on something new than a climb I'd done, we made the last-minute decision to try a new route just to the left, on the same tower. This tower is probably called Aasgard Sentinal or Spineless Prow (although it sure has a "spine" up top) but either way it is a rampart of Enchantment Peak, on the east side of the trail up Aasgard Pass. P1 P2 (The orange rock where we belayed is a good landmark) P2 higher up Scott Bennett lead the first 2 pitches, I took the middle block, and Graham Zimmerman got us to the summit, joining Acid Baby on the last pitch. Every pitch was 5.10 and the rock was generally stellar. Along with the stemming corners and splitters, the route featured a an amazing face of knobs and blobs, overhanging just a touch and with enough gear to make it exciting but not really dangerous. P3 starts with a hidden traverse on jugs, straight right for 25' P5 knobs before joining Acid Baby's hand traverse to the summit Best topout around: Despite trying to find a solstice-themed name, we settled on "The Valkyrie" in deference to the area's Norse naming convention. (Aasgard Pass, Lake Brunhilde, Dragontail, Lady Godiva) It should be nice to have another mid-grade climb in the area, as there are very few alpine rock routes between 5.9 and 5.11+. It felt like a similar difficulty and quality as Acid Baby, a route one friend of mine has climb SIX! times, including 4x in one summer. Gear Notes: Double set to 3" - 60m rope - no need for boots or snow gear Approach Notes: 60 Left of Acid Baby, 2/3 of the way up Aasgard Pass
  24. Trip: Mt Rexford - FA - North Couloir Date: 5/27/2012 Trip Report: Shaun Neufeld, Maxim de Jong, and I climbed this route on Sunday. We crossed Centre Creek below the route at 7 AM, summitted at 2 PM and were back at Shaun's truck in Centre Creek by 5:45 PM. Conditions were great except for some icefall due to the warm day and occasional small wet slush avalanches off the sunny aspects of Nesakwatch Spire. The route forks left about 100m up the Priest-Coupe Couloir leading to the Rex-S Nesak col and climbs to high on the NE Ridge of Rexford, topping out about 50m from the summit. Climbing consisted of snow to 65 degrees. We used a small rock rack to protect the roped pitches, mostly due to sporadic icefall. This was my 4th? and Shaun's second try attempt on the route, and Maxim's first. He was our good luck charm, I guess. We descended the normal west ridge route, making two rappels: one 15m one off the summit to the first notch and one 60m one off the false summit to the west side ledges. Nearing the schrund at the bottom of the Priest-Coupe Crossing the schrund The 3rd belay The line as seen from John Scurlock's plane in Jan 2008. Gear Notes: Few nuts, four cams 0.5 Friend to 2 Camalot sized, couple slings, a couple Tricams. Picket and a few screws taken but not used. Approach Notes: Two cars or long logging road walk. Even with a quad we had to hike the last 4km of the Centre Creek road due to snow-broken alders. Centre Creek gate is locked as of May 24 but you can get the key from the hatchery as per usual.
  25. Trip: Mt Dickey (Ruth Gorge) - NE Face "No Such Thing as a Bargain Promise" (FA) Date: 4/1/2012 Summary: First Ascent of the Northeast face of Mount Dickey on April 1-2 2012. John Frieh and Doug Shepherd. “No Such Thing as a Bargain Promise” 5,000', VI WI5R M6 Details: On March 30th, Doug Shepherd (Los Alamos, NM) and I, John Frieh (Portland, OR), flew from Talkeetna to the Ruth Glacier below Mt. Dickey in the Ruth Gorge. We spent March 31 skiing around the Gorge checking out possible routes and allowing the unsettled weather to move through. After some discussion we finally agreed to attempt the unclimbed northeast face of Mt Dickey. On April 1st we crossed the schrund at 7 am and were immediately faced with challenging terrain to negotiate: thin ice, vertical to overhanging snice and snow mushrooms made for slow progress and minimal gear placement options. After a full day of climbing we only had 3000 feet of climbing to show for our efforts. We chopped a bivy ledge and settled in for a chilly night. Day 2 started with us climbing up to our hoped exit off the face, only to find enormous snow mushrooms chocking the chimney system. Rather than bail we opted to traverse north around the NE ridge, hoping to find a different exit off the face. A 30 meter rappel landed us in a runnel system splitting the north face of the NE ridge. We followed this up to the seracs that overhang the true North face, nicknamed "Walmart". After a brief food, water and psych up break while still sheltered from Walmart, we blasted two quick pitches through the seracs onto the summit slopes. After some trudging we reached the summit around 8 pm; 37 hours after crossing the schrund. We descended the West ridge of Mt. Dickey and around 1 am on the 3rd we reached our camp back on the Ruth glacier. Later that morning Paul Roderick of Talkeetna Air Taxi picked us up and brought us back to Talkeetna to make for a brief four days in the range. Sorry for the shortage of photos... I'll try to add some later. Approach Notes: You may find a cheaper air service but you will not find a better service. Fly TAT
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